Short story 4: Quiet Kiara

Rishaan picked up his favorite purple shirt from his messed up cupboard, having a pile of clothes in the middle. He has received many compliments on wearing this shirt since his college.

“Everybody thought I looked handsome, atleast most of the girls did. Hope Kiara likes it too.” He thought cheerfully to himself.

Kiara used to work in the company he joined immediately after his MBA from IIM, Bangalore.

Her dark brown hair complemented her deep brown eyes when he went to ask about HR procedure for setting goals for the year. In her soft-spoken manner, she explained the procedure but he understood a little more than that. So, one day, he asked her out while discussing usual office gossip.

Kiara was a shy girl yet a wonderful person. He loved spending time with her. At times, she will not even say more than five lines in an hour. That made her so different and so special. He has never met anybody like her.

First six months went in a dizzy. Maybe he was too much in love with the idea of love that he failed to notice his growing uneasiness in the relationship. The quietness to his passionate conversations grew irksome. Kiara always needed to be home after sometime as she could not tolerate too much noise after a while. She was not ready to adjust to any of his demands.

They were to meet for lunch in new food joint opened next to their office building. He was about to leave just when his boss called to check status of his project. By the time his meeting got over, he was already half an hour late from their decided time of 2 PM. And he has got five missed calls from Kiara.

Rishaan rushed to the shop marked “Uttam” – white calligraphy sparkling on a light blue background. He bumped into many of his colleagues as many have come to the joint to escape their horrible office food. He could see people from other nearby offices as well, making the place quite crowded.

Finally, after much jostling and wrestling, he managed to spot Kiara in her brown top on the left hand corner table. There was a bunch of people standing next to her table as well, perhaps waiting for her to get up. Rishaan wondered how she managed to hold it for so long for he knew that she was always on time.

“Sorry, I got stuck.” He started.

“No problem. I am about to finish.” She shot back.”Why can’t you be on time ever?”

“Did you eat anything?” She said in a falsely sweet tone. “And meet my friend Diya.” She pointed to a girl whom he has taken as part of the group standing next to table.

Diya was petite girl with a very fair complexion, accentuated by her bright pink dress.

“Hello, it is nice to meet you. Kiara has told me about you. I wanted to meet you from a long time. I also work in her department. So, how was your lunch? We had Indian stuff. It has been some days since we have eaten it, so we thought why not. We will have to leave now because we have our quarterly townhall in next five minutes.” She said excitedly.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you too.” Rishaan finally said.

“Ya, we will have to leave now. I will see you later.” Kiara spoke in a soft yet angry tone.

The waiting group has taken seats at the table vacated by Kiara and Diya. Rishaan immediately knew that he has hit a double whammy with a missed lunch and an evening fight.

He has not bothered to call Kiara as he had already apologized to her. And he was very tired as well. “Her department hardly has any work to do. We are always running from pillar to pillar to generate business for the firm.” He thought angrily.

It was almost midnight when Kiara called him. He answered the phone, half asleep.

There was disturbance in the phone with occasional blanks.  He could hear only a faint voice of Kiara. It took him a minute to realize that she was crying.

“Kiara, I am sorry that I could not come for lunch on time but I had a meeting. I will see you in the morning. Okay?” He implored but he did not get any response. Instead, she slammed the phone down.

Next morning, he ran into Diya as he walked into HR department to talk to Kiara. She was still in her bubbly mood, maybe which was a permanent feature.

“Hey, how are you, Kiara has just gone for a meeting with a new joiner to check about his experience in the first month with the firm. You will have to wait for an hour for meeting to finish or I will tell her that you were here.”

“No, I will talk to her later myself. I better have some coffee, my head is paining.” Rishaan grumbled. “Great! I am also going to have some coffee.” Diya replied.

Rishaan got along very well with Diya. She was easy to talk to. There is hardly any need to pause, guess and think whether she has any interest in what you are talking as she would always answer and she always has something to add.

“Unlike Kiara.” He thought to himself, rolling his eyes.

Kiara joined them in the cafeteria after her meeting. Her face was quite swollen, perhaps from crying during last night.

“Hi Kiara, look who is here. I have been telling him about our townhall. He said there is similar thing happening in his department as well. Funny, isn’t it? He is a funny guy. Rishaan is. You have got yourself a handsome funny guy. Lucky girl.” Diya said, slighting touching Rishaan’s left arm.

Kiara was expressionless.

“As usual.” Rishaan thought to himself.

“Hey, why do not we all go to Goa for this New Year? We have off on Christmas and New Year. If we take four holidays each, we can enjoy both in Goa. What do you guys say?” Diya said eagerly.

“Kiara will not want to go.” Rishaan started. “No, I will go.” Kiara said, perhaps out of anger.

“Great, I go and book tickets then. Yayyy! It will be so much fun.” Diya jumped and went excitedly back to her seat.

Rishaan again apologized for missing the lunch. “It is okay.” Kiara finally said after what seemed like fifteen minutes of silence.

Rishaan did not know how much he should look forward to the trip to Goa. But, Diya kept on messaging him about her excitement for the trip and what all plans and places she has thought of. In fact, her excitement was infectious.

So, by the time he reached airport, he gave a big cheery smile on seeing Diya.  Kiara soon joined them just in time for boarding as she was stuck in traffic.

In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioral dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.

When the flight landed at the Dabolim Airport, Rishaan felt uncanny…his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.

He still felt for Kiara yet he hardly wanted to continue the relationship.

Diya’s openness has got him out of dullness brought by Kiara yet he could not hurt Kiara.

“Come Kiara, our room is on 5th floor.” said Diya in unusually high pitch, hinting slightly of guilt, as sun shone dully on the bright yellow board of Club Mahindra hotel in Varca.

In the evening, they went to Gloriosshack adjoining the hotel on the right. They already had their firstset of beers when they ordered another set of beers, prawn and fish. Beers arrived but it seemed that waiter has completely forgotten about food. Diya went to check on food.

Rishaan went after Diya to help her spot the waiter though it was just an excuse. He found her standing behind a group of waiters trying to spot their waiter. Rishaan took her aside.” I love you and not Kiara.” He said a little too passionately, may be out of assurance that his passion will be acknowledged or maybe he was already drunk.

Diya gave a gleeful shriek and leaned forward to hug him. She stopped midway with smile vanishing from her face. Rishaan turned backwards to find Kiara standing behind him.

Quietness has always been Kiara’s way of speech. She left for Delhi that evening itself.

Rishaan’s every conversation was replied to but it was never listened and understood. Rishaan had company for every party but he never had a companion. Rishaan felt excited but he never felt happy. Rishaan and Diya soon broke up.

Sometimes, Rishaan sits alone and looks out of window to feel the quietness of Kiara.

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