Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 27

“Surprise!” Jayanth shouts and waves his hands at Swati

“What? How? Who?!!”

“It’s a long story, but can I come in first?”

“Ya sure” Swati notices Jayanth has his suitcases with him. He came here directly from the airport? He is going to stay here? Am I dreaming? Or is Jayanth really here?! She thinks in a daze

“Ok, now, let me dive in to the story” Jayanth says after setting his luggage in a corner and seating himself on a sofa chair. “So, my new company had asked me for my passport and other details about 2 weeks before I even joined their company. They had told me that I would have to travel onsite to one of their locations and I had agreed. But when I joined, they said I have to travel to Singapore on my first assignment! I was like…so excited! I thought I’ll surprise you, Swats and here I am!”

“Wow, that’s awesome dude. And of course, you had my address coz I had sent you the email from before, right?”

“Yup! So I had no trouble locating you. God, Swats, I missed you” Jayanth says, half sincerely and half romantically. “I didn’t think I would this much….but I did”

I really need to be thinking straight right now. I can’t believe what’s happening in my life! Why are Jayanth and Vishal back in my life? And why isn’t Siddharth getting into my life?!! This is all so messed up! I feel like I am in an alternate universe where nothing is making sense, where whatever I want isn’t happening and the exact opposite is happening!

“I missed you too, dude” Swati says, playfully punching his arm, as one would do with a buddy, so as to let him know that he can’t expect anything more out of her; at least not at this point of time

“I am here for the next 3 months. I am at this hotel too, but way over at the other end, wing C they told me…You leave in 2 weeks right?”

“Yup, 2 weeks to go”

“I want to spend as much time as possible with you. Don’t get me wrong….again…I have moved on from where I was Swats. I realize I might not be the one completing your story…your Namma story as you put it” Jayanth says in a slightly serious tone, trying to be as leveling as possible

“Wha? How? When did I ever tell you about Namma story?” Swati asks in utter disbelief. Did I just go and utter it to every person I know? I thought it was something that I had in my heart only. I thought that is one the most ME things I have, apart from these thoughts which are also very ME

Jayanth laughs. “You probably didn’t tell me willingly. That night, when we were celebrating Prat’s birthday in that farmhouse…remember? You were drunk? That’s when you told me about it. That’s when I half realized I might not be the one to star in your story with you, you know. I should have stepped back then itself, but something kept telling me to keep trying. I am sorry I made things so weird, Swats”

“I don’t know what to say, Jayanth. And my head is full of too many things right now, so I don’t have anything to say for now. I really need a change in topic. Hey, why don’t you go freshen up and meet me in an hour or so? I’ll give you a tour of the nearby surroundings and then we can have a quick dinner too” Swati suggests

“That’d be great, Swats. I’ll be back soon then!” Jayanth says, gets up, takes his suitcases, but drops them back to the ground for a second. He comes closer to Swati, gives her a quick hug and then finally leaves.

What the hell is happening in my life?! Why are there so many guys suddenly? Interested in me? I always knew I would have many admirers because…I know I am good-looking. But all at the same time? What joke are you playing on me, God? Am I supposed to choose between one of these three musketeers or do you have other plans for me? Is my Namma Story belief just a myth? Or is it in fact my parents with whom my story is set to be? Are they the ones with whom you have written my story? I desperately need some answers! Argh!! Siddharth! The poor boy, I need to respond to his emails and messages.

Swati finds Siddharth online and sees his status message to be “I’ve been waiting….for a girl like you…” Swati’s face gives birth to a wide smile. Ah, this feels perfect; like it’s meant to be. Swati then messages Siddharth and apologizes for the late response and also tells him about her lunch with an old friend, conveniently skipping the “boyfriend” part. She then mentions about Jayanth’s visit to Singapore. Siddharth calls back immediately.

“What are you saying, chica loca?!” he exclaims

“He is here on business visit just like me. And he happened to know where I stayed, so he got his reservation done here too”

“So are you happy? You were cribbing from such a long time that you’re bored in Singapore. Now at least you have a friend there, huh?” Siddharth teases her

“Whatever” Swati gets angry

“Arre…come on loca. You should be happy!” more teasing

“Listen I gotta go now, I’ll talk to you later, okay? Bye” and Swati hangs up. Ooooohhhh the nerve! Doesn’t he realize I like him? Doesn’t he? I mean, with all the talking and flirting that we do, it seems so obvious that he likes me. But when such situations arise, I have my own doubts.

Swati tries to put her negative thoughts aside and starts getting ready for her evening. As she gets ready, she gets a call from Vishal.

“Hey Swati! Was wondering if you’re free for dinner tonight? I wanted to ask you when we met for lunch but thought it might sound too desperate of me, you know what I mean?”

“Hmm” That’s me! Never know what to say or how to react when questions are pointed at me…especially the romantic kinds or emotional kinds. Maybe I am emotionally unavailable. Maybe my emotional quotient isn’t up to the mark. Here I go again, putting myself down. I need to talk to Siddharth more often so I keep loving myself. But if he behaves the way he did today, God help him because I will KILL him!!

“So, what say you, beautiful?”

Don’t say such things! Don’t make me fall for you again! I still have some reservations hanging out with you. You just can’t come out of the blue and be confident that I’ll fall for you again! I need to say no. so what excuse do I give him? I tell him the truth of course. That one of my other friends just arrived here and I have plans with him. And then a light bulb moment happens in Swati’s head.

“Ah Vishal…one of my friends from my company just arrived in Singapore. I was planning to take him out. Why don’t we all hang out together?” Brilliant! Both these guys can’t get romantic with me with the other one being there. And I can relax and have a good time!

There is a slight hesitation at Vishal’s end. But finally, he agrees and they decide the time and place to meet. Swati starts singing loudly in a good mood, patting herself on the back for coming up with such a wonderful idea at the nth minute and arrives at the hotel lobby to meet Jayanth. She tells him about her friend joining them, and she senses the same kind of hesitation she did from Vishal. But in the end, he too agrees and they wait for Vishal to come and pick them up in his car.

Initially, Vishal and Jayanth seem frigid with each other. Oh God, what am I going to do? I hope this evening won’t be a disaster. I would just be all red with embarrassment if these guys don’t get along and then I wouldn’t know what to say in such situations. I feel so awkward. Ugh! But if I have to steer away from those thoughts for a bit, I am going out with two incredibly handsome men. Wow, look at them. Vishal looks so suave in his cool denims and shirt. He is impeccably dressed always. And my my, Jayanth isn’t to be left behind either. The half shirt he’s wearing with his jeans just fits and suits him so well. I feel like a star. I am dressed pretty okay too, I guess, judging the looks both the boys gave me when they saw me!

Vishal suggests a place that they can go and hang out at a café, for some time, then a park that they could visit and finally a place for dinner. Jayanth and Swati go along with his plan, courtesy him being the most experienced with Singapore places and events. Jayanth rushes and takes the front seat next to Vishal, which makes Swati giggle. She goes and sits behind them peacefully. They make small talk till they reach a small but elegant café.

“This is owned by one of my friends, Swati. He is an Indian, so you’ll see that most of the dishes available here is Indian, and then, the ambience is pretty much Indian too” Vishal explains to Swati, taking her along with him and ignoring Jayanth on purpose. Jayanth fumes, but follows them nevertheless, not having a choice.

Swati likes the café with her first look of the place. She sees poster of famous Indian movies adorning the walls, Indian classical music being played and all the waitresses wearing salwaar kameez. They select a table and place their order. They hear a loud cheer coming from a table adjacent to theirs and they see some Indian teenagers watching cricket on the café’s television. Vishal and Jayanth immediately turn towards the TV screen.

“I totally forgot it was the finals of the triangular cup today! And with India playing too! How could I ever forget this?!” Vishal exclaims.

“Me too!” Jayanth says with equal passion. There! The connection has been made. Throw 2 guys together, give them some cricket and they are bound to get along!

Vishal and Jayanth smile at each other for the first time, each admiring the sense of patriotism for their country and passion for cricket in the other.

Swati, now free to do whatever she wanted, turns her attention to her cellphone. She sees a message from Siddharth. “Loca, I think I upset you when I started teasing you today. I’m sorry.” Finally! Some realization! Phew. I better respond. He must be waiting!

talk2swati: It’s alright. Sorry I couldn’t respond earlier. I am out with Jayanth and Vishal…remember I was telling you about my other friend here in Singapore?”

mailsid_999: oh ya….hope chica loca is having fun!

talk2swati: not bad…these guys r busy watching some cricket match going on. They tell me India’s playing too

mailsid_999: yup! I was watching it for some time too. Not that I’m a big fan of cricket, but I don’t usually miss India’s matches

Their food arrives and Swati tells Siddharth to wait for some time as she turns her attention towards Vishal and Jayanth and their snacks. The boys keep talking about their favorite cricketers, arguing some agreeing some; and talking to Swati in between.

“So, Swati tells me you are here for another 3 months, Jayanth?”

“Yup, I am here on a business assignment. And how long are you here for?”

“Oh I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll come back anytime soon. I have quite adjusted into my lifestyle here, you know”

Beep! Wrong answer! A minus 1 score to Vishal. I don’t think I can stay away from India. Not that I am considering even the slightest possibility of having a relationship with him….but stilllll….

“I can see the reason why you like it here. I have been totally amazed with the infrastructure ever since I got here. It is awesome!” Jayanth responds. Swati frowns. A minus 1 to Jayanth too

“…But I can’t see myself settling here you know. I am too loyal to Bengalooru” Jayanth adds as an afterthought. And Swati’s afterthought goes….Hmmm, take out the minus 1!

“Do you have family back there? Maybe a wife or parents…kids?” Vishal asks Jayanth

“My parents are there. But no wife yet, not married. How about you? Family here?”

