Aastha had still not decided about the party. To meet on a coffee was another thing, but to be a part of his birthday treat, around his friends, it seemed improper. How would she be introduced? Like she teaches me Maths, my teacher…. she was embarrassed.
Hopping for some back to back doubt solving sessions, she put the thought at the back of her mind. It would be a last minute decision.
Sitting amidst the happy and loud voices, Aakash kept on reviewing his decision of not calling her. Would she come? He was getting jitters thinking about it. Her behaviour a day before, those blushes, weren’t those exciting signs or was he just reading too much into the situation. His friends cajoled him to talk and he kept all num. Well, they thought the reason to be his mother and for the first time since her demise, he knew the reason of his anxiety was someone else. But he did not explain anything. Tapping his foot and checking his phone for the umpteenth time, his eyes were glued towards the entrance.
Will she come?
She would skip?
His heart was torn between two possibilities.
He turned his attention to the group for a moment. At that very instant she entered the cafe.
She took some hesitant steps, her eyes searching for him, mind still reviewing her decision to come. He had spotted her. She saw him walking towards her.
Aakash just couldn’t hold back his excitement when he saw her standing at the door. He immediately rushed towards her, his eyes sparkling. The world seemed to fade away for some moment. They walked towards each other, step by step.
For the first time Aakash noticed that she was not in her usual jeans and tee. She wore a full length red kurti, with a full sleeve blue jacket. The skirt of the kurti bounced with her steps. Aakash could feel her heart pumping blood in and out of her cheeks. He just wanted to take her in a bear hug. The dress made her otherwise slim built look wholesome, highlighting her curves.
“Happy birthday,” was all Aastha could say.
Aakash could not hold back his smile. He led the way to the place his friends had been sitting.
“You are late.”
“Yes, there were so many students with doubts. I tried very hard to wind it up soon but….” she tried to explain.
Of course he understood. He had attended all of her classes, even the doubts-clearing sessions. He visualised her jumping from one question to another, that cute pout as she would try solving them. And how could he miss her victorious smile when she would solve the problem in hand? All the things that would make Aakash want to take her in a hug or may be kiss that pout. But then he put a stop to his wishful thinking.
Back to the moment, he introduced Aastha to his group, as he ushered her comfortably on a chair and sat opposite to her.
“Hey, she is Aastha, Maths instructor at VPS Careers and here Aastha, she is Neh, he Vikrant and there Rahul.” Aakash did the formal introduction.
The group welcomed her with a smile and a few minutes later, Aastha found herself comfortably chatting with all. The food was brilliant and it pleased Aakash to see Aastha gorging away everything they had ordered. Unlike some people who would make a fuss complaining of the calories and diet.
As for her, Aastha didn’t know when was the last time she had so much fun. She was happy that she listened to her heart and came for the party.
Aakash, on the other hand, could not take his eyes from her. His focus was entirely on her. Was she comfortable among his friends? Is the food as per her preference? All these and everything else he could think of with her around.
The group kept on chatting for a considerable time. Aastha looked at her watch and realised she had been here for nearly two hours. She got up to leave.
“I think I’ll take a leave. Its getting late.” She announced.
Aakash came out of his trance with her words.
“Class?” He asked.
“No, no more classes for today. Thanks for the treat. It felt wonderful and refreshing.”
She waved a bye at the group. They acknowledged.
Aakash accompanied her till the exit.
“Ammm.. I didn’t know how to approach this and whether it would have been appropriate…. but I got this for you.” She held out a nicely wrapped box towards him, once they were outside the cafe.
“No, please no formalities.” Aakash protested.
“See, nothing like that. It’s your birthday and how can a birthday be complete without a gift. Please. Just have a look at it. You can get it changed in case you don’t like it.” Aastha clarified.
He reluctantly took it from her.