I did it- I took a leap of faith and followed my heart, a few seconds of courage is all it took. I was feeling elated, the sensation of adrenaline rushing through your veins is indescribable. You feel your heart throbbing right behind your ear, a rush of euphoria fills you. You can feel the separate drops of sweat forming on your neck; slowly trickling down your nape forming tiny rivulets.
“I take it that she said yes?” Adnan asked
“How did you know?”
Adnan smiled- “It’s practically written on your face. Well that and she told me to cover for her tomorrow afternoon.”
I smiled still basking in the triumphant feeling of a gamble coming off.
“So, where are you taking her?”
I paused- “I don’t know, I didn’t think that she would say yes.”
“How about a movie?” Adnan suggested
“No spending three hours with barely an opportunity to talk?” I countered twirling my moustache.
“How about lunch by the beach and a short walk afterwards?” I asked Adnan.
“Well that’s not a bad idea, but does she know that your interest in her is romantic?” Adnan asked.
“I think so, she did agree to come alone. Plus she also laughed at my jokes”
Adnan stared at me in mock surprise “Never let her go dude.”
“What? I can be funny, can’t I?”
Adnan rolled his eyes and shook his head.
I made my way back to my desk, I had admired for her for the last six months. Granted she was good looking but that wasn’t why I was attracted to her. No it was her kindness that caught my eye. The first time she caught my eye was when she gave half her sandwich to the little errand boy in our office. Though usually a sharp talking individual, the tenderness she showed when giving her food to the little kid was heart warming.
Over the six month period she regularly shared her lunch with the little boy- Talal was his name. He was around 11 and did the work of a full grown person- serving tea to the people in the office and making countless runs to the stores for various things.
Our lunch hour started from 1 and ended at 2. Every day at precisely 1.50 when Talal would place the pot of water for the afternoon tea, she would make her way to the little makeshift kitchen counter we had in our office. She would look over her shoulder to check whether anybody was watching, this was my cue to pretend to be engrossed in my desktop, usually it involved counting the number of folders on my desktop.
I used to peek from behind my monitor as she always slid her lunch box to Talal and whisper in a conspirational tone “Talal please clean this” with the emphasis on clean.
The kid always smiled and used to say “Thanks baji!” Then he proceeded to eat whatever tasty morsel was in the box, usually a sandwich.
We made small talk after the first time I saw her doing the lunch thing. There is something about falling for someone, that you start to notice all their small quirks and you like all of them.
Anyways the big day arrived and we both agreed to get our orders to go. We each had a burger in hand as we sat down on some rocks watching the tides break against the rocks further out on shore. The conversation was light and interesting. By around 1.30 she started glancing at her watch and wrapped half her burger and placed it in the paper bag that we had originally gotten our order in. I knew what was coming so I told her ” Don’t worry about Talal today,” she looked a little surprised that I knew about that. ” Today I’ve taken care of it.”
She looked relieved and then I confessed to her that it was the reason I had noticed her.
“Taroo!” was her response to my confession implying that I was a gawker.
She had scrunched her nose squinting at me with her grey eyes.
I tensed up for a bit fearing I had said too much.
“So you don’t think that I am good looking?” She asked with mischief in her eyes
“Lets go, we’ve got to be on time.” I said getting up dusting off the seat of my pants.
“I’m in no hurry” she said
“Well I am- Adnan was supposed to be covering for me, but you asked him first.” I grumpily said.
“Alright, but you didn’t answer my question, you don’t think that I am good looking?”
“You’re just fishing for compliments” I smirked. “Besides, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference whether I think you are good looking or not”
“Well,” she hesitated and then said “It makes a lot of difference to me,” her expression was serious now.
“You look like the most beautiful girl in the world,” I said hoping she would catch on to the joke
“Who?” She demanded
“You!” I replied laughing at the ridiculousness of my joke.
She also laughed as we made our journey back to the office. As we were making our way to the kitchen, Adnan came up to us and asked “how was it?” as he fished out his mobile from his pocket, not wanting to sound too enthusiastic in front of her; I just gave him a thumbs up and a nod. She also nodded and said “Best conversation I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for everything” She paused-I didn’t notice Adnan focusing his phone towards me as I focused on her. “Bhai!” (by calling me a brother, she effectively was friend zoning me). My expression turned from attentive to shock to anger.
She and Adnan burst out laughing and she hurriedly added in between peals of laughter “Just kidding!, I wish you could have seen the look on your face!”
Adnan amidst his laughter also managed to get out the words “Actually, you can!” He showed me his phone “I caught it on video!”
There I stood between two laughing people finally able to grasp the concept of bittersweet.