With each passing minute, my crave grew up in multiplicative manner. It was hard to resist from calling him from my side. I dialled the number but couldn’t call thinking that what will I say him?
I need the note urgent? Or Sorry. Accidently dialled to you. Or the truth that I miss him like anything.
Not to get more frustrated with it, I threw myself to any work I could find. I cleaned everything in my room, stacked them into their places, gathered the dirty clothes into washing bag, threw out the old night lamp that was not working, killed eight spiders, ran after a cockroach, tried all the nailpaints I had. Still there was no call. I gave an annoyed look at the idle screen of phone. And it buzzed to my surprised. I jumped out of bed and snitched the phone.
It was Preeti. Puff.
“Did he call you?” She was jubilant with expectation.
“Nope.” I despondently answered.
“It’s fine. May be he is busy in copying the note. He may call you later.”
“When? It’s already one and half an hour gone.”
“Why are you being so impatient?”
“Not impatient. Just..I don’t know. I hate to wait.”
“It may be like he wants you to wait for him more. I mean the more you wait the more eager you will become.”
“Hmm....does it mean....” I ended with a long pause.
“May be.” She cheered from other side. “By the way have you finished reading for tomorrow’s test?”
“Then how will you do it?”
“Don’t know. I will do something but right now I can’t concentrate on anything.”
“I understand. Call me if he calls you.”
“Preeti, do I sound desperate?” I asked her.
“No dear. It happens. You know how they show first love charms in the movies; you are in the garden, the butterflies fluttering around you singing song, your hero comes flying.”
I laughed over her funny description.
“Okay. Bye. Talk you later.” We ended the conversation.
Ten seconds later my phone rung again. A name flashed on the screen that was etched on my heart. I picked up the call.
“Hey. It’s Arnab.” His enthralling magical voice flew over that left me speechless for next minute.
“Can you hear me? Ava.”
“Yeah. Hi.” Finally I spoke with a lot of effort.
“Sorry. I got a bit late.”
“So...how will I give you the note..I mean if you want I can get it to your home.”
“Noo..no. I will come.”
“Okay. Then..where will I wait for you?”
“Hmm..in the first turn of our street?” I suggested.
“That’s fine. I’ll be waiting there for you. Bye.”
“Bye.” I put down the call and immediately called her but she didn’t receive it. I didn’t waste much time on it as I had very less time in hand to get ready. It took me hardly ten minutes to change clothes and get ready. I tried to call Preeti again. But this time too she didn’t pick. I was getting nervous. Every time I met with him, she was there with me. This is the first time I was going to him alone.
Though I had thought it would be a cursory meeting as he had to just return my note only. But what if I say or act something unnecessarily silly. Don’t do anything silly this time. I chanted it to myself and went out.
It was a cold evening. Though there were not too many people on the street, still it wasn’t sparse too. By the time I reached at the decided place I had eaten almost all the lip-gloss on my lips. Fingers tangled in the middle as I moved my hand through plaits and regretted over not conditioning the roots well in the morning shower. After a while I spotted him waiting fifty feet away from me, staring into air. A queasy feeling kicked up by seeing him. He was wearing a white shirt with checks of bright blue shades and a denim pair. He was standing near a street-light pole and a street dog was kneeling besides him. He looked at dog affectionately with long stance and shifted to my direction. His eyes twinkled when they saw me.
I went up to him. “Hi.Hmm..sorry for getting late.”
“Hey. It’s fine. You didn’t make me wait that long.” His face widened into a pleasant grin.
I smiled back. We were standing at a junction where four street heads were connected to each other and there were many people who crossed shooting a sullen look at us. It was really unsettling stand there. Would they ever understand that our country is independent now and every citizen has some rights of freedom? Even in the century of Wi-Fi they had taken rendezvous of any boy and girl as a civil crime.
“Thanks for the note.” He handed me the note and I successfully clasped it this time.
“You are welcome.”
“So shall I go?” It was ludicrous of me to ask so.
“Yeah..” He stammered.
He took a hesitant pause. It seemed like he was trying to tell something.
“Hey. I was thinking if...um..if you have time then..can we have some...uummm..coffee. There is a cafe nearby. We can go there.”
More time with him? My inner goddess exuded exhilaration and emboldened me for it.
“Yeah. Sure.” I exulted.
We walked together. Here together doesn’t mean he came closer, put his arms around me, I rested my head on his shoulder and we walked. He walked before me and I followed him four steps later, hanging my head down; though I secretly matched my steps with him. With his left, I put my left stride and with his right I extended mine, like marching along with him.
The cafe was newly opened. It was small yet sophisticated and trendy. He walked into pushing a thick glass door and held it for me till stepped in. The inside walls were painted magenta and fading yellow with bulbous lamps plunged out at every five step difference. Some beautiful paintings adorned the walls. It was furnished with modern articles and mellow music was played in background. There were very few people owing to its recent opening.
A perfect place for star-crossed couples. I told it to myself.
We chose a table for two in the middle of room next to right wall. Instead of chairs it had cushy and round single sofas and the table was only of waist length. I sat on it with legs entwined backward and he sat in front of me. A waiter came to us with cajoling smile.
“What would you like to have, sir?” He asked humbly.
He pried through the menu. His temples were joined together and long brows rose at the end. His thin lips were pursed into a straight line and chiselled narrow chin angled down. Each and every strand of his hair was particularly moussed into a very neat and simple hairstyle. The light breeze passing across him carried a faint muskier aroma to me. I sniffed harder to strain it from the air. How could he be on earth with such inhumanely beauty?
“Hmm...Get me one Affogato and you?” His gaze pointed toward me.
