Sunday, April 17, 2016

… I Rather Not

“Hi ma’am, what would you like to order today?”
“Uhm… An ice tea, with crushed ice and a roasted chicken sandwich.”
“Will that be all?”
“Yes”, she smiled. “Wait, a minute! Could you be a dear and make sure the chicken is tossed in cream cheese?”
“But, it’s not in the menu.”
“Your chef knows how to improvise.”
“Sure ma’am.”
“Thank you.” She went back to reading her book.

The waiter went to the table behind her to get the next order. The man sitting there had his morning newspaper before him, but his mind was locked on the order of the lady.
“Hello Sir, what would be your order for today?”
“Hot Lemon Tea, with three cubes of sugar and a corn coleslaw sandwich with pickles on the side.”
“Anything else?”
“No, that’ll be all.”

The voice, the order, everything seemed so familiar that the lady’s heart skipped a beat. But none of them gathered the courage to look back.
The waiter left with their orders and when the chef took the order, it startled him.
“Are you sure this is the order? The old menus were removed right?”
“Yes, long time back. Is there a problem?”
“Did you tell the person that this isn’t there in the menu?”
“I did. But the lady said, you knew how to improvise.”

In the meantime, while their orders were getting ready, the man called the waiter, whispered something in his ears and handed him a note written on a paper napkin. The waiter came with their orders. He served the man and went up to the lady’s table. “Here’s your order ma’am.”
“But I don’t remember ordering a tiramisu.”
“That’s from the man at the next table, and he gave you a note too.”
She opened the note, and it read “Like AlwaysJ”. She kept it aside and gave some instructions to the waiter. He went back and returned with a plate of french fries with freshly ground pepper.
“Sir, the lady sends her regards.” He gave him the note and the plate of fries. The note said, “Your choice of food still sucks!”
As the waiter left, he started laughing and they both finally looked at each other.

Five long years had changed quite a few things, the way they looked, the way they talked. But the thing that did remain same were the butterflies in the stomach they both felt when they saw each other every time.
“What’s with the intense look? Still trying to impress people?” she mocked him. Her carefree smile still brought warmth to his soul like a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter morning.
He chuckled and nodded a yes. “So what’s up with you these days? When did you get back?” He was awed by her innocent face. She still fidgets with her hair while talking. When did she get those highlights done, he wondered.

While the two of them were busy catching up, the waiter went up to the chef with sheer curiosity. “How do you know the two of them? I never seem to have seen them around here?”
The chef started to recall the initial days when the café opened and those two were amongst the first few customers. “They used to be our regulars. Bunch of crazy, happy spirited people.”
“But what was so special about them that you still remember their orders? The café closes in 5 minutes, should I inform them?”
“No, let them be. Five years are a long time. They have a lot to catch up on.”
“Tell me about them.” The waiter was excited to know their story.
The chef was ready to take the ride back to the days when the café had a different spark to it.

“The café was opened in the year 2010. And Shristi and Sarang were among the first few regulars to the café. Shristi was working on her food blog and Sarang was working on his business idea. Back in those days, I used to interact with the customers to get their feedbacks and suggestions. Shristi used to work closely with me, gave me better ideas and took my help for her blog. We came up with a menu named “The Rebel’s Choice”, where we allowed the customers to play around with the menu and get their dish improvised. The two of them were best of friends. They tagged along always, knew each other’s likes and dislikes. I had a wonderful time with them. I had reserved them their own special table. Be it a birthday, or a milestone of 1000 views achieved, or a successful business idea, every occasion was celebrated at that special table.
In the spring of 2011, one evening, they both came to the café, all dressed up to celebrate a happy occasion. Shristi went up to me, gave me a ring and told me to stick it on to their dessert, the tiramisu and bring it to them. An hour later, I went at their table with the ring. They both seemed so happy that day. Shristi was ready to propose Sarang. Her eyes sparkled and her face glowed with happiness. He wanted to share his news first and told her that he met a girl a month back and now they were getting married in a month or two. I was shocked and looked at her. She quickly hid the ring, hugged him and wished him all the luck. The evening fell silent that day. They parted promising to meet the next day. But she never came. I couldn’t control myself. The pain in her eyes came right before me and I told Sarang what she had planned the last evening. I told him that I always felt that they were meant to be together, but he said that he couldn’t afford to love her. I never got a chance to ask him the reason, because he rushed out of the café, and I never saw them again. All I know is that the food blog is still up and running strong.”

