I was going through my diary for my busy schedules and other engagements of February. Luckily there was nothing urgent to be attended to. So I could go out of Delhi for a few days. No problem. I immediately sat down and started browsing the net for booking my air ticket. I wanted to be two days ahead of an important event at Bangalore, now renamed as Bangaluru – so that I could spend as much time as I can with my friends.
Finally the day dawned and I set out with my bag and baggage.
It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.
I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.
I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.
Wow! What a great surprise! The least I expected was this – that I would be meeting her right at the airport at Delhi itself. By the time I wanted to call her and draw her attention, it was my turn at the airline counter. At the same time I did not want to miss her. How I wished she noticed me and stopped– but she did not. So I thought of catching her up after the security checks, frisking formalities etc. As soon as those routines were over, I hurriedly went to the Gate for Bangaluru flight looking for her en route. The lounge was full and she was not to be seen. I was disappointed. I wished it would have been better if she spotted me and came to me. No. It did not happen. Oh! There she was in the Hyderabad lounge!.
Again a wave of disappointment ran through me. Was she not coming to Bangaluru? But she was seen first at Bangaluru airline counter only. Probably she must be visiting Bangaluru after completing her Hyderabad trip. I prayed and kept my fingers crossed and wished that she must come to Bangaluru. Straight I went to her. “Hi, Nimmi! How are you? It is a surprise to see you at Delhi.” I had many more things to ask. But let her talk first. “Hi, Preetam! How come you are at Delhi!” After exchange of pleasantries and updates, we talked about our friends including Gopal and his wedding. It was indeed a nice thing to know that she was also coming to Bangaluru only and that too, two days in advance and of course, by the same flight as mine. She was just sitting at a different area for her comfort. I was very happy that Hyderabad had nothing to do with her. I would be happier still if we could travel together.
She was my ex girl friend at the college and we parted ways after our graduation. I went off to Singapore to prosecute my post graduation course. As I learnt from her now, she picked up a job and went off to USA. Even though we got separated, I could not shirk her off from my memories and always thought of her. ‘Where would she be and what would she be, remained the same shy silent girl, a reserved person with a thin frame? Single or married? Questions were plenty – answer none! This Bangaluru trip should help me to know her better and her present state of mind.
We boarded the flight. She was sitting three rows behind, occupying a window seat. Not knowing what to do further I thought I would catch hold of her after getting down at Bangaluru airport and would chalk out where we should meet. Very soon I had dozed off. Suddenly I woke up hearing Nimmi talking to my neighbour requesting him to exchange seats with her. He gladly agreed to take her window seat by giving up his middle one. Now Nimmi was by my side. She did not realize that she had set the butterflies fluttering in me. I thanked her for her gesture. We talked a lot about our college days, went up and down the memory lanes, laughed at the nicknames and pet names allotted to friends colleagues and lecturers…. Ramu Kaka for Ram Narain and AP BUN for Anathapadmanabhan and the very wedding boy Gopal, whom we used to call “Cowboy” … etc. etc.. I told Nimmi, ”We are meeting today just accidentally. I could have come by some other flight or on some other day. But the root cause of our journey by this flight and on this date is Gopal. So we must thank Gopal – for he had clearly indicated in his wedding invitation ‘all batch mates are cordially invited and personally invited. Mind you, NO EXCUSE!’
Both of us did not know much about our other batch mates as we had left the country soon after our graduation. So how many were married, single, gainfully employed, self employed – we had no idea. But surely we were quite excited about meeting them. There were six girls in our batch. Nimmy was close to a few of them. She was eager to meet at least a few of them. Unfortunately neither I nor Nimmy had any contacts with anyone including ourselves. By strange co incidence, both of us did not have Facebook Account or any other social media. College Farewell day was the last day we met. By then our friendship also got broke off on some silly grounds which we might be regretting now.
After one full round of coverage of our college days and other friends, we were left with nothing more to talk about and there was a pause and a void emptiness hovering on us. During our entire conversation, somehow I felt that she wanted to say something, but was only beating the bush without hitting the target…. Why me too the same thing! Whatever we may be talking, I was always on the lookout of expressing my yearnings for her. In order to keep the conversation going on, I asked her about her stay at USA and the places of interest she had visited there. Sharp came the reply, Dallas Austin and she kept telling me about Sea World, Niagara, Chicago, Boston etc… Then she looked at me as though it was my turn to narrate the places I had visited. No, no, that might not be the case. The intensity was of her sight was different, rather penetrating. Probably she wanted to read my mind or was it just my imagination! I might get another chance or not, I immediately grabbed the golden chance now available. I told her that during my two years of stay at Singapore, I visited many places small and big and no where I was alone.
Be it Resorts World Sentosa, SEA Aquarium, Universal Studios, Birds Park, Metro Train, double decked bus, even commercial malls, wherever I went, I had gone with a girl of my choice, holding her hand all the while. I was looking right into her eyes and said, places like Marina Bay, Bay Gardens, Night Safari etc… were my choicest places, mainly because of her company. I told her in a very soft voice directly looking into her eyes, “Nimmy, I need to seek your apology. All along I have been carrying you with me without your permission. Wherever I went, I went with you holding your hands. You were always with me day and night in my imagination and dreams and even now you continue to rule over me. You were holding the remote control. You have been ruling high in my imaginations about my future. Your marital status or financial status – nothing mattered to me. I did not even know whether you are single or married, employed or studying, your family background, nothing what so ever….long back once you mentioned your lines were not cleared and you had an elder sister with a mangalik problem.
Since then, so many years have gone by. It is just possible that your sister and you too would have been married. Now also, I do not know much about you. But I have my sincere feelings for you.” I paused for a while. That she was listening to me was in itself a great solace to me. She did not get angry, nor did she interrupt, not even she disapproved my feelings. All the while, she was either looking at me, or smiling away or just stared at nothing in particular. She did not reject me totally was in itself a great source of energy. I was tempted to continue further and pour out my passionate feelings. I controlled myself.
I told her this much only – “This is aeroplane. Had it been a park or garden, I certainly would have knelt on my knees and handed over a rose to you and proposed.” Saying these words, I held her hand. She laughed aloud. I could not make out what she meant by her laughing. I had no means of hearing her mind voice, if at all she muttered anything. Quite likely that she must have meant to say, “Oh! You fool, what do you think I was doing all these years at America and later on here? You got the opportunity and you took the lead and opened your heart.” As long as she did not say anything about herself, I was free to conjure anything that suited my moods. I was feeling highly relieved and was hoping for the cupid’s arrows to strike on her also. We were altogether on a different world – at least I was.
Just then, the announcement from the cockpit brought us down to ground realities. It was time for landing. Yes we could see the landscape and tall structures far down below. Nimmy relieved herself from my hands and got up. Before leaving for her seat, she said, “Wait for me at the Belt area. I have my check-in luggage to collect.” I said to myself, ‘That’s what I was doing all these years – waiting.’
Once her luggage was picked up, she held my hands and said, ”Come let’s go for a Day Safari at Bangalore holding hands”. It was unbelievable – but most welcome. I almost screamed “Really”! I did not care to bother about those few heads which turned towards me. And why should I, when Bangaluru beckons me with its awesome romance in the air.