The idea for this story is so totally not mine. The concept was forwarded to me by my cousin Kritika and she has been pestering me to write this story for almost a year now (though she says that she’s gave me the idea two years ago!) Anyway, it’s totally her story, I’ve only put it into words, and that too only because she wanted me to write it. Since writing is my hobby and story telling one of the things that I can do well, I decided to oblige. (I actually jumped at the opportunity!)
It took me a while to get into the right frame of mind to write a Love Story (I hope I didn’t give away too much already) but now that I am, I didn’t want to delay it any further. So let me not ramble any further because I have given due credit to the person whose idea this is. Here goes…
It seemed as if she’d known that name all her life. Keshav! Keshav! It resonated repeatedly in her head; and every time she heard or thought of that name, she couldn’t help put it together with her own. Kanika-Keshav, she thought and smiled to herself when it sounded melodious in her head. She hadn’t dared to say his name out loud with her own, until that summer’s day as she lay in the lawn on the soft grass moist with the early morning dew. She had turned fifteen and somehow it felt more believable that day than it had felt six years ago when she had first realized that she was meant to be with Keshav.
“Who’s Keshav?” Sameera had asked her while they were both walking back from school on the first day of class five when Kanika had told her closest friend about the boy of her dreams.
“I don’t know,” Kanika had replied coolly. “I just know that I am going to marry him.”
Sameera had laughed but stopped when she saw the look on Kanika's face. "Oh! So you are serious?" she had said.
Sameera had laughed but stopped when she saw the look on Kanika's face. "Oh! So you are serious?" she had said.
“Of course I am!” Kanika had said.
“But you don’t even know who he is!” Sameera complained.
“So what? I’ll find him somehow!”
And now about six years later she still hadn’t got that name out of her head. With each passing day she felt she was closer to finding out where he was, and her belief that she would meet him one day and he would love her just as much; multiplied. She stared at the sky to see the clouds merrily afloat and felt peaceful, content. She walked back into the house a while later.
The next few years she finished school, graduated with a degree in Hotel Management and by the age of twenty-four she was working as a chef in one of the better restaurants in the city. She had achieved every thing that she had set her mind to. But there was still something missing and she knew what it was. She wasn’t too worried about it though because she knew it was about to happen someday; and she knew she had the patience to wait until then.
One day as she was driving to the restaurant; Sameera called her. Of all the friends they had in school, Kanika and Sameera had managed to stay in touch through the years.
“Hello,” Kanika answered the call on her wireless headset.
“Hey! It’s me,” Sameera said.
“Hey! What’s up?” Kanika asked.
“Ummm… Nothing much.” After a short pause, she added, “Actually, there is something I need to talk to you about.” She sounded a little hesitant.
“Go on. What is it? What did you do?” Kanika teased.
“I didn’t do anything. It’s just that…” she hesitated again, “I need a favor Kani.”
“That’s it? Is that it??” Kanika said. “That’s what you were hesitant to tell me? You know you don’t have to be that way with me. C’mon, tell me what is it?”
“I know that. But still, I feel a little weird asking for such stuff – even from you. You know that,” Sameera explained.
“Babe, I’m in the middle of a solid traffic jam and you are testing my patience. Stop beating around the bush and tell me what is it that you want?” Kanika told her.
“Okay. Okay. Here it is. You know my brother, Siddharth??”
“Oh no! Sam!! Are you trying to set me up with him??” Kanika teased again.
“What’s wrong with you??? You know he has a girlfriend. Plus, I’m not gonna ruin his life by setting him up with you. You with all your Keshav crap!!!” Sameera teased back.
“So what is it then?” Kanika asked.
“I will tell you if you let me. Stop jumping to conclusions and hear me out!”
“Sorry! Won’t interrupt you again. Tell me fast now. I’m getting impatient!!” Kanika said.
“Hmmm… So bhaiyya has a few business associates coming from abroad – actually they landed this morning; and he wants to take them out for a nice dinner tonight. So I was wondering if he could get them to your restaurant,” she said so fast that she almost ran out of breath.
“That’s not a favor Sam! Of course they can come.” Kanika said.
“You’re right. That’s not the favor. The thing is that, Siddharth wants them to be taken care of really well. They’re some high profile VIPs or something. So I was wondering if it was possible for your staff to do that?” Sameera said.
“Oh! Ummm…” Kanika paused for a bit to do some calculations, “Sure! I don’t think that should be a problem. Have them call the restaurant and book a table. I’ll take care of them myself. They’ll know what Indian hospitality is all about as soon as they set foot in there!”
“Thanks Kani! I knew I could count on you – even though I felt awkward to even ask you. But that’s how I’ve always been! I’m glad you understand,” Sameera said.
“Awww… anything for you sweetie. Hey! By the way, how many people will he be bringing; just so I can have an idea?” Kanika asked.