The two of them had completely lost track of time and didn’t realize it was almost the end of the afternoon. Sarang was still married to that woman and Shristi was on her food journey, travelling places. They recalled their first moment of togetherness when he was too lonely and she came over to make him feel better, their first accidental kiss at his apartment, the one they both had designed, and slowly all good old memories were right before them, like that was just yesterday. The chef came to greet them. It was an unexpected sweet reunion. Shristi got up to leave, when Sarang held her hand and said, “Let’s get back to my place. It’s still the same apartment. We could get some coffee. I still can’t believe that I met you. My wife would be back in an hour or two. You could meet her too.”

She simply smiled, took back her hand and said, “I rather not.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I wish I was a Mannequin

Autumn was bidding goodbye and winter was just round the corner. The morning chills were becoming really difficult for me. My half torn vest was incompetent to protect me from this spine chilling cold. My hands and legs were freezing. I was unable to recall when the last time was, when winter decided to wreck my life. While I was busy wandering in my thoughts, my nose caught the smell of burning leaves. A few group of men were warming themselves up to bear with the cold. I quietly sat near them. The warm heat was a completely bliss. They offered me a corner, for they were about to leave. I blessed them dearly. I collected some more leaves and papers I saw lying on the road and built up the fire. My spine felt alive now. My hands felt warm, that’s when I realized I had a cut near my wrist. It was dry by now. I couldn’t recall where it happened and when, maybe at the mill. I started to look around. I had to decide what job to take up today; pulling sacks in the mill was becoming a little too tiresome for my age now. My back hurts a lot these days. Shankar was bragging that he has started a job for breaking stones. The master pays him enough to eat a full meal in a day. Plus if he feels kind enough, he might offer a blanket for the cold. I should ask him to help me. Maybe he’ll agree if I pay him a little sum of what the master gives me. While I was busy engrossed in my thoughts, little did I realize that the fire had already died out. I got up slowly. My limbs were hurting from yesterday’s job. With the sun up the horizon, the cold seemed a little kind now. Little kids all covered from head to toe in woollens were scurrying holding their parents’ hand for their school. I felt lazy. Should I beg and manage today! Shankar was nowhere to be found though. I collected my rags and bowl and started walking down the street to find a busy road. The shop owners were opening the shutters of their shop. I somehow felt jealous of them. I picked up my bowl and started to beg for alms in front of their shops. Very few deny alms at early morning. They threw me some in my bowl. I sat at the corner of the road counting. I had collected enough but that could buy me either a cup of hot tea or a quiet smoke. It was indeed a tough choice. My stomach rumbled and so I had to give in to tea. The tea seller was an old friend. I offered all I had with me for today and he blessed me with a cup of steaming tea and a free biscuit. I thanked him whole heartedly. The tea seemed to rejuvenate my soul. I returned him the glass and headed to beg some more until I get a hold of Shankar. My eyes fell upon a clothing store. I hurried there and started begging. The owner shooed me off. He was arranging his shop for attracting customers. I kept on staring at the wide range of clothes, woollen, cotton, all hanging, waiting for prospective buyers to grab them. I saw the owner dressing up a stone doll with beautiful clothes. He gave it a beautiful woollen coat, shirt and trousers along with a hat and shiny shoes. He even covered its palms with gloves. I looked at the doll puzzled. Did it really feel so cold? Colder than what I deal with every day. That’s when it dawned upon me that I wish I was that stone doll. As people care more about the lifeless commodities these days! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014


“Can you apply for a leave next week for a few days?” She asked hopefully.
“Why?” He answered curtly.
She bit her lip. She never believed their perfect story would end up into mono-syllable conversations. Although, annoyed by his stern reply, she said, “Just like that. It’s that we have been to someplace out of town for a long time. We sure need a break.”
“Hmm… I need to check on my calendar. I will let you know tomorrow.”
Maurice went back to the kitchen, to prepare dinner. They ate quietly, not a single word spoken.
Alan got up to leave the room, when she reminded him, “Do check your calendar”.
He nodded and went to bed.

In the morning, before leaving for work, she left him a note on the table, reminding him to let her know about his plans next week. In the afternoon he sent her a text stating that he could take two days off and that she plans for someplace close by. She began searching for places where they could spend their small holiday. She came across a link that read, “COTTAGES ON RENT... PERFECT DESTINATION FOR SMALL TRIPS… CONTACT US…”
This seems perfect. She thought. It’s even close by. After pondering enough, she clicked on the link and booked a cottage for their stay.
She texted him immediately, that the booking was done and that she was pretty excited about it.
Finally, the day had arrived. All bags packed. They were ready for their trip. After a lot of curvy, bumpy road ride, they reached their cottage.

