Anandi yawned. It was 4 am and she was doing her last minute packing. Shiv had said they would leave early morning. She didn’t realize early meant unearthly hour of 4 am.
She muttered a curse for her lost sleep. Her phone beeped and she saw Shiv’s call he had just arrived downstairs.
She sleepily dragged her luggage out and was closing the door when he came running up. He looked fresh, Happy and excited.
“So all packing done”
“Yeah I hope I didn’t forget anything” She yawned
“Anandi see its lovely outside and you are still sleepy”
“Its bloody 4 am Shiv normal people sleep at 4 am. Why are we starting so early?”
“Because it’s a long journey almost 6 hours”
“6 hours!! Mysore is barely 3 hours away”
“But we are not going to Mysore Anandi” he winked
“WTF then where are we going?”
“We are going to Coorg”
“You said Mysore now you are saying Coorg!! It’s too far away and I haven’t packed any warm clothes!”
“Oh Sorry dear it was last minute change of plan. I decided last night. You see I was browsing the net and saw this lovely place in Coorg. Besides I am really not interested in elephants. Coorg would be lovely in this season. It’s best when is raining there”.
“Shiv why didn’t you tell me before? I am not going. This is not fair”
“Anandi please I am sorry. I swear it was last minute change of plan. It was already quite late and I didn’t want to wake you up. So I thought I would tell you in morning. Don’t worry about extra packing we can shop there”.
“But I…..I am not prepared for this”
“Anandi few more hours of travel will hardly make a diff. You will love it there. Please say yes”. He made his most innocent puppy face.
That was impossible to resist. She relented.
She slumped back in the seat. It was pitch dark outside but her sleep had vanished. She was going to Coorg with Shiv!!!
Last time they ever went on a vacation was Khandala. It was just a small weekend trip but she would never forget that. It was chilly and they had snuggled inside a single blanket.
She jerked away those memories. “I should not think of them” She reminded herself. She was having second thoughts for agreeing to come along. He was so bloody manipulative!!
“Where exactly are we going Shiv? I mean where in Coorg?”
“I saw this lovely resort and thought you might like it”
“Which resort Shiv?”
“It’s a surprise. So tell me wats special about Coorg?”
“How would I know that? I am going there for the first time”
“But you have lived her longer right? You should know”
“It’s a hill station in the western Ghats famous for its Coffee estates, Spice plantations and Brave warriors what else do you want to know?” She replied annoyed.
He laughed “Interesting I would like it. And Anandi just relax us are going on a holiday…. As a friend”.
“How can anyone relax in your close proximity” She thought
“I am fine Shiv just sleep deprived”
“Just look outside” He said
They were on the outskirts of the City approaching hilly terrain and among the hills she could see the sun rising out like a glowing orange orb.
“Wow it’s so beautiful” She exclaimed
He smiled “So forget all your worries and just enjoy the moment”
She smiled and back and decided to do exactly that.
After few stopovers for breakfast and tea. They arrived on the mountainous terrains of Coorg. They were so busy talking and looking at the scenery that she forgot all about being angry.
He drove inside a huge campus with thick vegetation on both sides of the road. She looked out curiously and suddenly out of the blue they stopped in front of a lovely building partially covered by thick trees and creepers.
Dumbfounded she simply followed him inside. She read the name “Tamara” resorts. The reception was mostly wooden with Japanese lantern. She was too busy gawking at the surrounding while Shiv finished the formalities.
He came to her and said “It’s nice isn’t it?”
“It’s awesome!!! How did you find this place?”
“I am quite good at finding out the best “He smirked “Come let’s go to our room and relax a bit”
Then it struck her Room!! Did he take single room or separate rooms for them? She should have discussed this with him before. She completely missed it.
“Room??…Are they separate?” she asked cautiously
“They don’t have rooms here. It’s either suits or holidays cottage. I have booked a suite with separate bedrooms so don’t worry” He grinned.
She felt stupid “Why am I worried about it anyways. It’s not that he would take any advantage or anything”.
“Because you don’t trust yourself” That tiny voice was back in her head after a long time.
