All Gifts Are Not Meant To Be Taken Home

Short Story ©advbimal

Anything is possible when friends are around. They will make you a hero and then within a flash of a second they can make you a clown too. I love being with my friends and move around with them. We were four idiots and were on a trip to Goa, Chennai, and Pondicherry. The reason behind choosing these distant destinations was none other than our passion for driving on long routes.

Among the four, three of us enjoy driving. The remaining one had licence but she was of the opinion that all are not meant to drive. If you argue, she would take out her trump card and ask, “Does Queen Elizabeth drive, what about Aishwarya Rai?” Before you think about googling it she would add, we are born to enjoy the car, the drive and the view without driving the machine. According to her, she is in that elite category even though she always complains that at the end of every month she needs extra salary. Since she is an excellent navigator and a good team player, we don’t question her elite card status. She never sleeps in the car and is always on full alert mode. So the front passenger seat is usually allotted to her so that the other two can rest or sleep as it happens most of the times. If you feel sleepy while driving just tell her that. Pull the car aside, dude, I will drive, will be her immediate reply. The moment she says that, your drowsiness will vanish.

From Goa to Chennai is a 16 plus hours drive, that too depending on the traffic. Stopover at Bengaluru was in the initial plans but our friend who was our host there had to go on an emergency business tour, so we decided to take a straight shot to Chennai. The other two folks finished their turn and it was my turn behind the wheel.

We reached Chennai very late and while I was completing the check-in formalities at the reception desk, my mom was on the phone and I was listening to her complaining for not calling her last two days. Suddenly I saw a hand coming forward over the desk returning an electronic key to the reception staff and they exchanged smiles. I fell for her smile. When she turned and walked towards the lift, I too rushed to the lift. To her surprise I pressed the button and when the lift opened, I gestured her to get in. She entered the lift and turned towards me and then gave that mesmerizing smile again. Before the doors slowly closed and took her away, I pressed the lift button again. Doors opened, I got in and hugged her. Then I whispered into her ear “God has mercy” and I came out hurriedly. I don’t know why I did so or why I said those words particularly. I was in a kind of an intoxication and stood in front of the lift. My friends sensed my mood and came to my rescue and then we checked in.

Later while having dinner at the Ayna restaurant in the hotel, friends gathered some information about the girl I saw in lobby and told me she is a management staff in that hotel. My hopes to see her the next day were foiled when her colleagues told us that it was her day off. I was too disappointed the whole night and hardly slept. Two beautiful eyes and the mesmerizing smile were not ready to fade away from my mind. I slept after five in the morning.

According to our plan we had to start the trip to Pondicherry soon after the breakfast. But my friends had breakfast and waited for me to wake up. I got up around 10.30am and by 11am I was in the car. I didn’t even take my backpack but my friends took control and told me to take rest.

Finally, while we were all set to start, a taxi came and stopped in front of our car. I didn’t pay much attention to it though my friends behaved as if they were waiting for that taxi. Only when one of them asked me to get out of the car, I saw the girl who came in the taxi. I saw the same mesmerizing smile and it took my breath away for a while. I went out of the car and tried to walk towards her. But before that she came and hugged me. I could feel the warmth of her body. When you hug someone you really love, a mixture of peace and calm flows into your veins and you will not feel the world around you. After few seconds I told her thank you. I felt that she was holding me tightly for some more time and then told me: ‘I know what you feel. I guess right minds make fireworks.” Then she added “don’t forget to thank your friends.”

While I stood there confused about what to do next, she pointed out to our car and said: ‘Get in, otherwise you guys will be late.’ While I was walking towards the car I could sense that she was following me. I got my energies back and decided to take control of the wheel. When I opened the door she came and held it until I got into the car, then after closing it she told me “happy journey” and turned and walked towards the entrance of the hotel.

Until the sign of Hilton disappeared from the side mirror, my eyes were searching for some miracle to happen again. But miracles happen only once in a while.

That evening as we were waiting to watch the sunset at the rock beach in Pondicherry, I got a message from Paru. It read, hey we can’t take all gifts home. I know that. The sun was setting down. A chapter was closing and the darkness was spreading. I searched for stars. Nothing was visible.
When I was in grade four, I got a beautiful trophy as a prize for winning in a competition. But after the function when I was ready to go home, my teacher took it back and kept it on the shelf. Then she told me, you can’t take all the prizes home. That school and office room flashed in my mind. A breeze from the Bay of Bengal swept through. I closed my eyes. I saw myself once again outside that office room, standing helplessly.