Time was running excruciatingly slow and his nerves kept him awake. He knew she was with family and that she deserved this time with them and so he had kept quiet. Held his anxiety and his heart. He didn't call her neither did he text her knowing he must have rattled his little storm. But damn that heart.
It kept beating every single minute. Every moment he lived. Everywhere he went. He looked out of the window and kept staring at the dark sky. How desperate has he been? And How unsettled...! He took out his phone and stared at her number. One part of his told him to let her be and the other part screamed to just call her and just know that she was doing fine. That she wouldn't shut herself from him whatever her answer may be.
But somehow, he knew he'd give in.
Her phone screamed like a maniac and she pushed it away, closing her eyes.
Go away Maan...
She blocked her mind from everything and from him and kept the phone away, letting it ring. Pushing away the clothes that she had been folding, she walked away without a backward glance. The phone stopped ringing and she stopped on her tracks. Taking a deep breath in, she looked back, tempted to go back and take that call but the phone rang again.
She shut her eyes tight, bit her lips and fighting against everything that hurt her right at this moment, she ran away from that damned device.
she wasn't running away from the phone.
She knew it...
"Where are we going?" Ana twisted her lips.
"Guess." Aarush smiled over the phone.
He knew her well now, all too well that he knew what went in her mind. With Geet going MIA, Ana had been so stressed out and so scared about everything that he knew he had to do something to calm her nerves. She had been anxious all the time.
"Tell me Aarush... at least give me a hint."
He honked at the person he was overtaking and adjusted his handsfree.
"it's a date!" he said it point blank.
She gasped and remained stunned for a while until she got her voice back.
But of course she was not a Khurana if she had not the flair of pride and attitude.
"Don't you think you are going too ahead of yourself?"
He scoffed, taking a turn towards his institute, "I know you are excited about it. Stop being so high headed Premchand."
She sat up and pressed her hand on her cheeks, feeling it warm, "I...I am not excited about it. Huh... what is so great in a date?"
"I know you are blushing right now. It's okay Antara...its natural."
"I...I...am not blushing. How would you know?"
She never knew when her heart had started thudding just by the thought of them being going out together for the first time and when her cheeks had turned red.
"Your voice... it is louder than before..." he spoke, "and you are stammering at being caught..."
"I am not..." she tried to sound confident.
"and now you are pretending to be confident..."
"What the hell? How do you know all that?" she screamed on the other side.
He shook his head, "That is my occupation Premchand..."
"Oh damn it. I hate your occupation."
Gosh...she hated all the psychologists now.
"Ah well, I don't care what you think about my occupation. And be on time."
"Tell me where are we going since you say it's a date! It better be something worth it..."
"Make a guess..."
"Ummm... Are we going to a restaurant?"
"What are your expectations?"
"Umm... or may be Park Hyatt?"
"Refine it more."
He sighed and quickly made his decisions. This lady needed to see something new and something less sophisticated.
"No. we are going somewhere else. So, just wear your regulars and be ready."
she rolled her eyes and dragged herself to the washroom, excited, nervous and curious all at the same time. It wasn't like they hadn't been out together but this was way too direct.
She felt a chill run down her spine she didn't know why but nonetheless, Aarush Mehra had something up on his sleeves.
She looked up and found Pooja smiling down at her. Her lips curled upwards and she slid aside, "hey, come sit."
Pooja sat beside and looked at the tablet screen Geet was holding.
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing. Just checking some mails. I will have to join work in the next month I guess."
She signed out and flipped the tablet, "you tell me...how are you and the little one?"
Pooja lovingly caressed her tummy, "we are good. Just bored."
"yeah, there is nothing to do. Let's go out for a walk Geet."
"A walk?" Geet raised a brow, "Are you sure?"
"Uff...don't be like Raj. I can walk around and do stuffs. It's just two months now. Come on let's go."
She looked up at the fading sunlight from her window which glowed orange, saying goodbye to the sky.
Just like it was in New York.
Just like the orange from his floor to ceiling window...
Just like ...
She shook her head to stop her mind from going back to him. She shouldn't be thinking about him anymore. Only her Kanha knew the number of times she'd mumbled this to herself.
Geet, stop thinking about him.
"Geet...are you coming?"
"Huh?" she snapped out of her thoughts, "yeah... yeah am coming."
