~ Suman’s First “Date” ~
Today, he thought, was his life’s most precious day. He waited for this moment the whole time, and even he didn’t know why, he was also frightened about it. He was with two of his most intimate friends at Mangal Bazar, just roaming around as they did almost every evening. He was thinking about his plans for the evening when Kushal shattered his thoughts, “Aren’t you going to call her?”
He was waiting for someone to remind him to call her even though he hadn’t forgotten it. He thanked Kushal in his heart and wondered, “Shall I?”
He was still confused whether he should call her or not.
Alok then said, “C’mon Suman, we will be waiting for you behind Krishna Mandir while you meet her.”
He then queried, “Can’t you guys just be with me while we meet?”
“What are you talking about? If we stay with you, it would be a normal meeting. It wouldn’t be a date.” Alok gestured his hands to display quotation marks as he told the word date. Suman liked to call today’s meeting with Alisha, their first date.
He took out his cell phone and opened the Phonebook in his cell which displayed Alisha’s number. He then started playing with his mobile set.
“Shall I call her for you?” Kushal yelled at Suman.
“No, no. I’ll call her myself. But…,”Suman was still worried. “But where should I ask her to come?”
Alok gave him an idea, “How about you staying in the coffee shop, where you ask her to come and join you?”
Kushal rejected Alok’s idea, “Just ask her to come where we are and go for a walk to the coffee shop.”
Suman liked Kushal’s idea. He then moved slightly away from his friends and pressed the green button on his mobile. His heart was pounding with nervousness.
“Hello”, a beautiful sound came through the speaker of his mobile and reached his ears.
“Hello, where are you right now?”
“I’m walking on the road”
Surprised, where she might be going, he asked, “Where?”
“I’m on my way to Mangal Bazar.”
He was about to ask her to come to Mangal Bazar and she was already on her way to Mangal Bazar. Suman thought if his heart’s voice already reached her heart.
After a brief silence, Suman spoke, “I wondered if you wanted to take the novel you had asked for.”
“Alright, where are you right now?”
“I’m in front of Krishna Mandir”
“I’ll be there in a few minutes”
“See you there”
Then he hung up the phone.
Alok and Kushal sprung out to him immediately as he hung up the phone and asked what had happened.
Suman was explaining his conversation when Kushal spotted Alisha far away coming towards them. Kushal was always the one who spotted people before anyone else. Suman wondered how Kushal could recognize Alisha in such darkness.
Kushal and Alok then ran away of sight. Suman watched Alisha approaching him with a smile on her face. He too smiled at her and went towards her.
“So where are you going?” Suman started the conversation.
“At a friend’s place”
“No, an old friend from school”
He opened his back to take out the novel and handed it to Alisha.
“Five point Someone,” Alisha read the name of the book on its cover. “Sounds nice”
“Yeah, it is nice”
“So where are you going now?”
“I think I’ll go to the Pilgrims”
“Pilgrims?” she wondered what it was.
“Don’t you know Pilgrims? The book store at Kopundole”
She nodded her head denying to recognize the book store.
She was in a hurry so she asked, “Shall I go now?”
He really wanted to say no but the word “Ok” slipped off his mouth.
She left off to her friend’s home and he started dialing Kushal’s number.
~ The second “Date” ~
After Suman’s so called “Date”, the second “Date” took quite some time. Not just quite some time, it took exactly 23 days. Suman was keeping a good count of the days. He used to meet her online but couldn’t ask her out. He couldn’t think of any reasons to ask her out except for her to return the book. And asking to return the book would be so rude.
I’m pretty sure that a random bumping into each other is not called a date, but not for Suman. Suman would count it as a date. So ya, Suman’s second date was that kind of a date. And guess where it was? At a bank. Suman was assigned the job of depositing a cheque by his brother. He was so unwilling and he had to drag himself to the bank. And to add it on top. The queue was super long. He was ordered to complete the job today itself at any cost; so there was no way backing off. He hesitantly stayed on the queue silently cursing his brother, cursing the bank for the long queue and cursing everything.
Thank god, the line was moving in a descent rate to calm down Suman’s irritation by a bit. Despite the movement, the length of the queue remained pretty much constant with people adding up in the same rate. He was checking the line and calculating on his mind the rough time that he would have to stay on the line. He then turned around to check how much had he moved since he got in there and that was the moment when his second “date” was about to start. On turning around, he saw Alisha on the queue some 5 persons behind from him. His heart was throbbing with nervousness. He wasn’t sure what he should do next. He couldn’t decide his next steps. As he kept thinking, the line was moving forward. Damn, he wished the line would stall for some moment. He quickly decided and turned around to call her.
