Friday, 14 February 2020

Part 14 : I See You!

Shilpa felt a head ache brewing behind her eyes but she needed to drop the manuscript of her book at the Malik Publishing. She was not going over to meet Armaan after the night she had she didn't want to meet Armaan. All night her dreams had been full of running after Ammy trying to find him but every time she found him the man she faced was Armaan.

So she was in no mood to meet armaan when she entered the Malik Publishing office building, when she asked about Rahul she was informed that he was in Armaan's office.

That piece of information made shilpa scowl: well as he I busy why don't you give him this manuscript when he comes out.

The receptionist whom shilpa was talking to, eyes widened in horror: no! no! ma'am plz go inside they'll meet you.

Totally desperate shilpa replied: no as they must be in a meeting with armaan I'll wait outside or better yet I'll leave this in rahul's office he can get back to me when he is free.

Receptionist: but ma'am they are no longer in a meeting as Armaan sir has left for another meeting, so plz go on in.

Shilpa sighed in relief: ok since they are not in a meeting(she covered up her apparent relief on not finding armaan in the office, she walked towards the office and gave a quick knock on the door)

Rahul and Atul had been going through some papers when they looked up to see shilpa standing in the doorway.

Rahul immediately smiled: if it isn't my favourite writer! Come on in! what can I do for you, shilpa?

Shilpa smiled back: actually I'm here to do  something for you(she handed Rahul the manuscript) here is the manuscript of the book.

Rahul excitedly: its finished! I cant believe this, cant wait to read it. Armaan would have to wrestle with me to get to it first(he added with a grin)

Shilpa: now that I've given you the manuscript what do we do next

Rahul: actually now the real work starts

Atul: yes now is the time for book promotion, we'll be setting up your photoshoot, interviews etc.

Shilpa's eyes widened: photoshoot! Whatever for?

Atul: your picture would feature on the back cover of the book! Armaan doesn't do things half way!

Rahul laughing: better be prepared shilpa! But don't worry we wont let you go and face everything alone.

Shilpa smiled: well that's a relief!(her hand knocked something off the desk) oops! Sorry let me get that!(she bent down and grabbed the box that she had knocked off)

She picked the box and stopped as she recognized it, it was a box of cigars the same as Ammy had given to her when he had quit smoking.

Seeing shilpa looking so closely at the box, Rahul: these are Armaan's special cigars

Shilpa looked up at Rahul her heart thundering: special? Aren't they very common?

Atul: it's a special brand very elite! But armaan doesn't smoke anymore

Rahul: yes, he has quit!

Shilpa did not know what her heart was trying to tell her brain all she knew she felt as the world had tilted: when did he quit?

Rahul: a year back! Just like that! I come back from vacations in Europe and my brother has quit smoking.

Shilpa swallowed and felt as if the walls were closing on her: I've gotta go! Let me know when the photoshoot is set up.

Atul glared at Rahul as shilpa left: why don't you tell her that he's got a drinking problem?

Rahul looked at atul in amazement: Armaan does not drink!

Atul: exactly! He also doesn't smoke anymore why would you tell her that he did, you said you wanted Armaan-Shilpa to be a couple.

Rahul: Atul you are even worse than maa!

Shilpa reached home and immediately went to  her room, she rummaged through her closet and retrieved the box of cigars. Shilpa caressed the box with trembling fingers and clutched it to her chest trying to understand.

Shilpa: Rahul said these cigars are not very common but not very unique also but used in some elite circles. Ammy did belong to the corporate world and from the way he use to talk it seemed he was very rich. But there are so many differences between Ammy and Armaan. Ammy was so much rougher around the edges, his tone was always bordering on rude. Armaan on the other hand is always very polite, every one says so. No! i'm just confusing myself, Armaan cant be Ammy, I just want them to be. Plus if Armaan was Ammy he would have said something! I just want them to be sameb'coz….(she trailed off as she realized what she had just said)

After a couple of days Shilpa's photoshoot was scheduled, she reached the photographer studios where her hair and make up were done. She was introduced to the designer who brought over an array of clothes to chose from.

