Ahh, here is the chart. I checked my name in the chart and boarded the first-class AC coach, Shatabdi express Bengaluru to Chennai.
I placed my baggage underneath my seat and played some music on my iPod. The music was on but I couldn’t focus on the song. I left my home due to a tiff with my parents and wondered why they don’t understand that I don’t want to get married instead, I want to focus on my career. Why can’t a girl have career aspirations at 29?
A toddler screaming and running around brought me back to the present. Slowly, people occupied their seats and it was almost time for the train’s departure. And a dapper guy claimed the seat opposite to mine. He adjusted his things under the seat and settled himself. He was affluent and looks like, this is the first time he is traveling by train as he couldn’t withstand the perspiration and turned on the fans. The AC didn’t seem to be working yet.
He was on a call with someone but ogled me while giving instructions to the caller.
He disconnected the call and said, “Hi. I am Naveen.”
I was taken aback and wondered if I should respond to a stranger or not.
“Just a hi without any name.”s
I didn’t want to interact with him anymore. I turned on my kindle and scrolled through the library when he again interrupted.
“Reading? Which one? I too am a book worm.”
I simply nodded in yes and focused back on the screen.
“Chaaya, you didn’t answer me. Which genres do you like?”
I was quite perturbed with his chumminess. “Can you leave me alone?” I snapped at him. Thanks to my hormones and mood swings.
He didn’t say anything and focused on his book. I felt bad but my ego didn’t let me apologize. And he took my words seriously, he never bothered me again.
There was a clamor in the adjacent cabin, a middle-aged person felt uneasy and had some discomfort. His wife cried for help. While I left to check with other co-passengers for help, one of them informed me a doctor has already arrived. I turned around and found everything was under control. I was surprised to see Naveen talking and giving him pills. The man felt better and everyone thanked him.
Oh, he is quite a handsome doc, my kooky heart remarked.
I regretted overreacting which was truly an outcome of my frustrations. He returned to the seat and went back to reading his book.
I approached him nervously, “Excuse me, Ummm… Naveen, look, I am sorry. I was not in the right frame of mind then.”
He simply nodded and smiled. I loved his dimples. His smile was cathartic to me.
I rummaged through my duffel bag to fetch some snacks. I opened a pack of khakhras and munched on as I scrolled through my phone.
“Could you please avoid making that noise while eating?” He looked miffed.
“Mmmmm, that’s called relishing your food. Here, try some.” I offered him.
He took a few but he savored them without making any noise. Not just that, he played with his eyebrows and raised one eyebrow at me.
This thing annoys me the most, as I can’t move either of my eyebrows, and I hate when people do that to me.
“Stop what? Eating this? You were the one who offered it in the first place.”
“No. I meant…”
I wondered if I should let out my secret to him.
“Never mind. So, you are a doc! Hmmm.”
“Well, if you have any doubts, here you go!” He showed me his ID card.
Gosh, he was a renowned cardiologist, one of the founders of the newly launched Crescent Group of Hospitals. I looked on as he chuckled.
“Ms. Chaaya, I am not a stalker, as you think. I am the most eligible bachelor in town but not yet ready to mingle, so chill. There is no harm in us being friends.”
His honesty, kindness, and charming attitude touched my heart in many ways. He was simple and a light-hearted fellow.
I smiled rather blushed, “I am an entrepreneur and run a startup Elixir based on nutraceuticals. I too am single and not ready to mingle, just like you.
To answer your previous question, I am not reading anything now but books are my life. I am a sucker for a thriller, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.”
“Aha…I knew it. I can do a bit of face reading too, FYI. So, what’s bothering you so much?”
He interrupted me before I could finish. “Oh please, can you cut it out? I can see that you are stressed about something.”
My heart hopped in joy. Why is it acting so crazy today?
“My parents want me to get married and I don’t want to.”
“Hahaha… That’s it?”
“Here, I shared my pain with you and you are laughing shamelessly at me.”
