Life was kind of great, I had just completed my post-graduation and found a job soon after. Work and socialising took up most of my time. In my jam-packed baggage, there was barely any room for a relationship and I wasn’t complaining either. I was always showered with attention from the opposite sex and I totally relished it. My friends chased girls they liked whereas I always had it easy with the ladies, what more can a guy ask for. Light conversations and fun dates (and maybe something more) was my idea of ‘romance’. At times I was accused by girls for leading them on but my conscience was clear; I never promised anything, I never let them in. Such ‘almost relationships’ would die a natural death, numbers deleted and social media handles unfollowed. The waiting line was pretty long and I would move on quickly.
*Beep Beep* I check my phone to see the notification — a friend request from some Jiah Solanki who had apparently studied in the same school as I had. I scroll through her profile. “She’s cute,” I thought. I scroll a bit more drawing a quick conclusion about her through her posts. “Beauty with brains, huh?” I mutter under my breath before accepting her request. I started to closely follow her updates. Jiah was indeed witty and creative. I wanted to have a conversation with her but pushed the thought to an obscure corner of my mind.
“So it’s a no-date Sunday for you?” my brother asks mockingly. “Yeah, it’s a swipe right, swipe left day for me.” Our conversation is interrupted midway when my phone starts to beep. “You got a match bro, sorted for Sunday,” he remarks and we laugh at his witty comment. But he was wrong, it was something even better than a match. Jiah had texted. A text message from a girl had never made me so happy. “Play cool Siddharth, girls dig on that,” my mind constantly reminded me. Armed with my cool attitude that so many girls had fallen for, I read her text an hour later she had sent it.
Jiah: Hey! How have you been?
Siddharth: Hey. Been good.
My text showed read but she hadn’t replied. My ‘cool attitude’ didn’t impress her maybe. I decided to make a subtle attempt to undo my mistake and text her again.
Siddharth: We were in the same school, right?
Jiah: Yes, we were.
Siddharth: That’s great!
Jiah: What are you been doing these days?
Siddharth: Not good really. Completed my MBA this year, currently handling a messy project for my company.
Jiah: Don’t worry. All the ‘not-so-good’ things come to an end.
Siddharth: True that. I like the way you put it. What have you been up to?
Jiah: I am a freelance writer.
Siddharth: That sounds great. What do you write? Blogs, articles or books?
Jiah: I have a blog in place. I write articles and I plan to write books someday.
My brain abstained me from replying. “Why are you replying so promptly? Don’t you have other things to do? Take your time to reply.” Being a slave of my calculative brain, I obliged and didn’t reply until past midnight.
Siddharth: You seem someone who has her life sorted ya!
Jiah: Those whose lives seem sorted are the ones who have accepted the fact that life can never be sorted.
Siddharth: Or they simply have their priorities in place.
Jiah: Yeah. In place for the moment.
My insecure brain sensed Jiah withdrawing from the conversation. Maybe she had started mirroring me by not replying instantly. I wanted to know her more. I was almost sure that my old tricks won’t work with her. This girl isn’t going to chase me as others had done in the past.
Siddharth: Are you always so formal and poised or am I special? Let’s just loosen up a bit.
Jiah: Hahaha! Poised and I? If clumsiness had a face, it would be mine.
Siddharth: Being clumsy isn’t that bad?
Jiah: It isn’t bad at all, give it a shot.
She was different, there was no doubt in that. But I wasn’t prepared to give her an edge over me. I didn’t want to seem desperate. I waited for a couple of days but no text came from her side. I texted her a casual “sup”. She took an hour (which seemed like a lifetime to me) to respond and I had lost my patience till then. I didn’t even open her message. Somewhere I knew I was the one at fault. My urge to talk to Jiah didn’t bring me any peace either. I decided to text her and give her an excuse for my late replies.
Siddharth: Hey! I am no good at texting. Also, work keeps me occupied. Are you busy?
Jiah: I totally understand Siddharth. No, just had dinner.
Siddharth: Cool. Honestly, I am terrible at texting these days.
Jiah: That’s completely fine.
I was expecting to be bombarded with questions and here she was calm and composed, not saying a word to counter my white lie.
Siddharth: Are you free tomorrow? There is this really cool coffee house and we should totally go there.
Jiah: I won’t be able to make it tomorrow. I need to complete a write-up. How about Sunday?
Siddharth: Sounds good to me.
It was a balmy Sunday, I waited for Jiah in the rooftop coffee house. As I was admiring the view, my eyes fell on her. Casually dressed in a pair of ripped jeans and a floral top, Jiah looked stunning. So lost I was that I forgot to greet her. “Siddharth are you okay?” asked Jiah, waving her hands in front of my face. I came out of my trance and awkwardly stood up to hug her. “Quite a lost soul you are,” she said in good humour and we laughed.
Jiah was full of life, merely being in her presence made me feel ecstatic. We were discussing our careers and suddenly the conversation steered towards our text exchanges. “At times my schedule gets a bit busy. I hardly find time to reply to messages. I am sorry if you ever felt that my replies were a bit late. I really wanted to talk but something or the other would keep cropping up,” she said. With this confession of hers, all my leftover doubts vanished into thin air. Jiah was someone who was very straight-forward and honest, something which I wasn’t. Our date neared its end and I asked for the bill. As I slipped my hand into my trouser pocket, I realised that my wallet was missing. I searched for it but couldn’t find it. Jiah took the bill and paid it before helping me search for my wallet. I finally found my wallet in my car. I apologised for my blunder but she cut me off midway. “No worries. Clumsy and forgetful people make great friends,” she replied and I stood there smiling at her.
As I parked my car and got out, I checked my phone. Happiness stared at me from the screen.
Jiah: Thanks for an amazing time today. It was great catching up with you. Reached home?
Siddharth: The pleasure’s all mine. Yes, just parked my car.
Jiah: Don’t forget to lock the car properly.
Siddharth: Hahahaha! Yes ma’am.
Our conversations grew friendlier and warmer with each passing day. Our weekend dates were something I genuinely looked forward to. I was moved by her childlike curiosity, her enthusiasm for life and her passion towards her profession.
It was a regular day at work and I was lost in Jiah’s thoughts when the phone beeped.
Jiah: Where are you?
Siddharth: Hey! I am at work, just about to have my lunch.
Jiah: I am standing outside your office. All prepared to whisk you away for a quick lunch date.
I don’t remember how long did I stare at her text. I was brought back to my senses by her phone call. I dashed out of my office only to find the most beautiful girl waiting for me. We headed to the nearest eatery. As we ordered our food, she started to laugh. She looked straight into my eyes, as if reading my confused expressions she said, “I feel so crazy, never have I ever done something like this before. It feels great though.” “And never have I ever felt this for anyone,” I added. A blushing Jiah stared at me for awhile before leaving a note of her feelings on my cheek. Jiah made the mundane seem magical, she had changed my life for the best. She deserved happiness. She deserved lasting friendship. She deserved true love (and instant replies). She deserved nothing but the best and so did I.