“Hi.” he exclaimed.
She lifted her head at this sudden greeting, happy but well, not so surprised. He was in a full assessment mode, not to misread a single expression.
“You here?” He asked.
“Yes, heard this cafe is good. So thought why not try it.” She replied “And what about you? How come you are here?”
“Came for a movie with friends.” He supplied the information.
She peeped around, her eyes asking where are they?
“Well, they are still inside the hall. I came to grab a bottle of water?” He said while looking at the coffee frappe she was sipping earlier.
“Frappe?” He asked.
“Well, someone told me once that its good to come out of the comfort zone and try new things.” She offered an embarrassed reply, as she lifted her glass and took another sip.
He couldn’t suppress his laugh. “Well, in that case today I’ll order a cappuccino.”
She just could smile.
Five minutes later when his order arrived, he quickly took a sip. His facial expressions couldn’t hide that he had not enjoyed the bitter taste.
And Aastha could not control her laughter.
“You need to add sugar to sweeten it.” She said between strings of laughter.
“But you never added any sugar..” He replied confused, remembering all the times he watched her enjoying every sip of this drink.
“Because I like it that way. Bitter. You see I am already very sweet. No need to add extra sugar.” She uttered in an instinct, but soon fell silent, embarrassed by her sudden verbose.
He gave her a queer look and replaced his cappuccino with the frappe before her. Taking a sip from the frappe he let out a sigh of relief.
“This is better.” He said aloud.
A lot better, thinking that she had already sipped from the glass he had used earlier, since his mind had been in a mess all through the morning, caught in a web of not so pleasant thoughts.
But to see her lifting that cup and drinking from it, raised his spirits.
Can he consider it a welcome sign?
“So what brings you here?”
He asked once they seemed settled.
“Told you, heard about the ambience of this place.”
“Really.” He arched his eyebrow at her, “So you did not know that I was here?”
Aastha quickly nodded her head in negative, “How would I know that you…. would….b….e… h..ere…?” suddenly remembering that she had liked the tagged status update.
Caught up in her lie, she bowed her head, too flustered to speak.
“Tell me, I am here..” he said softly.
“See, nothing like that. I just came here….” she paused, still deliberating.
He nodded his head as if encouraging her to speak up.
When she still remained quiet, he grew impatient. “Aastha, come on, tell me what is it? Speak up.”
Aastha froze. It was the first time, he had addressed her by her name.
She gulped a lump, her heart racing, tongue too tied to utter another word.
“I am still waiting.” This time his voice was soft, the one that sent tickles in her ribs and she could contain no longer,
“Today, he came to the institute, apparently for some motivating talk before the exam. I did not know anything about it. I mean he did not inform me…”