Thank you ,mummy.
I dig out a peacock shade silk saree from my unopened bag. This should work.
I wrap it around effortlessly and tie my hair neatly into a bun. I apply a little mascara and pinch my cheeks to get some colour. I have no hope in the makeup section.
I look at myself in the mirror . I touch my face which looks drained of sentiments. I try to feel if there is any sensation left in it. Maybe it has learnt the art of veiling emotions. I take a deep breath.
I am a survivor.
And I walk out, clattering, trying to break into my new heels.
The place is buzzing with people dressed impeccably in choicest finery. I am already nervous. I try to find Dr Malik. I spot him gulping down the worries of the laborious office-work with a glass of wine. I greet him. He introduces me to some senior officers and then lets me on my own. “Enjoy the evening. I’ll let you know if I need you. The Home Minister will be here any moment. He will have a word with all the officials maybe.”
“ Saree suits you . Told you a million times.” I hear a familiar voice and turn sideways.
“I should have got the hint this morning!” I reply to the gentleman splendidly dressed in a black suit , standing beside me.
Sudeep is beaming with smile all over his face. He has come all the way from Punjab to see me. I take a moment to settle down and embrace him.
“What made you feel so desperate that you came all the way here? I thought you have a job to do.” I am all smiles.
“ I only got my weekend off. I leave tomorrow .” He comes close and holds my face in his palms. He gently caresses my cheeks with his thumbs.“ I made a lifelong promise to you. Remember?”
“Kartik Rana’s unit is leading the rescue operations here.” I take him by surprise and he pulls back off.
“ ‘The’ Kartik Rana whose letters you hide in that diary of yours? ” He asks wide eyed. He asks me if I have met him and I reply in affirmative.
Bob Marley starts to play. I run to the dance floor. Sudeep follows.
“How do you feel about him?” He asks me while I try on a few moves.
“Just dance with me.” I try to brush away his question and follow the reggae music. Suddenly I feel nostalgic about the days when people actually listened to songs on radio and recorded them. There was always the excitement of not knowing which song would be played next. How much we have lost behind!
He repeats the question. I take a quick glance at his demanding eyes and reply in a single breath.
“I don’t know. And I don’t want to choose between you and him. I have a life of my own. This is Saumya and she is dancing currently. You can either dance with her or leave. But she won’t stop. For men may come and men may go, but she will dance on forever. Tennyson, my man! ”And I lift both my hands up when the song ends on a high note.
He decides to dance.