The Perfect Date

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a non fiction. This is real. This is a story about my first date ever.

Submitted: May 13, 2018

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Submitted: May 13, 2018



This is not something I want to share. This is not art.
This is possessiveness.
A genuine fear of negative feedback.

Tabna was one of John Lennon's dreamers. When you look back into your life and suddenly feel like there was this one person, who, despite appearances, made perfect sense: that was Tabna.
She was absolutely imperfect and it would be heartless to institutionalise her or capitalise her..

"From Welland Goldsmith to BEC, what a change"
She once told me.
I mean she basically giggled through this entire statement.
Pre-requisites: Tabna passed out from Welland Goldsmith and I had a lot of friends and I made a lot of
memories in Welland Goldsmith

And if you belong to a middle class family from Kolkata, you'll know just how badly you had to screw up your sophomore years to go from WG to BEC.
But this morbid apathy was somewhat buried deep inside her, so deep that there could be very few words I could use to explain how she smiled and occasionally broke into an innocuously adorable breathlessness when she said it.
"From Welland Goldsmith to BEC"
I stopped doing whatever I was doing. Welding assignment documentations or something.
"I like this hypocrisy. How you say something that morbid, with a smile on your face".
I looked at her.

I might have used a little more crafty words or a little less. In my defence I think I had a crush on her.
She smiled but not in a way that she found something hilarious in what I said, but more like I just told her she's the only person I'd ever met with the prettiest fingers.
She did have the prettiest fingers.

I'll never forget what she said next.
"You either laugh at your own life or let other people laugh at yours"
Thank God I don't have ovaries.

This happened in the library with the two of us writing assignments.
So let's take this back to where it all started.
Tabna does not remember how we met. Legit. But I do. Electrical lab. December.
She was wearing an oversized overall.
"Your dad's ?"
I happen to have the skillset of performing insanely relevant hand gestures when I talk.
That was the first time I saw that smile on her face.
Like she just found out she's got dimples.
She was an Anime freak. She was a cyber space poetry sensation.
She held that smile on her face for about 5 seconds and then somehow tried pressing her lips trying to suppress it.

Also, a mutual friend of ours, Souhardya, helped us get to know each other. Sho, She called him. I was so jealous of Sho.
I mean all the time she would just go on and on about something he said the other day, or something he did.
I loved Sho by the way. Jealousy just happens to be a paradigm of an inferiority complex. I was awestruck.
Life was moving way too fast.

We went out a couple of times, the three of us.
I'm not going to lie. They did have chemistry.

The first time I travelled alone with Tabna, it was drizzling. She couldn't keep her hair all clustered. It was windy, not stormy though.
"What does your mom do ?"
I swear, she had this squeaky erotic voice, it gave me goosebumps.
"She's a housewife"
I asked her about her family.
Her dad was a businessman, her mom owned a parlour.
She had two younger siblings.

Awkward silence for about 5 minutes.
"Tabna I lied to you about my mom"
She looked so pretty, all confused.
"I have a step mother, she works with my dad."
I'm a horrible person.

That night she texted me all her secrets. Everything there is to know about her which a reasonably insignificant number of individuals actually know.
Alright, here goes:
Tabna was a victim of molestation and rape attempt at a tender age I don't feel comfortable mentioning. Under the influence of which she felt pressurised mentally and attempted suicide. Her nanny saved her life. She got emotionally attached to her nanny and her nanny's goat. Her nanny dies. The goat dies.
Welland Goldsmith to BEC.

For the first time I felt like I was responsible for her.

Tabna went on and on about how much she hated the ambience in our college. A dreamer in engineering, big surprise.
And everytime she said this, I said, "You know you're talking to a hosteller, right ?"
A hosteller knows just how bad ambience can get.
She was a day scolar.
Our internals were about to begin. We were having a conversation in whatsapp. Standard protocol. She says college ambience sucks. I say that's cute. Except this time, I took a little step forward. I was never close to my dad. Hadn't talked to him in months. And I said something that built the premise for what was about to be a day I'd never forget.
"I wanna go home. I miss Kolkata."
I don't want to quote the exact words that she used, but I'll try and summarise from a first perspective:
I'm so sorry. If you want I could come visit on 11th in case that makes you feel better. [Smiley]

Cue Eric Clapton. I played it cool though.
"I don't wanna flatter Myself but you're not doing this just to make me feel better right ?"

On tenth:
"I kinda have this weird request I don't wanna make."
Tabna:What is it though ?
"No judgements ?"
"You busy rn ? This might just end up being a reasonably long conversation."

I kept building it up: "this could totally wait. I need to know you're in a good mood."

She got all anxious.
And then I asked her if she remembered that white dress she was wearing the day we visited Sho's high school.
It kinda had a black translucent scarf.

