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Joined: 26 August 2012
Me is back ! Sorry about the delay, I had the update ready but OneNote swallowed it and had to rewrite. To make up for the delay I will try to post another update in the next 2-3 days. Thank you all for reading my story. Kindly Buddy me for PMs.
Banner Credit - Vee
Payal laughed at herself as she applied some kohl in her eyes. It was already 11PM and she had changed into her PJs, but she would be seeing him after a whole week. Last few days had been really hectic for him, he had been working round the clock because of some important business deal and she had asked him to just get a good night's sleep and not come to see her in the nights till his deal was through. They had spoken over the phone everyday and she had tried to be her supportive best as he shared his worries and concerns with her. She didn't understand most of the corporate jargon he used but did whatever was in her power - she lent him a patient ear whenever he called, spoke words of encouragement and checked on his Nani everyday so he wouldn't have to worry about her. He had always been very supportive of her and she wanted to do just that for him. The thought made her chuckle, Payal Gupta had been branded a man-hating cut throat bitch for the longest time and not without reason. And here she was, in the middle of the night, applying kajal to please Akash when he came. He had often said he loved her eyes, especially when she applied kajal. His deal had faced its share of roadblocks but was finally done today; he had thrown a small party at his office in the evening and bought dinner for his staff. Her boyf... Aakash was a kind and generous man she thought. He had left from office an hour back and would be here any moment now. She kept stealing glances at the clock even as she pondered whether or not it was worth applying some gloss. He'd kiss and lick it off even before he noticed it, she mused and decided against it. And her phone buzzed.
She embraced him in a tight hug before he could step in to the house and then kissed him on the mouth.
"My my, if I knew this is the welcome I'd receive I would come and meet you just once every week." He would have continued but for the stern look in Payal's eyes, it was scary; he knew for a fact even it scared Arnav too. They broke the hug but she held on to his hand as they closed the door and walked to her room.
"You want some coffee? You look really tired." she said as she removed his spectacles and placed them on her table. "What?" she asked as she saw Aakash gaping at her, his jaw dropped.
"You are asking if I need coffee. Its been over 5 minute since I came and you haven't asked for your dessert. Boy, you really did miss me, didn't you?" he asked unable to keep the smirk off his face.
"Don't be cocky Aakash. I did miss you but I wasn't singing sad Bollywood intezaar songs here." the rosy hue on her face betrayed her feelings despite her nonchalant tone. He raised his hands in mock surrender as he plonked himself on the bed.
"Open the front packet of my bag, I have something for you. Be careful when you open it, it might be messy."
She sprang up from her place and reached for his bag. There was nothing careful or patient in the way she opened the packet. The contrast between her delicate figure and her restless and rough body language never failed to amuse him. Her kisses were passionate and demanding, but the movement of her fingers sifting through his hair was gentle and soothing. His musings were interrupted by Payal's squeaky excited voice and before he knew he was being kissed thoroughly.
"Thanks Aakash. But when did you have this made? That sandwich wala closes down at 6 in the evening no ?"
"Now his brother handles the place after 4. So I had him make your special double chocolate walnut sandwich. I don't know how you can like this thing but here it is."
"Oooh Aakash am I glad you don't like, I don't have to share this then. But you are missing something in life, this thing is divine. They should serve it in restaurants ! Though I am sure they can't make it as well as your sandwich wala, that guy works magic!" she said and then sunk her teeth into the sandwich. The sticky chocolate stuck to the corners of her mouth but she was beyond caring.
"Payal, stop playing with your food, I'll bring you a plate!" he got up.
"Shhh don't speak loudly, Maa and Papa will get up." with that she grabbed his hand and brought him back to the bed, sat down on his lap and resumed munching on her midnight snack.
"Waise, what is the point in keeping it low now? Turns out they already knew about us" he asked holding her close to him.
"I don't know, I just like it this way" she was least interested in this conversation.
