I wrote a story a few days ago, ‘Serendipity’. You can read it here, if you haven’t already, before you get on with this one.
This is its sequel, although from Shreya’s perspective. Hope you like it. ☺☺❤❤
Here it goes…
I was still asleep when I heard the doorbell ring. “Bhai, open the door”, I shouted only to realize that Nitin was not home this weekend. Who could be on the door this early on a Sunday morning, I thought to myself fumbling for my phone. It read nine o’clock. Not too late for a weekend, I sighed.
I stretched my body, yawned a little and got out of the bed pulling up the curtain allowing the sunlight to come in. The bell rang again. “Coming, man”, I shouted as I looked for the key on the shelf. Nitin had instructed me to lock the door properly before going to bed at night, he has always been overprotective of me.
The bell honked continuously for a few seconds which irritated me. “These salesmen…”, I cursed as I keyed in the lock and opened the door. I found a beautiful lady, probably in her mid-twenties, wearing a shiny black top and vanilla jeans holding a big bouquet and a box in her hands standing in front of me. Both of us looked at each other. She smiled at me, as if she somehow knew me, which was creepy.
“How may I help you?” I asked the rubbing my eyes, I was still sleepy. The fragrance emanating from the flowers refreshed my lazy mind. I couldn’t escape a smile.
“Hi, I am Riya. I came to return the clothes…”
I was totally confused.
“Sorry, I think you seem to have reached the wrong address”, I immediately interrupted her.
“You must be Shreya. Is Nitin home?” she asked.
I was freaked out seeing that she knew mine and Nitin’s name. Nitin never told me anything about any Riya.
“No. How do you know him? …and my name?”
“Nitin didn’t tell you anything about me?”
“No. How do you know him?”
“We met two days ago. I came here with him.”
“Was she his girlfriend? …he doesn’t have girlfriends! Who is this?” And barrage of questions fluttered me. Ever she seemed confused why Nitin hadn’t told me he had lent her clothes. I realized we had been talking to each other at the door for quite a while. So, I reluctantly invites her in. I didn’t have any other choice. Plus I didn’t want to push her away if she was really his girlfriend.
“These flowers are wonderful. They smell delicious”, I chuckled as I leaned towards the bouquet, “For him?” I knew the obvious answer.
“O yes!” Riya seemed excited to hear his name. She was still holding on to the bouquet as if waiting for Nitin to appear so that she could give it to him personally.
“And what are those? Breakfast?” I asked her. “Were they going on a date and he forgot? That would be so unfortunate”, I thought to myself. Nitin was always absent-minded. But I didn’t want to rush to judgements.
“And these pastries too. He told me he liked them, so I bought a few on my way.”
“Oh, he loves them. You should see him when he eats them. You won’t believe his childishness. He paints his whole chin with the cream”, I told her. When she started to giggle, I stopped realising I was making fun of him in from of a potential-girlfriend of his. “Hey, what clothes are you talking about?” I asked her.
Riya narrated to me the events of Friday evening. I could feel my eyes glisten with pride on hearing about how Nitin helped her out. I knew my brother was a very compassionate and kind-hearted fellow but he was very shy especially when it came to women. That he stopped in the rain to help a woman probably of his age was not anywhere close to his propensities, I thought.
I took out the clothes from the bag presuming it must be mine. I was totally amused to find Nitin’s clothes in the bag.
“Really?” I shouted in astonishment.
“What is so surprising?”
“You went home wearing his garments!”
“What is wrong with that?”
“Nothing. I just pictured you in this dress.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s gone to Pune for some work.”
Riya gave me a blank look. “He didn’t tell me anything about it when we met that evening”, she seemed intrigued by the fact that he hadn’t mentioned it to her at all.
“He is an introvert, especially to strangers. He must have thought it wasn’t necessary for you to know. He is beyond shy.”
“He was much more forthcoming when I met him. Anyway, where should I keep these flowers? I’d thought I would thank him”, her voice leaked a lot of disappointment.
“Just put them in that empty vase there”, I said reaching for my toothbrush.
“What do you study?” she asked while carefully placing the flowers in a dusty vase.
“Economics major. Third year.”
“That is wonderful”, Riya looked around the house. It was squeaky clean, too clean perhaps for two students, she must have thought.
One of the beds in the room was well arranged, another one not so much. There were no posters on the walls which she must have found unusual for an engineering student. There was a balcony facing the road, creepers hovering from the ceiling, pots of marigold flowers lining up the railing and roses on either side of the balcony.
She must have amazed by the aesthetic beauty of this small balcony, “This is gorgeous. How did you do this?” she shouted as I spit out the toothpaste.
“What? … No. It is all me. I just help him out a little bit.”
“You two seem to be very close?”
“’Very close’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
Riya smiled at my proud proclamation. There was suddenly a silence in the room.
“Would you like something to eat?”
“No, I am full. I just had breakfast.”
“Not even water. Bhai would kill me if I told him I didn’t offer you something.”
“I can have water.”
I went into the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. She drinks the water, she was very thirsty.
“When does he come back, from whatever he is doing up in Pune?” Riya asked me.
“Probably on Friday”, I again sensed a frustration in Riya’s tone at not having been told by Nitin. “For one evening, you seem to have developed a good friendship”, I observed. She was behaving unusually possessive of him, I was a little envious.
“He is a real nice guy. I just thought I’d thank him for his help.”
“You can do that on the phone too, don’t you have his number?”
“No, we didn’t share our numbers. We had even forgotten about the clothes while we were talking. ”
“Are you sure you were just talking?” I asked her, expecting nothing short of outrage from her for my verbal transgression.
‘I think we connected well”, she said those words but I thought I knew what she meant. She was being too cautious not to say something she didn’t want me to know. He incessant smiles eluded her pretence.
“I understand”, I murmured. She couldn’t have been naïve enough to believe that I would take her at her word.
“You seem to have just woken up”, she observed, rather late at that.
“Ya, I have. It is a weekend, so no college.”
“Ya, I remember. So, what are your plans for today?”
“Not much. Had bhai been here, we’d go out on a ‘date’ in the evening?”
“Who cooks when he isn’t here?”
“I try. I am better than he is by any count. He requests a nearby restaurant to home-deliver when he isn’t here.”
“You two seem very close”, she said again, as if she felt good saying those words.
“We are, inseparable. He left the comfort of IIT hostel just to stay with me when he’d have easily stayed there without having to cook or wash clothes by himself.”
“I hope I’ll get to know you guys better someday. Goodbye Riya.”
“Why not today, let me connect you to him”, her choice of words sounded obviously particular. It wasn’t intentional so she clarified, “Let me call him.”
“Just say thank you and that I came. I have a flight to catch.”
“Delhi! I know your address if I am ever around.”
She walked away. I was too hungry to cook my breakfast. So, I ate those pastries she’d brought for him, wondering if she’d ever come around, if they would ever get a chance to meet again, their acute possibility of a relationship – given we didn’t share our contacts.
A few days later, Nitin came home. I told him about Riya and quizzed him about why he hadn’t me. He blushed trying to explain his way out of the situation. Much guilty pleasure pushed me to further ask him, “What happened between you guys? She told me you connected. I don’t know what she meant.” I tried to contain myself scanning the changes on his face. It went from disappointment to excitement and then back within moments.