She glances at the wrist watch. “Oh crap! I am getting super-duper late today. Maa will start her rants as soon as she lays her eyes on me. Oh God! But I had to go to that paani-puri waala today. After all, today is the only day I could eat junk-food as per the diet chart for the week! Don’t they really get it that I hate it from the core? Arrghh! But I have to go through it, have to endure the pain. Pink Vespa – you just wait for me, I’m gonna get you real soon! You bet!”
**Reaches home, overloads the plate with salad and goes on to sit in front of the desktop**
Oh wow (She jumps in her seat with excitement). A new friend request on Facebook!! “Whoa! I knew it. I was looking hot in that red salwaar today (winks to self), even Ramya said so.” (Opens the profile) “Aniket Verma – Studies engineering in Bangalore, born in 1990 (Older guy! Yippee), from New Delhi, India. So far so good! But I don’t know this guy. He is not from my school. He doesn’t go to my to-be college (so, no thanks to the red salwaar, sigh!). Let’s check if we have common friends – Nope, Na-da. Well, this is new. A stranger on fb has sent a request! Hmm.. I shouldn’t accept it… umm! Or should I? He comes from a decent background, studies engineering, likes movies; but he is a stranger; but he looks so damn good! Note to self – What is life without a few risks?” **Hits Confirm**
(Next day she comes back from tuition, hurriedly and directly goes to open fb for new updates) Ah, it’s sitting there. 1 new message – “Almost as if somebody read my mind.”
Aniket – Hey there beautiful! Thanks for accepting my request 🙂 how was your day? Can we get to know each other better, Sareena?
**She flushes and starts smiling ear-to-ear stupidly. Slowly clams the nerves and starts typing**
Sareena – Flattered! My day went on absolutely fine. How about you?
**Logs off almost immediately, joins the family for dinner, eats hastily, runs back to her room to log on again, and keeps checking out the messages icon once in every 5 minutes amidst other stuff. After a while, the red-coloured-numeric value-1 appears on the messages icon. Goes on to open it with an instant impulse; but resists. “I don’t want to come across as a despo! Do I?” she scolds herself. Takes a deep breath – breath in, breath out – repeats the routine several times before finally opening the message**, which reads –
Aniket – My day was boring, as usual. Nothing much to do as my college is in the outskirts of the city. Oh I live in Bangalore btw! It’s usually wake up – go to class – come back – hostel time pass – sleep. Not much fun, is it? Where do you live and what’s your usual routine. Not stalking, just wanted to know what time you’ll be available to chat!
Sareena – I don’t know about you; but I can surely be labelled as a stalker. I have gone through your profile thoroughly, so I already knew that you live in Bangalore and currently you’re in second year of engineering. You are originally from New Delhi and you like action movies. So, let’s focus our conversations on – what’s beyond all this? And about me – I am Sareena, as you already know. I live in Mandya, a place not very far from Bangalore. But we are moving to Bangalore next month! 🙂 Recently done with PU, joining engineering in Bangalore, that’s why moving. My schedule – well, I am free almost the entire day; apart from 2 hrs of Computer classes – 4pm to 6pm. So, we can talk as per your free time.
Aniket – Ahaa! I feel blessed, now that I have such a sweet stalker 😉 So excited that you’re moving to Bangalore. Where’s your college, which locality?
Sareena – Some area called Mylasandra. No idea! Do you know it?
Aniket – Oh well, yes! It is near to our college. Don’t tell me you’re joining RV?
Sareena – Oh yes, actually I am! How did you know?
Aniket – Everybody knows. Mylasandra has only one college for the smartest of the lot – RVCE.
Sareena – So, how far is it from your college?
Aniket – not very far. And I have a bike 😉
Sareena (feeling embarrassed that she might have given a wrong signal) – No, I didn’t mean it like that. I was asking, just generally.
Aniket – Chill! I am not taking it otherwise 🙂 Anyways, tell me, what do you like to do with your spare time?
Sareena – I love sketching. Pencil sketches mostly and sometimes paint a few with acrylic. And, I love movies – all the genres. I love music too. So there’s that.
Aniket – Wow! An artist. Good to be in your acquaintance, you may be able to inspire me to take up something creative!
