We’d gone out for coffee that evening. Barista had opened its first outlet in my city, and it was THE place to go if you had any aspirations towards coolness. I didn’t particularly want to be cool, but it was a nice location for a date. The only location for a date, really, unless you were going out for dinner or were happy to hang out at a park. Two hours of conversation and three Affogatos later, we headed out.
It was drizzling when we stepped out of the cafe. Despite the time of the year, it had been raining on and off through the day, and I’d come equipped with an umbrella. Rahul had teased me mercilessly about it - “Who carries an umbrella in November?” he’d asked me a million times. Now he suggested I make good use of it. “Why don’t we walk for a bit and hop into a cab if it starts raining heavily?”
It was quite late in the evening, 8.30 p.m., and my parents were expecting me home for dinner at 9. But I said yes - I wanted to prolong my time with him as much as possible. Besides, walking hand in hand, along a dimly lit, tree-lined road, in the middle of an out-of-season drizzle, seemed like a fun thing to try. We chatted as we walked, bumping into each other as we huddled under the umbrella against the wind and the rain. The road was completely empty except for the occasional car that whizzed past. A couple of taxis slowed down as they passed us by, but we waved them on. This was pretty romantic, and I was totally willing to see where it would lead...
About a kilometre down the road, Rahul said, “Give me that thing!” He took the umbrella from my hand and pulled me to the side of the pavement and against a metal gate. As I stood, shivering with excitement, he lowered his head and gently touched his lips to mine. My eyelids fluttered shut with pleasure as his tongue teased the corner of my mouth - it was the most delicious thing ever. And then he moved away. I opened my eyes, puzzled. He was grinning down at me.
“Why did you stop?” I asked.
“Just,” he said. “I wanted to see how you’d react.”
“Idiot,” I said. I reached up and wound my arms around his neck and pressed my lips firmly to his.
His arms wrapped tightly around my waist and he pulled me close until I was stretching up on tiptoes. He’d flung the umbrella down on the road and the rain was soaking us, but I didn’t care. This was just…so much better than I had ever imagined.
And then, suddenly, a glare of light hit us and we heard a harsh voice say, “Yeh kya ho raha hai?”
We sprang apart clumsily, slipping and stumbling on the wet pavement, our hearts thumping with shock.
Two policemen stood in front of us, clad in raincoats and armed with heavy-duty rifles. One of them was holding a flashlight pointed straight at our faces. I suddenly understood what people really mean when they use that metaphor - “deer caught in the headlights of a car”!
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” growled the one holding the flashlight.
“Umm.. We…” Neither Rahul nor I could articulate a single coherent sentence.
“Batao, batao!” said the other cop. “Kya kar rahe the idhar?” Well, given that they’d been shining a bloody flashlight at us, the answer must have been self-evident. But I guess they were getting some kind of perverse pleasure at seeing us squirm. “Gandagi ka zamaana aa gaya!” he continued.
I was beginning to get mad now. Yeah, okay, so we were kissing in a public place, so that wasn’t a great idea, but who the hell were these guys to call us “dirty”? We were soaked through and cold by now, and these guys had basically ruined the most romantic experience of my life, and now we were being verbally abused? I was about to open my mouth to give them a piece of my mind, when Rahul placed a warning hand on my arm.
“Sir,” he said, “we’re very sorry, we will go home now.”
“No, no,” it’s not that easy, said the cop with the flashlight. “We could have let you go if this was a regular place. But you’re in a restricted area.”
“Huh? Matlab?” I asked, stumped. When did this road become a restricted area?
The guy pointed his flashlight upwards. I almost keeled over in shock when I saw the signage. That gate we’d been leaning against was that of the Regional Military Camp - which was rumoured to house the Army Intelligence Division of the state. Oh, FUCK.
“What do you have to say for yourselves, hainh?”
“We’re so sorry, sir!” Rahul said. “Galti ho gayi, please let us go.”