It was a beautiful cottage. The living area had a beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There were two nicely done rooms. The wall cabinets had fine collection of scotch and wine bottles stacked up.
“Honey! I am going to freshen up, see if you can arrange for something to eat.” She said, tying her hair into a bun.
He returned her a disgusted face and exclaimed, “Where on earth am I going to find food in this barren land!” He scoffed and continued, “This is your amazing trip.” And left.
She burst into tears and ran away to one of the rooms and slammed the door shut.

He came back after sometime with some food he managed to find nearby. He was lost in his thoughts. He was unable to understand why everyone in the shops looked at him with shock. He took out a bottle of fine scotch and lit his cigarette. He closed his eyes and took a deep smoke. The moment he released the smoke, he felt a gush of wind swirling around him. He emptied the glass, ignored the wind and continued smoking. He was guilty of misbehaving. But how wasn’t sure how to make up to his wife who was trying to mend the bonds of their cracked marriage. He decided to apologize the next morning to her. He carried the glass and the bottle of scotch to the other room. He sat on the arm chair and lit another cigarette. He had emptied about half the bottle. Every time he released the smoke, he felt he was seeing himself in the smoke. He thought he might have drank too much. He kept the bottle away. But he kept seeing himself in the smoke.

He rushed to the room, where his wife had locked herself up. Before he could even knock, she opened the door and threw her arms around him.
“Honey I was so scared. I felt I heard a man screaming. So I rushed to check if you were okay.” She was breathing heavily and tried to sink in some air. He held her tight, and said “Love, I am very sorry for what I did earlier in the evening. I promise this won’t be repeated. Let’s go in the room.”

There in the other room was Alan’s smoking charred body resting in the arm chair. The scream wasn’t a lie. But to Maurice’s innocence, she trusted the man who held her in his arms. Or was he a man at all??

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Flight for love...

"It was the month of November. Autum had just arrived. Sonargaon was where I lived. The place looked beautiful then. The leaves slowly turned golden from green which marked the slow advancement of winter. I don't know how it looks now. I wonder if our home is still there or not."
She stopped to think some more when her thoughts were interrupted with a new question from the journalist.
"So do you miss your home and your family?"
"I do miss my home. That's where I found my love. That's where I got the courage..." Her voice cracked but she continued, "to flee".
"Tell me something about your family, your love..."
She looked down. Her eyes were fixed on the floor. She replied with a heavy voice, "My family... We were a family of 4 before I fleed. An abusive brother who took away almost all the money I earned for a better life and parents who made me leave my school so that they could marry me off at the age of 13."
"Why didn't you seek for help?" The journalist asked surpringly.
"No one would. Not because they are inhuman but was for the fact that I had tried to flee before this. I was the reason my family had no option but to leave that village. They had lost all respect because of me."
"I was dragged by my brother in front of the entire village. He was teaching me manners." She started shivering and the journalist held her hand. To change the topic she threw her with a new question.
"So tell us about your love. The one who brought you here?"
She smiled, wiped the tears and cleared her throat. A different glow was visible on her face and her eyes sparkled.
"My love was my power. The reason why I was driven to take this big step. I am successful today all because of my love. I was 15 when I first fell in love. I never stopped dreaming or loving since then. That gave me the the strength to quit everything that I didn't want to do and to run away with those dreams I dream of always."
"What was the first feeling of love?"
"I had butterflies in my tummy. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wanted to spread my arms and scream to the world how much I loved it. At the same time I decided to commit my life to my love. One thing was for sure that there was no looking back since then."
"Ma'am they are ready", the crew member called her.
"Reserve a seat for this lady."
The crew member nodded and left. Then she turned at the journalist and said, "I am sure you would love to watch me with my love."
The journalist readily agreed and got up to take her seat.

There she was glistening under the limelight. She spread her arms like a white swan ready to take a flight. Her soulful dance brought tears in the journalist's eyes. She was proud. Her final article was surely worthy. Although it was her 500th performance yet it always felt like it was dedicated to her only love- DANCE.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Be Back Soon

“Saida, where are you going?”
 I'm going to the market. Jayed is returning from India today. I want to make this favourite beef curry.”
“Then hurry up dear. The market won't be open for long.”
 I'll be back in no time. Till then look after Zariena.”
Saida waved her husband Azad a goodbye and hurried off to the market.


