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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Coincidental Love. (Part I)



One.
  
          "You are fired!", my boss yells in front of the entire staff. I am not going to beg for my job. He is firing me for a mistake as tiny as an ant. Whatever. I have to get the hell out of this office with the little dignity that is left. As I am storming out of the building, I feel a heap of rage building up within me. After serving for 8 years in that company, he just fired me. How is anyone supposed to deal with it? I need to get away. From this office. From home. From everything.
          After 2 days of this humiliating event, I am leaving for a trip to Switzerland. I know, it seems impossible given that I am currently unemployed. But that job gave me quite a lot to save up on. So, the past week in Switzerland was amazing. It felt like the beginning of a fresh start. Well, today is my last day in Switzerland. I hope they have something exciting. Touring and sightseeing was fun, but can't they just keep one disco night? As I pick up the phone, I am partly delighted and partly hopeful. "Hello?" There is a male's voice from the other side. He goes off in his practised speech, "Hello ma'am, I believe today is the last day that your travel group is staying with us?" "Yes, that is correct." "Well, on behalf of our resort, we have a little surprise party for you all tonight." Oh, now we are talking! "It begins at 7 pm. All the other tourists are coming. I hope you will join us too." "Oh, that's very nice of you. I'll surely be there. Thank you." So, finally something real fun!
          I start dressing up. It has to be a seriously cool party given the posh resort. I decide on wearing a cocktail dress paired with a lovely scarf and my favourite black heels. That's quite good. I hope I am not looking fat in this! Anyway, it is too late to change. As soon as I arrive at the open hall, I'm stunned. The place is made up so perfectly. The corner garden is decorated. There are white curtains flowing with the cool breeze. There are flowers and welcome drinks. Very neat. However, there are all strangers here. Is there anyone my age even!? Oh, there is a guy. He is Indian! Maybe I could talk to him. I introduce, "Hey. My name is Abhira, from Mumbai." This guy is either really shy or very preoccupied. After a blank pause, he responds, "Hello. I'm Akshat. Manager of the resort. How may I help you?" Oh well done. You found the manager to chat with. That too, a shy one. A handsome and shy one. "Oh right. So, what is the theme of this party?" "Yes. It is about to start. Why don't you take a seat and enjoy yourself?" Off he goes acting like I am some alien. "Sure." I reply after him. At least he has a good smile. So, Akshat, the manager is conducting this party himself. Interesting. Now he seems much more relaxed. "Hello everyone! Luxury Tower Resort are very pleased to have you all here. This is our way of saying thank you for choosing us. We are going to play a game here. I know. I know. It s not a children's birthday party. But, we have had a good experience with past clients with this game. So, these two guys are going to hand over a number card to you all. There are two of each kind. So, when the music begins, you have to find the person having the same number and begin dancing! Since many of you don't know each other, this is a fun way of connecting with others!" Okay, this is exactly what we did on our graduation farewell. It's so old school! He looks nice up there, capturing the show. We share an almost electric look. And, he looks away. Whatever. "So, D'Souza ma'am what did you get?" A lady in the front row meekly replies, "5" "So, D'Souza ma'am here has a 5. Who's her dance partner?" Let them just get along with this game. I'm not going to dance with some old uncle. Oh, why are they all asking him to be a part of it? He stands tall talking swiftly in his cold and catchy voice, "Okay, okay. I will accompany you all then. I have number 37." To my astonishment, I say a little too fast, "I have a 37 too!" I can bet he is already regretting it. His eyes give everything away. Covering up his act, he begins, "Oh, okay then. Can we have some music?" He can talk to an audience so nicely then why can't he talk to one person face to face! It is usually the other way round. Whatever. I don't think he's going to come here, anyway. Everyone starts dancing. It seems pleasurable. Even those old aunties and uncles are dancing with random people. No way I'm standing here like a fool. Before my brain can react, my feet go over to Akshat and I start talking, "Hi again Akshat! Would you like to dance? Everyone is enjoying themselves!" With an awkward smile, he confesses, "Oh hey. Those aunties just dragged me. I can't really dance in this setting." I was not going to give up. "Well, I bet they have an eye on you. If you leave now, they will just get you back again." Now he is slightly turning to look at them from the corner of his eye. Timing! They see and wave at him. I can hardly control my laugh. "Well, okay then Miss Abhira.", he says, like he is being thrown into prison. Finally, we are dancing! Thank goodness. "So, how do you like working here? Don't you miss home?" God, he has a really good body. He is saying, breaking the chain of my random thoughts, "It's good here. Sure, I miss my family. But have to earn a living." "Oh, of course." I am an independent 29 year old single woman. And being the kind of outgoing and charming person I am, I have to do better! What is it about his gaze that renders me speechless? I try, "You look quite younger to be the head manager at a resort."This is just a branch which makes me only a Branch Manager. And I am actually older than I look." So many words, I am impressed. He still has that sorry face though. Does he hate me for making him dance? Probably, he does. "So, for a beautiful woman like you, isn't it weird to travel alone?" Oh, he can talk then. Did he just say beautiful? Goosebumps. He doesn't hate me then. I reply casually, "Oh, I'm just on a break from my busy life." "Okay. That's a slow song coming up. Do you want to..?" Before he finishes his sentence, I jump in, "Sure. I love to dance actually. I hope you don't have a problem?" If you put people on a spot like that, they can never say no. It's a trick I always use and it works! We begin to dance. At least, he knows where to place his hands while slow dancing. Whatever. This silence is really awkward. Akshat seems like a really introverted person. Or maybe it's the silence that usually follows in such dancing. It's good that we are not talking. It almost feels romantic, this way. He moves so smoothly. He is holding me like a flower. He is just so nice. What am I thinking! There's no chance Abhira! Just, stop over thinking. Collecting my thoughts, I say, "So, that's the end of the song. Thanks for the dance. I have to go now." "Um, bye.", he says. I smile weakly and leave. That was real smooth, you weirdo, I say to myself. I know I shouldn't have left like that but I had no choice. I had to.
          That was a very intimidating evening. Why am I feeling like my heart is on the sleeves for this guy. I don't even know him. This is crazy. He was just so kind and.. Shut up! Stop thinking about it. Such a gentleman. Okay, I'm sleeping. Whatever.

