Traveling to destiny
Episode 1: The Train
Pari was 20. She was traveling in the train, 2nd class AC. In front of her was a girl chewing gum with short jet black hair. Her eyes were also black along with a black eyeliner and black lipstick. Pari had never seen an attire like that or the carefree attitude with which she carried herself.
She looked at Pari and winked. Pari realised that she had been staring at the girl for some time now. Blushing, she picked a book from her bag and started reading it. The girl put her legs up on Pari’s seat and kept looking at Pari unabashedly.
“You are a student?” The girl asked.
“Yes. I am a student. My name is Pari. And you?” Pari asked politely.
The girl kept looking at Pari chewing gum slowly as if saying that the name doesn’t suit you.
“Pari. Like angels and stuff. Cool.” She finally said.
“Yes. Like angels. What is your name?”
“Why should I tell you my name?” The girl asked.
Pari looked at her shocked and went back to reading the book. Unfortunately, she couldn’t focus on the book anymore. The girl was still staring at her.
“What?” Pari finally asked.
The girl stood up and sat beside Pari.
“Have you ever kissed a boy?” She asked.
“I asked, have you ever kissed a boy.”
“It’s none of your business.”
The girl kept looking at Pari waiting for an answer.
“Yes. I have kissed a boy.” Pari finally said, her voice almost a whisper.
“Oooh.. I have never kissed one. How does it feel?” The girl said almost purring. Pari was shocked as she had almost made a mental image of this girl as someone who had been with many boys.
“It feels good.” Pari said feeling awkward giving kissing reviews to a random girl on a train.
“And the beard or moustache. I always thought it would be very itchy.” The girl said smiling.
“Yeah sometimes it is. But you get used to it.” Pari found herself saying. She felt very strange being an expert on a subject like this as compared to the girl sitting beside her.
“I think I would prefer kissing a girl. Smooth skin, beautiful lips and no hair to irritate.” The girl said as her hand traveled on Pari’s now, white face.
“I’m sorry.” Pari said unable to comprehend what she’d just heard.
Before Pari could react, the girl leaned towards Pari and kissed her.
Pari immediately stood up and moved away from the girl. She was too shaken to say anything.
“I guess you prefer hair and itchiness.” The girl said unwavered.
Pari didn’t say anything and kept looking at the girl warily.
Couple of hours went silently but then the girl spoke again.
“I am bored. Trains are boring.”
Pari didn’t say anything.
“You plan to ignore me for 8 more hours.”
Pari kept looking at her book. However, she had stopped reading it. The book was boring and Pari hadn’t packed any other book.
“How old are you, sixteen?” The girl asked.
“I am twenty.” Pari said before she could stop. She hated when people thought that she was a school girl.
“Phew! I was almost scared that you were a minor, considering your reaction.” The girl spoke again.
Pari couldn’t control and spoke back. Soon, she had kept the book aside and was talking to the girl who had just recently tried to kiss her. Looking past that incident, the girl was actually quite interesting. Before long, the two were sitting beside each other giggling and gossiping.
Once again, the girl leaned on Pari. This time, Pari didn’t move back.
“Told you, without hair is better.” The girl said as Pari looked at what had just happened. She looked around and saw that everyone in the compartment was asleep. She felt relieved.
The girl was looking at Pari curiously.
“What?” Pari asked suddenly conscious.
“Come.” She said and took Pari by her hand. Pari tried to protest but the girl took her to the nearest toilet.
“You are going to remember this night forever.” The girl said to Pari and kissed her. Pari’s mind calculated a thousand things and then shut down. She melted into the girl’s arms.
Next morning, when Pari woke up, she saw the girl packed and ready to go.
“Hey! My stop is here.” The girl said and looked at Pari with a wide smile.
“Yeah. One of my contacts slipped last night so I threw the other one too.” The girl said as the train came to a halt.
“Gotta go now. It was nice meeting you Pari.”
“Wait. I don’t know your name. What is your name?” Pari asked hurriedly.
