I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to be happy after my terrible trip to Mumbai. Brooding days on end, locked up in my room with alternate meals being served through the door. I had made myself miserable.
I quit social networking sites in order to keep away from the memories related to the ‘awful city’.
It had been a week since I was back and I still couldn’t think of resuming my college life. Things began to look up after a few days. I decided to get back to networking, as that what was the least I could do as a media person.
I had started believing in the power of LinkedIn, the professional website, post a workshop during my internship in the awful city. I decided to update my profile as I was instructed to do for better professional interactions in the virtual world. The month ended with a new notification from an incredibly impressive profile.
He was a hot guy with several achievements in his kitty and an 'all-rounder' personality.
My devil mind was attracted to him and instigated me to hunt him down on Facebook. I found myself going through another series of records held by him. I was drawn to this guy who happened to belong to the awful city. There always seemed to be some connection between superstars and Mumbai!
He was every girl’s dream: a perfect combination of tall, dark and handsome along with an intense charm and excellence.
Even before I could realize it, I was head over heels about him. I sent him a friend request and he accepted it. We started conversing online though we were in different time zones, as he was traveling for work. We broke the ice in no time and got to know each other well.
The time difference was annoying but I looked forward to our random conversations.
It was the last week of August and my grandfather had suffered a second paralytic stroke. Hospital visits kept me busy and our conversations became irregular. He wanted to keep in touch, so he asked for my number. I’d always pushed for chats but I was also getting bored of our sporadic communication. Finally, I passed on my number.
I would stay up all night to look after my grandpa and have endless Skype conversations with ‘Pardesiya’, as I had named him.
I got accustomed to the regular calls during my college breaks and knew perfectly when my phone would flash his name.
Being a tennis superstar, he motivated me to take up sports again. His stringent schedules and devotion to his game inspired me to give physical training a serious thought. And I acted on it too.
It was a brilliant feeling to have someone who encouraged my all-round development, be it sports, academics, career or emotional growth.
I was on an all-time high. However, as fate would have it, he soon got busy. He informed me that he would get space to breathe only at the end of September. Unfortunately, I lost my grandfather and the month of October went by in a blur.
November had a new story to tell. His calls reduced. He paid less attention to me. As the month progressed, my semester exams began. He still acted as my alarm for studies and I was glad I had him.
An hour of Skype calling along with a cup of coffee was the perfect start to every exam.
His assurance that things would improve by the end of the month kept me going. I knew that he was the one I needed and all I wanted. Unfortunately, our needs did not match. I failed to recognize that his priorities were different.
As a child, I was never pressurized to excel. Never forced to do anything that I didn’t want to do. It was purely my decision and more importantly, my wish. But here I was witnessing how an achiever lived his life.
I knew that he did not take relationships very seriously nor did he have much knowledge about them. Not that I was a genius!
However, his guidance became an indispensable part of my life. His advice motivated me to bag a winter internship at a leading newspaper. Around this time, his newly purchased smartphone became the villain in our relationship.
He was always busy and it was the phone that kept him busy. I had been blocked on Facebook, so I had no idea if he had someone else in his life.
I didn't have any right to question him because we had not made any commitment to each other.
My mind was playing games on me. I waited for the year to end with some progress on the personal front. I hoped that his return to Mumbai would improve things though somewhere, I had given up on Mr. Perfect.
The New Year commenced and I was back to being a collegian. A family gathering during New Year’s Eve enlightened me that my marriage was on the cards. Since I had willingly given up on my pardesiya, I gave my folks a go-ahead.
Though my heart craved for a sign that my pardesiya liked me, I found myself getting disappointed every single time.
I had convinced myself that there was no prince charming in the real world. The 6’ 3” Indian Junior Male Tennis Team Captain couldn’t have fallen for me.
I disregarded our midnight mushy conversations as flirting.
I was sure that he had found someone else or taken to his workaholic timetable strictly. I was lost in my own thoughts unable to decipher his actions or justify them.
I had also given up on the dream of meeting him in India though he had promised me. He had already delayed it for two months. The excitement was fading and so were my feelings for him. I decided to move on and face reality when he landed in India.
My schedule was packed with a lot of traveling. His timetable was also fixed since he had many people to meet. Time flew by and there was barely a fortnight left for him to go back. We were unable to decide which city to meet in, his or mine.
I did not have the patience to travel again nor did I wish to tolerate his attitude anymore.
I had had enough. Before we knew it, it was time for him to fly back. Suddenly, I had this urge to chuck all ego issues and take the next bus to the awful city. Nevertheless, I controlled myself as I was broke and he had only a few hours left. He did not show any eagerness or keenness to meet either.
Yet, I chose to ring him up because I found out that he had been diagnosed with diabetes. I realized that it wasn’t easy being a superstar! He had also extended his stay though I wasn’t informed until I called him. I considered it as a sign.
I had to meet him. I did not care if he wanted to meet me or not.
After a lot of jugaad, I found myself on the next bus to Mumbai. I lied to almost everyone I knew for my reason to travel alone to the awful city. I imagined that I'd jump on him as soon as I saw him. I knew I would have to work really hard to fling my arms around his neck. These delirious thoughts didn’t allow me to sleep a wink during the journey.
So one can only imagine my disappointment when he did not come to receive me. As if that was not enough, I had to wait for a good 20 minutes before we met. When he finally arrived, the only thought that came to my head was, “He is freaking tall and huge.”
Though I was finally with him, I did not feel any special emotions.
I was sure that everything had faded. And at the back of mind, I knew that this was possibly the first and last time that I’d see him. I would probably be engaged by the time he was back in India.
But cupid’s an unpredictable b***h!
I was dragged to his house and forced to meet his mom. I had not even washed my face after the journey. Love was in the air as I received a peck on my forehead for finally giving him his belated birthday present. I was smitten all over again.
As we spent the day together, I realized that I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
He was gorgeous. I just kept ogling at him. The way he moved around me and made me move along with him. I couldn’t believe that I was with him.
All my prejudices about him had vanished.
I kept reminding myself that my future “Leander Paes” would be getting back to work soon. But the moments with him had erased my ability to think clearly. I could see the repercussions of getting intimate with him.
However, I could not stop myself nor could I stop him.
His aura had mesmerized me. He moved me with his warmth and at the end of it all, the 6’ 3” superstar won me over by his love. As I left the city, it surely felt a little less ‘awful’!