Sridhar hated having to travel by second class. The train was already very crowded. And it wasn’t just because of the people traveling. It was all the annoying relatives/friends/neighbors’ onnu vitta mama ponnu*/all and sundry that had come to see the people off. People without tickets shouldn’t be allowed to board the train, he thought to himself. And then immediately regretted it because he recalled how his parents always came to see him off and his dad always supervised the stowing of his luggage, and no arrangement ever seemed to satisfy him. The memory made him smile inwardly. In any case, as a student he did like traveling by second class. It enriches your journey, he used to say.
Presently he settled into his seat and whipped out his novel and then sat back and let his mind wander. He thought about the purpose of this latest trip to Chennai. He had to meet a girl some relative had suggested to his parents. He never thought of himself as someone who would resignedly accept his fate and agree to have a wedding arranged by his parents. But then with his job taking up all his time, where was the opportunity to meet the girl he had dreamt about since he had hit puberty? And his longing for companionship was only increasing with every passing day. He had to submit to his parents’ pressures and accept that perhaps the woman of his dreams would remain just that. A dream.
The girl was fine. She was good looking, which was why she went from the pile of rejects to the ‘possible’ pile. His parents had a carefully regimented approach for moving a girl through the process flow. First the girl’s photograph was looked at from multiple angles and in different lights. If she seemed to pass the vision test, her ‘bio-data’ was examined and scrutinized to pick on any teeny tiny flaw that seemed to permeate through the already-rigidly-QA’ed summary. Which, of course, was probably not even drafted by her so how was he to know how well she wrote or how she articulated her thoughts or how much she read? ‘Don’t ask silly questions, if you have such a big problem with her way of expression then reject her after you talk to her’, admonished his dad. He decided that the time for argument was long past and that he should just let them do what they wanted.
Anyway, the girl was alright. She was easy on the eyes, if not beautiful; she seemed like a very homely and docile creature, too shy to even make eye-contact with him while he asked her questions. She would probably be perfect in his mom’s eyes. She did have a job, but didn’t seem to have a preference for staying on or quitting. In fact, she didn’t seem to have a preference for anything, and kept coming across as indecisive and incapable of independent thought. It sort of annoyed him a little. He didn’t want to have to make all their life decisions on his own even if his wife left all choices up to him. He needed an equal, a companion, someone who had an opinion that would add new perspectives. Unfortunately, the three girls he had met so far were all too shy or were ordered to appear submissive, which was a whole different problem altogether. ‘Argh, this is too hard!’ he thought.
It had started to get very hot and so he tried to turn on the overhead fan. It didn’t work, obviously so he needed to get up and stick a pen into the grill of the fan and prod the blades a little to get them to start moving. As he sat back down, he looked outside and there on the platform was the most stunning-looking girl he had ever seen. She wasn’t beautiful, but there was just something about her that made him want to keep looking. She was dark and had wavy hair that seemed to fall around her oval-shaped face in gentle curls. Her eyes were expressive and she was talking on her cell phone. She was evidently very animated and kept gesticulating with her hands that had a bunch of flashy bracelets that clashed and jangled as she moved. He noticed her long and slender fingers, possibly indicating an artistic trait. Every now and then she would laugh and her eyes would light up and make her face glow. He watched her walk across the platform to buy a bottle of mineral water. And she looked so sexy with every movement she made as she dug into her purse for some cash and picked up the mineral water and then thanked the vendor with a smile before she left.
Sridhar had never believed in love at first sight. He was the kinda guy that needed to talk to a girl and probe her mind before deciding to take it any further. He knew that he wasn’t ‘in love’ even now. And yet here he was, smitten by this minx who was both extremely cute and incredibly hot at the same time. He sat there, mesmerized by her indescribable chic, transfixed to his seat. And then finally something clunked in his head and he looked at the watch. The train was not scheduled to leave for another 10 minutes so he decided that if he didn’t do something right then, he would regret it for the rest of his life. He got up and waded his way through the throngs of people. As he reached there he couldn’t believe his luck, when he saw that who else should be boarding the train but her! She looked like she was traveling light and only had one small suitcase.
She set the suitcase on the passageway of the train and looked up at him with a hint of a smile. Then she lifted up her skirt so that she could climb the steps of the train with ease. And that is when he glanced at her feet and literally felt all his excitement ebb away. She had on metti**.
“Damn Neha and her fashion advice. Now I’ve scared that cute guy off. ”*Uncle’s daughter, once removed. **Traditional toe rings that every married woman wears in the toe next to her big toe.
P.S. Alright, peeps! This is THE END. No Part II. How the story proceeds is upto you guys. 🙂