HOME SWEET HOME
Akki and I landed at the plot...
“This is it... This is where we’re going to be living...” I said.
Akki looked around. “Looks fantastic, girl!!! So how are you guys paying for this?” he asked.
“Since he doesn’t have strong IT papers to show, I have taken the loan in my name... He is keeping the money aside for his business as well... So this is the least I could do...” I replied.
“So the flat is going to be in your name, right?” he asked.
“Yes... Absolutely... Tax savings as well, remember?” I said.
“Yes... Right... It would be beneficial to put it in a female’s name...” he mulled. “Great... Can we have a look at the sample flat?”
“Let’s go...” I replied, as I took him by the hand and led him into the building.
I stood near the window of the sample flat on the 14th floor...
“If the 14th floor has such a brilliant view, imagine the 22nd floor!!!” I exclaimed.
“I know... Killer, eh?” he said, with the excitement ringing in his voice. “I’m so happy for you Ash...” he said, as he came and hugged me.
“I’m really happy for myself too... But none of it could have worked out without you... You’re the one who introduced me to AK, didn’t you?” I said, my eyes welling up with tears.
“Ash, there’s something I was meaning to tell you...” he started.
“Madam ji, ghar band kar doon?” the security guard interuppted, as he stood at the door, the keys dangling in his hand.
“Haan haan...” I said. “Let’s talk in the car...” I told Akki.
“We’re anyways late... We got to meet Sheeba in 15...” he said, as we drove off into the sunset.
[4 months later...]
“Oi madam, are you ready or should I come upstairs to help you?” asked AK over the phone.
“Nahiiiiii... If you come up to help me, then there’s no way we’re going to get to the club today...” I answered. “Give me 5 minutes...” I said and hung up.
I looked at myself in the mirror... “You are looking sexy... Waaah... Kya baat hai...” I complimented myself.
“Woah baby... Someone’s looking gorgeous...” Akki teased, as I stepped into the car.
“He’s right... You’re looking amazingly hot...” AK said.
I could feel myself blushing...
“Hey Sheebs darling...”I said as I placed my hand on her shoulder. She was sitting in the passenger seat, next to Akki.
“Hi woman...” she replied; as she turned back and smiled.
AK got off the car; and ran to the other side, to open the door for me. He would always be opening doors, and pulling chairs back for me. I could hardly believe that luck was with me. How else can you find a gorgeous looking man with chivalry in today’s world?
“Hey Ali...” Akki hi-fived the bouncer as we walked into the club.
“Hello Sir... Ma’am!!!” Ali said, as he opened the door for us.
“Kitne baar kaha hai... Mujhe Ashu nahi toh AK bula... Kya sir-sir karta hai?” AK joked, as he playfully fisted Ali in his stomach.
“Theek hai, AK...” Ali laughed, as he struck a salute.
I loved this about AK... He had a natural way of things with people.
“I have a surprise for you...” AK whispered in my ears.
Just then, someone came and placed their hands over my eyes...
“Hmmmm... Who can this be?” I wondered. The feel of these hands were familiar, but not too familiar.
“Ayaan” I screamed in joy; as I turned around. “I’m so happy that you finally decided to join us...” I said, as I hugged him.
“I don’t mind coming every Saturday...” Ayaan confessed. “But bhai doesn’t want me tagging along with you guys...”
“Oh cmon...” I said, as I shot an angry look at AK.
“He says ‘Find yourself a girlfriend first, and then you can come out with us’...”
“He’s right...” Akki joked.
“How was I to know that the most beautiful women I was going to be introduced to would already be hooked up?” said Ayaan; as he gestured towards Sheeba and me.
“Oh cmon... Flattery doesn’t work with us...” Sheeba replied.
“Ash...” I heard a voice call out to me.
“Zac... Oh my God... How have you been?” I said, as I hugged him.
“I’ve been good... I heard you’re dating someone now, eh? Sweet...” he said.
“Yeah... Oh.. You haven’t met him... You quit playing in the club a week after I met him... So how would you meet him?” I said.
“Yeah!” Zac replied. “Hasn’t Akki come?”
“Could I ever think of entering the club without Akki?” I replied, with a smile. “There he is...” I said; and the three of us moved in Akki’s direction.
