Posted by: miilee | September 5, 2010

The Frown…


“I know he’s upset with me.” Annie said as she set her coffee mug down and looked out at the ant-sized cars zipping way below along the Marine Drive. “I just don’t know why!”

“Why does everything necessarily have to be about you?” Manav asked, walking over to the balcony and leaning elegantly against the railing. “It could be something at work, you know.”

“But he could talk to me about it! He doesn’t even talk… just frowns all the time.” She looked pensively into the coffee as if trying to find some hidden password in its brown swirls to solve her problems. “I just know it’s something about me he’s upset with…”

Manav sighed, like he’d done this several times before. “You know, you should probably give him more space. All you think of all day is your relationship and that’s not good!”

“What do you mean, ‘That’s not good!’ I’m being a considerate girl here, ok!” She flared up. “I’m compassionate and since when has that been a fault?” With that she stomped to her feet.

“Oh cummon Ann! You know that’s not what I meant!”

But Annie was not in a mood to listen to him and started towards the door. “You know what Manav, I’ll catch you later. Hope you have a nice evening with Richard. Bye..”

“Wait, Annie. You can’t keep doing this. Do you realise what you’re doing? Just sit down for a minute.”

“I don’t wanna listen to anything Manav. You men will all be the same. Even if you’re gay, you’re still a man and you’ll never understand what I’m going through here ok!”

Manav firmly crossed his arms across this broad build, “Oh yeah? Then who will? Who else has seen you through everything that life’s thrown at you since you were in diapers?  And who’s stood by you all through? You know you’re gonna have to listen to me at some point, so how about cooling that volcanic temper and hearing me out right now?”

She glared at him, half way through putting her jacket on. “Glare all you want. You’ll have enough time to do that while I have my say. Now get your ass back on the couch while I go get us some fresh coffee.” And he strode away to the kitchen, his well built body elegant even in a pair of sweatpants and a ratty, grey jersey.

“You know that you’ve broken a lot of hearts when you declared being gay, right?” She called after him and got a hearty guffaw in response.

She went back to her seat at the balcony, a gentle smile on her face. They’d been friends as far back as she could remember. In fact, for her, Manav was the embodiment of all that a friendship meant. He’d been there when she’d gotten into a mess in class. Even when she’d gotten into trouble with the traffic police over late night speeding not too far from where he lived, he’d gotten her out of trouble. And now, when she’d walked out on her parents and moved in with her boyfriend, he was there to help her iron out any problems.

For her part, she’d been his secret keeper from the time he’d understood his sexual orientation till he was ready to come out of the closet. She warded off the school bullies and stood up for him whenever the need arose. Though his parents had been really upset with his confession in the beginning, she’d talked Mr. and Mrs. Bhanushaali into understanding and supporting their son. After all, sexuality is not something you choose for yourself; it is how you are born. After a lot of tears on the part of everyone involved, they finally accepted their only son for all that he was. Being a rich, influential family, they’d had the whole thing smeared across centre spreads and hours of News TV but over the years, the issue blew over. The media hounds found another ‘Exclusive’ and Manav was left for the days when they had no one to slander.

“You know, you look damn silly grinning at my coffee table.” Manav strode in with two mugs of steaming, foaming coffee.

“So,” Annie took one of them. “You think I’m going wrong.”

“Annie, have you ever made tea?”

“What?!”

“Have you ever made a cup of tea?”  He repeated, raising one eyebrow quizzically. “Obviously I have! What has that got to do with anything!” An amused smile touched her lips.

“Well, to make it right, you need to get the water to boil, correct?”

“Duh!”

“But what happens when you leave the heat on for too long?”

She sensed where this was going, “Listen, it’s not like… “

“Just answer me Ann. What happens?”

“Well, I kinda mess it up. The water evaporates, the tea leaves burn and the whole thing lands up in a smoky junk.”

“Exactly…” He took a sip of his coffee, peering meaningfully at her over the rim.

“Exactly what?! Don’t look at me like that Manav. You know I hate it. Tell me what..”

