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!”

Continued From Part III

Kabir was about half a kilometre away from Amaya’s apartment when she called. “Hey Kabir, I’m really sorry but have I dropped a bunch of keys in your car by any chance? I can’t find my house keys.”

“Let me check, wait.” He pulled over to the side and looked for the keys. He found them under the seat. He was about to call and tell her when he had an idea.

“Hey, it’s me! Sorry, I didn’t find your keys,” he said.

“Oh shit!”

“Doesn’t your flatmate have a spare?”

“Well, she does but she is out with her friends somewhere in Bandra and she’s not picking her phone. Even my landlord is out of town. Oh God! Where did I lose them,” Amaya lamented.

“Hey, don’t worry. I am almost at your apartment. Why don’t you come down and we can figure something out.”

“My flatmate is still not answering her phone or replying to texts. She does that you know, party like an animal with no idea where her phone is. My God, why is she so careless? Who am I kidding, I’m the careless one right now. What am I supposed to do now, ask my creepy old neighbourhood aunty to let me swing from her balcony into mine? Or can you do it? Although I am on the fourth floor, one slip and…” she looked at him in panic and realized she needs to calm down a little.

All this while Kabir was just standing with his arms folded, watching her with amusement. When she finally stopped he said, “Are you done speculating and coming up with balcony-swinging solutions?” Amaya nodded. “Well then, please calm down. I live in Lower Parel West, you can come with me for now. We can keep trying to reach your flatmate and I’ll drop you back once she comes. Else you can even stay at my place. I know it’s probably not ideal but I promise I’m a decent guy.” She agreed.

Kabir unlocked the door to his house and switched on the torch on his phone. “It’s not supposed to be dark usually, maybe there’s no power. Come on in.” He ushered her in by hand and guided her to the couch. “Just stay put, let me look for some candles.”

As soon as he came back with lit candles, the power was back on. “Oh thank God! I did not want to host you for the first time in a dark house!”

Kabir went to the kitchen to get her a glass of water when they heard a bell jingle. It startled Amaya a bit. “Don’t worry, it’s just my mother. I’ll be back in a bit.” He went into the bedroom next to the kitchen and switched on the light. Amaya could hear some muffled conversation and thought best not to intrude.

With the glass of water in her hand, she strolled around the living room. It looked too neat and organized yet homely too. A side table had a beautiful peace lily plant and the other one had some framed pictures of young Kabir and his mom.

She was holding one of the frames in her hand when Kabir reappeared. “Hey sorry, my mother… she needed someone to help her to the washroom. She… uhh… has Alzheimer’s coupled with muscle degeneration.”

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I’m feeling awful taking up your time, you clearly don’t need that. I called my flatmate’s friend he said he will get her to call me so I should be out of your hair soon.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s not a bother at all. I hardly have company so it’s a welcome change. Actually, the night attendant had some emergency so she needed to leave. Her replacement should be here in another half an hour.”

“Oh okay!”

“She is resting now else I would have loved for you to meet my mom.” Amaya was still holding the picture in her hand. Kabir pointed at it and said, “That is when I was thirteen. My father had passed away by then so I was seldom happy but that day my mom had decided to take me to Essel World for some reason. It was a happy day.”

“Nice… You have a beautiful place I must say,” she said looking around.

“Thanks, it was my Nana’s. He let us stay here when we shifted. And then after dad, we just made it our home.”

Just then Amaya’s phone rang, “Hello, hey! Thank god you called back. Listen I misplaced my set of keys so could you please hurry up and come back. I’m so sorry for troubling you… oh ok… alright text me once you reach the Reliance Fresh. Cool, thanks.” Amaya let out a sigh of relief.

“So your friend’s coming back?”

“Yeah, she has just left the party with her boyfriend so he’ll drop her back to my place.”

“Cool. But now I won’t get to extend our date and play scrabble with you. So that’s sad. Maybe next time, huh?”

“Sure thing,” Amaya grinned.

As they were about to sit down, the power dropped again. Fortunately, the phase for the kitchen and the bedroom was still working. “Let me go and check the fuse. I’ll be back.”

Kabir had been gone for a few minutes when Amaya heard the bell from the bedroom again. She gingerly opened the door to find Kabir’s mom on the bed. She went over to see what she needed. “Water… water..!”

Amaya quickly poured some in a glass with the straw and held her head a bit upright so that she could drink, getting a glimpse of a burn scar on her right cheek and neck. She noticed how frail Kabir’s mom was and that she was cuffed to the bed, common for people with Alzheimer’s. The attendant must have cuffed her when she was leaving, not knowing when Kabir would return.

Once she was done drinking, Amaya gently laid her head back on the pillow. She was about to turn away when his mother called out, “Anu… Anu!”

“Aunty, I’m Amaya! I’m friends with your son. He will be here any minute.”

The old lady looked at Amaya perplexed. “Anu… you are here? You are alive? He let you go!” she said happily.

Amaya did not know what to say so she just stood there holding her hand.

Kabir’s mom looked at her again and said, “You are not Anu, who are you?”

“Aunty, I’m Amaya, Kabir’s friend.”

“Kabir…” Suddenly her eyes widened with panic. “You have to run away before he finds you.”

“Before who finds me?”

“Kabir! You have to leave, please! Or he may kill you just like he killed Anu… like he killed his father!”

Amaya panicked and snatched her hand away from the lady’s grip and almost ran out of the room. She hurriedly booked a cab and prayed Kabir would not return until then.

Minutes ticked by, all of a sudden the power was back on, she heard Kabir coming. Calm down… calm down… deep breaths. Let’s not do anything rash. Just need to wait for the cab. She checked her phone, the cab was just two minutes away.

“Hey! So I fixed the fuse and… What happened why do you look so flushed? Everything alright?”

“Oh yeah, it’s nothing. I think I saw a rat, it startled me that’s all.”

“Yeah… sorry that happens sometimes. My weekends are usually spent setting traps for those horrible creatures.”

Just then her phone pinged. “My cab’s here. I should get going,” she said as she tried to force a normal smile.

“But I told you I would drop you back, you shouldn’t have bothered calling a cab!”

“No, it’s perfectly alright! You have done enough for me. It’s getting pretty late, you need to be with your mother. See you then, good night!”

“Oh, okay! Good night. See you on Monday!” Kabir said as he watched Amaya hurry to the cab. “Text me once you are home!” he shouted and Amaya just responded with thumbs up as the cab drove away.


To Be Continued…