Walking down the streets of West Hampstead, she watched people enjoy their summer evenings off. There were children running along the cobbled stone sidewalk and ladies walking with their prams. A slight cool breeze along with the soft chirruping of the homebound birds made the walk even more soothing. She realized she had been a stupid to have locked herself in her house.
"I am hungry."
She looked at Pooja and smiled, "Of course...we have been walking for a long time now. Let's sit in a cafe."
She felt Pooja's fingers softly curl into hers and she looked at her.
"I miss us'"
Geet smiled and curled her fingers with her, just like they used to hold each other's hands in their childhood. Bittersweet memories swarmed in her mind until her eyes fell on a Chinese food truck on the other side of the road. And for some unknown reasons, her feet stopped moving. She halted and stared at it. The sour -spicy aroma of the soy sauce on the grill filled the air and she felt herself time traveling.
There was a long queue in front of the kiosk.
"Geet... be quick. There are other people waiting in the line."
She sighed in defeat and looked up at him, "I can't decide. You tell me."
He shook his head and quickly skimmed through the menu and looked at her, "Veg or non-veg?"
He popped in his food using a chopstick with great expertise, "Tofu. The dish is called Ma-Po Tofu. Quite famous Chinese."
She took another bite and closed her eyes in delight...the tangy-spicy flavors tingling her taste buds.
"what have you got there?" she took another bite and peeked into his packet.
"The same as you!" he continued eating.
"why is it that your tofu looks different than mine?" she asked suspiciously.
"it's because yours is veg and mine is non-veg!"
"Say Maan...have you ever been to China?"
"Yeah once... for some business trip. Why?"
"Umm... no just like that. They have this Imperial palace there in Beijing. What's its name...ermmm.."
"..The Forbidden city?" he completed her sentence, smiling warmly.
"There is a reason why it is called The Forbidden City Geet."
"Geet... hurry up...I am hungry."
She snapped out of her thoughts at the distant voice of her friend. Pooja had walked ahead looking for a caf while she realized she was still standing there, on the same spot, looking at the Chinese truck, lost in her memories. She blinked a couple of times and looked at Pooja, waving at her. She never knew when she had left her hand and had walked ahead. Knowing that she was carrying Raj's child,
Geet realized the cruel intentions of time.
Pooja had indeed walked ahead and she was still lagging behind...
She walked ahead and glanced back at the food truck one last time.
"Never ever Geet, regret the decisions you have made. If it goes right, you will make yourself proud and if it goes wrong, still feel proud that you learned something."
"Will you do that Geet? One thing that I ask of you! Take pride in what you do. And choose your own path confidently."
"No...No...No..." she closed her ears with her hands and shook her head. His voice...oh god his voice! She didn't want any of it. She had made her decision and she will abide by it. She wouldn't go back.
He closed his laptop and stretched himself. The study seemed to remind him of lot of things and so, for a change, he just decided to work in his room only. It was a Friday night and there was no one home. Kabir was out with his friends and his parents were out with some relatives. He could just go and sit with his sister for a while. It had been long that he had spent time with his family.
He was left all alone perhaps.
He found himself standing alone in his sister's room, calling out to nothing but emptiness.
He sighed and decided to go back and call it a day when he found a book of hers fallen on the floor.
"Always the irresponsible Kid..."
He smiled and picked it up, recalling their childhood when he used to help her with her homework and keep her books properly. She'd run away the moment she was done. He'd stay back, arrange her books, keep them neatly in the cupboard and then leave.
It was one of the novels that she had been reading it was bookmarked at a certain page. he would have ignored it if and only if it weren't for his name written on the top.
He narrowed his brows and pulled away that sheet of paper. If it was addressed to him, what the hell was his sister doing with it? Keeping the book away, he read what contained his answer.
Answer that he had been looking for a long time.
Answer that probably broke his heart and made him smile at the same time.
What was he thinking when he had proposed to her?
He had known all along that she'd run away. He had expected it. But even then...even then this was like a stab to his heart. He walked away to his study, sat on the armchair and re-read it all over again!
"so, is this how it is, little storm?"
Why the person who is not worthy of you? Please know that I have been in love with someone before. I thought he is the one for me. That he is the one who has eyes only for me. And when he left, I knew he took away a part of me from myself. I don't have enough Maan... and you deserve more. I am a broken leaf who has nowhere to go. Someday, I will wither and fall. You wouldn't want to be with someone like me then...
