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“I am a Gemini and I’m a virgin.”
*Cough… Cough* … He almost spluttered his drink on the last bit of information. Holding a napkin to his lips and wiping them, he asked, “What was that?”
“The virgin bit? Isn’t that the only question that goes inside the guy’s mind, when he meets a girl for an arranged marriage?They keep wondering about it, talk about silly stupid things but are not able to ask the main question, they are so curious about. The rest of the information was irrelevant. Half of it you already know and the other half doesn’t matter. So, I thought, better to go straight and relieve the major query, right here.” She replied in a straight careless voice.
“You seem to be quite irked about it!”
“It is something to be irked about…so I am!! Isn’t it true?”
“No. That’s ridiculous. I didn’t even think about it.”
“Are you sure?”
She studied his face for a long moment at that. Then she said, “You didn’t even think about it? And you came to meet a girl you know nothing about. That means, you didn’t even think about marriage seriously.”
He was impressed and surprised, both, at the same time. “Amazing! How did you guess that?”
“A boy asking a girl out for dinner and didn’t even know where he was taking her… no anticipation, no preparation… A boy not even giving a thought about whether the girl has slept with anyone before… it says that he is not serious about her. Otherwise, they always want to know the past… They may or may not accept, but they have to know. You say that you didn’t even give it a thought… it’s weird.”
He became serious on that note, “Shall I tell you something more weird?? A girl coming to meet the boy in casual attire with spectacles and sticky hair, despite being instructed to dress up by her mother… A girl telling the boy in the first meeting, about an intimate detail that he hasn’t even asked and can be easily taken as being bold…Both the situations not considered very good for an arranged marriage, which is usually based on how well you are dressed and how nice you behave. You are not serious about marriage, either. You did all that to scare me away, didn’t you?”
He had spoken his analysis in such detail that she was stunned. Awkwardly, she squirmed and lowered her eyes for a second as he was absolutely right.
“You are right. It was weird.” She sighed.
“To be honest, this whole ‘arranged marriage’ business is weird.”
She observed his grave expressions, almost knew what he exactly meant, took a deep breath and sighed. “Touche! I was about to say the same.”
He frowned, almost upset about it, “I have no idea, what kick they get out of it when our parents pick out a line of possible prospects for us, without asking us what we want…”
“And then expect us to live with one person chosen by them, for our entire lives… I mean, I don’t even like the saree my mom bought for me, or the summer course my dad wants to enroll me for. How can I live my life with a man, just because they want it?” She used the knife and fork to cut the gooey cheese dripping from one end of the pizza.
“I’m glad you think the same. But, why did you agree to meet me if you think like that? An educated girl, a doctor like you, must be able to talk to her parents about what she wants. Isn’t it?”
She turned her eyes away at that and sighed, “I have my own reasons for that… I’ll tell that to you, maybe sometime, later… “
“Come on… You should have refused, at the outset.”
“I wish I could. But my parents are so keen for this proposal. They already like you. That’s why I asked you to meet the other girls first. I was hoping that you might never call me. My dad doesn’t know about it. He was insistent that I come to meet you and my mom wanted me to dress up in style to impress you.”
He huffed, “Oh, the same old story! My parents handed me a list of three girls in Mumbai when they learnt that I was coming here for the seminar.”
“And you didn’t want to meet any of them?”
“No. And, it’s not about you or the other girls. It’s about me. I’m not ready for marriage.”
“So, you should have told your parents very clearly about that. You are asking me… What about you? Why didn’t you do that?”
He stressed over it to make a point, “I have been doing that. Since over 4 years now. But the problem is that I am well settled professionally, finished post graduation long back and my cousins are all getting married. Now, my parents have no other job in hand than to get me married and they have no more patience to wait for me. I didn’t know how to keep refusing, on and on, all the time… so I decided to meet you.”
“But marriage is not on your mind?” She asked cautiously.
“To be honest – No!” He pressed his lips together and then waited for a few seconds to observe her, before he asked, “Yours?”
“Absolutely not!” She spoke firmly.
“Not ready for marriage, like me? Or anything else?”
“I don’t believe in the concept of marriage. I’ve decided that I will not compromise on anything on my life for someone else.” She stressed over it very strongly and stated the fact, flatly.
“Interesting!” He twisted his lips, amazed. “There seems to be a story behind it. Looks like there was a specific reason for making that sort of decision… that you might probably want to tell me later…”
Sheepishly, she smiled and nodded, “Exactly! And you? Any specific reason?”
