22.It’s all relative – 1
“What do you think of Love?” Adi asked Andy few months back, when they were still sitting in Anjuna beach, the next morning after Andy had left Adi with a brunette and disappeared into the night.
“That intense feeling I feel every time I look at my bike”
“Bike?” Adi asked.
“Ya bike for me, and that brunette you spent the last night with, to you. It’s all relative Adi” Andy said grinning.
Naina tossed in the bed, looking at the now fading tattoo.
She smiled to herself as she recounted the day, when she had got it done.
“Don’t I deserve a birthday gift?” she asked, crossing her fingers when they went to that one place she dearly loved, the lake side, which he showed her the first time he came to visit her.
“You do” he said, and took her wrist in his hand hooked a finger under the bracelet he had gifted her on her birthday, and which she was wearing ever since.
He didn’t say a word but simply raised an eyebrow in question, even though his crooked smile implied what he hadn’t put in words.
“Alright, how about your birthday present?”
“Yeah, it’s like return gift you know, like gifting others instead of receiving gifts, for a change?”
“Interesting” he said, his lips pressed into a thin line, though if somebody saw his eyes, they would know he was amused.
“When’s your birthday?”
“5th of August”
“That’s like—” she pressed her lips uncomfortably.
“—Six months away. Perfectly close” he completed for her and saw her raise her innocent eyes guiltily.
He let out the stream of laughter that he held up so far, and his laugh reduced to a bright smile when he saw her morose.
“Alright, what’s the matter?” he asked taking her hand in his, brushing the back of her palm with his thumb subconsciously, to ease her.
“I want to do something rash. But not that rash. Slightly rash perhaps. To have a secret, to have that Goosebumps of being found out at home”
“What happened at school Naina?” he asked knowing that this was something to do with peer pressure of sorts.
“Classmate. But that’s not important. She said she smokes at home but nobody found out yet.”
“Okay, so you want to do something rash?” he asked her in quiet contemplation, and saw her nod.
“It would pain”
“It’s temporary Naina. They’ll spray paint. That’s all”
Still, if her father found out, he would roast her raw. That dealt with the hiding and Goosebumps part.
“Really?” she grinned.
“Yeah” he smiled in response.
“And it would stay for?”
“A week. Enough time for you to guard a little secret?”
As Naina absently touched the fading black butterfly on her wrist, she smiled in remembrance, all those moments she shared with him in the past months.
She was taken back to that day when she was standing along the bus shelter when it was raining. She was looking at the corn seller at the other side of the road but was waiting for the rain to tone down a little bit for her to cross the road.
But the golden corn that was roasted, called out to her and throwing caution to wind, she crossed the road and paid for one, before munching on to it blissfully.
She thought she saw a glimpse of him, but thought she had imagined it, as he had not told that he would come visit her.
She thought maybe it was the rain and she mistook him to be somebody else.
Sameer’s look alike stood by the bus bay where she was moments ago, and stood with his arms crossed, leaning against the pole, looking at her interested.
Sameer’s look alike somehow looked handsome, a great deal of it actually, or may be Naina never noticed that much, or maybe it was the clean shave, she didn’t know what but she couldn’t just avert her eyes, and in her dazed state, she accidentally lifted up the corn and in the next moment winced as her lips scalded.
She felt her eyes fill up at the sudden burn, and within moments she felt someone towering her and saw Sameer’s look alike before her.
So it was not a look alike, but Sameer himself.
His concerned eyes looked at her, and touched the corner of her lips to look at the damage, making her take a sharp breath.
It was then he noticed what he had done, and met her widened eyes, and pulled back his hand, and murmured an apology.
He ran an agitated hand through his hair, and she for the first time observed from up close, how much handsome he really was, and she couldn’t for the name of the lord could do anything about the wild fluttering of butterflies in her belly.
She took a twirl, as she smiled, her long hair falling to her front, curving as she fell in sync with the rest of her class, all of their Ghungroos chiming together…
If there was something which she thought was good at was dance, where she lost herself and found herself…
She took another twirl and her eyes fell on the window, and felt her smile lower down for a beat as she noticed him standing on the other side, his hands crossed across his chest like usual, but his eyes…
His eyes lost, enchanted, as if he saw the most beautiful thing in the world, as he saw her dance…
This time, as she took the next twirl, her smile deepened, as it warmed something deep in her heart.
“What’s this for?”
“I have never really given you a birthday gift” Naina said twisting her veil, wondering if he had liked her gift.
“You weren’t there on my birthday Naina” he smiled.
He looked back at the ball in his hand and smiled.
“Thank you very much”
“You liked it?”
“Thank god. I know you will. After all, you love the sport, don’t you?”
“Ya” Sameer said his smile faltering just a bit, as amusement set in his eyes. “But I play basketball Naina” he said “And this is football”
She looked at him wounded, and closed her eyes at her stupidity.
He laughed throwing his head back, and did something impulsive, without thinking.
He dropped a quick kiss on her forehead as he was overcome with a rush of tenderness for the girl, but then as he looked at her surprised eyes, his smile dropped.
“I’m sorry” he said “That was a mistake. I wasn’t thinking”
How would he know, that she wasn’t offended. It was quite the opposite in fact.
He was walking her home, and by now, she who was quite herself with him, totally comfortable to be silly, was walking with a spring in her step, kicking small stones on her way, humming to herself.
A car, which seemed slightly out of control came zooming, and Sameer yanked her by her wrist, and caught her swaying form with a hand encircling her waist.
The driver might have been drunk, Sameer thought, which was right.
As Sameer looked back to Naina, he saw her hair haphazardly falling on her face, and tucked it slowly behind her ear, as he pulled her hand in his, and they resumed walking towards her home, hand in hand.
Naina smiled, and buried her face in her pillow as she recounted the recent happenings of the night.
What Naina didn’t know was, the car that zoomed past them that evening was slowed down a few blocks away, as the slightly drunk person who was driving looked at the rear view mirror and identified the girl embracing a boy to be his business partner Vikram Rathore’s daughter.