She looked happy for the second time. There were no traces of accident in her demeanour. She was not bitter. That was all he could think for the rest of the day, his mind playing the events of the day in a loop. And for once in a long time, he forgot about his grief and the slow poison he would indulge in to alleviate it. Today he believed, he found the perfect antidote for it.
Aakash was restless the entire night. He had her number. And she had it too. But if only he could call. Or if only she called…
Thinking about her, and cursing the slow pace of the night, his heart was dreaming away. By next morning the decision was made as he announced at the breakfast table.
“Dad, I have decided…”
His father was baffled and looked at him with peering eyes and he paused midway.
Mr. Naresh Mehra, the chairman of Sparrow Industries, was not oblivious to his son’s state of mind. But he was too grieved himself to provide relief to anyone. His late wife, Manju, had always filled the gap of showering love and express the emotions, where he would fail miserably. His heart underneath was tender. But that softness was wrapped up in layers of toughness, a trait that was so difficult for him to abandon now. He was not good with expressions. It showed more now, when his children were bearing the brunt of his hard exterior.
“Yes….” the father tried to sound encouraging. “What have you decided?”
Were his ears working fine? He wondered when last he had heard his father’s polite voice. He realised all these months they haven’t had any conversation other than routine greetings at the morning and night.
“I want to apply for MBA. I mean I want to join this coaching institute that helps in the preparation for MBA colleges.” He spoke in one go, fearing opposition.
“But you can always apply for such courses abroad.” His father suggested.
His spirits sank low. How would he explain anything to this scion of a business empire, with years of business acumen and prowess.
“Never mind. Do whatever you have decided. I am always with you.” Mr. Naresh Mehra spoke, patting his shoulder.
Three lines totalling 12 words!
That was too much from his father. Aakash knew that it had him taken a lot of courage to say this so reassuringly.
“Thanks Dad.” He responded with a big smile, earning a smile from the father in return.
It would be difficult! But a journey had begun and he would make sure that this gap between hearts in the family would soon be bridged.
An hour later, he had enrolled in one of the programs offered by the coaching institute.
“So from when would the classes start?” He sounded eager.
“Actually, the batches have already started. See its End of July. But we will help you with the course covered so far. We just need to discuss with Ma’am. She is in a class right now.” The manager in the office explained.
Precisely, at the very moment, the reason behind all this eagerness marched out of the class and entered the administration block. For the next few minutes he was oblivious to what all happened around. He was too lost staring at her.
The way she spoke…..
The way she would pause to think…..
Then come up with a better explanation….
It was when she handed him his schedule for the coming days, that he came out of trance.
“See, this is going to be hectic but you’ll have to manage. And talk to English Ma’am for…. her…. classes……It was…. YOU… yesterday?” She asked in between pauses, as she looked at him closely from the front now.
“Oh! I am really sorry about it.” He muttered.
“No, its perfectly alright. It was just an accident. I should also have taken care.” She explained.
“Are you better now?”
“Yes, perfectly.” She smiled. “See you in the classes.” As She proceeded to leave, he called her from behind “Ma’am your name please?”
She smiled, “Aastha… Aastha Sharma.”
A brief eye-lock that followed was enough to steer away the course of his life.
The next few weeks witnessed him relentlessly attending her maths classes. He would quietly sit in one corner, look at her, listen to her. It didn’t matter if anything made sense. Listening to her, being around her, acted like a therapy. He now didn’t have the urge to take drugs. The void that his mother’s death had left was slowly being filled by her words and presence. He liked being around her and these classes were the only way he could be close to her. But there seemed no way he could approach her and talk about his feelings.
He would spend restless days and sleepless nights thinking about her.
But his feelings meant nothing to her. He knew that. Aakash was never so sure of himself than he was now. It was a simple and straight fact that he actually loved her.
Yes, it was Love, love forever and ever.
And the longing of his unexpressed emotions added depth to his feelings.