Mithil had finally decided. He was going to propose Pranali the next day.
With that thought, he went online and started searching how-to-guides about proposing a girl. But most of the articles he found were written by American writers for American audience. He was disappointed. He looked at the clock. It wasn’t twelve yet. He pressed ‘Ctrl+T’ and typed Facebook.com in the address bar. Pranali had posted a new profile picture. He immediately recognised it. It was the same picture he had clicked for her when they had gone shopping early that evening. She was looking absolutely stunning in it. She had pitch black eyes, curly hair, smooth skin and a mole on the right cheek; though not beautiful, it made her look striking. He clicked on the full-screen option and kept staring at the screen for full two minutes.
Coincidentally, it was Facebook where their friendship had started and later blossomed. He, lean, fair, and tall, used to be in his own world all the time. He had hardly made any friends in the first few months since the college had started. Due to his closed nature, people would also shy away from talking with him. Hence, he was surprised when Pranali pinged him on Facebook that day.
She wanted to understand the economics project they were given. He was more than happy to help her. He sprang from his chair and frantically started looking for the diary in which he had taken notes. Luckily he found it just where he had imagined it to be. Pranali’s typing speed was pretty good. He tried hard to match her. At the same time, he started working on one more project in his head. He was preparing a list of things he would ask her as soon as they were finished discussing studies.
In his mind, he had tentatively and unconsciously made a list of girls from his class he would like to date. She was one of them.
* * *
Mithil took his eyes off the screen. He looked at the clock. It was two in the morning and he was still surfing the net. In the past two hours, he had thrice looked at Pranali’s profile page on Facebook. He looked around his room. It was in much organised state. Clothes were not scattered everywhere. All the books were in the bookshelf. His college bag was on the desk and headphones in the drawer. It was a sign of his happy state of mind. For the last few days, he was generally in great mood. He also had finally asked Pranali the things he wanted to ask. Today she even shared a secret with him, which she said that she had not told anyone before.
He had gradually started talking with his classmates. He would wave at Pranali whenever she used to pass him by. He had even tried staying longer in the college, but got bored after a couple of days and resumed his past schedule of leaving immediately after the lectures (unless he had to go to the library). One day he saw that the posters for Rose Day were put up everywhere in the campus. He decided he would attend this event, though he had missed Freshers Party and Friendship Day celebrations earlier.
While chatting online that night, he asked Pranali if she would like to attend too. His and Pranali’s Facebook conversations had become a daily fixture now. He would finish his dinner and wait for her to come online. She had set her chat settings to ‘always offline’. He knew it and hence he would keenly pay attention to the ticker activities. He also knew that she would spend quite sometime in reading her news feed, commenting, liking and responding to notifications. After that, she herself would ping him. “It depends on what my crush is doing that day”, she answered his question with the tongue out smiley.
Next day, he got up early and got ready almost half an hour before schedule for the college. He applied the newly bought cologne on his body. He smelled the shirt and then looked into the mirror caressing his shaved chin. He felt satisfied.
After the lectures, he went to the library, accompanied by Pranali.
“Which book are you taking this time?” she asked enthusiastically.
But before he would answer, she had another question for him, “Dude, I am feeling hungry. Do you mind joining me for lunch? By the way our PR meeting was cancelled today.”
His face glowed on the prospects of lunching with her. But without showing any emotion, he replied, “Of course. By the way, what PR meeting are you talking about?”
“Oh I am so sorry, I haven’t told you yet. I am in the PR team for Rose Day. Rohan of TYBA is our head. And I am proud to say that I am his favorite volunteer.”
A wave of jealousy passed through his head. “Oh you sure are. After all you are a talented girl,” he muttered.
But his mood very soon recovered as they sat for the lunch, just two of them. For the first time, he was spending so much time with her, offline. He realized that talking online is not quite the same as talking face to face. The latter is more emotionally bonding.
* * *
“Hey Mithil, where is your Oxford dictionary?”, Mithil’s sister entered his room unannounced. But before she would proceed to search for it, it was a surprise time for her as she looked at his computer screen.
