I am someone who is prone to accidents. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never crashed my car to a lump or got my skull cracked open to end me up in intensive care but I am a frequent visitor to the emergency room to get a cast or a crape bandage or dressing. To put it as simply as I can, I get involved in a lot of self-induced accidents that stem from my clumsiness and as my sister puts it “pathetic mind body co-ordination.”
Twenty three years of dealing with this innate feature and breaking “handle with care” things and myself, I developed a certain mental dos and don’ts: Never be adventurous enough to think that you can cross through wet floors gracefully; never walk too close to the shelves at the super market or gift stores; sit down with ceramic plates at buffets and don’t think you can do it this time, you cannot.
With all these rules well set in my mind I entered the pet shop to buy a present for my mother on mother’s day and found my soulmate. Well, at least in my mind.
Amidst a gallery of small aquariums and fish bowls was a rather tall guy having a conversation with the shopkeeper. He was kind of sort of cute with his ruffled hair and awkward body language so I focused my attention on him for a while before going to see some puppies in the back room.
He was constantly shifting his weight from one leg to another and had no clue what to do with his hands while standing and talking to this unknown person. He decided to rest one hand on the nearby table and lean on it but instead it hit a fish bowl on that table making it swing back and forth a little and the gold fish in it went berserk assuming it was its end now. Close enough though.
He decided to consciously stand upright again to prevent any damage and a sudden empathetic relatability made me crush on him a little harder. As he was about to end his conversation, I decided to shift my focus to not make it too embarrassingly evident. He walked towards the birds section probably to select one of the colourful parrots for himself (and not his girlfriend I hope). The floor was absolutely flat but he tripped on some invisible object in the small distance between the counter to the bird cage. Somehow managing to not fall on his face he continued his walk a little embarrassed now because he probably heard my slight giggle.
I decided to blush a little less and move on to select the cutest puppy in the house. As I opened the door of the room where the pups were having their gala I heard a loud thud of something heavy falling on a glass. Yes, I knew what material sounds like what when it falls, judge me all you want. The thud was followed by crashing sound of glass breaking and a loud shriek from the counter side.
I turned to see what the hullabaloo was all about and was amused and worried about what I witnessed. The guy had somehow managed to topple a huge and heavy cage of tiny yellow birds on a beautiful glass aquarium that shattered it to pieces. So now, the small dingy room was filled with twenty tiny birds flying to their freedom in frivolous frenzy with the shopkeeper shouting “What the fuck” in continuous chorus. Meanwhile, the water from the aquarium along with the unfortunate fish was spreading on the room floor making it a huge mess.
The loud noises of crashing and falling somehow triggered the puppies in the room that I had forgotten to close in all this confusion. Six of them rushed in the room of catastrophe to sniff the fish on the floor, bark at the annoying birds or play with the water filled on the floor. The shop-keeper, like us, had no clue how to contain the situation and just stood there with exasperated immobility.
I took a deep sigh thanking the stars that for a change this was not caused by me and then glanced at the boy standing in the middle of the disaster. He was looking at it all in a daze for a few minutes and then he looked at me and his lower lip pouted a little with mortification and a hint of mirth.
I pursed my lips in an attempt to contain my laughter but eventually we both gave in and the room was filled with booming laughs.
I walked in the pet shop because it was starting to feel lonely since my break up and since Kanika moved out. Not that I missed her. It ended on a pretty bad note where I wouldn’t want to see her again at least for a while but I missed having someone in the house. Instead of resorting to tinder, I decided I would buy myself a cute fuzzy pet. “You are horribly irresponsible,” are one of the accusations directed at me by Kanika and I resolved to get rid of it by taking complete care of a living creature.
But not a dog. That’s too much responsibility. Let’s not get too ambitious to start with. Let’s take it slow. Krish suggested I should get myself an aquarium but honestly, that’s the worst pet to have in my opinion. They are just there with their presence only being evident when the aquarium water starts looking like sewage and it’s time for some tedious cleaning. So, NOT after much thought but just on a whim, I decided to get a birdie and the pet shop near my apartment seemed like a good place to get one.
I kept delaying the endeavour of actually going to the shop because human interaction made me uncomfortable to no limit. I liked to live alone in my now “bachelor’s pad” and order almost everything possible online. On most days my human interaction was limited to delivery boys of Amazon, Flipkart and Grofers until Krish dropped by and forced me to move out.
So, this fateful day I decided to go inside the shop and finally get the damn bird.
It is not like that I am clumsy but somehow things around me tend to go bananas and this makes social situations very embarrassing and an ultimate level of this embarrassment happened inside that pet shop. To worsen the circumstances, all the misadventure that happened inside that tiny shop was in front of a very pretty girl. Universe likes games.
So I was talking to the grumpy shopkeeper about the prices when she entered in the shop and suddenly I was very conscious of my posture and looks and position in the shop. From the corner of my eye I could see that she was observing me and my nerves went crazy.
My mother would have been very disappointed in me because in that moment I didn’t know how to stand like a normal person. I did not know what to do with my hands or which side to lean on. I casually tried to lean on a table nearby and almost toppled the fish bowl on it.
Realizing that I had made a fool of myself already. I took a deep breath and decided to stand straight like an obedient school boy. Ignoring the girl as much as I could I decided to move towards the birds and select one from the bunch but my conscious being decided to almost stumble and trip me on the way and make the girl giggle. Good going Abhay!
Distracted, I picked up a small cage that had a pretty red bird in it that matched the top of the girl in front of me. But picking up the cage somehow slid the huge grey cage next to it and to my extreme horror that humungous thing fell on a crystal aquarium situated just below it.
A series of F word played in my mind as I watched the disaster I had initiated unfold in front of me. Like in a bad comedy play, the situation escalated very quickly with the maddening swarm of birds fluttering irritatingly all about the room.
I watched the water from the broken aquarium fill up the room and the fish flow with it in pity and good amount of guilt. This accident was fatal for the completely innocent. I tried to avoid any eye contact with the shopkeeper who was evidently angry because he got louder with each “what the fuck.”
To make the situation go a little more out of control (if that was even possible) some puppies from the other room joined the party I had hosted. I watched all the elements go bonkers one by one and threw an instantaneous glance towards the helpless shopkeeper but quickly moved it to the stunned girl in front of me.
To be honest, I found all of this a little funny now but I was anxious about what the girl thought before being a laughing jackass. Her eyes were a little lighted and I saw pity coupled with surprising appreciation in it.
We both could not hold it in any longer and burst out laughing at it all together. Amidst that shared laughter I realized I wouldn’t get a no if I asked for coffee.