Located in the heart of the city, Vaishali stood as one of the most renowned joints for collegians and couples. Arguably the best south Indian dishes which were easy on the pocket. A silver kinetic zoomed close, narrowly missing an old lady, and swerved into a narrow parking spot, squeezing itself between two other bikes. Nipun recognized another Kinetic of a navy blue color. This was in a far worse condition, and he wasn't sure how much was invested in maintaining it. Omkar and Swanand were here too. Nikhil spotted them on the opposite side of the road, just a few feet away from the restaurant's main entrance, enjoying a smoke.
“Vishnu… table for four?” Nikhil politely called out to the ring master in this circus full of people hustling for a decent seating. Vishnu recognized Nikhil’s bunch and by a finger’s click, the guys were seated and ready to order. Drinks were served soon and the food was on its way. "I can't wait for that hot masala dosa" Nipun smiled like a kid celebrating his fifth birthday. Nikhil only looked back and smiled nervously. He had butterflies in his stomach. He began wondering as he sipped on his Coke. Maybe he shouldn't have so openly expressed himself to Nipun about Jyotsna. He had kindled this crush for so many years. He wasn't sure if he'd done the right thing by letting his love interest be known to anyone, not even his closest friend.
All of a sudden Nipun declared “Hey guys, guess what? Mhet is going to propose to Jyotsna tomorrow” Nikhil stopped drinking his Coke. His mouth suddenly began struggling to swallow. Eyes bore down on him in silence. This was one of those occasions when a close friend pushes the other into a well; no questions asked. Swanand switched his head from left to right, looking at Nikhil and Nipun on each side. “Mehta?? Jyotsna?? Go for it Niku! Anyway, it’s going to be rose day tomorrow!” On the other hand, Omkar didn’t share the same excitement towards his friends. In a single breath and expressionless, he spoke in the tone of a Doordarshan commentator “Yes..! Rose Day..! Roses..! Nikhil goes to her college.. He stands in front of her.. He gets on one knee, offers a rose.. Jyotsna smiles, takes the rose from his hand... and.. and... Nikhil weds Jyotsna..!! The End” and he went back to sipping on his drink, almost like the last few seconds never happened. Nikhil appreciated his friends for chipping in with their ideas but he had other plans brewing in his head. More like a movie scene where he approaches Jyotsna on Rose Day, he offers her a choice to make between the red rose and the yellow one. Within a blink of an eye she grabs for the red and tells Nikhil just how much she waited for this moment. They both hug and an ominous glow surrounds them, separating them from the rest of the world. Nikhil already thought up what he’d look like on Rose day; an unbuttoned denim shirt over a plain white tee and his favorite pair of Levi’s. Just like one of those Backstreet Boys.
Nipun checked his watch and became wide eyed. “Oh shit! My mom must be waiting at the door with a harpoon in her hand! I have to leave!” Everybody knew Nipun’s mom to be as nice as Mother Teresa and yet they’d quietly watch him make his exit. If Nipun ever came up with an excuse to leave, it would be to go see his girl, Dipti. He was the first from their group to find the Holy Grail, and the only one who succeeded to make it past the dreaded gates with the signboard that said 'Couples Only. Stags Not Allowed'. The rest of his gang could only wonder what must be going on inside. As they watched him leave, Swanand sighed- Nikhil was more vocal about his feelings, “Man, why do guys always have to do work and try to get a girl? There are thousands of single girls hanging out wishing they had a boy friend- but they never do anything about it. ” Swanand looked at Nikhil calmly and smiled.. “Ego”
By then, Omkar was quarrelling with the waiter; he needed a bill that he could understand, not this parchment that had a few scribblings except for 'Total amount' that stood out distinctively. Omkar needed line items and figures. As the waiter turned to get another bill made, Omkar reached for the Menu card and began calculating the amount on his own. Nikhil and Swanand were dazzled by the speed at which he so meticulously divided the accurate figures each one had to pay. The waiter came back with the bill.. By then, Omkar already knew the amount and handed over everyone’s money with no tip. “Mangu has to pay me 63 bucks..” he silently muttered to Nikhil.
As they walked out, Nikhil watched as Omkar and Swanand straddled over their bike, and left hurriedly. He looked around him; at the beggar asking for a coin, the aunty belching without excusing herself and the street dog that was suspiciously sniffing a half filled balloon. He thought about what would happen tomorrow, on Rose Day. What if this love saga was just another source of his friends' entertainment? All they want is a show. Something to laugh at for the weeks to come. He wasn't prepared to put his dreams on the line until he was absolutely certain that this would work. But what if.. just what if this would work? What if his friends were right? Nipun said "Better now than never". Swanand and Omkar may have noticed that spark between us too? They seemed so positive as well. He took in a huge breath and looked on ahead. He could see himself riding on his Kinetic, with her sitting at the back, arms wrapped around him. The future never seemed so certain. She will say 'yes'.