Why was she twotiming us? Either be with him, or with me. That's it. I was going to make it very clear today.
But as she came nearer, my resolve began to dissolve. She looked ravishing in the purple and sky blue dress that was skin hugging and accentuated her figure. Her hair was loosely tied behind in a more clutch and bounced up and down as she walked towards me with a dimpled smile on her face.
I suddenly realized I had been staring at her with my mouth open. I quickly closed my mouth and muttered a weak hello. “Looks like you have been busy today”, she said.
“Yes, somewhat,”I said.
“What will you have?” she asked.
“Is this a treat?”
“Well, if you want one”, she said, a mischievous grin on her face.
I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, reddening and warming them. Was I blushing?
“Do you have a reason to give a treat?”
I patted myself for my intelligent question. “Yes, there sure is” I felt my cheeks lose their color.
“Won't you ask what it is?” she asked when I didn't ask the expected question.
“Yes yes, of course, I want to know,” I said, bracing myself for what was to come next.
She would tell me that she is going around with Mr nasty and then I would have to play the ‘good friend’ by congratulating her and acting that I was happy for her. Then she would ask me to be the best man for their wedding.
I had always been the good friend to girls who got engaged to someone else after I had been with them through their bad times, taking them out for dinner to change their mood or giving my shoulder for them to cry on. I had had
enough of being the perennial good friend. “Hello, Mr.Daydreamer. Back to earth,” she was waving her hand in front of me.
I came out of my reverie.
“Didn't you hear what I said?” she asked, still not sure whether or not I was with her. “Sorry, I was...just lost. What did you say?”
“They have hired me as a permanent employee,” she said happily. “Initially I had been hired as a temp to fill in for somebody but that person resigned today, so I am going to be here for a long time,” she beamed.
I couldn't believe this.
So this was not about Mr. Nasty. I was so relieved, before thinking I just got up and hugged her. To my utter surprise, she too hugged me back.
But she released me soon, even before I started to count the seconds we were in each other's embrace because that was how I would have to report to Varun later on. “Congratulations! I am so happy for you,”I said. She really had no idea how happy I was.
“Thank you. Now you tell me, what's with all this grumpy and don'tdisturb-me mood since morning?” she asked.
So she had noticed. Should I tell her? No, it would spoil our moment.
“Nothing, just homesick”.
Wait! Now, where did that come from? I do miss home but I didn't want to be portrayed as an emotionally weak person in front of this girl.
But before I could correct myself, she exclaimed: “that's cute”.
Cute? As in a puppy? Why do girls use such adjectives? Wait, I know when they use such adjectives. When they like a guy as a friend but are not attracted to him.
That's when they call him “cute”.
So again my mood dipped down in a spiral.
“You find me cute?”I asked, to confirm what I had just heard.
“No, not you,” she said and laughed.
Girls! If there is no third person here, and she didn't say that for me, then what did she mean??
My confusion must have been evident on my face because she clarified immediately. “You accepting and confessing that you were homesick, that is cute. Guys generally don't do that”
What was she, Ph.D. on guys behavior? Anyways, I was glad that I was not cute.
We ordered 2 Latte and chatted on different topics as we drank them. She was easy to talk to and had knowledge of lots of things. Her interesting anecdotes impressed me and I found myself enjoying her company. She told me she occasionally wrote a blog titled ‘the word charmer’ and I promised to check it out.
Back at my cubicle, I ignored Varun who was whistling to the tune of ‘Aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche’. But of course, I couldn't put off telling Varun everything forever. So that evening we hit our usual pub for a couple of drinks and some blatant confessions. Over cans of chilled beer and some interesting chicken rolls, I told him everything, right from the first time I saw her. Varun was amused at the way I had pursued the girl. According to him, it was very unlike me, and so she must be really special.
“But what about Mr. Nasty?”I asked him. “Looks like he is the villain not just in my work life but my love life as well”.
“Don't make assumptions, maybe he is just being nice to her or maybe they are friends from before”, Varun suggested. Varun makes sense only when he is drunk. So he must be right. “She considers me a good friend I guess,
nothing more”, I said, as the beer gave me an insight into my world.
“Don't rush things, see how and where it goes. Meanwhile, we will find out what Mr. Nasty is up to”, Varun said.
As I lay in bed that night, I thought of texting her. She had taken my number on the first day when I was showing her around. I grabbed my mobile and before I could open WhatsApp, I received a message from her.
“Hi” I replied, settling back on my pillow to make myself comfortable for a late night chat. But what she typed next blew me over. “How did you have my number from before we met at the office? I just saw a message from you from Sunday night,” she said. Oh shit! I was trapped! I had totally forgotten I had sent her a message that night. Now she would know what a lecherous creep I had been. Now she would know I had been stalking her. I didn't know what to say. Should I tell her I was in the US and I had actually sent that message next day? How absurd! What do I do now?
