She sighed contentedly, leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. It had been a lovely meal, almost romantic, like a first date after a pretty long time....God knows when last they'd been alone together, she mused!
The children were out of the nest, for studies and work. Today, even he had realized, how lonely the house felt! Looking at her wan face, he'd suddenly snapped his fingers and insisted they go out to dinner, in style!
Now seeing her content and smiling after a long while, he felt glad about his whim. He patted her head absently and nodded to himself, they'd do this more often, she looked so pretty when she was happy.
The bill arrived and he briskly paid it along with a generous tip.
She reflected, it had always been this way with him, the past 26 years. No questions, no hesitation, no eyebrows raised....just a calm, steady acknowledgement of the bill and its payment.
Today, out of the blue, she remembered a distant incident, one that surprised even her as it resurfaced after...a good 26 years.
"Sweetheart, can we sit for some time in the park nearby, remember how we used to come here often with the kids?" she asked.
"Sure, let's go. You want to get some ice-cream or something?" he asked.
"No, I am stuffed, let's just chat for some time."
"Can I ask you something?" she started once they settled down into a bench overlooking a decrepit old fountain.
"Ask away milady," he replied with a smile.
"Do you remember the first time we met? You spoke to my Dad over telephone to fix the 'first meet'. You said you'd prefer to meet us all over dinner at some restaurant instead of the traditional setting at home, remember?" she asked with a shy smile on her face.
"Hey, of course I do! How can I forget the most important day of my life?" he said, pulling her closer and draping his arm around her shoulders.
"Well, I was wondering, how is it that, you who never let anyone else pay on a family outing, never once in the 26 years I have known you....that, you let my father foot the bill on that first day we met, that was so unlike you!"
"Ha, ha, ha!" he burst out laughing. "Trust you to rake up something as remote as that! Didn't I tell you why I let your Dad pay the bill?"
"No, you didn't and well, I never asked!" she chided.
"Hmm, okay, it's no big deal actually, I'll tell you why..." he smiled mischievously.
"You see I had decided beforehand, that if I didn't like the girl I was to meet at the rendezvous, I would save the family the expense of the dinner....the least I could do for the inconvenience. But if I liked the girl and she liked me too, I had decided that I would let the girl's father foot the bill...that one time! And of course, it was love at first sight for both of us wasn't it? That's how your Dad ended up paying the bill. Make sense?"
"Hmm...not really! But I am glad I heard your explanation. I didn't think about it much then as I was already bowled over by your charm!" she replied, looking at him fondly.
"Look, it's nearly 12, let's get going, I have an early meeting tomorrow morning," he said as he stood up and held out his hand to help her up.
Hand in hand they walked up to the car, each immersed in his own thoughts.
She was happily musing about the tall, gallant, handsome man by her side, thanking her stars for having him by her side all these wonderful years.
He was thanking his stars as well, for coming up with that brilliant explanation!
Even after all these years, he couldn't quite own up that he'd not paid the bill that night as he did not have enough money in his pocket to pay for it. But that night, so many years ago, he had resolved, to change matters....work as hard as he could, so that never again....would someone close to him, pay the bill!
That dear folks, was our strong, sturdy dependable (SSD) type, from Category 6.
Old-fashioned, girl-boy-family meets that formed the basis of arranged marriages in India, have evolved considerably over the years. Almost everything happens online nowadays, even in arranged marriages! But how does one pick up the subtle hints of a person's inherent nature without actual physical acquaintance...I wonder!
The slow build-up of romance in the old-fashioned match-making process, had a charm of its own!
I do hope you enjoyed the Bill Please series and I am grateful to all those who read it and cheered me along! Thanks folks!
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Happy to be a part of:
A quick recap to help you understand what the Category 6 - Strong Sturdy Dependable - SSD means:
I have managed to segregate people into six categories based on their distinctive reactions upon sighting the bill. I also hasten to add that one cannot be indefinitely slotted into a particular category, after all human reactions vary according to situations, don’t they?
Lastly, you have the solid, sturdy dependables SSD as the sixth category - good ol' fashioned, chivalrous folk who think paying the bill is a norm, no fuss, no tussles, no me-me'ing here, it's all very clear - big Daddy is here!
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