After having changed into his favourite grey t-shirt and navy blue cotton track pants he finally sat down on his bed and stared lovingly at the wall opposite. A major section of the wall was populated with pictures of Amaya, his subject number seven. Adjacent to the wall was a study table with a lamp, a few books, a pen stand and most importantly his journal on top of it. He flipped its pages and sat down to write a new entry – September11th- Asked Amaya, a.k.a. Subject seven for a date this Saturday. She said yes. This should be seen as a positive sign of her feelings for me. Have exactly three days to prepare for the perfect first date. Note: pick the café close to her place, the one she frequently visits.
Continued From Part II
Saturday finally arrived. Kabir had texted Amaya the location of the theatre and the time too—4 p.m. He spent the whole day going over the details of his date plan. He had already told his mom about Amaya and his first official date with her. She was happy to see him enthusiastic but warned him not to freak her out.
As he stood in front of his mirror, he tried to tame his thick black mane. When simple combing did not do the trick, applying some hair gel and blow-drying his hair was the only option. His beard was perfectly trimmed with meticulous care.
He was not a gym buff but thankfully he was blessed with a body with the right girth that could be maintained with a little running and push-ups. He wore a slim-fit pair of denim khaki pants and his favourite navy blue shirt with a small, white polka dot print. As he finished putting on his chic navy blue loafers, and his leather band Fossil watch, he stood in front of the mirror for a last look.
His black eyes scanned his appearance top to bottom. He hated the slight scar above his right eye; he got it from one of his exes, subject number five, who was being a bit too irrational. Once everything else looked satisfactory he picked up his phone to record a last-minute voice note—“September 14th – Date with Amaya. Note: Act casual. Do not let her know that you know any aspect of her life even if she lies about it. Focus on things she has willingly shared with you.”
They met right outside the theatre in Dadar. Kabir had reached half an hour early and was busy checking his watch every few minutes or checking his appearance in the large glass windows of the building. Amaya finally arrived. Just ten minutes late, not bad.
“Hey! Sorry, I got stuck in the traffic, I hope I’m not too late,” she said as they gave each other a quick hug.
“No, not all! The show doesn’t start for another ten minutes. You look gorgeous by the way, peach suits you,” Kabir said admiring floral one-piece that showed off her cleavage perfectly.
“Thanks…” Amaya blushed.
“C’mon, lets head inside and find our seats.”
“The play was hilarious, I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much,” Amaya said when they emerged from the theatre after nearly two hours.
The sun was setting and the last of its rays hit her face. Her eyes seemed to be glowing with warmth and fire in them. Could she be any more beautiful?
“You are very beautiful, you know that? And your eyes… man, they are amazing… I could stare into them all day.” Kabir suddenly snapped out of his momentary trance and by the look of Amaya rosy cheeks, he realized that he had actually said the words out loud. Thankfully, they were a compliment and not something inappropriate.
“Thanks…!” Amaya said, a bit embarrassed by the compliment.
“Umm… shall we? I know of a café in Lower Parel East, Suzy’s. I hope you don’t mind a bit of a drive. I have my car,” Kabir asked.
“Oh! What a coincidence! I live nearby and that café is my favourite hangout place. Let’s go,” she said with a huge smile.
“I love their choco-fudge brownie!” they said in unison and started laughing.
During their drive over to the café, Kabir let the radio play to enjoy some romantic songs. Unfortunately, after a few good ones, every frequency was either screaming ads or playing some not-so-great Punjabi rap songs. Amaya turned down the volume and they started talking about their favourite songs and artists.
They reached the café and Kabir quickly hopped out of the car to go over to the other side and open the door for Amaya. She smiled, noticing the chivalrous gesture. They entered the café and since it required self-service they went straight to the counter.
It’s always caramel frappuccino for casual evenings and hazelnut latte with three espresso shots on tired mornings.
“So I’m going to order a caramel frappucino for myself, what would you like?”
“Wow, if I didn’t know any better I would think you are some kinda stalker,” Amaya said.
“What?!” Kabir tensed up a little.
“Oh relax, not accusing you of anything. Caramel frappucino is my favourite. I will have the same and a spinach corn sandwich.”