Two.

          Leaving behind that wonderful trip and my dreams about the mysterious guy, Akshat, I am now in Mumbai filling up job applications and hoping someone would take me. To tell you the truth, I write the best fashion analysis. It's not my fault that some celebrities feel shameful. They should actually be shameful wearing those hideous outfits! Anyway, I have applied for three top publishing houses. The interviews are next week which gives me a few days to chill. So, today I am just sitting by the window. As I live on the third floor, I can watch the people downstairs. It's a sunny March day. I love to just observe the kids playing and fighting. The house-wives doing grocery shopping and OH MY GOD. Is that? How can it be? Am I hallucinating? That is Akshat! Live in the flesh! And he looks as good as ever. Could he be visiting someone? But that sounds stupid. Why on earth would he come all the way from Switzerland to visit someone? I have to find out. I am not going to be creepy or desperate. Maybe I will just ask Peter uncle, who is the manager. "Hello Peter uncle! Abhira Khanna speaking. How are you doing? How is auntie?" He replies, "Hello beta, we are doing good. How come you called? Any problems?" Might as well avoid all the small talk then. "Actually yes. I was wondering if any new people are coming in the society? I thought there were no vacant flats?" "Oh yes yes. A family has shifted yesterday. Where the Karandikars stayed?" "Oh okay. I thought I saw some unknown faces today. So, who are these people?" "There's a working man, his mother and sister. Why do you ask anyway?" Oh crap. Think about an answer! "Oh nothing. I was just curious." I cannot ask their names now, at all. He is saying, "Okay. They seem to be well off. The guy is promoted as the head manager in the Luxury Tower Resort!" As those words reached my ears, I was on a whole different planet. This unbelievable news is leaving me in paced heartbeats. This is really weird though. Last week, he was miles away and now he's here, in my building! What is life? I almost forgot I was on the phone. "You there beta?" "Yes. That's good to know." "I have to hang up now. Come at home sometime, okay? Bye." "Sure uncle. Goodbye." Well, now this is something that never usually happens. Last week I met a guy, who was handsome, qualified and almost miles away. And today, he is here. What were the chances of him getting promoted to India, let alone Mumbai? What were the chances of him living in Bandra, let alone in my society! This is all too exciting and also weird for me!
          The past few days were a blaze. Today is Wednesday. I just gave the third interview. All were good but I really hope I get a job in the second one, Mumbai Classics. They have the best fashion journalists working for them. Their Fashion Classics is indeed the best magazine trending these days. Well, right now I am heading five floors above me, where apparently Akshat has moved in. Finally I decided to give them some pancakes as a neighbourly gesture. I ring the bell with more adrenaline than I had when I was dancing with him. Ting-tong. The door is opening as are my hopes. To my dissatisfaction, it is his mother. "Hello! I am Abhira Khanna. I live here on the 3rd floor. I thought I would bring up something for you guys." "Oh hello. My name is Supriya Chawla. Come in, come in. The house is a mess, as you will see." She takes the pancakes and welcomes me inside. "That's natural after all." She seems really sweet and very motherly. She is wearing a cotton punjabi dress. She always has a smile on her face. I begin, "So, where are you from? Who all are there in your family?" She speaks, "I am only a house-wife. My husband works in Chennai which is where I lived with Meera, my daughter. My son, Akshat..." My heart skips a beat as I finally hear his name. I may be reacting too much but whatever."
"...just got promoted as the head manager at Luxury Tower Resort. I am joining him for a few months until he settles. Then I will be back and forth from here and Chennai. My daughter Meera is a graduate. She will start working now. And, tell me about you!" "I am currently searching for a job. I am a fashion analyst. I used to work for Indian Publishers. I live here with my parents, Charu and Hemant. My mother works in the bank down the corner and my father is a stock broker." "That's impressive. I will surely ask you before dressing up for events." We share a laugh. It's fun getting to know her and everything but I would rather if it was Akshat. "So, where are your children?” I ask suddenly. "You just missed Akshat actually. He will be back soon though. Meera is also out." "Okay, it was really nice meeting you. I hope you like the pancakes. And do visit us. I will get going now." "Okay dear. Thanks for stopping by." So apart from the fact that it's confirmed it's him, there was no use going. As I climb down the stairs, I almost bump into a man. It's Akshat! Our stunned faces are too revealing. The look on his face is so turbulent. His face shows signs of surprise, fear and even happiness. He starts talking, "Oh my God. Abhira, right? This is such a co-incidence. What are you doing here?" I smile and reply, "Well, I live here. How about yourself?" We shake hands. A firm handshake. That's a good sign. "I just shifted here last week. It's really good to see you again. Who would have thought?" He seems like a different person altogether with the talking and all that extra hand gestures. "I know. Well, I just met your sweet mother. Gave some pancakes." "Oh thanks. I have to go now but we will meet soon? Bye." "Sure. Goodbye." He was actually happy to see me. I wonder what he feels about this whole situation. As I reach home, I casually check my laptop. There is an e-mail from Mumbai Classics. "Yes! I got it." My mom comes in, "What's the matter?" "Mom! I got the job I wanted! This is amazing!" "Congratulations darling. I knew you would get it." The day just got so much better.

