The blue sunglasses
Adarsh had a ticket to Seattle clasped in his hand. He was following the direction painted on the green boards, trying to get to Gate C24. There were big screens listing the departure and arrival time of every flight. He had already looked at his flight details in one of those screens. The schedule hadn’t changed but he still had two more hours before the flight. He didn't want to miss it so he gave himself enough time for the security check. He had been selected for an extra screening each time. He had stopped complaining or blaming his ethnicity. Early morning it was, there were not many people in the airport, so he got out of the screening quicker than he anticipated.
He had a pair of blue sunglasses on his head. He bought them at a store in Nepal. Those glasses could not be found anywhere in the US. He thought these pair of sunglasses suited him the most. He often lost his sunglasses but he didn't want to lose these. He thought that they had been like a lucky charm for him. He knew these sunglasses could not be replaced once lost.
"You never really asked me." He read on the little instant messaging window. Adarsh's heart jumped high with excitement; he felt his heart touching the back of his front ribs. He could also feel the blood pumping through the veins in his neck.
"I did," he immediately typed on his little phone. As soon as he sent it, he got a reply, "No, you didn't."
"But my heart asked your heart and it got an answer." He didn't even have to think to come up with that.
"What did your heart ask?"
"Your heart knows it, ask your heart!” Adarsh was still a little hesitant to ask her explicitly.
"What did my heart say?" she asked.
"It said 'yes.'"
"Oh really? I didn't know that. Now can you say what your heart asked my heart?"
"Do you love me?"
He could see that she was typing and deleting frequently on the messenger. His heart almost came to a standstill.
"Of course I do, I am so happy I am crying right now. It is the happiest day of my life" she said. He couldn’t tell if she was serious; he couldn’t read her emotions through the messenger program.
"I am very happy too." He said.
"Love, will you call me? I cannot wait to hear your voice." Now he knew she was not playing around.
He almost hugged his cousin who was by him watching the friendship flourish into an interesting relationship. It was the first time in 22 years any girl had addressed him as her love. He jumped out of his bed. He felt that her acceptance to his love was too good to be true. He had never met Anamika in person, but had only seen her in pictures. All he knew was that she looked beautiful. He thought she looked so beautiful that he compared her beauty with the beauty of an angel. He remembered the moment he first saw her picture in a website. He had approached her through an email and they had started chatting with each other not long after.
"I'll call you. Just a second." His whole body pumped up as he wrote this.
"Alright, I am so excited to talk to you."
He dialed the number of the cybercafé that could connect him to the US from Nepal. He had been studying in the US for three years then. He was back in Nepal just to visit his parents. Adarsh and Anamika were living in different states. Adarsh went to school in Colorado and Anamika went to school in Louisiana. They used to chat with each other over the internet and on the phone frequently. To be more specific, they spent almost five hours a day together, one way or the other.
The operator asked "What number do you want to dial?" He gave her number to the operator.
"Just a second sir," the operator said. After ten seconds, he could hear a ringing tone. His heart was pounding and he didn't know what to say.
"Hello," he heard a soft voice; it was softer than it used to be.
"Hello, Anamika, honey, how are you?" He didn't know what to say. He didn't know what to expect either.
".............." He didn't hear anything on the other end. He got nervous; he felt like he just did something terribly wrong by asking her a mundane question like "How are you?"
"I love you Amamika, why aren't you speaking?" He thought he corrected his mistake this time.
"I love you too....... I a..m s...o happy. Promise me you will never leave me." She was sobbing as she was speaking. He was prouder than a king now as he could hear Anamika expressing her love for him. But her sobbing amazed him; it was something he could never justify.
"Why are you crying?" his next dumb question.
"It is the happiest moment of my life, I couldn't control myself, aren't you happy?" he instantly figured out that she was the emotional kind.
"Of course I am happy. I can do anything for my love. Now we are together, nobody is closer to me than you. No force can separate us." For a second he forgot that he had never met her in person.
"Oh, you are so sweet. I am so happy that you are with me. When will you come meet me?"
"Just twenty days, honey, but I want to meet you right now. I wish I could fly right away, come to Seattle, and wrap you in my arms." He forgot the reason why he was in Nepal. Everything looked so trivial to him.
"Still twenty more days? Cannot it be less? I want to be with you, I cannot live a second without you now." All of a sudden she was suffocating in his absence.
"I know, but I have to spend some more time with my parents. Moreover, I have some business to finish before I leave Nepal."
