He waited impatiently for her. It was more than thirty minutes past the time she said she will come.
“I should have waited in the car”, he said to himself, as he wiped perspiration off his forehead. It wasn’t a particularly hot day, of course. It was just his anxiety. It had been a heroic effort for him to even talk to her. Words always seemed to fail him when she greeted him in the office canteen, or walked past him. He would attempt a feeble smile, and return the greeting, before walking away a tad too quickly.
She was beautiful, way beyond his league, he’d say to himself. She was tall, but not too tall (neither was he), strikingly fair (not that is really mattered to him that much), and had very prominent features. Her complexion allowed her to carry both dull and bright colors with equal ease. And she was always dressed almost perfectly (according to him): neither too casual, nor too dressy; just about right to make people take notice.
It all started with sideway glances. He was always aware of her presence nearby. Even when he was busy with his work (and he took it very seriously), he could pick up her soft voice, as she spoke with someone in the hallways. He would get up and walk to the water tap, even when he wasn’t particularly thirsty. But as he passed by her, his blood-pressure would rise suddenly, and his movements would become awkward — the way they typically become when one least wants them to.
At first he thought she never noticed him. He was so sure of the ordinariness of his looks that he thought he was invisible to her (and to most people, but that hardly mattered to him). A few times she caught him staring at her and looking away as soon as she looked at him. He tried to avoid her gaze, after such instance. But, the next time, he would spot her looking at him with mischievous expressions. He would look away in haste.
He looked at his watch, for maybe the hundredth time. To his surprise, it had hardly moved.
“I should have just waited in the car and listened to Jupiter“, he murmured. He started humming the movement of Mozart’s last symphonic work, from where he had left it. He thought about its intricate interplay between diverse themes, and their fabulous confluence near the end. He had got out just before the real interesting parts. He had, of course, heard it a hundred times. But it still made him irritated — leaving it unfinished like that …
Why was he there, he wondered. All these years, he had been happy alone. There was so much to do with life that he had never felt that his life lacked anything. Did he feel that now, he wondered for a moment? Or was it just his mom, and sister, and their pestering questions?
“When are you going to get married?”, his mom had tried to reopen the conversation — that he absolutely detested — the last time he’d called on her. It wasn’t as if he did not want to get married. He just hated the whole concept of arranged marriages. Did his heart long for a companionship now? Now that most of his friends were settled in their married lives? He was ready to acknowledge to himself (although he would never hint that to his mom, or his sister) that he did feel a longing — if that’s what it was, whatever that he was feeling. It was another matter, that he felt completely inadequate to do anything about it.
“Why don’t you try blind dating?”, a married friend had kidded him.
“What’s wrong with arranged marriages then?”, he had retorted.
“Who said there is anything wrong with them?”, the friend had asked, a little offended, he noted.
“I didn’t mean it that way”, he had said, “I’m sorry”.
“Chod yaar“, the friend had said. Forget it, man.
“You’re too bloody serious in life”, the friend had added, as he excused himself to take his wife’s phone call.
[To Be Continued …]