A Night To Remember
A Night To Remember
(No...It has nothing to do with Titanic.)
The room was dimly lit. Not many people were present. At one corner were a boy and a girl, probably on a date. The girl looked irritated but the boy didn’t care. He just went on with his prattle without caring whether she wanted to hear him or not. I couldn’t control my laughter. Some people are like that; they just don’t care. For them, only their things matter and I hate such people. Two tables ahead of me, there was a girl, alone. She was there from a quite long time. I just felt like giving her company. She felt lonely and so did I. We were on the same floor. She had ordered three drinks but had drunk none. She just stared at the door, maybe consoling herself that he might come but I think she knew deep down that he won’t. It’s really lonely to drink without a company and we were feeling that loneliness.
The singer in the bar was a girl, probably in her twenties. She had a melodious voice but it just didn’t work tonight. The choice of her song was also not favouring me. She was singing I will always Love you. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the song. The thing was that it was just not the song which I would have liked to hear at that moment. I just wanted to leave the bar but it was extremely late\ and it was the only place open and I just wanted to drink. Drinks are your best friends when nobody’s around you. It just consoles you.
The bar tender was busy preparing drinks. I don’t know for whom. There were just a handful of us. The two love birds, the two hate birds and three or four regular customers. It was pretty late, maybe 1 am or so. But that didn’t matter. The martini was kept on my table. I just kept staring at it. It is so lonely to drink alone. As I was wishing for a partner, the singer started singing My Heart Will Go On - my favourite song. She sung it really well; as if Celine Dion was there. I just fell in love with it. I just kept staring at her for a minute and then an idea popped up in my mind.
“Hey, waiter?” I shouted. He bumbled towards me; I think he was drunk too. When he reached my table, he asked me if I needed anything.
“Yeah, another glass of martini.”
He glanced at the already full glass of martini on my table and then asked, “Anything else sir.”
“Yes…could you please ask the singer to have a drink with me? I’ll pay for her drink.” I requested.
“No sir. She can’t. She has…”but he changed his answer when I kept twenty bucks on the table, “Now can she?”
“Yes, I’ll send her soon.” He said happily.
I really don’t believe in bribing people but this time it was necessary. You just can’t survive in this world without learning a little bit of corruption. The world is like that. So, I waited for her. After waiting for some half an hour the waiter came back and placing the martini, I had ordered, on the table, he said, “She is coming in a minute sir.”
She must have resisted at first but ultimately she did come. She was really pretty. Her black dress couldn’t be better, her eyes were dark brown. They seemed mystical. They took you to another world, and healed all your wounds. Her pitch black hair was as straight as the stand of the wine glasses, and her pale lips were appealing.
“Please have a seat ma’am.” I said, trying to sound as polite as I could in this gloomy atmosphere.
She sat on the chair just in front of me and said, “I would be glad if you call me Ella, Monsieur.”
“So, you’re French Ella.”
“No. I’m native American.” She said smiling and when she smiled her cheeks turned rosy red. She was really cute, “So, why did you want me here? Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Nothing…..I just wanted to have a drink with you. I thought you may accompany me.” I answered, rubbing my head out of nervousness. I become a hell lot of nervous in front of women; they are like that. They can whiplash your mind.
“I don’t drink.” She said nonchalantly and got up, “Thank you, sir. Enjoy your drink.”
“What? Can’t we have a conversation? Just for ten minutes or so.” I said. I just panicked. I didn’t want her to leave. Fortunately, she accepted my offer and stayed with me.
“So, when did you join this bar?” I asked her, trying to sound calm.
“A year ago.” She answered casually. She kept staring at the martini, waiting for me to strike up an interesting conversation. But I didn’t get one. I thought I was boring her.
“What’s your age?”
“Pardon me?” she sounded a little irritated. Well…I knew it was a little rude to ask a woman’s age but I was not in my right state then, so I repeated my question, “What exactly is your age?”
“Twenty-one.” She sounded a lot irritated now; she was looking at me from the corner of her eye. I knew she would have killed me and was tolerating me for the sake of the money which I had paid the waiter. I was feeling extremely sorry for her; but I couldn’t help it.
“Why did you join this bar?” I asked her for a change.
“What do you mean?” she got a little angry, “Will you talk sense or should I just go?”
“No…I’m ….I’m sorry.” I just got a hell lot of nervous. Then suddenly we started to talk about endangered creatures and it seemed to interest her. I should thank God that I knew a lot about endangered creatures which really hooked her up. After that I asked her who her favorite actress was and she told that she admired Kate Winslet and as fate had it, I also loved Kate. So we discussed about her life and movies and it was one of the best conversations I had had in years. Then I asked her whether she was going to any college or not. She told me she was but had left it; I could not gather the courage to ask why.
