Sunday, 6 May 2018

Arsh one Shot : I'll Remember You

The past few weeks had been taking their toll on the exhausted Armaan Mallik. Running errands for one person or another, ordering essentials, calling all the decorators, contacting the sponsors for the event and just making sure everything was being done right. It was the second annual masquerade ball that his company organizes for charity and he didn't want to make the same mistakes as the previous year. Although the previous year seemed to be a wonderful event for the guests; Armaan knew that there were many problems involved with the execution that the guests did not know. It was the night before the event and Armaan sat at his desk and made phone call after phone call. He wanted to make sure everything was perfect.

Ending his last call, Armaan shut his eyes and leaned back in his chair taking a deep breath. After a few minutes he sat back up and turned the chair around to face a view that looked over the city. From the 32nd floor of his office building, he could see the nightlife. Lights flashing, cars zooming, billboards shining, and lines of people waiting to get into clubs. He got up off his seat, grabbed his blazer and made his way out of the office. He pulled out his keys from his pocket and pressed a button to unlock the only car left in the parking lot. Driving through the horrible night time traffic was hell. When he finally reached home, he quickly changed and went to bed hoping everything would work out for tomorrow. Luckily he didn't have to go the office in the morning since he gave the workers a day off to help out with the final arrangements for the ball. Armaan took full advantage of it and slept in until 10 in the morning instead of the usual 7.

Those few extra hours facilitated his energy. It was exactly what he need. Once he got up, changed and ate breakfast, he drove to the location. As soon as he approached the entrance, he faced workers running in and out with things for the ball. He made his way inside to see more chaos. Close to one hundred workers were scurrying around to finish the set-up. "Sir, the masks have arrived where would you like them?" Armaan looked over to see a man holding a clipboard and pen, waiting for his answer. "Place them near the entrance. I'll get someone to bring tables and decorations for the table." "Yes sir." He dashed away. Armaan walked down the stairs to the main hall and made sure everything was fine before walking out to the deck that overlooked the beach. The outlook from the deck was striking. Water splashing on the white sandy beach, birds flying over and the gentle breeze could calm any soul. Everything was turning out just as he wanted it to.

Finally the night had arrived. Armaan had just arrived after changing into a tuxedo to see that the first few guests had already arrived. He walked in to see that the masks had been laid out on the tables a few feet in from the door; one side for gents, the other for ladies. He noticed that there was one of almost every color available. He grabbed a black and grey mask and made his way in. Before descending the stairs he glanced at the whole hall. Just as planned. He placed the mask on his face and began to make his way down. As he made his way down a group of girls ran down the stairs almost making him fall. Luckily he caught onto the railing to save himself. Just as he was about to take another step down he heard a voice behind him. "Anjali! Muskaan! Wait for me-" And just like that she ran into Armaan. "Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry! Are you ok?" Armaan noticed the concern in the deep green eyes through the dark red and black mask that concealed her face. He just nodded and saw the silhouette of the girl in a dark berry colored ball gown continue down the stairs. As more people entered the hall, Armaan ordered for the lights to be dimmed down a little to set the atmosphere. He looked over at the floor to see people dancing to the music: singles, couples and just groups of people who came together.

Armaan strolled over to the buffet tables to make sure everything was in order. He walked down the line of multiple tables. Good, everything is fine. As he approached the end of the table, someone bumped into him once again. He heard the same voice as before. "Oh man, I'm so sorry! I'm just bumping into everyone!" She looked up. "Oh hey it's you! I guess I've just been bumping into you then. I'm sorry again!" "It's fine. Don't worry about it." She looked over at her friends and then turned back to Armaan to see him walking around her. She grabbed a cup and poured herself some punch from the bowl. "Shilpa, who was that guy?" She took a sip of the drink, "Who?" "The one you were just with right here!" "Oh him, I just bumped into him." Satisfied with her response they turned and continued to glance at the dance floor. Before taking another sip, Shilpa added "Twice." Anjali and Muskaan's heads twisted back to Shilpa. "Same guy as the stairs?" "Yep." She eyed his retreating back. "Did you run into him on purpose?" Shilpa shook her head no, "But next time it will be."

