I think it is time I told the truth about THE BLADE. Truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God…!
I had a Rampuri knife once upon a time. Rampuri is the name given to a switchblade knife. It is standard issue for Bhai-logs in Mumbai I am told. No Bhai worth his salt would be seen without a couple of them lurking on his person somewhere. Blood-thirsty things… the blades I mean.
Six years ago it was stolen along with my handbag. I miss it… THE BLADE I mean. It was given to me by an old flame, way back in 1989. He was from Bijnor. He was going home on a holiday and shyly asked me what I wanted him to bring for me. In jest, I told him to bring me a Rampuri blade. He took it seriously and helped make history.
I remember I was disappointed when I saw it. I ran my finger along the edge and complained it wasn’t sharp. He was justifiably peeved. He told me the purpose of THE BLADE was to cut people not veggies. The point, I was told, had to be sharp enough to draw blood even with a light touch. Sufficiently chastened, I tried the point against my thumb. The red came welling out… earning me another exasperated look, but impressing me. The point is, it worked (no pun intended). I was pleased, feeling as if I was in business and all I needed now was customers. 😀
Over the next few days I got a couple of instructions on how to use it… and more importantly when NOT to use it. He demonstrated the angles it could inflict the most damage in. I don’t think he was amused when I wanted to try them on him. In retrospect, I think it WAS a mite rude of me… 😛
As if on cue, I was transferred to H. Delhi. [Not N. Delhi… H. Delhi… H as in HORRID. All you Delhi people… it’s no use gunning for my blood. I shall survive you all…!] I was working in the Dhaula Kuan area. It was a holiday that day, for some blessed festival or the other. I had gone to office for some stuff. I knew the buses would be packed by evening and I must leave by afternoon. But… you know how it is, don’t you…? I am a workaholic… and once I sit in front of a system I forget myself and the world. It was 7.30 pm when I got out; ousted rudely by a peon who threatened to shut me up for the night if I didn’t leave instantly. I left.
I come from a small town. The multitude I saw on the roads disoriented me. You know DK (Dhaula Kuan)square? It is massive, right? I hadn’t room to walk. There was no question of catching a bus. I cringed at the thought of spending money on auto… but resigned myself. There were no autos… it was 8.30 by then. I kept trying. No dice. It became 9.30… winter time. Now I was worried. Don’t ask me why I didn’t call. This is pre-cell phone era my child… go out and make a sand castle in the garden…! There was one STD booth… a long way off. Anyway, who was there to call… God doesn’t answer phones. Not mine anyhow. 🙁
I thought I’d better do something- even something damn stupid… or my room-mate would call the police- or worse- my mother. I shuddered to think of the mess I’d get into if I didn’t reach home soon. I had heard of people taking LIFTS. Get up… quick, quick! Go take a peek in the mirror. I bet your hair is standing on end..! Mine did too when SHE gave the fathead suggestion to me. SHE..? Yeah, the fathead inside my head. SHE can talk good when SHE wants to… the nutcase…!
SHE convinced me it was a grand idea… and that I’ll be safe as long as I was careful.
“What careful..?” I scoffed. (The hell with the grammar).
“Don’t take a lift in a car… remember what happened last time you did..?” SHE had lowered her voice conspiratorially. HER tone did my morale a bunch of good. Someday… I swear I’ll kill her… the DUMB piece of sodden wood… the absolutely infuriating bundle of burnt out hay..! [What happened with the car..? Oh that’s another long story. I’ll tell you some other day.]
“Look confident. You know…? COOL..! Not that you can EVER look cool. The word gauche was coined just for you. Just this once- if it kills you- try looking like you have a spine. Or you’ll get us both up the creek without a paddle”, SHE finished encouragingly.
Great! What little gumption I had was under my high heels getting ground into the pavement.
I began flagging two-wheelers. It was 10.15 by then. They were all avoiding me like the plague. No one so much as slowed down. Then… oh, merciful God…! One motorcycle rider stopped and looked back at me inquiringly. I rushed over. He was a young chap not one of those middle-aged lecherous monsters. This one I could deal with. My confidence picked itself off the pavement and tried to mark its presence.
“Are you going towards Karol Bagh, sir? Can you drop me there..?” I asked him breathlessly. When I saw him nod… relief flooded my map. My ingratiating grin nearly dislocated my jaw.
I perched myself on his bike and we were off in seconds. DK to Karol Bagh… you have to go by Shankar Road… with Buddha Park on way, right? When we were near the park, he slowed down a bit, turned his head a fraction and said, “Let us sit in the park for a while… shall we?”
Park…? I went cold. I ball of lead I hadn’t noticed in my throat went rolling down my gullet and landed in the base of my stomach with a dull thud. Why..? Oh, because those days Buddha Park was serving the same purpose as automobile back seats serve in the US. SHE..? Oh, SHE had disappeared. No smart-ass suggestion from her..! My guardian angel came awake though and began an urgent monologue in my ear. I dug out THE BLADE from my bag. This was the second time I was preparing to use it. I flicked the button and the blade made a musical click. I loved the reassuring sound. He heard it too. I slid my arm under his right arm. He- the poor worm- thought I was feeling romantic and was hugging him. He slid back to come closer to me. I held the knife upright pointing it at his nose and quietly told him, “I have this on your neck. In half a second I can plunge it in smoothly. Of course, I’ll get hurt too… but you surely will be dead. Ride on please.”
I felt him shudder. His ardor cooled and he broke out in sweat. He slid forward again… futilely trying to put distance between us. I retrieved my arm and put the point of THE BLADE just inside his collar. He must have felt the trickle of blood running down his back. Yet he didn’t say a word. We reached Karol Bagh eventually. I got off the bike, smiled prettily and said thanks to him. I still had THE BLADE in my hand. I held it up for him to look at. The street light glinted on it merrily. I swear he turned blue. Maybe it was the cold… though I doubt it. A corner lout took one look at THE BLADE another at me and took to his heels like the anaconda was after him- and gaining.
I just shook the blade like an admonishing finger in front of the biker’s eyes. He didn’t say anything and I didn’t either. Though I am sure my eyes told him a couple of home truths and they must have smarted him like barbed wire embedded in his skin. I don’t think he was a bad guy… had he been he’d have known how to deal with an amateur like me. I doubt he’d ever done anything like it before… or since. He dropped his gaze, kicked his bike and left. I turned and began my trek home too. I know I was lucky that day… damn lucky.
I doubt if he ever forgot me, or my Rampuri. We BLADES are like that. 😀
Note: This was written in 2007 for a Women’s Day challenge. I won the first prize. 😀 This is a true incident. Narrated with no embellishments, no exaggerations- in the raw. Yes, I was a clueless nut a million years ago. How about you?