“You are the quiet kind, right?”
“The dark, silent kind? I used to read about them in all those silly romance novels while growing up.”
She could see the outline of his smile in the moonlight that came in from the windscreen.
He chuckled when he said, “I am sure those novels didn’t have a blind hero.”
She smiled. “No.” There was a long pause before she took a deep breath and asked him, “So why flute?”
“Well, I love the way it makes me feel when I play it.”
“How does it make you feel?”
“Like I am flying, bungee jumping. I love bungee jumping.”
“Oh…? You have done that? Bungee jumping? I mean you are… I mean you can’t…uh…”
He laughed, soundlessly. “What? You don’t need eyes for bungee jumping. Plain insanity is enough, I guess.”
“But is it allowed? Bungee jumping for visually challenged people?” Even she knew that the last three words had rolled out a little to slowly.
“Visually…challenged…people,” he enunciated. “What’s so wrong with the word ‘blind’,huh? To answer your question, no, not in India, I bungee jumped in Scotland three years ago.”
She didn’t quite realise that she was holding her breath as she stared at his profile. She, who had never been at a loss for words, suddenly had none. A deep drag at her Marlboro gave her enough time to buy some.
“So, what does it feel like, doing something like that when you can’t see anything? I mean, the thrill is in seeing the world topsy-turvy. And the rush you get when you are heading towards earth. Isn’t it?”
“No, the thrill, I think, is in not knowing where you are headed. Even better when you are blind actually, because you see nothing, know nothing. It’s a jump into the unknown and the unseen.”
It was his turn to ask now: “Okay, so why are we sitting here like this? I mean, why have we stopped the car in the middle of nowhere? Okay, let me get to the point…what is a woman like you doing with a man like me on a Friday night?”
“Self-pity?” she turned to look at his face when she said that.
“Ah. I don’t even know what you look like. For all I know, you may not be my type.”
“Aha! And what is your type?”
“Curvy women…thick lips…smelling of men’s perfume…someone who loves to sing even when she knows she is a pathetic singer.”
“Hmm.” She paused for a bit. “Want to feel my lips and confirm some things for a start?
He laughed: “Well, if you ask that way, no.”
She had to admit she was a little taken aback here. “So you are a guy who likes the chase, huh?”
“I don’t know about the chase, but sometimes I don’t like getting to the point too soon.”
“So you admit we will get to the point, sooner or later?”
He was quiet. “I don’t know. Tell me something…why me?”
“Why not you? Stop fishing for compliments!”
“Come on. There were four other guys in that group. And it is not music, I am sure. Because if it was that, Roy plays the guitar way better than I play the flute. He is the best among us. And he is the hottest too. Wherever we go, girls want to rip his clothes off.”
She laughed when he said that: “Well, I am not the average girl.”
“I guessed that. The average girl wouldn’t offer a lift back home to a guy she has known for just half an hour. And that too a blind guy.”
She stared at his profile. The back of his head was resting lightly, relaxed, against the car seat. His white shirt appeared whiter in the dark. And the hair peeking out of the collar made her gulp. She wanted to bury her nose there.
“You really want to know?” She asked. He said nothing. “All through the evening, when the group was playing at Red Horn, the sound from your flute did things to my skin. Those notes ran all over my body, and when you reached that crazy crescendo at the end, I was…I was….”
“Wet?” He asked. It was a wicked smile.
She said nothing. Normally, she was the one who seduced men with her bold, come-hither ways. She, the writer, who knew all the words and had all the wit. And here was a guy who could never see her face—or how she lusted for him.
She inhaled. In the silence of the car, it was distinctly audible.
She reached for his hand. The weight of it surprised her. He didn’t have slim, artistic fingers. His palm was broad, fleshy and warm. His fingers were thick, and she wondered if he would still be so cool and calm if she sucked at his fingertips. She turned a little in the driver’s seat and leaned in a little closer to bring his hand to her lips. She stared at his profile and let her lower lip do all the talking with his fingers. Her moist lower lip.