It was just seven in the morning so the airport wasn't very crowded. He hadn't slept the whole night, and he wasn’t tired either. He was making plans for the day with Anamika, online till 3am. Then he spent rest of the time packing his stuff, and restlessly waiting for the night to be over. There were beautiful girls in the airport passing by but he didn't look at any of them like he used to. He thought none of them were nearly as beautiful as the girl he was going to meet that day. He was anxious as he had been looking forward to meeting her for almost a year. The big moment was so close that he could feel it in the air.
The song "She loves you" by Beatles was playing in his ears. He had a video iPod with him, which he bought during last year’s black Friday sale, online. He didn't like the idea of waking up early and waiting in line to get something cheap at a store. He bought almost all his needs online.
"Passengers going to Seattle, Platinum members, please board now." He muted his player to listen to the announcement. He took his phone out of his pocket and composed a new message, which read: “I am boarding the plane now, I will see you when I get to Seattle." He sent it to her expecting her to read it as she gets up. He was more comfortable texting people than talking with them. He always felt that the instant messaging in the internet and sending text messages in the phone was a very easy way of communication than talking on the phone or meeting people in person. It hid awkward silences, and one could take enough time before saying anything, he argued. He thought that these means of communication had young people bound together.
"Passengers of zone 1 through 3, please board now". He didn't hear the announcement very well, but he went to stand in line anyway. He approached the counter, "Sir, you are in zone 6, please step aside; we are still boarding through zone 3." He smiled at the lady, apologized, and waited for his turn. Finally after five long minutes, he was standing in front of the lady at the counter.
"Sir, you had been selected for the random check, did you go through that?"
"Yes I did, and they checked me thoroughly."
"I guess they forgot to stamp the ticket. Sir, I apologize, but will you please step aside."
"But I already went through the check," he tried to persuade her.
"Sir, I cannot let you in the airbus without the stamp. I will have to call the airport security"
"Alright", he said. He looked frustrated but he kept his composure.
The lady at the counter spoke into her Walkie-talkie, "A gentleman here had been selected for the screening but his ticket is not stamped."
"Gate?" A man spoke form the other side, followed by the static noise of the Walkie-talkie.
"24C, the plane will be taking off in 15 minutes."
"We will send someone right away," the voice on the other end replied.
"Sir, please take a seat. You will have to be rechecked." He could see people staring at him.
He waited by the counter, everybody boarded except the latecomers. After a while, three security men came to the gate. They were in blue shirts, black tie, and had a golden badge on their chest. "He is the gentleman", the lady pointed at Adarsh.
"Sir, sorry for the inconvenience, but we will have to search you again." The oldest looking man said to him.
"Its alright... but.. Its alright," he wanted to say more, but he didn't think it would make any difference.
"Will you hand me your bag, sir" the youngest of them asked. He was the most cheerful looking among all of them. Adarsh handed his bag to him. "And your shoes please,” the young guy pointed at his shoes.
He could see people looking at him. He could feel that they were horrified. He could even see some of them whispering to each other.
"Will you spread your arms and legs, sir," the third man asked him politely. He did accordingly. This man looked quiet and down. He looked like a robot that did his job sincerely. But it looked like the human inside him didn't enjoy what he did. The man ran the metal detector over his body. Now, the man started to run his hands from his toe to thigh, his torso, and his arms. Adarsh stared at the patch on his shirt’s sleeve with an American flag and an eagle. He also noticed the black piece of cloth on his shoulders that had TSA written on it.
"Will you take a seat please", the man said to him pointing at the row of seats. The man started searching his feet, heels and toes.
"All clean," the guy who was checking his bag and shoes returned. His bag was open, with his iPod by it. His shoes were on the seat next to them.
"Sorry about the trouble sir, we do apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience," the older man said.
"Take it easy, and have a nice day, bud," the younger one said casually. Somehow he felt that tone was more pleasurable than the older man's.
"Not a problem dude, you guys have fun too" he said. The younger guy smiled at him and they left. The quiet man didn't say a word. By now, he was the only one left to board the plane. As he passed through the aisle of the plane, he noticed that everybody was looking at him.
