So...........We Meet Again 3
So...........We Meet Again 3
Aastha laughed like crazy to waste time till she could think of an appropriate answer. Sumit kept his arms crossed as he looked at her sternly, clearly indicating that he was in no mood for any funny business. Even though he didn’t speak a word, his facial expressions were powerful than a sword. She felt scared of his silence. Why was he waiting for her to talk? Why can’t he just walk away rather than waiting for her to explain?
“Hi, Sumit. You won’t believe what happened. My cousin’s wedding got cancelled last minute. The groom eloped with some other girl. So, that’s why I am here, you know.” Sumit smiled viciously, his eyes burning with rage.
“Do you consider me to be so stupid to buy your silly story? Even after catching you red-handed, you have the audacity to lie to me at my face.” Aastha felt ashamed of herself and kept her head down.
“Listen, Sumit. I am……….” He pointed his finger at her.
“I haven’t completed myself, Aastha. I know we didn’t start on a positive note. If you didn’t want to meet me, you could have just said it. I would have appreciated your honesty rather than your lie.”
“I am sorry, Sumit. I didn’t have the guts to face you or talk to you after embarrassing myself that day. I wasn’t being myself. I had become someone else.”
“Is that the only reason why you lied or is it because of what I did two years ago? If you are miffed because I rejected you, it’s totally understandable and you have every right to be. But please don’t take it to your heart. It’s nothing personal. I had my own reasons at that time. I was in a serious relationship with someone else and my parents had no idea about it.” Aastha got bugged that he had actually read her mind, despite barely knowing her. Still, she kept her head high and composed herself; ensuring that she showed zero emotions. Mentally, she was still the girl who felt bad and cried every time she was rejected; no matter what the situation was. She nodded her head in disapproval to show that she didn’t agree with him. Even though he was right, he didn’t have to know about it.
“I can’t believe you’re so full of yourself, Sumit. It’s been two years!!! Do you think I’m still irked by what you did two years ago? We just met once and we didn’t click. We weren’t even dating. So, what’s the big deal?” Sumit looked at her, perplexed while trying to judge her emotions.
“Are you sure? I thought I owed you an explanation. Since you know, you were pretty rude to me last week. I felt it was because……”
“It was my alcohol talking! Not me. Alcohol brings out the badass in me. I usually don’t drink, though. I was just a bit shocked and all. That’s it. It’s not that I would ever want to date someone like you.” Sumit raised his eyebrows and tilted his head in disbelief. His expressions clearly indicated that she had hurt his ego.
“Glad to know we’re on the same page, darling. Since everything’s clear between us, may I know why you’re spending your precious Sunday all alone with these heaps of bags with you? I believe my company would have been more entertaining and lightweight. Since I hadn’t asked you out on a date, you know.” Aastha knew he was trying to get back at her for her little remark. But she chose not to be sarcastic this time.
“I was here with my mom. She met some of her friends here…………….” She was interrupted by a female voice from a distance.
“Sumit!!!! What the hell has been taking you so long? I’ve been waiting for 10 whole minutes.” It was the same girl who was with him at Rahul’s party. Dressed in a simple white crop top and blue jeans, she looked stunning. Aastha couldn’t help but feel jealous, again. Before the girl could reach out to them, she picked up her bags and decided to leave.
“I guess I should get going. You’re girlfriend’s waiting for you.” She let out a fake smile and Sumit smiled back at her.
“I’ll see you soon.” She heard his voice a little later but didn’t turn back, pretending not to have heard him.
Sumit’s four words turned out to be true, much faster than Aastha could ever have imagined. She had visualized meeting him again at a common gathering of friends, perhaps once in a blue moon; exchanging pleasantries here and there. The accidental encounter with him at the mall forced her to think. Was Payal right to say that she had been a drama queen all along? Whenever the two friends met, Sumit occurred at least once in their conversations. Like she had said herself, they met once and they didn’t click. Just like her, he too had the right to put himself first. So, there was no sense in giving him a cold shoulder and moping over something which was never meant to happen. At times, she wondered if things would have turned out differently if he wasn’t in a serious relationship back then, as he had claimed to be. Even though Aastha had mixed feelings about him, she promised herself to be nice to him the next time she would meet him.
Two weeks later, she found herself sitting in Sumit’s corporate office along with her boss. Turns out, he wanted them to redesign his already well-designed office, forcing Aastha to actually think. Maybe he did have a lot of money to actually splurge on something completely unnecessary. Unlike his annoying and carefree attitude outside, he behaved strictly professional in his office. It was as if she was meeting a completely new person. For some reasons best known to him, he behaved as if they were meeting for the first time. Even though Aastha found it difficult to digest, she played along with him.
Towards the end of the meeting, both parties were clear that they could have considered acting as a serious profession. Aastha’s boss had no clue whatsoever. As a customer, she felt that Sumit wasn’t an easy person to convince. He was adamant and choosy. He had shifted his office temporarily in a nearby building till they could complete the work on his permanent one. Due to Sumit’s busy schedule, Aastha saw more of his father and less of Sumit. She couldn’t have been happier, as she didn’t have to ignore him or pretend to not know him. Unlike his son, Sumit’s father didn’t play the pretend game.
