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"Yes I've reached. On my way to the hotel abhi. So now can you tell me ke Ada aur Bai ko kaise convince kiya tum ne?" Khanak spoke into her cellphone.
"Well, adha tou unhein tum ne apni ambition se convince kar liya tha. The rest I told them ke koi harm nai hai, as in, dude after all you're working with me iss mein problem wali koi baat honi nai chahiye."
"Well, one the suitors aunty had in mind for you to see is in my Mumbai office aaj kal tou I said ek teer se do nishaan lene mein kaisa nuksaan?" Sameer spoke slowly, hesitantly.
"SAMEEER!!! Are you crazy? Meine tumhein kya bataya tha and tum kya ker rahey ho? Why the hell are you setting me up with some random guy when you know I— "
"Relax Khanak! You told aunty uncle that you're ready to see people and well you have to show them you're serious."
"But I also asked for time apne career ke liye."
"You're a modern girl sunshine, learn to multitask and trust me," Sameer gave a short laugh, "Kal subha you have a meeting with Amit, yes apna Amit who is my friend and right hand man in London. For a new project I've sent him to Mumbai and you'll be handling the initial startup with him. Get to know him casually, aunty bhi satisfy houn gi ke you're not hung up and tumhein awkward feel hone ki zaroorat bhi nai hai since you already know Amit."
"I still hate you!"
"I love you too!"
Chiseled jaw. Black hair. Dreamy chocolate eyes and a smile that shone like a thousand stars. The less said the better, because the more you'd paint a picture of Amit the more heartbeats your heart would skip. What made him more attractive was his sheer ignorance of his good looks and his humble attitude.
As he went over the details of the project before meeting with their partner company, Khanak asked herself why should she not ditch Shaantanu for Amit. Amit, who is smart, charming, caring and well…almost perfect for any girl!
"So any questions?" Amit finished the review.
"Huh?...Umm no. I got it. I read the files Sameer gave me and after your review I think I'm good to go." Khanak stammered.
Amit started clearing the conference table and organizing the file.
"Uhh..one question Amit," Khanak spoke up.
"Hmm?" he replied, nearly done.
"Who are we working with? Humari partner company kon hai?"
Just then an office secretary knocked and came inside announcing the arrival of the partner firm's heads.
Khanak turned around to stand beside Amit when the biggest surprise met her. Standing in front of her were no other than Shaantanu Khandelwal and his friend Rahul!
Towards the end of the meeting Amit asked Khanak to take over and schedule what was to be done next since he had another meeting scheduled. After Amit had excused himself, Shaan sprung on Khanak.
"What are you doing here?!"
"In a firm that is not your own?"
"Not legally but it feels like home."
"Why didn't you tell me you're coming? Mein tumhein pick karne aa jata! We could have gone out, seen the city." Shaan went on rambling.
"I just got to know I'm coming day before yesterday and I
landed here yesterday evening."
"So if we didn't have a meeting today mujeh kabhi pata hi nai chalna tha that you're here?"
"Nai I would've called you once I got time."
"'Once you got time?' Seriously Khanak?"
"Shaantanu aap overact kyun kar rahe hein? Can't we just be glad that we ran into each other and get to work together?"
Before Shaantanu could start his rant again, Rahul interrupted, "Haan I totally agree! It's really nice to see you here Khanak! Let's all have dinner tonight if you're up for it?"
"Yeah sure!" she smiled.
The things most close to our heart make us fearful. Fearful of overwhelming ourselves. Fearful of losing them. Fearful of being too happy. And in those moments of fear some of us resign to the centuries told self-deceptive trick of going into denial. We deny the importance of those things in our lives.
But every lucky Shaantanu would have a Rahul who gives him time to come to terms with his mistake. And eventually Rahul will understand what a hopeless case Shaan really is. So before the next time Shaantanu talks of a friend as if he has a right to know in her life when all he really has admitted to is casual friendship, Rahul would feel it is his obligation to give Shaan a reality check.
Rahul started off with "Mujeh samajh nai aa raha mein kis deewar mein sar maaroun!" and ended his thesis with "Do you still think this is just a 'special friendship'? Aur tou kisi ke saath tu aisa nai hota."
"Okay fine. So let's say it's more than just friendship and I take you up on the whole 'open your heart and see for yourself' thing. Tou tu kyun aa raha hai humare saath dinner pe?"
"Taake tu koi idiotic harkat na karey. Khanak se fazool mein larai na karey. And most importantly, humare game plan se side track na ho."
Shaan rolled his eyes. "Not good enough."
"Shut up! Ye mera plan hai and mein itne maheenoun se tera ye anjaan romeo wala phase bardasht ker raha houn. We do what I say. End of discussion!"
Don't we all love Rahul for taking the reins?
When Khanak walked in directed by the concierge, Shaantanu's eyes nearly popped. Draped in a sequences black saree with a short blouse that hugged her figure perfectly, though not seductively, Khanak was looking gorgeous. Her hair were open and she wore diamond studs. Her warm smile and "thank you" to the concierge made Shaan a little envious and Rahul's words echoed in his mind "Stop hiding behind the shield of friendship when you two can clearly have more and regret it if you don't."
Shaantanu wondered if someone could look so dazzling and modest at the same time. It turned him on.
