Chapter 5

Ashi was thinking of ways to avoid facing her Dad; for, her Dad was the only living being till date who gauged her moods, feelings, emotions or whatever correctly and asked her direct questions that always left her exposed. No matter how much she tried she couldn’t resist hiding things from him. He was the one who always knew the exact reason for her strained eyes – whether it was due to overnight cries in fetal position or a mere gust of her insomnia. Her mom knew her other side as well – the bitchy one. She knew her daughter was among those who’ll answer a cheeky comment with a tight slap – either virtual or practical, and knew of her smart-mouth abilities. Her mom was the one who had always been a victim of her sarcasm, all these years. She’d been a sole witness of her ever-growing sarcastic talents. She knew that her child was emotional, compassionate, humble, kind, caring and all of that but she even knew that her daughter was equally bitchy if anyone got on her bad side. Ashi’s parents had raised her well and had always respected her free will. They had never imbibed their decisions on her; may it be professional, social or personal. Liberal had always been her middle name. Yet, here she was now, battling with her shaky independence.

Ashi stared at her plate. “Shit! How will I do it?” she mumbled.

“Ashi?” her mom shook her to senses. “Eat”, she said.

Dining table at dining time is the worst place to have conversations rather unwanted conversations. You can’t turn a deaf ear to the questions nor can you run away because insulting food kept in front of you will bring you in for some tirade in addition to those questions. Yet more questions! That’s even worst because you’ll have to listen more and will be interrogated more than before.

“Where’s Dad?” she asked turning a deaf mind to her thoughts.

“He’ll be here in five minutes. He’s on a call. You need not wait for him Ashi, he’d told us to start. He’ll join us in a while”, her mom replied with a smile.

Ashi forcefully mirrored her smile and began twiddling with the food in her plate.

“What’s wrong Ashi?” Her mom asked with concern. “Mmm.. Nothing. I’m just not peckish.”

“Ashi…”, before her mom could say anything else Ashi continued, “I mean I’m not hungry.”

“What’s the topic for today’s discussion?” her Dad approached them and sat exactly opposite to Ashi. She avoided her best to meet his eyes. She knew for a fact that whatever she did, she won’t be able to hide it if she looked at him eye-to-eye.

“So, you met Rihaan?” her Dad asked her casually.

“Yes”, she answered monosyllabic form concentrating on her plate, trying to make her food fiddling apparent. She kept her reply in a monosyllabic form to avoid blurting and jumbling of words, which she was a pro in.

“Okay. That’s fine. No need to entertain him anymore. I know what kind of a person is he. Mannerless. Totally. I wanted you to meet him because of Shiv. It would’ve been rude on my part if I would’ve told him a ‘no’ directly. You know, I don’t admire that bitterness in relations. Anyways, it’ll be easier and more acceptable now”, he completed as casually as he’d started.

Ashi’s twiddling shambled and finally ceased as her Dad completed his sentence. Her eyes helped her sight to travel from the food in front of her to rest and focus on her Dad. She could only remember him being busy helping himself with the food and conversing with her mom. It seemed like some unseen, titanic yet conspicuous force had turned on the mute button universally and had thwarted Ashi’s all attempts to listen. It was like viewing a dumbshow without understanding the gestures. Soon her thoughts became pacy and made the things in front of her appear fainter and fainter. Nevertheless, she was still staring, but this time it was a blank stare. Her thoughts contradicted every bit of her frozen self. Her body, though still like an inanimate object, her thoughts rampaged through her mind at a lightning speed.

All her thoughts narrowed down to a single point, “He is a no for Dad.” She kept chanting this under her breath till she was drifted back to the present world by her mom.

“What are you mumbling Ashi?”

She looked at her mom all stunned and shocked, “Nothing. I just remembered something.”

Saying so, she got up in her chair, grabbed the plate and strode off in her room, without glancing at either one of them. She knew she’d left some dire looking faces and issues that she would have to deal with. But at present, she’d no time to think about it. All she needed was to get away from there before any more stuff that she didn’t want to hear came up like an uninformed guest. Actually, she wanted to shut her thoughts. But, that’s barely possible, especially when you’re an over- contemplator. Resting the plate on the side table, she took a long steadying breath. Today, a single breath wouldn’t do any good to her and she was well aware of it. She kept drawing long breaths until she was in a position for some logical and rational reasoning. Apparently, time for some self-talk.

