My arms were giving out from trying too many clothes before settling for the perfect dress. My face was caked in foundation, concealer,mascara and a little bit of lipstick. My sister had actually managed to turn the ugly duckling to a not so ugly duckling. Had she left the said items to me, my face would be resembling a symptom of some unknown skin disease. Believe me, my distinct lack of elegance is definitely not a lifestyle choice; my skills just don’t translate well from YouTube to reality. I mumbled a thank you. “What? I didn’t hear you…” she raised her nonexistent eyebrows grinning.
“I said THANK YOU!” I said rolling my eyes. She heard me the first time. You know she did. I know she did. We ALL know she did.
But I don’t mind fuelling her ego that was already running a hundred miles per hour.
I’m going on a date. A romantic date to be precise. Those who know me are probably reading this wide eyed. Yeah, I know, I’m shocked myself. I’m more like an anxious caterpillar, too scared to get out of her cocoon. I don’t know how I ended up agreeing to this. I would have said no carefully, graciously. I would have come up with a creative excuse, expressed both honor and regret. The excuse would have been good, brilliant even. I mean, come on, no one can decline an invitation as beautifully as I can. And yet, here I am letting my sister give me “advice” that she herself wouldn’t take even on her thirstest moments.
I checked myself again in the mirror, straightened my already stretched dress and left the house. It would be absurd to call the night dark.The moon was a sharply defined crescent and the stars shone with such fierce, contained brilliance.
I took an uber to the restaurant where my date was already waiting. I was half hoping that he would have left seeing that I was already 1hour 27mins late but the man seems to have Job’s patience.
This is it. It’s happening. There’s no way to get out of this. The reality sends my heart thundering.
I’ve been to this restaurant a couple of times but today it seemed more intriguing. The exterior was a masterpiece of architecture, elegant and graceful, the reception tastefully furnished. The interior was magnificent, the floor was black granite. On the walls was a cubist art collection. These mundane observations were meant to calm me and put my heartbeat under control.
He stood relieved to see me and helped me to my seat. “You look stunning!” He smiled. Say thank you, my brain was whispering but my tongue was being disobedient; it wouldn’t unstick itself from the floor of the mouth. I felt myself stumble a little and then giggle. Umm… I never giggle. Especially not like that.
As if on cue, the waiter came to my rescue, saving my dignity. “Good evening sir, good evening madam,.. welcome!” Saying the ‘sir’and ‘madam’ with exaggerated respect and a weak smile. She looked drained, thin and exhausted. We placed our orders fast to put the poor lady out of misery. She really needed rest.
My date had a calming aura around him. He spoke easily and had a deep laugh like a volcano of happiness erupting in him and when he smiled wrinkles of life appeared.
I looked at him, still waiting for it- the red lights, the missing ingredient in the recipe, the fault in the stars(it’s always there).I’m almost asking for it. Searching for it. Looking around for it. But when I stare into his eyes(because they say, eyes are the windows of the soul), all I saw was olive-black eyes. Nothing deep. Just eyes.
Let me come clean, let me tell you a secret- I always analyze people, in fact I don’t just analyse, I over analyse down to their zodiac signs. I’m afraid of the unknown.
His calming aura was infectious, quite irresistible; and I did the impossible- I pulled down my walls. A thought rang in my mind like an angry shout: ” You fool and idiot! I hope you know what you’re doing.” Of course I didn’t, but I was more curious than afraid.
We talked for hours, about everything- the weather, the state of the world, politics, religion, education. Every time he talked, his Adams apple bobbed alarmingly catching my attention.
The food could have been great or terrible, it made no difference. We were totally absorbed in each other. He was a charismatic man, with a brilliantly incisive mind, physically attractive- a connoisseur of beauty. He studied my face and listened to the tone of my voice when I spoke, which made my stomach do a flip- flop.
For a single beat, time stopped, became a frozen moment that will always stay in my memory. There was a barely noticeable quietening. As though he had simply run out of conversation and had nothing left to say. Yet it was not awkward. Not intrusive. Just a comfortable silence; a sort of estivation.
We both knew it was time to call it a night and exchange our goodbyes.
” We should meet again,” it was more of a question than a statement.
” Yes, we should,” my own words surprised me. I had stepped out of myself.
The same part of my mind that had rebuked me earlier scolded me again, but I wanted to unfold this enigma, uncover his beauty and hold it in my arms.
I knocked my hip on the table as I stood up, swallowing a wince and smiled instead.
I was trembling with an effervescent happiness that could not be checked by pragmatic common sense.
Even as I ordered my uber, I knew…
This man had sneaked into my heart and carved out a comfortable place for himself in there.
I had opened the door and allowed the possibility of this thing inside- the physical sensation, inseparable from heart and soul that calls us to live.