Wedding Blurs 3: The Other Side of the Glass
The honking was getting louder and louder. He couldn't hear himself think anymore. Good. These were thoughts he did not want to hear or think. He had finally made the decision to get married, and he didn't want that Devil's advocate brain of his toppling things over again, all because he had a ‘hunch’. He needed to stop sabotaging his life, and he would not go and spoil something potentially good once again.
This marriage proposal had arrived through the family matchmaker. She looked pretty, at least in the pictures. The 'bio-data' as they called it was also impressive. A top ranker throughout college. Constant promotions at her job. But would she be the right one? Was this the right way to look for a partner? There goes the brain questioning everything again! He had insisted on meeting her alone first. Family pressures can get daunting, and he didn't want any of the nosy relatives making his decisions. Or worse, her decisions. They met at a coffee shop near her workplace. Familiar surroundings would probably make her feel a little less awkward. He reached early and found a table that wouldn't be the centre of attention. She walked in just then, dressed in simple denims and a collared maroon shirt. Hair tied back in a tight ponytail, no make-up and no extra accessories. She hadn't gone out of her way to dress up for 'the guy', he thought. And he immediately liked that about her. He got up and pulled a chair for her. Once they had ordered, he looked up from the menu trying very hard to keep the glance just right. Too long and it would be a creepy stare, too less and it would be a fidgety ferret. It was tough for guys out there wasn't it!
He had always been a little awkward growing up. Until that year he was working in South Africa. Some say an experience away from home changes you. Or does it merely show you a hidden side if you that you never knew existed? It is true that everyone has a past and he was no different. He hadn't spoken about it since. He hadn't even told his family. It was so long ago after all.
Inside the small coffee shop, the music was constantly playing somewhere in the background. She wasn't initiating conversation and hence he began.
"So... Having a good day at work?"
"It is just normal. Hectic and chaotic. But nothing beyond manageable."
Err... Your bio mentioned you like Chinese food and reading? What do you read?"
"The family wrote all that actually. I usually read non-fiction now. Biographies. Have read fiction in the past but I stopped."
"Oh! Wait... They wrote? Does that mean you are here against your will? If that is so please tell me. I am not going to force any conversations."
"No that's ok. We can talk. They didn't force me to come here."
"Alright. My work makes me travel a lot. Do you like to travel?"
"Not really. I am more of a quiet person and would prefer to stay indoors."
What was it about the quiet girls that appealed to him so much? She had been a quiet one too. Reserved, shy, reticent even. He had met her at a conference where she was handling the publicity. She handed him the name tag and schedule for the day with a smile and looked away. He didn't. Light brown eyes hidden under a fringe, a wide smile and pretty hands. He didn't know why he noticed the hands but he did. During the entire conference he kept finding ways to go back and talk to her - to borrow a pen, to ask where the washrooms were, to request for coffee, to request another copy of the schedule. He noticed her colleagues giggling at the side. Damn it she knew! It was best to come clean then. At the end of the conference he mustered the courage to ask her number, and she already had it written for him.
The conversation and coffee did not last more than twenty minutes. She hadn't spoken much. But maybe she was just hesitant. After all, arranged meetings can get overwhelming. Plus he liked that she hadn't tried to be someone else or put on an excited face just for him. He had no reason to say no. The next thing he knew, it was a week before the wedding. Even then, they had barely met three or four times and that too surrounded by relatives or to shop for trousseau. She was still quiet, and had agreed to almost all the suggestions the relatives would make. That seemed unusual to him. He had heard of bride-zillas and how finicky women could be, especially for their weddings.
Ah finicky women! SHE had been extra particular about many things - where to eat, how she liked her food, how he should hold her hand, and so on. It was just a few dates after their first meeting at the conference, and very soon, they were head over heels in love. Days were spent texting, and nights cuddling. Every weekend they would explore some new getaway around the city - and she made him try all that he never would have imagined. From hiking to skinny dipping to cosplay, it was an exciting new world for him. And he was soaking it all in wide eyed.
The day of the wedding arrived. He realized he would have to rush to the shop to pick up his wedding shoes. No point sending anyone else because they all had their duties. And honestly, he was the only one with no preparation duty at the moment. On his way to the shop, he got a call from an old friend who had moved out of the city long ago. "What the hell! I heard you are getting married? You sneaky bastard! Who is she? You better tell me everything right now or I am coming there to spill all your secrets."
His secret ‘foreign awakening’ had made him feel so far removed from home and everyone there. His family had no idea, and he barely spoke to any of his old friends. He had started speculating settling in South Africa. He had started wondering about a future with her. When things changed. She was pregnant. The news hit him like a brick. But... Didn't they take precautions? Yes, but something must have been missed. It was done now, and it was here in front of him. He wasn't casual about what they had, but he had never given the future any serious thought yet. Suddenly he was thrown into adulthood, with serious decisions to make. "Let's talk about it then" he said.
The friend asked him everything - her name, what she does and how it all happened. "Wait a minute... I have heard that name before." He tried to recall how he knew her. After a few questions about where she studied and worked, he remembered. She used to date an acquaintance. "Oh... Date? Was it serious?" "I think so. He was pretty crazy about her from what I could figure. But I didn't know him that well." His mind was racing now on the various possibilities. The many things that could go wrong if they got married. Was she still in love with him? Is it over? Oh shut up! She had agreed to this willingly. She was probably over it all. But then why hadn’t she told him? Controlling the flurry of emotions in his voice, he pretended to casually ask the friend, "So where is he now?" "Unfortunately he is no more."
"What is there to talk about? I have taken care of it. The baby is no more."