The girl laughed.
“I guess you deserve to know it now.”
Episode 2: The Plane
‘Also, get me donuts.’ Nisha typed furiously. She was on edge. This was her second flight of the month and another one was already planned next week.
‘Already bought them, from your favorite shop. :)’ Came the reply.
‘Who’s a good bro. You are. Yes you are.. :P’ Nisha typed smiling devilishly.
An angry smile came as the reply and Nisha laughed loudly. This was immediately met by surprised glances by neighbouring seats.
‘Ok bro. Gotta go. Take off time.’
‘Have a safe flight. And don’t worry about the flight. Relax.’ The reply came.
‘Yeah. Will try to relax as I am thrown from one city to another in a large pressurised metallic container.’
‘Ha Ha Ha. :P’
‘BTW… There is a hot girl next to me. Hopefully, she will be able to distract me enough. ;)’
‘Haha.. All the best.’
Nisha put her phone on silent and looked out the window. She took sly glances at the girl next to her. She was reading something on her Kindle and looked completely engrossed. Nisha counted to ten and then without giving her mind time to scare her, she started speaking.
“Hi. What are you reading?”
The girl looked at her as if coming out of a trance.
“Uh.. Huh.. Pride and Prejudice.”
“Wow. That’s my favorite book. I have read it hundreds of times. What is your count?” Nisha spoke elated.
“My first actually. And honestly, I don’t understand what the fuss is about.” The girl said in a bored voice.
“It.. umm.. gets better. You looked really engrossed?” Nisha asked hesitantly.
“Yeah. That’s just my classroom face. It helped me in the class when professors are drawling.” The girl said, smiling for the first time.
Nisha’s heart fluttered as she saw an opening.
“Wow! You look so studious. I would’ve never guessed that…”
“That I am a bimbo.” The girl said smirking.
“Noooo.. More like hot babe.” Nisha said coyly.
“I’m not good with lectures. I find books a much better source of learning. And I am both a hot babe and studious.” The girl said winking at Nisha.
“Why are you even reading it if you don’t like it?”
“My ex used to talk about it all the time. She said I was like Lydia Bennet. So, I thought let’s see what the fuss is about.”
“Lydia Bennet. That’s an interesting comparison.” Nisha said.
“You don’t seem to approve of Lydia, I see.”
“No. Nothing like that.”
The girl closed her Kindle and looked straight into Nisha’s eyes.
“So, tell me about Lydia.”
Her eyes were sparkling blue with a shade of green floating around. It looked like her eyes changed color in the light. Nisha was mesmerised.
“Lydia is a very selfish character. She screws up and doesn’t even understand how badly she screwed up.” Nisha spoke.
The girl looked thoughtfully at Nisha for a few moments and then laughed.
“Yup. Sounds about right. I am Lydia.”
Nisha shuffled. Her hazel-brown eyes were stuck to this girl and the more she saw her, the less she looked like Lydia.
“Is that why you broke up with your ex? She thought you were too selfish?” Nisha asked.
“No. We broke up because she cheated on me. However, she does make this argument that she did that because I was too selfish.” The girl shrugged.
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Nisha said.
The girl smiled faintly and nodded. She looked at the menu and ordered a chicken dish. Nisha ordered the same along with some wine.
“You don’t like flights?” The girl asked.
“No, I don’t. How did you know?” Nisha asked.
“This is your second glass of wine and you already smelled of alcohol when you sat beside me.”
“Well. I can be an alcoholic.” Nisha retorted and then realised that she was arguing against herself.
“Your drinking style is not alcoholic.”
“Alcoholics have a drinking style? I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, of course. There are different kinds of drinkers and each has there own style. You, for example, are an extremely casual drinker. I don’t think you drink more than once a month or something like that.”
Nisha looked at her as if she was seeing a witch.
“Observing people and studying a bit of psychology in college.”
Nisha looked at her completely smitten and then leaned towards her for the kiss. Before her lips could reach their intended destination, the girl put her finger between the two pair of lips.