In the evening, the dinner table was set. All of Jayed’s favourite delicacies were prepared. The boy was coming back home, his motherland Bangladesh after a year.
 “ Isn't it getting late? He was supposed to be home by seven and it’s over nine now. Allah keep my child safe.”
Suddenly they heard a thud on the door.
Saida’s heart almost skipped a beat. She was sure it would be her child Jayed, standing at the door waiting to embrace his mother.
Saida rushed to open the door. She found no one. Her foot struck to something. She fell on the floor. She lost her conscious.  Azad went to the door to find what was taking his wife so long. He turned pale at the sight. In front of him was his unconscious wife holding his son’s head. The murderers inscribed traitor on the forehead. The family had no idea who the killer was and why their boy had to go through such a painful death.


Jayed was the only member of the Ahmed family who completed his graduation with distinction. He was the brightest student of his batch 1968. He spoke English so fluently that could give any British man a run for his money.
Jayed was suffering from ulcer in stomach. Doctors in Bangladesh advised him to go through an immediate operation else his life could be at stake. But medical facility at Bangladesh during the Liberation war was poor. That was when Jayed decided to go to India to seek medical help. Undergoing an operation was quite expensive in India because of the existing British rule.
 A British man decided to offer Jayed financial help. The man agreed to pay for his medical necessities and also his travel expenses. In return Jayed had to work for him.
Later that month he underwent the operation, and was completely out of danger. But as per the contract he had to work under the East India Company for a year.


It was the month of December, the year was 1971, that was when India had entered into the Liberation war. Jayed was all set to get back home. He had even telegrammed the news to his parents. He took the launch as he had to cross the Padma River to get to Bangladesh.


He had reached the Bangladesh border when a few men dressed in Khaki started enquiring him about his whereabouts. Jayed uncertain of their intentions and mistaking them for cops, he told them everything. He was surprised to see them turning red with anger and clenching their fists. He started fumbling seeing their changed expression. Suddenly one of those men held him from the back and another took out a sharp knife and beheaded him with one sweep. The body was thrown in the Padma River and all they returned to the family was the head of Jayed at the doorstep of his home.


The story of the boy’s death never reached his family. They never found rest of his body. Neither did they come to know of the murderers nor the reason of his death. All answers got swayed away in the river that carried the boy and finally immersing in the womb of his motherland.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Survival of the bravest

“Let’s go Sheetal; Neelam must be waiting for us at the Chowk”, Nisha shouted.
Sheetal was a small town girl from Uttar Pradesh whose dream was to study hard and earn a proper living so that she could open her own boutique. She came to Lucknow a year back and started working at a sari store so that she could pay her college fees. She made two friends Neelam and Nisha who were her co-workers at the store. Nisha and Sheetal went to the same college which was near a Cloth-Dyeing market and innumerable clothing stores.
Sheetal, while hurrying accidentally bumped into a girl before her. She politely apologized and carried on when she suddenly felt a tug on her dupatta. On looking back she found it was none other than the girl she ran into a moment later. It was Pinky the twelve old daughter of the owner of the Pinky Clothing Store, known for her arrogance and ill-mannered nature towards any human.
Sheetal went back again and asked her to let go of her dupatta. But that girl had some other plans. She took Sheetal by her elbow, dropped her in middle of the busy market place and screamed, “How dare you push me? And that too in front of my own shop? Who gave you such audacity?”
Sheetal stunned by her action politely replied, “Look dear, I have already apologized for it, I said it was a mistake. I didn’t do it intentionally.”
Pinky unable to control her anger slapped her hard in front of the entire crowd watching the two. Sheetal could not bear this uncalled humiliation and slapped her back saying, “this was for this unnecessary arrogance.” She slapped her again, “this was to teach you how to behave with people elder to you.” She picked up her bag and left the place with Nisha.

