Chapter SixteenAs I expected, Maan waits for me at the college gates the next day appearing excited about our plans of leaving the college at midday and roaming around the city. Though the traces of the previous day's lost match seem to have gone, I still keep my face peppy to not let his mind wander. We greet each other and he begins to remind me of the plans. I tell him I remember. I see Anaya making her way towards us with a sullen face and I'm immediately reminded of Ayush. Quickly thinking about it, I ask Maan if he has invited Anaya to join us. Getting a negative answer, I tell him it'll cheer her up a bit so we should take her with us. Maan doesn't bat an eyelash before agreeing and turning to face Anaya as she reaches us, while I once again admire the friend in him.
He informs Anaya of our plan and tells her to join us but her already sullen expression turns even more pouty. 'I'm sorry to burst your bubble but you can't go today.' Seeing our confused faces, she tells us of the surprise test in one of the classes after midday. She says she has overheard two professors discussing it and how important this test is for the seniors. Disappointment flows through me and I look at Maan to see a grimace on his face. He doesn't seem to like it any more than I do, but he quietly suggests we go tomorrow. Before I can agree for this proposition, Anaya deflates that little hope as well, reminding us about the upcoming assignment we have to submit the very next day and another one which is due on Friday - the day after tomorrow. Maan sighs. 'Guess it's Saturday then.' I try to cheer him up by using the kind of lively voice that I've often heard from Anaya or Raya whenever they're excited over something. The scowl on his face smoothens at once when I mention that we have to work as a group for the assignment due on Friday. With his mood rejuvenated to a certain extent, all three of us make way to class.
Lunch passes in relative silence as we occasionally munch on the pack of chips kept in the centre of the table, with our eyes trained on the books strewn in front of us. Since we have already found out about the surprise test, it's only rational that we ready ourselves for it. Just before we leave for class, we decide to meet up after our classes end for the day, to get as much of tomorrow's assignment done as we can.
For me and Anaya, the test goes well. We don't see Geet until the day ends since we don't share the class timetable after the lunch hour. When we meet her in the corridor, outside her last class, she tells us the test was easy. We then go to the library and find ourselves a table in one corner, sitting quietly for a while as I take my notebook out of my bag to read out what we have to do. The girls listen attentively as Geet's hand scribbles a few things in her own notebook. I decipher she's jotting down what I'm saying. When she finishes, she looks up at the two of us and asks if we can begin. Since the assignment is supposed to be a group work, the four of us are in the same group and so we divide the tasks. Anaya takes one reference book, Geet takes another and I start working on the layout of the assignment in my laptop. After studiously working for two hours, Anaya slumps back on her seat and says she needs a drink so she'll get some for all of us.
As she leaves, Geet walks over to stand by my side with a reference book in her hand. She puts the book beside the laptop and points out a few things that need to be added to the assignment. I show her the laptop screen, explaining the way I'm making the assignment. She leans a bit towards the screen, looking at the text keenly and I inhale the enticing fragrance of her perfume, taking a moment to register what she's pointing at. I mentally shake myself out of the little daze and answer her back when Anaya rushes back in the library with her hands holding three bottles. She calls our names from the door and the librarian looks at her sharply. Apologising to the librarian, Anaya makes her way to us with fast steps and tells us the reason of her hurry. She's just received a call from Ayush and he's told her he's going to come back around midnight. I knit my eyebrows. 'But he just went the day before yesterday.'
Anaya sits down on the table before answering me. 'He said his father is staying there and he's coming back with his mother because of the exams...'
I nod and we all fall silent for a while when Geet asks in a concerned voice how Ayush is doing. 'He's fine.'
Anaya sighs. 'As fine as one can be in such a situation.'
The librarian's instruction to hurry up distracts us. Since the library has to be locked in about half an hour, we get back to work and almost complete it before heading out. As I drive to Geet's hostel first and then Anaya's house, to drop the two, we deliberately keep our discussions related to assignment. I tell the girls I'll finish the little that's left and meet them in college tomorrow.-------------------------------------
At night, I text Maan, asking him if the assignment is done. His reply is instantaneous. He tells me he's done with it, printed it and punched it into the folder. I wish him goodnight and put my phone away but then a thought comes into my mind and I text him again.Are you going to see Ayush tonight?
