High hopes

For the third time Arun checked his hairstyle upon his favourite

object on his desk, the mirror. “I think she will like this”,

Arun uttered unmindfully. It was a special day for Arun, at least

that was what he assumed.

“3 years, rite?”, Nitin enters room. Nitin had been Arun’s buddy

for last two years or so. He lived next to Arun in the same

hostel. Nitin was around six feet tall, in his late twenties.

He had been working in the same BPO where Arun worked. Actually

it was Nitin who brought Arun there. Nitin joined six months

before him. He was looking out for friends, as he was new in

Bangalore then. Like many other youths, he tried hanging out

here and there. But within a month everything became drudgery to

him, mostly because he was a homesick boy. He loved to be with

friends, but at the same time, he longed for homely coziness.

So when he met Arun, he invited him to stay in the same men`s

hostel near him. Within a few days, they both became very frank

between themselves. Apart from alcohol, they found many other

interests in common. And this led to a deep mutual understanding

and friendship. Soon both of them started sharing anecdotes of

every single incident, experience and sins too !

Nitin was well aware of the day’s occasion, yet he asked.

Perhaps, he was searching for something to start with the

conversation.

Arun did not hear him entering the room, he was busy talking

to himself. When Nitin asked the question, he came back to his

senses. After a brief pause he responded…

“Yes, three long years. Dude you don’t forget anything. You

remember each and every detail of my stories. This could prove

embarrassing for me.”

Nitin chuckled, “You always think in negative senses.”

“I am helpless. It’s my inherited nature.” Says Arun.

Nitin could realize to whom Arun is hinting. It was none other

than his father. Arun’s father was way too much suspicious about

Arun’s whereabouts. Two friends had many prolonged discussions in

the past about Arun’s father. But Nitin did not want to spoil the

day’s hot topic with this parenting issue. So, in order to avoid

the issue he said “Ok brother, but what are you wearing today?”

“That is a good question.Look at your right, I kept the clothes

on bed. I love that blue shirt. I think she will also love it.”

Nitin turned towards Arun’s bed.”You must be joking.”

“Why” asked Arun.

“Dude these are formals”

“So what?”

“This is not an office day, and for heaven’s sake you are going

on a date.”

“Yes, and that is why I have chosen my best clothes.”

“Oh no, these may be the best but not at all suitable for the

occasion “quipped Nitin.

“Why not? These are my best and they are perfectly ironed too. I

ironed them last night and this morning again.”

Nitin chuckled,“You should wear casuals like normal people do.

Generally when somebody goes for dating they wear casuals to look

cool. And I think, she will laugh at you should you wear this. I

mean why on earth any girl will expect this?”

“Correction. It’s a date from my side, she is coming to meet an

old friend. And secondly, for twelve years I roamed around her

wearing formals, she never laughed.”

“You were in school then, now you are grown up. So think

maturely.” Remarked Nitin.

“Ok let’s assume you are right. Tell me what should be the most

important agenda on a date?”

Nitin thought for a moment,”Umm, that’s a tricky question.

People’s views may vary. Also you have to think about the..”

“Don’t make your life so complex”,Arun disrupts him.”Answer me

fast”

“I think mainly you have to make her comfortable and..”

“That’s it my boy.I would like to make her comfortable, so I am

wearing formal to reflect a familiar look.”

“But..”

“No more buts, now please allow me to get ready for the game.”

“When are you leaving?”

“As soon as possible. You know traffic is terrible these days.

And I don’t want to be late.”

“You better be late, she will feel familiar..”

Both of them shared a smile.

“Ok brother, all the best”. Nitin left.Arun glanced at his watch, it was half past nine.

He had two hours to reach Motera café. He could easily finish a round trip in that time. But today he was extra cautious. He

rushed towards clothes.

After finishing he felt that he needed another round of hair do.

So again he concentrated on his hairs, cursing himself. It took

him another 6 minutes to step out of the room.

The door locks and latches never seemed to be so much useless

to him. Normally he used to double-check those things each and

every time he stepped out. But this day was not just another day.

He was finally going to meet her and to send his competitors,

hopefully, out of the race.

The driver was not willing to move at standard rate. He asked

for a few bucks more. Normally Arun used to bargain, or wait for

another auto. But this auspicious day he was ready to pay that

extra amount. After getting in, he started thinking about how it

all started.

Arun grew up in a small town in Bengal. His father was a teacher

in a local school. Arun used to study in the same school. He

had a childhood not much eventful. He never participated in

any adventurous activities, partially because his father never

allowed him to do so and the other part was that he was afraid of

his father.

Nitu was a very familiar face in the school. Her father was a

police officer. He got transferred into Arun’s home town in mid

nineties. Arun can still remember when he first saw Nitu.

