Riya closed her eyes and rested her head on Ryan’s shoulder. This feeling of safety was primal to Riya’s existence. She was unable to think that a day will come when she will not be able to enjoy such moments of solitude with Ryan. Over these few years, he had become an important part of her life: her friend, love and confidante. She could trust him with any secret of her life. He always had solutions to all her problems. No matter how tricky the situation was, Ryan found a way to bail out Riya from it. His suggestions in her work life as well as personal life were objective and practical. Even Ryan depended hugely on Riya. She was his pillar of strength. With each day their relationship had grown manifolds and found a new meaning.
She felt a slight jerk and looked up to see that Ryan was motioning her to keep her head off his shoulder. Lost in her own thoughts, Riya had almost forgotten that they were traveling in a crowded bus instead of Ryan’s car and both of them had huddled together to occupy the only empty seat in the bus. The journey to and from office was the most memorable part of Riya’s day. This was for the simple reason that she could be with Ryan and share all her happiness and worries with him. All her worries actually, turned to happiness when she was with him. Wherever they went she met a few envying gazes from women around them. Needless to say, she felt very proud to be with him.
‘By the way…why were you shouting at your team members today?’ inquired Ryan, breaking into her stream of thoughts. ‘When…? Oh..Yes…even you would have done the same had you been in my position’ defended Riya.
‘Why? What happened?’ questioned Ryan. ‘You know about that big client delivery that we have on the 20th….? Regarding that, my efficient team members had gone ahead and sought Subho Sir’s advice…even without telling me anything. Naturally….Subho Sir was irritated. He called me in his cabin and asked me to improve my relations with the team. Just imagine….. How big an insult that is to me?’ fumed Riya.
‘And…. you think…the solution to all this is shouting at your team? I don’t think it will help in any way. Just cool your temper for once…and think…. Do you actually give time in building communication within your team? Your team members may find you hard to approach…..maybe that is the reason why they went ahead to met Subho Sir! Why don’t you sit with them tomorrow first thing in the morning and ask them their issues…. What say?’ advised Ryan.
Ryan did have a point. Being busy with the client delivery she did neglect the issues plaguing her team members. Riya thought that maybe she was a little too hard on them. Actually she was stressed and angry at the same time for being called by Subho Sir. Thus, she conveniently vented her anger on her team.
‘Well…I think you are right! I don’t know what happens to me when I get angry…. I will talk to them tomorrow’ said Riya smiling. Saying it, made her feel relaxed. What would she do without Ryan….? She could not even think. He was just the radar of her life’s ship; the savior in her distress. Her thoughts were broken by the incessant ringing of Ryan’s phone. Ryan picked up the phone and cupped his hands over the speaker to avoid any disturbance. Riya looked out of the window to wait for his call to end.
‘So…what are you doing tomorrow? Can we go for shopping?’ asked Riya trying to change the serious atmosphere. ‘Shopping....? let’s see…You know that I cannot stay out of home for a long time after office. If you can manage to leave office a little early then maybe we can plan something..’ suggested Ryan. Riya beamed with joy, such rare moments were always to be cherished to the utmost. She entwined her fingers in his and whispered in his ears, ‘Thank you for being so understanding…..I love you so much’. Ryan smiled in agreement and added ‘I love you too….’ For Riya, the moment lasted for an eternity and everything else seemed to fade into oblivion! He slowly untangled his fingers from hers and motioned her to move and give way. His stop was coming next. She woke up from her reverie and smiled. As he approached the door she waved him goodbye. Riya’s stop was next. As soon as Ryan got off the bus, she also got up from her seat to walk towards the door. For as long as she could, she craned her neck to stare at Ryan’s fading silhouette in the darkness outside.
Ryan walked the ten minutes path leading to his home thinking about Riya and smiled to himself. He pressed the calling bell and waited patiently. The door opened and Sunaina flashed him a hearty smile. ‘Hey…how was your day?’ asked Sunaina enthusiastically. Entering, Ryan gave her a huge smile and added: ‘Just office…you know…you tell me what you did the whole day? And where is our little princess? Did she complete her homework?’
‘Oh…Yes…she has been a good girl all day. But she is fast asleep now’ replied Sunaina, obviously proud of her four year old.
Ryan went straight to his daughter’s room and carefully opened the door, conscious not to make any noise. He kissed the forehead of his sleeping child. She was in a sound sleep. He left the room silently to go back to his room. He then freshened up and sat down to dinner opposite his wife of 7 years. Dinner was the only time when he caught up with Sunaina, and talked about everything, especially, about their daughter. Their daughter was in school now and quite a bright child too. Life was just perfect for this family!
Riya walked herself home almost dragging to take every step; all the time thinking about Ryan and sometimes about her parents too. At times, she was worried about her parents, who were busy finding a groom for her. The way they were looking, it will not be long before they find someone appropriate. She was worried that this was also taking a toll on their health. They were always stressed about not finding the right guy. She smiled thinking about their concern for her and thought how lucky she was to have such wonderful parents. Her mother opened the door with a volley of questions.
‘How will I ever explain to the groom’s family that their would-be daughter-in-law has to return at midnight from office? I don’t know how will you manage when you get married? Not everyone will be as adjusting as Ma and Papa. Are you listening to me?’ shouted her mother. Riya flung her arms around her mother to stop her lecture. ‘Ma…enough…I’m tired already…give me something to eat please…’ pleaded Riya. Her mother softened instantly and set out to get the table ready for dinner. Riya freshened up and sat down to eat, all the time fidgeting with her phone.
‘Leave the phone alone and concentrate on your food!’ instructed her mother. Like a school girl, she grimaced at her mother mockingly, but obliged. Her father joined them on the dinner table.
‘How was your day, beta?’ asked her father. She smiled and replied with a nod, signifying that it was 'OK'. Mr. Awasthi was quite proud of his only child and discussing her office at dinner had become a routine for the past few years.
She was about to turn, to tell her father something about her office, when the screen of her phone lit up with the words: ‘Boss calling…’
Riya stopped to smile, picked up the phone and walked away from the dining table.
‘Hello…Ryan...? Calling so soon…..?? Is she asleep already…?’ she asked in a hushed tone.