Luck by chance
““Don’t move. It’ll spread otherwise. Stay firm.” her friend said.
“It’s freaky, I feel you’ll poke my eyes.” The girl replied.
“Okay, do it yourself.”
“No, no, please help me out here.”
“Then stay firm, let me apply the kajal.”
I noticed their activity from the adjacent seat. She saw me staring at her and let out a shy smile. The train honked and pulled off.
“She is to meet her husband today,” her friend told me and poked her. That’s why all the jazz.”
I smiled and took another look at her from head to toe. She would have barely been 19 or so and here she was already hitched to some guy. Her friend too might have been around the same age, more or less. She wasn’t the glam poster girl who walked the ramp for a cause but she was every bit enthusiastic about getting the perfect look. Thin frame, simple clothes, a little gajra tied neatly in a bun, bangles to suit her attire and most of all, a darling smile and impatient eyes. And her friend was her rescue for the last minute touch up.
“Don’t keep grinning like an idiot the moment you seem him. Just take a glance at him and a calm gentle smile. Let him speak. He has made you wait for two months, no need to go head over heels and shower him with your attention,” her friend said as she finished applying the kajal. “Here, have a look in the mirror.”
As the train pulled into the next station, her friend’s words reminded me of my own little episode. Bhoomika had prepared me for a similar situation, when I had to meet Alekh. It was almost four months since we were engaged. He was returning about a month after a project in a different city.
“I want to meet you in person. I’ll be back home on Friday morning. Can we catch up for dinner in the evening?”He said.
“Sure, I would love to.”I said.
“Okay, Haircut, saree, accessories, and footwear. Your shopping and grooming is done for the date, madam. Are we missing anything? Oh yes, the man himself,” and Bhoomika nudged me.
“Stop it now, I am really embarrassed.” “You think a saree is a bit too much? Maybe I shouldn’t wear one.” I said.
“Shouldn’t wear? You mean you won’t wear any clothes? My, my! Trying to pull off a la Protima Bedi and that too, on the first date after a month? The guy is real lucky! I am impressed, Lady”
“Oh! Shut up, you. I didn’t mean that.”
“I know. Sweetheart, a saree will be perfectly alright. Just enjoy the evening silly and don’t keep blushing like an idiot all throughout. That’ll just show him how much you missed him, okay? No need to go overboard. The trick is to keep the man guessing with a smile.”
“Yes, your Majesty. I won’t act stupid. I’ll keep calm and act sane and behave just as you have taught me to.”
“That’s my girl” and she hugged me.
I reached at the restaurant. Beyond the glass walls, I saw a table with a small board that read reserved. Classy, I thought.
“Sorry, I am a bit late. So much work in the past month, I believe I slept peacefully only today.” Alekh said.
I nodded and smiled. I was so happy to see him I barely could speak. All I wanted was to keep looking at him. And that’s what I did all through the meal. He kept the conversation going by telling me about his project and his stay. I earnestly listened to every bit of what he spoke and gave a few insights and opinions here and there.
We went for a stroll after dinner. What a perfect evening I thought to myself till he asked, “Hello, All okay Sudipta? With me or lost in thoughts?”
“Yea, all well. Did I miss anything?” I said still reeling under my own happiness.
“I actually had to tell you something, which is why I wanted to meet you today itself.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Let me get this straight. I am sorry Sudipta but I don’t think I am ready for marriage yet.”
I was zapped. Did he just say he doesn’t want to get married? Is this real? I was dumbfounded. It was a perfect evening. Where did this come from all of a sudden?
“I hate to break it to you this way but the project made me realize what I actually want to do. There are so many opportunities out there and I wish to explore them. And I know I won’t be able to do any of this if I am tied down by marriage.”
Silence prevailed for a moment. This was not what I expected. I finally spoke, “Do you even know what you are talking? I mean seriously, are you aware of what you just said?”
“Yes I am.”
“I mean, what were you thinking all this while? It’s not just your life, even I am there in the picture.”
“Precisely, my point. I don’t see that picture of us. Infact, I don’t see any of this happening ever and I don’t want to burden you with my wishes.”
“But I can wait, Alekh. I’ll wait a couple of more years, whenever you are ready. You can achieve what you want and we can work this through. Don’t be hasty. Just don’t end this like this. I mean, come on now. Don’t you want to settle at some point? Don’t you feel anything about us?”
“No Sudipta. It’s not like that. I feel marriage is not my cup of tea and I’ll never be ready for it. My parents wanted me to get married, which is why our engagement happened. I thought it’ll all be fine with time and I thought it did, but now I feel it never will. It was just a phase. I am sorry it had to come up this way and after so many months. I have so much more to do in life than get married and have a family. All this dawned upon me while I was away. I finally know what I want. And it’s not about you. Please don’t take it personally. You are a beautiful, smart girl. You’ll get any guy you want, even a better one than me, someone who is willing to share his life with you. But I am genuinely sorry, I am not that guy. And there’s no point waiting for me. Why should you stop leading your life and sacrifice your wishes and dreams for me. That’s just ridiculous. I hope you understand what I am saying because that’s why I wanted to meet you as soon as possible and I don’t wish to delay it any further. I am calling it off.”
“We are almost there.” The girl said and hung up her phone. Her voice brought me back to current day from my past encounter all in a flash. The train was approaching the station. They both got up and headed towards the door.
“There he is!” her friend exclaimed. The girl got down. Her husband was just on time and seemed ecstatic to see her. She just exchanged glances and meekly smiled, just as she was asked to. He yelled to her friend, “Thank you!” They both waved at her.
I saw them through the window walking across the platform hand in hand. Her friend came over and sat beside me. “He’s a nice fellow. They went through a lot and finally have got settled now. Lucky girl!” she said.
“Indeed.” I said.