This story is part of a novella – A girl was born

Do check out the first and the subsequent chapters –

red for danger

He stood up before she could reach him. She gingerly extended her hand forward. He took it in his and then gave her a big tight hug. It felt good to be in his arms again. She admitted to herself, not very comfortably. It was as if she was in a time warp. It was as if the eighteen years hadn’t taken place. And they were the same Tara and Himanshu who had met in the café in Ahmedabad years ago. He released her as abruptly as he had hugged her and gave her a long hard look. A smile of genuine happiness lit up his face. Signalling her to sit in the opposite chair, he sat too.

“After such a long time. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you entering the café. I had to blink my eyes twice to make sure it was really you, Tara!”

“How are you? Are you alone?” He asked.

She nodded. She found she could not speak. Her throat was dry and her lips parched. Wetting her lips with her tongue, she said, “Yes!”, which came out like a hoarse whisper.

He signalled to a waiter who promptly came to their table.

“What will you have?”

“Masala chai with lots of ginger.”

“And, a refill of expresso for me.” He said.

“Anything to eat?” He asked.

She refused. As hungry as she was a while ago, her appetite had suddenly deserted her.

She could not take her eyes off him. He had changed. The first thing she noticed were his glasses. Also, his hair had receded and grey hairs had covered his temples. He looked like a man in his mid-forties, and a very distinguished one at that. His good looks made her realize her bedraggled appearance. She was suddenly conscious of her wet clothes and her dishevelled hair, because she had no time to run a comb through them in the morning and were now hanging down her shoulders in a wet bunch.

“Who would have thought we would meet like this unexpectedly in Mumbai of all places!” He exclaimed. He said with a childlike joy on his face.

“What do you do, Tara?”

“I teach high school students.”

“And I am sure they all love you, like your earlier kindergarten kids.” He was good at handing out compliments, he hadn’t changed much in that aspect.

“I take it you are married.” She nodded.

“So what does your husband do?”

“He runs a media company.”

“He must be an interesting man” He said. Tara didn’t reply. She could not confess that she had never thought of Nikhil in those terms.  


“One, daughter. What about you?”

“None, and how I regret it!” He sighed.

“It’s not as if you are over the hill. You still have time.”

“I got divorced when it was actually the right time for having babies.”

Surprisingly, that piece of information didn’t give her the pleasure she had envisaged when she had prepared the list of his supposed misfortunes.  

And, then suddenly out of nowhere which pulled her out from her reverie, he announced, “You are still as beautiful!”

Was Himanshu flirting with Tara after all these years? Find out in Sweet and Sour