Sunday, 18 February 2018

part 3 : A reason to Live (ARSH)

We ended up going to the cafe. The one where we first met. He ordered two cappuccinos and we sat at a table outside the building. He sat across from me and gazed at me. My head was down but I knew he was staring. I could feel his eyes on me. I started playing with the straw in the cup but was stopped by his hand. He took my hand and held it resting them on the table. I stared at our joined hands for a bit and then I slowly looked up at him. I saw him smiling at me. I wanted to smile back too. But with all that has happened, I think I forgot how to genuinely smile. I curled the corners of my lips up slightly but they fell back to how they were in a mere few seconds. He sighed. With one hand still holding mine, he brought his chair near mine and sat back down. With his free hand he cupped my face, "Shilpa, what's wrong?" My head fell back down and my eyes started to become moist. "I... I can't smile. It's like I... forgot'" He brought my face up and held it stayed up. "I know a lot has happened. But I said that I would get you through this. And that means that I will help you smile again." With that said he wiped the few tears that betrayed me and fell down my cheeks. "Everything that has happened is only going to make you stronger as a person. I'm not telling you to forget your parents or your brother, but I do want you to move on. Don't think about their deaths, think about the good times you had with them. I'm sure they would want you to do the same."

I sat up straight and wiped my tears. "You're right. I will become stronger from this. No more of this sad Shilpa." Armaan just smiled. That smile was filled with assurance that I would get better. I even felt better by just saying those words. "Great, now I want you to meet someone. She's a close friend and I'm sure she'll become your friend too." I tried to smile again. This time it lasted longer than the first attempt. We grabbed our empty cups and headed toward the exit. Tossing our cups we left the cafe and walked back to the park one block down where he parked his car. He opened the lock and we both got in. Buckled up, he backed out of the spot and we were on our way to meet his friend.

We pulled up to a house. It wasn't too large but it wasn't so small either. It looked cozy. When I turned to look at him, he wasn't in his seat. I heard my door opened and saw him waiting for me with his hand held out. I unbuckled myself and put my hand in his. He shut the door and we started making our way to the door. My heart beat faster with each step we took. What if she doesn't like me after hearing about my depressing life? What if she hates me? No. I had to stay confident. Armaan wouldn't take me to someone who would bring me down again. I trusted him not to. But I almost know nothing about him. Why do I trust him so much? He rang the doorbell and questions flooded my mind. "Shilpa." I was brought back to reality when I heard my name. "Stop worrying so much. She's a really nice person." I dumped my questions in my mind's imaginary trashcan. There was something about his reassuring eyes that made me not question what he did. He gave my hand a squeeze and that's when I realized that he still hadn't let go of my hand. I nodded. He turned back to the door and a girl stood there smiling at Armaan. She gave him a side hug and then Armaan introduced us. "Shilpa, this is Muskaan, my best friend. And Muskaan, this is Shilpa." Muskaan came up to me and consumed me into a warm hug. Looking over her shoulder, I saw Armaan nod at me. I brought my hands up and hugged her back. Pulling away she spoke, "Hi Shilpa! Come in you guys and make yourself at home." Following behind Armaan, we entered her home.

"Mumma! Armaan's here! And he brought a friend! I'll be right back guys." Muskaan gave a look to Armaan, to which he nodded, and then went to the kitchen. Armaan told me to sit on the couch and he remained standing. Muskaan came back with her mother. Muskaan introduced us and then she sat down next to me and began a conversation. I saw Armaan and Muskaan leave to room. "So beta, where do you live?" I looked back at her, "A couple blocks down from here. Near the park. But I don't think I'll be living there for much longer. I can't afford the rent after this month." Muskaan's mother looked at me shocked, "Beta, why don't you live here? I'm sure Muskaan won't mind and I obviously don't mind either." I looked at her surprised, "No Aunty, I'll find another place. I don't want to be a burden."

