Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -9)

Chapter 8

Strangers in car

(Haven’t read the previous episode? click here to read it)

(Click here to read the first episode)

Present

“I will explain everything, once I am back”, I said. All that I heard in return was the disconnect tone. Something similar had transpired a few minutes ago. Earlier, it was my mom and now it was Amit.

I had switched on my Bangalore number after more than a week. While my parents had tough time responding to queries from my relatives, Amit and my other business partners were unhappy about my absence during the business critical phase.

Company funds were about to exhaust, operation costs were increasing and we had hardly made any profits. We were yet to find any investor for the next round of funding.

“Is everything fine?” Anahita’s mom asked me, as soon as I returned to the lounge.

We were at the Kolkata airport and the check-in was due in few minutes.  Anahita and me were flying to Bangalore.

Her mom had agreed to send her along with me, but only after iterating through the following list of conditions, six times.

  1. She should stay at her aunt’s place.
  2. I should convince my parents about the marriage within one week.
  3. I must keep updating her mom about her health, twice a day.
  4. Anahita’s mom shall fly down to Bangalore during weekends and I mustn’t invade their privacy..!

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“So what did your dad say?” Anahita asked me after bringing down the window shutter. The flight had taken off.

“Nothing! They are mad at me. Cancelling the marriage is a big thing! My family has got a feeling that I have shamed them. ”, I paused to hand over the hygiene towel back to the air hostess.

“I haven’t spoken to my parents in last ten days. That has kept them worried and annoyed. And that girl Amulya, she is upset with her parents and has left home. Her parents in turn, are upset with mine. When my parents see you, it will only add to the chaos and madness”, I let out a helpless laugh.

“What do you want me to do?, she asked me, pressing my shoulder.

“I want you to just stay with me and make me feel strong”, I smiled.

“And your friends? Amit? Did you get to speak to them?” she enquired.

“Even they are mad at me and it’s understandable. We are going through a tough phase and I was not with them in those last ten days.”.

“What do you want me to do?”, she asked me again. She looked very worried.

“Stay with me and make me stronger”, I pulled her cheeks and smiled.

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There wasn’t any need for me to ring the doorbell, the door was wide open. On my way from airport to home, I had called my mom and told her that I will be bringing Anahita along with me.

The cast ensemble at our home was huge. There was my dad, mom, her three sisters with their husbands, my dad’s two sisters along with their husbands; half a dozen cousins, mom’s socialite friends and a couple of neighbours.

I assume that they had come over to lend their moral support. Surprisingly, they weren’t dressed for the occasion! Ladies were all dressed in their rich sarees and had glittering gold all around their neck and wrists.

“Ask him to leave”, said my Father and made an exit from the hall as soon as I reached the door. It was like those 20 seconds role of a junior artist in the movie. He waits for his moment and when it comes, he plays it to perfection and vanishes!

“This is Anahita”, I introduced her to the rest of them. Anahita raised her right hand to wave hi. I signalled her from the corner of my eye and she joined hands to do a Namaste.

“Because of you, that girl’s life is ruined. We are ashamed to make a public appearance”, scolded my mom. I was expecting the scene to be dramatic, but this was all cold serious.

“It’s not her fault mom”, I tried to shield Anahita from all the undue scolding.

“Now you don’t tell me whom to blame. Why did you bring this girl here, to shame us further?”, she spoke in tough voice and approached the door.

“Mom.. It’s j..”, I tried to explain her when she interrupted me again.

“No. None of us want to hear anything from you. You are not welcome here, unless you find Amulya, make an apology and convince her to go back home”, she said and shut the door.

The treatment was expected. I looked at Anahita with an apologizing look.

“Not a great welcome. My mom in law loses 500 points for this”, she winked. That was her way of telling me that she didn’t feel bad. I felt immensely proud for having chosen a girl who cared to stand by me, during my tough times.

“Next what?”, she asked.

” You must be tired. Let me drop you at your aunt’s place”.

” You were supposed meet your business pals right! Let me accompany you”, she said and walked towards the car.

“In that case, I think we should be geared up for one more round of humiliation”, I issued a statement of caution.

***************************************************************************************

I felt completely numb.

“Come on.! You can’t blame it on us now. We had tried calling you. Who’s fault is it, if you had chosen to keep your phone switched off”, Vinod yelled at me.

It was my idea and my company. I wasn’t expecting to be yelled at.

A day earlier my business partners had met Syndrone VCs, who had agreed to fund the company. In exchange they wanted 45% stake in the company. To my horror, these guys had agreed to it- without much thinking.

“We were under pressure Sid. You have to understand. What if our stakes are less, the investment that we will receive is still very huge. We will be rich anyway” – Nayana tried to explain with all her calmness.

“You guys don’t understand this. It was my idea to start this company. You cannot discount me when it comes to decisions like these. It’s as if I don’t exist”, I vented out my anger.

“Sid! The company was built on your idea, we agree. But we helped you build it. We have spent more than two years to bring it to this stage”, said Vinod and took a deep breath.

He continued with a cold voice. “Two years is quite a lot of time Sid. None of us had time to roam around with our girlfriends, none of us had time to get engaged to some random girl and definitely none of us had any time to cancel that engagement”.

He was effortlessly serving me the sarcasm sauce and I wasn’t able to swallow it with ease.

“You are trying to get into my personal space Vinod. You better watch your words”, I warned him.

“Of course Sid. I will watch my words. But you try to educate yourself. If you think idea alone helps you qualify as a major stakeholder, then you are definitely wrong. It’s about investing your time, thoughts and making sure of staying with the company when it matters”.

My conscious was silently agreeing to whatever he said, but I had to keep my dignity afloat.

“So.. what..! you want me to quit the board?”, I got fired up. The discussion was turning ugly.

“I think you guys have to cool down”, Amit tried to bring the situation under control.

However, Vinod had no intention of putting down the flame. “It’s your choice Sid. If you want to quit, you can. I will not stop you. You will still get your share of profit”.

It was unexpected and I wasn’t prepared to hear that answer. My anger saw a meltdown. I fell short of words.

It’s not the feel of getting ousted that made me emotional. It was the plain truth that he made me realize – I didn’t deserve to be in the board!

“Ah.. I am sorry. I think you are right!”, I said with a plain smile. “I think I am not the right person to run the company!”, I added.

****************************************************************************************

“What happened?”, she asked me.

The security guard opened the gate and I drove my car outside the company premises.

“This might sound crazy, but I am out of my own company”, I took almost five minutes before replying.

She didn’t speak. I stopped my car and looked at her. Her eyes had turned moist. There was a loud thunder outside and it started pouring all of a sudden.

“What’s the matter Anahita?” I asked her.

She lowered the window and looked away. “I am sorry Sid. This is all because of me. You have been forced into these personal and professional hardships because of me. I don’t know what to do.! I am feeling so guilty”.

