Sunday, December 6, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 29

Swati blinks her eyes at least a hundred times in disbelief at the person in her room. “Oh my God!!!!!  What are YOU doing here?!!” she opens her mouth so wide that she didn’t know her mouth could be opened up so wide and gives the widest of smiles to Siddharth.

“I told you I’ll see you soon, so here I am” he says and stares into her eyes. Swati instinctively brings her head down, as if she is shy from his stare. Those deep eyes, looking at me…no, looking into me, inside me. I feel like they know me and my deepest darkest secrets. I feel so weird now that he is here, in front of me. While we chatted, it was no problem flirting with him. But now that he is here, it feels weird, totally weird!

“But, how? What? When? Give me all the details now!” Swati asks him, trying to make him stop staring at her constantly

“I just thought it was time for a vacation and what better place than this, right? I’d saved enough money too. So I bought a ticket, jumped on the plane and came here” he says casually

God, I love him! He is so crazy. Maybe crazier than me. But he does all the right things. The things that I want him to do, that I need him to do! I can’t believe he is actually here!! Is it just me or he looks a little overwhelmed too? Of suddenly seeing me and being with me? Yes yes he does too! Thank God! I was beginning to feel I was the only emotionally challenged person here.

“That’s like….awesome dude! Hey, how did you get in here though?” she asks, after she realizes that he was in the room already when she entered

“I actually planned this with Jai” he says sheepishly

“What the....hell?? Really??!! When? How? Is there no end to surprises today?”

“Haha, don’t worry ma’am. This might be the last one. Remember I spoke to Jayanth when I was trying to reach you the day you fell sick? I told him about my plan and I also told him that I wanted to surprise you. So he said he’d leave a copy of your room key at the reception for me and tell them that I’d be coming there to take it”

“Wow, you guys have some nerve trying to shock me like this…yes, you heard it right mister. Shock! Not surprise!” Swati tries to act angry but gives up because the happiness is too much to bear.

Swati then suddenly realizes something. “But, I just have 5 days left in Singapore and they are all weekdays and I have to attend training!” Oh no, what bad timing. I won’t be able to spend a lot of time with HH. Uff!

Siddharth gives a wide smile and winks at her. Swati blushes at the wink, but gets curious at his naughty smile. “Is there something you aren’t telling me?”

Siddharth continues to give his confident smile while Swati rushes over to him and hits him hard on the shoulder, wanting to know what was going on in his mind and why was he behaving so mysterious.

“Ok, ok. I’ll tell you. We had your tickets extended by a week. You now have a whole extra week in Singapore. Wait, wait. Don’t look so surprised yet, there is more. We are going to Malaysia this weekend”

“WHAT?! How on earth did you get my company to move my tickets? And what is all this Malaysia plan? And who all are going?” I want to know the last bit desperately. I hope it’s just me and him. Please let it be just us. Please God please!

“Down, girl, down! Ok, first question. Jai helped me there too. He is an awesome guy, Swats. Are you sure you both don’t have anything going on….?” Siddharth lets his voice trial

Swati fumes at him and doesn’t say anything.

“Haha, look at you all worked up, looking so cute. Alright, alright, I won’t bother you with Jai anymore. Now, the answer to your second question. Courtesy our long and never-ending chats, I knew that you hadn’t visited Malaysia. So, when Jai confirmed that he has been able to talk to your manager to extend your stay, I went ahead and booked tickets to Malaysia along with my Singapore tickets”

“Aww, that’s so sweet!”

And Swati waits for Siddharth to answer her last question about the people on the trip to Malaysis but Siddharth doesn’t say anything. After a frustrating couple of minutes, Swati bites her tongue and asks the question again.

“Ah, umm, hmm…So you didn’t tell me, who all are going on the Malaysia trip?”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you that? I know I meant to” Siddharth again pauses, making Swati get all worked up again.

“I thought it would be a good idea to invite all your friends, so I asked Jai and also your ex-boyfriend to join us. Who knows, Malaysia might be the perfect place for you to get back together with him” Siddharth winks at Swati again

This time, Swati picks up a pillow from her bed and flings it at Siddharth, making sure it hit him hard.

“Owww! Stop it, you mad girl!”

“Then you stop irritating me!” Swati retorts

“I absolutely love seeing you all worked up. Aaah! And now, before you hit me again, no, no one is joining us on the Malaysia trip. I did ask Jai but he said he was going to be busy with work this weekend. And, I didn’t invite Vishal because neither do I know him nor did I want to make things uncomfortable for you”

Yaaaaay!! Just me and him. This is going to be so much fun. But, should I ask him about the kiss when we get there? I think I will have plenty of alone time with him and that would be the perfect time to ask him. I am going nuts thinking about what happened that night. Heck, if he says it didn’t happen that night, I might as well kiss him for real and see if that feels anything like it did the other night in the car.

