The Flavor

As I looked outside the window, she walked out of the taxi and paid the driver hundred rupees who asked for a better note. I looked carefully.

“Ma’am are you ordering now?” the waitress called me, grabbing my attention.
“Yes? I’m waiting for a friend.” I said, “Okay, get me a cold coffee!”
“And one hot hot for me.” Veena entered and smiled. I smiled back, more with the relief of having a company. We hugged each other, after three long years. I felt my friend in my arms.

“What happened? You know how scared I got when you said you were dead!” I asked her.
“ Where did you tell your dad you were going so late?” Veena asked back.
“Of course I said i was meeting you and your new job’s pending party”
“Clever..! Asking for treat indirectly.”
“No, directly. Now will you tell me what’s on?”

She held my hand tight and whispered “Aahana, promise me..”
“..you know I woudn’t tell..” I interrupted.
“..you won’t shout on me and listen calmly..”
“ Come on…”

“I had a boyfriend.. have!” She took a deep breathe.
I gave her a serious look “You have a boyfriend? Is that a problem?”
“It’s six months”
“Six! okay.” I paused,”Why are you even telling me!” I hid the excitement.

“You said you’ll listen.” She looked upset.
“What’s the problem!”
“He is a great guy! You remember the time when we were rarely talking. I thought of telling you many times.” Veena stopped talking. I waited for her to continue.

“It’s.. I can’t think, what to do!”
She kept her palm on her stomach. We had goosebumps.
“Are you preg..?”
She nodded. I being dumbstruck couldn’t visualise anything other than inquiring the period.
“One month” she spoke broken.

“When did you realise you were..” I asked again.
“This morning.. I really don’t know what to do”
“Are you serious! Obviously, you get an abortion. You are just twenty-three! Your parents.. How will you.. You know them! Oh god…Are you guys illiterate? You know condoms exists! Why did you.. ”

I continued calming the millions of blood vessels that rushed my mind “Who’s the guy? You told him?”

She kept quite and stared a glass of water.
“Fuck off Veena! Answer me!!” I sighed to her angrily.
“It’s Neal. I told him first,” Veena answered back

Neal.

“Great! Go ahead! I’m out of it! Or you get aborted today. In fact now! Let’s go.” I gripped her hand and stood up.
“He is really serious about us. He is ready to accept it” She didn’t let go my grip.
“He has to accept it. What’s good!”
“He didn’t ask me to abort.”
“Am I bad then! You are just twenty-three, Vee.” I explained my frustration.
“It’s okay. We love each other.”

“Ofcourse the great ‘love’.”
“Aahana, Stop talking like mom. I need a friend.”
“But his parents should accept you! Listen..”
“..but all I’m worried about’s mine. I’ve been to Neal’s place quite a few times and his mother is always welcoming and she knows about us. They are in Delhi itself. Neal and his father, Rajesh Rungta, are like friends. He will anytime.. ”

As Veena spoke I tried to recollect what I started frightening.
‘Neal, Delhi, Rajesh Rungta.. Rajesh uncle? Neal!’

I froze with a pinch of pain in my heart!

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