Love or… Love? – 1.4

Recap: Haris’s fierce reaction to an incident impresses Varnika. He tries to come close to her but Varnika refuses to do so. Next day is Nakul and Varnika’s third anniversary and Varnika gets a fun-filled surprise from Nakul and Anamika.

Next morning, after reaching office Varnika dropped a “good morning” message to Haris but he did not reply. Varnika noticed that her message is still unread on his phone. “Now he is ignoring me or what?” she thought and called on his phone but he did not pick up.

“So now he is ignoring me… let him do that.” Varnika annoyingly spoke to herself and returned to work but her mind was disturbed because of Haris’s avoidance. After an hour she again dialed his number but there was no response. “I hope everything is okay with him.” Varnika thought but this thought disturbed her more. Her eyes now direly wanted to see Haris.

“I don’t think Nakul will show up in the evening as yesterday we already had good amount of fun…. So should I go and check on Haris?” Varnika’s mind was topsy-turvy and she wasn’t able to decide as to what she should do now. And finally after much thinking of over an hour, Varnika ducked out from office after lunch and went to Haris’s hotel and rung his room’s bell at least 5-6 times but there was no response. She went to the reception to check if Haris was in the hotel or had gone out and the lady at the reception told her that he had not checked out of the hotel since last night.

Accompanied by a staff member, she stood outside his room and again rung the doorbell but there was no response from inside.

“I think something is wrong… could you please open this door with a master key?” Varnika in a panic state, asked him.

“I beg your pardon ma’am but we are not allowed to open any doors without permission from our guests.” The staff member replied.

“Let me talk to the manager then.” And Varnika rushed towards the lift to reach the reception once again.

Upon her continuous requests the manager saw her ID and residence proof first and then allowed to unlock the room.

Varnika hastened inside the room and saw Haris lying on his stomach on the bed. He was in a deep sleep.

“Haris… Haris… Wake up.” She rubbed him on the shoulder and realized that he was having high fever. She touched his forehead and neck and rubbed him again but he was sleeping tightly.

“Do you have some emergency meds?” she asked the staff member and he nodded.

“Get them fast please… he is having a high fever.” She said and the staff member came forward and checked Haris’s temperature himself and said “I’ll be getting some medical aid right up Ma’am” and left. But Varnika was way too tensed and kept trying waking up Haris. He murmured something in unconsciousness which Varnika could not understand and out of restlessness, Varnika phoned me.

“Anna, tell me some first aid for high fever.” She asked me in haste.

“What happened? Who is unwell?” I asked her.

“Can I tell you that later please? Gimme a med’s name fast.” She replied rudely and I told her the name and she hung up quickly.

She dialed the reception number from the room’s phone and asked if the medicine is available with them.

“Our doctor is on the way madam. Don’t worry, Sir will be fine.” She got an answer from the reception. Soon the doctor arrived and gave an injection to Haris.

“Mmmm” Haris moaned and the doctor said “He will start feeling better in no time. I’ll check for his condition over the phone.” Doctor offered his business card to Varnika and left with the hotel staff member. Varnika locked the door from inside.

All alone in his room now, Varnika walked towards sleeping Haris but this time the room’s condition caught her attention. Everything was so messed up. Booze bottles and cigarette packets were peeking out of the trash bin. TV unit had galore of chewing gums and chips empty packets… Haris’s clothes were lying everywhere in the room, even on the night lamps. Without a second thought, she picked up the phone receiver and dialed housekeeping for room cleaning.

“Thank God Nakul is so organized.” Varnika compared the two boys and smiled thinking how much Nakul is freaky about cleanliness. She and Nakul had same mindset when it came to cleanliness.

Waiting for the room service, she sat beside Haris and looked affectionately at him. She slowly moved her fingers in his hair. He was still sleeping and looked so calm. Looking at his calm face and silence across the room evoked the memories of their last meeting in Varnika’s mind when Haris had brought his face so close to hers and wanted to kiss her. Varnika’s heart skipped a beat. She embraced him in her arms and kissed near his lips on which Haris opened his eyes and looked at her with utmost love and passion and embraced her and placed his lips on hers and they started kissing madly.

