The environment at CCD was always warm. There were couples lurking around, some talking verbally, while some talking through their eyes. It was so romantic for someone who had never been in love!
‘Hey…’ Radhika extended her arm forward towards Aarush who was blankly gaping at other couples, making mental calculations about ‘how many of them would breakup like him, and how many would actually end up getting married?’
‘Hi! Please have a seat…’ Aarush got up holding Radhika’s hand, and pulled out a chair for her. It was strange for Radhika to see him behaving this way. She thought he was always rude and to-the-point, but today it might be an exception for Radhika.
‘So, you wanted to meet me?’ Radhika was confused at how to initiate a conversation. She was bold otherwise, but now that she had different feelings for Aarush, she couldn’t be the same with him.
‘Well, first of all, this…’ Aarush placed her handkerchief on the table, ‘My mother believes that carrying someone’s handkerchief can instigate a quarrel, I can’t keep it!’ he said with a smiling face. His cute little dimple made Radhika skip a beat. She never noticed his dimple. Maybe she never saw him smiling?
‘So, you are returning me this because you don’t want to start a fight with me?’
‘No. I’m returning you this because I don’t ‘want’ to ever fight with you…’
‘Should I count it as a flirt?’
‘You’re free to! Follow your heart…’
‘You are witty.’
‘Engineer, to be specific!’ Aarush folded his sleeves up his arm. He looked so irresistible doing that. Radhika was already being swayed away!
‘I know that already. But you’re the first engineer who is so witty!’ Radhika curled her handkerchief and meticulously placed it inside her handbag.
‘I’m not surprised.’ Aarush again caught her attention.
‘About what?’ she hastily looked up at him.
‘That you haven’t had any serious relationship in the past.’
‘What? Excuse me?’
‘It shows. It’s written on your face. All over! You’ve never been in love, have you?’ Aarush pressed his lips. His dimples again impressed Radhika as she stared at his cheeks and smiled.
‘That means I’m right.’
‘Right about what?’
‘That you are loveless since birth!’ Aarush smirked, ‘See, your smile tells I’m telling the truth.’
‘Whatever you want to believe. Follow your heart!’ she chose his way to change the topic. He laughed.
They ordered coffee and some snacks and enjoyed the evening meal with similar light hearted conversations. Radhika was enjoying Aarush’s company and she was falling for him with every second they spent together.
After spending good two hours with him, she came home to Kavita with a wide grin on her face. Radhika’s eyes narrated more stories than her lips that night. Kavita knew that something was going on between Radhika and that apartment-boy but she waited for her to confess everything.
‘Whatever you are thinking about that guy, you have to tell me right now!’ Kavita held the knife from Radhika’s hands that stopped her from chopping the onions.
‘What? Let me make dinner Kavi…’
‘Don’t you call me that?’ Radhika narrowed her eyes. She didn’t like the old-fashioned sound the name ‘Radha’ had to it.
‘If you don’t tell me about your new-found ‘Kanha’ I will tell him also, to call you Radha…’ Kavita picked up her phone.
‘Don’t you dare!’ Radhika came rushing from the kitchen, wiping off her hands at the hem of the table cloth. She leapt over the couch and snatched her phone from Kavita’s hands which were about to dial Aarush’s number.
‘I know what’s going on, alright? You are so in love with him. It shows! And you aren’t just ready to confess it.’
‘I’m not in love with him?’ Radhika raised her brows, ‘I just like him. And there’s a huge valley between likeness and love!’
‘And there is a helicopter at the cliff, that helps you cross that valley too, you know?’
‘Meetings! Dates. The time you spend. Every second you spend with him, is like a helicopter that’s taking you near him. If you don’t want to be heart-broken like him. Talk to him before you sign up for any more dates!’ Kavita said it all on her face.
For a moment, even Radhika was caught up in questions and worries. Kavita was right. What if the guy was a total waste of time? What if she actually ends up falling for him? What if she feels deeply for him, but he is still mentally involved with his ex?
‘Damn!’ Radhika couldn’t chop any more onions. Kavita had spoiled even the memories of the time she spent with Aarush today at CCD.
At 10 pm, both Kavita and Radhika ordered from Domino’s. As the package arrived, Radhika’s phone rang. It was Aarush. She picked it up, as Kavita was outside collecting the order.
‘Hey! How are you?’ Aarush sounded cheered up.
‘I’m great. Thank you for the time today. I really enjoyed it.’ Radhika was trying to be a little formal.
‘I enjoyed it too! And I enjoyed it so much, that I think we should see each other more often. Don’t you think so?’ Aarush on the other side of the phone, was biting his lip, praying for Radhika to say ‘yes’.
‘Umm…Aarush, I want to meet you too, and I want to talk about something serious. If tomorrow you’re free, can you catch me at Phoenix mall?’
‘Sure. At what time?’ Aarush was suspicious. Whenever a girl says she wants to talk to you – never expect something good out of it!
‘At 5 pm. I’ll be free from office then. I hope you are comfortable with that time?’
‘Yeah. Yeah I totally am. I’ll see you tomorrow.’ Aarush hurriedly hung up the phone. With a lot of difficulty he was trying to move on from Koel, distracting himself and was happy after a long time, but he again felt that same fear lurking around him. His heart beating at a faster pace. His restlessness to know the so called ‘serious thing’ wouldn’t let him sleep tonight. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come, so that he could know what the matter was, and then live in peace.
Radhika was restless at her home too. She had no idea how she would face Aarush tomorrow after whatever Kavita said. She knew if he will still be involved with his ‘ex’, she wouldn’t be able to continue even friendship with him. But she didn’t want to break contacts with him either. She didn’t know what she would do. She had no idea what was going on in her life. It was all so confusing. But Radhika knew one thing very clearly – that she was already, too much in love with him to let him go…