She wasn’t shy. She had never been shy, even when she had first bared her body to a man, back when she was 17. The guy had wanted her to be coy, though, and resist his hands when he had reached for her breast. She hadn’t; instead she had undone the hooks of her red lace top. He had later asked her if she had done it before. She realised then that sexual enthusiasm was not a virtue—demure pretense was. But she forgot to keep that in mind every time a man reached for her. Thankfully, she met a few men who enjoyed her utter lack of inhibition. There was no man who could make her blush.
And there was no man who seemed so disinterested in her either as the one whose fingers she was kissing.
She was about to escort his hand back to his lap, when he shifted in his seat and leaned towards her. He brushed his thumb across her lips. Slowly, dragging them, learning their shape. She had a fat lower lip. She hoped it was thick enough for him.
“What? Did I pass the test?” She asked, her lips curved into a naughty smile that he would never know.
He smiled back. And said nothing. His eyes were closed. There was a lock of hair that had come off his ponytail. His palm didn’t need escorting now. It caressed her face. She loved her skin, and secretly knew he would like it too. She didn’t like her nose, though, and knew he wouldn’t think much of it either.
“I like your nose. Big.” He tapped her bulbous nose.
“Hello, I know a compliment when I hear one, and that is not a compliment.”
He laughed a little laugh. “What do I do if I like a strong nose on a woman?” he said as his fingers trailed to her neck and then lower.
Suddenly she gripped his hand tightly in place. Their entwined hands on her collarbone looked straight out of the pages of a romance novel. She had never known romance except in those novels, between imaginary characters.
“For some reason, I didn’t expect you to be coy,” he said, looking mock serious.
He could feel the pulse leap in the niche of her collarbone.
“Is that so? You are right, I am not coy.”
Before he could guess her next move, she buried her face in his neck. Her hand was still clutching his hand, holding them firmly in place between their seats. The kiss, when it happened, was a hungry mating of tongues. Her hands roamed all over his chest, his shoulders, tugging at his ponytail. She smelled of Hugo Boss, and he couldn’t help smiling into her neck. He knew the smell because he had been wearing the same fragrance for the last 12 years.
By now her restless hands had discovered how turned on he was. It was thrilling to know that a man could want her so badly. Suddenly, she wanted to cry and laugh. “I want you” she whispered, as she teased him.
But by then his hand was on her breast. And she slapped it away.
“Why won’t you let me touch you? You don’t like your breasts touched, is it?” He murmured intimately into her neck.
The two words were like two ice cubes, clinking together in a whiskey glass. She closed her eyes and wished she didn’t sound so curt.
Her fingers snaked up his thigh.
“I just want to make you feel good. Don’t you want that?”
After about thirty seconds, he said, “I do. But first, I want you to sit on my lap.
“Hey, just because I cannot see doesn’t mean I don’t know how to touch a woman. I want to touch you. Will you take that shirt off?”
She exhaled sharply: “You love women with big breasts, don’t you?”
“Yes. What happened, you are scared I won’t like yours if they are tiny?” She went quiet, so he had to diffuse the moment. “Hello! Are you there?”
“I had breast cancer two years ago. I don’t have a left breast.” She looked out of the window.
“What do I say?” That wasn’t quite the response she was expecting.
“You can just shut up and say nothing,” she said tightly. Her throat was tight and hurting. The cigarette helped. It always did.
“I wish I had gotten to know that left breast of yours before you lost it. I am sorry I got here a little late. But I can still get to know the other one tonight, can’t I?”
When she felt his hand tugging her fingers loose from her tightly clenched fist, she took a deep drag of nicotine and slowly dissolved into tears.
“Now, get onto my lap, will you? I don’t have eyes. You don’t have a breast. God help us, so we have a lot of empty space within us. Do you really want to fill that with tears?”
She turned her face to look at him. She looked at his eyes. He was looking somewhere near the dashboard. But she knew, she had finally met a man who could see her.