Sareena – Well, I can try 🙂 And what are your hobbies?
Aniket – Gracias! I am more of an adventure-sports kind of a guy. I like trekking, and I like nature more than I would like to admit..
Sareena – Oh, that’s good to know.. It’s getting late. Talk to you later?
Aniket – Oh sure. Carry on. I shall talk to you tomorrow.
Sareena – Good night.
Aniket – Good night, sweet dreams sweets.
(Turns off the desktop; but sits there for a while – as if turned immobile. Tries to recall the conversation word by word; and a sweet smile escapes from her parched lips. Gets up to drink some water and retires for the day. Even while sleeping, the silly grin doesn’t leave her peaceful face)
It’s a Sunday morning – feels lovelier than the usual Sundays. The weather is at its best, spilling the romantic magic all around her. Her lazy puffy eyes refuse to open; but her thoughts force her to wake up pretty early, the same thoughts that kept her awake for almost the entire night. She curses herself for acting like a teenager desperate for a fairy-tale love; but that’s exactly what she was – a teenager in love. She sat up on her bed, rubbing her eyes, making them open slowly into the day – took her phone and downloaded all the newly released romantic Bollywood songs. She could relate to the lyrics of almost all of them, they are making a lot more sense than they should! “A few conversations, just a few – can do this to someone? – aren’t I reading too much into the situation?” She thought. But her rational mind was vacationing in paradise and she concluded that it must be the way every love story starts!
Over the days the conversations became more frequent. They talked about everything – their family, their friends, their favorite hangout places, their favorite subjects, how’s engineering life going to feel like, what to do when in Bangalore, favorite colors – everything. He had put up his own pictures on fb – one with his friends in the hostel alley, one at the Orion Mall fountain, one in Laalbagh, one at Gilly’s – not many (cozy) photos with girls. She visibly relaxed. She hadn’t put up any of her photos online, cause parents! So they had had a detailed conversation about her appearance. She was not known for her dishonesty. She had been very much straight-forward about how she looked – she had described herself as an average looking girl with medium height, wheatish complexion, shoulder length black-brown-hair, cool-blue spectacles and weight more than the permissible limit for her height. And after the conversation she had been very observant of Aniket’s behavior towards her. But he had been the same sweetheart that he always was to her. She was overjoyed with relief. She convinced herself that he was the one for her. Because he liked her for who she really was. No complications, no demands, no judgements and no restrictions – nothing of that sort had been spoken between the two of them. The infatuation that she had for Aniket was turning into something much more deeper than a mere liking. She was falling head over heels for him with each passing day, with each bit of their chit-chat. First love! This was her first love – Aniket was her first love.
After almost 20 days of chatting spree, Aniket finally asked her for her number and she gave it to him with pleasure. They started speaking over the phone. He had a very unusual voice for a boy his age. It sounded very calm and sensuous. Sareena absolutely loved hearing his soulful voice. She wished for him to never stop talking! One of these days, during one of these over-the-phone-talks, Aniket told her that he was in love with a girl and asked her to come online on Facebook.
Aniket – Sareena, I need your help.
Sareena – Yea sure, anything!
Aniket – Actually, I am in love with a girl, like truly-deeply-madly in love with her. But I can’t seem to convey my feelings to her.
Sareena – If you love someone so much, it’s your duty to let them how you feel about them! “Omg! Is he going to propose? Is he talking about me? Oh God! Please, let it be me!” she turns pink at the thought. Her body stiffens as she waits for his response.
Aniket – But I am worried. I am shit-scared. What if she rejects me?
Sareena – You have to let them decide what they feel and what they want to do after they know about how you feel, because you can’t really force someone to love you if they don’t and vice-versa. But then again, you won’t get to know what you could have or not, unless you try!
Aniket – Well, strangely and scarily enough, that makes perfect sense to me. So, what do you say, I should just tell her?
Sareena – Yes. Absolutely! “Holy shit! Please let it be me” her eyes are focused on the screen and she is oblivious to the fact that she is holding her breath.
Aniket – Alright then. Sareena, read the next few lines very carefully.
