But on the contrary, I surprised myself by remaining calm. It all made sense to me. Meera was the centre of attraction for several guys in office. She joined our team two weeks ago, a 2008 engineering graduate from some college in Kerala. She had told me the name of the college when we were first introduced but it did not register. I had been busy staring at her. I usually don’t ogle at people of the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter), but i believe the fault was not mine in that case. Why should somebody be so attractive and expect not to be ogled at?
I had my share of misunderstandings with my team lead. To put it mildly, I believed he belonged in a separate planet where apes ruled, but I had wanted to kiss his flabby cheeks and thank him for not only getting her in our team but also for seating her in my cubicle.
Since that fateful day two weeks ago, I had noticed a flurry of activity in my cubicle. Guys from other cubicles started to frequent my cubicle under several pretexts. People I had never spoken to had started to come and ask “How are you buddy? What is going on?” trying to pick up a conversation.
My team lead, a bachelor, had suddenly begun to take a sudden interest in my wellbeing. It had all resulted in my losing a quiet afternoon nap I used to enjoy in my cubicle.
But I myself was not immune to the effects of Meera. She had caused quite a flutter in the whole Development Bay, and I had to be inhuman to escape that.
She had a round face, with slightly chubby cheeks perfected by two dimples which sprang to life whenever she smiled. She was fair and the most noticeable feature on her face was her wide eyes which meandered beautifully in the corners. She accentuated the sensuous effect of her eyes by applying Kajal lightly on her eye lashes. She had a slight athletic build and even though she usually wore loose salwars, they could not completely diminish the grace of her body.
So when Rajat told me that he found Meera interesting, I was not surprised. I glanced at Rajat. He had been watching me trying to guage my reaction. It was dark in the bus; else he would have read murder in my eyes.
“Oh, that is cool Rajat. So you think Meera is interesting, huh? Why is that?” I had to make an effort to keep my voice level.
“She has a very charming personality. She talked to me the other day regarding the applications that she would have to support and all the while I couldn’t put two words together in front of her. Why is that?”
“Becuase you are dumb and belong in a museum”, I had to hold myself from blurting out. Instead I replied, “Dude that happens to almost every guy when they speak to a pretty lady.”
“Oh but I have seen you speak to her and I just wish I had your confidence.” Rajat said ruefully.
“Ah, well some people are naturally endowed with such confidence. But we are a very rare breed.” I felt slightly smug. The situation was under my control.
“By the way, do you like her?” I wanted to gather more information before I put my master plan into action.
“I don’t know. I mean… I feel my throat dry up when I try talking to her. I cannot keep myself from staring at her every once in a while. I don’t know. What does all this mean? Does it mean that I am in Love?” Rajat blurted all this in one breath.
“Now now, hold on. You have to think twice before using the ‘L’ word. Hmm… You know what I think? I think you have a crush on Meera. Crushes happen all the time to everyone.”
“Sure. Once in my college I had a crush on two or three ladies at the same time. I used to stare at them all the time and finally it all just vanished.” I was playing the role of a Love doctor with élan.
“Wow. How did it all go away?” I could tell that Rajat was impressed.
“Well, one of the girls told her boyfriend and we had a chat and then I… See that is not that important. What is important is that your crush for Meera will vanish in a while.” I said
“Ok.” Rajat was not that convinced.
During the rest of the bus ride, Rajat was quieter than usual. I knew it was only a matter of time before he sought me out again for some more advice. And that time I would be ready.
That night Rajat cornered me once again while I was slotting in a second goal past Real Madrid in FIFA08 in my PC.
“I cannot seem to get Meera out of my head. I don’t think it is just a crush. Dude, you have to help me.” Rajat said in a pleading tone.
I paused the game and sighed dramatically and turned to meet him with a bored expression. But my brain was playing out the different replies and suggestions that I should make.
Rajat said, “Sorry. You are the one who has experience in such situations. Please help me.”
I looked at the pleading face of Rajat and for a moment I felt bad for what I was about to do. But then I steeled myself and reminded myself that Rajat was a potential rival and I had to vanquish him.
“Ok Rajat. Listen to me carefully. If you believe you love Meera, you have to play the game with care.”
“The game of Love, my friend, the game of love… Girls like Meera are rare to come by and she will have several people swooning over her trying to impress her. So you are in for a tough fight.”
“So what do I do?” worry was written all over Rajat’s face.
“Rajat, let me complete. I was coming to that. As I was saying girls like Meera will have many guys around her trying to be very nice and friendly with her. So you should be mean towards her.”
There was silence in the room for a while. I let the idea sink in. He was sitting motionless on his bed and blinked his eyes in disbelief.
“I have to be mean to her?” Rajat seemed shocked by the very idea. He was always very polite to everybody and I could see that this idea was not to his liking. But the success of my plans depended on him taking my advice and acting upon it.
So I turned on my charm and said, “Look Rajat, Meera and you have common applications to support. So she will approach you with her doubts. You have to be rude to her. You have to behave as though you are tired of helping her.”
“It is all part of the plan, man. You keep this charade up for a week and we will then discuss further strategy. By then you will see Meera taking more interest in you”
Rajat was confused. But he seemed to trust my knowledge in such matters. For a moment I felt bad, but it was inevitable. He had to go down.
Finally Rajat spoke. “Alright man. I see your logic. I will do that.”
With a satisfied air of a victor, I turned my attention to the screen. Rajat was too busy thinking about Meera to notice the sly grin spreading across my face.