She was feeling very sorry and I had to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. I wanted to tell her that I was feeling better after quitting the company. I wanted both of us to forget about all these things for a moment.

“Hey, do you want to play this little game ?”, I asked her.

“Sid.!”, she made a complaining face.

“Hey.! the game is really an interesting one. It’s called ‘strangers in car’. It was invented by this chancellor of zorpia, in the year 1726. It was a snowy winter. The volcano in the fifth mountain of Seramis mountain range had erupted..”, I started explaining.

“Sid.! The first ever car was manufactured in the year 1886”, she smirked.

This is the problem of dating a general knowledge whiz kid. They will be on their heels to show off their facts quotient.

“Sid.! I know that you have made this up just now. You invented the game while you spoke, didn’t you?”, she asked.

I nodded. She knew me inside out!

“Anahita..! There are few things that you shouldn’t question. It’s in the interest of the game”, I played a lame defence.

“So tell me about the game!”, she said with a smile. She was the only person who could digest all my idiotic thoughts.

“In this game, people are supposed to act like strangers in bus. Sitting next to each other, we should have a conversation and try to know about each other ”.

She badly wanted to tell me that the game would be as boring as the veg curry in a non veg meal.

“Excuse me.! Do I know you?”, she asked and winked.

She knew that the game was the stupidest game, one could ever play. However, both of us knew that it would help us forget our problems for a moment and that was all that we wanted.

“There you go.!”,  I said. “Hey ! You want to grab a cup of Hot coffee.? Spicy pakodas would be a lovely combination with the weather”.

“Yes sir! By the way, I am Anahita”, she held her hands towards me.

“That’s one of the most beautiful name that I have ever known. I have an equally wonderful name. They call me Sid.”, I shook hands with her and drove towards the MN Street.

She was the queen of drama and I was the guy who wrote them.

****************************************************************************************

Rain was pouring heavily and didn’t appear to stop. The mobile canteen guy had tied a blue tarpaulin under which we were standing and having our coffees in those tiny plastic cups. The soil smelt good and the steam of the coffee was helping the cold.

“Kyon aati hai bahaar
Kyon lutta hai karaar

Kyon hota hai pyaar

Na tum jano na hum
Na tum jano na hum..”

The canteen guy had tuned into the FM rainbow station. I stood amazed by the sight of his tiny pocket radio. For a moment, my childhood did a peek a boo and I grew nostalgic.

“This song, the coffee and these pakodas are making me fall in love with the rain”, she said.

“And the conversation with you is making me fall in love with this moment”, I replied. Well, I was trying to flirt with my beloved lady.

“So, Anahita. What do you do?”, I asked her. The game was still on.

“Well.. I was working as an Engineer, here in Bangalore. Then went back to Kolkata stayed there for some time. I had started growing a vineyard. I had named it sunshine and wanted to build an open air library inside it”.

Well, this was something that she had never told me.

“Why name it sunshine?”, I enquired.

“Well..! My dad had named our house dewdrops. Sunshine makes the dew drop look extremely beautiful. So, you know..!”, she explained.

“Sounds nice. So, what happened to your sunshine?”.

“Grapes were all ripe, but then I found this new job”, she added.

“Which job?”, I asked. I was genuinely curious.

“Well.. The job was to create a personal and professional trouble in the life of a person called Siddarth. And guess what..! I have been successful, so far.!”, she said.

I didn’t respond.

“What about you?” , she asked.

“Well..! I once aspired to be a cricketer. After passing out from college, I realized that cricket thing was never going to happen.

My next big dream was to build a crazy restaurant. But my dad wasn’t ready to invest on such a stupid project”.

I paused and asked the canteen guy to serve one more plate of pakodas.

“Since I badly wanted to build that restaurant and didn’t have enough money, I began a startup. And know what, I am out of the company now”, I paused again.

“Ah.! I am so sorry”, she sounded sorry.

“Ah. Don’t be sorry. A true businessman stays undeterred during tough times. I have two things to cheer about. I have my beloved lady with me and I am going to start a new business”, I announced my new plans.

Floating a business idea was turning into a routine of mine.

“What is the business about?”, her eyes twinkled in excitement.

The rain had stopped. Sun had slowly started peeping through the clouds.

“I am going to grow a vineyard, build an open air library and start a winery next to it. Readers would love to have some fresh wine while they read. I am going to call it- dewdrops, sunshine and a blade of grass”.

“Ah..! Looks like someone is stealing someone’s idea. But why that name?”, she asked.

Clearly, I had no intentions of growing creepers, building a reading place and opening a wine store. On the top of it, I seriously had no clue why this name crossed my mind.

“Looks like someone must give someone enough time to come up with a better and beautiful reason behind the name”, I smiled.

“Ah.! I grant you that, but it better be beautiful. By the way, you need money to build that winery don’t you?”, she asked. She had indeed believed that I was going to build that winery.!

My mobile phone beeped. I opened the message.

“What happened? All okay?”, she asked.

 

‘Heard about your startup fiasco.

You bring amulya back to her parents

And

I am going to finance your restaurant business.’

My dad had sent me the message just when I needed it. He once again proved that he had a good sense of perfect timing.

I wasn’t sure how to understand it – Either he wanted to help me out or he wanted to make the most of my situation, by forcing me to bring Amulya back to her home.

“Sid.! What happened?”, she asked me again.

“Looks like someone has got the money already”, I smiled and showed her the message.

She smiled and hugged me out of the excitement.

The coffee shop guy felt too shy seeing us hug.

The rain had stopped now.

“Watch there..! It’s a rainbow”, she said pointing at the sky, as we walked towards our car. It was a beautiful sight.

“I think, I am going to name my restaurant after it – The rainbow. Rainbow stands for variety and it also stands for beauty”, I said holding her hands.

“Ah.. Then the dew drops, sunshine a blade of grass is not going to happen, is it?”, she acted disappointed. As mentioned earlier, she was the queen of drama.

“Or shall we name the restaurant dewdrops, sunshine a blade of grass?”, I asked her.

“Not before you find a suitable explanation for that?”, she said in a complaining tone.

“And definitely not before I make an apology to Amulya and get some investment from my Dad”, I replied and laughed.

“Sid.!”, she said.

“What?”

She looked into my eyes – “When you apologize to her, I want you to really mean it. I don’t want you to think about the money that you will get from your dad”.

She was making me fall in love with her again and again.

“Got it”, I smiled.

The next thing I saw was her collapsing on the ground!!

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To be continued

Click here to read the next and final episode

Thank you for reading. I have one more episode to be published, before the series ends. I would love to hear from you, things that could be improved ( avoided) etc. It would only help me write better. 🙂

——Follow Passionophoria blog Facebook page to receive updates on the episodes to be released

Click here to visit the page——

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -8)

Chapter 7

On her birthday

(Haven’t read the previous episode? click here to read it)

(Click here to read the first episode)

Past

A year had passed by, after meeting Anahita in that film workshop….

