The music was dwindling. The crowd thinning. At a party like this, they don’t exactly say when it’s over, you just pick the hints from around.
We had danced through 9 songs already. Talk had been easy, effortless. I really hadn’t thought I would have such a good time. I really didn’t know I could be so much fun. Just as we walked back to our table, he picked two drinks from a passing waiter. I sipped my mojito, and listened to him talk, and I never had to pretend. But this sudden feeling of forgetting something had come up on me.
“…. so he comes up to me and says ‘Yo mister, I think you don’t know who I am.’ Now obviously, I didn’t, jeez I had only then SEEN the guy but just for the fun of it, I decided to play along. And I was like ‘Sure I do! You are Uncle Tom’s nephew! Remember me, from that gathering at City Hall?’ Now I could see I had got him, he was actually wondering if he did know me, like c’mon, how common a name is Tom!”
I smiled. He was fun. But then I got that feeling again.
“So I thought I would tease him a little more… ‘ Oh you know! I was there- the one who just didn’t stop singing long after everyone had and they had to start again to give me company? I think I was a little drunk that day… and I remember you! You were with that gorgeous girl, that brunette, and I saw you two dance!’ So that’s just where I hit it home. Apparently, he was with this girl, I swear I had not seen her! So she just came out from behind him, and went snapping mad at him like ‘you went to City Hall last week’ and ‘are you cheating on me’ and ‘I knew you weren’t right’ and on and on and on.”
“You didn’t do that!”, I managed between fits of laughter.
“No, I did. I really did. But not intentionally, I was just having some fun with this guy, how was I supposed to know he was with his frantic girl?! And what was she doing hiding behind him!” The giggles were overpowering the talking “…. Okay, we need more drinks. Just a moment.”
He went down to the bar. I looked at him, smiling at the bartender. I loved how he kept his cool. His name was Karan, by the way. Somewhere between the dancing and the talking, he told me his name was Karan. I like ‘Karan’.
He returned, with our drinks- something pink. Something that swirled.
“Sunny, before you say anything to this sudden switch from good old martini-”
“Don’t tell me. Let’s just taste it first.” Ooh- Tacky, girl!
One sip of the viscous fluids in the strawberry smoothie, lemon-shot and iced, and all sophistication was gone. Go, went, gone!
“Oh gosh! This is the bestest thing I have ever tasted in my whole entire life. I mean, this is sooo good, like it’s-” SHIT!
He laughed without the slightest tension. “I know Sunny- it’s MINDblowing!” God, he was so sweet. We drank our drinks… not a word, we just smiled. I thought about how seldom such things happened- you need do nothing and yet love every second…
I swirled the last strawberry piece in the juice- it went round and round the bottom. I took the last sip…
And then I remembered. An empty drink? Refills? Fish, where was Ankur? Where WAS the flirty jerk…. he had just gone to get drinks….
And something felt horribly wrong.
There are some people who never need an introduction. He was one of them. He could walk into the room and you would think you had known him forever. And yet, when you went close to talk, as you certainly would, you would find yourself laughing at all the new things he had to say, all the jokes he would crack. And you’d infer that he was “such a homely creature” and that you would be great friends!
I did just that. I saw him at a party January last. I was sitting in the far end of the hall, looking at the girls swishing their dresses, the boys admiring them. And through the mist of people, he made his way across to a table before me. And he reached… and he didn’t sit… and he kept walking…till he reached the chair right beside me, and then he said, “Is this seat taken?”
Now all this time that I had been watching the girls with the swishing dresses and the boys watching the girls swishing their dresses, a friend had been my loyal company. Actually, my first cousin’s best friend, and it was obvious that he was trying to hit on me. At this exponentially fortunate moment, he had gone to get drinks. So I, not very untruthfully, said, “No.”
So he sat there, beside me and smiled. For a long half minute, he smiled. And with my mind screaming not to do something stupid, I smiled back.
“Are you here alone?”
“If you call having a missing cousin and an undecided ride back home being alone, then yes, I am alone.”
“Then I guess there is no way you could disapprove of my company, seeing that you are not interested to dance, and there is, fortunately for me, no one else to engage you at this moment.”
“How can you be so sure that I don’t want to dance mister….?”
“Let’s come to the names a little later. As for the dancing, no person can possibly sit back when they are playing Elton John’s ‘Sacrifice’ and yet say, they want to dance.”
“Point noted. But why aren’t you dancing then?”
“I was just standing by the door wondering what the best strategy to persuade this beautiful lady in the white dress to dance with me would be.”
I suddenly realised how much I loved the colour white, specially when it set me apart from all the other girls, dressed either in red or black. But I had to keep my cool, I could NOT let him get it easy.
“And you decided….?”
“To tell the truth. You see, I find it that the truth tends to make things easy more often than not.”
“Hmm….. Then Mister, in answer to your method of truth, I think I wouldn’t mind this particular beat.”
And as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whispers’ filtered into the room, he led me to the floor and we danced. All night, through the songs, we danced. And the little moment when I slipped, by mistake I swear, passed flawlessly, as he caught me just in time, making it look like a beautiful dip.
God, how I loved it.