“Hey brother... Long time no see...” Akki said; as he and Zac shook hands.
“Yeah...I know...” Zac replied. “If you could pardon me for the bad timing, I would like to speak to you for awhile... Alone...” he said.
“Sure... Tell me...” Akki said, as he placed his arm around Zac’s shoulder; and they walked to a quieter corner.
I shifted my focus to Ayaan and Sheeba... They had gone to the bar to get us a round of drinks...
“Thank you for the surprise” I told AK. “I didn’t expect Ayaan to be here... But I’m so glad he’s here...” I said. “I always wanted to spend more time with the boy...”
“But my surprise is yet to come...” AK said, as he smiled a naughty smile... The twinkle in his eye was even more evident right now.
“But...” I looked at him confused.
He shoved his hand inside his pocket; and brought out a jewellery box... “May I?” he asked.
“OH MY GOD” I gasped; as I took a look at the ring he held in his hand. The lights in the club were dancing off the ring’s surface.
“I want to spend the rest of my lifetime with you” he said, as he went onto one knee.
I looked around... Sheebs and Ayaan were standing besides us and were smiling...
“So everyone else had been in the know, except me?” I asked.
“Ah huh!!” Sheeba said, as she nodded her head in agreement.
“Okay, my knee is really beginning to hurt now... Do I get a reply or not?” AK replied.
“Yes... Yes... Yes...” I said, as I bent over to kiss him.
Everyone around us started clapping.
“What happened? What did I miss?” Akki asked, as he tried to push the crowds aside to get to us.
“AK just proposed to Ash; and she said yes... Isn’t that wonderful?” Sheeba said, all teary eyed.
“Where’s Zac? He wanted to meet my boyfriend” I said.
“Correction correction... He’s now your fiancee...” interrupted Sheeba.
“Zac left...” Akki said.
“Can you believe it?? I’m engaged.” I said, as I leapt into Akki’s arms.
“You’re right... It’s all so hard to believe...” he said, as he hugged me back; and wiped a tear from his eye.
DISTANCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER
“Hello baccha... How is my baby doing today?” I asked as I answered the call.
“I’m fine re... Tu bata... How are things with you?” Akki replied.
“Badi yaad aa rahi hai Ash ki...” I replied.
“Yeah man... I’m actually missing you... Did you have to go to Delhi?” he asked.
“When work beckons, you can’t say no... Can you? Arey, but you toh are one rich spoilt brat... Why would you care about work??” I teased.
“Oh, Ashwini... Come on...” he said, frustrated. He rarely called me by my full name.
“Okay okay... Chill maar... So tell me, how is Sheeba darling doing?”
“She’s also really caught up with work these days... Year end na!!!” he exclaimed.
“Oh! So is that why you remembered poor old me, coz your girlfriend isn’t free?” I teased.
“Cmon Ash... You know it’s not like that...” he said, the tone of his voice taking on a seriousness that was new. “I was genuinely missing you... I feel like it’s been ages since we met... Just you and me... Without AK and Sheeba around...”
I could feel a lump forming in my throat... It was true... I couldn’t remember the last time he and I had met alone...
“I miss the good old days, when we used to loaf around in the canteen... Just you and me... We never needed anyone else, did we?” he said.
“Hmmmmm....” I agreed.
“Come back soon... I really need to meet you... ALONE...”
“Deal...” I said... “My client needs to fly back to the US before schedule... So I’ll be back on this Friday istead of next Monday, as was earlier the plan... Let’s meet then...” I replied.
“Can you do me a favour?” Akki asked.
“Can I ever say no to you?” I replied.
“Don’t mention your date of arrival to Sheeba or AK...” he said; “Can you do that for me?”
“Have you told AK about the change in your schedule?” Akki asked.
“Not yet... I just got to know”
“Cool... Then let’s do this... I’ll pick you up from the airport; we’ll spend some time together... And then, I’ll drive you over to AK’s and you can surprise him... What say?”
I mulled over the idea. It seemed like a ‘win-win’ situation. Everyone would be happy at the end of the day.
“Done... I’ll call you Thursday and confirm my flight details...” I said.
“Okay... Great... Can’t wait to see you...” Akki said.
(TO BE CONTINUED)