Why am I even thinking of him…She shrugged off his thoughts and proceeded with her packing.Back in her college she forgot all abt the encounter.Jagadish was in US n apart frm occassional greetings they were barely in touch…Neither of them discussed their last meeting.
After few months…
Anandi was a graduate…she had a brand new job…a brand new city to explore and a some new and old set of friends.
She was posted in an MNC as a s/w engineer.The day she had to leave for Pune her parents fretted over her.
Bhago her mom cribbed “Why cant u stay is Delhi beta…how will u stay alone there.”
Anandi replied “Mom I will be fine…I stayed 4years in a hostel so wats the prob”.
“Yeah but u can get a job in Delhi too right so why not find a job here”.
Anandi said “Mom u knw I put my first option as Delhi but they gave me Pune wat can I do…I cant let go this opp mom..its a campus selection”.
Anandi said with a pang of guilt…the fact was she had opted for pune coz she wanted to be away frm Delhi…She loved her parents but craved fot the freedom of staying independently.
She hugged her mom and said “Mom I wont be alone…swati will be there… Trust me mom I will be fine n u can visit me anytime u wish.”
Bhago smiled and said “I knw ur ambitious…just take care of urself”
After a tearful adiu Anandi was finally in Pune..She n Swati had rented a flat…Anandi had
joinned her office and she was soon immersed in daily routine of thousands of youngsters…
Weekdays vanished in work.Weekends were mostly spent in shopping…movies…some occassional outings n trips with her friends.
She had a big gang of friends now comprising of her colleagues…college friends etc…
One Friday night when Anandi reached home Swati was on phone talking excitedly…Anandi was flipping through a book in her room wen an excited Swati entered…
“Guess wat..I hav awesome plan for the weekend”.
Anandi smiled “Good but hope it dosent involve date with a creepy guy”.
Swati gave a sheepish smile recalling last week’s date she had forced upon Anandi…The guy could not keep his hands off her and Anandi had to walk off in disgust.
Swati said “Its not my fault tht ur so beautiful”.
Anandi rolled up her eyes “yeah sure…come up with some better execuse,Anyways wats the plan?”
Swati said “tomm morning we r going hiking..and I hav talked with our gang.They hav talked to others n now its a huge group…All of our frns r coming..Sugna,riya,Rupal…etc”
Anandi said “Seems exciting but how r we going?”
Swati said “thts the best part we’ll go on bikes”
Anandi looked surprised “What !! but who will drive I doubt any of the girls even own a bike”.
Swati said “Who said girls hav to drive…boys will drive..I hav invited all the boys too..rahaul,avinash,Gaurav…”She recounted names of all their familier frns.
Anandi laughed “Good u will hav a hard time deciding who will go with whom…All wld like to go with their person of intrest”
Swati sighed “yeah thts difficult all of them wld like to have u as their pillion rider”.
Anandi threw a pillow at her…Swati said “Anyways Rahul’s brother is also coming and Gaurav is getting one of his friend too…dunno who is he…So in all We hav 5 girls and 7 guys…So riya’s person of intrest is rahul she can go with him..Rupal..ugh she can go with anyone…anything male is her person of intrest…then…”
Swati mumbled planning for the trip…Anandi looked at her amused “Swati I am ok with whatever u plan..I am going to sleep”.
She slept off leaving swati to continue her planning.
Next morning she was shaken awake by over excited swati “Anandi get up…we hav to leave in an hour”.
Bleary eyes she got up and checked her watch “Swati its only 6 am…lemme sleep some more.”
Swati pulled off her blanket and said “No get up now we hav to be ready before everybody comes”
Anandi asked “All are coming here? Why?”
Swati said “Yup coz I hav told them we’ll start off frm here”.
Anandi made a face “Just 15 mins I dont need time to be ready…I promise I will be ready on time”.
Swati said “Ok but be quick”
Anandi laid back in her to catch few more mins of sleep.
Later Anandi was combing her hairs wen she heard gaggle of the first batch of friends…
She tied her hairs in the tight ponytail and went out to greet them.
She knew all of then and got busy talking to them…
Slowly most of tht group had arrived…She met rahul’s older brother who was a doctor.
Gaurav was the last to arrive…he came in accompanied by a tall stranger…Anandi looked at him and her first thoughts were “I know him” but she couldnt recall how.
The guy narrowed his eyes and looked at her curiously…He was tall, broad and
heartbreakingly handsome… dressed in a black tee he was clearly eye catching.Anandi looked carefully he looked familier.
She stared at him dazed overlooking the fact tht she was being introduced to him…
He was standing in front of her and they were simply staring at each other.
He offered his hand for a handshake “Hi I am Shivraj Shekhar”.
Anandi felt a nudge frm swati..She took his hand and stammered “Anandi..Anandi Singh”
He smiled “Anandi..Glad to meet u..quite unique name”
Anandi said “yeah pretty behenji type”
He grinned “I think its lovely”
Anandi blushed which was very unusual for her…and suddenly she knew who he was…he was the same guy she had bumped into many months ago.