"Hey Armaan." Armaan turned around to see his friend and one of the sponsors for the event, Rahul walking toward him. "Hey Rahul." "You did a great job planning this. The whole thing is amazing." "Thanks." Armaan looked around at the arrangements. "So seen any pretty girls?" Armaan looked back at Rahul. "Not really, can't really tell with the masks." Rahul patted Armaan's back, "True, true." After a slight pause, Rahul continued, "I saw this group of hot girls come in earlier. I wonder if I can find them." He started looking around as Armaan rolled his eyes. "You'll never change buddy." Rahul grabbed to glasses of champagne from a passing waiter, "You know me." He handed one to Armaan. "Cheers." The clinked their classes, "Cheers."

            Armaan and Rahul stood together talking for quite a while until Rahul glanced behind Armaan. "I found my prey." Armaan turned around to see the 2 girls talking to one who had her back turned. She looks familiar. Rahul sipped the last of his drink and straightened out his suit. "Chal Armaan, I'm going to make my move. I'll talk to you later." Armaan raised his glass in response and leaned against the wall with a hand in his pocket. Finishing his drink he began to walk over to the deck overlooking the beach. Little did he know, someone was following him out. Armaan stopped just a few feet from the edge of the deck and let the soothing breeze hit his face and run through his hair. Unknown to him, a girl was approaching him from behind. Just when she was a couple feet away, she pretended to lose her balance and bump into him. "I'm so sorry! This dress is just so annoy-" Armaan turned around just as the girl looked up. "Hey! It's you again." Armaan seemed the least bit interested. "You should get your cerebellum checked out. You may have a balance problem." Shilpa stood there with her mouth opened in shock. She pulled off her mask and gave Armaan a deathly glare. "How dare you!" Armaan looked straight at her not affected at all, "I dared." He began to walk away.

Shilpa just stood there surprised at his attitude. "How rude." She huffed and puffed her way to her friends. "The nerve of that guy!" She plopped onto the chair next to Anjali. "What happened?" "The guy. The one that I bumped into. He has such an attitude!" Shilpa turned toward her friends to see that only Anjali was sitting with her. "Where's Muskaan?" Anjali pointed her out in the crowd. "She met this guy. I think his name was Rahul." Still aggravated at the way Armaan had responded to her, she sat at the table with irritation adorning her face. "Shilpa, look. It's that guy again. I think he knows that Rahul guy Muskaan is with." Shilpa looked up at where Muskaan was. "I swear, I'm going to give him a piece of my mind." She jumped off the chair and paced toward him. "Shilpa, wait!" She didn't listen though. "Stop Shilpa!" Shilpa reached him and grabbed his hand to turn him around. "Listen mister! Don't you dare you insul-" she stopped mid-sentence to see the whole room darken. Then a bright light shone down on Armaan and Shilpa. Armaan looked up at the area where lighting was controlled. What the hell is going on? Shilpa looked at Armaan completely confused. "What the hell is this? I bet you had something to do with it!" Armaan shut his eyes and clenched his jaw in annoyance. He gritted through his teeth, "Shut up." "What?" Armaan turned toward her, "Shut up you annoying little brat!" Shilpa shut her eyes tight as the booming voice filled the silenced room. All the lights were turned on. "Armaan!" He turned to see Rahul running toward him. Shilpa looked around at the stares she was getting. All eyes were on her, she never felt more embarrassed in her life. "Armaan, sorry yaar. That was supposed to be for Muskaan." He gestured toward her. "I asked them to do it."

Armaan turned to apologize for yelling at the girl, but found no one there. "Where'd she go?" Muskaan approached him, "She left with Anjali. And I think I should leave too." She said goodbye to Rahul after giving him her number. "By the way, that was really rude of you."

"Dude, why'd you yell at her?" Armaan leaned on his car and sighed. "I've had a rough couple of weeks planning all this. Plus she was running into me time after time and I guess my tiredness joined forces with my annoyed self and I blew up. Unfortunately on her." "Yaar, just chill. I'll call Muskaan and explain it to her tomorrow. You probably won't even see her again so don't let it get to you. I think you should go home and relax right now. Get some sleep." Armaan got into his car and left for home.

As Armaan lay in bed, thoughts of how he reacted occupied his mind. Thoughts of the girl wouldn't let his mind rest. He felt guilty about what he did.  He shut his eyes in an attempt to sleep.

