To-wane-tea Phi Years Hence

The lanky fellow stood near the door, accompanied by a woman who could be easily labelled as the sometimes derogatory ‘chinki’. That they were in love was obvious by the holding of hands and deep looks they passed each other from time to time. He stood there, ushering in the motley crowd that slowly walked into the house, individually, or in small clusters. The lady collected the wet coats and umbrellas brought in by the people, and deposited them to dry out in the corridor that ran on the side of the room.

Many of these people knew each other, by names or faces or by quirky habits or traits that they have heard about a lot. They mingled, talking mostly in a hushed tone. Sometimes there was a sudden gush of laughter, and a quiet sob could be heard at times coming from the random clusters that had formed in the room.

Near the window, stood a somewhat short lady, slowly wiping away a solitary teardrop on her chin. The tears had smudged her kohl-rimmed eyes. As she looked up, she saw the potbellied Sardarji who was bringing her a glass of juice, and smiled warmly. Old memories have such warmth! Her phone buzzed, she hesitantly picked it up, and replied in a curt manner, “I said I’ll be in the studio in an hour. We have 3 hours before the show, dammit”. Sardarji handed the glass over to her, nodded and smiled, and said “People leave, huh! Work stays”. Pointing to the window he said again, “I have a car waiting. You can take it if you are running late”. She nodded slowly.

On the other corner of the room, a group of men had gathered, all with glasses in their hands. “For the man who always refused a drink. Cheers!”, said the man who everyone knew was his first friend. Others joined in with their own messages. “The most conservative ally in AoE”, said the Businessman and Hotelier from Mumbai. “My fight partner”, chirped the scientist who had flown in all the way from Belgium for 2 days, and had brought most of the red wine being served around. Lot of other remarks followed, as the glasses were emptied and refilled.

On the lawn outside, a lady sat on the wrought iron swing in front of a small patch of flowers, protected from the rain by the plastic roof. She looked up at the open window on the first floor, outside which was a gulmoher tree, almost hiding it from view behind the yellow-orange blossoms. She knew inside the window was a Mahogany desk and a plush chair, surrounded by glass-fronted cupboards filled with books and DVDs from around the world. He would sit there all day reading, watching or listening, trying to absorb as much of the world as he could in his final days. She thought of the time when she had once asked him what he wanted in life, and he had described this dream. Her thoughts were broken by the sound of footsteps, as two ladies ran towards the house from the gate.

They weren’t carrying a umbrella, and were getting soaked in the downpour. One of them, yet again, was evidently from the north-eastern part of the country, while the other could have been from anywhere. She exclaimed “Nice place, right?”. The lanky man at the door came out to receive them, “Our elder brother designed the house, just as he wanted it to be. It was his childhood dream”, looking at the other woman, he said, “Hello Kiran-di, no trouble finding the place I hope”. “Nope, we just followed the road as you had described”, said Kiran, “Gaya was worried for sometime that we are lost”, wiping off some of the rainwater from her coat, walking up the stairs towards the door.

I just smiled, sitting in my chair, in my most favourite room on the planet. To see all these people here, gathered together, gave me immense happiness. There were the college mates, my brother and his wife, the gaming partners, the friends I made along the journey called life, and of course, the ones I loved. Everyone was here. Now I could go in peace.

This is a work of fiction.
Any resemblance to a living person is intentional, and if you can’t figure out who you are, well,
1) maybe I found it difficult to describe you and fit you into the story. Next time, pakka! Promise.
2) you are mentioned, you are just too stupid to recognise yourself.


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