“Thanks for being so considerate” Swati smiles

I do feel a little odd talking to him face to face. On our online conversations, I was much more comfortable with him. He looks as confused as me. Oh well, we have 2 whole weeks to figure everything out. I shouldn’t be worrying this easily.

“So, I better get going to my room and let you catch some rest after your hectic day out huh?” Siddharth says reluctantly

“Why don’t you go and freshen up and we will meet for dinner here, in my room?” Swati offers

“That would be great, loca. I will be back in about half an hour. You go ahead and order food for the both of us. I bet you know what I like” and that smile again!

“Ya, ya. I do. Now off you go, and be back soon!” Finally he calls me loca. Maybe he is easing up to seeing me in person.

Swati dials Jayanth’s number as soon as she closes her door. “What the hell, dude?! And I had no clue at all!” she exclaims

“I can keep secrets, you know” Jayanth says in a confident tone

“I must agree! Well, thank you so much for all the help. And Jayanth…..” she lets her voice trial off, hesitantly

“I know, you want to have dinner with him, don’t you? Don’t worry, I told Vishal we won’t be meeting him for dinner and he left sometime back”

Phew, so that is taken care of. I was wondering what to tell him “Oh, thanks, Jayanth!”

“No problem, man. And I’ll see you sometime later, okay? Enjoy with Sid. And Swati…”


“Good choice”

I can almost hear him smile. He is genuinely happy for me. I am so lucky to have such friends. “Umm, err, what good choice and all are you saying? There is nothing between us”

“So you mean to say Sid traveled all the way here just to irritate you?”

That has been bothering me too. I know there is something, but what is that something, I HAVE to figure it out with HH soon. I’ll go nuts thinking of it and I won’t even know how to answer people who have questions too. Sure, platonic relationships exist, but I don’t think that is what we have. Hmmm

“No, but, well. I don’t know what to say right now. But thanks for everything, I owe you one”

“Again, anytime. See you later”

And he finally lets go of me. Phew, it feels like such a relief.

Siddharth returns in an hour’s time and sees Swati waiting for him to have dinner. He goes near the small dining area and exclaims “Akki rotti! Wow! Did you prepare it?”

Swati just smiles. Siddharth walks over to her and picks her up so she gets up from her chair and gives her a long hug. “Thank you, loca! I love it!”

“I know you do. But you have just seen it yet, go ahead and taste it and then you can scream all you want!”

Siddharth eats the rice bread made by Swati and echoes the same sentiment he had when he had seen them. “They are just awesome, loca! Reminds me of the ones my mom used to make”

Swati just smiles to accept the compliment and they relish their dinner in silence. After dinner, Siddharth tells Swati he plans to retire for the night as he is very tired.

“Same here. I know it’s a weekday tomorrow and I won’t see much of you, but I am damn tired to be up and talking now too. Let’s call it a night”

Siddharth comes forward to hug Swati and encompasses her in his arms. Ummm, this feels so good. I don’t want him to let go. I wish we could stay like this for a long time.
Siddharth starts breathing heavily and his breath tingles Swati’s neck. He is taking deep breaths. It's almost like he is nervous.

Siddharth finally lets go of a reluctant Swati and turns towards his room.

The next morning, Swati starts getting ready for work and just as she is about to leave, she hears a knock on her door.

“Siddharth! What are you doing up so early? I thought this was your vacation!”

“My name sounds awesome when you say it, Chica!” and he winks and continues “I just thought I’d walk with you to work, you know, to make the most of our time together here”

“Aww, that’s sweet. Sure, my knight in shining armor. You can walk me to work” Swati says in a high pitch voice and locks her hotel room.

Swati and Siddharth keep messaging each other during the day. Swati makes it back to her room around 7 and calls Siddharth to tell him to come over.

“Yup, I just came out to this mall nearby, loca. Will be there in the next half hour”

Siddharth reaches in half hour as promised and reaches Swati’s room directly. He goes into the washroom to freshen up and comes out and asks “Dude, you got any beer here?”

“Here you go” Swati hands him a full crate of beers straight out of the freezer and takes a can of coke for herself. They then go to the balcony and start sipping their drinks in silence. A cool breeze blows and Swati starts to shiver. Siddharth looks at her and smiles.

“You look awfully cute tonight” he remarks. It must be the beer talking already. He’s 2 bottles down. Whatever, it is a compliment and a good one at that

“Thank you”

“You know...I get some really bad nightmares sometimes, loca. And there is one that I get quite often. My stepmom laughs at me and asks me what have I achieved in this stupid life of mine. As soon as I get ready to answer her questions with a list of things that I feel I have achieved, she disappears. She doesn’t leave me alone in my dreams too” …. “and that is why I don’t like sharing anything with anyone….but you are different, loca. Very different. I don’t mind sharing anything with you”

Maybe he is a little like me in these matters too. That he can’t trust anyone, he can’t trust relationships because he has had a really bad one with his stepmom, also maybe because his dad and stepmom didn’t have a good relationship too. Ah, the burdens we all carry without even us knowing about them in our conscious selves.