“Two things. One, I am not looking for a casual fling. I am over that phase of my life. And you don’t look like someone who’s ready for something serious.”
Nisha smiled and said — “Try me.”
“Ok. And the second thing.”
“Yes.” Nisha said purring.
“What is your name?” The girl asked.
“Huh!” Nisha mumbled incoherently.
“Yeah, you are ready for a serious relationship.” The girl said and smiled. The smile wasn’t mean but more of an amused look.
Nisha shook her head.
“Ok. Let’s try this again. My name is Nisha. What’s your name?” Nisha said extending her arm.
The girl looked at Nisha’s hand and after a pause shook it.
“Hi Nisha. My name is Jasmine.” Jasmine said and pulled Nisha closer.
After several minutes of passionate kissing, which must have made the air-hostesses uncomfortable, Nisha asked Jasmine on a proper date.
“Yeah sure. I’m going to a weekend party in Qi-city right now but after that, I am free.”
“Hey… I am going to Qi-city too. My parents live there. It’s their anniversary.”
“30th anniversary. Party’s on a boat?”
“I guess I am going to your parent’s anniversary party.”
“Awesome. So, Jasmine. Do you wanna have dinner tonight with me, on a boat?”
Jasmine giggled and nodded.
Episode 3: The Car
“Pari..” Karan said for the 10th time, without getting a response.
“Come on Pari. You can’t not talk to me for 2 more hours.”
“Hmmpphh.” Pari replied challenging Karan’s premise. She was driving the car and pointedly looking at the road.
“Err. Or maybe you can. But I can’t. I need to talk to you.” Karan pleaded.
“No Karan, you don’t need to talk to me now. You know when you needed to talk to me. Before taking that useless detour. One hour. One whole hour wasted.” Pari chided angrily.
“You know it wasn’t useless. It was for the donuts.” Karan said defensively.
“YOU COULD’VE BOUGHT THEM FROM THE AIRPORT!” Pari screamed. She finally lost her cool and immediately regretted it.
She waited for Karan to reply but no reply came. She turned and saw Karan holding the donut box like a baby. Like he used to cradle his sister. His spoilt brat, childish and crazy sister.
“I’m sorry.” Pari said in a strong voice. This wasn’t the first time the two had fought due to Karan’s sister Nisha and Pari was used to bursting out and then apologising.
“This is her favorite donut shop.” Karan said in a whisper. Pari had never seen Karan mumble. Even when he was speaking softly, his voice was clear, crisp and coherent, like his thoughts and personality. Except for his huge blind spot for his sister, Karan was perfect.
Unfortunately, for Pari, that was too huge a blind spot to ignore.
“If you would’ve told her that you had crossed the shop, she would’ve understood.” Pari said, not believing a word of what she said.
“Yeah. I accidentally told her that I had already bought the donuts from there.”
Pari shook her head. She had been asleep when this whole conversation happened between Karan and Nisha. When she read the messages, she had been beyond herself. The way Nisha had replied to Karan boiled Pari’s blood but she couldn’t do anything about it. Karan doted on his sister and could find no wrong in her. In many ways, it gave Nisha the confidence to come out openly as gay but other than that, Pari found nothing positive about Karan’s blind love for his sister.
The two sat silently for over an hour. Pari hated every second of it. She cursed Nisha some more.
“And why can’t she go from the airport to the boat herself?” Pari said.
“Because she’s never done that.”
“She’s isn’t a kid. She can go from the airport to anywhere by a cab.”
Karan looked at Pari and Pari knew that the topic was over. Karan had picked Nisha from airport always and he will be doing it forever.
The car was again silent. This six hour road trip was not at all turning out as Pari had hoped. The first three hours had gone perfectly with Karan making her laugh, telling stories about everything on the road and creating new ones for the things without stories. Unfortunately, Pari dozed off for an hour and the whole trip changed on the other side of that sleep.
Pari tried to control her anger when she heard about the detour but reading the messages pushed her off the edge.
