Aarush and Radhika were seeing each other. They weren’t dating. They weren’t in a relationship. They had not said ‘I Love You’ to each other either, but they were seeing each other. Every evening Aarush would pick up Radhika from her office in his black Volkswagen, and they would have lunch together. Today, however Radhika insisted him to take her to ‘The Intercontinental’, where she had seen him for the first time.
‘The Intercontinental? But why?’ Aarush didn’t understand.
‘Because our destinies introduced us to each other there! It’s the place where it all began…’
‘Yeah right, where the first thing you asked me was – ‘Where is the ladies room, mister?’’ Aarush joked.
‘Oh please! That was just a slip of the tongue. I actually wanted to tell you to stop abusing and shouting. It was my birthday that day and moreover, it was the day I cleared my interview at Kaya!’
‘What? Why didn’t you tell me then?’
‘Hello! We weren’t friends, then!’ Radhika stuck her lower lip out like a child.
‘Well…here we are.’ Aarush parked his car outside at the Carter Road. Radhika remembered having taken a rickshaw the last time she was here, and she had dreamt about Aarush that night. And now, she was with the man of her dreams at the place where it all began.
‘Thank you…’ Radhika gave her hand to Aarush who had this habit of opening the door for her every time they went out anywhere.
‘But before we go inside, I have a condition.’
‘What condition?’ Aarush placed his arm across her shoulder. She was more like a ‘buddy’ to him.
‘Today, you have to let me pay.’
‘No, no, no, no…’ Aarush immediately walked a step back as he heard about paying the bill and money.
‘I don’t want to discuss money with you, Radhika. Please! Don’t piss me off…’ Aarush folded his arms.
‘Please, Aarush I beg you.’ Radhika was almost begging him.
‘No means no. Do you want to go back? I think that’s what you want, that’s why you are bringing up this topic again.’
‘Aarush, we have been hanging out since one month now, and on every dinner and every meal, you have never let me pay even a single rupee. It’s not fair. In friendship, it’s not fair at all to always make one friend pay all the bills.’
‘I don’t consider them bills Radhika, please. It’s nothing! It’s nothing compared to what you are giving me.’
‘I’m not giving you anything, hell I’m not even paying for my food!’
‘No, you are giving me your time, you are giving me one chance. And this is the least I can do for you. Please don’t make me run away, let’s just enjoy the dinner in this wonderful evening…look at the ocean, do you want to pay the bill now?’
‘What? It doesn’t make any sense, Aarush!’
‘Oh, it does! Girls never lighten their purses when they are romantic. I’ve noticed this many times. Have you ever seen any girl paying even for a ‘sev-puri’ at the beach when she’s with her boyfriend or husband? Honestly, I haven’t seen even a single one!’
‘You and your stupid logics about girls. Why don’t you write a book about it? I’m sure it will sell very well.’ Radhika made a straight face and looked at him. Aarush was trying to control his smile by pressing his lips, but it made highlighted his dimples instead.
‘You know, I love…your dimples!’ Radhika said after a meticulous pause.
‘Oh you freak me out! I thought you were proposing to me, after I made you look into the ocean. Phew!’
‘Shut up, and let’s go!’ Radhika pulled Aarush by his arm, and dragged him at the rooftop of The Intercontinental. They ordered Radhika’s favourite food and Aarush forcefully paid the bill too.
‘I’m going home by my own today. I don’t want you to drop me off.’ Radhika was pissed off.
‘Radhika, don’t make a scene here. Let me drive you. We can fight in car!’ Aarush was running after her, and she was walking away.
‘No. Don’t come near me. I’m going home.’
‘Oh c’mon, Radhika. Stop behaving like a child.’ Aarush ran towards her, held her by her elbow and stopped her.
‘Radhika…what’s all this? You are insulting me, you know?’
‘And what you did above in the hotel, what was that?’ Radhika stood in the middle of the road with folded arms. Aarush sighed.
‘I’m sorry. The next time we are out, I will definitely let you pay, okay?’
‘You said that the last time too, and today you again made a face when I took my wallet out.’
‘Oh God! This girl is so stubborn!’ Aarush cried by looking up in the sky.
‘Everyone is looking at me like I’m a circus-clown. What else do you want?’ Aarush said. Radhika looked around. Aarush was actually being mocked by the people who were passing them by.
‘Fine, let’s get into your car then…’ Radhika agreed.
‘Finally!’ Aarush ran towards his car, and picked up Radhika from the road.
‘You are such a brat, come, let’s go to the Marine Drive.’
‘What? Why?’ Radhika looked at him in shock.
‘If you can take me to your place, can’t I take you to mine?’ Aarush accelerated the car and drove her off.
At Marine Drive, they sat at the stones. The same place, but a new stone this time!
‘Why have you brought me here?’ Radhika sensed something was up with him.
‘I don’t know why, but I wanted to spend this evening with you…with an emotional you…’
‘Is there something wrong, Aarush?’
‘Yes, I want to make a big decision of my life today.’ Aarush took Radhika’s hand in his, and looked into her eyes, which were even deeper than the ocean that stretched in front of them.