Just An Hour Ago

12

Animesh had never expected it. He was totally lost looking at her . His eyes could not believe what was happening before him. The day was little hazy. It was drizzling outside the Blue Wave Cafe where he was sitting with Anamika. Orchestra was playing Bob Dylon’s blowing in the wind but at that time his mind was senseless, his ears were not receptive to any sound, any music. The only sound which was occupying space in his mind were his random thoughts which he dangerously thought and un-thought an hour ago. Yes just an hour ago, he was in office. NO, not exactly in office but in a little dark space at the corner of the office where his colleagues often smoked cigarettes. Office hours were over so there was no one.

He was restless, frustrated with his body shimmering inside and out. He took out his cigarette pack but there was no cigarette left in pack that he could smoke so he just started playing with his lighter, switching it off and on, again and again. In past month, at least ten times he made his mind that he would propose Anamika, but every time he had to take back his steps because he could never gather enough strength to do it. Sometimes even he thought if he would ever be able to express his feelings to Anamika.

He had an intrinsic fear that if Anamika told him no what he would do.His life would be totally purposeless. She was the only friend of him in this unforgiving city. He met her when both were attending a conference on child rights. First they exchanged only numbers but gradually they shared every secrets, pain, happiness, laughter of each other. But he was still unsure if he ever propose her, she would not take it otherwise.

These thoughts, slightly insipid and insane,  had turned him into an insomniac. His half-lit face in dim light of lighter was expressionless and clueless. For a second he even thought what would happen with him if one day Anamika leaves the city. Then he would be same like a green tree which had been cut by its roots. Every  time he thought about it, he felt a chilling down in his spines.

Every time he imagined her face, he resolved again and again to have a discussion with her on this topic. Her innocent smile was overpowering his restraint. And suddenly, and yes just an hour ago, finally he decided to be a gambler with putting all his good time spent with her on stake to propose her. He stood up energetically and threw his empty Wills Classic pack in dustbin. He searched if his mobile was in his pocket, not at his desk, as he usually kept it there, so he could call Anamika. Yes, it was there.

He took out his mobile and dialed her number. He never used his mobile phonebook  to dial her number. He remembered it as if it was his date of birth. He was deeply scared if she didn’t take her call. But after two or three rings, he heard a relieving voice on other side. He could not be able to speak anything for sometime. In a choked voice he could only manage to say that he wanted to meet her and it was urgent. As she gave her nod to meet him at The Blue Wave Cafe near her office, he disconnected the phone and rushed to washroom. He hurriedly dressed his ruffled hair and buttoned his shirt.

Just in few minutes, he was out of office. He hired an auto rickshaw even without asking fare. He halted briefly at a jewellery shop and bought a diamond studded gold ring paying through credit card. The blue Wave Cafe was not far from his office but at that time it seemed to him as he was travelling in a desert with no clear destination in sight. It had started raining. The cold misty wind was blowing, giving comfort to his agitated mind.

It had taken twenty minutes to reach the Cafe. He paid the bill to autowallah and walked towards Cafe with long steps. Suddenly he stopped just near the main entrance and took a deep breath. He took a glance into Cafe through its transparent glasses. He watched towards the couch where he and Anamika used to sit after office hours. Yes, she was there, reading a book titled In The Valleys Of Shadows by Abhay Sapru.

She was calm and composed, wearing yellow-green Salwaar-Kurta with blue polka dots all over its border. A bunch of hairs was falling over her eyes obstructing her read. Her one hand was busy arranging those stubborn hairs to side of her ear. She had just finished a cup of green tea and murmuring some passage from the book . He opened the door and went straight to the couch. He sat before her without making any noise.

He could not remember what happened with him in past half an hour. Now his eyes were set at watching Anamika. He never imagined that Anamika’s reaction would be like this on his proposal. It was hard to believe for him that he was looking at the same face he was so used to. When he proposed her, she was in a utter shock for some time. Within moments tears started falling from her eyes like a cascade with her body intermittently sighing with relief.

It took no time when a smile christened her tear-stained face. Her eyes were red rimmed, but the dark liquid it held, still shone nonetheless. And, then she burst into round of tears, causing injustice to the pretty smile she wore a few seconds ago.

He was standing beside her, studied her, unsure of what had just happened. He watched closely, every time she haphazardly brushed away the tears that fell in abundance. When she regained her composure, she would tuck the silky ebony strands of hair that escaped her almost neat chignon behind her ear.

And then rub furiously at her nose with the handkerchief he had so graciously lent her. He had not known what to expect. Well, he did expect tears. But he was not prepared for the storm, that he received instead. Damn, women and their emotions. Animesh patted the woman’s back and tenderly brushed his lips across her forehead. But that did not help, in fact that made it worse.

She clung to him and dampened his favourite cotton shirt. He should have never came straight out and asked her. Animesh cursed himself mentally. For sometimes he thought internet would have been a more suitable mean. Sensible people relied on such technology. Yet, he had to be old-fashioned Animesh and tell it like it is. He closed his eyes and embraced her thin frame tenderly.

He wished this awkward moment would end so they could get on with their lives. He opened his eyes when he felt her small hand tap his shoulder. He gazed into the woman’s eyes feeling a sudden sadness creep up on him. Just then, a radiant smile replaced the unmistakable innocence in her eyes, as she removed the dainty ring from her left hand and placed it into the palm of his hand. And then very sweetly, she added, “Please Animesh, one more time, please ask me one more time? He glanced at the glittering piece of jewellery in his hand and boldly repeated his proposal. “Will you marry me Anamika?”