I shouldn’t have told him. My mind reprimanded me but my heart was thrilled seeing his cute dimples. Stupid heart!
I looked outside to check which station passed by.
Finally, he stopped laughing and caught his ears, “Sorry but no sorry. There’s nothing to get stressed about it. Look at me, I am no less than a Brad Pitt, still, I haven’t found my perfect match yet.”
Brad Pitt… Haha…Don’t give yourself much credit! I was about to spit this out when the train came to an abrupt halt.
Though we continued our banter for some time, the train didn’t move an inch for an hour. None of the passengers knew what led to the halt.
Naveen and I spoke from A to Z. He gave me a peek into his scrub life while I shared the perks of being an entrepreneur. His job was demanding yet satisfying while I was in a rat race.
It was just a couple of hours since we met but we felt as if we have known each other for ages. I enjoyed his company, his stories, and his precious smile.
The T.C. arrived to inform us that there was major track damage ahead due to which all trains in this route were delayed. They were fixing it but will take a few hours to resume the journey.
Naveen looked lost.
“Hey, what happened?”
“Nothing I was just thinking about work. I have an important surgery scheduled for tomorrow early morning at Apollo. I am just wondering how to get a few other things done that were lined up before that.”
“Don’t worry, you will be able to manage well.”
“We just crossed Walajah road, right?” He was definitely up to something.
“Do you trust me?”
“Hold on, what are you up to?”
“Just trust me once and come with me.” He extended his hand to me and I placed my hands over his.
We grabbed our bags and jumped from the train. Crazy, my mind voice said but my heart danced with joy.
I enjoyed this adventure and also felt secured with him.
We walked hand in hand, tried balancing act while walking on the track like kids, wherein we both failed miserably, and landed in each other’s arms a couple of times. It was quite awkward when we came close to each other and both of us became conscious. We then hurried to reach the highway to get a cab.
I don’t know what took over me when I matched up to his footsteps and interlaced my fingers with his.
He was astonished but he just flashed his dimples. And my kooky heart was pleased. What the hell is wrong with you?
“Such a gorgeous lady! I can’t take my eyes off her. I am so glad that my first train trip turns out to be wonderful. She is attractive, intelligent, strong-willed, and a tad difficult to win over. I never thought I will find the love of my life on a train. What do I do and how do I tell her? How will she react? At last, she spoke to me, I think I should go slow.” I thought after my not-so-warm interaction with Chaaya.
I was hurt by her coldness but when things smoothened between them, and she started opening up layer after layer; I fell for her. I decided that I will leave no stone unturned to woo her, after all, I am an expert in mending hearts.
My brain twinkled when the train service was disrupted and luckily, Chaaya agreed to my plan. Little sparks hovered within me when I offered my hand and she acknowledged. My mind, body, and soul were occupied by Chaaya. I am not certain if she felt the same way but I was determined to carve my place in her heart. I wanted to make her mine, now and forever.
They reached the highway road near Walajah city and got their mobile network services back. Naveen booked a self-drive car via Peru services and was excited to go on this long drive to Chennai. He secretly wished that they met during their stay in Chennai and could go for long walks on the ECR beaches.
Their car had arrived and Naveen completed all the formalities. Both of them stuffed their bags in the back seat. Naveen hopped onto the driver seat while Chaaya sat next to him.
“Naveen, we shall take a break after an hour. Then, it is my turn to drive. And you are sending me the split-wise details asap, I will pay my share, ok?”
“OK, teacher.” He chuckled but thought otherwise. He was in no way going to let her pay for any of these.
“How long will you be staying in Chennai, Chaaya?”
“Probably, a week. How about you?”
“Me, just 3 days, but it may/may not extend, it all depends on my patients.” He too made up his mind to stay back to be with Chaaya.
“Chaaya, where do you want me to drop you?”
“Please drop me at Poonamallee, I will manage thereafter.”
“Oh ok. So, you don’t want me to know where you will be staying? Fine.” He felt dejected, hurt, and upset.
