Silk board traffic signal swarmed with people, cars, buses and what not. The Monday morning scene at this traffic junction is just overwhelming in Bangalore. The city buses were at standstill owing to the massive jam. Aarav looked at his watch, it was already 8:20; he had to catch the 8:30 201D bus from Madivala bus stop that was just a few steps ahead but with the thronged traffic and stalled vehicles, it seemed impossible. He finally decided to walk; he stepped out of the crowded bus and started to walk on the footpath or the "pedestrian way" as they call it nowadays.
A light blue joggers denim, a white V-neck T-shirt and an olive green sweat-shirt with its zip open draped his almost perfect body, white sneakers adorned his feet making him look a bit unconventional for the taste. Unkempt beard, chiseled face with high cheek bone and striking brown eyes made all the girls go “aww” as he strolled. That definitely wasn’t the look of a geek who had graduated from an IIT, however, the last four months had been transformational. Aarav adjusted his bag that hung loose on his right shoulder and kept moving.
Aarav hailed from Jammu and had zero idea about anything extrovert until he joined IIT Madras. Even after graduating he was a bit of an introvert but his job at KPMG as a Data analyst brought about atypical changes. He now cared about his looks, physical appearance etc. — things that held no importance before.
He had joined a gym and used to style his hair too, he was also concerned about his skin now. All of this was for a reason as geeks don’t do anything just for the heck of it.
Aarav reached Madivala bus stop after five minutes of brisk walking and waited for the bus to come. The scene anywhere in Bangalore is extremely animated, people exploded from every nook and corner and not to forget the vehicles on the road. There was a bustle at the bus stop with all kinds of sounds coming from everywhere. He stood there and checked his watch frequently – “Two more minutes” he said to himself. The sizzling sound at a Dosa stall to his right drew his attention but soon he sighted the desired bus coming through and moved forward.
He boarded the bus in absolute haste and there she was sitting in the front row. How could he forget her eyes, those beautifully carved, broad, right out of the imagination of a painter kind of eyes, they sat perfectly abreast her long nose that complimented her translucent pink lips.
She was looking out, gawking at the chaos indistinctively. Aarav had dressed up that day just to get one glance from her but all in vain, she didn’t gaze even once at him. Fortunately there was an empty seat behind her, Aarav paved his way and seized the seat before anyone could lay hands on it.
This bemusing tale with its quite unrealistic embellishments begun a month earlier; at first it wasn’t intentional and happened by chance but for the last two weeks it had been deliberate stalking. Aarav would take the 8:30 am bus just to have a glance at her. But that wasn’t it; everything kicked off with an overheard conversation. Her voice which was a melody to his ears, her perfectly articulated words seeped deep into his heart. She said “They add curry leaves in every dish they make, I am hating the food.” She was probably speaking with her mother.
The voice that was more addictive than marijuana had pulled the strings of Aarav’s heart and he was in complete oblivion. He had been silently stalking her ever since. She never noticed him but he continued to chase without missing a single day.
He had overheard or at least tried to listen to most of her conversations. Her voice had sunk deep into his mind, he couldn’t let one chance of listening to her voice go even for a day. He would often occupy the seat behind her, beside her or stand nearby just to listen to her voice. Often asked by his friends – “What do you like most about her?” and in a candid response he would say – “Her voice”. Everyone would laugh at his innocence as if all they wanted to hear was – “Her face, eyes, breasts, arse or any other physical attribute.” Aarav, however, was least bothered by all these jibes. Mockery might be an impure form of insult but paying heed or reacting to it was not in his temperament; he would rather let it pass avoiding the nuisance which was negligible compared to what he had been upto.
In this bleak chase of love, Aarav had listened to her speak multiple times. More often than not she would say – “I’ve almost reached, be there in 5” while probably speaking to her boss. She also was discussing her job role one day – “She probably is looking for another job, should I help; no that wouldn’t be the best option,” he thought and while captivated by his own mind he missed her name. She continued on her phone “....Singh, I am working with IBM for one and a half year now...” and she went on to describe her job profile. He was annoyed that he was so lost in his thoughts while she uttered her name that he missed it.
But, her melodious voice and amazing diction made him fall in love even more. He could have lived in this moment forever; he did not want to let it go.