After 5 bottles of beer, Siddharth almost passes out and Swati helps him get to the bed. He goes to sleep murmuring something over and over again; something that Swati can’t decipher because of the slurring. She then slips into bed next to him and sleeps peacefully.

The next morning, Swati wakes up and sees Siddharth peacefully asleep next to her. She feels his presence around her alluring. She tries to take as much as the feeling into her as possible and reluctantly gets up to get ready and leave for work.

In the evening, she returns to her hotel room and sees Siddharth there. “You didn’t go back to your room at all?”

“I did, loca. I went out and explored the city a bit too. And I knew you would come back around this time, so I came back and thought I’ll surprise you”

“You think of the perfect things, HH”

“I am just glad to be making you happy, loca”

Swati smiles and offers to make tea for the both of them. Siddharth goes outside in the balcony for a smoke, which irritates Swati. She gets into preparing tea and then signals him from inside to get back as the tea was ready

Siddharth shows up two fingers indicating he’ll be in, in a couple of minutes. Swati frowns and locks her eyebrows with furious passion. Siddharth holds his ears in an attempt to say sorry and Swati suddenly blows him a kiss from where she is seated. What the hell came over me?! Sending him flying kisses. Oh my God, I wonder what he’ll think of me.

Siddharth looks puzzled for just a second and then tries to catch the kiss that Swati blew in air and then pockets it. Swati laughs hard and doesn’t continue the act.

After tea, Swati and Siddharth talk some more and at 11, Siddharth gets up to leave. As an easily rehearsed ritual, Swati gets into his arms, and he hugs her tightly. I am going to clear everything out when we go to Malaysia. It is a promise to myself!

The next 3 days pass by with more talking and more hugs. On Friday evening, Swati bids farewell to her colleagues with whom she has spent a month, and tells them that she would stay in touch with them after getting back.

Once she reaches the hotel, Siddharth tells her to finish her packing and that they would be leaving to Bangalore directly from Malaysia, so she was to say bye to her friends that night too. Swati suddenly remembers about Vishal. Shit! I never told him about Siddharth, I never spoke to him after last weekend. And come to think of it, he hasn’t contacted me too. Hmm, I wonder why. Maybe these guys told him something. Anyhow, with all the care he has taken of me during my stay here, the least I can do is call him and thank him. And for some weird reason, I am ready to be friends with him too. I don’t have that hatred on anything towards him now. In fact, I think he can prove to be a really good friend that I can count on. Life sure is strange.

“Hey Vishal” Swati calls him

“Hi Swati”

“Umm, so, listen. I am sorry I couldn’t contact you since last weekend. I was pretty tied up and…”

“Tied up sounds right”

Is that mocking I decipher from his voice?

“What do you mean?”

“Jai told me about Sid, Swati. Why didn’t you tell me about him when we first met in Singapore?”

“There isn’t anything to tell, Vishal. I don’t know what it is myself” Swati repeats whatever she had told Jayanth some days back

“Don’t let go of him, Swati. From what I’ve heard, you are really happy when you are with him. Sure, I would have loved for things to have worked out between us, but I think you guys are going to have each other”

Wow, so mature. Nice, Mr. Vishal, nicely put.

“Thanks for those words, Vishal and thanks for all the care. I hope we can remain friends. I would like to stay in touch with you”

“Same here, Swati. I would like that too”
Phew. So, both Jai and Vishal think HH and I make a good pair. When will he ever say so?! I have waiting for so long. And I know he can feel the physical intimacy with me as I feel with him too. I just know it. I wish he would say something soon.

After saying bye to an almost teary-eyed Jayanth, Swati comes back to her room and finishes her packing. She then remembers Ramya. I better tell her I am not arriving tomorrow, she will be waiting for me. Come to think of it, I need to tell Appa and Amma about it too.

“Hey Rams”

“Hi, Ms. Swatiiiii” Ramya’s voice comes on, with loads of mischief

“How are you, Rams?”

“Oye, cut it out! I know Sid is there with you, ma’am. And you kept everything away from me” Ramya sounds hurt

What? How? When? Who told her?!

“What? Who told you, Rams?”

“Sid himself told me the other day”

“What else did he say?”

Oh, so he has spoken to Rams about me. This is interesting. Now, I will get to know what he thinks of me.

“He just said he had some vacation time coming up and he thought a trip to Singapore and Malaysia sounded good and was within his budget. And since you were there, he thought it made sense so he doesn’t have to travel alone too”

Damn!! This is what he told her? So lame! I am sure Rams hasn’t bought the reason and that’s why she is teasing me. What do I tell her? What?