Shilpa to Muskaan: isn't this a bit too much?

Muskaan grinned: we are talking about Armaan Malik here, any venture that he starts he does it with a style. So my dear girl enjoy the process!

Shilpa smiled at Muskaan and tried to concentrate on the clothes which were infront of her but in a little while her eyes strayed towards the door. She dressed in the clothes she had selected without even thinking and went out in the garden where the shoot was scheduled to happen

Nayen-nayen nainaa mereh dhundeh hein
Darr-badarr kyunn tujh hen (she looked around hoping to see the strikingly familiar face of armaan)
Nayen-nayen manjar yehn takkteh hein
Ess kadarr kyunn mujh hen
Zaraa-zaraa phulon peh jhadnne lagaa dill meraa(on not finding him anywhere she felt deflated)
Zaraa-zaraa kanton seh lagneh lagaa dill meraa (suddenly she felt his presence and turned to see him standing talking to the photographer and her heart felt elated just at the sight of him)

The moment she realized where her eyes had drifted to she tore her gaze away from him

Mein pareshan pareshaan pareshan pareshan
Atishain wohh kahann
Mein pareshan pareshaan pareshan pareshan
Ranjishain hein dhuvaan han

Shilpa stood infront  of the mirror and recalled the shoot, earlier she had not realized but later she had seen armaan looking at her discreetly. Her heart had swelled as she saw him look at her appreciatively with those intense eyes making her skin tingle with his gaze.

Beh-baatt khood peh marnne lagii hunn
Marneh lagii hunn (Shilpa looked at herself admiringly and then laughed at her silliness)
Bebbaak ahain bharneh laggi hunn (as her mind conjured up an image of armaan her heart couldn't help but sigh)
Bharneh laggi hunn
Chaahhat keh chhiteh hey, kharre bhii mithhe hey(Shilpa stood on her balcony as she enjoyed the first rain of the monsoon in Mumbai)

Shilpa had plans with muskaan as they both ran through the rain getting soaked to the skin shilpa realized the change in her

Mein kyaa seh kyaa hon gayyi
Zaraa-zaraa fitratt badalneh lagaa dill meraa(her heart thudded as she realized that her mind kept returning to armaan who was engaged to be married to someone else.)
Zaraa-zaraa kismmat seh ladneh lagaa dill meraa

Shilpa felt tears prick her eyes as rain continued to beat down at them, muskaan looked at her asking her what was wrong with her. Shilpa couldn't  respond she just shook her head as she realized her heart was thinking about someone other than Ammy. Shilpa rushed back home once behind closed doors she sank to the floor unable to comprehend what was wrong with her. She hardly knew the guy but it was as if there was an invisible chord that tied her to him.

Mein pareshan pareshaan pareshan pareshan
Atishain wohh kahann
Mein pareshan pareshaan pareshan pareshan pareshaan
Ranjishain hein dhuvaan han

Shilpa searched for an excuse why she didn't want to go over to armaan's and Rahul's house as muskaan wanted to stop there.

Shilpa: don't we have to go for dinner today with armaan and Rahul, we'll get late if we stop over.

Muskaan waved her excuse away: don't worry we have enough time! Plus we'll be stopping for a little while only.(looking at shilpa's face she saw the brief flash of distress and then added slyly) don't worry we wont have to stay long as it is its only going to be Rahul at home. Armaan is going to be away on a meeting or something.

Shilpa hesitated, knowing armaan won't be there, there was really no reason to not go, still reluctantly: ok but lets not take too long or we'll be late for dinner.

Muskaan smiled sweetly: don't worry!

Shilpa couldn't help but laugh at Rahul and muskaan's antics: you guys are really too much

Rahul grinned: tell that to your friend she continues to believe its only me.

Muskaan laughingly: well I don't know how you use to do it shilpa! But Rahul and I tried but we failed miserably, how did u manage to do stuff without your sight.

Shilpa smiled softly: well I had no other option plus practice.

