INTERLUDE

INTERLUDE

Author: PROMILLA MALHOTRA Write To Author

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INTERLUDE

 

Free Short Story by

 

Promilla Malhotra

 

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 INTERLUDE

 

Free Short Story

 

By

 

Promilla Malhotra

 

© Promilla Malhora 2016

 

 

Promilla Malhotra, author of a number of eBooks on romance and Punjabi humour, including 'WANTED: A Bride for Vir', is a graduate from St. Bedes College Shimla, India, where her favourite subject was English Literature. She is an avid reader and a creative painter of floral oils. She has been a freelance writer and has contributed too many magazines and newspapers.

 

 *****

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 has been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch mates. 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.  

I brushed aside the people in front of me and rushed towards her – my love, my beloved Anjali Khanna, whom I had lost for four long years-

“Anju where have you been” I said in an anguished tone, as I tapped her on her shoulder. She turned around, and in a soft voice murmured – “Oh it’s you – Jai Malhotra the most handsome boy in class; you haven’t changed at all – What are you doing here?”

Just then, there was a loud announcement by the airline; “We regret to inform you that due to a technical snag IA Flight No.503 is indefinitely delayed, we do not expect to resume operations before 8 pm in the evening.”

 

There was utter chaos at the airport after this – Amidst the confusion, I caught hold of Anjali’s hand and begged her- “Please come with me, I have so much to tell you” she allowed herself to be led out of the airport by me;  I hailed a taxi, and told the driver – “Go to the Maurya Sheraton Hotel”.

I rung up the reception there and told them that I was coming back and wanted my room for the day – Since I am a VIP guest of the hotel they readily accepted my request.

 

There was pin drop silence in the car as we sped through the morning rush hour traffic.

I gently escorted Anjali to the coffee shop “Pavillion” and ordered 2 strong cups of black coffee and hot buttered toast.

She barely took a sip and with unshed tears in her eyes said – “Jai, why have you come back in my life now? Where were you when I needed you?”

I held her hand gently and said “My darling – You disappeared from my life, do you remember after we both graduated with flying colors, you went off to your parents’ home in Kanpur, and told me that your father wasn’t keeping good health and that your mother wanted you to come back to help her look after him – you promised to write, but you never did –

 

My parents also got me home to Delhi where I began a string of interviews with all the leading foreign banks; I tried your mobile morning, noon and night, but all I got was – “the number is unreachable.

My father pushed me in accepting an internship with Barclays, based in London, and before I knew it, I was sent there and after a six months period was posted to Singapore, where I have been all this while, but there has not been a single day that I haven’t thought of you”.

Anjali replied in a rueful tone, “circumstances tore us apart – I lost my father, his financial affairs were in a total mess and the responsibility of looking after my mother and younger sister fell on my shoulders.

 

I couldn’t leave them, and after winding up everything in Kanpur, we shifted to Delhi where we stay with my uncle. I took up a job here in a private bank and have somehow managed to look after them all. Where was the time to think of myself?

This trip also I took with great reluctance; my mother was keen that I go on a holiday and catch up with all my old friends”. I have buried you in the deep corners of my heart” – she said tremblingly.

I squeezed her hands gently and told her, “let us pretend that today is the first day of the rest of our lives – let us cherish every moment and make it unforgettable! – Now let me see, first thing – I am going to take you shopping; as usual, you are not wearing anything warm. It is still cold and I will not take no for an answer;” 

Holding hands, they rushed out the coffee shop, and after depositing their bags in his room, got into the corolla cab waiting for them at the porch.

Snuggled cozily together, I told the driver – “Take us to the Emporio Mall at Vasant Kunj”.

 

There, I shopped for her to my heart’s content and paid no heed to her. “But Jai – you can’t do this, I don’t need such fancy clothes and shoes – what will I do with this designer trouser suit; this Cashmere Sweater; these shoes from Todd’s, this  Dior hand bag….where will I ever wear them?”

I persuaded her to go the ladies cloakroom and change to the outfit I had bought for her. Shyly brushing her long hair aside, Anjali walked out, looking stunningly beautiful in her red trouser suit and black cashmere jacket.

 

I took her straight into my welcoming arms, and both of us were totally oblivious to the milling crowds around us; we only had eyes for each other.

“Let us go upstairs to the best restaurant here – where they serve the most delicious Pan Asian Cuisine” –

We ate ourselves silly, and washed it down with chilled glasses of pink Champagne.

We couldn’t stop talking and remembering those beautiful days in college when we were care free and quite oblivious to what was in store for us.

Anjali’s cheeks became more flushed and her eyes started dropping; seeing she was exhausted – I suggested – “Let’s go back to the hotel and rest a bit before we head back for the airport.”

 

I escorted her to my room and realizing we were totally alone, all my pent up feelings came to the fore.

I embraced and kissed her passionately; All caution was thrown to the wind, and murmuring “I love you and love you”. I cradled her in my arms and we were lost in our own private world.

It grew dark outside; in our haste, we had not even drawn the curtains; I switched on the bedside light and saw a message flashing on my mobile – from the airline that the flight was now taking off at 10 pm and reporting time was 8 pm.

“Oh Bloody Hell” I said, “I will quickly go to the bathroom first; I know you don’t take long to get ready.”

Anjali stretched languorously on the bed and thought she would sleep 5 minutes more, when there was a shattering ring on Jai’s mobile.

Thinking it was another message from the airline, she picked it up, but before she could say anything, an angry female voice yelled “Jai- where the Hell have you been? I have been trying to get in touch with you the whole day. A very important meeting has come up for me and I am urgently needed in Hong Kong. In case you have forgotten, I have a career too – and I can’t leave your son Dev with anyone – he is such a brat, just like you; A total handful!! Why are you not saying anything?”

Anjali threw the phone away, and burst into loud sobs; I came out of the bathroom and seeing her cry, rushed to her and said, “Darling, what has happened? Have you had any bad news?”

Anju pushed me away and said, “How could you do this to me? Why didn’t you tell me you were married?”

“Oh my love – I said “If I had told you earlier, we would never have had this beautiful day together;

 

I am stuck in this loveless marriage; I was emotionally blackmailed by my mother to marry her best friend’s daughter – Gita Kapur – we are totally incompatible, she is a modern, career oriented woman, ambitious and pushy; she married me because I have earned a name for myself as a leading banker at Barclays.

I will not lie to you; Unfortunately, I have to endure this marriage for the sake of our little son – Dev, and I cannot beat to give him up – Tell me what shall I do?” I said in a broken voice. “Now that I have met you again, I cannot imagine   a life without you!!”

Anjali gently pushed me aside and said, “Darling I cannot build my happiness on another one’s broken relationship. We were not destined to be together; I will always treasure these stolen moments – who knows what the future has in store for us!

“Que sera sera”

With that, we embraced and hugged each other tightly our lips touched for the last time, and broken hearted, I put her in a cab for the airport – my lovely Anjali, my precious Anjali – May God be with her and give her all the happiness she so richly deserves.

Who knows – We may meet again.

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