Last night I’d been to a friend’s birthday eve dinner. The party consisted of about five couples , a couple of mothers and yours truly who really, really wanted to catch said friend on birthday eve and therefore braved the maw of such mass domestic bliss. When proceedings came to a close it was a little past midnight. A few months in Bombay and I am accustomed to taking midnight auto rides. Friend though was fully channeling other (unsafer) cities. Insisted upon trying to drop me to my place although it lies precisely in the opposite direction to where she lives. Fortunately (or unfortunately if you consider subsequent events) I discovered that A, his wife K and his mother, all of whom I had met for the first time that evening, were heading to Parel and didn’t know how to get to the Eastern Express Highway. A little conversation and I was in the car with the trio and on the way home.
The music came on and a little desultory conversation between the directions (go straight, right here) and we hit the highway. As we approached my place, dialogue went as below
Me: “At the next signal, you need to take the right”.
A: “I’ll drop you at the signal”
Me: (Absolute stunned silence)
Me: (Processing risk of being dropped on highway at 12:30 AM where there are mangroves on the left and a short but lonesome walk home on the right. Accepted that for a girl who has lived through Delhi and was planning to drive through Bihar, this isn’t much of a risk)
Me: (in a slightly abrupt tone) The signal will be fine.
K: (whose feminine sensibilities must have kicked in) Nonono. We’ll of course drop you.
Me: No. The signal is fine.
K: Nonono. Of course we’ll drop you.
Me: (Calculating whether I can sit through another 120 seconds of this company) Okay.
120 seconds later I was off, the trio’s taillights headed back to highway and I went home, went to sleep and dreamt of my beautiful blue car.
The whole day, the incident didn’t leave my mind. It really disturbed me. What after all did A do that was wrong? If I think of him as the nice emancipated type who thinks women can make their own way in the world, what is wrong with him saving a little time on a Sunday night by refusing to take a detour? My reaction though was one of absolute shock. I have since digested and detoxified and will still dismiss A as an unadulterated b*&t#$d for two reasons. The standards of our time do not allow for such emancipated men to masquerade as gentlemen.And my acid test – would I have dropped someone off on that highway at that time of the night? No.
I hope though, that the day will soon arrive when A’s behavior is normal and that the ‘me’s’ of the world will not react with shock.
P.S. : P suggested in the detox conversation that I might have misheard. Maybe his statement of drop you at signal was a question…. No one (according to her) can be that bad. So my other hope is that all of this is a convex combination of my earwax and imagination.