Swati doesn’t say anything for about 5 seconds and Ramya’s voice again comes on the phone “Oh, hello, madam? Where did you go to? What is going on between you both, huh? Tell me now!”

“Ramsss…It is a looong story, babes. I myself don’t know what is going on. But I intend to find out this weekend. We are going to Malaysia”

“Oooo, eeee…hey, so, wait a minute. You aren’t returning tomorrow then?”

So, Swati ends up explaining everything about Siddharth’s plan to Ramya and at the end Ramya starts cooing into the phone “Oooo, how romantic! I am sure he is so going to propose in Malaysia, babes. I know it!”

“Hang on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Rams. I want to take everything slow and I don’t want to rise my expectations too much”

“Whatever. Just keep me posted of each and every single detail, you secretive people!”

“Ok, ok, Rams, promise. Now, I got to go. There is loads to talk once I get back”

And Swati hangs up. She makes another quick call to her parents and informs them of her changed itinerary and conveniently skips the part about Siddharth.

The next morning, Swati and Siddharth take a taxi to the airport and begin their air travel to Malaysia. They keep talking all the while, each equally interested in knowing about the other, their likes and dislikes, tastes, desires, dreams and everything. Though the journey starts on a good note, they start facing some bad luck when the plane remains in air near Malaysia but doesn’t land because of bad weather. The flight finally lands 2 hours longer than the scheduled arrival time, and they immediately get out of the airport to hail a taxi to get to their hotel. When they reach the hotel, the receptionist apologizes for interior work going on at the hotel and that they would be unable to give them rooms to stay at their hotel, however they had arranged an alternate hotel about 3 miles from this one, where they could stay at the same rate.

Siddharth starts getting frustrated and doesn’t talk to Swati on the drive to the other hotel. Swati tries to lighten his mood.

“Hey come on. What can we do about this whole situation? Nothing! Let’s just laugh it out and enjoy Malaysia”

Some grunting noises later, he speaks “Whatever. I had booked that hotel for its view. I don’t know how this new one is going to be”

And Swati attempts to get him to talk several times but in vain. They reach the hotel and don’t like the look of it. Uh oh. More bad luck. First of all, HH’s mood wasn’t great. Now he is just going to burst!

“See I told you” is all that he says and they get down from the taxi. The weather continues to be gloomy with small rains here and there. God, I feel so frustrated. I can’t seem to do anything to make him feel better!

They check-in to their rooms and Swati tells Siddharth to come over to her room for evening snacks. Siddharth tells her he has some work and that he would come there in an hour’s time. Swati gets ready and starts making scrambled eggs and toast when she hears her door open from outside. She sees Siddharth enter, but he doesn’t say anything. He looks like he is in a foul mood!

“What happened? Where were you?”

“I am so mad right now! I’d filled an application for a world travel card and I’d even given them rupees worth a thousand Singapore dollars so they could load it on to my card. The idiots haven’t done it! I went out to the ATM to check it, and that’s how I found out. And the worst part is, I lost my credit card somewhere there. It must have fallen out of my pocket or something! Argh!! I looked everywhere for it…but…shit!! I am damn frustrated right now!” Siddharth almost shouts at the end of his explanation.

No matter what I say, he isn’t going to buy it. It is better I take care of this matter quietly.

Swati sits on the sofa and invites him to lie down on her lap for a while. He does so and closes his eyes for a minute. As soon as Siddharth’s head hits Swati’s lap, she instinctively starts caressing his hair and softly massaging his forehead. Siddharth catches hold of Swati’s hands and looks at her with sad, brown eyes, seeking complete attention and love.

“Don’t worry, Sid, things will be fine” Swati says in her softest and most caring tone.

Siddharth basks in her attention for some more time and finally gets up. Finally he looks like he is feeling a tad better. I can almost see his smile back on his face.

Siddharth speaks after a couple of minutes. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you from quite some time. I think you know what it is". Swati's heart starts to beat faster and her cheeks start to flush. She remains silent.

Siddharth continues "I’ve been attracted to you since the first time I saw you, loca. You are beautiful, that everyone can see, it’s obvious. But to me, you are awesome, in every aspect. From the way you get irritated about small things to the way you enjoy small things, like sipping a cup of coffee, or telling me secrets or just enjoying listening to whatever crap I tell you…you made me see a different perspective to life…about family…my dad” A small pause. “…I don’t know what love is; whether I love you, or I yearn for you or what; but I do. I know that my day isn’t complete if I don’t talk to you. I know that if I make you smile, I feel worthwhile. I know that if I am with you, I feel like I am complete”

Swati doesn’t say anything. “Come on, Swati! Say something. You are killing me here, you know?” he says in desperation

Swati finally summons up the courage. Well, it is now or never. “I have just one thing to ask…On the way back from Coorg, did you kiss me?"