“Ting Tong.” The door bell interrupted this beautiful daydream of Varnika and she opened the door. It was the room service guy.

“Shall I clean the room Ma’am” he asked her.

“Yes.” Varnika said and let him in and went inside the washroom and among the abundance of Haris’s clothes; she noticed a very beautiful peach colored ladies coat on the hanger.

“Wow” she touched its soft fabric and looked at its beautiful golden buttons. “Quite expensive it looks. But who does it belong to?” She thought. Her hands sneaked into the pockets and found a handkerchief and a baby pink colored lip gloss from a luxurious brand.

“The lady must have been here for the purpose that I can’t do with Haris.” she chuckled on her own thought and came back and sat beside Haris.

Half an hour passed by. Haris’s room had now started looking neat and slowly Haris also gained consciousness.

“Hey!” Varnika affectionately spoke when he opened his eyes and he was surprised to look at her.

“Hey! So you kept your promise.” Haris said in a tired voice and held Varnika’s hand in his.

“Yeah… I did.” Varnika said and told him the whole scenario of what had happened in this one hour.

“How come you fell ill?” she asked him.

“I don’t know… I had started feeling weak from last evening… perhaps I ate or drank something which reacted my body.” he replied “but I’ll be fine now because you are taking care of me” and they smiled at each other and Varnika looked outside the window. It was still sunny and she decided to stay with Haris for some more time. All the while that they were together, Haris kept Varnika’s hand on his chest and kept kissing it time and again and Varnika neither stopped him nor took a step further. Though sitting so close to him had urged Varnika’s hidden feelings but she did not let Haris sense them.

By 9, Varnika reached home and was shocked to see Nakul at home but she concealed her fear in no time and said “Honey, I…. I did not know you were gonna come today?” and hugged him.

“Well… I was missing you more after yesterday.” Nakul whispered in her ear and smiled. There was an unclear question in his eyes. Varnika smiled back at him and then looked at me.

“But what kept you busy? Anna and I have been waiting for you since two hours. Your phone was also unreachable.” Nakul finally placed his doubt in front of Varnika.

“Something terrible happened in the office today.” Varnika said and took out her coat.

What?” Nakul and I asked in unison.

“A colleague… who is only 33 years old suffered a severe cardiac arrest in the noon.” Varnika said and exhaled a deep sigh.

“Oh no! How is his condition now?” Nakul asked.

“He was rushed to hospital immediately… and is still in ICU.” Varnika pretended to be still pondering about the whole scene again and avoided eye contact with me because she knew that I could see through her lies.

“Hmm.” Nakul said and looked at me. He too understood that Varnika was lying as we had called up in her office an hour back to check what took her so late in reaching back home and knew that she had left office long back but still the adorable lover concealed his anger and said “Sweetheart… Let’s go out for dinner tonight. I want to divert your attention from this issue.” Nakul suggested and though Varnika wasn’t in the mood for eating out, she nodded as she didn’t want to upset Nakul. Both of them headed out for dinner and I poured some wine for myself at home.

I picked up my phone and opened Instagram. There was a video from ohh_photography. A bearded guy wearing only boxers was puffing a black cigarette and was playing an electric guitar. The face of the guy was barely visible because of dim light and smoky surrounding but whatever he played sounded good. I looked at the bottom of video… “already 4000 views.. Wow! Some people in this world are so popular.” I spoke to myself and took a sip. The no. of views and likes was rising up every second. “and look at me…” I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a geeky, spectacled face.  “I am so unpopular…” I spoke to myself; inhaled a deep breath and commented “outstanding” on his video.

“Thanks mate. How are you doing?” I received his reply after few minutes.

“I am doing very well. Is it snowing in the Alps?” I sent him a DM.