In spite of pitching my restaurant idea with wide variety of flavours, I wasn’t able to convince my dad and his business partners about its prospective profit.

Taking orders and limiting my creative freedom was something that I despised, hence stayed away from corporate jobs.

Unlike my other friends, I didn’t have an affinity towards higher studies.

The cricketing talent in me had failed to earn me a spot even in a third division league.!

But when your dad is someone who owns a business, that fetches him about fifty million INR a month, you are never jobless and insecure about your future.

Hence the asset of the nation had to park his ‘ass at’ one of his dad’s electronic showrooms in BTR Nagar.

*******************************************************************************************************

Anahita was in her final year now.

For some, there will be a sharp spike in emotions, where all of a sudden they feel that they are in love. Till their one last breath, they will remember that one moment where they had fallen in love.

For others, there will no such moment of realization. Over a period of time, they learn that they are in love. I belonged to the latter category. If I were asked to pin point any such moment, I would either leave the paper clean or litter it completely!

After eight coffee corner sessions, two hundred good night messages, occasional phone calls, six Bollywood movies in theatres and two commercial street shoppings, I was convinced that I was in love with her.

The next thing to do was the obvious – to propose her.

There are two ways by which you can let the person know about your love for her – confession and proposal.

While there have been enough discussions and debates on their definitions and differences, the most satisfactory description could be summed up to this:

‘Confession is a process of telling your prospective partner that you love her.

 On the other hand, With proposal; you are in fact placing a legitimate request in front of her to be your partner.

Proposal could also be considered as a validation process, wherein you can ask your person of interest to confirm if she has feelings towards you.

A proposal would always start with confession. But a confession needn’t be followed with a proposal’.

I had to choose between confession and proposal. Irrespective of the choice that I make, I wanted to play it the romantic way!

magical-proposal

****************************************************************************************

I checked my watch again. It read eleven fifty five. Apart from my double dozen friends, half a dozen street lamps and a pack of street dogs, there was no one on street. Five more minutes and I would call her up; ask her to come down stairs.

I quickly dialled a number.

“Yeah Sir.! Everything okay?”, he asked after answering it on the ninth ring. I had woken him up from his deep sleep.

I had called him for the thirteenth time during that night. Every time, I had only one thing to ask.

“Just wanted to make sure that everything goes perfect. The green button would play the birthday song and the red one would light the candle and turn on those lights on the castle. Right?”.

By now, he must have mentally certified me of obsessive Compulsive disorder.!

“Yes sir.! And the orange button would turn on the chocolate fountain”, he replied.

I had ordered a custom made cake, one and half feet tall and built to resemble a castle. It was wired with electric circuits and plugged with motors and rotors. There was a remote control in my hand and I had to make sure that I remember what each button is supposed to do.

“I needn’t check the chocolate tank right? I mean, what if the chocolate gets dry and fountain doesn’t work?”, I shared my concern.

“Don’t worry sir. When the motor in the tank starts, it makes sure that the chocolate turns into fluid”, he tried hard not to sound annoyed.

I wished him a good night and mentally reiterated the steps.

First, I should press the green button and the birthday song would play. Anahita would then start wondering from where the song is being played. I will then lift the wrapper and surprise her with the large beautiful cake.

While the surprise is yet to sink in, I will press the red button. Candle in the hands of a fairy made out of cake, should get lit and so shall those little LEDs plugged into the castle. Anahita would definitely be mesmerized by the beauty of it.

I will then press the orange button and the chocolate fountain would play. Now, which girl wouldn’t like to see a chocolate fountain!

After about twenty seconds, I will press the yellow button and a small princess resembling Anahita will come out of the castle.

It was the craziest cake that one could ever see. It had taken them 4 days to build the cake and I had personally overseen the entire work.

While many of my friends had found this whole idea to be filmy, I had only one answer to silence them all – ‘you watch those larger than life scenes in movies and found joy in them. What stops you from recreating it in real life? Doing something filmy might appear stupid, but it doesn’t matter as long as the purpose of making your loved one happy, is met. And nothing is artificial until you do it from heart’.

The final and the most important step was to wish her a happy birthday and go on knees to propose her. I had strictly ordered my friends (there were about twenty, including girls) to stay behind the big water tank, until she accepts my proposal. They shall then burst paper crackers, followed by celebrations.

The minute hand kissed the hour hand and I went up to the gate. It was a ladies PG.

“Kaanchi re Kaanchi re.. preet meri saanchi..

Ruk jaa na jaa dil tod ke”

The old Gurkha, who was busy listening to the song from a local FM station, stopped me from getting past the gate. Neither the purpose, nor the Indian currency helped me gain an entry.

I had to ask Sheethal, to bring Anahita downstairs.

When she returned alone, I knew that something was wrong.

“What happened?” I asked.

She told me that Anahita’s mom was in Bangalore for two days to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. Both had booked a room in Hotel Galaxy and were staying there.

I tried hard to not look disappointed.

“What about the cake now?”, Rahul asked.

“No idea! The cake will be spoilt by tomorrow. Can’t keep it in freezer, batteries of those motors will be dead. Can’t replace them without breaking open the cake’s base. So that’s it, I guess!”, I let out air of despair.

Few of them suggested me to cut the cake on her behalf. Few others also suggested that it be video recorded and the recording would be a perfect gift for Anahita. I had to comply.

Karan switched on his Panasonic handycam and grinned. He had finally found an excuse to flaunt his new gadget.

I adjusted my thin volume of hair and took a deep breath.

“Anahita..! I was always looking out for reasons to make you feel special. And I have found one in your birthday”, I started speaking- looking at the camera. Samarth had written down the speech for me and I had rehearsed it for hours.

“Celebrating a birthday is like a biggest headache, I tell you. Because, you have to make sure that it is like.. hmm.. memorable, filled with surprises etc. Buying gifts takes even more painstaking effort”. I gave a brief pause, expecting that few of them would laugh, but no one did.!

I continued.

“Dress can either turn tight or fit loose and when it fits perfect, color plays the devil. Jewelry is very expensive. A gift Card is too main stream. Gifting a book is a tricky trade; you can never be sure that the reader will like it.

A Show-piece is not useful and something like a make-up kit is not too memorable. Cheaper watch would look bad; however an expensive one makes you feel that something else could be bought using that money.

Gifting money will make one feel offended and a photo frame is something that you have in numbers”. I stopped for breath.

“Every gift has its shortcomings. However, I am not denying the fact that there are people who are good at buying a perfect gift. To your disappointment, I must admit that I am not in that talent pool. But, before gifting you and celebrating your birthday, let me teach you an important philosophy today”. I played a well-rehearsed pause, again.

“It’s about gifting and being gifted, celebrating and being celebrated. I always believe that one should never force himself to like every gift that she gets. But, she should make sure that she identifies the effort someone has put in, to find a perfect gift for her.

