Sunday, February 24, 2013

8th January

I did not hit the sack the night before that auspicious January afternoon when I was about to meet him. I counted a thousand sheep separating the black ones from the white and making them stand in separate lines, like it goes in school assembly, with a feeble hope of retiring to bed. I was worried about what I should wear and if it would be cheerlessly cold in Delhi when we meet. Those thoughts had hijacked my mind to rob me of sleep. The only hope was to spend the night staring at the yellow street lamp that always had an eye for my bedroom.

8th January was the date marked in my calendar for our rendezvous. A fortnight before, he informed without the subtle signs of euphoria that he would spend only half an hour with me, and then head to Gurgaon for his official meeting. I had to pick the broken pieces of my heart and nod in approval. I wanted him to stay longer   for us to converse. A four year old conversation was waiting to break free. Reconciling to his dictatorial declarations, I waited for the dawn to break.

While fiddling with the phone in the morning, I saw a message waiting for me in the message box of facebook!
It said that if I would reach by 2.30 pm I would get to sit with him for thirty minutes. I wonder if those words deserved to be replayed like an old noisy record. Arrrgh! I didn't know if this platonic complication should ever be called love in a future I had not seen.

I reached the International airport by 2.00 pm. The cab driver had a million questions for me, and his queries were fed with lies. I couldn't have narrated to him, my non-existent love story. After paying his fare, I hurriedly boarded the escalator. Since I couldn't show the security authorities my photo identity card, my entry into the visitor's lounge got barred. Until I rigged into my bag and saw my folder of certificates, which saved my face in that moment of disaster.  I went to the washroom to check myself out in the mirror for the faintest of fine lines and waves in my tresses had to be fixed. Later, I walked up to lounge and seated myself on one of the white seats fixed to the floor. Those butterflies in my stomach were multiplying from tens to thousands, while I kept dillydallying around the lounge. I still kept checking myself out on the masonry laid under my feet, and alternatively went to read the destination board. Then I paced to the large door out of which passengers could be seen going in and out, trying to make sure that he had not arrived yet. Meanwhile to do away with my fragile fears, I was reading prayers from my phone's folder.

While awaiting his arrival, I saw a lot of tormented souls harrying to see a glimpse of the people they had come to receive, some even exposing placards with names written on them. Meanwhile, a man came out dressed in a brown sweater and cap and shoes that were as old as him. Oh no! It couldn't have been him! Such a dumb looking fellow, even though he looked a lot like him, and if not for the guy going away in the other direction which proved to be a blessing, I would have surely gone up to him to greet him with a colgate smile. The other night I had used an abundant amount of toothpaste and mouthwash to get sparkling white teeth. A smile was the only jewel I was wearing for this date. Yellow gold will be hated to its last bit of existence and junk jewellery wouldn't have complimented the black cardigan I was donning.

He arrived a little later, looking sagged and sleepy and complaining about a fellow passenger who didn't let him slip into his afternoon siesta. He was as tall as me and my heart bled, for I liked tall guys and  I had expected him to stand taller than me. I shied like a newly wedded bride and he wasn't looking at me either, nullified by nervousness. How would two skeptical souls stammering in speech ever write a love story? I wondered!

We traced our footsteps along the glazed flooring, trying to not look at each other out of coyness churning our souls. Finally, we decided to have coffee at the Costa, he wasn't willing to settle for anything less than a capppucinno. I was appalled by his airiness because anyways I wasn't planning to take him to one of those South Indian cafes where he will have to sip coffee from steel glasses heated to boiling point.

I couldn't look into his eyes while he kept staring at me trying to catch a glimpse of the "Miss Goody two shoes" I pretended to be. I kept batting my eyelids and counted the legs of the sofa he was seated on to drive away the jitters. I just couldn't look at him and in that split second discovered the modest maiden in me.
He was feeling the discomfort and when he happened to inquire about the same, did I really realize that I had to look at the brighter side of things and hit on a conversation. When the words were let free out of my mouth, there was no stopping us. We kept talking from there on, and our chatter prattled around family, friends, work and even Delhi rape protests. And in the midst of this repartee, I kept gawking at my watch and enquired about his Gurgaon meeting. He ignored it saying, that it was not all that important and he will leave in another hour. So from a qui vive of an encounter, it became a date.

We left the airport and went to one of the majestic malls in Gurgaon, in his call to spend more time with me. He told me that he wanted to share a meal with me. I don't know if that meant he wanted to spend more time with me or was aiming to empty his wallet at his will.
Chowki was the restaurant that managed to grab our eyeballs for it rustic name and ambiance and in a jiffy we were positioned on the lush sofas inside. I being a vegetarian was the  other fact about me, which I trusted he knew of. For all the cribbing and cussing I did on facebook against meat eaters, this was something he missed. He is one of the rarest of rare of my facebook stalkers and even then he didn't know. Alas!
We shared a plate of mushroom gobi manchurian with paranthas, naan for me and pudina parantha for him. The other day a friend told me that there was this custom of taking supper,  before dinner in Singapore, the country he was coming from.
This was our first supper together which seemed impossible until a few years ago, for the two continents we lived in.
Amid the conversations, he asked me about the chicken and egg story, the perennial question I always tried to brush under the carpet, while telling me his tales about the Penn kanal Chadang (PKC). One of the girl would have walked away with him if not for the disinterest he had displayed towards her. He was seeking time to settle in his business, while they wanted an April wedding. My heart shuddered at that thought, of seeing him go away with another girl. Even then for once I wanted to ask him, that million dollar question. Did he really love me? My heart was saying a yes but my head was saying a no, for my head knew the answer even before it was to be mouthed.

As we gobbled up the food, he gave me a hint of what he thought of me, which was nowhere close to the castle of dreams I had built. I felt that I was trying to look for a needle in a hay stack. I didn't know what to make of it.. Perhaps I had feigned a fable in my dreams, and decided at that moment to call this nameless formless relationship as friendship.

The shortest distance between my heart and mind had no journey to go aboard. As we climbed down the mall and alighted to the parking space where his cab was looking for him, we shook hands, like two diplomats who could never reach a pact. I numbed by his nonchalance watched him go, not even bothering to glance back at me, for one last time. While I stood there, frozen in a wish, which was never fulfilled. 


Purba said...

Your post had a wistful quality to it. Loved reading it :-)

Maliny, said...

Thankfully, i guess this situation is taking a tranformation these days . Girls are stronger these days in sketching their life plan .But yes ,this situation is quite ubiquitous in many regions of our country still . liked the way you have attempted a very detailed narration of the same :)

Jincy said...

Oh! Now I know what is PKC :)

Jincy said...

Lovely story Rinzu! :) Well written :)

rinzu rajan said...

Thanks you Purba for the visit! :)

Thanks Maliny, I intended to narrate a story as wonderfully as I could! :)

Thanks Jincy, this was less of a PKC! :)

Mixi said...

Hi Rinzu.. I really enjoyed reading this.. it had such a wistful quality about it, so much longing, so many expectations - some were fulfilled, some were not. And the way you've described everything in such meticulous detail, you brought us in to share your entire experience.

Very well-written and intimate :)

magiceye said...

Was like watching a short film! Nice!

rinzu rajan said...

Thank you Mixi, that was a story of the heart and mind! :-)

Thank you Magic eye! Lol! :-) it was much like that! A short film!

rachana gupta said...

This was a lovely read!I came across your blog on youthki awaaz , now i keep scrolling through your blog entire day on office!