She followed him and they went inside a beautiful suit with the most breathtaking view she had ever seen. She went straight to the balcony looking out into thick vegetation. She could see Pepper creepers running over trees green peppers hanging in bunches, Cardamom and Clove plants, Cinnamon trees……etc.
Shiv came and smiled at her.
“Shiv!! This is a spice jungle….See there’s cinnamon, Pepper, cloves…wow!! I have had never seen cardamom plant before….Why are you laughing?”
“Nothing please continues it’s quite entertaining to see excited over something other than lines of code”.
“Are you making fun of me?? And I am not a workaholic ok”.
“How dare I think of that? Anyways let me show you our rooms”.
After settling down in her room and a shower they went out for lunch in the resort restaurant which was again situated amidst thick vegetation.
“So you liked the surprise Anandi? He asked
“Of course I love it!!”
“Glad to know that”
She toyed with her fork for some time and asked hesitantly “Shiv I talked to Swati. She said how you broke your wedding”
He kept his fork and listened intently
“What had happened Shiv?” She asked
“I already told you I had come back for you but it was too late. You had already married”
“Yes I know but your parents were so adamant for your marriage with Amisha how did you break it off?”
“I was never ready for that marriage Anandi it was more like a business deal. Saanchi and my wedding were on consecutive days. A day after saanchi’s marriage I was supposed to marry Amisha. Frankly I behaved like a coward that time too. On the day of my wedding I called up Amisha and explained everything she was heartbroken but she is very sensible and mature girl. She said there’s no use of getting into a relationship when your heart is not into it. I took my car and straightway came to Pune…But you know what happened after that”.
“God Shiv!!! And what about ur parents??”
“Yeah there was uproar. Usual mudslinging from both sides. Saanchi had to bear the brunt too. Her in laws still hate me. Thankfully Vedant stood by her. He does not have strong business acumen but he has a good heart and is perfect for Saanchi. Anyways the business deal was off not that it made much of a difference. My parents still don’t get it why I refuse a rich and beautiful heiress”.
“Exactly why did you?”
“Do I need to tell you that? Because I was crazily in love with you”.
She didn’t answer back. There was lump in her throat she so wanted to let go everything and be with him but as he had said it was better to take it slow.
“Shiv didn’t you realize what Amisha would have gone through? She must have felt so abandoned. You broke her heart for yours?”
“It was better than marrying her Anandi. Life doesn’t run on a compromise. A moment of pain is better than lifetime of anguish”.
“What do you want from me Shiv?? Why did you bring me here?”
“You know what I want Anandi. I never stopping loving you. I am still as crazily in love as before. I know you need time and I am ready to wait….forever”.
She felt her chest tightening. She was unable to breath. Why was it so difficult to forgive?
Would he still feel the same once he knew about the miscarriage?
She remained quite, lost in her thoughts.
It was drizzling and the surrounding was greener than ever. They were walking down the narrow path in the garden. She had lazily snaked her arms around his.
Neither of them were talking. It was not required. Their silence spoke for them.
Suddenly she shirked and grabbed his arms tighter.
“what??” he asked
She pointed towards a tree “Snake!!”
Coiled around the branch was a green snake lazily slithering in its coils? It was too far away to harm them.
“Wow!! I have never seen one so closely” He exclaimed.
“Aren’t you scared Shiv? It’s so icky”
“Nah don’t worry it’s too far away and it won’t harm us unless we bother it. But it’s quite pretty want to look close” he dragged her along with him.
“NO Shiv!! I hate it” She grabbed him tighter scared out of her wits.
He laughed then stopped looking at her face. Droplets of water slithered down her cheeks and wet hairs clung to it. Her terrified eyes were shining. Why was she terrified anyways? He was there to protect her. He circled her in his arms.
She looked in his eyes, her terrified looked slowly transforming to puzzlement then she blushed. How much he had missed this.
She was in tight grip of his arms. He slowly moved his hands up her back. Tipped up her chin with his hand and places a sweet kiss on her lips. It was neither fiery nor all consuming, just a simple chaste kiss.
She said “Someone might come”.
“I….I am tired Shiv can we go back”.
“Ok” He replied without leaving her eyes.
They went back to their suit in silence but her hands were still gripped in his.
To be continued……………