1st February, 2011, one week into our first meeting.
“Do you think we are falling in love?” I asked, my heart pounding.
Silence from the other side. I could hear his accelerated breath over the phone.
After a few moments that seemed like eternity, “I think, yes”, he spoke.
And we confessed. Februaries never remained the same thereafter.
It was love in the air, the festival of love was approaching. And the first one for both of us.
As new love birds, that mushy feeling occupied our minds all the time. We were preparing for the Valentine’s Day more religiously than we would have ever studied for our JEE entrances.
We have celebrated 6 valentines together till now, but the first one remains the special, and each time we remember that, we laugh our hearts out.
Being a methodical person, I had prepared a project plan.
Gifts every hour. Card. Candies. The special dress that I would wear. A beauty parlour session the previous day.
I was quite sure he also had his plans to make me feel special. Our excitement knew no bounds.
14th February, 6 am. My doorbell rang. I anyway hadn’t slept, thanks to the excitement.
I looked at myself in the mirror, smiled and ran to the door. I looked from the peep hole, expecting him standing outside with roses in hand, but my face dropped like a deflated balloon when I saw the milkman.
I kept checking my phone, as if looking at it would make it ring. I wonder if this feeling has a name: the one which makes you smile to yourself, makes your heart gallop like a horse, tickles your stomach.
I was ready by 7 a.m. When the doorbell rang again, it was him.
“Happy Valentine’s day”, he said as I opened the door, presenting a bunch of red roses.
“Same to you”, I blushed.
“Can we go for a ride now?”
“Mmm…yes. I have a surprise.”
My joy was uncontrollable. I nodded a big yes.
I sat with him on his bike for the first time. He asked me to put my hand on his shoulder, lest I should fall. That butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling is perhaps the most delicate and beautiful feeling in the world.
“Where are we going?”
“That is a surprise.”
He pressed his hand against mine and I saw him smiling in the rear view mirror.
As he turned the bike, I suddenly felt a jerk and fell off the bike near a heap of garbage and saw him fall on the other side. An autowallah had rammed into us.
He rose up from the ground, dusting himself off and while I was expecting him to come towards me and pull me up, he walked past me and went straight towards the auto driver and gave him a tight slap. And the public that is ever ready to vent their frustration out on any damn road fight, gathered to do the rest of the fighting.
I felt so stupid to get up on my own. Even the crowd ignored me. All that valentine fever was gone. I felt a lump on my head, while he was twisting his wrist. He gave me a hand, and I jerked it away!
“What kind of a man are you! I am lying here on the ground you have to show your stunts first!” and tears started rolling down my cheeks.
“Sorry, that fellow would have run away…I am sorry…are you alright? Did you get hurt?”
I scratched my head, it was hurting.
“Are you okay? You hurt your wrist, is it?”
“Seems so, its paining bad”.
While the bike stood on the sidewalk, we both walked to my place again to evaluate our wounds. There were a few minor scratches on our elbows. My valentine red dress was brown with mud now.
We cleaned ourselves up, and by now we both has swellings.
No more date. No more surprise. We decided to head to the doctor’s clinic.
The elderly doctor looked at both of us squarely. We felt like we were sitting in the police station, as criminals. Valentine’s Day, girl and a boy on the bike. What does one expect?
“What happened, how did you fall?”
“The auto came from the wrong side of the road”, he said.
“I see.” the doctor said, perhaps trying to suppress a crooked smile.
“I have a shooting pain here…” I said pointing to the lump, “and he is not able to move his wrist.”
We both were nervous. As if our families were sitting on the opposite side of the table, asking us “what do you think you are doing behind our backs?”
Looking at our pale faces, probably the doctor had a sudden surge of pity and he gave us a “aww-you-kids” smile.
He looked at me and asked “Do you remember this guy well?”
I was startled. “Yes”, I said blankly.
He then looked at him and asked, “Can you still hold her hand for the dance tonight?”
And we both breathed a sigh of relief. He said “Yes.” And smiled.
The doctor gave us some medicines and asked us not to worry.
We walked out of the clinic, perhaps both thinking the same. The surprises, the date, the flowers. No more.
The painkillers put us to sleep as soon as we popped them.
The next morning I woke up to his SMS that said, “That was the most different Valentine one could ever celebrate.” And I smiled.
Till date, the memories of that Valentine are the funniest and the sweetest.