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So..........We Meet Again 4

So..........We Meet Again 4

11 mins 998 11 mins 998

Sumit and Aastha must have walked for around ten minutes. The increasing distance was making her more and more impatient. She had no idea where he was taking her. Since there weren’t many people around, all sorts of thoughts creeped up her mind. It didn’t take her long to think she could have avoided him politely. Was he planning on taking her to a deserted place and kill her? She laughed at herself for sounding absolutely ridiculous a minute later.

“Can you at least tell me where we’re going? Your suspense is killing me!!! Aastha finally gave up.

“We’re almost there.” Sumit pointed his finger, showing the line of food stalls towards their opposite as they crossed the road. From a desolate area, they had now reached one of the busiest market places in the city. The crowd of people seemed like the waves of an ocean. Now, they had become a part of the ocean too. “What would you like to eat?” Aastha remained silent, trying to grasp in the situation.

“You never told me that we are supposed to eat. You told me you won’t be taking too long.” Due to the commotion, she literally had to scream.

“A little white lie never hurt anyone.”Sumit winked at her. “ If I had told you, you would have never come.”

“And why are we here EXACTLY?” Aastha stressed on the word, even though she knew where this conversation was heading to.

“To eat and to talk. What else do you think?”

“Wow! You have chosen the best place to talk. Since I can barely hear you.” Sumit smirked at her remark, not allowing her to spoil his mood.

“I would have preferred a nice and cozy café or restaurant. Since you guys are charging me exorbitantly, I had to go for a cheaper option.”

“Well, you could have opted for other designers as well. There are plenty in this city.”

Sumit smiled as he looked into her eyes. “I always choose the best for myself.” Aastha presumed if he was talking about work or hinting otherwise. Of course, he was talking about work or she wouldn’t have been rejected. Why was she even thinking that he would try to hit on her? Did she want him to?

They settled down on the plastic chairs in a corner and ordered a plate of Chole Bhature each. Aastha could sense the tension in the air. For a change, the usually confident Sumit seemed nervous too. Yet, he was the first to speak.

“So, how’s life been the last two years?”

“It’s been pretty much the same. Home to work. Work to home. Nothing interesting happening as such.”

Sumit raised his eyebrows devilishly. “You forgot your mini adventures on weekends. Who would have thought you could be such a party animal?” This time, Aastha wasn’t offended even a bit.”

“Hey! That was once in 2 years. It doesn’t happen every weekend.”

“Thank God it doesn’t!!! Who would have the guts to handle you?” “Leave me alone. You don’t just buy my Thank You, Mr. Sumit Rathod. You have to earn it.” Both had a hearty laugh as he imitated her, reminding Aastha that she hadn’t laughed like this in a lifetime. It felt nice, to laugh at herself without any barriers. She had been a total drama queen that dreaded day and it was high time she took it in her stride.

“Enough about me!!! Tell me what’s going on with you?” The smile on Sumit’s face vanished all of a sudden and he started looking elsewhere. Everywhere except her face. Aastha couldn’t guess why he became serious suddenly. A few minutes back, they had been laughing their hearts out. Had she hit a nerve? “Everything okay?” She spoke in a low voice. All he did was nod his head.

“Hmmmmm……….What do I say? From where do I start?”

“It all depends on you. Or you could just make something up. I wouldn’t know the truth anyways.” Sumit smiled with his eyes. Even though it wasn’t a full -fledged one, she could make out it was honest.

“Unfortunately, I’m not a good story teller like you. So…..I’d rather go with the truth.” And he was back by taking digs at her.

“Go on then. I’m all ears.”

“There’s nothing much to say, really. I already told you I had a girlfriend when I came to your place. My Mom showed me your pics two days ago. At first, I refused. But then I thought, what’s the harm in meeting once? She was hell bent on making you her daughter-in-law. Even Dad.”

“Would you mind skipping the details and coming to the point?” Aastha got bugged this time around and Sumit made a funny face.

“Hey, I was praising you. You don’t have to feel offended. Well, nothing much happened. We broke up a year ago.” He thought for a minute. “Actually, she broke up with me. She had hundreds of reasons to prove me as a bad boyfriend. You are too busy with work. You are self-obsessed. You are a control freak. You are this. You are that. You have many female friends. I even stopped talking to some of them so that she wouldn’t feel insecure. I invested two precious years of my life to our relationship. We were this close to getting married, Aastha.” He gestured with his fingers while looking at her. Even though Aastha agreed with the self –obsessed part, she felt bad for the guy. She now had to play agony aunt, something she was pretty bad at.

“I’m really sorry to hear about your breakup. So I guess you’re not in touch with this girl. Are you?”

“No. She got married to some hot shot NRI a few months back. It hurts, you know. She moved on pretty quickly. She didn’t even give us another chance to revive what we had. And look at me! I’m still crying and bothering you with my tragedy.” Aastha was amazed that Sumit could smile, even though his eyes were sad.

“I actually can’t blame you. I agreed to come with you and I have to bear the consequences of my own actions.”

“I guess it’s karma for what I did to you, right. My parents remind me every single day that I am a fool for rejecting a girl like you.”

“No, it’s not karma, Sumit. You did what you felt was right. You didn’t cheat on your girlfriend. You didn’t cheat on me. Moreover, you didn’t cheat on yourself. I would have surely kicked your ass had you agreed to get married to me while being involved with another girl.” She quickly added.” It’s not that I was interested, but still.”

Sumit looked at her in disbelief, blatantly shaking his head.

