Next day, as Zoya was on her way to office, she saw some roadwork going in hence she took a different route. Traffic jam! God how she hated it. She glanced sideways and her heart gave a big lurch, Shekhar was sitting in the vehicle right next to her. She wanted to slide down and hide herself but before she could devise a plan, he turned and their eyes met. Man! Those eyes, once again she was drawn to him. He smiled his million-dollar smile or so she used to call it during her college days. Every time he smiled, his lower lip used to curl and these naughty dimples danced on his cheeks which made girls swoon and drool over him. Shekhar pulled down his car window and asked her about her destination, “Rajarhat,” Zoya replied. “Hop in, I will drive you,” he offered but she refused. Bravo! She patted her back. Much to her horror, he came out of the car, gave some instructions to his driver and opened her cab door.
Zoya had no idea why he was behaving like this. No sooner did he settle next to her, he said, “Please don’t get intimidated but I have something very important to discuss with you,” he took a pause, Zoya widened her dark eyes signaling him to continue, “I have read your pieces on Facebook and went to your blog. Zoya, you have immense talent and I don’t want you to waste it, I want you to write a book.” Zoya was quite perplexed because here was this media tycoon sitting next to her who had just now behaved like an impulsive teenager, and now he was suggesting that she write a book. Does it mean he has reading her write-ups if so then what was his take on it? What did he feel? What was his reaction? Did he like what she wrote? Her mind was overcrowded by such questions but she just gawked at him. Typical of her, this is how she behaved when he was around.
Shekhar continued explaining things to her but all she could see were those green eyes and shabby locks. No noise of blaring horns disturbed her, no over speeding vehicles could distract her, slowly she lost herself in those eyes, she could just look at those lips moving but could not decipher what he said, “Agar Tum Saath Ho from Tamasha,” buzzed in her purse and jolted her from the reverie. It was her phone ringing, just a few days ago Shekhar had shared one his favorite tracks on Facebook, Zoya had been listening to it ever since and kept it as her ringtone. Shekhar’s expressions were indecipherable but he was surely amazed. “Thanks aunty,” Zoya spoke with someone over the phone, “No, there are no birthday plans, I am on my way to office.” There was a slight pause as she listened to her aunt on the other end, she sighed and said, “Please don’t call me a birthday girl, it reminds of a Hollywood crime thriller.” This peaked Shekhar’s interest, he took out his phone and checked something, ahan! So it was her birthday today, realized he.
As the call got finished, Shekhar said, “Zoya, you are taking a day off today and we are going out, I will not take no for an answer.” Before she could open her mouth to say anything, he asked the driver to stop, and got off with her. Luck was on their side, there was a Café Coffee Day joint, Shekhar said, “Let’s go and make plans for today.” As he moved in, he stopped and said, “Please do call up your office and let them know, I am sure they will be happy to see you enjoying your birthday leave.” Zoya was slightly miffed by his domineering behavior, however, in her heart of hearts she loved his impulsiveness.
The next few hours were like a whirlwind, Shekhar called up his driver and told her to make plans. Initially, she was a little bit hesitant but then she thought that there will not be another today. She decided to make the most of her present. For once, she decided to let go. As per her plans, first they went to an amusement park, both of them stood out due to two reasons, firstly, undoubtedly they made the heads turn due to their alarmingly perfect pairing and secondly, both of them were too mature to behave like kids as they enjoyed different rides dressed in their formals.
She laughed and clapped gleefully when he shot goals after goals in the basketball net. It was a game where if you score five goals in seven attempts you get a soft toy. Shekhar scored seven goals and received a giant size teddy bear. He looked incredulously at Zoya as she jumped and clapped, taking slow strides, he moved to her and stretched out the soft toy to her, “Happy Birthday Zoe!” It was the way he looked at her, Zoya felt like the most beautiful girl in the world.
Shekhar had never seen anyone so naïve and pure. He was surrounded by fake glamour, artificial joy and plastic smile. For the first time in his life, he was feeling alive. It was her easy disposition which provided him with peace and tranquility. The more time he spent with her, the more he got drawn to her. After amusement park, they went to a Sci-fi movie. She was full of life and surprises. She whistled and screamed when Wolverine aka Hugh Jackman appeared on the screen. He smiled sheepishly as people turned to look at them. This girl had so many different layers to her personality, all different and each unique. The movie rolled in front of him but his mind was somewhere else, he was taken back in time. He remembered Zoya in her college days, shy timid girl who was always huddled in the midst of a group of girls or hovered around the library. They used to exchange greetings, and every time he greeted her, she used to flush red and hurry towards her class. Many at times he had seen her looking at him but was too confused to make out anything of it because every time he looked at her, she used to turn her head away. He had also tried to strike a conversation with her a couple of times but there was nothing which signaled that she was interested in talking to him.
Post movie dinner consisted of pizza which once again was Zoya’s choice. She giggled while biting on her slice of pizza, “Today was the best birthday ever, in fact best day ever, Shekhar, you should meet me quite often, God I am feeling so alive after ages…” Zoya carried on telling Shekhar how good she felt, the excitement in her voice, the twinkle in her voice, the flush on her cheeks…. Shekhar felt like losing himself in the child of this remarkably intelligent and extraordinarily unique girl.