AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – XIV

…She looked at Pragya who was sleeping like a log. She smiled and closed her eyes shut.

She no more feared the dream that kept haunting her since God knows when. The dream of having a boring routine of being alone, dressing up in cotton sarees, carrying a jute jhola, cooking for just herself and having no family. She no more feared of having to grow old without having a companion or having to call the kids playing in society garden her own. She would love to buy them candies though, but no other part from her dream bothered her anymore. She was sure that she wants to fall in love all over again. She had let the guard on her heart lose and now her heart was reaching out to someone. Who was it?

Happygolucky checked Radha’s reply and he couldn’t stop smiling. He was used to girls falling for him. His personality and nature always did the trick. You know, some people are so good at showing light to a wandered soul and he was one of them. He had inherited this quality from his dad. He shut down his laptop and looked at the watch. It was 1:00 am. “Oh no… less than 5 hours of sleep! Chalo, doctor Sahab so jao, counsellor bane firte ho. Itna hi shauk tha to psychologist hi bante, Orthopedic kyun bane??Happygolucky cursed himself under his breath.

Next morning Radha was up much earlier than her usual time. The morning seemed beautiful. She could hear birds chirping, she could see beautiful hues of flowers adorning the Gulmohar tree outside her balcony. The pleasant fragrance of Mogra from her balcony lifted her spirit high. She was wondering why she had failed to notice all this before. Well, love does its own magic, doesn’t it? Radha took in a deeeeep breath and said it out loud, “come on life, bring it on! I am ready!

Just then the doorbell rang.

Who is it right now? Its too early for the milkman or the newspaper vendor too” muttered Radha and rushed to the door.

When she opened the door she literally shrieked. She called out Pragya as if she had seen a ghost.

Pragya… Pragya… come out… jalllddi…

Pragya came running at once. She was clearly worried. “Hey Rads, what happened? Are you alright?“…. and even Pragya couldn’t believe her eyes. However, couple of moments later, she gathered herself and said, Good morning guys! What a pleasant surprise. Please come inside“.

That’s when Radha realised her hyper reaction and apologised too, I am sorry uncle, I must have scared you. Hey, Dr Akash! Morning. Please come in.

Pragya and Radha were shocked but happy to see the old man and Dr. Akash happy together.

Beta Radha, I can’t thank you enough for having cleared the air between me and Akash. I forgive my son and I will be moving to USA with him soon. We want to make up for all the years we lost.” The old uncle looked at Akash with tears in his eyes and hugged him hard.

With moist eyes and still holding his dad close, Akash said, Pragya, thanks a ton for your advice. If I had returned to USA that day, this day would have never dawned. Thank you for helping me get my dad back.”

Oh I am so happy for you both. Please dont thank me. I just tried to do something good and I am glad it worked for you. You guys have a wonderful life ahead.” Pragya wished both of them.

Uncle, we will miss you so much!” said Radha but her heart also noted that she was going to miss Dr. Akash too!

Uncle, why don’t you take Radha along with you? Who will give you ice at 11 pm otherwise?” Joked Pragya and mischievously winked at Radha.

Radha froze in her tracks. How did Pragya know that she was getting attracted to Dr Akash when she didnt even know about her day out with him. Well, BFFs know a lot you know, sometimes they know even that which you don’t know about yourself.

Laughter and cheer filled the room. This moment called for a celebration. Radha made adrak wali chai and Pragya ran to fetch Inder bhaiya’s samosas. Acche din wakai me aagaye!

Lot of times we lose lot of years sticking to our fears or massaging our ego. But life is not always the same. After storm comes the rainbow. So be easy on yourself. Set your heart lose. Shed your ego. Go ahead and say I Love You to the person you really love. Say I am sorry whenever required. Life is beautiful and life is simple. Do not complicate it. Cheers!

A NEW BEGINNING! 

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – XIII

Radha reached home, letting herself soak completely the experience of the events that took place on that day. This was probably the first time in a long long time that she let her hair loose and cool her feet without inhibitions.

