Monday, July 29, 2013

Gloria - A Short Story - Rejo John

We all have a story. A story that makes us wonder “what if?”

I have such a story.

It happened right after I had finished my high school. On a Saturday, I found myself running into ice cream parlors in Jayanagar. Once inside, I would wipe the sweat off my forehead, look at the people sat there, then run out.

Outside, I would ask someone if there was an ice cream parlor nearby. When they point me to one, I would say, "I just went in there. Is there another one nearby?"

It all began half way through the last year of my high school. That’s when Gloria joined our school.

Gloria is the most beautiful girl I have ever known.

I soon realized I wasn't alone in the club.  All my friends would do nothing but talk about her.

My best friend tried to “get to know her better”, but she always kept a distance from us boys.

At the end of our year, on the annual day, I finally made up my mind to ask her out.

At first, I stood a safe distance from her and her friends.  I waited for a moment when she would be alone.  I didn’t want to look like a dork in front of all the girls if she turned me down.

Finally, I got my moment.  I walked up to her awkwardly and told her that I would like to meet her sometime again. I  didn’t tell her that I was asking her out on a “date.”  I just told her I liked her a lot and would miss her a lot.

I was expecting her to just smile at me and say the same thing, but instead she told me it would be nice to "meet" me again. May be she was being nice. I didn't know, so I smile at her and start to walk away. Then she said, "Hey, where shall we meet up?"

Oh God! She seriously wanted to meet me. The girl I have been dreaming about all these months.  Who I thought would not even be bothered to know my name was now asking me where we can meet up.

I told her we can meet up wherever she wants. She told me that there was this ice cream parlor near her house in Jayanagar.

I pull out my bulky cellphone from my trousers. I did it proudly, because back then, cellphones were a luxury. In fact, Gloria was the only girl who owned one. Rumors said her dad is this damn rich guy. The only reason shes stuck in this school with us poor souls was because she couldn’t get admitted into another school in the middle of the year.

That wasn't exactly "my" phone.  I borrowed it from my cousin who runs this phone shop.

She looked impressed.  I took her number and told her I would call her on Saturday to confirm the timings.

I remember shivering with disbelief. I remember wanted to just get away from her. I didn't want her to see the shivery me.  i wanted her to see the cool me. So I tried to end the conversation. But before I could turn away, she says that she had deliberately stayed away from getting close to the boys here because all the boys she knew at her old school were jerks. They never kept their word. They never took things seriously.

For some reason, this only made me more "shiveryier". So I smiled at her, told her I would see her on Saturday, and walked away.

I don’t remember what happened the rest of the day. But I remember that a few days later, on Saturday, I had dressed myself well and was in a bus to Jayanagar.

We had sms chatted the previous night. I tried to keep my messages to a minimum because I didn’t want to disturb her too much. I imagine that must be what those jerks at her old school would have done. Message her all the time. It must have gotten on her nerves.

Her last message was a “good night” with a smiley face following that.  I didn’t know what that exactly meant. May be she was just smiling when she sent me that message. I like to imagine that she was blushing.

I remember thinking the government ought to put out more buses on the roads. The one I was in was packed with people. I couldn’t find a seat and I had to stand hanging onto the railing which I could barely reach.

When the conductor shouted Jayanagar, I squeezed myself out of the bus.

From here, she had told me the ice cream parlor, the name of which I couldn’t remember, was just 15 minutes away. She had texted me the address in case I forget it. But I had a very good memory. I mean, I could remember every word she had spoken to me on annual day, every word she had used when we chatted. Even the misplaced commas, which I thought were very cute.

But I couldn’t remember the address.

And that’s why I came here half an hour earlier than our meet up time. I knew it would give me enough time to find the place, and then I would be there, waiting for her. I wanted to make her realize that I am not one of those jerks. I am the good guy. The cool guy.

So my hand went in to fish out my bulky cellphone. But all I found was a limp pocket. I checked my other pocket and realized that it wasn’t there.

May be I left it at home I thought. But then I remembered rereading her messages in the bus.

I realized then that I had been pickpocketed.  And the worst thing is, I didn’t know where I was supposed to meet her.

That’s when I started running into random ice cream parlors hoping to see her sitting alone at a table, I imagined, looking sad and dejected.

Its safe to say that I didn’t find her that day. And I couldn't manage to contact her as none of my friends knew her number or knew where she lived except that it was somewhere in Jayanagar.

For years, every Saturday, I would dress myself up, travel all the way to Jayanagar, and go to a random ice cream parlor in Jayanagar. And I would wait.

I imagined that someday she would walk in and find me sitting there, and…..

I am sorry, but I have to end this story here. My son just dropped some ice cream on the table. Nothing to worry, Gloria is cleaning him up right now. She is a good wife, but a better mother.

 ****

- Rejo John

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