‘Oh! To be young, independent and living in the pub-city. This is the way life is supposed to be lived,’ I thought, a smile curving my lips. I turned to look at my reflection one last time before I stepped out for the office party. I liked what I saw in the reflection. A willowy figure, clad in short black one piece smiled back at me. The pixie cut accentuated my oval face and showed off my big diamond studs – of course not real – and my Maybelline scarlet colored lipstick completed the look. The three-inch stilettos made my 5’7” a gaze magnet.
So, when I had moved to Bangalore for my first job away from my small hometown Betul in Madhya Pradesh, I had been determined to enjoy the life of a single before the so-called responsibilities caught up. I was relishing this independent existence working for an IT firm. Wouldn’t you do the same, if you had the chance? Hence shopping, after office parties and weekend getaways with friends was common. And with an easy-going attitude and the hint of a smile always fluttering on my lips, I had no dearth of friends. Consequently, after twenty-two years of stifling conservatism, I was ready to have some fun.
But my so-called living-the-high life hit its first bump a week after that fateful office party. For this past one week I had been in a conundrum resulting in sleepless nights and crabby behavior.
‘At this rate I would end up with dark circles and the sparkle-in-your-eyes that people so admire would dim too,’ I grumbled as I kohl-lined my almond shaped eyes. It was time to share my feelings, I thought as I stepped out of the apartment on way to my office. Perhaps talking about them will help me sort them out and come to a decision.
So, at lunch break I literally dragged my colleague and best friend of one year, Meera to a corner table in the cafeteria by the big windows. It was a bright and airy hall. The orange and yellow-colored chairs combined with the light green walls actually made it a very pleasant place to sit around with colleagues and friends. And they served good food, at competent price too. Generally, I was always interested in their salad bar, a new fad according to my mother, as salads back home mainly consisted of sliced onions and cucumbers. But today my mind was not on food.
“Meera, I need your ear.” I said.
“Huh, you mean earring?” she asked.
“Lol, no I mean lend me your ear,” I said making a face.
Laughing she said, “Ok madam, you have my ear.”
“You know Kabir?” I asked her.
“Hmm…,” she responded dreamily, “who doesn’t?”
“He asked me out,” I informed her.
“Hot dang girl,” she said wiping her mouth, “He is the stud of the office. So, what did you say?”
“I will think about it,” I answered as I pursed my lips.
All saucer eyed Meera enquired, “Shut up. Why would you do that? You like him, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” I whispered, “but there is another guy.”
“What? Where?” she demanded leaning forward and reaching for my hand across the table.
I chuckled, “His name is Param. He lives in my building.”
“Good looking?” Meera asked wriggling her eyebrows.
“Hah! Yes, but not like Kabir, the muscled-hunk kind. Param is more intellectual type. You know, those knowledgeable kinds but not nerdy. Surprisingly, he has a great sense of humor.”
“Really, he must be old then,” she said derisively.
“Meera!” I said sternly, “I am trying to tell you that I like both the guys. Both have asked me out. I have been wondering what to do?”
“Ah! ‘tis the reason for thy dark circles,” she queried with laughter accompanying her words.
I glared at her.
“Do you have any wise inputs, or just wisecracks?” I chastised her.
In her trademark gesture, her right eyebrow went up and she said, “Well hell girl, you just told me about it. I need to think. Now dish out the details of this non-hunky Mr. Param?”
I spent the remainder of our lunch telling her about him. Then we parted, agreeing to continue the discussion tomorrow.
But unfortunately, a crisis at a client site had Meera out of the office both on Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile my sleeplessness was clouding my sunny disposition. With no Meera in sight and Friday evening fast approaching, I decided that one way or the other I will come to a resolution tonight.
The moment Meera saw me in the office on Monday morning she apologized, “Babes, I am so sorry, we couldn’t finish that discussion. Ah! But I see you are smiling, so I guess you made a decision and had a wonderful weekend. But the question is, with who, Kabir or Param?” she asked raising her right eyebrow again.
“Yes! I did make a decision and had a great time too,” I said smugly, “It was most ingenious too.”
“Yeah, let’s hear it.”
“It was Kabir…” I declared and paused.
Meera smiled and said, “Ahh! So, the hunk won.”
“It was Kabir…on Saturday,” I continued, “And Param…on Sunday – and we drove back together in his car. Very convenient,” I replied grinning like a Cheshire cat.