Swati turns towards Vishal to hear his response. It’s good that I have Jayanth here asking all the questions for me. I would have never asked Vishal myself. Haha! I am having fun!

“Nah, lost my dad a few years back and mom’s with my aunt in India. And I am not married either. But I hope I’ll be…soon” Vishal looks straight into an eagerly intent Swati’s eyes who suddenly her turns her head down with the comment.

“Ah, sounds like a case of love, huh? Well, I’ve been there my friend” Jayanth remarks and he too looks at Swati. Oh God, what are these two idiots doing to me? I am not an emotionally available person. I don’t think I am emotionally stable either. I should stay away from them before they make me feel so small and guilty that I’ll start hating myself!

Swati doesn’t raise her head for a long time and Jayanth and Vishal begin to worry. “Hey Swati, what happened?” Vishal’s deep voice

“Ah…I don’t feel so well. I feel feverish. Guys, I think it is better I get back to the hotel” Swati’s escape routine says

“You don’t look well, either. Let’s get you back to the hotel first” this time, the caring Jayanth has spoken. He pays the bill quickly as Vishal takes Swati to the car and makes her feel comfortable in the rear seat. I know I did start this act because I wanted to get away from there, but why does my forehead feel so hot? I don’t….I really don’t feel too good. By the time they reach the hotel, Swati starts to perspire and her breaths start getting shorter and quicker. Her eyes start to water and her vision starts to get hazy. She feels as though bogged down by something really heavy. And then she passes out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 26

Getintouchwithswats: gimme ur other messenger id
Mailsid_999: huh?
Getintouchwithswats: I can’t use this to talk to u anymore. Lot of frnds on that list. Gimme any other messenger id so v can chat there!
Mailsid_999: oh. Ok, here it is….it is the same as this one..mailsid_999 on mechat
Getintouchwithswats: u’ll get a request from talk2swati in a few seconds, accept it!
Mailsid_999: yes, ma’am. As u say

For the next couple of days, Swati and Siddharth start chatting on their mechat Ids and when not chatting, they start sending emails to each other. During one of their phone calls, Swati gets frustrated and tells Siddharth that even on her mechat messenger, some people were sending her messages.

“Doesn’t it happen with you?” she asks

“Nah…You are the only one on my list” he says casually

“What?! Come on! I can’t be the only friend on your list! I don’t believe you” As soon as Swati says that, she hears the sound of an incoming email, and she sees it’s from Siddharth. “What are you doing, emailing me while we are on the phone, HH?! You are mad” she laughs and opens the email. She sees it is a screenshot of his mechat messenger and there, in his friend’s list was only one name: talk2swati

“Awww! That is so sweet! I wish you were here, I would have pulled your cheeks with all my might!” she flirts

“Mmm, I think I would like that. Maybe when we meet next, huh?”

“Ya, maaaayybeee” Swati smiles

“So, just 2 weeks left for you to return!” Siddharth reminds her suddenly

“Ya…but twwwooo weeeeks seem so looong” Swati moans

“Come on, loca, don’t do that! Think of it as JUST 2 weeks and you’ll be here before you know it!”

“I guess so” People who even know us would not understand our conversations. It’s like we’ve developed our own language.. I am absolutely loving this phase of my life. But there is one thing though. Why hasn’t he told anyone about the time we are spending together? Rams didn’t mention anything again when I spoke to her yesterday too. Should I be worried about it?

Swati hears an incoming call on her cellphone and tells Siddharth that she would call him back after sometime and takes the other call.

“Hi Swati” Vishal’s deep voice calls out from the other end. Swati’s heart starts to beat fast. Why did this guy call me? Now, that too?! It is almost 11 in the night!

“Hi Vishal. What’s up?” Swati tries to respond as casually as possible

“I was wondering if you are free for lunch tomorrow. I think you also have the day off, right? We could meet and talk”

Oh yeah. I had almost forgotten tomorrow there is no training because of the national holiday here. But, that would give me more time with HH, why should I spend it with Vishal. Should I? Shouldn’t I? “Hmm, ok, sure, let me know when and where and I’ll be there” I better get this over with. And I do have this stupid craving to know what he wants to talk about

“I’ll come pick you up. Message me the address of your hotel”


Swati starts regretting her agreeing to go out with Vishal. What if he starts talking about how we left things behind us? Am I ready to reiterate them in my memory? Those painful memories? I am in a happy place after a long time. Should I really be jinxing it all? Well, what is done is done. Let me see what he has to say at least.

The next day, right at noon, Vishal knocks on Swati’s hotel room’s door.  Swati opens the door and sees a very handsome Vishal smiling at her. He is wearing a light blue formal shirt with a pair of dark blue jeans, both with such perfect fit that it looked like he was flaunting his body, a causal wide brown belt with matching brown shoes and a pair of sunglasses from out of an 80’s movie. He gives an appreciative glance at Swati’s dress. I hope this isn’t too much for a lunch date with an ex-boyfriend. Oh well, what the heck. So what if he is peering at me? I am not going to let it dampen my spirit in the least.

Vishal takes Swati to a very posh restaurant and Swati lets out a low whistle as they enter the place. The huge hall, the exquisite tables and chairs, the perfect ambience with soothing karaoke music, impeccably dressed waiters with a stance so straight that it looked as if they were puppets. Vishal and Swati order for their food and begin to talk.

“So, tell me what’s happening in your life? After college I guess…that’s where we left off, huh?”

“That’s quite a lot to answer in one shot, isn’t it? I mean…it’s like almost 10 years of my life that you are asking for, here. If I have to summarize it, parents went to Hubli to take care of my grandpa after my grandma’s death so I stay alone in Bangalore. I work for a software company called TLWB in Residency road. I have a busy work life so not many friends, but there are a few special ones that I hang out with. Haven’t really kept in touch with anyone from college. That’s it”

“That was quick! I don’t know if you are going to ask me the same question or not, but I’ll still tell you that nothing interesting ever happened in my life after college….” And then as an afterthought he adds “after you…after us I guess”

Swati’s cheeks turn red hot as they do whenever she gets embarrassed. She tries to hide them but in vain. Vishal keeps his hand on top of Swati’s on the table and looks at her eye-to-eye.

“I have missed you, Swati Murthy”

If only these words had come out of your mouth about 10 years back, Vishal. I was dying to hear how much you missed me then. But now, now, does it make a difference? Sure, we both are still single and still things CAN happen between us, but am I at that place now? No, I think I would rather be with Siddharth. But what am I doing with him too? I still don’t know what happened that night on our way back from Coorg. I still don’t know why he hasn’t mentioned anything about us being so close to anyone. I still don’t know what he feels about me, though with all the flirting that we do, it seems like there is a real connection somewhere. But I can’t just go on with my feelings, can I? I need some sort of acceptance from him. I need to talk to him as soon as I get back, I guess

“Do you miss me?” Vishal interrupts her thoughts, waiting for an answer

Swati remains quiet for a long time before answering. “To be frank, I don’t know …I don’t know if I miss you Vishal. I know I did miss you after we split up…but now, I am not so sure. There are a lot of things going on in my life right now, and this can’t be one among them. I have way too many things to think about”

“Like what?”

“I don’t feel very comfortable discussing those with you right now. We’ve met after so long, I think I’ll take some time to warm up to you. But time is what I don’t have unfortunately. I’m going back in 2 weeks. So let’s keep this as an acquaintance thing and forget about anything else. What do you think?”

“I don’t agree, Swati. I have a feeling WE are meant to be, that I am the one who will complete your story. I still remember, in college, you used to talk about Namma Story all the time. You used to wonder who that person would be that would complete your story. Would it be your parents, your friends, me even? Remember?”

Swati looks at him, startled for a second. He remembers Namma Story?! That’s like the deepest thing I always think about. I’d even forgotten that I had shared it with him. Oh, the adolescent me!

“I’m flattered you remember all that Vishal. But I’m sorry, I don’t think things will work out for us, you know. I just don’t feel that way"

“Alright. How about this? The next two weeks, whenever time permits from your schedule, you meet me and we’ll talk and take this acquaintance forward and see where we are and how we feel at the end of two weeks. If there is any change from the way you feel now, we’ll see what to do next. If not, I’ll never contact you again, deal?”
Oh those damn persuasive eyes and that sexy voice! How can anyone say no to those?! Swati reluctantly agrees. Maybe I should’ve told Siddharth about Vishal. Maybe he deserved to know what I am up to, so he can let me know of his feelings and I would be sure too.

“Great! Thank you, Swati! You’ll see you won’t regret your decision!”

Oh, but I already do! What am I doing, going around considering other options when I clearly have feelings for Siddharth? Clearly? Am I clear? I need to be clear in my head first! I have always had issues saying no to people! Damn!

Swati reaches home in a half daze, and sees a lot of messages and emails from Siddharth. She dismisses them for the time being and crawls into bed, to clear out her head. But even after tossing and turning around, she doesn’t get any definitive answers from her heart. She hears a knock on her door. Who could it be at this time? And knocking on my door? It isn’t even the cleaning lady’s time yet.

Swati reluctantly gets up from her bed and opens the door. She gasps.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 25

Swati opens her eyes as the pilot announces that they are 15 minutes away from landing in Singapore. When Singapore comes into view in the window, she looks at the buildings with amazement. Wow, such huge buildings! And they all look so shiny and glossy. I can’t wait for the flight to land!

Swati finishes her immigrations check pretty quickly courtesy an officer in a very good mood that morning. She comes out of the airport and tries to grab a cab. She finds one and gives the driver a printout of her hotel confirmation so he could take her to that address. When she arrives at the hotel, Swati is amazed by the hospitality. When she settles down in her huge bedroom-kitchenette-shower-balcony room, she dozes off for an hour.