“Do you also think I’m a self-obsessed control freak?”

“I’d rather not get into the details. We barely know each other.”

“Agreed. But you must have thought something about me when we met for the first time. Did I create a good first impression on you?”

“Why should I tell you about it now?”

“All is well between us now. What I had in mind was a fun conversation with you and not a serious one. Come on. You can be honest with me. I won’t mind.” Aastha looked at his lit up face with doubts in her head. It amazed her how he could drastically change his mood within seconds.

“Okayyyy.” Aastha thought for a while. “You seemed snobbish, braggart and somewhat over the top. You were a loudmouth.” Sumit patiently looked at her while keeping a straight face. She quickly added in. “I am sorry. You asked me to be honest.”

“That’s fine. I had asked for it. Your criticisms are nothing compared to my ex-girlfriend’s. She had literally rebuked me for two hours non -stop.”

“You’re still not over her. Are you?”

“Maybe , not yet. But, I will be. One day. For sure.”

“Of Course, you will. And you will be thankful that it happened. Who knows? Life may have something better in store for you.”

“Or maybe someone better.” Sumit looked into her eyes as he said those words. The way he looked at her indicated that he was talking about her. Just the thought of it made her anxious. Without breaking eye contact, he stepped a bit closer to her. He spoke in a low voice, as if he didn’t want a third person to listen to what he had to say.

“Two years ago, I felt that you are a shy, introverted and under-confident girl. It is only now that I have realized that you are fun loving, a bit moody and a pretty interesting character. Back then, you seemed pretty boring to me.” And, the perfect moment was ruined leaving Aastha displeased.

“I never asked you for your opinion, Mr.Sumit Rathod.”

“I was just being frank with you the way I asked you to be with me. You need to know. I was wrong in judging you based on the clothes you had worn that day. Frankly, my grandmother would have worn better clothes. You weren’t dressed appropriately according to me but you have every right to dress the way you please. Your clothes don’t define you. You define yourself. And I am sorry for feeling that way about you or anyone else in the past.”

Aastha stared at Sumit, shocked by his chain of thoughts. She now realized why she hadn’t liked him previously. He wasn’t a bad guy at heart. The only problem with him was that he was straightforward and unapologetically honest. No one likes to hear about their flaws or mistakes. All of us have one notion in mind. I am always right and I can never go wrong. When someone points us our error, we tend to distance ourselves from that person.

“Wow! I never thought you felt that way. I guess I was judgemental about you too. I am sorry. I’m glad that we sorted things out.” She offered him her hand as a sign of their new-found friendship. He accepted her gesture willingly. For the first time ever, she looked at him without any grudges.

“Finally, everything’s settled between us, Sumit. No more awkwardness and no more confessions to make.” By now, Sumit and Aastha had finished their respective plates and were walking back to go home. Sumit stuck his tongue out at her words.

“Actually, there’s still one confession I need to make.” She peered at him in anticipation. “Have you told your parents that we met again?”

“No. I didn’t feel it was necessary. Why?”

“Because my parents know.” Aastha hit his shoulder playfully, not taking him seriously.

“Of Course, I know that, idiot. I am working for you. Your parents are bound to know.”

“That’s not the only thing they know, Aastha. They know you were the girl who vomited on my t-shirt.” She stopped right in her tracks, not believing her ears. This was even more embarrassing than vomiting on Sumit’s t-shirt. What would they be thinking of her now? They had liked her before and now she had proved herself otherwise.

“You didn’t actually just say that! How could you?” She erupted with anger in her tone and eyes.

“Hey! It wasn’t me.” Sumit looked scared. “Remember my cousin, Nisha. She was at Rahul’s party too. I didn’t utter a word. She was the one who told my parents about a crazy girl named Aastha Mathur who puked on me. Since you are friends with Payal, she actually happened to know your name. Or maybe she found out. I really don’t know how.”

“Shit! How am I supposed to face your father on Monday?” Sumit laughed while analyzing her facial expressions.

“You don’t have to worry. My parents were pretty cool about it. They’d support you blindly even if you committed a crime.”

“Just shut up! I don’t feel like talking to you right now. I am so messed up.”

“Since we’re being honest with each other, I didn’t want to keep anymore secrets from you. One thing’s for sure, though.”

“What is it?” Aastha didn’t look at him but opted to look towards the ground.

“You’re one hell of a pretty mess, Aastha Mathur. Don’t take life too seriously. We might just end up laughing about it in the days to come.”

Aastha just nodded her head half -heartedly as she didn’t agree with Sumit at all. She didn’t have the energy to retaliate anymore. It had been more than enough for her in a day.

After completing the work on his office, she met him on a couple of ocassions just as she had imagined. Since they were friends with both Rahul and Payal, they always ended up meeting whenever the two decided to party. The four of them mostly hanged out together. Sometimes Nisha accompanied them too. While Rahul and Payal were the lovey-dovey couple, Aastha and Sumit kept themselves busy by taking digs at each other every now and then. In the midst of all that, they had their memorable moments too. There were no cold vibes anymore. They had pretty much handled the situation like two mature adults, by keeping the past aside and living in the present. Life is too short to hold grudges anyway.

Whether Sumit and Aastha decide to just stay as friends or their friendship culminates into a romantic relationship, is something only time will tell. None of them were in a hurry. Whatever it was between them, it felt right. At least, for now. They were too busy living in the moment, enjoying themselves. They didn’t want to spoil the present over the possibility of a future which may or might not happen.


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