It was the last 5-6k of the 40k route (Guest House to Khurda toll gate and back). A signal on the highway that had consistently been orange during the onward journey was fully functional now, alternating between the other two shades of red and green. The signal must have turned red just when I was approaching it because all vehicles screeched to a halt. I must have been at 30kph+. I slowed my bike down at my own pace but it was not slow enough by the time I saw a fully still Honda City right in front of me. I needed to slow down faster – faster than I ever had – I pulled the brakes as hard as I could. The wheels stopped rolling. The bike didn’t. The bike rotated about the front wheel till it had thrown me over the fully still Honda city.Â I don’t know if the bike kept rotating for some more after I had been disgorged by the machine but by the time I was back on my legs, the bike was still too. Still Honda City. Still bike. Still shades. The fucking Adidas shades had cost me 3.2k just two days before. I would have been devastated had they been damaged. Also they were lighter than the bike. So first, I picked up the shades. Yay – the were still intact. Yay – I put them on. How cool! You bang a still Honda city, you fall off your bike – your bike tosses in the air, you shades fly off and hit the asphalt and the first thing you care to do is to pick up your shades and put them on! How cool I say. With the now protected eyes, I did a quick superficial scan of the exposed parts of my body – not a single droplet of blood – not even a single bruise. How sad! All this while – the few seconds that is – the still Honda City remained still. Nothing moved – not even the doors. The passengers needed a reaction time.
It was the bike’s turn now. I picked it up, let my bum hug the saddle once again and peddled. Yay – the bike worked – well, it moved and that’s all I cared about. So I kept pedaling. I thought I could compensate for the 20 lost seconds if I pedaled harder. I pedaled harder. The gear-changing set attached to the right handle had displaced clockwise. This can be taken care of when I am back – I thought. You cannot have absolutely zero damage if you bang a still Honda City on a red signal. The greater damage was about to come.
I had pedaled less than 2k when the Honda overtook me (I wonder what took it so long to overtake me though) and pulled over. When it was passing by me, I was thinking – lucky bastards – if only I had been hurt any badly, I would have created a scene there itself – let them escape now. This is what I was thinking when the bloody Honda pulled over in front of me. I was wondering if I should hit the damn car once more. I giggled at the thought. I was still worried about reaching back as fast as possible – I was more interested in my timing. If the guys inside wanted to know if I was hurt and all that – sorry – I was not interested. So the Honda pulled over and the not-interested me passed it from the left and left the car behind. But I thought it was too mean of me. I mean speed is not all that matters – there is something called courtesy. I could at least slow down a little, look back at the folks inside the once again still Honda and smile a little. May be that would make them feel less guilty about blocking way for cyclists on highways. That’s exactly what I did. I passed the Honda from the left, slowed down and turned back my head and before I could smile and assuage the pain of the riders, I saw a chutiya driver running towards me as if I was trying to flee the scene. Fuck – that’s exactly when it occurred to me that this was precisely what I had done – I had fled the scene. I stopped the bike immediately – I could not afford to let them believe I was trying escape away.
The driver was followed by a not so fat (but fat enough) mem-sahab in a white and green salwar suit. She was furious. The driver was trying his best to match the volcanic expressions of his mistress but he didn’t come close enough. She was the ferocious tigress ready to chew me up in less than three seconds, she was the scaly fire-erupting dragon all charged up to reduce me to ashes in a single blow of her over heated lungs.
Let us, for a while, think from the dragon’s side. Here was a goddamn crack on a cycle who came and dashed her precious car and then tried his best to flee away. He definitely must have noted the extent of damage he had caused to the hallowed car by his momentum and must definitely have been a) either poor enough to pay for it or b) scared enough to ask his parents to pay for it.
The goddamn crack was face to face with the dragon and her dog. It was important to cut-off the dog from the conversation. The easiest way was to stick to English. The dragon erupted back in English. The heat of the lava – if shoved up your ass – hurts you as much whether performed in English, Hindi or Bhojpuri.
I was a gentleman – spoke less – told the dragon I would pay her the 2k that she thought was just good enough for the iota of an insignificant scratch the accident had rendered on the polymeric body of the Honda, just over the right end of the rear number-plate. This is a fucking bicycle, not an aeroplane – give me money NOW – fumed the dragon. All I have right now is a sweaty lauda and a pair of hairy balls that I can let you suck dear dragon. I don’t have any cash now mam. We can go to a police station and get a case registered. Such answers could not bring down the heat by even 0.02 degrees. Give me your i-card NOW – the dragon demanded. Sweaty lauda, hairy balls. I don’t have anything right now. Let’s go wherever you want me to go. Take my number – take my address. Give your number, give your address. Anything is fine. Let’s just get over it. And ask your dog to keep quiet. I must say the dog was in no mood to leave the battlefield to his mistress alone. Lack of knowledge of Angrezi could not prevent the pet from licking the scaly ass of his Goddess. He could bark what, why, when, no, yes. That was good enough. He kept barking. Mistress shall definitely increase my wage by 500 bucks. Huff. Huff.
Give me your wrist watch. Give me your shades. Give me all your clothes and let me lick your entire body. A crowd of spectators had amassed and I could sense the number grow with time. The issue needed to be settled. As I handed over my 3.2k Adidas shades (yes I told her the price though I doubt she believed me) – my fucking new shades – and then asked her where could I get them back. Give me your address or phone number – I requested in a logical tone. She blurted out some numer 9 8 xÂ y z. Can you give me a pen so that I can note the number down? No pen for you. You didn’t show me your penis, how can I give you a pen now. This was weird. I wondered if she was more interested in running away with my shades than getting the 2k that she apparently needed to help her Honda regain its splendour. This is what I was wondering about when the darting eyes of the dragon fell on the wrist – ah, so she indeed was moving down! Also give me your wrist-watch. My wrist-watch – the one that I had bartered with my sister with my earlier pair of shades last year in Mumbai. But it was futile to put forth the sentimental value attached to the asset that the dragon was now demanding. She didn’t seem to be in the mood to believe anything. But I was not going to let the beast run away with my shades and watch without even telling me how to get them back. Where do I get them back, I repeated. You need to tell me where you live so that I can come and collect. Give me your address. You address give – responded the dog. The dog reminded me of Serang Ali from Sea of Poppies. Fuck mother your you away go dog go. 17 Vani Vihar* – finally the dragon relented. My daughters are getting late to school. I need to go. Zoom, left the cavalcade.
PS: All this happened 1.5 hours before I typed it all out. Right now, the right chest is bloody aching even after having applied an ice-pack. And now I need to find time to either go myself or send someone to the dragon’s nest to get back my stuff. Blah.
PS2: Lesson learnt – always carry cash and i-card when you are biking. In India, no one expects you to be a top-shot unless you are in a car. It really doesn’t matter whether you are riding a 20k bike or wearing a 3k shades. In the moment of trial, everything could be labeled a duplicate copy – save the hard currency. And never, never ever leave the spot before the other party whenever a collision occurs.
*address changed for confidentiality’s sake