PS: This is an episodic romantic story. Every week, a new episode will be published.
To read first part, click here.
To read second part, click here.
To read third part, click here.
To read fourth part, click here.
To read fifth part, click here.
To read sixth part, click here.
Simmi felt like puking. She was so tense that she could listen to her own heart galloping like a horse in a derby. To top it off, she hated waiting. It was already 5.15 pm and Arpit had yet to put an appearance. She didn’t want to wait further. She wanted to walk away but she was scared. What if he again visited her home? What if mom started asking questions about him that she had no answers for?
On one hand she was disgusted with herself for putting up with Arpit’s high-handed ways but on the other, she was curious. She wanted to know why she felt alive whenever Arpit was around. She wanted to know why Arpit could rouse her spirit the way nobody else could. She wanted to know why she felt compelled to know Arpit’s inner-most thoughts. She wanted to know so much about Arpit but she wasn’t sure if she should. And what about Arpit? Why was he harassing her? Why wouldn’t he leave her alone? Well, today she planned to put an end to this situation. No matter what, Arpit won’t be able to manipulate her anymore. She was determined to see to it.
Just when she was the verge of giving up and start for her home, Arpit sauntered over to her. Simmi thought he looked quite attractive in blue denims and red-and-white checkered shirt. She didn’t know why he didn’t have a girlfriend. Alas, most of the boys and girls — especially the attractive ones — had girlfriends or boyfriends. But then nobody was as grumpy as Arpit. Which poor girl would like to saddle herself with a bear like Arpit even when he’s as dashing as a Bollywood hero?
“You are late.”
Arpit didn’t even bother to check his watch for time. He merely grinned and sat down beside her on the bench. He put his right arm behind her on the bench and started looking around.
“Oh God. What did you call me here for?”
Without giving any further explanation, Arpit got up and took a packet from his pocket and handed it to her.
Giving an exasperated sigh, Simmi ripped open the pocket. Seeing the contents, Simmi was puzzled.
“You don’t know what’s this? You haven’t eaten Chana-chor Garam before?”
“Of course I have. But you called me here for this?”
“Why? What’s wrong with Chana-chor Garam?”
“Are you really stupid or are you needling me?”
“Don’t you think you are creating a mountain out of mole hill? Just enjoy it. I brought it for you. Don’t make me regret it.”
Listening to Arpit, Simmi softened a bit. He was right. The least she could do was to enjoy the Chanachor Garam graciously. Anyway, she loved it and so it wasn’t that difficult. “Don’t you want it?” Simmi asked when she saw that Arpit was not helping himself to it.
“Nah, I don’t like it. You enjoy.”
“If you don’t like it when did you get it?”
“I told you. I got it for you. Now shut up and eat it.”
Minute by minute, Simmi was getting more and more confused. Why would Arpit bring things for her? She never got anything for him and why should she when they were nothing more than acquaintances. Was she crazy or was Arpit the crazy one? Something wasn’t right here.
“Okay. Now tell me why did you call me here?”
“I called you because I missed you. I want to spend some time with you.”
“But why? Why do you want to spend time with me? We don’t study in the same class. I don’t even know anything about you except that you are one grumpy person who’s always ready to pick up fights.”
“Man, do you have to talk so much? Why can’t you just shut up and enjoy the peace of the evening? Everything is so green and peaceful in this garden. I love this time of the evening. Neither too hot nor too cold. Just perfect to hang out.”
Simmi didn’t know what to make of Arpit. She never thought Arpit was a nature lover. Anyway, she had to go home as it was after 5.45 pm. Getting up, Simmi grabbed her carryall. “Okay. You enjoy the garden, I have to go.”
Before she could move away, Arpit snatched her hand and pulled her back on the bench. “Chill yaar. You don’t have to leave right now.”
“Who told you I don’t have to leave right now? My parents must be waiting for me. I am always at home latest by 6 pm and it’s quarter to six already.”
“Tell them you had a late class and so you got late. If fact, tell them that the college has set another lecture at 5 pm and that you need to attend it.”
“You mean I should lie to my parents?” Simmi was so revolted by the idea that she jumped to her feet and started yelling. “You are absolutely crazy. You are telling me to lie to my parents. Don’t you have parents at home? Do you lie to them like that all the time?”
“No. I don’t have parents.”
Although spoken softly, it was enough to render Simmi speechless. Suddenly drained of all energy, she plopped down on the bench. She didn’t know what to say.
“Although technically I have a father who’s a manager in a big nationalized bank, I am orphan where it counts. My mother passed away when I was 5. Any more questions you need to ask?”
Simmi was so ashamed of herself that she wanted to apologize profusely but didn’t know where to start from.
“Now you don’t need to feel guilty on my account. Anyway, I am leaving too. I need to be somewhere else.”
Saying this, Arpit left Simmi in few long strides. Although Simmi was getting late, she wasn’t ready to move yet. She was in too much shock to drive right then. Who knew such an arrogant man had so much angst in his life? Looking at Arpit, Simmi was sure nobody knew why he was so rude and arrogant. Even Simmi was not sure if she knew how Arpit thought but in last few days, she had enough of inkling to guess what lay under Arpit’s belligerent exterior. It definitely answered some of the questions she had about Arpit.
* * *
“Simmi beta, yesterday you didn’t tell us who Arpit is?” Kamini asked Simmi curiously.
“Mom, told you. He’s a senior in my college and he’s helping me bit with my studies.” Simmi felt so horrible lying about it but she didn’t know what else to say. She was sure that if she told her parents what Kajal had told her about Arpit, they would be horrified and would pressure her to change the college. Simmi didn’t want to do that. She wanted to make her own decisions.
“Hmmm. Nice boy. Helpful too, you say. Such boys are so rare in this age where everybody is involved in a rat race. Isn’t it Somnath?
Simmi’s father was too involved in his dinner to pay any heed to his wife’s question. So he just “hmmm”ed. Although his wife didn’t realize it at first, but his children did. Both Simmi and Shalini started giggling.
Looking at her daughters’ laughter, Kamini realized her husband’s engrossment with dinner. She too started laughing.
Too much of female laughter started intruding on Somnath’s food-induced tranquil. He looked up from his plate to see all his ladies laughing at him. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand what he did was so funny to send his wife and daughters into the gales of laughter.
Trying to hide her grin, Kamini asked her husband again, “So what do you think of Arpit?”
Now who on the earth is Arpit? Wondered Somnath. He hated to admit it openly but he had no idea who Arpit was and what were they talking about. Alas, who has time for these miniscule matters when there is such appetizing subji on one’s platter. Choosing to ignore his wife’s question, Somnath continued to devour his food.
When everyone realized that Somnath was least bothered with anything else but food, they too got back to their dinner. And Simmi felt a huge sigh of relief. She hated this entire situation in which Arpit had placed her. She just prayed that nobody asked her any question about Arpit anymore.
And she had strong hunch that she was going to face tons of questions about Arpit and then land in a pool of trouble.