I don’t know if it’s true what we’ve been led to believe - if there’s a God; but I do believe in a being, who’s above us all. I’m not giving it a character yet - I don’t know if it really works for our betterment or not, but yes, there’s someone whose existence can’t quite be explained. And like the beings, some experiences can’t be explained. Some experiences’ consequences aren’t even realized until days later, during a Eureka moment, and some experiences’ consequences are never even realized. Like, have you ever thought what if you’d taken a bus at 9.45 AM instead of your usual 9.30 AM one day and you wouldn’t have missed that meeting, you wouldn’t have been fired, and then you wouldn’t have looked for another job via an agency whose consultant you ended up marrying? Is it all really set in stone, or is it solely our choices that define the rest of our lives? And if you miss that one bus, are you risking losing it all? Isn’t the thought frightening?
It was like any other day- I had woken up extremely late on a Saturday afternoon. Now that I was a manager at a reputed bank, I could afford to have lousy weekends in my rented studio apartment. Money was never an issue before either, since I come from a family who has enough to feed several like me for their entire lives. Why I chose to ‘make it on my own’ is your cliched ‘I want to stand on my own legs’ story. So out of character for a Delhite, I know. I noticed on the floor lay my last night’s beer bottles and self-made ashtrays, on the side of which lay my best friend Vishal. The idiot must have drunk too much and passed out here. That’s convenient though, considering we’re supposed to leave for this concert in a while anyway. I get up from my bed and accidentally step on a lighter. It was a metal Zippo lighter and it hurt my foot, more so because I hadn’t even recovered fully from last night. The handover was bad, and lack of sleep didn’t help my case. I went to take a hard look at myself in the mirror; the stubble was completely out of place and my shirt was completely messed up. Maybe I shouldn’t go to the concert after all. The Electronic Dance Music festival will have to wait for my attendance.
But I knew if I told this to Vishal, he’d kick my butt, even in his sorry, hungover state. For my best friend, I needed to attend an EDM festival with an aching body and lungs just ready to give up. After tidying up myself, I tidy up the place.
I woke him up and he got dressed (buttoned up his shirt and eased out the wrinkles) within 5 minutes. He asked me if I had made any breakfast, to which I gave a very dirty look. He said that we’d need to leave now else we’ll miss the best spot in the ground, and he really wanted to see Guetta up close. His 10-year-old obsession with EDM was nowhere close to being ‘over’. We left my place and got into the car, which failed to start at first go. I gave another failed attempt at which, post which, Vishal gave me a look which meant he’s given up on me and my car. He just simply got out of the car and held out a hand to catch a rickshaw without a word, slamming the door as a part of his silent protest. First, this idiot basically lives off of me, and then throws shade at me for mildest inconvenience. Spoilt. By me.
Vishal and I had grown up together- went to the same school together, same tuition classes, same college and now we worked together. I couldn’t possibly be where I am without him. I got out of the car to sit in the rickshaw he’d managed to get hold of.
“JLN Stadium, bhai,” he said. The rickshaw took 15 minutes to reach the stadium and we saw a long queue from with the age group ranging from teenagers to young adults and some fully-grown adults like ourselves. Needless to say, I was embarrassed, but the event was too important for Vishal for me to excuses for.
But then, I saw her.
Long hair, short pink top with white shorts. She looked about 3 years younger than me. She was standing just before me in the queue and was completely engrossed in her phone. Just out of curiosity, I tried to take a peek at her phone- and I don’t know why. I’m not this intrusive a person, and certainly not this creepy; but it just seemed alright for me to know if she was talking to a boy.
A little background on me- I don’t date, I don’t fall in love. I do hook-ups. However, never without consent. In the beginning itself, I make it very clear to the lady that I’m not in it for a long haul and I’d only go ahead with it if she’s alright with that. I make it very clear to not expect anything from me- and that’s the only difference between me and your standard asshole. I own up, I don’t cheat and I certainly don’t make any lady cry.
I have a way with the ladies- I’ll not deny it. They seem to find me funny for some reason, and thanks to genetics, I was not half bad to look at. And whatever I lacked in terms of looks my money made up for that. The ladies seemed to love my expensive perfume and that apparently compensated for the lack of emotions in me, when it came to pleasing them. Anyway, in more instance than one, I’d gotten out of trouble using my charm, the presence of which was still not very clear to me.
She was texting Ria. Thank god.
She was asking her to get Frappuccino from Starbucks. So, she was a coffee person. Me, I was a tea person, through and through.
This had never happened to me. The ladies make an impact on me, sure, and that’s when I pursue them to see if we can hang out. But this was whole another level of impact. It felt just right. For the first time, I didn’t care about turning on my apparent charm. I just wanted her to like me for who I was. And then she turned around to look for someone.
Oh god. She was breathtakingly beautiful. She had big round eyes, with eyelashes to go for miles. Her small forehead had some flicks, which she kept brushing aside from time to time. She kept making tch-tch noises. I guess she was annoyed by this person’s late coming, more so because it was so hot, and I frankly don’t think she’d ever had to sweat in her life. She turned her back toward us to take a call.