That night Pinky went to the two most famous bullies of that market, Basir and Chirag. They both held the biggest cloth shops in that market and had the highest sales too, overpowering the entire market. She wanted revenge for the insult Sheetal did. The two gave a cruel smile assuring her that her work would be done the next day when Sheetal returns home. Pinky went back home happy and contented.
Sheetal unaware of what was in store for her followed her usual routine,  attended her college and on her way back overheard Pinky telling her friends, “Today the girl will be taught the ultimate lesson of her life. Finally the revenge would be taken.”
“And how will you do that? I saw her leaving,” her friend asked.
Sheetal walked very slowly so that their voices could be heard. Pinky grinned and said, “Don’t you worry! Basir and Chirag is waiting for that at the end of the street.” Her laugh was a wild and scary one.
Sheetal’s heart started beating loudly. She started shaking. Her fear was not very far from her. She found an empty garage and quickly hid there, thinking of something to overcome this trouble. Should she apologize to Pinky? Should she wait here for some more time? All the questions kept on ringing in her mind but she blankly stared at the garage walls.
Finally, after gathering a little courage she washed her face which was still pale and headed of towards the street where her fate was waiting to be changed.
The moment Basir saw her coming, he whistled to Chirag and they started approaching towards her. She closed her eyes to gather all the strength she could to face them. Basir got hold of her satchel and threw it away. Chirag dragged her to their shop warehouse. She screamed for mercy but saw no one come to her rescue for they all feared the bullies. When Basir was about to pounce on her, she asked them to hear her out just once. The lecherous devils wanted to hear nothing from her, but she continuously pleaded and they agreed. They tied her up and asked her to keep her conversation brief.
“Basir ji, do you know why Pinky asked you to attack me and not any other person in the locality?”
“That’s because all the people here fear us,” Chirag promptly replied.
“I don’t think so. She wants the business competition to end here.” Sheetal started weaving a new conspiracy here.
“What non sense! You humiliated her, so she came to us.” Basir replied furiously.
She could have taken revenge herself, don’t you think?”
Sheetal’s words struck them hard, leaving them to wonder, while she rejoiced silently that her plan was working.
She smirked and continued, “Pinky knew that you both had the highest sales. The reason why they never got too many customers and always experienced losses in business.” They nodded and she went on saying, “Now if you harm me, the cops will come after you, which may result in closing down of your shop and a fresh new beginning to their business. Such clever people!”
Chirag couldn’t control his rage and threw the barrel next to him. Sheetal got scared and stopped. He screamed, “Today I’m going to teach that girl a lesson. I’m not going to leave her.”
“Cool down ji. It’s no use. Don’t act so fast,” she replied.
Chirag calmed down. They untied her and let her go. They thanked her for saving their business. Sheetal came out of the warehouse, picked up her satchel, looked at the crowd that was still waiting with pity and left.
The next morning, when Sheetal was walking on her way to college, Chirag and Basir smirked at her. Unable to understand she confusingly started walking again. On approaching a little near to college, a loud shriek came from the Pinky Clothing Store. Everyone saw that their shop was burned down. That’s when Sheetal realized the reason of the smirk and the conversation of the warehouse that was finally in ashes now.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Last Letter

Dear Jones,
We have been together for so long. Life seemed so beautiful when we first met. You were the only friend I had, as I was new in the locality. Your mum and you helped us in shifting and arranging all the stuffs. You made my life comfortable. I felt safe when you were around. You always took me with you when you went hiking with your friends.  
You remember that summer dear, when you took me to the lake, and screamed I love you. Trust me baby, I was absolutely stunned and that’s why I was staring at you blankly. But we had to run away from there because the fisherman heard you screaming. And on our first date you were released late from the class so you bought me a bunch of dandelions you plucked from the riverside. I showed I was annoyed, so that you would pamper me but I found it really cute. I still have them in the notebook; I never let you read, even now two days before our marriage.
The days I have spent with you have been awesome. All were special, I remember each of them. The surprises you gave me on my birthday, the burnt cake you made, the star chain and all the tiny gifts you gave me, they all are in the jewellery box you gave me last year after you came back from California.
I can go on writing on us, the time we spent together. But I know you are busy person now a day. You have to work for our future. Maybe, that’s the reason why I don’t get to see you like I used to. Maybe that’s why there is no us now.
This birthday I kept on waiting for your call, but you never got the time. When you did, it wasn't a birthday wish. I was sick, but you had no clue. I fear to share now, to talk, and to express. I’m losing my self now. I needed you, to hold me, and tell me you are mine. I didn't need your money. I didn't need expensive gifts. All I needed was a little love, a little care.
When I said everything was fine with a heavy heart and you inquired for two times and left, I wanted you to ask me over and over again, until I could no longer show that I’m strong and that nothing was fine. When you went far from me, I wanted you to look back and ask, “Baby, do you want me to go?”
I wanted you to be with me when I was sick, for I needed you the most. Whenever I was angry or disappointed, I wanted you to bring back my faith that I had. I know I don't speak much when I'm low, neither do I interact much, but the pain was always visible in my eyes. The urge for making sure you would understand it was always present in my silence. But time had killed that understanding, that patience of yours. You loved me deeply I'm sure but maybe I needed a little more. Whenever I said bye, I wanted you to check back on me, but they seemed like a goodbye meant for ever. Whenever I said I love you, it was to remind you that you were the world for me and how special everything was when you were around.
When you find this letter, I want you to know, I loved you very much. But this new life was suffocating me and so I had to quit, before it was too late.
With love,
Forever yours,
P.S. The notebook and the jewellery box are on my table. They are yours now. And put dandelions on my grave. They are my favorites.


