HAND IN HAND
The Reunion Of A Story
On The Way To The Banquet
“Well, Ms Kapoor, you look gorgeous!” Surbhi exclaimed in awe, looking at herself in the wall mirror. She was dressed in a beautiful black saree, bordered with strips of pink, white and orange satin, the netted black sleeves, coupled with black stone earrings dancing over her shoulders, coupled with a matching black leather watch. She brushed her hair, which was almost straight, except that it was curled towards the ends. The dimples, the smile, the innocent face; not even in a poet’s imagination could anyone look more beautiful.
A pizza, some sleep and a shower did wonders to her. “Come on Surbhi, you need to catch a cab too. If not for this saree, I could have driven the car myself” she whined as she picked her phone lying on the bed and made a call before dumping it into her hand purse. “Hello, jeeju. How are you? Yeah, I’m fine. Actually, I was about to leave for the Banquet. I just wanted to talk to didi… Of course I will take pictures, jeeju. Your wife won’t let me walk into the house if I don’t… Haha, let’s see. Anyway, tell her I called. I miss you both a lot. The house… it’s beautiful, jeeju. I can finally eat on the bed, you know. Okay, I’ll call you when I get back. Bye”
Surbhi always felt better when she spoke to her jeeju. She shared a very deep relationship with him. Ever since they took her in, Amit was a rock solid support to her. A father figure, he took care of Surbhi as if she was his own daughter. He had done his best to fill every void in her life. Every wrong step she would take, he would always be there for her and guide her through good and bad times. Her relationship with Anjali, was on a different level, altogether. For Anjali, time had not moved on since the day Surbhi started living with them. Surbhi was still the five year old kid, and she would be happy to spend the rest of her life, pampering her, loving her and made sure, she had no reason to complain in life. Surbhi couldn’t possibly have been happier than she was, in life.
She locked the apartment and walked down to the curb. She stepped down to spot any cabs on the empty road. Barely had she taken a step, a car zoomed past her. The wind that followed almost shook her off balance. It messed her hair up, and she couldn’t tolerate it anymore. Muttering an expletive, she shouted, “What the hell? You think you’re Paul Walker?” If she had caught the driver, he would have landed with bruises all over his face. But before she moved all the strands of hair on her face to one side, a screeching sound caught her attention. She looked ahead, to see the car take a full three hundred and sixty degree turn, and accelerate straight towards her. The speed of the car petrified her. She almost thought the car would hit her, but it came to a standstill, in front of her. As the door opened, a bundle of mixed emotions hit her hard.
The Lamborghini Estoque was a beauty. As Karan stepped out of the vehicle, she was in awe with his looks. With the trim and well fitted black suit, a crisp white shirt, a black Tissot watch with a chain band link, clean shaven face, well groomed hair and a pair of well-polished shoes, James Bond would have been an absolute understatement. Buttoning his suit, he looked at her with concern, “Are you okay?” She had almost forgotten what had happened a few seconds ago. His question reminded of her anger. She shouted at him, “Really, why on earth do you even act like a gentleman? You almost killed me. And you’re asking if I’m fine. This is a residential area. You aren’t supposed to speed like that. And above all, you aren’t even apologizing…” Before she could say another word, he stepped forward and placed his index finger on her lips. “Yes, this is a residential area, don’t shout. I asked you a question. Answer that first. Also, you need to let other person speak. I’m sorry I did not notice you step on the road.” With that, he removed his finger and took a step back. She took a second to digest what happened, and bit her lip, looking downwards, “Yes, I’m fine”.
“That’s good. Now I’m sure you can take care of yourself. I hope I did not trouble you.” He turned to his car. She was astonished by his attitude. All of a sudden, as he was walking away, she held his hand. “Wait. You must be going to the banquet, aren’t you?”
He turned, and before he replied, he got distracted; distracted by her eyes. It was hard to ignore them. As he gazed dreamily into her deep brown eyes, for him, the night wasn’t dark anymore. The mild breeze played with her hair, and as a few strands of hair fell over her face, he resisted the urge to set them right. In an effort to control himself, he tightened his left hand into a fist.
On any other day, Surbhi would have been happy when people would compliment her. Today, she felt that none of it was needed. Karan’s eyes spoke what his words never could. He was probably capable of spoiling a perfect compliment with his words.
A vibration from her purse jolted her to reality. She pulled her hand away as he pulled his. “Huh? Did you ask something, Ms. Kapoor?”he asked, still dazed. To break the tension, she replied, “Not bad, you remember my name. So, Mr. Singhania, I was wondering if you could give me a drop till the Banquet venue. I hope it you don’t have other passengers in your car.” He thought for a while before replying, “Alright, but on one condition.”
“Oh, sure. Why not draft an agreement? It’s a drop, Mr. Singhania, not your property,” she retorted. “Do you want to go, or not?” he was trying to be as stoic as possible to her sarcasm. “We’re going, only if you promise to keep quiet till we reach the place.” She was taken aback initially, but soon complied, “Alright. We’re getting late. Can we leave?” He escorted her to the other door. As she sat, she smiled at him, with excitement. Her dimples gave his heart the flutters. He dismissed it as foolishness, closed the door, and hurried to the driver’s seat. He looked at her and said, “Seat belt, on please.”
“I don’t…” she stopped when he raised his eye. Giving him a dirty look, she put her seat belt on. She hated confinements. Without paying attention to her dilemma, he just turned the ignition and took a U-turn and sped away, on the empty streets of Santa Clara. After fidgeting for a while, Surbhi couldn’t hold herself any longer. She had to talk, make conversation. The silence was deafening. “How is it that Mr. OCD is running late tonight?”
Karan realized there is no point in trying to keep her quiet. “Mr. What? I am not an OCD patient. And, it’s none of your business.” He really did not like talking about his family to near-strangers. “Ohh, come on. Be a sport Mr. Singhania. See, I got late because I was getting ready and taking time to appreciate myself. And I had slept watching ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman’. Now, your turn.” Karan was genuinely surprised. “I was on a call with my family,” he replied. “That’s great. And I forgot to mention, that was a great lecture today. It was the only lecture that kept me awake.” Karan did not care to respond. But she was happy he didn’t actually make her keep quiet. She had some hope for him.
Barely had she finished her sentence, he pulled left and drove into the gates. On sighting a security guard, he requested for a valet. Gesturing her to get down from the vehicle, he too stepped out and gave the valet the keys and a bunch of instructions. She waited for him to accompany her. He slowly walked, unbuttoning his coat, and joined her.
It was about a hundred yards to the main hall. The whole place was crowded. Students, guests, professionals, everyone was busy clicking pictures. But as they walked, they did not share a word. Yet, only fate knew, that their hearts raced in unison. Their paths weren’t just meant to be crossed, they were one. Oblivious of fate and the world, they walked. The journey was long. And this was just the beginning.
To be continued…