Kairos (n.) – the perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement.
“Lavanya, I cannot believe you….ugh,” Khushi groaned, planting her face in the pillow she was holding in her lap.
“Stop being a drama queen, Khushi,” Lavanya replied, putting in her contacts and blinking a couple of times to accustom her eyes to their feel.
“Drama queen? La, how many times did I tell you not to set me up on one of these idiotic blind dates?” Khushi asked, lifting her head up and glaring at her friend.
“They’re not idiotic. Besides, how else are you going to find your soulmate?” Her friend asked, applying the last bit of her makeup before stepping away from the mirror and picking up her books.
“Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean everyone else is looking for their significant other, La,” Khushi replied crossly. “As hard as it is for you to believe, some of us like being single.”
“Oh, hon, that’s a lie single people tell themselves to stop feeling bad,” came the reply.
“I should just start standing up my dates. That will teach you,” Khushi grumbled.
“Thank god you’re too sweet to actually follow through with that threat,” Lavanya replied, and smiling, she bent down to peck Khushi on the cheek. “Okay, I need to leave or I’ll be late to class. Remember! Tonight at seven, he will meet you at the Purple Orchid.”
“This is going to be a disaster,” Khushi muttered to herself as she put her earrings on.
“Stop being such a pessimist, Khushi,” Lavanya replied, curling the last strand of Khushi’s hair before applying setting spray to it. “Varun is NK’s friend. I met him myself, personally, before agreeing to this. Have a little faith in me, would you?”
“La, that’s what you said about the last…how many of these dates have you set up so far?” Khushi asked, meeting her friend’s eyes in the mirror.
“Three, and you wonder why I call you a drama queen?” Lavanya asked, stepping away from her. “Hmm…you’re sure you don’t want me to do your makeup? Just a little?”
“I am quite sure I don’t want to look like a monkey, yes,” Khushi replied, getting up from her seat in front of the mirror and turning to Lavanya. “So?”
“You look beautiful!” Lavanya said, pulling Khushi into a hug. “Varun won’t know what hit him.”
“Let’s hope he at least knows my name, unlike the second one…or was that the first?” Khushi replied cheekily, making Lavanya pull back from the hug and glare at her.
“You’re getting way too smart these days, Khushi Kumari Gupta,” her friend said, handing Khushi her clutch.
“Good. Maybe one of these days, I will figure out how to say no to you, Lavanya Kashyap.”
Khushi walked into the Purple Orchid hurriedly and looked around, cursing Lavanya for fussing over her for so long. When she had complained that she would be late, her friend had replied with “You never go to your first date on time, Khushi. You need to be fashionably late. Make the guy wait for a little bit, let the anticipation build up.”
Well, Khushi was entirely too late, and as much as she hated the idea of being setup on a blind date, it wasn’t the poor guy’s fault.
She found him on her second scan of the room. Dressed in a white button down shirt, he was seated at a window booth and was typing something of his phone.
Walking over to the booth, she said, “Excuse me?”
All of a sudden, Khushi found herself staring at the most mesmerizing pair of eyes she had ever beheld in her life. His hair was in a disarray, in contrast to the rest of him, and even as she watched, he ran his hand through his hair, explaining it’s condition.
Lavanya is right, Khushi. You are a drama queen.
Shaking off her trance, Khushi continued, “I am so sorry I am late. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting long?”
He shook his head in response, and she smiled as she took a seat opposite him.
She waited for him to say something and when a minute passed in silence, she laughed a little as she said, “No matter how many times I do this, it gets no less awkward.”
Great, Khushi. Was it really necessary to mention that?
“I mean…that’s not…I just meant…”
“Hey, it’s okay,” he said, speaking for the first time. “Relax. You’re right. It’s always awkward.”
“Glad we agree,” she said, leaning back into her seat. She hadn’t noticed how wound up she had been. “I am Khushi,” she said, extending her hand.
“I’m…” he paused, taking her hand in his, and she completed his sentence for him. “Varun, I know. Lavanya told me.”
Arnav pulled his hand away from hers and immediately missed the warmth that the fleeting touch had engulfed him in.
It had become clear to him in the first couple of minutes that the woman in front of him had mistook him for someone else, Varun to be precise. He felt an irrational anger at the man he had never met, and shook his head at himself.
