So here I am, back to story writing. Hope people like this one
Abhishek was standing dejected near the small pool of water, staring aimlessly inside the blindingly brightly lit Prasad’s complex through the glass wall, when his eye caught sight of a familiar looking girl feverishly devouring a chocolate ice-cream at a stall. He gave a start, and a moment later, he was passing through the metal detector, walking towards the girl.
It had been six years for Abhishek in Hyderabad. Having studied at IIIT, and now working at Microsoft, the pursuit of excellence had carried him forward on the professional front by leaps and bounds. But it had also left him stranded way behind the pack on another. He was 24, single, and trying to kill a friday evening alone at Prasad’s when everyone else was out with interesting company. His heart had taken a leap upon seeing this half-attractive female who’d taken tuitions with him in class XII for some time probably as long as two weeks, and was now going through a chocolate sundae as if it were the last piece of meal left on earth. And she seemed to be alone!
‘Hi’, muttered Abhishek as he approached her from her side. Neha was squatting on a high chair at the ice-cream counter, with a monstrous slab of chocolate ice in front of her and a huge spoon grabbed in her fist. Every time she dug the spoon into the ice, a large chunk of rich-brown ice-cream appeared on it which within no time disappeared inside her mouth. Walking towards her from her side, it looked to Abhishek as if she were a vampire bat, devouring her prey with such murderous aggression. As he neared her, he saw her mouth smeared with chocolate sauce, her entire being focussed on tearing apart the huge hapless heap of ice-cream laid before her. The first greeting went unacknowledged.
‘Ahem, mmh, mmh ha’ Abhishek cleared his throat. No response. Aggression towards the ice cream greater than before.
‘I say, HELLO, Neha!’.
Now she looked up to him, and for a moment, it looked to him as if some invisible defence mechanism that girls had towards over friendly males snapped put into place. Sitting up straight from her bent-down position, she immediately reached for a napkin, and her eyes narrowed, scrutinising him. He hated it when girls put their guard up against him. What was there to fear about him, after all?
Neha gave him a suspicious look-over. A moment later, a smile broke from her chocolate smeared lips.
‘Hey, Abhishek. Yeah, quite a surprise!’, she said, wiping her face with a napkin. ‘Take a seat na.’
Something was wrong with her demeanor. Her lips were parted wide, but she wasn’t really smiling.
‘So, how’ve you been, huh? my God, it’s been six years.’
‘Yeah, it’s been a pretty long time’, Neha said, and looked away. Her eye was partly visible to him, and he could see that it was red and swollen. In fact, her whole face had a puffiness to it. To his horror, (and he was a really, really sweet guy), he realised that what he’d attributed to a natural weight gain, was due to the fact that the girl sitting in front of him had been crying, probably very bitterly till about half an hour ago.
‘Hey, Neha’, he said, as softly as he could manage to, ‘is everything okay?’
And Neha burst into tears.
Now, for a guy like Abhishek, the sight of a girl, any girl howling like that was too much to handle. And this was a girl he used to know. And because he was Abhishek, any girl he knew automatically became his ‘friend’. He rushed to her side immediately. Gallantly putting an arm around her, he offered her his handkerchief. He could notice people staring. Someone sniggered behind his back.
‘What’s the matter? Relax yaar.’ He tried to comfort her.
She pushed his arm away from her and blew her nose into his handkerchief.
‘I’m sorry Abhishek’. She blew once more. ‘Please leave me alone for now.’
‘Sure. If that’s what you want.’ He got up, and reached out to touch her shoulder supportively, but stopped. Visibly hurt, he turned to leave.
For a third eye, the stereotypical actions he had just done were a classic case of flirting-with-the damsel-in-distress. But Abhishek knew that whatever he had done was to make the girl comfortable. He’d never had ulterior motives. He wished that some girl could see and appreciate that.
‘Hey, Abhishek,’ Neha called out from behind his back, still sniffing into his handkerchief. ‘Listen‘. He turned back, and his heart warmed up. From behind the tears on Neha’s face, was emerging an appreciative and apologetic smile. (To be continued.)
PS: Karan’s tag post will be replied to in another story. Hope the tag is still valid after one month of release, though.