He takes a little time to text back this time.
No. I received his message that he'll see us in college tomorrow. I'll still call him when he lands.
Oh. Okay. See you in the morning then. Good night. Again. :)
Yeah. See you. :)-------------------------------------I reach the college early and see Anaya walking in from the gates just five minutes later. Both have us have come this early to meet Ayush before the classes begin. Wrong, I correct myself mentally, all three of us. Geet reaches us only a few minutes later and she is the first person to ask about Ayush. Anaya tells her he hasn't come yet but she has talked to him over phone and he said that he's on his way. We wait for a few moments before Ayush shows up. When he sees us, he gives us a slight smile, hugs us all and asks how we've been doing. All three of us remain a little subdued, not knowing what and how to say when the bell rings, indicating the beginning of the day.
The day passes much in the same pattern with none of us talking a lot and we soon find ourselves seated at the lunch table. Ayush notices we're all uncharacteristically quiet and he decides to change the atmosphere. 'Why is everyone so damned silent?!' He looks at each of our faces. 'Aren't you guys glad that I'm back?' The frown that appears on his face is mocking and we all know it. When none of us says something, he speaks up with a sigh. His voice is serious this time. 'Look guys. If you're all quiet because you think I'm grieving then just know that I am a grownup who can accept life the way it is meant to be.' He looks down at his hands on the table. 'As much as I love my grandfather, I know that life is a cycle. What is born has to die someday. But life goes on. It doesn't stop for us when a loved one goes away. We have to live and it's better that we make use of the time we have with people who're still around us rather than mourning over those who aren't.' Ending his monologue, he looks up at me and the shift in his expression from a serious to playful is transparent. He asks me about Ranbir's wedding preparations and about the match, pulling his collar up and saying he's so important that the team couldn't make it without him. His gesture eases us and we know our Ayush is back. Or at least he's trying and we should help him. Anaya tells him of our library session the previous day and also informs him that all four of us have to work together for the next assignment today after college. He responds just the way we expect him to, by saying that he'll sit there for moral support and Anaya slaps on his arm. I ask Geet if she has to work today and she tells me she's left her job for exams.
I reach the library, huffing from the race across the corridors. The professor stopped me to talk about something so I'm late and the three of them are already sitting on the same table we used yesterday. They're talking in hushed tones. Reaching the table, I apologise for the delay and Maan suggests we get down to business right away. After an hour of working in silence except for the occasional explanations of what is to be included and how, Ayush leaves the library on the pretext of being hungry and Anaya too rushes behind him. Maan and I exchange a look as the memory of what we saw the last time we snuck up on them comes to my mind and no doubt, to his mind too. I quickly get up, telling him I'll put the reference book back on the shelf and bring the other one.
Finding out that the required book is on a shelf where my hands won't reach easily, I jump a little to grab it and succeed in pulling it out. As I steady myself, though, I bump into someone standing right behind me and we both sway a little as warm hands reach my waist to regain balance. I look up to see Maan's eyes on me, his body pressed against mine as he holds my waist. 'Maan, Geet?'
Anaya's voice calls followed by a shushing sound, probably from the librarian, and we both put some distance between us. 'I... I saw you struggling so I thought to help.' I nod at his words and we both turn to see Anaya and Ayush looking at us, and motioning for us to walk over to them. Though the rest of the time passes working away studiously, I can't ignore the lingering feel of his hands on my waist, and the deep eyes that I feel turning towards me every few minutes.-------------------------------------
Ayush is the last to join us for lunch the next day.'Hi guys!'
He turns the chair and sits on it, greeting the three of us. 'How's it going?'
Before either I or Maan can say a word, Anaya tells him we're discussing the plans for tomorrow and I have already asked her that both of them accompany us. Ayush nods slowly. 'I see.'
Though I've already asked Anaya, she hasn't said anything yet; neither a yes nor a no, so I speak up. 'Really Ayush, I'll love it if you and Anaya come with us.' He thinks for a moment, his eyes straying towards Maan and then coming back to rest on me. 'I'm sorry Geet. I have some plans for tomorrow already which can't be postponed. Why don't you two continue and enjoy yourselves?'
