“What are you doing this evening?” he asked her casually. She looked up from the David Balaccadi novel into his glowing hazel eyes and said, “Nothing planned as of now.” He hesitated for a moment. It is the first time he is asking her out. They had been married for 23 days now; one of them should take the effort, and he didn’t mind if it has to be him.
She looked at his face for another few seconds and resumed back to the words of David. As she tucked a bunch of her hair into the back of her ears, he noticed 3 earrings that shined subtly bright. He had never noticed these many piercings back in school days. “Chotu,” he called or to be precise, he blurted. She looked at him immediately. It has been 10 years since he used that word. He mouthed, “What the F*ck?” They were classmates all through their school. Most of their classmates and mutual friends who attended their wedding were utterly jealous. After all, who wouldn’t be? Isn’t marrying childhood sweetheart the best thing ever? Of course it is, just that these two weren’t exactly childhood sweethearts but childhood enemies.
“Sorry. I mean.. Well, I am still trying to figure out how to address you,” he stammered. She smiled a bit and said, “I have a name, in case you forgot, it’s Shruthi.”
“Ah, the clichéd “chotu” dialogue,” he thought. No matter how much we grow up, certain things don’t change: like he calling her chotu, she biting her lower lip while lying, their love for double chocolate cornetto, and lots more.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Well, it’s just that I was wondering if you had these many ear holes back in school.”
“I still have the same number of ear holes that I had in school or since birth, for that matter. Don’t all humans have the same?”
“Ah… Quick nose cuts & sarcasm… You haven’t changed.”
“Vocabulary issues! You haven’t changed too. By the way, we don’t call it as nose cuts anymore. Trolling can be a better term, perhaps.”
“Okay, Miss. Shakespeare.”
They shared heartfelt smiles after 23 days or may be after 10 years. He grabbed his bag and said, “My friends invited me to play paintball this evening. I thought of inviting you if you are free.” He thought for a minute and said, “Cool! I am in.”
It was a pretty sunny Saturday afternoon. As he drove his Red Beat, he thought of her, Shruthi Iyer, the Monica of their class. No, she wasn’t fat back in high school, but she was competitive, headstrong, self-centered, and well, pretty and talented too. She bet him in most of the volleyball matches, and without a doubt, she was a topper in her class too. He hated her or that’s what he thought until his mom brought this arranged marriage proposal up to him.
“Hey, new groom, out of honeymoon already,” his friends yelled. He was meeting his college friends over lunch. Despite all the social media and stuff, his work never allowed him a lot of time to hang out with his school or college friends. Even if he did have a small vacation idea in mind, the others were busy. His colleagues were his current hanging out gang until Shruthi came. While he got engaged, he invited every friend and acquaintance of his, thus ending up rekindling a lot more friendships in the process.
“So, Chotu… Your Chotu is what kept you cancelling on us?” his friend asked.
“Remember the times we kept our helmets or bags in the theater seat we booked for him as he never turned up to any other movie plans?” teased another friend.
“Well, he would not prefer to watch X-Men or Gravity, when he could watch 2 States and Neethane En Ponvasantham with Chotu.”
He smirked and said, “I didn’t cancel upon you guys for her. FYKI, she prefers to watch Gravity over 2 States. She is that kind of a girl. Oh well, before you guys start teasing me again, she is coming to the paintball match this evening.”
“Whoa… Lovely to see couples coming everywhere together,” his friends chorused
“And, on a serious note, we had an arranged marriage & we are still figuring a lot of things out. So, I think it would be nice if you guys close all the holes tight today in front of her,” he said in a single go.
“Figuring out, it seems…” again they chorused.
“The girls reacted in a better way,” he said and that did the trick of changing the topic.
After lunch, he went back to his place, it’s their place, now. People were right, marriage changes a lot of things. Although, they were living like two perfect roommates, he indeed became responsible. He stopped coming late at nights, he quit smoking inside the house, and well, as they share washrooms, he even tried his best to leave the toilet seat down. These were some of the problems he had with his exes, and he did learn that a relationship is more about going an extra mile for the other person than always wanting to be in a comfort zone.
By the time he reached their home, she was ready in front of the house. As he lowered the car windows, he saw her fumbling with the keys.
“Hey, the plan got cancelled?”
“No, I just came to pick you up.”
“You didn’t have to. I could have come myself.”
“I should cross this area to go to Thiruvanmuyur, so I thought I will pick you up. Now that I am here, why don’t you hop into the car.”
“Well, you could have called and asked me. Also, I do have a bike, and I can drive.”
“Awesome! Why don’t you give me a ride then?”
“Saving petrol, you see…”
“Okay, but I will ride…”
“Yeah, take me on a ride…” he chuckled.
“What?” She asked and he shrugged.
…to be continued.
P.S: I have no idea what to name this story or how to proceed this further, but I will definitely try to finish this story &ay be make it a novella. Why don’t you guys suggest a name for this story, in the meanwhile? Oh by the way, I have a name in my mind for the male protagonist, but your suggestions are welcome too.