“I don’t want to drive today, yaar! I just want to relax. Please , you take the lead”, I announced , as I lazed back in the backseat of the car. Mohit, my friend made a grumpy face and took to the steering wheel. He knew me well to understand that changing my mind was not that easy!
I was too bored and too tired , rather exhausted . I needed a break from the routine that had made me feel almost like a robot and I wanted to break free. A small weekend gateway was all I could fit into my busy schedule and tagging Mohit just seemed perfect. Mohit was my friend who I can trust blindly. I don’t even remember how we became friends but all I remember is he knows me so well that sometimes I seek his help to understand my own state of mind! In fact, it had been him, who had been nagging me since a couple of day’s back to take this long pending trip so that I could rejuvenate.
After Smriti had left for her onsite assignment since two years back, I had almost stopped taking a vacation. We had been together for about four odd years and my relationship with her was now a part of my life and to be honest, I felt a sense of calmness with her! We had our moments of spat but somehow, we sustained everything to be together. However this long distance relationship was becoming a little difficult to handle. More than the distance, it was the struggle of different time zones, that had made things a little rough between us. More than anything, the ever demanding career responsibilities on both our parts was also playing it’s part.
But , I loved her! I loved her beyond words could ever describe! Smriti was someone who would call a spade a spade and she was my first critic and I loved her for her honesty. She was raw, feisty and would not think twice before arguing with me. And after every argument, it was me who would have to apologize and the moment I would say sorry, she would put her hands on my mouth and try to embrace me within her small hands. It is another fact that she could never completely hold me within her little hold and in turn , it would be me who would take all her petite frame into my embrace. I was me with her & she too was her real self with me. I loved her for who she was! And I have been missing her so much !
“Hey, you asleep or what? This is not fair !! Am I your driver or what! Thik he (Alright), you do not want to drive, but at least baat to kar! ( at least speak with me).”
Mohit’s irritated voice, almost brought me back from my thoughts and I looked outside the window. The lush green cover on both the sides of the road looked so beautiful. A welcome change from the over populated metro cities. The place where you get to experience the Himalayas in all its enigmatic glory! Evergreen forests, rolling valleys, breathtaking lakes, pleasant climate, and colonial ambiance, all come together to lend this hill station, Shimla, a charm of its own. The freshness of the atmosphere , the mist laden air has always made Shimla a favorite spot amongst the tourists.
And when something becomes everyone’s favorite, it soon becomes no one’s responsibility. Shimla was soon losing it’s USP and becoming crowded like almost all famous and well known tourist places. But , the paucity of time that I had, allowed me to pick up Shimla so that we could have little time and we could recharge.
“Are sunn ( hey listen)Mohit , let’s stay in that old inn opposite the Mall road “, I said while we were entering the town.”
“Na , Na (No , No) Not this time. That is your favorite place and you always come there with Smriti. I already know everything about that place, because you both have explained everything to me. I am not staying there! Not happening. Chal na , iss baar Kufri mein rukte hein! ( Common, let’s stay in Kufri)”, Urged Mohit in a childish manner.
He had as if made up his mind. I could have negated him, but then I stopped myself and made up my mind to do as he suggests this time.
“Thik he , Jaise tujhe thik lage !( Alright, whatever feels ok to you )”, I said and decided that at least these two days I will just forget everything and be in the moment.
Shimla as usual welcomed me with her open hands. I was missing Smriti all the more in Shimla! But What could one possibly do ! She would take another six odd months to complete her assignment & we had decided from the very beginning to give each other enough space to prosper and of course, every decision came with its own sweet price. Well , this was the price that I had to pay to keep the bond going. But, nothing made me feel happier, when I saw Smriti jump with joy and for me, her happiness was everything. I could envision my future , only with her.
“Oye, Devdas … cheer up man ! Sometimes, I feel it is better to be single yaar. You guys in relationship are beyond my understanding any which ways. You are missing her na!!Arey , think about me sometimes also !Am I such a bad company”, Mohit teased me while handing me a packet of cigarette.
“You won’t understand unless you are in love ! Mohit and when you find your perfect lady na, then I will be the first one to give you the same lecture … you just wait, man !”
“Nah… Not happening. I have decided to take Sanyas (renunciation). I am becoming Baba! Mohit Baba ki Jai Ho !! ( Hail Mohit Baba)”, Mohit put up his hands in air and playfully danced after getting off the car.
We checked in the hotel and after relaxing in the lounge , indulging in the sumptuous dinner spread , it was time to retire for the day! We both had decided to gossip and talk everything that we had missed out but we were so tired that , we went into our separate rooms and were soon asleep. Me and Mohit had one thing in common, we never liked sharing a single room when we travelled and that is probably one thing which kept us together as friends for this long, apart from many other similarities in our personalities.
