I just returned from Mcleodganj and it was 4 in the morning when cab dropped me outside my society campus. I was extremely exhausted from this awesome trip still I had glimpse of those lovely and serene mountains. I was basking in those 3 beautiful days of my life.
I unlocked the main door of my house, entered into the dark room, switched on the light, put my travel bag aside, did not even change my clothes and fell down on my bed. I was so drowsy that I fell asleep within a few seconds. I would have slept 10 minutes or so that I don’t know how in the world my eyes got opened. I checked my phone, it was silently flashing that name which I missed a lot in those mountains, it was Manu calling. I checked the time on phone; it was 4:45 am. I swiped the red point to green to know why she is calling so early in the morning.
Manu: Snehil, are you awake? Sorry to disturb you this early. Can I talk to you for a while? She said
Me: Hie Manu. How are you? (I tried to sound like I’m awakened.) What it is about, tell me? And I had a good sleep so no worries.
Manu: Are you sure? You don’t sound like so. You sleep okay; I will call you back in daytime. (She caught me.)
Me: Hey, wait. Tell me no! I am awake now. (I insisted. I wanted to talk to her more than anything in that breezing morning after many days although I was real so sleepy.)
Manu: No. I am sorry. I shouldn’t have called you in the first place. (She sounded low.)
Me: Manu, what are you saying. It’s nothing. Please tell me. Don’t be so formal with me at least.
Manu: Acha listen, can I ask you something?
Me: Sure. Don’t think, just tell me.
Manu: Do you have any plans for today? If not, can we meet for some time? I want to tell you something. (She inquired, however I never know what my plans could be. My plans are just random, similar to the one from where I came back a while ago.)
Me: Tell me now. (I asked again.)
Manu: So you don’t want to meet. (She got disappointed, I was missing the point that she wanted to meet me and then tell me what she had to say.)
Me: No, no. I did not mean that. Ok, what time should we meet?
Manu: Anytime you say. (She cheered up when I asked the time to meet her.)
Me: In the evening, possible?
Manu: Ok. (She confirmed in no time.)
Me: Alright then. Meet you in the evening.
Manu: You sleep now. Sorry that I broke your dream.
(Indeed. You were in my dream- I wanted to say but kept my mouth shut. I was half asleep. I was just talking. I was not into the conversation fully but was attentive too.)
Me: Shut up. (I softly rebuked her.)
Manu: (I couldn’t see but I could feel; the same rose bud smile on her coral lips.) I will shut you up in the evening, mister. (She giggled.) Bye.
Me: See you Manu. (I hung up and fell asleep once again into my dreams.)
I reached at the Tulsi Theatre restaurant sharp at 6 in the evening. The restaurant as usual was empty. A group of college going friends was sitting in the middle of the restaurant celebrating one of the girl’s birthday among them. Cake cutting ceremony was already done and kind of cake-Holi was going on.
An old couple was sitting in a corner of the restaurant, watching all this happening there and smiling. The lady said something to her husband who was enjoying ice cream in this November winter and totally ignored her for which she made an angry face. I always wish a life like this.
I was sitting by the glass wall so that I could see the out scene if I want to. I like observing people when they don’t know that they are being observed. I had already ordered one cappuccino for me which had arrived by the time cake-Holi was over. Everyone was looking happy there. And I was waiting for Manu, all alone. She was sounding so eager on phone in the morning however my wrist watch was saying she was damn late. I hate people who are not punctual but I love people who wear blue.
I saw Manu, walking towards the door with another girl I did not know. She might be her sister or friend, I thought. She was wearing dark blue sleeveless cotton kurta, white churidar pyjama and white dupatta which had silver color stars glittering on it. Blue is my favorite color, she knew it. She looked around the restaurant and waved her hand towards me once our eyes met. I could see a strange happiness in her eyes. I stood up to shake hands with Manu and that girl, came with her.
Manu: Hey Snehil. Sitting alone here, were you waiting for someone? (Both laughed. I got to know now that embarrassing me in such situations was becoming her favorite pastime. I stared at her but somehow controlled my eyes knowing that the other girl was looking at me and smiled in return.)
Me: Yes, I was waiting for a dumbo. Her name is Manu. Do you know her?
Manu: (Sitting down on the chair and totally ignoring my concern of her coming late just like that old husband did to his wife sometimes ago.) Manika, I was telling you about that guy in the lift that day, you remember? He is him, Snehil. Snehil, this is Manika- reason for the entire best thing happened with me here in Gurgaon.
Me: Hello Manika. I have a question for you, Can I ask?
Manika: (Surprisingly looked at Manu and then at me.) Question! To me? What question? Ask.
Me: Why some people come late and instead of saying sorry, make you feel embarrass in front of a cute girl like you? So, what if they are looking prettier than ever today, should not they apologies? (I kept no reaction on my face and looked at her for one. Her hairs were open, she tied them in response keeping one strand free which was curled till her chin.)
Manika: Actually I was late. She was waiting for me only. She wanted me to meet you the first thing here in Gurgaon as today only I am came from Lucknow. It’s not her mistake. It’s mine. Should I say sorry? (She winked and smiled a bit to us both.)
Me: No need. I understand no problem. So what would you like to eat? This restaurant is very famous for a nice cappuccino and hot chocolate fudge. (Taking the last sip of coffee from my cup.)
