Today’s Scintilla Project prompt that inspired my story is “Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.”
Our parents had set us up. They’d given us the same old spiel; “Meet them first, how else will you know if you like them or not?” I guess I relented because I was tired of not having found love in all the places I’d looked until then.
We were seated on the diwan bed in the spare room, side by side. I was wearing my best salwar khameez that morning, a deep purple and blue number tailored in a style that I’d handpicked from a catalogue. I don’t remember what he wearing, but whatever it was, it was neat. He exuded casual in a military sort of way: hair slicked to one side, clean shaven, rimless glasses, shirt tucked into the slender waist of his jeans. He was neither slight nor well built, but muscular all the same. Although, what I remember most was that he had the darnedest, cutest smile that got my knees knocking together like ice cubes in our tall glasses of mango juice.
“Why do want to marry someone in the army?” he asked me.
They have great pensions and live in the lap of luxury; said my mother in my head.
“Um, I dunno, my great-uncle was in the army. It seemed kinda cool”, my 22-year old tongue blurted out. And then he smiled his wonderful smile that made me want to continue to say stupid things all day.
We had been chatting for the good part of an hour when he said, “I think I may be 60-40 about this”, he said of the set-up.
“60 for, or against?” I asked.
“For”, he smiled and fifteen minutes of conversation later he smiled again. “Maybe 70.”
I blushed. We’d decided to give it another meeting to figure out where we stood on the matter. I went through the day as if floating on a cloud.
“Did he hold your hand?” my brother peeped out of his blankets to ask.
“Shut up”, I murmured under the buzz of his smile in my head before I turned the lights out.
The next morning when I woke up, I sat up with a feeling that the day ahead was important for some reason, and when it dawned on me why, I smiled and brought back the memory of his smile to my head. But the magic had disappeared. I wracked my head in an attempt to remember the charming curl of his lips, but it was no longer there. Huh, I said to myself, that’s odd. I wonder if this is some sort of sign. But then I quickly brushed away the thought.
We did meet later that day, but as we walked past all the little shops at Spencer’s Plaza, I didn’t have a good feeling. And then he finally spelt it out while we had lunch at Noodle House.
“Hey, don’t take your anger out on the ice cream”, he joked after he’d shared his decision with me.
“I’m not”, I mumbled. What did you expect, I thought, I had had hopes about this. Now I have to go about being my own person until the next sucker comes along.
“You’re young… and bright and intelligent. Go out there and live your life. Please don’t waste it on a fauji (army man)”, he begged.
I went home, dejected. I had never taken rejection well, even though people thought I did. Over the years I continued to struggle with love, life and meaning, and I think back to his words from time to time. He’d really done me a favor by being brutally honest. We were never destined to be together, but my fate had meant for me to meet him only so I could chart my life ahead of me.
Thank you, Captain.