Now Siddharth takes a lot of time to respond. Then after a long pause, he clears his throat and starts "I thought you would have felt it though you were kind of asleep. I was very embarrassed with that act of mine, loca. I mean, I felt it was wrong but then it was something I really wanted to do." And by now, Siddharth's voice turns the usual confident tone and he adds "Also, I was sure you are going to end up with me. Who else can tolerate you like I can, huh?"

Swati turns red with anger but then looking at Siddharth’s confident smile, the one she had actually fallen in love with, her anger turns into a wide smile. This boy needs to be told how to say things properly too. I am going to conclude what he started to say.

"You are the one I feel the closest to, the one who can make me stop having conversations in my head because now I can have them with you! I can be totally myself with you and so I need to talk to myself anymore” she says with a wide smile on her face

“Are you….like….saying you love or whatever it is, me too??”

“Yup! I am… idiot! And it took you so long to say all this. I have been thinking for such a long time that you are the one who completes my story, or begins a new chapter in the story of my life….it isn’t just my story anymore…it is NAMMA STORY” Swati jumps and gets into Siddharth’s arms, the place where she was meant to be, from the beginning, but took so long to figure out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Namma Story: Episode 28

Swati opens her eyes with great difficulty. She feels sedated and she sees that the blinds in her room have been drawn but sun peeks in from a small opening between the blinds and the window. She gets transformed into Coorg for a minute. Why do I feel so tired? Is it morning already? I had promised Siddharth I’ll come out for a walk. I need to get up. But why is it so difficult for me to get up? She then stops trying to get up, even to stop thinking for a while. And then it all comes back to her. Oh ya, I am in Singapore. I was in that café with Jayanth and Vishal. Where are they now?
As if to answer the questions in her thoughts, she sees both the guys walk in to her room. “Hey, you are up” Vishal says, his voice completely filled with concern. She sees Jayanth walk right behind him, with a similar concern in his eyes too.

“You had very high temperature Swats. We went to the hotel’s on-call doctor after you passed out last night! Thankfully he gave you some medication that seemed to work pretty quickly. I think you still have some fever but your forehead feels much better than it did last night” Jayanth says, seating himself next to her on the bed and touching her forehead to examine

“You guys stayed here all night?” Swati asks them in a croaked voice.

“Yup” both of them say in unison and smile at her.

“What about your work? Office? My training?!” she suddenly remembers it is a weekday

“Don’t worry, I sent out an email to your manager, Swats. I had his email ID. And about me, I anyway had a couple of days before I had to join work here. So it’s no big deal” Jayanth informs her

“Yeah, and don’t worry about me too. I didn’t have anything more important than you that needed my attention at work anyway” Vishal adds

I am so lucky to have had these two with me. I don’t know if I could have taken care of myself in that situation and that too in a place that is still quite unknown to me. Aww, these guys are super cool

“Now that you are up, I need to go home and take care of some things. I wanted to make sure you didn’t want anything before I head out with my car” Vishal says.

“I don’t think I need anything. Thanks for everything, though” Swati says, again in her croaked voice.

“Come on! It’s the least we could do. You have been a good friend, Swati and maybe I’ve taken that for granted most of the times. Consider this a small way of saying thank you for all the good times and sorry for taking some things for granted”

Wow, he sure has matured from college days. I am taking back that minus 1 after this speech. And he seems sincere too. How I wish this had happened earlier; or maybe if I was in the same place as he is…but none of those things are true. Sigh!

“That’s an impressive speech. Now run along, Vishal. And we’ll meet later”

Vishal leaves and Jayanth takes leave of Swati for some time after giving her, her medicine and some bread to eat. “I’ll go take a bath and be back, Swats. It’s almost 1 in the afternoon and I think I smell really bad” he says trying to sniff himself and making a disgusted face.

“No, you don’t!” Swati insists

“That’s because you have a cold and you can’t smell right, Swats” Jayanth says and punches her nose playfully and sits next to her on the bed

“I kinda needed to talk to you about something” he adds


“Last night, I had to use your laptop because mine wasn’t connecting to the Wi-Fi here and I needed to talk to my family and friends. I also had to send out that email to your manager. I am sorry I couldn’t ask you because…well…you know…you weren’t in a shape to be spoken to. And I saw that you had a loooottttt of messages and emails from, I think, Sid. That’s how the notifications looked like anyways. And….” Before Jayanth could continue, Swati stops him

“Oh my God, Siddharth! He must be waiting for me to respond” she exclaims, totally oblivious to the fact of Jayanth being next to her, or anyone for that matter. And she tries to get up in a hurry to take her cellphone that she sees on the night stand next to her, but her head starts to hurt because of the sudden motion and she stops midway. And that is when she realizes that she is not alone, and she sees Jayanth staring at her with a raised eyebrow. Swati’s cheeks start to flush and she lowers her head again, not knowing what else to do.