When Swati gets up, she sets her laptop up, connects it to Wi-Fi available in the hotel and logs in to her official email account as well as her personal one. She sends an email to her manager and her travel desk about her safe arrival and then sifts through her personal emails. She stops as soon as she sees one from Siddharth, titled “Sorry”. She opens it up in a hurry and gasps.

Subject: Sorry

Loca…I wanted to come drop u to the airport as a surprise. But appaji fell ill last night and I got to know just after I left ur place. His neighbor called me and I rushed to Shimoga. I didn’t want to tell u just before your journey. I did get your message. Appaji is a little better now. I will be here for a couple of days. There isn’t very good internet or cellphone reception here, so I might not be reachable. Will email you once I reach Bangalore.

Take care. Hope u had a safe flight.

Oh no! The poor boy. I should talk to him, but how? Damn, I don’t have a phone yet. And he won’t be available online. This is so frustrating! I guess all I can do is to send him an email and wait for his response.

Subject: RE: Sorry

I am so sorry to hear that! I hope your appaji is much better now. What happened? That’s ok that you couldn’t come to the airport. I had an uneventful journey but I am very excited to be here. The place looks awesome. It would have been even better to enjoy with someone if one of you guys were here with me, you know. Anyways, I really want to talk to u but I have no phone right now. I will get one tomorrow when I go to my office branch here before the training. Meanwhile, if you ever come online, ping me! I will keep myself online all the while 
- Swati

Swati then sends an email to her dad and waits for a response from Siddharth the whole day but doesn’t have luck. He must be busy, what am I doing thinking he will respond to my email when he is with a sick parent? I think I am just wasting my time here, waiting for his email. I should be going out, exploring the city. It was such a short flight. I am hardly tired too. I know what to do! I’ll treat myself to dinner tonight, after I explore a good enough place to eat.

The Italian place that Swati decides as a good place to dine in, proves worthy of choice and Swati ends up having a fabulous meal. Not bad, many people talk in English and I am having absolutely no problem in managing on my own. This is nice. I feel like I am alone with my thoughts after a long time. Much like that walk I went on, in Coorg. But HH had to be there! Maybe it was all planned by God, for me to meet him there, for us to talk to each other and explore each other; and for us to become so close to each other! Swati’s face gives birth to a smile automatically as she thinks of Siddharth.

When Swati returns to her hotel, she rushes to her laptop to check if Siddharth had mailed but in vain. She closes her laptop and goes to sleep, preparing herself for a big day ahead.

The next day, Swati calls the same cab guy to pick her up from her hotel and drop her to her Singapore branch office. But when the cab driver hardly takes 10 minutes to reach the destination, Swati decides to walk from the next trip onwards. She gets her new ID card setup, and starts attending the training session. During a break, one of her office colleagues from Singapore comes and hands over a phone to her, saying she could use it to call India numbers too. She immediately calls her parents and talks to them. Then she tries Siddharth’s number but gets the familiar and irritating “The subscriber you have called can’t be reached right now” message

Ufff…I guess he is still in the no reception zone. I hadn’t thought I would miss him so much! After all it’s not been so long that I’ve met him too. Life sure is confusing! I better concentrate on the training for now though.

Swati returns to her hotel late evening and his the bed, completely tired after the day long training session, combined with lot of running around to get her ID and system and everything set up in the new office.

The next two days pass by, with no emails from Siddharth and Swati begins to feel scared. I wonder why he isn’t back to Bangalore yet. It is already Thursday. I should probably check with Rams. I will call her today evening!

That evening, Ramya answers Swati’s call within 2 rings. “Hi babessssssss…how are ya!” she asks excitedly

“How did you know it was me?” Swati asks her with surprise

“Arre, I had stored your number when you had called me on Monday! DUH!”

“Oh…ya…Ok. So what’s up, Rams?” Swati tries to beat around the bush instead of directly asking Ramya about Siddharth

“Nothing much, babes. Everything is as usual. Yella maamool. You say na? Met any hot guys at your training session?” she teases

Swati cringes at the tease. How I wish I can tell you what all I feel about Siddharth, Rams. But you know, initially it would have been much easy to tell you. Now there are too many things and a lot of time has passed. Well, not a lot of time actually, but we have spoken about so much in the few times we have met that it feels like I’ve known him forever. He completes my thoughts in a way no one else can, Rams.

“Not really, Rams! The same old type. You tell me, what’s up with the guys? The gang?” she says, steering the conversation towards Siddharth.

“Well, nothing much, Swats. All of us have been hanging out at office only. It’s been 4 days since you left, what else could happen on weekdays, ha?”

Swati bites her tongue. It is now or never. I need to ask her about Siddharth outright, she isn’t going to talk about him

“Hmmm…how about Siddharth?” she asks casually

“I don’t know Swats. I haven’t heard from him at all. Hmm…ya that’s right. I think the last I spoke to him was when we went out for Jayanth’s treat. He must be busy with work I guess, will call him this weekend”

What?! So he hasn’t even told Rams about his dad? Oh no, the poor guy must be feeling so lonely. Why didn’t he tell anyone? That aside, it’s actually a proud feeling to know that I am the only one he thought of sharing his feelings with…but…he needs people…he needs friends now. Should I tell Rams about it? Maybe not. Maybe there’s a reason that he didn’t tell her about anything. Well, I’ll know only after I talk to him.

“Swats, are you there?!” Ramya shouts, when Swati fails to respond for a good minute, lost in her thoughts.

“Ya, ya. I am here Rams. Sorry, I was just ironing my clothes for tomorrow. Listen Rams, I gotta go. My dinner’s almost ready and I’m famished! I’ll call you in a day or two” and so saying, she ends the conversation.

Weekend arrives, with still no contact from Siddharth. On Saturday, a frustrated and desperate Swati decides to go out and explore the city; maybe do some shopping to take her mind off of Siddharth. She leaves her hotel, hails a cab and reaches Singapore’s favorite shopping destination.

For the next couple of hours, she tries to take Siddharth out of her mind and focuses on shopping for herself. She buys lots of clothes, a handbag and a couple of mobile pouches as gifts for friends and family.

In one of the stores, as Swati stands near a rack of clothes, looking through them and murmuring to herself, she feels a strong hand on her shoulder. She starts to turn around, half-scared, half-angry, all set to kick someone’s ass if required. And then she turns around and comes face to face with her “attacker”.

“Vishal?!” she stares at him in disbelief. “What the hell are you doing here?!!” she shouts, for a minute forgetting about everything that had happened between them and the bitterness with which they had ended their relationship

“Hiya, Swati” Vishal says in a deep voice, the same voice that had attracted Swati to him in the beginning. She eyes him to see how he looks after more than 10 years! He definitely has turned more handsome! And did he like grow tall too? Or maybe because he is so broad shouldered now that he looks taller. He looks much calmer and mature now. I don’t see that crazy streak on his face anymore. When was the last time I had seen him or had heard of him? I can’t even remember that. I know someone telling me that he had shifted to Delhi for a job. Whatever is he doing here?

“What brings you here?” Vishal asks her, bursting her balloon of thoughts and bringing her back to the present

“Ah…I am here on an official visit. How about you?”

“I have been here for more than 3 years now. I work here at a software firm, Swati”

“Oh, that’s nice” Swati says, unable to think of anything else to say. I had thought that the next time I would meet this guy, I would slap him, scream at him at the top of my lungs, be totally angry; but strangely, none of those emotions are coming out of me. Why is that? Have I forgiven him for whatever happened? Have I forgotten the misery I went through after he dumped me? What has changed?

“You look awesome by the way! This hairstyle really suits you” Vishal compliments her

“Thanks, I started hating my short hair soon after college and decided to let it grow long”

“Hmm, nice” Vishal starts noticing Swati for any visible sign that could tell him whether she was married or not. She catches him trying to see whether she’s wearing toe rings beneath her sandals or maybe some black beads near her neck. Swati clears her throat to let him know that she knows about the investigation.

“So…how’s life? Any husband? Kids?” he finally asks, sheepishly

“Life’s pretty good. No, I’m not married…yet, Vishal” she says, and then mentally scolding herself for stressing on the word “yet”. What will he think of me?!

“Oh, ok” he smiles, as if he is pleased with Swati’s response

“How about you?” she asks him, the next obvious question

“Me neither, actually” he blushes. Oh, for God’s sake! This soooo isn’t the Vishal I remember! Or at least this isn’t how he was when we parted ways…correction, not parted ways, he dumped me! The anger starts to build inside Swati now at a slight pace.

“Oh. Well, okay then, it was nice meeting you. I gotta go now, see ya” Swati says and tries to turn around to leave the place when she feels Vishal’s hand on her elbow, trying to pull her back. She turns around.

“How about we have dinner tonight? We could hang out, and talk about our college and friends, maybe?”

“There isn’t much to talk about, dude. And I have plans tonight, sorry!” Swati responds quickly, trying to get out of the situation as fast as possible

“Hmmm, okay. Give me your number at least, I’ll call you sometime?”

I can’t give an excuse to this one. Besides, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he gives me a call sometime, I guess. I am anyways, all alone in this place and I don’t have much to do till I leave.

“Here you go” Swati writes down her number on a piece of paper and hands it over to Vishal. He thanks her and leaves from the place.

Swati’s mind, mood and feelings take a U-turn and she returns to her college days, thinking of the times that she and Vishal had had. The way I used to feel when he made me laugh. The way I used to feel about the secrecy we had. Come to think of it, what I have with HH, whatever that is, is also in secrecy. Why is that? Is it intentional? Why hasn’t he said anything to Rams even? Does he feel ashamed to be seen with me or something? So thinking, Swati decides to return to her hotel. I am in no mood for shopping or dinner. I think I need a good night’s sleep to get over all these thoughts in my mind.

