Alisha widened her eyes in surprise at this sudden and unexpected development. His lips felt soft against hers and eventually she found herself relaxing. She placed her hands behind his head and taking this as a sign, Neil pulled her even closer.
She could feel his heart beating wildly against hers and she found herself getting lost in the kiss. She started stroking his hair and in response she found Neil’s hands roaming all over her back. He nudged her lip a bit to gain entry into her mouth.
Just then, his phone rang.
He pulled out of the kiss at the interruption and removed his phone from his suit jacket that he had left on the sofa. He rubbed his face with one hand while looking at the caller ID and just as he was about to answer it, it stopped ringing.
Alisha kept cursing the caller. When she was just about to experience something life altering, the caller decided to interrupt. She started smoothing out her hair and cleared her throat.
She did not know how to behave around him now, post this new development. Of course, their friendship would never remain the same after today. Neil looked at her at that instant and he began stroking his hair, messing them all the more. He walked towards her and again his phone rang.
“Uh… I’m sorry, but I have to take this call.”
With that statement, he grabbed his coat and walked out of Alisha’s house.
Alisha then went to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Her face was flushed and her lips were swollen. She smiled as she touched her own lips. She still couldn’t believe it! The moment which she had been secretly dreaming about had finally come true. How she wished that the kiss would have lasted longer.
Sighing, she wriggled out of the heavy ensemble and had a shower. She changed into a night suit and stood in the balcony gazing at the horizon. She felt amazing and simply couldn’t wipe off the silly smile from her face. In spite of the little rendezvous she had at the party, she felt energized and wasn’t feeling sleepy at all. But, it was way past midnight and although she had an off the next day, she knew she needed to rest.
The next morning, Alisha got up with a smile on her face. She felt incredible. What wonders a single kiss from a person you like can do! She thought. Humming an old Bollywood song, she freshened up and then went to the kitchen. It was mid-morning already. She also checked her phone on the way to the kitchen to see for any messages from Neil. But, there were none.
She left the tea to brew and decided to make a vegetable sandwich for herself. After she was satisfied with the result, she sat down to relish it. She gobbled it up in no time. She then decided to call her mother.
“Hi mom! Good morning!” She said cheerfully.
“Hey my sweetheart. Good morning to you too! How are you?” Her mom’s voice sounded tired.
“Mom, sorry if I woke you up. I know it would be a bit early there, but I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“No worries dear. I was going to get up in a few minutes to get ready for work. I had just snoozed my alarm when you called.” She chuckled as she said that.
“Why do you work so hard even at this age? Mom, you are not twenty any more. Please take care of your health.” Alisha said.
“Yes, mom!” Adhira laughed out loud as she said that.
Alisha started laughing too, when Adhira interrupted her. “I was going to call you today to give you some good news.”
“Wow! My day just got better.” Alisha exclaimed. “What good news Mom?”
“I’m winding up my work out here and if everything goes as planned, I’ll be back to the Gurgaon office by next week. And then, after completing all formalities out there, I’ll be with you. Two weeks maximum. Give or take a week.”
“Wow! That’s awesome, Mom. But, are you sure about this? I mean I’m an adult now and I can take care of myself.” Alisha stated.
“It’s not just about you, honey. I really need to rest too. I’m pretty much exhausted with this kind of life now. And your dad will join us in a month or two.” Adhira said.
“Ok mom. Looking forward to meet you.”
“Yes, me too. Bye dear. Have a great day.”
“You too... say Hi to dad. And enjoy your day.” With that Alisha cut the call.
She stretched a bit and called the housekeeping. Her phone pinged and anticipating a message from Neil, she rushed to get it. But it was Minnie who was asking her about the previous night. She wanted to call her up immediately and tell her everything, but decided against it at the last minute.
She wanted to meet her and watch her expressions when she recapped the events of the last evening and night.
So, after about two hours, the housekeeping work was done and Alisha was ready to go to Minnie’s place. She decided to have lunch with her. Still, there was not a single message from Neil. So, she left him one saying, ‘please call me when you are free.’
Alisha reached Minnie’s house a little after one pm. Aditi was overjoyed on seeing her and she started offering snacks to her.
“No maasi, not now. I kind of had a brunch. Later, when I’m hungry I’ll surely pester you.” Alisha giggled as she said that.
“Minnie’s in her room. Both you girls have lunch later ok? Don’t skip eating please.” Aditi said as Alisha entered Minnie’s room.
“Hey sis! What’s up?” Alisha said cheerfully. Alisha loved Minnie’s room. It was done in an aqua green and off white shades with matching curtains and bed sheets. She had a walk in wardrobe on the left side of the room and a dressing table. The bed was in the center and there was desk with a couple of chairs on the right side of the room. Minnie would do most of her designs in her room. In spite of so many things in the room, it still looked neat and tidy.
Minnie was sitting at her desk and doing something on her laptop. She did not even look at Alisha when she said, “Hi Alisha. What a surprise!” her tone was dull and tired. She did not sound surprised at all.
Alisha grabbed a chair and sat across Minnie.
“Meenakshi, look at me.” Alisha urged her cousin.
Minnie blinked back tears as she said, “Minnie, its Minnie. Not Meenakshi.” She tried to laugh it off.
