A first date – is it a date?

I had struggled with sleep throughout the night due to the cold air coming from AC. I woke up at dawn and checked what time it was. 5:30am, my phone showed. I thought it was a good time to track the location so I set the destination in the app and turned the tracking on. An hour and half were still left in my journey. I now knew that I wasn’t going to fall asleep again. So, I decided to have a look outside. I slid the window curtain to the right to get the outside view from the window. It wasn’t too dark to see the vehicles running around. The highway seemed empty with only a few vehicles running on it. I was leaving the trees and milestones behind as the bus moved fast towards the destination. I was enjoying the quietness at dawn that I felt outside as well as inside the bus. Most of the passengers were still asleep so the only sound I could hear was of the bus engine.

It was cold but I was felt relaxed at the time. I was staring at the open land changing the angles along the highway and in those moments my mind travelled back into the past, 2016 to be specific.

“Shall we go on a date?” I asked.

I was talking with Hazel on a phone call. It was more than a year since we knew each other. During that year, I had interacted with her through calls and messages only. But that was enough for me to fall in love with her. She was a girl full of life and energy. She was free spirited and had her own perspective to look at life. She was a source of positive vibe for me. I don’t know how much I knew her by then but I had started loving her for who she was. Being in love, all I wanted was to meet her in person. I wanted to date her very badly.

“Hey, we can’t meet now. I have a flight tomorrow. I am leaving the city and moving outside India. Actually, I have got a job in DDD so…” she revealed.

I was surprised as she had never mentioned that before, during our conversations. I got mixed feelings hearing the news. Suddenly a thought of her going away from me came to my mind and broke me a little from inside. I couldn’t react quickly and before I could say anything, she added

“We will definitely meet one day; I want to meet you too.”

Her words gave me the much-needed assurance. Sometimes all we need is people giving us assurance of something that we want very badly. Those words coming from her were enough to make me feel better.

“To hamari ye ek date baki rahi and you will be coming with me on a date in future, okay?”

“Pakka…” she said.

I was smiling to myself recalling that day. Who had thought that it would take us eight long years to make our date happen and that too at her place.

I know I was being very foolish to consider a casual meet up as a date. But, that’s how I was feeling at that time.

“This is our first date. It’s unlike their dates, the normal ones. It is different but it is ours and that makes it special.” I was thinking to myself.

The sunlight was taking over the darkness. I was happy and excited. I was enjoying the morning sunlight when someone came and suddenly pulled the side curtain up

“Sir, aapko kaha utarna hai?” he asked.

It was a caretaker guy. He was making sure all the passengers had a nice experience traveling in their bus.

“In 20 mins…” I said looking at the app on my phone.

He too looked at my phone and left.

The bus had arrived at the dropping point. I stepped down carrying the heavy bag on my shoulder.

“Sir, please give 5-star rating for the ride” the same guy requested while I took some steps further from the bus.

The first thing that I experienced after reaching AAA was the difference in temperature. It was a winter morning but I wasn’t shivering outside like I would have in NNN. Ironically, I felt more comfortable outside the bus than inside; all thanks to the AC.

At the dripping point, the travel agency had set up a small hotel-like waiting room. I approached the same thinking I will get fresh there and have a tea before I book a cab to Hazel’s house.

“Sir, kaha jana hai aapko?” A voice came from behind my back.

It was an auto-rickshaw driver. I wasn’t interested but still asked him how much it would cost me to reach Aniket apartment.

The amount he told was double than it should have been. I knew the approx. fare as I already had checked on the phone.

I denied and went inside the waiting room. I did some inquiry at the table about my evening bus schedule. The washroom was surprisingly clean being at public service, I thought as I went in to use it after the inquiry.

I came outside feeling refreshed and spotted the same man, the auto-rickshaw driver waiting for me.

“Chalna hai kya Sir? Maine aapko sahi amount bataya hai” He was taking another shot but I refused saying I already had booked a cab even though I hadn’t.

I had told Hazel that I would be at her house at around 8:30 am but my phone was showing 7 am which seemed too early to me, to be at her place.

I didn’t know where exactly I was but the area was called PPP. I saw a small tea stall nearby. I decided to take a cup of tea and spend some more time there only.

My phone rang as I was approaching the tea stall. “Finally, here she is..” I said to myself and picked up the call. It was Hazel’s. I told her my plans to spend some more time at PPP to which she disagreed.

“Nooo, don’t take tea or anything. Book the cab immediately and come here.” She insisted.

How could I say no to her? I followed her command and booked a cab to her apartment. I had started feeling a bit nervous as I was moving closer to my final destination. The excitement to meet Hazel for the first time wasn’t less though. The sun had risen in the sky. I was seeing more vehicles and people outside while I was traveling by the cab.

I saw one long river with an ocean like blue water along the way. I checked the phone but couldn’t find the name of the river on the map. I will ask Hazel; my curious mind made a note while I left that beautiful view behind.

“Aniket apartment Sir!” The driver said as he stopped the cab.

“Have we arrived? Where is it?” I asked surprisingly as I wasn’t seeing any building around from inside the cab.

“On the left.” he added.

“Aniket Apartment” I saw a big nameplate placed on two iron pillars to my left as I stepped out.

“Phew…, finally, I am here; a couple of minutes and I will be seeing Hazel, in real, for the first time.” I was filled with joy and a bit nervousness.

There were many buildings inside the apartment. I called Hazel and started walking towards the buildings.

“Come straight and at first building in the right is mine; the G block” She was guiding me on the call.

“Yes, yes… let me first find it” I entered into the lift as she instructed and hung up.

Pratik Akkawar

I am occasionally a poet, blogger and an amateur writer, trying to put my thoughts into words and sometimes words into poems.

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