Swati reaches her hotel just when the sun is about to set. The deep shade of orange makes me feel weighed down. I feel so lost. I know I will be in darkness soon. But, as a wise person once told me, I should start loving myself. If I get into the hotel, into the comfort of lights and TV and internet, I will be fine in no time! Feeling a little optimistic, Swati reaches her room, changes into her comfortable night clothes and lies down on the bed, turns on the TV and takes her laptop onto her lap and starts browsing on the internet.

18 new emails! Wow, just in about 5 hrs time. Let’s see who has contacted me and why! Swati stops at Siddharth’s email right in the end of the unread emails list. She checks the time. Shucks! He has emailed me just about 5 minutes after I left on my shopping trip! Argh! This is so coincidental…and bad coincidence at that.

Subject: RE: RE: Sorry

Hey there….First of all, I am sorry. And as I say sorry, my hands are holding my ears. I promise, chica loca. I know I haven’t contacted you in a long while. As I said, I was facing some network problems. Finally, I have reached Bangalore! And I will be available online now. whats up with you? how r u? hope u are not too bored huh?
I’ll be waiting for ur email. C ya!

Swati gets the widest smile on her face looking at Siddharth’s email. Yes! Finally! Now I have someone to talk to! She quickly checks her chat window to see if he is still online. Away! But still, he is back! Yay!

Swati responds to Siddharth’s email and asks him to message her whenever he comes online the next time.

The chatting begins on Saturday night for Swati and ends at 3 AM. She types away at a speed unknown to her and reveals so many feelings and thoughts inside of her, to Siddharth, that she in her conscious self, didn’t even know existed.

Getintouchwithswats: I better sleep now, it’s 3!!
Mailsid_999: it’s still 12:30 here :P I have loads of time left
Getintouchwithswats: I really need to go, my HH. I am damn sleepy, although I don’t know how the last 5 hrs flew by!! My god, we’ve chatting for more than 5 hrs now!
Mailsid_999: funny thing, I just counted the number of hours too ;)
Getintouchwithswats: u sooo get me dude!
Mailsid_999: nah, I’l get u when u come back ;)
Getintouchwithswats: Ooo, flirting n all! Nice :P now lemme get to sleep, goodnight HH, u go sleep too. Sweet dreams
Mailsid_999: m sure that I will have sweet dreams :P gnite!

Swati sleeps peacefully during the night. She wakes up at 12 noon and without even getting up from her bed, opens her laptop to check her emails. OH MY GOD! And yes, the oh my God has to be in capital letters in my mind too! 31 emails from Siddharth! He really is crazy!

Swati sifts through all 31 emails from Siddharth. Most of them were just one liners asking her whether she had a nice sleep, whether she was up yet, telling her he missed her etc. In a couple of them, he had shared a few photos of his childhood with her, and mp3s of a couple of his favorite songs. Swati smiles looking at the emails. Just as she opens her chat window to let him know she was up, she sees Ramya’s chat window pop up. She says “hi!” and without waiting for a response from Swati, starts typing about her date with Prateek the previous night, what happened, where they went, what did they do, what did they have etc. Not now, Rams! I wanna talk to Siddharth, not you…I am selfish I know…but, I really need to spend this time with Siddharth. Who knows, from the beginning I’ve been thinking, who is going to complete my story…it might just be Siddharth. He might be the one to make my story, our story, the one I always call “Namma Story”!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 24

Should I tell him how I feel? Am I sure how I feel about him? It’s too early. No no, I think it is better I keep quiet. If he has something to say, he will. But what if he doesn’t say anything? I think I should still keep quiet about it. Maybe for the time being? Swati contemplates the “ifs and buts” on her way back home with Siddharth

“What you thinking, loca?” Siddharth asks her in a muffled voice from behind his helmet

“Nothing” shouts Swati

“It better be nothing, because I don’t want you to worry about something and not tell me, okay?”

“Yes boss” Swati smiles. This guy does have a caring side to him, just that he doesn’t make it apparent to others. My first impression about him was so wrong. But maybe because I got so far with him, I am getting to know the real him. For others who meet him only once or twice, he would come across as arrogant and unfriendly!

They reach Swati’s place in record time, courtesy Siddharth’s biking skills. Swati tells Siddharth to wait as she goes into her bedroom to change. She comes back wearing a checked, baggy cotton night pant and an oversized cream colored sweater jersey. Siddharth eyes her for a good amount of time before talking to her.

Is it my dress? Why is he looking at me like that? I knew I should have worn my cute night suit! Damn!

“You look all warm and cute in that...whatever you are wearing” Siddharth says finally. Swati blushes and smiles. Then both of them say it together “Coffee?”

“Haha! I was about to offer you some. Let me go make it” and Swati goes into the kitchen. 10 minutes later, she gets 2 cups of piping hot coffee in big mugs and hands one over to Siddharth

“Mmm, feels awesome in this weather” she says after taking a sip, making a mouth-watering expression

“Yup, it sure is. This is awesome, chica loca”
They enjoy their coffees in silence and lost in thoughts. I feel so attracted to him. But I don’t know the difference between being attracted and having loving feelings. Are they the same? Or are they different? How can I find out what it is that I am feeling? The current is so apparent between us.

“I am going to miss you when I am in Singapore”

“You know what, I was thinking of the same thing, loca. I haven’t really had any girl for a friend, and I must say, I am really liking this whatever we have. Don’t worry, we’ll stay in touch and it’s not like you’ll be gone forever, right? It’s just for a month”

“That’s true”. Very smart. He didn’t once mention that he would miss me

Swati waits, expecting for something to happen, for Siddharth to tell her about the kiss, or for him to try to do it again, or anything for that matter. But nothing happens and finally, Siddharth gets up to leave

“I better get going, man. You must have some last minute packing and stuff to do, right? And oh ya, Rams was telling me that she was coming here to help you with everything, right?”

“Yup, she’ll be here in the next hour or so. That reminds me, she’s going to freak out if she hears about this and that we also met at Coffee Day the other day!” Swati puts it out there, on the table for discussion. Now he will HAVE to tell me why he didn’t mention about Coffee Day when we went out for lunch yesterday, in front of everyone

“She’ll freak out only when she gets to know about it, right?” Siddharth winks at her

“So, you’re not going to tell her?” Swati asks in disbelief

“Nah, I don’t think so. How about you? Of course, she’s your best friend and you’ll DEFINITELY tell her, right?” Siddharth mocks her, stressing on the word “definitely” as though telling her to do the exact opposite.

“Rrr…right. Yes, yes...I will…I will tell her” Swati ends the sentence convincing her own self more than convincing Siddharth

“Just as I thought, see ya then, chica loca….and happy journey, man. Take care, will you?” he says and comes over to give Swati a quick hug. Swati responds, but before she can say anything, he leaves, making Swati feel totally empty. That’s it? I don’t even get a proper hug for going on a trip to Singapore? I might just start hating him again. Uff!

An hour later, Ramya arrives at Swati’s house with full-fledged enthusiasm. “Oooo, I am so jealous of you, babes! Going to Singapore! And that too on an all-expenses paid trip from office!”

“It’s not a vacation, Rams! I have to attend training everyday”

“But you’ll get the weekends to yourself, won’t you?”

“Ha, that I will”

“Promise me you’ll explore all the places nearby and also visit Malaysia. I’ve seen pictures of there, Swats. It’s a beeeaautifulll place. You just HAVE to go there!”

“Alright, alright, I will Rams” Swati laughs, totally infected by Ramya’s enthusiasm

Ramya helps Swati decide on what ultimately she gets to take on the trip and what not. All during Ramya’s stay, Swati tries to tell her about her two “kind-of” dates with Siddharth, but she never musters up enough courage to get it out of her. Damn you, HH. You KNEW I wouldn’t be able to say anything to Rams, not after you have dirtied it with your winks and stares. UGH! But I need to tell Rams sometime or the other. Oh well, I’ll think about it after I get back from Singapore. It’s too late to worry about anything anyway

At 10 in the night, Ramya leaves Swati’s place, after hugging her thrice, shedding a few tears (Oh she is so dramatic) and telling her to call as soon as she reaches Singapore

“Of course, I will, Rams. And it is just a 5 hour flight. I will be there by tomorrow noon IST. I will call you as soon as I arrange for a phone”

“Okay, safe journey babes! I will miss you so much! Even though we don’t meet daily when you are here, it is particularly saddening to know that you won’t be here for a month if I need you for anything”

“Aww, I will be just a phone call or message away, Rams. And don’t worry, you’ll have Prat and the other guys to give you company, right?”

Ramya finally gets convinced and leaves. Swati closes the door behind her and calls her parents

“Hello, Amma” she says in a croaked voice

“Putti, yen aaithu? What happened? Are you crying?” her mom asks in an alarmed tone

Swati tries to gather as much calmness as possible before responding “No, ma. I felt like I would though. I am kinda feeling lonely before traveling. A kind of emptiness that I am unable to explain”

“I get it, Swati. I felt the same way when I had to leave you there in Bangalore and come here too. But there are certain times in our lives when we have to step up and stick to our decisions, right? And I also know you are feeling that way because your Appa and I couldn’t come and be there with you now. You know Appa can’t miss his deputation. And when he isn’t here, I can’t leave your grandpa alone, alwa?” her mom says in a soothing voice

Maybe listening to someone talk soothingly is all you need when you are sad and lonely.  And all the better if it is coming from a mom. Swati smiles “I know, Amma. It’s alright. I have real good friends here who take care of me.”

“So all packing and everything done, putti?”

