The black BMW came to a halt under the front entrance portico of Sunset-Point Resort. Om and Shivaay stepped out of the car. Their drive had been incredibly scenic. The air was pleasantly mild and the various floral plants and trees lining the inside of the boundary wall of the resort were dispersing an intoxicating fragrance in the gentle breeze.
Shivaay felt a deep sense of craving within him to hold her in his arms. He had gotten used to such thoughts in most unlikely circumstances. She would suddenly appear in and dominate his thoughts in between meetings, conferences, workouts, meals, and other work. He had made his peace with such occurrences and learned to perform his duties side by side. It was no use fighting it as then it only got worse. But what he felt now was much stronger. He took in a deep breath and waited for Om to come around to his side.
Sharma was waiting for them at the entrance. He was the only person who knew who they were and why they were there.
Sharma: Welcome sir, welcome. Was your journey ok. I hope you didn’t have any problems.
Shivaay:Oh no Mr. Sharma. We absolutely loved the drive. And looking at the location of the resort and the beautiful view all around, we couldn’t be happier to have made this decision.
Sharma: Please come in sir. Have some refreshments and then I will show you your rooms. After you have rested for a while I will give you a tour of the place.
Om: Mr. Sharma, I hope you are the only one who knows about the transaction and why we are here.
Sharma: Yes sir. Mehra Saab told me and I have followed his instructions.
They walked into the main lobby area of the resort. It had a beautiful high celing decorated with gilded designs. A massive and magnificent chandelier hung in the centre.The reception area was to one side and gleaming steel elevators right opposite the reception desks at the other end of the lobby. The rest of the lobby area was filled with sections of comfortable sofas so that people could sit in private groups. There were four large screen T.V. screens placed strategically on the walls to provide easy viewing to any position in the lobby. The décor was simple, elegant, and tasteful. Om made a mental note that this area had to remain untouched.
They crossed the lobby to enter the main dining hall. It was a huge square hall. There were just a couple guests dining in there. “The tourism season has not started in full swing. That is why there are just a few patrons residing at the resort at the moment” informed Mr. Sharma. The furniture in the hall was of the highest quality but again simple. Dim light lamps hung over each table in addition to bright diffused light ceiling lamps. One wall of the hall was entirely french windows. Luxurious and thick maroon curtains flanked each end of that wall. The two sides perpendicular to the french windowed wall had large windows as well. Dining tables were arranged against the walls of the hall except for the french windows side. In addition, there was also sparse seating in the center of the hall. Care was taken not to overcrowd the hall with seating. A good 10 feet space had been left empty within the hall before the french windows. A few comfortable cushioned and arm-rested chairs had been placed in the corners. Outside the french windows was a kind of a low height terrace that one could go on to look at the beautiful garden and lighted water fountain in front of it . The view outside of all of the windows was of the plush lawn outside and of the stepped hillside beyond. It was simply magnificent. Om’s hands started craving a paintbrush and he flexed his fingers to get them to calm down.
Low volume soft music played from embedded speakers.Sharma seated them at a table next to a large window. The chief waiter who was waiting in the hall took their lunch order from the menu and left. Sharma also left them for a while to let them have their privacy.
Om: Wow!! Shivaay , this is much more than what I had expected. This place was built with love. I don’t want to damage a single brick. We will have to work on extending by adding built area. I don’t want to touch what’s already there.
Shivaay: You are right Om. And this is your baby. Your decision in all matters will be final. Time for me to put some heart in business like Mr. Mehra. Maybe then karma will think “ME” worthy of enjoying my retirement with “MY” wife and kids. Provided, I am able to find my beloved wife who does not even know just how beloved she is!
Shivaay laughed dryly. Om looked at him with a smile. “I know that will happen for you Shivaay. The investigators are looking for Anika night and day.
Shivaay: Investigators will not be able to find her Om. When God has decided I have paid for my crimes, HE will lead me to her. I just know it.
Om looked on at Shivaay. Was this really his Shivaay! Pensive, humble, philosophical. He had become a complete man. He prayed to God to please send Anika back in their lives soon. Shivaay had suffered enough.
Presently, their lunch arrived and they started eating. Neither was too hungry and they were done pretty soon. The food was delicious nonetheless. Sharma asked if they wanted to rest. Om wanted a tour of the place. He was just enthralled by it. Shivaay, who could not stop the fluttering sensations in his gut and his chest just wanted to sit there for a while.
Om: Alright Shivaay. I’ll go ahead then and you join me when you are up to it.
Shivaay: Sounds good. I’ll be there in a moment.
