He did not realise it until she kept the paper on the lunch table and slightly slid it towards him. He picked it up and there it was, her itinerary that said she was going from London to New Delhi, this Saturday and today it was Wednesday. He realised that it was going to take him some time to come to terms with the truth, he would miss her and these clandestine lunch meetings. The way he could just be a Daniel around her, (though she still refused to call him that and stuck to calling him Mr. Westland), and the burden of his surname wouldn’t tag along. Every morning waiting at the door just to enter as the same time as her and listen her say “Good morning, Mr. Westland”, and now it seemed that mornings could never be as good without this ritual. She knew she had to go back, rather she was waiting for it since the incident, but now it seemed hard for her. She was confused whether to be happy on going home or be sad on parting ways with a friend she had found after so many years.
When the recess got over, she was approached by her boss, Anand and Nitin were there as well, “Hey, guys, well you have been working your ass off why don’t you take a break and enjoy London these few days you are here”. “That is so thoughtful of you, sir”, said Anand. “Then in that case, we are throwing a party on Friday, we would be very happy if you brought your wife as well, sir”, said Mira. “Sure”, said their boss and when he went, “Party, are you sure”, said the boys in unison. “Yeah and may be give something as a return gift as well you know, small silver coins embossed with gods of good luck”, said Mira. “You know there are chances we might come back”, said Nitin. “Chances right, that is the whole problem”.
In the evening they all went out with Mira as the mother hen and bought the stuff they needed for the party, chicken, veggies, drinks, return gifts and Mira quickly slipped off while guys were busy with the wine and brought a stylish and sleek Tommy Hilfiger watch for Daniel. Everyone had a blast at the part. They did not have something groovy at the party, just sat and they all talked. They had all brought gifts for them, but she wanted to give his gift to him and see his reaction. When they all went away she asked if he would like her walking him to his car. He got into his car, then got back out again with a box in his hand “I had bought this for you but I don’t know how you would like it, so I was kinda scared”. “Silly”. She took and they said their goodbyes and all that was left was a very uncomfortable silence.
They had now been in India for a while now, it was difficult for her not to slip into the thoughts of him and the gift he had given to her in her free time which with time had become very scarce. It was a necklace. Set beautifully in gold and diamond and below where there should have been a pendant was a very complex knot, she knew that design but couldn’t place it and then she just let it go.
While having her coffee, Anand approached her, “Hey, you free tonight?”. “Yes, why?”. “I was thinking that if you are free, you will come out with me for dinner”. He had her in a tight spot, she had said that she was free, so she gave in “Well, alright then”. She wished for more work tonight, not that she despised Anand but she couldn’t go out with him, it just did not feel right. But all in vain, rather she got free early.
As and when it was time for her to leave, she suddenly saw him there, waving wildly to her. She thought she was hallucinating but he came to her and said “Hi, Mira”. She was shocked, “Is that you, I thought I was imagining things”. He was very happy “Hey, you are wearing that necklace I gave to you”. And before she could reply, “Is that you Mr. Westland, what a pleasant surprise”, it was Anand. “How are you, sir?”. “Fine, you?”. “Completely perfect, and shall we, if you don’t mind, sir”, he asked looking at Mira. “Yeah, let’s”, she said rather reluctantly and Daniel’s face also became ashen.
There was a lot of traffic on the road, “Hey,I don’t know if you would like it or not, but I am seriously hungry and I know a shortcut to the Delhi Westland from here”, said Mira. Her temper had already become famous and Anand for the fear of upsetting her agreed. They were eating in silence, well they were in once of the most coveted dining halls of the city, totally not what Anand had in mind. But he did make and attempt at conversation, “That necklace”. “Yes, what about it?”, asked Mira. “I hope none of your Ex- boyfriends gave that toy you”. “Huh”, she kinda lost that. “Haven’t you seen Casino Royale, I thought you are a huge James Bond fan”. “Yes, like a hundred times”. And that is when it dawned on her. “I am really sorry, Anand I have to go, I suddenly remembered something, I’ll pay my half at the office, I am so sorry for ditching you like that, I swear it wasn’t meant to be this way”.
She ran to the hotel desk,”Mr. Daniel Westland, please, oh wait he’d be in the Presidential suite, thanks.”. “He was, ma’am”, he said. She retraced her steps “What?”. “Ma’am, he just left for the airport”. “Airport, but hadn’t he landed today, which flight”. “Sorry ma’am, I can’t give you that info’. “Dammit, I work for the group and have some very important information that if did not reach him in time, could cost you your job”. She said this while thrusting her ID in his face. He thought and then said “Lufthansa, 11;55 p.m”. “Thanks a ton” , it was still 10, she could get him.
At the airport, she was having a tough time with the security and pleaded to talk to the head of staff who reiterated the same point “Sorry, ma’am we can’t let you in without a ticket”.”You are not getting the gravity of the situation, his flight leaves in 30 minutes and he is not picking my phone and buying a ticket would take some time, have any metal detection test you want, tie my hands with a rope or put me in a body suit but let me in”. And with this he relented, he knew he could lose his job but she had such a genuine look in her eyes. “OK, but you have got 20 min only”.
She ran like idiots checking the VIP lounge and then went to the boarding gates, the security guards sent in with her were having a tough time keeping with her. He wasn’t anywhere to be see. He had gone, gone away and he was not returning her calls, she was doomed to death. She sat down on a chair to steady herself. Was this actually happening, had she been so dumb that she couldn’t see that he loved her and now she was alone repenting her idiocy.
(You can catch the entire story from the beginning at the ONCE UPON A FAIRY TALE PAGE)