He perched himself on one of the chairs opposite the Bistro Café and placed his laptop on the table across him. Being the bestseller author that he was, words were supposed to flow naturally to him. But, he just stared at the blank page on his laptop.
He stared and stared. What should he write about? Who was telling the story? And whose story was it anyway? The words fluttered and flew in the wind.
Sighing in frustration, he tousled his blonde hair, shut his laptop and walked till the shore a few feet away. Where was his inspiration? He thought. Currently on a break for a few days, he knew that he had to give his editor something to work on the moment he stepped back home.
He was standing at the popular Baga beach in Goa. A place where people of different countries and cultures blended together. An ideal place for a vacation and some stimulation as well. But, his mind was empty of all ideas. As the sun faded across the horizon, he jogged back to his cottage and decided to call it a day.
The next morning, he woke up groggily to the sound of his phone ringing.
“Hello, is it Nathaniel James?” A soft voice questioned.
He cleared his throat and said, “Yeah. That’s me.”
“Umm… I’m sorry to bother you so early, but I have found your wallet on the beach and want to return it.” The voice said.
“Oh, is it?” He wasn’t even aware that he had lost his wallet. He rummaged through the pockets of the shorts that he was wearing yesterday and was indeed surprised to find it gone. “So, where are you right now? I’ll come and get it.”
“Okay. I’m standing on the beach opposite Bistro Café. There are two flags here, one is a checkered black-white and the other is red-yellow. I’m standing in between the two wearing a purple t-shirt and black shorts. Please come fast.” She said and cut the phone.
Nathaniel splashed some water on his face before making his way to the beach. He reached in a few minutes and saw a young girl waiting exactly where she had described. He also noticed her long black hair flying in the wind and she was really pretty.
“Hi, I’m Nathaniel James. Thank you so much for calling me. I hadn’t even realized that I had lost my wallet.”
The girl blinked her eyes multiple times before she said, “Wow.”
Nathaniel quirked his brow before the girl blushed and said further, “Umm… I’m sorry. Actually, I had found your wallet last evening, but I was too scared to call you. When I finally gathered the courage, I called, not bothering to see the time. By the way, I’m Tanya Desai.” She offered her hand for a shake after handing him his wallet.
Nathaniel smiled, kept his wallet in his pocket and shook her hand, which he found to be cold and sweaty. She was really nervous. “Nice to meet you Tanya. May I ask, why were you scared to call me?”
Tanya gave a sheepish smile before saying, “I thought I wouldn’t understand your English. You all speak in a different accent and really fast. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But, the guilt of possessing someone else’s property won out. And before I could change my mind, I called you.”
Nathaniel broke out in laughter, but when he saw that Tanya looked upset, he stopped. “Sorry, but I wasn’t laughing at you. I’ll tell you why my English is like this. That’s because my mom’s French and dad’s Indian. We lived in Paris first. But, I have moved to London now.”
Tanya looked at him in awe. He continued, “Enough about me. What about you?”
“Umm… I have just finished with my 12th board exams. So we are all here for a vacation.”
They started walking along the shore and Nathaniel said, “That’s great. Wish you all the best for the results.”
“How do you know about our 12th board exams, Nathaniel?”
He smiled at the way she said his name, “You can call me Nate. And yes, I know that because I used to keep travelling to India with my dad visiting relatives during holidays. So, what do you want to do further?”
“I am planning to do a BSc. in Physics while simultaneously preparing for the entrance exams to enter the topmost colleges for astrophysics. That’s what I want to be, an astrophysicist.” She said enthusiastically.
“Wow. I’m in awe of you!” Nate pointed towards the café as he said, “Let’s have some tea. My treat. For returning my wallet.”
“Sorry, but I need to go back before my parents send a search party for me.”
Nate shrugged, “Alright then. It was great meeting you Tanya. And thanks again for making that call. I would have been in great trouble if that wallet would have fallen in the wrong hands, you know. It has all my credit cards and other personal details. So, I really owe you for this.” He smiled and added further, “Do keep in touch. You use Facebook?”
