I was 20 years old, living alone and in my last year of college. It was the year everything was sort of coming together for me - my grades were finally reflecting my hard work, my best friend and I had sorted out our problems and were focused on having the best year of our lives, and I finally had made a group of friends that I knew I was going to keep in touch with even when I went back to India once college was over.
Almost every weekend, my friends would turn up at my door, in groups of 2 and 3 - either craving some desi-style (and let's not forget: free) food, alcohol or just a place to get together and chill. It was always a full house, sometimes with 4 people crashing in each of the two bedrooms and the rest of the people claiming a couch for the night.
‘Tinaaaaa, make some of your aloo chaat, please?! I'll do the dishes today, pakka! Or make Jay do them!’ Roshini, my best friend, yelled as she entered my house, dragging Jay, our boy bestie with her.
‘I got the JD, so I'm not doing anything today. You're on your own.’ Jay went and plopped his butt on the closest sofa.
‘Whateverrr! Oh, by the way, Rishabh and all are also coming. They'll be here soon-ish.’
Rishabh was the guy I sort of liked. As in, you know, there was something there, but I wasn't sure what. Nothing too serious, but...well, was anything really all that serious in college?
‘I'm gonna go change, BYE!’ I shut myself in my room for a good half hour and finally changed out of my old pajamas and combed my hair after almost 3 days.
By 10 p.m., my house was packed - there were even some people there I didn't know, but they were nice enough to get bottles of wine so I didn't mind much. What?! It was expensive wine! And all I really had to provide them with was glasses (which Tina was going to wash) and Maggi (that I had more than enough of). Plus, they were Rishabh's batchmates. Yes, he had arrived. With a relieved smile as he entered, followed by a warm hug. We sat, ate and drank side by side...
By 1 a.m., someone in the crowd found out that there was a beach party happening close by, which was turning out to be insane. People started to filter out, one by one, some of them staking their claim to crash in my house after the party.
Rishabh was still there, even though his friends had left. ‘You're not going?’ I asked, as I watched Tina load the dishwasher, bumping into a million things in her drunken state.
‘I was up all night working on an assignment, I don't think I'll survive the night if I go with those idiots.’ He closed his eyes as he leaned his head back. ‘You mind if I just crash?’
‘Yea, yea, of course, you can take my bed. Oh, no, I mean, no, I don't mind.’ Why was I fumbling so much?
He smiled. ‘Aren't you going to sleep too?’
‘In a bit. I like watching Tina like this - trying to be all domestic and clearly failing.’ Tina had given up on the dishwasher and was trying to reach the bottom of the glasses with a sponge.
‘Okay cool. Jay is working in the other room, so don't worry about opening the door for anyone. Just come to bed when she's done. Or when she has given up.’
My thoughts went crazy. Come to bed. My bed. With him in it. Okay, then. Be cool. Nothing needs to happen, though. This is normal for people in college, right?
‘Okay, good night,’ was all I could manage to say to him.
It was almost 3 a.m. when Tina passed out next to Jay and I tiptoed into my room. I brushed and changed into my pajamas in the bathroom and got into bed while making as little noise as possible. Five minutes later, I still hadn't closed my eyes. It’s just that I’d never shared a bed before with someone I liked! Then, Rishabh's phone rang. Really loudly. He woke up and answered, mumbled some words, hung up and turned to me.
‘You're here,’ he said as he put his arm around me and pulled me to him. I wondered if this was when he would make a move, but a minute later he had gone back to sleep. I finally managed to fall asleep a few minutes later, with a smile on my face.
I definitely hadn't been ready for anything physical to happen with him that night. But just falling asleep in the same bed, in his arms, had given me a chance to get a bit more comfortable with the idea of other things happening with him. Oh and they did, eventually. *Wink*