She was online, waiting for an answer. I switched off WhatsApp and called Varun. He woke up from a deep sleep. “Whozzit,” he said, his voice heavy with post alcohol slumber. “Varun, wake up. It's me. There's a problem”
It took two minutes for him to probably sit up and get oriented to time, place and person.
“What happened?” he asked finally. I explained the situation in short. “What do I do now? How do I explain this to her without sounding like a pervert?”I asked, desperation and anxiety echoing through my voice.
“Relax. Tell her you
had seen her application for the job and taken her number to acquaint yourself with her. You can say maybe you found her photo attractive. That would sound less creepy than what you actually did”.
Oh! It was so simple! Why didn't I think of this? Varun was a genius. He always had a solution for such situations.
“Thanks, bro, I would have kissed you if you were here”, I said, elated.
“Thank God I am not there”, he mumbled before returning to his pre phone state.
I went back to WhatsApp and typed what Varun had told me. Anamika bought it without any suspicion and I heaved a sigh of relief.
Anamika’s arrival into my office changed my outlook completely. Now I looked forward to going to the office, worked longer hours, even worked holidays. Mr. Nasty was probably impressed by my sudden attack of workaholism though he seemed unaware of the inspiration behind it.
Days passed and I and Anamika became thick friends. I always wondered if she was that type of girl...well, basically, there are two types of girls. One, who see through our façade and know our intentions very well, yet fake ignorance, and two, who do not see through us at all. Because basically, boys are of only one type, with the same intention in mind. Anyways, I was not sure whether she realized why I was so attentive, kind and generous around her (which I am but not to the extent I portrayed), or was naïve enough to believe I was the same with everyone.
I still didn't know what the deal was with Mr. Nasty, but it annoyed me to no end whenever I saw Anamika chatting with him over a cup of coffee in the cafeteria or coming out of his office at odd times. I didn't want to come
across as nagging, jealous, possessive or even needy (hell I was not even her official boyfriend), but I had to ask her.
But as usual, whenever I plan something meticulously, something else happens. I had practiced how I was going to broach the topic with her, in front of the mirror, to see if my face gave away my emotions. I had never done such preparation ever, not even for my interviews. But that day I spent half an hour in the morning, looking in the mirror, clearing my throat, asking the question, restricting the rise in my eyebrows and the tickle in my jaw.
As I went to the office fully prepared, I saw cubicle no. 12 empty. That was unusual. Anamika generally came before me.
Disappointed, I waited. I couldn't concentrate on my work that day. I had a presentation that afternoon and I was failing miserably while trying to revise what I was going to speak. She didn't come by lunchtime, which told me she was probably not going to turn up at all.
At lunchtime, I messaged her.
Where are you? Didn't see you @office 2day.
I am at Samata hospital, admitted with a fractured ankle :-(
What? How? I texted back, shocked. No one here was aware of it, okay, probably no one except Mr. Nasty.
Had gone to marine drive yesterday. Slipped on the pavement.
Ohh..take care..will be there once free from here
Hey, it's okay, no need...
Don't worry it's ok, c u soon
I just counted the hours till I could leave the office. I went
through the presentation as if on autopilot. I was out of the office doors at the stroke of 5, only to see the rear tire of my car flat.
Shit! I exclaimed loudly.
“Problem?”I turned around to see that Mr. Nasty had seen my outbreak of frustration. Flustered, I tried to keep anxiety at bay. “I urgently needed to be somewhere but have a flat tire”. He eyed me suspiciously, and then at my car.
“I can drop you if you wish to. Where do you want to go?” he asked, to my surprise.
“No, it's fine, I will take a cab,” the over smart me replied.
“Okay”, he shrugged and began walking towards his car. What had I been thinking? I wasn't his girlfriend that he would insist on going with him!
“Wait,”I called out, running after him, “Actually I need to be somewhere...urgent,” I said.
Mr. Nasty looked at me, eyebrows raised in...surprise? Mockery? I am not sure.
“Okay, where should I drop you then?” he asked.
“Samata hospital”, I replied and watched, as expected, as his expressions changed. “Anamika?” he asked after eyeing me suspiciously for an uncomfortably long time, brows furrowed together.
“Yes”, I replied.
We got in the car. This was the first time I was sitting next to my boss. I felt a devilish pleasure with him acting as my driver today.
I tried to make unsuccessful small talk, the attempts to which got aborted after a few curt replies.
We both got down at the hospital. I wondered if he was already planning to come here or he made the plans after learning that I was visiting her. I mentally slapped myself. I had just lost the chance of earning some brownie points over him, by being the first one to visit her.
