Following morning came with a lot of surprises. Aayat was planning for Rishi’s birthday from quite a long time now and she was all ready to get the plan on fire. The first thing she did was she got up super early and arranged all his gifts and everything she prepared in a paper bag and hid it in her bag.
“Hey, mum! Good morning” Aayat greeted her mom on the breakfast table.
“Good morning beta…”
“So topper!!! What are the plans for today!?!” She said while passing her a toast. She had that satisfactory smile on her face while she addressed Aayat.
“Mom I’ll be going to Zuly’s place today. Actually, we’ll go shopping first and then spend the day out only!” Aayat said hiding the nervousness in her eyes.
“Mumma!! I’ll be back by 9 positively”.
“Whattttttttttt !?? 9?? Kis Khushi mein???” Just one sentence was enough to get her mom on fire.
“I want you to be back by 7 pm. No arguments.” She said stern-faced.
“Please, mom!! It’s been so long I have gone out with Zuly!! And Mumma enjoyment begins in the evening!! I mean how will I be back by 7??” Aayat sounded cute whenever she argues over time. Not everybody of her age had to deal with this. At times she felt her parents were overprotective. But then she also can’t neglect this fact that she enjoys that possession sometimes.
“7 means 7 Aayat.” Her mom was adamant to not let her daughter be out till 9.
“Mom! Please!!! Okay, let’s bargain!! I’ll be here by 8:45. Promise”.
“7: 15. And that’s final.”
“Okay 8: 30. Now see the numbers are in 8. 8 is a good number mom. It’s even also. Not like 7! Such an odd number”
Farah smiled and looked at Aayat.
“Okay! 8:30 is final. If you get a minute
Late by that, your three future outings would be cancelled. Fair enough ?”
Aayat didn’t want to lose this chance. She had a hard time convincing her mom.
“Done deal !! I’ll just go and get ready !!” Aayat ran inside chirping like a morning bird!
“Don’t worry Buddy I have got everything. Please just don’t be late. We don’t know the address. And you know my directions !!” Aayat spoke in infrasonic sounds over the phone call. Well, buddy was Vikram. Over the last few months, Aayat has grown really fond of Vikram. More when Rishi confessed his love for Aayat to Vikram. Rishi didn’t know Very Clearly that Zuly too knew about them but he was sceptical. The way Zuly talked about Aayat in front of him and especially the way Aayat and Zuly exchanged jokes and giggles sowed the seed of doubt in his head.
“I’ll meet you near college on the other road. I’m taking my car along. So do whatever shopping you are left with now. We won’t be going out again. Keep your list ready.” Vikram said and outlined the entire plan for her.
“Yes! I have everything ready. Don’t Worry.” She finished the call and Dialled Zuly’s number.
“Let’s go. I’ll meet you near the confectionery shop.” Aayat said.
“Alright. I’ll be there in 5.”
Half an hour later, a white Honda City arrived in front of the main gate of NIT Institute of technology. Aayat and Zuly were hiding behind a tree on the extreme right of the main gate.
“Hey! I think that’s Vikram’s car!” Zuly said peeping from behind Aayat.
“Let’s not take risks. Wait let me call him.”
Aayat called him and re-confirmed that it was him.
They finally sat in the car. The plan they were up to was exciting. But the only person in the car who was more nervous than excited was Aayat.
“Oh my God! I was so damn scared. If anybody would have seen us there, my mom would have killed me!”
“God!! Why do you keep yourself so consumed in fear? Relax! We are here now. In the car, alright. It’s just the three of us!! So chill!” Zuly said moving her one hand in the air from the window.
“Tum itna darti kyun ho Aayat!? Thode se risks Lene chahiye! Otherwise, what’s the thrill of life!!” Vikram was no less adventurous than Zuly! Both of them have more or less the same mentality. While, on the other hand, it was a big deal for Aayat to lie to her parents for celebrating Rishi’s bday.
“You don’t know !! My mom’s very strict and yes I admit that I am afraid of her !!”
“Ohooo! But now you can relax right! Your mom isn’t here…” Zuly said and calmed her down.
Aayat wiped the drops of sweat from her face. It was the 27th of May! The sun was shining to the fullest and Delhi was burning in it. It was as if a Dragon was throwing fireballs on them from above and they have got no escape.