I look at Anaya. 'But you can come, right?'
She opens her mouth to say something when Ayush cuts in again. 'Nope. I'm stealing her for tomorrow.'
He winks at Anaya and she arches an eyebrow towards him before turning to me and shrugging, telling me to enjoy myself.-------------------------------------
As the girls indulge themselves in some chat about the assignment we have submitted today, Ayush motions me to come out of the room and then leaves, telling the girls he'll be back in a moment. I follow him making the same excuse and find him leaning against the corridor wall a few steps away from the door. I walk over to him and ask him what the matter is. Turning to look at me, he lifts an eyebrow. 'You do know why I said no to coming with you two, right?'
I look away without answering. Of course I know why he refused. He wants me and Geet to spend some time together. Only the two of us. He clears his throat and I look back at him. He looks straight into my eyes, leaning a bit forward and speaks with seriousness. 'Tomorrow is going to be the day when you confess to her, you get that?'
For a moment, I'm stumped by his assertion. He smiles a little then, relaxing back against the wall. 'After all, you still have a promise to fulfil.'
I decide to wipe that smug look off his face. 'We'll see.'
My haughty answer earns me a raised eyebrow and I suppress a satisfied smile. 'Don't make me go and tell her right now about your adventures all this time.'
I narrow my eyes. 'You wouldn't.'
With an even wider grin, he challenges me. 'Try me.'
Before I can respond to him, we both see the girls coming out of the cafeteria and he bolts toward them. I follow quickly, heart beating fast about what he's going to say. I know he accepts and
wins any challenges thrown at him. 'Geet.'
I shake my head at him discreetly and he avoids looking at me. 'Where's Maan taking you tomorrow, then?'
Geet doesn't notice the underlying meaning in Ayush's words and answers honestly that she doesn't know. 'I'm sure he's going to surprise you.'
As the girls exchange a confused look, Ayush looks at me and winks. I make a small cross on my chest with my fingers, signalling him I'll try my best to confess. Geet turns back to him and asks what he means. 'Nothing. He's just a very good guide and has a knack for surprising his
Thankfully, Geet takes the words for their face value again and we head towards our respective classrooms.-------------------------------------
When I reach home and Mom notices the grin I can't seem to wipe off from my face, I get an inkling of what is to come next. She already knows of my plans with Geet but she hasn't had her usual session of my leg-pulling yet so I brace myself. Strangely, she doesn't say anything while we sit together for our routine recounting of the day's events. We both talk casually, with her telling about the progress in the preparations, Ranbir's mischievousness when they're around Zara and reminding me of the date of final trials of the sherwanis she's ordered for me. I recall my own day's events about the assignment and the studies and Ayush refusing to join us. At that, I feel she's about to say something but holds back - her words and the slight smile on her face.
At dinner table, though, all my relief at not being teased mercilessly is squashed in a minute when Ranbir says I have to go somewhere with him tomorrow and Mom immediately reprimands him with a wink. To my utter embarrassment, she tells Ranbir I have a 'whole-day date' with Geet tomorrow and I mustn't be disturbed. In between Ranbir's teasing 'Ohs'
, she even guesses the correct reason for Ayush's refusal and I get a 'way to go, young man!'
from Ranbir. When I whine a little, they both shut up and pretend to concentrate on their food only to chuckle at my pink cheeks every few seconds. Quickly helping Mom with the dishes after dinner, I wish them both a good night, telling them I have to study. As I head towards the stairs, I hear Ranbir calling after me. 'Don't stay up too late Maan. Or you'll get dark circles on your special day.'
I don't have to turn around to know Mom has given him a high-five as I hear them both laughing loudly.
I shut the door to my room and pull out my phone from my pocket. Plopping down on the bed, all the teasing from a minute before forgotten, I text Geet, reminding her to be ready by nine thirty in the morning. As I wait for her reply, I wonder what she thinks about how I got her number. She hasn't asked or said anything yet. If she does
, my mind questions me, what exactly are you going to say? That you stealthily took it from Mom's mobile? And then got caught and fumbled while telling her what you were doing?
As an answer, my heart whispers, We'll see if the time comes!
