This is the 5th part in a Six Part Series. I suggest reading the previous parts for a clearer picture.
All Chapters can be found in order here.
[Part 5 | 1224 Words | 6 Minutes (approx.)]
Soham looked at the crawling traffic from the hotel window. ‘Who would believe it’s eight in the morning.’ Soham had been on the train for nineteen hours, and then the cab took another to take him from the station to the hotel. It was an exhausting journey, made tolerable partly by the weather, the company of some little kids, and partly by the prospect of his visit.
Soham had spent a sleepless night cooking up scenarios in his mind on the train. It was around dawn, when he was getting off at the platform in a completely unknown city, that the most probable scenario hit him. He cursed his mind for not seeing the obvious. At last, both parts of his mind were on the same page. However, now it was too late. Too late to go back, to change his steps. He took a cab at the train station, and came to the hotel. After a long shower, he unpacked the necessaries from his backpack, a black T-shirt, and blue jeans. A yellow checkered shirt, to be thrown over the tee if needed.
Now that he was comfortably sitting on the soft mattress, his mind was as calm as could be. He had finally realized what it was that had brought him here. A realization — that should have come a long time ago — had finally dawned upon him. His mind was still racing, when his phone vibrated with a new WhatsApp message.
“Have you reached?” Short, without any good morning or any other courtesies, just like her messages always were.
“Yes,” Soham replied back.
“Tell me something, have you really come here just to meet me?”
“Yes, where shall we meet?” Soham thought it best to be as crisp as she was being.
“I’ll tell you in a bit. Till then, enjoy your room!”
“Okay! See you in a bit then. 🙌”
As he closed the messaging app an idea struck him. “Hey Google, give me directions to the nearest flower shop.” A few seconds later, the helpful Google Assistant filled his phone screen with a map and waking instructions to a shop called ‘Sweet Florist.’
Wrapped in a purple raincoat and holding a rather dark scarlet umbrella, Ishita was looking around, her phone tightly pressed to her ear. “Where are you?” she asked on the phone, turning her head from side to side.
“Right behind you,” Soham replied and disconnected the call. When she looked at him, the first thing that he noticed was her smile, or the lack thereof. Soham had taken two quick, hard shots of rum right before leaving the hotel room, to keep his over-observant mind in check. He had topped it off by a generous intake of mint pills, to hide the odor. Still, his quick eyes saw enough to let him know that the realization from the morning was correct. Right before handing the gift bag with the bouquet to her, Soham stealthily pulled out the black velvet box from the bag. ‘Your turn will come later, not right now!’ Soham whispered to the box, and kept it in her backpack.
They went to a nearby mall, because apparently, there wasn’t much to see in the neighborhood in such a rainy weather. When they were seated comfortably, she opened the gift box, the one Soham had cut his finger while making. Show her the best of your world, but don’t try to become a part of hers, The thought had hit him and he had decided to make a new one.
She took out a notebook, and opened it to the first page. “No, you’re not supposed to read that when I am around.” Soham interrupted.
“Why, what is it?” She asked cocking an eyebrow.
“Well, let’s just say, I wanted to do something other than envelopes.” Soham gave as an excuse. It was a simple letter, broken down into phrase-sized fragments, written on a forty page mini-notebook, that was about the size of a matchbox.
She looked at him with a slight frown, “I hope you know that —”
“Know what? That you’e taken? That I got late, and someone got to you before me?” Soham interrupted her, surprising both of them. ‘I should have stopped at the first shot,’ his mind kicked him. She looked away, and smiled a bit.
They ordered some simple snacks and fell into an animated conversation about random stuff. She told him how weird the beginning of her work life was, he told her about some people in his life she was not at all concerned about, just the mindless talk that he wanted. Somewhere during their time, he asked her to show him the picture of the other guy, which she refused. He didn’t ask again. Almost three hours and a lot of funny conversation later, they left the food court to explore the mall a bit. Soham discovered her love for canvas shoes and earrings. They left the mall soon after, and since the weather was nice, they decided to have a walk in the neighborhood where she lived. Everything was just as he had thought, nothing sticking for long, like a friendly chat.
A part of Soham was craving another shot of that rum. He just couldn’t find a good enough time, or an excuse to bring the conversation to the other gift waiting in his backpack. He decided it was best to just jump in. “Since you were looking at earrings back at the mall, I think I have something for you.” Soham said, pulling out the black velvet box and handing it to her.
She opened the box, inside there was the pearl and diamonds necklace set, that Shree had chosen. There was that familiar glint in her eyes as expected, and a soft “wow” from her lips. “This would look so good with my dress, thank you so much, these are lovely!” She squealed. Soham noticed that she only looked up from the box after finishing the sentence. She had liked the gift, enough for him to know that everything that he had wished to happen had happened. He could finish the day on a good note now.
After sharing a rather long handshake and some repeated good-night‘s and take-care‘s, they parted. Soham walked to his hotel. On the way, the only thing he was aware of was the unshakable smile upon his own face.
Soham reached the hotel room and waited for his ordered food to arrive. After receiving it, he locked the door from the inside, opened the cupboard, took out the bottle of rum and popped the cap. Shree’s words rang in his head, ‘How long will you keep lying to yourself?’ Soham wasn’t lying to himself, his mind was so focused on what he believed to be true that he had not even cared to look at the other things. Things like trying to make the meeting a good one, at least for her. And he was happy that he had realized all that at the right time.
Only at the precipice, do we evolve. . .
“May your destiny lead you to great success and all the good there is, may you find the best in your life, always. Happy Birthday, Ishita!” Soham said out loud before taking a ten second long sip of rum straight from the bottle.
To Be Continued. . .