Later that afternoon John found her body on the swing he made for Juliet the day she said yes to him. She was all dressed as a bride. She was wearing the beautiful white dress he bought for her to wear on the wedding day that was due two days. The dress was all soaked with blood that was dripping from her wrist. And in that hand she held the letter, the last letter to love.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dirty Politics

Every time when a discussion used to take the political track, I turned a deaf ear and retreated myself.
But today an unpleasant sight provoked me to muse over it for long and I realized the nasty silhouette side of the city I live in.
              What exactly is Dirty Politics?
It is nothing but Dirt and Politics, which has an added tinge called Foolishness as the catalyst.
The equation starts with a little boy, aged around seven standing in front of a tea shop watching customers order tea or just wait for a smoke. Beside him is his younger sister. The boy silently instigated his little sister to steal the candy in the next shop. The girl kept a close watch on the shop owner, waiting patiently to turn her back on her.  The moment she did so the girl stealthily hid the candy in the pocket of her ragged skirt.
                On the flip side the schools of the city are busy teaching young kids ethics and etiquettes to lead a better and respectful life. Yet the poverty line is busy decaying the roots of many such young minds. This is the DIRT.

                 Every single day newspapers are flooded with the news of the noble deed of the leaders. They are busy helping the minor community to establish themselves, earn recognition in this vicious and cruel environment. Whereas, some are mocking these actions of the leaders. The only reason is that when one is flourishing, the major part of the city is whining and sulking in pain and misery. Voices when raised are suppressed. The question still remains unanswered-Why is the plea of the commoners ignored? That’s the ugly POLITICS.

                 Spending the entire economy on a little portion of the society and hoping for massive win in the election due to that is nothing but sheer FOOLISHNESS.

                 It’s not that we do not wish better future for the minor communities; it’s that we do not wish for the same that is growing up on the corpses of declining future of that half of the society that could survive well with even a menial job, adequate food and education.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Silver Lining

There were books scattered everywhere on the road and staring at them with frown was me with my hands on my hips.
I screamed at the man who was apologetically looking at the books, "What have you done?"
My shout was loud enough to alarm the busy street and gather around us.
The green eyed, dark haired, tall fair guy started picking up the books and said in a straight tone, "Look lady, I admit that I created this mess but I wouldn't be wrong if I said, we both are equally responsible for it."
I was shocked by the audacity the guy who blamed me for the act.
Meanwhile, two men came rushing at the spot and helped him to carry the books.
I was amazed, that people were helping the man who created all the mess. What a terrible city!
He turned to the two well dressed men, handed them the books and said, "take the lady where she wants to and get the work done I gave you on your way back."
I promptly said, "I don't need favors. I can get back on my own."
He took out a card, handed it to me and said, "I don't do favors, just repenting for the mess. Good day!" and finally left.
I turned back, took the books from the men, got into a cab and left.
Later in the evening, with a cup of coffee while I was surfing the books I came across a business magazine. To my surprise it had on its cover the man who messed my day. I couldn't believe my eyes. I rechecked over and over again. Finally to confirm I took out the card he gave. Indeed it was him. He was the youngest and most successful corporate raider of Goa who grew up to this level with the speed of the light.
I took out my phone, wrote a tiny text,
Hello, Mr. Lawrence. Your magazine got piled up with my books. How to I return it?
(The girl you ran into)

After an hour he replied,
Ah! I remember. Cafe Delight at 5pm tomorrow. Take care!

