Their first kiss was as she had imagined it would be.
For an eternal minute they clung together oblivious of their surroundings. It was as if that moment had been waiting to happen.
Later, when she reflected, she was at a loss to understand why there was no hesitation on either side and how was it that she drifted into his arms so naturally.
Surprisingly, there was no thought of anything except for a feeling of bliss as it happened. He too was surprised at the intimacy that existed even without having met earlier.
He had been speculating about it on the phone during his talks and she had liked listening to it but she would always laugh it away, never giving it a second thought. Now it was for real and had happened so naturally as well rehearsed sequence that she had no time to react in any other way.
When she came to senses, momentarily she tried to break free but quite the opposite happened. He pulled her closer and without realizing, she just gravitated into his arms instinctively. She closed her eyes and let the moment sink in. it was like a dream.
After a brief pause, realizing the situation that she was in, she looked up and gave a slight push with her hands.
“Enough, I think”, she said breathlessly. “You forget that we are at a public place. What if someone sees us”?
“So what”? He questioned. His breathing was heavy.
“No worries, they might think that it is a middle aged man meeting his lovely wife after a long time, which is true in any case since I’m meeting you for the first time”, he gave a naughty smile.
“Wife?”, She started, “Even if it was so, this is hardly the place……”
“I know what you’re trying to say”, stopping her halfway through her sentence ,”and you are right in a way. After all, no sensible man would kiss his wife for such a long time”. He laughed aloud at his own joke.
“Okay Mr. Smarty, get inside the car before someone objects. This is Calcutta, you can never say”.
“Right ma’m”, he said and opening the door of the car he flung his traveling bag on the rear seat.
Opening the door on the co driver side he settled down into the seat. The car was comfortable and the temperature just right and much lower than the outside. As she turned on the ignition, he reached out with his right hand and held her left hand which was on the gearshift. She paused to look up towards him and their eyes met.
He looked slightly different from his photographs. Somewhat older, but very alive with a warm smile. His eyes had a permanent naughty look as if he was up to something the very next moment. He broke her thoughts.
“You are more beautiful than I ever imagined”, he said in a sincere tone.
His hand was warm and soothing and enveloped hers completely. Her heart was pounding faster and she hoped he would not hear it else God knows how he would react.
He went on, “all these days, I have been thinking how our first meeting would be, and I would say that this is exactly how I imagined it to be”.
She smiled at him. “Same here, everything happened just the way I thought it might. Only, I never thought I would agree to meet you so readily”.
“I know”, he laughed “but then I love you so much Dipa, I had full faith you would see that you mean everything to me”.
“I love you too Akhshey”, addressing him for the first time by his name, “I have already told you during the phone calls. But then, to say it here gives it a different meaning”.
“Somehow, one can say anything on the phone but it assumes a greater significance in real”, he agreed.
Now, shall we move?” she asked.
“No, wait! I want to look at your lovely smile for at least 15 minutes”.
This is what he used to tell her on the phone, that he would like to see her for a long time on the first meeting.
“Not here. I think it would be better if we go to the Café Coffee Day outlet slightly ahead. I’m worried in case someone sees us here”
“Okay, as you say”
“But how do you expect me to start the car if you keep holding my hand?” she laughed.
Reluctantly, he let her hand go.
The traffic was heavy outside the technical area. On the highway, she had to bring the speed down and concentrate on the road ahead. He meanwhile, concentrated on her.
“Akhshey, will you please stop staring at me”, she laughed. “How do you expect me to concentrate on driving?”
He retorted, “And how to you expect me to concentrate on anything else. You see, I am seeing my sweetheart for the first time”.
“How was your journey?” she tried changing the topic.
He got it back on track, “Oh, I don’t know, I had you in my mind all the time”.
“Okay now, come down to mother earth Mr. Akhshey Verma, and stop trying to impress me”, she laughed. Then added, “You see, I’m already impressed”.
There was silence for some time as she concentrated and tried to drive. Whenever she happened to steal a glance sideways towards him she would find him looking at her and he would hastily shift his gaze to the front. In a way, she was enjoying the attention he was giving to her. No one had had ever made her feel so important all her life.
“I hope you know where you’re going”, he said after some time.
Oh hell! She realized she had lost her way. His presence was affecting her senses and she had forgotten to take the right turn a while ago.
He laughed. “So, I guess you do love me”, with a gleam in his eyes.
“I think I will have to take a U-turn to go back a few hundred yards”
“Would you like me to drive”, he offered. “You can tell me the directions. I think I should be able to negotiate this traffic better”.
She was glad he offered. “Yes why not? That way you would have somewhere better to look”, she laughed and added, “I should have done this earlier to keep your hands and eyes busy”.
“Don’t you know I can drive with just one hand?” He teased her.
As he drove to her directions, he kept holding her hand with his left hand managing steering as well as gears with his right hand. It was quite a funny sight when he would juggle between managing the steering and changing the gears with the same hand. She playfully suggested to him to forget about holding hands but somehow she knew even before saying that he would not listen.
He did manage quite well, she admitted to herself.
