Ram looked at the black coated lean young man in exasperation, "What do you mean, you are running full house? How can you not have a table for two?" The waiter looked apologetically at the portly man who exuded power, "Sir, Who Kya hai,Sir, aaj Sunday night hai. Weekend hai, Sir. Our joint is quiet famous for Sunday specialties. But sir, I will push your name on the VVIP Waiting list. Jo bhi next table khali hogi wo aapki hogi. Please sir."
Gauhar smiled coyly at him,"Koi baat nahi. We can wait and get to know each other better." Ram looked away trying to disguise his look of horror at the thought. "Vikram, you are so dead Man! I feel sorry for your little kids but right now I feel more sorry for myself to think about them, you wool-headed twit. Kahan phasa diya tune mujhe!" Ram tried to cheer himself by thinking of innovative ways to commit a murder.
He felt a hand slip around his arm cradling it to a soft body sideways almost grazing her breasts, he shuddered in reaction. Once, some ten years ago in Madras Snake Park inauguration he had posed with a baby Python around his hand for the paparazzi. The sensation of that feminine hand around his arm was not much different than that slippery, heavy, scary feeling. "Oh yeah! You are definitely dead for putting me through this Vicky."
Priya smiled at the man seated infront of her. Shruti's phone rang and she looked at her apologetically, "Sorry yaar. Ghar se hai. Shayad koi jaruri baat hai. You guy carry on. Ok!" She smiled at Varun and walked towards the exit pressing a hand to her ear and phone to the other. Sonal smiled at the duo sitting together opposite to her. Her eyes danced with suppressed mischief darting from one to the other.
Priya pressed her lips giving an awkward smile sideways and moved the napkin on her upturned plate a little to the left. Sonal palmed her cheek on her left hand and smiled at them as if waiting for an interesting play to be enacted. Varun cleared his throat swiping at his forehead turned to Priya,"Its hot today,isn't it?" Before she could answer Sonal chirped in,"I'll tell them to increase the AC. Waiter?" Varun raised a hand to stop her,"Nai..koi baat nahi. Its fine." Sonal shrugged and reposed her stance on the table. Varun tried again,"So you teach in TOEFL? That must be interesting!" Sonal sighed to herself, "This is not going to work. How can two such intelligent mature people be so lame in tete-a-tete. Time to bow out ,Soniye!"
Sonal smiled at Varun,"Yeah, I am sure TOEFL is a real good topic. And while you guys are at discussing that, Priya, why don't you tell him about article on Milton's work. Varun is an editor for reputed newspaper. I am sure he would like it. But guys, I so need to freshen up now. Be right back in thrice,Ok!" She skid off her seat winking at Priya a little and made a dash before Priya could hold her hand back. Varun looked at the retreating back of his friend who instead of walking towards the washrooms made a beeline for the exit.
TRAPPED! The word resounded in her minded. Varun gave a tentative smile towards her and moved his glass to his right dusting a lint off the table cloth. Priya said softly,"So you are an editor?" Varun nodded,"I have worked for TMH for some technical books that's all. Ye poems etc mere bas ki baat nahi." Priya smiled,"Par aapko nahi lagta hum sab ki zindagi bhi kuch kuch fiction jaisi hai." Varun inclined his head,"Shayad ! thoda bahut. But life is not so thrilling for day to day people like us. I mean agar ye kissi writer ki novel hoti to shayad hum log milltey hi kuch kamal ka hota. You know that sudden spark in the air around us; something really amazing or thrilling. But look at us, we are groping for common ground. Nothing really exciting,na! Just day to day dinner maybe." Priya smiled,"Maybe that does happen with some people. You know that sudden buzz of excitement and spark you are talking about. Love is not just something that exists in books or movies. It's something that anyone can feel at any point of their life. And anyways who said anything about love being just pehli nazar ka bukhar. Kabhi kabhi deere deere bhi ho jata hai. Aap aaj mille,kale k dusre ko jaana and then one day you wake up and realize this is it. " Varun gave a dry laugh,"I hope not. Agar is umar mein bhi kal parso karta raha to 70-80 ki umar mein izhar hoga. No I don't think life can be that dramatic." Priya looked at him with sparking eyes,"But Mr. Varun, life sometimes is stranger than fiction."