"Ermm... Aarush?" Ana cringed at the place they were in.
She observed him, pretty cool and okay with the place.
She had been excited about the date but where he brought her was a small Indian diner, themed as a dhaba and they didn't even have chairs and tables. What she found was a cots scattered around and few people sitting there and eating.
"Where are we?"
He shrugged, "we are on a date Antara...this is one of the best Indian restaurants around here I have discovered. Come on let's have a seat."
"Whoa. Wait wait... they don't have chairs and tables."
He laughed at her expressions mentally and pointed towards the cots, "do you see that? Those charpaais? We are going to sit there..."
"What? On those ropes? I am not going to sit there..."
He leaned closer to her and whispered in her ears, "scared that your weight might break those ropes?"
"what do you mean Mister?"
He laughed, raised his hands in the air and walked towards a cot. He stopped when he realized she wasn't following him and turned back to see her so confused. He shook his head, held her hand and dragged them to their seat.
"You enjoyed eh?" Aarush asked, as they enjoyed the music whilst on their way back home.
She had that wide smile on her lips, "Yes. It was so much fun especially the puppet show that they had. I had never seen an Indian puppet show."
"Oh yeah..." he added, "I loved the tandoori chicken there."
"tell me about it... and the paneer tikka was nothing like I had eaten before. It was amazing."
He watched her face light up like an excited kid and sighed, "See how simple it is?"
She turned to face him, "huh?"
"Do you think you could have seen an Indian puppet show in Ritz-Carlton or The Pierre or any other fancy restaurant?"
She shrugged, "Uh no?"
She had to agree.
"Sometimes Antara being a little less sophisticated opens so many doors for us. You were upset about them not having spoons and forks but tell me, did the chicken taste any different when you ate with your hands? I bet you have enjoyed the food more than ever..."
She looked down, agreeing to all of it. She never had this much fun ever. She had never known this.
"here we are. I am glad you agreed to come with me tonight."
She looked up at the man behind the wheels. and kept staring at him for a while. He keeps teasing her all the time and it was rare that he got serious. But even then, even now, she was sold.
She breathed in sharply as they stopped in front of the estates.
"Yes. I enjoyed this date' Aarush...I really did. Thanks."
She leaned a little closer, placed a soft peck on his cheeks, surprising him.
"good night Mr. Mehra. I had a great time with you."
And before even he could react, she was gone!
She hopped up the stairs of the porch and found Aawara lying on the rug lazily.
She bent down and caressed his head, "hey there big fella..."
He barked in recognition and rubbed his head on her calf. She giggled, "wait... let me change and come. We can walk around."
She walked inside only to find Maan sitting on the couch, tapping something on his phone.
He looked up as she hopped towards the stairs.
She stopped and looked behind, "yes?"
"Come here." He spoke a little sternly.
Ana felt it as she gulped. He didn't seem to be in a very good mood. Was it Aarush? Did he know she had been out with Aarush?
"Sit." He gestured towards the couch.
She sat down, hoping whatever it was, it wasn't a big deal.
"Where had you been?"
"b...b I was out with a friend." She sensed her brother wasn't happy about something.
He stood up and paced around.
"when you are starting work?"
"Umm may be next month?" she squeaked. The worst was yet to come. He turned to face her and she cringed at that look.
Not that question... not that question please...
She prayed under her breath but alas, things never go the way we want it.
"and where is Geet?"
She cursed her luck but she could do anything to see her brother happy.
"Umm Bhai... she is in London. I had told you right? Vacationing with family..."
"Hmm...and did she say she wouldn't be taking calls or messages or anything?"
She shrugged, "She must be busy..."
"and did she leave any note or letter for me?"
She froze, not knowing how to answer this.
"Wo Bhai... she...she didn't say anything..."
He glared at her as he pulled away the letter from his pocket and threw it at her, "then what is this supposed to mean Antara?"
She didn't even need to open the folded piece of paper to know what it was. She gulped that knot in her throat, scared of her beloved brother.
"Explain this to me."
"You have known it all along, haven't you?"
She dipped her head, not saying anything.
"Haven't you?" he thundered.
She jumped, "I am sorry Bhai but I found it on your table. I didn't want you to see it."
"and you lied to me the last time too? She has been gone for a month damn it.."
She trembled, "yes. And I am really sorry I didn't want you to hurt..."
