Niranjana became more and more restless as she neared her home. She can't wait to see her mom, dad and her sister. It's been close to 1 year since she saw them. Also she was only having her short summer visits for the past 5 years. Finally graduating in medicine to become a doctor, she is all set to go home.
And for her its double celebration. Her sister Sanjana is getting married in two months. She already missed all the preparation and shopping and now vowed not to miss a single thing any more. In excitement she felt as if the distance between station and home had become endless.
So much have changed in one year she mused, even her house is as good as new with complete whitewash. It looked as if everyone and everything got ready for marriage including her house and only soul that lagged back is herself. "Not anymore" she thought happily.
Niranjana could not control her goofy grin when she heard her mom's shriek "Niru, What is this surprise. Have we got the date wrong? You told you are coming only next week."
"Surprise!!! Surprise!!! I want to give a shock to you all, so have told that I am coming next week. Oh Mom!! Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! Leave my ears, its paining..." she shrieked and laughed at the same time...
"Serves you well." Chuckled her dad "If you had told the correct date, I would have come to station to pick you up."
"Oh dad! I am not a kid anymore. I am old enough to take care of myself." she hugged him with a smile.
"Not for us, you two will always be our kid daughters however old you become" her dad answered her with an affectionate smile.
"Enough of the talks, look at you. I wonder if you had eaten anything at all. What are you trying to do? Fast yourself to diminish? You would have lost a lot of weight. You should eat properly Niru." Niranjana rolled her eyes at her mom's usual dialogue whenever she comes home from hostel.
"Ma. I have not lost any weight. I am just the same. I am not going to put any weight. I need to look good in Sanju's marriage. By the way where is Ms. Talk of the Town? I haven't seen her till. Is she home or gone out?"
"Here I am chatter box. Even if I am not in home, your voice is carried all over. No need for any speaker to announce your arrival." Sanjana laughingly hugged her and continued "So? Did Mom and Dad got shocked to see you or was cool? Only Mom would have got shocked, and our dad would have been Mr Cool as I told right? Did I won the bet or not?"
"Did you know that she is coming to today? You two are really getting on my nerves" her mom sighed .
"Chill out mom. I told Sanju so that she can track if I am travelling safe. See your daughters are responsible grownups." Niranjana hugged her mom and kissed her soundly on her cheek.
"Oh, stop it. Go and freshen up first. Take a good bath and come. I will get the breakfast ready." Her mom tried to shoo her.
"No dear mom, not before your special coffee. I was thinking about it all the time in train. Pleaseeee mom........" her mom laughed at that way she asked
"Ok. I will bring one."
"Get one for me too Vanitha" her dad asked and "one for me too mom" chorused Sanjana.
"Ha, you two just had a cup each? No way." Sanjana hugged her mom and told "Please mom, it's to celebrate Niru's arrival."
Vanitha chuckled on her way to kitchen "OK. OK. I will bring in for all. In fact I can also do with a cup of coffee."
"So how are the wedding preparations going on? What all have you purchased? What are all pending? Have you finalized the saree purchase? What is your and Sridhar's costume for reception?" Niranjana bombarded Sanjana with questions.
"Chill out dear. Get a breathe." she laughed at her "No big purchases done yet. You take rest for today and tomorrow and then we go on shopping from Wednesday. Sridhar's family had planned for dress purchase this Friday. Both our parents are joining only for dress and jewel purchase. For other items only we four are going."
"Four? Is Sridhar's brother is accompanying us? But you told his brother's family is coming only for marriage?" Niranjana asked her in a puzzled voice.
"Nope not Sridhar's brother. You, me, Sridhar and Ranjan."
Niranjana's smile faltered and asked slowly "Which Ranjan?" She feared that she already know the answer but prayed for her assumption to be wrong. Ha, but how her prayers went unanswered.
"It's my classmate Ranjan. Bala uncle's son. I remember you were also close to him. In fact you used to hero worship him. It's surprising that you forgot him?" Sanjana laughed at her.
How can she forget him? In fact all the whole two months are still imprinted in her heart as fresh as yesterday. Especially that fateful night.....
"I have not forgot him. I thought he moved out of town to his uncle's place. So I was not able to connect the dots." Niranjana answered her hoping that Sanjana believed that.
"Yeah, but he came back after two years and started his company. He is very successful now. In fact the opposite house is theirs only. After uncle's retirement, Ranjan purchased and reconstructed the house and moved in. Bala Uncle and Saraswathi Aunty are happy to be near to us. And Ranjan and Sridhar have become good buddies. Ranjan will accompany us in all shopping and outing."
How will she cope up being near to Ranjan for two full months? And he will be on the other side of road always. She cannot avoid him at any cost. But will he remember that evening? Oh God. Niranjana face clouded at those thoughts. "Niru, are you all right?" Sanjana asked with concern.
"Nothing Sanju, just tired because of the long journey. I will be alright if I take a good rest." She assured her sister with a smile.
"How stupid of me. You take rest, we will talk later." Sanjana left her alone for Niranjana to take rest.
Niranjana tried her best to sleep, but she cannot even wink. All the memories surfaced up like a storm which she was trying to block out as a routine she was doing for the past 6 years. But either talking about Ranjan or the fact that he is just opposite to her, made her efforts in vain and the memories returned back with force. She cannot able to help herself, but to go back in time.
She can able to recall the fateful day when she saw Ranjan for the first time. In their very living room. The dark eyes smiling at her giving some sort of signals saying how it is going to flip flop her life and she happily ignored it.