THE WAIT

It was late. Almost two hours later than the time he had said that he would call. I sat by the telephone looking at it willing it to ring. Calling him was not an option. He had told me not to. I don’t know what was wrong with me – it was like I was addicted to some drug. I needed to hear that soft voice of his whispering  my name “Kamini” ! His voice mesmerized me as did his eyes. It was almost as though they caressed me. When he was around me, it was like I was under some sort of a spell!

We had met under odd circumstances. The city of Bombay was burning up in communal violence in 1992 . I was on my way back from work. The roads were deserted and few vehicles passed by. When he stopped his car asking me if I needed a lift, I was not sure if I should accept the offer. But then, the streets were not safe either.. So I accepted the lift. “A gentleman to the core” was the first impression I had of him. He drove quietly asking me for direction once in a while. It was funny, the silence within the car was not tension filled but sort of calm and reassuring. I watched his hands as they turned the steering wheel and changed gears. His confidence was very appealing. He dropped me off at the hostel gate and waited around for a while until the watchman opened the gate. “Take care” was what he said as he drove off.

Bombay always bounces back to business whatever be the problem that may have put it out of action temporarily. Within the next few days things started getting back to normal and I forgot about being stranded on an empty road and being given a lift by a stranger.

I met him a month later at a conference. He was one of the lead speakers. I sat among the other delegates wondering if I should speak to him during the tea break. I was not even sure if he would remember who I was. I was still wrestling with these thoughts in my mind when I found him at my side. “Hello. Hope you are alright ” was what he said. A soft voice, a voice that I noticed for the first time. I smiled at him nodding my head. “Hi, I am Vikas” he said extending his hand towards me. “Kamini” I said as I shook his hand.

After the conference got over, he invited me for coffee at a restaurant nearby. I don’t know what it was about him that was so interesting. But I accepted. I, who never went out with any man anywhere accepted to have coffee with a person who was a virtual stranger! After coffee, he dropped me back at my hostel. At the hostel gate, we exchanged cards.

He called me  a couple of times at the office. But the office line was not exactly conducive for a long conversation. So, I gave him the hostel phone number f . He always called late in the night after 10.00 PM. We spoke for over an hour. His voice was soft – almost a whisper. It was nightly ritual. I would sit in the mosquito ridden reception area wrapped up in a shawl waiting for that call..! The girls at the hostel were very curious as to whose calls I was waiting up for. I was not exactly what you would call, a very pretty woman. In all my thirty years, no man had even looked at me.! I was confused as to why he was interested in me! What did he see in this stupid ordinary person called “me”?

It was not just phone calls, we used to meet for lunch during working days. I longed to spend weekends with him. But he said that it was not possible. I don’t know why I did not realize earlier that he might be married. Actually I stumbled upon this fact one day when I saw a picture in his wallet- a picture of him with a beautiful woman and a child! I did not have to ask who they were. I knew now and he knew that I knew! We never spoke about this ever!

People may think that he had cheated me into a relationship with him without telling me that he was married. But I think that it is unfair to blame him because he had not exactly lied to me. We had just not discussed this.. it had never occurred to me to ask if he was married and anyway it did not make a difference to me at that point.. maybe if I had known it on the day he gave me a lift or on the day of the conference it might have been different.

I looked again at the phone. Was it my imagination or was the receiver slightly off the hook? I went close to it and checked. No, it was placed properly. I looked at my watch- almost nearing midnight. “ Please,,, please call” I whispered aloud! I wanted to call him. But he had told me not to.. and besides, how would I explain who I was if someone else answered the call..?

My eyelids were feeling tiered. They wanted to close after all the crying that they had been doing over the last hour.. I wanted to go back to my room and sleep. But I was afraid to go – what if he called and I was not around? Nobody was likely to answer the phone in the reception at midnight!

What if? What if?..yes there were many possibilities but none that applied to me. I curled up on the settee in the reception exhausted and closed my eyes… Tomorrow was but another day- I know he will surely call!

