Chapter 18

Many a times it happens that we don’t contemplate things in our conscious state of mind. Maybe because we’re too clouded and obfuscated with conscious, living world thoughts that we terribly fail to see the real picture or things that are possibly possible if we clear those presumptions. We only realize and resonate those things when we are in a trance state – at a subconscious level. Something similar to this happened with Ashi. The thought with which she’d slept over last night was registered and contemplated by her subconscious; the next morning.

In her waking state, she hurriedly reached for her phone as if something crucial had dawned on her mind that particular morning.

“Fuck my life. He’d called me last night! And I was dumb enough not to check my stupid phone. No! Stupid me! Ashi, you’re a birdbrain”, Ashi gawked at her phone babbling and cursing all the while.

“So it seems that someone called my daughter.” Her mother’s voice slowly emerged and filled the room gradually taking over Ashi’s babbling.

“Mumma, you can’t eavesdrop like this. Etiquettes Mumma, etiquettes!”

Ashi screamed, disgusted at herself more than her mom.

Her mom posed near the entrance of her bedroom, leaning sideways against the wooden framework, her hands neatly crossed over her chest; she replied matter-of-factly.

“He’s waiting out. Get ready. Are you going to have breakfast? Or are you going to have it with him?”

“Who he?” Ashi shot her eyebrows at her.

“That ‘someone’.” Her mom pointed her sharp, right index finger at Ashi’s phone.

“Mumma! Please!” Ashi rolled her eyes making her fret evident.

“Stop hurling that at me! He’s becoming a restless ball, pacing, fumbling and quailing out there.” Her mom pointed her thumb rearward in the direction of the living room.

“Did he ask you anything about me?”

“He’s there since the last ten minutes. And all he’s talked about is – You.”

Her mom answered with a deliberate wry.

Ashi smiled, her face flushing in the weak, early morning sunshine that’d sneaked in her room.

“What did he say? Can you be more elaborative, Mumma?”

“No, I can’t. Because I didn’t understand a word he said. It seemed like his thinking and talking weren’t in sync. All I remember is – How’s Ashi? I didn’t know you’re ill, Darling.”

“Mumma, get out please. Sarcasm is the last thing I need today morning.”

Ashi smirked and striding towards the door in her pyjamas, pushed her mom out and locked her room. She punched the air with a victorious ‘yes’ and did a brief happy-dance.

“She’ll be here in sometime. May I help you with something to eat, till then?” Ashi’s mom asked maintaining her polite stance.

“No thanks, Mrs. Rathore. I really don’t feel the need to eat anything currently.”

“All I need is to have a look at her to know that she’s fine.”

“Don’t mind me saying but you look beat. And I really hope that you haven’t caught my daughter’s bug. She never feels a need to eat.” Ashi’s mom added with a fake chuckle.

“I’m well acquainted with that, Mrs. Rathore. And that she’s a bit stubborn too.”

“Can we end this and please call Ashi here. Or please allow me an access to her bedroom.”

“That’s really kind of you to call her ‘a bit stubborn’. She’s stubborn to the gills.” Ashi’s mom rolled her eyes.

“Where’s Mr. Rathore? He’s not to be seen anywhere.”

“Can we please cut this out and get to the point?”

He left early today. He’s to finish the work before we leave for Delhi.”

“Delhi?” Rihaan asked before he could stop himself from sounding interrogative.

“My elder sister is going through health turmoil. She’s suffering from cervical cancer since 5 years now. Entirely, on medicines. It seems like the medicines have stopped working or reacting lately. We’ve to visit there to check what exactly the scenario is.”

“Oh. Okay. I hope everything turns out to be good and in your sister’s favour.”

Rihaan flashed his patented smile following a glance at his watch.

“You can leave if you’re getting late. I’ll tell her to call you and meet you.” Ashi’s mom replied sipping her coffee.

“No, it’s okay. I’ll wait. I need to talk to her about – work”, Rihaan lied.

“I want to talk to her and know how okay she is, actually. It’s been more than an hour Ashi. Where the hell are you?!”

Ashi’s bedroom lock turned and her mom rose up from the couch and casually sauntered off into the kitchen.

Ashi appeared from behind the door; wearing a pair of – skinny denim jeans and a white body-hugging T-shirt, that’d two blue stars printed on its left.

Rihaan viewed Ashi, face first, her hair a loose, tangled yet a beautiful mess, the soft thick curls, resting peacefully on her shoulders, some hanging down from there reaching her waist. It seemed like Rihaan was looking at her through a burrow. He only saw her, his mind negating everything else his eyes tried to capture other than her. Her blue sneakers reminded him of her bare feet, the night before. A big, black bucket bag dangling from her right shoulder looked almost weightless. She pulled the bedroom door behind her and took a sharp noticeable intake of breath on noticing Rihaan. There was something in her attire that made Rihaan to lower his chin and look at his outfit. He’s wearing the same combination – white T-shirt and blue denim; he smiled slightly, only as much as he could notice it and refocused on Ashi who fumbled a little before she started striding in his direction.

Focusing her sight on the floor she called her mom, “Mumma, I’m leaving. I don’t want to eat. See you in the evening.” Having said that, she walked right past him and walked out from the main door.

“Ashi, wait.” Rihaan called her back.

Rihaan’s voice made her to hold her breath and she halted in her way.

“How are you?” Rihaan tossed a general question to gauge the direction of her mood-winds.

“Better than I feel. What are you doing here?”

Ashi turned and replied with a crisp monotonous tone without making an eye contact.

“I’d to talk to you.”

His reply made Ashi to directly look at him in his eyes.

Rihaan immediately cleared his thoughts and said, “I mean about work. I’d to talk about work.”

“Obviously. There’s nothing else to talk about as such. But I really can’t. I’m busy today. I’ve to finish the work assigned by my earlier client so that I can start working for my new client – that’s your company.”

“It’s necessary Ashi. I’m not there on Monday. I need to show you the layouts and plans so that you can start working without interruption, whenever you start working of course.”

“Why whenever I start working?” Ashi gave a puzzled look.

“You’re going to Delhi, right?”

“Are you sending me on an official trip to Delhi?” Ashi raised her eyebrows sarcastically.

“Your mom told me something about your aunt being unwell and that she and your Dad are visiting her.”

“Awesome. I’m not going.”

“Mumma, you’re telling this insensitive, hard-hearted, non-human, things that even I’m not being made aware of”, Ashi mumbled after.

“Let’s go now if you’re done with the mumbling session.”

“Okay. But please be quick. I don’t want to work till late in his office.”

“I won’t let that happen. Ever.”

Rihaan casually said but it looked like he meant every part of it, crossing his heart.

Ashi sighed heavily and followed him.

Next….

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