They decided that Akhshey would drop her first and then take a taxi back Fort William. That way he would also be able to meet Sanjana for which, he said, he could not wait until the next day.
He insisted on picking up a special mini meal with a customized mystery gift for Sanjana. Dipa knew he would not listen to her in this matter anyway, so did not stop him either. Thanking the girl at the counter with a generous tip, they stepped out.
Outside the café, it was darker. He held her hand, crossed his fingers in hers and pulled her gently as they walked towards the car park, making their arms touch each other’s. She liked the feeling of his palm against hers . When his wrist brushed against hers as their arms crossed; it made her wish it happened more often.
They were silent for some time as he negotiated the car through the congested roads. Then on an opening, she told him to turn towards the left to take the road to the Dakhinshwar area where she lived. As their car crossed near the polo ground, he slowed down and started looking both sides as if searching for something.
“What are you looking for?” she asked.
In reply, he continued looking outside and gave a naughty smile.
He was up to something, she knew.
Suddenly, he turned the car inside a big gate located at the end of the ground. There was no one around at that time. For some distance, he drove the car onto the gravel road that terminated near the viewers’ gallery, which also was deserted.
“What’s this?” she asked. “Now why have we come here?”
“It’s a nice big ground I had heard about. So stopped here to see it since luckily, it fell in our way. I may not be able to do so later”, he said. Then added, “Come with me, I want to check out something”.
Saying so, he held her hand and led her to the centre of the ground.
“Is this the exact centre of the ground, you think?”, he asked her.
She looked around, “hmmm…, well it does look like that”, trying to calculate the distances and figure out what he was up to.
Suddenly, she found herself in his arms. She looked up and found him looking intently into her eyes.
The sky was clear with dark sky and the first few stars that had just started becoming visible. The moon was just rising above the horizon.
Holding her in his right arm and placing his left hand on her cheek he said, “I always dreamt of being with you on a moonlit night in the centre of nowhere and kissing you for a long, long time”.
Subconsciously, her hand went up and she placed it on his shoulder as he bend down and gently placed his lips on hers. It was a magical moment; the memories of which, they both knew would last a lifetime. They remained like that their bodies doing the talking for what seemed like an infinite pause in time.
As their lips parted momentarily, she said, “oh, Akhshey, that was a beautiful surprise”. Then raised herself on her toes for another long moment of silence as she kissed him back.
“Every moment is so special”, she said, softly.
“That is because you are the most wonderful woman in the world”.
“Flatterer!” she replied, smiling. “You really make me feel someone special”.
“That you are! You know, very special to me”.
The phone call from Sanjana shook them out from their dream. She was asking how long Dipa would take to reach, as the housemaid did not know what to cook for dinner. Giving instructions to the maid on phone, they started back.
Once inside the society building Dipa asked Akhshey to be careful as her neighbor had the habit of being nosey about who was coming or going from her house.
“You better behave once we’re outside the car”, she said. It was surprising, she reflected, how close she was feeling with him right on the first day of their meeting.
When she rang the bell, the maid opened the door. Sanjana was watching her favorite Tom and Jerry cartoon on the television. When she saw her mom, she got up and Dipa kissed her on her forehead.
“I have a surprise for you”, she said.
Akhshey entered the doorway and stood there looking at the mother and daughter fondly.
“Can you make out who that is?” Dipa asked, pointing towards Akhshey.
Sanjana could recognize him from his pictures.
“Akhshey uncle”, she said, with a shy voice, recognizing him instantly.
“Oh wow !”, said Akhshey, stepping in. “that was smart. See! My princess recognizes me immediately”.
He went down on one knee. “Come to me, princess”, he said, opening his arms wide.
Dipa smiled at her daughter, “go to uncle, he has been looking forward to meet you and has come now especially just to see his little princess”.
Sanjana walked up to him a bit hesitatingly initially, but soon felt comfortable as he picked her into his arms. Dipa, who had always speculated and at times, worried about this moment, was happy to see that the connection between them had taken place naturally and with so much ease.
“And now, Madame”, Akhshey looked up and winked at Dipa, “would you please leave me and my princess alone for some time because I want to look at her for a minimum 30 minutes”. He laughed aloud, as Sanjana started giggling.
(To be continued……..)
(Based on your inputs- what next?)