Preethi was anticipating a wild adventerous night ahead as she was picked up from her clinic by her friend Shilpa.
As soon as she got in her friend blared loudly, “you won’t believe what happened in the office today. I’ve told you what happens in the storerooms and restrooms. But today right there in the cubicle in the chair I saw two bodies so entangled that I couldn’t make head or tail of it. When finally disentangled I was shocked to see it was the prude Punitha. So how was your day talking to nutjobs.”
Preethi fastened her seatbelt and said “Usual, no surprises. Had a phone session with a patient. The brother is all concern and patient all praise for the other yet can’t stand a moment of each other.”
“Yeah, that is to be expected, guys with their inflated egos can’t stand each other. If it weren’t for us girs they would wipe themselves out.”
“I am supposed to be the psychologist since when did you become an expert.”
Shilpa shifted gears and accelerating said, “As for as guys are concerned having known them more intimately I am the expert.”
Preethi scoffed at this and said, “knowing more guys in the sack doesn’t make you an expert on them. Wouldn’t say to anyone else, the patient on phone poured filthy wounds trying to come first in a pity parade. Yuck, he is to drop in soon. Without our excursions I’ll go insane myself.”
Shilpa gripping the steering turned to Preethi and asked, “Which pub to hit tonight?”
” ‘Cheers’ is a definite no, after our stunts last week, doubt if they’d let us in. By the way we closely escaped situation like in ‘Hangover’ movie. Guys can afford it not us. Anyway I am not in mood for drinks as I am for charming handsome blokes so let us hit ‘Mayuri.’ ”
“Girl is it really you talking or you finally going to burst your cherry tonight,” said Shilpa and took a sharp turn to the left.
After sometime they were seated adjacent to each other in a table in a partially enclosed enclave. Diagonally across from them were a group of four, two guys and two girls.
Shilpa asked Preethi, “Are those guys of legal age? Must be for otherwise they won’t be allowed here. Why morose, cheer up. We are early, soon the place will swarm with good looking hunks.”
Right as Shilpa finished speaking Preethi nudged Shilpa’s elbow and pointing to the entrance asked, “What do you think of those two?”
“Wow, the tall one with heavily greyed hair is so handsome, so handsome beyond average that I’ll do all he asks. The short one not as charming but has a swagger and style to impress. We are in luck. Pick one immediately.”
Preethi took the menu and looked at it as if pondering and said, “You pick, anyone of the two is okay with me.”
“Damn, that is a hard one but being easy prey of good looks I’ll take the tall, handsome one.”
The two guys settled in to the table across them and immediately ordered drinks without wasting time.
“Alright, I’ll settle for the stylish guy with swagger,” said Preethi.
Their drinks arrived at the same time as the drinks for the guys. The short guy downed his drink bottoms down and started mixing the next one. The four youngsters had started drinking and one girl gulped her drink and ordered the next and gulped again and reordered.
Preethi nudged Shilpa and said, “Did you look at that girl and the way she drowns drink after drink. I am struggling to overcome the taste and sip it grudgingly.”
The short guy downed his second drink, ordered more and sauntered to the table of youngsters.
“Hi, I am Velan, do you guys come here often?” he asked shaking hands and his gruff voice carried clearly to their table.
“We do occasionally,” said a guy and most others nodded.
But the girl downing drinks in rapid succession broke in and said, “No, we are drinking for the first time. We are college first year students.”
The short guy smiled at this and said, “Thought so. No harm as everyone has to begin somewhere. The thing is with experience we can drink rapidly roughly knowing how high we would be. But you guys better wait before next round as alcohol takes time to react. You girl have had enough in my opinion, just wait and you’ll definitely feel the buzz.”
The girl said, “Thought you might give a sermon or advice.”
“Those that sink not offending others deserve a drink, for hiding behind good habits can’t evade death’s stink.”
“Is it Shakespeare?” asked a guy.
“No, must be Keats, Yeats or Shelley,” said the girl who’d been silent till now.
The short guy roared with laughter at this and said, “No, it was vintage Velan, me. I composed it just now while talking to you.”
He then patted the girl on the head and moved over to his table.
Shilpa said, “Hey, your guy is cool. What confidence to casually engage strangers in conversation disarmingly advice and move back. The way you’re gaping you must be taken in too. Wanna trade guys, kidding for I have a knack to know guys good in the sack.”
Soon there were a steady stream of visitors and disco began on the floor below visible from here. Shilpa and Preethi had steadily downed several drinks.
“Now is the right time. I’ll go over to their table and start with the age old line ‘Do I know you from some place. You look so familiar.’ Then I’ll call you and we can both join them at their table.”
“Wait, I am not yet ready. Moreover aren’t guys supposed to hit first. Aren’t we supposed to throw looks and puppy faces to show our interest,” said Preethi defensively.
“What age are you living in girl and you call yourself a feminist. If we don’t move now someone else might. I am not taking risk,” said Shilpa Vehemently.