Her footsteps tapped the senses of Pragya and Samay who were very much lost in their own world, perhaps in themselves. Radha felt a bit awkward lest she disturbed the couple, but it was 11PM already and she didn’t expect Samay to be still there. Pragya formally introduced Samay and Radha. They exchanged pleasantries and in a couple of minutes Samay left.

So Madam how was your day? I know it’s a silly question because I know how your Sundays are, but still…” Radha was particularly mischievous, a little unlikely of her. And to her question she expected a likely Pragya trademark answer – loud and cheerful, volley of words, excited recitation of the events during the day. But this time Pragya surprised Radha with her reaction.

She embraced Radha tightly and Radha could feel dampness on her shoulder. She parted from Pragya and looked deeply into her eyes. And they had their “Pride And Prejudice” moment where Jane Bennet breaks the news of her engagement with Mr. Bingley to Elizabeth Bennet. Yes, Samay did pop the question and it was given a nod of affirmation by Pragya.

Oh Sweetie, what a news! Very happy for you“, exclaimed Radha and there were more hugs to follow. Amidst too much excitement and happiness Radha didn’t give an account of her day and even Pragya had so much to embrace and so the question didn’t cross her mind.

It was now 1 AM. Pragya slept, but Radha had so many thoughts crisscrossing her head. “How long you should know a person to be able to decide to spend lifetime with her or him?“, “How long is enough?“, “I really hope and wish wholeheartedly that Pragya isn’t another Radha“. Her bitter past always knocked the door of her conscience. But today it was a bit unusual. Radha couldn’t stay longer in those murky lanes of past and she shifted gears to the pleasant time she had just few hours before. Never before she had let any stranger take a walk in her lone time when she wrestled with herself.

That night passed and so did the day. Pragya was busy with her future-in-laws and of course with Samay. And Radha couldn’t blame her for that, after all she was going to take a big leap towards a new beginning, preparation was a must.

Meanwhile Radha was spending more time with Vansh for the upcoming launch of the project. Radha was concentrating on her responsibilities forgetting how Vansh behaved with her a couple of days ago but Vansh struggled to keep himself steady as he was feel guilty. When he found a little lone time with Radha, he approached her politely…

Radha, I am very sorry for behaving so rudely that day. I was very disturbed with that call I received from my Mom but I don’t want to give any excuses for what I did… I am really very sorry. Please forgive me.” He said as he held Radha’s hands.

Radha felt awkward as she is not so comfortable with this touching of hands or anything. She pulled her hands back and said, “It’s okay, Vansh. I haven’t known you much personally until recently that we are working together for the same project.” She paused and posed a question for him, “But what happened that day? Why were you so disturbed? If you feel okay, then you can share or else I won’t mind.”

Vansh, gathered himself and looked at Radha as he started to speak. “I had a very bad break-up three years ago and I could not move on from there. I do everything normal and talk normally with everyone but all I did was just pretending while carrying a heavy heart inside me. But that morning, my Mom scolded me a lot, telling me to be selfish and coward. I shouted back at her. My parents want me to move on and marry a girl whom they have chosen. Last two days were very tough. I was all alone during the weekend to myself and was lost in deep thoughts. Now, I decided I will give in to what my parents say and marry the girl they want me to marry. I would meet with her and share my heart before marriage and will surely build my home…I won’t go on like this anymore.” He took a deep breath and felt relieved sharing his heart with Radha.

He looked at Radha, who was absolutely quiet, lost in her own thoughts and thinking about her recent posts on her blog. Vansh smiled and said, “I am happy, I could share my heart with you, Radha.

I am very happy for you too, Vansh… Really very very happy for you and I wish a good life ahead… And yes, don’t forget to invite me and Pragya for your wedding.” Radha said as they both laughed for what she said jokingly.

That day while coming back to her home she was wondering about her own life. Why she has been so alone till now…? She is already 35 and a little after she might not get another good match… Vansh was younger than her… he decided about his life. Pragya decided about her life…It was only she who’s still so confused and undecided about her life. With all these thoughts going on in her mind, she reached home and quickly switched on her computer to check her blog. And there’s a comment from THE HAPPYGOLUCKY

“Why do we search for answers to all our queries?
Why can’t we let God handle all our worries?”

