Her lovely big brown eyes kept looking at me…. starring intently…. hardly blinking at all…. a look to melt anyone’s heart. I had grown accustomed to that look, …... more than accustomed actually.
But tonight…... Well, tonight was the night. Everything had come down to this one moment in time. My head was racing in a hundred different directions. There was a mixture of excitement, anxiety, reckless abandonment. I had reached the fork in the road, the hour of my destiny. Would I be brave enough to follow the convictions of my heart, dammed the consequences? Or would I simply give in to logic and rationality, and take the safe boring miserable option? Some wise person once said that life is made up of a thousands of small decisions. Well, all I knew was that I had one enormous decision, the mother of all decisions, to make tonight.
One wonders, what strange twist of fate, karma or even divine intervention led me to end up in this situation? Didn’t I see the warning lights flashing brightly before me? Well…… every man has his own sad and pathetic tale to tell. I guess I’m no different....
It must have been about 3 months ago that my life began to change course. I hardly noticed her at first. I used to catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye whenever I frequented my favorite late night supper place. I didn’t think much of it initially, except for maybe ‘hmm… she’s a quite a cutie’.
I usually dropped by ‘Ravi’s Late Nite Snacks’ at least twice a week, for my regular nocturnal carbo fix. Ravi’s was an open air food court with an outdoor setting – with more of a ‘street food vendor’ vibe, and he served up the most delectable combo of ‘Pulled Tea’ plus ‘Thosai’ (a traditional South Indian pancake) this side of Bangsar High Street. His place was usually fairly crowded until the wee hours of the morning, although I usually left before midnight.
As time went on, I started taking a bit more notice of her. Then one night when I was at my usual outdoor spot, it struck me that she was somewhat of a regular. What further caught my attention was the fact that she didn’t seem to be with anyone. I mean, a looker like that, surely, she would be with someone but apparently not. As the weeks went by, it became evident that she was always there by herself.
It then became a sort of a habit for me to always look out for her whenever I was at Ravi’s. It was more of a curiosity thing really, and except for maybe two or three occasions, she was always there……. alone. It’s hard to say when she started noticing me. I mean, Ravi’s was usually crowded, but I considered myself a fairly regular fixture there. Anyone who was a regular at Ravi’s would certainly recognize me as a fellow regular.
Over time, it gradually got to the point where I would tend to look out for her, and she, if noticing me, would return a look of recognition and acknowledgement. This went on for about a month, and as time went on, I felt that this was getting rather awkward. There was this vague sentiment playing in my mind
……. ‘what if I’ or
‘maybe I should’ or
‘why don’t I’.......
I decided that I had to grab the bull by the horns and put an end to this ‘cat and mouse’ game. There was absolutely no ulterior motive – honestly. All in the name of friendship. What’s wrong in a bit of casual camaraderie? After all, if we were going to be bumping into each other at Ravi’s regularly, why not use the opportunity to strike up a friendship and enjoy each other’s company.
Of course, …. it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any problems or issues I was facing on the ‘home’ front. That’s what I kept telling myself anyway. A kind of reality check perhaps. There were the usual domestic ‘challenges’, for want of a better word. Nothing too serious. Nothing that could not be overcome with some effort and commitment. Whatever the missus and I were facing, we had to sort it out soon, for the sake of Junior, who would be arriving in a few months’ time. That may have explained the moodiness and sometimes the ‘cold shoulder’. Whatever the situation at home, it was not the reason I was keen to explore a possible friendship with a random stranger……or was it……?
Finally, after several weeks of deep deliberation and contemplation, I had devised a game plan for my next visit to Ravi’s. I would order my usual, then look out for her, and if she acknowledged me – as she usually did - I would invite her over to join me, and see what developed.
On my next visit to Ravi’s, it was as though the stars and planets were all aligned…… Ravi’s was unusually not too crowded, and there was a nice cool breeze in the air – an ideal setting for me to carry out my devious scheme!
I placed my order……and looked around for her. There she was, at her kind of usual spot, looking as fetching as ever, like always. My heart was racing, like some excited teenager about to approach the girl of his dreams. What if she rebuffed my advances, what if I had read the situation all wrong? Thankfully my ‘macho man’ mode kicked in, and I told myself, as a thirty-something, soon-to-be father, surely, I could survive the rejection of a stranger I hardly knew, and live to face another day.
What followed could not have gone any better if I had written the script myself. She came over, a little shy at first, but soon settled down. She shared a bit of my snack and slowly but surely warmed up to me. We had a pleasant time and parted ways. That set the pattern for the weeks to come. Order food - call her over - share a snack – goodnight.
As the weeks flew by, it began to gradually dawn upon me that things were beginning to get a little complicated. I mean, how far was I going to take this? What exactly was my end-game? Was this going to be some avenue of escapism for me until the baby arrived, or was there really something more brewing? My conscience – which had gone missing all this while – suddenly made an appearance. I was not being fair to either her or the missus. The obvious question I had to ask myself was, am I actually having an ‘affair’, or about to have one?
So……, tonight…… it was “D” day. Decision day. My day of destiny. Making decisions are easier when your options are limited. Thankfully, the way I saw it, there were only two options open to me. The first was to make a clean break of things. That would mean not patronizing my favorite supper joint after tonight, for the foreseeable future. That would be quite a sacrifice on my part –especially my tummy - but a necessary one, if I was going to extricate myself from this messy predicament. No explanations, no sob story, just enjoy our last supper together and ……. disappear from her life for good.
Option number two……. well, was there really a second option, a viable alternative besides the first one? In such a situation, there really should have been only one choice. I mean, what was I thinking…… seriously!... But of course, there was always the ‘heart’ versus the ‘head’, and the ‘heart’ seemed to be winning.
What would the missus say if I really followed my heart? I could imagine several scenarios, none of which were particularly pleasant! But honestly, as I sat there running this situation over and over in my mind, I began to realize that the missus was not entirely blameless in this situation. I mean, she had to come to terms with her own insecurity and anxiety. Whatever her reasons for such irrational fears, I shouldn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t bow down to such unreasonable and frankly paranoid concerns, aversions, and trepidation. To deprive someone of a potentially special bond out of a deep seated, long held phobia was frankly, rather selfish and plain mean of her, if you ask me.
My heart claimed victory. Under the glow of the streetlights, on that cool July night at ‘Ravi’s Late Nite Snacks’, I looked at her, declared affectionately and gestured…… “come on sweetheart, tonight you’re coming home with me.” “This will be the beginning of a brand-new adventure.”
She perked up, her tail wagging nineteen-to-the-dozen. She gave my hand a small lick with that wet drippy tongue of hers…. We left Ravi’s together that night, into uncharted waters, a voyage into the unknown. I could only hope for the best.
© 2022 Ferdinand-J-K