This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any living or dead people is entirely coincidental.
I had arrived a day before, but felt like a veteran, riding the official ride of aurovillians, the TVS moped. It wouldn’t go any faster, and I was dangerously close to missing my lunch. My guest house served all three meals, strictly at 7 am, 1 pm and 7pm. Avoiding the potholes and swerving to avoid the goats, I saw her waving, apparently at me. The wave changed into a thumb pointing to the direction I was going. She was dressed in loose cottons and manali pants, and you could mistake her for a spanish tourist. A pretty spanish girl who looks indian. I braked my moped to a halt and then noticed a baby near her, playing on the ground. He was covered all over his body in blue stripes.
“Ink?”, I asked her pointing towards the boy.
“Yeah must be..he was playing with another kid, and I had taken my eyes off them just for a minute….and when I noticed, both of them were covered like this.”
“Let me take my bag in front”, said I, letting them onto my moped.
“Are you living in the village?”, she asked.
“Village? I don’t know, I am staying at the Cheruze guest house. You know near the Mother’s market.”
“How much do they charge?”
“750 per day, but they include three meals and a wifi connection.”
“ohh..that is too expensive for me. I won’t be able to afford that.”
“Where are you put up now?”, I asked.
“I am looking for a cheap place, you know I don’t have much money.”
“Are you sharing it with someone?”, she asked.
“No, staying alone. It is expensive for me as well. I have booked only for 10 days. Will search for some other place, meanwhile.”
“Do you have any friends there?”
“Not yet, I know a few people, but not friends yet. I came only yesterday, you know”, I said.
“Oh”, she said, the tone of which I took as ‘oh you don’t know how to go about living in this place. Staying alone! Imagine!!’
I sensed that she wanted me to ask her if she wants to share a room with me. And suddenly I started imagining things, dirty nappies, standing in line for vaccine shots, waiting for the baby to sleep in the small single room I had, every night, and on and on. She wasn’t asking me to marry her, fuck she hadn’t even asked aloud if I wanted to share a room. Couldn’t she get a job, with her fluent english and sauve ways, if she needed money.
“What do you do in Auroville?”, I finally asked.
“I am a teacher. I was working as a teacher with the Tamil Nadu government. And then he got born, and I lost my job.”
“Oh wow..same pinch, I haven’t earned anything in the last few years. Living on my savings”, said I, hoping to establish that I was no rich corporate honcho, the modern landlord’s son.
Meanwhile the boy got excited and started jumping between us.
“He seems to be having fun”, I said.
“Yeah he does this everytime we are on a bike. He is calm in a car, but on a two wheeler, he feels like he is the one riding it. Soon he will go to prep school, or kg school or no school, since I have no money.”
Meanwhile my guest house neared. And it was with a mix of guilt and shame that I stopped my moped at the turn which takes me to my guest house. I felt the hot summer sun pouring down on us, mainly on them. What made it even worse was something she had said when she sensed that I was about to stop and say ‘bye bye’.
“I don’t know where we are headed”, she muttered anxiously.
“Does anybody”, I thought, as I raced my moped, without looking back.