It was a blind date.
And his first one on top of that.
Nathan awaited at the entrance of the city’s Blue Ginger restaurant. Mehul, the man behind the whole plan had texted him earlier to go upstairs and have a seat, as the woman of the hour would soon be approaching the building.
And soon enough, at the very first glance after her arrival, Nathan knew that no amount of drinks could lessen this nightmare he’d walked himself into.
Vinnie Aryan. Arch nemesis. Sworn enemy. All, were but synonyms.
Tracing back the origins.
Twelve years ago. High school.
It was early morning and the ninth grade had had a quick announcement of a new teacher. Fast forward to a few minutes of the teacher’s arrival, Vinnie was already in trouble.
“Is that the way to behave in class?” Mrs Sehgal yelled at Vinnie when she caught her whispering to me.
“I wasn’t really talking-“
“I asked for no justifications. You may please take your seat now, but make sure this attitude isn’t repeated.”
Vinnie let out an angry puff of breath and sat down.
Mrs. Sehgal then addressed the class.
“As you’re all aware that I’m going to replace Ms. Vaidya in handling your physics, I hope this year turns out to be productive for all of us and we all get along really well.”
Vinnie snorted, to which I had to cover my mouth and pretend to cough in order to not get her caught.
“Alright, to begin with today’s class, I’d like you to take out your sheets for a surprise test covering everything Ms. Vaidya has taught you all until now.”
A cry of distress went around the class that earned two more minutes of talk on obedience.
When Mrs Sehgal finally turned to the blackboard to write down the questions, Nathan threw an eraser at Vinnie and gave her an “I’d told you to be on your best behavior” reminding look.
To which Vinnie made a face, sticking her tongue out and threw the eraser back at him.
Nathan threw it once again at Vinnie and gave his classic look of “I’m the class rep and you need to abide by my rules” while pointing his thumb to himself.
Vinnie mouthed the words “Snobbywobbly” and threw the tortured eraser back to its owner, which hit him in the forehead, escalating his anger further.
The eraser kept flying back and forth from the two stations a couple more times, until Vinnie was finally caught trying to make a mocking chicken dance at Nathan before throwing the eraser.
“What’s your name, young lady?” asked the infuriated teacher who’d made her stand in her seat, yet again. Nathan behind her, could be seen hitting his forehead.
“Full name!” came the grim demand.
When I looked up to see Vinnie’s bent face, I saw nothing more than a mischievous twinkle in her eyes and absolutely no regrets.
What followed was a half an hour lecture on self discipline and two days worth of punishment based on the gravitation chapter, all flung at Vinnie’s shocked face.
But these things hardly ever managed to unsettle someone like Vinnie. For instance, the incident at that dodgeball match.
It was Nathan versus Akul and fate had made Nathan chose Vinnie for his team along with the others.
Akul won the toss and chose to be outside the ring.
A few minutes into the match, circumstances mostly revolving the mighty Pavan Guleri, who was in Akul’s team, had made every single player of Nathan’s team out, except for me and Vinnie.
There were sadistic smiles on the members of Akul’s team, for they knew I usually hid behind others to save myself and Vinnie was exhausting herself out.
“You dare bring loss to us Vinnie, I will have your head severed.” hollered Nathan from a distance.
“And you dare speak with that smelly mouth of yours once again, you’ll have all the sand on this planet making its way through your intestines.” screamed back Vinnie in response.
Nathan kicked a huge stone towards her, that hit her calf, as she ducked to dodge Akul’s throw at her.
Nathan, who stood laughing didn’t realise that Vinnie having dodged that ball meant it came right towards him, hitting him straight in the stomach.
Vinnie stopped dodging the attacks and stood there laughing herself hoarse and what followed was Nathan chasing her around the ground after which Vinnie finally gave in and punched Nathan back in the face.
The match ended with me having miraculously survived inside the ring until the timeout on one end of the ground while the other end had Vinnie defeating Nathan in a headlock and the other members of Nathan’s team cheering her name into the sky.
“Bwahaha, take that you snobby little piece of-“
“Guys” I approached the noisy small crowd.
“Guys, we won!”
Everyone gave me one long disinterested, yet surprised stare.
“What’s that bump on your head?” Nathan asked me, still trying to get himself out of Vinnie’s steal arms.
“Guleri hit me after timeout because I made it out alive from the ring.”
Everyone turned to look at Pavan Guleri, glaring at them, like an angry bull ready to charge.
And before anybody knew what was happening, the whole team was racing back to class before they got beaten up.
And now, after all these years, they had met once again.
“Nathan Acharya, what a pleasant surprise.”
She was dressed in a floral jumpsuit with an edgy denim jacket and her rough messy hair was tied back in an orderly high pony.
Maybe the ancient monster had surrendered and civilized itself?
But then, she gave her crooked smile and Nathan had a sense of foreboding envelope him.
They seated themselves on the table overlooking the huge aquarium, the blue latern lights hanging overhead from the railings of the mezzanine, an intermediate floor of the hotel which is partially open to the double-height ceilinged floor on which they were seated.
“So, it’s been quite a while since we did something fun together.” Vinnie remarked, while turning her head sideways, trying to have a good look at the place.
“Wanna go to the park and hate on all the couples’ holding hands?” she asked, now looking at him, yet completely ignoring his words.
“Um, why don’t we just sit down and have dinner like normal adults?”
Vinnie leaned back in her chair and folded her arms.
“Still the same old decent snob aren’t you?” she asked with a smirk.
Nathan chose to ignore that comment.
“So, what are you upto nowadays?”
“Are you one of those people who check their date’s criminal records after going back?”
“That’s from the internet isn’t it?”
“Tch, just accept that I’m more interesting than you already.”