Dear Radha, sometimes we don’t get answers directly. We have to understand them by being watchful about how God works in our life. So go ahead and submit your worries to Him and listen to your heart… He will surely guide you.

Radha was startled by the response and was really overwhelmed. She looked around to make sure that Pragya is not there at home at that moment. She wanted to comment back and know this person for sure… So she wrote back…

Radha: “These were wise words. Thanks a lot. May I know, the person behind happygolucky? I want to interact more as I feel you answer to most of my queries.”

She pressed REPLY button and waited. She took her new phone and downloaded WP App quickly to login to her account so that she can have instant access to her blog. Before she logged in to her blog in the phone, she saw a notification on her computer. “Whoa, he is online then…” She clicked on his reply and read…

Happygolucky: “Lol… If I would have let everyone know about my identity like you you had then I would have given my real name instead of this Happygolucky. I have my reasons… But I am inclined to your posts because you speak from your heart and I can see you have lots of queries in your mind. I wanted to help you out with my feedback on your posts. That’s all…

Radha: “That’s so sweet of you thank you Happygolucky… I respect your decision and really motivated with your responses to my blog posts. Thanks again… I will be satisfied with whatever minimum way we are interacting on this platform.”

She switched off her computer and decided to use her phone if she gets any reply. She was hungry and needed something to fill her stomach. And as she was making little Maggie for her to eat, she remembered what Pragya advised, “don’t read too much meaning into the replies. Let the virtual world remain virtual.She didn’t forget about the blogger but she put him aside as a virtual character keeping his wise advises in her mind.

Pragya returned really late that evening and was very tired. She went off to sleep right away wishing Radha goodnight. Radha was in the front room watching TV when she heard her doorbell ringing. It was no one but the next door old man. Radha usually gives him the ice and saying a goodnight but she had different plans for today. She asked him inside to which the old man felt little surprised. He came inside and took his seat on the couch, trying to figure out what Radha has in her mind.

Is everything alright, Beta?” He asked looking bit concerned.

Yes uncle, everything is fine. Just wanted to ask you something very personal.” Radha said politely.

Go on, my dear…ask away…” He responded as he looked at her intently.

How is Akash, your son as a person? I mean before his marriage to that lady?” She posed a question which the old man was never expecting. But she has two reasons of asking this question. Firstly, she could feel her heart little warm when she thinks about that new person around her, especially after yesterday. Secondly, she wanted to reunite this father and son as they both needed each other at this point of their lives.

The old man adjusted himself on the couch before he spoke. “Akash was the best son ever anyone can have, my dear. We as parents were proud of him. He was excellent in every aspect of his life. And that was what hurt me the more when we expected more from him, he disappointed us.” He felt choked with emotions. Radha pressed her hands his and consoled him and replied…

He was the same Akash, Uncle… even today.” She smiled while the old man looked very surprised thinking how Radha says so when she was so angry when he told her about his condition earlier.

How do you know?” He asked curiously.

Radha smiled and said politely, “I got to spend most of the time with him yesterday, Uncle. I reprimanded for what he did with you. But he broke down and explained everything from the beginning till now…” And Radha explained everything to the old man. He was stunned and could not speak much after listening the whole matter about Akash.

Akash is very lonely and in the hotel. He was returning back… but it was we, who asked him to wait for sometime… Uncle, please forgive him… I am just like your daughter… can you not do it for me…?” Radha was overwhelmed as well, seeing the old man speechless and emotional. He got up and walked out of her apartment just nodding her without uttering a single word.

Radha was worried for him but was happy… Why she was happy she was not sure of it… she was just smiling and feeling very happy… She felt her heartbeats beating faster… She walked inside her bedroom and lay herself gently on it… She looked at Pragya who was sleeping like a log. She smiled and closed her eyes shut.