She said yes.
I say: "Okay, you have no idea where this is going..right ? [Tensed smiley]

She said even if she had guesses it would help me if I steered it.
So I told her.
I told her how insanely pretty she looked in that dress with her hair left open, her scarf all windy.
And that I would be indebted beyond her imagination if she could wear it on 11th.

She refused.

On 10th May, our internals ended.
10th May 8 pm I texted her :"please tell me you're not cancelling tomorrow."
She said:"I'm not silly. BTW can you check the timetable for tomorrow's train's ?"
"I thought local trains don't have a timetable."

On 11th May I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. Ask an engineer what it takes to not sleep 14 hours a day post internals.

I left for Barasat at about 6:30. Boarded a train for Dumdum at 8.
8:30, Tabna calls me.
Same squeaky erotic voice.
"Where are you ?"
"Platform no. 2"
"Accha wait, I'm coming"
I put my phone back in my pocket and started walking towards the over-bridge.

And there she was.
Same white dress.
Translucent black scarf.
Golden coloured earrings.
Geeky specs.
And that same old smile.
I felt like crying. Acted cool though, again.
"What's with the bag ?"
"Just some notebooks and assessments."
We saw a train arrive. We boarded it. 10 minutes down the line 'I' noticed we've boarded the wrong train. She didn't.
I didn't have the heart to tell her though. She was completely engrossed in the journey, earphones plugged in.

I did tell her by the time we reached Belgaria. She looked somewhat embarrassed. She even tried to lighten the mood asking me what I think she thinks some fancy watertank on this housing society looks like.
It looked like a Rubik's cube.
We boarded a train back to Dumdum.

And then we made sure where we were going before we actually rushed in.
She stood next to the gate. I stood next to her.
She was saying something about how she'd recently gotten in touch with her school friends. And then she asked me something we hostellers are never supposed to answer.
"You in touch with any of your school friends ?"
I said no.
She asked why.
I said, it's hard going from meeting every single day of your life, to calling once a month. So it was better to end it altogether.

That's what I was like. I've always wanted to have a simple, monotonous, happy life.
No surprises, no disappointments.

And then I met Tabna.

Toto from Barasat to College. Don't try and undrstand what a Toto is. We went Dutch.
In college I took Rohan's laptop and showed her how we were doing on our DS project, with reference to which by the way, she consciously chose me as a partner amongst all others.
She was convinced that we'll qualify for the practicals.
And then, I asked her randomly what the metro fare for Dumdum to Maidan was.
She said 10 rs
I asked her if she wanted to visit Victoria.
Victoria is like the Lover's Spot in Kolkata.
Victoria is beautiful.
And she said yes.
But not until the sun sets. I didn't mind.
And then she suggested that instead of wasting our time doing nothing we should complete the welding lab assignment documentations. As long as she's with me.

So we went to the library.
Cut to where we took it back to where it all started, midway through my assignment, by the time she's completed hers.
I hadn't slept or eaten anything in a really long time: internals.
"Tabna, I'm starving."
She as about to reach out for her bag when I asked her if she'd ever had a 'Chikki'.
She asked me what that was.
It was a specialty in our cafeteria, a delicacy made of peanuts and jaggery.
After I was done explaining I said I'll get two of them, she didn't want to go, so I brought two of different flavours.
We were not allowed to eat in the library so we sat next to this giant corporate window panel next to the staircase.

I asked her to divide the two bars in half so that both of us get a byte of both the flavours.
I told her, this would make a really amazing photograph, the two of us sitting together next to a giant window with the sun behind us.
She kept insisting that I should take a nap before we left for Victoria. She must've sensed my lethargy, again internals.
We kept talking, about jobs, about life, salaries, Sho. In that order.
She was sad. But that's what made her everything she was.
She told me how she nearly got suspended from school once.
Oh by the way, Tabna aced Urdu. Like fluent.
And then we decided to leave for Victoria at about 3:00.
I had to put the assignment sheets back in my room and get some cash, 2o bucks.
And there I ran into Ashish. He told me something that completely ruined the synergy of emotions I was dealing with.

Tabna was waiting for me outside the main gate.
"What's wrong ?"
I might've looked stressed. Either that or she just knows me really well.
"Back in our hostel, about 5 to 6 of our batch mates had  500-2000 bucks stolen. And this guy who's guilty, he's a really good friend of mine.

They beat him up so bad."

She looked concerned.
"I'm so sorry"

"Just yesterday night at three I was so hungry I couldn't sleep. So I woke Sourav up at 3 in in the morning, and he plugged in his boiler, his oven and made me a bowl of noodles."