Aarav clasped the seat behind hers and kept staring at her attentively; he was awaiting the downpour of her honey clad voice. She, on the other hand, was looking out, at times fiddling with her phone but not one word escaped her mouth. After a while he started to feel gloomy; her voice seemed to be a quintessential element in his commute. The bus kept going amidst the heavy Monday traffic stopping probably every second. With her mouth shut the whole time, the travel became difficult for Aarav. Meanwhile he traversed most part of his journey and meagre time was left for him to reach his destination.
His wait for just one word from her seemed to be a distant dream. Disappointed Aarav looked down removing his gaze from her. And then suddenly like a spark of hope her phone buzzed. “Hello” said the melodious voice.
“It made my day,” said Aarav to himself and was again lost in stupor. He began to think about the nice moment he’ll have once he expresses his feelings for her. What could he do to make her feel special. “Flowers and chocolates everyday.” He instructed his mind. His face had an innocent smile and the person sitting next to him too smiled in response as he had unknowingly glanced at him. He sensed the stupidity and turned away. She was still on the call and he conscientiously eaves dropped.
“Ajay you’re not getting it. I can’t be with you anymore. It has been more than a year since you passed out of college. You have no job, you are still sitting idle. How can I be with you?” Aarav’s mind sprang into action – jobless boyfriend, verge of break-up, perfect time to execute my plan. He remembered the famous dialogue from the movie Sholay – "the metal is now hot enough; hammer it right away."
“It’s not us anymore Ajay, it’s over. Why should I restrict myself from dating someone who has a job and is probably an IITian?” Aarav’s heart was overwhelmed. “One thing you have got right in your life.”
He thought and pumped his fist in the air without anyone noticing. He looked outside and could see his stop nearing. In no time he dug into his bag and pulled out the yellow sticky pads that he always carries. Hastily he scribbled something and stood up. By that time she had ended the call and was again lost in her own thoughts. She fiddled with her mobile when Aarav said “Excuse me.”
She looked up surprised and before she could utter a word, he handed over the yellow paper. "My stop is nearing, I’ll leave.” This is what he managed to say and went ahead to get down off the bus in another minute or two.
Gobsmacked by what just happened she was still holding the piece of paper in the same position. Everything happened so fast, she was not able to comprehend what to make of it. Nonetheless she thought of giving it a read. It was a note and the weirdest way to ask out a girl. It said:
"I too hate curry leaves; maybe we should find a place where we can get food without that god damn leaf......PTO.”
She turned over.
“And yeah an IITian... 8802541456.”
After work, Aarav came back home and unlocked the doors of his empty apartment while taking off his shoes. His roommate had gone home and he had the apartment to himself for another week or so. The apartment looked like what we call – a bachelor’s den. A lonely refrigerator stood in the hall sharing the large space with only the shoe-rack. There were traces of uncle chips packets lying around and empty beer bottles adorned one corner of the hall. Nothing else could really attract your attention – rest of the hall was completely empty.
He quickly smuggled into his room and went for a quick hot shower. His job as a data analyst used to squeeze all the juices out of him. Five minutes later he came out rubbing his hair with a towel; he had changed into his shorts. He picked up his phone to check for any messages or mails and sat on his bed cross-legged. His bed was strategically arranged adjacent to the window to make sure he wakes up in the morning without any hassle. A table that contained a few books, novels and most importantly dust lay abreast the bed – a big Breaking Bad poster titivated the wall just above the table.
His eyes sparkled as he saw a message on his phone from an unknown number. He opened it promptly, it said – "Mishka is the name and I think Starbucks doesn’t add curry leaves. What about this Friday 5-ish?"
He checked again and read the message multiple times to make sure he comprehended it correctly. “Sure” he typed and edited it repeatedly, figuring out the best response to the message. He thought of many sentences but discarded them as they sounded desperate and cheesy. For him finding an answer to this became more tedious than solving server data base issues.
“Your reply is not going to satiate your grandeur. You don’t have to be in gulzar mode, Aarav.” He thought. “Be cool” he said to himself. He typed back “Sure thing.” Thumbs up smiley from the other end finally sealed the deal. It became official; the nerd got himself a date.
Like this story, some love stories are meant to be action-packed. Watch Aisi Deewangi from 22nd May (Monday to Friday) on Zee TV at 7.30 pm to experience a love story where there will never be a dull moment.