t was eleven at night when Hridya could finally look at her cellphone. Vinay had called her five times; starting from five in the evening. Then she saw his whatsapp pings saying that he has landed in Bangalore safely and that he was eagerly waiting to meet her.
She felt weak at knees. That was a weekend that both of them have been looking forward for more than a month. Vinay was flying to Bangalore from Mumbai to attend his friend’s wedding which was on next day, Saturday. In the evening they had planned to meet for an elaborate dinner followed by a lazy Sunday.
But Hridya was stuck in Mysore. It was totally unexpected because normally they work from client’s Bangalore office. But for God-knows-what-reasons the entire audit team had to travel to Mysore. They were provided with a Guest house with world class facilities. But she didn’t enjoy it at that time.
She sighed. This is one drawback about being a statutory auditor in a Big Four. Unplanned and unexpected travel, deadlines and what-not would always collapse most of the personal plans.
She knew that Vinay would not be asleep yet. She had to call him and let him know that she cant travel to Bangalore that weekend. She hated to do that. But she didn’t have an option.
His telephone would have ringed only once when she heard him say, “Hridya! Was just about to dial you. Where are you sweetie pie? Starting tomorrow early na”
Her heart shattered in pieces when she finally drew the courage and said, “Vinay… The thing is… I don’t think I can travel this weekend at all… I am…”
“Hridya, are you serious? Or are you just kidding me? Please tell me you are trying to fool me”, he said. His voice reflecting genuine dejection.
“No love, I am seriously stuck. Why would I lie? Please try to understand. Please don’t make me feel worse”, she begged.
He remained silent for some time. Silence has always been the medium to vent out his anger. But sadly, his silence always used to speak volumes to her. She continued to hold on the call because she knew he will speak. After all, she knew him the best; better than anyone knew him!
Finally, he said, “I understand Hridya. It’s ok. Just know that I still love you and I will really miss you”
Tears rolled down her cheeks while she uttered a feeble good night to him.
Cursing her job, the audit client and Vinay for landing at the wrong time, she tried to sleep. She drifted off to sleep while cursing herself for becoming a Chartered Accountant!
“You can’t travel on Sunday also, early morning? Or may be Saturday night. I will come and pick you up however late it may be” he said.
“No Vinay. We are working on Sunday as well. The client is coming because we asked them to. So we can’t leave until they go. I think they will be available till afternoon” she said sadly.
He sounded devastated when she said that and she wondered if there is any way to meet him; whatever it may be and for however less time it may be.
It was while doing the impairment testing of software that she got an idea. She excused from the team for a loo break and ringed him up immediately.
“I have an idea. Why don’t you travel to Mysore? You reach here by eleven. Wait for me for an hour and I will somehow sneak out by noon. We can have an elaborate lunch. What say?”
Vinay didn’t sound amused. He said that he has already travelled enough and he was going back to Mumbai in the Monday morning flight. He said it would be more than what he can take.
After an argument and Hridya’s few teardrops, Vinay agreed. As a brownie for what he was doing, she added that they can lunch at Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. He, being an avid food lover, agreed immediately. Of course, Vinay will pay the bill!
Sun was blazing mercilessly when she excused herself from the audit team. She felt excited and eager to meet him. After all, they were meeting after more than a year! Vinay was her cousin and they were of same age. They were as close as any blood-related sibling would be. She was both glad and sorry that he was undergoing so much trouble and travel for her; only for her.
When she reached the hotel, he was already waiting at the entrance. An inevitable smile adorned his face and he looked as handsome as ever.
“Hey handsome! FINALLY…” she exclaimed and embraced him.
“But I really hate you and you know that” he said in reply though both of them knew it was a lie.
Conversation flowed easily and food was magical. Lousy chatting, family gossiping and a little bit of personal tit-bits followed. Laughter ringed in the restaurant.
After an overtly elaborate lunch that extended for more than three hours, they left the hotel. After all, Vinay had to travel back to Bangalore.
With pearly tears rolling down her cheeks, she hugged him and murmured “bubbye”
As she saw the bus taking him away from her slowly, she thanked God for bringing the alternate plan in her head.
Then she pinged “Miss you” only to find a ping from him come at the same time saying, “Had a wonderful time… Missing you already!”
With a smile she called out for an auto…