30 Minutes… A Romantic ‘Thriller’ [Short Story]

A dangerous game is about to begin.

Raja Ravi Varma, Young Woman

He didn’t know back then how crucial those 30 minutes were…

30 minutes. 

1800 seconds.

Tick, tick, tick, tick…

In India, there is a ‘Girl-seeing’ ritual before marriage – generally a formality – as the marriage should have been fixed based on $family$ compatibility, by then. Still, it’s crucial for parents to get their kids’ consent, who (in rare cases) might have the right to reject. So, the couple is given a maximum of 30 minutes to ‘understand’ each other.

“Beta, would you both like to talk to each other for sometime?” asked his future mother-in-law. Since this was the moment he was waiting for with bated-breadth, he grabbed the opportunity and went along with her. The prospect of meeting a girl alone in her room was too thrilling.

Once inside the room, she sat on her computer chair. He quickly followed her and offered his hand for a ‘customary’ hand-shake and said, “Hello, nice to see you”, in spite of having stared at her continuously, outside.

She passed a quick glance at his hands and made a motion towards the other chair in the room, with her eyes, indicating him to sit down there. He was not the type to be taken aback by initial setbacks – he went and sat on the chair, with a smile.

There was silence between them for sometime. He asked, “The weather is good today, isn’t it?”. That, in spite of the temperature being close to 44 C on a hot summer afternoon. She looked up.

“Sorry, I am a bit nervous. These things are new to me, you know”, he said, while admiring her and her silk sari. Isn’t she wearing a sari because she is traditional? His inner mind provided the answer he wanted to hear, ‘Yes’.

Her glance was still affixed to his. She smiled. That’s all it took – his heart broke into a thousand pieces. He was clean bowled, caught, LBW, run-out and everything else – all in a single ball!

Shyly, he continued, “I don’t have any bad habits – drinking, smoking, paan, etc. I have been a top performer in academics throughout my life and now I am settled in a well paying IT job.”

“Do you like to travel?”, she asked.

“Yes. I even bought a Toyota Itios recently”, he beamed, with pride.

“Any hobbies?” she asked.

“I love playing video games. Do you like playing games?”, he asked.

“Yes”, she said with an insightful smile.

“What do you do on weekends?”, he asked.

“I read books”, she said.

Oh, a literary-minded girl. He asked, “Who is your favorite author?”

“Jane Austen, of course”, she said.

“Oh, I too love her books”, he lied. It was evident.

He said, “So, do you sing?”

“No, but I make people dance to my tune”, she dropped another vital clue but he thought maybe she was a hobbyist music composer.

She said, ” I should tell you that I’ve been in relationships.”

What relationships was she talking about? Oh, parents-children, brother-sister, friendships, and such?

“I’ve also been in relationships.”, he asserted.

She said, “And, I am a HMW.”

He wondered what this HMW was. Maybe she liked HMT watches? 

“O.K.”, he replied.

She stood up and asked him, “Shall we go back?”

He stood after her and made a last-minute pitch, “Your sari looks nice.”

“You mean, I look nice in this sari?”, she asked.

“Yes, that also”, he giggled.

After having read his mind sufficiently, she asked, “So, you are going to go out and tell people that you didn’t like me?”

“Why should I? I like…”, he stopped, having realized – at last – that he was giving away too much.

She got all the answers she wanted and walked out, satisfied.

Recollecting this discussion six months after his marriage, he was able to see the entire thing in a new light.

30 minutes.

1800 seconds.

Tick, tick, tick, tick…

Destination Infinity

Photo credit: Wikipedia, copyright free image.