“So, what do you wanna drink?” she asks, eager to know what a self-professed alcohol expert would say.
I get paralyzed for a second, my face giving an expression as that of a batsman who got hit in his balls in the first delivery.
“Umm…I’ll just have beer”, I say, because it’s the only thing I can think of.
As soon as the words escape out of my mint freshener-powered mouth, she starts profusely laughing. “It is ‘be-yar’ and not as ‘beeeer’, your English is so funny!”
I had scored a point, but at what cost?
“Which one do you want? Just beeeer?” she brushes her long, golden hair off her forehead, and I locate a wink in those brown eyes. I tell myself, Okay, there is actually a chance she might like your stupid ass, don’t mess this up.
“Broo that’s a cigarette! Soo cutee. You don’t know shit about drinking, do you?” she was in splits.
Cutee okay, but Broo? One step forward, two steps down.
Panic mode on.
“Okay, see, I have had a crush on you since first year but at that point I’d spoken more to posters of Trisha than to actual girls, and then after that literally every guy in college wanted to date you and I thought I didn’t stand a chance. So when you actually asked me out after the exams I decided I will learn every trick in the book, do everything that a man should do to make a woman like him, at least according to hotmalesgetgirls.com. But I have not had even a drop of alcohol in my miserable existence, nor is my English good, and the perfume I’m wearing right now is my grandfather’s”.
My heart is beating so fast I can hear it with Dolby Atmos quality, my face sweats as if I switched off the fan on a Chennai afternoon.
Well, at least it lasted for 7 minutes. Back to single lif-
“Oh my god. This is so sad and funny at the same time! Who even suggested those hotmalesgetgirls articles to you?”
“My friend Gilmesh. It’s his blog. He’s had three girlfriends”
“Goddd. Look, I am here because I like you. I don’t care about this bar, we’ll go elsewhere. I enjoyed spending time with you as friends in college, can we please do the same now? Only, you can put your hand over my shoulder”. The wink was back
Okay wow, second chance. Go redeem yourself.
We spend the next one hour just walking around the city. I get to know that she’s not at all what I thought she is, that good-looking girls are normal and kind homo-sapiens too, as long as you are not a creepy idiot. I’m punching you at least thrice in your balls when I meet you, Gilmesh.
She gets to know what roadside Kaalan tastes like, and that the 80-year old man with his bicycle sells the best buttermilk in the world at 11pm. She also gets to know the Tamil word for buttermilk (“I want mor of this”, she says.)
At the end of the one hour, it is 6am. We both look at the sun rise over the Besant Nagar beach, holding hands standing near the waves.
I try my first flirty line. “Why do scientists try so hard to discover time travel, they should just come talk to you.”
She smiles and gives me a hug. “I’ve never felt this with anyone else”, she says. I realise I am in love.
I get woken up by the sound of my alarm.
I turn to the other side of the bed. I don’t want to open my eyes and face the day. I don’t want to eat my cereal, drive my car to the office, and meet my English-speaking colleagues in this English-speaking country.
I still dream about that first date, almost 6 years ago. The dreams about the good memories make the following day a nightmare. The dreams about the bad memories – the ways I messed up, the times I asked sorry and promised to change, make the following day a nightmare too. My life now goes as a string of days where I spend most of the time thinking about what could have been. I look at the calendar. It has been 1 year since we ended things. I take my phone, go to her contact. Her display picture is that of her engagement party with her fiancé, in a beach-facing resort in Italy.
The last message from her chat reads “Please move on and be happy. This is not the end of the world. Take care”
The only thing that is worse than not getting the person of your dreams, is to get to be with them and fuck it up.