“Dear Alumni, you are invited to the fifteenth reunion to be held on 31st October at the school campus….”
Thousands of cells buzzed with the text, at the same time, across the country, across the continent, across the world.
SAMAR’S LARGE MESSY APARTMENT
Samar was struggling to feed some cornflakes to his over-energetic five year old daughter, being already late on schedule. He didn’t have the time to bath nor eat, both of which were going to be skipped for the day. When his phone buzzed, he ignored it to check it later in the day. Packing little Rosy’s daycare backpack, they bounded together hurriedly to the Children Daycare Centre located in the ground floor of their apartment.
AVNI AND JAI’S OPEN KITCHEN
“Honey, you have a text”, Jai called out to Avni as her phone buzzed on the coffee table with his eyes still stuck to the newspaper.
“Please be a darling and read it to me”, Avni hollered from the kitchen.
She was busy getting the biriyani right which was meant to create an impression on Jai’s parents who were to visit their place that day, after finally accepting Jai and Avni’s live-in relationship.
“It’s from your school. Invitation for 15th Alumni meet”, Jai replied upon entering the kitchen.
Avni’s face lit up like a child inside a Mega store up for Durga puja shopping.
“OMG! I need to call up Rosy”, she replied, literally running out of the kitchen.
ROSY’S EXOTIC OFFICE ROOM
Who run the world? Girls! Who run this motha? Girls! Who run the world? Girls!
…blared from Rosy’s mobile. She scrambled through the papers, strewn all across her desk, to answer to the ring. This was one of the extremely few ringtones she would answer, no matter how busy she was.
“Hey birdie! All set to impress the parents?” Rosy spoke into the phone, putting the call on speaker, as she continued editing the articles submitted by the copywriters.
“Did you get the text from school?” Avni replied completely ignoring Rosy’s question.
“Hang on let me check!” keeping the call on hold, Rosy opened her inbox only to discover the invitation for the Alumni meet.
“I am not coming”, Rosy declared.
“He will be there.”
“Oh come on! You don’t know that. He almost fell off the radar after graduation. In all honesty, I don’t think he will turn up”
“If he does?”
“Ufffho! If he does then we will leave. We will hit a pub. You and I. Dance and drink our worries away. Deal?”
“Do you have any idea how much money I have to shell out to book a flight so late?” Rosy asked, faking irritation.
“No worries! I will check the web and let you know”, Avni joked.
“You will not let this one go. Will you?”
“Oh Hon! You know me so well”
“Fine. I will attend. Deal.”
“Great. See ya.”
Long after the call had disconnected, Rosy still found herself unable to concentrate on editing the copies.
“Fifteen years later he still affects me so much”, she sighed as she left her desk for a smoke.
SOURIK’S MANCHESTER UNITED THEMED PUB (A FEW DAYS LATER ON A FRIDAY NIGHT)
“Sorry guys, I am late.”, Udipti apologized, as she slipped inside the booth, taking a sit in between Avni and Sayak.
“When are you ever on time?” Dheeman replied taking a sip from his whiskey.
It was the compulsory Friday night ritual for Avni, Udipti, Sayak, Dheeman, Neel, Aropa, Sivam and others to catch up every alternate week at Sourik’s pub. Rosy joined too whenever she was in town. This Friday, she was absent.
“Is Rosy flying-in for the Reunion?” Sourik questioned everyone, serving Udipti her usual vodka laced with Sprite.
“Yappy”, Avni replied, popping the ‘p’, a little excited from her two tequila shots she had already finished before Udipti had arrived. Her lightweight nature was the reason Rosy called her a bird.
“What about Samar? Is he coming? I haven’t seen him since Sivam’s wedding reception, that was like five years ago!” asked Udipti who had a crush on Samar during the High school days and she still seemed to be partial towards him.
“I can’t really say anything for sure. It has been over six months since we exchanged texts”, replied Sivam, Samar’s closest friend in school.
“He doesn’t reply to my texts on Facebook”, Dheeman whined like a child, whiskey working in his system to stimulate the sorrow of missing his buddy.
“I wish both of them attend the reunion. It has been a long time since I have seen them together”, Aropa commented, taking a sip from her sparkling water. She was three months pregnant and even avoided drinks that were remotely alcoholic.
“Yeah. Those two need to talk to each other. For heaven’s sake, it’s been fifteen years!” Neel exclaimed. He had dated Rosy briefly during graduation but terminated it after realizing that she was still very much living in the past. He helped her move on but she never fully walked ahead, in reality
Yaaron dosti badi hi haseen hai, Yeh na ho to kya phir, Bolo yeh zindagi hai…..
…….rang from Sivam’s mobile.
“Guys, that’s Samar!” Sivam shouted, without even looking at the phone. He had previosuly set this ringtone to Samar’s contact as it perfectly described his equation with him.
“Hey Siv. How have you been?” Samar’s ever-casual, laid back voice greeted Sivam as he accepted the call.
After throwing some socially unaccepted words at Samar for not being in touch for over six months, Sivam finally asked, “So, have you received the invitation for the Alumni meet at school?”
“Yeah I did. That’s why I’m calling, I am coming home bro!”
“Seriously?” Sivam asked surprised to the core of his being, “After all these years!” he mused to himself.
“Yeah. I was thinking if we could have an after-party at my place, just our group. Let me know if everyone is game. I will text you the address.”