“A bunch of them have come for some conference but I think bhaiyya plans on bringing just one person to dinner. Must be an important guy,” Sameera answered.
“Oh! That’s shouldn’t be trouble at all. Great. I’ll see them then.”
“Great! Thanks! I’ll talk to you later” Sameera said.
And the call ended. Thankfully, the traffic was starting to clear up and she peacefully drove the rest of the way. She couldn’t help but think about the conversation she had just had with Sameera, and something about it seemed queer to her. Sameera had made it sound like she wanted some huge favor from her, but it had turned out to be something so silly. It wasn’t even a favor, it was her job that she was going to be doing.
It was so like Sameera to make a big deal out of nothing. And she was a little weird when it came to such things. She couldn’t bear it to ask anyone for anything; not even her best friend.
Kanika went off to work and before she knew it, it was around eight in the evening. She had called Sameera early in the evening to check what time her brother and his business associate would be coming and she had said that they’d be there by eight thirty.
She had requested the Maitre D to let her know when her guests arrived. When they did arrive, Kanika noticed that Siddharth bhaiyya and his guest had exceptionally good taste whether it was the wine they ordered, the appetizers or the main course. She personally handled each and every dish that was ordered from their table and was surprisingly enjoying serving them. She ensured that they were taken care of very well and served promptly.
When they were done with the last course, they ordered dessert - A fine pastry loaded with chocolate and with whipped cream and a cherry on top, each. After the dessert was served, the Maitre D came to the kitchen.
“Kanika, your guests wish to personally meet you,” he told her.
She was a little nervous when she heard that. It wasn’t that she hadn’t expected that at all, it’s just that she was feeling iffy about what she would say to them. She had known Sameera’s brother for as long as she had known Sameera, but this situation was totally different. She realized that she was maybe over-reacting a little and decided to go and meet them. They probably wanted to compliment the food and thank them for their hospitality.
“Come with me,” she told the Maitre D as she checked in the reflecting surface of the huge refrigerator in the kitchen if her hair was alright and made sure that she had a smile on her face before she stepped out.
The two of them walked towards the table where their guests were seated and Kanika spotted a familiar person smiling and animatedly talking to his guest who sat with his back towards her. Siddharth as always, was well dressed, clean shaven and his silky straight hair that was just about to touch the middle of his forehead, swayed gently as he moved his head.
From what she could see, his guest VIP seemed to be quite close to Siddharth’s age. Kanika wondered if someone in their late-twenties could be a VIP. She was two steps away from the table when Siddharth glanced towards her and gave her an acknowledging smile, which told his guest that their hostess was here. At that very instant, his guest turned his head just in time to see Kanika take the final two steps to their table.
Siddharth’s guest, as Kanika had thought, was in his late-twenties and had a very amiable smile. He was also very very Indian.
So much for the business associates from abroad, she thought to herself.
Siddharth’s guest’s face almost lit up when their eyes met and his smile widened. He had worn a navy blue business suit - quite similar to Siddharth’s, except that Siddharth's was tan in color – with a white shirt and he matched that with a light blue silk tie; which seemed to compliment his almost blue eyes. He had brown wavy hair and a light complexion. It took Kanika a moment to register this and her thought process was interrupted when both of them stood up to greet her.
She broke her gaze in a fraction of a second; fast enough for them to not notice that it had lingered for a moment longer than it should have.
“Hello, bhaiyya,” she said suddenly realizing that they were not at home. But Siddharth didn’t seem to mind.
“Hello Kani,” he responded with the same friendliness that he always did. “Thank you for this wonderful evening. The food was great, the service excellent. I couldn’t have picked a better place,” his tone now business like; sending the message across perfectly clearly.
“Why, it was our pleasure,” she smiled and looked at the Maitre D, who complimented her smile with his own and nodded his head; and then looked at Siddharth and his guest. “I’m glad you had a great time.”
“Yes. We did have a wonderful time. I’m glad Siddharth chose to bring me here,” his guest added this time.
“Oh! Let me introduce you,” Siddharth said suddenly realizing that he had left that part out. “Kanika has been my little sister’s best friend since I don’t even remember when and she is the head chef here. And with her we have,” he looked at Kanika for help as he tried to introduce the Maitre D, while Kanika and Siddharth’s guest shook hands.
“This is our Maitre D, Lalit,” she continued for Siddharth and Lalit shook hands with the guest.
“Kanika, Mr. Lalit; this is my new business partner, Keshav,” Siddharth said and he went on to say something more about where he was from, giving them a little bit of details about his trip here; but none of that even reached Kanika’s ears. They were only ringing with one sound, Keshav! She stood there for a moment stunned, oblivious to the crowd that was present in the restaurant, oblivious to what Siddharth was saying; almost as if she was in a trance.
This was it. This was the moment that she knew would come someday. She had been waiting for this for so many years. She had finally met Keshav.
...To be continued