“What?” asked Dev. He knew that if Yuvika and Loy couldn’t come to a solution, she would have to move. But she sounded very normal. And it was strange. “Are you sure about it?”
“So when are you going to vacate? Have you looked for any other place? Do you want me to come there to help you?” Dev was concerned. “Or why don’t you move to Mumbai or Delhi until you find any suitable place?”
“No. I don’t think I would need to do that. I have some time to find a place.”
It’s been a month since she had agreed to vacate the house and started her search for the new place. She chose to do this on her own as usual. There were some places which she liked. But she chose not to compare any of the places with the current house or else she could never make up her mind for a new house.
After a long tiring day, she stopped by a restaurant. She was at the bar. She had been having Tequila shots. She heard a familiar voice, “Hey!”
She turned to her left to find Loy. He took the chair next to her. “Loy Luis. Saw you after a long time.” She said.
“Nice seeing you.” Loy greeted but she replied with a wry smile.
“So, having shots?” asked Loy.
It was a yeah instead of yes and she called him Loy Luis. She was definitely not sober. But the bartender kept pouring into the shots.
“So how is your search going?” asked Loy.
There was a sudden rise in her voice. She clearly had no control over her voice and tones. It sounded funny. He saw her like this for the first time. She continued pointing to the bottles on the shacks in front of them, “Do you see that?”
Loy answered with a nod, “Yes.”
“What is that?”
“No. They are the houses which I have been visiting. All are same. I don’t want that. You know.” She said still staring at the bottles. “Hey, pour it.” The bartender poured the Tequila.
She said, “Look at this. This is something; Classy; Sexy; Standard.”
Loy looked at the glass with raised eyebrows. “Tequila?”
“No.” She said loudly and then lowering her voice, she said again, “No. It’s not Tequila, my boy.” Boy? “This is something I want. This is something I am living in.”
She was comparing a glass of drink with the house. She was totally not sober. When the bartender came, Loy signaled him not to pour anymore Tequila from her back. Yuvika was not aware of it.
“I think you should go home, Yuvika.” Loy’s voice had a concern.
“Why? I am totally cool. Hey,” calling the bartender again, she said, “Pour it.”
He smiled. “You look cuter when you are drunk, you know that?”
She said, “How would I know that? I am new to it. It will take some time.”
“If you are new to it, then I would advise not to go ahead with it.”
“Yeah, I know, Loy Luis. I know. But why would I listen to you? What makes you think that I would listen to you? Did you listen to me?” She looked at him with complaining eyes.
He shook his head. “No.”
“See. You never listen to me.”
“Yuvika…” Loy tried to hold her hand. “Let me drive you home.”
“Why? Don’t you have your own car?” asked Yuvika.
“Then drive that. I have my car too.”
“So, let me drive you home in your car.”
“So who will drive your car?” She was actually unaware of the questions she was asking.
Loy felt amusing but he could not let her drink anymore. She was clearly not good at handling it. Every time the bartender came on calling, he would signal him to go back.
“Hey, hey, come back and pour this poor glass.” Yuvika chortled, “Did you see that? Pour, poor?”
She finished another shot and Loy watched her, cupping his chin in his hands. “Okay, that’s it. Let’s go now.”
“Hey, what’s this?” she took a peanut out of the bowl and put it on the bar.
Loy glanced at it and said, “A peanut?”
“No.” She laughed.
“No? What is it then; another house?” Loy could expect some unusual answer from her this time.
“It’s you,” she laughed out loud. “It is you, a nut-head, which I call you.” She compressed her laugh with her hand on her mouth. Then she guffawed.
“Yeah yeah. I am aware of that.” All Loy could do was join her in laughter.
They laughed till they got tears in eyes. Composing herself, she said, “I laughed over this stupid joke because I am tipsy right now. Why do you laugh?”
“First of all, you are not tipsy. You are a little more than that. And I laughed just to accompany you.”
“Oh, how thoughtful of you!” She stretched the words more than required.
“Okay now, get up. I am driving you home.” This time, Loy’s voice was commanding. He rose from his chair and grabbed her left arm.
She resisted for a couple of time but he didn’t loosen his grip. She also got up from her chair and started following Loy.
They reached her car and he took her car keys from her. She asked, “Are you sure you are sober enough to drive. Otherwise, I can drive.”
