“Oh! Golly”, I thought as I was changing in my friend’s bathroom and realizing that I had forgotten the deodorant to ward off the sweaty odor that emanated from me. As I turned on the shower, my mind wandered off and pondered over what a mixed summer vacation this had been for me. A little rut has started to form already and I was searching for some excitement to spice up this otherwise dull life. I had hoped that this summer would be transcendental, I would try and be more focused in my life; figure out what I would do after the remaining two years of college, but the comforts of life lulled me to procrastination and into the arms of novels dying to be read.
Then my mind wandered off towards Shreya, my girlfriend of almost eleven months. She was the constant reminder of the fact that, well, love is blind. Here, I was an introvert, almost flunking, de motivated, unambitious, and hideously unattractive college kid and there she was popular, average in studies, national level dancer and most of all-cute girl who was the soul of her hip group of friends. She had this baby like smile that managed to make me feel good even when I was in the foulest of moods. She was off doing some summer internship and making me all jealous of how a fellow trainee was hitting on her like crazy. She was really cool about all this, but she was dead serious about our relationship also. I was, too. I used to make jokes as to how she has to endure this “ugly blob” for the rest of her life, to which she would only smile. That smile! I miss that smile.
Well, as I was at my friend, Ajay asked, “Gaurav, Who are you getting ready for?” to which I could only muster a smile. He assumed it was one of my “female friends”. I am a sensitive guy and I need people around me to be vocal with their feelings for me, my guy friends don’t fulfil that need of mine, so the female friends and the hard-wired mentality of “Guys & girls can never be friends”. I was off to meet Natasha, the urbane, popular and incredibly awesome friend of mine. She was just done with her IPCC exams and was dying to meet me. Yes, dying. I was excited to meet her too. She was like a guy and a girl rolled into one and yet not a tomboy. She was tough and sensitive at the same time. She was very vocal with her feelings for me; I was her answer for a nice guy. The guy you turn to when life gives you lemons. She was actually a very sweet girl who would say the sweetest thing that would make me go all blushy. It was difficult to not harbor feelings for a girl who was so awesome. People actually rolled eyes when they saw her with me, but she was unaware of everything and only happy to have her dear friend, Gaurav.
I have been blessed with an over imaginative mind, so I like to exercise it while making up make-believe situations in my head. I got all geared up with my earphones, watch and Ajay’s cologne to last a week and ready to start my scooter. Natasha and I were to meet at 7:00 and it was 6:50 already and the meeting place was a well 15 minutes away, I assumed that she wouldn’t mind much if I were only 5-10 minutes late. I stopped at a nearby grocery shop to pick up her favorite “Ferrero Rocher” chocolates that she loved so much. I gave her a call so that she wouldn’t be perturbed much by the fact that I would be late. She picked up the call after a good 7 rings, “Hello, Gaurav. Where are you?”
I was like “On my way”,
“Oh Shit!”-she replied,
“Why? What happened?”, I replied.
“Arey, what happened is that Dad was to go to Jamshedpur for a trip, but his train got delayed and he is home now, I am really sorry. I should have called you”, she said in a very frantic manner. She manages her dad after her mom passed away when she was a little girl of 10 and grew up into a mature girl soon afterwards.
“It’s okay, re. We can meet up sometime else” saying as I forgave her for the nice guy I was.
“Can we meet in the morning tomorrow?” she asked,
“I have my train at 11am, to Howrah” was my dejected answer.
“When are you going to come back?”, she asked again,
“29th morning but I am taking up a summer job from 29th and will be busy from 10am-6pm everyday”, was my elaborate and depressed answer.
“Ok! I am sorry. I really wanted to meet you but God had different things in mind, it seems”, she said sounding philosophical even at this hour.
“I wanted to meet you too. Bye. Take care”, I said bidding goodbye.
“Bye. Take care and have a safe & happy journey” saying this she hung up the call.
I gave the box of chocolates back to the shopkeeper and proceeded to move out when he said “Bhaiya, only 150 rupees “mistaking my course of action as a bargaining technique. I replied with a smile, “Girlfriend gussa ho gayi hai uncle, chocolate se kaam nahi banega” and gave him a wink, too.
I sat on my scooter for a full 10 minutes before deciding what to do next, I really longed for the juicy and succulent kebabs that was available near to the place she lived. I decided to not miss out on the chicken kebabs and the entire din that the city had to provide me while feasting on roasted chicken legs. So I decided to indulge in little non-vegetaShreyan treat. But I was shocked to find that the famous “Munna Kebab Centre” was shut down. Kebabs and Natasha had failed me in the same evening. I found myself devoid of the will to live (well, I am a bit of an overactor). I dropped in the nearby bakery as I was having hunger pangs and I had decided to not be hungry as long as I am not in hostel. I ordered for a paneer roll and sent Natasha a short sentimental message,
It sucked not being able to meet. It wasn’t your fault. We just have conflicting schedules and don’t have time for each other. I came down to Max Bakery to be close to you and incase you still want to meet for even 5 minutes I am waiting for you. It’s totally okay if you can’t come, too. I will totally understand. Bubyee. Take care 😉 :)”
Her reply being,
“I am so sorry, yaar. It felt horrible. I feel so guilty that I couldn’t notify you and also that I am not able to come and say hello. You are here since so many days and still I am not able to meet you and now you are going tomorrow. I am so sorry”
Well, this was very much expected but the actual realisation that I won’t be able to see her today made me feel a lot worse. I was chomping my way through the delicious cubes of paneer wrapped in a lachcha paratha half heartedly when my ‘Game of Thrones’ ringtone began to blare through my phone’s speaker. It was Natasha; excitedly I picked up the phone,
“Where are you now?” she inquired,
“Still in Max Bakery, why?” I replied,
“You wait, I am coming down in 5 minutes” she announced in her sweet yet regal voice,
I was elated and hung up the phone saying “Okay. See you soon”. I had to take extra care to not let the excitement show. She was here even before I could finish off the roll. She had come in a very casual way with flowing hair on her face but still managed to look good enough for uncles to turn and stare.