“Ann….” He placed his mug on the table, took hers from her hand and placed it next to his and took her hands in his. “You let it boil for a while and then you stop! You’ve done your job. Now you must do something else with yourself. Make a cookie to go with the tea or butter a bun or make a toast. Don’t concentrate all your energy on the tea. You’ll ruin it gal…”

Sudden tears sprung up to Annie’s brown eyes. “You think that’s what I’m doing?” Slowly, Manav nodded, holding her hands all the while. “So you think I am the one ruining it?” she sobbed. “I’m the reason this isn’t working out?” She snatched back her hands, grabbed a napkin from her handbag and started crying into it.

Manav looked at her with a look of total incredulity, “Now who the hell said it isn’t working out? Just because he frowns?”

“I told you it’s about me! I know it! There’s something that he’s upset about and it’s gonna start a fight between us and we’re gonna mess up! It’s just a question of time! I know he’s got some issue with me!” She sobbed.

“Well, there’s one way to find out, isn’t there?” He got up and walked to where his cordless phone sat on the table.

“No! Manav don’t! I beg of you, please don’t call! It will just ruin everything ok!”

“Will you just calm down? I’m gonna call Aman now, ok? Just a routine call. Now you may find this hard to believe, but guys do this. We do give each other a call just to catch up every once in a while. Ok? Now stop jumping like a turkey with a sore foot because I’ll be putting him on the speaker. Cool?”

Annie looked at him through tear stained eyes, “I really don’t need anything to ruin this further, ok.”

“Oh shut up and listen now.”

Manav confidently dialled as she sat next to him.

“Wait! Have you decided what you’ll say?”

He closed his eyes like his patience was nearing its end. “Annie?”

“hmm….?”

“SHUT UP!”

She jumped an inch away, startled into silence.

Manav spoke into the phone, “Hey, Aman? Hi! Manav here….”

He gently set the phone down and activated the speakerphone.

“Hey Manav! Nice to hear from you man! How you been?”

“Fine! Great actually. Got back from Goa this Friday.”

“What you sayin buddy! Work? Or fun?” there was a teasing note in Aman’s voice and an unwanted thought crept into Annie’s mind. Suddenly, she was gripped by a strong desire to lash out at the phone and not let the conversation continue; didn’t want to find out what came next; didn’t want to know what Aman would say to another guy friend, let alone….

But she sat put. She knew Manav would kill her for even entertaining the thought.

“Ah, well….. a little of both, I’d have to confess!” They both guffawed and Annie could find nothing even remotely funny about it and kept glaring fearfully at the phone. Manav caught the look and swiftly changed the topic. “So how’s it going with you? I remember Annie saying something about some new project.”

“Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you did I? I’m probably gonna land some big fish soon. Just keep your fingers crossed man. “

“Sure dude! Wish you luck buddy….. So it must be a lot of headache, huh? All the new extra work?” Manav threw a see-i-told-you look at Annie.

“No dude! It’s a song actually. I love doing it.”

Annie looked smugly at Manav as he scratched his head and looked at the phone. “oh… well… good for you bro….”

“You know, there’s this secretary my boss has hired for me. And I bet she wears skirts that were designed for school girls! So short, my team doesn’t seem to get any work done when she’s around.”

Manav eyed the phone like it was a dynamite ready to go off and Annie looked like she would burst any minute. But before either could do anything, Aman went on:

“I’m gonna ask Human Resources to send her a copy of the dress code in the office. I can’t stand this shit. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah…” Manav gave a nervous laugh, “Must be distracting I guess”

“For me? Are you crazy? Bro why would I look at some slut when I have the most wonderful woman waiting for me back home? I just don’t like indecency in my office, that’s all.”

Manav turned on Annie with a triumphant expression and she gazed at the phone adoringly.

“Manav…? You there?”