“Sooo….it looks like you and Sid have been keeping something away from all of us?” Jayanth says, in a half-sarcasm, half-teasing tone, and with the slightest tinge of sadness in his voice

“No, it’s nothing, Jayanth” Swati says much too quickly.

“You remember, don’t you? Quicker the assertion, surer is the negation?” Jayanth asks and this time Swati doesn’t say anything for a good minute. And then she starts “No, Jayanth…there’s really nothing to say. Yes, we’ve been talking quite a bit but there’s nothing to say to anyone”

“Before all this drama that you did, I was about to tell you that he called you last night. Your cellphone was constantly ringing. We ignored it for the first few calls but then when the calls didn’t stop, Vishal asked me if I know who HH was. Apparently that was the caller’s name being displayed on your phone. Finally, Vishal picked up and then he asked me if I knew a Siddharth. And that’s when I spoke to him”

“Oh. Ahem…well, he gets angry quite easily and I call him Mr. Hot Head. That might look kinda stupid and that’s why I have HH on there…so, anyways, what did you say?” Wow, that was a great save, Swati. I am proud of you, my girl. You thought of that from out of nowhere!

“I told him that you weren’t well and that we were taking care of you and that he could talk to you later, once you were up and well” “…And listen, I really need to go take a bath. I’m not feeling comfortable at all, Swats. So, I’ll answer any other questions you may have when I am back. And meanwhile, here’s your cellphone in case you want to call someone” he tosses her cellphone next to her and winks at her. Swati blushes wildly, and tries to control a smile that desperately wants to come out in the open. Am I really shy? To be thinking of Siddharth? He really is my crazy boy. He must be scared too. I gotta talk to him!

As soon as Jayanth leaves the room, Swati dials Siddharth’s number

“Chica! Is that you?” his familiar voice comes from the other end. Swati feels a weird sense of comfort in his voice

“Yes, you crazy boy. It’s me” Swati’s weak voice from here

“Awwww, you sound sooo dull” He is concerned about me too. In fact, he knows JUST when to let me go loose and when to be concerned about me. Exactly like he knows what I am thinking or how I feel even though we are so far away. I miss him. I miss his wet lips on mine; that comfort feel of his arms. I will go mad if I think of that kiss just once more!

“I wish I was there so I could hug you tight and make you feel all warm” Siddharth continues

“Hmmm…That would be great”

“And that you’ll get very soon, I promise! Now, loca, you better get some more rest. Jai said you weren’t all that fine. Please listen to me now and get some rest. I’ll call you in the night, okay?”

Swati reluctantly agrees and ends the call. Damn it. Why won't cheeks stop blushing?!
Swati recuperates within the next 2 days, and starts attending her training sessions from Thursday of that week. 2 more days in this week and then 1 more week to go. And I am going back! Yaaay! I need to finish my shopping this weekend, that’s the only time I’ll get as I am travelling back on Saturday next week. Vishal and Jayanth have been so helpful these past couple of days. I should get them something as a token of my appreciation. I’ll add that to my shopping list. This weekend might be the last I get to see them for a long time too. Jayanth seems busy with his assignment already and I don’t get to see him much in the hotel either.

Swati hears a knock on her door on late Friday evening. She opens it and is surprised to see both Vishal and Jayanth at the other side of the door.

“What a surprise, guys! I thought we were anyway going to meet tomorrow?” Swati says as she invites them in.

“Well, we thought of something else instead of your boring shopping plan for tomorrow. We’re going to Universal Studios!” Vishal says, flaunting off 3 tickets to the Universal studios as he waves his arms

“That’s a great idea! I have always wanted to go there too!” Swati exclaims.

“Great! So, I’ll pick you both up at 8 tomorrow morning. Let’s get a head start so we can finish most of the rides there”

Swati rushes to her cellphone to call Siddharth as soon as the guys leave to get a drink. Siddharth answers almost immediately. I love this about him. He’s never too busy for me!

“HH!! You’ll never guess where I’m going tomorrow!!” she says in the most allowed enthusiastic voice that her health allows.

“Where, baby?” he asks her. He had started calling her that almost every time now, and Swati loved it.

“Universal Studios! All the three of us are going! Oh, it’s going to be so much fun! I sooo wish you were here!”

“I wish I was there too, to see my loca do some chica things, huh? I know you’ll go completely crazy there! So enjoy!” Siddharth returns her enthusiasm. This guy soooo gets me! Like no one else does!