(It’s a joint venture from both Kalpana and Chiradeep)

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – XII

It was a Sunday at last. Radha slept in till late, and Pragya was up and about like a paradox. Radha smiled; she knew why. Sunday meant Pragya’s boyfriend Samay, will come to spend the day with her. He was an army officer and drove all the way from place to Pragya’s place religiously on Sundays.

Radha buried her face in her fluffy pillow and called out to Pragya, “He’s coming?”

Pragya, who was brushing her frizzy hair straight said, “Yesss!”, Radha could hear her happiness in her voice. The seductive smell of her alluring perfume permeated the bedroom’s air.

Radha chuckled and tossed in her bed; she lay facing Pragya, witnessing the glow in her face. What was it about this man that made her so ecstatic, that made her wait desperately for Sundays? All her new dresses, new shoes, new makeup was saved for Sundays. She meticulously planned for Sundays, painstakingly shortlisting the things she wanted to try with Samay. She emancipated a radiant luminosity of love for the next six days until Sunday. ‘Can the presence of a man make so much difference in one’s life?’ she questioned herself and got the answer from within, ‘No, it wasn’t the presence of a man, it was the presence of love.’

Pragya checked her wristwatch, and just then the doorbell rang, she rushed to answer it. Radha heard Samay’s voice boom in the corridor and then all she heard was Pragya talk nonstop like a chatterbox. A few minutes later, Pragya appeared in the bedroom, bouncing with excitement. She held Radha by her shoulder and made her sit.

“Rads Rads Rads, I have something to ask you,” Pragya said brimming with charged energy.

Radha pushed her hair out of her eyes and tied them in a ponytail. “What is it, mad mademoiselle?” she asked.

Pragya softly slapped Radha’s cheeks to shrug the sleep from her eyes and Radha screeched. “I need this apartment to myself till night; Samay just surprised me,” Pragya said flashing a gold pendant in her chain, “It is exactly one year since we met, I forgot, but he remembered. I wanna do something special for him too, I wanna prepare Samay an awesome romantic candlelit dinner,” Pragya announced.

“What?” Radha asked startled, “and where will I go?” she asked.

Pragya made a cute puppy face, “Please Babe, just for today. Dekh, you have only been shuttling between work and home for months now. You need to go out and have some fresh air” She cringed her nose and joined her hands like a good disciple.

Radha huffed and sighed. “Theek hai. FINE!!!” she said, getting up from bed, “but you will reimburse all my bills.” Radha made her way to the washroom, and Pragya jumped on her back, hugged her from behind and kissed her cheek, “Thank you, Babe, Thank you so much, you are a Lifesaver.”

A few minutes later she heard the main door shut close and she knew Pragya and Samay were gone. She filled the tub, adding bath salts to the water and lowered herself in the water, having a long leisurely bath. Later she made herself a heavy brunch and then decided to pamper herself to a massage and some facial. Her favourite spa was overcrowded, but she managed to get a spot with her beautician. The massage was relaxing and soothing, rubbing the stress and fatigue out of her tension points. But she ended up spending more than she intended in the salon, a trick her beautician often played on her by coaxing her into Detan Face Mask.

Three hours later she was back home and decided to go for shopping, a movie, dinner and have some ME time. She picked her handbag, her wallet, her phone, and set out to her favourite mall, The Ambience Mall.

She roamed in hallways lined with hundreds of different stores, teeming with teenagers in ripped jeans and overpriced tees. She had no list in mind and was window shopping when she came across a mobile store and decided to check for a new mobile for herself, the one she had was severely outdated. The man behind the counter was determined to make a sale as he showed her an array of newly launched mobiles when a man came and stood next to her, looking at the display of phones. She was standing face to face with none other than Dr Akash Verma. She took in a sharp breath and excused herself from the shop. The salesman gave Akash a hidden look of contempt as if it was his fault he lost Radha’a sale. Radha was halfway down the corridor when he heard someone call her name.

“Miss….excuse me Miss, Miss Radha, here please.” She stopped in her tracks and saw Akash calling after her. He ran to her, “I need to speak to you.” he rushed.

“But I don’t wanna speak to you, besides,” she looked at her watch, “I am getting late for somewhere.” She lied.

