The next morning as Alisha was up and ready very early, the other three were nursing a hangover. Leaving them to rest, she went ahead and had a scrumptious breakfast. She felt really content and happy after a long time. And she wanted to make good use of her cheerful mood. So she caught hold of her green Vespa and decided to head to Panjim city. She felt confident that she would be able to take the two hour ride till there.
Around mid-morning, she reached the city. She went to the church of Immaculate Conception; it was one of her favorite places. She was in love with its baroque architecture and its ancient bell was the second largest in the whole of Goa. She spent close to an hour lost in the beauty and tranquility of the church. After that, she went to the local market and bought a few packets of cashew nuts for her friends back home.
As she was roaming in the market, Minnie called. “Where did you disappear Alisha? It’s almost noon.”
“Well good morning to you too, Minnie. How are you?”
“Good morning to you too,” Minnie imitated in Alisha’s voice. She further said, “We are headed for brunch. Are you even coming?”
“Um. No. I already had breakfast. And I don’t feel like eating anything now. I’ll be late. You all carry on. Will join you as soon as I reach.”
Before Minnie could interrogate her further, Alisha cut the call and kept it on silent. She didn’t want any disturbances when she was driving.
After putting on her driving gear, she started her drive back to the resort.
She was exhausted yet happy when she stepped in to her room. After a quick shower to remove all the dirt and grime from the drive, she changed into a loose kaftan and shorts. She then headed to the restaurant where the others were.
“Here comes the star.” Nidhi chuckled.
“Where the hell did you go to?” Arpita asked.
“Not fair Alisha, we have all come together and you are out alone.” Minnie complained.
“Relax everyone.” Alisha stated.
She then sat on one of the chairs and waved to the four guys who had also joined them for lunch. They were done with the food and were only chilling at the restaurant. She had a glass of juice and when she was done she noticed that everyone was staring at her waiting for some explanation.
“We thought you eloped with your boyfriend.” Arjun said.
Alisha burst out laughing at that and said, “You all are acting like I’m a child and I got lost or something.”
She looked at the girls and said, “You all were nursing a hangover when I woke up. And I had nothing else to do. So I went for a drive on a scooter to Panjim.”
“Are you crazy, woman?” Nidhi exclaimed. “How can you drive so far, that too on a two wheeler?”
At the same time, the guys whistled and Neil said, “Wow! That’s awesome! I would have loved to join you.” He looked at her longer than anyone else and when she met his eyes, she saw them beaming with appreciation.
Alisha smiled sheepishly and said, “Oh. I didn’t know you were awake. Otherwise I would have asked you as well. Never mind. Next time.”
“Yeah, next time. For sure.” Neil said.
Later, in the evening, Alisha and Minnie went for a swim in the sea. The other two girls joined them too and then they started discussing about Minnie’s upcoming wedding.
“It’s still a year way. Let’s not talk about it from now. Otherwise I’ll get bored by the time the ‘D’ day arrives!” she said. And all of them laughed at that.
Just before sunset, the four men joined them by the shacks too. They decided to play a game of throw ball.
“Girls vs. boys”, Neil said.
“No! That wouldn’t be fair. We are not at all good at it.” Minnie insisted.
“Let’s play KhoKho instead.” Alisha suggested.
“What? What is KhoKho?” Nidhi asked.
Everyone gasped and stared at her like she had got horns on her head.
Minnie said, “You don’t know what KhoKho is? How did you even become so old?”
Nidhi just shrugged and said, “Well, you all can teach me now.”
“Alright everyone. So we are playing KhoKho. Girls vs. boys.” Minnie shouted and gathered everyone.
“Let’s modify it a bit. Let’s keep just one defender and one chaser.” Alisha suggested.
“Yes, and we’ll send Nidhi last. So by that time she’ll understand how to play the game.” Arpita added.
Akshat got a few sticks from somewhere and started marking out the playing area. Alisha marked the dividing line in the center of the play area. She then kept two towels at each end of the line.
“Let’s make a toss to decide who will be the defenders first.” Rohit said.
The toss was done and the girls won. So they would defend first.
The boys sat in a squatting position with their palms on the ground facing alternate directions. Arjun was at one end near the towel facing the sea, Neil was about two feet next to Arjun with his back to the sea. Rohit was next to Neil facing the sea and Akshat was at the end near other towel with his back to the sea.