Well, if you go by the weather app, it surely is.. :)” he joked.

“Haha!” I replied.

“Where do you live in London?” he instantly asked.

“Ilford… any plans for London?” I asked.

“Nice! I shall meet you if I am there.” He replied.

“And you are taking good pictures I must not forget to say that 🙂 He further wrote.

“Thanks so much. I want to learn more of photography.”I said.

“Would you mind imparting few tips 🙂?” I quickly asked him.

“I would love to… whatever are your queries..bring’em on!”

And I asked him a few questions here and there and our chat lasted for good twenty minutes and I felt really pleasant after saying bye to him and as a good gesture, he followed back my Insta feed on which I was elated. I loved the fact that somebody paid attention to me, though in the virtual world. After an hour, Varnika came back home from dinner and I confronted her right at the main door.

“Would you mind telling me the actual story?” I grabbed her hand from behind and asked her.

“What?” annoyingly she asked and tossed her purse towards the table.

“For whom were you asking the high fever medicines?” without wasting a second I asked her.

“I told the entire thing in front of you… didn’t I?” Varnika replied infuriately.

“Oh really! So you are lying to a doctor now?” and I folded my hands in each other and looked straight in her eyes but she avoided the eye contact and without saying another word she took out her phone from her jeans pocket.

“Were you with Haris?” I came straight to the point and her hands fumbled on my question but she didn’t answer. I lifted her face from her chin and she looked at me fearfully “Should I repeat my question?” I asked her again.

“Anna, he had a high fever from last evening. Probably he ate or drank something which reacted to his body and…

“I am least concerned about what happened to him…” I interrupted her and she huffed on my statement.

“This is called cheating, in case you don’t know.” I warned Varnika once again.

“What the hell Anna… Stop jumping to any conclusions please. I went to see him because he was unwell… from which angle does it seem to be cheating on Nakul? Is meeting an old friend a form of cheating?” she defended.

“Meeting an old friend is fine… but meeting an old flame and later lying about it to your current is indeed termed as cheating.” I fretted.

“Anna, I am not cheating on Nakul… trust you me please… There is a simple friendship between Haris and me… my feelings towards him are a passé and I don’t emote anything in front of him and we simply hang out together sometimes… That’s about it.” She explained and held me on arms.

“Please Anna…” she said and hugged me.

“Okay!” I said and the topic ended there because I knew that Varnika’s heart and soul knows the truth but she did not express it to me perhaps because she herself did not know what she wanted from herself and from Haris.

“Anna, how much time does it take to prepare chicken soup?” Varnika asked me lying in bed. I was already sleepy and her unreasonable question puzzled me.

“What? Why?” I asked in a sleepy tone.

“Do we have chicken in fridge?” she asked without answering my questions.

“Check yourself.” I rudely replied. “And it takes about 30-40 minutes to prepare chicken soup.” I replied before she could ask me one more time.

“Alrighty sis. Good night.” Varnika said and slept.

I was astonished when I saw him coming towards my direction and when he said “Hi” I got weak in my knees.

“Yoouuu… Ssso you are ohh_photography?” my words stammered out of excitement.

“You bet.” He said and smiled and his smile stole my heart.

“Oh my lord! I don’t believe my fate!” I was exhilarated and hid my face behind my palms.  After all, it was Jishu Sengupta, an extremely popular Bengali movie actor that I had a big crush on. I could have never dreamt of meeting him in real life and now he was standing in front of me and I was his Date.

“Let’s go to that restaurant.” Jishu pointed at a place and we started walking.  I was speechless in his company but my mind was continuously thinking about questions that I wanted to ask him throughout our time together today and just there my nose sensed aroma of chicken soup. ‘This aroma is so strong. The restaurant is still like 100 meters away then how I can smell this soup so strongly?’ I thought and a frown appeared on my face as I could sense that there is something not going correct. This guy was walking beside me and he held my hand to cross the road when there was a sound of a kitchen utensil falling down and my dream broke.