He cleared his throat, weighed his words and then didn’t speak about it, “Yes! I have my reasons, as well, that my parents refuse to understand… I may… or may not… tell you later.”
The way he said that, she gawked at his face for a moment and rolled her eyes giving him a mysterious shocked look. “It’s okay if you are not comfortable sharing it… I will understand.”
He blinked for a moment, looking at her scandalized face. Then he burst into an adorable laughter, “Oh God! No… no… it isn’t like, what you are thinking.”
She was flabbergasted., “How do you know what I am thinking?”
“It’s written on your face…and… No, I’m not gay. I’m straight.”
“I’m sorry…” Sheepishly, she whispered and couldn’t stop smiling after that. She picked up her glass to sip her ginger ale and to make light of the atmosphere that had become weird now, she chuckled, “Whatever, it is… I don’t want to know.”
He smirked, visibly excited, “Super cool!! None of us wants to get married to each other. Thank you so much Nandini. You saved me lot of embarrassment. One, I had no idea how to reject a girl or be rejected without causing damages. Two, my parents would have grilled me for not meeting any of the girls. I’m so relieved now.”
She grinned, “Let’s finish the food. Be done with this meeting and never meet again.”
“Yeah.” He nodded and focused on his pasta. They were back to the silence between them all over again. She ate her pizza and after few minutes of awkward silence, she asked, “Do you never talk without purpose? Never?”
Embarrassed, he pressed his lips, “I have a tough time with conversations. I don’t know what to speak.”
She left a deep breath of air and sighed. “Phewwww!!! I toh keep talking, all the time! Thank God, we are not getting married. How would I survive with you?”
He chuckled, “Thank God for that! Anyway… So, you go on talking… Like I told you… I’m listening!”
She made a drawn face, “What do I talk, now, one sided? With no contribution from you!”
He shrugged, “Let’s pretend that we are still attending that marriage interview. Ask me a question. I’ll answer! How about that?”
“What shall I ask you?”
“Anything… that comes to your mind…”
She thought about it and giggled, “Okay. So, I’ll go with the quintessential question… that all girls want to ask the boy who has come to marry them…”
“What?” He stuffed in his mouth, few pieces of pasta pierced in the fork.
She smiled more, made a pout, rolled her eyes and asked, “Are you a virgin?”
He stopped eating, widened his eyes and stared at her in a shocked look. He couldn’t blink for that moment and wondered if he really heard it right. His spell was broken when she burst out laughing, “Okay, no need to answer. I was just teasing you. Your look at my declaration earlier was so scandalized and stunned that I wanted to check if I can do that again.”
He grinned awkwardly and was thoroughly embarrassed. She had laughed so beautifully that it made him laugh too. Digging the fork in the penne pasta wrapped in sticky white sauce, he replied, “I may be quieter than others. But I am neither dumb, nor dull. You try to mess with me… you have no idea how far I will go to tease you.”
“Ooohhh!! Impressive!!” She twisted her lips in admiration.
“Now for the answer to your question… “
She had been chirping till now. Suddenly, she became conscious, “No, please. It’s a personal question and I don’t need an answer. I was just teasing you.”
“True! But since you confided in me that you are one, you deserve to know the answer. The answer is – No, I’m not as chaste as you are. I lost it when I was eighteen.”
“What?” She gaped at him with another shocked look on her face, “You men are just so impatient.”
He rolled his eyes, “Testosterone, I guess.”
“Come on! Eighteen is an age to study and make a career.”
“Now…now…Someone is being judgemental over here,” He smirked, “I did study and made a career. A coveted one, at the best. But yes, losing virginity was an experiment kind of a thing. A nagging curiosity. It wasn’t even a serious relationship. Just a passing fling.”
“Passing fling?! That casual??”
“She was not my girlfriend. She was my neighbour who had a crush on me and kept throwing hints… and I wanted to know what it is like to… you know…!” He shrugged.
“Just like that?”
“Come on. Don’t make me feel guilty about it. It was a one-off incidence. At the age of eighteen, my hormones were ruling high…”
“I’m not trying to make you feel guilty…I’m trying not to judge… I am just trying to understand…”
He shrugged, “What?”
“I don’t understand that theory. How can you sleep with someone without being in love?”
He couldn’t stop smiling at that. It was a mysterious smile. He swayed his jaw thinking about it and focused on the pasta before him, moving his spoon for some time. She couldn’t understand what amused him. So she simply shrugged to ask.
He grinned and said, “Isn’t arranged marriage exactly ‘that’ definition?”