Sunday, 2 February 2020

Part 2: I See You!

Armaan looked down at the girl whom he held by the arms, pulling back so that he could look at her properly. He was not a cynic but he was a realist he knew his worth and recognized that people stoop to any level to be seen in his company. The face that turned towards him was not an ordinary face, creamy complexion offset by dark hair which fell straight down her back ending at her waist. Small nose balanced over a nice mouth but the most arresting feature on her face were a pair of moss green eyes framed with dark lashes with dark arched eyebrows. She had a slight smile playing on her lips as she pulled back as Armaan's hand slipped off her arms both standing silently.

Armaan took in her unfocused gaze, she was looking at somewhere over his left shoulder. Feeling irritated he spoke again: why don't you watch where you are going?

Shilpa could hear the irritation in the voice and tried to suppress the smile which for some weird reason she could feel coming on her face. Its been years since anyone had asked her this question, she knew he had to be someone new to the town, judging from the voice she had never heard before.

Shilpa: as I am blind I can't actually see anything!

She waited for him to respond, she could feel him standing there judging the situation. Armaan wasn't sure what to believe after he had spoken she had readjusted her positioning of the head so that her gaze was directed at the tip of his left ear. Before he could come up with answer one of the kids came running towards them: didi! Your stick! (handing her a white foot long sticks)

Armaan noted with interest the way the kid placed the stick in her hand, making her hold on to it securely only then letting it go.

Shilpa : you are not from here! Are you here to meet someone?

Armaan not in the mood for questions: just passing through!(before she could question him further) use that stick!(he walked off)

Shilpa stood there for a second feeling outraged at his abrupt behavior, muttering under her breath: rude! Jerk! (she gave her plastic cane a swift jerk making it snap into place)

She called out to the kids: come on guys! Time to go home!

Armaan swiftly walked through the town and walked to a house where he had run through as a kid, it had been his second home. Even though he hadn't been to the city for the last few years he still remembered the way, as he reached the front door he gave it a brisk knock and waited for the door to be opened.

The door was opened by an elderly lady who took one look at Armaan and exclaimed with delight: Oh My God! Ammy! My god!

Armaan's face split into a huge grin as he stepped forward: missed me!

The elderly lady enveloped him in a motherly hug and gave a teary laugh: Ammy! You're back! Its been years since you've come here!

Armaan pressed his face in the crook of her neck inhaling the scents of baked cookies taking him back to his childhood as he murmured: I talked to you last month!

Lady: well talking isn't the same as meeting you face to face! (she pulled back and ran a hand through his hair smoothing it back) let me look at you!(smiling as she looked at him looking very handsome in a pair of jeans and white shirt) my boy all grown up! And so handsome!

Armaan couldn't help but tease: and you are still the most beautiful woman! Daija! I swear you haven't aged a bit!

Daija swatted his arm: silly boy! Come on in! tell me how is everyone?(pulling him inside)

Armaan smiling: every one is doing great! Mom and dad have finally taken time off and gone for that second honeymoon they always planned.

Daija beamed: your dad was always the romantic! Its nice to know they both are having a wonderful time.

Armaan opened his mouth to say something but daija interrupted him: before u tell me about anyone else why don't you first tell me what brought you here?

Armaan raised his eyebrows: why can't I come to meet you? Do I need a reason now?

Daija looked at him with knowing eyes: I know you Ammy! I have swatted your butt enough times and taken care of your various hurts and injuries all through your childhood to know when something is wrong!

Armaan smiled at her: nothing is wrong! There was a problem to which I have found a solution!

Daija: then why are you here? Last we talked you were too busy!

Armaan: I was! But as I have done my part! We are waiting for dad's return till then I'm free and enjoying my time with you.

Daija looked at him with knowing eyes, she could see lines of strain around his eyes and tightness around his mouth. She could feel the restlessness in him but decided to stay quiet as she knew he would never tell her what was wrong.

Instead she asked: so when did you reach Panchgani?

Armaan took a sigh of relief as she changed the subject: last night!

Daija frowned: where did you sleep last night?

Armaan smiled ruefully: home! Before you start( seeing her eyes widen in horror) I know it is not habitable but I came in late last night (he lied smoothly) but I'm hungry!

Daija gave him a look which made it clear she was not fooled: well I can see how good care you are taking of yourself! Come on! Lets go into the kitchen! You can tell me what you want to eat there!

In no time the pan was sizzling on the flame as daija dropped a piece of bread covered with egg in the frying pan, shaking the pan to keep the bread moving instead of sticking to the pan: you can have the French toast first, while you are eating these I'll make you some parathas.

Armaan hugged her from behind: I love you daija!

Daija patted his cheek and replied: I love you too Ammy baba!

There was a bell on the door daija placed the toast on a already heaped plate and pushed it in armaan's hands: you eat ! I'll see who is on the door!

Daija opened the door and smiled: aren't you a sight for sore eyes! (she smiled at Shilpa who stood infront of the door with a cane in her hand while the other hand held a bag) come on in!

Shilpa smiled at the affectionate tone of the elderly lady who she was like a surrogate mother to her, using the cane in the sweeping motion checking for any obstacles she stepped inside.

Shilpa: seems you were about to have breakfast! I have come at a wrong time!

Daija: oh no! I've had my breakfast an hour ago! Sit! Sit! Tell me how come you are here at this time, you usually come around noon!