“Ha, ma…almost done”

“I hope you have kept the chakkali, kodbale, avlakki packets I had couriered last week?”
I knew she was going to ask this. No matter how many times I tell her I can’t carry these things, she will never get it. Moms will be moms, always worrying about their children
“Yes, Amma. I have kept all those packets” Swati lies keeping her fingers crossed. How can I tell you that the guys at office devoured it within a matter of minutes when the packets were delivered last week?!

“Good, good. Ok, talk to your Appa. He has been eagerly waiting to talk to you ever since you called. And Swati, take care of yourself, okay. And call us once you reach there. I will be waiting” Swati’s mom says in a croaked voice

“Sure, Amma. Don’t worry. I will call you as soon as I reach”

“Swati! I am so proud of you” her dad’s voice comes on the phone. This is at least the tenth time you’ve said that Appa. I love you for that!

“I know, Appa, thank you!” Appa always knows how to get me back into my elements

“Did you email me your itinerary so I can check with the airport when your flight lands?” her tech-savvy dad asks her

“Yes. Appa. I have sent it to you just a few minutes back. But don’t worry and I told this to Amma too. I will call you as soon as I get my hands on a phone, okay?”

“Okay, happy journey, and have lot of fun and keep emailing photos. I will show them to your mom”

“Haha, ok, Appa, bye now. Talk to you when I reach Singapore”

If only they had been here. I would have had some company till the airport at least. Now I have to go there all alone. It’s not like no one offered, but why should anyone spoil their Sunday because of me? I can go by myself. Swati checks all her documents, her suitcases and her handbag before hitting the bed and sets her alarm for 3 AM. For my 7:30 AM flight, this should be sufficient time. The cab’s going to pick me at 3:45 in the morning. Wow, I will hardly get 4 hours of sleep.

Swati twists and tosses around in her sleep making slight noises in between and not feeling comfortable at all. When the alarm rings at 3, she gets up without a single snooze and heads straight to her bathroom to get ready. After a quick shower, she gets dressed in completely warm clothes. Brrr….it is a damn cold morning. DAMN damn cold! I am glad I have this sweater AND the jacket on. I wouldn’t have otherwise survived this cold wind…..what is with Siddharth? I thought he would at least message me once he reached home last evening, but he never did. I won’t contact him unless he does. It might make me look totally desperate!

Swati’s cab arrives on time and she reaches the airport too, on time. With no hitches in the check-in and security check, Swati reaches her departure gate. She checks the time. 6:45. Not bad. I have almost an hour to spare. I better grab some breakfast. I’m famished!

After breakfast, Swati browses through a magazine to pass time until the departure. Finally, the boarding call happens and Swati enters the flight. When the air hostess announces that it is time to switch off mobile devices, Swati suddenly thinks of Siddharth. I should send him a message. Even if he’s sleeping, he can at least see it when he gets up. My last message from this number for a while. She types “hey HH, no msg since u left yday? Me in the flight. Wil mis u. call u when I reach. Bye ” and quickly sends it to Siddharth and switches off her phone.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 23

What do I wear? Casual or traditional or sexy? I feel like I am going on my first date with this guy. Back in college, I never felt this kind of indecisiveness. What I wore to college made for our dates. I never thought about all this back then!

Swati takes out at least half a dozen outfits from her wardrobe and stands in front of her mirror to check out the dress she would look best in. In the “Oh no, not this” pile, she throws the following:
A pair of dark blue jeans and a light grey top
A yellow printed skirt and brown top
A pair of light blue jeans and a maroon kurta
A pair of grey color capris and a black tee

She gets dejected. Is there nothing good for me to wear for my lunch with Siddharth? What do I do now? Should I go buy something? But there isn’t enough time left before I have to go meet him. What do I do? WHAT DO I DO?

Swati catches sight of something underneath her huge pile of clothes. She drags it out and sees it is her sweater cum frock, the one that she had bought last winter on one of her shopping sprees with Ramya. However, she had not got a good occasion till date to wear it. I had totally forgotten about this! This is perfect! Swati tries it on to check the fit and see how she would look in it as it had been a long time since she had tried it on. She lets out a couple of low whistles looking at her image in the mirror. The smooth sweater material feels awesome on her skin, the ink blue color suits her complexion perfectly, and the length is not too less, not too much. The neck of the dress is very different, full of layers and yet a little deep. I feel so warm in this dress. And God! I look like a dream! Is this too much? Will be read between the lines? DID HE KISS ME the other day? Why am I unable to take it out of my thoughts? I know why. It is because I felt awesome, whether it happened or not... I need to look at what accessories will go with this dress now

After careful deliberation, Swati chooses a bangle cum bracelet made of bronze colored material, her new paper-thin watch which was so thin that if you strap it on to your wrist, only time was visible and nothing else. It was as if time was being displayed on one’s wrist directly. That will be perfect. My hair and footwear; two more things to think about. I’ll just leave my hair down, it looks like I’m having an awesome-hair day! Footwear…hmmm….no heels! I will end up looking taller than him! But flats won’t go with this dress….let me see what I got. And then she finally decides on a pair of bronze colored sandals with about 1 inch heel.

Swati takes a leisure bath, singing to herself in the shower and relaxing under the hot water on that cold morning. She then gets out, dries her hair but leaves it a little wet instead of drying it completely, and starts getting ready. By the time she is almost done, she gets a call from Siddharth. Her heart starts pounding, looking at his name flash on the screen of her cellphone. I can never understand why he has that effect on me


“Hey loca, all set for lunch?” That confident flirtatious voice. Gosh, I feel all warm inside

“Yup, where are we meeting?”

“Depends. What do you feel like having?”

“Hmmmmm….anything will do”

“I hate that. Almost every girl you ask this question to, has the same answer!”

“Oye, don’t be gender biased okay?!” Swati shouts at him

“I so am not! I may be a lot of other things, but gender-biased, I am not” protests Siddharth. Swati smiles, feeling a sort of sadistic inward happiness to have irritated Mr. Cool

“Okay, okay. Let me think of an answer. Hmm… Chinese!”

“Chinese? Okay. I know this really awesome Chinese food place at the top floor of Garuda Mall. Have you been there? Chinese Budhdha?”

“Fortunately, no! I haven’t been there, and it’s good as I was so looking forward to visit a place that I’ve never been to, you know”

“Ya ya, I know my chica loca is very adventurous and wants to try new food places” Swati blushes at the mention of “my” in Siddharth’s sentence

“That I am” she says, with a lot of confidence

“It is almost 12:30 now. I’ll come over to pick you up in about half hour? Is that okay?”

“Listen, you need not come till here to pick me up. Come to the mall directly and I’ll be there” Swati offers

“Are you sure? That would be great actually, and we’ll save some time” If I had said the same thing to Jayanth, he would have insisted on coming over her to pick me up

“Yes, yes, I am sure. I’ll catch an auto though. There’s hardly any petrol in my car and I’m too bored to go to a petrol bunk before I get there”

“Is this your way of secretly asking me if I can drive you back home? Because if it is, my answer is yes, only if you make me some coffee at home”

Swati smiles and replies in the affirmative.
Once they hang up, Swati takes one final look in the mirror and is impressed. She stands tall, eye makeup carefully covering her dark circles, hair left a little wet and totally glossy, confident attitude and a big smile on her thin lips. She takes an umbrella, her handbag and leaves to get to the mall

As Swati reaches the mall, she gets a call from Siddharth informing her that he is parking his vehicle in the basement and that he will meet her directly at the restaurant. Swati catches the lift to 5th floor directly and enters the restaurant, chooses an empty table by the window, and waits for Siddharth to arrive.

Siddharth arrives about 10 minutes later while an angry Swati waits for him. I am pretty sure he wasn’t in the basement when he called me! Grrrr! I believed him like a fool! Let him come here, I won’t talk to him! All of Swati’s inner thoughts go for a toss as soon as she lays her eyes on Siddharth entering the restaurant. Wow, he isn’t conventionally handsome or anything, but the way he carries himself is so awesome. I wish I could be THAT confident! Swati stares at a “I didn’t have time to comb my hair coz I was in a hurry” Siddharth, wearing an ink blue jacket, much similar to the color of Swati’s dress, and what looked like a striped t-shirt inside and light blue jeans. He looked like a biker, with complete attitude and accessories

Siddharth locates Swati near the window and gives an “I’m so sorry” expression, holding both his ears. Awww, that cute face. Don’t play that cute face card with me. All my anger is gone now!

Swati smiles and Siddharth relaxes. He approaches the table and hangs his jacket onto the chair and seats himself. “I am so so sorry chica loca!” he says, again with the same expression and holding his ears

“It’s okay. I’ve been waiting for just about 15 minutes”

“Ouch! Insult taken and processed, ma’am” he says

He has this uncanny ability to turn anything into humor and it doesn’t look like he takes anything to heart or serious enough. He is happy and carefree and makes sure people around him are, too. I remember that Gujarathi  phrase “Majjani life”. It is so apt for him!

Swati and Siddharth order their food and start chatting. Siddharth’s phone starts to ring, and he says “My dad seems to have the perfect timing. Remember, he called me the other day when I was with you too?” he says, picking up his phone to answer the call. Swati just smiles

Siddharth asks his father’s well-being and does some small talk for a minute. And then raises his voice to shout at his dad. “Appaji, don’t do that! How many times….” Swati glares at him. She then signals him to talk in a lower volume. Siddharth reduces his voice and also changes the tone of his talk. “Alla Appaji, you don’t take care of your health and you don’t come here to live with me. Now, I can’t come and be there with you, you understand that, don’t you?”

Then some silence and “Ahha, uhu, hmmm”s in between. And then he finally hangs up. He looks up at Swati’s face sheepishly. “I’m sorry” is all he manages.

“Don’t be sorry to me. Say sorry to your dad! He is so lonely there, why can’t you get that?”