Aayat had a long list of ingredients she needed for the party.
“We need to go to a basic grocery shop. Most of the items I’ll pick from there. Meanwhile, Buddy, you would have to go to a meat shop and get 1-2 kgs chicken.”
“That’s not a problem. You’ll get everything you want but do you really think you can make all this? I mean not that I doubt your cooking skills but still I’m double checking.”
“Of course I can Buddy!! You just do as I say. It’s going to be the best birthday of his life…”
From the grocery store, she picked up what she needed to cook the menu for that day. While she bought the kitchen items, Zuly looked for the decoration items. But Aayat stopped her from buying anything. They shopped for those little Diwali Lights that are hung outside the houses.
“They’ll look gorgeous. Trust me” Aayat said, smiling.
It was 11 am when they all reached Vikram’s flat. As soon as they reached there Aayat started segregating the items they have got and also distributed the work. Decoration department came under Zuly while she singlehandedly did the cooking department. Vikram was everywhere. Apart from Zuly and Vikram, there were two more people there. Both of them were childhood friends of Rishi and knew about Aayat, Hardik and Ritesh. Both of them were elder to Rishi but they were friends since they lived in the same street.
Vikram’s most important job was to get Rishi on time. They had decided that they will call him at around 4 pm. Vikram would call him for drinks!
Zuly lighted up the whole place and pasted pictures of Rishi with his friends and family everywhere. While Hardik and Ritesh were blowing balloons as per Zuly’s instructions, Vikram Sat on the kitchen platform with Aayat.
“You know I have never seen a girl like you! I mean so much for just a birthday !!!? You could have easily done it in a pub! In fact, it would have been more fun and you would be saved yourself from this cooking thing too.”
Vikram sir munching on to the salad she had just arranged.
“Yaaa! I know I could have done that easily but you tell me one thing !! Which one is more heartfelt? This party here at home where Zuly is decorating this place and I am cooking and we are all having so many memories of life. Or the party which we could have in the pub with 100 unknown people where you wouldn’t be able to hear your heartbeat. Life’s not a party Buddy! Life is this !! Home, Family and memories !!! And I’m sure Rishi would love it !”
“Saale Vicky ! Hamare gaal dukh Gaye ye Ghubbare phula phula ke tu araam se kheere chaba Raha hai ? Bahar Aa !!”
Hardik called Vikram out and he sat up.
“You know what !! You’re a beautiful person Aayat! I just hope your trust and faith in Rishi and your relationship stays the way it is today.” Vikram said.
That was the first time Aayat noticed Vikram’s deep and sad eyes. She felt for a while that his lips were sealed but his eyes wanted to talk more.
“I think we should call RJ! It’s high time now…Everything’s done right?” Zuly said scanning through the entire place. She looked at Aayat!
“Ammm! Yaa everything’s reach except for you madam!! You look like a KaamwaaliBai! Go and wash your face!” Zuly continued.
“Yes okay! I’m going but till then you get Rishi na!”, Aayat said looking at the wall clock.
“I’m so nervous Zuly !! He will like it na!”
Aayat asked Zuly when she was getting her ready.
“Of course!! You’re an idiot!! You have done so much yet you’re not satisfied! What will happen to Rishi!! God! You’re never satisfied ???? ????”
“Shooooo!! Ufff! Zuly you are Impossible!” Aayat laughed so hard.
“And you look beautiful! Rishi would go crazy today!”
“Ahaan! I hope so.”
The Doorbell Rang.
“Guess somebody’s here!!” Zuly said and winked.
“Mohobbat Duniya ka ek Waahid Aisa ehsaas hai jo badle mein kuch nahi maangta…Chahta hai to bas kisi ka saath ! Jab kabhi Mohobbat mein ek shakhs Doosre ke liye kuch karta hai, to yaqeenan ehsaas usi ke Dil mein badh rahe hote hain…Jitna Zada khud Ko kharch Kiya jaata hai, Mohobbat aur oonche maqaam haasil Karti jaati hai… Aur ek din ye wahan pohonch jaati hai Jahan par sahi galat, Haya Sharm aur yahan tak ki Jhoot aur Yaqeen ke beech ka farq bhi mit jaata hai…”