A bit of a beginning

“They used to say they met at a house-party. It was true for neither of them of course…”
The waitress smiled at her as she put the last dish for the party onto the table.
“Yes, Anna, would you care to listen?”
Anna ran a hand through her buzz cut hair and looked at the exquisitely dressed woman before her.
“Sure, Miss Gauri, someday…”
Gauri trailed behind Anna’s walk for a while before she sighed. Then she looked at the people around her table, and resumed the story.
“So… Yeah as I said. Neither of them were telling the truth of course. He was that one guy on a dating website who was invariably put into the “Too high for me” folder, and she was the only girl he had ever looked at seriously in all the years of college. Then, ofcouse the house party happened. She was wearing… Umm… You know one of those low neck__”
“Um Gauri, could I have a refill.”
She looked at the face of the moustached man. She didn’t like parties and this was why. Her eyes trailed off to the one guy not wearing a suit, her best friend, slowly messing with the food.
She didn’t like parties anymore.
She put a handkerchief on her face and wiped away the oil.
“Hey, Anna? Bring the wine please?”
She tried her best not to look at the waitress whose complexion had taken a red tone because of the kitchen heat.
Gauri noticed the red lipstick and her nails done in blue. She smiled to herself and looked the mirror again.
In a hurry she pulled the kerchief over her face again.
“Yeah, sure.”
As Anna hurried back to the kitchen, Gauri looked at her way again.
“She wore one white low necked gown and deep red lipstick. And he wore a suit…”
She narrated the story with small interruptions and ended the dinner. As the party dissolved itself in dream she stood apart and corrected her saree again.
“You look perfect.”
“Thanks Reetzi.”
He towered over her, 6 feets of height. Yet, he could be childish. Who else would wear a hoodie to a formal party?
“I look specifically out of place darling.” He sipped on his neat whiskey.
“And you didn’t utter a word during dinner.”
“You had me in your awe.”
She smiled at him and hugged him ever so slightly, before letting go. It had been too long.
“You never come to the friends meeting.”
“They are not as important anymore.”
Gauri sat on the verandah sit, and stared at Ritzy. A stubble that was overgrown, the ruined hoodie, and the… She moved away from his shirt and to his face again.
He came in close and removed the one stray hair on her face.
She remembered the warmth ever too well.
“So tell me about you.”
“It has been fun, honestly speaking. Everything has been fun.”
“You don’t look fun love.”
He smiled and sat beside her.
The lone one door overlooked the bar. As the list of overdressed guests went ahead and ordered drinks, Anna looked positively flustered.
Gauri stared at her for a moment. Extras were a comfort, but, leaving her would be so strange, so unfulfilling.
She looked at the man in the hoodie, and sighed.
“So, you’re leaving.”
She wondered why she always messaged him like that, when she was too far along.
“Yeah, it’s an overseas job and everything so.”
“And then what? What about the friendship?”
She imagined him laughing then, and setting down to write this at the back of the party.
“We won’t work out, not like that Gauri. You know that, you’ve known that all along.”
She didn’t message after that. It took her two years though, to get over that silly notion. When everyone else tells you that it is love, you kind of believe it, and he had been so sweet. Even if it would have not been completely fulfilling__
“Go ahead and flirt with her.”
Half burnt cigarette in hand, Ritzie looked out to the street.
“I notice the looks Gauri, come on, how long will you hide this. You’re old enough.”
“But, everything about that, and all that.. And you…”
“You only told me because you were lonely at this party honey, and you see none of those guests need you.”
“I am…”
“You always looked cute when you blushed crimson, and I knew it too, that’s part of why I left. It was hard being in love with someone that__”
“I was in love though.”
He put his cigarette out and turned onto her face. His brown eyes shone in the tubelight. Ever so slightly, he pecked her on the forehead.
“You were only in love because we expected you to be. Now, you have fulfilled all of our expectations love, go fulfill yours.”
She stared at his face and turned away to look at the crowd again, they were calming down. The drinks were ending too.
“We spent our fair amount of time here didn’t we?”
“We did.”
Ritzie looked at the door, and got up to leave.
“Gauri, it’s not polite to call someone back when they are leaving.”
“Buh bye hon, I will see you when things are less formal.”
As he left, Anna walked in with a tray filled with drinks.
“Uh, ma’am are you OK?”
“Yes, yeah…”
Gauri picked up the large whiskey oeg, and drank it in one large gulp.
“If you want, we have some finger food left ma’am.”
“Will you stay here Anna?”
“Yes, yeah.”
Anna stared at her boss, so exquisitely dressed and yet, so sad. The crowd thinned out as they do always.
“Ma’am, uh, if you don’t need me anymore…”
“Anna, will you stay the night?”
Anna looked over at her with interest, and then ran her hand through the hair. It would be nice to stay in this apartment, but, then again, there probably was no space, and she had work and…
“I will arrange everything, the work, and all. I just need you to.”
Anna took up a wine glass and drank it ever so slowly.
“Ma’am, will you tell me one of your stories?”
“Only if you call me Gauri.”
She smiled a little, and sat down beside her. The apartment was emptying and the caterers were cleaning out what was left.
Gauri laid her head on Anna’s shoulder.
“This one’s about a woman Anna, she hasn’t met her soulmate yet…”


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