Shaantanu had always made fun of Rahul for being too idealistic about romance and relationships. He had teased him of being soft and too emotional but at dinner that night Shaan found himself noticing the very things Rahul had talked of. He noticed how Khanak's laughter seemed melodious to him. How her smile made him smile. He noticed how she gestured with her hands and talked animatedly and that her eyes shone with happiness.
Rahul and Khanak talked endlessly and Shaantanu would have felt jealous if he didn't realize that Khanak's distraction allowed him to look more closely at her again. He saw all the things, the warmth and authenticity, that had made him agree to be friends with her in the first place. It dawned upon him that Rahul was right. He was falling for Khanak and his insolent mind was just trying to keep him from accepting a woman that had finally defies his arrogant conceptions about women. Maybe there was a third category. A category where only Khanak fit.
Shaantanu paid the cheque and when they were about to leave he helped Khanak up by pulling her chair out in true gentleman fashion. The two exchanged smiles and unaware of their effect on each other, their respective hearts raced a bit.
This moment was, however, short-lived.
"Fancy seeing you guys here!" Amit walked up from behind their table, shook hands with Shaan and Rahul, and then stood besides Khanak.
They exchanged pleasantries and Shaan told him that they were just about to leave. Amit confirmed that he too was leaving and offered to drop Khanak to her hotel.
"No it's fine, I'll drop her." Shaan interjected, forcing himself to smile though he just wished Amit would disappear.
"Nai honestly Shaan it's not a problem," Amit reiterated.
Torn between the desire to spend time with the man she loved and common sense as per Sameer's advice, Khanak spoke with a heavy heart.
"It's alright Shaantanu, Amit drop ker de ga."
They said their goodbyes and Khanak left with Amit as Shaan and Rahul watched them leave.
"What the hell was that?" exclaimed Shaan.
"What the hell was what?" asked Rahul.
"How could she choose him over me? Kya problem thi if I dropped her. Kal she would have seen him in office anyway na. Kon sa we'll get to meet so soon."
"So then try to meet her soon!"
"Hey Shaan!" Someone patted him on the back. The duo turned around to see a charming man, of about their age, smiling down at Shaan.
When will the night's surprises end? thought Shaan.
"Hey Sameer! How're you doing man?"
"Good good. Tum sunao?"
"Yeah I'm brilliant. And this is Rahul. My best friend and colleague."
Sameer and Rahul shook hands.
"So how come you're here?" asked Shaan.
"Well, my company is doing a partner business with yours
tou us ke silsilay mein aya houn. And I was just meeting with Amit, I'm sure
you guys have had a meeting or two, tou we were discussing future deadlines for
Satrangi etc. You tell?"
"Well hum Khanak ke saath dinner pe aye thay but seems like your date whisked her away," Shaan made a poor attempt to be humourous.
"Amit? Matlab?" Sameer acted puzzled.
"Nai we were just leaving tou I guess he spotted us and offered to drop Khanak seeing that she's not living at her own place," Rahul interjected politely before Shaan said something stupid to Khanak's best friend at the risk of her raising eyebrows too.
"Oh acha," Sameer laughed. "In dono ko koi mauqa de to spend time. Honestly when Khanak was chosen for this project we both we thinking it's going to be a challenge but since Amit was already on it tou we knew it's the best combination."
"But kaam ko kaam ki tarhaan treat karna chahiye," Shaan spoke.
"True. But if your personal relationship can complement your work tou what could possibly be better?" smiled Sameer.
"Couldn't agree more," chipped in Rahul before Shaan said something rude again.
"Chalo now that we're doing business, see you guys around," Sameer shook their hands, "Nice running in to you."
Back at the Khandelwal mansion, Shaan couldn't stop himself from cursing Amit.
"Relax Shaan! For all you know Khanak and Amit could just be good friends. You're reading too much into the post-dinner scene."
"Reading too much into it? Rahul tu andha khara tha wahan kya? She chose to go with him rather than with me. She felt this project was a challenge but Amit's presence made her more comfortable. And then Sameer itna confidently keh raha tha ke 'personal relationships' can complement your work. 'Personal relationship' not friendship! And Khanak doesn't have many guy friends. Sameer is her closest friend and I knew about him. Why would she not mention Amit to me?"
"Because there is nothing to mention about Amit! You met Sameer as her friend but with Amit you guys met because of work not because she was going to make you guys meet. And I agree thori suspicious vibe aa rahi thi but ye bhi tou ho sakta hai na ke their personal relationship is just friendship?"
"I need to clarify this yaar."
"Don't be nuts Shaan. Let this go and concentrate on yourself and Khanak and this project, for which you need to stop cursing Amit."
"I can't concentrate on either until this thing is clear in my head."
"Kya karey ga? Kaise clarify karey ga? Khanak se poochay ga ke what's between her and Amit because you think having a comfort level with a colleague you're working with and letting him drop you home qualifies as being something fishy. Dimagh kharab ho gaya hai?" Rahul literally shouted at his friend.
Shaantanu didn't reply. He just went to his bed and covered his face with a pillow.
I was hoping to write a longer update but had to leave. Thought I might as well post what I've written. Looking forward to your feedback!
Joined: 12 March 2012
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