The air, thick with electrifying power play.

He knew it. I knew it. It was only a matter of time – but neither would give in, neither would give up. Like the slow dance of a Samba couple before the lightning quick beat, the lazy, confident circling of cheetahs before the final charge.

His flickering eyes belied his outwardly unruffled exterior, as he skilfully used the crowded space as a fortress against my persistent gaze. All I needed was one quick glance, just one, in my general direction.

Look at me just once, you slippery man.

Just once.

He pretends. Over-animated gestures, attempts to blend in, unusually loud conversations with the woman next to him. Distance, putting as much distance between him and the unflinching, ever watchful me.

You owe me. You know you do.

The crowd has increased by now. The moment of truth. The milling crowd slowly pushes him towards my direction. He struggles, I see the resignation and defiance in his eyes.

Come here, come here you tease.

He shuffles, he moves, but the rhythm of our surroundings pushes him closer and I see resentment and within seconds he is next to me.

We look into each other’s eyes, me brimming with ill-disguised glee and he seething with unbridled annoyance. I stretch out my hand.

 

 

“Bhaiiya, ticket ka waapas 12 Rs dena tha na?”