Arjun held my hand as we walked to the party pavilion. I knew it was wrong. Between the pull of temptation and the push of ‘this is all wrong’ I wasn’t sure what to think.
Arjun was not my soul mate.
He came from a very loving and very traditional Marwari family. Where as I come from a totally screwed up family. Besides I also had an Orthodox Syrian Christian lineage.
This affair had all the hallmark for a disaster.
And then there is Beautiful Eyes!
snehicha hippiye kittiyillenkil, kittiye kashandiye snehikkuka ( if you can’t get the hippy you love, love the baldy you got!) I remembered my 10 std classmate writing that in my autograph. At that time I thought it was a joke, never realizing that I would find myself in a hippy vs baldy situation.
“Hey Nina, Hey Arjun, Thanks for coming.” Sharon came towards us. I saw her glancing at our hands and she looked at me and smiled, a very cheeky smile. I was so embarrassed. I pulled my hand away.
Arjun looked at me and reached for my hand and held it again.
“My friends know, ok?” He whispered in my ears
I thought of asking ‘know what?’. But I knew what it was.
Everyone knew Arjun is in love with me.
I felt like I was a whirl wind of happiness.
I was floating in a cloud of Ecstasy. All my life I just wanted someone to love me and it was becoming a reality.
I knew without any doubt that this was wrong. I knew if I go ahead with this relationship, I would never be able to mend my broken relationship with beautiful eyes. I knew Arjun and I were totally mismatched. We had nothing in common, Yet he was standing right next to me and and holding my hand, while the man I loved was fighting some war and not even bothered to study and write the exams.
‘no future, no future, no future with Arjun’ Sensible one started to chant.
‘shut up, I can make this work. I know I can’ I replied.
I knew I could make this relationship work. I knew what Arjun liked, it was easy to be the girl he wanted me to be.
‘You wouldn’t be happy, Nina Thomas, you wouldn’t be happy’ Sensible one spoke again.
Right! What does she know?
I am so happy right now!
Can’t she see? blind or what?
“You want some beer?” Arjun asked
Why not? because I have never had beer before. My father didn’t drink beer. He loved XO(Hennessy) and Johnnie Walker. But that truth made me feel inadequate. I was in the midst of people of my age and none of them had any qualms about drinking beer. I didn’t want Arjun to be embarrassed in front of his friends because I knew if anyone knew that I have never had beer before, then I probably would be considered ‘country’. I didn’t want Arjun to date a ‘country’
“Ok, I will have a beer” I spoke
“You want beer or shandy?”
Shandy? What was shandy? I had never even heard of the word Shandy. So I chose the one I that at least I knew the name.
“Ok, wait here, I will get it for you”
Arjun came back holding two mugs. One had orange colour drink and the other one had golden yellow colour drink.
He passed the beer to me.
“What are you having?” I asked Arjun
“Shandy! My father is home, if he knew I drank, I will be killed, so no choice, today I can only drink Shandy.
There was no time to regret my choice of drink
“Cheers” Arjun lifted his mug.
“Cheers” I replied.
If I had known the effect of alcohol on an empty stomach, then I wouldn’t have drunk a full mug of beer. But I didn’t know.
Soon I felt the person I really was, walking out of my body. I didn’t know who I was anymore, but that didn’t puzzle me. I didn’t care who I was. But I tried very hard not to be a laughing stock. I don’t remember the rest of the evening, except that Arjun was standing behind me and I leaned on him and watched the programs and laughed when everyone was laughing and clapped my hand when everyone was clapping.
All I wanted was to lay down on my bed and sleep. So when Arjun dropped me back home, I said a quick goodnight to Arjun and ran up the steps and tried to open the door with my key. But the door was locked from inside. I knocked the door and Amma came to open the door. She looked at me and I could see the shock in her eyes. Then I heard her asking
“nee kudichu alley?” ( you drank alcohol?)
“Move” I pushed her away and walked inside, removed my shoes and jumped on to my bed and closed my eyes.
I could hear Amma’s voice over and over in my head
nee kudichu alley?
I wanted to say I was sorry. But I wasn’t sure why I was sorry!