Birthday #22

It was a long day. “Hey, I am heading home. Are you coming with me?”, I asked my flatmate. Kiran said, “Not right now. I have some more stuff to do before I wind up. You go ahead.”. I headed out in my bike. It was a red and black 500 cruiser. It made its presence known. I was a fan. I liked to hear her roar. And I roared her home.

It was about fifteen minutes to midnight. I was on bed after a shower. Seela was online. “How was your day ?”. “It was awesome. Lakshmi and I went to the mall today for shopping. We ate pizzas. Saw a movie. How was your day honey”. “I was very busy today. We had some emergencies, but we managed. So whats your plan for the weekend.”. I missed her very badly. “By the way honey, could you open the front door. I think Kiran is waiting outside. He texted me ”. “Alright, Alright”. As I was about to open the door, Seela said, “By the way my dear, Happy Birthday”. And I opened the door.

I was staring at a bright light. I was swept off my legs. People were shouting happy birthday. I don’t remember what happened to my conversation with Seela. And before it all made sense, I was sitting with the guys in the sofa, beer in hand. And that was my 22nd birthday. Seela had also given me a birthday present. A clay model she made, Krishna with Radha by His side. I loved it.

The next morning came about as usual. I woke with a lot of birthday wishes from family and friends. I hoped on my ride and started out for yet another day, and yet another year, ahead. Ashish, my second flatmate, was behind me. As usual, we woke up late and had under ten minutes to reach the office on time. The engines roared beneath me. I was too familiar with the roads, I knew each and every corner and all the speed breakers. But this time, there was an idiot waiting for me at a turning that was also partly a small bridge over a canal.

I thought i was seeing double. One mini-truck was overtaking a similar mini-truck and blocked the entire road. There was no way for me to even wiggle through. I was too fast. I had no choice but to slam the brakes. I knew we would fall. I am not sure if i really said, “Ashi, lookout !”. We skidded. Luckily the mini-trucks were coming at us at minimal speed. They must have stopped as soon as they saw us. I skidded into the front tire of one vehicle. Ashish rolled off into the other. Happy Birthday indeed.

Kiran was right behind us at this time. He saw the whole thing. He said many things. I only remember mumblings. We were rushed into the nearest hospital. It was very rare for an accident that involved a heavy ride like my cruiser to end without serious injuries. This was one of those rare incidents. Both of us escaped with scrapes and bruises. No bones were broken.

The entire office came out in the morning to see us. And since we only had very minor injuries, they were lavish in their scoldings. Somehow Ashish and I came up the same excuses. “We were travelling at 45. There was nothing we could have done. We even started out fifteen minutes early today.”. It was obvious from their faces that they didn’t buy it. Not even a single one. I tried the same with Seela, but who was i kidding. Anyways, she couldn’t blame me much. She too enjoyed the roar of the engine and the wind in her hair. So i was safe. But she got pretty scared.

A few days later, to make matters worse, the local news came out with a CCTV footage of our accident. The security cameras on a house nearby caught the whole incident. Our explanations were busted open. Luckily it also caught the mini-trucks and everyone agreed that it was mostly their fault, and also that we were lucky to be alive. And that my dear friends was how i turned 22.