“I will, dude! I leave at 8 in the morning. I’ll call you later in the day sometime okay? But even if I don’t, you better keep those messages and mails coming in!” she threatens Siddharth

“Yes ma’am. Now, sleep tight, loca. And sweet dreams”

With each passing day, my yearning for him is increasing; my comfort level with him is getting more comforting, in fact too comfortable; my feelings for him are turning wilder; my imaginations are soaring high! Where do I see this going, God, I really need some answers. Hey, wait a second! Why haven’t we spoken about his personal life and relationships before in any of our conversations?! I have always assumed there is no one in his life. And I hope not for my sake. Because with all the flirting that he does with me, if he does have someone in his life, it would be really unfair to them. Nah, that can’t be possible. Rams would have told me if there was someone. What if Siddharth hasn’t told Rams too, just like he hasn’t told anyone about us?! Argh! These negative thoughts! I think I’ll feel better only after I talk to him about this, maybe casually. Let me call him right away or else, knowing me, I won’t be able to go to sleep tonight. Ufff!

“Loca? What a surprise! Aren’t you able to sleep well? Is that why you called me?” Siddharth asks when Swati calls him again

“Ya, your loca is a little too tired to sleep. So she called you…is that okay? Can we talk for a while?”

“Sure, baby”

“So…hey, how’s Appaji now? Is he all fine?”

“He is much better, loca. He can get up and walk now. I’ve arranged for a nurse to take care of him for a month till he gets back to taking care of himself. And now that he is a little better, he doesn’t stop pestering me to find a girl for myself!”

Perfect! He started the conversation on his own. I didn’t have to do anything. Now we’ll find out everything that we want.

“Ooooo, Mr. Siddharth readying himself for marriage, huh?” Swati teases him

“No, man. I am not ready for all that yet. There’s a long way to go. But you can’t get thru to parents on this front, right? Just like I’m sure yours would be pestering you too!”

“Ya, that’s true. But still, humor me. Any special girl? In your life? Hmmmm?” Swati asks, in a made up tone, to disguise the fear she felt to ask the question and more with the impending answer to her question.

“No…not really” Siddharth answers after 10 seconds

“Come on! You must have liked someone…like you know, in college, at work, friends, anyone?” Swati probes

“Well, there was this one girl I had liked, but mainly for her looks you know. She was gorgeous, like milky white, and long hair, beautiful smile, beautiful eyes…the works. And I thought to myself, this is the girl I am going to marry! But that was so long ago….on one of my trips…and I haven’t even seen her after that. Of course, there were some childhood crushes too, and this one girl that I kissed…she was my neighbor…”
Before Siddharth completes the sentence, Swati’s heart skips a beat at the mention of a kiss and she thinks he is talking of her, but her hopes get crushed when he mentions the “neighbor” part. Controlling her emotions, she asks “Oooo, your neighbor huh?! Where’s she now?”

“Huh! I don’t know man. She was my neighbor in Shimoga, but then her family left Shimoga many years back. This happened like…maybe when I was in the 7th standard I guess” he laughs

“Oh! Haha” Swati starts to feel better. Phew, doesn’t look like there is anyone. But I think I should tell him about Vishal too. I don’t know why, but I feel like I should. Do I tell him on my own? Or wait for the right time? How do I start the topic?!

“I’m sure you must have had your share of boyfriends” he comments. Ah perfect timing! He asks me just what I want to hear. Love you! Love you?! Is this the first step to confession? Confession to oneself?

“And why do you say that?”

“Have you looked at yourself? You are beautiful, intelligent, smart….all that is for the others to see…but I also think you are crazy, fun-loving and caring. The last three attributes that I mentioned, you generally don’t like to show these attributes to many people. You just put on a hard exterior. Well, enough of praising you, now answer my question”

“I did have one long back. You know Vishal, the one I was telling you about?” Swati waits for a response but there is none for about 10 seconds and then Siddharth’s voice “Oooooh! So what’s up?! And you said he is single too, right? What is this? Anything happening?” he asks, but Swati finds out the sarcasm and jealousy in his tone more than the teasing part. Aww, the poor guy. I probably should’ve told him face to face. He doesn’t deserve this. And to think, I agreed to spend 2 weeks with Vishal too when he proposed the idea to me. Sheesh, what was I thinking?!

“Nothing’s happening, Siddharth. We broke up on very different terms and I am not ready to get back with him….” And she adds “…at all”

“Oh” no other response from Siddharth

I better end the conversation than mess it up further. I am no good in such situations. I’ll tell him everything when I meet him, that’s better

“HH, I gotta go now, long day tomorrow. But I will call you from there okay? And hey….I’ll miss you there, baby” There I said it. Baby. For the first time. At least he should feel a little better now

“Sure, loca. Take care, bye”

The next morning, a guilty Swati drags herself out of bed. As she brushes her teeth, she starts to feel miserable and wonders whether she should cancel the plan with the guys. Should I tell them I’m not feeling well? But if Sid were here, he would say I am being paranoid. He would convince me to go and have a great day! And what am I even being guilty of? It’s not like we had discussed an “us” anytime. Maybe that’s the problem…that we never discussed. But even without saying anything, I think it kinda felt that way…that we would be us soon. The question is, did he feel it too? Oh what the hell, I’ll go out today. And I’ll talk to him as soon as I get back to Bangalore. And even if he doesn’t tell me, I’ll tell him that I think he’s the one who will complete my story and make it Namma Story!