(While I was talking to her friend, Manu was looking at me and making different faces. I was enjoying all of them. I like Manu in every mood of hers. She becomes red when she is angry, I love that. Her face looks so adorable when she cries. She wipes every tear rolling down onto her chubby cheeks till it could reach onto the corners of her lips. She looks beautiful when she is surprised on something and raises her eyebrows that make two cute lines on her forehead. I wish to kiss these lines. I like when she is feeling cold and she gets goose bumps. I like her when she ties her hairs. I like when she doesn’t say a sorry for a silly thing she has done. I adore each and every part of her gestures and small tiny things that she does.)
Manu: (To the waiter.) We want cappuccino and hot chocolate fudge, three each.
Mani, you know even if you want to eat something else this Mister would only order these. He is so obsessed with his likings. (And I like you too, I thought.)
Manika: So where you guys met?
She: I told you silly. Lift wala incident, you forgot?
Manika: No. I want to hear it from him.
Me: I will tell you for sure but I want to know the surprise first she was talking about at 4:45 am early this morning. Dear ‘promise breaker’ could you please? (I kid her at times like this.)
Manu: Patience honey, patience. (And she smiled knowing the fact that I am not patient at all.)
(By then our order reached to our table. The mixed aroma of coffee, ice cream and hot chocolate was mouthwatering. Manu and Manika were reacting as if I had got my love back after many years. I got busy with my divine order, they as well.)
Manika: So do you guys love each other?
(I almost jumped out of my chair and hot cappuccino sip caught my tongue by that question cum statement. Manu stayed calm.)
Me: (Looking at Manu for the answer, she closed her eyes and nodded her head in negation. I got confused if she is saying a yes or a no. Her closed eyes were saying yes, while she nodding her head was indicating a no. I absorbed the melancholy from her no-make up face and kept silent.)
Manu and I have never thought about naming our togetherness. I like to smile whenever I see her in real or in my thoughts. She likes relying on me since the day one. She speaks less in words but expresses a lot in her deeds. I admire her the way she is. This is all I can say as of now. (I looked at her once again; she closed her eyes for a second. I was relieved.)
Manu: Snehil, Manika needs to go to meet someone. We are leaving now. (Her voice seemed bit heavy, which has been soothing to ears every time I hear it.) I will call you. See you.
Me: What about the surprise? (I asked.)
Manu: I said I will call you.
We forbade our goodbyes; I was left puzzled and thought if I had said something wrong. On my way back to my place I dropped her message saying, what happened? You ok? Which was un-delivered and once I reached to my place I called her in no time, her phone was switched off.
It was around 11:45pm I was still on the terrace of my house sitting alone waiting for her to at least call me once. I had tried her number many a times in between but could not connect to her a single time. I was so tensed. What Manu wanted to surprise me with but left without saying anything? Just then my phone rang, it was an unknown number. I picked up the call.
Voice over the phone: Happy Birthday Snehil.
Me: Manu, is it you? Where have you been? What happened there at the restaurant? Why your phone is switched off since then? I dropped you a message, called you hundred times. I really don’t like you. (I shoot number of questions on a go; totally forgetting that today is 14th November- my birth day.)
Manu: Hey, hey, hey! Calm down. Calm down. I said, happy birthday. Give me a second, I will explain everything. (I did not say yes, I did not say no. taking my silence as a yes she continued.) Snehil, I wish you all good things in life. I wish you happiness to the fullest, good health for lifetime and the best love anyone could ever have. I know sometimes I do bad things to you which I never mean to. I also know that I’m so imperfect in many ways but I wish you the best in life.
Me: Thank you, that’s so qweet of you. Whose number is this by the way? Where were you? I was so tensed that I said something wrong when your friend asked me that question.
Manu: It’s her number only. She is sitting beside me right now. She was saying that you love me. Is she right? By the way what is qweet? Did you mean cute and sweet both?
Me: Indeed, you are cute and sweet both. And I find a different kind of perfection in your imperfect-self. And tell Manika that she is a bigger dumbo than I am what you call me at times. (We both laughed. I could hear Manika saying, ‘Insane, both of you. Manu I thought you are my friend. You got love and forgetting me now. I will see you; I will see both of you. Goodnight, honey.’ She was teasing her by saying so. Manu did not mind that at all.)
Manu: I asked you something. Could you please answer that? (She raised her voice a bit lovingly.)
Me: I was waiting for a surprise all day long and you are asking me for an answer. How bad is that? And how did you remember it was my birthday? I totally forgot.
Manu: You forget everything; and mister Manika is not dumb at all. She is my lovely love. Don’t say her anything silly. She is more than anything to me in this whole world. And I already told you that I never forget anything. But you forget all.
Me: What is the surprise? You did not tell me yet. And where is your phone?
Manu: I lost it somewhere. That is why all this topsy-turvy thing happened.
Me: But what is the surprise? (I asked her the same question again and again and by now I was impatient to heaven.)
Manu: I think Manika is right. I am in love with you. I wanted to say it right then but was afraid what would you react. Snehil, what I’m saying is not a proposal or something. I’m telling you what I’m feeling for you. You need not to say a yes right now. In fact you need not to say a yes at all. If you want, you can consider my love for you as your birth day present. Good night. See you.
(She cut the call and left me wondering by this precious gift that I cannot accept, even if I want to. I remembered my birthday seven years back. A tear came out of my eyes. I wiped it. I thanked God for everything happened with me today and ever.)
Picture credit: www.thetwoangles.com
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© Snehil Srivastava