He had met her at his cousin’s birthday party. She was working as a Public Relations executive in a Five star hotel.
‘Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai,
key jaisey tujhko banaya gaya hai mere liye’
The song had always been a favourite of Amit because of Sahir’s lyrical superiority but now it meant more to him. He could read more in the wordings. Ever since he had seen Smita, he had instantly taken a liking for her. She had all the attributes Amit had found attractive in girls. She was tall, had short hair, sharp features, a dark complexion and a husky voice.
He had met her at his cousin’s birthday party. She was working as a Public Relations executive in a Five star hotel. Not the one to initiate a conversation, especially with girls, Amit gathered all his courage and coerced his sister-in-law into introducing him to Smita. The first meeting lasted only for a few seconds.
A stammering hello was Amit’s reply to a flashing Hi before his cousin pulled him over and told him to rush and get some more bottles of beer which were being chilled at Amit’s flat, two storeys below his cousins’. By the time he returned, Smita was deep in conversation with two of her friends and Amit felt intimidated to barge in and continue the conversation which had been so brutally cut short.
Thereafter, he tried his best to attract Smita’s attention by hovering around her but without any success.
Later that night as he lay on his bed Amit felt a bit ashamed of his behaviour. He had never felt so attracted towards any girl before and he wondered if this attraction was just another crush or was he really in love this time. Whatever it was, it felt good and the lyrics of his favourite song came back to him.
‘Tu ab sey pehley sitaron mein bas rahee thee kahin
tujhe zamin pe bulaya gaya hai mere liye’
Amit found difficult to concentrate in college the next day. He fantacised about a breezy afternoon in Kashmir. Among the pines, he was resting his head on Smita’s lap. The reverie was broken by the sudden rush of the lunch break. Amit headed home and frantically searched for the cassette. He was unable to find it in his cassette rack. Maybe it was in the other rack in his parent’s room.
“How come you are home so soon?” his mother enquired.
“Feeling a little low,” said Amit pretending not to pay much attention to her.
“You look fine to me,” came the answer. Amit found the cassette and rushed back to his room. As the melodious composition of Khaiyam started playing, Amit was back in Kashmir, under the pine tree.
‘Mein jaanata hoon ke tu gair hai magar yu heen…
Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai’
In the evening he rushed over to his cousin’s place and got straight to the point with his sister-in-law, Harleen.
“I want her telephone number”.
The sister-in-law was amused. She had never seen Amit behaving in this manner in the last two years that she had known him.
“She is my colleague but I think she is going around with some one”.
“You think. You are not sure. So there is hope… I am surely going to give it a try”.
“O.K. then you come over to the hotel tomorrow at around 4 pm and let me see what I can do for you”.
The next day Amit again returned from College after lunch.
“You are back again,” his mother enquired.
“I have some important work at 4 pm”, Amit replied avoiding all eye contact.
“May I know what this urgent work is”?
“I have to meet someone”.
“And may I know who this someone is”?
“A friend of mine”.
“Does this friend of yours have a name”?
Now Amit felt cornered. He rushed to his room and shouted as he shut the door, “You do not know him…”
As he was leaving the house, he was relieved to see his mother on the telephone. “No more questions”, he thought. He waved to her and she waved back.
“All the best!” she shouted out to him.
All the best! What the hell! Does she know? Can’t trust Harleen!
He was in the hotel lobby at 3.50 pm sharp. He sat down on the sofa and tried to go through the newspaper. He could feel his heart beating faster and his palms becoming sweaty. Relax. Relax. Everything is going to be fine. He kept telling himself.
“Hi! Amit. How are you?” Amit looked up to see Smita standing in front of him with her hand stretched forward. Amit shook her hand and asked, “Hi! Is Harleen not around”?
“No she had to go for a meeting and she told me to tell you that she won’t be able to see you today”.
Amit kept looking at her, waiting for her to say something more. After a few awkward and quiet seconds he said, “That’s fine. I shall talk to her later in the evening. You know I stay in the same building”.
“Yeah I know. Harleen was telling me about you”.
Amit immediately wanted to say “Wow, what else has she told you about me”?
“You are looking very smart in this uniform of yours,” he blurted instead.
Smita was slightly taken aback by this sudden change of topic but quickly replied, “Are you trying to tell me that I do not look smart otherwise”.
