Yuva waited anxiously as Karthi seemed to be taking up much more time than he had expected her to take. He looked at the entrance into the computer shop, he knew he had a choice to enter, and deliberated whether he would join her there, or whether he would stay downstairs.
He flicked at his watch, and realized it’s been a good 20 minutes. He couldn’t wait anymore. He made his way up the stairs, and pushed open the door into the shop. Karthi was there, seated beside another young woman, and a young guy, presumably the one who owns and runs the shop, is seated at the counter. All three of them seem to be having a comfortable chat with each other.
“Hi Yuva,” Karthi said, seemingly slightly taken aback by his sudden presence.
“Hi,” Yuva said awkwardly. He could sense that he had disturbed a flowing conversation.
“Are you in a rush?” Karthi asked, looking at him politely.
“Mind waiting? Or you can grab a chair as well,” she continued.
Yuva laid back on small wooden table nearby.
“Oh no, no rush,”
“I’m fine here,” he continued, still looking quite perplexed.
“This is my friend Yuva, by the way,” Karthi said, seeming to realize that Yuva is a stranger for both Anand and Sabhi.
Karthi and Sabhi looked at each other and let out a giggle.
“This is Anand, and that is Sabhi,” Karthi completed the introductory process.
“7 tomorrow?” Sabhi asked softly all of a sudden.
There was an awkward smile on Anand’s face as well. Karthi’s smile was much more genuine.
“7 tomorrow,” she seemed to robotically repeat after Sabhi’s suggestion.
Karthi looked back at Yuva, still wearing that broad smile on her face. “Shall we go?” she asked.
Yuva still couldn’t understand what is actually happening. He starred blurred about the whole situation. What he does now is that Karthi has an appointment at 7 tomorrow.
“Yeah,” he said, after seemingly taking ages to respond to her question. They made their way down from the shop immediately after.
“Your friends?” Yuva asked as they were walking towards the car, taking the chance to shed some light on what actually went on upstairs.
“New friends,” she replied, still grinning broadly, and taking her seat in the car.
“You seem particularly happy about something,” he kept pressing the point. His curiosity is now overwhelming.
“Well, wouldn’t someone who just got a date be happy?” she asked.
“With?” he asked, but soon his face reaction changed. He already knew the answer.
“Wow,” Sabhi was wearing a similar smile on her face.
“Okay, I’m happy for you, but it all is still a bit awkward for me,” Anand said. “You got a date. She is dating a she,” he seemed to be convincing himself rather than saying anything to her.
“I can’t believe she tracked us all the way here. Remember the amount of times we came across her?” Sabhi was still elated.
“Yeah, I guess such wonderful love exists even in these situations,” Anand said.
It was not the first time that either he or Sabhi have seen Karthi in their lives. They came across each other so many times previously, and Anand recalls the countless times that Sabhi had claimed to know for certain, without even talking or going close, that Karthi- just like Sabhi- is also a homosexual.
“It’s weird. I thought there always will be the guy-girl kinda thing, you know. Like you were girlish, I thought the other has to be more boyish. But she’s just as feminine as you are,” he said.
“Are you like, attracted to her?” he added.
“Yeah, why would I want a date with her?” she asked back. Anand nodded.
“I still have a lot to learn then,” he said.
“This is not science. It’s a feeling. You’ll know when you are used to it,” she said.
“And, it doesn’t always work out with the boy-girl thing,” she said.
They stayed seated, smiling at each other. “You guys exchanged numbers?” he asked, sarcastically keeping his smile.
“Shit!” her smile dissaperead as quick as lightning.
“You guys decided where to meet?” he asked again.
“Oh damn,” Sabhi cupped her palms and buried her head in it.
“Are you sure about this, Karthi? I mean, is this for real?” Yuva asked. The situation has demanded him to speak about the issue with her now itself.
“What you mean, am I sure?” she asked back.
“About your sexual orientation,” he said boldly, not knowing how much he runs the risk of offending her in the process.
“I bloody well am sure,” she said, raising her tone. She looked at him for a while.
“You will come to terms with it. I know people have a hard time accepting it. I don’t know why gays are easier to accept for people compared to lesbians,” she said.
“You are not a bigot are you?”
“Bigot? Well, that’s a big word…erm…no, no, not a bigot,” he said, stuttering with his faltering smile, as if the question caught him red-handed somewhere. And the word stung him.
Karthi looked at him peculiarly.
“Okay, if you say so,” she said.
“Oh…” she added.
“What?” he asked.
“I didn’t set a location and I didn’t take her phone number, didn’t I?” she asked.
“Why are you fucking smiling?” Sabhi asked, frustrated. Anand remained smiling. “Anand!” Sabhi raised her voice.
Anand pushed his chair back, and reached for a small sticky note that he had on the nearby shelve. He pasted the sticky note on Sabhi’s shirt.
“What is this?” she asked.
“Next time ask her to give her laptop before giving her contact details,” he said. It was Karthi’s number.
“Man, I love you!” Sabhi shouted.
“So, do you want me to go back?” Yuva asked, albeit involuntarily, slowing down the car. “You wanna pass it off?” he stressed on the point again.
Karthi was thinking. He seemed to be making inroads in his attempts. And her phone rang. He used that opportunity to keep driving the car in the opposite direction.
“Hi, Sabhi…wow…,” she suddenly sprang to life while speaking on the phone, tapping Yuva on his shoulder in her excitement. Yuva let a subtle sigh.
To be continued…