“I need a few more drinks before I can do something like this,” said Preethi tipsily.
“You’ll be getting forever ready. I am making a move now,” said Shilpa and stood up.
But right at the same time the tall guy stood and descended to the disco. Shilpa looked at anger at Preethi and stuffed a few pieces of chicken in to her mouth. By the time she turned to look at the dance floor, she saw the tall guy swirling a lady in his arms.
“Damn, that was way too fast. Yet knowing he is a player I can approach him when he breaks. Bye sweetie. You’re on your own. Either sulk alone or join the cool guy before I return,” said Shilpa and left.
Preethi studied the short guy downing drink after drink without a care in the world. The way the drinks kept coming she wondered what was this guy’s limit was or after advising the girl is he going to collapse. She didn’t think so. She stood and went to his table without a plan. When she stood right over him looking at him, he looked up at her as if to ask what was the matter.
She stood blankly for a few more seconds and blurted, “Aren’t you Velan?”
The guy showed a bit of surprise at this and part raising himself said, “Yes, I am Velan and you are? Why don’t you have a seat,” and pointed to the chair opposite him.
Preethi remained standing and said, “Sorry, thought you were someone else. Thought you were Velan. My mistake, let me leave.”
Velan laughed at this openly and said, “I am Velan and may I know who you are and how you know me.”
“Me, I don’t know you, overheard your name. They said this pickup line worked like a charm all the time but why it didn’t work for me I don’t know,” said Preethi drunk and swaying a lot.
Velan laughed openly at this and said, “Doesn’t matter. Why don’t you sit with me for a while.”
“Can’t, feel funny inside. Stomach doing summersaults and heavy urge to puke that I am resisting.”
“In that case it is better to puke. You can drink later if you want. Allow me to escort you to the ladies room.”
He escorted her to the rest room and she emerged later looking very pale but a lot sober. She kept looking at her feet unable to look him in the face. He escorted her back to his table. She looked at the dance floor to see Shilpa and the tall guy dancing fast together.
“Don’t you dance?” she asked furtively.
“Not really, but I can accompany you if you want to.”
“No, I dance only when drunk but I am so sober right now. What do you do?”
“Businesses here and there, not much really. What do you do?” he asked evasively.
“I am a clinical psychologist.”
“Oh, interesting. Don’t you detest not qualifying as psychiatrist?”
That question burst open a dam within her and she kept talking and talking. He seemed knowledgeable about her field as evident from his sharp questions. He listened mostly as she talked nudging her mildly. She told him her life story and all her personal experiences. She couldn’t believe that she was telling all this to a stranger, things that she hadn’t even shared with Shilpa. But she simply couldn’t control herself as she realised he was her Mr. Right.
Shilpa came back and was introduced to Velan. Preethi expected her to sit down but she just went back to their original table signalling Preethi with her eyes. Preethi excused herself and went over to Shilpa.
Preethi stood over Shilpa and asked, “Seem a bit early. What happened?”
“I put a move on him but he smiled and said that I was old enough to be his daughter. I am no timid girl to not understand such clear message. I politely left. He is a nice bloke yet I can’t be at that table.”
“I think he is the guy for me. Might go all the way with him if chance permits.”
“Don’t be silly. The first time should be special. Don’t decide on a day. Take your time. Anyway go now girl, I’ll wait.”
Preethi went over to Velan’s table again and saw all the youngsters chatting and laughing with him and saying goodbyes as they left.
She said to him, “It is strange that I who hear others’ life stories and troubles should pour my heart out to you confessing my troubles. I know what drudgery it is sometimes to hear all sorry stories of all the nutcase. Hope you don’t think me like that.”
Velan just kept smiling at this statement and said, “Is it that bad?”
“You won’t believe, I just talked to a patient before coming here and he who was way older than me was pathetic near tears and asking my advice. I am sincere though and always do my best without bias but sometimes I’ve to escape all of it. What contrast you are so sure of yourself beaming with confidence. Do you like me, do you find me attractive?”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down, I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is Preethi and I run the Avanti clinic. Is this bio sufficient. Now tell me am I attractive? Am I your type? am I…”
“Wait, wait, the way you are coming on to me now or flirting with me is so unethical on so many levels do you realise that?”
“I wasn’t flirting but even if I was how does it become unethical? Is it because I am a woman? So tiny minded are you?”
Velan stood up smiling as the tall guy was climbing the stairs and said, “It is unethical because of the code of conduct between shrinks and patients forbidding any relation between them. I am the patient you talked to on the phone earlier today. My brother has arrived and I must leave. See you later at the clinic.”
Preethi hiding her face with her hands whispered, “How can I take you on after this. You won’t respect me. It won’t work, the deference needed has been shattered.”
“Maybe for others but I defer to others when needed and you’ll be professional I know. This is a story for both our grand kids. So don’t be embarrassed or regret this encounter. Turbulent rivers cause smoothest pebbles and roughest pebbles are found in clear calm waters. This is for our situation mull it over. Bye.”