We are on our way to Dumrao.
“The rain hasn’t stopped. The roads are very bad but we are building them.” He tries to make a conversation in the jeep. I am in no mood.
Be strong. We are just two professionals working together. Focus.
“Why are you so silent?” “I have come here to work.”
“A small talk doesn’t hurt. I know how to get the words out of you.” He winks.
My heart grows heavy. I turn my gaze outside the window. Tall green trees with white-brown barks whizz past me.
“Are you serious?” Kartik and I are at the Connaught Circus in the hot Delhi summer.
“Ya, why not? My term break ends tomorrow. Lets get drunk.”
“Promise me you will carry me home.” “Yes ma’am, in my arms if need be required. ”
“Do you realize you are such a bad influence on me?” I say in my newly acquired wisdom triggered by alcohol in my blood veins. “Yes , I do.” He replies coyly guiding my tipsy steps into the metro compartment. I sleep in his arms, him making a virtual barrier around me, blabbering alcohol generated sorrows in the middle.
“On the count of three, we both go our ways. I’ll see you in December now. Eat some curd before dinner.” We have reached my home.
“Can I say something?” I stop him.“Yes baby. What is it?”He comes close and holds my face in his palms.
“You are a bad influence on me.” “Yes, I know. Go now its late.” He moves away laughing.
“Can I say something more?” “Yes of course.”
“You are a bad influence on me and its probably the alcohol talking but I am insanely in love with you. Why did you do this to me Rana?” Tears well up in my eyes. I bury my head in his chest and alternate between sobbing and talking.“Tell me Rana! You are going to hurt me awfully bad, I can feel my gut. Then why did you do this to me? Why?”
“Why?” I say out loud . “What?”
“Sorry, I was thinking about something ” .
Ashok Babu is waiting for us at the site of relief camps. It keeps pouring heavily.
Kartik becomes busy giving orders to his unit. How do people take him so seriously? He still looks so young and carefree. Sidelining my musings, I get to my work too. Food and Cloth packets are distributed under my supervision. I interact with the locales about their problems. Dr Malik keeps calling me, keeping himself abreast about the proceedings. He seems worked up about the Home Minister visit. I remain busy all day.
I call Kartik in the evening to pick me up.
“I have to come back quick. Hurry. ” He says getting into the jeep.
“You could have sent someone else.” I reply as a matter of fact.
“It is always a delight to see the tired you dozing off in the front seat .” He winks. I roll my eyes.
I really am tired and quickly transport to my dream world.