I want you to understand the nervousness of that person, when you open those gifts. I want you to value his thoughts of making you happy and get you surprised.

Gift is never important Anahita. Nervousness in the person when you open the gift is and so is the affection behind it. Those are the greatest gifts in disguise”.

I slowly held out the controller and pressed the green button. The melodious birthday instrumental started playing.

“Today, while we celebrate your birthday, I want you to understand that nothing gives me us more joy than seeing you smile.

I want you to understand that the greatest gift that you are going to get today is the efforts put in by my friends to see you smile and my sincere hope that you will like this celebration.

I want you to know that, if there are people who want to be see you happy, count me amongst them. Many more wishes on your birthday Anahita. Happy birthday !”.

It was not one of those memorable speeches that they had ever listened, but everyone clapped. Of course, they had to.!

It was time to light the candle and then I would go on knees to propose her, I thought. I slowly pressed the red button. The next thing I know was a big spark and a loud bang.

Girls present there, screamed. There was a short circuit inside the cake !

I pressed the red button couple of more times, and while doing so, the orange button got pressed. A wild sound, resembling an old rotating fan started building, slowly.

I knew that something bad was going to happen. However, not everyone who can sense danger, can turn into a savior.

In no minute, the sound turned uglier and it was followed with something worse. The fountain started to dance wildly and began splashing chocolates all over us. Our faces and shirts received thick deposits of chocolate.

“Not bad! If Anahita was here, this would have saved our efforts of dumping cake on her face”, said Sheetal in a tone laced with sarcasm.

I felt good that Anahita wasn’t here. Else, it would have been even more embarrassing.

“You had plans of proposing her, didn’t you?”, Raaghu reminded me.

I touched my pocket and felt the velvet ring box sitting inside it. I stayed quiet and helped others in clearing the mess.

Now that the opportunity was gone, I couldn’t think of any other ways of proposing her. Going on knees and holding out a ring would always be there, but choosing the right moment was difficult.

***********************************************************************************

“It’s not going to work this way”, I said while driving back home.

Ritu and Samart threw a questioning look.

“I am going to start my restaurant”

“How come all of sudden?”, Ritu asked.

“When I propose her, I don’t want her to look at me as a loser, a guy who has no job, who couldn’t achieve his goals. I don’t want her to see me as a good for nothing guy, looking after one his dad’s showrooms. Anahita knew how badly I wanted to build that restaurant. A man turns his ambitions into reality; nothing can beat the dignity in that.”

“But, you said your dad isn’t ready to pump in money”.

“Yeah! I know”.

“Then how are you going to gather so much money?”, Amit asked.

“By starting another business”, I replied with no second thought.

“And what would that be?” all three of them jumped at once.

“I think I will start a company that would..”, I started in a determined voice when my mobile beeped.

There was a message from Anahita .I opened the inbox.

‘Sry.! Forgot 2 tell u.!

Its ma bde. Dnt call m nw. Mom’s here.

V shall meet afta 3 days.

You better have smthng to surprise me

Gn 🙂

When a girl expects you to surprise her, it’s understood that you have found a place in her zone of special ones. I read the message six more times.

“Hey you were telling something… about the business”. Amit reminded me about the half-finished speech.

“You know what ..!”, I said.

“What?” they asked.

“Never mind! Forget the business plans for now. Let’s gear up for the proposal day, 3 days from now”, I winked.

This time I had to come up with something better, something beautiful and something memorable. Something.., that would earn me a promotion from ‘special ones’ zone to ‘the one’ zone.

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To be continued

Click here to read the next episode

Thank you for reading. I have two more episodes to be published, before the series ends. I would love to hear from you, things that could be improved ( avoided) etc. It would only help me write better. 🙂

——Follow Passionophoria blog Facebook page to receive updates on the episodes to be released

Click here to visit the page——

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -7)

Chapter 6

Persuation

(Haven’t read the sixth episode yet? click here to read it)

Present

After four days….

“Hello..!!” I smiled tenderly when she opened the door. It was 10 in the morning, and I knew that her mom will be in her college.

“I am sorry for that day and for everything that has transpired in these four months. Sorry for coming here in your mom’s absence. She wouldn’t have allowed me to meet you if I had come in the morning”, I apologized and extended the bunch of tender coconuts and fruits towards her. With four months of long silence between us, formal gestures had taken a front seat.

She took those fruits from me and replied “It’s Sunday. And no one runs a college on a Sunday”. The next moment her mom entered the hall, drying her hair with a towel. Gosh..! Yes. It was a Sunday.!

I expected her mom to chase me out, but was completely taken aback when she instructed us both to go upstairs and have our conversation.!

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As soon as she closed the door, I ran into tears and hugged her. The fear of losing her had turned me into a weakling.

“Don’t be that melodramatic Sid.! I am not dying”, she laughed. For the first time in four months, I had seen her laugh.

It appeared as if all her anger had subsided and she had pardoned me.

“Shut up Anahita. You have cancer”, I chided her. You can take the liberty of showing affectionate anger in moments like these.

“Not anymore”, she smiled.

“What do you mean not anymore? The tumor is removed yes, but you are not out of danger.  There are chances that few malignant cells are still remaining. So you cannot relax”, I replied instantly.

While it’s on the moral side to instill a hope of survival in a person fighting her disease, I had chosen a completely wrong side – displaying my expertise in biological science.

“You don’t know how to talk to a person who has cancer”, she sounded upset. I bit my lower lip and put up a sorry face.

“So why are you here?”, she asked.

“I am here to take you along with me to Bangalore. I want to marry you “, I said. I wasn’t an expert at putting across my emotions in an effective manner. My tone failed to convey how much I missed being with her and how badly I wanted to get married to her.

She looked at me for few seconds. “You broke my heart by getting engaged to her and broke her’s by cancelling it. It’s not some table tennis game Sid. It’s your life and ours too. Stop doing ping and pong”.

I stayed quiet. I couldn’t tell her that my grandma was in her deathbed and that she insisted that I get married at the earliest. I couldn’t tell her that I was too scared about discussing our love with my parents.

In spite of being the genuine reason, it wasn’t something credible for Anahita to believe it.

I hung my head down.

“So what was her reaction? Did she feel affronted?” she asked. Anahita was one of those vocab geeks, who would wait for an opportunity to use those newly learnt words. On the other hand, I was one of those guys who would wait for such lifelines in a tense conversation, to bring in some lighter mood.

“You want me to ask the meaning of affronted. Don’t you?”, I grinned.

“ Sid..!”,  said she in a complaining tone and continued. “Fine.! It means disrespect, insult etc. Okay, tell me one thing. Did you get to speak to her after that?”, she asked.

I silently pushed the word affronted into my vocabulary and replied. “I have switched off my Bangalore number. Haven’t had any word even with my family. But, why are you being concerned Anahita? She would be fine”. I tried to hug her.