"We've had enough thrill with all these clandestine meetings, Payal. I want to just tell your parents and Nani and everyone. Come and see you whenever I wish. This is ridiculous anyway, for all you know Khushi knows we're here right now and can smell all the chocolate you've managed to smear around your mouth" he smiled.
"Khushi is with Arnav, they went out for dinner and they are spending Saturday at the farmhouse. They'll come back on Sunday. And you, what conversation are you talking about, what will you tell my parents?"
"That you are.. That we are.. You and I... we meet." He hadn't thought this through. What had he gotten himself into!
"Yeah. We meet. And we like... meeting each other. "
"You will have a conversation with my family about how you and I like meeting each other?"
"Payal, baby, did you like the sandwich? You finished it up so quickly, one would think you inhale your food" was his poor attempt to change the topic and save his skin.
"The sandwich is over and I loved it. Thanks. Now tell me, since we are planning to talk to my parents AND your Nani, what are you going to tell them about us? Why do we like to... meet?" she said sweetly, her cold eyes conveying something entirely different. He wasn't getting out of this.
Oh why did he have to put his foot in his mouth, he thought and wanted to kick himself. This was going to land him in deep shit.
"Yes?" asked Payal, her voice soft but her tone menacing.
He had to come up with something. Anything. "Oh you know, I can't plan these things. I like things, you know...spontaneous. When it is time to meet Uncle, I'll tell him everything about.. Us. Don't you worry!" So was relieved he had managed to come up with something and leaned down to kiss the woman on his lap. She kissed him back and he did a little mental jig, he had managed to find a way out without upsetting Payal. He was a genius, he thought. Not for long.
"You're so wonderful Aakash! You take away all my worries. Tomorrow is Saturday, come over for breakfast tomorrow and you can talk to Papa then! Just be...spontaneous? " she said getting off his lap and smiling widely. Too widely.
Aakash wished the earth would swallow him.
They'd had a sumptuous meal but Khushi always had place for dessert in her tummy. The Gupta sisters had a reputation, they would never let go of a chance to satisfy their sweet tooth. Dinner had been a calm and quiet affair, the both of them were tired and famished. They had the night and the next day all for themselves and were in no hurry. Feeling full after the heavy dinner, they decided to walk down to the small caf at the end of the lane that the both of them had wanted to visit since a long time. Never ones to indulge much in any open display of affection, they walked side by side but did not hold hands, both comfortable and secure in the knowledge of being with their beloved.
Khushi had had a fairly comfortable week at work, but Arnav was aware of the turmoil within her that she was having to suppress. He just wanted her to relax this weekend and forget about her worries, and he knew the only way to do that was by taking her away from her father for sometime. And some good food, he thought smiling.
"What are you smiling about, Arnav?"
"Nothing. I was thinking about... Agnes and her unicorn obsession"
"You watched it without me?" she squeaked.
"No! I've booked tickets for tomorrow evening, I can drop you home after the movie." he turned and saw her eyes shining with excitement.
The weather was pleasant and breezy, hence they decided to take the seats outside the caf, facing the sea.
"Arnav you're not having any black coffee today. I've heard their sugar-free desserts are also wonderful, hot chocolates, cupcakes, everything. And you must have that with me." He smiled at her sincere request and nodded.
They sat in a serene and comfortable silence and enjoyed their dessert. Arnav asked when he found Khushi staring at him unblinkingly, "What is it?"
"Nothing" she said shaking her head. "Did you enjoy it?"
"I did. Its been a while since I had something sweet and hadn't realised how much I had missed it." He opened his mouth to say something else but stopped himself.
"You still want your coffee, don't you?" she smirked. He laughed out and replied sheepishly, "I am sorry! I just need some black coffee last thing at night. But I did enjoy the hot chocolate, really!"
"Arnav, you don't have to explain, just ask them to get you some coffee. I don't understand how you get any sleep at night though, so much caffeine before bed. Do you just work all night?"
