For all those who haven’t read my first post- The date. Please do so. This sequel will connect better then.
The setting was near perfect. The red sun was kissing down slowly on the sands. The water seemed to glow softly even as the sky changed its colour to a dark orange. The wind blew slowly and brought with it the aroma of the sea. As Ved stretched himself in this setting, there was but just one difference. Years ago he used to be sitting on the sands amongst the common folk, now he was in his private space. A sea facing, very own private front which was exclusive to him.
Beaches always used to fascinate him since childhood. The sands seemed alive, bustling with soo much energy and activity of the people who moved in it , yet the water and the winds had their own soothing effect . A complete mismatch of energies, yet so perfect. It was probably the co-existence of madness and stillness at one place which drew him to beaches. He had always desired to own a place on the beachfront in Mumbai, which given the high property rates, was out of reach for 90% of its population. So his desire to be successful had one more driving force. A beach facing home in Mumbai. Today he was the proud owner of one!
As he stretched on the easy chair sipping a cocktail, he wished Zui could be there beside him. Zui, his date. The girl whom he had met a long time back exactly on these sands. A couple of cordial phone calls had been exchanged after their first date, but then there was just no news of her after that. A decade had gone by. Orkut had died and a new social menace-Facebook had occupied centrestage. Ved had searched her there too. But no sign, no trace of her. It was as if she had disappeared from the face of earth, almost overnight.
Ved post his MBA and was now a successful Investment Banker. He had made millions for his clients and life had rewarded him suitably too. His journey from a middle class family to the top earners in the city of Mumbai was inspiring stuff for many. Many business schools which he chased for admissions now chased him for guest lectures and fests. But all this fame had still left him unaffected. At heart he was still the same guy, who enjoyed life more in the lap of nature. In the company of people whom he liked.
As he closed his eyes to the soothing ambience , the winds that brought in the fresh air of the sea also brought back her fond memories. Her smile , infectious laughter ,the pic where he had seen her first, he remembered everything. It just seemed as if they had just met yesterday! Everything seemed still alive and fresh. Decade just didn’t matter. What the hell happened to her? Was she ok. Married/Settled? . All these questions had no answers.
Suddenly he heard a beep on his phone .it was a notification on his FB wall. Taking a sip from his cocktail, Ved lazily gave it a glance. His eyes widened with surprise. The notification read ‘Zui has sent you a friend request’. He clicked it and there she was online. A barrage of questions came from her in a flash on his messenger to which he only replied- Inbox me ur no! What followed was a Rotfl followed by her number. Ved dialed it and they connected. “Hiiii..Ved, wasp how are you…followed by her khi khi khi laughter…. where are you these days , I know have not been in touch yar, but am ok…what about you….more khi khi khi ….Phasi hui thi yar. Kya bataun tumko. Baki howz life. You still are the same man. don’t talk much!” Well if above is the flow of the conversation, any logical person would have got that there was no scope absolutely for even a nod, from the other end. She was unstoppable! Ved just replied in his usual demeanor, “Am fine Zui. But let’s catch up first . we will talk then aaramse. Just say where you are, I’ll pick you up”.” Hmm so you have been dying to meet me” followed her usual flirt line. To which he replied “ No, just dying to kill you!”. Khi khi….khi khi ..she just burst out laughing. 40 mins later, they were side by side in his terrace.
“Wow Ved what a place! I love it . you have really made it big yar. Am sooo happy for you”,she said hugging him tight. “You haven’t changed one bit Zui, all these years. Ved said. “ No yar see have gained around my stomach, she said tapping it” Ved had no reply after that!
The normal meeting formalities done, both of them were seated on his terrace. The sun had set completely and the wind was pleasant and cool. Sipping her cocktail she suddenly seemed at ease. The calm ambience brought up memories and maybe emotions that were unbottled over the years. A tear came her eyes . Ved pressed her hand and said. “ It has been 10 years zui. No news nothing from your end. I knew you were in a bit of a spot early when we met.But what happened yar. You didn’t even bother touching base all this while. I don’t doubt you neither do I blame you, but as a friend you should have trusted me on whatever you have been through”. She smiled a bit wiping the lone tear off.
“I lost my dad. He used to drink a lot. He never listened to anyone. It increased once he retired. Guess he was missing Mom with every passing day. Even though I used to spent time with him, guess you can’t replace a companion. It happened around 6 months after we had met. Was completely lonely. My only aunt advised me to shift to Newzealand . They were well settled there and she had no kids. I did not know what to do. After my dad she was the one closest to me and hence I decided to listen to her. Now I regret not asking your advice. Because things completely went for a toss once I left India”.