“I know all that, okay? But I can’t be all soft and all that while talking to him. If I started doing that, he wouldn’t recognize me as his son” he winks at her, but this time Swati doesn’t fall prey to his charms. She crosses her hands and gives him a finality look.

“Okay, the truth is…I guess, on some level, I haven’t forgiven him for getting such a step mother into my life. I hated her, loca. I did. She was really bad to me”

Swati sees the sadness in his light brown eyes. She feels sad for this guy seated in front of her. Everyone does have problems, it is true. The way they portray themselves to the outside world is sooo different from how they are.

“I know that Siddharth. But remember what you said on Coorg? Maybe it was just bad timing then, and your dad had to take certain decisions, even to help you lead you better life maybe. You have to stop taking it out on him now. He is very old now. And what will you ever get by taking this sort of revenge on him? He needs you at this point in life”

“I know, man. I do. And I try to be that son sometimes but either my anger or the extent to which I’ve gotten used to my behavior always steps in and I turn violent”

“I do that to my parents too, but at the end of the day, I don’t really feel bad about it because I know at least they have each other to talk through the rough times, right? But your appaji is alone”

“How many times do I have to tell you that I know all that? I know, man and I am trying okay? Give me some time here” Siddharth says with a tinge of anger

Swati suddenly feels a little too intruding. I shouldn’t have probably spoken to him about all that. Heck, I thought he needed some of it, but maybe I went too far?

“I’m sorry, I think I stepped the line here” she says quietly

“Don’t go all sorry on me now! You were right in saying all that, now don’t be sorry”
He sure is confused. I was right in saying all that, still it made him angry. And he doesn’t even want to accept my apology. What is wrong with him! Ugh, to think I spoiled a perfectly good lunch date. When will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut or at least stop talking at the right time?

Realizing that Swati hasn’t spoken for a while, Siddharth makes an effort to lessen his anger and starts to talk “I know what you are thinking right now. You are feeling sorry for yourself. You are thinking ‘Oh no, I should have kept my mouth shut. Oh no, I should have drawn a line’, right?”

Swati doesn’t respond for a minute. What am I supposed to say now? If I say yes, he will pass a general comment. If I say no, he’ll say I’m lying. I know that. Stop looking at me, expecting for an answer, pleaaaase! Alright, you just won’t stop staring at me, will you? Those eyes! Okay, here you go

“Ya” she says

“Dude, I’m sorry okay? I shouldn’t have been angry with you, but it sometimes gets on my nerves. Frankly, I don’t like anyone interfering with my life and thoughts, but with you, I don’t know. I feel kinda safe. I don’t feel odd discussing anything with you”

He feels the same way that I do! I feel comfortable talking about anything under the sun with him. Why didn’t I ever feel this with Jayanth? Maybe because he wasn’t as crazy as me? Maybe I didn’t know it myself that I was crazy until Siddharth pointed it out to me?

“I feel the same way too, you knoe. And hey, you don’t feel bad about it still, do you?”

“No, I don’t. But do you even remember what I told you? Cut yourself some slack, babe. You are awesome just the way you are. Don’t think too much into anything. And another thing, even if I get angry or shout at you sometimes, bear with me. I think you have that capacity to bear me, and that’s why I am asking you. Can you do that for me?”

“Of course, I can” Swati gives a wide grin and pinches Siddharth’s cheeks suddenly for which his cheeks turn red.

They continue their talk for a long time, through main course and desserts and finally it’s time for them to leave.

Siddharth then asks Swati to wait near the basement as he gets his bike out, and they start their journey towards Swati’s house.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 22

Friday, at 20 minutes to 1, Jayanth comes to Swati’s desk and calls her aside. “Can we go to the terrace for a few minutes before we leave for lunch, Swats?”

Oh my God! Don’t make it all weird again, pleeeeeeease! Why is he inviting me to the terrace? I don’t have a choice; I guess I better go with him. He has THAT look again, that desperation. I feel bad for him sometimes but other times, I get irritated. Sad but true

Swati follows Jayanth up the stairs, and he invites her to sit on an empty table. Swati sits down, with her heart pounding fast, clearly not feeling ready to face whatever it was that Jayanth was going to tell her or the reason that he had called her there.

“You must be wondering why I asked you to come here, right?” Jayanth says, almost as if reaching Swati’s mind

“Ya” Swati says simply, not knowing what else to say

“Swats, you are traveling to Singapore this weekend, and I will not be in this office by the time you get back. So I wanted to gift you something as a token of our friendship for all these years. We will be living in the same city but to be frank, I don’t know how often we can keep meeting. We can plan all we want, but I have seen it with some of my old friends, Swati. We plan most weekends but we never end up meeting. Someone or the other is always busy. And I am sure it will be that way with us too.”

Swati starts to protest, but Jayanth shakes his head “Don’t protest, Swats. I know that is how it is going to be. So, here you go” Jayanth hands her a gift wrapped cylindrical roll -shaped tin.

“I don’t know what to say, Jayanth”

“Don’t say anything. Just open it and let me know what you think of it!” Jayanth tells her. Aww, he seems so excited. And the gift looks pretty awesome too. I am pretty sure Jayanth remembered that red is my favorite color, that is why he chose this simple red wrapping paper.

Swati opens the box eagerly, and sees a thick paper rolled inside the tin. She opens it and sees that it’s a collage. A collage made of photos of Jayanth and her, taken at various places like their office, team outings, pub, in Swati’s house etc.

“Oh my Gosh!! It is amazing, Jayanth! This is like one of the best gifts I have EVER received! This is beautiful! I didn’t even remember getting clicked in so many photos with you! I swear!” she tells him with complete enthusiasm evident on her face.

“Ya, well. I have all the photos with me. If you want the soft copies, tell me! And I am glad you liked it. To be frank, I wanted to bid farewell on a good note because things have been pretty weird with us lately, Swats. I hope they improve by the time you meet me next. And who knows, you might miss me so much when you are away from me that you might realize I am THE ONE for you when you get back” Jayanth ends his speech on a mischievous note

Swati gives a whole hearted smile, looking at Jayanth’s enthusiasm and efforts to win her. “You know something?! You are crazy” she says and punches his shoulder playfully. Jayanth returns it with a push on her elbow.

“Thanks for the gift, dude. It’s really awesome! I am kinda speechless right now. So many memories, all wrapped up in a single sheet of paper. It looks like there are more than 20 photos in here!”

“There are 26” Jayanth replies with a wide smile

“Wow! I need some time to see all of it and remember the times we’ve spent; although the duration hasn’t been that long that we have known each other!”

“Hmmm, true. It’s been almost 2 years now, that’s all”

They get up and hug each other for a minute, when Swati can feel all of Jayanth’s emotions running through her, in his hold of her. His hands are almost trembling, his heart is beating so fast. Come to think of it, mine is too. No matter how many times I tell myself that change is but, inevitable, it is really scary to be a part of changes, especially with people moving out of your life.

Swati & Jayanth finally leave and reach Pizza Hut on time, to see the rest of the gang, except Siddharth already there. Damn! Where is he?!

“Hey, Jaaaaaaaaai! There you are! I hope you have enough money with you, cause we have no plans of getting back to office till late afternoon” Ramya shouts and laughs, as she hugs Jayanth and Swati

“Anything you want, Rams!”

As if to answer Swati’s wandering eyes, Ramya announces that she had spoken to Siddharth a few minutes back and that he was going to be a little late. “Stuck with work” is what he had told her. Swati fumes. What stuck with work ya. I was sooo looking forward to meeting him

She sends him a message

“Heard u’r gonna be late?”

“Yup, sorry loca! Will be there asap"

I have two minds about this whole thing! I have a lot of friends here and I should actually be talking to them instead of feeling bad that Siddharth isn’t here. Or should I think of what I like the most and focus on that than being a socially good mannered friend? Now that he is not here, I might as well talk to these guys. These are my friends, after all!

Swati joins in the conversation happening at their table. The topic of discussion is Jayanth’s new job.

“Wow, awesome! With your new salary figures, I’m sure to be your best friend, buddy!” Prateek says jokingly after Jayanth tells them all how much he is going to start making after he joins the new company.

“So, any lucky girl? Any marriage plans on the cards?” they all ask him. Jayanth looks towards Swati for a second before answering that question

“Not yet, haven’t been as lucky as you guys, Rams and Prat! But my family’s been pestering me for more than a year now, to get married. I have already crossed that magic number of 30, you know. So they are all worried and all that. But I am not sure I want to get hitched so soon”

“Aww! Don’t worry, that special someone is out there, and you will find her before you know it. Although I would say you shouldn’t be like Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother” Ramya says and laughs. She then takes a quick glance towards Swati to see her reaction but moves on, finding no reaction whatsoever. She then turns her gaze back to Jayanth, shrugs her shoulders and gives him a look that seems to say “I’m sorry. I tried my best”. Jayanth smiles back at her, and mouths a silent “thank you”

They all order and then continue their chat while they wait for their pizzas to arrive. Meanwhile, Siddharth enters the restaurant wearing a dark grey warm jacket. Mmmm, he looks soooo warm, perfect for this weather. I wish I could hug him, Swati thinks, looking at him. Siddharth looks at her first before looking at others, gives her a wide smile and waves his hand. He then does the same with the gang.

“There you are! It’s been so long. I think the last we all saw you was on our Coorg trip!” Ramya exclaims as Siddharth takes the empty chair next to Swati and hangs his jacket onto the chair. Swati silently thanks God for the empty chair next to her and for the fact that Siddharth chose to sit on it and not on the empty chair next to Avinash.

“Yup! I think that’s the last you all saw of me” Siddharth says and turns towards Swati and winks at her. Hmmm, so this guy doesn’t want to tell everyone about our Coffee Day visit. Alright, I’ll play along!