Muskaan: I think you are pulling my leg! No one can be so good.

Rahul: give us a demo!

Shilpa laughed: seriously! A demo?

Muskaan: why not? Comeone lets go out!(she dragged both Rahul and shilpa outside in the lawn) lets play blinds man bluff(cringed) shit I just realized what I said!

Shilpa laughed: stop being so sensitive!

Rahul gave muskaan a look and then at shilpa: you don't have to do this!

Shilpa smiled at Rahul: its only a game!

Muskaan tied a scarf around shilpa's eyes effectively blocking her sight

Shilpa took couple of tentative steps then bumped into the lawn chairs stubbing her toe: ouch!

Muskaan looking at Rahul: maybe this was a bad idea!

Shilpa:no! and stop overreacting (initially shilpa had felt an overwhelming panic with the lack of her sight she took a calming breath trying to focus through the panic. As she heard muskaan and Rahul talk she started to get her bearing, she started to guage the distance between her and the voices)

Rahul: shilpa! You don't have to do this!

Shilpa: Rahul muskaan! You better run coz I'm going to get you(to both Rahul and muskaan surprise shilpa started to walk towards them with confident steps)

Muskaan: oh shit! (she squealed as shilpa approached her)

Armaan grunted as he continue to work with weights, sweat dripped off his face and body burning his eyes but he continue to push. His head was full of images of Shilpa, shilpa laughing, shilpa choosing her clothes, shilpa chewing her lip as she listened to the directives of the photographer. Shilpa looking breathtaking in the yellow sundress he had especially ordered for her. It was shilpa everywhere but what made him mad was that one look of shilpa she had cast his way, full of curiosity, attraction and a hint od something more. It was the something more which made him want her more, which made the ache in his chest increase.

He dropped the weight back on the floor and straightened tired of his feelings he walked out of the gym and made his way to the locker room. Without even changing he retrieved his bag and stuffed the clothes back and left for home. All through the ride home he kept going over the reasons he needed to stay away from shilpa. It started to rain as he neared his house, he entered through the gates and drove up to the main house.

He got out of the car and was making his way to the front door when he heard laughter coming from the direction of the lawn. He walked through the rain towards the lawn and stood at the edge transfixed, it was as if his personal fantasy had come true. Shilpa blindfolded was playing the blindman's bluff very much the same way he had first met her. Her laughter as she approached Rahul and muskaan, making muskaan squeal was like music to armaan, his lips curved into a smile without his even realizing. The next he knew he was walking towards them as all three of them ran around in the rain.

Shilpa knew she was closing on muskaan who couldn't keep quiet giving away her position. Shilpa quickened her pace so to close the gap between them. Muskaan glanced up and saw armaan smiling at them she approached him wanting to see his expressions clearly as he looked at shilpa. She made it to him but before she could speak she realized shilpa was just a step away, just as shilpa raised her hand to grasp her muskaan jumped to her left.

Shilpa didn't know what happened, one moment she was about to grasp shilpa the next she ploughed into a hard male body. Her hand immediately went to the masculine shoulder to hold herself upright as she felt a pair of masculine arms encircle her waist to hold her upright.

Shilpa took a deep breath and smelled the familiar masculine musk, shilpa stilled her heart almost stuttered as she recognized familiar smell. Her hand which had clasped the shoulder slowly slid to the masculine chest and rested above the heart. Shilpa's heart started to beat in tandem with the beat of the heart which she could never forget. It was a beat she had never been able to forget she lifted one hand to cradle his face and with the other she drew off her blindfold from her eyes, her lips forming the name her heart was screaming: Ammy!

As the blindfold left her eyes she looked up stunned as she looked in the face of armaan.

Armaan looked down at shilpa's upturned face, he saw her lips tremble, he almost thought that he heard her whisper Ammy. Not sure as to what has happened he lost himself in the feeling of her holding her close. The rain beat down on them water running down their faces but all armaan knew was he had shilpa in his arms, looking into her eyes he placed his hand atop her's which was lying on his chest.

