[Editor’s Note : Every week we will be publishing one chapter from Ansh Das’s book, The Memory Of A Face. Needless to say, we are super excited! Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11 & Chapter 12]
Diano added extra chocolate powder to his drink and headed to the sofa where Andy was seated.
“Have you been to Guilin before?” Andy asked him.
“Do you want to come along with me this time?” Andy’s eyes lit up.
“I’d love to. Let me check with my boss to see if he can give me a few days off. But if you’ve booked your tickets already, you should go ahead and visit your mom. I can join you another time.”
“Okay. If you can’t get the days off, we could go somewhere else. Have you been to Hangzhou before? It’s a beautiful place, not far from here.”
“Nope. Never been there. I could squeeze that into my next trip I think.”
After they finished their drinks, Andy called Rock.
“They should be free soon,” said Andy, after he hung up. “Do you wanna walk outside? I want to show you something.”
“Sure. Let’s go.”
They left the building and walked along Nanjing Road West. The rain had trickled down to a light drizzle but they were still hurdled under the tiny umbrella.
“It’s stopped raining.”
“No, it hasn’t.”
“You can use the umbrella. I think I’m okay without it.” Diano stepped away.
“No, you’ll get wet.” Andy pulled Diano’s arm. “You’ll catch a cold.”
“Maybe I should buy one then.” Diano smiled.
“You’re flying back tomorrow. Don’t waste money.”
Diano shrugged and hurdled back under the umbrella. They kept walking until Andy stopped in front of a jewellery shop.
“Is this the shop that has the special something?” Diano looked at the display in the window. Diamonds glittered from the pieces of jewellery on display.
“Honey, don’t you think it’s a bit early for this?” Diano put on a serious face.
“What do you mean?”
“I think it’s too early in our relationship for me to get down on my knee….” Diano paused playfully.
“What do you mean?” Andy looked confused.
“And ask you to marry me.”
“What!” Andy looked shocked.
“Oh? Didn’t you want me to buy you a diamond ring?” Diano laughed.
“Never!” Andy looked angry.
“Sorry, ar. I was just playing you.”
“I want several. Not just one.” Andy burst out laughing. He stuck his tongue out at Diano making him blush. “Let’s go inside. I want to show you something special.”
Andy took him to one of the counters at the back of the shop. The shelves and the display units were lined up with beautiful jewellery boxes. Each one was made from polished wood and had a unique design. The manager walked over from her desk. She put on her white gloves and took out one of the boxes. Then she wound up the key on its base and placed the box on the counter. When she opened the lid, a crisp melody filled the shop.
Diano was amazed at the quality of the music. The tune was a popular Japanese romantic number that reminded him of sakura blossoms. Andy’s eyes looked dreamy, as if he had been instantly transported to another world.
They checked out a few more boxes. Diano thought the prices were high. He remembered seeing similar boxes at the SOGO mall but he wasn’t sure if they were of such high quality. Not wanting to carry a box that night, they left the shop without buying any.
When they reached the end of the block, Andy got another call. James and Rock were waving from across the street. After they caught up and the introductions were made, James offered to drive them to a newly opened disco. He led the gang to Plaza 66’s parking lot where his BMW was parked. Rock sat in the front passenger seat while Diano and Andy took the backseat.
As the car pulled out, Diano’s eyes caught Andy’s. They looked at each other for a second and then Andy smiled.
“What’s up?” Diano asked.
“Nothing.” Andy looked away.
“Have you been to Shanghai before?” Rock asked.
“Yes, several times.”
“Have you tried out the bars and discos here?” Rock continued.
“Haven’t really had the time. I’m happy to go wherever you guys wanna go.”
“Let’s have a few drinks first and then hit the Karaoke?”
Diano didn’t want to go to Karaoke but James was driving them around and that meant he didn’t have to pay for transportation. As long as he had Andy for company…
Diano wanted to know more about Andy. His attempts at extracting information, at the restaurant earlier in the evening, had been thwarted. But he wasn’t going to give up. He felt there was something interesting about Andy. Something that made him special. Something that made him different.