A Breath of Fresh Air

By sweetarva All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Drama

Chapter Sixteen

Alisha couldn’t believe to what she had agreed to.

“How stupid of me!” She chastised herself. “What have I done? This is sheer foolishness! I think I should go and tell Neil that I won’t be able to come.”

She went back to knock on Neil’s door, but then she remembered what Minnie had told her. She desperately needed to put an end to this chapter in her life.

So she went back to her room instead. She wanted to soak herself in the bath tub and enjoy her shower for once. On other days, she was always so busy and running out of time that she couldn’t even have a proper shower. And considering the amount of stress that she had in the last twenty four hours, she deserved this break.

She kept her phone on silent and switched off the doorbell. She wanted absolutely no disturbance. Minnie and Aditi maasi had reprimanded her multiple times over this habit of hers.

“What if there’s an emergency? How do we contact you?” Aditi maasi would say.

And Alisha would simply laugh it off. “Nothing’s going to happen to me, maasi.” She would say. But their argument would only end when Minnie would step in and call a truce. And Aditi would make Alisha promise that she wouldn’t switch her phone and the doorbell off together, ever. But Alisha had never kept that particular promise.

Sighing, she opened her long hair and stood in front of the mirror. She frowned at the split ends and the bags under her eyes. I need to visit a salon soon. She thought.

She opened the tap in the bath tub and adjusted the temperature. When she was satisfied with the result, she left it open to fill. Meanwhile, she gathered all her toiletries. She threw the old loofah and opened a new one. She also opened a new bottle of her favorite frosted plum scented shower gel.

She then lowered herself in the tub. After relaxing for about half an hour in the warm water, she finally stepped out and dried herself. She smiled when she saw the bath robe lovingly gifted by her mom a few days back. She remembered the conversation that she had with her as she put it on.

“I don’t use these things mom. You shouldn’t have bought it.”

“It’s alright dear. Keep it. You never know when you will need it.” Her mom had said.

She wrapped an old t-shirt over her hair. Usually she would just rub her hair with a towel and leave it to air dry or sometimes just go to work with wet hair. But today, she had no such obligations. She just wanted to relax.

She made a hot cup of tea for herself and sat in her balcony sipping it. She mulled over what the next few days would bring for her. She then planned out her next two days. I have an emergency duty tomorrow. So I would be free the day after. I’ll go the salon directly from the hospital and then the party. She thought. “Perfect.” She said aloud.

As she was thinking about the party, she realized that she did not have anything appropriate to wear. She rushed into her room and called Minnie, without bothering to see the time.

“Hello?” Minnie answered in a sleepy voice.

“Minnie, I have a crisis!” She screeched.

Minnie got alert when Alisha said that. “Oh my God! What happened? Are you alright?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m alright. I have nothing to wear for a party that I have to go the day after tomorrow.” Alisha spoke really fast.

“What? Girl, its midnight. And you woke me up to tell me this? You’ve really gone crazy.” Minnie stated. “You could have asked me tomorrow as well.”

“Yes I know. But, I’m busy tomorrow. So I might forget. And don’t you want to know whose party I’m going to?”

“Shoot.”

“Rohan and Mansi’s pre wedding party. And I’m going as Neil’s date.”

Minnie did not say anything to that.

“Hellooo… Are you there Minnie?” Alisha asked.

She heard a hooting sound from the other side. It was so loud that she had to keep her phone away from her ears for some time.

“Girl, you are telling me this now? When did this happen?” Minnie screamed.

Alisha recounted the events that happened in the prior few hours.

Minnie whistled after she was done and said, “Whoa… that’s awesome. The expressions on their faces would be priceless when they would see you.”

“I don’t know about that Minnie and frankly, I really don’t care. I thought about what you said and I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for me to forgive them and move on.”

“That’s like my girl.” Minnie said. Alisha could imagine her smiling and she smiled too, but then she realized that they were talking on phone and Minnie couldn’t see her.

“So what do I do about my wardrobe crisis?” Alisha questioned.

“Leave that to me sis, I’ll arrange something for you. I have your measurements.”

“Great! So, I’ll see you the day after tomorrow. I’ll come to your boutique directly from the salon...”

“Yes, that would be perfect Alisha. See you then. Sleep tight. Good night!”

“Good night.”

Alisha indeed had a good night. She slept like a baby and woke up feeling refreshed.

She sent a quick text to Neil.

Will be at the hospital tonight. Meet you tomorrow at the party directly. Please text me the address of the venue.

Neil replied immediately.

Great. Have a lovely day. And no, I’ll come to pick you up. Just let me know by what time.

Alisha texted him again.

Ok. I’ll tell you where and when to pick me up. See you then. :-)

She smiled while reading Neil’s reply.

Sure thing sweetheart. Take care. :-)

Her day at work passed in a blur.

She had a busy night as well with two emergency surgeries and an emergency caesarian. She barely managed to get two hours of sleep. She was exhausted in the morning, but nevertheless, she was looking forward to the day. She was finally free and done for the day by noon. She grabbed a quick lunch from the hospital canteen and then made her way out.

