I stood at the crossroads, looking up and down, left and right, and cursing myself ! What on earth was I thinking, how could I have forgotten to read up directions. All around me, people were walking at breakneck speeds, nobody having time for a pathetic poor loser lost in this fast paced world. I had been struggling like this for the past 45 minutes getting muddled deeper and deeper into this crazy insane maze. How was I ever going to turn up for this appointment on time? It might be intelligent to rather call up and reschedule and walk back home. But who am I kidding. I like to think of myself as someone who would never take a step back in life, come what may. Even if that takes me away from the human species who take pride in calling themselves intelligent.
A full 10 seconds passed before I heard a voice and felt spoken to. At first I thought it was my inner voice that spoke. Guess I had been watching way too many movies.
“Do not grieve son, whichever road you take, All roads lead to Heaven”.
It took me half of that time to realize the mischief in the voice. One look at her took all my breath away. She was like a fresh sunrise bathed in light rising admist the parched forests of Africa. You could have not known there are people around you had it not been for the ever rising decibel levels. But I couldnt take my eyes off her. And then I felt myself blush. And then felt even more stupid for doing so. Whoever heard of a guy blushing. I could have kicked myself ( Read kicked myself = kicked myself real hard ! ) .
She stood out, every bit of her, from the banal crowd. Yet, she was no angel. She was one of them. You could have walked past her and not noticed her. But she was something about her and I stood mystified by her presence. “ Stop staring at me ! You think I am an alien or something? ”
“ Well, I am actually lost and was trying to figure out my directions when you seemed to have said something”
I said pretty serenely ! I didnt know girls spoke to strangers.
“Lost?? Hmm?? You mean Lost as in L-O-S-T?? From Siberia or something? “
She quipped with a smirk on her face. Two can play at this game, I thought and retorted
“Not exactly, I just saw this huge space ship drop out of the skies, and I figured I could get a sighting and Lo and Behold ! You walked by ! “
“All right, Smart Aleck, go find directions yourself, but keep what I said in mind about the heaven thing !! “
said she as she mounted her bike and started riding away.
“Gee, you are actually riding, I thought there would be a ping and poof ! you would vanish !! “ were my last words to her before she rode away.
I kept looking at her till she was out of sight and then stood wondering if I had really spoken to her or had she been an apparition. It seemed strange in this world to have spoken to a stranger for not more than a minute, yet having had an entirely ridiculous and seemingly unhelpful conversation, something that gave an essence of the two people knowing each other for more the duration that it was, a minute.
I decided to throw the incident out of his mind and focus on finding my destination. But she had other plans and stayed in my mind for the rest of the day. A good twenty minutes later, I walked into 3, Primrose Lane, Chaska, Albany NY and I stopped. Dead in my tracks. Reading the signboard. There were two businesses sharing the location. ‘Beautiful Smiles’ was where I had applied to for work. I was trained as a junior dentist and had been thinking of advanced training.
The other signboard read “Made in Heaven”. It was a store selling ancient pieces of junk. (My whole thesis was going to change shortly, but my mind remained blissfully unaware of this as I read on). A fleeting thought entered my mind as I thought about her, if she had known that I was coming, else why would she have stressed on that Heaven statement? But I couldnt afford to dwell on it else I would be denied the job even before I knew it.
Thoughts of her and the weird conversation kept ringing through my mind all day long even after my appointment was done and I was neatly ensconced back home, gazing into the fireplace. Had it only been a co-incidence after all? I decided to check out the area the next day. Morning approached bright and warm with the sun shining in full armour at an early 8 itself. Up and raring to go, I had a quick breakfast of bagel and juice, the ultimate American food wherever you go, and was out by 8:20. Work didnt start till 9. I still had a good 40 mins to hunt for her. Hunt?? What am I doing here, trying to find a girl who I have no clue about and why? I have no time for girls and who on earth would be interested in a geek like me ! Excuse me? Did I just hear interested? Why am I even thinking about all this ! One day and this is what you start thinking, get your life back on track you Hero !
Yet no matter how much I tried to convince myself, her face wouldnt go off my mind. It was like etched forever. The day passed uneventfully and as as the sun made a graceful retreat I decided to pack up and leave even though my eyes kept darting about for the mystery woman. I finally risked a peek into “Made in Heaven”.
“They were right when they said appearances are deceptive ! I thought you were smart enough not to get caught peeking ! “ She put up a bold act like she was angry or something though the dimples on her face spoke an entirely different story.
“If appearances are deceptive and I am not smart, it would mean I look smart ! Why thats nice of you to say ! “
I beamed while gathering myself from the sudden being-caught-in-the-act thing. Not wanting to support me in my theory and yet not being able to deny it, she clasped her hands frowning and changed the topic.