Mom had caught me fiddling with her phone and even though she never questions otherwise, she still asked what I was looking for in her phone. When I had stuttered, she had only said that I could've asked for Geet's number. At my 'caught-in-the-headlights'
look, she'd burst out laughing and pulled my cheeks and told me how cute I was acting.
My phone's vibration indicates of a reply and I open it. The phone almost slips out of my hand in haste and I chide myself to behave and control.I will. :)
Are you free at the moment?
The question intrigues me as to why she's asking it. I reply with an affirmative. After a few minutes, I get her reply.I'm actually stuck on a problem in Algebra. I was wondering if you could help me over the phone? That is, only if you don't mind.
She wants to talk on phone? My heart jumps but I tone it down. Calm down! It's only for Algebra!Why would I mind? I'll call you in a sec.
I walk to the study table and pull my Algebra book out of my bag before sitting down and dialling Geet's number. She picks up two rings later.
'Hi!' Her voice is soft and tentative. 'I'm sorry I'm disturbing you at this time.'
'You're not disturbing Geet. I was beginning to study anyway.' I try to relax her.
'Oh. I'm really sorry then. I think we can talk about this problem tomorrow. No, not tomorrow. The day after - no that's Sunday. We'll discuss this on Monday. You study, okay?' I smile in amusement as I listen to her speak in an apologetic voice. Is this the longest she's spoken at one time? I think as I swallow back a chuckle. Probably not the longest, but certainly the fastest! The light laughter that escapes my lips quietens her and she waits for me to say something.
'Relax Geet. I told you I have no problem. Besides, helping you will only result in my revision as well.'
'No buts. Look, tomorrow you and I are off on studies. Sunday, we don't know if we can meet or not. And Monday is too far away to hold on to a problem. It'll only block your mind from moving to the next chapter and that is something you wouldn't want to happen, right?' She doesn't say anything and I wonder if the line has dropped. 'Geet?'
'Yes, I'm right here.'
'So shall we begin?'
'Tell me which problem you're stuck on.'
For the next forty minutes or so, we discuss different questions of Algebra. Even though that particular problem Geet was stuck on takes only eight to ten minutes for her to understand. When my eyes fall on the digital clock placed on my bedside table, I realise it's getting late and I tell her to sleep now. Listening to her thank me for the fourth time in a spam of forty minutes, I tell her to stop, wish her good night and cut the call with a smile on my face. I change into my night suit and lay down in bed, holding my phone and going through the text-messaging chats I've had with Geet till now. This time the phone does slip from my hand and falls on my forehead. 'Ow!' I rub my forehead. 'I guess that's a signal for you to stop this childishness and go to sleep, Maan.' With this self-talk, I put the phone away, turn to lay on my stomach and close my eyes, waiting for sleep to take over.
Getting up at my usual time, I call Mamma first and tell her of my day's plans. As complaining as she's been until now about me being non-social, she almost gets a shock listening to me. And she doesn't try to hide it. She even remarks on how befriending these three people have brought out the side that I never showed to anyone. I can't agree more with her. She tells me to keep in touch with her throughout the day and we hang up. After I have my breakfast at the hostel cafeteria, I get ready in casuals: a pair of faded jeans and a thigh-high, plain royal blue kurti. Taking out a purse I seldom use, I stuff my wallet in it, checking to make sure I have enough money. I put my phone, some tissues and an extra hair clip in the bag, my hand finally hovering over the pepper spray. I don't need it. Maan will be with me all the time.
I put the spray back in my college bag when a thought strikes me. Since when did I start to trust him so implicitly?
My heart immediately whispers an answer. "Since the day you know him.
I shirk the thoughts off and decide to wait for Maan downstairs. I step out of the hostel doors fifteen minutes earlier than the decided time and see Maan's car pulling up at that exact moment. I smile at him when he comes out of the car. 'You're early.'
Both of us speak at the same time and then chuckle.-------------------------------------
The first place Maan takes me to is a museum. The city museum, to be precise. He says he'll begin with the city's history. On our way, he asks if I'm interested in history and all that jazz. I tell him honestly that I don't mind knowing things but I don't normally research much about these things. 'But since I've been in this place for three years, I do want to know about it.'
