“Babu, where are you?
“Umm, okay. Khecho (Had food)?”
A long pause followed. The silence was broken only by his fingers typing on the keyboard.
“I am a bit busy now. Can I call you up later?”
Ravi kept his phone aside. He was busy drafting a recovery email to an escalation he just received. His office is like a battleground.
He kept a close watch on the clock. It was almost midnight. His office was still bustling with people. It was a 24/7 support.
His phone rang again.
“Sir, we are waiting for you outside your office.”
“5 more minutes.” Ravi cut the call. He quickly read through his draft. It was all good. He clicked on the send button, shut down his system, packed his belongings – laptop, headphones, and coffee mug – rushed out of his office, and boarded the cab he had requested. His mother and sister were already sitting on the rear seat. He took the one beside the driver.
The destination was already set. The cab started. As it took the highway, Ravi looked outside the window. It was a crescent moon. Nevertheless beautiful. He thought about the Selenophile on his phone. He opened the camera app and tried to take a snap of the moon. It was impossible – you could hardly see the moon in the photo.
“Sir, we reached.”
Ravi came out of the cab, took out the luggage from the trunk. He walked past the airport gates. His mother and sister followed. He rushed them. They were already late.
He noticed an open coffee stall. He thought of grabbing a cup.
“THIS IS THE FINAL BOARDING CALL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR PASSENGERS MR. RAVI CHATTERJEE, MRS. SEEMA CHATTERJEE, AND MS. MONALI CHATTERJEE. PLEASE BOARD…..”
That’s them. He increased the pace of his steps towards the boarding gate. They already had all the formalities done so no issues there. He calmed himself.
“Sir boarding passes please.”
He handed them over.
The attendant had them scanned and returned to him with a smile. Enjoy your flight, sir. Ravi grabbed the passes and walked towards the security at the gate. Suddenly he had a sense of fear developing in him.
The guard stopped him and did his routine check for the handbag tags.
“Sir this one is not stamped.” He pointed at his sister’s handbag.
“Shit! But how can this be? We did this already! I am sure of it!” Ravi checked his own. It was stamped.
“Sorry, sir. We can’t allow you to board unless it is stamped. Kindly have it stamped.” He wasn’t exactly polite when he said so.
Panic started to crawl up his spine as he realized they were going to miss the flight. Ravi parked his own luggage at the gate and walked over to the security check-in area.
“You forgot to put a stamp on this one,” he told the guard with a sense of urgency, pointing the bag at him.
“So put a stamp now!”
“Check karlena chahiye tha right? Abhi nahi ho payega. Phir se line pe lago! (Should have checked, right? Now it is not possible. Wait in the queue again!)
Ravi couldn’t contain his temper. He burst into a feat of argument with the guard. The guard went to talk to his supervisor sitting near the XRAY machine, while Ravi stole back a glance to where his luggage was kept. It was still there.
The supervisor, looking irritated as hell, having a new issue to deal with, walked over to Ravi. Ravi started explaining to him about his situation. The supervisor kept nodding as if he understood. Ravi doubted that. The supervisor started talking in whispers with the guard. Ravi just hoped they put the stamp. He turned back to check on his baggage. It wasn’t there. Where are my bags?
He rushed back to the spot, without even waiting for the stamped passes to be returned to him. He started searching frantically at the spot but couldn’t find it. There was a sweeper, moping the floor nearby.
“Bhaiya! Did you notice any bag over here?”
“Ahh yes. That guy took it.”
He pointed Ravi towards a tall guy with dark complexion walking briskly towards their boarding gate.
“Hey! You! Come back!”
The guy slowed his pace, turned to look at him and then kept walking, past the boarding gates. As Ravi tried to follow him, the guards stopped him from entering. Ravi, stood at the gate, silently, watching the strangely familiar stranger walking away with his baggage. He felt helpless.
The world suddenly stood still around him and everything went pitch black around him. Ravi slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out his tablet. He opened WhatsApp, and as if habitually, opened up the usual profile at the top of his search list.
The DP had an unfamiliar picture. There was also a status set in Bengali. This can’t be her. He thought. He heard a chatter in the distance. Is someone calling my name?
Ravi opened his eyes. He was lying on a bed. There was a loud music playing outside. He sat up straight. The room was filled with smoke. He could tell from the scent that it was the hookah. He must have fallen asleep after taking several drags and shutting his eyes for a nap.
Suman came in rushing through the door. “They are looking for you outside and you are lying over here, wasted.” Suman, one of his closest friends, helped Ravi to stand up. “By the way. She’s here.”
Ravi looked up. Didn’t say a word. He just nodded a gesture of understanding and walked out of the room, into the party hall. Everyone was busy with a glass of drink in one hand. As Ravi kept walking towards the bar, someone walked by him, accidentally brushing (almost crashing) against his shoulders. He turned to say sorry. But the guy kept walking towards a table. A girl was waiting for him. Ravi was going to turn away until he realized it was Her. She seemed to enjoy the company of that guy. Then it hit him. It was the same person, the one who took my bags.
As they laughed and talked and laughed, Ravi felt shrinking deeper. On one side he loved to see her smile. On the other hand, it seemed someone was driving a screw through his heart. Ravi rushed into one of the restrooms. He kept splashing water on his face. He looked up into the mirror and stared at his reflection.
“You can survive this!”
That is when he noticed. Several cracks started to appear on the wall. And wait, it doesn’t end there! Innumerable spiders started crawling out of these cracks. Ravi tried to open the washroom door frantically. But it was stuck. As more and more spiders kept crawling out, the walls started drawing closer to him and the door jammed by spider webs. He suddenly found himself cornered, trapped in a box, with spiders of such variants he never knew existed. The worst nightmare for a claustrophobic with arachnophobia.
The tap on the basin was still running. As he lied crawled up at the corner, he started feeling the wetness of the water overflowing from the basin. A strange smell of alcohol made him drowsy. He crashed upon the floor.
Ravi opened his eyes. He found himself lying in a pool of whiskey, on his bed. It took him some time to recall what happened. He looked about and found his toppled glass where he had made his last drink. A card was lying beside the glass, half-drenched in Blender’s Pride. A jolt of pain pierced through his heart when he recognized it:
Today is promise day so keep your hand right side of the card (PS: above my fingerprints) and let’s take a vow (consider it to be the Geeta 😀 ) – “To be together in every thick and thin of life and tackle all our problems together. Love each other unconditionally throughout all ‘Janams’ and have complete trust and faith on each other.
I LOVE YOU!!! a lotttttsss
Ravi picked up his tablet. A WhatsApp chat profile was already open. It was hers.
(sent 1 year ago)
“HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!”