Continued from Part 2.
Once home the calls were far more frequent thanks to the falling rates of local calls. Ramesh hadn’t told his folks about his new friendship but his mom knew matters were fishy when his phone rang even in the temple of their family deity. Finally after heavy scheduling, Ramesh found a window to squeeze in a date with his new friend and a popular coffee place was chosen as the rendezvous point. The much awaited day arrived and Ramesh was as chirpy as possible all day, dressed in his lucky shirt and faded jeans he darted to the coffee shop. He had intentionally reached earlier so that he could go over the menu, talk to the staff and impress his date with his new found knowledge. His eyes lit up when he received a text message reading ‘5 mins next signal, wearing red‘ as he quickly memorized the menu one last time, with some witty lines to say for every selection. His heart was racing and his breath grew heavy as he adjusted his hair and put on his ultra-cool shades to go with the spikes. He instantly recognized the familiar face in the red dress for they had exchanged pics earlier. Shruthi was quite a catch, wheatish in complexion, average height and she probably looked ever more astonishing as Ramesh was unable to get rid of the mental image of Kajol running across a desert in a saree. Quite expectedly she was nervous about meeting a guy for the first time and had brought a friend along. The friend was short, portly, wore thick glasses and was probably not as bad but Ramesh was unable to get the Kajol image out of his head. Shruthi was more reserved and silent but her friend seemed overtly talkative. The date didn’t quite go as planned as for starters there were three people as opposed to two, and secondly Shruthi wasn’t in the mood for anything and seemed disturbed about something.
On his flight back to the US, Ramesh looked back upon the fun times he had with his friends, parents and ofcourse his special friend. Shruthi had apologised for her cold behaviour citing being yelled upon by her boss at work and later having an argument with her mother prior to the date. With their differences resolved and having seen each other the chats and calls only increased and pretty soon love was in the air. They liked each other and they mutually agreed to take the next step devoid any filmy situations much to the respite of their respective roomates. Surprisingly Ramesh’s fellow stud friends were very supportive and more so because it meant that there was one less person in the competition. As soon as his parents brought up the topic of marriage, Ramesh told them about Shruthi and that he would not take no for an answer. Being the liberal kind and knowing that any resistance will be futile, Ramesh’s parents duly agreed. Shruthi was pretty excited at the prospect of marriage and regularly chatted up Ramesh’s mother over the phone. Since family traditions prevented them from meeting their daugher-in-law to be, Ramesh’s parents were content with the regular phone calls. Shruthi’s side apparently wasn’t as receptive and hence Shruthi sought time to talk things up and get matters sorted.
One fine day Ramesh received a call from Shruthi’s friend who was sobbing uncontrollably, turned out that Shruthi had met with a serious accident and was counting her last moments. She went on to add that the situation was pretty intense and advised Ramesh and his family to stay away else things may get complicated. Ramesh was heartbroken and collapsed in the arms of his roomates as he broke the news to them.Studs never cry and if they ever do it’s only when alone in the shower or some solitary place. Unable to bear Ramesh’s sorrow his friends offered to help and use their connections to gather information. The thing about fellow studs is that they all stick together while hunting prey and also in times of distress. Friends in India went to the spot of the accident trying to gather details only to be told by local store owners that there was no major accident in the area all week. Bribing the constable at the nearest police station also failed to throw any light. Considering the outside chance wherein the friend may have botched the name of the spot while sobbing, they began inquiring in all similar sounding areas only to hear the same. A last ditch attempt to scan all the major hospitals and knock the police control room also resulted in failure with no person as Shruthi being admitted. Now Ramesh only knew her name, number, email address and orkut profile which may seem weird given that someone was planning on spending the rest of their life with such a person.
Taking the most credible piece above which here was the phone number, Ramesh’s friends used their network to get into the cell phone company’s records to look for an address and other details. The number was registered to a guy and the address was an empty construction site, and adding insult to injury was the fact that the connection had pending post-paid payments for months. The phone was obviously switched off or even thrown away, the email account was inactive and the orkut profile deleted. The number from which Shruthi’s friend had called to break the news was a public telephone and hence virtually untraceable. With all routes going nowhere, Ramesh’s friends gave up reporting their findings and expressed their support. Ramesh still couldn’t believe what just transpired suddenly in less than a week as his life took a sudden dip from almost getting hitched to his soulmate, to laying in tatters trying to figure out the reasons for what happened. It still wouldn’t hit him how the person with whom he was talking about choice of wallpaper had suddenly vanished into thin air. The facts begin to hit him hard when asked by his friends what he was going to tell his parents. How could he tell them that their son had been taken for a ride, how would they take the fact that the bubbly girl they had been talking to was just a facade? With a million questions running across his mind, Ramesh almost had a nervous breakdown only to be restored to some extent bu his supportive stud-group. The following weekend while on the phone with his mother as he removed her of his messenger, he said
Ma, we broke up. She isn’t right for me……….
PS: Writing fiction is darn hard, I have new found respect for those who do. Regular bakwas will resume pretty soon.
Owing to some threatening messages over IM and public request, I explain the thought process behind the post. I had come up with 3-4 different ways to end it and each seemed connected to the set pieces.
Theory 1: Shruthi was not the one Ramesh thought she was but her portly friend instead. Her ebullience in the coffee shop should have been an indicator to Ramesh. Blinded by infatuations he failed to smell a rat, but once pressure for marriage grew stronger Shruthi chickened out. With diminishing confidence to pull the bluff till the last moment and fearing getting caught and humiliated she played drama that unfolded. Having played safe with the phone number, wiping her online traces was no biggie.
With a couple of other ways to end, I chose to leave it open ended with everyone interpreting it on their own.
Thank you for the inputs!