Chapter 13: The Magic of Aura
Ishaani was writing some of the entries on the library funds into the ledger when Ranveer entered the library. She looked at him and smiled while she shut the book and capped her pen.
"What sublime timing! I just finished with the ledgers." Ranveer smiled at her as he neared her desk.
"Oh great. Do remind me to take them home when I'm leaving."
"Wait, didn't you come here for the ledgers then?"
"Yes and no." Ishaani raised her eyebrow and Ranveer continued. "Yes because I do need those ledgers by today and no because I finished all of my meetings and had the rest of the day free, so I decided to join you." Ishaani looked at him joyfully while she kept the ledgers in the drawer.
"That's a relief! I was getting bored anyways with Martha still in Athens."
"Wait, wasn't Martha supposed to be back three days ago?"
"Yeah she was, but her trip got extended. There was supposed to be a Summer Book Fair or something yesterday evening and Martha was invited as the chief guest. She did tell me that she should be back before evening though." Ranveer nodded his head while he looked around.
"Oh well. It's bound to get boring when you are all alone in a huge library like this." Noticing that there was no one around, Ranveer asked her inquiringly. "How come it's empty today?"
"I had a couple of people over here in the morning. But no one really visits the library from 12-3. It's lunch break for majority of them." Yawning slowly, she looked at Ranveer, who chuckled at her. "See, that's why it gets pretty boring at this time." Ranveer shook his head before he remembered about one of the reasons that he's come to meet Ishaani.
"Speaking of boring, Martha was asking me about the whole job vacancy thing in my company some days back. Are you interested?" Ishaani shut her eyes and snapped them back open while she mentally slapped herself for completely forgetting about it. Looking at Ranveer, slightly guilty, she muttered in a quiet voice.
"Not really, to be honestly speaking. I'm done with the corporate life. I've had my share of insane monetary and fiscal policy making, but now no more. For once, I'm doing something I like and I want to keep it this way." Ranveer didn't look entirely convinced but he had an understanding look on his face.
"But Martha doesn't look very happy with this whole set up now, does she?"
"No, she isn't. She wants me to have a more 'stable' job in life, as per how she phrases it."
"Well, she isn't wrong. You do need pretty enough to survive in this part of the world. But then again, you aren't wrong either. I always believe that one should do what one likes best."
"I'm glad that you understand. Besides, this library has become a second home for me now. And I've never found so much peace as much as I've found over here amidst all these books." Ishaani looked around the place fondly while a sardonic look appeared on Ranveer's face.
"Well, that reminds me. Martha had mentioned this particular point to me during one of her reports when she mentioned you, though I don't know whether it's true. Do you really know the location of almost every book in the library?"
"Yeah, I do." Ishaani responded modestly while Ranveer stared at her, curiosity bubbling in his voice.
"By its aura." Ranveer looked at her incredulously before questioning in a dead-drop tone.
"Yeah. When I joined here initially, there weren't many name plates on the different section and the library being quite vast, I would get lost several times while searching for the books. That's when I started making my way around through different sections by its aura. And once I found out the right genre that I'd been looking for, navigating the books got pretty easy." Ranveer stared at her deeply for a couple of minutes before he spoke again.
"Show you what?"
"How you do it." Ishaani looked at Ranveer as though he had gone crazy before she rolled her eyes at him.
"What? Have you gone silly? How can I show you aura?" Ranveer slapped his forehead before replying.
"Not the aura, stupid. Give me an example of how you distinguished various sections of the library by the aura of different books." Ishaani gave him a blank stare.
"That isn't possible now. There are name plates and directions around everywhere. Besides, I know every inch of the entire library by heart." Ranveer smirked at her before exclaiming happily.
"Then in that case, I have the perfect way."
10 minutes later, Ishaani stood blindfolded in the center of the library, with Ranveer holding her shoulders firmly. Ishaani, for the life of it could not understand why she had agreed to such a stupid thing. She suspected that the prime reason for this was because she was plain bored, along with the fact that she hadn't done anything this silly since ages and Martha wasn't going to be there for another couple of hours.
Ranveer had procured the blindfold from the silk linen in the pocket of his three-piece suit. Making sure that the blindfold was tight enough that she could not cheat, he smiled mischievously and twirled her around twice while Ishaani lost all sense of direction as to where she was standing. She felt Ranveer close to her ear as he whispered slowly.
"It's time you start feeling the aura." Feeling a shiver run down her spine as his voice caused an eruption of excitement within her, she felt Ranveer guide her slowly forward, his arm on her shoulder so that she wouldn't hit anything. Ishaani felt him lead her forward for some time before she felt their steps shudder and come a halt.
"Any guesses where we are standing?"
Ishaani had a hard time concentrating for Ranveer's voice kept penetrating her thoughts, the huskiness in his whisper causing jitters to appear in her stomach. She had never felt like this ever since the last time they were in such close proximity back during Ritika and Sharman's engagement preparations and it only made her heart flutter with anticipation.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to tune out thoughts about Ranveer and a calm fell upon her while she breathed in the air about her with a deep sense of purpose. She felt an anticipation build up in her heart, something very disconnected to her own, like a budding mystery in the suspense novel. Suspense.
"Is this the Mystery/Suspense section?"
"How I wish I could have lied and say no. But yes, you are correct." Ishaani smiled blindly while Ranveer led her once again to the next section. This time, she noticed that the route was longer and had quite a bit of turns. Stopping again, Ranveer whispered once again.
"Now where are we standing?"
Ishaani took a deep sigh. She slowly removed Ranveer's arms from over her shoulders and blindly navigated her way through the shelf row. Running her hands over the bindings and covers of various books, she returned back to Ranveer after 2 whole minutes and simply whispered back.