( A tale set in the pre cell phone era when hearing a loved one’s voice was not just a palm or finger tip away- a time when one had to get past unwanted persons before  hearing  that  voice that one longed to hear!)

PERSPECTIVES -PART 3

THEIRS

Dr. Achyuta Menon looked up from the book he was reading as he saw the autorickshaw  stop outside his gate.. When he saw who it was he got up from his chair, switched on the porch lights and  opened the door in readiness for her to get in.

“ My God, you are completely drenched ! . Go and change or you will fall sick” he told her.

“Uncle, where is Aunty?” she asked ignoring his suggestion of a change of clothes.

“ I am here. What happened ” said Indrani coming in from inside the house

“Oh Aunty… I saw him!” she said throwing herself into Indrani’s arms

“Come on now, calm down. Lets go upstairs and I will hear your story after you have changed into dry clothes” said Indrani.

Dr. Menon, had never understood this ability of his wife’s  to get anyone to do as she wished.. Imagine, he had just explained to the girl about the consequences of being in wet clothes and she had ignored him! Now all Indrani had said was that she would hear some “story” after  a change of clothes and the girl had agreed.

Both Indrani and the girl seemed to  share some sort of a special bond. Her best friend’s daughter, she was to his wife the child they never had. He had never been very much bothered about not having any children. His work, his books and his conversations with his wife kept him content But he knew that to Indrani it mattered. Hers was a life meant for motherhood! She had tried to compensate by showering her love on their two dogs and three cats. A natural extrovert, she was the most popular person in the  neighbourhood. All the kids living nearby kept dropping in to talk to “Indrani Aunty”. She probably knew more about their lives than their parents! She had the ability to relate to any person at their level. No wonder all her former students still kept in touch with her.

As he looked out of the window again, he saw someone else at the gate. A young man, standing next to a motorbike unmindful of the rain that was drenching him. “What is wrong with young people these days” wondered Dr. Menon as he opened an umbrella and walked towards the gate.

“Yes.. what do you want?” he asked the young man.

“I .. … nothing!” he said keeping his eyes riveted on the upstairs window.

Dr. Menon followed his gaze. He could see his wife and the girl’s silhouette against the dim light upstairs. He looked at the young man again. He looked decent enough. But why was he standing like this here completely exposed to the rain? He would have been better off had he stood under the bus shelter a few yards away!

“Achuyta, call him inside” shouted Indrani opening the upstairs window. Dr. Menon, was surprised ! Did his wife know this young man?  He followed  his wife’s instructions and brought the boy inside! Indrani was waiting in the living room with a towel. “Here dry your hair. Then go upstairs- first room to the left. I will get both of you some coffee” she said with a smile! The young man smiled gratefully as he took off his wet shoes and socks and dried himself.

Dr. Menon was now totally puzzled! He was a retired Professor of Mathematics from the University – a person who was reputed to have an IQ in the genius category. But sometimes, or may be often, he did not understand people like his wife.

“Don’t stand like that with your mouth open. Come and help me make some coffee” she said pulling him towards the kitchen.

“Indu, what is this all about. Who is this fellow? Why have you sent him upstairs like this?” he asked her.

“Patience dear Watson” she said with a laugh, switching on the stove to heat milk.

“Do you remember how you tutored me in maths?” she asked him.

Dr. Achyuta Menon smiled. It was nearly thirty five years ago. He was a research scholar at the university. A shy young man from a small town, he never spoke to any girls. So it was surprising when this Bengali girl Indrani Mukherjee suddenly approached him at the canteen one day and requested his help with her statistics assignment. She was doing her masters in econometrics and was reportedly having a lot of trouble with her statistics concepts. She pleaded with him to help her pass the course. He could not refuse.

Thus began their sessions together. Initially it was at the library. He had come armed with a lot of books but she seemed to have come with just one small notebook. She seemed to be more interested in him and his views on things rather than on the subject in which she was reportedly worried about failing! He found it difficult to concentrate as she kept up a constant chatter about this and that. Soon, others in the library began to complain about it too and  they had to go somewhere else for their classes.

