Tuesday, 30 January 2018

part 7 : Look Closer (Arsh)


Armaan got into his car and let out a sigh. "What is going on with me?" He sat back up and started the car. The ride back to the campus was quiet. Not a single word was uttered. That is, until they had to part ways. Even then, all that was said was a goodbye from both sides. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't the fact that it was awkward or uncomfortable, they just remained silent.


Armaan originally was on his way home, but he wanted to visit his mom. He didn't know why, he just did. Instead of passing the highway, he switched lanes and turned onto it. For the first time, he felt like speeding. Maybe Shilpa's rubbing off on me... The mere thought of that made him chuckle. He adorned a grin on his face and slowly pressed his foot on the accelerator. Soon enough, he picked up speed and was wavering through the traffic. His eyes shifted from the side mirrors to the rearview mirror and back to the highway in front of him. As he neared the exit, he reduced his speed thanking God that there were no police cars. Armaan drove through the community streets and approached the house to find a car already parked there. He became confused because he knew his mom never parked her car outside of her garage. When he got closer he realized whose car it was. Shilpa.

He pulled up next to Shilpa's car and took the keys out. He sat there for a minute. Just thinking. Thinking about why Shilpa would be here. He stepped out and closed the door behind him. Reaching the front door, he shuffled through his keys and then unlocked the door. He stepped in halfway, the house was empty. "Mom?" He called out as he pulled the key out of the keyhole. "Mom?" No reply. Armaan locked the door behind him and then made his way to the other rooms. He went from the living room to the kitchen, from the kitchen to her bedroom. He even knocked on the bathroom doors. He made his way to the storeroom, the last place she could possibly be. He didn't expect her to be there and he was right. He turned to leave but he heard laughter. Armaan then noticed an open window. He paced over to it and looked. It overlooked the back of the house. Armaan admired the view until he heard the laughter again. His eyes moved to the source and found his mother talking to Shilpa sitting at a table below.



Armaan's mom noticed something moving in the window so she looked up. "What's wrong, Aunty?" Shilpa, too, turned around looking at the house. "Oh... nothing beta." Armaan's mom still eyed the window suspiciously, but she continued her conversation with Shilpa. Two eyes peeked up from the lower end of the window. Armaan stood back up when he noticed them look away. He continued to watch them from the window. Something his mom said made Shilpa laugh. That laughter didn't fail to reach Armaan's ears. The sound of her laughing soothed Armaan. He leaned against the window pane, watching her. Shilpa began to turn around again as she noticed Armaan's mom smiling as she watched the second floor window. What is she smiling at? Shilpa looked at the window confused.



Armaan's mom had noticed Armaan eyeing Shilpa from above with droopy lids. She couldn't help but smile at her son. He kept ducking and hiding every time Shilpa would turn around. "Shilpa, beta..." She tried to divert her attention away from the window. "Yes, Aunty." Shilpa turned back to her and smiled. "I'll be right back beta. Wait here." Shilpa nodded and she got up to go inside.



Armaan peeked his eyes over the window and noticed it was safe for him to look again. He watched her get up from the lawn chair and stroll around. She walked into the garden and ran her hands over the tops of the flowers. "She looks so beautiful..." Armaan uttered under his breath. "Who looks beautiful?" A startled Armaan jumped from his leaning position and turned to see his mother with her arms crossed with a sly smile on her lips. "Uhh.. I.. Mom... She... Shil... Uhh..." He couldn't even phrase a sentence that made sense. He watched his mom waiting for an answer as he continued his nonsensical mumbling.



"Do you need to tell me something?" She asked him with a smile still on her face. "Umm.. no, mom..." He stuttered nervously. She walked passed him and looked out the window to see Shilpa still strolling around waiting for her. She turned back to Armaan and placed her palm on his cheek. "Armaan, watching from up here isn't going to do anything. You know very well what you need to do." Armaan, who had his head down, lifted his head confused. "What do I need to do?" "Sometimes the one thing you are looking for is the one thing you can't see, Armaan." She patted is cheek and walked out of the room.



Armaan was left in bewilderment. He stood rooted to his spot, contemplating what his mother meant. He slowly walked over to the window once again. He looked at Shilpa. Spinning around with her arms spread. She stopped and smelled the flowers in her hand and a shy smile appeared on her face. Armaan's mom came up to her and took her away. Armaan slumped down under the window and thought. Thought hard about what his mother said. He didn't know how long he was sitting there. But he finally figured it out. His lips slowly curled up. He knew what he had to do. He stood up on his feet and hurried out of the room. He ran into his mother's room and rummaged through one of the drawers. He grabbed something and then ran out and down the stairs.