You're wrong Rahul, I won't forget about her. Whoever you were, I'll remember you.
Rahul called the next day and told Muskaan everything. Muskaan said she would talk to Shilpa. It had been a month and there was still no news concerning the topic. Even though Rahul told him to forget about it, Armaan couldn't. He would yell at himself calling him stupid, idiotic and a fool. There wasn't one day that passed that he didn't think about her. Armaan sat in his office interviewing one person after the other. Finally the last one.  He pulled out the file and opened up to the resume. Impressive. "May I come in sir?" Armaan looked up to see a familiar face. "Have a seat." She sat down right in front of him. For a second it surprised Armaan that she didn't recognize who he was. But then he remembered that he had his mask on the whole time. "First of all, your resume is quite impressive. The best one yet." She returned the compliment with a smile, "Thank you sir." Armaan continued with the interview asking her questions. She answered each and every one of them proficiently. When the interview ended, Armaan stood up and held his hand out. "Congratulations, you've got the job." She beamed with a pearly white smile and placed her hand into his, "Thank you so much!" "One more thing, I'm sorry." A puzzled expression appeared on her face. "For what?" Armaan took a deep breath and responded back, "For that night at the ball. I'm sorry I yelled at you." Her eyes were blank. She just stared at him as he explained. "Please forgive me?" "I'm sorry, I can't take this job." She grabbed her things and turned around to leave. "Shilpa, wait. If you don't want to forgive me, then don't. But please take the job. Don't hurt your career." Shilpa thought for a little bit before turning around. "I'll take the job, sir." Shilpa then made her way out before Armaan could say anything more.

The following day, Shilpa arrived at work promptly. Armaan had one of his employees show her around the office so she knew here everything was. Armaan would have done it himself but he didn't want to create that awkwardness between them. He saw the two of them walk by his office multiple times. Each time he hoped that they were finished with the tour and Shilpa would be left in his office for her next task. Armaan had trouble focusing on his work. He looked expectantly at his door whenever he saw them. Just as Armaan was about to open a file, he heard his door open. "Sir, I've shown Shilpa the whole office. Anything else I can do?" Armaan shut the half-opened file, "No, you may go back to work. Shilpa, have a seat." Armaan assigned her to be in charge of the marketing department due to her excellent experience from other jobs.

The relationship between them was strictly professional. Shilpa did not make contact with Armaan unless she found it necessary. However she did become friends with the rest of the employees. Armaan watched as she happily conversed amongst the rest of the staff and then her mood would completely change when she confronted him. It annoyed him to no end. He had to do something about it.

A few weeks into Shilpa joining the office, Armaan noticed the relationship between them not progressing one bit. He sat down in his chair and picked up his phone to page Shilpa over the intercom. "Shilpa, please report to my office." Armaan waited. And waited. And waited. Where is she? He picked up the phone again and was about to page for her again but the door cracked open. "Sir, you called for me?" Armaan put the phone back and spoke, "Where were you?" "Sorry sir, I was on break. The cafeteria doesn't have the intercom. When I came back Aditya told me you paged." She walked over and stood behind the chair that was in front of his desk. "Shilpa, have a seat. I need to talk to you." She sat down in the chair and looked down at her lap fiddling with her fingers. "I know we started off on the wrong note. But I want this awkwardness between us to end. I like to keep a healthy relationship with my staff. As friends. What I'm trying to say is, can we at least be friends? I don't know why but the fact that you behave differently around me compared to everyone else annoys me." She continued to fiddle with her fingers and her head was still down but her eyes looked at him. "Friends?" She thought about it for some time. Armaan patiently waited for an answer, not taking her eyes off of her.

"Friends." It was barely audible. But Armaan's attentiveness to her allowed him to hear. "Great! So let's start of anew. Hi I'm Armaan Mallik." He put his hand forward. She stared at it for a few seconds before putting her hand into his. "I'm Shilpa Malhotra." She said with a small smile playing on her pink lips. When Armaan finally saw her smile, he smiled as well.
Months pass. Armaan and Shilpa developed a strong relationship. They didn't only become friends, they became best of friends. When Muskaan and Rahul would go on dates together, Armaan and Shilpa would tag along. Movies, dinner, mall, lunch; whenever they got a chance to meet, they would. They would behave professionally at work, but a couple pranks and tricks were present between the two amidst their daily routine. They just needed an excuse to be with each other.

