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Teens & Young Adult Desi Romance

"Are you coming tonight?"

"No."

"Not even for me?"

Amya huffs, fondly rolling her eyes as she faces the boy who has been following her since morning (read: two years).

"You know I can't. I've to complete assignments, revise for tomorrow's test….these gatherings are not my thing anyway." Amya pouts, resuming walking to her dorm.

Aman still follows her.

"If you don't want to come to the party, it can be just you and me. I'll wait for you until you finish your -"

"Aman…."

The guy in question raises his hand in surrender, taking a step back.

"Ok, got it. I'll let you go for today but one day I'll have a date with you, and that's a promise." He says giving her a mock salute, grinning as she smiles to herself.

One day.

Just like the day this all began, two year's ago on the night of fresher's party. 

Till this day Amya doesn't know why but the most popular fresher had come to her, given her introverted self some company for the entirety of the party and had asked her out on a date at the end of it. 

She had declined, of course and had thought that that would be the end of it. 

Oh, how wrong she was. 

Because Aman had asked her out again a week later, and then another and another.

Amya would've felt that she's been played with if it wasn't for the fact that his date invites were always accompanied by those genuine smiles and gentle voice that didn't deter in the least whenever she rejected him. 

Or the fact that she had herself enquired him about her suspicions of all this being about the infamous bet.

It was a Monday, and the professor was yet to enter the classroom. It was then that she had seen them, Aman's friends who were laughing whilst looking at her, or atleast that's what it had felt like.

For the whole duration of the class, Amya sat silently but as soon as the bell rang, she decided to go to Aman and clarify everything with him. However, her diffident self didn't let her walk up to him and ask him to come out with her for a private conversation, in front of his friends. No. That would be mortifying.

So, she stood on her toes and peeked at his desk trying to locate his gaze, which surprisingly was already fixated on her. Her eyes widened in surprise but she didn't let it deter her, instead just gaped like a fish, not knowing how to tell him to come to her. 

But somehow he understood it and excused himself from his friends.  

"Hi," Aman said excitedly.

"Hi," She hesitated. "I…. wanted to talk to you about something." 

Aman grinned. "Are you finally going on a date with me?" he asked, but this time the words didn't sound like they usually did, meaningful. It seemed like he was joking, joking about something that had been bothering her for so long.

It made her snap.

"No, I'm not going on a date with you. I'm never going on a date with you. Why don't you stop? Isn't it enough already? You and your friends have got your fun. I know you might've lost the bet of getting a gir to go on a date with you but still... isn't it enough? Can't you stop?"

It was as if all her frustration had seeped in her words, the whirlwind in her mind that was not only caused by his advances but also the pressure to fulfil so many expectations had blown up.

"I'm so tired," she continued in a defeated voice, swallowing thickly. "Aren't you?"

Amya hated how weak she sounded, hated how she had to confront someone on something that she wasn't even sure was true. And still, what she wasn't expecting in return was an apology.

"I'm sorry," Aman's grin instantly vanished from his face and fingers nervously fiddled with each other. "I'm sorry." He said again, his downcast eyes not meeting hers.

"I didn't mean to hurt you. Neither was this a bet, none of it was. My friends don't even know about you or about me asking you out. I never told them because I thought you'd not like it." He swallowed, once again avoiding her gaze. "I - I like you. I've liked you since the first time I saw you at the party. I genuinely wanted to get to know you more, hence the dates I kept on asking you for. But I didn't know it was troubling you so much. I'm genuinely very sorry."

The misery in his voice made Amya feel unsettled. 

She suddenly didn't feel so good, didn't feel the relief in her heart that she was expecting to feel. Instead, she felt a dread settle inside her heart, dread that she's ruined the only good thing that happened to her, broken the heart of the only person who had liked her unconditionally; even her parents wanted her to get a scholarship after they had poured all their money out on her education but Aman didn't want anything in return.

"You - you haven't troubled me. I was just apprehensive that you're going to laugh about me with your friends and that it was all just about a bet. I just assumed. I'm sorry." She mumbled lowly, her lips not permitting her to express the whole truth but only a part of it.

Aman shook his head vigorously. "No, please don't apologise. And I'd never do that to you or anyone." He said and Amya released a huff of breath feeling guilty for assuming the worst about the first person who had, well, liked her.