“No, you have to come to the police station. You could be spies.”
This was so unreal! “We’re not spies,” I said, my heart pounding. I did NOT want to be arrested! “We’re students.”
“Show some ID proof,” one of them said. I fished out my university ID from my purse. Rahul handed over his too. They peered at the cards, then nodded. “But you still have to come to the police station. Koi sharam nahin hai kya? Why are you doing obscene things? All this is after marriage only. Inside the house.”
OMG, were they going to give us a lecture on “moral values” first and then arrest us?? I really wanted to cry now.
“Sorry, sir,” Rahul said again. “Please let us go. It won’t happen again.”
They went away a few feet and started having a whispered conversation. What now? We would have made a run for it, but a) they still had our IDs; b) those guns they were carrying looked pretty efficient to me.
“Okay, we can let you go,” one of the guys said finally. “But you have to pay a fine.”
Yeah, right. “Fine”, meaning “bribe.”
“How much?” Rahul asked.
What? A thousand bucks to not get arrested for kissing my boyfriend? NO. WAY. I did not care what kind of “restricted area” this was - and we weren’t even inside the campus, we were on the road, which was definitely a public place. And there was no reason why obscenity laws should apply to two consenting kissing - just kissing! - without anyone around!!
“We don’t have so much money!” Rahul said.
“Kitna hai tumhare paas?”
Rahul showed them his wallet. It wasn’t just the principle of the thing - he actually did not have much money. After paying the tab at Barista, he had only a couple of ten-rupee notes on him. The plan had been that I’d drop him off at his place and then take the taxi on to mine.
“Saala kangaal! Iss liye you’re on the road kya?” The guys guffawed. “Ladki ke paas kya hai?”
I was beyond being offended by now. This was harassment, plain and simple. They clearly had no intention of actually arresting us - they probably did not even have legal grounds to do so. They just wanted money. And we wanted to get out of there without any (more) trouble.
“I have a hundred rupees,” I said. “But you have to give me fifty rupees back so that we can take a taxi home.”
“Ohohoho! You are trying to negotiate? Zyada oversmart mat bano, we can call your parents and talk to them. Ghar pe pata chalega toh kya hoga?”
At that moment, I really, really wanted to hit them. I wanted to snatch one of those rifles and beat them on the head with it. This, however, did not seem like a good idea. So I said the only thing I could think of…
“Ghar pe pata hai sab ko.”
It was the final straw for them, I think. They’d clearly not been expecting us to actually be broke enough to not have sufficient cash for a bribe. Plus they’d been asked to give us change back to get home. And, on top of that, I’d just told them that our parents knew about our relationship.
Muttering about “besharam khaandaan” and “aaj kal ke chhokriyaan”, they handed the ID cards back to us. “Niklo idhar se!” One guy gestured with his gun.
I picked up the umbrella from where it had fallen during our kissing session, and we made a run for it. Five minutes later, we were in a taxi, headed home.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Rahul said. “What if they’d really called your parents?’
“Anything is better than forking out money to jackasses like that!” I said. “I have one request, though…”
“The next time you kiss me, can you please do it in, like, your house or something?”
“Bitch,” he replied, and pulled me into a hug.
When I finally got home at 10 p.m., I had a hard time explaining to my parents why I was so late - and so wet! I couldn’t tell them the real story, of course, so had to settle for having lost track of time and wanting to experience the rain and other lame stuff. They grounded me for a full week. On day eight, though, I met Rahul - at his place. He kissed me again...and it was magical. :-)
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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It was the middle of November when Rahul kissed me for the first time. We’d been dating for a month or so, and we loved hanging out, but the boldest we’d been when it came to physical intimacy was holding hands. He was my first ever “serious” relationship - basically my only relationship that had progressed beyond cracking flirty jokes with each other - and I was waiting eagerly for that magical kiss.
Published on Nov 13, 2015