It was a winter morning and everybody was drooling, standing

in prayer line. Head mistress informed the conductor that she

has some announcement after the prayer meeting. At the end of

singing the national anthem by students she took the centrestage

with Nitu. And Nitu was introduced to the school. Lookwise, she

was fresh and pretty. So that very day, within that recess she

became a known face.

Arun was always fond of her, but never got an opportunity for

friendship. His luck favoured after two long years, when he

entered standard 8. Nitu came to his section. She was an instant

hit among boys. Girls were a bit reluctant at the beginning, but

later they all raced to become her best buddy.

The picture became clear within a month. Shanti, who was Arun’s

childhood friend, then became Nitu’s buddy. And there were five

to six boys, who were identified as her boyfriends. Luckily Arun

was among them. One day, Shanti reported that Nitu has fallen for

a boy. But she didn’t specify his name. That was not enough for

Arun, so he kept on asking Shanti every now and then. After so

much pegging one day Shanti confessed that Nitu didn’t tell any name except for one thing, that the guy used specs. That reduced

the competition to two, as Arun and Nikhil were the only boys

among the probables who used specs.

For a few days students who heard the news remained interested.

Everybody was expecting a name to come up, Arun or Nikhil. But

Nitu was not interested in telling anything.

“Stop it” said Arun. He got down a few yards before

destination. He decided to check his appearance before entering

the cafe. He headed towards a shopping mall near the cafe. He

still had another one hour in hand. So he decided to spend a few

minutes to check his hairs again, clean his face and obviously

he wanted to make his tie look perfect. Arun had been very

touchy about his ties. In fact that was the most expensive stuff

he was wearing right now. He hated to use tie pins. According to

him, it reduced attention towards the tie. Hence he always used

to adjust his tie in order to control it from flapping.

It was early morning for business establishments. Washroom was

completely empty. Arun loved this, a gigantic mirror full of him

and only him. After thorough checking and slight adjustments here

and there he stepped out.”Ready for the interview” he murmured to

himself.

He took a corner table in cafe, just like last time. They met

3 years back in a similar cafe. School was over, everybody was

going to different parts of the country for higher studies. It

was Shanti who forced Arun to propose Nitu. That was the first

time for Arun, so he was very afraid. He had no idea about what

he should say. So Shanti wrote an advisory for him, a few do’s

and don’ts. But nothing worked, he forgot the points. Even Nitu

got confused from Arun’s words.

“What are you saying? I am not getting you”,Nitu said.

“Seems like we are not conversing, am just listening to your

speech. Anyway, I believe you are interested in relationship. But

frankly, at present I want to concentrate on my studies. I am

leaving for Bombay this month. Will meet again.. ” Nitu prolonged

her lecture for another few sentences. But Arun was not in a mood

to listen. Some hollowness from within oozed out and engulfed

Arun. And those words were never heard again.

“Order please” requested the waiter.

Arun glanced at his watch, still 15-20 minutes

remaining. “Cappuccino please”.

He took out a tissue paper from his pocket. This time he was

extra cautious. He had listed out the topics to be discussed in

a tissue paper. Proposal ought to be perfect.

“Here is your coffee sir” said the waiter.

“Thanks”, Arun was busy reading the points.

“Can I seat here?”

Arun stared at source of the request. It was none other than

Nitu. She was more attractive than ever before. Prettier than the

prettiest person in Arun’s life.

“Please…”

“So how are you, it’s been quite a while. “Says Nitu.

Arun realized the paper was still on table. It was impossible to

fold it back and to keep it back in pocket without bringing it

to her attention.”I am fine, what about you?”, Arun covered the

paper with one hand and lifted the coffee cup with the other.

“Just enjoying life as always. A new job, a few new friends, and

a big decision taken. Life has become a bit complicated, but

still enjoying it.”

“So, where are working?”

“You know it, you use one of our products regularly.”

A few hundred names rushed through Arun’s mind, but he couldn’t

pick one. He did not want to fail this time. He wanted to impress

her with correct answer.”Can you give me some hints?”

“Dude, that dating application you use on facebook. Actually it’s

my fiancé’s brain child.”

“Your fiancé?” Arun felt a butterfly flapping in his belly.

“Yes, we both work there. I am in the testing team. As you know,

the best way to test anything is to use it in real life scenario.

So we all use it to search for matches in facebook.”

The situation became crystal clear to Arun. When she met

Arun through that application, her intention was to test the

application. And Arun took it as date.

“Your tie..” her shout brought Arun back into senses.

Arun realized, he splashed coffee in his tie.

“Here use this..”

Arun uses the tissue and realizes his lecture notes found its use

in wiping coffee drops.

“So, what’s your story? Speak out man..”

For last 3 weeks Arun have been waiting to hear this. But at this

moment she sounded very unappealing. He realized, his lecture was

lying on the plate. Anyway, it lost it`s usefulness .

“Nothing special in my life. Tell me when are you marrying?”

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