“So is this what you had in mind?”she spoke

“Not really. But then all I had seen was your
name on the slip of paper. I still have it kept somewhere,” he extracted
an unusually well folded paper out of his wallet.

“For me it was a little more than that. I had
known your name for quite sometime. It had tossed for many a nights in my
head,” she spoke very quietly.

Beep Beep. She drew her phone out of the bag and put it on
silent. Not before she typed something to that received text.

“So what is that ticks you?”He asked her out
of sheer curiosity.

Look at her, he thought, a blue pink salwar kameez
with a simple plait hanging on the side. She sure does a picture quite
different to the world my life is used to. What might she just say? Perhaps
Bhagwat Gita, mum would love her like the child she didn’t have and as for Dad
he might begin to respect me after all.

“Bhagvat Gita” she replied, “in fact I carry
one in my bag right now.”

A small tattered text found space on the table.

“Ananya, if I had known you to be this, this all might
have happened a lot sooner,” he replied, his voice mirroring the tranquillity
his mind was experiencing on finally meeting the woman he wanted to love.

       *                             *                             *                             *                                                      “Who likes Bhagwat Gita? How boring must he be!” she spoke,
looking highly transformed in a short pink skirt and a blue halter top.

“At least meet him once before coming down to judgements,”
the younger of the two girls replied a bit tensely.

“Astha, my judgement is loud and clear. Meeting him is not
going to change that,” she replied haughtily.

“But Dad? He has certain expectations from us, it’s our duty
to respect them,” Astha spoke sincerely.

“And what about our expectations? Does he have no
responsibility towards them?” the frown on her face was beginning to deepen
with every passing second now.

“He went to speak to Subhash. Twice. Only for you he even
offered to provide financial assistance. He cannot force someone to reach to a
decision,” Astha said agitatedly.

“Subhash didn’t deny the idea of marriage. He only asked for
three more years,” came the crisp reply.

“You are twenty eight and not getting any younger. In about
a year, people in the family will begin asking all kinds of weird questions,
unfortunately you might not have to answer them. Dad will do that for you.
Three years is a long time,” Astha replied conclusively.

“Yes three years is a long time. I know that because for
three long years I have loved a man with complete devotion, imagined a lifetime
with him, built my ambitions aspirations around his. To ask me to give up those
three years would mean not only giving up three years of my sheer existence but
also a lifetime worth of dreams. So yes I know that three years is a long
time,” she spoke very quietly.

There was a complete drop in decibel level, none of them
ventured another word beyond in the discussion.

“Astha, has she gotten ready?” the silence though was
ceremoniously broken by a man’s authoritative voice filtering through the glass
panes from the lounge outside.

“Five minutes Dad,” Astha instinctively shouted back.

“Go meet him, for me. Do it only today. And see him with an
open mind. Dad praises him so much, he must be a great guy. I am sure. The
salwar suit is kept on the chair there, now quickly change before Dad gets any
further angry,” Astha gently pushed her towards the adjacent dressing room.

“Dhruv. I hate this man’s name. For the past one whole month
every night I have cursed him for creating such a mess in my life. Why did this
proposal have to turn up? Why did his mom think I am a great match? Why! I hate
him. I hate his name, I hate his mom. And I super hate his Bhagwat Gita,” she
stormed behind the curtains at the end of the outburst.

                *                             *                             *                             *

Would you like something to drink?” his voice suddenly
broke her trajectory of thoughts.

She raised her head from the elaborate menu spread to meet
his eyes.

Eyes often considered being doors to a person’s heart, in
his case proved to be a stark misfit for rest of the personality.

Deep brown in colour and watery in texture, they reeked of
such expansive warmth and camaraderie that the sharp nose, wrinkled forehead
and the taut posture didn’t quite match up with them.

But somehow it didn’t matter to her anymore, the ever
pervading feeling of restlessness blurred almost everything that the
surrounding presently held.

Except of course, the tattered Bhagwat gita which formed an
odd companion in that otherwise ostentatious set up.

“Something to drink?” he asked again, a bit loudly this

“Dhruv, I am afraid I have to leave,” she suddenly stood up,
pushing the chair behind with screeching noise.

He only stared, sitting motionless and clueless as to what
must have ignited this starkly contrasting behaviour.

“And everything I said or behaved was a farce. I don’t think
you should want to marry me,” with these words she had collected her bag and
walked out of the dark ebony door.

                *                             *                             *                             *

“Very awkward,” she murmured quietly, shifting her feet rather
briskly to communicate the turmoil within.

“What’s awkward about it? It was on my way and please relax.
It is not the first time a woman has walked out on me, leaving the big fat bill
behind to be paid,” he spoke laughingly.

“I am so sorry. You shouldn’t have to be dragged into all
this,” she said haltingly.

“Please don’t apologise. I’m glad you were at least honest
about this,” he answered instantly.

The buzzing traffic outside helped reduce whatever little
conversation they may have entertained. 

He had now removed his blazer and hung
behind his seat, either to facilitate in his driving or perhaps because
astuteness of dressing didn’t matter anymore now.

“Those apartments on the side,” she pointed towards a set of
high rise beige coloured buildings.

He manoeuvred the car sharply to halt right in front of the
cast iron gates.

“Thanks a lot. I sincerely wish we had met in a better setup
and time frame,” she spoke while extracting herself out of the car.

He simply nodded and smiled, rushing off into the maze of
vehicles on the main road as swiftly as he had stopped. 

                *                          *                               *                              *
to be contd……
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