Sarah´s alarm rang at 5:00 am as usual every morning. She jumped out of her bed instantaneously and into her crop top and track pants. She shut her front door behind her quietly before going to Jane´s apartment in the first floor. Jane was such a lazy bum and had been her responsibility since childhood. She rang the bell a couple of times before giving up.
Ruben was waiting in the car and flashed a knowing smile when Sarah got in.
“I told you this is not going to work.”
“I knew it too. But, I genuinely thought that she was serious this time around.”
“When was Jane ever serious about anything in life? Duh! Oh, I forgot! She´s fanatical about her good nights´s sleep.”
The two friends laughed before heading to the gym for their daily workout. Sarah, Jane and Ruben were neighbourhood friends since childhood. They practically grew up together. Sarah was the glue that kept the three of them bonded together even though she was the last entrant in the group.
Jane and Ruben took to each other like a bat takes to a ball with a flying sixer. Jane was a complete tomboy and the boys loved her. Well most of the time! She was funny, daring and sporty. She didn´t fit in with the girls and Sarah was her only exception. She´d always complain that girls are complicated and envious of each other while there was less bulls%&$ when dealing with the boys. That´s Jane in a nutshell for you – a monkey boy at soul!
Ruben was Jane´s soul-mate. He was a born bully and the only one who saw him as tame was his doting mother. She argued with everyone that her son would outgrow his naughty ways once childhood bids goodbye. Ruben loved the company of girls much to his mother´s amusement. He was always interested in the opposite gender from the start and would love flaunting his skills in front of them.
Sarah was a hard nut to crack for even a charmer like Ruben because she simply detested boys. Or that is what she always reminded herself and everyone around her. Especially rough boys like Ruben who did´t know how to remote control their limbs which seemed to be throwing a perpetual fit. She always suspected there was a manufacturing defect in boys. In Ruben´s case, she was certain. She was drawn towards Jane who wasn´t interested in forging a friendship with her or any girl for that matter. Jane was always hanging around with the boys. Unfortunately for Sarah, there were no other girls around her age in the apartments other than Jane. She was content with her books for company for a couple of months when the unthinkable happened. Jane came knocking on Sarah´s door one evening and asked if she could play with her. Sarah was delighted at the prospect and let her in. But not without letting Ruben in as well. That was Jane´s condition. Needless to add, the rest is history. The three were inseparable since then.
They went to the same school and college together. Sarah was the steady anchor in their lives and a patient listener. Ruben brought that element of fun and spontaneity in the group. As for Jane, she was the quirky one. Weird is the new cool, remember!
They were in the crucial sophomore year where their lives stood at a crossroad. Amidst looking fine and fit, they had to figure out what they going to do with their lives. Sarah was sure that she wanted to move away from Mapusa and pursue English Literature at St.Xavier´s College, Mumbai. Ruben had serious ambitions of taking up football as a career. He was already the star player in the state team and was set to be part of the national team. Jane had grand plans of expanding her father´s restaurant business. They thought they had it all figured out but when it came to parting, it wasn´t easy at all.
Sarah felt a surge of sadness when the train pulled further away from the station. This was completely her idea and she knew it would be painful to move away from her parents and friends. Jane and Ruben. To her admission, Ruben in particular. She knew that she was always fond of him. But, she wasn´t sure to what extent until now. Was this love or simply an infatuation? Should she confess her love to Ruben when she reaches Mumbai? Or was she being too hasty? Is it really important at this point of time when her goals were something far more important than a mere crush?
The three friends were in constant touch. Ruben was killing it on the international scene winning trophies after trophies for the country. She felt a surge of pride every time she saw his name and picture in the newspaper. But, there was something else that she felt that she never felt before. She was beginning to envy Jane and her closeness to Ruben. Jane and Ruben were based in Goa and would occasionally travel together. He would with either accompany her for some serious business deals. While she would accompany him to his football tours whenever she was free. Sarah felt that she was being unnecessarily insecure about Jane and Ruben. These two monkeys could never be a couple. Come on, she knew them both from childhood. They were simply not meant to be or were they?
Sarah was closer to her goal of completing BA Eng. (Hons) with a gold medal. She was now at a T junction if she should go back to Mapusa to Ruben or go in the direction where life takes her. Much had changed when she went home for Christmas holidays. Jane and Ruben were indeed a couple and were going to be engaged on New Year´s Day.
Jane took Sarah to Ruben´s house to meet his parents. When the elders left, Sarah wanted to know their love-story.
“Sarah, you should know Ruben by now. You know how he is discreet about matters that are the close to his heart.”
“Well, I don´t know him as much as you do. So, tell me all about it. Who proposed to whom? I want the whole dope.”
“Didn´t you see the signs, woman?”
“Hmmm! I´m not sure what you are talking about, Jane.”
“Open your eyes. What do you see? Listen to your heart. What do you feel?”
Sarah looked away from her friend. What was Jane trying to imply?
“Darling, did you watch Ruben closely of late? Do you see something new in his life? Apart from me that is!”, winked Jane.
Sarah seemed clueless.
“Typical! Now, what am I going to do with you, girl!”
Jane held Sarah´s hand and led her to Ruben´s room. There was a new entrant in his room while Sarah was away. A tall imposing book shelf stood in the middle of his room, with all the other athletic goods giving way for the new superstar in Ruben´s life.
Sarah was stunned at the transformation of Ruben.
“This is incredible. I´m so happy that he has finally discovered the joy of reading.”
“Hah! Just like you, woman!”
“Look at yourself, Sarah! You´re wearing sneakers and you´ve been sporty of late. Not quite your old self, I must note!”
Sarah felt warm in her cheeks. She knew she couldn´t hide her feelings for Ruben from Jane anymore.
“I´m so sorry, Jane! I never felt this way for Ruben before until I moved to Mumbai. I never meant to come in between you two.”
“Relax, Sarah! I´m not accusing or blaming you of anything.”
“I know. I should have confided my feelings in you at least. But then, you were getting serious with Ruben and I decided to keep it all to myself.”
“Just like Ruben did. Keeping his feeling for you all to himself.”
Sarah felt a sudden wave of joy dance inside of her. Jane´s spoken words were like manna to her soul.
Ruben, come out of the hiding now. You´ve heard it straight from your lady love´s mouth.
“Sarah, you sneaky thing!,” Ruben said before taking Sarah into his beefed up arms.
“Cough, cough! I´ll leave you two love-birds alone.”
“Where are you going, Jane?”, asked Sarah.“I don´t want to come in-between the two of you.”
“Haha! Sarah, why so serious all the time? Have I ever been serious about anything other than my sleep my whole life? Leave alone Ruben! Chill! All this was just a play-act to get you to let the cat out of the bag. Our parents played to the gallery as well to make our con act seem convincing.”
Sarah and Ruben got engaged on New Year´s Day. Two years later, they had a dreamy beach wedding with a ´white and blue´ theme. Sarah came decked in a white wedding gown paired with blue sneakers while Ruben turned up in a black tuxedo with shorts.
After all the formalities of wedding rites, an exuberant Ruben whispered in his bashful bride´s ears –
“Ready to take up the challenge of managing our football team.”
“Game´s on, sweetheart! Coming right at ya!”
Ruben whisked Sarah towards the sunset leaving behind the merry-making guests.
I’m participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018