Now it was Amit’s turn to be taken aback. “No. No. I mean you are looking smarter,” he stammered.
“Hey! I was just joking but I guess I will get back to my work now. See you later.”
Amit desperately wanted to say something to hold he back but words just failed him. All he could mutter was, “OK. Bye”.
“I am sorry Amit, I got busy in a meeting today”, Harleen told Amit later in the evening, “but you did manage to meet her so can go ahead on your own now. Good luck”.
‘Suhaag raat hai goonghat utha raha hoon main
simat rahee hai tu sharma kay meri bahhon mein’
Amit now began to plan for the meeting. He would call up the hotel and ask her to come over to Pizza Hut, which was adjacent to the hotel for lunch. He thought it would be a good idea if he wrote down all that he planned to say. He would rehearse so that he does not fall short of words.That night Amit wrote and re-wrote his proposed dialogue with Smita.
“Ever since I’ve met you, I have been feeling strange…no not strange…strange has negative connotations it should be good…yes I have been feeling good ever since I’ve met you. Let’s get to know each other better…How about going for a movie on the weekend…”
The next day Amit did not go home from college. He knew he would not be able to get away from his mother’s inquisitiveness. He reached Pizza Hut sharp at 1 pm and called up the hotel from a public telephone booth next to the restaurant.
“Can I talk with Smita please”?
“Just a second, Sir.”
Amit could feel his heart beating faster.
“Is that Smita?”
“Hi! Amit this side.”
“Amit?” She asked in a questioning tone.
He wanted to keep the phone down and run away but somehow hung on to say, “Harleen’s cousin, I had come over to the hotel yesterday.”
“Oh! Yes. Hi!”
“I was wondering if we could meet at Pizza Hut for lunch?”
A few seconds passed without any one saying anything. Then Amit took a deep breath and repeated the question, “I was wondering if we could meet at Pizza Hut for lunch”.
Again there was no response and then suddenly she exclaimed, “Yeah. Why not? In fact I was also planning to meet you. I’ve got something for you. See you in 10 minutes. Bye”.
Even before Amit could reply she had hung up. But Amit did not bother much about that.
Yes! Yes! He exulted. I’ve done it! He rushed to the florist, bought a bouquet of roses and entered Pizza Hut at 1 pm. He kept the flowers on the third chair and pushed it under the table. He wanted to surprise her.
Amit now started going over all that he had thought of saying to her last night. He thought he had a good opening line in “Ever since I met you I have started feeling good…” This is going to be a memorable day. Now what could she be getting for me?
He saw her walking towards the restaurant and he immediately started waving towards her. She looked at him, smiled and waved back. She was carrying a card.
Oh Shit! I should have got a card as well. So that is what she is getting for me.
On entering the restaurant Smita walked quickly towards Amit. Amit stood up.
“Hi! Good to see you Smita”.
He pulled out the chair but before he could say anything Smita spoke up forwarding the silver coloured envelope to Amit, “I am sorry but I won’t be able to join you for lunch. I am in a bit of a hurry. I just came to give you this.”
“Hey thanks this is great,” he said as he carefully took the envelope from her.
His full name was typed on it.
‘Mr. Amit Basu’. Amit was taken aback. He quickly opened it and pulled the card out.
Mr. And Mrs. R. Dixit invite you for the wedding of their daughter…
Impulsively Amit threw his head back, his eyes widening.
“Won’t you congratulate me?”
“Yes of course. Why not?” Amit replied trying to appear in full control.
“This is great news. So who is the lucky guy?”
“A family friend. He’s just finished his Masters from Ahmedabad”.
“And he is going to join Citibank in Delhi next month.”
“All the best.”
“Do come for the marriage. It is on a Sunday.”
“Sure…” He felt like a fool. He just wanted her to leave.
“O.K. then I must get going.”
Amit slumped into the chair. He kept staring at the card. All of a sudden he got up and left the restaurant with a defiant smile. Even Amitabh could not get Raakhee! He had barely walked a few feet from the restaurant when he heard a voice call out.
As he turned back he saw a short, fair girl coming towards him with the bouquet he had got for Smita.
“You forgot this,” she said smiling.
“You can keep it.”
“Hey thanks… come let me treat you to a pizza”.
Pic courtesy: dcmodest.blogspot.com
This teen story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2003).
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