This is a separation between Maan and Geet I guess where both are actually yearning for each other... they seem to be still in love with each other... wonder what happened in their life that they took such a drastic step but surely they would like to reconsider their decision... or maybe not... waiting to see how the story develops with him in Sweden and her in India with her parents...
He closed the laptop and checked the time. Still an hour before he called it a day and he desperately needed a coffee. Things had been easy and he was glad that he was getting back into his daily routine. The dreams were fewer in number and lesser in intensity now. He had to anyways take control of his life at some point of time.
A sharp knock on the door of his cabin was followed by a few short ones and he sighed, loosening his tie.
"Come on in." he said with a small smile and she just swiftly went into his arms like silk.
"Finally. I get to see you." She pulled out of the hug after a few seconds and admired the face that she still hadn't been able to forget in all these years.
"Piyali, you are late!" he raised a brow in question.
He was seeing her after ages now. She was clad in a teal colored shirt and black pants, looking exactly the kind of women working in big financial firms. Piyali Sharma, a banker by profession and his college buddy was no ordinary woman. She was a high-achiever and she excelled in everything she did.
She pouted, "come on Maan. I have just moved to this country. It takes time to get used to the routes. And look how you have aged!!!"
She took a long tour of his stubbled face which was en route to a shabby beard.
"What do you mean?" he gathered his coat, waiting for her to come up with some quirky response.
"tell me again, when was the last time you shaved?"
He rolled his eyes, "you wanna grab something to eat?"
"yeah!!! I had a long day. I need a coffee desperately."
He called it a day and drove them to a nearby cafe.
"One macchiato for me and an espresso for the gentleman" She ordered even before he could settle down and added another list of eatables.
"No wait.." he adjusted the watch on his wrist, "make it a cappuccino."
The waiter left and she gawked at him for a few seconds before he felt uncomfortable.
"Cappuccino? Like Seriously?"
He shrugged, "why? Is anything wrong?"
"Maan...how long have we known each other?"
"5 years including college days. Why?"
"I am the only closest friend you ever had. Since when did you ditch espresso for cappuccino?"
The question swirled in his head like a bumblebee and slowly faded into a long-forgotten memory.
She felt her feet trembling and her forehead breaking into a nervous sweat. Not that she had not taken classes before but this was a nervous wreck. She knew she was in her hometown and that she had nothing to worry about but standing in the middle of the huge campus of Institute of Social Science, Hyderabad and then getting lost on the first day at work was one hell of a different story altogether.
There were lot of people, too many of them and she didn't know whom to ask for directions. People left as quickly as they came and she thought was going to come across as a loser on the very first day. Things seemed so new just after a few years. The first class was about to start and she had to meet the dean before anything happened.
"excuse me? But isn't it time for class?"
She turned back and found a serious poker face staring at her.
Gosh Geet, where is your voice?
She found his stare intimidating. What was it about returning to her own country? Everything was weird.
"I...I'm actually looking for the dean's office. It's my first day here today."
The poker face turned into a gentle smile in a trifle, "Oh then you must be the new assistant professor everyone is talking about!"
She gave a weak smile and nodded. Now that she could relax a little, she took her time to take in the appearance of the man in front of her. Dapper in gray pleated pants and a black shirt with a loose tie, the man didn't look much older...could be in his late twenties. His hair was gelled and set immaculately and the beard was carefully trimmed showing and not showing his olive skin at the same time. The big nerdy glasses made him look like the kind of people who absolutely hated any kind of nonsense around them.
"Follow me." His voice broke her chain of thoughts, "it's on the way to the staffroom."
He smiled again and a little wider it was than before. She gulped that nervous knot down her throat and followed him as he gave a short tour of whatever came in their way.
"and here we are. To the right you have the dean's office." He pointed out towards one of the rooms in front, "and that is where all the fun happens."
He winked playfully and she felt shiver run down her spine.
"thanks." She could only mumble.
"I'm Neil by the way..." he extended his hand towards her, "Welcome Miss?"
"Handa." She added quickly and awkwardly, "Geet Handa."
"Ahh right. Geet Handa!!! Lovely name you got there. Hope to see you soon in the staffroom." He walked a few steps and ahead and then traced back quickly, "oh and one important thing. Don't stay for long near that sadu... his 'saduness' is contagious."
She gaped at him awestruck as he hummed a bollywood tune and vanished into the staffroom. How weirder can this day get?
The meeting with the Dean went great and she thanked her lord a zillion times. He wasn't as sadu as that weird guy mentioned. She followed the dean to the staffroom and met the professors there...some very old, some okayish and none her age.
He stopped by the cubicle at the corner and looked at her, "you will be helping with Mr. Neil..."
"Oh well, thank you very much Choudhry Sir..." he intervened before the dean could complete his sentence, "I shall guide Miss Handa from here. Thank you so much."
