Friday, 21 February 2020

Part 21: I See You!

Armaan glanced at his watch for the hundredth time willing the hands to move faster. Seeing the time was still the same 5 minutes to 1, he gave the dial a tap to see whether the watch had stopped working. He frowned and looked up at the guy giving the presentation and pretended to listen, his gaze landed on the wall clock which to his annoyance showed the same time as his watch.

Armaan glanced towards the office windows which looked out in the hall to make sure shilpa wasn't there already. Atul who was sitting beside him gave him a pointed look making armaan frown again a she tried again to concentrate on the presentation. His mind wandered to the morning interlude with shilpa and he couldn't help but smile. He was brought out of his reverie as Atul slid a paper infront of him. Armaan glanced at Atul who had gone back to listening the presentation, he slid a glance towards the paper.


Shilpa isn't here yet, she is suppose to come by 1:30 so do try n concentrate on the presentation.

And wipe that stupid grin of your face its so not like you.

Armaan looked at Atul with narrowed eyes who looked back at him and grinned. Armaan turned back to concentrate and managed it somehow.

Shilpastepped out of the elevator and smoothed a hand down her shirt nervously. She checked herself in the mirror that was hung in the corridor and frowned. She wore a red shirt with a sweetheart neckline and fitted sleeves. The shirt long and came down to mid calf and was of chiffon, she had a red churidar under it with tan colored stappy sandals. Her hair was pulled back in a messy braid which was the epitome of summer fashion, her make up was subtle but effective highlighting her best feature, her eyes. Her eyes sparkled with excitement and her cheeks bloomed with color part shyness, part excitement. Feeling ridiculously nervous she walked to the reception and asked for armaan.

Atul had left the meeting by 1:15 as he knew Armaan would go ballistic if shilpa was left waiting. Atul grinned to himself as he saw shilpa standing at the reception, he walked over to her.

Atul: hello shilpa!

Shilpa turned and smiled at him: Hi Atul! How are you?

Atul: good! Armaan is still in meeting but he'll be done any minute.

Shilpa smiled at him self consciously: its ok! I'm a bit early!

Atul grinned: well I'm glad! Armaan has been a pain all day!(Shilpa looked at him curiously and then blushed as she saw his eyes twinkle) actually to tell u the truth he's been a pain for the past year. But now that I know you I can't say I blame him, no wonder armaan disappeared for so many months.

Shilpa's flushed with color but she asked hesitantly: was he really?

Atul: the guy changed completely, all of a sudden he became so patient and considerate, not that he wasn't earlier. Armaan had always been a hard worker but this past year he worked and worked, the worse part was that he didn't expect others to do anything.

Shilpa confused: is that suppose to be bad?

Atul: believe you me it is! He makes you feel like a slacker without any real intention of making you feel like one.

Shilpa laughed: poor Atul! You had it rough, bearing armaan is a tough job!

Atul sighed: you have no idea! But now that you are here I'm not going to worry about a thing.

Armaan wished that he was asleep coz the presentation was so boring. He turned his head and looked out towards the reception, he blinked as if coming out of a dream, there she stood the love of his life. Armaan blinked again to make sure she was really there and saw her laugh at something Atul said. For Armaan that was enough he got up and walked out of the room leaving the presentation in between.

Shilpa laughing looked behind Atul and saw Armaan striding towards them, shilpa's color rose a bit as she saw the intent way armaan looked at her.

Armaan reached Shilpa and Atul: hey!

Atul turned towards Armaan: Armaan! Here she is, shilpa I need to go and tell the client that we'll get back to them coz armaan I believe has just walked out on them.

Shilpa blinked as she realized that armaan had actually left the clients, atul winked at her making her smile. As Atul left shilpa looked at armaan shyly: hi!

Armaan grabbed shilpa's hand and dragged her to his office, once the door was shut he pulled the blinds shut and then turned towards shilpa who stood in the middle of the room. Armaan walked to her and pulled her to him: hi!

Shilpa couldn't help but laugh: did you really walk out on clients?

Armaan:of course!

Shilpa: of course! You are mad, you know that? (she grinned at him as he pulled her in his arms)

Armaan grinned back at her as he held her around the waist: no! just in love with you!

