College days were so much fun! They whizzed past like a flash in a pan. I now realize what they say about time running away while you’re having a great time. St Stephen’s college was an experience that I don’t have much words to explain. The exposure, faculty, platform have been amazing. With assignments, research and exams, I couldn’t believe that this phase of my life would soon be a history. I have been an above average student, minding Suvin’s assignments with mine. Our group used to hang around mostly together. Adraki Chai at Connaught Circus, Sitaram ke Choley Bhaturey at Pahadganj. Mom used to warn me from eating too much. “You will put on weight. It’s not healthy!”, the advice trumpet blew longer than cold war between USA and USSR.
We had a television set at home. Dad bought it from Bhagirath Place. Mom had placed a flower vase on top of it. When we used to watch TV, the door had to be slid apart. When it was turned off, we gazed at the vase. It was one of the first TVs in our society. Mom used to say that there are not more than 20 TV sets in Sarojini Nagar. Sundays were Ramayana time. Ramanand Sagar had hit a jackpot by bringing down avatar of deities through aluminium antenna on terrace. My mitr mandali also used to come and watch the serial on weekends. Dad used to joke looking at the count of footwear outside our home that he could start a business and quit his job forever. However, Suvin never took off his shoes like everyone. Unless my mom stared at his shoes and then stared him back. Frankly, my parents weren’t very fond of Suvin, in particular. They were cool with my other friends though. Whenever Suvin cuddled Toby, Dad would want to take him out for walk. When Suvin looked for another serving of Upma, my mother would politely tell him that it’s gotten over! most of my time was spent with Suvin. Parents and their sixth sense! Pratima and I used to find their treatment part funny, part sad. But my Sakhtt Launda was unfazed with all that. And would enter our house with his footwear on. Every time! Invariably!!
It was time for farewell and campus interviews, we were hoping to get selected in the same company or at least same city, but nothing out of that happened. We cracked the first companies we faced; TCS picked me for role of Software Associate for their Mumbai office. Rajiv Gandhi had surely revolutionized IT and PC usage. Suvin got placed with a PSU, Bharat Electronics Ltd in Ghaziabad. My dad was visibly surprised to hear about his selection with BEL. “Kyon nahi select hoga, Uska saara assignment and project Antara hi toh banati thi!”, Mom would announce from kitchen. Dad frowned. Mom and her unsolicited general knowledge trivias!! I mused.
We had no other option but to accept our respective offers. Unless we had financial stability, telling our parents about ourselves wouldn’t be quite nice. We promised that we will keep meeting each other as frequently as possible. Writing letters was the only way to communicate. Pratima wasn’t much keen about placements as marriage proposals were already coming in for her and her parents were very keen to get her married soon after graduation. Mom and dad were excited as I was selected for one of the IT companies with one of the most prestigious conglomerates in India- The Tata Group. They were very proud of me.
It was a Saturday evening. Our juniors had organized our farewell. It was so much fun and frolic. All girls were wearing saree, boys wore suit and bow-tie. There were lot of games and entertainment stalls, all were planned by our juniors. At a distance, people were also enjoying beer. My man too. I couldn’t understand how people had that stinky, fermented water and label it enjoyment. Suvin looked me watching over. Holding a bottle, he walked towards me. “Wanna have a sip? It’s fun stuff!”, Suvin asked tilting the bottle towards me. “Meri jooti na piye yeh cheez iss janam mein”, I yelled back. Sensing seriousness in my voice, he too placed his bottle on the table next to stairs.
The farewell brings more sadness than joy, everyone had tears in eyes. My reason was even bigger as I wouldn’t see Suvin for I don’t know how long. For the namesake, we were getting settled in life. Graduating from a renowned university and college, a job in hand but on the other hand everything seemed so unsettled. Unpredictable. New place. New people. No Mom Dad Suvin around. I felt like throwing up.
Suvin asked me if I wanted to dance. I placed my hand in his. “This may be our farewell dance Antara, but I promise you there will be many more together. Time froze. The people around turned into a traffic blur photograph. I could smell his cologne. And beer. And highest standards of sincerity in a man.
As Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love with you played on speakers, he pulled me closer. I could see my future in his eyes. Our unborn kids. Our home. The shimmer in his eyes reminded me of Nordic lights I saw in my Brittania Encyclopaedia. If there was one place in the world, I wanted to be! This was it. With him. Forever!!
This blog of part of #A2Z Challenge, there will be 26 blogs in this series all the blogs are in continuation. I am writing them from Z to A, as the story also flows from Death towards life. Hope you enjoy knowing Antara’s journey.
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