It’s that time of the year. The pompous word makes a flashy appearance, yet again. It entices me to step out of my cozy cave, and embrace the celebration of love. I manage to crawl past, every year, earning bonus sympathy from my Cupid-worshipping friends. This year, however, they are determined to scratch out my alien-ness with their unique scheme.
‘Since you love a good challenge, we have chalked out a delicious one for you. Go out on a date on Valentine’s Day and we will fund all your book-related cravings, for the next six months,’ Sanchari tells me in the college cafeteria, donning the role of the spokesperson of our group. I choke on my tea, in a bid to stifle the formidable tide of laughter.
‘You can’t be serious!’
‘We so are!’. Sanchari looks at me with a mischievous glint in her eyes. The other three friends join in with their keen stares and silly guffaws.
Unable to resist the temptation of six months’ supply of free books, I say ‘yes’. Also, to say ‘no’ would be akin to accepting defeat.
‘You have fourteen days in hand, my ready-to-mingle friend,’ Sanchari teases.
‘How hard can it be for a twenty-year-old smart and cool young lady?’! I retort.
The expansive knowledge gained from Sanchari’s long-winding sessions on dating apps, guides me in the voyage to the alien universe. Pictures of men with absurd grins and ludicrous expressions stare back at me from the screen. I realize that the only other time I might have done something nearly as ridiculously stupid was at the college fest, two months ago.
I am exhausted after enduring the torture for four days and abandon the preposterous online ‘date hunt’ mission.
Its 12th February. Sanchari checks in on my progress. I contemplate surrendering, but then decide against it.
‘Hey there! Remember me?’ a young man greets me at the bus stop, outside my college.
He is the guy from Medical college, my dance partner at our college fest, two months ago. Memory of the evening spent with him, intoxicated with music, dancing till our feet hurt, comes alive.
‘Yes, I do’, I say, struggling to recall his name. The ticking clock prompts me to grab the opportunity. I tell him about the challenge and ask if he would like to have lunch with me on the 14th of February.
‘What is in it for me though?’ He says, startling me with his repartee.
‘Free lunch’. He buys into it. I thank him profusely, in my mind.
The Medical college guy and I meet in a restaurant near my college, on Valentine’s day. I offer him the podium and smile away the intrusive questions.
I message Sanchari about my victory and send her a picture as evidence.
The glitzy billboards with big red hearts and lovey-dovey couples, the romantic frills clamoring from every nook and cranny, seem almost bearable. A sweet effervescence blankets my heart as I dream of books, books and more books.
Picture credit : Lucinda Louise (Unsplash.com)