I heard the sound of her footsteps approaching.
Two minutes earlier, I had helped her in laying out the mattress on the floor. ‘I will sleep here,’ she said then as she bent down and spread the sheet, ‘you can sleep on the bed.’
‘No, no. I can sleep here,’ I protested and without waiting for her, plopped down on the mattress. ‘You had a long day,’ I continued, ‘you should sleep. I’ll read a book on kindle before sleeping.’
She left the room without saying anything more.
It was then, as I lay on the mattress, chin propped on two hands, reading a Haruki Novel, that I heard the sound of her footsteps approaching.
Don’t know why, but I was overcome with a strange anticipation as I was suddenly aware of her presence even when she was in an another room
My heart skipped a beat.
I got introduced to Rhea on a dating site.
It was my first tryst with online dating. The only tryst, I should add. It was her first time too.
Having lost hope of finding a girl to date in my ever shrinking social circle and a male dominated consulting job, I resorted to online dating.
It would be awkward, a friend had scoffed.
It is like going to a multi brand store. With range of options varying from the high end Prada to the other budget brands.
You probably can’t have the ones you like. Too expensive. And you won’t look at some because they won’t look good enough against the former. The contrast effect. Even if they would have turned out good had you tried. You’ll never know.
Anyways, you would be too busy dreaming about the high-end ones.
Finally you end up selecting the one you think is right for you. They are doing the same. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. A business decision. Takes the charm out of dating.
And it is as coarse as it sounds.
I went for it anyways.
But I realized what he meant when I saw the photos of girls stacked in a vertical column as if they were items in a catalog on Amazon.
The similar looking head-shots. heartless filters. The mundane descriptions.
It all felt too phony.
I gave up and logged out after fifteen minutes of stumbling from one link to another. Then decided to chuck this business for good.
And I did chuck it.
Until I found a message in my inbox.
It was from Rhea.
Somehow, it wasn’t awkward with her. Rhea and I clicked.
She lived in Bangalore. So we couldn’t meet at once. So we chatted on Whatsapp, and then talked over phone. For a month!
She was the kind of girl one could fall for seeing her dancing in a pub with her hair down. Or in a supermarket standing in the section of cosmetics thinking which brand to buy. Or any of the thousands of the other place on this earth. It doesn’t matter.
For she was adorable in any setting. In any scenario.
She had a childlike innocence about her. A matter of fact way in which she spoke. No pretenses. No second thoughts. She would say intelligent facts one second. Surprised at her own intelligence. And then utter some silly remark in another, laughing at her own silliness.
That laugh. That infectious laugh. Unabashed and uninhibited. One can forget the world in that laugh. She laughed as if there was no tomorrow. A childlike happiness.
She lived in Bangalore. A different city. But that didn’t stop me from falling for her more and more every moment we talked. We ended up talking hours almost every day. And in no time my reality merged into hers. I was in love.
She disliked living in big cities.
Too much pollution, too many people, she would often say
Even though she had lived in Bangalore for a year now, a bustling city in the Southern part of India, she could never identify herself with the big city. It was always Kasauli. Her native place. A hill station located in the foothills of Himalayas.
Tethered to this place, her heart ached to go back there. To live among nature again. To witness the majestic rising sun. To breathe in the fresh mountain air.
‘I just need to earn enough’, she told me one evening over the phone, ‘then I would go back there.”
“Life in cities is life not lived.” She would often say.
Somehow, I agreed with her.
‘I have a day assignment in Bangalore,’ I told her over the phone.
‘When,’ she said, the excitement palpable in her voice. ‘On twenty third of this month,’ I replied. ‘It’s Thursday. Would you be able to meet?’
She had a meeting scheduled on that day, she told me. But it could be managed. Not a big deal.
Evening, we decided. At MG Road. A place teeming with pubs and restaturants in Bangalore.
‘I was hoping that we meet soon,’ she said, ‘it’s been long talking over phone. I was waiting for you to come.’
‘I too Rhea,’ I said, the excitement barely concealed in my voice.