Playing Cupid9 mins 414 9 mins 414
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I have no plans, none whatsoever.
It wouldn't have bothered me the previous year or the year before.
I have been single for so long and I didn't mind it, not even a bit, until him. Aarya.
I was okay with being single. I was okay being that girl who was stuck in her home --while everyone was out in the nippy wind, romancing and partying-- in her pajamas, binge-watching 'two broke girls.' with buttery popcorn.
Really. But it is all before him. Aarya.
Tall, handsome with shy eyes and a smile so radiant, Aarya is handsome. But what I like about him is that his inner beauty outshines his outer one. The way he talks with everyone in that kind voice, the way he treats everyone with respect. I think most of our female coworkers have a crush on him.
With his glasses and silky brown hair and stubbled cheek, and too cute to be true face, he has been a constant visitor in my dreams these days.
"It is not necessary to have a date," I tell to myself. "It is not like I can not sit at home and binge-watch on Netflix. Heh. Aarya is not going to ask me out anytime soon and I am a coward to put my foot forward."
If only I am not such a coward. I think as I step inside the park. I look around with a frown. The place is filled everywhere, and I can immediately see pairs flogging the benches and the bushes. They all look so wrapped in their own world, so in love. Valentine's Day can do that to people. I sigh as I look around for my best friend.
How lucky will it be, if my crush –is that word too childish for my age?– can see me! Can actually know that I live in the same space?
But, he doesn’t even know I exist, I mutter and let my eyes wander, searching for the familiar face of Katj. My BFF. She had called me and said she will be here and she needs my help with something.
I am wary of that, actually. Whenever she says she needs my help, it will end up with me stuck in some humiliating circumstances. Like getting chased. Or here is one thing that can top that - being burnt alive.
Best friends, you know!
I find her sitting in the bench with an ice-cream cone and I wave at her and she smiles back.
“Hey Zoya, come, sit here.” She says and pats the place next to her before handing me her half-eaten ice cream with a sigh.
"So, what am I doing here?" I lick the ice cream and ask and wait for her to come out with whatever ridiculous plan she has. I can not wait to know it.
Not much into beating around the bush, she comes straight to the point. “I want you to help me in asking him out.” She hesitates, looks around and smiles shyly. Whoa!
“He will ask you out, you know? He always does that. So why do you want to do that?” I ask with a frown. I am not okay with helping her plan that. I know how it goes.
"And remember the time I told you that I would never help you out after you almost burnt me alive," I say and roll my eyes.
"It is just a little fire, don't be a drama queen." She huffs and gives me a puppy dog look. “Oh, please. I need your help. This time, I want to do something a little bit different for him. He is the one who always had to put an effort. Love is a balanced relationship, no? I want to make the day special for him.” She says.
“Makes sense. Sure, go on, but I am not giving promises or anything.”
Shouldn’t have done that before asking her about what she wants me to do even after knowing her. She gives me this hopeful look.
“You know, he works in…”
“I know. I work there, too. And you work there, too. Will you please come to the point?”
“I want you to give him an invitation to dinner. I designed it.”
“Easy-peasy.” I flip my hand with a wink and give her a cocky smile, which is soon replaced by a frown when she starts speaking.
“You know, how he likes Batman? He is addicted to those movies.”
“Yeah, I know, Katj, just tell me where you are going with this?” Now I know why this is such a mistake. I have this uneasy feeling about it.
“I want you to hand him the invite wearing…”
“No, please, don’t continue, because I’d anyway say NO. A big no, no. You can just stop with this. Your fiancé won’t mind it if he has to do it again this year. But I am not going to do it.”
But no. Katja is stubborn and she knows some of my weakest points. I have been her friend from way too young. And she knows me more than I know myself.
That is how and why I am standing in front of Mukunth’s cabin, itching to scratch my hot back. The suit is itchy, suffocating and I am sweating like a roasted pig.
People throw frantic glances my way. I want to growl. Mukunth shifts in his seat and stares at me. “Zoya?” He chuckles a little.
“Ssh, tone it down. I don’t want anyone to know it's me…” But sadly, I know everyone knows.
