"Samar, I....." Pia mumbled.
The music in the hall suddenly stopped and every one was silent. Pia looked up to see what was happening. Samar was irritated. Talk about spoiling the moment. He caught hold of Pia's hand.
"Please finish" he said.
A screeching sound filled the air, and then;
"Calling Mr. Samar Nath. Someone at the entrance is looking for you. Mr. Samar Nath, please report to the reception immediately. Repeating, Mr. Samar Nath, please report to the reception immediately."
"Damn, who the hell is this now. Why can't they call me on my phone instead? What's the need for the announcement?" Samar was frustrated.
Pia was annoyed too. "Its okay, just go check who it is and be back."
"Even I want to finish this soon Samar, but this seems like an emergency. Just go." She said and pushed him towards the hall.
He was visibly hurt. He turned back and said "Stay right here, I'll be back soon." and blew a kiss her way.
Pia just smiled and watched him leave.
She turned back and admired the view from the balcony. It was getting dark and the lit street lights looked beautiful from the 17th floor of the building, where the party was being held. She was feeling happy inside. She had come here with the sole intention of sorting out things with Samar and letting go of the hate she had for him inside. It was a burden she had carried for a long time and and she wanted to get rid of it. When she has got the invite to the party, she had decided that it was about time she ended her grudge and let it off her system. She gave a long sigh. But who had interrupted them, she wondered. If it was someone from the office they could have just walked in with the invite and spoken to him. Okay, maybe it was someone who did not work at this place. But then again, who? His parents were not here, no siblings either, so what emergency could this be?
By then Samar had already reached the reception. He walked straight to the receptionist who was busy playing solitaire on her laptop. "Samar Nath. There was an announcement asking for me?"
The bored lady looked up and dialled a number on her extension and mumbled "Send her in, Mr. Nath is here."
"Please be seated, Sir. Madam will be here in a minute." She gestured towards the black couch in front of her.
"Madam? Who the hell was it?" He wondered.
Then he realised. "Oh God, no no no..... No way...." Before he could finish his thought, Archana stepped out of the lift and walked towards him. Samar did not react but his eyes opened wide when he saw that she was dressed for the occasion. She seemed to be extremely thrilled and jumped to hug him. He pushed her away and looked around hoping that no one had seen them. The receptionist seemed too busy with her game to look up and notice. Archana started adjusting the collar of his suit and he was annoyed to the core now.
"What do you think you are doing here?" He asked angrily.
"Oh, come on Samar. How can you come to a party without me? That's mean of you." Her hand went back to his suit.
"For God's sake, this is an office party Arch. Leave me alone at least here." He pushed away her hand yet again and looked around.
"Now don't be rude. I just wanted to be a part of your fun."
"Don't. Please leave. Now."
"No way." she said clutching his arm. "I'm coming in with you."
Not wanting to create a scene he obliged grudgingly. As they entered the dim lit hall Archana was impressed.
"This is awesome, I'm so glad I came."
"Hmmm...." Samar murmured thinking what he would tell Pia if she saw him with Archana.
Just as he was thinking that, Pia walked towards the bar for a fresh glass of wine and saw them. She looked surprised. Samar just wanted to disappear that instant. To make things worse, Archana dragged him to the bar to fetch themselves a drink.
Pia looked at Archana, not knowing who exactly she is. She was well dressed and sophisticated Pia thought. Maybe a new member on Samar's team, she thought. Samar looked at her helplessly and prayed to God that Archana would let go of his hand. Well, it did not work. As they approached the bar, Pia looked at them and smiled. Archana stopped immediately.
"Oh, you must be Samar's friend? Hi, I'm Archana." "Dr. Archana." She added with a sense of pride.
"Oh!!" Pia was shocked but shook her hand and managed a "I'm Pia."
"Pia?? Oh my God. Is she the..... " She let go of Samar's arm and stared at him.
Samar just nodded.
"So that's why you did not tell me about this party nor get me here. I feel like a fool now."
Samar didn't think twice before saying "Yes Arch, you should. And yes, this is "the" Pia. The love of my life and I'm going to marry her. In fact just before you made your rude interruption I had just asked Pia to marry me."
Archana's face went red and she couldn't believe that Samar had told her that he loved someone else in front of that woman herself. She felt embarrassed.
"Then its better I leave." She said and walked out.
Samar watched her go and sighed. Then he looked at Pia who glared at him with anger.
"What? It was about time I told her the truth. Better late than never." Samar justified.
"That was plainly rude. Let me go talk to her." Pia said and rushed to catch Archana before she left.
"But why do you want to talk to her...?" But Pia had left before he could finish his sentence.
Pia came back to the reception and looked around. Archana stood by the lift lobby waiting for a lift to come up to her.
"Archana, wait." Pia shouted.
Archana turned back as Pia approached her now.
"I'm sorry about the way Samar spoke to you. That was rude, he shouldn't have done that." Pia sounded genuinely apologetic.