"Do you think it makes me happy now? Why did you hide it in the first place?"
"I couldn't have seen you hurt..." tears filled her eyes.
He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, "Geet ran away, that is a different issue. But why in the world would you meddle things that is between her and me?"
"I don't care what you think. You know I hate lies..."
Tears rolled down her eyes and she ran away. She had done this only to protect her brother but he wouldn't understand. She had been trying to coax Geet to come back but perhaps her best friend wouldn't understand this either.She sobbed, hiding her face in the pillow, feeling angry at both Geet and Maan.
It was yet another week and she switched off her phone yet again. One month it was going to be and she hadn't been able to keep things out of her mind. Every little thing reminded her of New York... of her friends, of the two years she spent there and of him.
"Why kanha...?" she curled into a ball and pulled the duvet over her face. He had been calling and so had been Kabir and Ana too. But she didn't answer anyone. It was easy to avoid Ana and Kabir's calls but his calls always made her heart writhe in a certain pain she knew not of. Pooja had scolded her to call Maan and talk or receive his call at the least but she had been adamant. And when he had called her now, he had switched off her phone.
The days were tolerable. She was busy in something or the other. But the nights were hard to sleep. Memories haunted her.
It was only after hours that she woke up to Pooja's voice. She had been trying to wake her up.
"do you have fever Geet?"
"you usually don't sleep in the afternoons. Raj has been trying to call you. Why is your phone switched off?"
She yawned and went to the washroom to freshen up.
Pooja switched on her phone and checked her call log to call Raj and tell that Geet was okay. What she saw was something that angered her so much. So many unanswered calls of Maan and so many messages read but not replied.
"What the hell are you doing Geet?" she screamed the moment she walked out of the washroom.
She threw the towel on the bed and looked at her confused, "what?"
"Talk to Maan..."
Geet sighed, "I don't want to."
"Stop running away. If you really want to get out of this mess, say it on his face."
"Pooja please...I don't want to talk about this."
"Shut up. Just shut up. When love is knocking at your door, why are you pushing it away? Give him a chance? At least talk to him. Give him a chance to explain things...put forward his side..."
The phone rang again, flashing Maan's name.
She forwarded the phone to her.
"Talk. Right. Now."
"Pooja its none of your business.."
"it is when what you are doing is nothing but foolishness. Answer him now."
Geet opened her mouth but she beat him to that.
"if you won't do it, I will.."
Geet snatched the phone and looked at Pooja who glared at her.
Defeated by her own best friend and the likes of the heart, she pressed the answer button and placed the phone near her ear.
"on n'aime que ce qu'on possede pas tout entire"
He had read somewhere and it remained at the back of his mind.
The phone rang on the other side and he waited for her to pick up.
And like each time, he expected her to pick up, knowing well, it would go either to her voice mail or be left unanswered or her phone be switched off.
And like each time, he waited, patiently.
His heart stopped, when he felt the phone being answered.
After almost a month.
But there was no answer on the other side.
Gathering all that he had of his confidence and faith, he called her out lovingly, "Geet.."
There was nothing on the other side but a soft yet sharp intake of breath that told him of her being.
"I know you are there... and I won't ask you to speak."
There was no answer from the other side.
"...but what I want you is to hear me. Let me tell you things that I haven't told you and then it will be you at the end. You have always been..."
"on n'aime que ce qu'on possede pas tout entire" -We love only what we do not wholly possess.
This has left me totally breathless... Geet finally taking Maan's call and Maan has one more chance to convince her.
Loved the progression of Ana and Aarush. Simple yet full of adventure and excitement date. Glad he made a move and called it a date!
I wonder if Maan is confident that he willbe able to convince Geet. Will he call her to meet at a certain place in London to talk to her? Its easy to run away when you are on a call and hard when you are in person. Hope this progresses positively. Edited by TaranaGeet - 2017-09-05T11:56:12Z
what a bad ending...cant wt for nxt...geet is so stupid...n maan is so understanding...bt most important thing...before evrytime i wanted to c maans desparate lv bt he was so mch controlled freak...bt nw gd to c his desparateness...geet is so foolish...she fell in lv before also...then she had to know vry well that she cant ran away...really foolish...by th wy where is raj...i think raj can knock out smthng...eagerly wtng for maans talk coz only he knows her so well most...hope tht she will now understand...aarush is perfect for ana