“So, my man, Jayanth. How have you been? You should have joined us on the Coorg trip, man! It was really good. And it was memorable for a lot of reasons, what say guys?” Siddharth continues, and again looks towards Swati and flashes his most confident smile. Yup, it was memorable for sure!

“Ya, I should have! That trip is all that Swati talks about lately. Which makes me think, you know, I should have really been there!”

“Oh reeeallly? Is that what Swati talks about, all the time?” Siddharth says mischievously and Swati feels her cheeks turn hot and red. She doesn’t say anything in fear, lest she sound love struck

“Ya, man! And I saw the pics you had clicked too. Really awesome ones. We should plan another trip soon and I’ll definitely join in this time” Jayanth tells the gang

“We should, definitely! I was talking to Swati about this the other day, but she said she’s going to Singapore, right, Swati? Isn’t that what you said?” Argh! How dare he put me on the spot when my cheeks are still red and warm from embarrassment?

“Ya” is the only thing she manages at that time

“I think we should wait till she gets back to plan our next trip, what say guys?” he says and again looking back at her and grinning. He’s clearly enjoying this, putting me on the spot! Well, not for long and Swati kicks him under the table. Siddharth realizes and doesn’t shout out loud, but refrains from asking other questions and picking on her.
Everyone agrees that they would plan for another trip after Swati returns from her Singapore trip. By that time, their food arrives, and they all eat mostly in silence because they are all famished. Towards the end of the meal, Ramya takes out a gift wrapped box and hands it over to Jayanth. She looks at Swati’s surprised face and gives her a reassuring look that says “calm down”.

“This is from all of us here, Jaaaai. Hope you like it! And good luck with your new job!” Ramya tells him. Jayanth looks up in surprise, and gives a wide smile. “Thanks, you guys! All this wasn’t necessary though! With these gifts and all, it feels like a farewell, but I’m not going anywhere. I am just changing my job!”

“We still wanted to do this, you know, to wish you loads of luck” Ramya insists. Jayanth opens up the gift and sees it is an ensemble of formal clothes; a formal shirt, trousers, tie, belt and a watch. “Wow, I don’t know what to say! Everything is amazing!” he exclaims

“All my boyfriend’s choices” Ramya beams looking towards Prateek, who just squeezes her palm to return the adoration and love
Jayanth pays the bill when it arrives, and everyone starts getting ready to leave. Swati signals Ramya to wait for her after everyone goes out. “What’s up?” Ramya asks her

“Babes, a gift for Jayanth? And you didn’t even tell me! I wanted to pool in too!” Swati complains

“I forgot babes. I am so sorry! And I had your name on it already. You owe me 800 bucks”

“Thanks, Rams. But you know, you have had hardly any time to talk to me ever since you and Prat started going around” Swati complains like a little kid

“Awwwwwh! My sweetie! I am sorry, Swats. I will try to make sure I have enough time for us, okay? But that said, I think you will understand how this is once you get hooked up, you know. You will feel like spending every minute with the person you love. At least in the beginning, that’s what I’ve heard” Ramya winks her eyes

“Uh huh” I already feel almost that way with Siddharth. Does this mean I am in love with him? Come on, that is so not possible. I have met him like 4-5 times till now!

“So hey, you are leaving on Sunday, right? How about we meet for lunch tomorrow? We can spend some time together and I can help you pack or shop or whatever it is that you need!” Ramya asks her

Swati almost bites her tongue. Tomorrow! That’s when Siddharth and I have planned to meet. How can I say no to Rams? After all, I haven’t spent time with her for a long time too!

As Swati thinks of ways to reject Ramya’s offer, Ramya suddenly exclaims “Uh oh! Not lunch, babes. Can we meet in the evening for coffee or something? I just remembered I am meeting a prospective client for lunch tomorrow!”

“Oh, ok, sure, ya, that works for me. How about 6? You let me know where you are and I’ll find the nearest café and we could meet there!” Swati says, in absolute relief that she doesn’t have to cancel plans with either Ramya or Siddharth.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 20

The gang reaches Bangalore at 6, and Prateek drops everyone to their houses, one after the other. Swati keeps looking at everyone’s faces to see if someone had a chance to glimpse at what happened the previous night, but no one’s face gives anything away. Don’t know if I should be worried or relieved! I am clueless about what to do next!

Siddharth finally wakes up and Swati looks at his face in great detail, to catch even the smallest of nuances of the kiss, but there is none. Siddharth seems as nonchalant as ever. He smiles at Swati, gives her a good morning salute and starts talking to the others in the vehicle. So, maybe I just did dream about it. Maybe it didn’t happen. Why did I even dream about it? And it felt so real. Argh! This is frustrating!!

Swati reaches home, and completes all her daily activities, murmuring in disbelief. Did it happen? Or didn’t it? I have read about stuff like this. If you badly want something to happen, you feel like it has actually happened when it hasn’t, in reality and maybe you were dreaming about it. That gets me back to another question. So I have been wanting to kiss Siddharth? Let me think about it for a minute. Yes, it’s true that I’ve grown very close to him in a matter of just a couple of days, and yes, I can even go to the extent of saying I am attracted to him, but this??

Swati’s phone beeps when she is lost in her thoughts, and she gets jerked back into reality. She sees that it is an email from office. Oops, my documents for the Singapore trip! I need to submit them today! Argh! This is what happens if I start thinking of guys! Sheesh! I lost my entire focus. I need to get ready and leave to office ASAP!

Swati enters office and sees Jayanth, furiously working on something on his computer. Swati gulps in guilt. What do I go and say to him? I have ignored him the full weekend! On top of that, I have been selected to go to Singapore and not him. There isn’t much I can do about the second part…but the first one. I should have contacted him. Swati!! You can be such a B-I-T-C-H sometimes. Sighing and planning to get it over with, she enters Jayanth’s cubicle and taps on his shoulder. He looks up and gives a weak smile. Swati notices dark circles under his eyes, visible even behind his glasses.

“Hey Swati, what’s up? How was your trip?” he asks her

“It was good, Jayanth. We all had an awesome time. You should have been there, you know?” Swati says, hoping to connect with him

“Ya, but Jagadish…you know, my brother? He insisted I help him out with his final year project. He has been asking me for a few days now. And I didn’t want to let him down again”

“Hmmm, ya, I guess he needed you more”

“Yeah, but I do want to hear everything about your trip. Meet you for lunch later?” Jayanth asks in a make-believe excitement

“Yep, sure. I’ll swing by your place around 1” and Swati leaves his cubicle. What will I tell him how my trip was? That I made a good friend? That I made a friend when I was always the one saying you can’t make friends when you are this old, and still I did? That I might have feelings for this guy? That I said no to you, but a week later, I have this guy in my life who might or might not have kissed me and I have enjoyed the feeling nevertheless? What do I tell him?!

Keeping everything else in her mind aside, Swati decides to focus on work and her work travel to Singapore. She first submits all the necessary documentation to her travel desk, gives some preferred dates of travel, preferred locations of stay and then comes to her desk to look at her pending work. After just a few minutes of looking at her unread emails, Swati gets bored. She keeps playing around with her pen stand on her desk when she sees a new email alert on her phone


Subject: Siddharth Shandilya wants to share his photo album - Coorg! With you

Please click on the following link to view pictures from album Coorg!

View Album

Personal message:
“Hey guys, sharing some pics here. Hope you like ‘em. And Swati, I hope you like the one where you are sleeping ;) let me know how the pics are, guys! And see ya all sometime soon, okay?


Swati’s eyes turn wide at the mention of her name in the email. She quickly opens the album in her cell phone itself, and swipes through the pictures, one by one, not even looking at them properly just so she could get to the photo that Siddharth was talking about in his email, of her. Almost after 35 pictures, she finally finds one of her, deep in sleep, her mouth open and she looks almost dead. She gasps at the photo and irritation starts building inside her. She first clenches her fist, then swears at Siddharth for a minute and then when she calms down a little, tries to remember when and where could that pic have been taken?!
The background is slightly dark, as if it is just nearing evening. And I am wearing my…what is that? Oh ya, my green and blue top. Hmmm, that means yesterday, when we had gone for a drive before we left Coorg. That idiot! The audacity of him to first click this picture, and second to upload it! Argh!! Let me call him right away!

Swati dials Siddharth’s number and he answer even before the second ring
“Wassup, chica loca?”

“Huh?!” Swati forgets the string of bad words she had lined up for Siddharth as soon as she hears him say something that she doesn’t understand

“It’s the Spanish phrase for crazy girl” he explains, and Swati can almost picture his smiling face at the other end

“And why me?” Swati challenges him

“Because you are a crazy girl, chica loca” he responds, with a tone that Swati could almost label “loving”

Swati remembers the purpose of her call and tries to get back the anger she had, but in vain. Still, she musters enough up to say “Why the hell did you take a pic of me sleeping?! That is so bad!”

“I was expecting you to call and say this. Be a sport, man. It’s hilarious actually, not bad. I have had 7 people liking it already. Hahah” that laughter again. This guy thinks he is so good that he can’t go wrong at all. Grrrrr!

Siddharth waits for some time but Swati doesn’t respond. So, he continues “Forget about that, did you see the other pics? How did you like them?”

“Not yet. I’ll have to see them and let you know” Swati says coldly

“I thought you were a crazy girl, but doesn’t look like it if you start feeling so bad and irritated for such small pranks, man!” Siddharth sounds a little hurt

Gosh, why am I being such a cry baby? And even if I didn’t like it, I could keep it to myself. Why did I have to call him and make a big fuss out of it? Sheee, do I even think before my actions anymore? I have become one stupid girl!

“Naaah, I was just kidding dude. But hey, how come the Spanish inclination?” Swati tries to change the topic

“Oh that? I was taking Spanish classes a couple of years back, to help my job profile. It didn’t help much but I did get to learn a new language. Always fun to learn something new, right?” Enthusiasm. Good, I am so glad he is back to his normal self!