Sharma took Om away. Shivaay stared out of the windows.
Shivaay: what is it about this place!!?? It’s making me so restless!
The chief waiter , who had been told that these guests were to be taken special care of, came and asked if he could bring him some coffee.
Shivaay: You know what!! I’d love that.
Chief Waiter: Sure sir. Our kitchen manager makes the best Americano coffee ever. She loves it so much she even has a nickname for it.
Shivaay said absentmindedly lifting his glass to get a sip of water ” She does? What is it?”
Waiter laughed lightly and said ” Sir she calls Americano, Saira Bano”
Shivaay dropped his glass and the water spilled all over his shirt and lap.
Om was enjoying his tour of the resort ground floor.
Om: What’s behind the resort building. We haven’t been there.
Sharma: Oh that’s staff accommodation sir.
Sharma kept talking as he led Om to the rear of the resort.
“Some of our staff needs accommodation on the resort campus. Mehra Saab has had very comfortable apartments built for them. His wife wanted the staff here to feel at home. She is a gem of a person. Down to earth, funny, and incredibly affectionate. Probably because she comes from a humble background. She is Mehra Saab’s guiding force.”
Om listened and thought, “We are looking for a lady who is exactly like that”
They reached the staff apartments. It looked beautiful though simple. It even had a tiny play area for kids. The rear entrance of the resort was behind it. A school bus stopped in front of it just as Om got there. Sharma explained, some of the staff who live here have kids.
Om looked smiling at the bus. A couple of kids got down. Then the driver helped a small boy with crutches get down. Om looked in that direction for a moment and then his smile vanished.
The kids entered the gate and said “Hello Sharma uncle”. Sharma waved affectionately at them. Then the boy with crutches stopped in his tracks as he saw Om. He stood frozen with his mouth open for a couple seconds and then shouted “Om bhaiya!!! I knew you would find us!!”
Om whispered “Saahil” as tears flowed from his eyes. Then he ran and picked him up and hugged him tightly.
Back in the dining hall, the waiter was taken aback at Shivaay’s wet state. But Shivaay just stared at him and asked,
What did you say? What does she call Americano?
Waiter(scared): Sir, sssss Saira Bano.
Shivaay got up with a jerk and asked , painfully controlling himself.
Is she in the kitchen now?
Shivaay (breathing in deeply): Show me the kitchen and then leave.
Waiter: Sir patrons are not allowed there. Only staff members can go there.
Shivaay had an urge to bash up that guy but he controlled himself.
Shivaay: Call Sharma, take permission, then show me the kitchen.
Waiter calls Sharma. A dumbfounded Sharma answers the phone and without thinking says yes to whatever the waiter asks.
Waiter: Please come this way sir.
Shivaay felt his heart was going to throb out of his chest as he walked towards the kitchen. Once the kitchen door was in sight the waiter left. Shivaay once again took in a deep breath and opened the kitchen door.
There were just four other workers in the kitchen. Dressed in a loose black silk, straight cut, knee length kurta and a cream churidaar, Anika stood near the kitchen sink going through a list of things to be done that day. Having had just a couple of glasses of lemon water, she felt weak and slightly dizzy. Then she felt a breeze graze her back as the kitchen door opened. Her heartbeat became very fast and then she heard a familiar voice say,
” I have heard that someone here makes the best Saira Bano ever.”
Anika turned around with a gasp and her astonished eyes met the blue- green eyes that she saw every single day when she closed her own eyes for a while and every night when she went to bed.
She stood where she was , rooted to the spot, her brain not functioning properly. Shivaay briskly covered the distance between him and Anika as the confused kitchen workers stared at him.
She pressed back against the sink as Shivaay left barely half an inch space between them. Then he said, “So now you have the power to spill water on me without even being near me Paanika?”
Anika just stared at him stunned into disbelief. Involuntarily, her lips whispered, “Shivaay” as if the name was part of her breath.
Hearing that Shivaay lost the last shred of his control and taking her into his arms he kissed her mouth deeply as if trying to draw some life from her into his own lifeless heart.
The kitchen staff looked at them with dropped jaws and then understanding the sensitivity of the situation quietly left the room.
Shivaay kissed her until he felt her growing limp in his tight grip. Realizing what he was doing to her he pulled his face away and looked at her streaming eyes with his own wet ones. He had barely said “Anika” when she grew totally limp and fainted in his arms.
Again no precap guys cos i have to think yet. Thanks so much for your continuous support and encouragement. Those are the only reasons why I could write this. I will post links to other parts through comments below. ???