“Yeah, yeah…. I’m here. Look dude, I know you guys love each other and all….. But has there been some problem lately? I mean,” Annie jabbed him  hard and shook her head violently, “I don’t mean to interfere or anything, but it’s just that Annie had come over for coffee a while ago…” Annie buried her head in a cushion and placed a kick in Manav’s ribs, “…. And she mentioned in passing that you seemed worried lately. Everything fine?”

“I’m surprised she noticed! Damn…. I gotta be careful about my expressions around her….” Annie sat up like a spring, “But now that you’re asking….I’d been meaning to talk to you about something for a while….” Once again, the thought that this wasn’t a great idea after all, crossed Manav’s mind. But he dismissed it, caught Annie’s hands, just in case, took a breath and jumped.

“What about bro?”

“Do you think it’d be too early to ask her to marry me?”

It was like everything went super still and the earth started revolving at ten times its pace at the same time. When it sank in, Annie almost squealed but Manav quickly placed his hand over her mouth and turned her to the cushions.

“er… ah…. That’s great bro….”

“What?”

“No…. I mean, no. It isn’t early. I think it’s the right time… perfect actually…..to be honest, you have no clue how perfectly perfect…”

“Dude… you ok..?”

“Sorry… Yaar, you just caught me completely off guard. I called to honestly check what’s had Annie so concerned about you frowning and you just blew me off!”

“Yeah, but I hope you keep this to yourself. Please don’t tell her ok. I wanna surprise her. Actually you know what? I’ll come down sometime later and perhaps Richard and you can help me plan something mind-blowing…”

Annie had managed to suppress her squealing and sat with her arms round Manav’s waist.

“That would be great! I mean, Neither of us will ever get a chance to do this ourselves… so we’ll make the best of what we’ve got and help you with the planning…..” A tinge of longing laced Manav’s voice and Annie gave him a squeeze.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to hurt you….. heck, this didn’t strike me…..”

“It’s ok Aman. You’re a friend. I know you mean well. And trust me, both of us would be delighted to help you guys.” He gave Annie a half handed hug as she smiled wide enough for him to feel it without seeing her face.

“So how about tomorrow evening? I’ll meet you guys at the café after 6 and we’ll put some ground cracking surprise together!”

“Done! I’ll get Richard to bring his event management brain’s best to the table!”

“Thanks Manav! I know you’re Annie’s friend, but right now, I could use a buddy myself…. So see you tomorrow?”

“Sure thing…. And hey Aman… “

“yeah?”

“Buddy, take care of that little fool, ok? She’s like a kid sister to me and I know you’ll love her like no-one else. But she’s still a fool…” His voice thickened with emotions and he cleared his throat. Annie clung to him and mentally relived all their times together.

“Thanks Manav…. It means a lot to me…. She’s my world and I’m gonna show that to her. I just need to figure out how. So catch ya tomorrow?”

“Sure dude.”

Aman hung up. Manav picked up the phone and went over to the table to keep it in place. Annie adoringly followed his movement. He kept the phone and under the pretext of scratching his nose, wiped away a lone tear. Then he turned around with a smile.

“Now will you please pretend to act surprised when he proposes? And no silly grins before that?”

Annie smiled, nodded and ran into his arms. She felt blessed.

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Responses

  1. aww….so cute… Nicely written

    • Thanks…. one of my few short stories…..

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maithili Desai, Maithili Desai. Maithili Desai said: The Frown…: http://wp.me/pDvVG-cJ […]

  3. I love this one. Its a very sweet story. And i like the way your posts drift along and make an awesome end. 🙂

  4. awww….this is so nice 🙂 I am a sucker for romance *sniff Sniff*

    • glad you liked it…. 🙂

  5. wow.. 🙂

    • Thanks.. 🙂

  6. This post makes the rest of my day joyous…..

    Luv it indeed.

    Tejas

    • thanks Tejas.. 🙂
      My attempt at short story writing.. 🙂

  7. i will take it as a movie….the first half, felt like it will be a sobby end………n the second half….simply great, story drifted so well, every thing opened up like silk..very smoothly but with a surprise…..
    at the end simply great….

    • This one is slightly inspired from a real experience…


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