I have had many friends who were girls. I have spoken to a whole lot of different kinds of girls, I won’t lie. But you! You are a rare gem. Talking to you can never get boring. You are hell of an exciting girl. And your wit never ceases to surprise me. You are not at all predictable and that keeps me going. I love the sound of your voice when you say “hmm” after every segment of my speech. I love the way you say “kuch bhiii” when I keep on praising you; cause you are one of the “modest-kinds”. You are a girl of many talents and you keep me hooked to you. So, bottom line my friend is, “I love you a hell lot Sareena, say yes and give me a chance to dwell in your thoughts forever!”
“Holy mother of God!” She releases her breath. Oh it’s a sigh of relief. “It was me! Oh wow. Goose-bumps dude! Am I still alive? Have I died and gone to heaven? I can’t feel my feet. My head feels heavy. My eyes – I can’t see anything clearly! No no!”
She splashed water on her face, looked at herself in the mirror with a stern, long stare for a whole minute. She was indeed in heaven. She was smiling to herself. After all this is what she wished for, right from the time she got to know Aniket. She was hungry for those 3 magical words – “I love you” and Aniket had finally said them to her along with many other oh-so-romantic-to-die-for lines that only the Bollywood heroes say to the leading heroines. Her heart had turned into a mush. She was feeling like a big pile of jelly. “Oh shit! He must be waiting for a reply. I should go back to him”.
Sareena – I have wished for you to say those lines for a long time now. And, you should have known before even asking that I would have said yes even if you had written only those 3 words. And plus points for the extra effort mister. I love you too and I have loved you for a while now.
Yours, truly yours, Sareena 🙂
The friendship had blossomed and bloomed into a fully grown beautiful flower within just a matter of one and a half months. Sareena was thrilled to have a boy in her life who loved her to the stars and the skies. She shared the good news with the closest of her friends and made Aniket talk to them. Gradually Aniket became friends with all of her close friends – girls, guys included.
Aniket – Jaan, Don’t you think it’s high time that we meet! Now that we are in the same city, it shouldn’t be problematic, right?
Sareena – I was thinking about the exact same thing. I can tell my parents that I am going out for coffee with Anushree and Sneha. We can meet up at the CCD near to Uttarahalli. Does that seem fine?
Aniket – I was thinking more like a long walk and then eating paani-puri and then some chocolate milkshakes. I know how much you love them!
Sareena – I know hon, and you’re too sweet. But I can’t come for a long time. I can come only for 30-40 mins, max. So, a CCD will have to do.
Aniket – Alright baby! As you say. We can always go for a walk, hand-in-hand on some weekend. So, when can I see you baby?
Sareena – Well, tomorrow is fine by me! Sorry, but I am just too excited to see you. The sooner the better 🙂
Aniket – Haha! Jaan, you don’t need to be saying sorry. I feel the same way about seeing you. Imagine my excitement as I have never even seen your picture.
Sareena – Oh right! Well, see you tomorrow, love 🙂
Aniket – Won’t be able to sleep tonight. I’ll be counting stars 😉 Sweet dreams, my angel. Good night :*
She could barely sleep, the excitement was overwhelming. She gets up, sits on her bed with folded legs and starts thinking about what she should wear for her first-ever-official-date. “The blue shirt and that black jeans should be fine. Oh no, I look shorter in those jeans. That green floral kurti – naaah, I look like a balloon. The black-red striped skirt – hmm, interesting – no, but I don’t have a good top to go with it. Grr! I don’t have anything to wear. What a crisis L Hey! That white-pink kurti with a pink rose on it! Yes, that’s it. Thank God I had washed those white leggings last Saturday. I am all set to meet you Mister ;)”.
After college, she checks her phone and sees the missed call from Aniket. She calls him back, instantly feeling guilty for missing his call.
Sareena – Hi jaanu, sorry, I was in lab. You called?
Aniket – Yea baby. What time are we meeting? And we’re still meeting at that CCD in Uttarahalli, right?
Sareena – yeah, well I am done with college now. I will go to the CCD directly from here. I will be leaving in another 10 minutes, so you can come accordingly.
Aniket – Alright darling, see you!
Sareena – yep, see you indeed!
