It was March , the HSC board exams had just ended. On a Friday before the weekend my friend Aakash called me. He said that he had planned a camping trip for this weekend in the forest patch of a nearby hill. That place was not a famous camping place, nor many people used to go there. But Aakash had a lot of trips there with his family. I didn’t want to go as I knew the people going were Aakash, two other friends and their girlfriends.
“I don’t want to single-out among you couple. So I won’t be coming, Sorry!”, I said to him.
Surprisingly Aakash agreed to it and hanged up the phone. Later that night Aakash showed up at my doorstep with his bag-pack. He had come to force me to go camping. I tried to convince him but it didn’t work. He finally helped me pack.
Next day early morning we left for that place. The cab took us till the limit, from where vehicles can’t go any further. That point was the beginning of the forest. As a landmark there was a small restaurant. This was the place where we got united with rest of the group. We had a quick snack and then began our walk.
Aakash knew the perfect spot for camping so he led the group. And I was besides him finding a way in the forest. All the way to the camping spot I walked with Aakash, not because I wasn’t good friends with other people but because of the other reason. There was another last minute addition to the camping group I wasn’t aware of. It was Salena.
At college all my friends would say that she isn’t prettiest girl among all, “But she is for me”, I would say to them. I liked her but never could talk to her. The longest conversation I had with her was when I said ‘Hi’ to her once in the practical lab. I had given up on her, so this last day I just wanted it to pass ignoring her. Nothing happened in two years, what was going to happen now.
After an entire day of walking, Aakash finally agreed to a place saying that it was the perfect camping spot. There was nothing special about the spot. I guess he just choose a random spot as he couldn’t find the actual place and it was getting dark. We set up out camps and searched wood for the bonfire. Couldn’t find much dry wood because of an unexpected rain a couple of nights ago. But it was sufficient till the time we had dinner.
It was dark and fire was lit. Everyone sat in a circle around the fire eating ‘easy make Noodles’ that was brought for dinner. Meanwhile all were talking about college memories and all the mischievous things they have done. I did not actively participate in the talk as I didn’t do anything mischievous in the college, I was never a part of that group. All I was doing is taking a quick sneak look of Selena which was partially blocked by the flames.
Looking at her made me go down the memory lane, remembering my past encounters with her. Then someone came up with an idea of each one telling one story from past no one else knew about. After all the people told their memories holding the storytelling rock (a rock that a person holds while telling a story), it was my turn. I couldn’t think of what to say, so someone asked if ever I had a girlfriend. I had no story to tell in that area but there was one story I can tell.
I started talking, “ I never had a girlfriend but there was one evening. It happened a year ago. I had gone for a movie, alone because none of my friends showed up. I wanted to go home but I already had brought the ticket, just the one. Half an hour before the movie I got popcorn and waited for the theater doors open. While I was just standing, besides me at the food stall in a queue there was a girl. She had no change for the food items chosen, she asked me if I could help her out. Luckily I had change to help her with the situation and that got us talking. I knew she had ticket for the same movie still I didn’t ask her to sit with me as I thought that she was with her friends. We chatted for around 15 mins. When the time came for us to go inside, I stood there while she went ahead alone. I then quickly stopped her. Then softly I said the pickup line. She smile and agreed to sit with me. Nothing happened after that night but the three hours at the theater were well spent. ”
The storytelling was over and everyone went to their respective tents. While I was searching my backpack for something, Selena came by. She said that she had come to say Good Night. I stood up looking at her but not a word came out of my mouth.
She then said, “It was a nice story, the one you told earlier. What was the girl’s name? Did you ever meet her again?”
Hearing the question I smiled secretly. But she caught that and asked me the reason for my response. It took a deep breath and told her the truth. “The story I told earlier was a lie. Yes, I was alone at the theater. Yes, there was a girl in queue. But all the things after that were made-up by me. I hoped, that would happen, but it never did. The whole story, even the pickup line was an attempt to impress you.”
She smiled and with just one ‘Good Night’ she turned to leave. But then I stopped her and said, “I know, I am just a droplet of water among many, but if you be my light, then we can make this night colorful like a rainbow.’’
That’s it, she was impressed. Even after others were asleep, we were awake and talking. I told her all my attempts from past yrs to talk to her. After that night I was never single. It’s been two years since then that we are together.
Every time someone asked me how we got together, I would tell them the story of ‘the pickup line’.
But, just a week ago I asked Selena. “Would we be together if I haven’t used the pickup line?”
She replied, “The pickup line wasn’t the thing that made me fall in love with you. It was your honesty.”