"But I am not..."
"It's fine Sir. You don't have to bother. I will take care of her. Buh-bye. Have a great day."
This was so leading. Clueless as he was, the dean left leaving Geet alone with the same weird man that she had encountered that morning.
"hi..." he stood up, "so we meet again."
She opened her mouth to say something but he beat her to it, "let me introduce myself properly here. I'm Neil... but you know that already, don't you? I am a senior professor of Development Studies and well, that's it. You will be working closely with me for this year though."
Could he ever stop chatting?
"Yeah. Hello again Mr. Neil..."
"Just call me Neil okay. Everyone calls me the same. Before anything, let's fix you a place Handa!"
She finished her lunch in solitude and decided to walk around the place to get herself more familiarized with the place. The day was nice and a little windy. She adjusted the scarf round her neck and sat down under a tree, watching so many students arounds. It felt all peaceful until she heard giggles from behind the tree she was sitting under. Curious, she tried to take a look and found two friends talking.
"Meet me at the Caf Coffee Day after class." The guy said.
"So, you're asking me out on a date?" the girl giggled.
"if that's what you think..."
If that's what you think...
It was a rainy morning and his day was already ruined. His coffee machine went kaput right when he had needed it the most, the rains had come suddenly and some work at office needed his urgent attention. He had been at it from the previous day but it was one hell of a stubborn issue. He had been barking at his juniors over the call; the deadline was nearer and the traffic wasn't helping. She hopped in like she usually did and flashed a smile at him.
"woahhh...Good morning Grumpy Khurana. Mind dropping me?" she dipped her hand into her bag and pulled out a sandwich.
"just make sure you don't litter the car with the crumbs." He took a turn towards her university.
How did things fall this way, no one knew. When did they become so cordial, no one knew. They just happened and they were used to it.
She watched him from the corner of her eyes realized he was continuously on a call. The moment he was done with the call, she gulped down her sandwich, "oh I got a B+ in Fowler's test..."
And she went off like there was no tomorrow. He was sure with all the stress and her endless chatter, he'd end up with a migraine.
"Hey, can you drop me to the university tomorrow? I have..."
His patience snapped, "Who do you think I am?"
"for god's sake stop treating me as your chauffeur and keep your mouth shut for a while. And why should I give you free rides all the time han?"
They had always talked nicely until now. She watched him trying to overtake another car. She could gauge that he was angry about something. She found a dispensable mug of coffee on his dashboard and grabbed it quickly.
"agar bhada(rent) chahiye toh bol do na..." she said it ever so cutely, "Tum apni country ke ho that's why I am this friendly with you..."
He couldn't help but smile at that cutie. He turned towards her to say something but then stopped seeing her sip the double shot espresso that he had picked up on the way.
"Ewww yuck... what the hell is that?" she quickly kept away the mug and looked for something in her bag to chew.
"that's an espresso and that's what you get for sipping other peoples' drinks without permission."
He suddenly felt the tension ebbing away from his body. How funny!
"how do you drink this shit?" she found a gum in her bag and popped it in her mouth.
"that's how coffee should be taken...in it's purest form." He added, smiling.
"not that I have much idea but that's like the worst kind of coffee I have ever had."
"then how about I introduce you to better ones?"
"didn't get you."
"How about I take you to this awesome coffee place and you get to taste different types...may be a cappuccino or a macchiato or a flat white?"
She opened her mouth to say something and then froze for a moment or so. He suppressed his smile and waited for the light bulb to go.
"are...are you kind of asking me out?"
He shrugged, "if that's what you think...then yes I probably am!"
"Piya, you aren't staying for dinner?" he held her hand as she stood up to leave.
She looked at his hold and then back at him. Something stirred in her heart.
A long-forgotten memory.
A long-lost feeling.
She shook her head and pulled a smile, "some other time. I've got lots to unpack. Plus mom is with me. She must be waiting for me."
"wow, aunty is here too?" he paid the bill and stood up, throwing the coat over his shoulder.
"yeah..you know what, come home for dinner tomorrow. She will be so glad to see you."
"No yaar...tomorrow I don't think. I've got this client party..."
"then how about Saturday?" she looked at him with those hopeful eyes that were always unintentionally ignored.
"Saturday?" he thought for a moment and smiled wide, "you're on!"
"Great. See you at my place on Saturday."
He walked her towards the door and waited until the cab stopped in front of them.
"anything special you want?" she teased knowing he'd always ask for just one thing.
"tell aunty to make chole-bhature please."
She had missed that childlike enthusiasm in him. He smiled rarely now. She knew he had been a married man once and that the marriage didn't end well. She wanted him to open up to her but she didn't want to force him either. She leaned closer and pressed a light peck on his cheek, "Your Favorite... I know."
She whispered in his ears and got into the cab.
As he vanished from her sight, she leaned back and left a long breath.