Adarsh had taken his PDA phone to Nepal with him, it could do more than the desktop computer he had at his house. It operated on Windows Mobile 5 with MSWord, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and MSN messenger built in. The phone had a three inch screen, with a high resolution display. Provided enough internet speed, it could open any fancy website; it could even play YouTube videos. He was proud of his phone. For the first few days in Nepal, he couldn't make use of the phone. It was locked by the service provider of the phone in the US. But his brother-in-law could manage to call the service provider and get the unlock key for the phone, which made the phone usable in Nepal. Internet in Nepal was expensive, but cheap data plans could save him a lot of money. He bought a SIM card that went with his phone, just for instant messaging. Now, he could chat in his phone all day for almost as cheap as ten cents a day.
He could chat with Anamika all day long now. He became very efficient in typing with his thumbs. His typing speed on the phone compared with his typing speed on a full-sized keyboard. The auto-learn feature of his phone also made his typing faster in the phone. He frequently used Nepali words written in English alphabets while chatting, such as ‘maya’(love) or ‘samjhirachu’(remembering you). His phone learnt almost all commonly used Nepali words. He was proud of his phone and his typing skills. He knew he wouldn’t be in a relationship with such a lovely girl, if his phone hadn’t facilitated the communication.
The average time difference between Nepal and America is 12 hours. So, nighttime in Nepal is daytime in the US. She used to work at a fast food joint all day long, making sandwiches. So, she couldn't chat while at work. She couldn’t even talk on the phone, or read text messages. Hence, he couldn’t be in touch with her during night time in Nepal. So, every night, he looked at her pictures on his laptop and wrote some romantic emails to her. He used to say how beautiful she looked in this picture, how gorgeous she looked in that one. He particularly looked at a picture of her holding two stuffed animals. He thought she looked the most beautiful on that one. He had sent one of those stuffed animals as a gift to her. He sent it to her just before he set off to Nepal, so that she had something that reminded her of him.
After a few hours of sleep, he would wake up and wait for her. Whenever the messenger prompted something, he immediately looked at his phone hoping it was her. If it wasn't her, he would toss the phone on his bed in utter disappointment.
"Adarsh, will you leave your phone alone and talk to us?" His mother said peeking through the half opened door.
"I am talking to you mom, what are you talking about?" he said jokingly.
"No, you are always looking at the phone, as if it were a mirror.” He smiled at her innocence. He smiled because she thought looking at mirror that often would make more sense. “By the way, a lady called for you yesterday, she was saying she was the mother of your friend from USA, a girl named Anamika. Who is that girl and why is her mom calling you? What’s going on?" She teased him with a series of questions. Obviously, she was curious about the girl.
"Really?" He said, "She is a friend of mine, I have a package for her mom," he said. She had mailed him some stuff for her family when he was in the US. He had to deliver those while he was in Nepal. Actually, it was him who had asked her if she had anything for her family that he could take with him. He thought being acquainted with her parents would make things easier between them. Also he had bought a handbag for her mother, as per her request, for the occasion of Mother’s Day.
"Who is she? Anybody special?" his mom didn’t give up.
"No", he lied, "but I like her ...here's her picture," he just had to turn the screen around to show his mom how his beloved girl looked like.
"She is beautiful, is she the same caste as we are?" His mom was a conservative Hindu, who believed people should only marry within their own caste.
"Yes she is, but she is just my friend. Don't start telling everybody about her," he warned his mom.
"I won't", she assured. "Are there more pictures of her?" He had hundreds, but he showed her just a couple more.
The flight was a couple of hours long, which is very short, but not for Adarsh. Adarsh was staring at the cloud below him and was listening to Beatles. Adarsh was excited, he was confused and most of all he was anxious. He knew it won't be very easy to show poise on their first meeting. An unusual dilemma was occupying him, whether he should kiss her or hug her or just smile at her. He wasn't experienced, he wasn't sure, he didn't even know what would please her. He didn't have a red flower in his hand, he didn't have a greeting card, and he felt like he brought nothing for her. He was already getting a little nervous and he wasn't sure deep inside if it’s true love he was going for.
"This is Captain Chris Harbinger; we will be landing in Seattle shortly. We enjoyed having you with us and we hope it was an enjoyable flight for you as well. For those whose final destination is Seattle, it is raining slightly, but overall nice weather. Enjoy your stay at Seattle. We hope to enjoy your company again." He didn't hear the announcement as he was busy listening to the song "I want to hold your hand."
