The antithesis of Red

The outline of his hairline over the nape and behind his ears soaked in sweat beads, dripping on to the handkerchief tied around his neck.

He slides out of his vehicle, greets his colleagues with a nod and sets off to the cashier. The man scribbles the order on the pink slip, rips it off the staple and hands it to him. He pulls himself aside with his serve and starts mixing the rice with sambhar into balls of morsel.

He wipes his mouth on his shirt as he looks on at a cat and a dog chasing each other across on the pavement. Just when he reaches his rickshaw, he sees a lady standing on the other side, ducking as she requests for a drop. He sits in and comes face level with her. She is wearing circular brown glasses with red lipstick. She appears to have impeccably soft skin, or so he thinks, slightly damp because of the heat. He wants to look down and see if she is every bit as innocently appealing as her face. He wants to focus on her appeal to a single point, mostly emanating from the depth of her lips – carved into a wonderful mix of anticipation and greed of wanting to be touched.

He extends his hand . . . .

Oh, hello. HELLO”, she vehemently asserts. He is pulled out of his reverie and goes onto hold the side view mirror, as he feigns to adjust its position.

No”, he quietly replies. Almost embarrassed of his ogling.

Please”, she insists.

He is looking back at her. Not sure what he should respond.

He is confused. Unknowingly, he nods in negative affirmation. For a moment, she is still. Hoping for her to hop in but she straightens up and walks on.

He didn’t know what happened there. He wasn’t sure why he said no.

He turns his face back to the driver’s view and sees her walk ahead and along the curve of the road, disappearing.

He seemed to have had a decent day. Meeting his daily target, he considers turning back home earlier today. Its Sunday after all, he thinks. Just as he pulls a gear down, he sees an arm outstretched for a ride. He stops abruptly just before the person and looks out to see . . . .

It’s her.

Her lips pursed in the same anticipation and greed as in the afternoon.

She doesn’t seem to recognise him probably because she is now on the phone.

No”, he murmurs in affirmative negation.

She hopped in, he thinks aloud.

He takes off without knowing where to go. He is a little anxious to ask her, embarrassed with all the staring.

He knows he can’t go any further without knowing the destination, just when he opens his mouth to speak he feels a touch on his shoulder, or so he thought.

He pulls over and looks around at the dimly lit road with only trees along both the sides of the road, a rather usual place for a drop. The air seemed unusually quiet, almost eerie.

However, he is quickly distracted by the sound of his heart pounding, second only to the exhaust blaring into the night. Any second now he’ll get to see her again.

He waits for her to slide out but he feels no presence of movement. Intrigued, he looks up into the overhead mirror but . . .

He sees no reflection.

Like what you read? Give Nikhil a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.