There he is! Shows up now, after this half-an-hour of agonizing wait. But, why is he ducking behind the flower pots! Oh, I guess he’ll play his usual Surprise! trick on one of us. Silently, I told this to the others and we were waiting to see what happens. As usual, he targets the well-pampered, innocent-looking, but not-so-innocent girl of our group. 3 years since we all met and he is into his old shoes already. Within no time, the old-time chit-chat starts and continues into animated banter. People taking about jobs, companies, and future plans. And, suddenly starting to tease the married guys and gals about their marriage and kids. It was all so lively and fun. I thought we would take sometime to get comfy after all the ups and downs we’ve had in life. I mean, once upon a time, we were thick friends and came to each other during trying situations. But, a long gap can pull people apart. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the case now and God! I was glad for that!
“So, how come you haven’t married yet? I thought you would have had 2 kids by now!” he started his usual mockery. Hadn’t it been for my engineering, I’d have got married at 18; and hadn’t it been for my MBA, I’d have got married at 22! Now, being 25 and still living free as per my will was something that didn’t go down well with my family. But still, if not now, when could I ever be so independent? This discussion seemed to have enlightened to him that I am no longer the daddy-says-marry-this-guy kinda gal. There was a sudden swell of appreciation in his eye and I kinda felt proud that it came from him. This guy was my closest friend in engineering. He dropped me home, gave me advice, enquired about my crushes, settled fights between me and my boyfriend. Heck, he had the audacity to challenge me to take up an MBA and convince my dad against marrying me off. So much for being independent for a small time in my life!
Soon, other stories started coming out. None of us who were committed in college continued to be so. After listening to 2 marriages, 3 break-ups and this guy’s ever-growing list of could-be-lovers, we headed out for lunch. I felt we were no longer our daily selves of well-groomed, well-behaved 24-25 old employees. It was college days again. Everyone was elated at being together. The food session began: after some glass clanking, fork scratching, and spoon fighting, we were on our fingers. I bet that hanging out with college buddies over a morsel of good food is 10000 times more satisfying than team lunches with colleagues. The sense of belonging to a group and still being able to become kids in a matter of few seconds has a nostalgic, yet heartening feeling to it.
Soon, the married guys had to leave and we were making fun of them that their mistresses were not too pleased with them hanging out for so long. Gradually, each one of us were put into that situation and others gave the verdict as to how each would react. People told that coupla years earlier, I’d have been my husband’s permanent unpaid chef.But seeing me now, they were convinced that I’d rather make him cook for me before giving in. I tell you, it was a secret pleasure listening to that! 😉 Some time later, this guy’s verdict is passed and people told that he’d be his wife’s yes man! I knew him very closely and knew he was a romantic and that he’d love his wife a lot more than she’d expect. But my friends thinking that, it would make him a yes man shook me a bit. For a second, I thought if it was gonna be true. I despised the thought that he could become like that. My close friend, in fact, my best friend becoming his wife’s yes man was unsettling.
I argued against it and took people by surprise. Even he was giving me questioning glances and I told them in strong words that he’d treat his wife as an equal. Sensing that the situation would become serious, he cleverly deviated the topic and all was forgotten. But something had stung me. It was neither small enough to be ignored nor strong enough to be termed ‘love’. Or, was it? His part in my life flashed before me like a movie. For some part in my life he was the cynosure, and arguably, they were the best days! I could be a princess in his world and I had the feeling that he’d never let me be unhappy. OMG! The seeds of love are planting themselves in my head and I’m drifting away from reality. Suddenly I turned crimson and started blushing whenever I glanced at him. I couldn’t meet his gaze. Oh damn! that was too fast for me to handle. I was in sweet trauma, revelling in the feeling of new-found love and the inability to express it! Restlessness and excitement seeped through every part of me and I was dying to vent them all out!
I was so engrossed in keeping my emotions under control that I missed something that was being said. I was sure it was about some person out of this group. I listened a little more intently and realised a bitter truth.
He was about to get engaged to the love of his life.
It was late!