As the plane came to a stop he could hear everybody unbuckling their seat belts. He could hear the beeps of phones; everybody was trying to make a call, which reminded him to turn his phone on. There were two unread text messages, both from Anamika. The first one said, "Hi baby, I got your message. I and my aunt are coming to pick you up. Don't tell her how we know each other; tell her we met at my school." She was now living with her aunt at Seattle, her parents and her brother were still in Nepal. The second one said, "Give me a call as you get off the plane, it only takes ten minutes to get to the airport from our place. Love you. I am very excited to meet you."
He didn't call her yet. He had to collect his luggage and reserve a car before he could call her. He got off the plane and followed the arrows on the boards labeled "Luggage/Ground Transportation". He walked towards the carousel no. 13 where his luggage was supposed to appear. After he grabbed his luggage he hurried to the counters that rented cars.
"Do you want a small or a big car, sir?" the lady at the counter asked. He could hear a generic salesperson speaking.
"A small one, please" he quickly answered. He didn't need a big car, he actually needed one of the smallest that could fit just two people in it, not more than that. He fancied himself and Anamika driving around the city in a small convertible. But the rainy weather at Seattle kept him from renting one.
"We have economy, compact, intermediate, full-size and luxury cars sir, take a look at this price list."
He looked at the luxury cars as he didn't mind paying couple of hundreds more for those cars. But the ridiculously high insurance kept him from renting them. He was an inexperienced driver, and he didn't want to take the risk of not insuring those cars.
"I will go with the economy please" He decided not to rent the convertibles or luxury cars. In his opinion, all the other cars are the same, they are for the sole purpose of transportation, they don't reflect class, they only reflect the mediocre income of the driver.
"A hundred and ninety-two dollars, with tax and insurance sir, can I have your driving license and your credit card please?" He handed both to her and dialed his phone as she was doing the paperwork. Now he was ready to call her, tell her the good news of his arrival at her town.
"Hey hun, I am here now, I rented a car and I am ready to go."
"Oh really? We will be there in no time."
"I will see you in a bit. I love you."
"Ya,... i will see you." she said. He expected more than that.
"Is anybody around baby?" He guessed the reason behind her hesitation.
"Ya... I will see you. Look for a blue Volkswagen, at the pick-up station" she admitted. He was relieved.
"Ok, honey... I am so excited"
"Me too, we’ll see you."
"See you." He hung up.
Every evening, he used to go hang in a coffee shop with his friends from high school. They would have a coffee and have elongated talks about life, politics, situation of the country and occasionally their relationships with girls. The coffee and the chat would soothe the day's exhaustion. The hottest discussion used to be the turn-over of the monarchy in Nepal and the communists taking over the country. Apart from that, Adarsh's friends used to ask him about life in the US. They enjoyed listening to his experiences in a foreign country as they were also trying to flee. The political and economic situation in Nepal was frustrating. Unemployment drove people away from the country. Nepotism, favoritism, corruption, threat was weakening the system. Political harassment interfered even with private businesses.
He carried his backpack, his phone and his video iPod wherever he went. He used to chat with Anamika under any circumstance. In bed, at dining table, in restroom, walking on the sidewalk, on a public transportation, at relatives’ houses, at the coffee shop, nothing kept him from typing little messages to the girl he loved. He showed his friends her pictures and expected compliments from them. He was glad with their response.
“How old is she again?” one of his friends asked.
“Nineteen”, he replied.
“Adarsh, I don’t mean anything bad, but girls this age are very unpredictable. They can change their mind anytime. I just wanted to warn you.” It looked like he had been through it before.
“What are you talking about?” Adarsh was a little angry, “I don’t want to think in that direction yet, but yes, I am aware of that.” He admitted hesitantly.
“I am just warning you my friend, anything can happen, and I don’t want you to be ruined if something bad happens.” Adarsh didn’t like what his friend said, but he didn’t care or pretended not to care.
“Let us not talk about it” one of the other friends spoke. He knew that Adarsh didn’t like the conversation.
The thing his friend said made him think of his relationship. He knew his relationship was interesting but strange. Does he know Anamika very well? Can he predict her reactions? Does he even know what amuses her or what her interests are? Does their personality really match? Is he confident that she is the one for him? All these unanswered questions in his mind made him think more. How can two people who have never met each other fall in love? Is it destiny? Is it what they call a pair made in heaven? Or is it just two computers talking with human emotions minimized? People can pretend to be anybody when they are chatting. Anybody can pretend to be a Socrates of one’s era with the help of internet; anybody can be a basketball expert with NBA.com on ones screen. So, when they are chatting over the internet, is that really them, or is the computer doing its thing? He was more confused than ever before.
