"I love you love you love you, Ari . . ." she whispered into my ear.
"You sound like Catherine."
"So let me be your Catherine tonight. How do you know I didn't use any commas?"
"There weren't any pauses, and not much of the night left, is there? It is already 3.00 in the morning. so good morning, Catherine."
"I will still call you Ari."
"Okay, so you be my Mia."
"And you my old man? My Woody Allen?"
"The smirnoff was smooth, but i still seem to be swimming in it, Ari."
"I puked it out."
Earlier that night we were together reading a posthumous novel by Hemingway, and I could not help relating her with Catherine that moment. Short hair, crazy, full of surprises. Only we couldn't be married, could we?
"Let's go to sleep now?" I offered.
"Since when are you awake? Has it been 24 hours?"
"Umm, lemme see . . . yes, I woke up last night at 3.15 to get dressed."
"Oh, baby, just go off to sleep now..." she sometimes changes her tone and pets me like I were her son or something. Somehow I feel very comforted, protected whenever she speaks like that.
She has to turn to her left, and so do I. I let her snuggle into me and am surprised at how comfortably my body allows her to dovetail into me. As if we were these gears of a machine, made to order. Is that a bad analogy? Why am I thinking of gears right now? The gears of my motorbike were pretty well-behaved all the way from Bangalore to Pune. They never slipped like they are wont to sometimes. After crossing Kolhapur my body gave up, but I carried on like a machine. I had to reach Pune in one day. I had to reach her . . .
And then, near a diversion, I saw a milestone announcing: Pune 47 km. The other milestones passed me by, every fifty seconds or so . . .
"Ari, I had a vision this evening."
"You are my clairvoyant, aren't you? My very own, my pet psychic. What did you see this time?"
"Will tell you tomorrow."
My eyes were closing. I parked my right hand on her breast and went off to sleep.
"Don't, you won't let me sleep this way! I am sore . . ." she mumbled.
"Ari, old man, wake up you fatso!"
She was standing next to my bed in her pajamas.
"When did you wake up? What time is it?"
"You were snoring, my Woody Allen, I went to the other room."
"Oh, so sorry, why didn't you wake me up? Shit, hope you don't hate me for snoring?" I was embarrassed.
"How can I hate you? Maybe when you leave me and go back to your life, forever, I would. I so want to hate you, Ari. It would make things less painful for me, won't it?"
"Let's talk about something else. I am not leaving now, am I? What were you saying about having a vision yesterday?"
"Oh, it was around 9.30 in the night. I thought I saw you taking a turn on the highway where there was this milestone reading 'Pune 47 km'. But of course all that cannot be true. I so wish it were true though," she was smiling . . .
. . . and that moment I realized how I cannot ever go very far from her, no matter how far.