Shilpa couldn't help but melt at his words because the look in his eyes when he said it was so full of love. She lifted a hand and placed it on his cheek, looking in his eyes she feathered her fingers across his sideburns and then rubbed against his cheeks.

Armaan grabbed her hand and pressed a kiss to her fingers: I promised you lunch! (shilpa nodded and placed her head on his shoulder) where do you want to go?

Shilpa closed her eyes: I don't know! You decide!

Armaan: ok! Lets go! (shilpa pulled back and armaan gazed at her) you look amazing!

Shilpa smiled: you like it!(she twirled around talking about the clothes)

Armaan looked at her fabulous smile: I adore it! (talking about her)

Shilpa understood his meaning and couldn't help but smile in happiness, Armaan grinned back at her: there is only one thing I want to change (shilpa looked at him in question, armaan started undoing her braid)

Shilpa: Armaaan! What are you doing?

Armaan: I like your hair down! (he ran a hand through her loose hair) now this is perfect

They went for lunch to a bistro, the manager there knew Armaan and ushered them to a table. They had settled down when Armaan's associates came up to the table, a look of annoyance flashed across armaan's face but was quickly masked. Shilpa sat back and watched armaan talk to the men she didn't know, armaan managed to head them off after a couple of minutes.

Armaan: sorry for that! (he smiled apologetically at shilpa) I'm famished lets order.

Shilpa was looking through the menu when another gentleman approached armaan, she watched armaan shake hands with him but this time armaan couldn't help keep annoyance out of his expression.

Once alone armaan frowned: this is not going the way I planned

Shilpa: Armaan! Its ok, a lot of people know you lets just order.

Armaan started to look at the menu but something caught his eye: for the love of god! Of all the days (shilpa looked at him startled) shilpa we are leaving! Comeon lets go!

Shilpa immediately got up and armaan grasped her elbow guiding her towards the exit.

Shilpa: why are we leaving?

Armaan frowned: apparently I'm Mr. Popular today!

Shilpa couldn't help but giggle at his sour expression: sorry to break this to you but you are always Mr. Popular.

Armaan glared at her as he took her to his car, as they started moving shilpa looked at armaan and couldn't help but smile. Armaan's brow was furrowed and he looked lost in thought as if trying to figure out a difficult puzzle.

Shilpa gently tapped his shoulder: so where are we going?(she tilted her head so to look at his face)

Armaan looked at her beautiful face and smiled: somewhere private! (not elaborating further he continued driving in silence)

Shilpa smiled to herself and decided to wait him out soon they pulled into a familiar road which lead up to private property, shilpa turned looking at armaan.

Armaan looked sheepishly at shilpa: I couldn't think of any other place we could be alone.

Soon armaan pulled into the drive of his home and stopped the car at the main entrance. He quickly got out of the car and moved to shilpa's side opening the door. Shilpa slid out and looked around as the driver rushed to get the keys from armaan.

Armaan: I hope you don't mind coming here for lunch

Shilpa smiled: why would I mind but are you sure we are going to be alone here.

In answer armaan just took her hand and pulled her inside, he walked straight to the family wing and called out: Maa! Dad!..(he waited a moment to listen for any sounds) Rahul!

Shilpa couldn't help but smile: ok so no one is home!

Armaan grinned at her: its even better Maa has given even the staff the day off.

Shilpa: really? (Armaan walked towards her with his intentions written clearly in his eyes) what about lunch? (making armaan stop an inch from her)

Armaan: lunch?

Shilpa: don't you want to eat? I'm hungry! (shilpa suppressed a smile)

Armaan: I did promise you lunch!

Shilpa with tongue in her cheek: maybe you should check the kitchen for food! (she waited a beat as armaan stood there thinking) do you know where the kitchen is?

Armaan gave her a crooked smile as he stepped closer: you think you are very smart, lets see if you saw this coming (he flung her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and strode to the kitchen)

Shilpa laughed: Armaaan! (Armaan put her down in the centre where she stood looking at the gleaming kitchen)

Armaan looked a bit confused as to what to do next as the stove was scrubbed clean and shinning not a pan in view.

