I met Harshu after more than a month. It is always nice to hang out with him. He has known me since I was a teenager and seen me evolve from a tomboy to what I am today. He chooses to say that I have not changed much in my evolution, and that I was never “innocent”, not even when I was sixteen. I choose to agree with him, so as usual, we are on the same grounds.

We discuss his life, my life, his new collection, and my unemployment while the waiter refuses to provide me the drink with “lime juice” but suggests that I have it with “sprite”. Tired of arguing with him, I tell him to bring whatever he wants. I have little patience with matters of the kind, and I am most of the time okay with whatever it be that I drink as long as it is not beer. So yea, let the waiter bring what he wants, and let me regret what it is that he brought when I check the bill. Anyways that is for later, let me not kill the mood with such thought.

Ambiance as usual was nice. Harshu knew how to pick it, once again I had no complains. The music good, the flowers on the table simple, and the lighting just right. Our talks go into how we should get married when we are both 35 (it was intended to be at 30 a few months back, but now had realised it be a little premature, hence change of mind and settling for 35. In any case neither of us were too keen on getting anywhere with anything in the relationship front, rather we did not seem to be getting anywhere in a “we are getting married” kind of relationship with any other party either. He, I still strive to set up on a date, and I date those who seem the least likely to ever want to settle down! So yeah we were pretty safe with our “marriage of convenience”)

We talk of past, present and future. The new dresses I want him to design for me, which he promises to do and the collar of the last one he designed which I am not too fond of, and my complaining on how short my neck be! (yes I can be very superficial at times) My phone keeps nudging me with SMSes, and Harshu says he wants to read my “love texts”. I tell him there is no “love” in the picture, and hit epiphany the very second, and gulp down his drink as well in the process. (He does not prevent me from swallowing it as he refuses to drink anything with alcohol in it.)

There was no “love”! I had to pronounce it out loud for me to realise the hollowness of all what I tried to read sense into. I wondered what it is that I was doing, remembered Araliya’s dislike of the American terminology on “relationships” and how she hated the word “dating” and how I tried to make sense of being “in a relationship” and “dating”.

I was a 16 year old all over again, wanting that illusion of a man I once thought I would have. I tell Harshu, “isn’t it funny, I wanted a man who would not booze or smoke!” (pretty much a mirror image of my dad, but a lesser annoying version)

Harshu replies “I am your man!”

We both laugh. It was always easy to laugh with him. To feel at home, tell all the weird things and be seen as that vulnerable creature and not the bitch that of which the world always had the glimpse. I think the bitchy me, that the world saw would have shocked him, while the world would have been shocked to see this me, that Harshu saw for over half my life and half his life! I remember being “nice” to my “boyfriend” and be texted back with “you were right, I prefer the bitchy you!”

The manager comes when we are leaving, tells us that there is a Valentine’s day diner offer. Harshu being his sincere self, explains to the manager who profusely apologies on the misunderstanding, that we were not a couple. He then watches us in shock as we walk out hand in hand like we have continued to do since we were 16 years old.

Walking down the lane, and climbing those steps to the apartment, I realised the emptiness. I realised that I did not want SMSes that kept flowing in but a voice at the other end of the phone who would want to hear mine. I realised that I did not want a man who would say “I like you” but instead would feel “I love her”. I wondered whether my life would always be a bargain, a deal struck between not seeing someone forever, or “officially dating” him. What had I settled for in life? Had I not waited for too long to be with someone because I wanted to find love, then to be satisfied with a “I like you a lot”. Aruni came to my mind, she who used to say that she wanted a man who would look at her and say “I want Aruni!” pointing at her! ( I may have not typed the exact words she states but the idea being she wanted a man who would want “her” and know what he wanted, and what he wanted inevitably being HER!)

I think of last year how life was. I think of this year, how life is. Things had not changed much. Days, months and faces keep coming and passing by. I continue to make believe that what I be in is what I deserve, but then wonder whether it is something more which is what I deserve.

In a few minutes life has changed. Things were all different and I was different. Screw all this Valentine’s shit, they never did me any good. And screw what is anything lesser than what I deserve, I waited for long, I am sure I deserve what it be I desire. Sure laugh at me for saying I believe in love, but then what the hell, I DO! So deal with it, if you don’t well I am sorry, I ain’t your cup of tea, nor are you mine! So what shall we do? We shift to coffee?!

Life is one long complication! A very long one!

I cannot change the course of things I forced upon me, let me not try to do that when my mind speaks vodka and lime, gin and tonic, or whatever the mixtures that I cannot dissect! Let me feel good thinking of those good moments I cherish with those who I love and that those flowers sent on Valentine’s day be worth it, not because I value the market based tradition, but because those I love would have a smile on their face and that should explain more than all the words I could type in!

And for Valentine’s diner, well though it ain’t the most important thing in the world, I know who I will be with, and I know I will as usual, have NO complains!