He chuckled, “No thank you, Ma’am. Let me have this honour.”
She raised her right hand in granting permission and got into the car. Throughout the way she kept asking questions about everything she saw around. And Loy, keeping calm, answered to every single thing.
They reached home. While getting out of the car, she stumbled. Loy ran to her side to help her. Raising her hands, she started saying, “I am fine. I am perfectly fine. Everything is under control.”
He opened the door for her and gave her the keys back. He was about to turn back to leave when she turned around and called his name, “Loy Luis, take the car.” She handed him the car key. “It’s too late so don’t walk back. And I don’t need it. You get it back at your convenience.” In the entire evening, this was the only time when she sounded the most moderate.
He smiled and took the keys. He asked, “You sure you can get to your room on your own?”
“Yeah. I am perfectly all right. I am cool.”
He shook his head and turned back to leave.
The next day was the heaviest for Yuvika. Her head was spinning. She felt the heaviness of an elephant on her head. She held her forehead tightly and sat on her bed. She was craving for coffee but she felt too lethargic to walk downstairs.
She opened the door to the balcony and stepped outside to breathe some fresh air. It felt good. But what she spotted? Loy? What is he doing here? He glanced at her and waved at her. Waving him back, she said that she was coming downstairs.
She reached stepped down clumsily and opened the door.
He was standing in the garden facing the gate. She reached near him and said, “Wondering how to chop it up?”
He turned to her. Quizzed. She explained pointing to the bougainvilleas, “You want to chop it up, don’t you?”
He smirked and said, “Just came to see you if you are all right now and wanted to park your car home too.”
Oh yes. The car! Loy sounded a little strange. How did it even matter to him? But he had helped her last night, she regretted her nasty comment.
She said, “Yes. I am fine. I am so sorry for yesterday. I know it must have got very critical for you. Usually, I am not that drunk but Tequila doesn’t really suit me. I rarely have it. I like Wine more. You know it is good for…”
“That’s fine.” Loy interrupted her. “That’s fine. You don’t need to explain anything and don’t worry. Nothing was critical for me. You didn’t trouble me at all.” He chuckled, “But I don’t know why you addressed me with my full name every time. And you called me nut-head.”
“Oh, I did?” There was the fusion of apology and humour in her voice. “I…I am sorry.” She giggled. He also laughed at it.
“So let me make it up. Coffee? I need it terribly.”
She made two cups of strong coffee; black one for herself. They sat on the porch enjoying the sunrise and the sea.
“This is really awesome. You serve delicious coffee. I must say. And yes, I will never cause any damage to your bougainvilleas. You have my words.”
Today was a special day for Yuvika and the ‘Brewing Beans Cafe’. It was cafe’s anniversary. She had arranged a function at the cafe. Dev and Joe would also arrive for the function for a day. Richa won’t be able to come as she was in London with her family for her wedding shopping.
After many conversations over coffee and dinner, Yuvika was comfortable with Loy and his family who were going to reach the cafe soon. But this time, she was not seeing them as the owners. With time, she had found Loy as an accustomed fellow just like herself. The nut-head-trying-to-snatch-away-the-house impression of him eventually faded away.
Some friends and regular customers started to arrive. She had promised them to keep the cafe open even if she had to shift it. Her cafe and she as a host were favourites in that area in all the ages.
The house was decorated with lights. The bougainvilleas were glowing more today. The walls were radiated with simple yellow lights. The setting sun with twilight was accompanied by the naturally magical lights. Mild music filled peace around the house. More tables and chairs than usual were arranged in the hall, porch and the garden. A bar was stocked with a variety of bottles and cocktails. Appetisers were being served after every short interval. Dinner tables were already arranged for those who would like to have early meals. Whoever enters the house would first get busy admiring the beauty of the house and the decorations.
Yuvika was present in the porch to welcome every guest. She was looking simply beautiful as always. She had kept her attire simple yet refreshing with light coloured and floral printed tea length dress. The colour matched the evening light. Her hair was free and silky layers kept grazing her cheeks. She would often swirl it and put behind the ears. Her attire was complemented with the pair of peach coloured stilettos. Her eyes shined with lights. She never wore lenses. Her smile might be a full-curved but spoke of her conscious attention; to the guests and to her sorrow which she intended to conceal under the beaming smile. A pair of gleaming diamonds in her ears beautified her simplicity. Everyone was astonished at her grace.
