Neil was trying to talk to Alifa, but she constantly kept on ignoring him. He texted her, asking her to meet him the next day at 7:30 a.m in the studio. He wanted to talk to her about something really important.
The next day was a Sunday, so there was no school and the NRS was filled with the dance students from the morning itself. Neil was waiting for Alifa since 7:10 am. He was worried and was walking continuously from one end of the room to the other, completely lost in the confusions of his mind. His mind was wondering whether Alifa would come or not. But his heart said that she would surely come, because she was very considerate towards others. His heart was right! How could Alifa not come to the person whose happiness mattered to her the most.
Yes, she came at about 7:40.
On seeing her, Neil was so relieved and ran up to her and gave her a tight hug. Alifa did not reciprocate coz if she had done, she would have fell down for him again.
Neil- I am so glad you are here. I was so worried whether you would come or not.
Alifa- Say, why did you call me this early and so urgently?
Neil- Just a sec…. (He brings two sitting cubes near Alifa.) Please sit down first. (They both sit.) ……. First tell me, are you upset with anything that I have ever said to you?
Alifa- No, not at all.
Neil- Then why were you ignoring me? I tried to talk to you so many times but every time you walked away.
(Alifa’s whole body became still for a moment. She wasn’t able to decide what to speak.)
Alifa- No, you are thinking…..
Neil- (interrupting)….. See, I know you are upset and angry. And I even know why you are angry. So, there’s no good in hiding anything.
You are upset with me because I refused to dance with you, right?
(Alifa did not say anything. She tries to avoid his gaze biting her lip with her eyes wandering here and there. She wasn’t able to say anything.)
Neil- Your silence tells that I am right.
(Neil keeps both his hands on her shoulders and turned her towards him.)
Listen, I am sorry for what I have done……… I kept both of our careers as well as the reputation of NRS on stake, just for my selfish reasons….. I am really sorry.
(Tears rolled down from his eyes as he said those words.)
I should have thought about it before, but you know na how stupid I am…
(Seeing Neil for the 1st time in this avatar, Alifa also started crying with him, for she was the most sensitive girl one could ever meet with.)
Alifa- Hey…….. Shhh…..
Don’t be sorry yaar. Everybody makes mistakes. If you genuinely regret it and apologise from your heart, it’s fine.
Neil- Did you forgive me?
Alifa- I was never angry with you….. (in her mind- “How can I be? I was just handling my awkward self! Sorry for this rude behavior.”)
Neil- Oh God! Thanks…..
Thank you, Alifa. You don’t know how much better you made me feel.
Alifa- Was it just this thing for which you called me so urgently???
(She gave a puzzled look with her eyebrows lifted up.)
Alifa, I have been practicing with Jazz for about 3 days now, but…….I…….I…….I shouldn’t say this, but…..there’s something missing between us. I mean…….we don’t get the steps perfectly like they should be. I am not saying she’s a bad dancer, but you know na, her forte is traditional/folk/Indian type and we are doing Paso Doble. I do like her a lot, but I’m sure that is not at all helping us in the chemistry which is needed for this routine.
Alifa- Hmm…. So now, what do you think you’ll do???
Neil- (Holds her hands)
Will you please please please dance with me? I have always admired you for your dance. You are so flawless. You are a ballerina. No one else can do this international form better than you…. Alifa, will you please be with me this time?
(Oh God! He says there is something missing between him and Jazz…. And he is asking me to dance with him! Does he think that we both can have a better chemistry than him and Jazz?? He is saying I am flawless in dance….Oh God! Why this???- when I’m trying to walk away from him. I know he can never like me, then why?…… Umm, I think it’s not necessary for me that even he feels the same for me. But it would have been better. But still, what’s wrong to dance with him??? After all, I’ve always wanted to!!!)
Neil- What happened? Where are you lost?? What do you say? Whether you will………?
Neil- Thank you so much Alifa.
(Takes out something from his pocket)
Here, take this- a ‘Thank You’ gift from me.
(He hands her a chocolate bar.)
Alifa- But what about Jazz? Have you talked to her about this?
Neil- No, but I’ll handle it with her. She won’t disagree with me. She will take up the ‘Female Duet’ again.
Alifa- Okay then, great!
When are we starting our practice?
Neil- Tomorrow– Monday.
With a new week, with a new partner, we will start a new routine. Everything new & fresh! (winks at Alifa)
(Alifa in turn gave him a big smile. Her eyes sparkling like stars!)
Alifa was up awake by 5:00 am. She sipped her coffee which her mom had brought to her, as soon as she woke up. Alifa had the most loving family which consisted of her house-oriented mother, her father with so-modern outlook and her sweet, straight and simple but quite athletically built strong, muscular, elder brother – who was 3 years older to her. Her mom and dad looked so beautiful together. Alifa had savoured one of their young-age photos in which they stood together and looked really like “Bollywood Hero & Heroine”. Her mom looked really young and no one could guess her age. Her father, although had an athletic body, but his face was withered from the many years’ continuous hard-core work. She also had a granny- who also looked very young with an awesome glow in her face- might have been very beautiful when she was young.
So, this was her family- a middle-class typical Indian family.
After having coffee, Alifa went straight to her terrace, spread out her Yoga Mat in the light of the early sun and started on her daily Yoga Routine.
She was a perfectionist and was very active in everything. What was called ‘being lazy’- she didn’t know, coz she had never ever experienced that.
After 45 minutes of Yoga and 15 minutes of Aerobics, she went down to take a bath and get ready for school…..She reached the school at 7:15 am. The school used to begin at 7:30.
The bell rang for recess.
A few girls- Neil’s best friends, surrounded him for their usual chat. Alifa opened up her Tiffin Box which had vegetable sandwich, sprouts and some dry fruits. She was a true dancer—she had not only practiced her postures and steps so well, but had also practiced a perfect balanced diet for years. She was ‘almost’ perfect in her field. Amaya- Alifa’s best friend, was sitting next to her.
Neil excused his friends and rushed to Alifa. He sat in front of Alifa’s bench and faced towards her and said-
“I have selected a few songs…. We both will decide which one is to be chosen amongst them….”
“Yeah, it’s fine!”
Neil sees her tiffin.
“Oh! Can I have one?”
“Yeah, why not? Take!”
Alifa and Amaya were quite amazed and shared a 2-second glance with each other. Neil had never been so friendly with her.
“Thanks Alifa! You always bring healthy stuff, I guess! You know na, I ‘m so lazy. I can’t manage my own breakfast. Yeah, my mom does, but she makes the tiffin according to my younger brother’s likes and dislikes! She has no time to make two separate dishes! So, the whole family has to bear with my bro’s choices! Ah, poor me! My mum is a working lady, so she is very busy always and I can’t argue with her on that…..especially for such ‘food’ issues! Hahah….”
“Hey! Yaar, it’s fine! Come on! Here, take this also. I have already had a really heavy breakfast today before leaving home.”
“No..no…no… You eat! Listen! I have also downloaded a few videos and they are awesome. Today in the evening, first we’ll see them and then we’ll start our practice.”
“Sure. Listen. I have the Annual Function DVD of my previous school at Agra. Once, some of them performed Paso Doble. I will bring the DVD of that.”
“That would be great! So done! Today, 4:00 pm sharp! Okay???”
Neil snags away some sprouts from Alifa’s lunchbox and goes to his place-
“Thanks for this!”
Alifa and Amaya laugh…