“Fatso, what have you come here for? To meet me or gorge on food” greeted Natasha.
“Arey! I was hungry. You almost ditched me. I had to eat something to make me feel good” was my masterpiece of an answer.
“You and your logic! Chal, I have to go to station to get my father’s ticket cancelled” she said.
I finished off the remaining of my roll in a scurry and wiped my hands in my butt and proceeded to go when she was halted by a middle aged aunty who she seemed to know. I waited and they talked and talked, the aunty threw some occasional glances full of scepticism. Natasha finished off the conversation as fast as she could and suggested that we leave. We still lived in a place where a guy-girl friendship was frowned upon so I asked, “Who was she?”.
She replied, “Next door neighbour, re. She will not say anything. Relax”. I have always been bit of an over thinker. We got on our vehicles and headed towards the station. There she was sashaying through the traffic and snubbing the impious looks on the way. I was pretty excited that she had actually come. I am a bit of a tubelight, though. It takes me time to register extreme feelings and this was certainly a very happy one. She acknowledged the known faces in the crowd (Hello! I told you she was popular). We parked in the parking lot and went towards the counter, she kept on saying on how this was 4th Trip on that day and even the enquiry people knew her face by now. She stood in front of the counter and saw that it was a short one. She then said,
“Let’s talk for a while. The queue is short.”
I was bamboozled, bowled over. This usually happens to me, I am tongue tied whenever I have to initiate a conversation,
“So we meet afterall”, I replied meekly.
“Thanks for coming down, yaar. I had already lost hope, but….” she began,
“But uncle saved us, na?” I jumped in.
“Dad is the most lethargic person, I know. Natasha do this, do that. He doesn’t even lift a hand to get himself a glass of water. Instead he will call for me and I will run down to him even when I am stuck on a Tax problem”, was her enthusiastic reply bashing her dad in front of her best friend.
I had already run out of things to say and was now focused on her face with sharp features which made her look serious and mature most of the times and cute when she smiled. There was a stray hair on her face and I almost took my hand to put it behind her ear, but realized that it made her look pretty in a very effortless way and also that I wasn’t her boyfriend.
The queue was empty, so I asked her to get things done. She did some talking, went to the inquiry. Then called her dad saying that there is some 3 hour window in which you can cancel but it was already past that, so there was no refund. She couldn’t argue anymore and decided that she would pay it out of her pocket.
We went to the parking lot and she perched herself on my scooter and I stood before her. She was very apologetic, “Gaurav! I am very sorry that we had to meet like this”,
“At least we met, which is the most important point on the agenda”, I replied trying to make her feel okay.
She was like, “You are seeing me at my worst. Oily face, unkempt hair, threadbare clothes”
“You still manage to look better than me. See that guy, staring at you”, was my naive reply.
She suddenly became very conscious of what she was wearing. Well, uncles fit to be her father were staring. I felt helpless.
“Is it showing too much?” she inquired innocently.
“Naah, people aren’t used to seeing people like you with me”, was my funny answer.
“What happened is everything happened so suddenly and you were waiting so I didn’t change and came like this, ” she said in a speed that matched Arnab Goswami’s.
I just gave her a smile.
“I knew you wouldn’t mind.”
“You don’t look that bad”, I replied.
She just took out her phone to check and to her horror the screen read,
“6 missed calls
She called back immediately and placed herself on her vehicle. She disconnected. We said our goodbyes. I broke the news over the uncertainty that loomed over my presence on her birthday. She wasn’t pleased, but came back with a quick rebuttal, “We will think of something else”.
She sashayed through traffic, her hair, teasingly hoping behind her shoulder. She gave me a last glance and zoomed her way into the lane. My face bore a smile the whole way to my home. It was different for me, I love different things. The thought of brushing her hair made me feel like a desperate cheapo who was eager to taint this beautiful friendship.
That night she was sweet as always and planning for the future. I really liked how much she valued our moments of encounter and cherish it too. At night she sent the sweetest message,
“I am never afraid whenever I am with you”
“Means a lot
(6 blushy faces)”
I have thought it over and over again, this was no plain friendship. I was a self-proclaimed expert on friendships and relationships on Quora and this real life situation rendered me searching for words. She was this amazing girl who treasured my friendship with her and was vocal with it too (I am a needy bastard, I know that). There were certain things different from the rut I was in, firstly I was excessively cheerful. Secondly, I didn’t miss Shreya much (Rat bastard, I know). Third, I was sure of the fact that she valued this distant friendship as much I did. Nevertheless, I slept with a smile on my face.