A stay-at-homebody that I am now, all my days are same. Be it a Monday or a Saturday or a Thursday. It however does not mean that I have stopped looking forward to the weekends. My weekends are also are not very happening as it was ago. I end up hanging around with my closest of pals. Either they come over or at times I visit them. I am off the clubbing circuit and as well off the pub hopping mode too. Not that I complain. I enjoy every bit of the receded pace my life is currently going through.
In this repetitiveness, the only thing changing was the weather. From pleasant days to slightly warmer ones and I wasn't welcoming the summers enthusiastically.
Everything is instant in today’s time. Be it food, shopping, expressing feelings and making friends. All you need to do perhaps is just a click away. And in between all this, there he was –my brand new friend. You bump into so many people in the World Wide Web. It’s usually a rare thing to find someone who matches up to you – like peas in a pod.
“Rules?” he asked me reading my post which goes like this - “My life, my rules”.
“Keep it short and simple”, I told him.
Perhaps he was one of the few strangers I bothered to reply. Let’s face bare facts. He was the only one who had the brains to read the post and ask something interesting.
This is how it all began. It was slow, it was nice and it was getting better. We were not rushing into anything. For that matter we were not even in a hurry to ask “send in a picture of yours. I want to see how you look like”.
He was talking to A-queer-N and I was talking to a Free Spirit.
It was after four days when we finally introduced ourselves, starting with our names, but that seemed not too essential as the ice-breaking stage was crossed already and we were happy with our pseudo-names. No not pseudo … it is not the right word. We were comfortable talking to our alter egos.
Much later we saw how we looked like. But then again, the comfort level was such immense that when I saw him it felt I could have recognized him anyways!
Like his name, he is somebody that cannot be tied down or chained to or tamed. Extremely moody he leaves me confused at times. One moment he is this restless, impatient, philosophical, right on your face and funny to the bone creature and the next moment he is nervous, hugely irritated and angry with some unexplained outburst of frustrations. Slowly and slowly I learnt to deal with it. And how I learnt it! That is interesting as well.
It was after about twenty odd messages when I sent him a stinker one day.
“It’s awkward when you shut up”, I said.
“I know”, replied the Free Spirit.
“So? What are we going to do about it?” I asked him.
“Let’s observe the silence”.
So there we were observing the silence.
“I’m breaking up with my girlfriend”. He sent me a message much later, but by then I was in deep sleep and I read it the next morning and I decided to still “observe the silence”!
Months later, we decided it was time we met.
I would be lying if I say I wasn’t excited. I was. Very much indeed. I looked forward to meet this man who struck the right chords with me.
“Sandwiches”, he said and also added, “beer as well”.
“Grilled chicken”, I added further.
So it was all set.
My checklist made and marked.
After a long time I had something to look forward to. I would cook with utmost care and I could not afford to let a thing go wrong.
And on that Sunday on the second week of April, 11:30 a.m. was the time I was expecting him to be knocking on my door. Inspite of having a late Saturday night, I woke up much earlier than I would do on any given Sunday.
The chicken was already marinating since a day earlier. I began with slicing the vegetables for the sandwiches and then went on to making the mayonnaise. So on it continued till my phone beeped around 10 o’ clock.
“I am sick. Can barely move from my bed”.
The message was so casually written.
I read the message twice before I pressed the reply button. I waited for a while. I did not know what I wanted to say or type. The feeling – there was a sense of rejection, denial… it was awfully negative - something I really wasn’t expecting. It was not at all a good feeling.
I said to myself, “Stop over-reacting.”
“Okay!”, is what I replied and continued making the sandwiches, wrapping them with slightly wet cotton hand towels to keep the moisture of the bread intact. I mashed the potatoes with generous amount of milk and cheese and black pepper. But at the back of my mind there was a feeling of restlessness. I was agitated.
“Oh! Come on now! The man is sick. How could he come for this brunch when he can barely move from his bed”, I re-assured myself. But still I was not at all ready to accept this. Yet I kept my mind calm and composed and went about doing my work. I told myself, even if the plan bombed, I will still grill the meat and eat it as well.
That is exactly what I did.
I wore my Davidoff Coolwaters after my bath and put on the clothes I had intended to wear… it did not matter if the Free Spirit had turned me down at the nth hour.
So I put the meat on the grill pan and uncorked one Budweiser too.
“Cheers” I told to myself as I sipped the beer. It was good. On that hot, dry April mid morning-afternoon, I could feel the chilled beer going down my through the esophagus straight into by belly!
There my phone beeped again and it was him, “So what are you doing?”
I told him all I did and how much I loved my aloneness.
“Have fun you!” and then continued, “Am alone in the house, looking after my grand-dad. He his counting his last days and so am I counting mine. Everyone’s gone out”.
Reading this made me all the more bitter, more than the beer you see.
I do not know if I would be this patient with anybody else. But there was and still is something about him that makes me react in a way I usually do not. It surprises me at times.
I knew it. I got my answers then. That he said he was sick and that he could barely move his body was a big lie. I had this hunch about it but now I was sure.
I felt bloody idiotic.
“I do not know what made you call off this meeting of ours. It was you who said Sunday it would be. Make up your mind, whether you are sick or is it your grandfather that made you cancel our brunch. At least you could have told someone in your family that you had an invitation and we had planned this at least a week earlier. How could you do this?
It all goes to prove the point that all the things we talk have been not worth it.
But I must thank you Free Spirit wholeheartedly. It was after a long time that I was looking ahead for a day when I could unwind and be me. You have no idea how much care I took while making the food. How much I had to persuade another friend of mine to buy the beer bottles for me as you know it’s a total No No for a woman to walk in to a wine store and buy booze.
Do I sound rude and nasty Free Spirit? Oh you bet I am. You hurt me a lot today. But then now I know how not to expect things this way. From now on I never will.”
Yes I was hurt.
“People who love to eat are the best – Julia Child”, is what he sent me back.
“And people who love to cook are damned fools indeed”, I said.
So that was it, my Sunday – a day I wanted it so badly. To meet my new found friend. But like I said maybe that particular Sunday was not his day. He was not at his best and thus he decided to chicken out.
But the ripples he created were far flung.
He still is a good friend. We still talk. We still talk in our alter egos. He still makes plans. He still wants me to make sandwiches. I laugh, I say yes and then I forget about it then and there. And then I smile more because I no longer feel bitter about it. Because I have stopped making plans or expecting things which I know might not happen eventually.
Is this once bitten twice shy is all about? I guess it is… it is which that particular Sunday taught me.