That stupid toad!

choas.jpg‘A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets’ said the old feisty Rose in Titanic, as did a girl in my class at high school when I asked her intentions behind putting a toad in my lunch when not more than a week before she had confessed her love to me. Now the quote felt apropos to the moment and I blinked in appreciation which would have lasted for a while longer had the toad not croaked. It was a disgusting little thing, looking all clueless and to be frank, a little frightened. Being an environmentalist myself, I promptly had the toad transported to the biology lab and gave it up for the dissection that was due next week. I did hate to let precious resources go waste.

While this incident sure sounded as a nail stuck into the coffin of our little puppy love, it sure stood out 8 years later when I found self in the same city as this girl from high school. She still owed me an explanation. Not that it would change anything, but mysteries have a characteristic itch about them that compel us feeble folks to have them resolved.

I made sure to get to the café late by half an hour in hope of making a grand entry on the awaiting lady; though my little scheme was squashed by the girl who was a good wholesome hour late. Now I readily forgave her because she had long legs. Everyone has their own set of idiosyncrasies. Call me shallow, but I have a thing for long legs. As a matter of fact, I find girls who think hunky, muscular guys are hot and attractive as incredibly shallow and contemptible. It is just so juvenile and out-dated. It was the alpha males of the Neanderthals. In the today, the alpha males are those with enough wits to sift through the massive amounts of data available and make consequential choices. Rowing back on course from this little but important digression, a pair of long legs brought her to the café and she sat across, crossing them.

With great effort I unhinged my glance from this subconscious fixation on those pair of long, shapely, life-affirming lower limbs, and looked up to meet her gaze. She apparently wasn’t very pleased with the way I had turned out. My nails were dirty, my hair unkempt and longer than appropriate, not to miss the long meandering crease on my shirt that would have made a juicy data-point for any decent computing machine to churn an equation to explain its branching morphology. But I had an arresting smile, killer dimples, and a twinkle in my eyes, as my mother used to say, and didn’t feel too ruffled by her critical censure.

She said she was engaged to Jenny. Yes, it is a girl’s name. I did a quick re-take on the manliness of my killer-dimples from high school! But enough conceit already. I said I was happy for her. While totally a lie, not that I had anything remotely romantic toward this toad-toting long-legged critical feminine fellow Homo sapien,  I just didn’t have it in me to ever be happy for else. Unless that folk was a blood-relative, it evolutionarily didn’t hold water. Though I wasn’t unhappy for her; so all is well I hope. After some small talk on Syrian war, Canadian politics, and quantum entanglement, I asked her about the toad in my Tiffin.

Instead of a straight answer, she asked in return, ‘Was it predictable- that event of me putting that thing beside your sandwiches?’ ‘Hell no!’, said I. Then it was a-causal as far as your reality is concerned, she quipped and smiled. I was well aware of James Gleick’s line from the book Chaos that an inherently unpredictable event need be a-causal. The idea being, had there been a cause to which this event had been an effect, then the occurrence of the cause would have made the event predictable. Well again, another apropos use of someone else’s thesis, remember the Rose’s dialogue, yet, I had misgivings on the ‘inherent’ qualifier to the ‘unpredictability’.

In retrospect, I think that smile she beamed was a wicked one. It feels so not nice to feel out-witted. I promised her to iron my shirt and maybe clean half my nails, which I suppose appealed to what little good there was hidden, deep, in some dark recess within her, and she relented. She said, the toad was her pet, and she wanted to surprise me, while I mercilessly had it given up for dissection. (As against what I had thought, the toad had been dissected the same day, not a week later. They had needed it to demonstrate the electrical nature of sciatic nerve stimulation to cause contraction of the calf).

After a sheepish smile, we paid the bill the Dutch way and left. Though unbeknown to us, one of the students who had observed the nerve stimulation experiment that day had become so fascinated with the whole thing that he now is a neurosurgeon doing well curing folks of epilepsy. Who knew the stupid frog and my generous act would consequent the society such good!

toad happy.jpg

Flint, but the coin…!

015_free-autumn-swirl-vector-lThe crisp rays of Sun, sprinkled through the pink shades of window-still onto me, still in my cosy bed. I woke up with a smile, and felt a sweet bounciness in my heart. Today I would get to meet Flint, the warm, the handsome and the accomplished Flint.

The first time we met was 8 years ago, a week into our 1st year MBBS course. This was followed by 5 memorable years, beginning with chance encounters, followed by exchanging pleasantries, coffees at canteen, outings with friends, home-visits and the pure sense of merriment and fun that these instances would bequeath.

Then MBBS came to a close. The 5 long years came to an end inspite of my prayers for them to stay for ever so that my coffees with Flint wouldn’t end. But the dreadful day came. We went up-stage, and took oath of a dedicated Doctor.

Flint and me met for a farewell cup of coffee. Though we visibly enjoyed each others company, we never confided our emotion towards the other. I was rather afraid. The studious Flint, always with a pen in one hand, note-pad in other and a big question mark on his face, was more fun than he took credit for. He would look into nothingness and scribble an answer, clearing his face, only to have it occupied with another question-mark.

And he would never tire of speaking on science. But it is also true that a more witful, funny and frank person is yet to be born. Give him a hint that you are tired of studies and he will stuff you with jokes that would lift you off your shoes.

But then, there always was this enigma surrounding his being, an unspoken mystery. I often asked but he would never say, and I rather pray it’s not a girl!

