“Surprise!” Jayanth shouts and waves his hands at Swati
“What? How? Who?!!”
“It’s a long story, but can I come in first?”
“Ya sure” Swati notices Jayanth has his suitcases with him. He came here directly from the airport? He is going to stay here? Am I dreaming? Or is Jayanth really here?! She thinks in a daze
“Ok, now, let me dive in to the story” Jayanth says after setting his luggage in a corner and seating himself on a sofa chair. “So, my new company had asked me for my passport and other details about 2 weeks before I even joined their company. They had told me that I would have to travel onsite to one of their locations and I had agreed. But when I joined, they said I have to travel to Singapore on my first assignment! I was like…so excited! I thought I’ll surprise you, Swats and here I am!”
“Wow, that’s awesome dude. And of course, you had my address coz I had sent you the email from before, right?”
“Yup! So I had no trouble locating you. God, Swats, I missed you” Jayanth says, half sincerely and half romantically. “I didn’t think I would this much….but I did”
I really need to be thinking straight right now. I can’t believe what’s happening in my life! Why are Jayanth and Vishal back in my life? And why isn’t Siddharth getting into my life?!! This is all so messed up! I feel like I am in an alternate universe where nothing is making sense, where whatever I want isn’t happening and the exact opposite is happening!
“I missed you too, dude” Swati says, playfully punching his arm, as one would do with a buddy, so as to let him know that he can’t expect anything more out of her; at least not at this point of time
“I am here for the next 3 months. I am at this hotel too, but way over at the other end, wing C they told me…You leave in 2 weeks right?”
“Yup, 2 weeks to go”
“I want to spend as much time as possible with you. Don’t get me wrong….again…I have moved on from where I was Swats. I realize I might not be the one completing your story…your Namma story as you put it” Jayanth says in a slightly serious tone, trying to be as leveling as possible
“Wha? How? When did I ever tell you about Namma story?” Swati asks in utter disbelief. Did I just go and utter it to every person I know? I thought it was something that I had in my heart only. I thought that is one the most ME things I have, apart from these thoughts which are also very ME
Jayanth laughs. “You probably didn’t tell me willingly. That night, when we were celebrating Prat’s birthday in that farmhouse…remember? You were drunk? That’s when you told me about it. That’s when I half realized I might not be the one to star in your story with you, you know. I should have stepped back then itself, but something kept telling me to keep trying. I am sorry I made things so weird, Swats”
“I don’t know what to say, Jayanth. And my head is full of too many things right now, so I don’t have anything to say for now. I really need a change in topic. Hey, why don’t you go freshen up and meet me in an hour or so? I’ll give you a tour of the nearby surroundings and then we can have a quick dinner too” Swati suggests
“That’d be great, Swats. I’ll be back soon then!” Jayanth says, gets up, takes his suitcases, but drops them back to the ground for a second. He comes closer to Swati, gives her a quick hug and then finally leaves.
What the hell is happening in my life?! Why are there so many guys suddenly? Interested in me? I always knew I would have many admirers because…I know I am good-looking. But all at the same time? What joke are you playing on me, God? Am I supposed to choose between one of these three musketeers or do you have other plans for me? Is my Namma Story belief just a myth? Or is it in fact my parents with whom my story is set to be? Are they the ones with whom you have written my story? I desperately need some answers! Argh!! Siddharth! The poor boy, I need to respond to his emails and messages.
Swati finds Siddharth online and sees his status message to be “I’ve been waiting….for a girl like you…” Swati’s face gives birth to a wide smile. Ah, this feels perfect; like it’s meant to be. Swati then messages Siddharth and apologizes for the late response and also tells him about her lunch with an old friend, conveniently skipping the “boyfriend” part. She then mentions about Jayanth’s visit to Singapore. Siddharth calls back immediately.
“What are you saying, chica loca?!” he exclaims
“He is here on business visit just like me. And he happened to know where I stayed, so he got his reservation done here too”
“So are you happy? You were cribbing from such a long time that you’re bored in Singapore. Now at least you have a friend there, huh?” Siddharth teases her
“Whatever” Swati gets angry
“Arre…come on loca. You should be happy!” more teasing
“Listen I gotta go now, I’ll talk to you later, okay? Bye” and Swati hangs up. Ooooohhhh the nerve! Doesn’t he realize I like him? Doesn’t he? I mean, with all the talking and flirting that we do, it seems so obvious that he likes me. But when such situations arise, I have my own doubts.
Swati tries to put her negative thoughts aside and starts getting ready for her evening. As she gets ready, she gets a call from Vishal.
“Hey Swati! Was wondering if you’re free for dinner tonight? I wanted to ask you when we met for lunch but thought it might sound too desperate of me, you know what I mean?”
“Hmm” That’s me! Never know what to say or how to react when questions are pointed at me…especially the romantic kinds or emotional kinds. Maybe I am emotionally unavailable. Maybe my emotional quotient isn’t up to the mark. Here I go again, putting myself down. I need to talk to Siddharth more often so I keep loving myself. But if he behaves the way he did today, God help him because I will KILL him!!
“So, what say you, beautiful?”
Don’t say such things! Don’t make me fall for you again! I still have some reservations hanging out with you. You just can’t come out of the blue and be confident that I’ll fall for you again! I need to say no. so what excuse do I give him? I tell him the truth of course. That one of my other friends just arrived here and I have plans with him. And then a light bulb moment happens in Swati’s head.
“Ah Vishal…one of my friends from my company just arrived in Singapore. I was planning to take him out. Why don’t we all hang out together?” Brilliant! Both these guys can’t get romantic with me with the other one being there. And I can relax and have a good time!