"Wow! That was... wow."
"You didn't really believe me when I said that I could know the genre of a book by its aura now, did you?" Ranveer looked slightly abashed before responding honestly.
"Not really, no. Though I know that you were never amongst those people who would cook up fantastic stories." Ishaani snorted at him playfully before sticking out her tongue blindly in the wrong direction and asking.
"Do you want to continue?" Turning Ishaani around so that she actually faced him, Ranveer laughed at her bizarre expression when she realized her mistake.
"Yes. This is fun. This is a crazier version of hide-and-seek." Ishaani laughed out loud, her voice ringing in the entire library while Ranveer shook his head amused.
Ranveer then led her through seven different sections of Psychology, Thriller, Angst, Medical Encyclopedias, Tragedy, Adventure and Sci-Fi, of which Ishaani guessed all correctly. The two broke out into an argument over Medical Encyclopedias, for Ishaani simply touched the books and concluded that it could only be Medical Encyclopedias because of its fatness while Ranveer argued that it was not qualified for it did not come under feeling the aura and that it was not an acceptable reason. They argued the whole way till the next section until Ishaani fell silent abruptly and instantly whispered 'Tragedy'.
Having no more reason to complain, Ranveer led her to the remaining two sections, falling back to his silent instructions while Ishaani felt that same flutter of excitement break out every time he whispered in her ears. Leading her to the final section for their game, Ranveer gently spun her around twice before whispering in her ear once again.
"This is the last one."
Ishaani once again put aside thoughts about their strange escapade and tried to focus on the task in hand. Somehow, this time, the fluttering in her heart wouldn't stop and she felt engulfed into the emotion of love. Bewildered at first at this crazy turn in her emotions, she later on understood the reason behind her turbulent emotions.
"Romance." Taking of the blindfold, which slipped on the ground unnoticed, she turned to stare at Ranveer with a triumphant expression, which quickly faltered. Ranveer was leaning on the shelf, his arms crossed over his chest, a loving look in his eyes that Ishaani instantly recognized to be the same look he would give her many a times back when they were friends. Even though he thought that she had never noticed it, in reality she had but had only mistaken it for a loving, friendly look rather than the look of one-sided love.
Ishaani smiled at him while he smiled back at her simply, an amazed look in his eyes.
"You are still the same. You know that, right?"
"You haven't changed either."
Ishaani walked towards him while Ranveer suddenly looked alert, the tension between them reaching a point. Ishaani was about to hug him when her stiletto got caught up on the fallen blindfold and she slipped, her arms half-way in the air and her balance askew before Ranveer caught her. Red with embarrassment for a couple of moments over this comical turn of events, Ishaani and Ranveer burst out into peals of laughter while she still lay half fallen into his arms.
Their laughter dying down soon, they stared into each other's eyes, love and longing for each other's presence reflected within each other's orbs. Ishaani cupped his cheek while his arm remained securely around her waist, preventing her fall. The moment seemed to glow around them, a sweet happiness surging through their veins faster than blood while their hearts thumped louder, every minute only increasing the beats of their hearts more and more. Ranveer lowered his head towards hers, their noses brushing against each other’s, before a voice cracked through, breaking the hypnosis of the moment.
"My, my, what a surprise!"
Ranveer let go of his hold on Ishaani in shock while Ishaani lost her balance and half-fell down, holding the shelf of the bookcase as a support that stopped her complete fall.
"Martha! What... what are you doing here?" Ranveer burned red as he saw Martha smirking at the two of them while Ishaani glared daggers at Ranveer before noticing Martha staring at them. Ranveer quickly saw Ishaani on the ground and helped her up swiftly, apologizing sincerely while making sure not to make eye-contact with her. Ishaani's eyes met Martha's for a moment and the former quickly turned her gaze away, her cheeks turning crimson with the combined effect of being flustered and flabbergasted.
"Well, I returned back an hour ago and thought I'd check up on Ishaani. What were the two of you up to anyway?"
"We... we were just..."
"On second thought, let it be. I'm really sorry though; I didn't want to interrupt your moment. But now that Ishaani is pretty much in safe hands, I guess I might as well head back home." When neither Ishaani nor Ranveer spoke anything, Martha simply shook her head and laughed at them.
"Honey, you were indeed spot on when you said that the magic of aura can indeed bewitch the mind." Ishaani reddened more while Martha simply winked at the two of them before making her way out of the library. The moment Martha left the library, Ranveer and Ishaani turned to look at each other before Ranveer looked at Ishaani flustered.
"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to drop you! Are you alright? Why are you laughing?"
Ishaani laughed at Ranveer's expression while he looked at her in confusion. Getting a bit of breath, Ishaani continued.
"Oh my! That was a close one. Kind of reminds us of the old days now, doesn't it?" Both of their eyes met and memories of their several past escapades replayed in their mind, until the memory of what was supposed to be their first kiss played in both of their heads. Ishaani frowned slightly while Ranveer had an embarrassed look on his face.
"Oh please, Ishaani. Atleast this time, when we do kiss, I'm going to make sure it's a proper one, instead of having a bizarre CPR one, even if that means I have to kiss you in front of the whole of Vari." Ishaani blushed under his gaze before punching him on his shoulder.
"Oh stop it. There's still a long way to go for that yet."
That night, Ishaani sat on her bed and stared at the blindfold, their time from the afternoon finally making its way in her mind while the emotions coursing through her exploded in her mind with its full impact.
She bit her lip slowly, as she ran her fingers over the blindfold absent-mindedly before her eyes fell on the cupboard. Getting up from the bed, she walked towards the cupboard and opened it. She drew open an empty drawer in it further and kept the blindfold in it, smiling to herself while thinking.
"Well, that's the first souvenir of our new story."