Late nights often come back in pieces. And usually I can find my way through the pieces. But this one night I can’t…
Piece 1: The Taxi.
“Those guys are in the Goan mafia. Good to have on your side.”
The taxi driver waves to the car going by us. And I don’t think too much of it.
Piece 2: The Nature of India.
Abby says something about how everyday in India there is a surprise. “The trouble is it’s not…”, she begins.
And we both finish laughing, “…always a good surprise.”
If Sonya was watching, she was probably rolling her eyes in disgust. It was one of those movie moments that are cute in movies, but that make you want to puke in real life. The kind of moment that I don’t have many of. But with Abby it was easy.
Later, I find myself thinking of that conversation. And about Abby herself. Another person I don’t think I’ll see again.
Piece 3: Meetings.
We met at the Anjuna Market earlier that afternoon. Abby and Sonya of London. They were bargaining for something. But the lady was going to rip them off. And for some reason I noticed.
And then the afternoon was over. Spent together. Another sunset. And we made plans to meet later that night.
Piece 4: Acronym (A Few Months Earlier).
“You’re going to India?! It’s crazy, but for me it is different. I am a foreigner. But they are your people. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.”
The Frenchmen laughs. He is not your typical Frenchmen. Tall and black with a short afro. He remarks on that as well. And then he says rather excitedly,
“You know what they say about India?”
“No. What?” I reply in my normal unexcited voice that follows when people ask me a question such as this. Because it is rare that a question like this is followed with any type of brilliance.
But the Frenchmen delivers. “INDIA. I’ll Never Do It Again.”
And later I am the excited one, repeating to my parents, “You know what they say about India?” And they see the brilliance too.
And it is an acronym I think of everyday in India. Because in it there is a question. Only this is a question that I think I know my answer to. But I’m just not sure that I like my answer.
Piece 5: Another Taxi.
We get in the cab and Sonya laughs, “Jagjeet sandwich.”
The only reason this of note is because usually when those two words are put together it is in a sentence like, “Jagjeet, can I make you a sandwich?” or “Jagjeet, would you like fries with your sandwich?” It is not me in a cab with with two beautiful girls.
Some time passes.
“How much are you drinking tonight?” Sonya asks. I mutter something about trying to avoid sleeping on any beaches. But Abby says that I’ll be keeping up with her.
Piece 6: Drinking.
And so Abby and I drink.
Piece 7: The Palm Reader.
Abby met the Palm Reader on some other night. She says that he gives her the creeps, but he is friends with one of the guys with Sonya.
Piece 8: The Stranger.
“Come with me,” the Stranger says to me as I walk from the bathroom back towards Sonya and Abby.
“Stranger! Danger!” I yell. But no. It is just my imagination afterwards. The same imagination that wished that while I was being mugged that I had a clown hankerchief in my pocket. But I am not a clown. Though this will be a mugging all the same. But of a different sort.
Instead I say, “I don’t know who you are. I am going back to my friends.” And I am looking in the direction of where we were all sitting. But I don’t see them.
He stands to the side of me to block me and glances backwards. My eyes follow his glance. Sonya is sitting one seat closer with one of the guys she had met previously. But my eyes don’t see which guy. Because my eyes are searching for Abby.
Piece 9: Gold Chain.
The guy fingers his gold chain. It is unnatural and absurd. But it’s the thing that I remember most from the night. (Well that and Abby in her blue shirt that she bought earlier at the market.) Because I’ve never liked gold. And because most wear it badly.
But I suppose that I was supposed to know what the chain meant. Beyond the obvious threat. Though I wasn’t thinking about the Goan mafia just then. My mind was still on a girl that was leaving in 8 hours.
Piece 10: A Question
Sonya says to me, “Don’t you like [Abby]?” Only she doesn’t call her Abby. She calls her something else. A nickname, but it’s obvious who she is talking about. Abby and I have been inseparable for most of the night. But I don’t remember my answer.
Piece 11: The Surprise.
“Leave the Goans alone.”
“Goans stick together. You should leave.”
“What? Oh. I’ll just go over and say my goodbyes,” I dumbly reply.
“No. You won’t.”
His words have a sense of finality about them. He moves himself closer to be more threatening. I am not looking for a fight just then. So I do what an alcoholic would do and go to the bar and order myself another drink.
Of water. Cold and refreshing.
Sometimes there is a strange clarity to being drunk. People don’t tell you that, but it’s true. This is not one of those moments though. Thus the water.
Piece 12: Outgunned
His turf. Or more likely their turf.
4 a.m. I’m tired.
How much did we drink? Open bar. And now I can’t remember.
Piece 13: A Rushed Departure.
Sonya and one of the guys she met come over to the bar. And I tell them what happened. We find Abby. And Abby wants to go. Sonya wants to stay and dance. And Abby is not leaving Sonya.
And so I leave. Alone once more.
Piece 14: Dreams.
This is the piece that came earlier. And later. The piece that can’t be shared because some things I hold close to my heart.
Like an old friend. Because before I left his dad said,
“You know [him]. He holds his plans close to his heart.”
And I do know him. And I am like him. Though after so many years apart there are times when I forget.