Complicating simplicity!

“Please don’t take this the wrong way Anu …” he started. Anu’s eyelids fluttered as she looked up at him. Anybody who started a statement this way was definitely not planning on saying something nice.

“What is it Rahul?” she asked.
“Hmm … I … actually the thing is, I have been wanting to tell you this for a long time but …”

Anu discreetly bent her head close to her shoulder and sniffed. Then she took a deep breath and tried it again. The Dove rub-on deodorant was doing its job well. So it wasn’t that. Well then, what could it be?

“What?” she said, glancing in his direction as she steadied yet another book on the shelf. She had been doing this for about twenty minutes now scooting on the floor as Rahul handed her the books and the activity was starting to tire her out.

“You’re making me nervous” she continued, as she stifled a yawn and put out her hand to Rahul for the next set of books. “Since when have you been hesitant about saying what’s on your mind?”

“OK!” Rahul started, putting out his hand to shush her. “Let me just say it. Don’t make me to be a flirt. I am not. I just wanted to say that had I not been married …” he paused, waiting to see if she was looking around for something to beat him up with. She was waiting. Expectant.

“If I wasn’t married and if you weren’t married then I would have …”. She raised an eyebrow. Well, he had already said this much. Might as well finish the rest as the harm was already done. “ … proposed you.” He finished with a sheepish grin.

Silence ensued.
“Is everything OK between you and Palakh?” she enquired, obviously confused by this revelation.
“Oh yes, seriously Anu. Everything is absolutely fine. I love Palakh a lot and I know she reciprocates my feelings too.”
“So does Vinod and so do I. We are a happily married couple Rahul.” she countered.

This was so going in the wrong direction. Looking at her he couldn’t discern if she was angry or just plain upset with him. Time to clear the air.

“Relax Anu. Look. I just meant it as a compliment.”
“That’s a weird way of complimenting someone. Its not very flattering, you know? What would people think?”

He rolled his eyes at the thought of other people knowing. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Whoever came up with the phrase ‘Speak what’s on your mind’ had definitely not been talking to a woman when he had coined that.

“Why would people know? Why do they have to know? I gave you a compliment. In private.” he reasoned.
“And what if Palakh or Vinod found out?” she asked.
“Anu stop. Stop. It was an innocent statement. All it meant was that you are a very nice person. Any guy would be crazy about you and lucky to marry you. That’s all it meant.” He paused before continuing. “Don’t make it a bigger deal than it already is.” Now the whole conversation was starting to get on his nerves. Whatever had possessed him to blurt it out like this. He mentally slapped himself twenty times as he looked at her, wondering what she would say next. What had been stated so innocently was being perceived in a sense that showed him as a voyeur. Jeez. What would Palakh think of him.

“You know what? Forget it. Forget I ever said that.” he said, shaking his head as he nervously shifted on his foot. He needed to clear his head and get some fresh air.
“What do you mean? How can you simply forget something like that?” she asked with an irritated tone.
“Drop it.” he said in a menacing tone, indicating end of topic.
“Besides, this would mean, I am not nice anymore. Because, you said it was a compliment because of me being a nice person. So now if I were to forget it, I am not nice anymore? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

Women! Shrieked the voice in Rahul’s head. He combed his hair with his fingers, mentally ramming them around his own throat in an attempt to choke himself. Looking at a silent Anu he wondered what was going on in her mind. She was probably scheming to get the neighbourhood aunties descend on his residence with rolling pins and pans and whatever heavy they could lay their hands on. Rahul decided to make a run for it while he had the time and opportunity. But then Anu stood up. And as she stood, she turned and looked at him, a strange undecipherable expression on her face. And then she smiled, a demure smile.

“I would have said Yes.”

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