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…”
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
“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
“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.
“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…..you 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.