Staring groggily into my watch, I saw it was about 2 in the morning. She was snoring away peacefully beside me. It took a while for me to realise why I was up so dazed. It was an intense pang of hunger. Nothing like I had ever experienced before. A curious one at that, it was not the kind that would make you snatch food or go fishing inside dumpsters. This was more like a weed induced one that gets your brain to overclock into immediate action.
It was a warm windless night as always. A crummy fluorescent bulb dangling outside lit the gate and a bit of the road beyond it dully.
I sat on the bed for a few minutes thinking. I couldn’t try the kitchen as it had nothing. And I needed something substantial. The only option was trying my luck outside despite there being no possibility of some eatery open at this hour. Everything here closed down before 10, and I have seldom seen anything but street dogs and snoring security guards after 12.
I didn’t wake her up and quietly slipped outside, locked the house, quietly opened the gate and pushed the bike outside without starting it. I didn’t wish to wake her up. “If she had the same problem, she’d be up instead of slumbering away like a log”, I thought. Once I was far enough, I started the bike and headed for the Highway.
As the highway wound into the hills towards the University, the air became mildly colder. Except for some sputtering trucks, it was practically deserted, and I revved up to 80s which was the best I could hope to get with that 9 bhp bike. It felt good to ride against the cold wind.
There was a small food cart converted to a stall near the University where they sold cigarettes during the day and did unlicensed restaurant business in the night. Seeing the light and some people, I stopped to check it out. They would close only by 4, said the guy running it. Every day, he would sneak in spiced up chicken pieces, tapioca and beef to cook them behind the stall using a kerosene stove. I ordered fried chicken, boiled tapioca and black tea.
The food wasn’t bad. It was while sipping tea after polishing off tapioca and chicken that I thought about she waking up to find me nowhere around. Appetite receiving all the focus of attention, I’d forgotten to take the phone with me. And what if I die in an accident on my way back? How would it be for her? The guy goes to sleep next to you and the next thing you hear is that he dies in an accident. It would be sort of surreal, I thought.
Surrealism wasn’t in the universe's plan for that night it seems. It was about quarter to 4 by the time I reached back. She never got a whiff of all this happening around her, sleeping curled into a ball. I listened to the sounds from the darkness outside and watched an old cat scratching the bike’s saddle furiously for a while. The fluorescent bulb kept doing its best to illuminate the draggy picture.
Image courtesy of Fanny Berthiaume @ deviantart
Title and general idea courtesy of Haruki Murakami