Flirting

Mukesh Kumar
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Read Time:9 Minute, 53 Second

‘Has the bus E104 already left?’ I breathlessly reached the bus stop and asked the man
standing there.
He was taken by surprise, as if I asked him for his wallet. After a pause he replied, ‘No.’
I heaved a sigh of relief. As I returned to my normal breathing speed, I asked again, ‘I see
your tag, do you also work for Reuters Software Solutions?’
He replied ‘Yes, I do.’
His voice was strong yet polite. Dressed in neat formal clothes, he was clean-shaven and
looked like a well-cultured man. I quickly glanced at his fingers. No rings. All this is fine
but what’s with these short answers. I wondered if he was simply shy by nature or just plain
arrogant. I was also not one of those who would give up easily. There’s something strange
with women like me—when someone ignores us, we tend to get more attracted to them. It’s
a classic flaw introduced by the naughty Almighty, but still I could not resist talking to him
further.
‘Hi, my name is Naina, I joined RSS recently.’ I extended my right hand hoping to involve
him in a conversation.
‘Oh, that’s good to know, I am Abhishek.’ He rendered a rather weak handshake and did
not bother to extend the conversation.
‘So which department you work for, Abhi? I guess I can call you that, right?’ I continued,
moving closer to him. Wow! He smelled great as well. I was hoping we at least end up
having a couple of dates, if not more.
‘I am in the training department; actually, I am one of the coordinators.’ After a small
pause, he continued, ‘And ya, Abhi is fine.’
With those words, he looked into my eyes for the first time. For me, that’s all it takes.
Once someone looks into my eyes, they get lost as if they are hypnotized by a magician. The
eye contact lasted exactly five seconds before our brief, interesting little moment was
abruptly ended by the arrival of the bus. Needless to say, I sat next to him.
After the brief quixotic moment at the bus stop, I was sure that he would be the one to
restart the conversation.
‘How about you, Naina? Which department do you work for and how do you find our
RSS?’
There you go! It was the magic of my earthen-pot eyes and my charm that was putting
those words in his mouth. I gave him more details than he asked for, talking about my
department, work, colleagues—and I did not stop there. I also hinted that I am the girl to
party with. He listened with great interest but I could also sense that he was a shy and quiet
person.
Time is heartless. When you want it to move slower, it flies and when you are waiting for
something important, it crawls. Though we travelled almost twelve kilometres for about
thirty-five minutes, it felt like less than five minutes. We reached the office and went to our
desks. For both of us, the day had started on a bright note.
After I reached the office, I went to my desk, checked my emails, had coffee with my
colleagues and then returned to my desk. Being a new member, I had very few
responsibilities to handle. I was almost through with my day’s work within first couple of
hours. My crazy mind was recollecting the time spent with Abhi and my logical mind was
telling me it could take more effort from my side to make things work. My thought flow was
disturbed by the loud voices I heard from the corner of the room. I put my head up to see
what was happening. A muscular man, with his shirt torn, was walking out. Curiosity took
over and I went to investigate. I learnt that he was involved in an argument with one of the
staff members and had left the scene furious. I saw him going towards the men’s room. I
casually walked in that direction and he came out. He looked very confused as if he didn’t
know where he wanted to go. Being a responsible employee, I stepped in.
‘Excuse me sir, may I help you?’ I asked him.
‘Er … I don’t know. I am not sure why I am here. Is there any artists’ association or
something like that?’ he asked.
I was right, he was confused—but even more than I thought. There was no mention of the
events that had transpired minutes earlier. I chose to carry on with the momentum.
‘Yes, but not in this office. It’s just a couple of blocks away. I can help you with that.’
‘Oh! That’s so sweet of you. I am Rohan, a columnist for one of the monthly magazines,
called The Impression.’ He introduced himself by extending his left hand.
‘Hi, I am Naina. I …’ But before I could complete my sentence, I was struck dumb by our
handshake. What a firm handshake, strong and confident. I could see the veins distinctly
visible on his strong forearm. Either he was very angry or he hits the gym regularly. I
continued after returning to my senses. ‘I am glad to help you. I was going out for lunch
anyway. So you are a columnist for The Impression? What do you write about, Rohan?’
Unwillingly, I ended the handshake and walked with him towards the exit door. I had gently
mentioned about having lunch as well. I was curious to see if he was sharp enough to catch
it. I had heard that physically strong people are usually dumb.
‘It’s mostly philosophy, Naina. We can talk about it more over the lunch,’ he replied with
his head slightly tilted towards left. His left hand stretched out to open the door for me and
there was a smile on his face which read: You are so gorgeous!
It was hard to believe he was the same angry young man from a few minutes ago. He took
me to a Bavarian restaurant. It was expensive but worth it. He asked me whether I was in a
