Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Part 11 : I See You!


 A girl with a mass of curly hair, bright eyes and a cheerful laugh was talking on a cell phone which was pressed to her ear by the help of her shoulder as she juggled with the flowers and the bag in her hand to press the elevator button.

 She huffed a little but continued talking: I'm telling you! She's brilliant just brilliant! I can't decide whom I like better Shilpa the writer or Shilpa the person. You are going to fall on your knees and beg me to marry you. You are so going to love me.

 A masculine laugh floated across the line: I do love you muskaan! And on last check I did ask you to marry me but you keep putting me off.

 Muskaan rolled her eyes as she stepped into the elevator: you know what I mean Rahul! (she pressed the floor number) well she has moved to Mumbai and I'm going up to her apartment right now. So what time should I tell her we are meeting you and the boss.

Rahul: make it 10! The boss is going to love me when he finds out whom I've roped in for our first venture.

Muskaan: you have roped her? You sure are delusional (the elevator stopped and the doors opened as she stepped out) ok then I'll see you tomorrow I have to go now.

Muskaan made her way to the apartment door which was propped open with a box and she could see scattered boxes all over the entrance. Stepping carefully across the boxes calling out as she walked in: Hello!! Shilpa!

Shilpa calling out from a room: coming! (she walked out with a smile) hey! Whats all this?

Muskaan grinned at her: welcome to Mumbai!(she handed her the flowers)

Shilpa beamed at her: thank you! You shouldn't have!

Muskaan: well then I wont show you what I've got in the bag!

Shilpa groaned: Muskaaan!

Muskaan: Shilpa! Its just some groceries! First day in the city just somethings to get started.

Shilpa: I'm so lucky to have you muskaan! Well grab a box and have a seat as the rest of my stuff isn't here yet! Its sure hot here!

Muskaan: well I come prepared(fishing into the grocery bag) they are melting a bit but here comes Hagen Daaz Chocolate Chip (handing shilpa a pint and getting the other out for herself) as we are celebrating I will not think of the calories.

Shilpa getting some spoons out of a box labeled cutlery: as if you need to worry!

Muskaan: well!!(preening) but with you around no one can be very sure.

Shilpa laughed in disbelief: ya sure!

Muskaan looked at shilpa and was surprised to notice that she actually believed that: Shilpa even dressed casually in a kurta and capri pants with your hair pulled back in a braid and your face devoid of any makeup I will give you a 8.

Shilpa laughed and asked: and 8 is suppose to be good!

Muskaan: you my dear are a blank canvas and I'm going to love painting you.

Shilpa: paint later first help me set up my house first.

Muskaan waved a hand: sure! Btw we are suppose to meet the big boss tomorrow!

Shilpa: really! So he will give the final nod!

Muskaan: after the fanatical success of your book he would be mad to say no.

Shilpa thoughtfully: how that happened I still don't understand.

Muskaan: its simple actually(taking a spoonful of icecream) how much we deny it most of us are craving for romance and your book dished romance in spadeful. Plus good story line and superior writing skills there was no way that your book was not going to be a hit.

Shilpa laughed: I don't know about the book but hiring you as my manager was a master stroke. So what time are we to meet him.

Muskaan grinned: 10 and I'll also introduce you to my boyfriend Rahul.

Shilpa: ummm! Can't wait to meet him!

The next morning armaan was in a terrible mood as he was stuck in the traffic of Mumbai on his way to office. Armaan looked at his watch and almost gnashed his teeth as acknowledged that he was going to be late for a meeting with a client. He became more furious as he realized that he had been informed of the meeting this morning which had made getting to the office on time impossible with the famous Mumbai traffic jams. He thrummed his fingers against the steering wheel as he was driving himself and tried to calm himself he had already notified the office of his being late.

Frustrated with the snail pace of the cars ahead of him he turned on the radio in hopes of distracting his foul mood. The channel was giving a weather forecast and as the voice spoke about Panchgani armaan stilled as the memories flooded back to him. He switched the channel in the hopes of blanking the scenes from his mind but the next channel was not any good as the song filled the confines of the car.

Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se
Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se
Main Yahan Tukdon Mein Ji Raha Hoon
Main Yahan Tukdon Mein Ji Raha Hoon

At the same time Shilpa had arrived for her meeting and was sitting in the meeting room where she was being served tea and refreshments. As she waited she decided to switch on the radio on her mobile and the same song filled the room. She sat back and felt the song

Tu Kahin Tukdon Mein Ji Rahi Hai

Armaan manged to get out of the traffic jam and was driving to his office feeling suffocated he opened his windows as wind rushed through the car….

Roz Roz Resham Si Hawa Aate Jaate Kahti Hai Bataa
Resham Si Hawa Kahti Hai Bata
Woh Jo Doodh Dhuli Masoom Kali (Shilpa's laughing face filled his mind as he struggled to keep his emotions in check)
Woh Hai Kahan Kahan Hai Woh Roshni Kahan Hai
Woh Jaan Si Kahan Hai
Main Adhoora Tu Adhoori Ji Rahi Hai
Ai Ajnabi ...

Shilpa sat in the office lost in her thoughts as the words came flooding over her…

Tu To Nahin Hai Lekin Teri Muskurahat Hai
Chehra Tera Nahin Hai Par Teri Aahatein Hai
Tu Hai Kahan Kahan Hai ,Tera Nishaan Kahan Hai (her heart felt again that desperate need for him to find out where he was now that she was in Mumbai, even more)
Mera Jahan Kahan Hai
Main Adhoora Tu Adhoori Ji Rahi Hai
Ai Ajnabi ...