“No, no, that’s not the case, Naveen. You got me wrong, I didn’t want to bother you.”
“Really?” His white face was as red as hot chili peppers.
Chaaya just nodded but failed to understand what made him so angry.
Soon, he pulled into the driveway of a Dhaba, turned off the engine, and stormed out. Chaaya went after him.
“What’s wrong, Naveen? What’s the rush?” She hoped to spend more time with him and missed his talks.
“Nothing, Chaaya. Let us have some food, you too must be hungry.”
They had their food in silence.
The owner grinned at Naveen while he swiped his debit card, “Newfound love! Such a cute pair you two make! God bless you.”
Naveen was tight-lipped while Chaaya was stunned hearing those remarks. She mused over it, “Do I have feelings for him? I hardly know him. I can’t fall in love with him. What if??”… Her mind raced into unknown territories but one particular feeling conquered the rest.
Naveen stood beside the car, thinking about ‘love’. Chaaya took the keys from him and started driving.
They didn’t speak at all, each lost in their pool of thoughts. Instead, the radio played cupid as they secretly glanced at each other. After a few hours, she stopped outside Vivanta.
“You know where to find me.” Stating this, she took her bags, and with one last desperate look, she went inside the lobby.
Deep down, she awaited him to respond or at least stop her but Naveen didn’t utter a word except for goodbye. He zoomed out of the driveway in a flash. Both of them endured the anguish of separation.
A month later –
Chaaya stayed in Chennai for a month as she bagged a huge contract and had to start work immediately. She missed Naveen and realized her true feelings for him.
Many times, she called the hospital just to listen to his voice. She browsed his profile on social media and they connected but never communicated much. Tomorrow, she was returning to Bengaluru. So, she decided to spend her evening on the ECR beaches.
As she entered the lobby, she was stunned to see Naveen there, holding a bouquet of red roses.
“This is for you, Chaaya.”
She took it and was speechless. It took her a minute to come back to her senses.
“I can’t believe it’s you, Naveen.” Tears clouded her eyes but she pushed them behind. His moist eyes too reflected the agony.
” Can we talk?” Chaaya nodded.
“I missed you badly. I came here often just to see you, sort things out but I couldn’t.”
“Naveen, I too missed your company. Can we just start afresh?”
6 months later –
Naveen drove her to Kovalam beach and they strolled hand in hand along the waters. They reached a secluded spot and stood there to view the sunset.
Naveen pulled Chaaya along with him and they stood in knee-deep waters, enjoying themselves.
“Chaaya, I have been thinking of us for quite some time now. I know it’s early for you but still, I love you from the bottom of my heart and promise to keep your heart happy. Are you ready to be mine?”
Chaaya’s eyes were glossy and this was the coolest proposal that she never expected.
“Yes, yes, yes, only if…” As she was about to profess, a huge wave crashed over them, drenching them completely in salty water.
He laughed and hugged her, “only if?”
“Only if you agree to a beach wedding!” Chaaya winked and ran, teasing him. Naveen chased and within seconds, he caught her and immersed her in the water.
The two of them giggled. He kissed her forehead and slid a diamond ring in her finger.
She was startled and finally confessed, “I love you, Naveen.”
A year later –
Chaaya and Naveen were inseparable. Despite their busy schedules, they managed to make room for each other every day; strengthening their bond as time flew by. They too had their ups and downs but love for each other was dominant.
Just like Chaaya had desired, Naveen arranged for a beach wedding at Goa. They tied the knot after a year full of love, trust, friendship, and skirmishes.
Initially, both of their parents didn’t approve of their relationship, but eventually, they gave in wholeheartedly. Naveen and Chaaya were a perfect match.
On their first wedding anniversary, Chaaya gifted him a book by NC Yarns, titled Love at first sight.
Naveen was flabbergasted and said, isn’t this story similar to ours? Indeed, it was love at first sight for me. Chaaya grinned and said, NC Yarns is our pen name, our new venture.
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