"I'm in this college with a goal; the expectations that my parents have of me. I don't need any distractions and even though you don't bother me, I'm afraid that the only person getting hurt here would be you. I'm not free to pursue a relationship." Amya disclosed half-heartedly, reminding him as well as herself to not cross any limits. 

But as soon as she said that, a small smile slowly crawled back on Aman's mouth, his tense posture relaxing and eyes gaining back that ever-present shine. 

"I don't want a relationship - I mean if that's not what you want, I just want to get to know you.....like a friend? It's my bad that I didn't ask you before but can we at least be friends?" His soft voice barreled into her ears and his sincere request touched her heart, so much that she couldn't bite back the smile that appeared on her lips when she shook her hands with him.

"Yeah, we can."

"So, just to be clear, will you stop being my friend if ever asked you on a date again?" There was a smile in his voice but also an underlying sigh that Amya was unable to miss, something that told her that this question was paining him.

She shook her head and saw as some of the sadness swam out of his face.

She decided it was her turn this time. "Just to be clear, will you stop being my friend if I refused you for a date?" 

Any hint of wistfulness vanished away from his face at that, a bright smile taking its place. 

He shook his head. "No, I'll never stop being your friend if that's what you want. Just say the word."

Yeah, after that she had no doubts.

He was genuine.

Aman's good qualities weren't limited to his kindness alone. His face, too, was one of its kind. Handsome and pretty at the same time with a strong jaw and beautiful hazel eyes. His wavy hair that fluttered down his neck was one of the reasons he was so popular among the girls, not only from their department but from the whole campus.

Amya sometimes hated herself for always refusing him like that, her heart protesting and convincing her to just give in once and see what it feels like to be on receiving end of someone's affection, but her mind knew better than getting involved with someone who'd prove to be nothing but a distraction to her goal. Her feelings be damned.

It irks her. Whatever he's doing. Whatever they are doing. She knows that he has no ill intentions towards her, but she also knows that this isn't possible, a future together, not until she gets a scholarship and admission to that one university for her master's that would make her dreams come true; would help her in aiding her family and give them the footing they had lost years ago. 

And so, today Amya has decided to put a full stop to this arrangement for once and for all; so that she doesn't have to hate herself for taking that bright smile away from his face every day; so that girls like Payal can make him their pretend boyfriend or real boyfriend for that matters and treat him like he should; so that he doesn't have to waste his time on someone like her who has too many responsibilities to make time for something else.

Therefore, today, for the first time since they've talked, she has texted him to meet her outside the college, in a place he likes, where there would be no one to listen to their conversation, no one to spread any rumours. No one to question their intentions.

Although a guilt has been constantly eating her since she has seen his reply.

'It's a date!'

No, it isn't. It is just a date that would mark an end to whatever they have between them for good. 

But she still replies with a 'yes'.

*

Amya taps her fingers on the table, her gaze focused on the cup resting between her palm.

"Boo!" A voice says in her ears, making some of the brown liquid spill on her hand from the cup. And when she hisses in pain, she realises it's not entirely physical.

"God, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to-" Aman rushes from her side to the counter, asking them for an icepack or some cubes of ice. He comes back with the cubes, takes out his handkerchief, puts the cube in it and presses her to her now red skin, taking a seat in front of her, stretching his hand across the table to hold hers. 

His face crumples. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to startle you or hurt you or ruin our first date like this." His voice seems shaken, something that breaks her heart more than ever. 

Amya shakes her head. "I'm fine, you didn't hurt me. The coffee wasn't even that hot." She says but Aman still frets over her wound, continuously pressing the cold cloth on it.

"Aman," she tries to get his attention but he doesn't look at her. "Aman, please," she calls out one more time and this time he just exhaled out a sigh, his hand finally halting on hers.

"What?" he asks in a voice that doesn't belong to him; but to someone who's about to lose the only race he had decided to run in his life, lose the only asset he had treasured in his life.

"I - I want to talk to you about something," Amya says, swallowing the lump in her throat, her heart aching more than her burnt hand. 

Aman though merely shakes his head, finally looking her in the eyes. She's left devastated to see the sadness swimming in them. 

He shakes his head again. "Don't say it, don't say it just yet. Let me spend a day with you first, let me have the opportunity I was longing for so long, let me treat you like I've always wanted to. And then - then I'll do whatever you want me to do. You'll just have to say the word." 

The crack in his voice brings tears to her eyes, her hand clenching between his, the throbbing in her heart growing to reach her chest. 