“Just a few minutes, just one coffee, Please, I am requesting.”, he said and Radha sensed a desperate earnestness in his voice. She nodded with a sombre look. They descended the escalators to CCD and ordered two Mochaccinos.

Radha leaned forward, folded her arms on the table and asked, “So what is it you wanna talk about, what can I do for you?”

Akash gave a furtive look to the crowd around; it was apparent he was feeling conscious of himself.

He began, “I just wanna tell you that though I know you think I am an unworthy son and a good for nothing human being, I was bound by the choices life gave me.”

“Oh? Like deserting, your old father or…maybe like coming back to check on him years later?” her tone acidic.

“I went to the US, yes, that was years ago. I got a job in the USA; it was a dream come true for me. There was no one to take care of my father here, so I put him in one of the best old age homes and used to send money regularly. I met Rachel there and fell in love with her, married her, became a US citizen, and we had three children. She didn’t want my father to join us in the USA, neither she wanted my children to visit India. I did everything to make her happy, but six months ago she divorced me and…” he choked before continuing, “and the custody of all my three children went to her, all I am left with are visitation rights.” he rubbed his eyes with his handkerchief, and a waitstaff brought their coffee.

“I felt the pain of a father, the pain of separation and instantly repented the wrong I did to my father. I flew to India to apologise to him, take him back with me. But now I know absolution doesn’t come easy. It will take time and patience to earn his trust and his love once again.” He finished. There was silence as they both finished their coffee. He paid the bill, and they got up to leave.

Radha picked up her handbag and said, “I am sorry, but I shouldn’t have been so judgemental, you have had your share of problems, you know what best you could do, I have no right to arbitrate. Hope you are successful in your mission.” With these words, she extended her hand and Akash shook it.

Radha was walking away when a sudden urge came over her, and she turned, “I have two passes for a movie, would you like to come?” The words were out of her mouth before she could contain them. Akash looked abashed, but he was smiling all the same.

“I would love that, besides I have nothing to do till I go to meet Dad again tomorrow morning,” he said and followed her to the theatre in the mall. Radha couldn’t believe her stupidity; she was never this reckless, always prudent, vigilant, then what made her so whimsical today she wondered. The next three hours went in a blink of an eye. The movie was value for money and Akash was a great company. Radha couldn’t help but feel relaxed and comfortable in his company. He insisted on getting popcorn and soft drinks in the interval, and she felt like this was their routine.

Radha felt Akash needed a break too; he needed a break from all the guilt and stress of his life. He was feasting on her company like a man starving for air, talking nonstop.
“I would have shown you pictures of my kids, but my phone got stolen.” He said.

Radha swallowed, ” Actually, I too need to buy a new phone, shall we?” She offered another impulsive decision.

He nodded, and they went back to the same store where they met, and both ended up buying Oneplus Seven. Akash opened his Google Drive and showed her his family pictures. He had beautiful children, and each picture screamed of his love for his kids. She told him about her life, her work, her childhood, about Pragya, sharing things with him didn’t feel unnatural, though the voice in her head kept repeating, ‘He’s a stranger.’ but for once she let her heart rule over her head.

They had dinner in a Mexican restaurant and chatted about their hobbies over tacos and burritos. She came to know that apart from being an Orthopedic, he was also a sketch artist and loved to sketch whenever he had free time on his hands. He showed her some of his sketches and Radha was amazed to see he had drawn Meena Kumari and Madhu Bala instead of Madonna. The night was coming to a close, but Radha didn’t want this day to come to an end. She was having a very good time after a very long time. They had the grand finale with Sundaes and boarded a cab to Akash’s hotel. He got down when and Radha saw his back recede in the hotel.

“Take me to Green Palms apartments please,” she told the cab driver as the cool night breeze caressed her face. The song on the radio made her smile with her eyes closed, lulling her to sleep.