The CCD was a relatively new joint with not much of a crowd at that time. He parked the car and coming swiftly from the front, opened the door for her to step out. Then took her by her hand and walked in. she was enjoying the feeling of importance that he was showering upon her. It was almost as if he would not leave her hand free ever.
Once inside, she tried to remove her hand from his but he only held it tighter. She glanced over the tables to see if there was anyone she knew remotely. It would be trouble for her if someone was to see her holding hands with a strange man.
“Please”, she whispered, “Not here, there maybe some one who might notice”.
“Okay, but I hope you will allow me to continue once we settle down”, he insisted with a half smile.
On the side next to the counter there was a staircase leading to the first-floor for those who wanted a bit of privacy.
“Is there a place to sit upstairs”? He asked the girl at the counter.
“Yes sir, but the AC has just been started, it will take a few minutes to bring the temperature down”.
“That’s no problem, I think we will manage “
“You can place on orders before you go up, Sir”. Said the girl at the counter. “It will be delivered in about 10 minutes”.
“Take your time, I’m seeing my wife after a long time”, he smiled and winked at Dipa.
“Akhshey!!! You are mad”, Dipa whispered in an indulgent tone.
Glancing at the Menu card and looking at Dipa, Akhshey smiled at the girl and asked, “What do you suggest for people meeting after ages?”
“Everything here is good, sir”, the girl was noncommittal.
“Okay then, make it a magic potion for each of us with cheese sandwich”.
“I can see the magic, Sir”, the girl was witty, “but we do not have it in the menu here”, she smiled knowingly.
“Ah well, in that case, mix up any two varieties and put a dash of extra sugar and it will be magic” he smiled. “I trust my luck”, he said, glancing towards Dipa.
He started towards the staircase leading to the AC room on the Mezzanine floor.
Dipa followed him and hissed, “what would the girl think, you Nut!”
He just looked back at her and joked, “There is no question of any thinking. I expect her to realize you’re not my wife – you see not many husbands get their wives to CCD at our age, or any age for that matter”.
Then he stopped momentarily at the landing for her to catch up and slipped his arm around her waist.
“Now how do we walk up the stairs this way “, she asked.
He just laughed, “We can try”.
They spotted a comfortable looking reclining sofa at the far end and mutually selected it without a word. He adjusted the table in front for her to settle down comfortably and sat next to her to her left facing the stairwell so that he could see anyone coming towards them.
She noticed that for a moment he was quiet and apparently was hesitating about something in his mind. Just to pull his leg she extended her right hand and said, “Here, you can hold this if you wish to”.
They both laughed out aloud.
He immediately grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him folding her in a tight embrace. There was no hesitation on her part as she was rather looking forward to it. It was something that was bound to happen.
Somehow, they knew and understood each other so well that it never appeared that they were meeting of the first time. Months of talking to each other had its plus points and she felt they knew all about the personality, thoughts and likings of each other. The chemistry undoubtedly was very strong and the feelings they shared remotely earlier surfaced immediately on their first meeting.
“I’m loving being with you”, he whispered to her.
“Oh yes, same here”.
Then she added, “You know Akhshey, you are just the way I thought you would be, maybe naughtier than I thought”.
“And you are so perfect”, he said simply.
He spotted the girl on the counter coming towards them with their order. She smiled at them and placed the tray gently on the table and arranged their coffee mugs.
“I hope your comfortable, sir”, looking up slightly from the table she asked Akhshey with a knowing smile.
“Oh yes, it’s very nice of you to ask, thank you”, all charm, he smiled back.
She turned and went away briskly leaving them to themselves. Dipa looked at him and shifted nearer. He immediately put his arm around her with his hand resting on her left shoulder and held her right hand into his. Her hands were shapely and small and fitted well into his. It was a moment they both were enjoying, oblivious of the world around them when her phone rang.
“It’s Sanjana”, she said looking at the name flashing on the screen.
She was asking how long would she take for her to get home. Dipa promised her she would be back soon. While as she was talking on phone, Akhshey was leaning towards her trying to make out what was being talked. Knowing him so well, Dipa immediately put her finger on the lips motioning him to keep quiet. This prompted him to start kissing her the moment she put the phone down.
It was a beautiful moment. She never wanted it to end.
After some time. Glancing at the watch she said, “I think we must plan making a move now, else I will get delayed. I have never left Sanjana alone late in the evenings.”
“Yes”, he agreed “we make a move next five minutes after finishing this coffee – and in any case, I need that much more time as I have not seen your lovely smile enough”.
“Flatterer”, she smiled.
Then added, “So what’s your plan after this?”
“I’ve got my staying arrangements in Fort William. Now it’s up to you either to leave me there and go or I drop you home and take a taxi back from there. Whatever suits you?”
“You could have given a simpler reply”
“Is there anything simpler than this? Or shall I say your place or mine?” he laughed.
“You know Sapna, that friend of mine I mentioned to you on phone? Well, she lives in Fort William Campus”
“Oh wow!!! Will you be introducing me to her?”
“No way, Mr. Flirty”, she was laughing “you are all mine”
“I know. As you are mine” he said kissing her gently.
“Frankly, I would love to meet Sanjana today, so tell me, does that suit you if I come home to meet her?”
(To be continued……..)
(Based on your inputs- what next?)