With the direction from the lady, he easily found the red Chevy that he rented. The parking lot exit made him leave the airport premises. Anamika was waiting for him at the pick-up terminals. He found a way back in the airport and called her.
"Hello, are you out yet?" He could smell her presence in the territory. He couldn't wait to hear the same words she had been typing and saying over the phone. He wanted to see her lips move as she said it.
"Yes, where are you? How long have you been waiting?"
"We just arrived, we are at the pick-up terminal No. 7" she said.
He read the boards above him to find out that he was under the second terminal. "I am under No. 2. I am getting there." he said.
After driving about ten seconds he saw a blue Volkswagen under the seventh terminal. He could see a lady and a young girl seated on the front seats of the car.
"I can see you." For the first time, he saw her. He could see her silky, straight hair, just as in the pictures. He parked his car right behind the blue Volkswagen. Anamika came out of the passenger side door of the car. She came towards his car with a pretty smile on her face. She looked more beautiful than her pictures with a charming smile. It looked like she spent her morning deciding which getup would make her look better. There were rental papers on the front passenger seat. Adarsh hurriedly tossed them to the backseat of the car. Anamika's aunt waiting and watching from her car kept Adarsh from getting out of the car and give her a long awaited hug and kiss. He didn't get out of the car, but popped the door open for her.
"Hi," she smiled, "How was the flight?"
"It was good, I could take any trouble to meet you." he said.
"I know sweetie" she smiled. "My aunt will take us to our place. Follow her." Though he had a reservation at a hotel, she had convinced him to stay at her aunt's place.
"Okay, whatever you say, but I still don't like the idea of staying at your aunt's place." He was nervous about meeting her aunt's family.
"Come on, don't worry, they all know a little about us, and they all are excited to meet you. I won't make you feel like a stranger. Just relax. But don't ever mention that we had never met before. That would be odd." she reminded him again.
"I won't honey, don't you worry about that."
There were some awkward silences, exchange of smiles, and a little conversation on the way.
"We are almost there," she said, "That house right there is where we live."
The house looked big, beautiful and well maintained. Her aunt parked the car in front of the garage, leaving a space for another car to be parked. He pulled his car over the space. He saw Anamika's aunt getting out of the car and waiting. Her aunt looked like a pleasant person with a grin on her face. Her face would look incomplete without the grin.
They got out of the car. "Namaste", he greeted her in a respectful Nepali greeting. "Namaste, come in, we are so excited to have you here." Half of his nervousness went away as he spoke to her. She lead them to the main floor of the house, which had a small compartment with a computer, a kitchen, a dining area, and a lounge with a TV and some couches around it. There was a patio door which opened to a deck and a very big well-maintained yard.
"The weather is not good these days," Anamika's aunt said, "It’s been raining the whole day, but the weather clears up in the evening" she said as he was looking out of the patio door.
"It’s okay auntie, what do you expect when you are at Seattle?" he said in a mocking tone.
"How is it at your place? Does it rain a lot?" she wanted to know what he was used to.
"It’s really nice right now, but you don't want to live there in winter, it is evil cold." He hated winter in Colorado.
"How long have you guys known each other, son?"
Here came the question that he feared most. But he was prepared. "It's been a year aunt; I met her when I went to Louisiana to meet my friends." He lied but that was what they planned to say.
"Okay, why don't you guys talk while I make some tea for you?"
Anamika was helping her do the dishes. So she said, "I will finish this first." She was a good niece.
"No, your friend has come a long way to meet you, go spend some time with him. He came all the way here to deliver the packages your parents sent you. I will do the dishes, you go with him. Show him our house and make him comfortable" she insisted.
Anamika smiled and made him follow her. He followed her around the house. Finally, they were in a room on the second floor. The room had no furniture, but a bed and a drawer. It looked like it was just for guests. He set his luggage on the floor and started unpacking. There were a lot of spices and special pickles from Nepal; they were for Anamika from her parents. He realized that half the stuff he brought from Nepal was for Anamika. Because of the weight limitations on board, he had unloaded some of his belongings and left them at Nepal. He also realized that he forgot to bring a special chips from Nepal that she liked most. She had mentioned about the chips earlier to him so he felt bad about it.
"Hello, who is this calling?"
"Auntie, this is Adarsh, Anamika's friend, I have something to deliver to you."
