We had proposed on February 14 and had started to treat each other more than 'Just Friends'. Our dream world was getting built with every passing date. We were quite successfully transgressing set rules of parents and friends. Monica tells me one day, “My best friends- Miss X and Miss Y doubt the individual I am dating.” I was to face an all women parliament and win majority with 100% votes in my favor.
The trio- Miss X, Miss Y and Monica had been friends for several years now. All belonged to middle-class families. Middle-class families in those days were not so evolved, I believe. The parents had significant control on their teenagers unlike today. In those days, freedom to venture out for self-development (education, sports etc.) came with pre-conditions. Some of the obvious ones were deeply ingrained in their minds from early teens- Keep away from boys. All three looked attractive, who may not attract attention of flirts at first glance, but surely the girls to be friends with.
Miss X had a clever smile while Miss Y wore a smile of innocence but not without a strong mind that read more than Miss X. Incidentally, all were students of psychology and I visualized myself as a 'Subject' left unguarded to all tests of personality and truthfulness.
It was going to be a lunch meeting at Mehfil restaurant in Sector 17, Chandigarh. Since all three would have never dared-out in night, they chose to mend rules during daytime. I reached venue on time while girls arrived fifteen minutes later. All three, as I remember, were simply dressed. Miss X and Miss Y looked to be hesitant and little nervous. Monica on the other hand, was wearing a broad smile.
Quite contrary to my expectations, the girls looked unprepared for the meeting. They did not have anything specific that could question my commitment or character. Rather they chose to be observant. Imagine the risk- Upcoming Psychologists relying on 'Observation' skills that have been polluted with the preaching, caveats and instructions from their mothers.
I decided to go ahead, exploit the extrovert in me to get comfortable with them quickly. I started to question, and share what Monica told me about them. This, I feel, had made Miss X and Miss Y a little more comfortable and assured that guy facing them is not a rival but a potential friend of opposite gender. After all, they all dream and talked about boys. I know what they talked, bunking classes by hiding themselves in the Assembly Hall of MCM DAV. Miss X or Miss Y use to interrupt the class, “Excuse me! Mam, Monica is called by her Sports teacher.”
Monica had been sitting next to me but restricting herself to smiles with occasional head hiding between her arms, resting on the table. Amidst our conversation, we had ordered for starters followed by lunch. I continued to talk more while girls fed themselves quickly. Miss Y had looked at her watch just a second ago and pointed to Miss X about time running out. In fact, Miss Y drove “Discipline” within the trio. They had to be back in time. The conversation which could have lasted till evening ended abruptly. Talking had stopped and we all were just putting an end (for the sake of formality), to leftovers on our plates.
Girls left even before I could settle the bill. I sat back to re-collect and settle the bill. This was my first formal outing at a restaurant. I had been a regular visitor to Dhaabas but Mehfil was a grade higher for me. The waiter carried the bill and expected a tip. When he did not see the tip coming, he asked for it and unaware about the protocol, I put out a ten rupee note on the table. He grumbled, “Keep it with you, you have spent two hours here and paid nothing.” “How dare he say this to me?”, I thought and without any further discussion, I shamefully put the note back in my pocket and moved out. I decided to never return to Mehfil again.
Returning from the meeting, I assured myself that I had managed to drive home the point that I loved Monica a lot and they had no reason to be insecure or possessive about her.
Today, Miss X is happily married and is in US while Miss Y is in Australia. The day we save enough for a business class travel, I have perfect hosts waiting for me.