A Friday night:
“Where are you?” my roomie screamed at the other end.
It was evident she was miffed. She wouldn’t have if it was any other day. It was her birthday, and she had planned for a special dinner, all by herself. Yeah, I hear you. It should have been me, but what could I do when my entire mind was planning for something else – something big, something that could possibly turn out to be one of the eventful happenings in my life.
“Two minutes, dear.” I was at my pleasing best. I had to for it had been more than half an hour since she was waiting for me. It was almost 8pm already.
“Oye, it’s the fourth two-minutes from you,” she continued. “At least tell me where you are. I will come over there. It really is terrible to wait at the gate all alone. You know the guys’ stare out here.”
“I’m so sorry, birthday girl. This is the final two-minutes. Trust me,” I lied.
I counted the heads ahead of me in the line. Even if it took a minute for each of them, it would easily take twenty minutes for me to pay my bill and get out of the store. I cursed everyone. I cursed the store employees even more. It was a Friday evening. It was typical of our company employees to storm the store to buy stuffs as if it was the only store available in the whole world, yet only one was at the billing counter.
“Alright. Final call, come soon or I am leaving.” She dropped the call, hastily.
I hated myself for troubling her on her special day, but I was helpless. I knew she would understand if she found the reason, which I clearly had no intention of telling her – at least not by then.
I looked at the Little Hearts biscuit pack I was holding. I felt like an idiot to wait for more than thirty minutes to buy this one biscuit pack. Love, you see, makes us do such stupid things.
“Just this?” the store guy asked with a what-a-jobless-person-you-are-to-wait-this-long-to-buy-this-one-item sort of reaction on his face.
Man, what’s with the face? If anything, I should be the one to react for making me wait so long, I thought.
“Yep.” I said staring at him, and that made him look away and complete my transaction.
I was too busy, or rather too late, to stand there a second more. I rushed to the gate. I got sight of my roomie. As I got closer to her, her focus was on the bag I was holding.
“A biscuit pack? You made me wait for an hour to get this single pack of Little Hearts? Really?”
“I’m sorry, dear. You know the Friday rush, no?” I dear her every time I want to mollify her. That had always been my trick, and surprisingly, it had cent percent success rate.
“You know that our reservation is for 8pm, right?”
“Oh, is it? I thought it is for nine,” I winked at her and continued, “Listen, I called the restaurant and rescheduled it to thirty past eight.”
“Yep, I had to as I have another two-minutes work before we get to the restaurant.”
“What? Are you crazy?” She said behind me as I walked to the roadside to get an auto.
As we were on the auto, I took out a box, kept my Little Hearts inside, sealed it and wrote his address on it. I signed the box in the name of ‘Anne Sandhya.’ (That was the name I decided for me if I ever wrote a book.) I caught my roomie’s stare, but I was smart enough to pretend I was occupied with what I was doing. She kept staring at me steadily, by the way.
“You really are doing it, aren’t you?” she said and knocked my hand.
“I thought you were joking when you told me your plan last night.”
“Nope, I meant it. I thought long and hard. It seems to be the best option given I don’t have the courage to face him and say all the stuffs I want to say to him.” I said as soft as I could as I didn’t want the auto driver to hear my stupidity.
“Whatever. You girls are mad when in love.”
All I could do was to shrug my shoulders and lay my head on her shoulder.
“This would work out na?” I asked her hoping for a positive response from her.
“I wish. From the Little Hearts vs Bourbon stories I heard from you, I really hope so, but honestly, you could do better. Why this hide and seek game? God forbid, but what if he doesn’t find out?”
“I will keep sending him a pack every week until he finds out, one way or the other. He knows more than anyone how much I love Little Hearts, only he doesn’t know it’s second only to him.”
She hugged me.
We couriered the pack before we reached the restaurant. The dinner was perfect. How could it not be when I have a good friend in my roomie? She tried her best to divert me from my nervousness about the courier. We discussed so many stuffs, from our house owner naggings to the usual office gossips. I was sure she had a great time as well.
“Priya, it was one of the best times. I’m so lucky to have met you. Thanks for being there for me, always.” She said before she slept.
For someone who lost their parents to a freaky accident, she was unbelievably strong and calm. She was my inspiration to face life as it happens. “I am lucky, indeed, to have met you,” I said and kissed her good night.
The following Monday:
Like every other Monday since I fell in love with him, I was so excited to meet him. However, it was still different that day. It’s not an exaggeration, but a weekend without seeing his face was like an unbearable punishment. I did wish that we worked on weekends too.
I got to office early although I knew he wouldn’t be there by then. I kept turning back constantly to look at the empty desk behind me. Dude, where are you? I wondered.
I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I sat there staring at the mailbox caring less to read the unread mails. As much as I checked his desk, there were several texts from my roomie. No wonder she was as curious as I was.
“Hey, Priya. Good morning. How was your weekend?” my manager enquired with the usual unwarranted smile as he passed by.
