Her appointment was at 10 am. She sprung out of bed with cold feet; the alarm had snoozed as usual. She could not afford to be late today. She managed a quick shower in record 11 minutes. With the clock ticking away, there was no room for experimenting different attire. She slipped into a pair of camel color trousers and a crisp white shirt. She would never leave home without styling her hair. And today, when she thought she must, she was racing against time. A quick math later, she pulled out her hair dryer. Only a few strokes with the hair brush, she decided against the styling after all.
She wasn’t one for makeup. Lipsticks, foundation, and mascaras had no place in her life, let alone her handbag. Oh, the handbags. She was obsessed with them. So much so, she had handbags not just for different occasions but for different moods too. Today was the yellow handbag’s turn. To her, all things yellow- the sun, daffodils, and fire were synonymous with newness. And so, her yellow handbag was saved for days which promised newness. ‘And what better day than today!’, she thought to herself. She tossed her belongings into the bag and set out.
In what she considered a baby-step but nevertheless her contribution towards eco-friendliness, she always booked a shared cab. She had accounted for a 30-minute buffer time as usual. She plonked herself in the back seat of the cab and shared her location details with the driver. As the cab wheeled off, she rummaged her bag for her pocket mirror. ‘Ain’t I pretty? ‘she smiled and brought out a thick book from her yellow kitty. Only a few minutes into the ride, the cab stopped for another pick-up. A guy swiftly boarded the cab, also in the backseat, and shared his location details with the driver. She had an Achilles heel for musky scent. Musk always kindled soft romance in her. She couldn’t help spare a pleasant glance at her excellent-smelling co-passenger. ‘Hmm…Cute’, she thought and returned to the book she was reading while Jai, her co-passenger seemed engrossed on his phone.
Jai’s new job had brought him to the city, miles away from home. Turning 34 in a month, he had chosen to be single till he found that one girl who, at once, would make him go weak at the knees. Today, he was headed to his first client meeting. He looked his best; dressed in a bright white shirt and a pair of chic black trousers. An avid reader himself, he held in high regard, women who read books. He managed to catch a glimpse of her book from the corner of his eye. ‘Woah, Murakami!’, he thought. His respect for the Murakami-reading brethren was one notch up. Unable to resist looking at a fellow Murakami fan, he looked in Mira’s direction as if to look out the window. Her droplet-shaped diamond nose pin shone gracefully against her tanned skin. One look at her kohl smeared eyes and he fell into a swoon. Like a flirtatious teenager, he pulled out his phone and looked up her name on the cab-sharing app. In a rare case, the name did justice to the face. ‘Mira!’ He muttered her name under his breath. No girl had enchanted him this way without uttering a single word.
Just as he mustered courage for a small talk, the driver said, ‘Sir, your stop’. With cars blaring horns and the traffic signal about to turn green, Jai did not have a single extra second to collect his thoughts. He looked at her one last time as if to capture her beauty with the lens of his mind, and got off from the cab in a hurry.
Mira caught a glimpse of Jai as he fumbled his way out of the cab. ‘Hey, your mobile phone’, she called out. He went red in the face like an absent-minded teenager would after a clumsy first kiss. They exchanged a friendly smile before the car veered off. Her husky voice rang in his head all day. Her beautiful face sent him into a state of drowsy enchantment.
Days turned into weeks but he never shared another ride with her. He contacted the driver to get Mira’s details but did not succeed. Making assumptions about her whereabouts, he booked cabs to and from different parts of the city, all in vain. The task of finding her was formidable; its improbability disappointing. But the hope that he might someday spot the yellow handbag and its owner lead him on for way too long. So intoxicating was that one shared ride and so romantic the silence of that trip, that she became his quest.
Seven seas apart in Canada, Akash was all set to celebrate his out-of-turn promotion. It was date-night at home. The candle-light dinner was set beautifully with a soothing Jazz number playing in the background. As he danced with his wife and kissed her gently on the neck, she smiled with her eyes closed. The girl with the yellow handbag was enchanted by the scent of musk. Yet again.