She went to the salon directly from the hospital and got herself a new haircut, waxed her hands and legs, did a facial, a manicure and a pedicure. She spent a good three hours at the salon. And her bank account was a few thousand bucks lighter as well! It’s been a long time since I’ve treated myself, she thought.

She reached Minnie’s boutique at around four in the afternoon. The moment Minnie saw her, she whistled in delight.

“Wow! Look at you Alisha. You look absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t recognize you for a second.”

Alisha chuckled and gave her a hug. “Thanks dear.”

“So, all set to rock?” Minnie prodded.

“Hmm… Kind of. But first, I need to take a short nap, otherwise I’ll doze off in the party!”

“Yes, you should. You’ll have to adjust in my office but.”

“Will do.” Alisha said. “Please wake me up by 5.30 though. Neil will come here by 7 to pick me up. I had texted him earlier.”

“Okay.” Minnie replied.

But, Alisha couldn’t sleep. She was feeling anxious and nervous about what she was planning to do. She hadn’t even told Minnie about her plans. No, she did not want to sabotage Rohan’s wedding, but she would give him a piece of her mind which she was unable to do so two years back. She just had to be alert and pounce on the first opportunity that she got in the party.

Finally, at around 5.15, she came out and started perusing the collections that Minnie had in her boutique.

“Hey Minnie!” She called out. “Where is the dress that I’m going to be wearing tonight?”

Minnie was across the aisle inspecting a gown draped on the mannequin and doing some adjustments.

“You’ll come to know in some time,” she said with a needle in her mouth.

Alisha came next to her and gasped at the gown that Minnie was adjusting. “Wow! This is beautiful.” She said admiring the beige Indian gown with maroon embroidery on it. It was sleeveless with a low back going down to the mannequin’s waist. It had a boat neck in front and there was delicate embroidery at the hemline. It was simple, yet stunning. “How do you create such beautiful pieces?” She marveled.

“Well thanks sis! I think you should start getting ready. Freshen up and come to the changing room.” Minnie ordered.

“Yes, ma’am!” Alisha did a two finger salute and left to freshen up.

At exactly 7 pm, Neil came into the boutique to escort Alisha. He was left speechless when he saw her.

She was clad in a beige and maroon gown, the same one which she had loved on the mannequin. She was a bit nervous to wear that as it had an almost nude back, but Minnie managed to convince her otherwise. Her long hair was now trimmed to shoulder length layers and were adorned with a mixture of blonde and light brown highlights, and her face was glowing, courtesy the salon.

Minnie had just pinned her hair from her sides and put some hair accessories that matched with her dress. She looked gorgeous.

“Wow!” Neil said. He couldn’t say anything more.

Alisha smiled at him and said, “You look dapper Neil.” He was clad in a grey and black suit and his hair was slicked back with gel.

“Let’s go,” he said, offering his hand to Alisha.

Alisha held his outstretched hand in hers and Neil slightly squeezed her fingers. She looked at him questioningly to which he simply smiled at her.

They reached the venue in an hour or so, as it was located in the suburbs and they had to brace the peak hour Mumbai traffic. It was a five star banquet hall and Alisha was impressed by the decorations and the ambience. It was a small hall and only a few friends and relatives were invited.

Alisha spotted the couple on the small stage and was dying to meet them. She wanted to see their reaction. She pulled Neil to go towards the stage, but the man wouldn’t budge.

“What are you waiting for Neil? Let’s go.” She said.

“Just a minute Alisha. I have to collect something.”

Alisha was getting impatient with each passing minute. “What do you have to collect?”

“Here comes my parcel.” Neil said pointing towards the lobby that led to the banquet.

He took the bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates from the delivery man and showed Alisha. “Now, we can’t wish them empty handed, can we?” He winked at her.

Alisha smiled sheepishly and said, “Oops! I totally forgot about it.”

Neil then led her in the hall. He put his hand at the small of her back to lead her inside. Alisha was feeling giddy with this gesture of his, but she somehow managed to keep her hormones in check. Now is not the time for all this. I have a mission to accomplish. She mentally chastised herself.

Finally, they reached the stage and Neil greeted the couple first. “Congratulations guys!” he said cheerfully. “Meet Alisha, a very good friend of mine.” He said to the couple.

“Hi Rohan, hello Mansi. Congratulations!” Alisha said cheerfully.

Both of them were gob smacked on seeing her. Their expression was priceless. Alisha wished she had a camera so that she could record it live and send it to Minnie.

Rohan and Mansi simply smiled at her and posed for a photo. They obviously couldn’t do much as it was their own party.

Alisha was now waiting for the right opportunity to accomplish her task.

After a while of meeting and greeting everyone, the emcee announced for everyone to be seated. The bride and groom sat on the stage in their decorated chairs.

The emcee then announced if anyone wanted to say anything to the couple before the dinner started. A few of Mansi’s and Rohan’s friends got up and spoke about their days and the fun they had, ultimately wishing them a happy married life.

Then, the emcee again announced, “Anyone else wants to say something to our lovely couple?”

“Excuse me!” Alisha said. “I would like to say something.” She pressed some buttons on her phone before getting up.

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