“Where are you, yaa? I’ve been waiting. You know the line-up, right? We’ll miss Martin Garrix and Avicii if you don’t come soon. And you know Avicii is my favorite,” she said.
Vishal was also talking about the lineup, but I frankly didn’t care. I wanted to know more about this girl. I leaned in to hear more clearly.
“Hand over the phone to Ria now,” she said and waited, “oh yes, that’s what Divish told me. What do you mean what’s an MBA doing at an EDM festival? MBAs can have good music taste!” she said and laughed formally.
“Of course. Yes, I’m thinking of quitting. I think I want to travel,” she said and looked at her phone- it was a call from Divish. She put the first call on hold and took Divish’s call. Then she turned around again, and I was breathless, again. I guess she found Divish, because she gestured someone to join her. I was starting to hate this Divish person when I saw him. He was wearing pink pants and white tee, exactly opposite of the girl I was almost in love with, and he walked with a feminine sass. I figured he had different tastes than me when it came to looking for a partner, which were mutually exclusive in nature, and I had never felt more grateful about someone else’s sexual preferences.
The lady in front of me switched to the first call again. “Oh no. My dream place would be an entire continent! Europe. I’ve wanted to visit places like France and Greece ever since I was a kid. More recently, I’ve incorporated Amsterdam in my list, tee hee!” she giggled at her little joke. Usually, I’d find that king of chortle a little annoying, but on her, it just sounded like wind chimes. It was the kind of sound that could also put me to sleep because it was so relaxing to hear, it was so soothing to my ears.
And then the queue started moving and she was joined by her friend, who I later found out was Ria.
She got her band and entered the security room for frisking. And then, I lost her. I looked for her everywhere in the ground- I even put Vishal to work and didn’t let him enjoy the festival. But my kismet had other plans for me. I didn’t find her.
I woke up.
My mind was unable to comprehend what had happened. It all seemed too real to be a dream- the detailing in the dream couldn’t be any sharper if it was the reality. It took me full 15 minutes to convince myself that it had all just been a dream, and there’s in fact no way, that a girl who I know nothing about could have such an impact on me. The detailing in my dream might be spectacular, but the actions by the protagonist were too out of character. I stepped down from my bed, and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my foot- I had stepped on a metal Zippo lighter. The feeling felt familiar, until I remembered the reason for this Deja-vu. I brushed off the thought as a mere co-incidence.
I went to the washroom and cleaned myself up, all the while shouting at Vishal to wake up. In his sleep, he muttered about wanting some breakfast. I kicked him, and he woke up with a jerk. Within 10 minutes, we were in the car.
Which refused to start.
What was happening? The frequency of the “co-incidences” was too high for it to be mere co-incidence. Certainly, something was up. Someone up there really wanted me to do something about that girl considering the heads-up I was given. I remembered the feeling I had when I was apparently dreaming of that girl- and I knew if given a chance, I’d like to play that dream in my head over and over again. And if one is given a chance to convert his dreams into reality, only a fool will let such an opportunity go.
I hurriedly helped Vishal catch a rickshaw, to which we both said in unison, “JLN Stadium, bhai.” He said it was unlike me to be this excited, considering I had been complaining of a hangover a few minutes ago, but the situation I was in was too spooky to be revealed and so I just brushed off his allegations. We reached the venue and I quickly joined the queue.
She was not here.
Why wasn’t she here? She was supposed to be here! Were they all co-incidences, in fact? Or did I mess up with the system by rushing here? Should I have waited for the exact moment when it happened in the dream for me to arrive here? What the hell have I done…
… and there she was, getting out of her car, asking her driving to park her ride. My heart stopped a beat. Something really was up. Her presence just confirmed it all.
She walked towards me, standing right after Vishal in the queue. Noticing that, I switched my place with him, to which he winked. I gave him a little nudge.
I remembered how it all played out in the dream- I had exactly 15 minutes to catch this girl’s attention, lest I’ll lose her forever. And then it struck me. If all else that had been happening in the dream was true…
“Vishal! Bhai, let’s go get Frappuccino after the festival please?” Vishal gave me a weird look. I noticed the girl hadn’t noticed. And this time, I spoke a little louder, “Vishal, I can’t wait to see Avicii man!” I noticed a slight change in her body language, but I wasn’t quite sure if it could be attributed to my dialogues.
Vishal murmured something, to which I replied, “what do you mean an MBA can’t like Avicii? I love him!” from the corner of my eye, I noticed her noticing me. The agenda was to get her to notice me, and that was clearly working.
“But that’s not what I said,” Vishal said in a normal tone, “bro, are you okay? You’re acting really weird.”
I replied in my then normal loud volume, “Yes, I’m thinking of quitting. I want to travel the world. France, Greece… and oh, Amsterdam, for the obvious reasons!” I laughed, sincerely hoping she’d heard me.
And then, there was a tap on my shoulder.