Choice

Minu looked at her watch again. He was late. Or, she was early. As she was to every date or appointment. She couldn’t help it. The clock inside her set up a clanging gong as the appointed time arrived. It was better to arrive early and let sleeping clocks lie.

But what did it matter?

She was at the coffee shop in front of Barton Centre, on MG Road. The open space with cushioned wicker chairs under red umbrellas. The perfect Bangalore morning, slightly cloudy with a cool breeze. A whispered hint of rain later. Maybe. The trees opposite on the large army ground fluttered their leaves at her, flirting from a distance. She smiled back at them. She sipped her cappuccino, closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the dewy, cool, hint-of-rain air. What did it matter? She would always have Bangalore.

There was a rumour that the metro would slice through MG Road. She couldn’t believe it. Who could think of mutilating this place? Impossible.

He came rushing in and looked around wildly. He knew he was late. That was a good sign. She stood up and waved. He came over. His walk said confident, his face said shy. He sat down and the process began. It wasn’t her first time. She knew the drill. They asked each other the standard questions – work, family, hobbies, what-do-you-do-on-weekends. They assessed each other across the table. She assessed his confidence, his kindness, his grammar (she tried not to, but it was a built-in feature she couldn’t disable). She sensed him doing the same, ticking off against his own list.

In this short time, they had to figure out whether to say yes-go ahead to two sets of parents, who had arranged this meeting and were – probably, even at this minute – waiting apprehensively next to their phones. She listened hard for that quiet click that had happened for so many of her friends.

When they had run out of assessment questions and polite smiles, it was time to go. She smiled as he started to walk away. Hmmm, not bad, she thought.
Maybe she just didn’t hear the click?
But then he turned around and asked, ‘Umm, what was your name again?’
Thud.

She ordered a chocolate doughnut, tucked her feet under her and took out her novel. Before opening the book, she looked across at the canopy of trees and took another deep breath of the clean, crisp air. What did it matter? She would always have Bangalore.

Wouldn’t she?


*

Author Bio:
Rosemary Thomas transitioned out of corporate life and now works with a Healthcare NGO, trying to stem the bleeding of her bleeding heart. There may be a book inside her and she’s trying to find out.

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