You’d think an airport is for catching flights, but I kid you not; it’s a decent enough place to catch feelings too.
I realised that day, I drag random conversations with random, but only jaw-droppingly gorgeous, strangers better than I drag a suitcase.
He stood next to me, holding my book, while I knotted my undone shoelaces that he happened to notice and point out.
When I took to my feet, I saw the same beautiful hunk I had spotted at the baggage counter. Oh, how he smiled so deliciously, displaying his perfect set of teeth and flexing his smooth angular jaw.
“So you are flying to Mumbai too?” I slipped in a casual question.
“Yes, I am. And you?” It was working exactly like I had hoped it would. Deliberately undoing my shoelaces for his attention was a long shot, but I guess cupid was on my side that day.
“Yes, Mumbai”, I replied coyly. I don’t know why I do that—soft voice, careful diction and a cute fumble. These tall, athletic men make me very nervous. Because otherwise, I am one sassy bitch.
We were about to reach the seating area when he hit me with another question. I must be looking like a bit of an item in those baggy jeans and my turtle neck sweater, for he seemed to be showing interest in me too. I won’t lie; my stomach did tickle at the thought of it.
“So, are you visiting Mumbai for a vacation or..?”
He waited for me to take over, and I did.
“No, no, I am a Mumbaikar, and you?”
I made sure to keep the conversation going.
“I am going for work?” I was intrigued.
“Yeah? What do you do?” I asked, genuinely interested this time.
“I am an actor.”
“Nooooo” my mind screamed. He is an actor I didn’t recognise! “This can’t be good, for his ego or our love story,” I thought.
I panicked. I wanted to make up for this, but we halted right in front of my parents in the seating area. Yes, I completely forgot about my folks, who were now witnessing their daughter flirt with a stranger.
My eyeballs travelled from their confused, mildly furious faces to this stranger’s a couple of times before I uttered the next sentence. Perhaps, the most awkward two minutes of my life.
“Ah…sorry, I didn’t recognise you,” I said exactly what I should not have. What it sounded like was, “You are a failed actor who nobody recognises.”
“I…I don’t mean it like that..” I squinched.
My father was pretending to read, but I could tell he was listening. I swear I noticed a disappointed nod right after that stupid statement escaped my mouth. And I don’t know if it was because his daughter was trying to toy with a boy or how clumsily she was doing it.
“Relax, it’s okay. See you.” He smiled and walked away. And I slumped into a chair next to my father, flushed and ashamed of my diluting social skills. My father asked me who he was, and I replied with, “I don’t know, I didn’t ask his name.”
We were now queued outside the boarding gate, and I saw him standing about five and a half people ahead of me. The toddler in the bald man’s arms wouldn’t stop screeching.
I was itching to know the dreamy boy’s name; how could I not. Yes, I made a total fool of myself, but I should know the man’s name, the one who’ll forever remember me as the stupid girl at the airport. So, I trotted towards him, ignoring my parents.
“Hey, I am Zeba, by the way.”
He chuckled and extended his muscular hand to meet mine.
Before he could complete his sentence, there was an awkward pause caused by an abrupt, short-lived toot that, well, smelled.
The handsome boy had farted.
I tried hard to cage my wild giggles, but to my relief, he laughed first. We fell out of that queue, hands stuck to our waists, upper bodies slumping down to the ground, vibrating with laughter.
Well, at least now, we were two stupid people at the airport.