It was a humid afternoon for Mrs. Verma, she wanted to go out on the terrace of her two bedroom apartment for her usual afternoon scrutiny of the neighbourhood hoping to pick up on some gossip but she thought the better of her plan and instead turned on the cooler and decided to catch up on the re-run on her favorite daily soap. She pushed her plump self deeper into the sofa and rested her grey hair on the yellow sofa cushion. Ding! It was the one sound she did not want to hear at this hour – The door bell. Cussing the possibility of the postman coming in at odd hours and cussing the watchman even more for having let the postman in, she walked towards the door.
“Avinash! Is that really you?!”, she yelped loud enough to startle the man standing at her door.
“Hello aunty, it’s nice to see you too“, Avinash replied politely with a grin, holding on to the package in his hand firmly.
“This is a pleasant surprise, come in beta“, Mrs. Verma stepped inside leading towards the sofa, “Can I get you something? Tea, Juice?”
“No aunty, I am fine“, still carrying his grin Avinash asked reluctantly questioned,
“Is she home?”
“Mouni? No beta she is in office, I guess they are prepping her for the space excursion. That’s why she had to go on a weekend“, Mrs.Verma sensed the disappointment in Avinash’s expressions ,”Do you want to call her and check what time she’ll be returning?”
“No aunty, that’s okay. Could you give her this?“, he handed over a card from the package he was holding onto.
“Sure beta“, Mrs. Verma held the card and couldn’t help herself from reading it, “Avi this…Beta are you sure?”
“I have never been so sure Aunty, do I have your blessings?”
11:30 PM, Avinash’s place:
‘Where d’you wanna go? How much you wanna risk? I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts. Some superhero, Some fairytale bliss. Just something I can turn to. Somebody I can kiss. I want something just like this’
Avinash woke up with a jolt at the sound of his mobile ringing out loud. He looked at the display screen and saw a familiar name.
“Are you okay?”
“You’re getting married! What the hell Avi!”
Avinash smiled as he heard the well acquainted agitated voice of his astronaut friend.
“It’s late Mouni, we can talk about this tomorrow!”
“Are you effing kidding me? I am downstairs, get your ass here Mr. Roy!”
“I can’t do this right now Mou”
“Either you come down or I come up for aunty’s awesome coffee, choice is yours Avi”
“Fine, stay where you are. Usual spot in 5?”
“Usual spot in 2, not a second more!”
Avinash wore his jacket and headed out to the terrace garden of his bungalow. He spotted a pair of sneakers stretched out of a white tent at the end of the garden.
“Hey astro“, Avinash smiled as her looked at a visibly annoyed girl curled up in pair of jeans and blue sweatshirt which bore the four letters he grew up listening to -ISRO
“Don’t ‘hey astro’ me you sneaky rat! You are getting married Avi? When were you planning to tell me that? After you had freaking kids! Oh hang on, that won’t be possible now coz I am going to kill you tonight“, Mouni snarled at her childhood friend and blessed him with a few pebbles from a jasmine pot nearby.
“What the hell Mou, would you stop pelting me with stones“, Avinash fended the stones and held her arms, “What’s the matter? You are not upset because of the wedding, are you?”
“Shut up Avi, of course I am upset! My best friend is getting married and how do I come to know about it? An effing card on my coffee table! Whatever happened to telling each other everything?”
Avinash was trying real hard to read her mind, she was clearly displaying emotions he never thought existed.
“I am sorry Mou, I know I should have told you earlier, But things happened so quick. Besides, you have been really busy. I didn’t want to bother you..”
“Bother me? Really Avi? Since when did you catch on this formal friends bullshit crap?”
“What’s wrong Mou? I know it’s not my wedding, what is really bothering you? Did that scientist boyfriend of yours pull out another boring date on you?”
“Nah it’s worse, he proposed Avi!”
Avinash had expected any other response than the one he was hearing to, Mouni had managed to stupefy the calm and composed self of him.
“Ugh, I am so pathetic Avi. You’re getting married and I am focussing on my love life here. So who is the unlucky girl whose gonna waste her life around the most successful lawyer this city has ever seen?“, Mouni questioned and noticed the change of expressions Avinash was displaying. He looked worried.
“What did you say?“, Avinash questioned with a poker face.
“I said whose the unlucky…“, Mouni continued cheerfully as Avinash interrupted her.
“To the proposal Mou, what did you say?“, Avinash was losing it by the minute.
“Nothing. I just, you know….didn’t say anything“, Mouni replied with hesitation. She had never seen her best friend being upset about anything. There was this one time may be when she was being eve-teased in school but apart from that he was always as cool as a cucumber.
“I don’ know what that means Mou“, Avinash replied in a bleak tone
“That’s exactly what Samir said. I need time Avi, I have asked him for some time. You know there’s this space training going on. We are launching next month so there’s just no time for all this right now”
“I think you should go Mou, my fiance wouldn’t appreciate you being here at this time of the night”, Avinash spoke in a firm tone and stood up hinting Mouni to leave.
Mouni was confused to say the least with the sudden change in Avinash’s demeanour. Did he get hit by a bus, she thought to herself. May be its black magic, I am sure he’s marrying a witch.
“Avi, what the hell? Are you on drugs?”
“Just leave Mou, I guess I’ll see you at the wedding“, Avinash turned and left a completely perplexed Mouni alone on the terrace.
Mouni could feel her stomach churn, what the hell is this disgusting feeling! Avi, you fool, I can’t come to your wedding coz I’ll be away exploring the moon at that time. That’s why I came to see you! Why is there water in your eyes Mouni, stop being such a girl! Screw you Avi!