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Neerav was already sitting in the corner seat of the Cafe Atelier 30 minutes before they had decided to meet. He had chosen the corner seat because it was away from the noise and was more spacious and cosy. He was wearing a crisp white shirt and light blue jeans and casual leather shoes. He had one-day stubble and nicely done hair. He was drumming his fingers on the table and from his expression, it looked like he was thinking hard.
He had 30 minutes before Snehali appeared and he wanted to get a gift for her. He was not a person who brought gifts for people but he remembered her mentioning once that she loved gifting people and loved it if she received good thoughtful gifts. But he was not able to think of what a thoughtful gift could be.
After much deliberation, he got up from his seat and went to the nearby flower shop to buy a white lily bouquet for her. He came back with the flowers and still there were 10 minutes to 12.
He sat there in the café waiting for Snehali. He checked his shirt was tucked in properly and his hair was alright. And then he thought to himself, why do I care how I look. But Neerav did not notice that his heartbeat had increased a bit more and his face had a smile just because he was meeting Snehali. He did not know that this was the first time he was feeling so happy without knowing the reason.
Since Neerav had joined the new company, his conversations with Snehali was what he was missing the most. The new company had kept him busy. He had to get comfortable with a new team and a new company. It was now this weekend that he had felt settled and at ease with himself. Now that he had a bit of time, he could only think of catching up with Snehali.
He again did not notice why he did not think of meeting anyone else.
He had messaged Snehali on the Friday night when he realized he would be free on the weekend but he was not sure she would agree to meet. He was not sure how the workload was for Snehali and besides, she might have some other plans but she had agreed to meet and Neerav was quite happy. He was sure he was going to have a great time. He had just one thought “We would relive all the happy moments”.
It was still 5 minutes to 12 ‘o’ clock when he messaged Snehali:
“Where are you?”
Snehali was about to reach the café but she decided to surprise Neerav and replied
“I am at my home, what happened?”
Neerav’s face went from happy to confused one to sad one and he started to type a reply to her.
Snehali entered the café while Neerav was typing his reply, found him sitting in the corner, reached his table and said in a very low tone
“Still busy with your phone?”
Neerav literally jumped out of his seat, saw Snehali and started laughing, they both shook their hands and Snehali sat in front of Neerav.
Snehali was dressed simply, she was wearing a baby pink cotton Kurta with Jeans and had a sling bag. She had left her medium length hair open and had no make-up.
“So, what’s up?” asked Snehali.
Neerav still had a smile on his face and said “Lets first give our order otherwise these people will seriously ask me to leave, I have been sitting here for 30 minutes”
he called the waiter and asked for menus.
They both ordered Cappucino coffee.
Just when the waiter started to go, Neerav found Snehali staring at the bouquet on the chair between them and said: “So, this bouquet was giving you company since you arrived or are we expecting someone else too?”
“Oh, no no. This is for you” Neerav said while presenting the Bouquet to her like he should have initially. “By the way, you completely scared me. I thought you forgot that we had decided to meet.”
Snehali took the bouquet, admired it and then kept it on the chair beside her and said “Thank you so much, I love it. Haha, good that you got scared. Those times are rare. And how could I have forgotten! Anyways, I must say you are looking smart today, but you do look sleep-deprived, the new company not letting you sleep or what?”
Neerav was actually not able to sleep properly for about a week and said “You are right, I am sleep deprived. Actually, I shifted to a new flat and have been busy with setting up things there and then new team, new company. But now things are settling down, I should be able to sleep better now.”
They talked about their projects and team. How Snehali missed him during coffee breaks and how Neerav missed their conversations. Meanwhile, the coffee they had ordered had arrived.
Snehali had to ask him “So, do you think changing the company was worth it? why did you not look for a project in the same company?”
Neerav knew this question would come up, he had dodged this question while in the last company but this time he told Snehali, “I had not wanted to change my domain and these people were offering me job since a long time, I thought the opportunity was right and at the right time so I grabbed it.”
They were silent for 5 minutes when Snehali said: “We have been sitting in this café for a couple of hours now, are they going to mind?”
Neerav said, “Let’s order one more round of coffee and then let’s go from here.”
This time they both ordered cappuccino small again and one croissant to go with it.
They had their cappuccino and croissant, paid the bill and started walking to the market.
Neerav asked her “You had been meaning to buy an organizer for your desk, did you buy it, now that you are in a new team?”
Snehali was warmly surprised to know that Neerav remembered and said “No not yet, could not find a piece I liked”
He asked her, “We can go shopping for the organizer for you or if you want to leave right now, I can call an auto for you”
Snehali just said “If you are up for it, we can go shopping for sure.” and then they left.
The weather was good so both of them walked to the shopping complex which was about a kilometre away from the café. Neerav was telling her anecdotes from his office and how people were there. He also cracked a few jokes and they both enjoyed their walk.
They went to the stationery shop in the complex, it was a big shop and had a lot of products. The products were displayed on shelves in aisles where customers could walk.
Snehali and Neerav went inside and started looking through the organizers. Neerav liked almost all the organizers there and kept suggesting them to Snehali one by one but she kept rejecting and saying “No, this is not how I want it.” Neerav was confused and finally when Snehali chose a piece, was relieved and said: “Thank God, I was beginning to think, we will be going empty-handed from here.”
They went to the counter and gave the organizer for packing and Snehali started to pay but Neerav stopped her and said: “No, this is my gift to you”.
“But you already gave me the bouquet, I can’t take this from you.”
“I wanted to gift you something thoughtful, so this one is from me.”
“I am feeling bad, I did not get anything for you, you don’t need to gift this to me.”
“I want to.” and Neerav paid.
When they were walking outside he said looking at Snehali’s sad face “You can get me something next time, this time I really wanted to get this for you.”
Snehali smiled and said, “Thank you for being so thoughtful Neerav, and of course I will not forget to get something for you next time.”
To be continued …
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