She looked down nervously. Chicken noodles dangled down her fork back onto the plate no matter how many times she tried to twirl them in. As she tried, her expressions graduated from innocent to cute to angry to cute again. I just kept watching her. It wasn’t like the time had stopped while she ate at a Chinese restaurant. No! No Bollywood melodrama! But it made me think of my proclivity towards women. I was attracted to girls who brooded over the nuances of life. You ought to have a solid and defined perspective of yourself to fall into that category. It is difficult being someone who doesn’t give a shit about what the guy standing next to her thinks about her. I didn’t pretend to be there. Neither did she, I guess! And that’s what made it real. We both were present there, emotionally and spiritually, under no duress. And then this line of thought ended abruptly. It is usually the second date that tells you the success of the first one. I wasn’t going to find out until I started talking, if I ever did. Her hair mimicked Maggie Gyllenhaal from ‘Stranger than fiction’ set on a perfect backdrop of her beautiful eyes. She raised her head and I asked-
‘You need another fork?’
‘I can handle noodles Karan.’ she replied with a crooked smile as I took another swig from my coke.
‘Yes, like you did the last time you met me…Oh wait! You didn’t!’ I said with some dramatic gestures.
She sat upright and gave me a doomed look. I puckered my lips and started battling the noodles with my fork. It really made sense now. Fiddling with them was a way to avoid conversation like this.
The last time she had messaged me to meet her; I was up all night deciding what to wear only to realize the other morning that she wasn’t anywhere to be seen even after an hour long wait. Yes, she did apologize but no explanation! This startled me a bit and I embraced my ego suit for two days. Like any other bachelor, I caved in the third day and called her cell more times I ever clicked redial on my cell. She picked up and we had an awkward talk regarding the weather in Borivli. Very subtle! She finally agreed to meet me after a talk that lasted 56 seconds. And then my bachelor brain went for it again. Did she like me that much? Or did she want to end it? That was my brooding time.
‘Ok then! You want the reason for why I ditched you the other day?’
I looked up. First time listening to her words with full attention. ‘Yes! I do.’
Something in her eyes told me she was serious about whatever bomb she was going to dump my way. She pushed the plate of noodles aside and bent forward with her arms crossed on the table. I tried twice continuing to look directly in her eyes. But I slipped twice!
She didn’t notice that. And I was relieved to have that knowledge. How did I know that? Well, for starters, she was lost in some third-world self-contemplation which made her look straight across me into the void. I could easily tell that she had applied more mascara than she did the last time. (That’s a good thing, right?) Her cheeks had a sparkling red glimmer every time she looked sideways. It was like she wanted to talk and she couldn’t get the words out. I chatted with her almost every day and knew she was hard to fall short on words. So, it made me wonder for a moment when …
‘You remember when I first saw you at the medical. I did recognize you’, she said with a worrisome look on her face. If I know something as an engineer, the creased lines on your forehead appear only when you know nothing or you know something that you regret knowing.
‘My dad is the owner of that Medical store. He kind of saw both of us chatting that day and enquired about you later that night.’
Now it was my turn to stare into the void. An epiphany crash landed in my front brain. Why her dad got angry asking me for the money twice and why she left early without saying much. It was like a couple of rats let loose in your stomach or like not being able to fart.
‘Karan!’, she asked the befuddled me. I was listening to her. It didn’t show on my face but I knew what lay ahead. Yes! She wanted to end it here. It wasn’t a second date. It was a break-up date.
‘So, you mean, umm… we shouldn’t meet at the medical or umm…’
I sec, she stares at me.
2 sec, she still kept staring.
3 sec, she went for the glass of water
4 sec, she kept it down without drinking water.
5 sec, a smile lit up her face like a cannonball and she laughed for 6th, 7th,8th,9th and 10th seconds.
And I still kept mum for the next 10.
‘Oh stop this, you idiot. I meant that my dad knows we are in the same college. We need to be careful.’, she replied with a hearty grin.
And there was the hormone I was looking for. It was called ‘Ecstosian’. It fuelled your heart with uncontrollable blood pushing the limits of arteries ability to handle them. And I almost grabbed her hand when ‘Controlian’ kicked in. These two need to be documented in the medical logs.
‘That’s great!’ I flushed with evident clumsiness.
‘Let’s take a stroll!’ we went Dutch and made our way out towards the exit.
I kind of started to feel the irresistible force of relationships./The first thing that echoed in my head were:-
‘They have a good start‘