Armaan reached his office building and he gave the keys to the drivers standing there to park as he made his way into the building. The song kept playing in his head

Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se
Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se
Main Yahan Tukdon Mein Ji Raha Hoon (as he felt alone even with his family)
Main Yahan Tukdon Mein Ji Raha Hoon

Tu Kahin Tukdon Mein Ji Rahi Hai(Shilpa also on the other hand sat separate and alone from the rest of the world)

Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se
Ai Ajnabi Tu Bhi Kabhi Aawaaz De Kahin Se

Shilpa was brought out of her thoughts as Muskaan entered the room with a good looking guy with hazel eyes.

Shilpa smiled: finally muskaan you have time for me!

Muskaan grinned: Shilpa meet my boyfriend Rahul! Rahul this is Shilpa Malhotra the writer you've been waiting for.

Rahul extended his hand and gave shilpa's a brief shake: sorry for having kept you waiting! There has been some mix up that's why the boss isn't here yet but he'll be any second.

Shilpa: its ok! In the meanwhile we can get acquainted Muskaan speaks so much about you its like I know you already.

Armaan got out of the elevator on the floor to his office when Atul came rushing towards him: She's here!

Armaan: who's here?

Atul: Shilpa Malhotra! The writer who has taken the world by storm with her very first book.

Armaan's heart  did a flip when he had heard the name shilpa but he forced himself not to think: as we are launching our publishing house taking her up would definitely garner us the necessary publicity and good return.

Atul nodded his head: that's the idea! Her second book would definitely create a storm and we can cash on that. (as armaan looked over a file atul had handed him) she's waiting for you in the meeting room.

Armaan glanced up at the windows of the meeting room expecting god knows what but the sight that he witnessed made him stand stock still. For a moment he thought that he was hallucinating as he had done quite often in the past. His hand lifted towards her as if to reach her, touch her through the window pane when something caught his eye stopping him. On his left hand on the ring finger he wore a platinum band with a diamond embedded in the centre, it was his engagement ring.

Shilpa smiled at Rahul: so what is the boss's name? I don't remember being told!

Rahul grinned: Armaan Malik!

Shilpa repeated the name: Armaan Malik! Hey wait a minute if I'm not wrong isn't your name Rahul Malik!

Rahul: guilty as charged!

Shilpa looked in confusion at Rahul and Muskaan: I don't understand

Rahul: its really not that complicated! We are brothers actually! Armaan is my elder brother and he is basically the driving force behind the business empire so as a joke between us I call him big boss.

Shilpa smiled as the affection and bond was very much apparent in Rahul's voice and tone: so where is the boss?

Just then the door to the room opened Shilpa turned around to face the door as if compelled to look that way. A man walked in exuding power and authority that the air around him reverberated with it. For a second she stood speechless as a pair of intense blue eyes latched on her face and she felt as if they looked into her soul. All she could see were those penetrating eyes boring into her she was brought out of her trance as she heard Rahul making the introductions.

Immediately shilpa held out her hand: Mr. Malik!

Armaan spoke in a serious tone: Armaan! How do you do Shilpa Malhotra?

Shilpa felt a current travel through her hand which he had clasped in his to all the way up to her arm but it was nothing compared to the way her heart skipped a beat as he said her name. Shaking her head to clear it from these thoughts she smile at him: very well thank you and please call me Shilpa!

Armaan looked at her a second longer and then finally let her hand go very reluctantly: plz have a seat and we'll discuss the contract.

The meeting went on for a hour but armaan had no clear idea what went on there, he could've signed over the entire Malik empire and not know as his mind was occupied with so many questions. He pretended to take a sip from the glass of water as discussion ensued betweeb Muskaan and Rahul.  As he sipped he looked at shilpa who was facing Rahul listening attentively. Armaan's hungry eyes traced her features and he acknowledged that she was still as beautiful as he remembered.

His heart and mind in turmoil asking him questions that why she had not recognized him? Was she punishing him? His heart and mind immediately recoiling against the idea as the shilpa he knew was not like this.

Shilpa felt his gaze on her as she willed herself not to blush, his presence was affecting her so she wondered what she'll do if he talked to her directly. She pretended to listen to what Rahul and Muskaan were arguing about but in actual her attention was directed towards the man sitting across from her. He was good looking no doubt about it but it was aura that surrounded him that fascinated him. He wore a grey suit with a pale pink shirt and a matching silk tie, the cut of the clothes emphasizing the broad shoulders.

Shilpa jolted as she heard him call her name: so what do you think Shilpa?

Armaan wanted to hear her speak this past year he had yearned to hear her voice and now that she was here she sat so quietly. He wanted to know what she was thinking, needed to know what was going through her head.

Shilpa felt as if he had read her thought, her mind screamed no what, she smiled a little at muskaan in order to avoid looking at those intense eyes: Mr. Malik!

Armaan interrupted: Armaan!!(correcting her)

Shilpa inclined her head in acknowledgement as her mind scrambled to form a coherent answer: I believe we are going to have a very profitable professional association. I am sure the points Muskaan has come up with can be looked at from your side.

Shilpa felt her heart sink as she stared back at the intense blue eyes in silence. Armaan looked at her beautiful serene face and wondered what was going on behind those beautiful green eyes.

Armaan: its going to be a pleasure doing business with you Shilpa!(he stood up and looked at Rahul) close the deal!

Shilpa sagged in relief as he left the room but immediately pasted a smile as Muskaan looked at her beaming.

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