“Why is this thing bothering me so much? Isn’t this exactly what I wanted? To get rid of Rihaan and his whatever-ness?” she questioned herself for some answers but all she got was a prolonged silence. “Ugh.. I wish I’d a fairy-godmother who would tell me what should be done next. But, I don’t have one and life is in a full revengeful swing”, she sighed. “I’m done for today. Like really done. I can’t think anymore on any damn thing. Dear Day, no more drama for today. I’ll figure out this knotty reaction tomorrow”, saying so, she lay down on her bed. Her phone made that similar symphony and she automatically directed her hand that way. She checked and found Rihaan topping the chat list. “Thanks for co-operating smart mouth. I know you’ve, ‘cause in case you didn’t, I would’ve gotten threshing by now. One more little favour. My Dad is supposed to call you, tomorrow. You just have to handle him well. That’s it for now. Cheerio. Good Night.” She looked at the screen with disgust.

“How can a person be this blunt while begging?”

She replied, “You haven’t hired me for your official pleasures or chores. I’m not among those scarlet women of yours. So, if you want something first learn to ask for it using the magical words. Or else, forget about it.” She waited for a few minutes. When she finally thought that he might have slept, she closed the app and locked her phone; only for it to beep, flash and wake up with a message. Two messages. Three messages. Four messages. Ashi kept looking at her screen till the beeping went all mum. She opened the messages.

“Firstly, this is called as Royal Begging. Secondly, I hardly use the magical words anymore. Thirdly, I know you’ll do it irrespective of whether I use the magical words or not. My job was to inform you so that you don’t go blank and exercise your pro abilities – babbling and blurting, in front of my Dad. And fourthly, you can’t be even near to those girls because you’re far from my definition of being hot.”

Ashi curved her lips sarcastically. Whatever it was she’d never and wouldn’t ever allow anyone to take her for granted. This was among her top morals or principles on which she lived her life.

She maintained the smile and typed, “You decide now. The ball is in your court. Handling your Dad or using the magical words. Your future is in your hands.” Before she could type anything else she could see the number typing. “Okay fine. Please. Please. Please. Ashi, I beg you to do it for me. Pleaseeee… is it enough or you want more?” Ashi bite her lower lip as she tried to suppress a laugh. “No. Wait. Please. Sorry. Thank You. Welcome. Is it FINE now?” came the reply.

Ashi tapped on the reply window; as she could see typing on the top of the screen, she stopped. The moment she ceased typing, the number too stopped typing. “Typing muddles”, she said rolling her eyes. She quickly replied, “That should be fine for now. However, if the quota depletes, you’ll have to refill it. Good Night. Adieu.”

“Quota. Well, you should ask me for some other quota. I’ll never deplete that one. ;)”, he replied promptly.

“I don’t need that from you. One thing I’m pretty sure about”, Ashi replied, “And now goodbye and good night.”

“Good Night Smart-mouth. And yes, save my number. I know you want to, but I don’t want you to memorize it. It’ll be difficult for you when you actually want to forget me and delete my number but you won’t be able to erase it from your memory”, flashed the messages.

Ashi genuinely smiled at his reply but sent an altered expression instead, “That’s really kind on your part to think about me, Rihaan. I’ll do the needful. Now will you please stop caring about me and just go to bed.”

This is the thing about chatting or communicating via text messages. You can alter or altogether change your replies to suit or match your style or want. Had Rihaan been in front of her, talking to her directly face-to-face, he would’ve seen that irresistible smile of hers. But now that smile was perfectly clogged with a sarcastic reply that covered her genuine feelings. All thanks to communication advancements.

“Okay Babbler, Have a great sleep and remember what I told you. GoodBye.”

The number immediately went offline and Ashi too closed the app and switched on the airplane mode. “No more drama for today, and you, dear drama creator, she stared at her phone, too, go to sleep. She let out a long sigh as she rested on her bed.

Within a few minutes, sleep enveloped her and carried her in its dreamy world. Bizarre what a ten minute conversation can do to someone’s mind. Then a jittery Ashi was now sleeping pacifically.

Next…

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