In the kitchen, Poo took deep calming breaths and poured a glass of water; as she was turning away, a patch of yellow caught her blurred vision. She blinked to clear her vision – there was a sticky note on the fridge door. A childish barely legible scrawl in Hindi stated, ‘Saab kal nahi aayegi main’. Oh so he had a housekeeper of sorts who came in everyday, she deduced as she saw the two covered bowls by the microwave along with a casserole.
Just then Khushi called, “Kahan ho? Itni der ho gayi? Aman is also not picking up the phone?”
“Ji Bhabhi,” Poo looked at the watch, past 9 pm! “Sorry, I am coming, I am on the way, aakar sab batati hoon, bye,” she hurriedly disconnected the phone.
She quickly went to give Aman the water, he had dozed off again and Poo was relieved to see he was sweating lightly; she quietly put the glass down by the bedside along with the medicines and the prescription. She put away the food in the fridge and walked out of his apartment to her waiting car.
At RM, another drama was being played out – Deva and gang were leaving for Kolkata and Chotti demanded a lot of pampering and attention, especially from her mum.
As a result, Poo was unable to share more than the highlights of the day with Khushi. Just as well I suppose for she needed to sort out her thoughts and feelings first, come to terms with it and even accept that perhaps she was on a track, which in all likelihood would end in a blind alley. There was no reason for her to expect or even hope that Aman would or could return her feelings…yet the first feelings of being in love left her exhilarated, somewhat like the heady sensation of having jumped off a cliff without a safety belt….wheeeeeee!
She clamped down on her jumbled and conflicting thoughts; it was late and there was packing to be done, Chotti to be distracted, Nani to be reassured, instructions taken from Khushi etc etc.
Mindful of the fact that Aman’s cook would be absent and concerned about his health, Poo dropped in at his residence (he was resting today at ASR’s orders instigated by Khushi who in turn had been chabi-karoed by Poo’s description of a terribly ill and acutely suffering Aman) with his lunch to check up on him. His fever was better though he had a bad cold and cough.
Poo rang the bell with a thousand butterflies in her tummy, pata nahi kaisa hoga, kya bolega or would he even remember?
The door opened and Aman stood there staring at her as if he had seen a ghost. Poo’s heart sank- he was clearly ill at ease – possibly he was regretting his over-familiarity or was worried about having touched a raw nerve. With a nonchalance she was far from feeling Poo sang out brightly, “Good morning, how are you? I brought you lunch,” she raised the tiffin carrier and pushed past him to enter his apartment.
“I am fine thank you, but you shouldn’t have,” he waved in the direction of the tiffin carrier and then sneezed violently.
“Oh this?” Poo put it on the table, “Don’t thank me, wasn’t my idea,” she crossed her fingers surreptitiously, “Bhabhi sent me,” well she did but it was Poo who had painted the image of an ill, lonely and starving Aman lying at death’s door – Khushi would have liked to come herself but then as she was leaving for Kolkata today [and yes now we are finally getting back on track and are at least on the same day as when we – ok ok – I had deviated towards the Amya khichdi] and there were a million things to do so Khushi sent Poo as her emissary carrying necessary nourishment – what else – hot piping khichdi!
Aman stared at her uneasily why did he get the feeling that he should be apologizing for something? What exactly had happened yesterday? The question had haunted him ever since he had woken up and it was almost mid-morning now. His head throbbed with the effort of recollection and all he got was a few flashes of images – most of them featuring Poo’s eyes – bright, concerned, determined, soft, tender, sparkling. And now she was here, again staring at him worriedly and what was that – was that a hint of embarrassment admixed with…what? He closed his eyes in frustration – on top of it I am feeling guilty but don’t know why – kya hua tha dammit, should I ask her? But what – ki maine koi badtameezi ki thi kya – he shook his head, idiot he berated himself.
Poo cleared her throat, “I don’t have all day you know, come and eat, I am sure you haven’t had breakfast,” she said briskly pulling out a chair and placing a plate on the table. She began unpacking the tiffin carrier.
Lured by the aroma, Aman cautiously edged towards the table, well couldn’t be too bad, she didn’t seem mad at him – he hungrily dug into his food, while Poo busied herself in the kitchen making adrak wali chai and kada.
Poo packed up the tiffin and cleared the table and would have even washed the dishes but Aman was adamant and protested that his daily help would be back the next day, so she left the utensils in the sink.
Conscious of the confused questioningly look in Aman’s eyes and not really sure whether she was relieved he didn’t remember or upset, Poo wiped her hands and mumbled, “I better get going.”
“Going to office?” Aman interjected hastily; he was feeling loads better after the hot meal, his headache all but gone and suddenly he didn’t want Poo to leave.
Poo shook her head, “Nahi I have to go to AKC, Bhabhi is leaving for Kolkata today na, so she wants to give me instructions and then I have to be back home in case Chotti is upset.”
Aman nodded in understanding, “Yeah well you better carry on then, please convey my thanks to Khushi Bhabhi, the khichdi was very tasty,” he smiled.
Poo’s eyes flickered, “But of course you made it,” Aman immediately corrected himself, “Thank you,” he said genuinely, simply.
Their eyes met.
Poo’s heart fluttered (Aman? Oh he just felt faint and dizzy – bechara bimaar tha na).
Embarrassed, she nodded and walked away only to be halted at the doorway by his hesitant strangled, “Err…” he coughed and tried again as she turned around, “Uhmm…did I say or do anything…ummm inappropriate last evening,” he looked at her squarely almost defiantly – there he had finally said it.
Poo froze with a faraway look on her face. A small smile played about Poo’s lips and her eyes were soft, she shook her head slowly and said, “No.”
She shut the door behind her with a click just as the last evening’s entire scene played out for Aman as if she had hit the replay button. He cursed himself silently as guilt and regret clawed at him – what the hell was he thinking – asking her whether it hurt – how much that itself would have hurt? Goddd how could he have been so forward, so insensitive, ‘idiot fool donkey ass’ he berated himself roundly and viciously ‘it’s a wonder that she came to check up on you’ his shoulders slumped, ‘of course she would, Khushi Bhabhi had sent her.’ Damn and he hadn’t even apologized – just gobbled down the khichdi like a greedy starving man – he sank into the couch with a silent groan.
He suddenly remembered the small smile and the glint in her eye, she didn’t look too mad or even upset, he leaned back against the couch.
Women! Who could understand them?
Click here for Chapter 361