I hand him the card, which is decorated in dark black with wings and gold lettering. My wing-like cape makes it hard to hand over the card, and I almost want to slam the card on his head. But, I don't give in to temptation, after all, he is my friend, as well.
He looks at me, back at the card and his face split into a big grin, eyes shining with love. Worth doing it… I give a discreet look at Nina, my other friend, who is recording Mukunth’s expressions.
“This is the best. I am so... thank you. You are the best. So where is she now?” His eyes shine with love for Katj. They are perfect for each other.
“Settle down, cowboy. It is for tomorrow. Not today. Hold your horses, man.” I give him a bow and walk away, only to collide with… Who else? Him.
My fate hates me. It really does.
“Umm sorry.” I stutter and try to move past him. He grabs my hand and then let it go as if I am fire. My hand tingles where he touched me.
“Mind joining me for a second?” He gives me a sheepish look.
Really? He has to notice me when I look like this! That is so unfair.
“Yes. No.” I say as I look around.
“Umm, just a minute? Please?” His voice is soft and persuading. My knees turn weak.
God. I melt every time I hear his voice. My stomach starts doing funny flips as I look at his shy smile.
"Do you know who I am?" I ask with doubt.
"Of course, Zoya, everyone knows. Your mask is only covering half your face." He chuckles and the sound is so warm and smooth and it makes me warm all over. He is so handsome.
“Aw, shit on the sticks. Man. I totally forget that. But Aarya, can’t we talk sometime else? I am in a hurry here." I point to my costume.
I want to scratch my back and my entire body. There is something wrong with this costume. It feels like as if someone has put an itching powder inside it. I tried not to dance and look like a clown.
“Do you want to go on a date? I know it is really last minute but...if you have plans, other plans, it is okay." He trails off, looking hesitant and his eyes are kind of sad.
"No, no plans."
The room suddenly gets brighter as he smiles, relieved. It makes me smile, as well. It is a such a nice, handsome smile.
"So will you go out with me? Or do I have to wear a costume to ask you out, as well?” His eyes smile. He has such nice, kind eyes. My fingers itch to remove his glasses and stare deep into his eyes.
“No,” I say as my heart starts to hammer inside my chest. Slow down, stupid heart.
“You don’t want to? Oh, sorry.” His face falls and he looks miserable.
“No, you don’t have to wear a costume to ask me out, but what changed your mind? All of a sudden?” I look at him with a smile. I am surprised he asked me out, out of nowhere. It is totally unexpected.
“I realized it would be stupid to postpone it any longer. Half your face is hidden, and I know I can talk to you now, without stuttering. I mean, whenever I see you, I can not properly form a smart response. I am really a smart person, Zoya. I am, but..." He gives me a smile. "It is like your proximity makes me into a bumbling fool." He stops as I chuckle at his red face.
It is good that he has been going through the same problem as I am. Kind of a relief.
"You do that to me, too." I admit with a sheepish smile.
"It is good you wore this, you know. Do I sound like a coward? It is just that… like I said, I can not look at you and your eyes and not ask you 'when your cat is giving birth to puppies.' Those stupid things just come out of my mouth like verbal vomit." He tells with an abashed smile, reminding me of that one time he had asked me exactly that after hearing my cat was pregnant. I laugh at the look on his face.
"If it is already not obvious, I like you and want to get to know you. More.” He says.
"I do, too. Thank God, I wear this then, eh?"
He laughs that beautiful laugh of his and his handsome face crinkles at the side, lighting his whole face. "Yes. Thank God. Or I would have spent tomorrow moping inside my room with Netflix and Baskin Robbins and lecturing myself to my death." He sighs.
"Hey, that was exactly my plans before you changed your mind, you know." We laugh together and it is a pleasant sound.
"Oh, we are one of a kind, huh?" He laughs and I shrug. "Bye. Pick you up at your house? Text me your address." He gives me his number and I bounce away, whistling.
I have totally forgotten about my itchy body.
It is the longest conversation I ever had with Aarya on a personal level. And what a wonderful conversation!
I silently thank Katja and her weird schemes and plans.
It seems like, sometimes Playing Cupid Games can help your love life as well.
I got a date. I got a date.
I sing as I walk towards my table.