“I have an account, but not a regular user.”
“I’m going to send you a friend request and make sure you accept it.” He winked at her before saying, “My phone is either switched off or not with me, or else texting would have been easier. So, hope to meet you again sometime, Tanya.” With that they parted ways.
Back in London, Nate had started working on a story and he was checking a few websites when he had a friend request on Facebook. He usually had numerous friend requests but he hardly accepted any. This one was from Tanya Desai. He smiled as he clicked on ‘confirm’ and soon he had a message from her in the messenger.
‘See, I sent you a request first. Hope you remember me?’
‘Ah yes, how can I forget you? My wallet savior.’
‘You never told me what you do.’
‘I’m a writer.’
‘Wow. Okay. I’ll ping you back later. May be tomorrow. Need to finish a chapter in quantum mechanics. My break time is over. And it’s 10 pm here. What’s the time there?’
‘It’s 4.30 pm here.’
‘Okay, bye and take care.’
‘Bye, good night. You too take care.’
Nate smiled at the conversation he just had. He found her cute. Really cute.
He had random messages from her almost every day. Some days she spoke about the rains lashing the city and how much she hated them, while sometimes she told him about the new theories and formulae that she was learning in her physics class. She had topped her college in the boards and had secured admission in the college of her choice. Sometimes she would explain to him in details about the various theories on electromagnetism and particle physics. Initially, he would get bored with her constant yapping, but wouldn’t have the heart to tell her to stop. Later, he got used to it and in fact would look forward to her messages in his inbox. She had a fixed time; she would chat with him before she went to bed.
He would also tell her about his latest stories and what he was reading. The occasional party that he had been to. He was surprised that Tanya had never seen the interior of a club in the eighteen years of her life.
Six months passed. Nate was done with his first draft. He took way longer to complete it than usual. But at least he had something to give to his editor. And there was one more thing bothering him. He did not have any messages from Tanya since the last two days and he was beginning to miss her. He had left her a good night message, but she hadn’t acknowledged it.
He decided to Skype her. They had shared their details a few days ago and this was a perfect time to make use of that. After calling her for the fifth time, she answered.
He was greeted with a teary face, swollen eyes, messy hair and snot covered nose.
“Oh God. What’s wrong Tanya?” He exclaimed.
“My life is wrong.” She started wailing again. “I’m going mad with this Statistical mechanics. I’m going to fail in this exam.” She said in between sobs.
Nate was feeling bad for her but at the same time he was controlling a chortle that was threatening to escape him. “I think you should take a break from it.”
“Break!” She yelled. “Are you out of mind? I have exams next week!” She said in exasperation.
Now, he burst out laughing.
“You are laughing at my state?” Tanya started crying louder this time.
Nate slapped his forehead and said, “Relax. What I meant is, go out for some time. Do something other than Physics. Trust me, it really helps. Sometimes, when I get stuck with my story that is what I do. Take a break. Enjoy. And approach the matter with fresh eyes. And then, you will see the magic.” Nate coolly explained.
Hearing all this, Tanya stopped crying and said, “Okay. So that’s what I’m going to do. Take a break. I’m going to bed early today. Screw the Physics. Good night.”
“Good night.” Nate laughed as he said that.
The next time when they had a chat, Tanya was done with her exams and she couldn’t stop thanking Nate for the tips that he had given her. Nate was beginning to like this girl a lot. She was naïve yet so smart, and she was beginning to grow on him. And he had absolutely no idea about what she was feeling. She only spoke about her love for physics so far. They had a good five years age difference, and he was a bit scared to broach the subject with her.
Another year passed. There were many changes in Nate’s life, like he moved to a better place, he was done with another manuscript and he was touted as the next big thing in the literary world. But one thing remained constant. His daily chats with Tanya.
They chatted for almost half an hour every day, sometimes even more, at the end of her day. Nate would postpone all his other stuff during that time. She would tell him about the basics of astronomy and her obsession with the TV show ‘the big bang theory.’ She loved that show so much that she had made its title song the ringtone and the caller tune of her phone. He had laughed like a maniac when she said that.
