The Outright Question
by Kunal Nayak
As a typically named Indian, Abhishek was expected to fall for the prettiest girl in his class. He saw how they looked at her, his mates. And frankly, he could see why.
The girl in question had been drop-dead gorgeous. A slim figure, skin fair but not abnormally so, hair that waved and shined like a mane of a horse whilst smelling sweet and top-brand shampoo-ey. Her eyes were nothing of the ordinary, yet they sparkled when needed, catching everyone’s attention. Her face might have been sculpted by Gods, by the look of it. Imperfection in terms of beauty was something that wouldn’t come across your mind when you thought of Priya. Yes, another typical Indian name.
When they looked at her, they forgot everything else. Angel, the classmates called her. Even the girls. A typical fad amongst the youth of Mumbai, Abhishek would always think. Some would take a shy glimpse of her, in the middle of lectures. Again, boys and girls. For boys, she was THE PERFECT girlfriend. For girls, she was the subject of chronic envy.
Abhishek had heard one of his female friends say that she did not need make up, or jewellery since she was fair and sparkly. Some annoyingly jealous rivals of hers would call her Vampire from Twilight. That would always make Abhishek chuckle hard.
And Priya was not only perfect in terms of looks. She was good in studies, and most of the professors adored her. She would be obedient, although mischievous too when needed. She was one of those Chetan Bhagat heroines: giggling, smart yet hot, bookish yet friendly, eye catching yet shy when necessary… It was like a OnePlus phone: everything in one package.
But you know what that means. With great power, comes great responsibility but with great beauty comes great dudes trying to hit on her openly. Even in a conservative country like India.
Abhishek would always see her with her few, choicest friends. She would live in her own world, whilst dating a slew of guys from his college. He never cared once. He just didn’t feel attracted to her. Sure, she was pretty. Okay, she was more than pretty. She was smoking hot and some parts of his body liked her more than others. But for Abhishek, she came off a bit pretentious.
Perhaps that had been the effect of Facebook memes, or American TV shows, or those typical books where every pretty girl was a villain. One look at a pretty girl and one always jumps to the conclusion that she is either bitchy, or crazy, or pretentious or slu—you know what I mean. It just a natural instinct of a person of Abhishek’s age in this century.
The one thing that irked Abhishek the most was the stupidity. A clever girl like her, he had thought first, yet as time progressed she turned into a typical girl. She would be heard clicking selfies with her gal pals. She would make those weird chicken faces (or is it called a duck face?) and her Facebook timeline would be filled with her own pictures. No, just her OWN pictures. Literally.
Narcissist much, Priya Abhishek would think always when those pics would flood his face.
From a perfect angel to a typical attention-seeking commoner, her transition reached the peak when she started being famous for her frivolous lifestyle than her looks.
Abhishek had sworn a long time back, at her thousandth selfie, that he would never date such a girl. Or even fall for one like her.
One day, a comment from a friend piqued Abhishek’s interest. It was a simple statement, one that was very common and he had heard a million times. Yet for some strange reasons, this particular time caught his eye. His friend had asked: Have you noticed how she is always single?
And notice he did. For years, Priya had been gawked at. She was pretty and guys approached her like moth to a flame. But she had always politely declined. Not once had she ever been seen in the company of guys for too long. Sure, she hung out with guys, but usually those seemed to be already in relationships. This thought irked him quite a bit.
One day, he decided to ask her. But how could he?
Abhishek had never been close with Priya. Sure, they had been paired together for some lab assignments some years ago, and they had shared a common friend named Lord of the Rings but that had been the extent of it. And besides, what did he care? What did he care about her life? What did he care? What did he…
Fine, thought Abhishek one day. Finally admitting defeat, he realized that perhaps he too had a crush on her. Perhaps, he too was a typical college gawker. But what was the harm in that?
Things took a turn when he was sitting alone in the lab, waiting for his classmates to come. The teacher was missing too. He had always been the first. And he hated that. Abhishek hated being early at everything, but that was a result of his parents’ upbringing. He could not help it.
And then Priya appeared. Stupid romantics would call it fate, but Abhishek called it timing as they both waited in silence for the batch of students to arrive.
Abhishek could almost hear the comical cricket sound in the background, the one they show in cartoons when the silence is noticeable. Taking a deep breath knowing he would repent it later, Abhishek spoke.
“So what is up?” he asked her softly. “Have you finished watching the new Hobbit film?”
She seemed perplexed at the conversation since they had not spoken much, but nevertheless replied “Oh! Not really. It sucks big time, I know it.”
And of course, in no time, they were launching into great details of the LotR universe. They chatted, they laughed, and they had fun. After what seemed like hours, they finally realized that no one had appeared.
After some minutes of calls, they both realized that the Principal had issued a holiday because of some stupid reason and they both lived far away in separate directions so Abhishek asked outright, without thinking, “Wanna have a cup of coffee with me?”
Her beautiful eyes sparkled at the thought, and she grinned widely as she replied “How about a Maharaja Mac instead? I am frigging hungry! And thirsty from all the talking.”
“So how come you are single?” was the first obvious question that he asked her as he sipped his coke-without-ice. “We both know you’re hot. So how come you have never dated?”
“Because no one has ever asked me…” she said simply.
That took Abhishek aback. He stared at her, and that was all that Priya needed for a further explanation.
“Yes, tons of guys have hinted at it. Others have made sleazy comments. Many have tried to, but failed. Some even asked my friends to ask me. But nobody has outright asked me the question. It is a simple question. And still they get scared.”
He pondered that for a moment. Could it be true that-
“Do you mean to say that I am the first person to ask you out?” he asked, his eyebrows practically raised out of his forehead.
She never gave him an answer. But then again, it wasn’t needed.
Abhishek still chuckles at the thought of the reaction the whole college gave a few weeks later when they both broke the news about their very joyful relationship.
Abhishek still recalls how all it took him was the courage to ask her the one single question, the same one that countless others had been too craven to ask. Perhaps, bravery does pay off although its not the same type of bravery.
Also, Playing the Bagpipes* was great.
Pushing your boundaries is good for you, or so I have heard. I suck at it, though. However just this once, I want to try pushing my biggest boundary: story telling. Here is a cute one that was inspired by a post I saw somewhere, about something. Too bad I don’t remember it but it was something about how the hot girl was never directly asked out on a date because of which she would proudly remain single…
I have not proofread this as I am busy with my exams. So gimme me a break. Anyhoo, Is it good? Is it bad? Did I do the right thing by pushing the boundaries? Help me answer my own questions! Not based on any true story, although I wish it was real 😉 (NO, Priya and Abhishek are not real, they are literally two people whose names I googled as ‘Most Common Names’. Although Rahul was the first one that popped up under the BOY section, my brother is named that and I don’t want people who know me, badgering him with questions.
Okay, who says that?
F*ck you, be nice to your viewers!
Love, (that is better)
*A How I Met Your Mother reference, if you caught it 😀
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