hurry to get back to office. I assured him that I was not. So we walked all the way back
instead of hiring a taxi. I left him at the Vintage Artists’ Association and returned to office.
After a rather eventful day, I was sitting at my desk playing solitaire. The clock showed
6.10 p.m. I was waiting for my cellphone to buzz. Usually it beeps between 6 p.m. and 6.07
p.m. Just then, my phone beeped and the message appeared on the screen:
Cm out baby, I wil b there in 5 mins.
Involuntarily, a smile appeared on my face and I gave a blow-kiss in reply. Within five
minutes, the white Volkswagon arrived. I stepped in and kissed Gautam on his forehead.
‘So how was your day, sweetheart?’ he asked with the same enthusiasm, same undying
love and same everlasting care as always.
‘Wonderful, honey. Let’s grab some dinner on the way,’ I replied.
‘Yes, dear, we don’t have time to cook tonight, I am all excited about our big trip starting
tomorrow. Finally you can meet my childhood friend!’
We stopped at McDonalds. He ordered two Happy Meals for takeaway. The person at the
counter asked, ‘What would you like to have as a drink, sir?’
He replied, ‘I will take organic milk.’ He turned to me and asked, ‘How about you,
sweety?’
I said, ‘Diet Coke.’
He ordered, ‘So one organic milk for me and a Diet Coke for my wife.’
We reached home and ate our dinner watching some sport I am barely interested in. My
husband, Gautam, tried to explain to me how different rules apply in different formats. I
acted as if I cared. I saw his face brighten with excitement when he thought one of the rules
was particularly tricky. I nodded but hardly listened.
I love him. He doesn’t know how much. After dinner, we finished packing and Gautam
was as excited as a little kid whose summer holidays were about to start after long-and-hard
exams. Once he slept, I poured myself a glass of red Bordeaux wine. It takes a lot out of you
when you meet different people and try to connect with each of them emotionally. I opened
the balcony door of our apartment and stood there staring at the dark sky. Even some of the
stars which were usually visible were missing. It was completely dark. I took a couple of
large sips and revisited my day in my mind. So it was a day of three persons. Usually it
would be two, but today was three. I took one more sip and sat on the chair with my legs up
on the table. A cold breeze had picked up. Unknowingly my eyes got moist. I gulped my
sorrow along with my wine. Abhi, Rohan, Gautam—I am living a fake life but I chose it. Dr
Reddy’s words crossed my mind as I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
‘You have to make a choice, Naina. You can leave Gautam here and we will take care of
him like any other patient, or you can take him with you.’ It sounded insensitive but doctors
can’t be diplomatic.
‘He is the only one for me, I love him. I want to take him, doctor.’
The doctor explained, ‘I understand the emotions behind those words, Naina, but it’s very
complicated. We have observed him over a month now and clearly he has shown us two
distinct personalities. Some days even three. The accident has made him develop an MPD.
Though it was an accident, Gautam thinks he is responsible for the death of his childhood
friend Abhishek. Every morning he wakes up thinking he is Abhishek. In some of the
situations where he is put under stress, there is another angry personality, Rohan. As we
discussed earlier, I have no idea where this personality has come from. The most important
thing is that Gautam’s memory is limited only to the day before the accident.’
‘Yes, doctor, but multiple personality disorders have been successfully handled by
treating every personality with equal respect and attention. Proper love and care make
things work,’ I argued with hope.
The doctor replied agitatedly, ‘Yeah, but you don’t know what you are signing up for,
Naina. There can be more personalities than we have seen so far. Rohan can be more
dangerous and destructive. It demands round-the-clock attention and, more than that, you are
putting people around him in trouble as well. Naina, you are flirting dangerously with life!’
‘I understand, doctor, but what’s life without an impossible challenge? I can do it. I will
get the chance to meet two different persons every day. I will make sure he will get the
attention that he needs,’ I said.
‘Naina,’ the doctor warned, ‘you have to keep him engaged in every personality, you have
to care for him, make life interesting for him in each of them.’
‘Doctor, I love Gautam—I love him in every form. I love the challenge of making him fall
in love every day or rather twice a day.’
I knew it was not for a day or a month. It could take years, or worse—it might never end.
Before taking Gautam with me from the hospital, I had to do a lot of preparation. I spoke to
those in RSS to carry out this drama daily; I checked with the Vintage Artists’ Association
about occasional visits whenever Rohan comes up. More than that, I had prepared my mind
to act, to involve, to love.
The cold breeze had now become even colder and they broke my chain of thoughts and
brought me back to the present. The tears had soaked my cheeks and the wine glass was
empty. I went inside, washed my face and went to bed. I had to get ready again to meet
Abhishek the following morning.
‘Has the bus E104 already left?’ I breathlessly reached the bus stop and asked the man,
Abhishek, standing there.

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