A retired man now, he hadn’t changed much. A pleasing and sincere gentleman, she had liked and respected him back then as well as now. Even Sumit’s mother. What she didn’t like was their son’s ‘Mr.Know-it-all’ attitude, behaving as if he owned the world. Sumit’s father seemed happy on meeting her again. He enquired about her career and her parents; just as a father figure would. No matter what had happened in the past, Aastha didn’t have any grudges against both his parents. If only she could say the same about Sumit. His unpredictable and unreliable behavior drove her nuts. He could be sweet for one minute and turn sour the next one.
Aastha’s boss had dozens of questions on seeing Sumit’s father conversing so easily with her and she had a tough time answering them. She told him that he was her father’s friend’s friend whom she had met once; the half truth to be precise. So that’s why she only knew the father and not the son. Since Sumit had put up a pretty decent show of not knowing her and she had joined him in the party, she had to cover up by lying to her boss. Not that she could have told him the other reason how she knew the father-son duo anyways. Even though she had met him a couple of times recently, she didn’t have any actual interaction with him. He would mostly be in his corporate lawyer mode and behaved like one.
Aastha felt it was better. Since whenever they talked, she would always end up doing something to embarrass herself. The following Saturday, she had a small argument with one of the workers over the delay in the work that was supposed to be completed that day. Since they were way behind their schedule, she had to face her boss’s wrath and she ended up venting her anger in an unfavorable manner. Sumit caught all of them off-guard in the middle of nowhere.
“I am completely fine with the delay. As long as you do good work, I can deal with it. You don’t have to fight with each other.”
Aastha calmed down on hearing his voice. For some particular reason, he would always end up being in situations when she was in a vulnerable state. As if he had an antenna or satellite giving him all the information. She had no idea from where he had turned up. He wasn’t even present a few minutes back. She apologized to all the workers and allowed them to leave for the day since it was already late. Moreover, she decided to apologize to Sumit as well.
“I’m sorry for the delay, Mr.Rathod. I will ensure that your office is ready by the end of next week.”
Sumit didn’t say a word. He just looked at her and smiled.
“I am in no hurry. Don’t get stressed out. You’re doing a great job, Aastha.”
Aastha felt a bit awkward, being praised by a man who had no respect for her profession two years back. At least, that’s what his words had indicated. But she decided not to let go of her good manners.
“Thank You, Mr.Rathod. I can be a bit short tempered, at times.” Now, why was she telling him, of all people?
“Cut the formalities, girl! I’m just a year or two older than you. Your Mr. Rathod is hammering my ears. Nobody’s here. You can call me by my name.”
“It’s best if I call you Mr. Rathod. Since I’ll have no idea when to call you what. You change your moods every second.” Sumit felt disgusted over her last remark.
“Same goes for you, darling. By the way, the whole pretend thing was for you. Not me.” Aastha looked at him with suspicion in her eyes.
“When did I ever tell you to do that? I wasn’t even aware that you were our next client till I came here.”
“You never told me but I kind of understood. You didn’t seem pleased when I mentioned that we knew each other at Rahul’s party. Who would want to take the risk with you? You get pissed off pretty easily.”
Aastha forcefully let out a smile. “Thank You, Sumit. I should be going now. It’s already pretty late.”
“How come you’re up so late? You’re never here whenever I come at this time.”
“I had to go somewhere else as well. That’s why.” Sumit walked along with her towards the lift of the building. He made sure he kept his distance.
“So, any plans for tomorrow. Or you have another cousin’s wedding to attend maybe.” Sumit grinned at his own joke and Aastha smiled along with him.
“Very funny!!! I don’t understand why you ask me personal questions? Do you hear me asking you about your weekend plans?”
“I plan on sleeping all day. I’ve had a pretty rough two weeks.”
“You can do whatever you want to. Whether you sleep all day or roam around the world with your girlfriend, it’s none of my concern.”
Sumit stared at her till the time they were out of the lift, deep in thought. She criticized herself mentally for mentioning the girl he was with. Even though Aastha could feel his eyes on her, she chose to ignore him.
“If you’re talking about Nisha; the girl with me at the mall; you’re mistaken. She isn’t my girlfriend. She’s actually my cousin.”
Great! Why was he giving explanations now? He could have just pretended that she was, like the other day. No matter how hard she tried to keep a straight face, a part of her felt happy from within.
“Oh! I thought she was. You guys looked really good together.”
“That’s the problem with you! You always assume. You never ask. Perhaps it was common sense. Why would our friends try to set us up if I wasn’t single?” And the old Sumit was back. The moment you think he’s actually not a bad guy, he opens his big mouth.
Aastha couldn’t make out why he kept digging the past every now and then. Even though she thought about it too, she had never mentioned it. Did he actually feel guilty about it? Even if he did, why was she thinking about it? It actually didn’t make any sense. He didn’t owe her any answers this time. They walked in silence for a few minutes.
Aastha waved her hand for a rickshaw. Sumit touched her elbow, trying to stop her.
“Do you have a few minutes to spare? I promise I won’t take too much of your time.”
She looked at him with questions in her mind. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. It’s really getting late. I should have been at home by now.”
“How will you know if staying back with me is a good idea or not unless you try? Why not just try it out and give your final ultimatum afterwards?” She rolled her eyes in disbelief, agreeing with him in the end.
“This better be good. Otherwise, I’ll kill you.” The smile on Sumit’s face pretty much showed that he was happy with her decision. She followed him through the busy lanes, pondering what tricks he had up his sleeve this time.
To be Continued………..