The next day I put on my funky Goa Look with my big glasses and reached at Cafe Delight by 4:50. I took the place from where the view of the beach was magnificent. I was slowly going through the menu, and I heard a rustle. I looked up and saw all the staff hurried to help him. He was in a black Armani suit. I had to admit that he looked stunning. I checked my watch. It was 5pm sharp and he was before me. I stared at him blankly. To break the silently he ordered the waiter two cold coffees and said to me, "Hey! Stop staring. I had a meeting before. Rushed from there."
"Nah! You look good."
"Did I just hear someone complimenting me?"
"Duh-uh! Whatever!"
"So what do you apart from running around with books?"
"Nothing, yet. Have come in search of work. What about you Mr. Richard Lawrence? Anything except coming on magazine covers"
"I buy companies and…"
"Sell them, like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. What a coincidence! Your name’s Richard too.” I completed his sentence before him.
"Brilliant observation. But I also bump into beautiful girls", and winked at me.
I quickly shook my head to hide the blushes but it didn't skip his eyes. He removed the hair from my face, and said, "I thought you looked pretty when you scream, but you look even prettier now."
"Well… Uhm... Thank you!"
"So tell me. Why Goa?"
"My mum passed away last month. She was my only family. My dad left us before I was born. Probably he wasn’t happy with my mum’s decision of having me" A lump got caught in my throat. He held my hand tightly and I continued, "So, her school mate Mrs. D'Mello told me to come here and find some work here. After all Goa is a crowded city and it would help me, to get over my pain, loneliness."
"What kind of work? The books that you were carrying yesterday were for interior designing. Right!"
"Yep. I studied about it when I was in Delhi. All I need now is some work. Because the rent is high and I'm losing all funds."
"Come at my office on Monday at 10am. I think I have something for you."
"Really? That would be so helpful."
With the setting sun and the roar of the sea, the conversation about our lives continued for long, which I thought should be called a day.
"I think we should leave now",
"And why may I know?"
"Because it's getting late, and the cafe will close."
"This is my cafe."
"So what? The staffs need to get back home. And so do I."
"As you say madam."
He paid the bill, took the magazine and we walked to his car. He offered to drop me home. And after innumerable noes, and wooing I finally accepted.
I don't know why but I started to fall in love with the city or was it just him.
I waited eagerly for Monday. As there before me was my dream job, offered to me by dream friend at a luxurious office.
I reached his office at 9:45am, where a beautiful lady asked me to wait at the lobby till Mr. Lawrence calls for me. Sooner the call came and I entered his extravagant cabin. I stood in awe for sometime. Finally Richard offered me a seat.
"What do I have to do Mr. Lawrence?"
"You see that empty room there?" He pointed at an empty cabin to the left of his own.
"Yes. I do."
"Give it a new look. Classy and rich. You have one week to get it done. You'll get everything that you need. If I find you worthy enough, you'll be hired. Don't worry you'll be paid for redesigning that room."
"Thank you. Meet you after a week then. My requirements would be emailed to you by tomorrow. Before that can I have look at the cabin?"
"Sure. It's your assignment now. Do what you want. All I want is a finished work. Good luck! Off you go."
For that whole week I worked hard like a mad woman. Whenever I used to work late in the office, Richard always brought our dinner there. He wanted to make sure that I eat properly and don't overstress myself.
"Let's go sweetie. It's getting late now."
"But I'm not done. Only a little work is left."
"Finish it tomorrow."
"Tomorrow is Sunday."
"I'll bring you here. Happy! Now pack up and let's go. The car is waiting for us."
I quickly packed up my stuffs. I checked my watch. It was 2am already. We got up in the car and headed to my home.
Next day morning, the bell rang and when I opened the door I saw him standing, dressed in a beach shirt and shorts, with a patch over his right eye and a toy fang in hand.
On opening the door he shouted, "He's the one who gave me this."
"You mean Rudy left Ice Age to come after you?"
"Hey! You know it," he exclaimed while removing the patch.
"Yeah! I do. Watched it over zillion times."
"Good. We have something in common."
"Nice. Should we discuss it later? I need to finish my work."
"As you say Madame," he bowed, held my hand and we left my place.
I finished off my remaining work with his help by 7 in the evening and went to my favourite beach restaurant to dine. It was a day well spent. I was happy relaxing because I was going to have a tough and busy day from the next day.
The next day was indeed an eventful day for me. I was congratulated for my hard work and finesse. Mr. Richard Lawrence handed me my cheque and also signed a deal of re-designing the entire office interiors. I even got to know that the cabin he made me design was for me. A new office, new goals, new friends, everything felt so pleasant like a beautiful dream, that I hoped never to wake up. Richard came up to me and said quietly, "it isn’t a dream baby girl, you earned it."
