Journey!! One best time to let ur mind roam freely, hindered by no disturbances. Like the view that passes by the window the thoughts fly by ….
I had reached the Crammin restaurant. It was a cool and breezy evening in Bangalore and I was waiting for my friends to come and join me. Just then I had called Amisha and it seemed like she is on her way along with her colleague Rahul. Shruthi already had told me she will a bit late. They were my best pals and we were meeting after a very long time.
I spent the next few minutes window shopping and looking at my watch and finally, Amisha and Rahul arrived. I saw that she was carrying a bag.
‘Ok. Not bad’, I smiled to myself.
‘What kept u guys so long?’
‘Traffic’ said Amisha, cutting in with a smile before Rahul started to answer.
‘You don’t have to lie’, I thought.
Then we moved to the table reserved for us. The place was less crowded.
’It’s a bit early’, I thought. The restaurant had many tables fitted in neatly in the small place; each table had a vase placed in the centre, with some flowers in them. The ambiance was good and the soft music was very soothing and romantic.
In not more than 5 minutes Shruthi joined us. ‘Hi kids!’, Shruthi said in her sweet voice. I always loved her voice and her cheerful tone.
‘Hi’ we chorused back. She took a chair near Rahul. Quite predictable for a girl friend. And then she laid out a box in front of me. I knew what it was though I pretended like I dint care.
‘There is no need for that. You know this is for u’, she said with a smile and pushed the box towards me. As I was opening my box, she said ‘Happy Birthday’. I smiled back and noticed that the card read ‘From us!’ .Very typical of her and Rahul. Then Amisha gave me her present. A hand made card and a hand made jewel box ; typical of her too. Shruthi and Amisha excused themselves to the restroom. Rahul got a call he went outside to attend it as the signal was quite bad inside the building.
I was touched by the effort Amisha has taken for my sake; felt it was the act of true love. But few people I knew thought otherwise, like she was too lazy and miserly to get a present.
‘Let’s not get into that. That did not matter much.’ I said to myself. ‘What mattered much was I’m very happy and content at this moment.’
The surroundings, gifts and spending an evening with my close pals, had had that effect on me. There was also the prospect of meeting someone whom I have not met in like a year, and had always wanted to meet once I graduated out of college, also was hoping to exchange a word or two with him. Rishi Kumar was my college mate.
‘Ok. Ok. Not just college mate’ I smiled.
I meet him on my first train journey back home. Never did I know him or have seen him before, but I was mildly interested then.
‘The actual story would go on for pages.’ I thought reminiscently.
The fact was that, this “mildly interested” thing - fuelled by numerous “Info” and accidental meetings- slowly became “interested” and “liking” and much more.
The news of he, being a guy so close to my heart, slowly became a universal secret. Though he was aware of this entire episode he never responded. This encouraged my feelings even further. Never did I realize that it was not because he dint care that he dint respond but because he was not interested. This came as a huge blow; the only guy that I ever fell for is not interested in me.
‘Hullo! Madam, are we going to order?’! They had all come back just then. ‘I had an early lunch and I’m starving. Moreover this restaurant has a reputation of “quick” service’, Rahul said.
‘Hey! This place was your choice’, I said. ‘Ya u can go ahead. But I thought we can order once he too joined us’.
‘Who?’ questioned Amisha, who was un-characteristically silent for all this while, which was not at all a good sign. Not a good sign at all. I sensed some mischievous plan brewing inside.
I looked at Shruthi, who had this she-asked-u-not-me expression on her face.
‘Fine’ But I was saved the work, as I saw him enter the restaurant. ‘Now why do I have to have a silly smile on the face and why dose my heart race at this pace?’
Rhyme and Rhythm! These things happened every time when I saw him and that time was no exception. He was fast approaching us. As he came near our table, some one stopped him and started talking. As that guy happened to be a boss of Amisha and Rahul they left to greet him. ‘World is so small!’ I thought.
Even though I was aware of his feeling and he of mine, we had hardly spoken to each other, if you don’t consider the customary ‘hello’ when being introduced. We had been introduced at least a dozen times to each other, but he would not bother to smile back or act as if we knew each other the next time we came face-to-face. I have hated him for that. I knew and cared abt him in all ways that were possible. But people around me, who were kind of close to both of us said, ‘u r wasting time’.
‘I know’ I thought.
Why can’t he come soon and why cant the jerk who is been holding him talking something let him go?’ I thought.
Hah, finally he finished his long conversation and joined us at the table. ‘Don’t be so obvious. He is going to have a private laugh at u for this’. I said to myself and tried to look politely normal. Fate! Why does he have to sit next to me? I was becoming overly conscious again.
