January 8th, 2016. Saturday morning in Mumbai city.
Her phone buzzed and as always she was reluctant to check it. That emergency room nursing staff keeps dialing her hash number even when her shift was over. Sigh. The hospital — her second home. Every staff member there from the janitor to the security guard to the physiotherapist, everyone had become family.
The message on her phone wasn’t from her second home though. It was his first ever message to her. It posed a question wanting to confirm he had messaged the right person. And so they started talking. And within few weeks the talks moved from their favorite movie and hobbies to their ambitions. The strangers they were once soon became..no, not friends..I am not sure how you would define something that falls neither in the realms of friendship nor that of more-than-a-friend.
They couldn’t meet though..not for at least a month. Because they were about 12–14 hours apart by a flight that would have to go over the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic ocean.
January 26th, 2016: She took that flight.
February, 2016: She was little tiny bit hurt my now. She was a bit confused by his silence over the past many weeks. So much so that she wished she was far away in a different timezone again. Because to her the old days of staying up till 4 AM talking to him while he was about to finish dinner made more sense than the awkward silence she was facing now.
She remembers that morning of February 14th quite well..the frustration. This frustration soon transformed to confusion for a short time when she received a call from her roommate. Her friend said she has received pretty lilies, baby pink and red roses for her. Her friend’s description was followed by a query, “Who is Oran?”
She didn’t scan her mind for “Oran”. Because she knew two things: One — she has never heard that name/word before. Two — For some reason she knew he was the only person who would send her flowers. But she failed to make sense of all that was going on lately — Why the silence?
She was also fighting a sense of guilt at the end of that call. Because thanks to her building frustration, she had confronted him that morning for all that was bothering her. Come to think of it…it was necessary.
March, 2016: She was curious what he had in mind for her when they first met. To begin with, there was an obvious awkward silence between the two that he tried to break by saying, “You can talk now.”
And the silence continued.
He posed few queries and she noticed how almost every sentence was followed by a “Hmm…interesting.” from him. She knew by now that he was saying that because he had nothing else to say..or perhaps he was still busy learning how traffic moves on Houston’s roads.
Their first stop defied the usual rules of a First date. They went to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and admired art in the most immature and silly way possible. There were times she wanted to refrain from putting forward yet another silly comment, but she had promised herself that she will be who she is and drop down the veil of sophistication that she carried around at work. And yes, the awkward silence was finally broken.
Immaturity aside, she loved art and was happy about his impromptu plan to bring her there.