"No Pia, I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't have come here. I did not know that you would be here. I was so foolish to think that you would not be here. Damn, what has love done to me?" She started weeping.
"Sshhh, nothing like that Arch. Come, lets go get some fresh air." She said as she pressed the button for the lift.
The lift soon arrived and they both entered the lift as Pia asked the lift boy to take them to the terrace six floors above. Archana was still blowing into her tissue.
The lift stopped and they both stepped out and walked towards the door that led to the terrace. The door was already opened and there were a few people around drinking and even some couples making out. Pia led Archana to the other side where there were not much people. Only a guy who kept whispering into his phone and blowing out smoke from one cigarrete after another.
Archana leaned against the platform and wiped her eyes. Pia waited for a while and then asked, "Are you okay now?"
"Hmmmm...." Archana nodded.
"Listen Arch, its not your fault at all. Please don't blame yourself. You just wanted to be beside the man you loved. No harm in that." Pia rubbed Archana's shoulder.
"Thanks Pia, you're kind." Archana said and smiled.
Pia smiled back without saying anything.
"You know Pia, Samar had told me about you. He told me that he would always love you and I believed him. But, he never told me that he did not love me. And I stayed with him hoping that someday he would." Archana started weeping again.
Pia handed her another tissue and she continued. "If he was so serious about you, why did he play along with me? He has always been cold to me, but never once shrugged me off. He never told me that he doesn't love me. He never told me that we shall not have a future together. He never said a yes, but he never said a no either."
Pia smiled shaking her head. Archana just kept looking at her sniffing every now and then.
"That's Samar for you." Pia said. "Don't tell me you did not know this about him?"
"Samar never opens up to me Pia. The most deep thing that he told me about himself was probably that he loved you. Loves you."
"Okay, sorry if I sound rude now Arch. If he never opened up, how did you fall in love with him?" Pia asked sounding entirely valid.
Archana just shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I somehow felt that I'd be happy with him."
"Inspite of him being so cold and rude to you?
"Yeah, somehow I felt that he was being reclusive because he had you in mind. I was confident that I could get him to come out of your thoughts and he never stopped me from getting close to him. I was so sure that I'd get him to forget you and fall in love me with me. But now...... Damn how stupid was I. Samar still belongs to you."
"Oh God Arch, be sensible for a while will you?" Pia sounded angry.
"Huh?" Archana looked confused.
"Since we met, how many times have you told me that Samar never told you a firm "No" from getting close to him?"
"That's the truth. He never did that. What are you getting at?" She gave another blank stare.
"Samar doesn't like to lose Arch. He needs to win, even if it is only to prove to himself. If plan A doesn't work, he always has a plan B ready." Pia explained.
"Huh? Pia? What are you saying? I just don't get it." She sniffed more into the tissue.
"Did Samar ever tell you why I left him?" Pia asked.
"Hmmm.. I asked him once and he said that there was a misunderstanding. I did not pester him for more. Honestly, I hated it when ever he spoke about you." Archana confessed.
"I don't blame you. Well, here's the misunderstanding. Ever heard Samar talk about a Namitha?" Pia raised an eye brow.
"Never." Archana replied too quick.
"Well, she used to work with us. Namitha, Samar and I joined joined the firm almost about the same time. Samar expressed interest in me the first time he spoke to me. I still can't believe that!" Pia said.
Archana gave a sad smile.
"Namitha was crazy about him right from day one, but I somehow was never interested in him. We were great friends but I never felt romantically inclined to him. But he kept trying to get me to go out with him. And Namitha kept trying to get his attention. One of the reasons why she and I were never friends. Anyway, she left the firm later. And he still tried to get me to go out with him much to the angst of more than half the girls in our office. One fine day I gave in. I saw a different side of him when we started dating and slowly I started falling in love with him." Pia sighed as if to take a break.
Archana by now looked like a eager puppy waiting to be fed.
"I was with him for about a year and then he proposed. We were planning the engagement too. But then I found out that Samar had a "thing" with Namitha before I ended up with him." She sounded angry.
Archana was more perplexed. "So what? It was before you guys started dating right?"
Pia shook her head. "You don't understand Arch. Samar asked me out every single day for about four years until I gave in a couple of years ago. Which means that while he was trying to get me to go out with him, he was also having a safe backup in Namitha. This continued until I agreed to go out with him soon after which Namitha left. I did not understand it then, but a couple of months before my engagement to Samar I ran into her and she told me the truth. Apparently he dumped her like a 'hot potato'. She's still heart broken."
Archana was quiet for a while. "So after you left him I became a 'Namitha' until you agreed to take him back?"
"Exactly. Like I said he doesn't like to lose. He'd forget you as soon as I would remember him. He needs an ego boost even when his priority is failing. That's him. He even accepted the episode with Namitha claiming that it shouldn't make a difference since we were not together then. He still stands by it. And that's why I left him. He loves me yes, I know. But not at the cost of others. That's plain selfish trying to win both ways."
"Then why are you willing to take him back now? Do you still love him?" Archana questioned.
To be continued.