The sun is not helping. The blazing hot weather at this time of the year is not making life any easier for Anand. After a while, even continuously leaning against his car seemed a bad option, as the heat began to grasp his body. He grew slightly uneasy. And just when he was about to get frustrated, she showed up, with an apologetic smile on her face. She was shielding her forehead from the sun using her fingers.
“You waited too long?” she got onto the most important point without even wasting her time. The little ounce of intention Anand had in him to raise his voice on her dissipated almost instantly. She walked past him and reached out to open the car door. “No,” he said. “Let’s walk.”
“But why? You want to melt?” she asked.
“You want me to get stuck like a sheep in the middle of the flock, and wait to be slowly shepherded to my destination? I’d rather walk. Thanks. I’m fortunate enough I found a parking here. I won’t be as lucky over there,” he said.
She nodded with a mild smile and got back up on the pavement, and they started walking.
“Yaar?” she cutely started.
“Yaar..,” she stressed again.
“What you want you yaar to do for you now?” he asked, before realizing his shoelaces are loose. He bent down to tie them, as a smile appeared on Sabhi’s face.
She grinned wider as he wondered unknowingly what she is trying to tell. And then he caught it.
“Oh, no,” he said.
“No, no, no Sabhi, take you yaars elsewhere,” he stressed, and started walking again.
“Please?” she pleaded.
“Do you have any idea what you are asking me to do? Sabhi this is not a small matter,” he said sternly.
“That is why I’m seeking you help Anand. You are the only one I can rely on this matter. I can’t do it alone. I’m…I’m…too young to do this all alone.”
“Then don’t do it. What’s the rush now? Nobody’s forcing you to do it. You can do it when you feel you are old enough.”
“I am old enough for me to trust my convictions and feelings, just not old enough for them to trust me. That is why I could use you by my side,” she insisted.
Yuva stopped walking as he reached a corner. He sighed, and shook his head a little.
“I’ll think,” he said.
“When? After how long?” she asked.
“Now, Sabhi, now. We need to walk for another five minutes and I’ll think now, I’ll give you an answer when we reach the shop. But when I give you my decision later, that will be final, okay?”
“As you wish,” the smile reappeared on her face, as they continued walking.
“So, where do you intend to get your computer fixed?” Yuva asked. “I have been going around the town for half-an-hour now, in case you have not noticed,” he continued.
“What this is all about, may I ask?” Karthi asked.
“Just, meeting an old friend?” he said, feeling cornered by the tone in which she had asked the question, almost prompting him to just spill his true intentions.
“Hey, stop, stop it right there,” she seemed distracted all of a sudden from their conversation. Yuva was partially relieved that she is not insisting that he explain the reasons now.
“What is it?” he asked, trying to figure out what got her attention in what seemed to be a perfectly normal yet busy city road.
She did not answer; she peered at his side, through the window into the pavement for a while. Cars started honking from behind as he had abruptly stopped the car on its stride.
“I have to go now Karthi, I’m holding up the traffic,” he said.
Karthi looked behind, and then looked at him for the first time in what seemed to be an eternity of distraction.
“But I need to come back here, come around here again, will you?” she said.
“This saw a shop or something? To fix your computer?” he asked.
She did not respond. Yuva assumed that must be the reason for her sudden distraction. He continued driving around, wanting to come back to that same spot, and this time to properly park his car, so that she could go down and tend to her works. After that, Yuva would be happy to slowly touch on the sensitive issue- her sexual orientation.
But as soon as Yuva finally managed to get his car parked, Karthi disappeared as quick as lightning in the midst of the walking crowd, leaving behind the laptop that she was claiming needs fixing. Yuva was intrigued by her rush, and he got down from his car, attempting to follow Karthi, who, by herself, seemed to have a target on her own that she is following.
Karthi rushed through that flock of shops, she did not remember the name, but she remembered the location and how it looked it. And finally she was standing in front of a red-colored grill, and opening to a shop located at the first floor of a small shop lot.
She sighed, and took a deep breath, and she climbed up. As she pushed through the sliding door to enter the shop, she read the sign above. It was a computer shop afterall. And she had conveniently forgot her laptop. But that was not her main intention. She saw exactly the two people that she expected she would see in the store.
Anand stood up from his chair, just as he was about to tell Sabhi what decision he had taken regarding her request. “You are making excuses again,” Sabhi said, as he gave up the reaction of being astonished at witnessing something. Sabhi turned around, and there, at the door, was a woman in a red churidhar, with a sweet tanned complexion, slightly sweating, looking awkward.
Sabhi stood up and face the woman.
“I…have…a…laptop…to…fix,” Karthi said amidst her panting. Sabhi turned around to Anand, and he was already wearing a broad grin on his face. He knows. She knows. That woman knows. They all know- that that’s not what brought Karthi to this shop.
A convenient co-incidence, it turned out to be.
To be continued…