I was so busy in examining him that I had totally forgotten that I had to order for myself too. I was startled and ashamed of losing senses.
“Maam’, which one would you have?” The waiter bowed down with a pen and a handy notebook.
“Aaahh..” I hastily looked down at the menu. “I’ll take one long Caffè
Americano.” That was the easiest item on menu to spell.
“Ok. Anything else, sir?”
Arnav looked at me.
“No.” I replied in low voice.
“No. Thank you.” Arnav said to the waiter.
The waiter blissfully left us alone. An awkward silence hung for some minute.
“So...howz everything?” Arnav was the first to prompt.
“I mean... did you reach at home safely that night? Freshers day night?”
“Actually I wanted to thank you for the ride. I can’t imagine what would have happened if you guys weren’t there. For you only we could reach home safely. You were the rescue-angles for us.” The words came out with so much force that I regretted for their exuberance.
His baby pink lips curved into a big smile.
I bit my lip. “Umm...so how it feels to be Mr.Fresher? Lots of popularity, lots of girls running behind you screeching you name with craze. You must be getting romantic letters, emails, proposals everyday.” I tried my best to hide the slight tint of jealousy underlying in my words.
His lips stretched into a crooked smile that reflected in his eyes. He leaned forward pushing his elbows on the table.
“Nothing like that. I know well to manage the unwanted fame. By the way this effect is gonna last for a few days more only. After that everyone will get busy with each other and forget the incident and everything will be normal as before.”
“What do you think of it?”
“That do you think I deserve to be Mr.Fresher. I think there are lot other guys who are far better than me. Was it a correct decision?”
I didn’t know he was so ignorant about himself. Or possibly he liked to be extolled by others profusely. I didn’t know what made him ask that question to me? He knew my answer to it very well.
“Of course. There were many rounds, three judges. You succeeded in impressing them and they chose you. They couldn’t take their eyes off you.”
He chuckled at my answer.
The waiter arrived with our orders. He placed a long slender glass topped with whipped cream and choco chips floating and a spoon before Arnav. It looked puffy and delicious. And then he set a big cup brimmed with espresso on table. I starred at the cup for while. It was so black if I was bit tinier then I could get drowned in the dark bubbles of it forever and no one would ever be able to find me out; not even Arnav.
He read my minds.
“It’s okay. You can take mine one.” He pushed his glass towards me.
I knew it was almost impossible for me to gulp down such a strong mixture. I am the one who always goes for double cream and double sugar. Still me suffering was acceptable than watching him suffering with that.
“It’s fine. I’ll manage.”
He exchanged his glasses with my cup without letting me to resist and sipped from the black liquid.
“Not that bad.” He didn’t let the bitter taste hover his grace.
I watched him piteously.
“Start it. Your cream is melting down.” He said to me. I ate a spoon of it and the wispy beads of cream melted down my throat. I was super delicious. His choice after all.
I silently emptied my cup. He gulped down the whole without any complaint or regret. The waiter came with our bill.
“I’ll pay.” He took the bill.
“No. Why will you?”
“It’s fine. Let me pay.”
“Nope. Why only you? I’ll pay my share.”
“No. No need of that. Take it as my treat for the Freshers day.”
“Just this much? I expected more from the Mr.Fresher.” It was blunt, bold and I knew it.
“Okay. Even if it’s not treat, still let me pay for it. Next time you will pay.”
It would be harsh and disgraceful to argue with him more. I just smiled at him convinced.
“And next Sunday we are having a party.” He said while we walked out of the cafe.
“We?” I was anxious.
“Me and Manishaa. You know, for that Freshers day competition everyone was asking for a party. So we decided to have one.”
“Oh.” I obviously didn’t appreciate him with that Manishaa much.
“I hope. You are free for that evening.”
“Oh come on. I know that you have no plans that evening.”
How come did he know that? Is it everything written on my face? I wondered.
“Don’t worry. We won’t get it till late at night. It will be just a small dinner. Nothing more grandeur.”
“Still..I have to ask for permission.”
“Okay. No force upon you. Still you can try. And I hope Preeti would like to come too.”
“Not so sure.”
“Don’t worry. I will ask her tomorrow in college. But here is the special invitation to you. You have to come and that’s final.” Why did he have so much influence on me, I had no clue of it.
He left me at the same square we had met early in the evening. He insisted me to accompany till home but I said that I could manage it. Instead of home, I went straight to preeti’s place. There I told her everything. At first she pulled my ponytail and punched me on arm.
“What Preeti? I called you but you didn’t receive. It’s not my fault.”
“But then again I called you and you didn’t response.”
“I was with Arnav...I didn’t know when the phone was switched off by itself.”
“Fine. How was your date?” Her voice pitched with great exults.
“Date? It was just a casual meeting.”
“A casual meeting? Are you serious?” She was not very impressed with it.
“Yeah. We had our coffee and left the place.”
“You are the dumbest I have seen in my whole life. By the way I didn’t have much hope from you. But I think Arnav has done his part really well.”
“What do you mean by his part ?”
“I mean it is clearly visible that he is interested in you. At first he asked you for coffee, then interchanged your order with his one and suffered for your silliness without any complaint and lastly he invited you for the party. All these summed up make it clear that he likes you.”
I blushed. The feeling was like some one confirmed me a piece of heaven on my name.
Looking at my face, Preeti whistled.
“Look at that bewitching smile. How can any boy escape from it?”
I ignored him. It was late by then and I hurried home back.
I had started to get only beautiful dreams woven in my eyes. Dreams of color, happiness and love shared with Arnav.
But Preeti insisted on gaining more surety on it. She said to keep a watch on him and get as more as positive responses regarding it. We both decided to start spying around him. Now the mission was on roll.