I told her how awkward it would be just talking to him now.
She quoted her nanny, "No sins are committed without reasons."
She then asked me who told me about all this.
I said Ashish
She wanted to know who Ashish was.
I said, the guy who called you on 14th February.
Now she wanted to know the story behind Ashish calling  Tabna on 14th Feb.

See, there's this intro where we are supposed to attend a 'call' by the seniors, in the first semester.
And this 3rd year asked me to hook him up with Tabna, and
I blankly refused.
And this entire delegation happened in front Ashish who was busy giving his intro.
And then he took it upon himself to make sure that the entire hostel is informed that I am infatuated to Tabna Sahid. And the rest is somewhat self explanatory.

I explained this entire episode to Tabna. She said, "Thank you".
"For what ?"
"You'll know if you're smart enough."
The entire hostel was rooting for us today, unrelated.

Barasat Station, and the moment we walked into the platform an empty coach dragged itself right next to us.
We were like, This train ain't going nowhere unless it's crowded. We got time, let's go buy some fruits first.
And then it happened, the train started moving.
I don't know what went through my mind but I ran and boarded the first coach I could grab onto.
And then we DDLJ'd it.
No kidding.
She was running.
I held my hand out.
She held her hand out.
I pulled her in. And sort of rammed my arm on the railing.
'show me', 'is it bleeding ?', 'Listen, you have to let me know if it hurts.'
She even tried to make me sit. What she never understands is just what it feels like when her hair gets all tangled in my face.

Also, I was travelling without ticket so when we reached Dumdum she made sure we don't encounter the TC.
Dumdum to Maidan fare was 15 bucks, notwithstanding  I'd anticipated 10 bucks. So literally she paid the extra 10 bucks for me. On top of that, I somehow forgot to collect the 5 bucks change from the counter, the exact fare: Barasat to Dumdum local I flunked.

"Karma, I guess."
And this time I actually made her laugh.
Also by this time of the day I was actually starting to feel a little nauseous.
She completely understood my condition, and made me sit.
And she sat beside me.
Okay, no she didn't but I sure wouldn't mind if she did.
Instead she took a seat in the ladies' section.
She believed in gender equity.
Not in gender equality. Go figure.
I couldn't take it, sitting that far away from her given how worse my headache had become.
So I waited for the train to get a little more crowded. And the moment it did, I asked her for some water, and in the process of me walking across the compartment to grab the bottle of water, my seat was gone, so given no other relevant options I had to stand next to her.
She smiled.
When we reached Maidan as in the original enormous field, I instantly found myself in the 11th standard with my friends running around the same exact location where there used to be a broken trunk of a huge banyan tree.
You could climb on it, jump on it, hang from it.
But that broken trunk was nowhere.
Everything had changed but that one white dome stood right where it was 2 years ago. The Victoria Memorial.
Tabna was so overjoyed, the tree trunks came alive in her imagination. Some were all poetic and deserted. Some were busy having a conference all grouped together looking at each other.
There were horses and kites everywhere you looked.

Kids playing football.
So much greenery.
It was beautiful.
Tabna clicked some pictures.
We walked all around the entire spread, which in case you've never visited Kolkata is about double the size of a football field..
She couldn't keep her hair all clustered. It was windy.
The clouds were forming.
Some homeless dude from the back shouted on top of his voice that it was about to rain. There was this one corner of the field which was desolate. Just a sad trunk bothered  the absence.
There was something so delirious right there. And this lightning impulse lit up this faintly maroon horizon like volcanoes in Mordor.

"Tabna I have a confession to make."
I could never explain just how perplexed she looked.
"All ears"
"I have a lot of memories attached to this place and those memories keep troubling me. I wanted to share them with someone"
And I kid you not this was the exact moment when out of nowhere a storm took shape. Everyone started running here and there, the children, the horses. The kites flew away.
It was just the two of us.

We kept walking. She tightened her scarf round her face in order to avoid the sand storm.
By the time we left Maidan she was busy digging sand out of her ears.

She got a call from her dad, all worried. She let him know she was fine.
On our way back she travelled all the way back to Dumdum and back again just to see me off..
And this was around, 7:00 pm.
I just realised we'd spent 12 hours together.
In Dumdum, before she left she made it very clear.
"Bheegna Mat".
I couldn't do that.

Dumdum metro. Junction. Platform.
I was walking in the rain all by myself. I was happy.
My shirt was drenched.

I had a lot of dreams in life. I was willing to make a lot of sacrifices. But nothing could possibly make me feel how I felt that day.
This might not have been a date.
As in semantically speaking, perhaps this doesn't even qualify.
But not all that matters: in our life, everything happens when they're supposed to happen.
That doesn't mean you have to be patient, or that you have to drive yourself crazy.

It just means that you just have to look as far ahead as possible and nurture faith in yourself.

© Copyright 2018 Debal. All rights reserved.

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