There is a slight hesitation at Vishal’s end. But finally, he agrees and they decide the time and place to meet. Swati starts singing loudly in a good mood, patting herself on the back for coming up with such a wonderful idea at the nth minute and arrives at the hotel lobby to meet Jayanth. She tells him about her friend joining them, and she senses the same kind of hesitation she did from Vishal. But in the end, he too agrees and they wait for Vishal to come and pick them up in his car.
Initially, Vishal and Jayanth seem frigid with each other. Oh God, what am I going to do? I hope this evening won’t be a disaster. I would just be all red with embarrassment if these guys don’t get along and then I wouldn’t know what to say in such situations. I feel so awkward. Ugh! But if I have to steer away from those thoughts for a bit, I am going out with two incredibly handsome men. Wow, look at them. Vishal looks so suave in his cool denims and shirt. He is impeccably dressed always. And my my, Jayanth isn’t to be left behind either. The half shirt he’s wearing with his jeans just fits and suits him so well. I feel like a star. I am dressed pretty okay too, I guess, judging the looks both the boys gave me when they saw me!
Vishal suggests a place that they can go and hang out at a café, for some time, then a park that they could visit and finally a place for dinner. Jayanth and Swati go along with his plan, courtesy him being the most experienced with Singapore places and events. Jayanth rushes and takes the front seat next to Vishal, which makes Swati giggle. She goes and sits behind them peacefully. They make small talk till they reach a small but elegant café.
“This is owned by one of my friends, Swati. He is an Indian, so you’ll see that most of the dishes available here is Indian, and then, the ambience is pretty much Indian too” Vishal explains to Swati, taking her along with him and ignoring Jayanth on purpose. Jayanth fumes, but follows them nevertheless, not having a choice.
Swati likes the café with her first look of the place. She sees poster of famous Indian movies adorning the walls, Indian classical music being played and all the waitresses wearing salwaar kameez. They select a table and place their order. They hear a loud cheer coming from a table adjacent to theirs and they see some Indian teenagers watching cricket on the café’s television. Vishal and Jayanth immediately turn towards the TV screen.
“I totally forgot it was the finals of the triangular cup today! And with India playing too! How could I ever forget this?!” Vishal exclaims.
“Me too!” Jayanth says with equal passion. There! The connection has been made. Throw 2 guys together, give them some cricket and they are bound to get along!
Vishal and Jayanth smile at each other for the first time, each admiring the sense of patriotism for their country and passion for cricket in the other.
Swati, now free to do whatever she wanted, turns her attention to her cellphone. She sees a message from Siddharth. “Loca, I think I upset you when I started teasing you today. I’m sorry.” Finally! Some realization! Phew. I better respond. He must be waiting!
talk2swati: It’s alright. Sorry I couldn’t respond earlier. I am out with Jayanth and Vishal…remember I was telling you about my other friend here in Singapore?”
mailsid_999: oh ya….hope chica loca is having fun!
talk2swati: not bad…these guys r busy watching some cricket match going on. They tell me India’s playing too
mailsid_999: yup! I was watching it for some time too. Not that I’m a big fan of cricket, but I don’t usually miss India’s matches
Their food arrives and Swati tells Siddharth to wait for some time as she turns her attention towards Vishal and Jayanth and their snacks. The boys keep talking about their favorite cricketers, arguing some agreeing some; and talking to Swati in between.
“So, Swati tells me you are here for another 3 months, Jayanth?”
“Yup, I am here on a business assignment. And how long are you here for?”
“Oh I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll come back anytime soon. I have quite adjusted into my lifestyle here, you know”
Beep! Wrong answer! A minus 1 score to Vishal. I don’t think I can stay away from India. Not that I am considering even the slightest possibility of having a relationship with him….but stilllll….
“I can see the reason why you like it here. I have been totally amazed with the infrastructure ever since I got here. It is awesome!” Jayanth responds. Swati frowns. A minus 1 to Jayanth too
“…But I can’t see myself settling here you know. I am too loyal to Bengalooru” Jayanth adds as an afterthought. And Swati’s afterthought goes….Hmmm, take out the minus 1!
“Do you have family back there? Maybe a wife or parents…kids?” Vishal asks Jayanth
“My parents are there. But no wife yet, not married. How about you? Family here?”
Swati turns towards Vishal to hear his response. It’s good that I have Jayanth here asking all the questions for me. I would have never asked Vishal myself. Haha! I am having fun!
“Nah, lost my dad a few years back and mom’s with my aunt in India. And I am not married either. But I hope I’ll be…soon” Vishal looks straight into an eagerly intent Swati’s eyes who suddenly her turns her head down with the comment.
“Ah, sounds like a case of love, huh? Well, I’ve been there my friend” Jayanth remarks and he too looks at Swati. Oh God, what are these two idiots doing to me? I am not an emotionally available person. I don’t think I am emotionally stable either. I should stay away from them before they make me feel so small and guilty that I’ll start hating myself!
Swati doesn’t raise her head for a long time and Jayanth and Vishal begin to worry. “Hey Swati, what happened?” Vishal’s deep voice
“Ah…I don’t feel so well. I feel feverish. Guys, I think it is better I get back to the hotel” Swati’s escape routine says
“You don’t look well, either. Let’s get you back to the hotel first” this time, the caring Jayanth has spoken. He pays the bill quickly as Vishal takes Swati to the car and makes her feel comfortable in the rear seat. I know I did start this act because I wanted to get away from there, but why does my forehead feel so hot? I don’t….I really don’t feel too good. By the time they reach the hotel, Swati starts to perspire and her breaths start getting shorter and quicker. Her eyes start to water and her vision starts to get hazy. She feels as though bogged down by something really heavy. And then she passes out.