Chapter Sixteen - Rohan

Pushing his thoughts aside Rohan got up to go. He collected the keys and walked out. While locking the door of his room, he glanced at the neighbouring door. It was closed. He did not like the kind of effect the girl had on him; yet a little voice inside his head told him that it was worth it. Whatever he was feeling was worth the end result. He had led a lonely life for a long time, he had never made many friends but he wanted to know this girl better.

When he had seen her with another guy, he wondered whether the little voice inside his head was right about everything being worth. Doubt filled his mind and a dull ache gripped his heart.
Even though he had looked at her with disgust on being spotted with the guy, especially after observing how close they were as they walked together, especially on seeing her smiling; especially that guy, the one who she was comfortable with, he could not stop caring for her. To others his reaction might have seemed to reek of jealousy; but he knew it was more than that. Yes, he was jealous, of course he was but the look in his eyes and the thoughts in his mind were all because he cared for the girl.
It was the same care and concern that filled his heart when he had seen her on a less frequented road. He had not spotted her first; it was the girl who had waved at his cab as he was driving away. 


He had smiled and his heart had done a happy dance when she had acknowledged his presence. He wondered what she was doing on that road, alone and dressed as she was – in pyjamas and t-shirt. He asked her what she was doing there but did not comment on her dress, especially after realizing that she was already feeling awkward.
He asked her to get in and opened the front door wondering at the same time whether she would agree to ride shotgun with him or open the passenger door and slid in the back.
She had climbed in through the door he had opened. He had voiced his concern about the road not being safe and had half expected the girl to lose her temper, like the previous times. The girl surprised him again by not saying a word but she shook her head instead. He assumed that he had hurt her by the comment. He looked straight at the road and continued driving.
The awkward silence was broken by her when she asked him his name.
The way she joked about it made him smile. It felt good. She next to him felt good. His name on her lips felt good. The smile on her lips felt good. The way his heart thudded against his rib-cage felt good. They reached the chawl – it felt sad.
She offered to pay – it felt bad; he refused to accept and she did not argue – it felt good.
She waited for him after climbing out of the cab – it felt good.
They walked together towards the stairs – it felt very good
And then – just like that; the bubble burst and he was back in the real world. She did not care about him. She did not care to wait for him. What was he thinking?

Rohan unlocked the cab door and got in. He waited before starting the ignition. He was not in the mood to drive. He closed his eyes and made up his mind. He started the ignition and instead of turning the meter of the cab to ‘For Hire’ he turned it halfway to indicate ‘half-meter’ or ‘Not for Hire’ and drove out of the chawl. He drove aimlessly around the area for a while, crossing the chawl a couple of times hoping that Mansi would come out again for some reason. Knowing her name was the first step of getting to know her. He was ready to let go his anger on seeing her with the guy. He might even tell her that it was not safe for her to trust strangers; he thought as he finally drove away from the chawl, from the area and towards the road he loved frequenting. He drove through the traffic, his thoughts focused on her. He drove to Marine Drive. The cool breeze from the sea felt good. He wanted to get down and spend some time sitting on the stones but he could not. He continued driving. He wanted to go back to the chawl. Heck no, he wanted to go back to that road where Mansi had climbed in his cab. He wanted to smile again; he wanted to see her smile again. He wanted to hear his name on her lips. He wanted her to keep repeating his name. It sounded good on her lips. Instead of going back to the chawl he wanted to bring her to his favourite place. He wanted to spend time with her. He wanted to hold her hands and sit at Chowpatty even if parking the cab nearby would mean the cab being towed. He did not care as long as her hand was in his. He wanted to feel her hair on his neck as she rested her head on his shoulder. He wanted to put his arm around her and hold her close. He wanted to smell and kiss her hair. He wanted to kiss her, period.

The honking of cars brought him out of his reverie. The signal had turned green and the people inside the cars behind his cab were getting desperate. He shifted gears and started to drive. He drove back to the chawl. Involuntarily he looked towards Mansi’s room. The door was closed. As he got out of the cab and walked towards the room he contemplated knocking on her door; his heart beat increasing even at the thought of seeing her angelic face again. No, she should not think him to be desperate. He had to make his move slowly. He needed her to trust him.


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