It was early in the morning when he stood below and honked. The fellow has come on his bike, she thought, he must be crazy to drive around in such weather! They were in the first week of a frigid January. The fog was so heavy that she couldn’t see the house right across the narrow road. Some days, when she pulled the curtains apart, she got to smell the fog that’s engulfed the house.
She wrapped her neck with a colourful long scarf and wore her long black coat, adding yet another layer to her clothing. She pushed her wild mane into the black cap that hugged her forehead so fiercely that she could sense a headache not so long away. She raced down the stairs while he impatiently went on sounding the blaring horn. His shiny black bike was exhaling fumes. Like a horse that just won a race, she mused.
“Where are we off to, today? What’s on the agenda?” she queried while buttoning up her coat and adjusting herself on the pillion seat.
“CP. Loads to do.” He replied as he raced up his favourite machine.
Woollen gloves don’t seem to make the chill any easier to bear. Her nose may have been a few more degrees cooler than the rest of her face. She loved winters. The harsher, the better. She loved the chilly wind on her face. The stronger the better. She liked the fog. It made her dizzy to watch him drive through the hazy streets, but she still loved the whole experience.
The sun didn’t seem to rise without being prodded to do so. No hurry, she smiled. She could see the streetlights still blinking. She saw colour lights shining in New Year’s hangover. Rarely did another vehicle overtake them. If it did, then she trailed the headlights with her eyes, till as far as she could see.
When they crossed West Delhi, there was a marked difference in the quality of the roads they drove over. Wider and smoother. More trees. Lesser vehicles. More speed. Lesser stops. More roundabouts. When they zoomed past the Ridge, she got the scent of a flower that she will forever associate with Delhi winters. The sickly sweet smell, from greenish white blooms, could only be found early mornings or evenings. The scent seemed so delicate that you feel the sun can vaporize it.
The chilly wind stung her eyes after a while. She closed her eyes to moisten them. And when she looked over his shoulder, a few minutes later, she spotted the Cathedral straight ahead. The bulge in his leather jacket, she realized with a smile, was a box of candles. She hopped off the bike and rubbed her blue palms together, while he parked the vehicle and took a moment to adjust his hair by the rear-view mirror.
With a bike ride through the January fog, began their Millennium.