He rushed past his mom and Shilpa who were seated on the couch munching on some snacks while watching TV. "Armaan? When did you get here?" He stopped for a few seconds, "A while ago." He rushed to his mom, "I figured it out, Mom. Thanks!" He kissed her cheek and ran out the door. Armaan's mom couldn't stop smiling. "Aunty, what's wrong with him? And what was he talking about when he said he figured it out?" Shilpa asked. "He's perfectly fine... now." Shilpa raised an eyebrow at her still looking at the door. She turned to see a perplexed Shilpa. "And don't worry, you'll find out soon enough." Shilpa wasn't content with the answer, but she decided to let it go for now.

------



            It was Friday now. Shilpa hadn't seen or talked to Armaan in two days. Shilpa tried to call him but he wouldn't answer the calls. He wouldn't even reply to the messages. She laid down on her couch with a book open resting on her thighs until she heard a knock at the door. She placed her pen in the book, shut it and placed it on the coffee table. Shilpa opened her door to see a grinning Armaan in front of her. "Hey!" He greeted her in a chirpy tone and walked in. Shilpa shut the door and plopped back onto the couch with her book. "Armaan, first you ran out of your mom's house without an explanation, then you avoid me for two days and now you show up all happy? What is your problem!" Armaan dropped down next to her. "Nevermind that! Go get ready!" Shilpa groaned. "Armaaaan... I'm tired of you just showing up and telling me to get ready..." Not satisfied with her response, he lifted her up and placed her on her bed.



He went into her closet and pulled out her basketball jersey and a pair of jeans. "Here!" He threw the clothes in her direction. "Quickly change! We need to get to the stadium." He walked out of the room closing the door. Shilpa changed and opened the door to see Armaan pacing in front of the door. "What now?" Armaan stopped in front of her with a grin. "Yes! Let's go!" He grasped her hand and pulled her away. "Armaan! What is up with you!?" She managed to pick up her purse on the way out the door.



"Armaan, can you tell me why we're going to the stadium?" Shilpa asked, defeated. "Last game of the season Shilpa!" Armaan told her as he pulled out of the driveway and onto the street. "But we don't have tickets." He pulled out two small slips from his pocket. "Yes, we do." She grabbed the tickets in his hand and looked at them. "But, these must have been so expensive! They've been sold out!" She spotted the section number and her eyes widened. "How did you get tickets ALL the way in the FRONT?" "Don't worry about it!" "You're freaking me out, Armaan."



A few more minutes passed before they turned into the parking garage across from the stadium. When they reached the stadium, Shilpa went and stood in one of the lines. "Shilpa, what are you doing?" Shilpa turned around and looked at him, "Uhh... I'm standing in line so I can get in?" She watched him pull out two VIP passes. Her mouth dropped. "NO. WAY." He placed one lanyard around her neck and pulled her to the VIP entrance. Her shock grew more and more as she walked through the hallway where the locker rooms were. Armaan held her hand and led her through the hall stopping in front of someone. Shilpa was too busy looking up at how tall the players were up close to realize they stopped. "Shilpa." "Armaan, he's so tall." She responded still looking up at one of the players. "Look over here." He held her chin and turned her head to the man in front.  Shilpa's jaw dropped in shock.



"No freakin' way." Armaan and the man started to laugh at her reaction. In front of her stood one of the players from her favorite team. Not just any player, her favorite one. "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! You are AMAZING!" She jumped up and down in front of him. "Can you sign my jersey?!" She exclaimed. Shilpa frantically looked for someone who would have a marker. Armaan pulled one out, knowing she would want one. She grabbed it, handed it to him, and turned around moving away the hair that fell down on her back. When she turned, Armaan could see how happy she was. She was jumping back and forth on her feet because of the excitement. He pulled out a camera and took a picture of her getting her jersey signed. After he finished, Shilpa turned around and hugged his waist since it was obviously the only place she could reach. "Armaan! Take a picture!" he held up the camera again and took another picture. After another couple minutes of talking, Armaan looked at the clock. "Shilpa, we should get to our seats. He needs to prepare a little before the game too." Shilpa pouted but knew he was right. She gave him another hug, told him good luck and left with Armaan.



"Armaan, you are AWESOME!" She cried as they took their seats behind the players' seats. "It's only going to get better Shilpa!"


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Sam

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