She invited him for a movie. It was some kind of a ghost film. Rather silly, the way Indrani was getting scared of the ghost in the film- a woman in a white sari holding a candle and singing a soulful song. But of course he was thankful for this fear because hadn’t it been the reason for her to hold his hand tightly and then hide her face on his chest!  He remembered even today the first smell of her hair when it had got caught in one of the buttons on his shirt!

He also remembered being accosted one day by a burly young man who claimed to be Indrani’s  cousin asking him why he was roaming around like this with his sister. He had been threatened with dire consequences and asked to stay away from her. He was a bit intimidated by this incident. However, what he was not prepared for was the sudden disappearance of Indrani from the campus for nearly a month after the first year examinations. He later heard from her close friend Lakshmi that Indrani’s family was planning to get her married.

He did not know what had happened to him at that moment. But within two days he found himself sitting in Indrani’s parents house with his mother at his side, asking her father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. For a family that was supposedly planning to get their daughter married forcibly to some Bengali boy, they agreed quite easily and Indrani Mukherjee had become Indrani Menon! She had also passed her master’s degree with flying colours getting a gold medal and going on to do her Ph. D in Econometrics! She was reported to be the best professor dealing with the statistics course in her department until the time she had retired! He also realized later that she seemed to have mastered her fear of darkness and ghosts.

But he was wondering why she was bringing that up now?

“Achyuta, you are fool” she told him with a laugh!

“Thank you. But may I know how you discovered this suddenly today after  thirty five years of marriage?”

“Oh, I knew it within those first few days in the library. Do you seriously think I was impressed by your mastery over maths? I just wanted opportunities to spend time with you..” she said

“Well whatever, it helped you secure good marks in your exams” he said pompously

“Have you ever spoken to anyone who knows about my maths abilities my dear? Even Lakshmi’s daughter sitting upstairs  knows about my phenomenal abilities in the subject. I have never ever secured lower than 100% in it right from my school days” she said giggling.

“You mean….” Dr. Menon asked his mouth falling open!

“Close your mouth. It is an awful habit” she said scolding him.

“But why…how?” asked her husband disbelievingly

“ It is all about strategy my dearest. As a woman, I knew that I had to get an opportunity to be close to you. Since you were so shy with girls, I could only use the story about getting poor marks as the excuse. I wanted to break the stereotype of a girl who waits to be courted .I knew that unless I made some moves, none would be made. But ofcourse, those days it was difficult to come completely out of stereotypes without causing a scandal. So, I had to also behave like a timid girls getting scared of the darkness and ghosts.. My God what a silly film it was remember” she asked laughing!

Dr. Menon also joined in the laughter…! Really, this woman was a schemer..!

“But what does all this have to do with Lakshmi’s daughter and that fellow” he asked still confused.

“ Oh, everything! She had fallen in love with this young man who was used to having girls fall for him. But she was different from the girls such men usually go out with- she is simple, honest and innocent. All I told her was to capitalize on it. You see, most men have their brains partitioned into compartments- there is physical attraction, traditional relationships like marriage and ordinary interactions like friendships. But then you cannot separate them into groups like this..!” said Indrani, pouring out the coffee into the cups.

“But wasn’t it dangerous exposing her to someone like this? What if she had been hurt in the process” asked Dr Menon passing a tray to his wife to put the cups on..

“No Achyuta he would not have. She had told me enough about this boy for me to know that he is basically honest. Honest young men do not assault girls. They also respect real emotion when they see it. Yes, it may worry those who may never have been exposed to it or experienced it before. I just asked her to show him a glimpse of it. The fellow was thrown out of gear.. so he ran away. He has obviously had time to reflect and is now back” she said placing the cups on the tray and getting ready to move upstairs

“No.. I don’t think you should go up now. What if … you know you walk into something..” he said nervously

“Don’t be silly Achyuta.. All that must be over by now. In all probability he is on his knees now proposing to her” she said laughing loudly controlling herself just in time as she saw the young couple walk down the steps holding  hands.

