Aastha turned towards where her scooty was parked, when Aakash grabbed her hand and took the keys from her, “I’ll drop you, come.”
“No, no, its not required. I’ll go myself.” Astha protested.
Aakash ignored her plea as he moved towards his car.
Aastha instinctively followed him to fetch the key from him.
“Please Aakash, you go and sit with your friends. I’ll go. I enjoy my scooty rides.” Aastha pleaded while Aakash guided her to the other side of the driver’s seat and pulled the door open for her.
She knew arguing with him would be futile. Nevertheless she tried one last stroke.
“What about my scooty?”
“I’ll ask my driver to drop it.” He informed as he signalled his driver to fetch the keys.
Aastha, stranded between the open car door and Aakash, just shook her head, realising that she had lost a battle once again. She found Aakash looking deeply at her and for a moment they had a brief eye-lock. She asked softly, “Why do you insist so much?”
“Because you never agree otherwise.” He smiled.
Aastha’s heart pumped at a speed. She sat in the car, lest he heard the thumping sound.
The car journey was unusually silent. Aastha was still trying to read the meaning of his words and actions.
She came to reality as he steered the car through a junction.
“My home…..” she paused and he replied, “I know…”
There was an awkward silence between them. Aastha was still contemplating what to say and Aakash was busy thinking about the gift, when he suddenly broke the ice, “Why this gift?”
“I was in the market. I had a look at it and thought it would be apt for you and then it was your birthday and you invited me. So I had to get something.” She was mumbling without thinking, “If that makes sense!”
Aakash just chuckled. It was rather strange that an otherwise confident girl should be so nervous now. Was it a good sign?
“Any plans for today?” He asked next, just to get the conversation flowing.
“Yes, some cousins coming over, like a sleep over thing, so it’ll be house-full today.” She informed.
“Ohh.” Aakash, tried to hide his disappointment, thinking there would be no conversation today over the phone. “That sounds great.”
“Not exactly.” She quipped. Aakash gave a quizzical look.
“They all are quite elder to me. And I was a kind of kid among them, like younger for their secret mature talks.” She informed. “The real problem is, for them I am still a kid. So….”
They both had a hearty laugh. He dropped her home and was now eager to open the gift she gave.
That night he kept staring at his phone, wondering if she’d call or message but nothing materialised. Her gift had been indeed a special one. A branded watch that must have cost a fortune. A gesture to warm him his soul. He felt special. He felt loved. Or was it too early to assume “love”? But he kept hoping. The happy pictures shared by her cousins on social media tagged her too. They were his solace for the night. He kept on staring at her happy face for a long time till sleep took over and she was all over his dreams as well.