"No ma, I don't want to meet any guy now.... Yeah I know that I know nothing about him .... Ma, everyone earns five figure salaries these days.... I don't care what Ambujam Aunty feels.... Ammmaaaa ...". Nivedita slammed the phone down in disgust.
"I don't know why my parents are doing this" she fumed. "Relax Nivi. Nobody is forcing you into a marriage as yet. And face it, you are 23 now. Can't blame your parents for trying to get you married.", drawled Preethi. "Oh what, suddenly I am old now? Is there something so unmarriageable about me that I need to play up to any stupid proposal that turns up?". "I don't know why you are so angry. That guy might be a cross between a Greek god and a knight in shining armour for all you know.". "Oh there are chances of that happening all right! It's just that I haven't met any Casanova as yet with a name like Raghavan Iyengar", Nivi retorted. "Oooh the name is alright. You can call him Raghav - like the pop star", Preethi groped out at anything that looked like a silver lining. "That's probably the closest he is going to be to cool. I bet he is going to be scraggy, attired in a floral shirt, wearing horn rimmed glasses, and sporting a thin but detectable sricharnam* on his forehead."
At eight in the night, her cell phone lighted up showing an unknown number in the pane. "Hello, is it Nivedita?". "Yeah speaking". "Oh hi, I am Raghavan.". Uneasy silence followed after the customary "Hello How are you doing"s. "Perhaps we could meet for a cup of coffee sometime" he ventured cautiously. "Sure. This Saturday is good for me.". "That's great. How about Barista at around six in the evening?". She smiled for the first time, Barista was one of her favorite places. "Atleast he didn't suggest some cheesy place" she thought to herself, mildly comforted.
At 5:45 on appointed day, she was sitting at her favorite place by the window in Barista, mildly excited and mostly bored. In a few minutes she saw a guy drive up on a black Pulsar. So far, so good she thought. And then he parked his bike and removed his helmet. She gave a quick scan and liked what she saw. He definitely worked out and his face did have a Greek godish look, with high cheekbones and a rugged handsomeness. His pants were alright - the right blue denim and not too faded or patched, T shirt was red and proclaimed "My colleague went to London and all I got was this lousy shirt", she giggled to herself reading that, and his sneakers were positively gorgeous. He was chewing gum and ran his hand over his mop of hair casually. Nivedita silently thanked her mom and Ambujam aunty and wished she had worn that black skirt which everyone had admired or that pretty green salwar kameez that Viji athai** had bought her. "God, please let our tastes match and please let him be capable of intelligent conversation, please please please. I promise I will listen to Amma and Appa and not speak back and come to the temple every week.", she fervently bargained with the Lord.
He walked up the stairs with a brisk air and an easy smile on his face. Nivedita took out her compact and adjusted her face, giving him small looks on the side. And suddenly an extremely pretty girl walked to him and started talking to him while holding his hand. Barista seemed to wobble and the proverbial thunder and lightening appeared out of nowhere just like in the movies. Greek gods are never single, she should have known that and they certainly did not depend on Ambujam Aunty to find themselves a girl.
Just then a car drove up and out came a bespectacled guy. Pretty white daisies stared at the world from his blue shirt, which flapped around his sparse frame. As he came closer Nivedita could see the orange I on his forehead. He was walking towards her and she heard him say, "Excuse me". Thunder and lightening happened with double intensity and she felt like screaming "Nahiiiiiii" and run out of the place.
"Excuse me" he said again. She wished he would stop repeating that stupid phrase. "Yes", she said, pouting. "Can you tell me the time please?" "6: 05", she said dazedly. He said "Thank you ma'am" and left. She put her face in her hands and tried to make sense out of everything. "Hi, are you Nivedita?", a voice rang out. It was the Greek god himself. She nodded weakly. "Sorry I am late, but I just bumped into an ex-colleague.", he said while pulling up a chair. "Hi Raghavan" she said coyly. "Oh please don't call me Raghavan, call me Raghav, like the pop star" She smiled and their eyes met.
PS : I am not Nivedita
* - A thin orange line on the forehead as a mark of religion
** - Aunt