“Great. How was yours?” I had to ask, out of courtesy.
I regretted it instantly. My manager did a U-turn and stopped by my desk only to start listing his weekend happenings. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the most awaited guy entered right then.
There it was, the hateful look whenever he saw my manager with me. I kind of admired it secretly, you know. He gets all furious with me as soon as my manager leaves. He always finds that my manager flirts with me (and few other girls in the team) needlessly. I disagreed with him most of times just to see him at his furious best.
Oh my God. Not now, please. I was worried. Do something, I thought.
“Hey Krishna, Sorry. I have to make a call,” I said and left my desk without waiting for my manager’s response. He may have felt insulted, but who cares. As I strolled out, I didn’t fail to notice my guy staring at me through the corner of his eyes. I loved it.
I dialed my guy’s number. “Hey, come out. Let’s go grab a cup of coffee.”
“Sorry, I’m busy. Why don’t you call your guy?” he said with his tone varying from loud-enough decibels to almost-muted decibels.
“My guy? Who?”
“You know who I mean,” he replied. Of course, I knew who he meant.
“You are my guy. Come soon to the fourth-floor pantry,” I said and dropped the call. It took me a few seconds to realize what I said. If only I say that in a serious conversation. If only he gets it. Life is not that easy, is it?
I had to explain him what had happened before. He laughed it away. He never holds anything against anyone for long. Although he may seem serious or angry at times, deep down he is that one cool guy who listens to the other side of the story and then reacts sanely. That’s one of the many I like in him.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. The whole day, the whole week, he didn’t mention anything about the Little Hearts in the countless conversations we had. So did I.
My roomie was more disappointed that I was. It made her more involved in my plan of sending a biscuit pack every week. One Friday, when I was sick and took off from work, it was my roomie who bought one and sent it to him.
A few more following Mondays:
I got to office early hoping it would be the day, finally.
I waited curiously for him to talk about Little Hearts.
We had our regular countless conversations about everything but the Little Hearts.
A Saturday night:
As my roomie and I were immersed in our late-night conversations after a heavy dinner, my mobile beeped. I knew it was from my guy. My roomie knew it too. That was because of the special message tone I had assigned for him. We both rushed to get my mobile, but I lost to her. She read out the text loud, “Hey, come to office early on Monday, say around 7:30am. Have something important to discuss.”
The sixth Little Hearts of mine did the trick, I thought.
“Ha, after all these weeks, your guy figures out,” she said and hugged me. It was the first time she used ‘your guy,’ and I hugged her tight for that.
Since his text was blunt and there weren’t any follow up texts, we both decided not to reply to his message. Yep, we both did. We were in this together as a team, you see.
I was too nervous to reach office by 7:30am. By the time I got to office, he was already at his desk.
“Hey, good morning.” He greeted me.
“Two minutes,” I said and went straight to my desk. How stupid of me? After all these weeks of wait, is that all I could do? God, I hated myself.
I didn’t know it was the nervousness or the fact that I didn’t respond well to his greeting, but I just sat at my desk pretending to be busy with something. It was like testing his patience.
After ten or so minutes, he came near me and started, “Hey, I have to ask you something.” I figured that his words were coated with hesitation. I knew that feeling. I wanted to make him comfortable. As I was about to say something, we were interrupted by our manager, Mr. Krishna, the great. He stopped by to ask for a pen. I cursed my luck.
I took out a pen from my bag and handed it over to him as fast as I could, or anyone could. If there was a world record for that, I would have beaten it by a mile.
He left us, but not before throwing some, as my guy puts it, the usual unwarranted smiles. I remained a statue to him as I didn’t want to piss my guy off.
“I didn’t mean to look, but what’s that book?” he asked. It wasn’t what I wanted him to ask.
I told him about the book and how I always carried it with me. He didn’t seem to care. He just said, “Oh, okay,” and turned back.
“Wait. What did you want to talk about?” I didn’t want him to leave, not without talking about my Little Hearts. I was dying for that moment.
“Nothing,” he said.
I remained statue to my guy as well. I didn’t know how else to react.
“Priya, you do remember that Bourbon is my favorite, no? It will be forever.” He said and walked away.
I dialed my roomie and told her what happened. She was equally shocked and confused. She, however, talked me out of my reason-searching-mind.
Just so you know, we – my guy and I – didn’t talk much for the rest of the week.
My roomie and I broke our heads to figured out if he knew it was me who sent the Little Hearts. Eventually, as one last attempt, we decided to send him a big Bourbon pack that Friday.
I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep the whole night. My roomie tried her best to make me sleep. Her words failed to do the trick. I was awake wondering about his reaction for the Bourbon pack.
Saturday morning was no different. The same questions, the same unable-to-sleep-mindset until around 12:30pm. It was when my mobile rang. It was none other than my guy. I answered the call with my shivering hands and rapid heartbeats.