I do hereby solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
As I am about to hit the "H" to start typing and say "Hi" to the guys, I notice a name on the chat panel on the left side of the gmail page. It's the girl I used to like back in my college. In a sudden surge of memories that cloud my mind, I start feeling a little disoriented. Meanwhile, the index finger on my right hand has run to hit the escape button, closing the current chat window.
So it's decided, I am not going for the movie after all. I ask my index finger. I have had just two beers but I could swear I saw the finger nod. It's not the first time I have had a conversation with my index finger. Check it here: A Promise to Die For
Any way, I ask my finger what does it plan to do next? I was hoping that the finger could rope in his other nine buddies and converse with the girl by themselves. As if reading my mind, the index goes down into my palm and asks his buddy on his right to stand up to greet me.
"Fuck you too, buddy" I say to my hand. I know it was too much to expect, but that does not justify name calling!
I stare at the name for some time. Choosing to delve deeper in my memories and relive the past. It provides me an escape from the boring present. A valve to let off some steam.
As if magically, a chat window with her name on the top pops open. My heart starts racing and I immediately check if any of my fingers were being mischievous again. That wasn't the case. I look back at the screen and saw a "Hi" from the girl. She wants to talk to me too. I feel there is a warmth that starts spreading in my chest. Like a wide grin of the stupid heart. I shake my head to let the bugger know who's in charge. It's always my mind. I'll have it no other way.
"Hi," she is saying. The tab name on the top of the window is flashing her name intermittently with 'Inbox (0 Unread)'. There used to be a time when she was in my inbox, I think. The top page displays 20 emails at a time and of that 10 would be from her. We used to talk about all and sundry. There would be multiple conversation threads alive at a time. The to and fro of information from both us used to happen all the time. Now if I search with her name, the mailbox will take me at least two years back. In an inbox, that's a lot of time.
I realize I am shaking a little. I haven't been able to resolve all the emotions from that time. Doesn't take a genius to figure that out. I had thought it was over it. It was way back in the past. Time, I believed, had healed me. But as it turned out, all that time had done was put a bandage over the wound. The moment that bandage was removed the wound down there was as fresh as ever. The raw, exposed wound stung like a thorn.
I pull my eyes from the blinking chat window with her name and stare at the wall. I know I am not poised enough to talk to her right now. I should just kill the window. I can apologize later that I didn't see her ping. I can say that I did not get a notification and it went straight to the archives. These excuses of bad internet connections still worked, I thought. They had somehow never vanished from our dictionary even after the internet had improved.
"Aah, what the hell..." said the voice of brashness in my head. The heart. I knew the devil would resurface. It has never conceded defeat to reason.
"Hi," I wrote back.
Girl - It took you a while to write back.
Me - Yeah, I just saw your ping. Whatsup?
I refused to get on the defensive at the start of the conversation. Can't guarantee that for the rest of it.
Girl - No problem.
I haven't apologized, I wanted to write. With one of the smileys that roll their eyes. I knew I wouldn't be able to find the smiley even if I had 10 minutes to reply. So I just waited.
Girl - I am in Delhi for a project. Last I heard you were here too.
Me - Yeah. I am in Delhi. How long have you been here?
I knew the answer to that. I knew the precise date. But why let her in on that?
Girl - I came here late last month. And I am here another week. At least.
Me - That's nice. Are you liking it?
Girl - Yes and no. But this isn't my first time here. So it's OK.
Me - Yes, of course. But it's just quite cold here right now. Isn't it?
Aah, weather. The quintessential small talk!
Girl - Not really. It's better than last year, I heard.
Me - Yes, that's true. I quite like the whether right now. It's nice and sunny during the day. I sometimes get to catch lunch outside. It's really nice.
Girl - Weather*
Oops. I thought.
Me - :P
Girl - :P you'll never learn!
That's the first time in the course of this conversation either of us has acknowledged our shared past. Not a good sign. Come on, think of something else. Quick!
Girl - Anyway, do you have plans for this evening?
I heard the hammer come down. This is the trickiest bit. I mean it's one thing to let your friends know you haven't got any plans for a Friday. But it's a whole another thing to let this girl know...
Me - Umm, yeah. I was planning to watch a movie.
Girl - Nice. Hobbit? Who are you going with? Is there anyone I know?
What now? She wants to join in for the movie? No, I can't deduce that from that. Look at me, even my thoughts are less articulate. Brain freeze!
Me - No. I don't think so. It's not the college junta.
I lied again. Damn. Why am I doing this!
Girl - Ohh, cool. Let me know how you find it.
Me - Yes, sure thing.
Then with shaking hands, I added - Anyway, what are your plans for the evening?
Girl - Nothing yet. I was supposed to be working late preparing for a meeting on Monday. But that got cancelled just now and my evening just freed up.
Damn it. Why couldn't I think of that! She's good.
Me - Ohh, that's nice. And not nice.
What am I saying! I shook my head. Not for the first time that night. Is it the beer? No, can't be. I've had just two.
Girl - I know what you mean.
Ok, so she still gets my gibberish. She always could look through the improperly constructed phrases and get the essence behind the words. Me, I am quite stuck up in this regard. I need the communication to be unequivocal and articulate. Normally I am that way. This is a special situation where my mind has slowed down and my heart and motor muscles are leading the way. This gibberish is exactly what happens when logic takes a back seat, I told my heart.
Girl - I heard Hauz Khas Village has really come up. I wanted to go and check it out.
Me - Yeah. It has some really nice places to eat now. You must check it out.
Girl - Yup, I'll try.
Enjoy your movie.
Was she trying to get me to ask her out? It certainly does seem that way. Although, if I put it that way it does not seem right. She was never that way. But that was also a long time ago.
A sudden urge to see her gripped my heart. It could also be harmless. There would be nothing wrong in meeting her as an old friend. Would there? All horror stories begin like that... what's the worst that could happen? I have learned to not use that line of reason. It never pans out well.
But there is also the fact that I need to resolve the emotions pertaining to her. Clearly I had failed to do that over the last couple of years. Maybe meeting her would make that possible.
Me - Do you want to catch up for dinner?
Woah! I was surprised the speed at which that came out. Seemed slightly involuntary to my mind. I would have to go about explaining what happened to the movie. I'll manage. I have scraped through tougher situations in the past...
It made me wonder if the order of the chronological order of the 2 reasons above was reversed, what would the outcome be.
This moment in the making, is one of those moments where destiny splits into two paths. But we walk only one. The other becomes hypothetical, but we often visit these moments when we look back at our lives.
I wondered if the future me will look at this point with joy or regret.