Viren was falling asleep as he waited for Nivi in the reception area of a modern looking building; she was in one of the offices having her interview but it had already been almost 2 hours, they didn't usually go on this long did they?! He looked at his watch; it was already 1.30 and at this rate they wouldn't get there till after 3. He couldn't see outside from here but it had looked like the weather might get bad later and they'd come on his bike because all the cars were being used with there being so many people.
The receptionist kept looking at him oddly; he must look out of place to her in his scruffy Converse along with his jeans and denim jacket. He reached over and picked up a random magazine and started flicking through it to give himself something to do. His mind wandered over to Nivi and he remembered how nervous she'd been this morning, she'd kept texting him every 20 minutes reminding him not to be late...then the interviews had all over-ran so they'd ended up having to wait which had made her worse and he'd had to remind her how to breathe.
Viren gave up on the magazine and leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes as he thought about the past few weeks; it was odd how at home he felt in Shimla and his old life in Delhi was already starting to feel like a distant memory. As he thought about it, he realised a lot of it was down to his friendship with Nivi; he'd never expected to become such good friends with her and even though it seemed crazy after such a short time, he couldn't imagine not having her around. She was so easy to talk to and be with; he'd finally told her about his argument with his Dad and everything behind it and she'd listened and understood and he'd felt as if a weight had been lifted after he'd told her.
He was still lost in thought and was remembering the way Nivi had looked sitting in the moonlight while she was drawing him, when he felt a light touch on his shoulder and heard Nivi's voice say 'Viren? Wake up!!' He opened his eyes and sat up instantly, 'I wasn't asleep...just thinking. Are you done?' He looked up at Nivi, she was wearing a pale pink suit and her face was a shade darker, maybe from nerves but she looked happy enough so he hoped it had gone well. 'You were smiling, what were you thinking?' Viren blinked at the question and stood up, not really wanting to answer but Nivi was waiting. 'Umm, nothing really, just stuff...shall we go? Did they tell you when they'd let you know?'
Nivi watched Viren avoid her question and smiled; she'd come out of the interview feeling relieved at how it'd gone and she'd wanted to tell Viren all about it but it had all gone out of her head when she saw him sitting there. He had his head back and his eyes closed and there was such a sweet smile on his face, she was curious to know what was making him smile like that but he must have a reason for not wanting to say so she decided to let it go and told him they'd said they'd let her know soon.
As they left, the receptionist gave them a big smile and waved, mainly at Viren who then asked Nivi if he looked funny because she'd been giving him strange looks. Nivi started laughing and was about to tell him it was probably the opposite reason but her words cut off when they walked out of the building into what looked like could soon turn into a full blown storm. It was pouring down with rain and the sky was dark even though it was early afternoon as they stood under the shelter of the building and looked over at the bike.
Viren had parked the bike across the street and luckily it was under a canopy but it didn't matter; by the time they got there they'd be soaked anyway. Viren looked at Nivi who was shivering and started to take off his jacket but she stopped him shaking her head saying she was ok. Viren gave her the jacket anyway and made her put it on and she asked if they should wait it out but Viren shook his head. 'It's really bad, it might last too long to wait. We should go.' Nivi nodded; the farmhouse where their families had gone was just outside Shimla so there was a good chance they weren't caught in the bad weather.
Viren motioned to Nivi and they made a dash for the bike but half way there Nivi stopped and tugged on Viren's sleeve, 'Viren, I left my folder with all the sketches in the office!' Viren barely heard her over the rain but pointed for her to go and get it while he started the bike. He got to the bike totally soaked and as he waited for Nivi, he thought about the likelihood of finding a taxi in this rain but there was no one around so they didn't have much choice but to take the bike.
Viren turned to see Nivi coming towards him and saw his denim jacket had soaked right through already and she was shivering again. He'd noticed she didn't have her folder when Nivi said 'They wanted to keep the designs while they decide; but Viren, the receptionist said the roads out of Shimla aren't travelable and people are being advised to stay indoors!' Viren thought for a split second before deciding, 'Ghar chalte hai Nivi, we'll call them when we get there and explain!' He got on the bike and waited for Nivi to get on behind him.
Before she did they heard a loud roll of thunder and Viren looked up to see Nivi rooted to the spot looking terrified and he remembered she'd always been scared of thunder. Viren reached over and put his hands on her shoulders and looked straight into her eyes as he spoke, 'Nivedita, the storm's getting worse, we have to go!' There was another rumble and Viren felt Nivi shake under his hands as she looked at him wordlessly, she looked so fragile to him all of a sudden, with her eyes so wide and frightened. He brushed her wet cheek with his fingers, 'Just hold onto me and ignore it, you'll be fine Nivi, I promise.' She stared at him for a few seconds before finally nodding and he put his helmet on as she got on behind him.
Nivi was shaking as they drove home slowly through the driving rain; she hated thunder, she'd always been terrified of it and she'd never heard it so loud, it sounded directly above them. She wished Viren had agreed to wait it out but at the same time she was glad they were going home. It was taking too long though; she held onto Viren and when another loud crash sounded, this time with a flash of lightning, she closed her eyes tightly and hid her face in his back, still shaking. As the thunder died away, she realised she could feel Virens' heartbeat under her cheek so she kept her eyes closed and focused on that steady sound while they made their slow journey home.