Three.

          Today is the first day of my job and I'm thrilled. I'm wearing the perfect work outfit. A suit and trousers with my formal heels. For a fashion analyst, dressing up is more important than for others. If there's even a tiny f aux pas, then you're out. So far my day was good. My boss, Ms. Fenil introduced me to my work and also to the other members. Right now I'm working on this article for how can common man dress up in monsoons. I finally feel like I belong here. By the way, I didn't see Akshat since our last staircase meeting which lasted for 2 minutes. There's a function in the society today so I'm hoping against hope that I'll see him. For this function, I'm wearing a light blue kurta with leggings and long earrings. I always prefer wearing kurtas to T-shirts. It's just more elegant. Anyway, Akshat is here. And he is coming straight towards me! He begins, "Hi Abhira. How are you doing? I really apologise for my behaviour at the resort. I just organise such events. That was the first one I actually had to become a part of. I know I acted weirdly. Firstly, I'm an introvert. Secondly, I got the chance to dance with a beautiful lady like you. So, I was befuddled." He's talking and talking which is so good. I say, "I suppose that's alright. I'll forgive you only if you dance with me again tonight." Now his expression is more tensed. I start laughing, "Relax Akshat. I'm only joking!" He is such an innocent fellow. "You got me there. So you're my first friend here. I don't know anyone except Mr. Peter." "We're friends then? Good to know. These people are really friendly once you get to know them. Of course, not all of them though. How about I introduce you to some of my childhood friends?" "Okay. Maybe after sometime." "You are one mysterious person. Let's go!" I take him to meet my five pals. He seemed really uncomfortable but they didn't notice it, I hope. After that little talk, we were on our own. He said, "I'm glad you came to my resort and I'm glad I found you here again." My heart just melted right there. Once he gets comfortable around people, then he opens up. He's like a treasure. Mysterious from the outside. Worthy from the inside. The evening was quite fun. Now I know 5 more things about him:
1. His age is 32.
2. He is single.
3. His favourite book is 'PS: I Love You'.
4. He is extremely hot.
5. He is my friend.
I thought he was like 28 or 29. He definitely looks younger. And I also knew he was single because he had no wedding ring and his mother didn't mention it either. I'm just saying.
          Now-a-days, we text all the time. He is quite great at it actually. In the past month we have talked about almost everything. The important stuff as well as random rants. We also had one of those chats where we kept asking "why?" to everything. Now, I'm going for the real talk.