The next morning was beautiful, where the view outside my window was just breathtaking. I was already feeling fresh ! After our elaborate breakfast , we went for a good sight seeing experience and lost ourselves in the enthralling environs of the hill station. I looked up at the vast sky and shouted my heart out throwing away all the irritation, frustration held up within owing to personal & professional set up. It always worked . A burden from my chest had gone off ! We clicked pictures, roamed around like kids and it was a very joyful day.
Later in the evening we came back into our hotel & we gossiped like good old old days. Just like we were in college hostel and Mohit shared his share of difficulties. I had never known that he had been struggling with his business so badly until a few months back when he managed to strike that deal which made all the difference! To me, he was always jolly and how nicely he kept his worry hidden behind his pretentious smile is one thing that I will never get to understand. Where as , I who probably takes the final call in everything in our friendship, usually state all my problems to him. And many times, he has the solution! We are different that way and somehow we gel well in ways that are difficult to explain.
Late into the night, I went into my room and laid down on my comfy bed. The next morning was our journey back to the city, back to the grind of the daily life. I replied to the message from home and Smriti! She was already planning our next trip once she was back in India!
I tossed & turned in my bed , I was unable to fall asleep somehow. I closed my eyes and took the blanket over me. It was chilly . Just when I was feeling sleep crawl into my eyes, I felt being held between two beautiful set of hands. It was dark and I could only feel a curvaceous frame beside my body. Her breath was almost beside my breath & her skin beside my skin. The fragrance that her feminine body effused almost made me go wild! I tried to release myself from her clutches. But my body just did not listen to my mind.
“What are you doing? Just scream, get up, switch on the light, DO IT” , I heard my mind say it
But I just could not move. I was intoxicated in her presence. She felt real . Her long , silky hair and her smooth bare skin made me forget everything. We were lost in each other and lust filled passion took over and we both became inseparable. Soon, after we both were exhausted and as I turned to my side to open my drawer to grab the packet of cigarette, the bedsheet below me moved, I turned suddenly and to my shock, there was no one!! absolutely no one! I jumped off the bed, switched on the light with my trembling hands and still nothing… no one!! My heart beat was now faster ! How could it be! She was real, very real!! I held her, felt every part of her body, we made love… but there is nothing now !! I was already sweating profusely and her fragrance was still fresh in my mind! Is this a nightmare!
Suddenly, a pang of guilt pinched me! What did I do just now! Did I just cheat on Smriti! We had a pact!! We would always be truthful to each other! Did I just break it!! Wait, but the woman with whom I made love does not exist! So, how on earth is this cheating? But , then when she does not exist, how the hell did I have such a real experience!! How did I say all this to Smriti? Will she understand when I myself can’t !! Will I always keep this as our secret , then? So many thoughts clouded my mind ! I panicked and left my room. I banged loudly on Mohit’s room. Unable to explain any of the bizarre experience that I just had, I just wanted to sleep for few hours on his bed.
Though , Mohit was unable to understand anything , he just let me sleep on his bed seeing my condition. I closed my eyes tightly and waited for the night to end. Still unable to understand the events that happened a few minutes, earlier; I prayed everything to just be a nightmare and nothing of it to be real. But my body was not agreeing to it. The intimacy, the touch , every single thing of it was real !
Next Morning, we checked out of the hotel. I was already feeling nauseous and having a headache. Mohit kept asking me but I had nothing to tell him. We sat in our car and while the car was just about to leave the main gate of the property, I saw an old man sit beside the wall adjacent to the main gate and smile a mysterious smile at me. On the wall where he sat on a wooden stool, there was a statement written with white paint that said,
“We are what we do when no one is seeing!”
“Hey, Mohit, Do you know this old man, why is he smiling at me?”
“Who is smiling at you there is no one yaar!! “, Mohit replied .
“Hey be careful, just see ahead…. Mohit…. Mohit”, I shouted.
Mohit was about to hit a young woman with open hair in front of our vehicle and I had just managed to stop the car to a jerky halt!!
It was her!! It was definitely her.
“Pagal ho gaya he kya?( Have you gone insane?)”
I heard Mohit say as he rode the car and the vehicle went past her as if she was a bundle of air!!
And I turned behind. I saw a beautiful woman dressed in a peach coloured suit with very long open hair, wave at me smiling before disappearing into thin air.
Soon, my eyes felt dizzy and nothing made sense. I felt like slipping into a different world. My body parts were feeling heavy & I could feel myself lose my sense.
I could hear Mohit call my name out lot many times but I could not respond, even if I wanted to . Soon, I lost my sense completely .
P.S. Mall Road & Kufri are places in Shimla, a hill station in India.