Anyway, the last meeting, three years from now, on Grad. Day, at coffee shop, Flint took my hand, looked into my eyes and after an initial hesitation said, “ Though I would choose not to, I suppose, I would rather miss you.” And he left before I could make a response. Was he feeling difficult to contain his emotions. Maybe, or was he really?

Then he moved to Australia to work on Stem Cells and I went to US to do my PG in neurosurgery. It was by pure chance that we found the other in town, our hometown through mutual friends. We had spoken little during the intervening 3 years and I was more than enthusiastic to be beside Flint again and chat over a cup of coffee.

Coffee-2-cupsI went to Café Coffee Day well 15 minutes in advance only to see Flint already there, sitting sporting a blue jeans, my favourite colour, a stripped shirt, light in shade, and neatly cropped hair. His glasses rested as usual down at the lower end of his nose. He had his chin rested over the palms with elbows supported on the table, had his eyes closed and for the first time ever, I was stupefied to see a calm content look on his face. I wonder where he left his Question-mark. He had a serene aura about, the one that charms you to company.

I went close to him and as I was about to heave myself down on the sofa he opened his eyes and said, “Hey Kleen, still stuck to Lavender perfumes. Suites you!” I felt a warm gush of the purest of joys to behold Flint and see him play his wits again. “You haven’t changed a bit, Flint!”Flint took the credit with open hands and after I seated self he said, “Neither have you, but for your look’s!” I knew some trick was in store, but I played right into it and said with hurt feelings, “Now what’s wrong with them.” He said, “Just that you look more beautiful.” Why does he have to make me blush every other moment when together?

“Well enough Miss, so how’s your course going? Doing well or stuck!”

“Fine till now, and your research done?”

“On stem cells, yes, but the one on women in Australia is still on.”

“Stop that will you!”

“Hey, you going jealous or what. You beat all of them put together by a huge margin dear.”

“Really!”

“Of course. There is not a single nose in that whole continent to beat yours!”

“I will kill you Flint…”

“Chill it now dear. So what shall I order for you…”

The stuffs that followed were exceedingly jovial and warm.

Then Flint told to excuse him for a call and started-off. Just then I realised that my purse was still in car. Flint took the clue and gave his purse asking me to pay and he pushed to a corner close to the window.

I opened the purse and it was exceedingly meek. Two 1000 rupee notes, a couple of hundreds, some 10’s and few coins. And it had only one credit card, a visa and his car license. He excels all in being modest!

I searched for right change, at CCD, given their exorbitant charges and fat pay-cheques, these waiters don’t deserve tips. An unusually big coin caught my attention. It was a foreign coin. A palm tree and two crossed swords on a side, and 100 engraved on the other. It stuck me dumb!

Why of course, I recognise that. It’s from Saudi Arabia, and why yes, I gave this to him in the coffee shop during one such planned encounters well back in 1st year. He has still kept it safe. He loves me so much…! Why doesn’t he take that lemon out of his mouth and speak? Why mate..?

shutterstock_93326353Fine then, I will make the start. But then, he is so frank, brave and tactful. Why should he hide his love for me if he really has…? Why not, yes, isn’t it true that men go nuts when it comes to serious relations involving commitment.

I won’t push him, but will surely get to know what’s in his heart. Let him come. Its ‘Do or Die Kleen.’

The seconds seemed an unending infinity and each passing moment a doubting agony. Finally Flint finished his call and came back in, walking briskly and with a charm that matched that of a knight from medieval era.

“Did I bore your for long sweet-heart!”

And I jumped at once.

“Flint, I love you.”

He leaned back in his sofa. There was not a flicker of tumult on his face. Completely unperturbed he said, “ That’s good. It’s good to be loved by beautiful women.”

“Hey, I am serious.”

“So am I dear. I love a number of beautiful girls and your have got a special reference amongst them.”

“Look fat-head, I enjoy your company, I admire your wits and honour your noble heart. I want to spend every waking moment with you. I would like to marry you.”

Flint went silent. He looked away. It was the most dreadful moment of my life. A moment wherein I was shrouded with a doubt of whether he would say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Come on Flint! I know you love me! The coin, come on dude!

Then Flint looked back into me, right into my eyes with his soft calm gaze. He kept his eyes locked and then said, “Sorry sweet-heart, may be we can make these visits to CCD more often, but marriage stuffs are not in my agenda.”

I was aghast. His ‘no’, buttered in the gravy of casual humour made me bitter towards him, for the first and only time ever.

I did not speak for a minute. I did not know what to do, what to say. Something told me it wasn’t another girl.Flint was frank enough to hide such things. Then what’s the trouble!

Flint took my palm, and said with the sweetest voice ever that I got to hear, “Look dear, I like you and admire you more than anyone else. But my view of life and marriage are incompatible. So let it go. But promise me that nothing between us will change. This proposal only makes me respect you more and I feel privileged to have such a strong-headed girl as a mate.”

My eyes were filled to the brim. I did not know was it because of my sadness or Flint’s sweetness. I covered my face and blurred, “But that coin. The one I gave, you still preserve it.”

mfCdAJcyha4tAxG5IvcwBPAAnd Flint burst into laughter. You did all this just by taking that as hint. Look girl, that coin is exceedingly unique to me, for it’s the only biased coin I have happened to have. It always lands heads-up.”

And my mouth fell open ajar. I had a strong instinct to empty a jar full of cold water on him. I could not find any so I rose to grasp his collar but fell to his embrace.

He dropped me home and well he had not changed a bit as against my apprehensions. He is still the same, smart, witty, handsome and full of fun! Flint dear!