“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” (Albert Ellis)
I remained glued to the app for the rest of the day, hoping against hope to get some confirmation from Rocky1234. Afternoon turned to evening, and evening to night. I did everything possible to distract myself, but the pensive feeling did not leave me. It was nearly 7.45 pm, my usual dinner time, and I made rotis, warmed the vegetables, laid the table and started eating. I remained fixated on the app to the extent that my eyes started burning and I was not being able to see clearly due to the constant glare. Just as I was finishing dinner, I got a message from none other than Rocky1234. “I have reached your city. Walking towards the metro station. Contact me at the earliest.”
This time I was not surprised. I was stunned. Who in their right mind would travel 70 km to meet a man they had never seen or met before, except on a dating app? Definitely not me. And here he was, a crazy young lad, who kept his word that he would come to meet me that very day. I quickly washed my hands and called him via the app [yes, I shamefully admit that I still did not call him the conventional way]. He seemed to be walking since there was high traffic noise in the background. He told me where he was, and I gave him directions to reach the metro station from where I would pick him up. He had still not seen my face!
I did not have time to wind up the kitchen. Leaving everything as it is, I picked up the car keys and immediately set off to the metro station. My mind was crowded with a million thoughts – what if he turns out to be a cheat? What if he hurts me physically? What if……I had to really struggle to keep my focus on the road while driving. I had sent him a message on the app that it would take me 15-20 minutes to reach, and he should wait in case I was late.
By the time I reached the metro station and parked my car near the exit, 20 minutes had passed. I checked the app – he had not read my message. After waiting for a couple of minutes, I finally called him from my mobile. He obviously did not have my number, so I had to tell him who I was and explained where he should find me. It was quite easy for him to locate the car since I had parked just outside the exit, on the road. By this time my heart was pounding. In less than a minute he was standing beside the car, looking nervously inside (or so I thought).
I smiled and waved at him to sit inside the car. The first thing I noticed was that he was much taller than he seemed to appear in his photo. I kept staring at him for a few seconds, not knowing what to say. He mistook this for anger and started apologizing for not informing me earlier. He said many things at once – there was no internet connectivity, the bus took many unscheduled stops and negotiated a lot of traffic on the way, and so on. I put my hand on his shoulder and told him I was not angry. I was staring at him because I still couldn’t believe he had come all the way to meet me without even knowing what I looked like. To this he replied, “Sometimes, you need to trust other people.”
I turned towards him and gave him a hug. It took him by surprise for a couple of seconds, but then he immediately realized it was an affectionate gesture and smiled. All this while we were sitting in the parked car outside the metro station. I hesitatingly asked him a question: did he do this often – travel such a long distance to meet complete strangers? He responded by saying it was the first time he had ever done something like this. In my excitement I had forgotten to introduce myself. I extended my hand by way of a formal greeting and told him my name. His was Rohit – this I already knew since he had shared his number with me.
We continued chatting while I started the car. I told Rohit that since I didn’t know he was coming, there was no dinner at home, but I would order in food for him. He was perfectly fine with that. For the next few minutes we drove in complete silence, neither of us saying anything to each other. I finally broke the silence by asking Rohit something which I was very curious to know – after he saw me, did I meet his expectations or was I a complete let-down? He told me that I turned out to be much more than what he had expected. I was naturally thrilled.
We were now on the highway en route to my apartment complex. There was very little traffic due to the weekend, and we arrived in less than ten minutes. I opened the door to my apartment and asked him to come in, saying “welcome home.” He sat down on one of the sofas in the living room and started looking around. I went to the kitchen to get water for him and sat down on a sofa opposite him so that we could talk easily. His next question amused me a little. “Do you live alone, or does someone live with you?” I think he was impressed with my living room (for a single man, I do have a reasonably well-kept home). I laughed and told him that I lived alone, else he wouldn’t be sitting here with me.
I sensed that Rohit was feeling a little awkward in the formal living room. He was probably tired as well. I excused myself and quickly went to switch on the lights in my bedroom, guest room and study. I came out and suggested that he would feel more relaxed in in the bedroom. He agreed and went inside while I took a quick minute to order dinner for him. When I went looking for Rohit, he was in the guest room. He mentioned that my bedroom, guest room and study were all very nice and well kept. I cheekily asked him, “And what about me?” “You are nicer than all this,” was his reply, and he gave me a big hug. “You are so handsome,” he added.
I was consumed with a feeling of indescribable happiness. I ushered him into my bedroom and requested him to relax while I switched off the lights in the other rooms.