She heads to the girls’ room and straightens her dress, freshens up, puts on a matching lipstick and once satisfied with herself, she sets out on her pink vespa 🙂
She’s nervous beyond imagination. Her palms are sweating a lot and the ride seems to be lasting forever; though the place is not very far from her college. She reaches the CCD in forty minutes and clumsily gets off her vespa and very shyly, with pounding heart, opens the door to the cafe. She scans the place for Aniket. “He must be running late, I’ll order something and wait for him” she murmurs.
“One cappuccino, please and make it vanilla. Thanks”
She takes the sofa seat inside the cafe, which can seat only two and waits for her man.
After almost 10-15 minutes, a handsome young boy appears outside the CCD, wearing a navy-blue shirt (top 3 buttons are open, she sighs!) and a blue denim which goes perfectly with the shirt. She flushes at the sight of him. “It’s Aniket. And he is mine” she sounds possessive in her thought.
He goes on to the counter and asks for her. The cashier points towards her. But he seems to ignore it. He seems distracted.
“Wait, why aren’t you coming towards me?”
He asks him again and this time the waiter accompanies him to Sareena’s table. He stands there, very close to her and says to the waiter – “there must be some mistake. I am looking for Sareena?”
She gets up and smiles at him. She says to him that it’s no mistake, that she is Sareena. He refuses to look at her. He almost shouts saying “is this some kind of a joke?”
She doesn’t understand. He is now looking straight at her, his powerful gaze first constant on her face, then slowly goes on to scan her body from head-to-toe. He seems uneasy. He seems disappointed. She weakly smiles at him again as a try to make him feel at ease; but she realizes that it’s of no use. He presses his lips to a hard line, as if he is not proud to be doing this; but immediately shakes off this thought from his head and shrugs. He eventually says “you can’t be Sareena. And if you’re her, I must say, you have guts. I bow to you that you actually showed up for a date. With me? Man, you’re delusional. Do me a favor and get your upstairs fixed, alright? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do and better people to spend time with, and since you almost occupy the seat for two, I should not even bother sitting down, right!” As he is leaving, she vaguely hears him say “Aggh! What a waste of time!”
She is baffled. The first thought that comes to her mind is – “Gosh! why in front of this waiter? I can never come back here”
She is embarrassed. Tears are running like rivers without her knowledge. She stands there glued to the ground, like a mannequin, “a fat mannequin, of course” she thinks.
She collapses on the couch, as if suddenly the gravity was too much to take. Her head is spinning; her fingers are curled into fists. Before she realizes it, she is furious. And to her surprise, she’s angry at herself. She is not blaming him right now. She scolds herself. She narrows her eyes and looks at her reflection in the glass of the cafe. “I did this to myself. I let him say stuff to me. My family did this to me. They didn’t tell me that being fat was okay. They prepared diet charts for me. They gave me the vespa only when I lost 5 kgs. But they love me. They’ll be okay if I stay fat. They don’t say harsh words to me. Oh well, may be coz it’s not a crime. I can’t let him get away with this. Who does he think he is? I should have already stopped him and ripped his collar out of his shirt or at least slapped him. Oh, that could have been fun! To hell with the zero-figure BS. Hey man, pack a cheese burger for me, will you? I should leave from here. What did I bring? Oh, my purse. I feel dizzy. Hmm. Take a grip on yourself, you stupid cow!” She screams inside her head.
“Well, to hell with you. I am what I am and I am more than so many of you at so many levels. I’ll do as I please. You, yes, you asshole, won’t decide how I should feel about myself. I did fall in love with you, not knowing what kind of a monster you are and it was purely my fault, not yours. And I have you to thank for showing me that I am this confident about myself and I am capable of so much anger. You’ll surely get what’s coming for you and I promise, He hasn’t planned anything pleasant for you. So, if you’ll excuse me, I would like go and live my life unaffected by roaches like you.” – The girl you lost coz of your blindness and stupidity.
That was the last message she ever sent to him. She got a deep everlasting scar on her heart; but it only made her stronger. Everything that kills you might make you feel more and more alive. It’s all about perceptions!
Live your life at your own terms and love yourself.
Kucch toh log kahengey, logon ka kaam hai kehna – rightly so 🙂