Alisha couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she kept reading and re-reading the little note. She had never even dreamt that they would ever meet, considering the kind of profession they both were in, and this unexpected reunion was unbelievable to her.
She rummaged through her drawers and removed that letter which was given to her by him. She had placed it carefully under her books. She had saved it like a memento; just to remind her that she had indeed met this intriguing man.
She had admired his honesty a lot. But, she hardly thought of him in the last six months as her work prevented her from doing that. Until today. When she met him face to face. And he recognized her, remembered her. She also felt embarrassed as she vaguely remembered the crap she had told him in her drunken state.
She snapped out of her thoughts when the doorbell rang. She checked through the peep hole and was surprised to see Neil at the door. She never imagined that he would start staying next to her immediately. Just today morning she had given the no objection. 'This day is full of surprises,' she thought. But who was she to complain?
Wiping her sweaty palms on her pants, she finally opened the door.
“Hey Alisha.” Neil said.
“How are you doing?”
“Great. Thank you. What about you?”
“Can I come in?”
“Oh! Sorry, of course you can.” She led him to the living room. “Thanks for the flowers by the way. They are beautiful.”
“It’s my pleasure. And I’m doing great too. Alisha, I’m actually here to apologize for whatever happened.”
Alisha raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders as she said, “Whatever happened in Goa, remains in Goa. Remember?”
Neil smiled at that and stuck out his hand for a shake, “Friends?”
Alisha shook his hand with hers and said, “Of course.”
Neil sighed in relief and said, “Well, I better get going as I need to unpack.”
“You shifted so fast?”
“Yes, I had to actually. Did not want to linger anymore at my brother’s place, now that my bhabhi is pregnant.”
“Oh wonderful. Congratulations to you too! You would be a chachu soon…”
“Thanks!” Neil laughed.
“Uh… Actually, I just came home, otherwise I would have surely offered you dinner.”
“Oh thanks a lot. May be some other time. We would be seeing each other quite often.”
He went to the door and smiled as he said goodbye and goodnight.
Alisha did a fist pump in the air as soon as she shut the door. She was feeling very happy. She knew she was attracted to him; after all he was really good looking and she was only a human with a high amount of estrogen running in her veins.
Humming a random tune, she had a shower and changed into her pajamas. She was too tired to make a proper dinner, so she simply made instant noodles and drank some milk. She flopped down on her bed with the intention to read something, but her eyes wouldn’t stay open. She did not realize when she fell asleep.
The next two days passed in a blur as there was a heavy work load at the hospital.
She had a day off on the third day. She sighed in relief. But she really had to do something about her food. She couldn’t be eating take-out food for the rest of her life.
That morning, she ordered some vegetables, fruits and other groceries. Then, she called the housekeeping maid. She only called her once or twice a week when she would be at home. After a cleaning spree, she cleaned and chopped the veggies with the maid’s help and stored them in the deep freezer. She also cooked some lunch for herself and then settled for a quick nap.
She was dreaming about her parents when she heard a continuous buzzing sound. She kept another pillow over her head so that the sound would go away. But it refused to go. She sat up on the bed, and started rubbing her eyes. Then she looked around for the source of the sound. That’s when she realized that the doorbell was ringing.
Yawning, she went to open the door, cursing the person on the other side. She hated it when her sleep was disturbed. In her frustration, she didn’t bother to look through the peep hole and just opened the door instead.
Yawning she said, “What do you want?” And she looked up and gasped.
She saw Neil looking dashing in a fitted t-shirt and denims. And she looked at herself. Still dressed in ‘hello kitty’ pajamas with messy hair and unwashed face.
Neil was amused at her state and said, “Did I disturb you?”
Alisha placed her palm over her face and said, “I’m so sorry, I was in deep sleep. Please come inside.”
She asked him to sit on the sofa and went in her room to wash her face. She somehow managed to tie her hair properly and then went out.
“You have a nice place.” he said. “Simple and clutter free.”
“Um… yes, I like it this way.”
“You know, I actually thought that something happened to you as you weren’t answering the door. I was out since ten minutes. I was just about to call Vinay uncle and ask for your number when you opened the door.”
Alisha smiled sheepishly as she said, “Yes, I’m a deep sleeper. Sleep is a luxury for me, so I have to make full use of the time I get. And no use calling on my phone. I usually switch it off when I have a day off. A hundred percent no disturbance.”
“I’m in awe at what you actually do. Do you really stab people with needles?”
Alisha laughed loudly at that and said, “Yes. I do.”
Neil watched her in horror, so she continued, “I’m an anesthetist. That is precisely my job. I may have used crude terms back in Goa. But yes, this is what I do.”
“Wow!” he said. “I have no words. No wonder it’s so difficult to get hold of you. I was waiting for your door to be open since the last two days.”
“Oh, is it? I actually had an emergency duty the day before yesterday. So I did not come home that night. I came home yesterday.”
“Yes, I can understand how difficult your job is. Even I have erratic working hours some days.”
He continued further, “I wanted to invite you for a small house warming part tonight at my place. Just a bunch of friends and colleagues. It would be great if you came.”
Alisha was caught unaware at his invitation. She cleared her throat and said, “Ok. I’ll come. But only for some time. Have to leave for work early tomorrow.”
“Ah yes. Me too. The party starts at seven and ends at ten. I’m leaving for an outdoor shoot at four in the morning tomorrow. Will be gone for 3 days.”
Alisha was feeling a tiny bit weird when he said he would be gone for 3 days. But she still managed to say, “That’s awesome.”
Neil stood up to leave and gave her a quick hug and said, “See you in a couple of hours, doc.”
Alisha was feeling giddy with excitement at the hug that she just received. Was she reading too much into it? It was just a friendly hug, right?
Nodding her head in frustration, she looked at the time and saw that it was half past five already. She just had an hour and a half to get ready.
But before that, she made a cup of strong tea to awaken herself fully. Next, she showered and then opened her wardrobe debating internally about what to wear. She finally settled for a white slim fit jeans and a turquoise blouse that had white beads at the neckline with puffed sleeves. She tied her hair into a half pony and applied some mascara and lip gloss. Now, she was ready to go.
“Oh! But I don’t have anything to gift him.” She remarked.
She remembered the box of chocolates that she had ordered with the groceries in the morning. She removed it from the fridge and quickly gift wrapped it.
“This will have to do.” She thought.
With that she locked her main door, and rang her new neighbor’s doorbell.