“Shall we order?” she asked, picking up the menu that had been on the table. “Do you have any recommendations?”
“I heard the fettucini is quite good,” he said, raising his hand to call the waiter over.
“Mm,” she said as she wrinkled her nose in distaste. “I am not a fan of the white sauce.”
“How about the gnocci with shrimp?” He asked as the waiter walked over to their table.
“I am a vegetarian,” she replied, before looking up at him from the menu and saying, “I am sorry, I don’t mean to be…”
“No need to apologize,” he replied, smiling. “Do you need some more time to decide?”
Shaking her head, she turned to the waiter and said, “I’ll take the Penna alla Vodka,” before handing over the menu to him.
“Vodka sauce…hmm…I’ve never tried that,” he said, turning to the waiter and saying, “I’ll take the same.”
“What? How could you never have had Vodka sauce? It’s the only half decent thing in the western cafeteria,” she asked, shocked.
“I live on the north campus,” he replied, smirking. “Although it’s a pain to trek all the way down for classes, the one good thing about it is that the cafeteria has great food.”
“Hmmm…I need to check it out one of these days,” she said, frowning. “But why would you live…”
He interrupted her before she could go on. He didn’t know where that Varun fellow lived, and he prayed that she didn’t either.
“Maybe we can go there for our next date,” he said, raising his eyebrow.
She blushed in response, before smiling and turning their conversation to a different topic.
She laughed as she picked up her phone from the table. She had flipped it upside down, as was her habit, when she was talking to someone. But the messages kept coming, and there was only one person who would be so persistent.
“One second,” she said apologetically as she unlocked her screen. “It might be something important.”
However, her eyes widened in shock as she read Lavanya’s contrite messages.
I am so so sorry, Khushi.
I honestly thought Varun was the one for you.
NK just told me Varun stood you up. Rest assured, that idiot will hear from me, and NK will get his share of punishment too.
Arnav realized the second she realized he wasn’t who she thought he was.
Shit. Arnav Singh Raizada, you’re dead.
“You…” she started saying, looking at him accusingly.
He cut her off before she could complete her statement. He had been subjected to enough Hindi daily soaps by his mom to know how many different and damning conclusions can be drawn in a situation like this.
“I am sorry for lying to you, or rather, not telling you the truth,” he replied, leaning forward. “It’s just that…I really liked you at first glance, and I enjoyed our conversation very much.”
He took courage from the fact the she didn’t get up and storm out halfway through his explanation, as he said, “From the fact that we weren’t interrupted halfway through our conversation, I am guessing that your date stood you up. All I can say on that is he’s an idiot, and his loss was my gain…or will be, hopefully.”
Taking a deep breath, he said, “Khushi, I am Arnav…Arnav Raizada, a second year pre-med student here, and I would really, really love to take you out on a date, this time, as myself. So…will you? Go out on a date with me, that is?”
She watched him stare anxiously at her, and struggled to keep her face blank.
Truth be told, she was thanking her lucky stars Varun didn’t show up, because no matter how much Lavanya had raved about him, she was sure he wouldn’t have measured up to the person sitting in front of her.
But what was the fun in telling him that right away? After all, he had kept her in the dark for the whole evening. It was only fair that she returned the favor for a few minutes.
But when she saw his eyes lose a tiny bit of their hope, she couldn’t stop herself from finally letting the smile spread across her face, as she said, “Only if you take me to northern cafeteria.”
The answering smile he sent her way made her breath catch.
“Deal,” he replied.
AN: Phew! A happy OS! That too, mushy enough to satisfy the person it is being written for. All I will say is, Chutki, you better like it because this is as sweet as I write them!
Wow. Where do I even start? My day starts with you, ends with you and I…okay, that sounds like way too much like a love proposal, and as much as I love you, I am holding off for a Fawad Khan or a Mahesh Babu, so, sorry, Chutki, you’re out luck. Haha.
On a serious note, I am so very glad you talked me into reading and then shipping Dramione, and that I pestered you into beta-ing for me because it led to one of the best friendships I could ever have hoped for. My life is richer for having you in it.
Wish you a very Happy Birthday, Chutki.