When I came back with three bowls of butterscotch, the two of them were getting along famously. My pet had dropped all pretense of sleep, and was grinning stupidly at my girl’s face from a distance of inches as she petted her.
“Which one’s mine?” She asked as I put the tray on the bed. I proudly pointed to the bowl with the largest pile of ice-cream in it. She handed it over to Roopsa without a word.
“O-kay”, I thought.
“Which one is yours?” Came the next question.
Somewhat uncertainly, I pointed at the bowl with the second-highest amount. She promptly picked it up for herself. I stared at the last bowl left on the tray with hostility, the one with the smallest amount, which was also the one I had intended to give Roopsa, for betraying me moments ago. I looked up at her, planning to object.
“Is there a problem?” She smiled that extra-sweet smile at me, the smile that gives men the distinct feeling that the something bad is about to happen to them if they don’t immediately give up whatever they are planning on doing.
I shook my head in silence, and started eating. I wanted to finish it before she changed her mind and decided that Roopsa deserved to have my share of the damned butterscotch as well.
I was struggling with a particularly large dollop in my mouth when she suddenly said, “So, you wanted to talk?”
“Unhh..” I tried to speak with my mouth still half-open, my heart suddenly throbbing against my chest.
She wasn’t really looking for an answer. As I swallowed the freezing thing in one gulp and struggled to find words, she went on absently, “Before you say what I know you’ll say, let me tell you, I’ve been thinking as well.”
I had noticed long ago that she had this disconcerting ( or perfectly normal, depending on who you are ) habit of staring right into my eyes when she spoke to me. Now, however, she was looking down, absently poking at the ice-cream with her spoon. There was something in that tone, that tilt of her neck, those words, her face, that suddenly scared the hell out of me. Yes, I had been scared around her before, but this wasn’t that tongue-tied nervousness that comes with situations that are too good to be true. This was genuine fear, the premonition that something bad was coming my way, something that I wouldn’t like a bit. I waited for her to go on.
She looked up at me as if to speak, looked away again, clearly steeled herself, and then spoke, “Look, I’m sorry.”
“For what, for god’s sake?” I wanted to scream, but I could not. I just stared at her, my dread robbing me of words.
“I’m sorry,” She went on, half in embarrassment, half in genuine regret, “I have been stupid. I did not realise that you never thought about all this. I…I just..I don’t know, it feels good to be with you, even when we’re talking on the phone..and you have this way of understanding…you can always tell what I’m going through, and-and I thought…”
I sat there staring at her in disbelief. “Is this how it happens?” I thought incredulously, “Is this what I have seen dozens of movies and read scores of stories about? This is how it happens? You love someone and she actually loves you back? This, is what inspires poetry and literature and art? And, hold on a second, this is happening to me??”
For a second, I had the irrational urge to stand up and do a football victory-dance. Then her face came into focus again, and I realized how much damage I had already done with my stupid reaction over the phone the previous day. She wasn’t talking about loving me. She was saying good-bye.
Suddenly, I was afraid again.
- The Road To Ithaca – 18 (thecleverdog.wordpress.com)
- The Road To Ithaca – 13 (thecleverdog.wordpress.com)
- The Road To Ithaca – 14 (thecleverdog.wordpress.com)