She gently pushed me away and avoided the hug. “I should be concerned Sid. I feel responsible. And unlike you, I have emotions and I respect emotions of other individuals”.

The conversation was heading towards a possible rift and I had to steer it in the safest direction possible.

“I understand that I have low volume of emotions, but I am still better than your mom”, I dragged her mom into the conversation.

“You deserved that treatment Sid. Feel good that you weren’t thrown out of the house”, she threw light on the positive side of her mom.

“Hey girl.! Your mom was completely right when she scolded me. I completely deserve that, I agree. But I was referring to that day when your dog had died, when she had left you all alone in the house. You have just recovered from the disease, and it’s not right on her part to leave you unattended”. She wanted to say something, when I interrupted her again.

“For this, my mom in law would lose 400 points. I think it would be difficult for her to impress me”, I tried to lighten the mood again and spoke in humor.

She didn’t laugh. It took me less than five seconds to figure out the reason. Her mom was standing next to the door listening to our conversation. I was pretty sure that she had heard those last 20 seconds of our conversation. I smiled like a stupid and felt like taking a giant leap from the balcony.

“Breakfast is ready. Come downstairs, whenever you are hungry”, the tough principal spoke again and disappeared in no moment.

“So where were we? Yeah. You were telling something about points”, Anahita pulled my leg.

“See this is exactly what I was pointing at. Daughter and her hubby are having a private conversation. Is it right on her part to stand next to the door and eaves drop? She loses 500 points for this”, I acted angry.

“Yeah right..! Convince her to allow me to come with you. Let’s see how many points you are going to lose”, she challenged me.

***************************************************************************************

“Poori was nice aunty!”, I offered fake compliments to her mom, after struggling through the dish that she had prepared.

“Sid. It’s chapathi”, Anahita winked. “You lose 700 points for this”, she whispered.

Chapathi seriously?? – I screamed silently. With one liter of oil dripping from them, those were perhaps the most expensive chapathis that I’d ever eaten.

After the breakfast, aunty asked me if we could have a word about Anahita. I nodded and followed her to the balcony. Anahita stayed downstairs.

It had started raining again. Kolkata is usually considered as a steam cooker, but thanks to frequent downpours, I was enjoying a comfortable stay.

“So you want to take along Anahita with you?” her mom questioned me staring at the tall banyan tree.

“Yes Aunty”.

“You are aware of her health condition, don’t you?”

“Yeah! But, nothing to worry. There will be regular check ups for next few months. If any residues found, she has to undergo treatments”, I spoke calmly.

There was a silence amidst the sound of the rain.

“I have nothing against you Sid. But, there would come no ‘yes’ from me, for your marriage”.

I am marrying your daughter, and not you, you old lady. I am not dying for your ‘yes’ – I felt like telling her.

“What’s the reason aunty? Cultural difference? My thin volume of hair? You didn’t like my attitude or is it that I am running a startup?” I put forth an objective question with multiple choices.

She went for ‘none of the above’ option.

“Then?”, I asked.

“Anahita doesn’t want to marry you. Since she was not able to tell you this, She wanted me to act as if it’s me who is against this marriage”

I felt like laughing. “Come on aunty. Anahita loves me a lot, and even you are aware of that. Of course, we had our quota of fights and cold wars, that doesn’t mean that we don’t like each other. If Anahita has a problem with our marriage, she would have said it on my face”, I said.

Immediately, I realized that I had to correct my last sentence – “which she did. But, you very well know that she loves me lot”.

“She loves you Sid. I know that. But, she doesn’t want to marry you”, she replied. It was like an organic chemistry class for me – confusing and hard to understand.

“You have to explain me aunty. You are getting me confused”.

She looked at me. Her eyes were red. I thought she was angry. But when I noticed that fat layer of moisture in her eyes, I knew at once that she was crying.

“Don’t you get it Sid? She loves you and that’s the reason she doesn’t want to get married to you. She loves you and that’s the reason she is not able to tell you this”. The second part of the puzzle was comprehendible, but same couldn’t be said about the first one.

There was a lady crying in front of me and I had to console her. Instead of doing the gentleman act, I did something stupid but genuine.

“Aunty, I am sorry to say this. But you are in teaching profession, moreover you are a principal. I was expecting you to be good at explaining things, but sadly you aren’t. God bless your students!”, saying this I quickly rushed downstairs.

I had to talk to Anahita.

**************************************************************************************

“Sid, few things are better left unsaid”, she replied.

‘Yes, like the annoying one you just said’, I almost said it.

“You know why guys turn mad, pick up alcohol or give up everything in life and push themselves into a cocoon, after a broken heart?”, I asked.

“Because, it’s hard for them to forget their love and move on?”, she asked.

“Yes, but only in 10% of cases”, I gave her a made up stat.

“What about the rest?”

“Rest 90% set out on a journey, trying to find answers for questions like, why did the girl leave me? Didn’t she love me? Etc. It’s like a puzzle, very hard to solve. They keep asking this question to themselves again and again and again”, I paused.

“And when they fail to find an answer, all that they try to do is forget the question. They want to stop thinking about reasons. That’s why they pick up habits. It’s never about the failed love story Anahita, it’s about those words unsaid and  questions unanswered”, I put forth my theory.

“So you are telling me that, you will become one of them?”, she asked.

“Nope. I am telling you that, you will turn me into one of them”, I alleged her of a prospective crime.

“Sid. You are making it difficult for me”, she was in tears and I had to stop her from crying.

“What’s the matter girl?”, I took her in my arms and gave a warm hug. She buried her face in my chest.

“Doctors have told me that this momentary paralysis is hard to cure, and will recur periodically. Cancer isn’t completely cured. You have your own life Sid, don’t waste it on me”.

“Not motivating enough to dump you dear”, I winked at her while hiding my emotions.

She mildly punched my chest. The girl you love, punching you mildly you on the chest in moments like these – I think it would count amongst the most beautiful feelings that you could ever experience in your lifetime.

“Let’s be practical Sid. You very well know that I can’t even have kids”, she finally had to tell me the truth.

I knew exactly what she was hinting at, but I felt strange that I didn’t find the truth as an earth shattering one. I could only hug her more tightly.

“Why you worry? Even I don’t want kids. And when we feel like having some, we shall adopt”, I said and kissed her forehead.

“It’s not that Sid. Me and you, we can never have a love life. My body is too weak for that”.

However odd it might sound to pronounce, you can’t deny the fact that sexual life is an integral part of your marital life. Her body was too weak for that, and she was concerned that it would either push our marriage into ruins or force me into sacrificing my sexual life.

If I were put in this situation a few years back, I would have backed off from this relationship! But now it appeared like a trifle.

She had spent these three months thinking about all these, and was trying to let go me.