She was welcoming everyone so warmly. Dev and Joe had come. She had got a chance to spend more time with them.
In some time, Yuvika noticed Mr Joseph in the garden followed by his father and Loy. Mr Joseph’s father had been in the wheelchair since years. Loy was helping him to move the wheelchair. Yuvika came forward to welcome them.
Mr Joseph said, “Ah! Look at you. Ms Shroff, you look simply beautiful, just like the arrangements here. You never miss to amaze us.” He glared around, “It’s sparkling beauty.”
She smiled cordially.
“Will you let me greet the young lady or you would do that on our behalf too?”
Mr Joseph moved on his right. She leaned to see Mr Joseph’s father in the wheelchair. His voice was dense and deep which didn’t reflect his age at all; except a little quiver in that. She bent down and kneeled. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr Luis,” she greeted him in a soft voice.
“You are a beauty, young lady. Call me Mark.” They shook hands. His hands were soft and the palms were skinny.
“Sure. Uncle Mark.”
“No.” Mr Mark differed. “Only Mark; I am too young to be addressed as Uncle.”
She chuckled and looked at Loy standing behind Mr Mark. He laughed along with Mr Joseph. She corrected herself, “Sure, Mark.”
Mr Joseph said, “Dad, let’s go and get some Tequila thrust down the throats.”
“Let’s do it, Son.” Mr Mark joined.
“Dad, granddad…” Loy tried to cover up. He looked at Yuvika sheepishly. She laughed, “That’s all right. It’s party.”
She was about to ask him to go with her and meet Dev and Joe, but he prompted, “You look ravishing. It’s just irresistible.” In no time, his smile disappeared when he realized about his recent goof-up and her quizzical eyes asked about the same. Her gaze shifted. She was about to burst into laughter.
“Oh. I meant, you look, truly, beautiful.” He said; each word carefully.
“Thank you.” She kept it short.
Dev and Joe joined them. She thanked them silently so did Loy.
“Hey, I am Dev. Dev Dixit, Yuvika’s friend.” Dev offered a hand shake.
“I am Loy Luis.”
“Yeah, I have heard your name quite a few times.”
“Oh is that so?” asked Loy, looking at Yuvika. “I have annoyed your friend a lot. I am sorry about that.”
Joe interrupted, “And I am Joe, her brother.”
“Hi. Joe…?” Loy left a question incomplete to which Yuvika and Dev giggled. Joe frowned and said, “Alright. It’s Jogendra.”
Dev and Yuvika burst into laughter. Joe pretended to be annoyed but after a couple of seconds, he also joined them. Loy could not understand much. “Is there anything I said?”
“No. Nothing brother.” Dev said.
They all went in and joined the rest of the guests. Mr Mark was still awestruck with the changed image of the house and the decor. He was seeing it for the first time. He got tears in his eyes.
Mr Joseph noticed it. “Dad, are you crying?”
“Look at this place, son. It’s beyond beautiful.” Mr Mark glanced at Yuvika, who was chatting with the guests. He said, “God bless this young lady. I could never have done this to it which she has done. Joseph, she was right. She has valued this house in a true sense. All of a sudden, I feel like I have become a selfish man.”
People started dancing and singing with the changing songs. They were enjoying themselves. Apparently, food and drinks were not the only things to enjoy here.
After a crazy party, Dev, Joe, Loy and Yuvika were sitting on the porch table. Joe and Dev had the early morning flight back to Delhi. So they decided to have some coffee at Yuvika’s cafe. They insisted Loy stay for it. They were chattering and laughing over things. For Yuvika, it was a moment of sheer happiness, but she was sad at the same time; it was the last event she would organize in this house with her loved ones. While Joe, Loy and Dev were busy talking, she was lost in her own world. Joe, who was sitting on her left, gave her shoulder a slight push. “What’s wrong?”
She abruptly said, “Huh? N…nothing.”
“Say it,” he insisted.
“I am going to miss this place.” She said.
“Yeah, sure you would. But cheer up. Your party was just amazing.”
“You think so?” She asked looking at him from the corner of her eyes.
