Saturday, January 9, 2010

Neha - Part V

She looked at me, her almond eyes twinkling with mischief, took my hand. And the world around me disappeared. I could hear the music, the latin upbeat tunes of a funked up pink panther theme. I could feel the other dancers bumping into me now and then, twirling round, dancing with their partners. But I could see no one, for all I could see from the time she took my hand was her eyes looking into mine. We started off from the basic one-two one-two steps back and forth, unsure of how to proceed.

"Relax, take charge, you've done this before. Remember Anu's lessons and just go with the flow." I told myself.

But how could I relax when Neha was so close to me. She drew herself closer, and so did I. All we were doing was moving back and forth. I could tell that she wasn't sure I could actually dance. How could she? I'd never danced before, at least not in public. Behind the closed door of my bedroom was a different case, but that never really qualified as a real dance anyway. I started remembering the steps from Anu's house, trying to pick up the rhythm as the song progressed. Suddenly, Raj bumped into me from behind and everything, the DJ, my friends, the dance floor, everything came back to sight, and as if a switch had been flipped on within me, I drew Neha closer with a jerk, grabbing her by the waist, swinging mine at the same time to the rhythm of the beat. This sudden change in my behaviour didn't go unnoticed, not by those around me and certainly not by Neha. The look on her face was priceless! Her eyes went wide with surprise, a huge grin appeared on her face and her eyebrows wiggled a little as she tried to stop herself from laughing.

"Nice! I'm impressed. Now show me what you got!"
she said, and put her arms around me.

Off we went, legs twisting, arms weaving around each other. The beats got wilder, so did we. I winked at Anu as we passed her and mouthed "Thank you!" to which she simply winked back and gave me a thumbs up. Neha seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself, and completely surprised too. She'd never expected me to dance so well. And dancing with her, I realized she was quite a hot dancer as well! She swung her hips around me, pushing her almost to mine. I held her waist and twirled her around, her red dress billowing out, revealing her perfect thighs as I reached out and grabbed her hand to pull her in. Rolling in, she jumped into my arms as I swung her around and down onto the floor. A half twirl and she was up again. The night was young, and we danced as one, music thumping in our ears, our hearts thumping louder. As the song neared it's end and the DJ switched to a soft, romantic ballad, we held hands and swayed on the spot, covered with sweat and hot from dancing. She placed her head on my chest and we danced as if it was prom. I could smell her hair, the aroma of her perfume, feel her breath on my chest through my shirt. The lights were dim and we melted into each other on the dance floor.

It was perfect.

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It was late and most of our friends had already left for home. The moon was bright that night, and it bathed us in the moonlight. Somewhere far off, an owl hooted and crickets chirped around us. The cool christmas night was perfect for a walk. So I'd offered to walk her home. As usual, we were chatting about all that had happened back at school, how one guy had smuggled in beer, got drunk and trashed the principal's office, about the flings and crushes within our group of friends..the general nonsense. And all this while, I had been thinking how to pop the question, when suddenly Neha turned to me.

"Hey I had a really great time tonight. You really surprised me back there! Where did you learn to dance like that?"

"Anu. She's an awesome dancer isn't she?" I said.

"She is. But I think you stole her thunder tonight. Did you see the look of surprise on everyone's face to see you dancing like that? It was amazing! I think they never expected that out of you!"

I almost blushed. Thankfully it was night and she wouldn't notice.
"Hehe...I guess so. It was all a secret mission after all, to shock everyone. Especially you. Forget others, you should have seen the look on your face! For a moment, I thought you were gonna faint!"

"Actually I didn't know whether to faint, or laugh or what!" she said, starting to laugh again. "I've never been so surprised, or scared in my life! No no no! Not scared in a bad way...just that I thought you were falling when you grabbed me like that! Don't ever pull that stunt on me again!" At that I started laughing too. "Hey, but you have to admit, it was funny. There was no way you would have danced with me like that if I didn't start it off right? I mean, you were just swaying there, no energy at all...Ouch! Hey! No punching!"

Yeah right! You deserve it! But seriously, I'd dance with you any time of the day. You're wonderful." she said, slipping her arm into mine as we walked the long way home, our usual route.

This was a good time, I thought. It's now or never.

"Erm...Neha?"


"Yeah?"

"You know we've been friends for a long time right?"

"Yeah...so?"

"Well, I was thinking, we get along so well, and we enjoy each others' company too....so...erm...why not, y'know, we...."

And I stopped. Not because I didn't know what to say. I did. In fact I had practiced saying it to her in my mind a hundred times and the words were all ready to tumble out of my mouth. But she'd stopped.
"Neha? What happened?"

She looked at me, and as I looked back, I saw sadness in her eyes. No tears, but just a deep, deep sadness as if she'd lost something very dear to her.