She looked surprised and waved back “Hi, Suman!”
“So what brought you here?”, asked Suman.
“College fees. Today is the last day.”, Alisha whispered.
Ohh, so this long queue must have been because of the last day, Suman thought. He was like 5 persons far from Alisha so he couldn’t talk much. He kept wondering what to do next. He wanted to call her on the front at his place. But he was sure the people behind him would be furious about it. The line was moving forward and he was approaching the counter. For the first time, he was wishing the line moved slower.
An idea then struck his mind and he moved out of the queue and joined Alisha. This way he could talk to her and buy himself some more time. He approached her and both of them smiled.
After a brief silence, Alisha asked, “So what brought you here?”
“Oh, doing my brother’s job. I need to deposit this cheque”, waving the cheque in his hand, “and that too by today itself. So it’s kind of last day thing for me as well.”
Both of them giggled softly. And then came the awkward silence. Both of them didn’t know what to talk about or where to start from. He wished Alok was there to tell him what to talk about next. He was completely clueless and the queue was moving forward so fast or maybe it seemed fast for Suman only. Okay, so he thought maybe talk about the queue. He didn’t know if it was the right topic he should be choosing but something is definitely better than nothing so he opted for it.
“Such a long queue, right?”
“Ya, maybe it’s because of the deadline. This bank accepts payment for other few colleges as well. I don’t remember it being this crowded on other days. I’m never coming on the last day from next time.” Suman kept nodding and in his mind he was taking notes “a few days before the last day is when he should be wandering around the bank from now on.”
“And how’s your classes going on? The exams are near, right?”, Suman continued the conversation.
“Ya, the classes are fun but not the exams.” Both of them laughed. “The exam starts in 3 weeks from now. I guess it’s the same with your college as well.”
“Ya, exams and then a month long vacation for Dashain till Chhath.”, Suman expressed with a happy face.
“Oh, you guys are so lucky. We have classes after Dashain.”
People from behind then shouted at Suman. It was his turn to move to the counter and he hadn’t realized it. He moved forward deposited the cheque and after it was done smiled back at Alisha and pointed towards the door gesturing that he would be waiting for her there.
Alisha came to him after her work was done. They walked towards the street. They halted there and Alisha asked, “Where are you going now?”
Suman wasn’t sure if he should ask her to go out with him or not. Damn, he seriously needed to get some lessons from Alok. He was actually going home but answered indecisively, “I don’t know. Maybe go for a walk at Mangal Bazaar.”
“Meeting Kushal and Alok? You guys would always be seen in Mangal Bazaar. It looks like it’s your second home. I don’t know what do you guys do there.”
Suman smiles in approval. “Ya, we just love to sit there and chill. You are welcome to join us any time.” He was glad that he said that in the flow.
“Okay, maybe some other time. I have plans with my cousins today. We are headed the opposite way then. I’ll get going now. Have a good time at your second home.”
Damn, Suman curses himself. The fate was taking him in the same direction and he changed the direction himself. He now wished he had said he was heading towards home. He could have walked certain distance with her. Now he couldn’t back off. He bid her goodbye. She left and he walked towards Mangal Bazaar dialing Alok’s number on his phone. He couldn’t wait to tell the guys about his second “date”.
~ Alok’s Theory : The “Bhet” ~
After parting with Alisha from the bank, Suman called Alok and asked him to come to Mangal Bazaar right away. Suman was pretty sure that Kushal would be there with Alok and yes he was right. They would always be busy playing video games in Alok’s PlayStation which Suman had least interest in.
When Suman reached Mangal Bazaar, the duo was already there anxiously waiting for him. Alok had sensed the excitement in Suman’s voice and he couldn’t wait to listen to what Suman had in for them. Suman then explained his second “date” in full detail quoting each and every sentence as is. Alok was completely tuned into Suman’s story. He was always excited about Suman’s love life. And always pushed Suman to make the move. He loved to be the “Love Guru” and in fact he was pretty good at it as well.
“Man, this is such a great news!” Alok exclaimed with joy. He seemed to be more excited about it than Suman himself. “See, this is what destiny does. I told you to call her and you hesitated. But the God had it planned. The God brought you two together. You can defy me but you can’t defy the God.”
Kushal laughed at Alok’s speech and Suman kept on listening to Alok with all smiles.