Alisha did not find it funny. “What are you not telling me, Meenakshi?”
Minnie scraped her chair backwards and got up after putting her laptop on the desk. She went to the other side of the room and opened the windows that were strategically placed right next to the bed.
Alisha stood next to her, turned her cousin to face her and said, “Spill Minnie!”
Minnie shrugged and said, “I have postponed my wedding.”
Alisha gasped at that. “What do you mean by that? Why only you? What does Siddharth have to say in all this?”
“I think I might break off my engagement with him and call off the wedding entirely.” Minnie uttered.
“Wait a minute, Minnie. I’m not understanding anything here. Please update me.” Alisha said.
“Siddharth likes it in London a lot. Now, he doesn’t want to come back. He wants to settle there and wants me to move there with him. And he very well knows how important my boutique is for me. I have put in so much effort for opening this boutique. It’s like my dream has come true. And now, I just forget everything and move with him? That’s so selfish of him.” Minnie took a few deep breaths and sat down.
Alisha flopped down on the bed too. She put her hand on her forehead and said, “How long has this been going on?”
“Since a while?” Minnie replied and averted her eyes.
“Why don’t I know anything about it?” Alisha questioned.
“You were so occupied with your own problems that I did not want to bother you with this too. And I just had this conversation about our wedding with him. My parents do not know about this yet.”
Alisha got up and started pacing the room. “Why you did not tell me about all this is a matter to discuss for another time. But, right now I think you should tell your parents.”
“Yes, I know. And I will. May be later today.” Minnie whispered.
“Don’t worry Minnie. I’ll always support you in your decision. And I totally agree with you. You cannot uproot your career and move out. It’s not fair of him to ask you to do that. He can also get a transfer here. And he was just gone for a project right?” Alisha said.
“Yes, exactly. It was just a project. But he started liking their lifestyle so much that now he doesn’t want to come back. I tried to convince him a lot. In fact I also suggested that we can postpone our wedding by another year. But I cannot move there. He’s not ready to listen. My career is not important for him at all. Today I was so pissed at him that I threatened to call off the wedding. And you know what? He did not seem to be bothered by it!”
Alisha was visibly upset when Minnie said all of this. “What a jerk! I really thought that he was a decent guy.”
“It’s true then.” Minnie said.
“What’s true?” Alisha questioned.
“The full form of NRI.”
Alisha did not understand where Minnie was going with this, so she simply raised her brows.
“It’s Non Returning Indian.” Minnie finally said.
Alisha was still blank and when Minnie started laughing, Alisha realized the full meaning of what she was saying.
“Only you can make a joke out of this, Minnie. Only you.” She jabbed her finger on Minnie’s shoulder.
And just like that both of them started laughing.
“So, how come you are here at my place?” Minnie asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Your problem is more important to solve now.” Alisha said.
“Don’t worry about all of this. I promise to come out of this unscathed!” Minnie joked. “Tell no sis, why you came here? Please? Pretty please?” Minnie started wriggling her fingers as a gesture that if Alisha did not start talking, then she would begin her tickling spree. And Alisha absolutely hated that.
“Don’t you dare!” Alisha got up and ran in one corner of the room. Minnie started running behind her and after circling the room multiple times, both of them were out of breath and Alisha was out of options.
“Okay. Wait. I’ll tell you everything. Just let me breathe.” Alisha finally said.
Alisha then recounted everything right from when they entered the party to the little speech that she gave and finally ended at the kiss. Minnie gave her a standing ovation and whistled like a maniac.
Both of them were laughing their hearts out, their problems put to rest for the time being.
Finally around three, they went to have lunch. Aditi was happy to serve the delicacies that she had cooked. They sat on the small dining table adjacent to the kitchen. Alisha kept nudging Minnie with her legs to tell her mom. They were sitting across from each other and Alisha kept kicking Minnie under the table to open her mouth and start talking. Minnie gestured her to stop, but Alisha continued her kicks.
“After food.” Minnie uttered. Alisha stopped her kicks for some time.
Minnie did explain to her mom all that had transpired between Siddharth and her as Alisha looked on. She also kept checking her phone for any messages from Neil.
Aditi was very supportive of the decision Minnie had taken. Minnie and Alisha were relieved at that and Aditi assured Minnie that she would talk to her dad as well.
Alisha then bid her goodbyes to the mother daughter duo by late evening and headed home with a packed dinner courtesy her maasi.
She again tried calling Neil, but it went straight to voicemail. She did not bother leaving a message as Neil never listened to his voicemail messages; that was what he had told her.
The next two days passed in a blur as Alisha was busy in the hospital. Still, she did not have any message or call from Neil. Assuming that he must have gone to attend Rohan and Mansi’s wedding in Jaipur, she thought he must be busy in the festivities and maybe that’s why he did not call.
On the third night, as she was about to sleep after a tiring day, she got a message from Neil. She dropped her phone in her excitement and cursed herself in the process. She finally opened the message.
'I’m sorry about that kiss Alisha. It was not supposed to happen. It was a stupid mistake on my part. I’m really sorry about it once again. I hope it wouldn’t affect our friendship in any way. I’ll get in touch with you once I’m back. Take care.'