After the cups were drained and the cookies cleared from the tray, we sat there in a comfortable silence. There were so many things I wanted to ask and learn about her, but I couldn’t put together the words in my mind. I wanted badly to form a plan, a strategy of some sort to know more than just her name. Her phone number for instance, her address, hell even her Facebook ad would be sufficient. At least I’d have the chance of contact with her in cyberspace. But how do I go about finding out all that stuff without sounding like a potential stalker? I could ask Jazz of course, but I wasn’t too keen on that plan. Ruby got up, smoothed her sweater walked around the table and stood next to me, clearing her throat.
“I know saying thank you isn’t going to be enough for what you’ve done taking care of my sister when she’s like that is not anyone’s cup of tea I know. And then having to deal with her deranged sister couldn’t have helped much, but thank you anyway. I owe you a lot. ”
She offered me her hand dazzling me with that smile of hers. My hand flew out, anticipating the first physical contact I’d have with her. My heart beat faster and faster as I shook her hand, even in the cold her hand was warm and I couldn’t help notice how snugly my hands fit into hers. Okay, focus, focus. This wasn’t the time to go all romantic comedy cliché.
“Okay, you’ve got the thank you’s over with, anything else?” I raised my hands to my cheeks and gazed towards the ceiling.
Ruby punched me playfully on the shoulder as I grinned at her.
“And I am sorry, again, for probably the hundredth time for slapping you, repeatedly. I am sorry for making you feel pain like you’ve never felt before,” she said with her eyes twinkling.
“Hey, who said anything about pain? You didn’t really believe what I said before right cause I didn’t even feel anything. You should probably start going to the gym, you know, bulk up before you decide to go bang down another potential serial killer’s door.”
“I’ll definitely keep that in mind.” She said.
“Excuse me while I puke, again,” Jazz mimed inserting her finger into her mouth and pretended to retch.
“If you two have finished your lame ass efforts of flirting, can we please go? Or should I continue witnessing this mind-numbing tête-à-tête and then wait enthusiastically for death to come?”
“Save the sarcasm for desperate times little sister. And yes, we’d better go. You stink like a pig sty. I don’t think we’ve got enough soap in the house.”
Jazz actually stuck her tongue out at her sister.
They started walking towards the door. My brain started working overtime, trying to think up witty and clever ways of asking her number or even asking her out. But sadly my usually trustworthy mind failed me. I watched the two of them exit my home. I watched their backs for a few seconds and then slammed the door. I was about to crash on the sofa and punch myself repeatedly when there was a knock on the door. I got up and opened the door to see Jazz give me a wink and place a business card in my hand.
“That’s her number, call her. She loves Korean food, action flicks and black forest ice-cream and yeah, don’t wear anything pink.”
I just stood there with my mouth open wondering what to say or do. Should I hug her for the happiness that I was feeling and for which she was responsible for? Or should I kiss her for being so damn awesome? On second thought that would be really inappropriate. So I just grinned at her stupidly.
“And yeah, thanks for helping me last night. It was sweet of you. Uhm, okay so see ya,” she said and flew down the front steps where Ruby was watching looking puzzled. She reached her and they got into a yellow scooter parked on the curb. And they rode off, leaving me grinning like an idiot on the doorstep. I looked at the card she’d given me. Ruby Shrestha, Quality Analyst, R&D, Elvsys Systems, it said. Huh, sounded impressive. I put the card carefully in my pocket and went back into the room, fell back into the sofa. So what now?
“Huh,” Krish said, biting into his tuna and egg sandwich. He chewed slowly and sometimes I thought that he must actually count to thirty between chews to swallow his food, which was unnerving at times like these. It was a gloomy Sunday morning and there was promise of rain in the afternoon. I was seated across from Krish at our favourite café. I was sipping my tea, anxiously waiting for him to say something else which didn’t come out in monosyllables. He finally swallowed and then wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin.
“I should really cut down on the mayo otherwise what’s the use of going to the gym? You know I actually lost five kgs this month, I actually thought the instructor was about to cry.”
“That’s good, very good. Now can we get back to me and my problems? Should I call her? Or should I just leave her a message and if I do what the hell am I supposed to say? Hey it’s me, the guy who cleaned your sister’s puke? What if she has a boyfriend? No that’s not possible, if she did why would Jazz give me her number? Or maybe she does have a boyfriend and Jazz just wanted to see me get blown off to fulfil whatever diabolical plan she had concocted in her evil mind. Nah, I’m losing my mind, am I losing my mind? I’m definitely losing my mind.”