“Fuck!” I woke up and was startled to realize that it was a dream.

“Uhh” I complained to myself and then realized that except the chicken soup aroma, everything was unreal in that dream. I got out of bed and walked to kitchen and saw that the girl who had never stepped into kitchen for cooking was stirring chicken soup in the pan. I gazed at her on this activity and she simply smiled and said “Good morning Anna!”

“For whom?” I asked.

“Us.” she replied and turned off the flame and chopped some parsley leaves to garnish it. We had “first ever dish cooked by Nik” in our breakfast and I saw Varnika packing some soup in a tumbler. She saw me looking at her and quickly replied “I want my colleagues to taste it too” and smiled. I preferred staying silent on this and we headed to work.

“How’s the soup?” Varnika fondly asked Haris and he looked at her with utmost affection. Varnika could read his answer in his eyes.

“This was special… very very special. Thank you.” He said and held her hand affectionately and spoke again “Nobody has ever shown so much care for me. Thanks Varnika.” Haris’s emotional sentence made Varnika emotional too and she simply smiled at him. She packed the tumbler once he finished the soup and put it back in her bag and said “Ciao… Take care then. I’ll see you later.” Varnika stood up to leave but Haris held her from behind and pulled her towards him “not so soon” he looked into her eyes to persuade her.

“I have a very important client meeting in the second half and its already past 11… let go me and probably I’ll see you in the evening.” Varnika said and started walking towards the door.

“No no no no no nooo noooo noooooo! You can’t leave right now” Haris grabbed Varnika’s hand again from behind. She laughed and tried to release her wrist from his grip “stop being kiddish Haris… leave me.”

“Nooooo… What will I do if you leave me?” Haris tightened his grip “tsch.” She checked time in her wrist watch and said “I gotta finish important work Haris… please!”

“I’ll see you tomorrow… please!” she said and released her wrist from him and reached the door.

“In saath guzarte lamhon se kahun ki ruk jayein?

Ya guzaarish karu aapse ki kuch pal aur theher jayein?”

Varnika looked back astonishingly at Haris on those lines.

“Zamaane bhar ki baatein ki hain humne ab talak…..

Par aapse judaa kissa abhi baaki hai

Kuch lafz mil jayein to shuru karun….

Na jao, abhi mera haal-e-bayaan baaki hai.”

And Varnika was completely flattered on this. She concealed her huge smile behind a poised expression and asked “Lovely… But the real credit for those beautiful lines goes to whom?” Varnika asked and kept her bag down on the table and Haris bowed his head in a salaam.

“You?” Varnika surprisingly said “When did you start writing poetry?”

“Since ages I have been writing madam.” and Varnika expressed her praise from her eyes and smile.

“You will get only 15 more minutes for those beautiful lines.” She gave into Haris’s wish and sat beside him, this time little closer than earlier. Though Varnika had told Haris only fifteen minutes but inside her heart, she never wanted to check on time while being with him. They kept sitting in his hotel room and talking. Haris kept flirting with her and his flirty lines tickled in her heart and finally after forty minutes she had to leave but only on the condition that they’ll meet next day again.

While sitting in the tube, Haris’s shayri kept echoing in Varnika’s ears. She loved the feeling that her secret crush had said something so romantic for her and sitting alone among galore of people, she was smiling all the way and drew people’s attention towards her.


“In saath guzarte lamhon se kahun ki ruk jayein?

Ya guzaarish karu aapse ki kuch pal aur theher jayein?”

Zamaane bhar ki baatein ki hain humne ab talak…..

Par kissa aapse judaa abhi baaki hai

Kuch lafz mil jayein to shuru karun….

Na jao, abhi mera haal-e-bayaan baaki hai.”

Varnika uttered those lines at home and I wondered “Amazing… Who wrote?”

“Well, I don’t know the poet’s name… I read it on a facebook page today.” She answered without wasting a second. Being with Haris had trained her as a good liar.

to be continued…

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