"Oh Adarsh, when did you arrive, I tried to reach you before, I guess you weren't home"
"Yes auntie, I was about to call you, I came about a week ago, I have been busy so I couldn't contact you." he said
"It is okay, Anamika talks a lot about you. When are you going to visit us?" He was glad that Anamika was talking about him with her mother.
"I am free today auntie, are you home today?" It was a Saturday, he was almost sure that everybody was going to be home.
"Yes, son, we are home, you can come anytime today. Do you know where our house is?" she asked
"I know the area, but I am not exactly sure." He remembered how Anamika made on a snapshot of Google Earth to let him know where her house was. Nepal didn't have a good address system. People had names for locations, they even had house numbers, but not many people used them. Part of it was because many people still couldn't read.
"How will you be coming? Should I send Atul to pick you up?" Atul was her younger brother.
"I will take a taxi to the area auntie; just send somebody to pick me up from where it drops me." Not every house of his city was accessible by a four-wheeled vehicle.
"Okay then stop at the Putalisadak junction, Atul will receive you there" she said. The junction was very familiar to him as it was really close to his house and also one of the popular historic downtown of the city.
"Okay auntie, I will be there in an hour" he hung up.
He dressed nicely, took the package that Anamika sent and the handbag that he bought, and took a taxi which dropped him at the junction. A teenager boy was waiting for him there. They introduced each other. The boy was shy but nice to talk with. Adarsh asked the boy about his interest, his hobbies, academics, career etc. He was surprised to find that the boy was interested in joining the army, most likely the British army. Adarsh also wanted to know how close he was with Anamika. He found out that he missed her a lot. After walking about seven minutes they reached Anamika's house.
"Namaste" He greeted the Anamika's mom. She looked exactly like Anamika, but she was older.
"Namaste, Thank you for bringing these stuff, Come on in." she welcomed him.
"Sure auntie" he took his shoes off and entered the hallway.
The appearance of a house can tell the economic class of a family. He could tell they were in the medium-high economic class.
"Meet Adarsh, Anamika's Friend, he came from the US." she introduced him to Anamika's dad.
"Namaste" Adarsh said.
"Namaste, sit down" Anamika's dad said.
"How are you uncle?" he asked.
"I am doing well, how about you?"
"How is Anamika? We miss her so much." Anamika's mom didn't let him answer her dad's trivial question. He could see the love of a mother reflected on her eyes.
"She is doing fine auntie, you shouldn't worry much." He gave her the generic answer.
"So how long have you known Anamika, Babu?" Anamika's dad asked.
"About a year, I met her when I was in Louisiana." He hoped that they wouldn't ask any more details about it, as he wasn't sure what Anamika's been saying.
"Is Anamika happy there?" Anamika's mom asked, her parental instincts could be seen in the curiosity. He could see that she was the one who missed Anamika the most. She kept shooting him questions about Anamika.
"Of course she is auntie. We are taking good care of her." He said confidently as if he was her guardian and had known her for a long time.
"I will bring some food for you, don't go yet." She maintained the tradition of Nepalese family. They don't send their guests away without offering them something.
He chatted with Anamika's dad about his work, about the country, about life in the US, and about Anamika. He found out that Anamika's dad was a typical frustrated Nepali citizen. He was disappointed by the system, the revolution, and the change it was supposed to bring. He believed that nothing could make the situation of the country better. Anamika's mom asked if he could take some stuff with him for her daughter. He said he would be more than happy to take them. It would be a good reason to visit Anamika after he got back to the US. She handed him three big bags of spices, pickles and food for Anamika. She even had a bottle of pickle for him. He ate the food that Anamika's mom served, he admired the food. He chatted with everybody for a while, wished Atul good luck for his school finals and walked back home. He didn't take a taxi this time; he thought those were a waste of money.
The day of his departure to the US arrived. He had decided that the next day he lands in the US, he would take a flight to Seattle to meet Anamika. He was really excited to see her. He already had done all the shopping. He bought a pair of jeans, shirts, and not to forget a pair or sunglasses that he found at a store. It was one of the most expensive ones in Nepal, but it was one of a kind, which he thought suited him the most.
He was happy that the US Embassy approved the VISA for his parents. Now they could come see him anytime they wanted.
He had a different feeling of happiness in his mind. He was going to visit Anamika as soon as he got there. He was going to catch a flight to Seattle the very next day he lands in the US which was just three days away now.
"So what are we going to do today?" she asked.