At his touch shilpa couldn't hold back the gasp that rose to her lips, she looked at him disbelief spreading through her as her heart and mind went into battle.

Shilpa drew back breaking the physical contact, armaan let her go feeling empty again. Shilpa continued to move back not breaking eye contact when muskaan and Rahul who had been observing them gleefully spoke: shilpa!

Shilpa whirled around: I need to go!

Muskaan: wait! We'll go together in a little while!

Shilpa shook her head: no! I need to go now! Or I'll be late for dinner (she started to walk away when armaan caught her wrist)

Armaan in a quiet tone: my driver would drop you (holding her wrist he took her towards the car where the driver appeared, armaan gave him the directions and then looked at shilpa) I'll come to pick you for dinner (since he had touched her shilpa was beyond words she nodded her head and sat in the car)

As the car drove away she looked back and saw armaan standing in the rain looking her way.

Shilpa reached home sopping wet but she didn't care, her breath was labored as if she had been running a marathon. She shut the door and raked a hand through her hair her eyes darted wildly darted around the hall as if the walls were closing in on her. Her mind kept circling over Ammy and Armaan. All these days she had been infront of Armaan she had felt a pull towards him but had been unable to understand the feelings that evoked in her by his one look or touch.

Today when she had been least expecting she discovered that gaining her sight had actually made her blind to what was right infront of her eyes. It was only after she had made herself concentrate with her other senses exactly like when she had been blind that she had been able to see what was infront of her eyes all this time.

But she had no evidence and she needed to be sure, she paced the hall heedless of her wet clothes. She stopped as she realized there was a way she could be sure, she quickly moved towards her studio. Inside she quickly moved around unopened boxes around till she found the one she was looking for. She hefted it up a table and stopped as her hand hovered over the sealed opening.

Turning away she went to another work table with an axle and retrieved a box of damp clay she placed on top te axle.

Shilpa: only one way to be sure!

She started working the clay, the pinched she smoothed, she worked the clay around until the lump of clay started to take a shape of a face. She worked like a woman possessed heedless of the light that was dimming as the sun set as goosebumps formed on her skin as air hit her wet clothes.

She sat back breathing hard as she looked at the face she had created. She looked at face which she has created as a likeness to Armaan, she continued to stare atit and then got up and left. She quickly took a bath and dressed casually as she let her hair dry.

She walked back to the studio and stood staring at the sculpture of armaan heedless of the time.

Armaan stood outside shilpa's apartment in his dinner suit and pressed the bell, he waited but heard no response from the inside. He pressed the bell again and waited, wondering what to do next he banged at the door with his fist. He tried couple of time but worried he put his hand on the door handle and to his increasing worry felt the door handle turn and then open under his hand.

Armaan entered the apartment and called out Shilpa's name he could hear some movement in a room farther down the corridor. He again called out to shilpa but when no response came he quickly strode to the room and pushed open the door. Shilpa stood in the middle of the room looking down at a box

Armaan: Shilpa!

Shilpa whirled around in surprise Armaan strode forward: are you alright? I've been ringing the bell for atleast 5 minutes but no one answered when I tried the door it was unlocked.

Shilpa rubbed a hand across her forhead: I got involved here and forgot

Armaan narrowed his eyes and looked at her: you are not ready! We have to go for dinner! Remember?

Shilpa looked at armaan's face: in a minute!(her mind was set and she was going to end) could you do me a favor? Could you please open that box for me(pointing to the box lying on the table)

Armaan frowned a little: ok! But you need to start getting ready

Shilpa looked at him as he got down to opening it: don't worry I don't take too much time to get ready

Armaan: I hope you don't need this box

Shilpa: no! (her heart already knew what was the answer to her question but she needed to confirm it)

Armaan ripped open the box and drew down the sides, it was a sculpture but it had its back towards him. Armaan picked the sculture with one hand and threw the torn box aside, he turned it around and placed it on table. He looked at it and stopped shocked to see his own face.

He turned around and found shilpa standing behind him.

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