"Would you like to place your orders now,Sir?" the waiter interrupted Varun from answering. Varun looked askance to Priya,"Are we ready?" Priya nodded. As the waiter noted down the order for their pre-dinner mocktails he eyed the two vacant seats. He looked at them apologetically,"Actually Sir, we are full here. And there is a couple who has been waiting for a table for half an hour. Would you mind sharing your table, please?" Varun brows furrowed in annoyance, "Why should we share our table with complete strangers? What about our privacy?" The waiter stumbled with his apologies but Priya broke in with a soothing smile,"Koi baat nahi,Varun. I mean, kya fharak pardhta hai. Those two seats seem like such a waste. Waise bhi agar Shruti aur sonal ko yahi karna tha to, they should have booked table for two.Bhaiya, koi baat nahi. If they don't mind we will share our table with them." Varun looked away in annoyance.
"What do you mean 'Share karna padega'! Do you have any idea who I am? I have been waiting here for half an hour now and now you are telling me that I would have to share my table with some strangers? Call your manager! Now!" Ram yelled at the slap-dashed waiter. The waiter stammered, "Please sir. I have just joined last week sir..I'll lose my job, please."
Gauhar made a husky sound and ran a finger on his arm whispering seductively; "I so love authoritative man. Taking charge of the situation! It's such a turn on." Ram gulped and looked at the waiter relaxing his stance, "We will take that table. Please lead the way" As the waiter did a double take at his changed tone, Ram added "Fast" trying to hide his panic.
They were led to the back of the crowed dining area and Ram understood what the appeal was. The earthy rustic Dhabba dcor of the place reminded him of Chaggan ka dhabba, their favorite hang out in college. He felt nostalgic and gave one point to Vikram for choosing the place if not the company. As they reached the table ,he saw the two occupant look up towards them. Not the fresh faced youths he had expected but they looked quiet mature. The man looked just a few years younger to him and the woman's age was somewhere around the early thirties. Ram saw in wry amusement as the man's jaw dropped open when his eyes rested on Gauhar's beautiful face. He stood up as if pulled by a thread. Ram darted a look at the woman expecting her to jump up and walk out on him after pouring her drink on the man's head. But things tonight were not going according to his wishes. Nothing as melodramatic happened or maybe he spent too much time in the volatile company of Viky and his wife Neha. Neha gave in to tantrums and hysteria even if Vikram coughed facing any other woman. Today she had walked out of the car in middle of the road when she had seen Vikram looking in the rearview mirror to see Gauhar. Hence they were late and had lost their table for four in the restaurant and now were sharing a table of four with two complete strangers.
"Hi! Ram and this is Gauhar. A friend." He introduced himself. The man extended his and towards Gauhar,"Varun…Varun vashisht . So pleased to meet you." Gauhar gave a weak smile and half hearted hand shake before elegantly sitting on the bench. Ram looked at the woman and smiled politely,"Aur aap?" She gave a pearly smile,"Priya..I am Priya. Nice to meet you, Mr.Ram."
They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. Varun kept his eyes fixed on Gauhar and Gauhar looked at her manicured fingers. Ram looked at the menu card while Priya looked around at the other diners. Gauhar said huskily,"God! I feel so ravenous. Please can we have something?" Ram was about to raise his hand to call the waiter but Varun beat him to it with a loud call. As the waiter appeared by their side Varun asked Gauhar in a courteous voice,"Kya lengi aap?" Gauhar skimmed the menu and rattled off her order,"Butter chicken bina butter ka…aloo jeera bina aloo ka..aur pulao bina chawal. Aur haan Oil kum. Ok?" Priya turned suddenly hearing her order. She looked like someone had told her that she had won a trip to north pole. She stole a glance at the well rounded older man who had accompanied the girl. She could see him shiver a little behind the hard bound menu card. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously and them eased in a mirth as she realized that the man ,Ram was trying hard not to choke on his laughter.