"I can pay my rent now. I can shop now. I can live my life," I blurted out.
"Yes you can! You can do everything you wish for."
"Dinner's at 7pm. I'm paying today."
He smirked and said, "Careful what you wish for dear. And I do deserve a treat. I helped too."
"Well I am not afraid. Hmph!"
He mocked me by sticking out his tongue. And I jeered back.
That night I felt the best. Mostly because I was celebrating it with my angel who was equally insane like me when it came to watching animated movies, full of life, was still a child on the inside, laughter and a deep sense of responsibility.
And what happened at the dinner that day, rather what I felt was something I had feared all my life. I was starting to fall in love. My mind kept on reminding me that the man I was falling for was my boss, more than that he was my only silver lining of the cloudy sky. I was scared to even let him understand that, because his friendship was more important for me than my eagerness to be his love. I paid the bill. My chirpiness was drowned by my fear of losing him. I remained silent for the rest of journey back home. I got down and headed home without wish him Good Night, he called me back and asked, "Are you okay? Because you seem a little lost about something. Was the bill too high on your pockets?"
"No! Nothing like that. Just a little tired. Quite a big day it was."
He stepped out of the car, gave me a warm little hug and said, "Good night dear. Sleep tight. And don't be late tomorrow; I have an important project to discuss with you."
"Alright. I'll be there. And I won't be late. Sweet dreams."
I waved him back and went running towards my apartment. My eyes were so full of tears that I was unable to unlock the door. After trying for a multiple number of times I finally managed to open it. On entering and shutting the door right behind my back, I fell on the floor. Tears rolled down my cheek continuously. I didn't sleep the whole night. I emptied a whole bottle of vodka. And everything I had done and what happened after was a complete blur.
The next morning I woke up late. The clock on the wall read 9. I was even more scared when I looked into the mirror. I looked like a zombie. My tea table was broken. A vodka bottle was shattered on the ground and its pieces were scattered all over the place. I was bleeding badly. My hands and legs were bruised. My left arm near the wrist was cut.
Adding to my misery I saw from the window Richard's car stopping in front of my apartment. I had no idea how to clean up the mess before me. The door bell kept on ringing and I started shivering. I had no courage to stand up to him and also had no alternate option but open the door. He stood there shocked at my condition. He took me straight to the couch that was clear of the mess he was standing in. He quickly got hold of a first aid box, cleaned my wounds and covered them. He got up to call some people to clean the room, when I could do it myself and just needed a day off from office.
Richard came up to me, raised me up, held my shoulders tightly and said in a harsh tone, "Listen, you have done enough. Now get back to your room immediately."
I simply nodded and left. Even his scold had the touch of care and concern. I curled up in my bed and pretended to be asleep. For the first time I saw him annoyed and concerned at the same time.
A little later a sweeping staff came and cleared out every nook of my tarnished room. Richard came in to check on me. He sat on my bed. He stroked my hair. I sobbed quietly. He pulled me near him, and comforted me. He got up and told me, "Are you okay?”
I nodded a yes and hid my face in his shirt.
“Then get dressed, darling. I have something to show you."
"What is that?" I asked rubbing my eyes.
"It's a surprise."
We left home to see the surprise he had planned for me. We stopped in front of a white bungalow. It was beautiful. Every pillar, wall had intricate work done on them. The garden had the prettiest of flowers blooming. On the gate it read, 'Lawrence House'
"Is this your house?" I asked him in astonishment.
"No ‘our’ home", he smiled and said it emphasizing on the word our making air quotes.
I was startled. I stared at him. He took out a ring and said, "Miss. Khushi Mehta, will you marry me?"
I had tears in my eyes, choked my voice but managed to say a yes. He took my hands, kissed my forehead and we went inside the bungalow. There was a white dress on the couch. He pointed at it and said, "It’s my mum's wedding gown and I want my bride to wear it. This is the important project I was talking about. I called you so many times in the morning but you never answered any of them. So, I had to come there. And I am glad I did. What a silly and messy girl you are!"
I checked my phone. It had 12 missed calls and 15 unread texts. I mouthed a sorry and he kissed my lips tenderly. It was like a fairy tale come true.
“So when is the wedding?” I asked casually, while checking the beautiful white gown.
“A week from now.”

And I caught his eyes glistening with pride.