“Aunty.. Uncle we have decided to get married” she said her eyes shining with happiness.

“ But isn’t it sort of sudden” asked Dr. Menon

“No, Uncle I have had almost twelve months to think about it. I am overwhelmed by  her complete trust in me. These twelve months, I have missed her like nothing else !  I was a fool, I did not realize what she was offering me. Girls like her are rare to come by” said the young man

“ Good.. ! But you know when I decided to get married to Aunty it was a sudden decision. I had to act fast or she would have been married to someone else” said Dr. Menon smiling.

“Really Uncle? But Aunty, mummy had told me how you had asked her to tell him a story about being forced to get married to someone else” asked the girl surprised.

“Whattt…?” asked Dr. Menon him mouth popping open once again

“All is fair in love and war” said Indrani with a wink

 

 

( Note to readers: I wanted to begin the new year with a “feel good” story. Hope you liked it :-))

PERSPECTIVES- PART2

HERS

I could feel his eyes boring through my back but I was afraid to turn back…! I had seen him when he was on that queue of guests up there on the dais waiting for his turn to greet the couple. It had given me a start- I had not expected to run into him here of all places. I tried to hide behind one of the pillars in the hall but I guess it was too late! He had obviously seen me. My heart was beating fast. I  did not know what to do. I was desperate to turn back and take a good look at him. It was almost a year since I had met him last..!

A year – I thought in wonder! Had twelve months really passed since I had completed that internship ?

I remembered the first time I had seen him. He was probably the most handsome man I had set my eyes upon- tall, with curly hair , sharp nose , brown eyes with a cleft on his chin. He was supposed to guide me through this internship with the company. I could not believe my luck!

Over the days that I spent with him, I found it more and difficult to concentrate on my work. He was friendly but I was afraid I was falling for him. You see, I had never felt like this for anyone else!

“People with cleft chins are usually big flirts” said Indrani Aunty when I described him to her. She was my mother’s school mate and I was staying with her and Achyutan Uncle  as a paying guest for these three months.

I could not but agree with Aunty when I saw the number of calls that he seemed to be getting- I was sure they were from girl friends because his voice would change and he would move out to a corner and speak in a low voice. I was well and truly envious of these girls who were able to get him to speak to them in that voice …!

It was very funny the way I wanted to spend time with him but was afraid to be alone with him. I wondered why.. So what did I do? I made arrangements with all the people on our floor to join us at the lunch table so that the crowd would give me the confidence that I lacked while discussing non official matters with him.

I saw him one day at the mall with a girl. She was stunning! Tall, with long legs and poker straight hair streaked red and gold. She was throwing back her head and laughing at something he had said. She was wearing a red dress and was carrying a smart little black bag with her. I looked with disgust at my waist long hair drawn into one plait, my  Salwar Kameeze and back pack which carried everything from my computer to a bottle of water..! I was sure I could not compete with these beauties.

It was then that I decided to fix an appointment with a beauty salon to straighten and streak my hair.  When I went back to my room, I asked Indrani Aunty for the yellow pages.

“What do you want to find out about ?” she asked me.

“Aunty I want the number of a beauty salon so that I can streak my hair and straighten it”  I told her

“Are you mad? You have your mother’s beautiful hair and you want to ruin it !” she said scolding me. I was very frustrated! Nobody understood how I felt! I burst into tears sobbing desperately in Aunty’s arms.

“Come on don’t cry. Tell me what happened” she said hugging me..

“I think I am falling in love with someone” I told her “So what is wrong with that? At your age everyone falls in love with someone” she said laughing.

“Oh, aunty you don’t know. He is a Casanova of sorts. I am very afraid I would get hurt if I got too involved with him. You know this saying about playing with fire…” I said.

“A fire is not dangerous if you know how to handle it and manage it properly. A fire is one of the basic elements. It is a source of energy. It gives us warmth and it helps us cook food “ she said enigmatically.

“So what do you think I should do? Throw myself into it?” I asked bitterly.