‘Shall we order?’ I asked to awkwardly. Amisha giggled. I wanted to stamp her feet and ask her to stay silent. Shruthi and Rishi started talking about some common friend of their. When I was slowly getting used to his presence, I tried to join the conversation but in vain. I couldn’t find any place where they came to a more common plane. So I let them carry on with their talks and turned to the menu card. When the waiter came, I looked at them all, and Shruthi said, ‘Let the B’Day baby order first’.
‘Ok’, I said. ‘I would like to have baby corn soup’. Suddenly Rishi said, ‘I would have one too’ and smiled. Continuing with the order as if I hadn’t heard this I said ‘And 2 butter rotis with aloo mutter’. ‘Make that two’, he said and smiled again. Damn what was his idea? I said ‘Apple milk shake’, which was followed by his ‘me too’. Now, this is the limit. Was he trying to embarrass me? I looked up from the menu book and saw him positively smiling at me. Why was he doing that? Unaware of this, the others were placing their orders. When I thought I could secretly steal another look at him, he was continuing his conversation with Shruthi again. This time Rahul was also a part. Slowly the conversation shifted to a more known area – college. Each one reminiscently told some incidents of their college days. I have heard Shruthi’s and Amisha’s story over and over again, I could tell those stories as they would tell. Rahul had so many funny stories to add, and when we were having a great time, the food arrived bringing me back to the present. The time between the order- and serving was so fun-filled that I quite forgot about the thing that I had sworn to myself that I would tell them.
‘I don’t have to tell them’, I had contemplated. Though there were differences and bitter memories amongst us, they were the people I cared about so much, that I wanted them to know this. They were the people who stood by my side not only during happy moments but also during tough times. I dint realize that I had abandoned the act of eating and had become so absorbed with the spoon, until Rahul asked ‘Oi! What’s up?’
That was my cue. I started ‘Hmm.’. ‘No, how the hell did I think I could pull it through.’
‘U have to’, I told myself. I tried again ‘I just wanted to…Hmmm..u know….say this… well ..The thing is ….u know….’
‘Hey what’s wrong?’
I look at Shruthi with a blank stare. She shook me and asked ‘WHAT?’
I told myself, ‘It’s now or never’. With sudden rush of emotion I said ‘I’m going to get engaged!’ I had expected their reactions. But nothing I had ever expected had prepared me for that. They were looking at me as if I had lost my mind. I mastered my impulse and looked in his way. He was also wearing an odd look. Something was wrong or was I missing something important. Slowly Amisha asked “What about….?’ That was the last thing I wanted to hear and talk about. I dint want to answer, suddenly I felt very angry and I was urging to say “What about what? Of all the time u could have asked u dint and when I don’t want to hear that question u are asking me’. But I knew very well what the question actually meant. So I resigned to silence and stared at my spoon. Slowly my anger ebbed away and I felt like I have lost a very treasure-able possession. I felt like I was going to cry. I could not believe I could cry, for him.
When was the last time I cried for him? Second-year? I had vowed to myself that never again will I cry for some one. They were all still silent. Couldn’t they say something? Tears started pouring out from my eyes.
A hand gently rested on my shoulder. Feeling bad that I had spoiled their fun evening, I croaked ‘I’m sorry’ without even looking up. I heard another voice ‘I’m sorry too!’ It wouldn’t take a genius to guess the voice of a person who had been their passion for 4 years. In a surprise I turned around. The distance from which I heard the voice should have told me that he was very close by. I turned and looked up into his eyes. I felt like he had meant that he was sorry. Boring into those green eyes, I felt all those years of longing, waiting and anticipation over power me. I wished I would not cry. He slowly inched forward and as lightly as a breeze brushed his lips on my cheek. Man, what was he doing? With confusion and a slight blush I looked at him. He slowly arranged my hair lock that was falling on my forehead.
Even in that bliss, I thought, ‘What a weird ring tone?’
The sound had partly brought me back and I started to wonder ‘Why can’t he just pick it up?’
I felt a tug on my left sleeve. I turned and saw my colleague Pranathi staring at me. Wasn’t Amisha supposed to be there? Where is she?
Da, just pick it up. Or just cut it out.
‘Will ya just cut it out?’
“Cut it out, I will. But u will miss your stop’. I heard Pranathi say.
I croakily said, ‘Have we reached?’
A sense of loss washed over me. ‘We are almost there. What’s up? Night-out effect? It was like the hundredth time I called u?’ I know she was talking to me. I barely heard. The tears seemed real. She was still talking. She gave me a slight push and said ‘Move on’.
“Ya I need to move on! “