"We will go to the places that we planned last night" they had spent a lot of time looking for places to visit in Seattle last night. They both took turns to get the directions to places so that they could spend more time going places.
She said, "We could go the downtown, the mall and to the space needle today."
"Ya, whatever you say, my queen" He was trying to be sweet.
They went down to the first floor; Anamika's aunt was already waiting for them. The tea was ready, he didn't talk to Anamika much then, but he chatted with her aunt. While they were chatting, she got a call. It was Anamika's uncle; he wanted to talk to Adarsh. Adarsh felt a little awkward, but he found that his uncle was very friendly. He had called to welcome him to his house. They finished drinking tea.
"Auntie, can I go out with Anamika and take a tour of the city?" he asked hesitantly.
"Sure, you can spend all the time you want with Anamika," she smiled.
Anamika went up to get ready. She came downstairs in blue jeans, a t-shirt and a pullover. They went out towards the car. He opened the door for her, so that she could get in the car. They went to the downtown Seattle. He parked his car at a paying parking lot near the downtown. It was still raining; she had a small umbrella in her handbag. He carried the umbrella and they started walking. Then they walked on the street, his right hand around her shoulder, and his other hand holding the umbrella. She had her left hand around his waist, this was the moment he had fancied for a long time. They talked about how they felt about each other. She was happy to be with him, he was bubbling over with his love for her. They went to see the space needle, the aquarium, the beach, the historical downtown and the mall. He went to eat lunch, spent time talking. He also bought her a small gift. They took pictures of each other; make strangers take pictures of them. He took pictures in his sunglasses and he made her take pictures in his sunglasses. He knew he looked good in them. He knew he looked good with her by his side.
They drove around, they didn't need the map anymore. They drove wherever the street took them. There was no destination, nothing to hurry about. He only used his left hand while driving. His right hand was holding her hands. His thumbs were running to and fro on her thumbs.
After a while, he could feel a vibration coming from inside her jeans. It was her phone; she took her hands away from his to read it. As she was reading it, he could see her forehead shrink, it wasn't a good sign. The text message had something that bothered her a lot.
"Who is it? He asked.
She didn't answer. She looked pale; she looked like she was in a wrong place at the wrong time.
"Is anything wrong?" he asked again.
"No, nothing. I want to go home." she said. All of a sudden he had a feeling that she doesn't want to be with him anymore. He tried to abandon the idea, but it was too strong to be suppressed.
"Don't you wanna go to the lake?" he asked. Earlier she had told him that she wanted to take him to a really beautiful lake.
"Oh yeah, if you want to lets go there."
All of a sudden her tone changed. She wanted to go to the lake for him. She wasn't going to enjoy it, but she was going to do it anyway. He was confused. He had a fear deep inside his heart that she would desert him. Somebody said something on the phone and she had changed. She was different now. She wasn't the same girl for whom he flew all the way here. He could feel a pain at the bottom of his heart. He tried to run his hands on her thigh, but it did not take much time for him to know that she was now reluctant.
"Don't you want to go?" He wanted to make sure that she was in her senses. He was expecting a very positive answer from her. He wanted to prove to himself that nothing has changed. He wanted to prove that she was still the sweet girl he was looking forward to spending rest of his life with.
"I am fine with whatever, but after that we have to go home." There came the killer sentence. He was so hurt that he wanted to slam the brakes and get out of the car. But he didn't do that, he still wasn't sure what was going on.
"Who was that on the phone? You can tell me." He gained courage to ask her that. Now he was a little hesitant to ask her anything. Deep in his heart, he knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. He knew she wasn't the same girl who was holding hands with him just a couple of minutes ago.
"I cannot tell you, I don't want to hurt you. I am really sorry." Sorry? About what? Now he knew the moment he dreaded the most was going to come. He didn't want to get hurt, not so fast.
"Tell me you love me honey. Tell me that you love me as I love you." He was stammering, with uncontrolled fear and emotions inside him. He still wanted to make sure that nothing had gone wrong.
"I am confused, Adarsh. I am really confused. I am sorry I didn't tell you everything beforehand..... There was this guy whom I had a crush on at my college. He used to ignore me, but now for a week or so, he says he loves me and says he doesn't want to lose me. I still have feelings for him. He just wrote an emotional text message to me. He says he cannot live without me," she continued, "So I need some more time, I don't know what to do. I am really sorry" She looked like she needed some sympathy. But he wasn't the guy who could help her.