“No, you learn to manage this fire and master it. Listen to me and do as I tell you” she said

I listened to her for the full two hours that she spoke that night but I was not sure I could do this.

The next day, I walked into office nervously. When he asked me to join him for coffee at 11 AM I did not ask Mrs Rao or Mr. Alva to come with us. I tried fiddling with the coffee machine so that I did not have to look at him. “Here let me get it for you” he said moving in. I was sharply aware of his presence only inches away from me. I nearly dropped the coffee cup as his finger tips touched mine.

Two or three days of coffee breaks like this made me more confident. I was actually listening without falling down when he asked me if I would like to go out with him next Saturday. Where would he take me I wondered.. He had not mentioned if it was to be lunch or dinner. I was nervous about a movie theatre what with the darkness and the close proximity. I was worried what I would speak to him about should we be alone together in a restaurant. And I hoped to god that he would not ask me to come with him to a disco. I did not know how to dance!

Indrani aunty solved the problem for me by suggesting that I should ask to be taken to the carnival. “There will be lots of people around you so you don’t have to worry. A carnival brings out the child in everyone.  You will enjoy yourself” But what about afterwards?  Would he drop me home straight from the carnival I wondered.

Saturday afternoon was a pleasant one. The sun was mild and there was a cool breeze blowing. I remembered Aunty’s instructions as I waited for him to arrive. Instruction no 1- Avoid fitting into stereotypical slots. Instruction no 2- The truth is often difficult to believe and confuses people.  Instruction no 3- Follow your heart.

It was great fun eating ice cream and cotton candy until we came to the giant wheel where I had to enact “scene 1”. I hoped I was convincing enough when I said I was afraid of heights.  But it was when we were on the giant wheel that the “script” went haywire! I was to pretend to be getting scared and huddle in a corner of the seat we were on and finally when we were getting off,  had to manage to tangle my plait on one of his shirt buttons – the idea being to draw attention to my long hair. Just as we were hanging from somewhere high up waiting for the other seats to fill up, I realized that he was wearing a T Shirt without any buttons.. I was now clearly nervous.. I did not know how to improvise on the script. I heard him say “Don’t look down”. “Where do I look then?” I said, still worried about my lines. “Look at me” were the words that changed my life.. I found myself suddenly in his arms and his lips on mine. The wheel started turning and with that raced my heart and my senses. This was someone else- not me or maybe I was dreaming. I wanted this ride to go on endlessly. But I could sense it slowing down.

We got off the wheel . I felt like I was sleep walking. My entire body was tingling and I walked like a zombie with him to the parking lot and got on his bike. I remembered vaguely Auntie’s instruction no 3 – “Follow your heart”.  Well, my heart was obviously following this bike and going into his flat.

I sat in his living room trying to calm myself as he took my hands in his. He was telling me that he was crazy about me! I knew that I was now in a state of mind where I would not refuse him anything – he only needed to ask for it. I could hear Aunty shout Instruction no 2 – the truth being difficult to believe..! So I told him about my love for him. He pulled away worried. Not to be outdone I brought out my trump card- the one about stereotypes!! His confusion gave me the much needed confidence…! I told him everything that I believed about love- thank god for all those romance novels…! He was now looking what can only be called “zapped”. He said he would drop me home. I agreed.

Aunty was insistent that I should continue with this…! “Now is the most crucial part” she said. I was now more confident about this .. so I agreed.

The next two weeks were kind of awkward. I hope no one noticed the way he seemed to be avoiding me..

I completed my assignment and moved on to my first job. After eight months of being posted in another town, I was transferred back to this city to work in the corporate office. I was again staying with Indrani Aunty and Achyuta Uncle.

God only knows how I spent the eight months that I was away from him. I had been given strict instructions not to call him or get in touch with him. But I did find out about him from Mrs Rao and others in the office. I knew when he was promoted and about his trip abroad.