I smile when he does, parking the car and leading me inside. The place is huge with plain white walls. Maan shows me around, pointing out several of the antique statues locked in glass cabins, telling me a little about them. Since there are very few people in the museum at this time of the day, I take my own time to read the descriptions in front of each and every thing, admiring the paintings hanging and generally looking around. Through his words, I realise he's very well-informed about almost everything. I ask him how. 'Dad used to narrate these stories and tell us about the world's history.'
He shrugs and we get back to him guiding me through the long corridors adorned with various articles.
It takes us almost an hour and a half before we step out of the museum. With the sun almost overhead, it's gotten warmer and Maan brings two bottles of juices from the nearest general store. We sit in his car and sip on our drinks as he lowers the temperature of the AC to let the car cool faster. A few minutes later, when we both are done, I ask him where to next. He smiles widely and starts the car, adding a 'you'll see'
Maan stops the car outside a fenced open area and I look up to see the city's tallest building, the clock tower, standing in the middle of the area. He laughs slightly at my comment of it being huge. I ask him what we're going to do here since mostly, people aren't allowed inside the towers. He tells me this one tower is an exception to that rule and there is a floor in the tower where there's a circular corridor from which most of the city can be viewed. We enter the tower after buying tickets for ourselves and stand in the lift among a few other people. When one of the guys standing in front of me passes me dirty looks, Maan holds my hand and shifts a little so now his body blocks that guy's view. This gesture of his reminds me of two things. One, the night he saved me when I left late from the cafe, and two, the lift incident when we both were stuck. His eyes are trained on me and when I look up, he blinks reassuringly and I smile, glad for his presence with me.
The lift stops at the floor just below where the big round clock is fixed. This is the last floor where anyone is allowed. I step out to see the curved corridor leading to both sides and a glass wall giving the view of the city. Grills, almost four feet of height, are fixed a few inches away from the glass to keep people away from the walls. Maan leads me around holding one of my hands and keeping me away from all the other visitors, while he uses his other hand to point out the different areas that are visible. We reach a chamber where there's a spectacular view and a few stands with maps spread out on them. We both enjoy navigating our way through one map, pointing out the places we know, like his house, my hostel and the college. When the clock strikes twelve, loud, booming chimes echo through the building and we feel violent vibrations. I put my hands over my ears and tightly close my eyes. When the twelve chimes feel like they've stopped, I open my eyes and find Maan in the same position as I was a moment before. I can still feel my legs vibrating from the after effects and looking at Maan, I can't help from laughing. Hearing me laugh, he opens his eyes and joins me after a second. We make our way back to the lift and both of us stumble a little due to the shaky legs and that leaves us laughing again.-------------------------------------
The next place on my agenda is the famous food street of downtown. I tell Geet that and give her rundown of why the place is loved by people through the city. I tell her we will need to walk a lot because cars can only go till the beginning of the street, and since the place is very crowded, we have to hold hands. As I suggest that, my voice becomes a little unsure but she surprises me with her prompt agreement for it. I wonder if I really should tell her about my feelings today, just like Ayush wants me to. Gazing at her out of the corner of my eyes, I contemplate. Maybe I should...
She turns her head towards the window. Maybe not yet.
Parking on a safe spot on the busy roadside, I tell Geet to stay in the car yet. I get out of the car, look around to make sure it isn't crazily crowded like it usually is, and then walk over to her side, opening her door and holding my hand out for her. She takes my hand and steps out, looking around her. I lead her through the street, showing her the varieties of foods available in the restaurants. She admires the way it's all set, with tables and chairs placed in front of the shops for people who want to enjoy open-air meals. When she innocently asks me what these people do when it rains, I tell her all the tables have got umbrellas with them which can be fixed whenever needed. Like she's done in the clock tower, she clicks pictures of the different restaurants as we walk, sometimes taking my pictures as well. I realise it's lunchtime and she must be hungry.'So what will you like to have for lunch? Chinese, Thai, Italian or Mexican?'
She thinks for a moment. 'Something that's not heavy, perhaps?'
I nod and think of the perfect thing. 'Let me tell you something. There's an Asian restaurant right ahead where we can have some desi snacks like gol gappe...'
