Arranged Match: ( Prefix Of A Love Story)
Arranged Match: ( Prefix Of A Love Story)
“Have you reached the airport?”
It was my mother on the other side of the phone. Probably the third call that morning enquiring about my arrival. Yes, it was supposed to be one of the important days of life. At least my parents thought so. Sitting on the uncomfortable seats at terminal one of Delhi airport I got irritated by the third call from my mother.
“Yes, Maa I won’t miss the flight. Don’t worry.” Probably I sounded a little bit harsh on her. But 5:30 a.m. Indigo flight to Guwahati on a chilly morning and the sleepless night, the day before added to my irritation. Moreover, I was going to have to attend an event I really didn’t want to be a part of. I squinted at the thought.
By the time we are about to hit thirty, we start facing some universal problems. And I swear if you are a bachelor and still struggling to find your “dream job” and above that a mediocre in all aspects then you can easily understand those typical problems related to marriage. So, by the age of thirty, we have all been at more than one job but still don’t know what we should do in life. At least this is true in my case. I have always been mediocre and never really excelled at anything in my life. Even as a student, I never put in any extra effort to score more and was happily complacent with what I scored. And, life started rewarding me in the same way. So, this word marriage was haunting me for a while now. And my family was quite enthusiastic about my haunting status, and they made me take a morning flight to Guwahati to meet a potential match. My future plans came to a halt three years back when I broke up with my girlfriend. And since then I have never put any deep thought into marriage or being with someone.
“Excuse me.” I felt someone tap me on my left arm. I turned back to say its ok, but by then she was on her knees collecting her books, chocolates, cravat, and everything else that spilled out of the torn plastic bag. She was dealing with the temporary calamity on the floor and I saw the boarding pass said “Swati”. Habitually I didn’t offer any help for her current situation.
“Hey, please hold this.” She held out the books to me and I stood there holding the books as she rearranged the other stuff.
“Thank you.” Finally, I handed over her books. I was dumbstruck as I kept staring at her. As a late reaction, I smiled at her. I was not sure she noticed that or not.
Normally these things don’t happen to me. No random girl ever commanded me or even talked to me in an airport. I never happened to get a seat by a beautiful girl. So, it was kind of new, and stupidly I was smiling at the ordeal.
30E. I am very particular about my seat selection and it has to be a window seat. And in other case aisle one. I never took the middle seat. Most people try to be cordial, but nobody could ever reach a consensus as to who should have their title to the hand rest.
“Oh! You again!” The girl with books “ Swati”
This time my smile came at the right time. “Yes, a very very small flight.”
She laughed, and dumped her books again on me as we were some long lost friends and said,
“Excuse me, 30F.”
That was rivetingly new for me. It made me conscious of the fact that for the next two and half hours I had to very much sure about my right hand, I can’t just look outside the window at will, and moreover I can't fall asleep and eventually lean on her. I tried to shake it all out of my head for the moment but the thoughts circled back to me.
“Hello, I am Swati.” Oh, she had a beautiful smile.
Did I stare for too long? Shit. Did I just shake hands with my sweaty palms? But I thanked God I didn’t blurt out saying “ I already know”.
“You look nervous,” She said.
“No, I am not. Maybe because I haven’t slept well for the last few days.” I tried to hide my edginess. And that is me traveling to meet a match for the first time. I had no idea what I was going to do.
“Hey, you wanna ask anything about me,” Swati said.
“Like what.?” This time I really stared at her oval face with my eyes upon my forehead. I was really confused. Are all girls so outgoing and chatty??
“No, just normal things like what I do, what I like… you know stuff like that.” Her words put me totally off guard and more and more into twisted thoughts.
“I would like to buy you a coffee. You helped me with my things while standing in the queue.” She raised her eyebrows in anticipation of a yes, to her proposal. And she was anxious that I would say no.
“See, I am Swati, Swati Goswami, from Guwahati. I live in Chandigarh; I am very happy with my job and I am not planning to quit it at any cost, I am 29, I like to travel, I like dogs, I don’t like cooking and my favorite movie is Benny and Joon. And I am tired. That’s it”. She heaved a long sigh and finished her 250ml water bottle at one go.
On the other hand, I had no clue what was going on in her mind. I sat there, dumb as usual, completely clueless about how much to share with this new stranger.
“Hello, now tell me something about yourself.?” Now this question came like a thunderbolt to me. Thankfully the air hostess came to serve, and it bought me some time to arrange my thoughts.
“One coffee.” She ordered.
“But someone is supposed to pay for my coffee.” I reminded her of her promise.
“Yes, it’s for you only. I am not having any. Because I am a stupid girl and I need to look good, so I need to sleep”
“You look nervous too.” Finally, I impulsively said something I was not sure I was right or wrong.
“Yes. I am. My parents want to meet some guy, a match, or whatever you call.” She said.
I smiled in my mind. We were on the same page. I could feel the anxiety she was going through. She talked a lot about how she was frustrated with her relatives because of their increasing dissatisfaction with her single life in Chandigarh and their continuous failed attempts to get her married. I nodded to her discourse. I was surprised how amused I was to watch her speak. But she spoke a lot in front of an unknown person. How she was compelled to appear for the civil services exam. How her aunts inquired about her marriage. She even shared her birthday.
“Yes, it’s a shitty situation, actually I am also going to meet a girl and I am damn nervous too” I finally said.
She laughed out loud. “Same pinch dude.”
“And all the very best. You are a good listener. By you never said your name.” She said.
“Thank you and I will tell you if the meeting goes well. You know the small world, easy to find people.”
I said and we exchanged a meaningful smile and took our own routes from Guwahati airport. My phone rang again; it was my mother.
“You reached Guwahati?”
“Yes, Maa. Will be home in an hour”. I said.
“I heard she is also coming today from Chandigarh; did you meet her.” Mother said.
“Who’s coming?” I asked.
“Swati, her mother said she is also taking the morning indigo flight,” Maa replied.
My phone slipped out of my hand and I began rethinking the whole trip once again. Shit! Did I just ruin my date? Did she know all this? I was lost in my own city now.
The next few hours of my life were very intense and stressful. I finally arrived at the café our parents had decided upon for us to meet. I was not late, but she was already there. I was definitely shy and nervous, and she seemed to enjoy every bit of it. I finally reached up to the table where she was sitting and acting as calm as I could and mustering every ounce of confidence in me, I asked, “Is this seat occupied?”
“Don’t be silly. Just have a seat.” Swati smiled.
“Yes, stupid. And now will you tell me your name please, or you will be the boy from the flight.” She smiled. I smiled, we smiled.
“Yes, I promised someone this morning that I will tell her my name if things go fine.” I said.” And oh, I am Nitin, Nitin Sharma.”