The last four months had been unbearable as I lived in the same town and watched him from afar. I almost ran into him at the carnival when I was on the giant wheel. He was sitting there all alone suspended up in the sky staring out into space. His eyes seemed to meet mine but I quickly covered my face with my dupatta…! I did not want to be caught riding a giant wheel on my own. I remembered that I was supposed to be scared of heights!

I was impatient about making contact with him again. The plan was to surprise him by showing up at Mrs Rao’s grandson’s first birthday next month. She had mentioned that she had invited almost everyone in the office.

But running into him like this at the wedding was most unexpected. I was not ready to face him.. My heart was beating fast. I wanted to slink out before he spoke to me.

I moved slowly around the pillar taking care to stay behind the flower decorations so that he would not notice me moving towards the exit. Just as I was nearing the exit I found myself face to face with him!

I wished he would not do it- hold me like this with his eyes! I tore myself away from them and ran out. It was pouring rain outside. I did not care… I took off my sandals so  I could run faster. My beautiful Kerala sari was drenched. I hailed an autorickshaw and gave him Indrani Aunty’s address. I seriously did not know why I was running away from  him like this when I actually wanted to run in the opposite direction towards him..

(It is not over folks. There is a third perspective to this – THEIRS :-))

 

 

 

 

 

PERSPECTIVES – PART 1

HIS

I walked into the wedding reception feeling a bit awkward. I did not know anyone here other than the groom who was a former colleague.

I looked at the queue that was forming to wish the bride and groom. It did not appear to be  too long. So I joined it. I had decided that I would greet them, spend about fifteen minutes sitting around and then make it straight to the dining hall before leaving the place.

It was as I was shaking his hands that I saw her. I was initially not very sure if it was indeed her because I had never before had the occasion to see her in a sari. But as I walked down from the dais, I was convinced that it was her! I pulled up a chair and sat down in a corner observing her – the thousand watt smile, the waist long hair, the dancing eyes and the same animated way of talking. In a crowd full of women wearing bright coloured saris with sequins and zari she stood out by virtue of her sheer simplicity in a white Kerala sari with a gold border!

It was this simplicity that had initially attracted  me when I had met her  about a year ago. Was it only a year I wondered,,,!

She was an intern who had come in to work in our company. I was assigned to supervise her and guide her through her project.

She was so different from all the  girls who I usually went around with. She was very confident- but her confidence came from her knowledge and ability to deal with a situation rather than from superficial things like good looks! She was thorough with analyzing any information that was provided to her and was quick to see the interpretations. She spoke her mind and was not afraid of anything or anyone! People in our department just loved her! She also had a great sense of humour and one could hear her laughter ringing through the corridors. She reached out to almost everyone in the three months that she spent with us!

I was very intrigued by her – she was like this new specimen in my lab full of girls. She never tried to consciously do anything to attract me but I found myself being drawn to her more and more every day. It was initially a few minutes of coffee break taken together , then lunch breaks and often a lift to her paying guest accommodation. It was quite frustrating to  get her alone. She seemed to be always surrounded by people. At lunch, it was this group that gravitated to her table that made any form of personal conversation almost next to impossible. In the evenings, she again seemed to be with someone or the group with some plan for a movie or shopping expedition.

We were therefore forced to hold our conversations during our work time..! But what could one talk about other than the weather and maybe  the latest movie with Mr. Alva nearby or Mrs Rao listening in at the next cabin?

Finally, I decided to ask her out on a date. Where could I take her I wondered? With her kind of confidence she would be as comfortable at Kamath Hotel as in a disco. But somehow, she did not seem like a disco person…However she solved the problem for me by suggesting we could go to the carnival that was being held nearby. So, it was the carnival where we were alone together –but surrounded once again by a crowd…!  I was mildly irritated by the situation – though not for very long. It was a pleasure to see her enjoying herself there. She was like a child trying out all the games and eating cotton candy .. Soon my annoyance gave way and I began to enjoy myself as much as she did.

I swear, I did not plan what happened sometime later but happen it did! I wanted to go on the giant wheel. She was afraid of heights she said. But I convinced her to give it a try. The wheel moved slowly up as people started getting on it and soon we were suspended high above the ground waiting for the various seats to get filled. The operator was taking his own time letting people get in. While I enjoyed the fantastic view from our position there she started getting scared.