“Yes, of course. We had a blast. Totally.”
“I am glad then.”
Loy noticed mixed emotions on Yuvika’s face.
Dev and Joe were about to leave for the resort. Loy was accompanying Dev to his car while Joe walked with Yuvika.
Dev said, “So congratulations for the land and all the best for the upcoming project.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Loy didn’t seem much enthusiastic about it. But Dev chose to ignore it.
“I am happy that you and Yuvika sorted it out together.” Dev shared his sincere wish. “I was really hoping for this.”
“Well, yes. She has got a really kind heart.”
They both glanced at her.
Dev said, “But she fought to a good extent, I am sure.”
Loy laughed and said, “Yes. She did. And I wish she won.”
“You do?” Dev looked at him with surprise.
“Of course, I mean who wants to hurt her?”
Dev smiled and nodded, “Yeah. That’s true.” He noticed that Loy had not moved his gaze from her. “So, it was really nice meeting you, Loy. I am hoping to see you at the wedding.
“Well, sure. I would love to.”
Loy and Yuvika took dinner at Taj near her home. She had almost finalized the house to buy. She told him about it but he didn’t ask more about it.
They reached home. With Yuvika, Loy, too, got out of the car and leaned at the driver’s door. “So are you sure you are going to buy the house?”
It amazed Yuvika that he was listening to her everything she said about the house but still he wasn’t showing any interest.
She said, “Yes.” He didn’t show any enthusiasm nor did he congratulate. All of a sudden, his eyes flashed and his smile became wider. He moved forward, stood stiffly facing her and drove her attention to the bed under the bougainvilleas, “See this.”
In no time, the entire wall, gate, and the beds lit brightly with purple lights matching the bougainvilleas. There was a row of purple big flowers which she was seeing for the first time. One could notice it later that they were artificial. He was watching her face while she was staring at the lights; totally awestruck. The lights reflected in her sparkling eyes. Her face radiated the glow. Her mouth was half-open. Her eyes skipped blinking. Could he embrace her glowing face in his palms?
She walked to the bed and the lights. His eyes followed her. Her sparkly voice broke his reverie when she turned to him and said, “What is…” She could not finish the sentence. She looked at her. Her childlike expression added more into his amusement. He chuckled, “This is…light.”
She laughed. It had a thrill in it. “Oh come on.” She went back to the lights. He also walked to her and stood behind her. He said in the soft voice, “Pick the odd one out.”
She turned to her left and looked at him quizzically. He raised his eyebrows and gestured to the flowers. She went little closer to the flowers and observed it more keenly. She then moved to the other side of the bed after the gate too. And saw the flowers more carefully. There she found a flower which was two or three shades lighter than the rest. She picked it and came back to Loy. He helped her switch off its light.
Loy said, “Now open it.”
The smile had never left her face even for once. She opened the upper portion of the flower to find a key. Taking it out, she showed it to him. “A key?”
He said nothing, just pointed to the gate. She went to the gate and opened the lock with the found key. She turned around to see Loy. Did you just see that? Her expression said it.
She stepped into the garden having Loy following her. It was a blackout. She generally put the porch light on. And she did the same today too. In a fraction of a second, the alley leading to the porch steps glowed with blocks emitting yellow lights on both of its sides. She chortled. Before she said anything, he whispered in her ears, “Pick the odd one out.”
She looked at him pointing to the block gesturing, This one too? He nodded. She picked one. She found a box under the block. She took it to Loy. She opened it. At that time, the entire house lit up with sparkling lights.
Yuvika was standing in front of Loy having another key in her hand.
“It’s a key,” stated Loy.
She chuckled and said, “Of course it’s a key. But it looks like the house’s key. I have the same.”s
“It is original.”
She narrowed her eyes. Loy smiled. She asked in a pressed voice, “Wha…what?”
“You belong here, Yuvika. My granddad doesn’t want the house. Ever since he had been to your party and had seen the fresh version of the house, he says that if he took it back from you, he could never forgive himself. And he doesn’t want to be that selfish. He says that the house should belong to the one who values it to the best.”
Loy saw her holding back tears in her eyes.
Read the consecutive story here: https://faceoffiction.wordpress.com/consecutive-story/
The story is a complete fiction. Any resemblance to the real world is a pure coincidence.