“Now that the God made the second move, you guys have to make the next one for yourself. Don’t make the God come for you again. He has got better things to do.” Alok was very much excited. He himself didn’t know where all that lecturing was coming from. But he was totally enjoying it. “You had your “first” and “second” date. You know what my theory says?”
“Theory?” Kushal and Suman shouted at once.
Alok then proudly continued his lecture, “Ya ya, I have a theory. I invented it myself. It goes like this. There’s only ‘first’ and ‘second’ dates. There’s no ‘third’ date. You know what comes after the ‘second’ date?”
Kushal and Suman stood there. Both totally clueless.
After a momentary pause, Alok announces, “There is no such thing as third date. It’s what I love to call, the ‘Bhet’.” He stands there proud as if he were a leader and his followers were applauding but his followers were bursting out laughing.
After letting them laugh for a while Alok explains, “Okay, enough of laughing. Let me explain my theory now. You know when two people start dating and it’s a thing you would have numerous dates. And you can’t just keep record of the number of dates. You will have to carry a notebook with you and draw a line every time you meet her. Obviously, you won’t be doing that. So we generalise it. It’s just a meeting after you guys get together. So you simply call it a ‘bhet’ and genius part is, it rhymes with date.”
It was indeed pretty genius. When you are dating someone for so long, it would just be a normal and more importantly: a comfortable “bhet”. But sadly, Suman never got to enjoy those comfortable “bhet”s. Despite millions of persuasions from Alok, Suman denied to call Alisha. He insisted that if she were interested in him she would be calling back. She would have to call him to return his book and Suman was waiting for her to finish the book and call him. But that never happened. Whether she abandoned the book in some dusty corner of her room or she gave it to someone else, Suman never found out and just hoped that she hadn’t completely forgotten about him and would call him someday. Alok too was fed up of pushing Suman to make the move. Maybe that’s what destiny is. If it’s not meant to happen it will never.
~ Suman’s second “First Date” ~
After Alisha, Suman had given up in love. He thought that love would never happen to him. Maybe it’s not what god had written for him. And he would not even try again. He was happy the way he was then. He enjoyed life. He enjoyed good times with his friends Alok and Kushal who were always there for him and he believed that they wouldn’t part until death. Friendship is indeed worth a lot more than love. Now leaving the story of friendship behind, let’s continue with the story of love.
Mangal Bazaar, the gang’s second home, was having a celebration and you can’t imagine them not being a part of it. A week long festival was organised to celebrate New Year and the festivity was sprinkled all over Patan. “Yala Mahotsav 2069” was what the festival named. Suman, Kushal and Alok all three were job holders and sadly at three different companies. They would all gather up after work and enjoy the festivity.
On the third day, Suman had some extra work at office. He was cursing his boss for making him work late. He couldn’t wait to complete his work and jump off to Mangal Bazzar to devour all those newari delicacies to calm down his tummy after long day at work. He could already see himself enjoying all those newari cuisines, mo:mo: cha, choela, and his favourites tee:shyo and jibro. His thoughts were then interrupted by a phone call. He checked his phone. It was Alok.
“Hey man! Where are you? Working late again?”
“Don’t even talk about it. I’m already pissed off. I’ll be there in like half an hour now.”
“Ohh okay. I think we will have to cancel today. Kushal is also leaving. There’s some gathering planned at his place and I could hear his mom shouting from the phone. I guess I’ll get going now as well.”
“Ohh no! I already had today’s menu planned in my head. I’m so damn hungry. Guess I’ll have to settle with chiya pauroti at home.”
Alok laughs with pity. “OK. Keep that menu in your head. We are gonna need it for tomorrow.”
“Sure man. Bye.”
After completing his work, Suman went home and straight to the kitchen. He was drinking his tea when his phone rang again. He looked up his phone but he hadn’t had it saved. He received the call.
The voice on the other end was a sweet one. A girl’s voice. Suman thought that it must be some computer institute trying to advertise their courses.
The voice continued, “Is this Suman?”
“Ya, I’m speaking. Who is this?”
“Don’t you recognise me?”
Suman was relieved that it wasn’t an advertisement call.
“Sorry, I don’t.”
“Neha here, you don’t even recognize my voice now?”
“Haha, sorry. And whose number is this?”
“Oh. I got a new number recently. And where are you know?”
“I’m at home. Where are you?”
“Home? Why? Aren’t you gonna come at the festival?”
“No. Not today. Kushal and Alok were busy so we canceled for today.”