I didn’t speak a word. Instead, gently pinched her nose. She knew my choice – I was going to stay with her.

Her lips stretched, dimples surfaced on her cheeks and she tightened her hug.

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To be continued

Click here to read the Eight Episode..

——Follow Passionophoria Facebook page to receive updates on the episodes to be released

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -6)

Chapter 5

One more truth

(Haven’t read the fifth episode yet? click here to read it)

Present

It perfectly synced – Me opening the gate and Anahita’s mom opening the door. I couldn’t have chosen a more inappropriate time.

“Good morning Aunty” I greeted her as my first act of defense. Anahita’s health was a mystery that was eating me from within. I was deeply concerned and anxious.

“I told you yesterday. I don’t want you here”.

“Aunty please”, I spoke like a kid – head bent down.

“I am getting late for the college. I don’t have time for this”, the principal of Claudia Arts College spoke in a tough voice.

“No no aunty, you carry on. I just have to meet Anahita and talk to her”, I spoke like a fool only to earn her glare.

“You are troubling us Siddarth. I have to act tough now” she warned me.

I looked up to see Anahita standing in the balcony. There wasn’t any wheel chair next to her.!

“Oh..! She looks fine. The wheelchair had scared me yesterday”, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

The response was an outburst- “Show some maturity and behave like a grown up”.

This time I was silent again. Not because I was scared, but because I was angered by the way her mom was treating me. I felt like punching the gate with all my might. Since I couldn’t do that, I put my every energy into swallowing words, that otherwise would have come out, in a fit of rage.

I made an exit.

****************************************************************************************

“Hello aunty. Good evening” I greeted her soon after she answered my doorbell. She responded with a smile as artificial as that flower sitting inside the large brass vase kept on their coffee table.

Artificial or not, the smile had caught me by surprise.!

Earlier in the morning, after all my anger had drained out, I had tried calling Anahita several times, but in vain. Going to their house in her mom’s absence didn’t seem appropriate. So, I had waited for her mom to return from office.

Now that I was at the door, I waited for her to invite me inside, but she didn’t. However, she didn’t ask me to leave either. Opportunist that I was, I walked into the house.

I was welcomed with blank stares and half smiles from a quarter dozen members of a family. There was a grey haired uncle, dark haired aunty and a handsome guy of my age. Anahita was sitting facing them.

Empty tea cups and half emptied saucer of chips smiled at me and I smiled at the family and then at Anahita.

There was an ugly silence that made me feel like a sari clad lady in a discotheque – completely clueless and out of place.

“He’s siddarth. My friend”, Anahita introduced me and the family was forced to smile again. “They studied in the same college. He’s here in Kolkatta for some work and I asked him to come over”, Anahita’s mom delivered a strategic lie.

I waited for the introduction of those guests and when that didn’t happen, I could arrive at only thought – The handsome guy must be Anahita’s prospective groom.

I was still standing in the middle of the room and no one had asked me to sit down, not even Anahita.

“So what do you do Mr Sid?”, the guy asked me. His intention was to make me feel comfortable I guess, but I wasn’t a high school kid answering his viva. Standing and answering would never make me comfortable.

“I run a company”, I replied.

“Oh. Nice.. And what does your company do?”, the dark haired aunty was the next to join the interview panel.

“We manage Catering”, I replied.

“Oh Catering service to marriage functions and all huh?”, her eyes twinkled at the hope of having met the prospective caterer for her son’s marriage.

I had to correct her.

“I run this company which helps people connect with caterers. It’s a website where people can search for these guys. You can choose items from their menu, enter the quantity and check the total bill using the pricing calculator available in the website. Once satisfied with the menu and the custom pricing, you can place your order with the caterer”.

I then remembered that in these last two days, I had missed my critical business meetings.. I was also not available on phone, for my startup partners to contact me. Facing them once I return to Bangalore, would be a nightmare.

“Oh..! That’s quite fascinating Sid. What’s the company name?”, the guy asked me with a fake curiosity.

Anahita and her mom had assumed the role of audience. They had stayed quiet.

“Caterkaro.com is our website”, I replied patiently. Had it been some other occasion, I would have played an opportunist and given a demo of our website. Right now, I was dying to know if my speculation regarding Anahita’s marriage with this guy was right or not.

“Very good, son! We need more young millionaires like you”, the grey haired uncle had turned too generous with his compliment. My dad was a millionaire, not me.

In India, owning a startup would draw two major reactions – either the guy is going to be filthy rich or the guy is going to be in neck deep debt.

Anahita’s mom had figured out that my business was not doing good – there was an unmistakable smirk on her face.

“I think we can have a look at his website. It should help us with Karan’s marriage”, his mom spoke to her husband, thus giving me his much needed introduction, in disguise – His name was Karan and he will be getting married to Anahita.

There are moments when you are angry, yet you choose to stay silent. This was not one of those moments.

“Ah.. You think I let you get married? Never! Not even in your dreams” I erupted with fingers pointing at him.

“What? What’s wrong?”, his mom rose from her seat and so did her husband.

“What nonsense is this Sid?”, Anahita’s mom shouted at me.

Amidst all the chaos, Anahita was still quiet.

“Aunty, enough is enough. First of all you have been treating me badly since yesterday and now this is happening. I am sorry, but I am angry and I want you guys to know it”, she was at the receiving end of my reprimand.

As expected, I had fueled Anahita’s anger and she ranted – “Sid. You cannot talk to my mom like that”, and there ended my brief Mangal Pandey moment.

The resentment had taken a nosedive and I apologized.

Karan and family, who were taken aback from my sudden outburst, communicated through sign language and decided to leave.

Anahita’s mom’s face had turned brick red out of embarrassment and anger.

“Karan. I am really sorry. But this is how it is. Me and Anahita, we love each other. And we have plans of getting married. I hope you understand”, I told him and then turned towards Anahita.

Without uttering a single word, Anahit’s mom rushed out of the hall and entered the kitchen. It was followed by loud thuds. Music in the kitchen could mean only one thing- the lady is annoyed and she’s not able to spit it out.

I looked at Anahita, who threw her hands up in the air and spoke to me in tough voice.

“Sid. You badly need a break. And it’s all over between us. You should stop being stupid and annoying. Who told you that I am getting married to Karan? He and his family were the ones to admit me to the hospital. They have come here to see my health and you are insulting them. You never thought about me when you got engaged and never felt for her when you called it off. I don’t want to see your face. Just leave”, she ran a lengthy speech.

Her moist eyes couldn’t let her hide her emotions.

I could have apologized again. I could have explained my unconditional love towards her. I could have cried. I could have also cursed myself for acting stupid and assuming things about Karan and her.

But, her reprimand earned only one reaction.

“Why were you admitted to hospital Anahita? And yesterday you were on wheelchair. What’s the problem?”, I spoke in anxiety.

Anahita walked out of the hall and closed the bedroom door behind.

