I looked around me. In the dim lights, I could see only silhouettes. Why was I imagining couples glued to each other or holding hands? I looked at him, sitting beside me. How were we different from them?
It was his idea to go for a movie. He had been watching this movie every week. This was probably his 4th or 5th time. Last time we came here, it was already late for the morning show. So, we had to return disappointed. But this week, we had made it just in time.
Once we got the tickets, we stood outside the entrance of the theatre. I observed that all the people around us where college students, who had probably bunked college and come for the movie. We got in and took the stairs to the balcony section. When we waited to get inside the cinema hall, I could not help myself looking out for my friends. What if one of our colleague or college mate saw us? What would we say? Well, I had never hidden anything from my family, but none of my friends knew about him. We would probably cook up some story by saying that two of our other friends were on their way to join us for the movie.
When we entered the cinema hall, we were ushered to the very first row in the balcony. To our surprise we had been allocated sofa seats, mainly intended for couples. I looked at him. He understood me.
"I can shift to another seat," he said, "once the movie starts."
Would I feel in the same manner if I had come with any of my other friends(boys)? I would have nicely sat next to him. Then why did I feel hesitant to sit beside this person? We knew each other better than anyone else in the whole world, then why was I feeling awkward?
We sat beside each other in a very uncomfortable manner. I put my handbag between us to give us some more distance and to avoid touching.
The sudden start of the movie brought me back to the present. While the titles were shown I looked around me. To my left, there were two aunties sitting in the sofa adjacent to ours. I turned to my right. I could see his profile. He pretended to be engrossed in the movie. He sat cross-legged with his elbow perched on the arm-rest and his hand supporting the face.
Did I do the right thing by coming to this movie with him? He had commented that he liked watching movies alone and this particular movie was close to his heart. He simply adored the heroine. Would I be able to tolerate him ogling at her for three full hours?
As an answer to my unsaid question, he replied, "Don't look at me like that. I am feeling conscious of myself looking at her". He was pointing to his 'Darling' on screen. I sighed.
Soon I got so engrossed in the narrative that I forgot every one's presence, including the one with whom I had come for the movie. Some of the scenes reminded me of my childhood, the days spent with my grandparents etc. It was an emotional movie and it was quite an attempt from my side, to control my tears. At the corner of my eye, I could see him crying too.
By the time it was interval, both of us were was sniffing and trying our level best to hide our tears and behave normally.
"How's the movie?" he asked
"See, didn't I tell you so?"
"Yes, you did," I agreed.
"How's she in the movie? She acted well, right?"
I had to reluctantly accept the fact. Then he proceeded to explain the scenes that he liked the most, the dresses in which his 'Darling' looked awesome etc. etc.
After some moments, seeing the expression on my face, he burst out laughing.
"Why are you laughing like that?" I asked.
"If you see your face in the mirror now," he chuckled,"even you will laugh."
"What's wrong with my face?" I asked innocently, "Is there something stuck to my nose?"
"No, my stupid little brat, " he cooed, lowering his tone, "There is no need to be jealous of that heroine. She is after all a crush, but, you..."
"But I?" I asked excitedly.
Before he could reply, his mobile rang and the conversation ended abruptly.
I suddenly became aware of someone staring at me. I turned to my left to see the two aunties appraising us. They must be thinking that we were also love-birds like the others in the cinema hall. It was so embarrassing. As soon as his call ended, I told him about this.
"Shall I sit in the next row?" he offered.
Before I could answer, he continued, "If I go, everyone will think we have had a fight." There was a twinkle in his eye.
"Or worse," I added giggling, "they may feel that you misbehaved with me. That is why, I drove you away!" We both burst into laughter. All the awkwardness melted away. We sat together with ease through the rest of the movie.
It was a lot more fun to watch the movie while he commented on the scenes. Before we knew it, the curtains fell. We reluctantly left the cinema hall.
It was time for our office; hence we parted ways at the gate of the cinema theatre. He walked towards the bus stop to take a bus while I waited for an auto.
I turned back to see him leave. His left hand rotating the umbrella and the other hand running a hand through his hair. Wish I could see his face for another time before I left! As if he had heard me, he turned around to meet my gaze. I could see the longing in face. I could read his eyes; they said he too wanted to spend some more time with me.
Meanwhile an auto stopped and involuntarily I got into it. He frowned and looked so helpless.
"Bhaiyya," I told the auto driver, "Paradise hotel, but we have to pick up that person first."
As my beloved got into the auto, I felt like giving him a tight bear-hug, instead I held his hands in mine.
"Thanks, dear!" he said.
"I took a day's leave just to spend time with you. I wondering how I would spend the rest of the day without you." I did not even know that he took an off from office. So sweet of him!
"Work will always be there," I said, "But moments like this will never return. We will have our lunch together and then go to the Book Fair held at Basheer Bagh. What say?"
"This will be one of the best days of mine."
I was too overjoyed to talk. All I could do was to nod enthusiastically.