They spoke about their families as well. Nate told her about his younger sister who was trying her luck with her acting skills and Tanya told him about her older brother who was working in the States.
“What about your parents?” She had asked him during one of their Skype chats.
“Buried six feet under.” He said nonchalantly.
“Oh! I’m so sorry.” She said.
“It was three years ago. They knew we were capable enough to manage ourselves. So both of them decided to go together.”
“You sound upset, Nate.”
“I’m not upset, but I miss them really bad. You are lucky, you have both of them in your life.” He smiled.
“Yes, I know. But I end up fighting with them a lot. Specially my mom. She doesn’t approve of my career choice. Worries that I’ll go into space and never come back.”
Nate was laughing at that and she continued, “I’m tired of explaining to her that I just want to be a scientist with absolutely no intentions of venturing beyond the earth!”
And just like that both of them burst out laughing.
He doubted that she knew how famous he was. In fact, he had even asked her whether she had read anything other than physics, to which she had said, “Physics is my one and only passion for now.” He wondered whether she could feel the chemistry between them. Even though they were continents apart, there was definitely a spark which he felt when he heard her melodic voice. He wasn’t interested in the physics which she spoke about, he only wanted to hear her voice. Sometimes, he would Skype her instead of their usual Facebook chats just to see her and hear her voice.
Once, she had surprised him with a new haircut and highlights in her hair. She had them streaked blonde and brown at the suggestion of the stylist. She looked gorgeous, but wasn’t confident about carrying it off. Nate had convinced her otherwise.
Time flew. Tanya was graduating next week. Nate had three bestsellers back to back and he was at the peak of his career. Suddenly, he had an idea. He needed a much deserved break from all the chaos in his life owing to his popularity.
He flew to Mumbai to meet Tanya. He wanted to surprise her and managed to sneak out all the details about her graduation ceremony. And today, he found himself in the auditorium of the Mumbai University for the ceremony. He wondered how she would react on seeing him there.
After the ceremony was over, he immediately rushed outside to catch hold of her. He saw her in the open lawn hugging a middle aged couple, who he assumed were her parents. She looked even more beautiful. He went near them and cleared his throat.
Tanya’s eyes widened in surprise when she saw him and he beamed looking at her. She hugged him and began shouting with delight.
“I think my ear drums have burst.” Nate laughed.
“This is un-freaking-believable!” Tanya exclaimed. “This is going to be the most memorable day in my life.”
“Yes, it is going to be.” Nate said. With that he pulled her close and kissed her. Not caring about where they were, or who was watching them, he kissed her thoroughly and she responded back. They broke apart when they heard some whistles and claps.
Furiously blushing, Tanya looked at him and Nate felt himself drowning in her brown eyes.
“Excuse me? Umm…. Mr. Nathaniel? Excuse me?”
Nate saw someone snapping their fingers in front of him. He blinked his eyes a couple of times before coming to his senses and looked around.
He was still standing at Baga beach in front of the flags that Tanya had mentioned and she, herself was standing before him. What had just happened?
He nodded his head and shook himself out of the dream.
“I’m sorry Tanya. I think I just zoned out.”
“No problem. I thought I bored you with my physics talk.” She started laughing.
“No, not at all.” Nate said. “In fact, I just wove an entire chemistry from your love for physics.”
Tanya gave him a questioning look to which he said, “I’m an author. I’m on a break here for some inspiration and you just gave me one.” He smiled.
“Good to know. It was great meeting you. I’m going to leave now, before my parents send a search party for me.”
“Thanks a lot Tanya. And do keep in touch. You must be having a Facebook account, right?”
“Yes, sure. I’ll send you a friend request later. Good bye and good luck with your story!” He saw her retreating back in the direction from where she came from.
He shook his head and sighed. He headed back to his room with a bounce in his step. He had a story to write. A story which he had just dreamt about. He did not know how the story would end, but it didn’t matter right now. He would figure it out on the way. The best part was that he knew what would be the title of his new book: ‘Physics and their Chemistry.’