“Huh… yeah oh-oh-okay!” Sivam was now dumbfounded.
“See ya! Bye Siv!” Samar greeted as he disconnected the call.
“He is coming!” Sivam announced to the table, his hands trembling while placing his cell back on the table.
“So is Rosy!” Aropa said as if in a daze.
“Well, this is what we used to call divine intervention!” Avni declared, a little louder than she had intended, as heads turned from other booths towards her.
A SUITE IN A HOTEL
Rosy twirled in front of the mirror in a long black fitted lace gown, diamond drops glittered on her ear lobes. She looked very different from her usual boho-chic style.
“He used to love black”, nudged somewhere in the back of her mind. Locking the door, she stepped out of her hotel room amd walked towards the exit to take a cab to school.
SCHOOL CAMPUS (NEAR THE ENTRANCE)
The school had changed so much it looked like a architectural feat which compelled Rosy to comment, “Pretty but not beautiful”. She sighed as memories came rushing back to her.
“Look who is finally here!” Sayak’s booming voice broke Rosy’s reverie.
A group hug followed. Her eyes, however, searched for that special pair of eyes which spoke thousand words to her, in just a glance. Avni knew her too well and pulling her aside, she whispered, “Sivam said he is here but I haven’t seen him yet. I just arrived a minute before you.”
All Rosy could do was to nod her head as if in a trance.
“Do you want to leave?” Avni asked empathetically.
“No I am fine. I will just go and grab a drink”.
SCHOOL CAMPUS TURNED INTO PARTY SPACE (AT THE DANCE FLOOR)
“Calling the batch of 2005 on the dance floor. Presenting a mash up made especially for them”, the DJ suddenly announced.
Rosy had to be literally dragged to the dance floor by Avni and Sayak. Her heart suddenly skipped a beat as she saw that familiar mop of black curls, nearly after 15 years, dancing like no one was watching. Samar loved to dance although he was never professionally trained. And as always, Rosy marvelled at the fact how he could manage all those complicated steps without any training.
“She still looks resplendent in black”, Samar said to Sivam, as he fondly watched Rosy matching the beats to the mash up.
The entire group ended up on the floor as the DJ changed the track to –
Tumhi din chadhe, Tumhi din dhale
Tumhi ho bandhu, sakha tumhi…
They kept twirling in each other’s arms, changing partners at every line. As the speakers started playing –
Ban ke chahat nazron se khat likhna likhna…
Samar and Rosy’s eyes met again, after fifteen long years.
Dil ki takhti par hoon likhti
As if time stopped and people disappeared, their eyes did all the talking – all the regrets, all the complaints, all the guilts that were left unsaid. Rosy blinked and the moment was lost. The song very appropriately changed to –
We don’t talk anymore, Like we used to do
We don’t laugh anymore, What was all of it for
Ohh, we don’t talk anymore, like we used to do…
As fate would have it, Rosy was twirled by her dance partner and she looked up only to find herself in Samar’s arms. She tried to smile but couldn’t. He twirled her outwards and suddenly pulled her into himself, colliding into each other.
I just heard you found the one, you’ve been looking
You’ve been looking for, I wish I would have known that wasn’t me…
Rosy’s stared straight into Samar’s eyes with her dark chocolate irises full of unexpressed emotions.
Cause even after all this time, I still wonder
Why I can’t move on, Just the way you did so easily…
The warm fuzzy feeling she used to feel like hugging a teddy bear wasn’t there anymore in Samar’s embrace, fifteen years later.
Should’ve known your love was a game…
Samar’s big expressive eyes stared back accusingly at Rosy’s.
Now I can’t get you out of my brain
Ohh, it’s such a shame…
The smell of sandal wood powder that always lingered on Rosy, no matter how much perfume she sprayed on, didn’t find its way back to Samar’s nostrils, fifteen years later.
I just hope you’re lying next to somebody, Who knows how to love you like me
There must be a good reason that you’re gone,
Every now and then I think you might want me to
Come show up at your door, But I’m just too afraid that I’ll be wrong…
The smell, the feelings, that were associated with them, no longer existed. They both realised that they had no way to go back to yesterday. Rosy realised that she was only clinging on a mirage of memories, all these years. What’s lost is lost forever. They soon released their hold from each other and merged back into the crowd, as the hooligans of the 2005 batch danced and shouted to the lyrics –
Chadi mujhe yaari teri aisi,
Jaise daaru desi…
SOURIK’S MANCHESTER UNITED THEMED PUB
The party shifted to Sourik’s pub. Rosy sat on a bar stool, alone at a corner. Samar was amongst everybody talking about his time in Germany and California.
Rosy felt the bar-top vibrate and found a mobile phone with an incoming call. Sliding it towards her, she saw the name ‘ROSY’ accompanied by a picture of a five year old girl with messy pigtails donning an oversized batman tee and Samar’s eyes.
“She looks just like him!” Rosy thought to herself as her eyes moistened with an incomprehendable feeling. She strolled towards him and handed over the phone muttering, “I believe this is yours.”
Upon finishing the call, Samar apologized, “Sorry guys! That was my daughter. She is five…”
“And her name is Rosy”, Rosy finished for him as she walked out of the pub promising herself never to look back and probably, never to return.
Little did she know that his daughter was out of wedlock.
Featured photo via citi.io