Shilpa smiled: I was out with the kids and I …(she stopped as she heard a male voice calling out)

Armaan had literally inhaled the French toast when he had swallowed half of the pile he heard murmur of voices outside, curious as to what was keeping daija he went out calling out: daija! Daija!

Armaan stopped in his tracks as he saw the girl from the park sitting on a sofa with daija. They both had been speaking but stopped at his entry without a conscious thought the words came out of his mouth: what are you doing here?

Horrified daija admonished: Ammy!

Shilpa brow furrowed in confusion for a second and then she exclaimed: oh! You are the rude jerk from the park! (making daija choke on a giggle at her bold stance)

Armaan cocked a brow at her remark: at your service! (giving her a mock bow and earning a glare from daija) and you are a ..

Daija interrupted him: Shilpa! And shilpa he ..

Shilpa filled in: Ammy! I heard!

Armaan with suspicions rife in his mind: so what are you doing here?

Shilpa's back stiffened at his tone: Daija! I brought the books you ordered!

Daija: shilpa! You shouldn't have!

Shilpa: it wasn't any trouble! I had gone to the post office to get my books!

Armaan: here I thought you were blind!

Daija horrified: Ammy! Whats wrong with you?

Shilpa's mouth tightened: books do come in brail!(she retrieved two books from her bag running her hand over the covers and then holding them out towards Daija) these are yours!

Daija took the books from her and stared helplessly at armaan when shilpa stood up gathering her stuff.

Daija: why don't you stay for a little while!

Shilpa picked up her cane which she had placed next to the table: thank you daija! But I think its better I leave!(sensing daija's distress she smiled) I'll come some other time! We'll have a chat then!

Daija: do you want me to take you somewhere?

Shilpa: no! I'm fine! You take care of yourself!

Armaan stood back and saw her make a sweep with that cane she held in her hand and take a step forward and called out: see you round, Shilpa!

He saw her hesitate then turn her head towards him and said in a clear voice: not if I hear you first!

As she left daija rounded on armaan! How could you armaan? That was unbelievably rude!

Armaan: come on daija! I was just asking a question (he gave her his most innocent look)

Daija: I'm not stupid! Ammy! Shilpa is a nice girl!

Armaan: what makes you so sure? How long have you known her?

Daija: I've known her for the last twenty years armaan! A little less than I know you if you are talking about in terms of years.

Armaan: so you are sure she is blind?

Daija looked at him with concern: sometimes I feel all the success has changed you! You are so suspicious of everyone!

Armaan shook his head: I'm not being suspicious of everyone I'm just being cautious! There are a lot of people out there daija who would go to a lot of extremes to get money and fame.

Daija: well shilpa isn't one of them! I've known her since she came to live in Panchgani with her maasi, who is a dear friend of mine. She use to come out for a visit often enough and then she lost her sight and started living here.

Armaan shrugged his shoulders: fine so she is blind! I'll take your word for it (but he was not going to trust her yet he thought to himself)

Shilpa walked inside her house walking toward the sitting area calling armaan some interesting names under her breath.

Shilpa called out: Maassi! I'm home!(she plopped down on the sofa) you won't believe what happened today!

Maasi walked out of her room and saw shilpa sitting: you were at the park, weren't you?

Shilpa heaved a sigh: yes!(then related her meeting with armaan)

Maasi: shilpa! I hope you are not too upset! Beta! I'll talk to your daija!

Shilpa: maasi! Wait! I'm not upset! A little angry as to what was the need to be so rude but most of all…(maasi looked at her in trepidation as the expression on her face confused)

Maasi: tell me beta!

Shilpa's lips quivered: don't get me wrong maasi! (her voice also quavered making maasi more worried) I found the situation absolutely hilarious and liberating!

The room was silent after shilpa's confession, maasi trying to understand the situation: you find it funny?

Shilpa leaned forward: it was! When I bumped into him, he actually said to me are you blind? I wish I could see his face when I replied that actually I was blind (she started giggling)

Maasi looked at her with concern: you find that funny!(looking at shilpa's laughing face) and what was so liberating?

Shilpa stopped laughing but still had a smile on her face: the fact that he knew nothing about me, the fact that after knowing that I was blind his attitude didn't change, he wasn't kind!

Maasi: but beta! I don't understand!

Shilpa held out her hand waited till her maasi place her hand in hers: maasi! I love you and I love the fact that after everything went wrong I came to live with you here in Panchgani. The people here are my family as they have always looked out for me, taken care of me. But there have been times when I didn't want to be take care of, I didn't want help to cross the road. Maybe I didn't want to have a break and sit under the tree. In the guise of looking after me at times everyone is too kind and I feel like a world class bitch saying all of this. (she stopped talking and a guilty expression stole across her face)

Maasi looked at shilpa and felt her heart hurt for her: no shilpa beta! You have a right to your feelings! I understand that there are times when we are over protective of you but its just that we don't want to see you hurt!

Shilpa: I know maasi! That's why it was such a change to meet someone who was actually not being nice to me.

Maasi trying to lighten the mood: well then we should invite the guy over for dinner as he makes you feel so special

Shilpa horrified: don't you dare maasi! The guy is obnoxious enough!

Maasi smiling at shilpa: what was the guy's name?

Shilpa frowned: daija called him Ammy!

Maasi: well this Ammy sounds interesting! I would love to meet him sometime!

Shilpa murmured to herself: not if I hear him first!

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