Swati and Jayanth choose a table at the Jaisalmer Thaali restaurant, quite near to their office on Cunningham road, and sit down. A waiter comes to take their order, and Jayanth orders for the both of them, effortlessly. He knew Swati’s likes and dislikes at the back of his hand. Swati smiles at him and relaxes in her chair.
Jayanth is so easy to be with yet so difficult. I think he tries too hard to please me. I want to be with someone who can just be himself even with me, and yet care for me. That sounded complicated, even in my own head. Ugh!
A minute later, Jayanth sees Swati laid back on her chair with her eyes closed. He looks at her for a long moment, in both awe and fear; fear lest she open her eyes and find him staring at her, and in awe of her raw beauty. Even with her hair not neatly done up, her tired looks, Jayanth is amazed at how pretty she looks, with a child-like simplicity. He sees her struggle with a couple of strands of her hair that seem to be making their way to disturb her nostrils, fighting with them yet too tired to open her eyes.
The waiter gets back with their drinks and places them on the table a little too loudly. Swati’s eyes are still closed but her brows lock into a frown. She still doesn’t open her eyes, adjusts her neck to the right position and lets out a contended gurgle. Jayanth looks at his watch and forces himself to wake her up. He leans forward in his chair to bring himself closer to Swati to wake her up, but ends up spending another moment admiring her perfume or deodorant whatever it was that she was wearing. Finally, he gives her a gentle nudge and gets back to his chair.
“Huh?! What happened?” Swati gets up, startled
“You dozed off for a minute, princess” mocks Jayanth
Swati locks her brows in frustration and anger, and composes herself. My body doesn’t feel as healthy as it used to be a couple of years back. Maybe it’s true. I AM turning old. I need to get some rest instead of working these insane hours. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go on a vacation right now! But damn these changes at work! They are taking their toll on me. Well, in life, you win some, you lose some. Sigh!
Swati starts drinking her lemonade. Ah!! Perfect for this scorching afternoon. Mmm, if only this was a beach and I was in my swimsuit, ready to plunge into the water for a swim. Here I go again! Isn’t the human mind uncanny? It starts thinking precisely about the thing that you want to push as far aside as possible! Swati smiles
“What is so amusing?” Jayanth asks her
“I was just thinking of the human mind and how uncanny it is. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, it is” Jayanth agrees and enters his own world of thoughts. He knows at the back of his mind that Swati doesn’t feel the same way about him as he does, but he still doesn’t fail to make an attempt every time he is with her.
The waiter then comes and serves the food that Jayanth had ordered, and for some time, Swati and Jayanth eat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
“Hey, I forgot to tell you, Jayanth. My move to the APAC team will happen within the next couple of weeks. I got an email from Rahul just last night!” Swati says excitedly. Right after her sentence ends, she doesn’t fail to notice Jayanth’s sad face
“Oh, good for you, man. You have been waiting for that from so long. I am sure the US team will miss you and of course me too. It won’t be the same anymore, you know? Not being in the same team even though we will be working for the same company”
“I know. But I needed this change, dude. You know na? I’ve been pestering Rahul for ages now.…..”
“I know, I know. You and your career growth plans. Good luck, Swats!”
He’s such a nice guy! He isn’t even able to hide his feelings for me. Should I reciprocate? After all, it would be an easy settlement. I know him well enough already, he knows me and likes me, and my parents would definitely like him. Should I? What is holding me back?
Both Swati and Jayanth shudder, startled. It’s Swati’s cellphone. Before Swati can answer the call, Jayanth mocks her “When are you ever going to change your ringtone? This one is so irritating and bland”
“One of these days” mouths Swati, and answers to a shrieking “hellllooooo” at the other end, from who else, but Ramya
“Yes, Ramya?” Swati says exasperatedly
“Don’t sound so irritated with me! Where are you by the way?”
“I am out for lunch, where else would I be in the afternoon?”
“Oooooo, are you with Jaaaiiiii?” Ramya teases Swati, emphasizing on the Jaaaiiii
“Ya” Swati replies curtly
“Come on, don’t be so shyyyy. Lemme talk to him”
“And why would you want to do that?”
By now, Jayanth has guessed that it is Ramya on the other side of the line, and that she is irritating Swati because she is out with him. Ramya had noticed it from the day that Swati had introduced the two, that Jayanth had a thing for Swati.
Swati gestures that she would be handing over her phone to him, and would be back after using the restroom. Jayanth nods, and takes her phone as she leaves
“Hello?” he says a little apprehensively
Listening to her friendly voice, Jayanth eases up and starts talking freely
“Hey Ramya! How are you? It’s been a long time since we spoke, huh?”
“Yaa…I think Swati wants you alllll to herself coz she never lets me talk to you” she giggles
“Ya right! You and I both know that’s not true!”
“Hehehe…I know! But don’t worry, a day will come when that shall happen and who knows, it might be today too!”
“Huh? Why? What’s up?”
“Listen! We are meeting up tonight at this new club which has opened in Indiranagar - Club 12! I wanted to invite you….of course, Swati will be there. But if you don’t want to….” She lets her voice trail
“Of course, I will be there!” he says, a little too quickly, and then bites his tongue.
Ramya starts giggling “I knew that would be your reaction!”
“Yeah, well…..” Jayanth says, sheepishly, with nothing to add
“Anyways, I hope you have clothes fit for a pub. Please don’t come there in your boring formals”
“Alright, alright. I’ll do something about it”
At this point of time, Swati returns to her chair and snatches the phone from Jayanth
“How long have you been chatting?” she shouts at Ramya
“Ooooo, possessive and all”
“There you go again! I am tired of this Rams! Now tell me the real reason you called?”
“Hmm….oh…yeah! I wanted to tell you that I picked some clothes for you for the party tonight. Do you want me to get them there directly or drop them off at your office so you can get ready before you reach?”
“What? Clothes?! Why did you do that, Rams? You know I am in no mood to party”
“Oh, come on, Swats! Lighten up! Don’t be such a bore. And by the way, I invited Jayanth too. He’s gonna get you there and drop you back home too. Isn’t that wonderful?”
Swati can almost see Ramya’s smiling face and decides to go with the flow for a change
“Alright, alright! Drop the clothes off at my office. I will be there as soon as I can”
“Not I, we! You and Jayanth!” corrects Ramya
“Yeah, yeah. We will be there as soon as we can” Swati responds, rolling her eyes both at Ramya’s incessant chat and Jayanth’s eager face
“Alrighty then! I will drop the clothes off at your reception desk and leave you a message. See ya tonight!” Ramya finally hangs up
Jayanth starts first to smile and then the smile turns into laughter as he sees Swati turn a deep shade of red
“Stop that” she shouts
“Let me say it again, you have such a cute pout”. After Swati punches him in frustration and Jayanth stops laughing, he says “So when do you plan to leave for the party that Ramya was talking about?”
“We have that call tonight, remember? It might run till late night. I told her it would be difficult, but you know how persuasive she can be”
“Yeah. But I think she is out to make your life better, Swati. I think you should try going out sometimes and have a life other than work, you know”
Not you too! “I know, I know. So people keep telling me. Anyways, you are in that call with me too. How long do you think it is going to go on?"
“Let’s try cutting it short; we should be done by 9 hopefully” he winks at her
“I hope so”
They finish the rest of their lunch, and Jayanth drops Swati back to the office. As she stops to wait for him at the front gate, he tells her he has work to do and that she can get inside. Swati shrugs her shoulders, and gets in.