“Yes indeed. We finally meet.” Alisha replied.
Alisha then asked Vinay uncle for the papers that she had to sign. After putting her signatures wherever it was needed, she waved a quick good bye to the three of them.
As soon as she stepped out of the door, she released a breath she did not know she was holding. Her heart was hammering in her chest and her palms were sweaty. After taking a couple of deep breaths, she mellowed down and decided to climb down the twenty flights. She couldn’t understand why she was feeling that way. She was actually surprised that he remembered her and instead of being delighted she felt really awkward when he recognized her after what had happened a few months back.
Six months earlier
Alisha was busy entering the details in the anesthesia chart while monitoring the patient in the recovery room. She was feeling very itchy and sweaty from being dressed in scrubs since the last twelve hours. She was so tired and she very badly wanted to lie down on her bed. But before that, her patient had to get a few normal readings of his heart rate and blood pressure. She could have given that responsibility to the nurses or the juniors. But she did not like to leave her work incomplete. It was her job and she intended to complete it no matter how tired she was.
Another thirty minutes later, she was finally out of the scrubs and on her way home. Just then she got a text from Minnie, her cousin.
Hey doc, what’s up? Free for a minute?
Instead of replying to her, she gave her a call.
“Hey Meenakshi, how are you?” She said.
“Oh Alisha. Not Meenakshi again. Minnie. It’s Minnie.”
“And how much I love it when you get all riled up over that!” Alisha laughed. “I was just leaving for home.”
“Oh that’s great then!” Minnie said. “I thought you must be holed up in the operation theatre. Anyway, now that you are free, pack your bags, we are leaving tomorrow morning at 6. Pack for 4 days.”
“Whoa! Wait, wait dear. Where are you planning to go? And I can’t just pack my bags for 4 days and leave. What about my work? I am on call the day after.”
“I don’t care about all of that. You are coming. You adjust your duties.” Minnie argued.
Alisha sighed in exasperation. There was no winning when Minnie made up her mind about something. “Who all are going?” she finally asked.
“It’s Nidhi, Arpita, you and me. A girls only trip. We’ll have a blast babes. Get home quick and start packing!” Minnie ordered.
“Yes, yes, I’m on my way. At least tell me where are we going? What should I pack?”
“Your favorite place babes!”
“Really? Wow! You are the best Minnie! Love you.”
Minnie chuckled and said, “Be there in your lobby at 6 am sharp. See you later. Bye.”
Alisha was very excited about her impromptu break. And she desperately needed that! She had been working nonstop since the last year and hardly taking any leaves. But first things first. She had to convince her colleagues to cover for her for four days. A few phone calls and lots of cajoling later, all was set. Now she only had to pack.
As soon as she reached home, she made a sandwich and gulped it down with some orange juice. She then started packing for the vacation. Whilst packing, she felt thankful for having Minnie in her life. Not only was she her maternal aunt’s daughter, but she was her best friend and a sister that she never had. She was always there for her and always supported her in many ways that only a sister could.
Alisha sometimes wished that her mother would be like Minnie. She understood her in more ways than her mother ever could. Her relationship with her parents had suffered the day she decided to enter the medical field. Her parents had other plans for her. They wanted her to get into investment banking. But they did not know that she had entered the medical field just to spite them. They were never around in her childhood days, always giving their careers more importance than her. She sometimes felt that she was an accident. Her parents would have never got any kids as they were so career minded. She longed for their love and attention even at this stage of her life. All they needed to do was say a few encouraging words to her. That would make her life so much easier.
Minnie’s mom, Aditi, had practically raised her. Hence, she was closer to both of them than anybody else. And they lived just five minutes away from her.
Snapping out from her depressing thoughts, she finished her packing and set an alarm for 5.30 am. She was very excited and looking forward for the next four days. She went to sleep with a smile on her face.
The next morning, Alisha was ready and waiting in the lobby dressed in denim capris and a sleeveless yellow t-shirt that had some floral prints over it. Minnie then called her on the phone and instructed her to come outside as she was waiting in the hired cab.
As soon as Alisha stepped in the cab, Minnie gave her the once over and said, “Someone’s looking very cheerful, eh?”
Alisha smiled and said, “Of course. I’m going to my favorite place in the world!”
But then a flicker of doubt crossed her mind and she asked, “Minnie, are you sure we will be back in four days?”
As Minnie’s trips unexpectedly extend a day or two more, Alisha had to clear her doubts as she couldn’t afford to report to work later than she had promised her colleagues.