The girls stood on one side of the playing area towards the sea side.
The game started.
Akshat decided to start the chase as the player near the end starts the game. Arpita went in first. Her aim was to get on the other side of the playing area without being tagged by Akshat. Akshat started running towards Arjun; as the chaser cannot run between his team mates, he had to go till the end to cross to the other side. But Arpita was faster and she ran from between Arjun and Neil. As soon as she was on the other side, Akshat tapped Neil’s back as he was facing Arpita and said 'Kho'. Neil was really quick and he managed to tag Arpita. Arpita was out. Akshat took Neil’s place. And Neil was the defender now.
Then, Alisha entered. She kept dodging between Arjun and Rohit. As Neil couldn’t run from between his friends, he had to go till the end where the towel was placed and then run to the other side. Rohit and Arjun were yelling at him to tap them so that they could tag Alisha. But he was sure he could catch her.
'They are wasting time,'Alisha thought. And the game was time bound. The faster all the defenders were out, the more the chances of winning.
On one hand, the girls were cheering for Alisha and on the other, the guys were shouting at Neil. The cacophony of sounds had caused a group of tourists to watch them in curiosity.
When Alisha was on Arjun’s side, facing the sea, Neil finally tapped him and said 'Kho' and Arjun then tagged Alisha. Neil took his place.
Then all of them swapped positions and the girls were chasers now. They played smart and got all the defenders out in under ten minutes. Even Nidhi enjoyed the game a lot.
Then the group of tourists joined in too, and a couple of hours passed playing KhoKho.
At the end of it, all eight of them were dead tired and decided to call it a night. They did not party that night and after a quick dinner, retired for sleep.
The next morning, Alisha was again up early and she decided to go for a walk on the beach before the others woke up. After the mile long walk, she sat in one of the loungers thinking about her parents. They did not even know that she was out of town. So she left a quick text message for them, as both of them were in Singapore and it would be very early morning there.
Just as she was done, Neil joined her and asked, “So, do you girls have any plans for today?”
“Um… not that I know of.”
“Okay. We were leaving to see Dudhsagar waterfalls after breakfast. You all can join in. It will be fun!”
“Wow! That’s great. I’ll ask them when they are awake.”
“You played really well Alisha.” He complimented.
Alisha felt weird on hearing that and she just shrugged.
“You are very much grounded considering the line of work that you are in.” Alisha remarked.
“Yes, now I am. But, I can’t say much a few months down the line. The fame and money might get to my head.” Neil wiggled his brows as he said that.
Alisha started laughing at that.
“You have a lovely smile.” He continued.
“Ah yes, I get that most of the times.”
“Flirty much?” She laughed.
“It’s really fun talking to you.” He said.
“Yes, I get that most of the times.” Alisha said and burst out laughing.
She then sobered up and wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes and said, “Actually, I’m not that much fun talking to. In fact I hardly talk unless it’s absolutely needed. This is the spirit of Goa that has made me so cheerful.”
“Whatever it is, you should be like this only. Always smiling, always laughing.”
“I’ll try to.” She said smiling and for a moment both of them were lost in each other’s eyes.
The ringtone of Neil’s phone snapped them out of their trance. “I think we should get going.” He said.
Alisha was busy staring at the sea and she did not respond to what Neil said. So he asked again, “Alisha! Are you coming for breakfast?”
Alisha looked at him, smiled, batted her eyes and said, “Are you asking me out for a breakfast date?”
Neil’s eyes widened in surprise and Alisha burst out laughing at that.
“That was priceless Mr. Neil Basu. I wished I would have recorded it.”
“Yeah, you indeed left me speechless.” He laughed.
Both of them then headed for breakfast.
Around mid-morning, the eight of them went in a mini bus to visit the Dudhsagar falls. The Dudhsagar falls was a four tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River.
They reached the outskirts of their destination in a couple of hours. After paying the entry fees and collecting their life jackets, they rode a government run vehicle to enter the national park that would lead them to the falls. About an hour later, they finally walked the remaining distance until they sighted the waterfall. All of them went in for a swim. After spending about an hour or two at the falls, they had a packed lunch at the base of the falls. Then they were on their way back to the resort. All of them were mesmerized by the beauty of the white and majestic gushing water. It was nature at its best.
Back to the resort, Alisha realized that this was their last night in Goa. She would be back home at this time tomorrow.
And she wanted to make it count.