Karan placed his hand on my shoulder and took me out of the house.

**************************************************************************************

That day when she had fallen off from her scooter after partial limb paralysis, Karan’s family had her admitted to the hospital. It was then, that she was diagnosed with Spinal tumor.

She was operated on and the cancer was removed, but the treatment was still on. Chemotherapy was advised in case of any further traces of tumor discovered.

Irrespective of its type, the stage in which it is and the chances of getting cured, the word Cancer always leaves you disturbed.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, but I didn’t feel like talking to her. I went back to the hotel, with a crying heart.

To be continued

Click here to read the 7th Episode

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Click here to visit the page——

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -5)

Chapter 4

My tryst with acting

(Haven’t read the fourth episode yet? click here to read it)

Past

When I had told my dad about my plans of starting the restaurant business, he was immensely proud.

The thought of building the restaurant over an area of 10,000sq ft excited him and so did my plan regarding its interior designs. I had even shared my idea about having dedicated sports, geek and family sections.

He seemed to be exhilarated and was ready to pump in money. It was only when he understood my USP for the restaurant that he felt like sending me to a psychiatrist.

To make the restaurant unique and a crowd puller, I had a simple idea and I revealed it over a lunch party in Winland hotel. My dad had invited his business partners, with whom he co-owned the city’s leading consumer electronics retail chain – ‘DNX store’.

“The restaurant that I am going to run would always serve food at a discount of 50%. The maximum discount would be Rs 100 per food item” I spoke in the party hall.

“And?” asked one my dad’s friend, who had plans of investing in my restaurant.

“That’s it uncle. You offer quality food at a discount price and within no time the restaurant would turn into a hotspot” I grinned.

All of them threw questioning looks at my dad. ‘Has he gone nuts?’, must have been their intended question.

“Sid, you are too young to understand the nuances of money making. This is not how a business is run. With business you always expect returns. We are not into charity” my dad opted for a sweet scolding.

‘If you are not gonna respect my views and trust my plans, then you needn’t know what’s in store’ I passed a muted comment and left the party.

*************************************************************************************************

When I walked out of the party hall and reached the reception, I saw a long queue. A mini hoarding stood next to them with title reading – “How to become a director?”.  A picture of an Englishman with video camera was also featured in the hoarding.

There was a small counter set up .People in the queue were collecting their entry pass from the desk, before entering the lobby on the left.

I don’t exactly remember by how much degree I had turned, but when I did, I stood frozen on my ground. I could see Anahita there. What’s worse? She was staring at me. I was surprised, scared and excited.

“I wasn’t following you”, I exclaimed at once. That was pretty loud and half of the queue gave me unnecessary attention.

For next five minutes we didn’t look each other. After that she went past the small desk and exited to the left lobby.

It was a free, one day workshop by some unheard American filmmaker.

After entering the room I spotted Anahita in the middle row. There was an empty seat next to her. I thought I would look too desperate if I sat there, hence settled in the distant last row.

The filmmaker introduced himself as the director of ‘My princess daughter’, ‘The last flower in the garden’ and ‘Dinner date with two wives’- Movies I had never heard of. I clapped along with the clueless crowd.

He then handed each of us, a one page script.

“In your hand is a scene. You have to form a group of four and direct it.

And when I say direct it, I want you to enact the script and simultaneously one person has to tell what will be seen on the screen, where the camera will be placed.. etc ”, he gave us instructions.

I waited for my chance to get into Anahita’s group, but an old bald guy with a fat moustache walked up to me and dragged me into his group.

An hour ago I was posing as a wanna be hotelier and here I was, scratching my head amidst a thick crowd of ambitious film makers.

My team discussed and debated for about ten minutes. The script was simple and stupid. It could be summarized to this –

“There was this small family with dad, mom and a small girl. The kid comes back from school crying like never before. When they ask for reason, she tells them that on the way from school, she had seen an accident. A car had run over piglets that were crossing the road.

Dad and mom try to console her but she refuses to settle down.

Dad makes a plan and draws cartoons where he first shows the car running over piglets, then piglets with wounded arms in hospital and then them getting recovered and happily dancing.”

Looking at those pictures girl becomes all happy and she hugs her dad”.

Most of the group had overacting cast. Anahita played the mom’s role in her group and had hardly any dialog to deliver. In my ‘men only’ group, I was chosen to play the kid- for, I was the youngest.

“Daddy…!!” I said. The American had to remind me that I was playing a kid in sorrow.

“Daddy..!!” I said and tried to act crying. Everyone laughed. I knew I was a bad actor.!

Fighting the embarrassment for next five minutes, I struggled my way to reach the last part of the script.

“Daddy..!!” I said again, this time with a sense of joy. Now, that was the last line in the script where I was supposed to be happy. I hugged the fat uncle playing my dad in a hope that he won’t get carried away and end up kissing my cheeks.

“Aww..!!”.. “So cute”.. I heard few exclaims. Few other chose to laugh.

After giving us feedbacks, the director switched to his laptop and projected his power point presentation. We were then introduced to the true intent of the workshop.

A not so famous Bollywood actor had started a film school and had roped in this guy to lead it. This workshop was to promote that school.

He went on and on and on about that actor, the various courses that are being offered at the institute etc. We were into the 120th minute of the workshop. I was about to doze off when I saw Anahita getting up and walking out.

I wasted no minute and pulled myself out of the hall and followed her.

“Anahita..! Wait..!” I called her name. This time I was not scared, because I had to settle this once for all.

She turned around and so did people in the reception. I signaled them that everything was fine and went up to her.

“I have to talk to you” I said.

“Listen! We hardly know each other and you are following me everywhere. I don’t like this” she let out her fuss.

“Okay. Let’s clear the air.! I am not following you. That day in the bookshop and now in the hotel, it’s all just a co incidence.”

“yeah right. So you attending this workshop is a co incidence, is it? Or is it because you are aspiring to become a director, which perhaps would be the hardest thing to believe?”.

“That day in the bookshop I saw you by chance and wanted to talk to you. Again, Coming to this hotel today was a co incidence. But, once I saw you, I felt I had to talk to you. I wanted to apologize for the fest debacle. That’s the reason I attended this stupid workshop and had to play such a stupid role.” I threw my hands up in the air.

“Daddy”, I mimicked myself.

For the first time, she laughed -Signs that I had made my first positive impression.

She took a while before speaking.

“It wasn’t that bad. People enjoyed it”, she said trying to suppress her laughter. I was caught by surprise.

“Daddy”, now it was her turn to mimic me. She was not amongst the beautiful girls I had seen, but she had a beautiful pair of eyes and a cute smile.

“They say that, here in this coffee bar they don’t serve the best coffee” I said pointing at the indoor coffee bar of the hotel. I was pretty loud and attracted the attention of the catering manager. He put up a fake smile.

“Are you trying to ask me out for a coffee?” Anahita questioned me. She was back to her basics – a strict, straight and serious face.

