Translated By Priya Arun
|pic courtesy: Alan Cleaver/https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/|
I couldn’t get a wink of sleep all that night. I kept touching my cheek all the time. Something told me she might be in love with me too. But I wasn’t sure. She comes from a country where even a kiss on the lips is no big deal. What’s a little peck on the cheek? Who knows if she were to tell me the next day that I reminded her of her brother! I was very confused.
I expected her to phone me the next day. I waited. It was she who hugged and kissed me. She would call if she had any feelings for me at all. My pride lasted only a few minutes more. I called her.
“Why don’t we meet sometime?”
“I need to tell you something?”
“Can you do that over the phone?”
“I don’t think so. I want to talk to you in person.”
“Alright. Meet me at Coffee Day this evening.”
The two-hour gap seemed never-ending. Even stepping into Coffee Day would cost me a hundred bucks. So I decided to while my time at the tea-shop outside. I bought myself a fag. I was quite anxious about what she might have to say. I drew in the smoke in with all my might and blew out a huge whiff of smoke. I suddenly realised she was standing there, in the cloud of smoke, looking at me with her arms firmly crossed.
I nearly jumped out of my skin but tried to appear cool. I smiled sheepishly, hurriedly snuffing my cigarette out. “Er...just once in a while. Since you said you’d be late, I thought I’d...um...I rarely smoke...”
She walked into Coffee Day without saying a word. We found a table and she ordered cappuccino again. “Shankar, I really don’t know why I kissed you yesterday. I just couldn’t resist the urge. I don’t even know why I like you. I couldn’t sleep the whole of last night. You know, I’ve never felt this way before. And if this is the love you spoke about yesterday, well, I must say, it’s a great feeling. But I’m terribly confused. What’s to happen to these feelings next year when I will be back in the States? And your dream is to become a film director. I don’t think our goals will ever match. I don’t think I can change my plans and I don’t think it’s fair for me to expect you to do that either. So, what’s the point in even committing to anything now?”
Her confusion surprised me! Why was she overthinking this? I think it’s silly to base our decisions based on what’s going to happen a year from now. I didn’t meet her with an agenda of falling in love with her. Such things just happen. Though I was a little irritated with her confusion, it seemed very endearing. Her childlike-perplexity made me want to hold her tight and kiss her.
“Hey, listen. I feel you shouldn’t be thinking about this so much. And I don’t even think either of us should change ourselves right now. Okay? Just let thing be for now. You do like me, right? That will do for now. Who knows, once we spend more time with each other, change might come just naturally. Well, if the changes don’t happen, then we should look at it as though it was never meant to be. So, for now, let me tell you, I love you. I really do.” As I said that, on an impulse, I pulled out the artificial rose out of the vase on the table and offered it to her dramatically. She accepted it with a giggle and hugged me. I felt a lot of love in that warm embrace.
And then, we started getting closer to each other as days passed. I would start from home early every morning, pick her up, drop her at her office and then get to work. This had now become a routine. And what a routine it was! Twenty minutes of togetherness—sheer bliss. How do I even begin to explain how happy those bike rides made me feel? With a lovely girl holding on tight, the fresh morning breeze blowing on the face...the feeling is something one must experience in order to understand it.
It beats me how I managed to change myself so much! I had never woken up before 8:30 in the morning.
“Have you ever felt the early morning sun rays on your skin?”
I started waking up at 6:30 every morning.
She noticed my growing beer-belly, as if my being overweight weren’t enough. “What’s the point in waking up early? You need to get active. Go for a walk. Play a game of badminton It’s good for the body...and the mind as well.”
That girl spoke a lot of sense.
“You know what? You look quite cool when you smoke. And then the smell of nicotine...um...when we kiss and all that. Yet, I think you should cut down on your smoking. Doesn’t help you keeping fit, really.”
She was right. I couldn’t run well during badminton practice. I started reducing the number of times I smoked in a day. Meera observed it, “Gosh! I’ve told him a zillion times to quit smoking but all he would do was to blow the smoke right into my face. I guess he needed someone special to do the talking.
“Hey! It’s not me Meera. He plays badminton everyday and he realized he was getting breathless easily. That’s the reason.” I felt good when she tried to secretly guard me (or ‘us’?).
I noticed small changes in her as well. She had stopped wearing those horrible leggings. She had stopped chewing gum. The best part, she had even stopped interrupting when someone spoke! But her bossy side was still intact. She continued taking a lot of decisions of my behalf. Well, I seemed to revel in it.
In a matter of just three months, it felt as though we were just made for each other. It was beautiful. Everything seemed just fine until that rainy day—that rainy day when we were alone at her apartment. If only I had avoided staying back at her apartment that day, the huge fight might have probably been avoided as well.