But Khanak did say ke she wants to see where the two of you go because hum dono ke parents want to see us together. What if she's doing this to please her parents?
Even if she is giving us a chance because of her parents doesn't mean ke she's being forced. She respects them and that's why she didn't automatically say no but ab tou she can easily say she isn't interested. We've gotten to know each other so much over the past few months.
What if she has an ulterior motive? What if Sameer really is a prominent part of the picture?
Shut up Shaan! Tu fazool mein gol gol ghoom raha hai. You're just trying to convince yourself ke kuch masla hai. Fazool baqwaas ko sideline kar and dekh ke aaj ka din kaisa guzarta hai. She could've taken up your offer and gone with Sameer but she chose to go with you, samjhe? Tou relax ker ab and get ready.
Meanwhile in her room, Khanak pondered over what she should wear. She wanted to put in effort into getting ready today.
Last night had been a mixture of fun, surprise and confusion. She had gone out with the intention of unwinding and spending time with Sameer who would give her some much needed therapy because she had finally understood that Shaantanu did have an influence on her, whether she liked it or not. Deep down, she kind of liked it. She kind of liked him.
He was smart, witty, understanding and fun. He made an effort to know her and tried his best to make her comfortable with him. He liked the fact that she took a keen interest in her further studies. But he was secretive about himself. He seldom spoke about himself and seemed to be cynical about people, especially women. At times, she felt he was just some stranger with whom she felt at ease with and with whom she could talk about anything.
Sameer was one person who knew her inside out. Who could be trusted with anything that related to her. Who was a friend but was unbias, though he was protective of her. He knew about her introduction to Shaantanu and was in agreement with her insecurities regarding Shaan and his bachelor life. All this mystery would attract any other woman looking for an interesting relationship with a handsome boyfriend to show off, but Khanak wanted none of the superficialities.
The evening had started out well. Sameer had convinced her to relax and not base her life totally around just Shaan, yet. He rightly pointed out that there was no commitment between the two of them and so Khanak should not devote too much time of her day to thinking about him. Taking it slow was the best option, especially since Shaan was taking it that way.
The other way was to be the proactive one. But was she ready to hold the reigns? No, she wasn't and she knew this.
But Sameer had also warned her of this: she needed to make up her mind about Shaan soon. She couldn't keep on delaying making up her mind. She needed to decide whether she was willing to give Shaan the time he needed. Whether she thought he was important enough. Whether she liked him enough.
And if she wasn't willing to be the one to reveal her feelings first, even if it was simply telling him that she just liked him or was attracted, then she should be careful not to be overt in her interactions with him, or else the cat would be out of the bag. Of course, this was what she was doing. An introvert, conservative girl like her would never put herself in a compromising position such as one where she would proclaim her liking for a man who hadn't given her a substantial sign that he liked her just as much. It would not do to wait outside in public for a man who might never show up. Or who might show up, but leave citing issues with other women. She needed to know if he trusted her, let alone liked her.
That said, readers, the right decision can be made in a moments time. After breakfast, Khanak had decided this much: she wouldn't reveal herself to Shaantanu, but she's give him ample opportunity to reveal himself to her. That should clarify things.
And so, this trip was crucial.
"Chalein?" said Khanak, entering the living room and noticing that Shaantanu was already awaiting for her.
Shaantanu took in her petite figure and the red wrap that she wore on top of a plain white figure-hugging shirt. Paired with casual denim jeans and peep-toe ballets, Khanak's attired looked beautiful to say the least. Shaantanu noticed a light pink gloss adorning her plump lips and perhaps, a little something that made her eyes even more captivating. All in all, she looked as cute as a button, yet as stylish and graceful as a woman who was going to go sightseeing on a day off.
"Bye Ma...see you later." she hugged Alpana good bye and Shaantanu followed, hoping his observation of her hadn't been caught by either the mother or the daughter.
"Err...Khanak. I know you love history but ye back in time kahan aa gaye hein hum?" asked Shaan.
"Firstly, hum back in time nai aye. London mein old British architecture kaafi hai.."
"But ye tou Victorian Era lag raha hai yaar and it's all so... old feeling..." cut in Shaan.
"Victorian?" laughed Khanak , "Victorian nai hai, Georgian hai Shaantanu."