“A dentist hmm? You look like a salesman or something ! “ She said looking past me at my workplace.
“I am. I sell smiles, to one and all ! ” I replied with a smile. The line sounded right out of a movie. I was right. I had been watching too many. But this sounded very impressive and genuine and a perfect line to floor the lady of your dreams. I actually felt glad I was able to make it up impromptu. Usually such things dont enter my mind till I am done making a complete fool of myself. This very realization gave me a boost that maybe she was the one for me. If such thoughts had depth, I might have been the most successful man by now. Anyways, moving back into situation we are dealing with at the moment. “Expensive?“ She asked, getting into the topic. I couldnt figure why she would think of a dentist. With her pearly whites, she could have been a model for Crest !
“Not much, just about the price of a cup of coffee ! “ Eager expectant eyes looked her way as I hit myself mentally about a 1000 times a minute thinking of what made me ask her out. Why would she say Yes to you you idiot ! “ Are you asking me out ? “An impish grin scaled her face.
“I know you believe in the appearances are deceptive thing. But are you really this dumb or do you just act that way “ Not to be outdone, I replied.
“ Thats a nice way of asking me out “ She acted hurt but I knew better.
“ Any way which would give you the hint “ Game’s over !
“You call that a hint ? “ Wasnt she ever going to give up.
“Is that a Yes or a No “ I asked finally !
20 mins later we walked into a Starbucks, ordered cappucinos and talked endlessly as if we had just met after 20 years or so. Talk about having known each other for less than 24 hrs. I would be the youngest guy in the dental industry to have been fired within 48 hrs of joining. But I was beyond worry. She was everything I had been looking for. Smart, (Read both smart and smart-aleck) , chic, impish and a beauty. The chemistry couldnt be ignored either. Neither of us did anything defined as romantic, we just sat and talked and laughed at jokes and life’s little incidents. I could feel her eyes on me as I spoke. I tried not to stare at her yet I know I ended up doing that most of the time. And she knew it. It was a totally innocent friendship with 2 adults getting to know each other. Yet it was something more than that.
And as I walked her back to the office for her bike, I couldnt help thinking about something beyond friendship with her. I knew it was too early to be thinking of something more and I would need to give it some more time. Yet I couldnt stand being away from her. She seemed to be echoing my thoughts as we stood silent next to her bike. People talk about love at first sight, this wasnt a first, Ok Ok , two sights, so what, big deal. We parted with a “ C you tommorrow ! “.
I slept fitfully that night and woke early next morning, thinking of meeting her before work. I bet the day would be great if I saw her first thing every morning. Whoa ! Hold on ! Slow down where is all this leading to.. Go slow ! Go Slow.. I kept saying that to myself and the minute I saw her through the glass standing in there wiping the artifacts, I said to myself – To heck with going slow, if you go slow, you will never make it ! Allright the tortoise made it, but tortoises stay for 300 years, if it hadnt won against the hare ( and it won because it was intelligent, and remember, I just told you I dont count myself as one of that species ) , it could still keep going and never make it. I didnt have 300 years. 300 seconds seemed long enough to me as it is.
I took a deep breath and walked into the store, ahem, boutique, she would kill anyone who called it a store, she had said yesterday. She took great pride in what she did. That was nice too. What part of her life wasnt nice dumbo ! And to think, I who said as I willed, was willing to go by what she said. So I walked into the ‘boutique’. What happened to you, one half of me ridiculed. I am in love you idiot ! The other half reasoned. She stood with her back to me, atop a ladder, dusting a huge Persian mirror. Every beauty seemed magnified and she seemed to glow more than everything around her. Maybe it was my mind playing tricks. She caught my eye in the mirror.
“No vacancy ! We are not hiring right now, call back later “ She said teasing me.
“You have an excellent collection of beauties here “ I said, ignoring her comment and hoping she would catch on to the true meaning of my statement. Brushing off my statement and struggling to appear casual, she replied, turning to face me
“They are expensive.“
“That one sure is priceless “ I said looking beyond her. She turned, her eyes searching for what I was referring to, and then blushed as she saw me looking at her reflection in the mirror. Profound Silence. Blessed. As far as retorts went, I knew had won. As she looked at me through the mirror and smiled that shy smile, I knew we both had won much more than that. We had won each other’s hearts. Her eyes spoke eveything that she didnt. And I knew she was looking deep into my thoughts, beyond where anyone had even been. I had never been this open with anyone else before. It was indeed, a match “ Made in Heaven “.
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