Tanishq arrived a minute after the designated time. They all had to reach by 9 PM sharp but Rhea was already at the table, her Gin was half empty.
They shook hands briefly. Tanishq complimented Rhea on her dress (Earrings! He wanted to compliment her on her earrings, but that would’ve betrayed his roving eye) and started looking at the menu. He knew her since 3 years, but he never could muster courage to speak with her about movies or music or how elephants cannot jump and other random facts, because, well, he would get mentally, temporarily and embarrassingly paralyzed even by the thought of approaching her. Rhea, with her Jimmy Choos and tube tops, was way out of his league. Or so he thought and so did everyone else in his nerdy group. That evening, Rhea was wearing a Prussian blue spaghetti top. Once a while, she would adjust the strap that was slipping off her immaculate shoulders. Tanishq was registering this through the corner of his eye. After 5 minutes he mustered courage to dramatically blurt out some silly/random fact and try to make her laugh but as he opened his mouth to do so, someone covered his eyes and screamed in a familiar, shrill voice “Guess who?” There was no element of surprise here. Tanishq had expected Aditi to show up and ruin the moment as she always did. The four of them had planned this evening together.
“Let me guess.” Tanishq said. “Is it princess Tangobi from Kenya?”
A little playful slap that resounded on Tanishq’s cheek stung him for a good part of that evening. But the joke didn’t escape Rhea and she chuckled before saying a polite “Hello” to Aditi. Tanishq and Aditi had been seeing each other since a few months. That evening, Aditi was wearing a Lucknowi (who wears a Lucknowi to a pub?) but the finishing on her liner was slightly questionable. She wanted to look good that evening. She was going out with Tanishq for drinks for the first time and she wanted to look fabulous and of course, way better than Rhea. So far, dates with Tanishq were restricted to movies, dinners at cafes and science exhibitions. Aditi always fancied Tanishq and his geek-streak. The best part about Tanishq was that he himself didn’t know how attractive he was. While she was whispering sweet shenanigans in Tanishq’s ear, she felt a warm hand on her head.
Karan was here.
In fact, Karan had arrived at the pub a few minutes ago but he took time to chat up with the regular familiar strangers at the pub. He was sporting a month old-full grown beard and a few ladies around the room were already stealing glances at him. His clothes were a tad bit tacky and he made sure that the sleeves of his white Giordano shirt were folded so that his Tissot was visible to all. Whenever he ordered at the bar, he made sure that he tapped his left hand on the counter, so that his Tissot or a Tag Heuer didn’t go unnoticed. He had gifted a similar, expensive watch to Aditi on her birthday which he never missed. He loved Aditi’s red Lucknowi and found it exceedingly bold of her to wear something like that to a pub. His futile attempts to mask his admiration for Aditi were a little short of pathetic, and both Aditi and Rhea were aware of it.
Karan had bought a Tag Heuer for Rhea too on her birthday (which he had missed for reasons that differed every time Rhea asked him about it) last month. The Prussian Blue top which Rhea was wearing that evening was also gifted by Karan, and so was the lingerie which she wore with it. They were seeing each other since about a year. Within this period they had already fought about 27 times. Yes, Rhea kept a count. The 15th disagreement resulted in a stark welt across Rhea’s back and the last argument was a few hours old. In fact, the only thing that was mildly amusing about that evening was the Kenyan-Princess joke which Tanishq had cracked.
Rhea was wearing her Saturn-shaped earrings that evening, because she knew that Tanishq would notice them. She wanted Tanishq to notice them. She was registering everything that was going on between Tanishq and Aditi through the corner of her eye. Tanishq later told Rhea about how he loved her earrings when Aditi had dissappeared for a quick visit to the ladies’ and Karan was catching up with one of his business partners’ wife. The evening wasn’t that bad after all for Rhea.