“Chup tum raho chup hum rahe
Chup tum raho chup hum rahe
Khamoshi ko khamoshi se
Zindagi ko zindagi se baat karne do
Chup tum raho chup hum rahe
Chup tum raho chup hum rahe
Khamoshi ko khamoshi se
Zindagi ko zindagi se baat karne do
Chup tum raho chup hum rahe
Chup tum raho”

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – XI

Radha finished lunch and returned to her desk. But she found it hard to focus on her work. No matter how much she tried, glimpses of old-man and his son’s conversation and glimpses of Vansh’s behaviour paraded through her mind.  She somehow managed to juggle her thoughts and finish the work. Radha booked a cab to return home as she was having a bad headache and didn’t want to take the bus.  

As soon as Radha entered the house, she could hear noises from the kitchen. Radha smiled to herself, she knew Pragya was up to something. 

“Masterchef seems busy”, Radha called out loud, and it startled Pragya.

“Ohh Rads, you are back. How was your day?” Pragya asked cheerfully.

“Please don’t ask, I have a bad headache”
Radha shrugged.

Calls for an Adrak wali chai (ginger tea) doesn’t it?,” said Pragya.

“Yes, please”,
Radha replied with a sigh of relief.

“Well it’s almost ready, but first, you freshen up,”
said Pragya in a relaxing tone. Radha smiled and nodded. 

Meanwhile, Pragya switched on Tv and arranged four hot Samosas and two cups of steaming hot Adrak wali chai (ginger tea) on the table.

“Inder Bhaiya’s samosa?”
Radha giggled loudly, and her face lit up.

“Yeah I got them while returning
”, Pragya giggled back.

“Aww Prags, you are such a sweetheart”,
Radha cuddled her cheeks. Radha and Pragya loved Inder bhaiya’s samosa. The spicy mashed potato stuffing, the perfect coating and finally, deep-fried in ghee was an ideal evening snack. “Hmmm yummmmmm,… Radha said clumsily after taking a big bite.

“Yes, okay. Now you tell me what went wrong today?”
Pragya asked.

“These men I tell you”,
Radha replied in a disgusted tone.

“Men?” Pragya asked in a curious tone.  Radha rolled her eyes and saw Pragya’s typical wicked smile and narrowed eyes. Before Pragya could proceed, Radha got up and brought her laptop. 

“Another blog! Rads, please have some mercy on the readers” Pragya teased Radha.

“Well, to be honest, even I don’t know what I’ll write”. I think I have to sort out things in my head first and then pen down something.
Radha replied in a confused tone and kept aside the laptop without even opening her blog.

Common Rads, it’s your head, not a wardrobe that you will sort it” Pragya giggled.

“Very funny,”
Radha replied, making a face.

Later that evening, Radha and Pragya finished their respective chores. They ordered dinner. Post dinner, as they were about to retire to their beds, the doorbell rang sharply. Radha and Pragya exchanged glances. They knew it was an old man. As usual, it was Radha opened the door and handed him a bowl of ice. Then Radha too retired to bed but brought her laptop also. Pragya very well noticed it. 

“Rads you normally publish your blogs at 4pm and now its 11pm. Are you sure you want to publish something now? I think you should be a little more cautious regarding the content that you publish. After all, it’s just a virtual world”, Pragya said in a serious tone.

“I understand”,
replied Radha and kept aside the laptop for the second time without even opening her blog. 

They discussed some casual stuff, and in no time, Pragya dozed off. Radha switched off the bedroom lights and tried to sleep. But she could not. She kept tossing and turning in her bed. No matter what Pragya or anyone else says, Radha had a special place in her heart for her blogs. It’s not that, blogging is her medium to express her feelings or gaining sympathy or mere appreciation from her readers, it was probably her way of venting out her pent up emotions. 

Radha finally got up and switched on her side of bed light and brought her laptop for the third time. She logged into her account. She wanted to go through the comment section once again, but she dismissed the thought and opened the new post section.

“Prags is right, I shouldn’t be showcasing my feelings publicly. I think I should use mask my feelings”,
Radha muttered to herself as she began typing.

“Why does a candle desire to melt?
Why does the moth strive for burning?
I think the test of this passion is life,…
After all every soul is thirsty and
every heart has a question,..”

