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❝ The best diplomacy starts with getting to know each other

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❝ The best diplomacy starts with getting to know each other. ❞ 

~George W Bush


Sunita was angry with her daughter, Anika, because it was almost 5:40 pm and she was still not home, even though she knew that the guests were supposed to arrive at 6. On the other hand, Anika's father, Suresh, was waiting for her at the door moving to and fro. Finally, he was relieved seeing Anika walking towards home. When she finally entered the house, her mother came running from the kitchen and started scolding her,

"I had reminded you in the morning to be home back by 5 pm. And now, you are here at almost 5:45, guests will be coming at any time now. And look at you, you look so tired! Oh God! What will those people think about you and......"

Suresh cut off her saying,

"Don't panic Sunita. Just calm down. Everything will be fine. And I want Nirav to marry our daughter for who she is and not for how she looks. Plus it will hardly take few minutes for her to get ready."

He paused for a second, turning towards Anika who was standing quietly there, and said with an assuring smile,

"Go dear, go get ready fast."

Without thinking for a second, Anika immediately went upstairs and softly shut her room door behind. She sat on her bed thinking about the past twenty hours. All she hoped that she would wake from her deep sleep and realize that these past twenty hours were nothing but a part of her bad dream. Back to the reality, it was surely not her dream. She quickly got up, took a very quick shower and got dressed in a simple blue colored dress. She recalled her father's words, "I want Nirav to marry our daughter for who she is and not for how she looks." Like most of the girls, even Anika wanted to be married happily, she wanted a loving husband who will love her for who she is and not for her looks, but only after her education. She hoped that this guy Nirav would try to understand her and let her continue with her career ahead.

The sound of the doorbell broke Anika's chain of thoughts and that was a sign that the guests have arrived. After almost five minutes or so, there was a soft knock on her door. Nervousness to face all the guests overpowered her confidence. She opened the door just to see her brother, Anish, standing there with a sweet smile. Anish and Anika always had a very great bond and shared each and everything with each other. He came inside and spoke softly,

"I know di you are nervous but trust me, everything's going to be fine. Just be you! Now come downstairs, everyone is waiting for you."

Anish said very few words, but his those few words awoke the confidence inside her. She went downstairs with him and found that everyone was curiously waiting for her. The confidence with which she came downstairs was again washed away by the nervousness sensing so many pairs of eyes towards her. Sensing her nervousness, Anish, who was standing beside her, squeezed her hand slightly so as to make her feel better. The tea and snacks were already served.

"Come here Anika, sit beside Asha auntie.", said her mother.

Anika immediately went and sat at the place instructed by her mother beside the lady who was supposedly Nirav's mother. She was so nervous that she didn't have the guts to face everyone, so just kept her gaze towards the floor. But she was also curious to have a good look and see who exactly this guy, Nirav is with whom she was supposed to get married. She lifted her head slightly to look towards him and found him doing the same. He was staring at her, but with a pleasant smile. She was so embarrassed that she didn't even care to smile back, and simply averted her gaze back to the floor.

"You were of hardly five years when we last saw you. You were so cute then, and even now I could see that innocence on your face.", said Nirav's mother, Asha.

"You guys might not remember each other since you were kids then.", Vijay, Nirav's father said.

"Yeah. Its been so many years now since you shifted to Bangalore.", said Suresh.

"But now, will you be going back there or will be settling back here itself?", asked Sunita.

"We will be going back as we have our company there, but now when our relationship is going to change from friends to in-laws, occasional visits would be mandatory. Isn't it Anika?", said Vijay with a smile.

"Hey Anika, Nirav, I know we are here to officially talk about your marriage, but please let's stop being so formal. Anika dear, go take Nirav with you, show him your room, have some talk, or else you both would get bored sitting between all of us, listening to few old people talking about their past memories.", said Suresh.

"Do I look old dad?", questioned Anish.

"No, but you are so busy with your phone, so I don't think our talks would really matter to you!", Suresh answered rolling his eyes at Anish.

The room filled with the roar of laughter. Anika quietly stood up waiting for Nirav to do the same. Once he got up, she gave him a nervous look. He followed her to her room. Her room was simple and tidy, painted in blue. Nirav was nervous too, but he was also very excited to meet her after so many years. He sat on the bed and waited for a few seconds to see if Anika would initiate the conversation, but when she didn't, he finally decided to speak,

"Hey, why are you standing, please sit down."

Anika sat on the chair exactly beside the bed where her study table was placed. An awkward silence filled the room. They both were at the stage where each one of them had so many questions in their mind but had no idea how to present them.

"How.....", coincidently both of them said this at the same time and the awkward silence immediately turned into silent giggles.

"Ladies first!", he said.

"Um....okay. How are you?", asked Anika nervously.

"I am absolutely fine. But I am sensing something wrong with you. Why are you so quiet? Are you like this always or today is something special?", he replied.

"Uh... there's nothing like that...", she said.

"Hey chill, I was kidding. I know I have a very poor sense of humor. Please bear with it!", he said. His words made Anika chuckle.. 

"Since we don't know each other, tell me about you?", he said.

"What do you want to know about me?", she asked.

"Anything and everything that you want to share.", he replied with a smile.

", he replied with a smile

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