“Cool!” he let out a sigh of relief. “Two caramel frappucino, one spinach and corn sandwich and one Alfredo pasta please,” he ordered. Kabir paid for the ordered even though Amaya had fished out her wallet. “Ah-ah, this one’s on me. You can take me out on our next date. Come let’s find us a table,” he said.
They found a perfect cosy one by the glass windows. Kabir pulled out the chair for her.
Once seated, he asked, “So how is Mumbai treating you?”
“It’s nice. Haven’t really gotten used to the insane humidity but mostly it’s nice.”
“That’s good, I guess Mumbai just requires some time, it kinda grows on you. I and my family moved here from Nagpur when I was pretty young.”
“Oh cool, so you live here with your family?”
“Well just my mom actually, my dad passed away in an accident three years after we moved here.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!”
“It’s okay. My mom really did everything for me, made me the man I am today. Anyway, that was a tad depressing. Tell me about you. What brings you to the City of Dreams all the way from Indore?” Other than a complicated breakup and a broken engagement.
“Well, I had already worked for a year with my last company. Had joined them after straight after IIM. So I felt like changing, looking for better opportunities and that brought me to Mumbai.” Not touching the subject of exes yet are we? Fine, it’ll have to be a question for another time.
“Nice! IIM huh? Cool! I did my MBA in Supply Chain Management from Amity. And this is my second job too. Ah, our order is ready, I’ll just go get it,” Kabir said and quickly got up before Amaya could offer to help.
Kabir came back with a huge tray with all the items they had ordered and they settled in for a long chat. They talked about a lot of things, celebrity crushes, their favourite genre in books and movies, what type of food they liked. Amaya confessed to feeling homesick at times and missing her weekly trips to Sarafa bazaar with her sister.
Throughout the conversation, Amaya was amazed to find quite a lot in common, while to Kabir it was all about pretending to treat their conversation as a genuine exchange of information rather than a revision of his research.
Time flew. They only paused once when the table across from them ordered choco-fudge brownies. They looked at the brownies and then at each other. “I’ll get them!” Amaya quickly got up and went to the counter.
She came back with two lovely, warm and aromatic choco-fudge brownies, “I hope you weren’t planning on sharing one. This is too good to be shared.”
“Nope, I wouldn’t think of sharing it at all,” Kabir chuckled.
Kabir watched Amaya enjoy every bite as if it was soul food. For him, that was far more enjoyable than the brownie itself.
“So Kabir, you seem nice and sweet. What is the one thing that not many people know about you?” My troubled relationships and disappointing exes.
“Well I drink and smoke, but only when I’m too stressed. I’m not all that ‘nice and sweet.’ What about you?”
“You already know about my occasional smoking. I guess the other thing people don’t know about me is that I cry when I’m angry. Especially if there’s an authority figure involved. It kinda gets me madder. It’s embarrassing but yeah.”
“Hmm, interesting! I’ll keep that in mind if you ever get angry with me,” said Kabir.
After they finished, Amaya checked her phone for the time. “Oh! Didn’t realize, its past ten! I should head home.”
“Sure, let me drop you.”
“Don’t worry I’ll take a rick or a cab. I live just a kilometre away.”
“Don’t be ridiculous I really have no problems, let me take you.”
“You sure? Okay! Thanks!”
Amaya guided him with directions and soon they reached her apartment building. Kabir once again got out of the car to go and open the door for her.
“Hmmm, I could get used to such chivalry you know. It is rare after all,” Amaya said.
“We aim to please, my lady. Always,” Kabir said with a bow.
“This was nice. I had a really good time. Thanks.”
“Pleasure is always mine. Maybe we could do this again? Next weekend?” Kabir asked, half expecting a no.
Amaya smiled and said, “Yeah, maybe we could. I’ll think about it.”
“Alright. Good night then my lady.” They hugged and then Kabir watched her walk away. “Bye!”
To Be Continued…
The seeds of love germinate slowly. The story is progressing at a leisurely pace. Keep going.
After before and after ‘straight’ in the context of Ananya joining the job after IIM.