“Nope” I searched for words. “I know that they serve bad coffee, but I want to know how bad it is. Mind helping me in making a judgment?” I smiled.

She smiled again. She was impressed and so was the catering manager.

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Young couple having coffee --- Image by © Mika/Corbis
(Young couple having coffee — Image by © Mika/Corbis)

“So you attended this because your friend asked you to? Seriously?” I repeated the question for the third time.

“Yes. Siddarth. Her dad is an event manager and he had promised people for this workshop. She had told that she is going to attend it, but then ditched me. And here I am sitting bored and having a bad cup of coffee”.

here I am sitting bored’ part of it, managed to hurt my ego.

“That was quite a compliment”, I had my lines ready.

“Oops. I didn’t mean to offend you but my day has been wasted for sure”.

I stayed quiet.

“So Siddarth, you said that you had a lunch party in one of the above halls and that you are dad is hosting it. Aren’t you getting late?” she asked.

“Okay. First thing. You can call me Sid. And the second thing , I am not going to attend that lunch party” I replied in a stern voice.

“And why is that?” she sounded curious.

I explained her that the purpose of the lunch party was to help me announce my plans of establishing a restaurant chain in the city and that my dad had his business partners to listen to my plans.

“So what did you discuss with them?”

“Ah..! I had to explain them the USP of my chain, It’s revenue model, expected revenues etc.” I started explaining.

“What is USP?”

“USP stands for unique selling proposition, factors that makes your offering stand apart from others. My idea was simple. Come up with state of the art interiors for your restaurant and then have separate sections for sports freaks with sports channel being projected on large screen. Similarly you will have dedicated family sections, valentine section, kids section etc.”

“Interesting” she said. I guess she was faking it- the compliment.

“But my most important plan was to offer a discount of 50% up to a maximum discount of 100Rs per food item. And they didn’t seem to be happy about it. So I just walked out” I said.

She didn’t respond.

“What?” I asked.

“Sorry.! I don’t know much about business. But won’t you be at loss if you show so much of generosity?” she threw the expected question at me.

“My idea of profit comes in two parts. Number one..” I started in an animated fashion.

“Just imagine that you have a toy that cost you 50Rs to manufacture. You have decided to sell it at 200 Rs. Even if one guy buys it, you are at a profit of 150Rs. So if ten guys buy it, you are at a profit of 1500Rs”.

She nodded.

“Now, the toy is quite expensive at a price of 200. At the end, you can expect not more than 20 people to buy it. So what’s the maximum profit that you are going to make?” I asked.

“3000Rs.” She replied like a kid sitting in her mathematics class.

“Perfect.! Now let’s say that I decide to sell the same toy at a price of 60Rs. Now the price of the toy sounds reasonable or cheap for its quality. So it’s likely that more people will buy it. Hence, to attain a profit of 3000Rs, we need at least 300 people to buy it.

A toy at this rate being offered, we are likely to surpass that count of 300. This means we can score a profit greater than 3000Rs”, I concluded.

Since it drew no response from her, I had to deliver the bottom-line – “ You either build one benz C- class or 50 maruthi altos”. I expected her to clap, but she didn’t.

“The profit is not guaranteed, right? Does this formula really work with your restaurant? And these days when you see something being sold at a cheap price, you start doubting its quality” she fired her next doubt.

“There’s a risk. Yes. That’s the reason we are trying to make its interiors rich and elegant. That would increase the footfall in the restaurant. We will definitely get more crowds from the middle tier of economic classes” I smiled and continued.

“But this is only the first part of my revenue generation. Now, based on the lucrative discounts and excellent service we will get excellent count of customers. I will then turn my restaurant into an advertisement hub. There will be dedicated spaces for advertisements, promotions etc. Here we shall put up posters and mini hoardings of advertisers”. I briefly paused to have the last sip of the coffee.

“There will be TV screens all over my restaurant, where these ads will be showcased. In the sports section of the restaurant, I can switch to my advertisement channel during match intervals. This channel shall display ads of my clients. The advertising cost for this would be marginally higher” I grinned.

“Oh my god. You are genius” she exclaimed and this time she wasn’t faking it. For the second time in the day I had managed to impress her.

“You don’t have to be that generous with your compliments. I have borrowed my ideas from multiple places”. I tried to sound humble.

She smiled as if she knew it.

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I had never been able to understand the concept of ‘deciding to be friends’. I mean, how can you ask someone to be your friend. You be good to that person and that person will be good to you. After a while, you will realize that you have become friends.

I  thought that this is how it always works.!

“So friends?” I asked before she left. I had my right hand held out, waiting for hers’ to shake.

When a guy tells a girl that he wants to be friends with her, He rarely means it.

“I don’t know” she smiled again. When a girl says I don’t know, it means that she has an answer. It’s just that, she doesn’t know how to tell it.

“I have to leave now”, said she and climbed down one more step. We were outside the hotel now.

“When do we meet next?” I asked. I was sounding desperate.

“In your restaurant, when you are done with building it” she winked.

If she had felt that I will never be able to build such a restaurant, her answer could be summed up to ‘we are never going to meet dumbo.!’. I felt challenged.

“Can I have your phone number?” I asked. For years I had felt like asking phone number of numerous girls, but here was my maiden attempt at it.

“And why is that?”. That’s what every girl on the earth asks, when a guy asks for her phone number.

“If you give your phone number, then I will understand that we have become friends. And on my birthday I can call you up and ask you to wish me. I can send stupid forwards and needless good nights when I am bored. The list can go on but I will stop at this”.

She just smiled and climbed down the last step to step onto the main road.

“I will be heartbroken if you don’t give me your phone number” I said little loudly.

She waved her hand and stopped an auto. She had not got her scooty. Before climbing into the auto, she turned back and looked at me. I walked a couple of steps towards the auto.

“94800924….” she babbled, intentionally.

“If you have heard my number correctly, I can consider your proposal of becoming friends” she said and sat in the auto. The auto vanished in no moment.

She had spoken so fast that I couldn’t pay attention to the last two numbers. I felt depressed.

I thought for a while, then typed a message.

“So.. friends? – Sid”.

After typing the message, I sent it 9480092400. I waited for about a minute for the response. Nothing happened.

I had to do the obvious now.! I quickly started sending the same message to numbers from 94800924 01 to 99.

It took me about four minutes to send the message to those hundred numbers. Within no time messages started pouring in. Most of them which looked like

“Do I know you?”

“Friends???”

“Sid who?”

“wrong number”

“excuse me”.

Finally, somewhere in middle of these messages I found the one I needed. The number read 94800 92419.

“Congrats sid. We are frens 😉 🙂 🙂, the message read.

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What was she trying to prove by saying congrats, I wondered.!!

“Lucky you.! 😉 ” I replied.!

-To be continued

Click here to read the sixth episode

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