Radha took a deep breath after mindfully typing each word and finally pressed the publish button. She glanced at the wall clock, it was nearly 12am. 

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – X

She stood there, her curiosity almost getting the better of her. She took a breath and knocked on his door frame as if she just arrived.

Vansh said a quick goodbye and hung up. He stared at her for a moment. “What do you need Radha? Can’t you see I am very busy with calls?

He was very curt with her and she stiffened her spine, glaring at him for his tone.

I just came for the files for the Rankara account,” she snapped. How dare he speak to her in such a manner! He grabbed the file and nearly threw it at her.

There is the file. Now leave me to my work,” he said and turned his back on her. She was tempted to hit him over the head with the file. Instead, she growled and stalked off, muttering under her breath.

Who had he been talking to and who was the “she” he referred to? Was he being forced to do something against one of the women here?

She returned to her own cabin and sat down, lost in thought. Something was going on and Vansh was right in the middle of it all.

She sighed and began her own work, her mind reeling with thoughts of the old man and his son and the phone call she overheard. The comments from happygolucky were also there in the chaos of her mind. She would need to be extra vigilant from now on not only here but at home as well. Why is she so affected by the blogger? Why does she literally connects everyone to happygolucky, her virtual friend… more of a virtual admirer she can say…!!! Her mind was not steady yet she had to work.

She worked until lunch time then went to the companies cafeteria to get some food. She looked around and saw Vansh in a corner talking to another male whom she did not recognize. Maybe a friend or relative. She dismissed them both and finished her lunch.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – IX

And it appeared on the screen!

Pragya was right. happygolucky had written beyond ‘Why not’. May be the Mumbai rains had slowed down the internet signal strength at her end for which the full message hadn’t appeared the other day.

“Why not, if you feel you’ve found the right one this time! Only one life on earth. Live it without regrets.”

This was the complete reply.

Ah! So, here it was! The most awaited reply. There was another reply from happygolucky as well – a recent one, the ping of which had reminded Radha of her last blog. Radha scrolled further down. Just one word –

“Convinced?”

Pragya flopped onto the bed just then and gave a teasing nudge on seeing that she had her blog page open.

Prags, why is this person so interested to know if I am convinced by the reply?“, Radha asked raising her brow thoughtfully.

Oh . . . hello . . . look who is asking . . . as if you never wanted this happygolucky to reply . . . huhh!!”, replied Pragya turning away from the screen. “But wait, don’t read too much meaning into the replies. Let the virtual world remain virtual. Be the practical person that you always have been. You may consider the reply of your readers, more specifically of this particular blogger. But, then that should be all to it. Don’t get into foolish fantasies“, said Pragya curtly.

Just then the door bell rang.

It’s the old man“, said both simultaneously each looking at the other with the “you go and open the door, please” look on their faces. Finally, Radha got up and went to open the door.

Meanwhile, Pragya remembered the card that Akash had left behind that morning. She picked it from the shelf and typed his details in the browser after minimizing Radha’s blog page. As details poured in, she went on reading them one by one. Indeed, he was a successful orthopedic in New Jersey. There were several open Facebook links of pictures of him with his wife and three children in happy times.

Radha came back just in time to see the pictures on the screen. She recognized Akash from the meeting earlier in the day and then realized that the others must be his family.

How did you manage to get into Akash’s account and why? There was no need. This is spying. You shouldn’t have . . .“, started Radha with her chiding.

Stop it, Rads! No one is spying, here“, said Pragya pointing to Akash’s visiting card. “He had left it on our table this morning. You left for office hurriedly and I had picked it up. Just occurred to me on hearing the old man at the door to check on Akash“, said Pragya.

Ok . . . ok . . . I take my words back. I’m too drowsy. You continue. I’ll go off to sleep“, said Radha arranging her pillow.

The shrill alarm woke her up the next morning. She carried on with her routine household chores shouting a wake up call to Pragya every five minutes with no result. Finally, she sprinkled iced water on Pragya and scooted off for the door as Pragya woke up with a jolt and a scream.