As I wonder if she knows what gol gappe are, her eyes light up and a wide smile spreads across her face. 'Eeh! I love gol gappe! It's been years that I haven't had them.'
Her childish squeal surprises me but I try not to show it for the sole reason that this is the first glimpse I have seen of a child in her, which she keeps hidden from the whole world. 'So gol gappe it is!'
I say in the same tone as hers and pull her forward. She comes only too willingly. One more thing adds up to my list of her characteristics as I see her stuff gol gappe in her mouth excitedly. She has a fetich for this particular snack.
After she has two plates full and I eat one, we sit for a while before beginning our walk back to the car. I tease her a little about her becoming fat if she doesn't walk off what all she's just eaten and she takes it all laughingly.-------------------------------------'What next?'
I ask Maan when we're strapped back in his car. With the day going great so far, I'm eager to know what more he's planned. 'How about some running around the park and feeding the ducks?'
I grin and agree to it as he drives to the park narrating a story from his childhood about how he and Ranbir used to chase the ducks, trying to catch one, and how they cried after they failed every time. He laughs as he recalls those times and the fun they used to have. Parking the car, he buys us tickets and we enter the park to find one side of it decorated with stalls of different games. Maan tells me those stalls are put up every two months for one week and they're very famous for the huge candy-floss they sell. He leads me to the pond where I see different types of ducks paddling peacefully through the water. They make a beautiful picture when I see three ducklings following their mother's trail. As Maan brings some birdseed from the little store just a few feet away, to feed the ducks, I click some pictures of the area. Maan gives me half of the seeds and shows me how to do it, instructing me not to go too close.
When we're done feeding the ducks - with me often jumping two steps back when any bird took a step towards us and Maan laughing at me - Maan takes me to the stalls and asks if I want to eat the candy-floss. He buys only one candy and hands it to me but I insist we share it because it's very big for me to finish on my own. With the candy passing between both our hands, we take a round of the stalls, playing the shooting game where Maan tells me how to hold the gun properly. As he shows it to me, his fingers curl over mine on the trigger, his breath falling on my cheek, distracting me from what he's saying. He tells me to pull the trigger and I snap out of my daze, shooting and missing the bull's eye on all the three tries.-------------------------------------
As we exit the park, it's almost evening and I wait for him to tell me what's next in the list. If there is any, that is. He drives for a while through a deserted road unknown to me as I tell him how good it felt to feed the ducks. He only smiles as he concentrates on the road. My phone's ringing makes me pull it out to see Mamma calling. I answer her call, telling her a little of the day and she asks where we're going next. I ask Maan and he says it's a surprise, to which my mother exclaims how much she wishes she was here with us. I laugh and tell her to stop acting like a child. She tells me to call her when I reach back to the hostel and I end the call, just as Maan turns the car to an open space and parks it. I look around to see what's special here. It's a hilltop, I guess.
I walk over to where Maan is standing and he plops down on the grass, gesturing me to sit beside him. Looking ahead, I realise what is special here. The whole city's shining lights create a bewitching scene, astounding me into silence as I sit there cross-legged beside Maan. He tells me that apart from the place where he took me when I wasn't well - his secret place - this one is his favourite because of the view, the peace, the silence here. I ask him if there's a special time when he comes here. 'When I want some time alone.'
He shrugs. 'And when do you go to that place?'
He looks at the shining lights before answering. 'Whenever I miss Dad.'
He changes the topic, telling me this is the perfect picnic spot where he's been with his friends and family before.
Sitting a few moments in silence, we're distracted when fireworks go off in front of us. 'Oh wow!'
I exclaim as I take the camera out and begin clicking pictures. One after another, the fireworks illuminate the sky and we watch the colours they spread against its greying blanket. Maan tells me that we got lucky to see these fireworks. It must have been some wedding going on in the city. With the word 'wedding'
, we drift off into a conversation about the upcoming wedding in his family, his own plans for the wedding and how he likes Zara for the changes she's brought in Ranbir. We fall silent again and after a few moments, he asks me if I like to click pictures. I laugh. 'No. These are for Mamma and Raya. They want to see the places I'm visiting today.'
He smiles. 'Raya, I'm guessing, is your sister.'
