INFINITELY MORE EFFECTIVE than any alarm clock is a barking dog, and having his sleep wrecked by those death-deserving mongrels was the worst start his day could’ve had. He was a vegan and an animal lover who would fantasize about shooting barking dogs at random and getting someone to break a Pom Pom’s snout. “Barking or not, I would pay a few hundred rupees to hear that ‘snap’,” he once told a friend, who didn’t blink once during his silent stare that lasted 12 seconds before asking what if was like for a vegan to be stoned.
It being a Sunday, there was not much to do. He longed to be at work, and he’d always wait for Mondays, for they meant a week full of fun at work. Cool colleagues, breezy work, the sense of belonging. “I like what you say but not how you say it,” his boss used to keep saying to him.
Eating out was the biggest problem. He’d stuck to Chinese food for almost a year because that’s the only vegetarian food that could be vegan in India. Most other cuisines have milk or ghee or cheese or something in some form. He’d ask the chef at the Chinese restaurant to not add egg and make sure the dish was dairy-free and there’d still be plenty of “food” to eat. He’d had enough Chinese in the one year to sign an endorsement deal with fucking Ajinomoto.
Enough was enough, and the man was hungry.
He cruised through Juhu thinking of where to get lunch. Don Giovanni – Italian … cheese. Gajalee – coastal … seafood. A right from Juhu Circle, a left towards Four Bungalows. Urban Tadka – north Indian … butter, ghee, curd. Seven Bungalows had Legacy Of China.
“I’m sick of this shit!” he exclaimed, grasping the steering wheel even tighter. He realized he wasn’t angry enough. He was looking for a place to bang his fist when the cell phone beeped. It was a text from Tanya, a hot young woman he’d met through common friends at a dinner recently. He’d been drunk and she’d been intrigued by his veganism and they’d exchanged numbers. Neither bothered to get in touch with the other; there was no dearth of women in his life, and Tanya was too hot to show interest in a guy she’d met just once.
He texted back asking for her address and if she’d like to join him for lunch, and later showed up at her house with a crate of beer.
“Not very romantic,” she laughed, “but it’s a good thing because I drink only beer.”
“Finally, a real woman.”
He’d nearly dropped the crate when Tanya opened the door. She was in a bathrobe and he already knew what lay under it because he’d been blown away by her looks even in his drunken state the other night. The stupor had crippled his social skills but not his short-term memory.
They were in the kitchen, and Tanya looked gorgeous and she knew it. Every heterosexual man lusted after her, every inch of her was sexy. He was dumbstruck and knew what he’d been invited over for. He decided against using the charm he’d used successfully to seduce scores of beautiful women; he was in no mood for a challenge and just wanted some porno sex. And he was about to get it.
“What would you like to eat, Mister Fussy?” she smiled sexily, “My husband’s out of town …”
All this was too much to handle. He was over at this hot-faced beauty’s house for lunch; she was in her bathrobe in the kitchen telling him her husband wasn’t in the city. He grabbed her and went straight for the neck. In an unexpected turn, she struggled and fought him off, leaving him completely flustered. This he hadn’t expected and thought she was playing hard to get. “You’re edible,” he leered and grabbed her again. This time she punched him in the face a few times and he started thrashing her in return. He was boiling mad. Why the hell had she called him over for lunch if she didn’t want to fuck him?
She fell to the floor. “You dumb bitch! Why would you be showing off your thighs and telling me your old man isn’t home if you didn’t want to get fucked by me?”
He didn’t want to hit her any more. She had started it.
“I thought you were a nice guy. And you didn’t let me complete … my husband’s coming back in a few hours. He wouldn’t mind you lunching here, but wait till he hears about this.”
A couple of hours later, he was at the beach. He sat on the rocks and decided it had been a super bad day. As if barking dogs and the lack of food choices weren’t giving him enough grief, now he’d gone and wrecked his reputation. To have been rejected by a woman would’ve been fathomable, but he’d tried to molest a stunning beauty. Soon everyone would know, and he’d be known as a creep. Social suicide.
Before the sun went down, he was at Alfredo’s in Juhu. He looked tired and wondered if he’d made a mistake by calling for a pitcher of draught. “Can I sit here?” a calm voice fell upon his ears. Still munching on salted peanuts, he looked up and saw a sexy face and a slim body accompanying it.
“Sure, if you’re buying the drinks.”
The woman pulled a chair, sat down and smiled. “Whatever happened to chivalry?”
“It’s dead, like my lunch date.” She was breathtakingly beautiful. “Let’s call for another pitcher. Killing dehydrates me.”
“And what if you get drunk?”
He saw it in her eyes, and knew he’d rather put the afternoon behind him and continue living instead of turning himself in like he’d planned on the way to what was to be his last chance to drink. Tanya was dead, and he hadn’t left any evidence behind. The kitchen knife had been thrown in the sea and the crate of beer was back in his car. He’d sent a text message to Tanya’s phone saying he was busy elsewhere and would catch up with her another day. Then he flung Tanya’s cell phone into the sea. Jail was for other people.
“Then you get to take me home,” he said, leaning back and looking directly into her eyes.
Written by Aditya Mehta in 2009