“Dude stop acting like a twihard for god’s sake, it’s very unbecoming. Now calm down. There’s not much to think about, you like her and from what you’ve told me, she seems to be interested too. So just call her. What will be, will be.”
I didn’t know why I was feeling so damn nervous. Yesterday I’d been on cloud nine when I had her number in my palms, but today it just seemed like a dead weight. Weighing me down, pressuring me, forming a knot so large in my gut I thought I might have to force drain-o down my gullet. So I’d called Krish and told him everything, my own personal Dr Phil. He seemed to be making sense, what would be would be. Why was I acting so well, like, not like me? Where was the confidence, where was the cloak of suavity I’d managed to wrap around my self whenever it came to girls (I say this barring all modesty, of course)? Had I lost my mojo because of one girl, like in that Austin Powers movie? Okay clearly what I’ve lost is my freaking mind.
“You’re right, I’m better than this. I’m gonna call her, I’m gonna ask her out I’m gonna charm the heck out of her, right, okay.”
“There you go, you Casanova you. What are you waiting for? Pull out your cell and dial her number.”
“Right now? Like this moment?” the knot had returned and it was wriggling like crazy. The thought of hearing her voice again was enticing, but the possibility of rejection that was lingering over my head was just too much.
“No, of course not, I meant the next millennium when aliens will have invaded and our bodies will have provided the necessary minerals for exotic forests to grow out of the earth and feed the hungry rebels.”
“You know, it’s when you say things like that, that I remember what a freak you are, and no, I won’t call her now. I’ll call her tomorrow after college, make it perfect.” I said, trying to convince myself more than him.
“Whatever, my job here is done, I guess. So let me just finish this,” he said and swallowed the last of his sandwich.
“I’ve got French classes in half an hour, so hasta la vista baby.”
“You do realise that’s not French right?”
“Who cares? You should see the instructor and you’ll even forget Nepali.”
I laughed as he got up and shouldered his bag and gave me a wink.
“Get the bill will you? And remember to leave a nice tip; I’ve got a reputation to maintain.”
“Just go smartass, see you tomorrow. Remember to bring your bike, I might need it.”
“Yeah, we’ll have to see about that won’t we? Just remember you’re the good looking, humorous, witty, slightly clumsy but adorable guy, you’ve got nothing to fear, she’ll be eating out of your palms.”
“You know, those words would have meant a lot to me if it had come out of a girls mouth.”
“Take what you can get dude, take what you can get,” he said and made his way out the café door.
I was walking along the corridors next to my classroom when I was confronted by a blur of pink streaks. It took me a while to realize that it was Jazz. She had her arms folded across her chest and was glaring up at me.
“Nice hair, did you do it yourself or did you happen to be inside a bubble gum factory when it exploded?”
“ha ha very funny wise guy. You know I remember very clearly that I’d asked you to ask my sister out the last time we met. Imagine my surprise when nothing of the sort seemed to have happened, and it’s already been three days.”
“Well technically it’s been two days and you didn’t actually tell me to ask her out you just gave me her card and narrated a few of her likes and dislikes.”
“You know I thought you were a clever guy, but now I realize you’re an idiot.”
“Hey, is that the way you talk to the guy who saved your life?”
“Saved my life my foot, all you did was plunk a drunk girl on your bed, even if you’d left me the way I was that night I’d be perfectly fine.”
I raised my eyebrows at her and she rolled her eyes.
“Ok, ok I didn’t mean that all right. I am eternally grateful for what you did dude now get over it. Just tell me one thing, you do like my sister right? I mean my sister may be older than me but when it comes to things like love and lust she’s basically a foetus, but I saw the way you were eyeballing her.”
“Eyeballing? I was not eyeballing nor was I lusting. And yes, I do think your sister is nice and I was planning to give her a call. I just haven’t got around to it yet.”
“So, were you planning to do it when hell freezes over or when I get married to Johny Depp?”
“Wow, you know I think you’d make great friends with my friend Krish, you even have the sarcasm down, perfectly.”
There was that glare again.
“Look why are you so intent on me dating your sister?”
“I’ve got my reasons, which you don’t need to know. Just call her okay? I know she’s free this evening.”
With that she was gone in a flash of pink.