Unrequited (Part 2)
“Hey! Thank you. But, I….” Ankita faltered, “I don’t need it.”
His smile was infectious, and thrusting the pack in her hand, he said, “Feel at home. I will get your tea in a jiffy.” He left.
Like the hundred other ladies, enchanted by his presence, she took the pack and lit a cig. She hadn’t even taken her second drag, when he reappeared with two cups of tea, and beaming, he said “This is for the enchanting lady, and this is obviously for the poor me who couldn’t focus on anything else from the moment he laid his eyes on her.”
Ankita was not used to such praises and specifically from men as young and handsome as the one standing in front of him. There was something in the air, was it the intensity of the discussion going on the stage, or the fresh smell of the tea, or the nostalgic smell of the Madagascar Periwinkle, she didn’t know. But she shamelessly fixed her gaze on the man in front of her.
For Hemanta, it was a known look, but for the first time in his adulthood, he felt attracted to a simple yet alluring lady. He could have kept staring at her if the mild cough wouldn’t have broken the spell between them.
“Are you leaving, Madam?” intruded a gruff voice.
Awoken from a spell, they both looked at the source of the voice. And Ankita’s expression changed. Did Hemanta see tears in her eyes? Or was he hallucinating? Or did he see the spark that he was expecting?
“Excuse me! Am asking, are you leaving early?” The gruff voice continued, “I thought after the breath-taking speech, you will wait till the end.”
She mumbled, “I better thought to leave.”
“Without thanking the organizers or meeting any one of them,” spattered the gruff voice.
Something changed in Ankita, she clogged and with the immense power that she felt within her, she could have choked the man standing in front of her to death. The eyes which were mellowed with shyness and expectation throughout the morning were suddenly ablaze, and she scorned, “My friend is there, and after all, she was the main speaker of the day. I was just accompanying her. By the by, who are you?”
Extending his hands towards her, he nonchalantly continued, “Hi! I am Aniket.”
As if some script was being played in front of the eyes of Hemanta. His eyes travelled from the man to the lady and he searched for any trace of familiarity which was so evidently missing in their words yet was lurking in their looks.
Ankita slowly took his hands, and it might have been ages, before which Hemanta disturbed the awkward silence, “Dada! Why is it always like this?”
Aniket lovingly looked at Hemanta and asked, “What, Hemanta?”
“Why do ladies give you this passionate look even at this age, when I so crave for it?” he laughed.
Suddenly Ankita took back her hand with a jolt and murmured something. But, immediately regaining herself, she continued, “Can you please excuse us, Mr. Aniket? We were in the middle of a discussion before you interrupted.”
Aniket was caught off-guard, and after all the incidents that have been taking today, he was in no mood of foul play. So, turning towards Hemanta, he softly uttered, “Can you please excuse us, Hemanta?”
“No! Why will he?” Ankita defended raising her voice this time.
“If you so like his company, you can meet him for tea anywhere and anytime afterward. But, today, I am the primary host, and I need to speak on something urgent,” Aniket replied, calm and composed.
“Unlike you, I don’t go about meeting anyone I come across,” holding back her tears, Ankita continued, “…you have a fascination towards tea/coffee-meets and get swayed by any artistic or intelligent or beautiful lady your path crosses by.”
Like an actress, she regained her composure and smiled, “I think I am done here…should have known the tea stall near the exit was nothing but a trap.”
Uttering her last few words, she stomped off, and the sole audience to the play, Hemanta, stood, stoically looking at the two revered actors.
How long they stood there, they don’t know. Together they watched the lady climbing downstairs, boarding a cherry-red Octavia and zooming out in front of their eyes.
Hemanta would have stood there, still trying to comprehend the scene that took place right in front of his eyes, but to break the uncomfortable silence, he asked, “Dada! Do you have a fag? She took mine!”