She had not missed how he had effortlessly slipped in a flirtatious angle while answering . The answer itself was quite good. He had managed to capture quite a few intricacies and details. This however wasn’t the first time she had received a good answer, but it was by far the best.He was quite different from other guys she had come across. He wasn’t a garden variety handsome, or intelligent or geek. Infact , she thought to herself, he wasn’t a garden variety anything. She could almost imagine him in a crowd, a tall, lanky, bespectacled fellow with a restrained smile. Difficult to notice; difficult to spot; almost impossible to recall. Yet, once he would approach you and strike up a conversation, he would transform into an attractive persona, with effortless charm and friendly demeanor. He had a peculiar brand of conversation that you could enjoy endlessly, and once exposed, you would just not want to break away. He would no longer be the faceless, nameless shadow in the crowd, but the crowd itself.
She remembered the first time they had met at a party. They had chatted effortlessly for quite some time. She was well read and good at conversations herself. She could glide through any party, holding, diverting, progressing conversations, but she was presently surprised as this particular dialogue flowed effortlessly.
They initially joked about how her brother had found love within a fortnight of registering on a matrimonial website, and then about how bad some of the profiles they had come across were. They had then exchanged a few accounts of their meetings with a few prospects. He had subsequently declared that he was convinced he would never find a suitable match, and was ready to resign to a more ‘flexible’ lifestyle. She however had never planned on giving up on her quest, which had intrigued him beyond measure. He probed and quizzed, trying to determine the reason behind her being so headstrong about her mission to find “Mr Right”.
“You are like a superhero, on the quest to find True Love. Have you discovered the compass of Jack Sparrow? How can you be so sure of finding Mr. Right?”
He was not entirely off the mark. She had been looking for quite some time now. Right after her long standing relationship with Rohit had crumbled under its own weight. Rohit was a nice guy, MIT educated, very intelligent, passionate, but seemed just that : nice. They had dated since engineering college, and their relationship had survived long distance, familial rejections, countless fights. However, she could simply not see him as her husband. Her mother had berated her a few times on letting go of such a handsome guy, but she had politely replied that she could not see herself sharing her life with him. Her opinion that ‘When I was 19, Rohit was a 19; it was great. But when I am 39, he will be 29.” had perplexed both her parents.
She knew in her heart that she had to be patient. She was meant for something better, someone better, and she was hell bent on finding him. The picture was quite clear in her mind. All she had to do was to perfect responses to wayward questions like “what kind of guy are you looking for”, “Don’t you think you are asking for too much”, or “Do you think you can find Mr. Right”.
She, with a sweet smile, would go on to propound on how she did not believe in the concept of ‘Mr. Right’ or ‘True Love’; and that they only existed in fairy tales or movies. She would then leave her answer with an enigmatic finish of how she was simply waiting and searching for somebody who had the makings of ‘Mr. Right’, and not ‘Mr. Right’ himself.
But that day, at that moment, she paused and could not resist adding something more.
“Its not a quest of some kind, and it certainly does not need a compass or potions. I am not any hero either. I believe that you owe it to yourself to be with someone who is compatible with you. Its your duty. “
It was an odd feeling of relief after an epiphany. She had wondered what had triggered the impromptu addition. Nonetheless, his expression was priceless. Right then she had been called away, and their discussion was cut short, leaving him gaping.
It was no wonder he had pinged her on Facebook the following night. Initial exchanges had led to long chats about love, life and everything. She uncovered the guy she had left astounded at the party, was infact a man of many talents. What had intrigued her most was that while he had pursued higher education, he had also devoted time towards his hobbies. He had learnt Latin dance forms and typography. On certain weekends, he would teach children at a municipality school, and on a few others, be a part of some NGO activities. He was extremely well read and it was no surprise that he would blog occasionally. He was also inclined to attend art shows, music festivals, comedy shows and theatre.
The first time he had asked her out was for a performance of “Vagaina Monologues”. She had loved the show. She had also waited to chat with one of the performers, an act she had never done before. What was also memorable that day was the conversation with him after the show. He was quite open and expressive about what he had liked about the mono acts. He spoke about character intricacies, connotations, modulation, and the emotions that it evoked in him.
Later that day she had contemplated on how, if his comments had come from anyone without his passion and charm , would seem so mundane and bland. She would have dismissed the comments as boring; but with him, the analysis seemed ‘lively’. She had then pictured Rohit at the show, and had cracked up instantly. Rohit was never comfortable discussing genitalia, and having multiple women monoacting situations about desire, love, violence, suffering would have caused him to squirm and probably even leave midway. Christian, however, would have had handled it differently. He would have definitely stuck till the very end, having lots of questions for her when they would finally be alone.
Christian was her first crush, first love, first boyfriend, first kiss. His thought would invariably put a smile on her face. They had liked each other since childhood. Into their teens, he had become a stupendous soccer player, and she a beauty queen. Boys wanted to be him, girls wanted him. She had matured well too, having a fan following amongst the boys. It was like ‘Mr Popular’ dating ‘Ms Popular’, but the tags didn’t matter to them. They were friends to start with, and that bond had stayed unaffected. With each other they were themselves, free, unabashed and uninhibited. His parents were quite orthodox, and when they found out about them they forbid him to see her. He was sent away to a different state for education. He would still write to her, letters about love, fear, dreams, faith and friendship. Over time they fell out of love but she treasured the letters to this day. 'Words can take a girl's heart away, when are boys going to realize that writing to a girl, is a much better way of serenading her, than the silly, macho things they do.' she had quipped to her friends once, and received an unanimous concurrence.
She had realized that day that having a friend was a crucial aspect in finding her match. She wanted a guy who was a mix of Christian and Rohit, who could be there for her when she was 29 or 49 or 89. The date had brought on a minor epiphany, and she had slept exceptionally peacefully that day.
Today, the all so familiar feeling of the epiphany had returned. Her response to the question 'What kind of man she was looking for' was a master piece. Yet, his response to that had somehow enhanced her perspective. Its like he had added colors to her sketch, and her creation now seemed more lively. She could also not deny how comfortable they had grown with each other over the past few weeks.
‘Is this the guy I have been looking for the last 2 years’ she thought to herself as she held her stance.
She hurriedly banished such thoughts. She had to be objective in such a situation. He had invoked an unpredictable response from her three times now. If he was a faker, he was a darn good one.
With a steady smile, she sidestepped his flirtation, and asked him “What are you looking for in a woman?”