*This won't make sense until you've read Part I and Part II*
Venkat was surprised to see the empty cube. Her blue and green bag was also missing, which meant she hadn't come in at all. A sudden feeling of fear swept over him and he swept out his mobile and called her. She picked it in half a ring, "Today's started out on a wrong note, I woke up sooooo late and then I took bath and rushed to my mess for breakfast and they were out of food. So I went to this hotel round the corner all alone and realized I had only 500 rupees notes in my purse and had to hunt around for change. And now this traffic jam", she drawled out each word for emphasis. "Oh ok, I was just wondering if you were on leave today. Ok, don't drive too fast." She knew he would call and she could sense the relief in his tone.
She liked him. She had justified it hotly to her gal pal, "Why wouldn't I like him? He is kind, thoughtful and really cares beyond the superficial level. He is charming in his own way, can be trusted and in short super nice." "That's just your way of covering the fact that he is as dull as ditchwater. Yeah have a passionate affair with reliable ol Venkat", her friend retorted.
The truth in her friend's words hit her and she frowned a bit. It was not that reliability didn't go down well with Srishti, she admired that quality in men. But she fancied herself as a romanticist and in that role, Venkat was hardly the Prince Charming. She had no siblings, and most of her childhood was spent dreaming. And in due time she started dreaming about her guy, gave him form and even held imaginary conversations with him. The problem was, Venkat resembled him in no way. She wanted her guy to be spontaneous and even impulsive; Venkat thought twice before even saying something. Her guy was a brilliant conversationalist mixing knowledge with humor and could argue a tail off a donkey; you were lucky if you could tear ten words continuously off Venkat's mouth. Mr Right also had to be a party animal, clubbing, pubbing and so on; Venkat thought twice before attending the annual company party and decided to attend in the last minute only because she was going. He hated staying up late and considered watching too much TV a vice.
Srishti was a small town girl herself. And she liked being so. But heart went out for these oh-so-cool guys of whom Venkat was not a part of. She knew she was being a little shallow when she rejected Venkat outright. But she felt like she was killing something in her heart if she said yes to Venkat. Venkat hadn't said much, but the look on face shot to her heart and she wondered if she was killing something by saying no. She always convinced herself that she didn't "love" him. Sure, she liked being with him, liked talking to him, liked listening to him, but was it something more than that? Srishti could never give a straight answer to that question, which kept asking itself so frequently.
And the fact that he was her colleague and lived two streets away from her didn't help. Whenever he smiled, she felt like ruffling his hair and when he was down, it took her a lot of resolve not to hug him and tell him things will be alright soon. She wondered if Venkat shared these urges. And sometimes she wondered if she had killed the love in his heart by her refusal, leaving behind just affection. For a period of time, she forgot all about her imaginary X and almost waited for him to approach her again so that they could live happily ever after. Unfortunately he was the perfect gentleman who didn't disturb the lady again and she was the Ice Princess who didn't propose to men. As time went by and nothing happened, she forced herself to abandon such feelings and stopped feeling sorry for what she did.