“Hey wait, who is that hot chick you are looking at?” She chuckled. She had found a good reason to tease him, who was looking at one of Pranali’s Facebook pictures. It was a panic time for him. He immediately closed the tab and decided to put up a brave face.
“It’s none of your business, Didi,” he replied with a mockingly sweet voice.
“Oh my God. Are you in love or what? Tell me her name at least”, Mithil’s sister was not letting him go easily.
“Take this dictionary and get out of here now. I am feeling sleepy.” Mithil forcibly pushed his sister out of the room and locked it from inside.
* * *
It was raining outside. Mithil went to the window and starting looking at the downpour. His anxiety subdued a little. He was happy that there was something externally which was as turbulent as his insides. He wasn’t sure what he felt for Pranali was actually love. But the worst part was, he didn’t know if she loved him too. It frustrated him a lot.
Nowadays, he would keep thinking about her all the time. He would imagine conversations between them and think about their future together. He was finding it hard to concentrate on anything else. He had never experienced such emotions before. It made him feel bad, really bad. It was all too unnerving for him. He wanted his former self back. He wanted to feel calm, stable and most importantly he wanted the suspense to end.
The solution was simple. If he asked her straightaway, it would end all the mystery. But he feared that it may end their friendship forever. For the first time ever in his life, he had got someone with whom he could share his secrets, talk about his ambitions, talk about his inner self. He did not want to lose it.
* * *
After the last lecture, Mithil came into the quadrangle. He looked around, fidgeted with his mobile for a while and then went to the washroom. He was thinking about the next day’s Rose Day. It was the first Rose Day of his life and he wanted to make it memorable. He was about to pee when he felt jitters in his pants. His phone was vibrating. He saw the name on the screen. It was Pranali. Last night she had asked him if he would like to go shopping with her the next day. He felt like he was on the seventh heaven. He quickly finished peeing, washed his hands and went into the quadrangle to meet her.
They hailed a cab for Dadar West. She said that it was her favorite spot for shopping. She wanted to buy a dress, a pair of chappals and a few other small items. She spent a good amount of money on all these things.
When he reached home, he had made up his mind. He wanted to propose her. He wanted to get rid of the burden of one-sided love. He wasn’t sure if she would say yes or no. But he was okay with either. He thought that if she said no, he will convince her that they could still remain friends as before. He went online and searched everything that he could find about proposing a girl.
* * *
Mithil looked everywhere, asked everybody, but he did not find Pranali anywhere. Later he thought that she may be inside the college campus as she was one of the volunteers. After standing in the long queue, he finally entered the quadrangle. DJ was playing the latest Bollywood item songs. Quadrangle had started getting crowded. He saw girls wearing pretty dresses, which made them look prettier than they were. He made a round from one corner to the other, but Pranali was nowhere to be seen. Finally he met Rahul from the PR team, who told him that she wasn’t coming.
He suddenly lost interest in the music and the pretty girls and the Rose Day and everything else that was going around him. He wanted to go back home.
He wasn’t sure if he felt disappointed or relieved. He was somewhat happy that he no more had to enact whatever he had planned in his head. He also did not have to worry about how Pranali would react to his proposal. He could now stop building castles in the air. It was all postponed at least by a day.
On his way back, he texted Pranali, but got no reply. When he reached home, he went to the bed straightaway. His enthusiasm had worn off. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to propose her anymore. As he was thinking about it all, he did not realize when he felt asleep.
When he opened his eyes, he looked at the mobile screen to see the time. It was nine in the evening. He also saw that Pranali had replied to his message. The message was, Hey sorry cudnt cum for rose day. Had gone out wid Rohan n guessed what, he proposed me!! I am so happy.🙂 This is the happiest day of my life!! Can’t believe I am in relationship😉
For few seconds, Mithil looked at the screen blankly. He didn’t know how to react. Then he took a deep breath, locked the keypad and went back to sleep.