Now he wasn't confused, she couldn't get any clearer. How could she do this to him? Now he knew she wasn't in real love with anyone. It was her age, the late teen, it was the newly functioning glands working on her body and mind. It was the unusual pleasure that you get when you think somebody loves you and cares about you. It was the fear of society and the feeling of security when you are with somebody, rather it be online friend than an imaginary one. He felt like he was just temporarily filling the gap of that somebody for her. He felt so insignificant that he wanted to slap her just to feel better. But he could do nothing but blame himself. How could he not know that it wasn't real love, when she accepted his love over the internet even without even meeting once? How could he fall for her when he didn't even know her? How could he be so stupid?
"What do you mean you are still confused?" He could do nothing but express his frustration. His dreams had already shattered like a broken mirror.
She didn't speak. She was as still as a rock, staring through the windshield. He turned the car around. They didn't speak while they returned. He didn't have anything to say. She didn't speak to him either. When he got off the car he realized he was missing his sunglasses, but at the moment, he didn't care.
They went into the house, everybody was waiting for them. He was introduced to Anamika's uncle by her aunt. He pretended like everything was normal. He didn't want to react unusual so he chatted with her aunt's family for a while. He talked with her cousins, her uncle and her aunt. Anamika and Adarsh were still not talking. Everyone seemed to gibber, as he couldn't focus on what they were saying. He wanted to get out of the house by any means. Though all of them seemed to be fond of him, he had no interest in knowing any of them. He didn't want to be the center of attraction, he felt like he was being ridiculed by these people.
"So are you guys dating?" her uncle asked. He still hadn't figured out that something had gone wrong already.
"No, uncle we are just good friends." He lied. She wasn't his friend anymore. She was a chapter of his life that he wanted to delete forever.He didn't want to see her face again, he couldn't do that without getting out of there.
"By the way, I just got a call from one of my friends from around here; he wants me to go over his place to stay. I promised him I would come over. So I better leave now, it’s getting dark." He wanted to get out of that house as soon as possible, at the same time, he didn't want to be rude to anybody, not even Anamika.
"But we planned for your stay here, you cannot do that." Anamika's aunt said. She looked at Anamika; she was still motionless, staring at the wall. She could see that Anamika had no interest in making Adarsh stay there. Now she had a hint that something terrible happened between them. She was puzzled and now in an awkward situation to further say anything.
"Thank you auntie for all you've done. I know you've been nice, but I haven't seen this friend for very long and it’s the only time we can meet, so I better go." he lied.
Now everybody could see that Anamika wasn't behaving normal. Adarsh was her friend, but she was the one not insisting on his stay. And they also figured out that he was trying to get out of the situation so they finally agreed. He packed his stuff, and set out; everybody followed him to the door but Anamika.
"Anamika, don't you want to say bye to your friend." Anamika's aunt said, as though she didn't see the obvious.
"Bye. Adarsh." Anamika said hesitantly standing at the door. "Goodbye, Anamika. And thank you for teaching me a lesson; I learnt my part. Hopefully you will know the real meaning of love in near future. Hopefully you will know it early enough so that you won’t disregard anybody else’s earnest love. Hopefully you won’t make anybody waste their hard earned money, valuable time and won’t play with their emotions. But don’t think I am not blaming you for anything. Also be careful out there, the word you are stepping into won’t always be as easily accepting as I am. Best of luck and a have a fine life ahead.” He wanted to say all this to her, but he moved on without saying a word.
He went to the hotel room that he had reserved and spent the night tossing and turning. He thought about all the things he did for Anamika. He thought about the gift he sent to her, the time he spent with her, the way she cried when he expressed his love, etc. It was all a lie, he thought. He was shocked but not hysterical, not even close to it. He had seen people traumatized in the same situation. Though he was strong, the experience made him paranoid. He would now be intimidated to go for any relationship for a long time.
The next morning he went to the airport to get back to Colorado. He was feeling very strange. He wasn't over her yet but he knew he would get over her in no time. He didn't even like her anymore. It was a brilliant day, even at Seattle. He was groping around his bag pockets for his sunglasses, but he remembered that he had lost them. Those were the best sunglasses he had. He wouldn't find the exact same pair again. Even if he went back to Nepal he knew he couldn't find the same pair. It was the last piece at the store. He was grieving over the pair of sunglasses because he knew he was going to miss them.
Last edited: 23-Jun-09 09:55 AM