I nod. He asks about what she's studying and if she's like me: the silent type of girl. I tell him about the polar differences between me and Raya and he observes that I'm very fond of my baby sister. I smile slightly as I agree with him.
After another round of silence, I ask him his future plans and he tells me he'll be joining his brother as soon as his studies finish. He asks me the same and I tell him of what I've thought: about going back home to my family, working with Baba, helping Mamma with the house and spending time with Chhoti. He remains quiet and I get a strange feeling that he wants to say something but he doesn't. I shake the feeling off and thank him from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful day. I put my hand on his, which lay on the grass, and give it a light squeeze to convey how grateful I am to him. He smiles. 'Oh no. We're not done yet.'
His words confuse me and he notices that so he explains. 'A day ends with dinner, doesn't it?'
I nod, understanding it now. 'So let's go.'
He jumps up from the ground and holds a hand out for me, which I willingly take and push myself off the ground with his help.-------------------------------------
Seated in a posh restaurant across each other with the menu cards in front of us, I tell Geet this is my favourite restaurant. She looks around, commenting that it seems like a great place. As the waiter comes and we place our order, he asks if we'd like some champagne for our special evening. I get confused but tell him coke will do and he leaves with a smile. When he leaves and my eyes fall on the couples around us enjoying their dinner, I realise what the waiter thinks about the two of us. I look at Geet and she asks what the waiter meant. With an amused smile, I tell her he thought we're on a date. She raises her eyebrows so I explain. 'Look around. A posh restaurant, a young couple, coming for dinner together. What impression does that leave?'
After her eyes scour the place and meet mine, she objects to the common notion of a girl and a guy sitting together to be perceived as a dating couple. I decide to play it up a little. 'Okay. Let's just pretend we're on a date. For that poor waiter's sake.'
I point at the waiter making way to us with our food. She giggles slightly.
The waiter sets the food on the table and leaves, wishing us to have a wonderful evening and I smile at him. After he goes away, Geet laughs as she begins to eat. 'But you know, dates don't happen accidentally. Like this mock date of ours.'
I know she's joking so I keep the act up.'So you'd rather I asked you out?'
She shrugs. 'That's what should happen. You should ask me out and then if I agree, you should act like the perfect gentleman who pampers his date.'
I nod in appreciation. 'I'm impressed by your knowledge.'
She chuckles again. I put my fork down and hold my hand out to her. She looks at me with her fork in her mouth. 'My dear girl, will you do the honour of letting me be your dinner date for once? I want to act like the perfect gentleman for you and pamper you. Will you let me?'
She puts her fork on her plate, her face is serious for a moment before pulling out a playfully arrogant expression. 'But why would you want me to be your date? You can have anyone you'd like.'
With all hints of joking dropped from my voice, my hand still held out for her, I look directly into her eyes as I speak what's in my heart. 'Because you're the girl I want to be with. You're the most beautiful girl I've seen, not only from the outside but from the inside as well. You have a heart of gold which beats more for your loved ones than for yourself. I want it to beat for me too. And the most important reason is...'
I stop to take a breath. Say it now Maan. It's now or never.
My heart boosts my courage. 'I like you. I really do.'
As if in a daze, she places her hand in mine and I clasp it tighter. Bringing it closer to my face, keeping my eyes locked with hers, I place a soft kiss on her hand and get the pleasure of seeing a pretty blush spread on her cheeks. As I release her hand, she composes herself and says that was good. 'The proposal or the kiss?'
The words come out in a flow of teasing and I hope she doesn't mind. 'The proposal, mister. It felt real.'
I smile. 'Consider it real because our date is fixed.'
She opens her mouth to respond. 'You just agreed to it.'
I remind her and she giggles. 'A date like this one?'
She's referring to the dinner we're having so I wink. 'Nope. A date like a real one.'
She doesn't say anything in response. 'I take that as a yes and now you and I are going on a date.'
She looks up. 'Fine. But let's finish this dinner first, shall we?'
I smirk. 'Of course.'
I dig back into my plate and ponder over what just happened. I just asked her out on a date!
I peek up at her. And she agreed.
Edited by mayyo13 - 29 April 2013 at 9:14am