Minnie gave her a sideways hug and said, “Don’t worry so much doc. Today is Thursday. We’ll be back by Sunday night. Promise. See I have all our tickets booked.” And she began rummaging her handbag and showed her the tickets.
“Gee thanks!” Alisha said. “I need to keep my return ticket with me because I really don’t trust you in this matter.” Alisha then noticed her cousins hand and asked, “Minnie, where is your engagement ring?”
Minnie gave her a sheepish smile and said, “Umm. I think I lost it. And Siddharth doesn’t know about it. So it would be great if you kept your mouth shut in case you happen to talk to him. I’m looking for an exact duplicate. In the meanwhile I’m going to have some fun without the engagement ring.” She wiggled her eyebrows as she said that.
Alisha gasped and said, “Oh my God! How can you even say that Minnie?”
On hearing that Minnie doubled over in laughter and said, “Look at your face. Priceless! I was just kidding sweetheart!”
Alisha sighed in relief and said, “How’s Siddharth doing?”
“He’s gone for some project in London. He went yesterday. Will be there for six months or so.”
“Oh. That’s why this impromptu trip. And here I was wondering that you miss me so much!” Alisha said jokingly.
They both laughed at that and remained silent for a while. Then Alisha said, “By the way, this pixie cut really suits you. And you look great in this jumpsuit too.” She said looking at her stylish cousin appreciatively.
“Thanks. But this jumpsuit is only for protecting myself from the chill inside the plane. Then you see how I shed the layers once we reach there!” Minnie replied.
They met Nidhi and Arpita, Minnie’s other friends at the airport and after exchanging pleasantries they were all strapped in the business class and ready for take-off.
At exactly half past nine, the four girls landed at the Dabolim International Airport, Goa. Alisha was over the moon as soon as they stepped out of the airport. She loved the sea and this place was like a heaven for her. There was a glow on her face and a bounce in her step.
“Minnie!” she yelled over the windy atmosphere. “Where to, this time?”
To which Minnie replied, “South Goa.”
About two hours later, the four of them checked in a deluxe beach front hut by the Palolem beach.
Alisha was mesmerized by the beauty of the beach. “Wow!” she exclaimed.
Although she had been to Goa a number of times, she had never seen this one. It was a crescent shaped beach, about a mile long and lined by swaying coconut trees. The shore was silvery and the water turquoise blue. It was picture perfect. ‘No better place to unwind and relax.’ She thought.
As she was lost in the beauty of the beach and the sea, she didn’t realize that she was standing all alone on the mile long shore except the few locals who were setting up activities for the water sports until there was a tap on her shoulder.
She turned around and found herself in front of a very handsome looking man dressed in khaki shorts and a white sleeveless fitting t-shirt. He was well built, had a chiseled face with a strong jawline and beautiful brown eyes. His hair was messed by the wind and he looked like a model.
“It’s really sunny out here. Unless you wish to get tanned more, I think you should head for some shade.” He said in his deep voice.
It took some time for Alisha to register what he said and then she replied, “Well thanks for your concern about my complexion. But as you can see that I’m not fair skinned, I don’t get tanned easily. Besides, I love the beauty of this place.”
The man said, “Look I didn't mean to offend you or anything. I was genuinely concerned. You have been standing here since the last thirty minutes!”
Alisha felt embarrassed and said, “Oh. I’m sorry for blasting out on you like that. I really didn't realize the time. Thank you!”
He smiled and offered his hand, “I’m Neil Basu.”
Alisha smiled too, “Hi Neil. I’m Alisha Merchant.”
“Nice to meet you Alisha.”
They both parted ways after saying goodbye and Alisha couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear thinking about the man she had just met. After all it wasn’t every day that such good looking men even look at her, forget talking. Not that she was unattractive, but she just couldn’t talk like a normal girl would, when approached by someone from the opposite sex. She would back out from the conversation when she would realize that the person she’s talking to is only interested in getting between her legs, even when that would be some harmless flirting. So, she got labelled as a prude.
But she dint really care about that. At the moment, she was emotionally and physically unavailable for anyone from the opposite sex.
And she was worried that just a brief chat with Neil had her behaving like a teenager. He was way out of her league.
But at the same time, she wanted to let go and feel free in these four days. She wanted to live a little more than the robotic life she had back home.
It was high time that she sought Minnie’s help in the style department.