16th August 2010.
Sarvesh had insisted that we choose a KFC outlet nearby the Borivilli railway station. It would be casual place to meet a girl without any pressure to forge a relationship. This was my first time in Mumbai and I was totally dependent on him to finalize the nitty gritty details of this not so secret meeting with Lavanya-a girl whom I had officially seen at her home two days ago as a marriage prospect. Thanks to those online marriage websites, I was finally able to score an official date-I say official because the date had met the acceptance criteria of both our parents. Without these websites I do not think shy people like me would get any chance to score an actual date. The official date was a standard procedure without any special mention worthy moments except when we were given five minutes to talk one on one. I was bit nervous as the only one on one I ever had with any woman was with the HR of my company during the interview. She had smiled and just said one sentence-Can we meet outside. I was looking at her face and before I could think anything I said yes. She said thanks I have your number and will coordinate with Sarvesh. Apparently she understood my handicap on dealing with a problem which was the size of Mumbai. So two days later, Sarvesh and I were sitting in a KFC outlet waiting for her as per the time and place they both agreed. As Sarvesh was hogging on a chicken drumstick (his third), I heard a feminine voice from behind my back, as if universe itself spoke-Guillotine the glutton!!! . I turned my head and there stood Rashmi, Sarvesh’s girlfriend and arch nemesis if I may say. They were an odd couple and observing their behavior with one another I suspected they might be unofficially married. Sarvesh thought bringing one more lady would not only help me in getting an interesting perspective but it would also appear less threatening. She came about half hour delay and after a round of introductions, she really started grilling me-about my job, future plans and current liabilities. Sensing the intensity of the situation Rashmi and Sarvesh just dashed out on the pretext of doing some roadside shopping. I asked Lavanya what she would like to eat and she said the special burger. I got the complete meal and we started eating. To our right side there was a TV. She looked at the TV and said-Do you follow this show?
I turned my head and saw some kind of mockumentary being shown. I said no, I own a basic cable connection as we (me and my room mates) still use our PC to watch TV (which we seldom do). It’s used mostly to play games. In those beautiful kohled eyes, I could see clouds of disappointment. She said you know in this episode they introduce Timothy Olyphant. He is damn handsome and charming. I kind of have crush on him. I looked at the screen. Yeah they guy no doubt had some handsome features but I had never seen him before. She hurriedly finished her burger and said she needed to dash out as she had not informed about this meeting and it was late. It was hardly an hour since she arrived and I felt she was really disappointed in me- I did not have a very high paying job, I did not have my own apartment and most of all I did not know about the Office and Timothy Olyphant. I said ok can I walk you to the station. Reluctantly she said yes. The walk to the station was in complete silence as neither of us spoke. At the station entrance she said-I can manage from here on. I gathered all the courage I had and said- I know you are great in managing. That’s why I need you. I know the stuff you talked about is really important and I do not have any of those now. But of you are with me, I think I can get them within two or three years. The fact is I like you a lot and would like to settle down with you.
22nd Sept, 2014.
Hey look its Tim on TV. Looks like he landed a leading role in a TV series, Lavanya exclaimed with the enthusiasm of a fifteen year old.
Tim who? I said.
You don’t remember Timothy Olyphant? I specifically remember discussing with you on our first date. I told you I had a crush on him since the days of the Office.
Women have the bargaining chip when it comes to situations involving anniversaries or any special occasion. They remember it all. And problem is after some point you stop probing because you are already in guilt of not remembering that special date or event. After four years of marriage I had learnt not to debate on things like that. And not specifically on our 4th wedding anniversary
I meekly said, Oh yeah. So this guy’s last name is Elephant?
OLYPHANT. She stressed each alphabet in that word.
I gave a mocking smile and said, it’s just the French way of saying elephant.
Do you even understand what you are saying?
I assumed a Mr. Know-it-all expression on my face and said-In olden days what did you use to send letters.
Yeah and you should know the actual pronunciation is Onvelope. It’s a French thing. They always write things differently than they speak. I guess it gives them an alibi in times of trouble.
I could easily read the hopeless expression in her eyes. Marriage changes you as a person. I was an average nobody in school that anybody could make fun of and in office I was the average resource on whom anybody could walk over. But no more after marriage. Within a couple of years into marriage I had transformed from docile to belligerent. I always had at least three layers of arguments ready with me to handle any situation. In fact my yearly ratings soared after marriage as I was always two steps ahead of my manager.
June 16th 2017.
‘Do you love me honey’? My wife asked as I was about to board the taxi to the airport.
‘Off course I do’, I said and gave her a tight hug. The feel of her embrace brought a smile to my face. She smiled. I sat in the taxi and the taxi took off for the airport.
It was almost two months and we did not have any fight. I remember some wise guy saying on TV that the most definitive sign of trouble in marriage is when the fighting stops. I am not sure if I should believe that guy but I was missing the fights. Something was off since last two months.
I cleared the immigration and security check at the IGI and looked for one of those chairs where you can spread your legs and lay back, like a swimming pool chair, except that you are not facing a pool but the hangars and instead of seeing scantily clad people walking you see aircrafts taxing. Those seats are most coveted by the weary travelers and remain occupied till your boarding call happens but today in a rarest of rare event the seat in front of me was vacant. I quickly claimed it before anyone else could. I rested my head and closed my eyes. My wandering mind wandered even more. Something was off between us but I could not sense what it was? Could I joining the college batch mates group be the reason or was the pregnancy failure the reason. We both wanted a child but somehow it was not happening. Or did she spied on mobile and read the messages I sent to a female batch mate of mine. I could definitely feel the stress build up inside me. The strange thing with me is the more I am stressed, my head becomes heavy and I tend to doze off. A familiar voice made my head turn. The voice was coming from a cafe in the opposite direction. I followed the voice to the restaurant. There was a couple sitting in the cafe when I walked in. As the light was low, I didn't know who they were until the woman turned around, and I saw it was my wife. I ducked behind an artificial bougainvillea plant. She must have seen me because after she said something to the man sitting in front of her by pointing her finger to the location I was hiding, he tilted a bit and looked at my direction. His face, which was previously covered by my wife’s head was clearly visible now. He was none other than Timothy Olyphant. My marriage was actually falling apart before and it had not even crossed the seven year threshold as per the urban legend. I didn’t knew what to do. Should I confront them or should I run away. I was sweating heavily and was in a frozen state. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder-maybe it was a waiter or a manager trying to apprehend me. The unexpected touch of the hand made my body shudder and I woke up.
As I open my opened my eyes in a bewildered state, an old lady said-There is a call for the passengers boarding the Pan Am flight. Are you one of them?
She was the one sitting in the bench beside me. I must have dozed off.