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I came home at 10 pm on a week night, which is rare. There was no magic but there was chemistry. For the first time I stopped at a street corner in Noida sector-18, to listen to a live outdoor performance. The bald headed young guy strumming the guitar was lost in his music, crooning old Hindi songs, which I incidentally adore. What mattered more was the company. I don’t loiter alone at 9.30 p.m. in Noida otherwise.

I met a guy, a boy, a just forming man. His week old beard, that he hasn’t shaved because his MBA exams are going on cover most of his face, except his twinkling eyes, which are covered with a layer of glass. His face is a map that I have wanted to explore since the day I met him. And today was only my second date. He is choosy, not in the snobish and boorish way most men I have encountered in Delhi are. This guy tests outs my intelligence, plays games with me, and he says things like “tell me your deepest darkest secrets”.

When we walk together, I become more aware of my large size, worrying that I look older. Him with his college backpack and a casual t shirt, jeans and sneakers and me with my formal trousers, top and ballets, laptop bag and a separate lunch bag looking like the office going minions, annoys me and makes me more conscious.

But both of us have loud minds and quiet mouths. We are also very inadept at the dating game. He seems afraid of my past, of the fact that I have only left and moved on from people. Why he wants to Skype with me every night since we met on a dating app, just to talk, has been a mystery. I’m grumpy, cranky, tired and out of time, at every turn I take, but there he is every night, urging me to come online and talk to him.

There’s a deep hesitation in me to take a step forward after the million pieces my heart broke into the last time I was in a relationship, which was not so long ago. But I feel a longing to talk, and mostly to touch that map of a face he’s got. I won’t want the chase to be over any time soon, the accidental arm brushing, the deliberate teasing or the companionable silence. His loud mind which thinks of Manga and cartoons speaks to me. He’s a creator, just like me. I’m afraid he’d let me go, finding me boring, but I’d keep him, like all other brilliant people I have met, who I have kept in my life to adore from afar.

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