It was one of my "him-struck" times. I was unable to read nor joke around with my friends from the studio.. I sat at 'my' table and stared out at Sasha(that's what I named her!) and her puppies play in eternal jubilation. Lost in thoughts, I came back to earth when I realized my cup of tea has reached its end.. My heart in his thoughts, battling with my mind led me towards a storming headache. I got up, reached for another cup of tea.. The canteen boy, ever too friendly with me, served me first.. Holding the hot paper cup between my thumb and middle finger, I made my way back to my seat. The hot liquid of soothing brown entity had all my concentration, that only after I reached my table and set down the cup of tea, did I realize that there was someone else sitting there.
It was a woman of forty-five probably. Her hair was drawn back into a pony tail, just a little longer than mine with her. She wore a purple Kurti and jeans, brandishing a huge black handbag. She was talking over the phone with someone..
"Yeah yeah! I'm right here. Oh, okay. Take your own time! yup.. bye sweetheart."
Sweetheart? Who was on the phone? Her child or her husband ? Whoever she is, all that I was concerned was the fact that I had to share a place that I considered only mine. "Damn!",I said over and over again, under my breath, drinking my cup of tea in extreme interest so that I didn't have to make eye contact with her. Until I heard her speak...
"Hi! could you please tell me where to get a cup of tea?", she asked.
Wow, here was a lady sitting in the canteen and asking me where we can order a cup of tea. What do I seem like to her? "Over there", I said, politely pointing to the counter.
She smiled. She had a pretty smile, I have to admit. She got up for helping herself with one of the best tea in the world. The one that my canteen sold. She left her handbag on the table and looked at me... " Could I please leave this here? I'll just go and get my tea and back?" Great, now I was her caretaker as well?
I nodded and she left.
Moments passed before she came back... She was clutching her tea the way I held mine.. in my left hand, gathering all the heat I could, before letting my mouth relish its taste. She sat down and smiled at me. Again. Bham. Her smile, for some reason let me loose all my feelings of distaste for her. I just smiled for a reply.
"Thank you, my dear!", she said.
"My pleasure, aunty!"
"You know, that word keeps reminding me of my age.?"
I was taken aback. I was lost in thoughts of his smile...and hers. they seemed so alike. I didn't expect her to continue a conversation. Well, now that she did, I had to, too. But whatever did she expect me to call her? Dude or something?
"Err.. I'm so sorry. I didnt mean to offend you."
"Aw, knock it my dear. It is my age isn't it..? Just that after coming here and seeing the kids here and all.. I was reminded of my college days. Must be fun for you right? College and all?"
She seemed nice. Probably I was in too much of a foul mood to have surpassed the goodness of the lady. I smiled... and our conversation struck.
"Yes, college is indeed nice. Though there are ups and downs.. exams, fights, broken hearts... it's still a place I head to with immense attachment."
"Hmmm..", she replied sipping her cup of tea with an extreme sense of pleasure shining on her face. She paused to look at me, and spoke.. Her voice was probably the "something". I'm surely not immune to it. Just like his voice, that I'd turn to.
".... Broken hearts.. Yes.. You have your heart in pieces, do you, my dear?"
She was wading into deep waters of my personal feelings. Angry as I should have got, I felt nothing. In her presence, for some reason, I felt calm and tranquilized. Like a sedated animal listening to her every word. Her smile had captivated me.
"No," I replied. "Not yet."
" Not yet eh? It is an interesting answer." she casually lifted her cup of tea to her mouth and had it in silence.. only for a moment though.. ".. yes, so, are you in love?"
I was shocked, not because she had thrown at me, a query so private but because I didn't know the answer myself. I knew I had been evading this question for a very long time, to my own friends, to my diary and to myself. I was scared to make or reach a decision... Decision meant confirmation and acknowledgment. No, I wasn't ready for that yet. Though I had been wanting to talk to someone about it, for a very long time, I didn't, in fear. So, now that she has asked me, do I tell her? Anyway I don't know her, she wouldn't go talking about it behind my back.. so, should I tell her or not?
Her silky voice cut through my thoughts. I looked up to see her looking at me with concern. Her eyes sparkled behind her specs with an unknown intimacy. "Did I say something wrong my dear? I'm really sorry if I did. You don't have to answer me you know..". she trailed but in a firm voice.
"No," I said, "You haven't said anything wrong. It's just that I don't know what to say, because I myself don't know the answer."
"Well, then you must find out."
I looked at her. Yes, she was right afterall. I must find out, but how.?
"I see confusion in your eyes.. You don't know what to do. Am I right?"
Bloody right I thought. Of course, I don't know what to do.
"You're right aunty.. I don't know what to do. I like a guy who is my friend.. I don't know if he likes me back."
"Did you take any efforts to find out out?"
"My dear, if you don't let him know, how do you expect a reply? Answers are given after a question is asked. Statements that you might want, you'll receive only if you initiate the conversation on the terms you want it to go. Why don't you just give it a shot? What sort of a boy is he, anyway?"
A smile reached my lips. What sort of boy is he? Now, how do I explain that?
"He is a cute guy. A guy who is genuine, who likes me as a friend. He is the type of person who makes others laugh. But he is also the popular one. With totally different tastes from mine. Our beliefs aren't the same."
"Do you think that is reason enough, to not tell him? I think you should tell him. As soon as possible. Probably today."
"I dont think it would ever happen. If I told him and he refuses, I wouldn't be able to bear that pain."
"Well, if you don't tell him at all, it'll swell and burst. Much worse than what this can do to you."
"Listen to me my dear, were you ever afraid to talk to him as a friend? Did you think twice when you ruffled his hair, when you thought of him as a friend?"
"Err.. no, I didn't. That was different. This feeling is different."
"No, it's all the same. It is friendship that you're gonna take on to a higher level. Take it from me, I can assure you this much. All you have to do is to go tell him.."
Now, who was this lady who made me listen to her with such intensity.. What lies in her voice that makes me listen to her, I don't know. Who was she anyway?I collected myself back from my thoughts and spoke to the woman in front of me. The one who seemed to know what she spoke. The one who spoke from her heart.
"O.K.. let's look at it this way... I walk up to him, tell him that I love him. What if he says he doesn't love me?"
"Oh, let's look at it this way.. You walk up to him and tell him that you love him... And he says.. Damn, I've been wanting to say the same thing to you for a very long time? "
"This isn't an answer, is it? You just asked me a question back."
"Well, sometimes, questions raise questions. When one is answered, the other automatically answers itself. More like your design, I would say.."