Radha reached office on time. 

She opened the door to Vansh’s cabin to pick up some files and was surprised to see him present that early. Vansh was on the phone. “I can’t ask her. How do I know if she isn’t committed to someone? No . . . don’t compel me”.

Radha’s eyes widened as she overheard Vansh.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – VIII

For a change Radha was happy to step out of her house into this chaotic traffic. The interaction with Akash and his father had left her a bit shaken. She did not want to pry into a private matter but at the same their story intrigued her. She got a seat in the bus, put on her earphones and relaxed. One of her favourite songs came pouring in –

Kissi ki muskurahton pe ho nisar
(Fall in love with someone’s smile)
Kissi ka dard mil sake to le udhaar
(If possible take away someone’s pain)
Kissi ke vaste ho tere dil mein pyaar
(If you have love in your heart for someone)
Jina issi ka naam hai
(Then, that’s the way life should be)

On reaching the office all thoughts of Akash and the old man went flying out of the window. There was a big meeting lined up. The whole of finance and marketing department was working on it. Their company was going to launch the new product in a big way. Vansh was representing the marketing department. She was from finance. Staff from other departments were also present. Vansh gave a brilliant presentation about the features of the new launch and the steps involved in the whole process. Every department was allotted their respective jobs. She was quite impressed by the way Vansh handled the presentation and the questions after that. Radha thought to herself “Ok so Vansh has brains also along with good looks and humour… Great combination…

Next couple of days were a whirlwind of activities. They had to work out the detailed cost of each activity, get approvals and things lined up for the launch. She spent a lot of time with Vansh and others in the team even though the work was intense they were enjoying themselves. And Radha could see that Vansh had this great quality to insert humour into very serious and intense conversations and lighten up the mood. At least, it eased off the pressure for sometime… but at the same time he had an eye for details. Not a single loose end missed his sharp eye.

Friday evening, after the wrap up of the launch show they all finally relaxed and let their hair down. There was a mini celebration of sorts happening in their team. Everyone was congratulating each other for a good show. Radha just took her plate of snacks and sat in a corner. Soon Kavya from Customer Service dept joined her. She was a cute perky girl always updated on the latest office gossip. While Radha and Kavya were chatting the topic of Vansh came up. Kavya looked at Vansh chatting and laughing in a group and said “By looking at him can you tell that a couple of years ago he had a breakup with his long time girlfriend and he was completely heartbroken!

What are you saying? Where did you get this news from? What happened exactly?” Radha bombarded her with questions.

Kavya loved it that she had complete attention of Radha now… she savoured the moment and then replied “They were college sweethearts I think. They both worked in the same company. I have heard that they were inseparable. But no one knows what happened one day they suddenly broke off. The girl left the job and the city too. He was completely heart broken. After sometime he too changed jobs and came to our company.
This is all I know.

Radha was stunned. She kept thinking about Vansh and his tragic love story. What must have happened??

She reached home and was still lost in her thoughts. Pragya was not at home. She had gone out with some office friends. Radha changed into her night suit and opened her laptop. She wrote –

Was no one happy?
Is everyone hiding some or the other sorrow in their hearts.

Har kissi ko mukamal jahan nahin milta…
(Everyone does not get complete universe)
Kissi ko zameen to kissi ko asman nahin milta…
(Some don’t get the land, some don’t get the sky…)

She stopped typing…

What would have cause the breakup between Vansh and his girlfriend. Has he moved on or is he hiding a broken heart behind this jovial nature?” Thoughts kept wandering in her mind. Suddenly she was thinking about the old man and his son Akash. Pragya had told her that he was a doctor. How could a doctor himself be the cause of so much heartache for his father. “I have been so busy with this launch don’t even know whether the two reconciled or not” thought Radha. She made a mental note to ask Pragya tomorrow if she knew anything…

Suddenly there was a ping in her blog. The comment was from happygolucky. “Oh my…in this chaos of launch I completely forgot about his incomplete feedback on my last post. Has he completed it this time? With trembling hands she clicked on the notification.