Translated By Priya Arun
I walked over to my bike and started it, this time using the electric starter though. I parked the bike, headed straight to the elevator and reached the seventh floor. I told the lady at the reception desk, “I’d like to meet Shraddha Reddy please.”
The receptionist looked at me and punched a few numbers on the intercom. I was restless and impatient. I flipped out my phone and called Meera.
“Hey, wassup?” she asked, sounding a little irritated.
“Can you please step out with Shraddha for a while?”
“Hey! Now what? Listen. Don’t mess up things further, okay?”
“Don’t worry. There won’t be any trouble. I just need to tell her something and I will leave once I’m done. I swear.”
As we were talking, the lady at the reception informed me that Shraddha’s extension was busy and asked me to wait. I nodded at her and continued talking to Meera.
“Just give me a minute,” said Meera and hung up.
I took a deep breath and waited. There was still a slight stinging sensation on the finger that I’d just then burnt. My eyes were glued to the door. I mentally rehearsed what I would say. I told myself, “Just like that! No hesitation. Just look into her eyes and say it. Just like that!” My thoughts were cut short by the duo.
Shraddha’s face looked deadpan. Meera suggested that we go to the cafeteria. I followed them. Stuck to one corner each in the elevator, only glances were exchanged but not a word was spoken till we got to the basement. As soon as we reached the cafeteria Shraddha walked up straight to the machine and got us a coffee each. She placed it on the table and plonked herself on a chair next to me. Awkward silence ensued.
Just when I decided to break the ice, she broke in, “I’m sorry. I guess it’s my mistake. I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way, especially in our first meeting. No one’s ever raised their voice at me before. I’ve always had my way in everything. I was quite shaken when you yelled at me. I later realised that throwing the sandwich at you was worse than what you did. Hey…I’m sorry. I’m not just saying it because you are here. I would have apologized anyway. I would’ve gone crazy if I didn’t…Phew! I feel a lot better now.”
I kept looking at Shraddha’s face the entire time she was talking. Such a sweet thing she was! I kicked myself for having behaved so badly with her.
“Seriously, I came here to apologize too. There’s no point in pondering over the same thing. Why don’t we talk of something else?” I paused for a few seconds and continued. “Umm…Well, I want to say something. But you must promise me that you will not get annoyed.” Shraddha and Meera glanced at each other. Meera looked away, rolling her eyes, half-expecting fresh trouble.
“You know what, I think you are really pretty... and the way your earrings dance when you speak, I find that super cute,” I said. Shraddha looked surprised. She quickly looked away, almost blushing. “C’mon!” she said.
Meera looked relieved.
Shraddha got up to leave. “Thank God! It’s sorted out. I was in fact upset about the way things turned out. Anyway, I’m glad now. Listen, we really must get going.”
I extended my hand to Shraddha. “Friends?” I asked. She looked at me sharply and shook my hand. Her long hand-shake sent across a wonderful feeling of warmth to me. She said a quick ‘Bye’ and left. I just didn’t have the heart to let go of her hand. I’ve had my share of girl friends too. I’ve even had some cozy moments too. But then, this was a feeling that I never had before. I could hear the loud thumping of my heart. Just as Meera started following Shraddha, I tugged at her hand. “Meera...I think I’m in love with her,” I said, looking at Shraddha who was walking away. Meera kept looking at me.