Nikhil and I had been talking all the while. Nikhil would call once every two days. He would mostly call at night. He thought we two were made for each other, it was written or how else would you explain such incredible tale of our love. Sometimes Jay also talked with him. Two of them will tease me by making fun of me, but Jay used to give us enough space. My then husband would go for a walk or sit sometime in the garden at the middle of the night.
Finally after a wait of twenty five days, Nikhil said he was coming back. He would arrive at Delhi airport after three days. I immediately called Jay at his office. He got two train tickets for us of the same night. He told his parents that the two of us wanted to go for a rather delayed honeymoon. He had to concoct a very good story for such a sudden change of mind since earlier he didn’t go for it even when his parents insisted. Somehow he managed to get both of us on train. The journey was very tiring and even stupid. Both of us were allotted berths in different compartments. I went to sleep very early.
When late in the night I rose to visit toilet I found a college girl in deep conversation with Jay. She wore a golden chain with a heavy golden pendant entwined with it. What college girl wears such jewelry, that too when she is travelling. The girl looked suspicious to me. I went up to them and showed the shrewd little wimp her right place.
Jay places his trust too quickly; anyone could take advantage of him. I didn’t want him to get hurt, besides I didn’t wanted him to keep up all night. We had to rise early in the morning to reach airport on time.
Suhana felt for the first time that her friend was trying to cover up.
When we reached Delhi we were left with very little time. We rented a room and freshened ourselves up in an hour or so. Nikhil called up and asked us to come at Hotel Centaur. We took a cab to reach there.
After a journey of another two hours, FINALLY, I saw Nikhil in front of my eyes. It seemed like it was a magical moment; I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I crashed into his chest and wept heartily in his arms. I gave him a long, passionate kiss. After I could contain myself I introduced the two. Nikhil thanked Jay a lot and wanted to pay him homage for what he did for both of us. He invited him for having lunch with us. But Jay, for the reclusive hermit he was, bade goodbye.
“But you can’t go like this” I pleaded, “You’ll have to give answers. What will you tell your parents? To my parents? We’ll have to plan everything out. Please, stay with us for a while.”
“No Madhvi, I was in the middle of a project when we left. I have to get back as soon as I can. I’ll catch the earliest flight from the airport. I’ll tell your parents that you are happy. And that you will call them soon. As far as my parents are concerned, they are easy customers. This shouldn’t be difficult.”
He handed over some papers to me saying “You’ll need these when two of you get married. As we were officially man and wife, these papers discount that association of ours. I’ve signed it and when you do, we will be legally divorced.”
I thanked him for keeping in mind such seemingly petty but important thing in mind. He gave me a hug, wished the two of us luck and left. Nikhil and I enjoyed the afternoon together. We took lunch at the hotel then we chatted for a long time in a nearby park.
Suahana interrupted her, “Tell me one thing Madhvi, how come Nikhil accepted you just like that. Didn’t he have any doubts over you staying with a man for a month?”
“I guess he trusted me, he never asked me if Jay and I had anything between us.”
“Gosh Madhvi you are so lucky! Everyone seems to love you these days. By the way where is The Man of the Evening? He is due for half an hour.” As soon as Suhana uttered these words, she saw a man in black shirt and blue jeans, with disheveled hairs, stooping over Madhvi and kissing her on the cheek. The man had sharp features, rather boyish looks, fair complexion, and his disheveled hairs complimented his V shaped jawline. Suhana had heard from her friend but now she witnessed herself how handsome the beau was. She was overawed with the man’s demeanor.
He looked at Suhana and smiled. Suhana offered him her hand and said, “You must be Jay” the man in black shirt nodded and shook hands with her “I am Suhana, I believe you already know that Madhvi and I are childhood friend.”
“Yes, I’ve heard a lot about you Suhana” he said in a soft voice looking at Madhvi.
He suddenly started speaking in a frenzied tone “Ladies I wish to stay with you but I really need to go because…” Madhvi didn’t let him complete the sentence, she erupted with a groan “No, we have hardly talked since last night.”
“Sweet heart, you know how much office time I’ve lost in the last two days” Jay tried to explain. Suhana wanted him to leave, since Madhvi hadn’t finished her story yet. She wanted to know how Madhvi realized that Jay was the one she loved and not Nikhil and how in the world did she lost her shoes. Madhvi was eager to tell the story too, or so Suhana believed.
“It’s all right, I’ll see you later tonight” Madhvi condoned her- now technically- ex-husband. The couple kissed each other good bye and Jay left.
“When are two of you planning to get married again now that you are divorced?” Suhana asked mockingly.