“Ohh, I thought you guys would be at the festival so I called. Aren’t you coming now?”
“Nah, I don’t think so.”
“Hyaa, please come na. You have to come. Please please.”
Suman thought, “Ohh.. So this is a prank Alok and Kushal fooled me earlier. I get it.”
Feeling smart he then casually asks Neha, “So who are you with?”
“No body. Prinsha is here but she is leaving now. So I called you.”
Suman’s thought Neha was just going along with the prank.
“Aren’t Alok and Kushal there? Just give the phone to any one of them.”
“No they aren’t. Are you coming or not?’
“Okay okay. I’m coming.” Suman was pretty sure this was Kushal’s plan. He gets ready immediately and leaves.
Upon reaching Mangal Bazaar, he called Neha. He didn’t call Kushal or Alok just to let them feel that their prank was working. He then went to where Neha was, expecting to see Kushal and Alok there but they weren’t there. Maybe they were hiding somewhere. Going along the flow he starts casual conversation with Neha.
“Hi, Neha! How have you been?”
“I’m good. How are you?”
“Everything good here too. So where’s Kushal and Alok?”
“I don’t know. You said they were not coming, ryt?”
“Ya, but didn’t you meet them here?”
“NO. I didn’t. Ohh.. you think I pranked you? Sorry for the disappointment, but they really aren’t here.”
“Oh no… I was so damn sure that it was their idea.”
“Okay.. whatever!! Shall we go enjoy the festival now?”
“Ya sure. I heard there’s display of old Newari utensils at Tyagal. Wanna go there?”
“Oh really? Let’s go. I so want to see it.”
Suman and Neha walked to Tyagal from Mangal Bazaar, talking about the Newari culture which happened to be both of theirs topic of interest. They walked through all the alleys enjoying the exhibits admiring each and every one of them. Neha was really enjoying the exhibition and Suman was enjoying it as well but moreover he was enjoying the company.
They were totally enjoying the exhibition and didn’t realize the time pass by until Neha’s phone rang. It was already half past eight and her dad had called her. They walked back to Mangal Bazaar and he dropped her home agreeing to meet tomorrow at the festival.
Later that night, Suman uploaded the pictures that he had taken earlier. Neha started commenting on them and the comments got long with their conversation. They spent hours chatting.
The next day Suman couldn’t wait for the time to pass so he could enjoy one more great evening with Neha.
~ The “Real” First Date ~
After that day during the festival, Neha got closer to the gang. Neha hanged out with the guys at Mangal Bazaar and they all enjoyed it. They would meet almost every evening after all of them returned from work.
One fine day, Suman was working at his office when his mobile beeped with a message. It was Neha’s message on facebook.
“Hello, u there?”
“Hi”, Suman replied instantly.
“Are you free?”
“Like when? now?”
“Mmm.. ya pretty much.”
“Okie. Can you do me a favour?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“I had to create an invitation design for a program that my office is organising.”
“Actually I am the event co-ordinator and I had to find someone to do it and you came up first on my mind.”
“Hehe.. okay. First on the list. Cool! I am obliged to help then.”
“By the way, when do you need it?”
“The event is this Saturday. So by Wednesday?”
“Ohh okay. Send me the details. I will get it done by the evening.”
“Today evening? How cool is that. You must be really talented.”
“Haha.. It’s not that tough.”
“Whatever. If I were to do it I guess I would need a week.”
“Okay. I’ll send you the details then. And as a thank you I’ll treat you to coffee today evening. Are you free?”
“Wow.. that’s great. I would love to help you more often then.”
Suman worked on the invitation design with all the enthusiasm. He put in his best on it. After all he wanted to impress Neha with his talent. He finished it and showed it to Neha and she did get impressed. Neha proposed to meet at Cafe du Temple after work for the treat. And Suman happily agreed to it.
Suman rushed out of office that day. He was super excited. He couldn’t wait to see Neha. It would be his very first date that could actually be called a “date”. They reached at the restaurant and ordered coffee and Suman ordered a plate of chowmein. He was starving as he had an early lunch that day. The conversation started with discussing the event. Neha described all the details about the event, her involvement in it. She talked about her office and everything. She kept on going. And Suman kept on listening. He enjoyed listening to her talk.
After all the talking, they went for a stroll around Mangal Bazaar and returned back home. That was how Suman’s real “First Date” went. It was indeed a really special day in Suman’s life. And after that day, Suman and Neha got closer. They talked every evening. Phone calls started getting regular and facebook messages ever so frequent. That day was the start of their story.