Eternal Bond: Chapter III

Updated: Sep 16

Ethereal

Two years ago.

Arjun and Aashritha were invited by Vivek, their mutual friend, to his birthday. Though they took a few courses together, Arjun and Aashritha haven’t met yet.

Surprisingly, Vivek told Arjun that he only invited the two of them as he lived with his distant relatives and didn’t intend to invite everyone. Since Arjun knew Vivek’s place, he gave him Aashritha’s number and asked him to coordinate with her.


So, Arjun asked Aashritha to meet him at the Central Railway Station and then suggested that they go to Vivek’s place together. It had just been a few weeks since all three of them joined their courses, and Vivek was the only one who interacted adequately with both of them.


As agreed, Aashritha reached the central station before the agreed time and texted Arjun that she had arrived at the station. Arjun was on his way, so he texted her that it would take him five more minutes to reach the station.

Both of them have never seen each other, nor have they interacted. Aashritha was very calm about it, but Arjun, on the other hand, was freaking out because it would be the first time he would be meeting someone who was technically a stranger, and he had to accompany this stranger to his new friend’s place.

Just after he reached, Arjun got off the bus and waited at the bus stop trying to figure out if Aashritha was anywhere around the place. Since he could not find her, he called her up.


“Hey, Arjun here, Vivek’s friend.”


“Hey, Hi Arjun”, replied Aashritha as she started searching for him at the railway station.


Scanning everyone around him, Arjun asked, “I have reached the Central Station, and I am waiting for you at the bus stop just outside the station. Would you mind telling me where you are?”


Halting her search, Aashritha replied, “Oh, okay. Just come to Platform No. 29, and I’m waiting near Cafe Mocha, and I have already bought the tickets for the two of us.”


Arjun entered the crowded station and wondered why all the stations were always filled with people. He always felt that all sorts of emotions could be witnessed in places of transportation only. These places are the sights for happiness for a few people who have met each other after a while. These places are also sights for heartbreaks and great sadness when people leave their loved ones looking for work or education elsewhere, leaving everyone and everything in their hometown. It was always a treat to watch people being honest, and these places always consisted of the most authentic people to be seen in life.


When he reached platform no. 29, he started walking toward the train to find the Indian girl amongst the many foreigners waiting for the train. It wasn’t difficult because the number of Indians in the country was very few. Nevertheless, it was a railway station and finding an acquaintance in a vast crowd was as tricky as reciting the 17th table.

As he walked toward her, he created different scenarios of meeting this beautiful girl. He thought, “I’d say - ‘Hey, is it hot here? Or is it just you?’ and she’d say - “Is it only me, or can you hear the asshole too?”

That terrified him so much that Arjun told himself, “Oh my god! Man, that was a killer line and flirty too. Let’s go with a simple one.”

Slowing his pace as the beautiful Indian girl looked at him, Arjun thought, “I’d say - ‘How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl in the train station?’ and she’d say - ‘How does it feel to be the dumbest and the blindest person alive on this planet?’”

Controlling his smile, he agreed that he should work on his lines. As Arjun reached her, the sun was setting, and a cold breeze was gushing onto his face. There was this massive sensation within him that hinted something about this meeting would be memorable.


Greeting each other with a smile, Arjun said, “This is the train we have to board.”

In silence, they boarded the train that would take them to Vivek’s place and sat facing each other. Arjun just realised her beauty after meeting her properly in person as she smiled.

While observing her, Arjun couldn’t dare to express himself. As he heard a voice that warned him of the consequences and awkwardness, he also heard another voice that told him he was Rocky, the Rambo, the Rocket in space, and he could do anything.

Gauging the situation, Arjun hesitantly asked, “Do you believe in love at first sight?”


Before the girl even spoke a word, Arjun got tensed to say, “I certainly don’t believe in that. So yeah, let’s continue the journey.”

With a smile, the beautiful girl replied, “I do believe in love at first sight, and my name is Sindhu.”


Arjun was embarrassed, so she continued, “The girl you want to meet might be in the next compartment. Please greet her before you bullshit about anything else.”

Apologising, Arjun left disappointed. However, he didn’t give up and tried to come up with another line as he walked to the next compartment to meet the actual person. As he noticed everyone in his way, his eyes stopped for a second at a person. Staring at her, he forgot that it was longer than usual.