"Burden? Shilpa you won't be a burden! In fact I'd love to have you live here with me and mom! You'll be like another daughter to her!" Muskaan came from the door. "But Muskaan, I can't li--'" "Nonsense Shilpa! You're going to stay with us! And that is final!" I couldn't do that to them. No matter what they said I would feel like a burden. Just then I saw Armaan walking through the door. "Armaan! Tell Shilpa that she's going to stay with me and mumma!" He looked from Muskaan to me and locked his gaze. He questioned if I was ok with it through his eyes. I shook my head slightly in a 'no' motion. "Muskaan if she doesn't want to you can't force her." Muskaan slumped down onto the couch with a frown. Muskaan's mother left the room to get something for us to eat leaving the issue for the three of us. "Fine, but Shilpa, can you atleast think about it?" I sensed her concern and nodded. "I'll think about it. But as of right now, I don't think I can." Muskaan smiled and got up to hug me. "Just know that we're here to help." I looked up at her confused. "Armaan just told me everything while you were talking to mumma." I looked to Armaan and he nodded. "Thank you Muskaan." I hugged her one more time.

"Alright enough with the emotional stuff guys." Armaan walked over and pulled us apart. "We need to do something fun." I saw Muskaan getting excited. "Oh I know! There's an amusement park in town! Let's go there! Is that ok with you Shilpa?" I gave a small smile and said yes.

We got into Armaan's car and he drove us to the amusement park. Armaan ended up paying for my ticket since I didn't have any money on me. Or even at all, for that matter. Muskaan was jumping one stall to another winning prizes. Then she wanted to go on the rides. I wasn't too pleased with that idea. She wanted to go on the rollercoasters. Me? I'm terrified of them. I hesitated while we waited in line, fear clearly written all over my face. Each step made my heart beat faster. Armaan grabbed my hand and asked what was wrong. "I'm scared of going on rollercoasters." "It'll be fine. I'm with you, remember?" He flashed a smile and looked at an excited Muskaan in front of him. When we approached the gate, I became even more anxious. Muskaan wanted to sit with me but Armaan held my hand and convinced her to sit in the seat in front so he could sit with me. I wouldn't have minded sitting with Muskaan. But I felt better knowing Armaan would be with me.

When we sat down on the ride and the restraints went down. My fear came back. I wanted to get off. Right now. Armaan locked his fingers with mine. The train started moving and my eyes immediately closed shut. I felt the train going up; higher and higher. I had the worst feeling ever in the pit of my stomach. I heard Muskaan laughing in the cart in front of us. I took a deep breath. "Open your eyes" I shook my head no. "Just for five seconds. Open them." I took another deep breath and opened them. It was beautiful. The view was amazing. I denied the urge to look down though. I felt the front of the train pull forward. Suddenly I was facing the ground. I looked down involuntarily and it was petrifying. My eyes grew wide. Really wide. I saw Muskaan in front of me with her hands in the air, screaming and laughing. I turned my head to look at Armaan and saw him with his hands in the air with one of mine. I didn't dare let my other hand go from the handle. I shut my eyes and gripped the handle tighter. A few seconds later the train stopped. "Shilpa it's over, open your eyes." I slowly opened them and saw the restraints go up. I jumped off the seat and Armaan and Muskaan followed. Muskaan linked her arm with mine as we exited the area. "Wasn't that so much fun?" Muskaan and Armaan started laughing with each other. Muskaan saw a giant teddy bear in one of the game booths and pointed to it with her eyes to Armaan. I thought that she wanted the bear but was surprised when Armaan handed it to me when he won it. "Thanks Armaan." Muskaan linked her arm with mine again and I saw Armaan move to the other side of me. He slowly brought his hand into mine. As we walked toward the exit of the amusement park, I first looked at Muskaan, who smiled back when she noticed, and then up at Armaan. I realized something as I walked with my arm linked and my hand held. And that realization was that I had never felt this loved or wanted in a really long time. A small smile appeared on my lips. A real one. I liked this feeling. A lot.


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