Chapter Four


Jay walked towards Shriya and Hitesh, both busy on their laptops. “Guys, don’t you feel hungry? I think it’s almost lunch time.” Jay shuts his laptop screen and takes a seat. “Oh yes! Mentioning food, I am hungry too. Should we go down to the cafeteria and eat something?”Hitesh moves his wrist to check on the time.

The trio walk towards the cafeteria. Shriya ordered a plate of fruit salad while Hitesh and Jay opened up their tiffins. “Uhmm Jay, why does it feel that you’ve got something yummy for lunch today?” Hitesh sniffs around in the air jokingly. “Yes, even I am smelling something delicious.” Shriya popped in sitting down with her order.

“Uh well, Pari made my favourite Palak Paneer.” Jay opens up the foil wrap around the rotis. “Pari?” Shriya enquired as there was a puzzled expression on her face. She wondered if Jay was married. “She’s a friend who acts like his mom.” Hitesh mocked Jay while attempting to dip roti in palak paneer. “Ya, wait till she knows what you said about her.” Jay hits Hitesh’s hand. Shriya keeps looking at the duo who mocked each other as she awaited her answer.

“Parnika is my best friend. We have been together since childhood. I call her Pari. She was worried if I forgot to have lunch because of work. She is a total sweetheart.” Jay pushed the tiffin towards Shriya offering her to taste. “She’s a great cook. At times it’s even better than Ma’s dish. Even though she learnt this version of the dish from Ma.” Shriya took a bite as Hitesh gawked at his friend, squinting his eyes who had just denied sharing his lunch with him. “Mmmm, This is really good.” Shriya mumbled with her mouth full.

“Told ya! Anyway, if you are free someday, we can hangout together. You’ll like her too.” Hitesh silently dived down into his lunch and kept staring at both of them as he felt ignored.

“Oh, really? I’d like to meet her as well.” Shriya replied, getting up as she was done with her lunch.

Hitesh and Jay stroll towards the parking lot after their first day at work. For the first day it wasn’t quite tedious. “Hey, when’s Khushi coming back?” Hitesh inserts the key in his bike as Jay stands by. “I don’t know, she’s done with her diploma now but she wanted to stay there and work a bit there to get some experience.” Khushi had moved to London to study fashion designing which had been her dream unlike Jay who wanted to follow his parents’ footsteps. Khushi was the bold one out of the siblings and had decided to apply for a course in one of the best institutes of the world at that time. It didn’t take her long to get accepted into the course as soon as she finished high school. Her grades were good enough to get her into the program and as Jay here was struggling with his career options, she headed out to make her own.

“What’s up with you two?” Jay had caught the glance of a momentary sad expression on his friend’s face which quickly vanished. What’s he hiding? Jay wondered. “Hey, is everything okay?” Jay places his hand on Hitesh's shoulder who’s now on his bike thinking about something. “Hmm? Uh, no. It’s nothing, Just wanted to know how she is doing. It's been a long time since I saw her.” Hitesh tries to hide but he had no idea that Jay had already sensed something wrong. “You sure? I don’t think so, your expressions say something else.” Hitesh waves his hand, “Ah, it’s nothing. I am just tired. I need some nice and cosy sleep.” Hitesh fake yawns and rides his bike out.  Jay looks at him going for a while and then moves towards his car.

“How was your day?” Parnika chimes in as Jay opens the door and hangs the car keys on the keyholder on the wall by side. “It was amazing and tiry at the same time. At first it was great to see Hitesh back again. I thought he selected the offer to move to Canada with that company of his. But the idiot decided to leave that and work with me. Isn’t he the best buddy one can have?” Jay sits by Parnika who switches off the tv. “Let’s dine together. I was waiting for you. I have made Gajar halwa for you.” Parnika places the remote and walks into the kitchen. “ I don’t wanna jinx it but is today something special? Everything has been awesome the whole day. Don’t bother to answer, hehe. I’ll go and change.” Jay heads upstairs to his room.

Parnika had planned a candle light dinner for Jay. She wanted to tell him something that she’s been waiting to tell him for a very long time. She had talked to Ma and Pa on the call today and they both were very happy to know it. They wanted to see how Jay reacted to it. It was all planned and set. Now, it was just the waiting for that moment making Parnika nervous and anxious. She was worried if he’d flip out or be happy? They’d been together for a long time now and she wanted to take it a step further. But is He ready for it? The thought constantly kept her bugging until she saw Jay walk down the stairs happily.

She for once just wanted that smile to last on his face forever. Before she could speak, Jay started serving their plates. “I can’t wait anymore. This looks so delicious!” Parnika chuckles as Jay serves items one by one on the plates. “What?! You can’t blame me, I’m a die hard foodie.” Jay winks at Parnika whose eyes go wide for an instance and later has a smile on face knowing the playful nature of Jay. “By the way, you know Pari, today along with Hitesh I met someone else as well.” Jay narrates the instance at the office where she’d called to check if he'd had his food on time.

“Who’s Shriya? I didn’t know you had any female friends as well?” Parnika wanted to tell him something else but she didn’t want to break his excitement about sharing his day. It was normal for Jay to share his day every night with her when they dined together or afterwards while sleeping on their open terrace whilst gazing at the night full of twinkling stars. For her it meant something else but for Jay, he never realised the hidden meaning. It was just having someone to share all his secrets with his best friend. It was something that he wanted to cherish for life

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