How many frogs? Chicken or Eggs
Deb froze at her question. The issue was never far from his mind these days. Deb was genuinely attracted to Radha as a person. But he had not made up his mind. Radha might want a family soon. Deb was hesistant to commit to that. How about emotional committment? Did they have enough going? Sure they liked each other, liked each other quiet a bit. But did they need each other enough, or at all? How could he know if what they were feeling now would actually last? Radha was such an independent woman. Deb felt vulnerable. How about boredom? Deb knew it would hit them sooner or later. How long can one remain interested in each other? Again he was unsure how Radha would react. She was almost too spontaneous, too gut-driven, to be stable.
He could feel Radha stiffen as his silence lengthened. A part of him was frustrated that she had thrown him the question at this precise moment. He was distracted by her proximity and he had genuinely wanted to kiss her. He was not a man who could answer in the positive just to get on with what he wanted from her right then. At the back of his mind passed the thought that she had had physical relationships with other men in her past. Why did she want him to answer this one just now? He stopped himself hastily. He was not going to be judgemental. Finally Deb said, "Would you?"
Radha had hated herself in the pause that had ensued since her impulsive outburst.
R(gruffly): "Would I what?"
D: "Marry me?"
R: "Are you proposing?"
D: "I am asking.. are you sure you want to?"
R: "Look, its ok if you don't want to."
D: "I haven't said that."
R: "What are you saying?"
Deb wet his lips... Radha felt an increase in pressure where he held her.
D: "I value our friendship. I enjoy your company. I guess I am saying I need a little more time to make you that offer."
R: "I don't have time. This has to be on a short fuse buddy. I am sorry."
Radha looked at him with mutiny. Really what was she fighting! Two months ago she wasn't even ready to be married. And now she was hustling this man. What had gotten into her! It was her family, thought Radha rebelliously. Radha was driven to almost feel like she owed it others more than herself to tie the knot and soon. But it was more than that... The weeks they had kept away from each other had been painful for Radha, more than she cared to admit. She needed the reassurance! This must be what getting on in years does to you! She closed her eyes and sighed noisily. For a moment she just wanted to forget about this discussion and lean over to kiss Deb. But she was not 22 anymore! She had learnt the hard way that getting physical was like getting drunk. It took away the pain and the confusion, only momentarily. She took a deep breath to release the tension in her spine. The chicken needed some water. She turned around to get it from the basin. Deb did not let go of his hold.
D: "Look, we can try it if you want. I may let you down you know. I am a 38 year old virgin." He finished with a small rueful smile.
Radha cracked a small smile as well. She brushed back a lock of his hair that had fallen forward, covering his right eye.. "I dont think you will let me down."
Deb caught her hand and kissed her fingers lightly.
R: "I can imagine a dozen worse ways I could let you down, you know? I dont have a great track record."
D (broadening his smile): "Yeah, I have been wondering about that."
R (trying to get over the moment now): "OK, lets forget what I said, please? If I get desperate, I might twist your arms again. But for now, you are off the hook.. "
D (refusing to let go just yet): "You really are convinced? That this could work?"
R (shrugging): "I like you enough to try. I might even be a little in love."
Deb moved his hands to cup her face. Suddenly his doubts felt foolish.
D: "I can live on that."
R: "No.. no.. we will talk about this another time, ok? I mean..." She did not finish her sentence. She rested her hands on his chest to put some distance between them. She registered that his heart was beating fast.
Deb leaned close to her ears and whispered. "Yes we can.." Radha made a face.
D: "I am suddenly feeling adventurous."
Radha shook her head.
Deb hovered over her lips, "This is unfair."
R: "Deb, step back. Now."
Deb brushed his lips on hers.