“The problem was my uncle . I hated him from the bottom of my heart. As a child I was a victim of his abuse. Not once but a couple of times. Had told my dad about it but he never took it seriously. His only sister’s husband molesting his child daughter. Guess it was a bit too much for him to believe or maybe I guess now, Face”!
“Then why the hell did you go there Zui, were you mad. After your father’s death you needed security. And this is the choice you make!” Ved said frantically . “Well Ved, am quite naïve when it comes to the matters of the heart. My father always used to call me ‘Dilfhek’ . I trust people easily , guess I never learn. Since this happened during my childhood, felt he must have changed. He was very cordial and sweet with me during dad’s funeral. But that was where I was wrong. In fact seeing me emotionally vulnerable after dad’s death made him all the more confident I guess. And to top it all I was at his place!” Tears welled up in her eyes. She was choking as she spoke. Ved held her hand as she stuttered, but didn’t stop her. He wanted this to be out of her system and fast!
“It…was dad’s first death anniversary . Had…had been in my room the…the entire day. I missed him like….like hell , today. My appetite was dead, just didn’t feel like eating Ved…I just didn’t feel ”. As I lay holding his pic on my bed, I heard a knock on the door.
“How are you doing beta. Please open the door. We haven’t seen you today. Am concerned about you. You ok na dear”. I let him in . Oh see what have you done to yourself. He took me in his arms and gave me a hug. I sensed it as a bit too tight for my comfort. Tried to shove out gently , but he had me in his grasp. “ Soo little you were . have been seeing you from then. Can’t see you so sad beta. By now his hands were moving around my back in an uncomfortable manner. Am there for you. Don’t be so sad na. let me make you feel better. Well whatever he was doing was certainly not making me feel better. “ Just remember am there for you. His hands were moving fast now. He reached beneath my night dress continuing his usual rhetoric ,” I will protect you. love you. Love you more than before. Suddenly i felt a wild push. In a moment he was on top of me on my bed. The worst memories of my childhood flashed before me. As I looked around shocked and too numb to react, saw my dad’s photo frame on my bedside. As if that brought a sudden spurge of courage in me, I picked it up in a flash and hit him hard.
The sharp wooden frame hit him just behind the ear and he jerked back . Using all the force I could I…I pushed him aside and got to my feet. He was too shocked I guess. A child can’t resist but a girl can! Maybe the sick guy had forgotten that. As blood gushed out behind his ear, he angrily charged at me. I just went numb… for a second. Here was a guy who was supposed to take care of me, after my dad’s death and this is what he was upto. Gathered my wits and with every single unit of energy in my body and with all the…the anger in my soul I kicked him where it would hurt him the most. Sharp at the groins! The kick worked and he fell trembling to the ground. Out of my room you basterd, I screamed!!!. As he went out limping in pain he tripped. Fell down the stairs in what I heard as a huge crash. I rushed out to see him lying motionless in a pool of blood. He had fallen all the way down. The next thing I knew was that I was flying back to India”.
“And since when, have you been here , Zui”. “Landed today evening…khi khi khi. And the first thing I did was to search you. Was at the airport when you called”. “What , 10 years you don’t day a word, don’t even bother to touch base and the first thing you do when u come back is look out for me. N why is that”. “Am sorry Ved, I understand your emotions completely but….just don’t know. Guess am just ridiculously naïve. Should have told you about my dad..everything …but just didn’t. But I wish I had, “she said . Her cute puppy like eyes transfixed on him. Ved just drew close and held her for what seemed like a beautiful pause in time till an abrupt sound came to break the moment.
“Lagta hai tere dil ki ghanti baj gaye aakhir” , Ved said with a chuckle. And all she could manage was her khi khi khi..her characteristic laughter still intact. “Must be the Pizza that I ordered . let me get it”. As ved walked away towards the door, Zui looked at a mirror close by. She hadn’t smiled in years, her heart had never felt so light. This guy was indeed special!
As Ved arranged the dining table and refilled the drinks, Zui gave a small sigh towards the heavens and closed her eyes thankful of the fact that Ved was still in her life. Even after she had not exactly been nice to him. And about her future with him, well she was going to say it, convinced that he is her Mr.Right but not today. Maybe on some other day she thought for sure , or should I say… Date!