He led the way and
walked confidently through the hospital to the first floor which housed the special rooms, making me wonder if this was not his first visit after all, and that he had already won all the brownie points I had been coveting for.
Feeling disappointed, I just followed him.
Anamika sat on the hospital bed, watching a small TV in front of her, a monitor attached to her finger shouting beep beep and her right foot in a plaster.
She looked at both of us simultaneously, and her gaze fixed on him first as she gave him a wide smile.
I felt a pang of jealousy. I was fighting a losing battle.
To my further dismay, Mr. Nasty approached her and kissed her forehead.
“How is your leg now?” he asked.
And as I stood there, wondering if she had even noticed me and if she should leave, I heard the incredible words I had never expected her to say.
“It's better Bro”
He was her brother???????
I could have danced with joy then and there. I was probably doing a mental merry jig when I realized both were staring at me. Did I
really dance now? “I said hello, daydreamer”, Anamika said and smiled.
“How are you now?”I asked her.
“I am good, better than yesterday” she smiled that cute dimpled smile. I was aware of Mr. Nasty’s gaze fixed on me, which prevented my face from showing any exaggerated reaction. Then came an awkward moment where both of them were staring at me while I was alternating between looking at either of them.
Finally Mr. Nasty cleared his throat.
“I will have a word with the doc”.
He gave me a small nod and left. Was that a nod of approval? Or was I imagining it?
Once he was gone, I heaved a sigh of relief and went to sit on the chair next to her bed. “See? My bro is not really that rude”, she said, with a wicked smile.
“I...I had no idea he was your brother..”I said sheepishly, feeling foolish.
She laughed heartily. “And he likes you,” she added.
“Oh, I thought you liked me”I replied.
And we both laughed together.
We chatted for sometime and as usual, laughed our hearts out.
Mr. Nasty returned from his fake doc visit, and I had to leave as he offered to drop me till the nearest bus stop.
That night, I went to google chrome and searched ‘word charmer by Anamika’ in the google search. A website popped up immediately. It was the blog she had mentioned, and I was now really curious to read what she wrote. I scrolled the page. There were many blogs on different dates. I just scanned the headings. She had written on really diverse topics. Some were personal like one was about her solo trip to New Zealand, another was about her school and the nostalgia she experienced at the reunion with her school friends. One was about the organic plants her mom grew in the terrace garden of the home she grew up in, while one more was about yoga and how she began practicing it and finding solace in it. One was about the different poems she had read since childhood that had left a deep impact on her. There was one titled ‘Shakespeare’.
Curious, I opened the page and began reading. She had written in detail about how she started reading the classics written by
Shakespeare, how she had to sit with a dictionary initially and found them hard to read, and how gradually she began enjoying reading them, to the point of getting addicted. She was smitten by his word prowess and bowled over by his quotes. She had quoted a few, which after reading, seemed to me like I was reading Latin or French, but were essentially English.
Being a poor reader myself, my respect for her increased tenfold.
Curious, I opened another google page and searched for Shakespeare's quotes with an explanation.
Just then my mobile vibrated. It was a message from Anamika.
Thanks for visiting me today. Felt really good.
I was about to reply when I had an idea. I scanned the page I had just opened.
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
I waited to see if she recognized this ‘Shakespearean quote’ After a few moments delay, she replied
Whoa! Looks like someone has been through my blog. Well done.
So she was sincere in what she wrote.
I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks and ever thanks
It took me no time to guess that this was another one of Shakespeare's quotes. When words fail, music speaks, I quoted Shakespeare again.
The earth has music for those who listen.
Whoa! I was impressed. She was quoting Shakespeare off- hand while I was struggling to keep up with my copy-pasting.
If music is the food of love, play on, I wrote.
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind, came her reply.
I was stunned for a moment. Did she imply what I was thinking she did?
Gathering courage, I typed the following quote of Shakespeare
When I saw you, I fell in love
And you smiled because you knew
I waited for her reply with baited breath.
Then let thy love be younger than thyself, or thy affection cannot hold the bent.
I again scrolled the google page for a perfect reply.
I love thee, I love but thee
With a love that shall not die
Till the sun grows cold and the stars grow old
I waited as she typed.
What if it's not in our destiny?
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but ourselves, I replied with another of his quotes.
Will our families agree? Will my bro agree? She asked.
The course of true love never did run smooth, I wrote.
Wow...looks like I can't take Shakespeare out of you, she wrote. I could visualize the smile on her lips.
Doubt thou the stars are fire
Doubt that the sun doth move
Doubt truth to be a liar But never doubt I love
I wrote, meaning every word of Shakespeare.
I waited, anxiously, before typing, So, what's your answer??
I would not wish any companion in the world but you came to her Shakespearean reply.