I blinked at the sun warming my body and tried to soak in the surrounding…
I was in Delhi to attend ADASIA the 27th Session being held at Darbar Hall, Taj Palace, New Delhi. I had registered at the counter on first floor and taken the escalators down. Caught on a few friends, smoked leisurely my very faithful Wills Classic. I came back to hotel to catch few winks before attending the evening dinner.
I got up and had a cool lethargic shower. I was ready much before time for the pickup. I had debated and discarded the idea of wearing Indian Dress for the function. Anyway the mail from organising committee was late and anyway it would have made no difference. After making few calls to confirm that there will be faces at the diner I could relate to. It was time to move. In the friends list, I saw her name with more memories than emotions ‘Sunaiyna Choudhry’. I have’t met her for ages, heard she had moved to somewhere in Middle East. My fingers slowly played around her name on the screen. Thoughts mostly pleasant crossed my mindscape and with a deliberate press I closed the screen.
Closing the screen was much easier than closing doors to memories of your best time. Sunaiyna, how could I ever forget her? I never had and never will.
I picked up the passport created by AdAsia with the schedule and boarding cards for the evening do’s and afternoon branded lunches. A cute but old Idea I thought.
It was 7PM. I knew not all delegates will be there tonight. It was just registration and an evening dinner. Most of them will really troop in tomorrow. But then I was already in town for the F1 that finished yesterday. I called the driver and left for Taj.
It was usual advertising crowd party. ZEE dinner it said. ‘Dilli Haat’ was the theme. I looked around the fake vinyl walls that was separating compartmentalised modular sections, created to give you different feel of the gullies of chandani chowck in Delhi. I have never been able to understand this fetish of Indian contemporary corporate creative world to always present the mystic past of India in all such opportunities and then blame that the view-point of other nationals remain fixed on pre-1950’s.
Anyway, I liked the ambiance, as it opened in my mind the lanes depicted in few of Sadat Hasan Manto and Premchand stories. The koya Bhandar. The book shop. The tea stall. I must say it was well done. I sighted my gang of friend’s where else but at the ‘Absolute’ Bar. If only with this ambiance, they had Bhang, Grass, Chang, mahuha or Narangi to be authentic. But who was I to blame.
Picking the first set of glasses and not wanting to really network, we found comfortable seating on the small modha. Lit cigarettes, stale conversation and an attempt to impress everyone with deep understanding of subject was dada. Next to him, a very straight faces Dhiren, sat more concerned about his vodka and the next borrowed cigarette than the discussion. And then there was I, giving my elbow the much desired exercise with small swigs on my absolute. The other hand busy in feeding lips with the small drags from wills classic. I was facing that grey brown vinyl walled separator with ‘Shiva Tea stall’ sign and few south Indian language posters. For some time, through the gap between wall and the welcome desk I have been eyeing people coming in. I was not in the conversation, I know that. I was in my own world and it was just my third drink when I smelled it.
A peculiar jasmine based unbranded perfume. The aural cues waking up my memories. This was not a smell you could buy at any shop. This was Baba Zardarisi Sauf at Hazratganj, Lucknow. This was what I had got Sunaiyna some 12 years back. We had visited Lucknow on an official trip that was soon to turn completely private. A smell that could not be wiped from my memory. I still had the half vial of it. She had left that in my bachelor pad and never came back to claim it. Just after one of our many fights. I believed that it was one of those fights and we will make-up in the morning. It was not to be so.
And then from the bare shoulder I could make out, it was her. Much before she turned to walk in.I was getting up to meet her. There was Sunaiyna, my Sunaiyna.
Back to reality, 12 years and I have never heard about her, 12 years and I have moved on in my life, 12 years a long time. A time where she most probably would have moved on. And in-spite of development in my own life, I was not being able to visualise her with anyone else. Sunaiyna.
I could not be blamed for the fight that ended our relationship. Whatever happened was not me alone. And why should I allow her these victories, past should not be allowed to overpower present. Determined to face it, I turned right into her face. Those mystic deep black eyes, big expressive eyes, too powerful for any resolutions to survive. It made me weak.
‘Hi’, she was the first one to extend her soft hands. They were cold. I looked at her, saw her smile and said ‘hi’.
Soon we were drifting away from my set of friends and I noticed there was no one with her. ‘Alone’ I questioned her. ‘Never’ and she looked at me. Opened her purse and showed me an old picture of mine. ‘Never, I am never alone’.
She was there, one of the most beautiful girls, who in her moments of weakness had accepted a guy like me as her soul partner. Till she found there were other around me. She had left that night. It seemed as if age had stopped for her. Not a sign of wrinkle. Not a single piece of grey or white. Exactly like my Sunaiyna.
We were happy to be alone, there were no questions and no answers and we were together comfortable with each other. The car was there at the gate, I don’t remember having called for it. It was her car, a Honda Civic, she asked driver to take us to Nazamudin. Her place I had visited so many times.
We slowly were getting restless holding each other. She told me her parents were away and so we had the house to ourselves and did I remember all the corners there. I winked at her and she smiled. ‘I am married you know Sumi’ I said. ‘I know’ she said and added ‘Don’t forget I was married to you much before’. She smiled. Happy but there was something missing.
The only peaceful part was entering her home. Confident of knowing there was no one else, hungry for the last many years we just bonded, holding her in my arms, lips locked we decided to remain in the ground floor. Climbing stairs to the first floor was too much waste of time. ‘Come lets purify this place’ she said leading me to the side room with a bar. We soon were emotionally naked and hungry. Slowly seductively she left me through the steps and soon I was in. I think we had a drink or two more and kept each other from talking much by keeping lips sealed with kisses.
Somewhere during that might we slipped into peaceful sleep.
I blinked again, and turned to feel the hard mud under me. I twisted to see I was in a under construction building. I got up to see the Green coloured house B-14/5 on the opposite side of the road. This was Sunaiyna House where I stood alone.
I pulled out her card from my wallet and saw the letters disappearing slowly. A strong hint of her perfume and I felt she kissed me before she finally left.
All character are fictitious, this story is not based in ant real life character or experience. Any similiarity is just a coincidence. MY BLOG at sanjeevkotnala.blog.co.in has been lost- wiped clean. Hence sharing it over here