After the Sezzie circumstance, my lingering inability to shower, and feeling firmly like an anchovy milkshake, I launched on a twenty-hour train to Agra.
I toppled into the seat padded with perspiration. I prostrated my bags on the floor like they were full of excess camel fat. I praised the peace that arrives with the absence of young Indian men and opened the only book I presently own in India: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This book is about as entertaining as a slide show on washing dishes. However, when unwanted attention is inescapable, the one thousand two hundred and fifty-two page monstrosity metamorphoses into a textbook I have to complete for a class on that particular bus/train ride. I studied three sentences on Constantine before a twenty-something Indian man thrust aside Methuselah to install himself next to me. The customary inquiry invasion executed, comprising country, name, age, family, job, and travel length in India, I again elevated the Roman reader to my face. I imitated interest in the pages as if they contained instructions on how to construct Puerto Rican Rum solely from water and want. I had procured a lower-tier train seat in non-AC class. Romeo requested I relocate with him to AC-class.
"Your seat isn't even in this section? What are you doing here?" I asked.
"I saw you get on the train, so I came to find you."
"Oh Jesus Christ."
"Umm... sorry, I have to finish this entire book for a class by the time the train stops."
"Drink chai with me," Romeo requisitioned."Actually, it's really hot outside, I just got on with all my luggage, and chai is hot. So no thank you, it's too hot," I said as I repositioned the book to my face. I should produce books that service as sound barriers and shields and market them to Western women traveling through India. My chai reply riled Romeo.
"Friends don't say, 'No thank you.' Friends accept. You accept. We are drinking chai," he said as frustrated as if I had just informed him it was urgent he unearth a magenta unicorn from the train bathroom.
"Honestly, I have to finish this book. So no thank you. Maybe later."
Romeo strode from the seat as if I had told him to "Leave and let live."
Two hours later he rejoined me with two cups of chai. I acquiesced and acknowledged appreciation. Fifteen minutes after, he asked me to visit his home with him. Twelve minutes later, following my adamant refusal, he asked me to marry him.
"What?" I solicited with a sigh, bending the book from my thigh to the seat.
Romeo knocked to one knee. On the train.
"Will you marry me?" "Hell no!"
Romeo demanded reasons.
"Well. Because I barely know you. We live in different countries. I have a boyfriend in my country that I'm going to marry. And I'm pregnant. Yes. That makes sense. Pregnant. With a boyfriend. Or fiance. Something like that."
"Yes. Very pregnant."
"But you don't have a belly."
"In America we don't gain much weight. And I'm only four months pregnant. That's why you can't tell."
I know as much about pregnancy particulars as I know about cooking hippopotamus.
Romeo reached for my stomach.
"No no no. You'll scare him," I whispered, wondering why I was whispering and if I should name my fictitious male baby. Maybe Vulture. Or possibly something with an Asian influence. Pot Bhang.
Romeo rose from his knee and arranged himself next to me again. He lunged for my hand and latched onto it like it was Pamela Anderson porn.
"Marry me," Romeo repeated.
"Honestly, no, and I'm so tired... because I'm pregnant. I have to sleep."
"It's only seven o'clock though."
"So early? Well... the baby needs me to sleep," I stated and swindled a yawn.
The next morning Romeo reappeared. He wanted to eat breakfast with me. When I told him I ate already, the cunning coyote questioned the couple sitting across from me.
"They say you haven't had anything yet."
"When I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth earlier I bought food."
"They don't sell food in the bathroom."
"I bought food outside the bathroom as they were passing to the other compartment. And then ate it standing there. Why does it matter?"
"I want to eat with you."
"Sorry, I already ate. And I really have to finish this book. Sorry."
Romeo endeavored eating efforts one more time, and again questioned the couple when I declined. This time I had prepared by eating in the half-hour interim he was sitting in his own section.
When I departed the train I did so feeling like a fugitive. My escape was ineffectual though, as Romeo intercepted me in the train station. He stroked my stomach as I traipsed away.