"You know why I had said we should go to the ball as friends? It's not because I don't like you. I do. I do like you, so very much. I love you from the bottom of my heart. There's nothing in this world I wouldn't deny to you and I know you would do the same for me. You were one of my first friends when I moved to this city, and you've been the best friend I've had in a long time. I've shared with you what I have not shared with any other friend. I don't think I could ask for a better person to love. But I cannot. I will be moving away this summer. After school ends, my dad will be transferred to Delhi. This was my last year here and I didn't tell you because I wanted to spend it in the best mood possible. If I'd told you guys, I would have seen sad looks on your faces for the rest of the school year, which I didn't want. So I cannot say I do not love you my dear dear friend, because I do, but I can't let you take your emotions ahead in false hope that things will work out between us. I do not know where I shall be going from here on either. After Delhi, it might be somewhere else. I don't know whether we shall even meet again once school ends."

I couldn't believe myself. Was this really happening? I had expected her to say no of sorts, but not this. I simply stood there. I wanted so say something but words failed me. Reality came crashing down, rather I came crashing down from the clouds where I had started building my castle.

"Come on, say something, anything." said Neha. "I'm really sorry. I cannot accept your proposal because I do not want to hurt you. I cherish you too much to do that."

I somehow mustered up whatever emotion I had welling up in me.. "I do understand what you're saying and I don't think it will make sense right now. Give me a day or two and a few chocolates and I'll think straight again."
Feeble jokes were the only way I could hold back the wave building up inside me, pushing at my throat to escape.

We stood there for a long time, side by side, staring up at the moon and down at the sidewalk. Then she slowly moved closer and drew me into a hug. I hugged her back. At first our hug was light and tender, as if to soothe a wound, and it slowly grew tighter and tighter till we were squeezing each other, neither willing to let go as if letting go would lose the other. Finally, a long embrace and some silent thoughts passing between us, we held hands and started walking.

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It's been six years. Neha moved away after school as she had said, and I missed her terribly. There wasn't a time when I walked by her neighbourhood that I didn't look up at her window as if she would wave at me from within. We've managed to keep in touch, first through letters, then sms, and through e-mails. It's funny we never managed to talk to each other much over the phone. I guess it was too difficult at first and then we sort of got used to writing to each other. She's pretty successful now, working with a media production house. I haven't been too laid back about my interests too - photography. My camera never leaves my side and I'm well on my way to do an MBA. I guess that's about the only promise that we've managed to keep back from high school - that we'd follow our passions no matter what.

She has recently been transfered back to town, and she sent me her number over an internet chat. I'm meeting her tomorrow at the coffee shop in the mall next to the shop where she bought her gown. And I think the white lilies I ordered are here.


Is this To Be Continued? Or just the beginning to Neha's story?

I don't know, but I'm off to find out!



THE END
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14 comments:

Insignia said...

Hey is this a story or for real? The emotions you described are for real sure. Awesome description.

Keep it up!

Anamika. said...

Definitely a beginning. Gotta tell ya, I didn't see this coming :)

I agree that the emotions which seemed to be bottled up till now just came out too quick.

Urvashi said...

the end was just not what i had expected...so nice .. n as u said is it the end or really the beginning...u cant stop there definitely...aage kya hua??? ;)

Life 24*7 said...

Awesome stuff dude !! Write a book someday !! And all the best ... waiting for more ...

Mads said...

oh cuteee...i expected a sadder ending...but this is ok :D
kinda happy if things get kicking again :D

Cheryl said...

OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENS? YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THIS!
you know what, next time you should write me a little warning if you're going to leave me in suspense.

I suck at waiting.

On another note, dudes can't dance! Who are you trying to kid?

I'm joking.

Seriously.

Don't hate me.

Ňē said...

Great story! Surprise ending but apt. Good luck with your Neha if she exists for real :)

mysterg said...

This is like a movie or something...please tell me you are going to sweep her off her feet? Or at least club her over her head, throw her over your shoulder, and take her to your cave to do bad bad things to her?

Shaunak said...

@Insignia
You're right. All emotions in this story are real. The story too, is based entirely on the christmas ball back in school.
Let's just leave it at that :D

@Anamika
Beginnings are always good na? It's a clean slate from then on..

@Urvashi
aage it's up to your imagination. Dream on..

@Neha
haha thank you :) I'll do that. A collection of short stories or something :D

@Mads
Hmmm...lets just leave it as a suspense right?

@Cheryl
Rest of the story is what you can imagine it to be :)

Oh and dudes CAN dance! Meet me now!

I mean NOW!


@Ne
She does exist..everyone in this story has read it :D

@mysterg
I kinda dig the whole cave idea. Just need to find one with satellite TV and a bathtub.

Dewdrop said...

Dude... this is seriously good stuff... hajaar better than the lousy CHetan Bhagat for sure... it touches a chord... Loved it from the vrey beginning... and I hope it is the start of 'Happliy Ever Afters' for u n Neha! :)

Shaunak said...

@Dewdrop
Thank you :)
I SO wish there was a Happily Ever After :D

asha said...

Hey Shaunak...read the whole Neha series today!! You actually had a Christmas ball at Sacred Heart or is that part of the fantasy?? Its very well written..hopefully you have more Neha stories to follow...or have you switched to Alice in Wonderland now :)

Reema said...

Well i agree you should write a book..u have fans already!

sounds very real..good luck with ur Neha..

Himanshu said...

I just ran into your blog randomly and was mesmerized with the Neha story. Beautiful expression of your Soul...keep shining brother! (by the way any more updates?)