“That shouldn’t be much of a problem. In comparison to what Jay would have to do had I eloped with Nikhil, this should be a cakewalk” Madhvi said with a wink.
“He is a magician, isn’t he?” Suhana said praising her friend’s beau.
“So where were we?” Suhana was growing impatient for knowing what happened next, “Nikhil and you were in a park.” Madhvi resumed her story:
Nikhil and I chatted endlessly in the park. But Nikhil was aware of my indifference all the while. He talked and talked and talked! And I was just staring blankly in the sky or at children playing nearby. He finally asked me “What is it sweet heart? I’ve been talking for almost an hour now and you haven’t told me much about how have you been these days, or what are your plans ahead. Not only that you have been listening to me with listlessly.”
“Don’t act like a whiner Nikhil” I snapped, “You know how tired I am. I’ve been on a run for sixteen hours straight”. Although there was a lot of conviction in my voice, Nikhil didn’t buy it, I could tell by the look on his face.
“What were you thinking all the while?” Suhana asked teasingly with a mischievous smirk on her face.
I just couldn’t get Jay off my head. I tried to pay attention to what Nikhil said, but eventually my mind will drift into the time I spent with Jay. His childhood photographs, his shyness, how he made maggi for me in the middle of the night when I was feeling hungry, how he used to pretend that he needs a walk when Nikhil and I needed privacy over phone.
The way he used to feel embarrassed whenever he involuntarily made human contact with me, and how envious I felt of that college girl who was chatting with him in the train. I also started missing Kapila and Mitali. The thought of me never seeing them- and Jay- again filled my mind with dread. I started worrying what Jay will say to those people? How could he have returned from honeymoon without his wife?
Meanwhile Nikhil tried to get intimate. He held my hand for a while and tried to kiss me. As soon as his lips touched mine –when my mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of Jay and his family- I felt like I was being asphyxiated. I couldn't breathe. I started wheezing frantically and the words involuntarily babbled out of my mouth.
“I want to see Jay, I want to see him now Nikhil. Please take me to him Nikhil please!” I snorted
Nikhil got scared seeing my frenetic gestures. “Okay okay, I’ll take you there. Just calm down” he said trying to make me comfortable. We rushed towards the airport. I didn’t know if Jay was still there or has he already left for Mumbai. But I wanted to take the faintest chance I had of seeing him today.
We reached airport and looked around for the next flight for Mumbai. My high heels tucked on firm floor of the airport and produced clucking sound.
I’d already learned that no flights had been departed since Jay left us in Centaur. The next flight to Mumbai was due in fifteen minutes. I rushed towards the terminal. Just when I reached the terminal I saw Jay go through security doors and enter the passage towards runway.
I called him but my voice didn’t reach him due to the bustle of the airport. I tried to follow me but security guards won’t let me in without a valid ticket and he also informed me that the guy in black shirt and blue jeans had just bought the last ticket in the flight.
Nikhil tried to convince me that he will get me to Mumbai from the first flight next morning but I ignored him. I removed my heels and jumped off on the other side of the fence. Two guards saw me jumping over the fences and running towards terminal passage. They dashed in my direction. One of the guards even caught my t-shirt but couldn’t get hold of it.
I just slipped out of his hands and entered the passage door. To my dismay I couldn’t see Jay anywhere. There were five aisled behind the door, each of which had two passages in which people walked in both directions. The chances of finding Jay among the crowd given that security guards were right after me were grim. I started panicking. Finally I shrieked his name right out of my stomach.
“Jaaaayyyyyyyy!” I screamed two or three times. Security guards had identified me and were coming to get hold of me. My eyes were filled with tears which blurred my vision; I never saw from which of the five aisles did Jay came running towards me. As soon as I saw him coming, I threw myself upon him and held him tightly in my arms. “Take me with you Jay; please take me with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I said with tears in my eyes and making a complete fool of myself on the busy passage.
Security guards came from behind and took me in custody. They detained me for breaching the security.
Two lady officers questioned me in detention room, about the purport of throwing such tantrums. One of them asked if the guy in black shirt and blue jeans was my husband. When I replied in affirmative she enquired if the ‘rascal’ was abandoning me and running off. I explained to them that the pandemonium was my fault and not his. Eventually Jay missed the flight and we had to spend the night on the airport. We left for Mumbai at 6:30 this morning and I’ve come straight to you.
Two girls bantered for another half hour or so and then they bade good bye to each other. She paced towards her home, the home she had finally accepted to be hers, to sample cuisine for her newly found love.