Its been a week now, I was stuck with work again.. I had started to miss saloni’s food.. every evening in the car I asked her, did she cook something for me.. she used to always laugh it off without saying anything.. Finally on the week end I went over to her place.. Chicken biryani… yum.. after finishing my last piece of chicken I looked around.. I asked,” hey wheres your dad” .. handing over the glass of water she replied,” dunno hes out so quite often now a days” .. I had a faint idea where he might be.. I asked for the car keys and came out without informing where I was going..
I drove straight to the school.. many thoughts rushed my head.. I dint know what I was gonna find.. or how would I going to say if I saw her dad.. I was just a turn away now… a big smile came over my face as soon as I saw her dads car.. I went past his car.. I was surprised to find him still sitting in the car looking out of the window at the kids.. I stopped the car and walked upto him… I knocked at the window.. he was surprised.. he dint know how to react.. he tried pretending to look for something below his seat… he rolled down the window and looked at me.. I smiled and said,” come on uncle” .. he dint say anything.. he just walked out.. I presumed that he might have come here since few days.. so it was no point walking all around the school.. I walked inside one of the classrooms.. and sat in the last bench.. he came in and sat besides me.. a young boy was teaching the whole class geography.. every five minutes he recited a poem or rhyme for the class to sing along.. a small a smile on uncle’s face.. I slipped a paper to him and said,” uncle this is my friends school.. it’s a part of an NGO he works for..his name is Abhishek.. this is his number.. speak to him..” and I left the class room.. and drove the car back to saloni’s house.. to have the dessert.. saloni asked me several times Where I went.. but I just smiled and enjoyed eating my dessert…. After a while I left without giving her any details..
Something very unexpected happened the next day,I was already out station from my home.. now for an another work I was gonna be sent out of station again.. this frequent jumps really wasn’t going well in my system.. I had to leave this place for close to 2 months.. the first thought in my head was what was I going to tell Saloni.. still another thought said ,” why should I bother much we still dint know where we were”… after gathering all the details and collecting the travel tickets I waited at the parking lot for Saloni.. She seemed too excited today.. as soon as I sat in the car, she started talking.. she spoke about her new interior project, her new chicken recipe she wants to try, in this linear conversation she dint notice that I dint speak anything.. may be she dint notice.. or she was just too engrossed in her world.. during our dinner she finally asked, ” oye.. how about saying something”.. I replied,” hey Sal,im going out of station for 2 months”.. the spoon she held in her left hand fell on the floor.. she dint say anything.. she looked at me.. a tear rolled down her eye.. I continued,”it’s a new project .. wont take too long.. no one else can handle it.. “ .. she still dint speak a word.. she got up and left the restau.. i rushed out after paying for the incomplete meal… she was sitting in her car.. the engine running.. I got in… driving towards my room.. slowly she said,” is it important” I just nodded… she then said,” good don’t forget me.. mail me everyday.. ill be waiting” .. I had no words left to tell her.. I just smiled.. and wondered “is she for real.. she dint mind ?? “
From the next week.. A new schedule had started in my life.. work all day.. go back to my new room .. no Saloni waiting at the parking lot.. it was like the early days when I first came to the previous location.. I spoke to Saloni quite often.. sometimes even during work hours.. speaking to my parents at home and her was now a daunting task.. the days moved slowly.. one month had gone by.. and I knew not many days were left.. work was now moving smoothly..
One fine day my sister called me up,” hey.. how are you”..
“yah im fine tell me”
“dad and mom are looking for a girl for you”
“I don’t know… they asked me if you are interested in someone then to let them know about it..”
“oh ok.. and what did you say”
“I said.. I don’t know”
“hmmm fine… ko I got to go.. cya”
This call came with mixed emotions .. I dint know if I have to tell anyone about Sal.. in the first place.. I dint know if anything existed with Sal… the whole day I spent thinking over this.. todays work went for a toss..
For the next couple of weeks.. I was fighting with myself.. who to talk to .. what to talk… the month was going to end very quickly.. and I knew I had to meet Saloni very soon.. I was undecided till the last day….
On the flight back to the city.. I finally decided.. to speak to Saloni.. it had been very long.. and we knew each other.. and it felt right.. she might just be the one…
The following day I reported back to work.. the work location jumping.. was too hectic.. so I was given two days to settle down and get back to my schedule.. i returned back to my room in the afternoon.. I decided to let Saloni know I was back.. but I dint know how to call her.. she never carried a cell phone… she was the one to always call me.. I searched my cell to figure out the numbers she usually called from.. 2 of them seemed like land line numbers.. I dialed the first number.. no one answered the phone… I tried the second number… it rang… finally.. I might hear a familiar voice.. “ hello!!” a heavy voice from the other side answered.. I asked if this was mr.Agarwals residence… it ended up being a PCO… I decided to directly go to her house..
The hour long drive in the traffic seemed longer than an hour.. I was getting restless.. many thoughts went in my head.. I was also cursing her for not carrying a cell phone… I finally reached her house.. I quickly paid the taxi. And opened the gate.. i rang the door bell.. I waited for a few minutes.. no one came out.. I rang the bell again… no one answered.. this seemed very odd.. I couldn’t think straight.. I rang the bell continuously.. but still no one answered.. I slowly started walking out .. on the way trying to peep into the window to see any sign of life… “excuse me”, a voice from behind me called out… I quickly turned around hoping it was someone from her house… but it wasn’t… “ahh yes” I replied..
“Are you rohit” ,said the young women from the other side of the compound wall..
“yah that’s me, do you know where they have gone”,I replied slowly..
She pointed me a finger .. and asking me to wait for a moment… she went inside her house…
I moved close to the compound wall trying to figure out the turn of events… she came back.. I smiled at her… she handed me an envelope and said,” Saloni left this for you” .. hearing her name.. I smiled.. thanked her.. and left the house..
I got into the yellow taxi standing on the cross road.. I gave him the address to my room.. I slowly opened the envelope.. and a small chit fell out of it… which read
“read the contents on the same highway”
I asked the driver to go to the highway instead… I waited till I reached the highway.. I was getting anxious.. what new surprises were in store for me..i kept wondering…
I walked to the bench close to the highway and sat down.. the orange sky seemed gloomy.. I dint like looking up.. a few stars had already come up on the sky..
I looked down an opened the envelope.. first the small chit.. which I placed it back into the envelope.. then a handmade paper.. the think paper was folded pretty well.. I opened the paper…
Hi…. I know you were not expecting this… and I am glad you took this from aunty.. how are you… and I have a feeling you might have cursed me a couple of times for not carrying a cell phone..
In the last 2 months.. many things have changed.. you left.. and I got into my work.. we spoke everyday… but it dint seem the same.. I finished my project a few weeks ago… hope your project went well too..
In this time.. people have changed… he has changed… and he is different now.. I love him.. and he loves us very much.. he started working again.. and now hes got a better job in delhi.. so he shifted there.. it was getting very difficult for all of us.. so I got my new project in that city too.. so my whole family has gone there..
I don’t know at what place were we both at.. but you dint say anything.. I wanted to ask you.. but never did.. did we take each other for granted?
Hope to see you again…
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