‘That’s why it is said that you shouldn’t check the spouse’s phone. Nothing good comes out of that.’ Pari said to herself as the silence extended.
“I love you.” Pari heard these words and looked at Karan flabbergasted.
Karan looked as serious as ever.
“What?” Pari asked.
“Just wanted to make clear. Our fight has not changed how I feel about you. Not one bit.” Karan said without mincing words.
Pari bit back a sob and stopped the car. She turned and kissed Karan. Karan fiercely responded and held her face in his gentle hands. Pari needed this.
“You drive. I’ll hold the stupid donuts.” Pari said as tears started to flow from her eyes.
“You know what I think.” Karan said once again smiling.
“What?” Pari said absent-mindedly. She was looking at Karan with fondness.
“I think you are just uncomfortable around Nisha. Because she flirts with you.” Karan said teasingly.
“That is one more reason I don’t like her.” Pari hated how blatantly Nisha flirted with her. Pari was brought up in a conservative family and Nisha did make her uncomfortable. Not just that; the way Nisha acted around Pari agonised her even more.
“You know she does that just because she gets a reaction.”
“So, I am her Pavlov’s experiment?” Pari said, trying to keep her annoyance out of her voice. She didn’t want to lose the jovial Karan for the next two hours.
“Haha. Maybe. But you know if she wouldn’t have flirted with you, we wouldn’t have met.”
“Yeah. Maybe. Alright. Yes. If she hadn’t flirted with her and I hadn’t thrown my drink at her face, you wouldn’t have come to apologise on her behalf and I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you. You happy now. She’s the reason I am in a perfect relationship right now.” Pari said and then stuck her tongue at Karan.
“I don’t understand one thing though. How are you still uncomfortable about the whole gay thing despite that train incident. Cognitive dissonance much!” Karan said.
“Urghh. I hate telling you that. I told you. It was weird and if anything, it increased my discomfort.” Pari said and looked out the window.
The reminder from Karan brought the memory back in Pari’s mind.
“What was her name?” Karan asked Pari, bringing her back to reality.
“Jasmine. Nice name. You know, I don’t know any girl named Jasmine. I don’t think there are many Jasmines in the world.” Karan said.
“I think one Jasmine was enough for me in this lifetime.” Pari said leaving Karan laughing.
Episode 4: The Boat
Karan picked the seats and all four of them sat down. They had wished their parents anniversary and once Karan had checked all the arrangements they sat at a table on the deck so that Karan could enjoy the view of the water. Nisha was smiling and eating the last donut while talking through food in her mouth.
“Karan loves to travel and Pari here is a doctor. I know she doesn’t look studious but you should have see her before I went through with her.” Nisha said much to Pari’s chagrin.
Jasmine nodded with a forced smile. The moment she had gotten out of the flight, she had wanted to get back to it and go back home. It had been over eight years since she had met Pari but both of them recognised each other immediately. Now, she was sitting with Pari’s husband and she was on a date with Pari’s sister-in-law. She definitely was a Lydia.
Pari was sitting as if she had seen a ghost. She didn’t know if Karan had made the connection that this Jasmine is that Jasmine but as much as she knew Karan, it won’t be long before this happens. Moreover, Jasmine was Nisha’s date. If things needed to get any weirder. She looked at Karan who was smiling as was Nisha. Pari inhaled a deep breath and tried to take part in the conversation.
“Karan already liked me before YOU went through me Nisha.” Pari retorted to Nisha.
Pari looked at Jasmine and saw the pained smile that Jasmine was giving. It gave her some relief knowing that Jasmine was as uncomfortable as Pari in the current situation. Maybe she has matured, Pari thought.
“So girls, what drinks do you want?” Karan said energetically. He had an amused look on his face. The awkwardness of the situation was tickling him and he couldn’t help but enjoy the uncomfortable conversations between Jasmine and Pari.
