Thursday, October 09, 2008

The pretender and the fool

It was a girl's voice that answered the phone. After a moment of hesitation, I introduced myself. She sounded pleasantly surprised! A brief session including the exchange of each other's whereabouts followed. With an option to call her during a later hour, I hung up.

I knew Shahana through a roommate of mine from Delhi. She was an online friend of his, who had later turned into a phone pal. I always found it hard to relate to a voice without a face, or texts without both of the above. But he seemed to have no problem at all. He knew hundreds of such Shahanas. It was when I told him about my intention of moving to Bangalore, that he decided to part with her phone number. Tales of my prospective loneliness in a strange city just made it quicker.

She was preparing for her final exam when I called her the second time. I made no secret of my intentions of meeting her. Surprising me yet again, she readily agreed. Strange for a Muslim woman, I thought. Even stranger was the picture of mine I had painted. The me whom she knew was nothing but a bundle of lies I'd spontaneously cooked up; me who was a business analyst with an exorbitant pay packet; me who was the only son of very rich NRI parents; who drove 3 expensive cars; and was a lot of things that an innocent small town girl trying to make a living in Bangalore would dream about in a guy. Oblivious to the truth, she had agreed to meet me.

The day of the meeting arrived. It was a Saturday. The proposed venue was the Fifth Avenue, a popular hangout on Brigade Road. Before arriving at the spot, we had exchanged the details of our dress code in order to make identification easier. I had lied about mine, just in case… But she had not lied. She stood at the entrance clad in parrot green salwar-kameez. She was dark, moderately tall, and beautiful. It was time to make the move. The date was on.

I caught her by surprise by whispering her name from behind. She was startled. She panned me with her eyes from head to toe. She grinned. For two reasons – my appearance had pleased her, and second, I was wearing nothing like what I'd made her believe. She gently slapped on my shoulder followed by a gesture with her lovely eyes. The blame game, the fuss, and the patch up were all over in one sweeping movement of her eyes.

We took our seats towards the corner of the shop. She was lovelier than I had imagined. The features were sensual. The cheek bones, the dusky skin, the glittering and unusually sharp canines. There was something amorous even in her silence and the giggle she occasionally let slip through her pursed lips. Despite my persuasion, she refused to eat or drink anything, but a glass of water. I was beginning to like her. I wanted to tell her the truth. The romantic fool. But some tinge of sense from an evil corner of my heart prevented me.

A couple of hours passed. I was completely entangled in the spell of this lovely woman. I had to break the world of pretense I had created around her. After all, I was falling in love with her. How could one be untrue to a woman one was falling in love with? Ignoring the constant calling from the evil corner, I opened my mouth. "Shahana, I…," I started. Interrupting my confession, her phone rang. She excused herself, walked a few feet away and started speaking on the phone. I noticed an unusual stream of life flow into her. She was throwing regular glances at me, and giggling. I even noticed a blush despite her dark complexion.

She returned to the table a good fifteen minutes later. I looked at her with curious eyes. "Was it her boyfriend she had just spoken to?" I wondered. As if she could read my mind, she said, "Don't worry. It was not my boyfriend." A sigh of relief followed from my side. She giggled again at my expression. Though the joke was on me, I joined in. It was more of an effort to get over the embarrassment. The giggle turned into a laugh. And then into a frenzied roar. I was almost falling off the chair when she stopped laughing, for breath. I looked at her, through welled-up eyes. She gasped for one final time before she said - "It was Shahana."


Maya Reiss said...

really good one sir.. its nice to read something without a dark undertone :D.. it 'becomes' you more..

Ajith said...

Good one mate....As gud as watching an episode of akkara kazchakal. :)

Tinker Belle said...

He he he!