Her eyes were ravishing by their own right. As she trained those shallow pools of hazel and white on mine accompanied by that trademark twitch of head and cocked up eyebrow, her wavy hair intermittently fell on her face. Those dimples accentuated her understated beauty as she revealed that divine smile to me, a mischievous variant, that is. In a flash, her expression morphed into an inscrutable one. Her face grew intense. I could feel her grip in my hand tighten. We desperately needed each other. I released the grip on her hand, and drew her towards me. I could already feel the warmth of her body; her lips curled in anticipation. Mine did too, almost instinctively. As her face neared mine, and as our lips were about to lock each other in what would be a passionate kiss…
The sound was so intense that for a moment, I mistook it for a siren in a nearby factory. After a nanosecond of contemplation, I rightly identified it as the R’n’ B ringtone in my Nokia 2600. I opened my eyes, part wondering where the girl with me and the cozy environs of Hotel Ritz had disappeared. The Nokia blared indignantly, ripping into shreds what would’ve been one of the best dreams I’ve ever had. Conscientiously censoring the choiciest of swear words that crept into my mouth, I put the phone to my ear, sleepily pressing the ‘answer’ button in the process.
The scream was so intensely pitched that I had to keep the handset from ear for a second to shield my sensitive ‘elephant’ ears from the cacophony.
“Who is this?”
“Has the damned caller ID of your 100 rupee mobile fused itself, you cracked-head idiot? It’s me, Radhika!”, said the sweet female voice, which seemed to be out of match with the shrilled one that almost broke my ear apart. Radhika was an old friend of mine. She undisputedly, was my first female friend and one of my best buddies. We’ed befriended each other through a chat room some four years back. She lives in Bangalore and is doing her Law in the Christ College.
“Hey!! You just scared the shits outta me!! What a time to call?? It isn’t even 4 in the morning. By the way, you just murdered a dream!”
“Aha. Mr Romeo now has dreams… Who’s the lucky girl?”
“C’mon Radhika. Change of topic. How come you’re up so early, and it’s been a while since we last talked, right?”
“Yeah. I was a bit busy for sometime. Lots of assignments, tones of workload. Now it’s end-of-sem, and I’m free!!! YIPEE!!!”
“Wow, that’s great. So, goanna top your class this time too, eh?”
“Yeah yeah. Keep dreaming. Screwed up 3 papers bigtime. Dunno if I’ll clear all. Hey, guess what, I’m in Trivandrum now!!”
“You IN TRIVANDRUM!! Hey, that’s double surprise!! What for?”
“We reached yesterday evening. Wanted to call you right as we touched down, but was too tired. So decided to surprise you with a wake-up call! I’ll be in town for a couple of days. Dad was so desperate to visit his parents, so I decided to give in and jump along!”
“Hey hari..” she broke in: “You free today evening? Let’s meet up!”.
I sadly realized that the fateful day could potentially be one of the worst days of the year. Two badly written records up for submission plus a class test in Discrete Structures. To top it all, a much rescheduled client meeting in the evening.
“Sorry Rads, not today. Too tight. Won’t be free in the…”
“Dude… You know something, I just agreed to come with dad to this fucking place so that I could get to see you. Remember, we’ve known each other for four years, but haven’t met even once!! We might never get such a great opportunity to see each other. Please man!”
There’s some enshrouded charm about the plea of a ‘fair maiden’ which arouses a sudden fit of determination and drive in a guy. I realized that the girl had a point, and decided to give in. But I doubted and asked whether she knew her way to the ‘vantage points’ of the city, to which she quickly boasted of knowing the city inside out, having spent the first ten years of her life here. Her choice of the meeting place gave me the real shock of my life!
“Why don’t we meet up in the temple?”, she quipped. Knowing Radhika too well, I gathered that this ‘temple’ was some new ultra-cool hang-out place in town. These bangaloreans have this unique skill to sniff out all those hang out joints in a jiffy. “ I was planning to go temple-hopping today evening, anyway!Let’s see, I like that Shiva temple in the heart of the city. Why don’t we meet up there?”, she purred, almost sounding like a Birthday party invitation to a Café Coffee Day!!
“Erm, won’t a temple be a bit too out-of-place?”
“If you want to meet me this evening, come to that Shiva Temple in Sreekanteshawaram. I’d be there at 5.30 sharp, wearing blue salvars. You remember my face right?”
“Yeah.” Rads had e-mailed me a few pics sometime back. “And, I’ll be wearing a green shirt, and cream-coloured chinos. Just in case, you’ve forgotten my face.”
“Now, that’s a deal! Wow.. sounds exciting! Meeting for the first time in a temple? Our relationship’s goanna last real-long! Hey, mom calling gotto go. Be there at 5.30 okay? Bye, take care. Love you!”
By now, I was fully awake and conscious. Sitting down distraught on my bed, I tried to organize my cluttered mind. After a minute of contemplation, I was back to myself. A mixture of emotions; ranging from anticipation to a tinge of euphoria were building up. The previous night was more strenuous than usual, thanks to the back-breaking record-work. Radhika’s call, coupled with the dream came as a welcome relief. I was going to meet a buddy of four years for the first time; I’d never ever imagined in the wildest of dreams that I would see her any soon, but life sometimes gives you its share of pleasant memories…
I usually don’t give a damn about dressing up to college. But today, I decided to do some grooming. I chose the dark green Excalibur shirt and chinos, just as I’d told Radhika. That morning found me spending close to thirty minutes before grooming my perennially-unkempt hair using an ill-used Brylcreem gel, clearing my face of all the facial hair that had accumulated over the past week, and on the whole: making myself presentable. On my way to college, the realization stung me. This was my first date! This was the first time I was going to ‘make-out’ with someone of the opposite sex. Before the realization could overcome my dreamy self, I made myself aware of the warm friendly relation that existed between Radhika and I. It was based on pure but intimate friendship. No romantic baggage attached. Besides, Radhika would soon be ‘moving on’ to her fifth boyfriend in a week’s time, or so she said.
The day at college turned out to be a routinely-mundane one. Thankfully, a strike by SFI citing the absurdest of reasons (some guy in some remote college burned the SFI flag, or so the GenSec said) averted the record submission and the test!. So, there was no class that day. The client-meeting too got postponed for the umpteenth time. (Damn!) Which saw me jobless (having refused an offer to a movie), and bored, roaming through PMG junction. I tried calling Rads, but her phone was switched off. With nothing to do until 5.30, I walked into the British Library and spent some five-odd hours there, during which I finished reading a Jeffrey Archer Book, Twelve Red Herrings. At about five, Radhika called to confirm my arrival. I caught an auto from Statue Junction and headed to the Shiva temple at Sreekanteshwaram, where Radhika told she’ll come.
<End of Part 1>
P.S. Was planning to write this post as an undivided, single one; short & sweet. But, as I started writing, it just began growing out of proportions. I decided to call it a day then. Series exams going on at the moment, lots to study. But, don’t worry. Part 2 will be up in a week, so keep commenting and lemme know whether you liked this or not!