It had taken him less than a second to figure out the situation. Even before Nisha introduced Jasmine, Pari’s expression had made it clear that she knew the blue-eyed girl and the panic on her face told him from where. The name just confirmed it for Karan. He couldn’t care less about the past between Pari and Jasmine but the opportunity was irresistible to him, especially after the fight he had with Pari in the car.
“I’ll have nothing. I already had enough wine on the plane.” Nisha said exuberant. She was telling Jasmine all about her favorite donuts. A conversation that started in the car and had continued ever since. If not for those donuts and Nisha’s oblivious banter, Karan thought the car would have exploded with the tension present in the car.
“Okay. And you Jasmine? Would you like something? You look like you can use a drink.” Karan said.
“No, it’s fine.”
“Really! The booze is on the house.. err.. I mean my house. Besides, how will I get your dirty little secrets out without a drink.” Karan said with a grin on his face.
“Dirty little secrets?” Jasmine repeated wide-eyed. She looked at Pari who looked equally horrified.
“Of course. You are dating my sister. I need to know everything about you. And then I will give you the ol’ if you hurt my sister speech too.” Karan said with an air of obliviousness.
Jasmine gave out a laugh which was part forced and part relief. Pari also relaxed visibly.
“You don’t have to do that Karan.” Nisha said scowling. “I’ve just met her. Give her some time.”
“Yeah sure. It’s not like I have a train to catch or something.”
“Karan, let’s go get the drinks.” Pari said and got up.
“Yes ma’am.” Karan said and followed her.
“You know.” Pari whispered once they were out of Nisha’s earshot.
“What?” Karan said innocently.
“Don’t joke with me Karan.” Pari said, her temper rising.
Karan looked at her with piercing eyes and Pari deflated. Karan had that effect on Pari too often. Perhaps the reason why Karan could handle someone as hot-tempered as Pari so easily.
“When did you realise?” Pari asked meekly.
“Before I heard her name.” Karan said.
“And here I was worried that how can I hide it from you.” Pari said trying to act casual.
“Yeah, well, I don’t understand how hiding will improve the situation but I can understand the urge to try that.” Karan said carelessly.
“You don’t seem affected.”
“Do you still pine for Jasmine?” Karan asked suddenly.
“Are you planning on stealing her from my sister?”
“Of course not.”
“So, you don’t plan to break my or my sister’s heart. And judging by the looks on Jasmine’s face, neither does she. Then, why should it bother me?”
Pari looked at him and his sincerity flowed from his eyes, along with a sparkle.
“But you aren’t going to stop teasing, are you?”
“I was wrong. You are the evil one in your family.” Pari said and hugged Karan.
“Should we tell this to Nisha? I know Jasmine and she should have a fresh start but it would be super awkward if she finds this out later.” Pari said as the two moved towards the table.
Karan looked at her bemused.
“You have already told her.” Pari realised.
“Messaged her before we were out of the airport and in the car. In fact, I am pretty sure that mom and dad know this too by now.” Karan said and took a sip of his scotch.
“This is neat. I like it. I may end up drunk today.” Karan said looking at the glass in his hand.
“As if you need it to act crazy.” Pari said as the two sat down.
This time, Pari realised that the smile on Nisha’s face was the same cunning smile as Karan’s. She was talking to Jasmine who had eased up in Pari’s absence.
“Jasmine.” Pari said surprising her.
“They both know.” Pari said in a calm voice that surprised her.
Multiple expressions came and went through her face — shock, fear, disappointment, acceptance and sadness.
She looked at Nisha who didn’t look hostile but had stopped.
“I guess that means my stay on this table is over.”
“Unless…” Nisha said
“Unless?” Jasmine asked.
“You tell me that she wasn’t the one who suggested you Pride and Prejudice.” Nisha smiled and held Jasmine’s hand.
“She wasn’t. I met Pari years ago that too just once.” Jasmine said quickly.
“Then you can stay on the table.” Nisha said and nuzzled Jasmine’s nose with hers.
“This is an interesting family.” Jasmine said to Pari.
“Oh! you have no idea.” Pari said leaning on Karan’s shoulder.