Varun quickly turned to the waiter,"Same for me." Ram waited for him to ask his companion for her order but Varun was too busy ogling Gauhar. Suppressing a sneer a disgust Ram politely looked at Priya,"Aur aap?" Priya gave a smile of shared amusement,"Butter chicken with extra butter, Aloo jeera tardka maarke, Pulao ghee daalke…aur haan Meethi lassi. Ok?" Ram grinned,"Same for me,please."
Priya looked at him in surprise and her eyes sparkled with mischief. Gauhar looked at Ram,"You should not it such high cal food. They say calories once on your lips forever on your hips. You should watch what you eat always. To stay fit, you know?" Varun nodded,"Bilkul! Now days everyone is so figure conscious. Waise aap bahut fit hai Gauhar ji. Are you a model or something? Because if not you should try..and if you are…you are in right profession. " Gauhar smiled coyly,"Ji. I am a model. Wo naya Chamcham washing powder ka ad dekha hai. The commercial where a girl washes a Red Porsche with lots of soapy water and says that ChamCham powder removes all stains. And that it's so nice that even your car would want a wash. That was me. " Varun snapped his fingers in excitement,"arey haan! That's why you look so familiar. I love that ad. You were amazing."
Gauhar turned to Priya,"You have seen it?" Priya shook her head apologetically. Gauhar narrowed her eyes in disapproval,"How come you haven't? It the mopst famous ad on TV." Ram asked confused,"Why would yoyr car want a wash?" He looked around the table in perplexity,"Powder to clothes ka hai,right? To car dhone se kya logic hai?" Gauhar shrugged,"Koi logic nahi but it's very in, you know. Paris Hilton shot an ad of burger king like this washing a car. And it was instant hit…so we thought we will give it Indian twist. Smart na? " Ram nodded,"Haan of course." He shared another conspiratorial look with Priya.
Their orders arrived. Ram looked at the calorie less fare ordered by their companions and felt the cook deserved applause for actually pulling off an impossible feat. Or maybe he should be congratulating Gauhar for being such an airhead as to actually eat the sorry excuse of food that was put in front of her. He saw Priya heartily digging into her plate and enjoying every bite. Ram asked politely, "You liked it?" Priya nodded, "heaven!"
Ram pulled out of the parking lot of the restaurant keeping an eye on the rearview mirror to save the posterior of his BMW, when Varun drove out beside them waving a hand at them in good night. Ram stopped at the guard's booth to collect the parking tab when his eyes fell on the lone figure standing on the other side of the road sheltered under an umbrella. Her hand waved out in the drizzle trying to hail an auto rickshaw.
"The jerk didn't offer to drop her off this late at night? What an Idiot!"
He rolled down his window further to call out to her. But the distance and sound of the traffic drowned his voice. He got out of the car and took a few steps towards the street trying to call her over. He could drop her off. After all, they did have dinner together and any gentleman should make sure that their lady companion got home safe. It's plain courtesy and nothing else, he told himself. But before he could cross the road an auto had stopped near her and she had got into it. As auto sped away in the direction opposite to his, he felt a strange pang in his heart. He attributed it to his allergy to canned garlic paste which must have been in one of the dishes and got into his car.
Gauhar said chattily, "it was a night to remember, wasn't it Ram?"
Ram nodded and looked ahead at the traffic signal lights. Yes, it was a night he would remember for a long time.
Authors note: This is my first OS for this forum and show. Hope you all like it...do press like if you do and if you don't..to bhi dabba hi do..kausa paise kaattey hai "like" dabbane ke
Waise the LTL forum wasis know my partiality to lamba lamba essay like comments...but since is forum se aapna yaarana naya naya hai..do char shabd kaafi hai...par boley to bas do char likhke bas nai karne ka...kuch tagada sa likhna!
Hi Shilpita ,, i saw ur name and jumped in ,, Read ur post awesome as always
Topic started by Wanderbug
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