You were still smiling at me….
It had gotten awkward just standing there, not doing anything. So far, whatever you had done had left me feeling emasculated. So I decided I needed to make a move, be the man.
I closed in the space between us and took one stray curl of your messy hair between my fingers and twirled it, while I gazed into your eyes that reflected my own face, and pure honesty. I gauged your reaction. Would you be shy, brazen, or surprised?
You were none!
I should’ve known. So far, you hadn’t shown any signs of being coy like most girls your age are. You just let me look at you while you looked back at me.
You were so beautiful… childlike, yet… mature, there’s no better way to put it. As if you could see past everyone’s thoughts. It was unnerving, being subjected to your adoration and scrutiny at the same time. I could see your eyes were a light, chocolaty brown. Kathai in Hindi, is the perfect term for such eyes. And the bridge of your button nose was sprinkled with very, very faint freckles. You weren’t wearing any makeup that day, not a smidgen, and that just exemplified the rawness of your wild beauty. Wild, was the apt adjective for you. Someone like you couldn’t, wouldn’t be controlled.
I felt like Mowgli meeting Kaa for the first time – I knew I was being sucked into the vortex of something dangerous, but how dangerous, I didn’t know just yet, for your face was my melody, the scent of you my sedative, and your touch my aphrodisiac. I was a very entranced Mowgli.
It was pretty evident that we could both go on for eons with our gaze-a-thon so I had to break it up. I asked you if you’d like to have breakfast with me and you assented simply. Since there was nothing fancy close-by, we decided on a nearby dhaba, and came to learn that we shared a love for stuffed paranthas and good ol’ white butter. It was gratifying to see a girl who loved to eat. I was dangerously close to falling in love with you already and I had really known you only for an hour, tops. This wasn’t good… My spidey-senses were never so out of whack!
But I noticed you were very tight-lipped. You rarely gave me personal details beyond what you had told me on the hill. A few tid-bits about your likes and dislikes, that’s it. But you demanded none from me either. It was me who offered information on myself. To be frank I wasn’t alarmed, just put -off maybe, because I felt you didn’t trust me enough, but that was okay with me. Girls are generally that way initially. It was our first day, besides. There was plenty of time to get to know each other, open up to each other. But it did feel like it was all going backwards. This ‘date‘ should have come much later.
I still had no clue about why you had called me to the lake and how you had managed to sneak that piece of paper into my glove, so I asked you about it, and all you did was smile at me mischievously.
“Oh c’mon. Tell me why and how?” I nudged you in the side, sending you into a delicious giggle-fest. I was constantly looking for excuses to touch you – a nudge, a guiding hand on the small of your back, a clasp on your hand to assure you of something or a hand brushing the wisps of hair flying across your face. It was quite obvious you were enjoying every minute of the attention. And it was obvious that you were ticklish. A cute and useful revelation.
“Don’t do that again please…”, you said between giggles.
“I will if you don’t tell me things. Why?” I threatened with a raised hand and fingers poised to tickle again.
“Okay, okay, wait! Don’t tickle… I thought it would be fun to see how you’d react, that’s all. Whether you’d come at all. I looooove to play pranks…and… I wanted to see if you were adventurous”, you gave me big, excited eyes. “And as for that paper, I sneaked it in when you were on your lunch break and the foyer was empty. If you go back and check the security footage around that time you’ll see me sneaking in”, you smiled mischievously again as my eyes widened in sheer amazement and incredulity.
“But why sneak in? Why not just hand it to me directly?”
“Are you crazy? You know how odd it looks for a lone girl to just barge in, hand you a piece of paper, and then walk out of the Salon without even using your services? Everyone would have known why I was there…”, you looked down at your hands in a bid to hide the blush creeping onto your cheeks.
That I bought. You could have roped in any of my colleagues to do your bidding but okay, I understand why a shy girl may have done that. Except…you weren’t shy. Secretive fit the bill. I decided not to say anything at the time because it was way too early for me to judge your character. I know, I know, I said I read people well. But I also said that you were hard to read, didn’t I? So inspite of my apprehensions over how we were starting, I played along. Actually, if I am to be very, very honest, I played along because I didn’t want to lose the sight of you… Didn’t want to lose you. I guess it’s true what they say – love at first sight!
We stayed quiet for sometime, enjoying our lassis. Then I remembered your tattoo and your scar. “So…”, I began as I gulped down the last of my lassi, “I noticed you have a scar on your head and… a tattoo on your…umm…waist. What’s the story behind that?” I put down my gigantic glass with a flourish and looked archly at you, but I wasn’t prepared for the change I saw in you.
You looked ashen! The color had drained from your face and you were definitely shaking. Was it anger or fear, I didn’t know but I instantly wished I hadn’t opened my mouth.
I frantically tried to repair the damage I had done, “I….I’m so sorry if I’ve said something I shouldn’t have…. I just mentioned it casually, just to talk about something….” I trailed off because you snatched the bottle of mineral water from the table and began to take huge gulps of water in. I was really scared. Had I upset you so much? Was it that personal? Or was it indecent of me? I had no clue what was wrong. Those five minutes of silence were stretched like 5 years and I was in hell every second of it.
“The tattoo and the scar… are a private matter….” You began when the shakes had stopped and you had cooled down a bit. “It’s very, very private. I….can’t tell you about it, not yet…. But someday, if we’re together for that long, I will…”, and then you looked at me directly, your face a canvas of earnestness, fear, honesty, and something told me, strength of character. And at that very moment, I knew I had fallen hopelessly in love with you…
To be continued…
©Pradita Kapahi, 2017.