Armaan knew he was attracted to her. He wanted to know how she felt though. He definitely did not want to ruin the friendship he already had with her. But he wondered if taking the next step would be a good or bad idea. He asked Rahul to talk to Muskaan to see if she knew anything. Muskaan denied knowing anything, but gave Rahul Anjali's number saying she might know since she spends more time with Shilpa. Anjali refused any knowledge too. Upon receiving the news, Armaan chose to find out himself.

He arranged a meeting with Shilpa at a restaurant. He booked out the whole restaurant. It would be just the two of them. No third person. Shilpa happily agreed to the offer. Armaan waited outside the restaurant waiting for her to arrive. He saw her car park in a spot and she exited the vehicle. She approached him with a smile on her face. "Hi Armaan!" She gave him a quick hug and looked at him with a smile. "Let's go in?" Armaan questioned to which she nodded.  They both entered to a darkened restaurant. "Uhh are you sure it's open Armaan?" She heard two claps behind her and the lights turned on. A rose petal pathway led to a table for two. A beautiful smile adorned her lips as she stepped toward the table. Armaan followed behind her and saw her look around. "Armaan." She moved her eyes to him and put her hands on her hips. "Why is the whole restaurant empty? Hmm?" Armaan brought his hand to the back of his head and gave a nervous laugh. "I kinda... sorta... booked the whole restaurant." Her mouth fell in disbelief. "You. Are. Crazy." Armaan looked down and chuckled. Shilpa pinched his cheeks, "And just so cute!" She backed away with her arms spread and twirled around. "I love it!" Armaan watched her lovingly admire the arrangement.

The waiters brought out the dinner and placed it onto the table. "Palak Paneer! My favorite!" Shilpa grabbed a spoon and dug in.  Armaan watched her chow down before he even picked up a fork. They ate their dinner and chatted enjoying each other's company. When the empty plates and dishes were taken away, "Armaan. Seriously, best dinner ever." "Best date ever." Shilpa looked up as she heard him say something. "What'd you say?" Armaan became nervous. He wasn't supposed to say that out loud. "Uhh.. noth- nothing. I just said I agree." Eyeing him suspiciously, Shilpa knew he said something else. "That's not what it sounded like." Armaan fretfully looked at her. "That's what I said th- though." She continued to watch him doubtfully. "Why are you stuttering?" Armaan tried to calm himself before saying anything else. "Armaan, relax! Are you ok?" She got up and went to him. She placed her hand on his forehead and found his temperature to be normal. Armaan got up and held her hand. "Shilpa, I'm not ok." She immediately became concerned, "What happened? Was it the food? Did you eat something you weren't supposed to? Let's get you home!" She tried to pull him away but he stood firmly in his spot and tugged her back toward him. "Shilpa, I'm not biologically unwell. I've been mentally unwell for the past couple of weeks." Her concern continued, "Why? What happened? Did you fall or something? Armaan, tell me what's wrong!" He sighed. "Shilpa, calm down! Let me finish." Armaan locked his gaze with hers and held her waist to pull her closer. "I want to take another step in our relationship. I know we started off on the wrong foot, but over the time that I've gotten to know you, I've fallen for you." Armaan brought one of his hands to her cheek and caressed it. Shilpa shut her eyes in response letting the gentle touch over take her senses.

"I've been waiting for this moment since we met at the ball." She opened her eyes and a smile appeared on her face. Perplexed, Armaan watched her smile slyly. "What do you mean?" "I mean that me bumping into you at the ball that last time wasn't a coincidence. I did it on purpose. I'd been attracted to you despite the mask you wore. And when I walked in for the interview, I knew your sharp features looked familiar." Armaan laughed. "So you've been after me since then?" She just nodded head and smiled biting her lower lip. "Well I guess your wait paid off." He leaned in and brought his lips to her cheek. Shilpa looked down and smiled wide. "You're adorable." Shilpa grabbed his cheeks and shook his head from side to side. "You are too!"


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