"I sleep just fine Khushi. And don't talk like Payal, I get enough doctor-talk from her. Don't do this, don't do that. Eat flax seeds! Have oats! I swear I feel like a horse when I have that stuff. To top that she's started all the psycho-babble nowadays, your sister will positively drive me insane" he said as he signalled the waiter and placed his order.
"Hey that's my sister you're talking about! You are right but I still don't want to talk about it" she said with a pout. He couldn't resist and stole a quick kiss, enjoying the shocked expression on her face. She would have admonished him but was interrupted when the waiter came back to serve Arnav's coffee; she noticed a look of joy on his face as he inhaled the aroma.
"You know Vighnesh? My colleague? He says he hates these coffees in cafes and especially ones made in vending machines. He is also like you, a coffee freak; so he gets this huge flask of coffee to office every day. Filter coffee, his mother makes every morning. You should try it sometime, I am sure you will love it. Its strong and not too sweet and smells heavenly, I tried some yesterday. In fact he has invited some of us to his place to have dosa next week, you should come along. You'll get coffee and dosa, you will be in paradise!" she finished, her voice shrill as she tried to control her excited voice in the middle of a rather quiet caf.
He felt relieved seeing her like this, since the time she had started work on Monday he had noticed she couldn't even smile effortlessly, sans the time he had gifted her that book. When she was happy or excited her face glowed with a radiance that was contagious and he had missed it, it was back at this moment and he revelled in it.
"Arnav, you will come, right?" she implored placing her palm on his hand.
"I don't know Khushi, he is your colleague and has invited you and your team. You should go ahead."
"Oh no, he has invited only three of us, me, Vaidehi and this other guy Shekhar. And he asked us to bring anyone we like along, I know for a fact Shekhar's fiance is coming too. I'd love for you to come, Arnav. Pleeease ?" she said, pouting again. The minx, she knew he couldn't refuse when she asked for something in this manner.
"Fine I'll think about it." he said with a sigh and saw a look of wicked triumph on her face as she rubbed her palms.
"So you have friends at your workplace now? That should make things better." he put it as delicately as he could. She was in a good mood now and he did not want to ruin it, but this had to be asked; he couldn't have a her withdraw into a shell.
"Yes, but I haven't had much time actually. The whole week has been just presentations and lots of research work. My cubicle is next to Vighnesh's so we got talking. And then there Vaidehi, I just admire that woman. Its okay Arnav, nothing unbearable. I know you are worried about me don't, I'll manage somehow. Its just a matter of a few months anyway. And it is much better than I had hoped, and surprisingly I don't mind the work I have been assigned so far. It's a lot of reading on solar projects in rural India...good to gain some insight before we get to the real work. The kind of work that goes on in the field is really admirable , makes you think why they don't do it on a larger scale. Theres enough funding and technology to light up the whole country. The costs have come down, its not expensive like it used to be. The government spends hundreds of crores on god knows how many projects that never reach out to the poor; and today I studied a project in which our organisation managed to electrify three villages with just 60 lakhs. And this was a year ago...*
Aaand now I am ranting..." she finished abruptly as she saw an amused smile on Arnav's face.
"You're not ranting. I was just... I am proud of you."
Why do you say that?" she asked genuinely curious.
"You were forced into this yet you are doing it, and sincerely at that. You claim to not like this stuff yet you were talking about it with such passion. You aren't complaining, not once have you uttered a word against Shashi. I don't know of many people who could do this."
"I made a choice Arnav, and I am sticking to it. Nothing extraordinary about that. I don't like this stuff but I don't hate it either, I am just trying to look for things to appreciate and thankfully I did find some things. Many things, actually. I got lucky. That's about it."
"Modesty doesn't suit you Khushi, what the hell is this job doing to you?" he was smirking now.
"Nothing. I am living up to my name" she shrugged.
* This project did take place in a small district in Madhya Pradesh. I am not posting the link here since I don't want it to look like I am endorsing a particular organisation or company. If you are interested, please send me a PM and I will share the link.
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