Swati meets Vishal and Jayanth at the hotel lobby right on time and they waste no time in leaving to the studios. Swati begins to get excited as soon as she sees the archway to the entrance. The excited people, the vibrant colors, the clear sky, the roaring ambience, everything sets the right tone for the trio as they enter the Universal Studios, Singapore, and vow to sit on each ride that the place has to offer

After the Pirates of the Caribbean, Twister, Disaster, Shrek and Men In Black rides and shows, they decide to break for an early brunch. Swati takes her phone out and tries Siddharth’s number. She gets a “The number you are trying to reach is either switched off or not reachable at the moment” message for several tries. She starts to worry a bit. Did we just have our first fight then? Is this how he is going to behave the next time we have an argument or a disagreement or we don’t like what the other said? Ufff….I am so far away I can’t even do anything. Let me try again after sometime. She sends him a message and gets back to her day in the Universal Studios

At the end of the day, Swati’s voice, croaking like a frog because of excessive shouting, says “Guys, we had an amazing time, right?!”

“Look at Swati. Her voice is all gone but her enthusiasm isn’t! I never figured you would enjoy so much in this place, on all those rides and shows, Swats” Jayanth remarks and Vishal nods. How little you guys have understood me even though I have spent ample amount of time with both of you, at different times in life. And Siddharth has understood me so well even after meeting me for just 2 or 3 times.

“Hey! I like doing crazy stuff sometimes too!” Swati tries to defend herself to the guys

Thinking and speaking of crazy, let me see if Sid has finally cooled down. She tries his number again, and frowns. Still switched off or not reachable! Where the hell is he? Is he mad? Or did something like last time happen and he went to Shimoga to see his Appaji? What would have happened? I better call Rams to find out! Rams will kill me coz I haven’t told her about anything that’s happened in the last week, not even meeting Vishal and Jayanth, or my illness, or today’s outing. Ugh, I am turning out to be so bad with communication!

“Rams!” she says as soon as Ramya picks up her call

“Swats, how are you babes?! I was wondering where you disappeared to! And before I forget, your mom had called me last night. She told me she tried your Singapore number but wasn’t able to reach you. Can you call her after we finish up here?”

Amma! Appa! Shit!! Of course, I’ve been mailing Appa quite often but I still shouldn’t have forgotten to call them in a whole week’s time!

“Ya, ya sure Rams. I’ll call her. I’ve just been…there’s just been a lot of things going on lately that I haven’t been able to keep in touch. Sorry about that. I’ll tell ya everything when I get back. But right now, I wanted to know where Siddharth is?”

“Huh? Sid? Why?”

“Ahem…well, he had asked me to get him something from here, babes. I was at the store here and wanted more details from him. Tried calling him but was unable to reach his number. So thought of asking you” Swati fibs. I don’t know why I am doing this, but I’ll explain everything to you Rams. As soon as I know what’s going on between me and Siddharth

“Oh…okay. I don’t know Swats. I haven’t spoken to him for more than 2-3 days now. And haven’t met him ever since you traveled to Singapore. He sure seems awfully busy these days. Makes me wonder if he has a secret girlfriend you know”

“Oh, haha…hmm, maybe…who knows? I hate to be rude, but I gotta go, Rams. I’m back next Saturday and I’ll meet you as soon as I’m there okay?”

“Yaay! Alrighty babes! And good luck!”

“Good luck? What for?” Swati asks, puzzled

“Ah sorry. I meant to be saying happy journey! See ya soon!” Ramya corrects her phrase and hangs up

Now what do I do? What do I do? Well, with the advice YOU gave me, I am going to not consider this as my fault and I am going to cut myself some slack. I am going to love myself and I am going to be happy and not worry about this. I just wish you would call me back though. I really miss talking to you, my crazy boy!

“I know we all thought we’ll get dinner and then head back to the hotel, but I’m really tired and I was thinking we get back to the hotel and order the food there to one of our rooms and have dinner there. What say, guys?” Jayanth asks the other two. Both Swati and Vishal agree in unison and they drive back to the hotel.

Swati opens the door of her hotel room and enters slowly, with each step tiring her. She removes her shoes, and crashes on her bed, closing her eyes. She suddenly feels a finger on her lips and she tries to scream but nothing comes out of her mouth. She opens her eyes slowly.

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.