Her eyes grew wide in recognisation and she blurted out “I know u”
He gave an impish smile “Execuse me..U know me?? I thought we just met”
She stammered “I mean..I am sorry I might be mistaken” She looked down maybe she was mistaken…Last time she had not seen his eyes n today she didnt want tear her gaze away…
They were interrupted by Swati “I know Anandi is lovely but we need to move out ASAP”
Anandi realized tht they were still holding hands.
He immediately left her hands and she was ushered out of the house…
Swati whispered to her “he is HOT isnt he…I bet our boy crazy Rupal already has her eyes on him”.
And anandi saw Rupal was already engaged with him in small talk…
Soon they left for their destination which was Sinhgad fort…Anandi was seated behind Rahul’s brother…Swati had said this was to prevent jealousy among all the guys.
Rupal had jumped to ride with Shiv…Anandi’s thoughts were racing…She was sure it was him but how to broach the question…”Hi are u the guy whom I bumped into a disc n who rescued me frm a creep ?” this wld seems really absurd and it wld be very embarassing if He’s really not the one.
Soon they were at Sinhgad foothills.Anandi looked up at the steep hill they were supposed to hike…Thankfully the weather was cloudy and the green vegatation around was in its full glory.
Anandi started walking up with the group…Shiv seemed to hav trekked much ahead of her…he was too tall to be missed she saw him some distance ahead laughing and joking with Nipun n other guys…”Thankfully he’s not with Rupal” Anandi surprised herself with this thought.
The journey up went uneventful…Shiv was mostly busy in talking with the guys she couldnt get any chance to talk to him although she did catch him few times looking at her.
Tired and panting she finally reached the top by that time it was drizzling…She looked down at the breathtaking view below…
“Lovely isnt it?” Startled by a voice she turned around.
It was Shiv…with his naughty smile..few waterdroplets glistened on his hairs.
“yes” She replied.
“How do u know gaurav ?” She asked
He replied “We are neighbours. why?”
Anandi said “nothing..hav u been to mumbai?”
He said “of course numerous times…Why?”
Anandi said “Because u remind me of someone I met long ago”
He laughed “Was tht meeting so unforgettable?”
She blushed thn got irritated her herself for doing so “Yes..I mean no not exactly..Just tht I was reminded of it today”.
She heard Swati calling everyone for lunch…”I think we shld go” Anandi said
He nodded “After u”
After lunch and spending some time on the hill they whole group decided to move down.
Anandi looked down at the rough stony path…climbing up was hard but hiking down wld be more difficult..the path was slippery due to rain.
She fumbled along with the other at one sharp bend she slipped and wld hav fallen flat if not caught by familier strong pair of arms.She opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by Shiv’s arms…She was tightly clutching his shirt…
She immediately left hold of him wen she realised that rest of her group was looking at them…
“I am sorry…I am not used to hiking” She said
He replied “No problem…its quite slippery”
She walked for some distance only to slip again…he caught her hands preventing her frm falling “Why is it tht everytime I meet u…u need rescuing”
Anandi looked at him surprised “U are same guy isnt it?? We met in Mumbai Disc almost an year ago right?”
He grinned “U still remember ? I am so touched”.
Anandi said “Well tht makes u feel like a dude yes I do remember although I never thought we’ll meet again”.
He said “And I was living on this hope tht we do meet again” and winked at her.
Anandi burst into giggles…He was so funny tht even his flirtings seemed harmless…
When she slipped for the third time He said “Anandi if u dont mind please hold my hands it much easier this way to prevent u from slipping off rather than catching u again n again”.
Her caution and good sense were long gone.She gladly held his hands to trek down the path…
“I hope tht suiter didnt bother u again” he said
“No he ran off..and I left mumbai next day”.
“So u dont stay in mumbai?? No wonder I never saw u again” He mumbled
Anadni said “What ??”
“Nothing..So where do u live?”
“I am from delhi..”
Shiv and Anandi were so engrossed in their mutual bonding and chatting tht they didnt realise the shocked,curious, and some jealous glances of others…
The trek down seemed to be over in minutes…After reaching the foothill all the guys went to get their bikes..Swati was looking at Anandi with her mouth hanging open “Anandi u and Shiv ..Wats happening?”
Anandi laughed “Nothing Swati we were just talking”
Swati rolled up her eyes “yeah we all saw tht”
Anandi said “Its nothing Swati..remember tht HOT guy I told u about…the day we went to Disc in Mumbai..well thts Shiv”
“What !!! OMG…thts some coincidence” Swati said
Anandi’s convo was broken by sound of bike…Shiv stopped in front of her and simply said “Come Anandi…Lets go” As if it the most obvious thing to say.
She looked at him surprised then on an impulse she climbed behind him and he started off the bike engine…leaving behind a crowd of shocked friends and fuming Rupal.
To be continued…