“Don’t look down. ” I said . “But where should I look then?” she complained nervously. “Look at me I said” turning her head towards me… She looked.. I looked and then I don’t know what happened I suddenly found myself drawing her towards me and before we knew what, we were kissing. The wheel turned around as my senses churned. I don’t know how long it was before we drew apart.. the wheel was slowing down.

We stepped out of the giant wheel and walked around the fair quietly holding hands now.. there did not seem to be  need for any further conversation. We walked silently to the parking lot. I started my bike and she hopped on to the pillion. I drove to my flat. My flat mate who was a pilot in a commercial airline was away on a flight.

So, there we were finally alone..! How many girls I had brought there during the last two years…but somehow I did not realize at that time that this was different. She sat down quietly in my living room. I sat opposite looking at her. Her eyes were down cast and she appeared to be thinking about something.

“What are you thinking?” I asked her.

“ Oh nothing” she said with a small smile. I went up to her took her hand in mine. She did not withdraw it. “ You know I am crazy about you” I told her. She nodded. I told her about how I had spent all my waking moments in the past one month thinking about her. She listened quietly .. For such a talkative person, she was strangely silent.

“Why are you  not saying anything” I asked

“What is there to say?” she said “ I love you and trust you completely. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

It was as if I was suddenly shaken out of  a dream “What do you mean? I am not ready for marriage” I said. “Did I say marriage? Marriage is only a social formality. I do not believe in it. I believe in something higher- love. I am in love with you and want to share my life with yours” she said with a smile.

She was not making any sense now..! I understood physical attraction and social relationships like marriage. But this was something else altogether…! Was she suggesting that we live together I asked her. She said she did not know. She just wanted to be with me all her life. She spoke about how true love transcended social norms and brought body and soul together.

I was well and truly confused. I looked at her. I knew whatever move I made now she would not resist. I saw the trust in her eyes and I suddenly was afraid..! The same innocence that had charmed me now seemed to be intimidating me. I wished she was one of those girls that I had fallen into bed with and then walked away continuing to be friends until each of us found someone else. I could deal with them and the physical attraction their bodies held for me.  I also understood the girls who were clear about marriage being their objective in any relationship that they shared with a guy. And ofcourse I was familiar with girls who would have been outraged had I even held their hand.

But this girl did not fit into any of these categories. She was offering me her love but I was strangely afraid of it..! I did not know why…! I was the person now who seemed to be having the confidence problem. She sat there supremely confident waiting for me to say/do something.

However nothing was said and nothing happened between us either. I dropped her off at her PG accommodation after sometime.

Her internship was coming to a close and after the next two weeks, I did not see her again. She seemed to have changed her phone number

But thoughts about her continued to haunt me. I sometimes heard Mrs Rao in the next cabin speak on her mobile with her. I wanted to ask her what her new number was but I don’t know, there was something that seemed to be holding me back. I knew there were some others in the office who maintained contact with her but I felt too awkward asking them about her.

I tried to forget her by having one relationship after another.. living up to my cassanova image! Somehow, nothing seemed to work.. I was tiered of those sexy bodies and the predictable responses they offered me..! I wanted conversation of an intelligent variety. I have often gone to fairs sitting alone on a giant wheel and imagined the feel of her lips beneath mine. Once my imagination ran away with me and I almost saw her on  a another seat in the wheel.

I went to places which she frequented wandering around aimlessly. I was not even sure which town she was in. I wanted to often call the management institute that she was from to find our where she was working but somehow I was afraid that word would get round to her.. I don’t know why it  mattered if she knew I was looking for her. Wasn’t she offering me herself without expectations. So why should it worry me?

I often wondered why I had not proceeded any further that evening – it would have been so easy. But it would have also meant taking advantage of her innocence… I may be a flirt, Cassanova or whatever but I never took advantage of any girl..!

( to be continued)