He knows this isn't a date. He knows it is over for them after this and yet, yet he has come today, all for her, only for her.

Amya nods her head in a yes, and manages to give him a watery smile back just like the one he's giving to her. He then removes the cloth from her burnt hand, strokes his thumb lightly on the reddened skin, brings it up to her lips and kisses it better. 

*

They walk down the streets and he buys her a rose; they come across a food joint and he wipes the sauce that stains her lips; they go to see a movie and they share the straw; they stand in front of a photobooth and he encircles his arm around her waist; they stop in front of her dorm and he takes his hands off her, standing so far away that Amya doesn't think she'll ever be able to reach to him again.

But his lips still curl upwards, giving her a sad and small like he always does when she's about to say a no to him. "Come on then, say it. Whatever you want to say. I'll respect it, I promise and wouldn't . . " Aman swallows. "Just say it, please."

Amya can't though.

She is too gone to give him a proper answer, too scared to break his heart and her heart in the process, too shaken to put an end to a relationship that never began.

A long overdue tear rolls down her cheek, making Siddharth take a step forward and then immediately backwards. 

Amya hates that. She hates making him feel helpless.

"I. . ." She begins, inhaling a deep breath, clutching tightly at the phone in her hands, giving the breath of courage to herself. "Would you - would you wait for me?" she finally asks, eyes too scared to trace a possible rejection and heart beating too fast to say another word.

The silence after her question and before his answer is deafening. Something that she can't bear. But she has to and she does, silently praying all the while, praying that he wouldn't reject her like she did every time, praying that he would take her in with open arms like she couldn't, ever.

Her downcast gaze maps his movement as he takes a step forward. Her hand gets covered with goosebumps as he takes her hand in his and eyes finally stopping tearing up when he swipes his thumb under them.

"Always," he then says, quietly, as if he's afraid of breaking the moment, of breaking the magic transpiring between them. It is then when she dares to look up at him, surprised but not shocked to find the ever-present honesty adorning his eyes, his sad smile not so sad anymore.

"I'm ready to wait for you for a lifetime. Just say the word."

She asks three years from him and he replies with a smile.

*

Amya's eyes pool with tears and the exam results blur on her desktop but the way her parents are shrieking behind her, it's clear that she's got the scholarship, as well as the admission to her chosen university.

For the first time in so many years, she sees tears of happiness in her parent's eyes and she can't be any more happier.

*

Amya waits with bated breath as the interviewers discuss something among themselves. Instead of telling her to go and waiting to get the call like all other interviewees, she was told to just sit here. It's been five minutes since her interview got over and she's still sitting.

But it isn't like that she minds, doesn't when she feels that there's a chance for her to land this job; her dream job.

The interviewers suddenly clear their throats, gaining her attention instantly. One of them has his hand extended towards her. 

"You can work with us starting from next week."

Amya squeals in the chair, eliciting an amused chuckle from both the interviewers.

*

Three years pass more quickly than Amya could ever imagine, now standing at the entrance of Aman's workplace at 6 in the evening, her palms sweating, inhaling air in huge gulps. 

People rush out of the office in dozens, making her almost miss the person that she had been waiting for.

He doesn't miss though; looks right at her with wide eyes, frozen, people giving him weird looks for stopping right in yeh middle.

Soon though, the entire office is emptied and it's only then two who are left staring at each other.

"Hi." Her voice is hesitant but it thankfully takes out Aman of his thoughts.

"A-Amya?" he asks and she gives him a small smile, nodding and as if a switch had been pressed, his face completely changes from shock to elation, quickly closing the few steps between them but not enough to touch her.

"Are you back?" he asks suddenly and doesn't give her the time to reply before he continues. "Are the three years finally over?"

The incredulity in his voice and the hint of fear in his eyes, as if he's afraid to let her go again, makes her resent a small part of herself. 

Amya nods, a teary smile taking its place on her lips. "Yeah," she croaks out, swallowing back the emotions readying to empty from her eyes. But no, she needs to say this, needs to before it's too late. "I've achieved my dreams and got a hold of my life. I don't have any expectations left to fulfil. I've achieved a part of me, and now, I'm ready to give a part to you if you'll have m-"

Aman doesn't let her finish, taking her into an immediate embrace as he breathes in the crook of her neck and exhales over the shell of her ears that tickles not only her skin but her heart. 

"I'll always have you, always love you. Just say the word."

July 28, 2021 08:23

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