“Yup, I agree!”

“Hey listen, I’m sorry if you felt bad. It was just a small joke. I thought I had that sort of liberty with you, like I do with Rams, you know?”

Now I just feel so dumb! Of course, he could do this. Why am I making such a big deal out of this!

“I am sorry I overreacted Siddharth. And come to think of it, it is a pretty funny picture actually. Of course, I would have laughed at it if it wasn’t me there” Swati makes a mock-irritated face

“I know what you did just now. You just made your irritated face, didn’t you?!” Siddharth asks her

“Wow! How did you know that?” a surprised and shocked Swati asks him

“I have been observing your mannerisms from the last two days, chica loca” and some infectious laughter

Swati laughs about the chica loca part and doesn’t say anything. She then notices an email on her desktop from her travel desk asking her to meet them for some additional details.

“Hey listen, I need to get back to work here, but I’ll call you once I’ve seen all the pics” she says hurriedly

“Sure, dude. Bye for now then”
Swati finishes work with her travel desk and comes back and sees that it is 12:50. Just 10 minutes left for lunch and for me to meet Jayanth. Can’t do much work anyway. Let me check out all the pics. Oh, it’s in my personal email. Lemme forward it to my official one so I can take a better look at the pictures on my desktop. Mobile screen is too small.

As she starts navigating through the photos, Swati sees that Siddharth had taken a lot of pretty good photos of the greenery, the same thing that she had noticed when they had entered Coorg. She stares in awe at most of the photos, and then come the ones with people in them.

Swati sees a lot of group snaps, with everyone making some weird poses and laughing at each other, and smiles, remembering the 3 days that went by just like in a flash. She then opens a photo of her, Siddharth and Ramya. There is Prateek too in the frame, but not completely. It seems like a candid shot and the people in the frame didn’t know that the picture was being taken.

Look at Rams, looking at Prat so lovingly. She can never give that up, I guess. In most of the photos, that’s what she is doing. Haha. And what is this? Siddharth holding my hand? Whaaaat? When did this happen? I don’t remember it. Or… I? oh ya ya, I vaguely remember asking him to hold my hand when I was tying my shoe lace. And someone seems to have forgotten to capture the next moment where I actually let go of his hand, Look at the idiot, he looks quite happy to be holding my hand. And I seem to have a huge smile on my face too. And then Swati blushes. She moves on to the next photo, and this is one with her and Siddharth, only the two of them, looking deep and busy in conversation and waving their hands explaining something to each other. Talk, talk and more talk, that’s all that we did. Talked so much that it is almost impossible to believe I knew I had so many things to talk about!

“That’s a nice photo” Jayanth’s voice sounds behind Swati. She turns around and realizes it is 10 minutes past 1 and she had forgotten to go to Jayanth’s cubicle at 1 as promised.

“Oops, sorry! I didn’t realize it was past 1, dude. I was busy….” She lets her voice trail off

“Ya, looking at photos of your trip, right? Show me” he says and effortlessly pulls a chair and sits next to her.

“Be my guest, I’ll go get myself a glass of water” and Swati leaves Jayanth at her cubicle to look at the photos as she goes out to get herself a glass of water. When she gets back, Swati sees Jayanth looking at the same photo of her and Siddharth deep in conversation.

“Looks like you guys found a lot of things to talk about? Or were you arguing there too?” Jayanth asks her with a smile.

“I’ll tell you one thing I found out on this trip and that is, Siddharth is a nice guy and I can talk to him for hours without getting bored” Swati goes with the flow

“Oh. That’s nice” Jayanth murmurs and moves to the next set of photos. Once done, he asks Swati where she wants to have lunch. They decide to go up to the cafeteria as it is late to go out, and the weather looks too gloomy to be outside too

During lunch, Jayanth pesters Swati for a full account of her trip, but Swati gives him as little detail as possible so as to keep him silent and not ask more questions. They finish lunch and in the end, Jayanth clears his throat as if wanting to say something. Oh no, he is not going to be all emotional or ask me about what I think of him again, is he? I feel odd coming out with him alone, though I try to get the image of him proposing to me out of my head, as much as I can.

“Swati, there’s something I need to tell you. I have resigned from this job yesterday”

“WHAT? What are you saying?!”

“I’ve been wanting to move out from quite some time now. I needed a good opportunity and that presented itself to me during the weekend. This new company is paying me much more and my role is pretty great. They needed people who could join quickly, and as soon as my interview was cleared on Saturday, they sent across the offer letter and everything on Sunday itself. And so I resigned yesterday. I am her for another month that’s all”

“Dude! I thought you were happy here. I remember you telling me that you were really happy here and had a great role and everything?!” Swati almost shouts, realizes that people in the cafeteria are staring at her and lowers her voice.

“At that time, I probably was, Swati. But lately I’ve not been feeling so. And this is a really good opportunity for me. So I had to decide quickly” Jayanth says confidently, and as calmly as possible.

“I don’t know what to say! If you have decided, you have decided” Swati says, and walks away from the table. Jayanth shouts after her a couple of times but stops when he sees her not turning around.

Swati rushes into the ladies washroom, and stands in front of the mirror. She sees small droplets of water around the corner of both her eyes. She wipes them away angrily but they keep coming back. She finally resigns to the fact that she needs to cry instead of keeping everything locked inside her. She cries loudly for a minute, after making sure no one else is in the washroom. She then wipes her face and stares at her own face in the mirror again. Maybe talking to myself will help. It is so difficult to understand your own self. If we are not even able to understand ourselves, how can we even think about understanding and getting to know others?!

“Swati, why are you sad…so sad that Jayanth is leaving?”

“Hmmm…well, I will be really lonely if he leaves”

“How can you be this selfish? Just because you will be lonely, you want him to feel bad?”

“Not just that… I also probably think I was the reason he has quit. He has been acting weird ever since I said no to this proposal”

“Come on, he is not that stupid. At least I don’t think so. He is a mature guy, Swati. He must have thought through a lot before taking this decision. Also, even if he was leaving because of you, why do you care?”

“I do care, okay?! It is not that I don’t care. I like him, I really like him. But it isn’t my fault if I don’t feel like spending my life with him!”

“Yes, it isn’t your fault. So stop feeling like it is. Remember what Siddharth told you? Cut yourself some slack. And I would go a step further and say, cut Jayanth some slack. The poor guy! It isn’t his fault that he has feelings for someone who doesn’t reciprocate it. Be his friend, he really needs one now. How many times has he been there for you, huh?”

“That’s true. He has supported me at so many times when I was lonely. I cannot leave him like this now. What have I done?”

“There you go, blaming yourself again. Now, compose yourself, go out and talk to the poor guy. Tell him that you are happy with his decision and that he can count on you if he needs any sort of help! Go on”

Feeling much better, Swati walks out of the washroom and goes straight to Jayanth’s cubicle. Not finding him there, she tries a couple of other places where he usually could be found, but in vain. She then tries his number, but no response. She then goes to the cafeteria to check if he was still there, but she doesn’t find him there too. She then goes out of the office building and tries the galli roads where they usually went for walks. This time, she gets lucky. She sees Jayanth seated on a stone bench on one of the roads.

“Hey Jayanth” she says softly and goes and sits next to him on the bench. He tries to move slightly away from her, as if he is scared of his body touching hers, but Swati holds his hand and just stays that way for a couple of minutes. She then sees Jayanth look up and give her a weak smile. Gosh, he looks so dull.

“You know I am a big mouth, don’t you?” she starts

“Go on” Jayanth smiles at her

“Look, although I did mean whatever I said earlier, I also realize that you are one of my best friends and I need to support you in all your decisions. I won’t be lying if I say I’ll miss you like crazy, but if moving out is what you want to do, then I’ll try not to be a baby about it. Okay?”

“Wow. I am impressed, Swati Murthy. Such mature statements coming out of your mouth. Hmmm” Jayanth this time has a wide smile on his face

“Dude…you know na…how I am…you have been seeing me from so many days. It’s really difficult to let go! Where will I find anyone else like you, huh?!”

“I have a feeling you are halfway there” Jayanth says with an expression that Swati is unable to place. It looks mischievous and sad at the same time! And what is he ever talking about! I don’t think I want to know. I wish he would talk about something else. Please God!

As if answering her prayer, Jayanth doesn’t hang on to the statement for long and continues to talk “Don’t worry, Swats. I will still be available to meet on weekends, and you are going to Singapore too next month right? Who knows you might change your mind when you get back and decide to marry me?!” Jayanth flashes his most confident smile. Swati is forced to smile back, looking at the guy’s enthusiasm even though she doesn’t believe for a second that that might turn true.

“And I want to reiterate whatever I told you the other day. Just because we are not in the same place with our feelings for each other doesn’t mean that we can’t stay friends. And I request you to grant me the permission to make fun of it sometimes, you know. It happens suddenly and I can’t stop it all the time” Jayanth concludes.

“It makes me feel a little weird you know, whenever you talk about what could have been…about us as us…I end up feeling…well, I don’t know...maybe guilty, so it’s difficult for me to get adjusted to that”

“Ok ok, Swati. I will try my best not to let it become a part of the conversation, but in the highly unlikely probability that it does, you will have to promise that you won’t be all like…totally immature about it. Please come on, I don’t think I am asking for much here?”

Swati considers Jayanth’s statement for a minute before nodding her head “I promise, Jayanth. I won’t be a baby about it”

“Let’s get back now. I need to start my knowledge transition sessions to this new guy they have got in from some other team to replace me”

Swati gulps. “Replace you? Oh that means I will have to work with this guy too. How is he?”

“I am meeting him for the first time today. Will tell you at tea or in the night”

And then they head back to office.