2.23 PM
Must reach by 4 PM. Well, he said let’s meet at 3.30. But I didn’t want him to feel this is a date. So, I pushed the time to 4 in the evening.

No. It’s not a date, even though Sanya teased me when she got to know Aman had invited me for coffee.

Aman is a nice guy. Frankly, he is sweet. Being my brother’s classmate, he often came over to my place. Also, he was good at math. Not as good as my nerd brother. But yes, much, much better than me. He and my brother would do combine studies, and there were times he would even do night stays at my place. My mom and dad totally adored him. They were happy my brother, at last, got a good friend.

The subtle smile of his whenever he saw me had a meaning – or this is what Sanya said. Now, Sanya must be right only. Not only because she is my best friend, but also because she knows men… I mean boys. She has had four serious relations till date. Actually, I think it’s just two relations because the other two guys did not even know Sanya was lusting over them.

Whatever… she knows more about guys than I do. I, who has never had a boyfriend. I, whom most guys in the class refer as ‘just like my sister’.

Frankly, I always thought Aman liked Sanya. And why will he not like her? She had such smooth skin, and that dimple on the right cheek. Oh, the dimple. I still remember how I would keep poking my finger on my cheeks, hoping some kind of slight depression to form on my rather plain mass of flesh.

Even Aarti liked Aman. He was great at football. And unlike me, Aarti had zero knowledge of football. Yet, the other day she ran into Aman and was praising his forward shot. For heaven’s sake, he is a goalkeeper. But Aman just smiled and took the compliment gracefully. Ah, the smile.

I can’t believe he has invited me for coffee. He said not to tell my brother about this. Actually, he didn’t even have to say this. My brother, Rishi, is a little weird. He must be intelligent and all, but I know for sure he is a weird guy. Why will I even tell him!?

Sanya told me to act like I did not care much about this invitation and reach the coffee shop fashionably late. Even though I want to be there well before time, Sanya is my guru when it comes to matters of the heart. How can I go against her advice?

So here I am. Waiting for the damn time to just fly at Usain Bolt’s speed. I am wearing a denim skirt and a red tee. The other day, I read in a magazine that men find women in red more attractive. I had to wear something in red.

At the Coffee Shop

Aman was already waiting for me. The look on his face when I reached was so pleasing.
“I thought you won’t come”.
“Why won’t I?”
“We hardly spoke at school or even at your home. I thought it was stupid of me to call you over for coffee”.
“So why did you call me?”
“I wanted to ask you something… something personal…”
My ears turned red. No, it can’t be. No way is he going to ask me to be his girlfriend.
He was rather lost in his own thoughts. He did not notice my sweating palms.
“What personal?”
“I like someone. Someone you know.”
Omg… is that someone me (like the hero does in movies), or is it, Sanya. No, god, not Sanya. Nor that crazy Aarti.

The coffee had arrived. Assuming I would pay my share of the bill, I chose the lowest-priced coffee. I bluntly said ‘no’ to any kind of cookies or sandwiches. This coffee itself will cost my one month’s pocket money. I have to pay for my coffee. Because the same magazine, which spoke about the magical effect of red color clothes on men, had an article on how strong women pay their own bills.

With so much mathematical calculation of the coffee price, GST and service charges – I was already mentally exhausted. And now, this suspense was created by Aman. He likes someone I know. Is that someone me???

Come on Rishita. Brace yourself, chin up and ask.

“Who is she?”
My ears kept waiting for the ‘ta‘ in Rishita to be pronounced. But Aman had closed his mouth. His eyes were low, and he was fiddling with the stupid wooden spoon in the overpriced coffee cup.
“Yes, Rishita. I like your brother, Rishi. I think he also likes me. Do you know who his boyfriends were before me? This is why I wanted to meet you. I know, you are like my sister. You won’t lie to me.”
“What the helllll,” I said this mentally. Because my throat had already dried up listening to Aman.
This was in no way a date. I can’t believe this. Then why did he always have that subtle smile for me. I am like his sister. Nooo. Not again. I am already the sister of a weird nerd guy. The same guy to whom I lost my first major crush. The same idiotic guy who would talk so much to my girlfriends. This stupid brother of mine is gay. Wait a minute. That is yet to be cleared. But this Aman guy is gay. How can my first-ever crush, my first-ever coffee date be with a gay guy!

Sanya, you are stupid at love advice.

By this time, hot tears were rolling down my cheeks. Aman, the idiot, had no clue because I was crying. Gay or not, he is a proper duffer – at least, this is very clear to me.

“I am not sure if he likes any guy. I don’t see him talking much to guys anyways. You are the only one he hangs out with and invites over for combined studies.”

There… I got my answer. As I sipped my strong coffee, the mist before my eyes cleared and so did my understanding of my brother.

“It’s late. I have my math tuition. I have to go.”

I rushed out without waiting
for Aman to reply. As I took the auto for tuition classes, I realized the unpaid bill. To hell with all the tips given in that god-forbidden magazine. This red tee is also going to the maid. It has faded any which way.

Must tell mom to stop subscribing to such rubbish women’s magazines. Dad was right about them.