Me: So, don't you have a girlfriend?
Akshat: No. I don't. Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: I don't either.
Akshat: You don't have to lie just to make me feel better.
Me: I really don't have a boyfriend.
Akshat: Oh. It's totally difficult to believe that.
Me: Why so?
Akshat: Okay, if you must know. You're the most beautiful, immaculate and ambitious woman I've ever met. You have a ravishing personality. Your thoughts are vibrant and refreshing. There's no way any men aren't interested in such an astounding person.

(I. Am. In. The. Ninth. Heaven.
Do men even say such wonderful things these days? I am absolutely stunned by how many layers Akshat has.)

Me: Thank you for saying all those kind words but that doesn't change the fact that I'm still single. As we are on the topic, you are also a handsome man. Your talks are deep and insightful. It's like I'm talking to a 50 year old mature person. Why isn't anyone with you?
Akshat: Because I'm not handsome. I'm shy. You know what? I have never had a girlfriend! That's how lonely and secluded person I am.
Me: Now you're joking. I cannot believe that.
Akshat: Ha Ha. You can laugh. It's okay. Another failure with women.
Me: Don't be like that. Anyone would be lucky to have you.
Akshat: Thanks. I have to sleep now. I'm glad you're there for me. And know that I'll always be there for you.
Me: You're the most amazing friend, Akshat. Good night.

Four.

         Today is Sunday. I am trying to write some more articles before they are allocated to me. Door bell rings. Who could possibly be there at 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon! I open the door and there is him, Akshat. He looks so sexy when he wears casuals. I let him in. This is actually the first time he has come home. I introduce him to my parents. After the usual conversation of getting to know each other, he is now talking to me. "Hey, I was wondering if you are free." Is he going to ask me out? I cannot stop.. "Actually I need a favor for my sister.." Oh. So not a date. "Sure. How can I help?" He is saying, "She has this big party tonight with her office people and she needs the perfect outfit. So you were the first person that came to my mind. There's hardly any time to go shopping. Maybe you can help her someway? Can you come home now?" "Well, okay." As we are climbing up the stairs, we hardly talk. This stairwell silence is so funny at times. "Hey Meera! Congratulations on your job! Accountancy must be really your field then! Let's get started! Can you show me your wardrobe if that's okay? Maybe I can come up with something." "Thanks a lot for helping out. Sure. You do whatever you want. There's nothing party-like in there so it's all up to you." I can see she is hoping a lot from me and it really feels good. I take out a black chiffon top with a beaded collar. Then there is a nice white skirt she has. So, I ask her to put that on. Then, I quickly get the sparkly silver belt of mine to pair it up with the outfit. I ask her to wear the silver jacket which is quite the designer. For footwear, I recommend her the red pumps. After having the outfit sorted, I apply her some make-up. Now, she is ready. "This is fantastic, Abhira. Thanks so much!! I owe you one." I can feel her happiness glow from her face. She is a really pretty girl and now she looks like a classy woman. "Not a problem darling. Call me up whenever you need any help! Don't hesitate." Akshat and I stay at his home for a while. His mother is not there. He says, "You made her at least half as beautiful as yourself. Thanks a lot." "Mr. Akshat, you seem a lot flirty these days." "What? Why do people always think that? I am just overly sweet!" "Alright Mr. Sweet! I have a party at my place on Friday and you are invited. You can make it right?" "Thanks. Of course, I will." We both just sit for some time saying nothing, sometimes looking at each other, smiling and then I leave. Why can't we just admit that we like each other? Why is everything so hard? I thought 2 mature people could do better than this.
          Tonight is party night! I am really excited as Akshat will be here. Also, I haven't seen my college friends and cousins in a long time. Everyone is almost here except for Akshat. The bell rings. By the time, I am sitting with my sweetheart, Preet. He is saying, "I love you so much. It's been 2 years since we are together. You are the best girlfriend!" I smile and hug him. From the corner of my eye, I watch Akshat leaving.

Read Coincidental Love. (Part II) here.

6 comments:

  1. I like the list and the dialogue. Breaks up the text #Growyourblog

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is great! I look forward to reading more!

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  3. Very good, I enjoyed this. Looking forward to seeing what happens next with their relationship.

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  4. Great story! I'll be back to find out what happens next.

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