"Oh. Chalo. Big difference."
"Big difference. Centuries hi farq hai. Georgian is older than the Victorian age. This is the Old Hampstead Village Shaantanu. It's characterized by the original Georgian architecture."
"Yep, it's a preserved Georgian village." said Khanak with a twinkle in her eyes.
"See the proportions and the calmness in the architecture, Shaantanu?" said Khanak, touching the name plate of a small flower shop which was decorated with at least ten different kinds of colourful flowers at the display window.
"That's the beauty of this Georgian architecure. Isn't it serene and reassuring?"
Shaantanu smiled at Khanak, who was staring at the name plate, as if lost in another world.
"Tumhein history itni achi lagti hai? I never knew," he remarked.
Khanak turned to him and started walking along the street again. Shaantanu followed.
"Mujeh history and culture dono hi bohat ache lagte hein. It's such an amazing feeling to know ke aap se pehle itna sab kuch ho chukka hai. Itne logoun ne itni mukhtalif kisam ki zindagi ji hai aur apne rehn sehn ke naqsh iss duniya pe chor diye hein." said Khanak.
After a few steps, she noticed that Shaantanu was not walking beside her any longer. She stopped and turned to look behind. He was standing a few feet away with a boyish grin on his face. She gestured him to come with her.
Once he caught up with Khanak, Shaan said: "Seriously Khanak, tum iss sab ko iss tarhaan dekhti ho?"
"Haan. Kyun aap kis tarhan dekhte hein?"
"Acha tou bataein what is believable?"
"Believable ye hai ke ye sab sentimental cheezein hein. Jo guzar chukka so gazr chukka. Apni life araam se jiyo yaar. Ye sab log culture ke naam pe humare liye problems chor ke gaye hein. Building building hai. Ap triangular ho ya square. Name plate wooden ho ya metal ka. Kya farq parhta hai?"
It was Khanak's turn to be quiet now, though she didn't stop walking like Shaantanu.
"Kya huwa?" Shaantanu asked after a while.
"Kuch nai. I was just wondering ke humare views itne farq hein."
"Haan. And you'll soon realize ke mein aysa kyun keh raha houn."
"Nai," said Khanak stopping at a small open jewellry shop at the corner.
While she was looking at earings decorated with beads, Shaantanu asked her to elaborate.
"Shaantanu, soon aap realize karein ge ke mein sahi keh rahi houn. Past ka asar present pe tou hota hi hai. Aap se behtar ye kon janay ga. Zindagi ke kuch experiences ne aap ko itna aloof bana diya hai. But problems ke saath saath culture and it's people humare liye kuch aysi cheezein bhi chor jaatein hein jo aaj kal ke log humein nai de sakte. Jo aaj kal ka mahol humein nai de sakta."
Though initially he had been caught off guard by her mention of his experiences affecting his present, thinking this conversation would move to women or some other similar serious topic Shaantanu cashed in on the sentimentality of the last line Khanak spoke and sniggered. "Such as, Khanak?"
"Such as this feeling that you're experiencing right now Shaantanu. Despite the fact that we're having this discussion where we don't agree with each other, aren't you feeling relaxed?"
"Haan, relaxed. You're not complaining ke meine subha subha aap ko itna walk karaya wo bhi after breakfast. You're not annoyed ke mein aap se behas kar rahi houn.. In fact, you're smiling even when someone is disagreeing with you."
"What nonsense Khanak. Iss mein iss mahol ka kya kamal hai?"
"Architecture aur streets aysi hein Shaantanu. Cobbled pavement, quaint looking shops and cottages...everything is so orderly and gives a vibe of peacefulness. Don't you feel as if duniya mein koi jaldi nai hai?"
"Mausam aysa hai Khanak iss mein Queen Elizabeth ke ancestors ka koi kamal nai hai," retorted Shaan.
Khanak rolled her eyes, still smiling, and started walking on the street again. Shaantanu followed after a few minutes.
"Na manein Shaantanu but the atmosphere is calming. Agar yahi baat hum Bond Street ke concrete nazaroun mein kar rahey hotey tou conversation iss tarhaan na ja rahi hoti." Khanak tried to make Shaan see the light.
"That's just your stubborn view, Khanak."
"Well, then that makes the two of us then," she smiled.