Even after four tries, the sedan couldn’t fit into the spot, but with every new attempt of going back and forth, its chances looked slightly better. The hatchback continued to wait, honking every few seconds in frustration. Time was running out.
After a few minutes more, the driver in the hatchback had had enough. The mobile phone rang yet again – it was from same number that had called twice already. There was no way the driver could miss the call for the third time.
The sedan rolled forward yet again in order to try another reverse parking manoeuvre – maybe this time it would finally make it. But no one would ever find out whether that was true, because just as the sedan turned its brake lights on to begin going, the hatchback zoomed ahead and took the spot.
Immediately, there was a loud, long honk from the sedan.
“HEY!” shouted the driver. He rolled down the window and looked back at the car that had taken his spot.
She climbed out of the hatchback and locked her car.
The woman, who must have been in her late twenties, was wearing a light-brown kurti and white palazzos. She had a diamond-shaped face, wheatish complexion and short-length hair that covered only the nape of her neck. She looked lean and just a little taller than the average Indian woman; perhaps somewhere between 5’5” and 5’6”. Her sharp facial features, he noticed, were attractive. But that moment was not about appreciating her looks.
Talking to someone on the phone, she looked like she was in a tearing rush, enough to even ignore someone shouting at her.
“HEY, YOU!” he screamed, louder this time to demand her attention. When she didn’t stop or turn around, he stepped out of his car.
“I’M TALKING TO YOU, MISS,” he said, marching towards the woman, who was quickly walking away.
She finally stopped and turned around, abruptly finishing the call and hanging up on whoever was on the other end.
His face, she thought, looked familiar. If it wasn’t for those tinted aviators he was wearing, she might have been able to remember where she’d seen him before. But she was bad at remembering faces anyway.
Despite the circumstances, she did notice that he was tall, dark and breathtakingly handsome. His dense curly hair bounced as he walked. He was wearing a dark grey blazer with a pink collared T-shirt underneath. His off-white chinos stylishly ended half an inch above his brown moccasin shoes.
His brisk walk came to a sudden halt just an arm’s length from her. She could smell the musky fragrance he was wearing. And the scent was refreshing.
She knew what was going to unfold. She was at fault and now she’d have to defend the indefensible. She suddenly wished that the person standing in front of her wasn’t so good-looking and did not smell so nice. Had that been the case, maybe it would have been easier to throw any vague reason at him, even at the risk of inviting his wrath.
Meanwhile, the man fumed. This lady had not yet acknowledged his arrival, at least not with words. He threw his hands up and finally spoke first, confronting her.
“What was that?” he asked, his body tense.
She took her time to collect her thoughts. I should apologise and let him know why I did this. After all, it was an emergency.
However, just when she was about to speak, his next words changed her mind.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” he yelled, running out of patience.
Instead of accepting her fault, she frowned and asked, “WHAT? What did you just say to me?” She paused for a second, crossed her arms and added, “Is that how you talk to a woman?”
“Oh!” he scoffed, smiling sarcastically. He looked up at the sky for a moment and then shifted his gaze back to her. “The woman card! What a perfect time to play it, isn’t it?” And then, to her utter horror, he clapped slowly. Three times!
Anger may insult you, but sarcasm humiliates you. It sets your mind on fire. And then the only way to douse this fire is to give it back, word for word.
“Men who don’t understand chivalry often hide behind words like ‘Oh, you are playing the woman card’,” she said and tossed back her hair. Her eyes settled on his shades.
“And that act,” he said, pointing at her parked car, “deserves chivalry?”
She wanted to refute that, to say something – anything. But she miserably failed. How could she defend what she had done?
Instead, she tried to be dismissive.
“Well, what do you want?” she asked.
“Oh! So, you want me tell you what you already know?” So not only you are gorgeous, you also have a way with words. His manner of speaking and the style and confidence with which he delivered his biting comments impressed her.
How she hated being at the receiving end of this man’s wrath, when she knew he was in the right! If only she could roll back time, she wouldn’t do what she had done. What bothered her even more was that instead of accepting her mistake, she had ended up defending it.
If I change tack now, what impression will I make on him? It would only make things worse, she decided, and continued to defend herself.
“I did what I had to do. You cannot block my way and then take all the time in the world to fit in your big car, especially during rush hour!”
“Blocked your way?” he asked cynically. “Ah! And here I was thinking that this car comes with a reverse gear.” He pointed at her hatchback.
It took her a couple of seconds to connect the dots and understand that he meant that she could have turned around and taken a detour. But when she did, she got onto a whole new tangent altogether.
“Oh, so that’s how people with luxury cars mock smaller cars?”
Excerpted with permission from Write Me A Love Story, Ravinder Singh, HarperCollins India.
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