Shilpa suppressing a smile: maybe we should go somewhere else!

Armaan looked back at her: no we are not!( he walked to the refrigerator) how do you feel about sandwich for lunch.

Shilpa raised her brow: you are going to make a sandwich?

Armaan: of course! I make fantastic sandwich.(he started getting out containers from the refrigerator) so what would you like to have in your sandwich.

Shilpa looked at him taking out plates and putting together the making of a sub sandwich: surprise me!

Armaan looked up at her: is there anything you don't like? (shilpa just shook her head)

As he made the sandwiches shilpa got glasses out of the cupboard placing them on the kitchen table. Armaan quickly sliced some tomatoes and cucumbers and placed them on the plate inlieu of a salad.

Armaan picked up the plates and placed them on the table and gestured to shilpa: lunch is served!

They both sat down, shilpa looked at the plate and murmured: looks good! (she took a bite) ummm, that's good (she took a bigger bite) its really good!

Armaan chewing: you sound surprised (he swallowed)

Shilpa licked the mustard sauced from her thumb: I am! What else can you cook?

Armaan plopped a tomato slice in his mouth and shook his head: this is the extent of my culinary talent (he paused) what about you? Do u cook?

Shilpa took a sip of the chilled orange juice armaan had poured for her: I didn't! but I'm learning now (she smiled to herself) I pestered maasi first and now I'm trying out different cook books.

Armaan chewed slowly: I want to ask you something, you don't have to answer if you don't want to(when shilpa just looked at him) after the operation what was the first thing you did.

Shilpa put her glass down and looked at armaan's face, she understood what he wanted to ask: it wasn't an easy time ( she felt him stiffen) I had to learn how to live with sight, the brightness of the sun, the distance between objects all seemed new and strange. But the most difficult thing was to live with the knowledge that I was never going to see you.(in her voice echoed the remnants of remembered pain)

Armaan flinched: all I remember is the darkness and the emptiness, I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep without dreaming about you.

Shilpa: maasi urged me to come to Mumbai to search for you…

Armaan: but you didn't! (when shilpa nodded her head) why?

Shilpa looked at him sadly: Maasi had read me your letter and I knew

Armaan with his eyes burning with emotions: what?

Shilpa looked at him with her heart in her eyes: that I had to let you go because you wouldn't have left if you had a choice. Letting you go was the only way to survive

Armaan felt his heart constrict: you never looked at my sculpture or read my letter again! Why?

Shilpa raised eyes to his face which swam with tears of past pain and love: because letting you go was the most difficult  thing I was going to do. Knowing what you actually looked like would have made it impossible. Even then at the start I use to look for you in strangers face but then slowly I made myself close that part of my heart where your memories lived. I had to let you go so that you could let me go.

Armaan pushed back from the table and dragged her up from her chair pulling her into his arms as he tilted her head up making her look into his eyes: never in all my life (he stopped trying to control his emotions) never has anyone trusted me and believed in me as you have. Even when I hurt you and left you alone.

Shilps shook her head: but you didn't!

Armaan took hold of her chin: you make me want to be a better person shilpa, you make me a better person.(he pressed his lips to her forehead) I don't deserve you.

Shilpa clutched at his arms and pulled back slightly to look into his eyes and grinned mischievously: that's strange because I deserve you.

Armaan smiled back at her while his eyes glittered with a dangerous gleam: so you find me funny!

Shilpa forgot her retort as armaan leaned down and hovered a scant inch above her lips, all she could manage: Armaan! (even the name sounded like a sigh)

Armaan rubbed his nose against shilpa's: you were saying(he shifted angles and ran his nose along her jaw and inhaled deeply in the hollow beneath her ear. When shilpa shuddered, her hands tightening on his arms) now I know how to get you quiet(he murmured against her skin).

Shilpa moaned: Armaan! (as he kissed the spot and trailed kisses down her neck)

Armaan was lost in the taste of her skin, in her scent so when he heard the voice calling out to him it was like a dash of cold water: ARMAAN!

Shilpa jerked in armaan's arms as she straightened so did armaan and turned to look around: Maa! Dad!


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