The eyes he was looking at turned their gaze right back at him. Arjun was tensed as he couldn’t help but presume the reaction this girl might give while cursing Vivek for all the mess that he was going through. Just as he was about to change the direction of his stare, he noticed the girl who was gazing at him smiling too. He knew she was the one. He knew she was the one he had to meet.

Approaching her, Arjun asked, “Are you Aashritha?”


She said, “Yes,” and gestured to him to sit beside her.

Arjun couldn’t believe his eyes. How implausible is the fact that she is more beautiful than anyone he has ever met before?

He started looking everywhere else, and he felt a sensation in the tummy, which he couldn’t help but think, “Maybe this is what butterflies in the stomach mean... Oh my God! I didn’t expect you to be so good!”

As he couldn’t help but stare at her, he said out loud, “Aashritha, you’re ethereal!”

Comprehending that he spoke out loud, Arjun covered his mouth as Aashritha smiled in awe. To tease, she even asked, “What was that?”


With a smile, Arjun replied, “I am just saying that we need to get down at the next stop.”


Aashritha giggled at his plight, and they got off the train. They reached Vivek’s house in ten minutes and spent the evening at his place. With music, cake and lots of introductions, time flew without notice.


Since they were guests, they were not allowed to help with the kitchen, and for a brief moment, Aashritha and Arjun were alone. Taking the opportunity, Aashritha asked, “So what should we get him as a present?”

Recalling the train incident, Arjun replied, “That we will discuss on our way back. By the way, who is Sindhu?”

With a smile, Aashritha replied, “Let’s talk about it on our way back.”


After this, they didn’t speak another word. They finished their dinner and bid goodbye to Vivek and his family to board the return train.

Facing each other, Aashritha asked, “Now tell me, what are we going to buy him?”


Without any hesitation, Arjun replied, “We should buy him new headphones. I saw a wonderful model online, and I think they would be wonderful for him. Would you agree?”


Aashritha was fine with the suggestion, so she just smiled and nodded while the train arrived at the station.

With the agreement, Arjun immediately asked, “So now tell me, who was the girl who told me that you were in the next compartment?”


Aashritha hesitantly replied, “We met for the first time in the station. She was the one who suggested that she would deal with you first and then send you to me.”


Suspecting Aashritha, Arjun replied, “I doubt that she came up with the plan. However, I would never hold such things up on a girl who has such a beautiful smile.”

Picking up her book from her handbag, Aashritha blushed as she replied, “Did anyone ever tell you that you use the cheapest lines to impress girls?”


Leaning back in his seat, Arjun smirked as he thought, “One more line got wasted. I should stop picking up pickup lines from the internet!”


The train reached the central station, and both talked about where they lived. So before they were about to part ways, Arjun asked, “My house is on the same route. Would you mind me joining the ride on the bus?”


With a smile, Aashritha replied, “Not a problem. It would be nice to have company too. Thank you.”

They both got down at the bus stop near Aashritha’s house, and the cool breeze had become colder with the evening fading into night. As they walked alongside the road, Arjun noticed that Aashritha was struggling with the cold winds.


Arjun wanted to remove his jacket and give it to her in a flimsy manner. Just as he was about to take it off, she pulled out her jacket from her bag. He couldn’t resist a chuckle while putting his jacket back on. Though they were quick, Aashritha still noticed his actions.

When they reached her place, Aashritha said, “So yeah, this is it”, and Arjun smiled.

Before she left, Arjun hesitantly said, “Oh, finally, great! Then it’s goodbye, I guess. You’re the most interesting person I’ve met here. I don’t mean to be forward, but I would like to meet you next week if you are okay with it.”


Finishing his sentence, Arjun started walking back toward the bus stop, and Aashritha ran until she faced him. Looking into his eyes, Aashritha replied, “I know that your house is not on the same route, and I also saw that you were about to give me your jacket, which is very nice of you. Thank you very much for being the nicest guy. I won’t mind seeing you tomorrow as well.”


Arjun was elated, hearing all those statements. Without saying another word, Aashritha left, and he thought to himself, “After all, when you work hard, success finds its way to your door!”

 

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Credits

This contribution is reviewed by Edlyn ​D’souza, edited by Tarun Chintam, proofread by R. S. Chintalapati & illustrated by Nandini Jalan.

 

Product

This novelette is available in paperback & ebook.




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