“Where do you live?” I asked her.
“I live just behind this bar. You can have dinner there. I know you’re tired.” I knew she was giving me the offer just for the sake of being kind. And no she was not a prostitute. How do I know? Trust me in case of women; I’m never wrong about them.
“No it’s okay. I’ll find some restaurant.” I said.
“Isn’t there anybody at your house?”
“I live in the hostel. I’m a college student. My best friend is my room-mate but he is no use. Anyway, I think it’s time for you to get some rest. I’ll be on my way.”
“But no restaurant would be open at this time. It’s approximately two. I’m serious; you could actually come to my residence. It’s totally fine.” She said in such an appealing way that I couldn’t say no. I had not thought that a girl would ever invite me to have dinner with her; it was the best day of my life and I was really enjoying it. A few hours ago I was so depressed that I would have jumped out of the window of my room and embraced death but now I was feeling so jolly.
She lived in a very old apartment with minimal rent. You couldn’t possibly live in such an apartment without cursing your luck. It smelled like rotting wood and smashed tomatoes. The wooden stairs creaked and it felt as if you would fall any time; there was no lift and I’m very lazy. I wouldn’t have climbed three floors to just eat the damn dinner. It was because Ella had invited me that I cared to walk that much. Her apartment had two rooms and a hall. The hall was very dirty. There was no dirt actually (girls are very particular about dirt, I suppose) but things were scattered all over the floor but I didn’t care ‘cause I myself am very messed up.
“It’s a little messed up. I don’t really have guests. Hope you don’t mind it.” She said smiling, her cheeks turning rosy and she looked even better in the bright light of the hall. The hall had nothing much. It was very small. Just few clothes scattered here and there and a cheap sofa set in the middle, no television, nothing.
Suddenly, two kids came running out of the room just beside the kitchen and started shouting, “Ella you’re back!” They were two cute little girls, probably six and seven.
“Who is this?” asked the younger one, pointing towards me.
“He is our guest today. So don’t disturb us and go back to your room.” The girls were very obedient and went back to the room.
“Oh Ella, welcome back.” said a teenage boy coming out of the other room, “Who is this?”
“He is Jack. He is here for dinner tonight.” She explained. I was really irritated
“Hi.” I said and shook hands with him. He was a pale, red headed boy with freckles all over his cheeks. He had wrinkles over his forehead. But he seemed really intelligent; someone who would always indulge himself in studies and books, not even having time to date someone. I always wonder how boring and mundane their life would be. After whispering something to Ella, he left the hall, just like a lion withdrawing to his den.
“They are my siblings.” she answered before I asked her, “Robert will be taking his exams next week so he won’t join us.”
“Yeah…… I had figured.” I exclaimed.
“What?” she asked. I pretended as if I hadn’t said anything.
“You would be cooking, right?” I asked her. The question was silly but still she gave me a nod. I offered to help but she denied it. The thing with me is that I can’t stand a girl working for me and I keep my butt off the chore. So, somehow I persuaded her and she agreed. Her kitchen was as tiny; but it had everything you would require to cook a good meal. I can’t cook; and I don’t know why on earth I never learned to cook. But I tried to help her and I did help her, to some extent.
“Do they really have dinner at this time every day?” I asked.
“No, they already had it. It’s just me. So, I thought you might give company.” she whispered.
“Thank you.” I said. She smiled and she looked no less than an angel from heaven.
Then I asked her the question which I thought might force tears out of her eyes, “Where are your parents?”
“They died………a year ago,” she added.
“I’m sorry.” And I really was. I had suspected this; still I asked the god-damn question. What was I thinking?
Together we cooked curry and rice and it looked so delicious that I would have cried had she not been present. This was the first dish that I had ever cooked. We ate as peacefully as is possible to eat while living in New York.
When we had finished I unconsciously asked a question which I had wanted to ask her so badly, “Would you like to accompany me to a couples’ party at one of my friend’s residence? I was invited with my girlfriend but I had decided not to go.”
“She ditched me this evening.” I said bluntly. I picked up my plate and kept it in the basin. Ella followed, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’m glad she did. She treated me like her pet.” I said, “But she was a drop dead beauty.” I added.
We left the kitchen and sat on the sofa in the hall. After sitting there for some half an hour, I got up and took my coat and said goodbye to Ella. Before leaving I asked her again, “Would you?”
She didn’t answer at once; rather she kept staring at my face, her dark brown eyes gleaming. “I’ll see.”
“Okay, so Tomorrow, Central Park, noon.”
When I reached the door I had an extreme desire to hug her and I did. I didn’t care what her reaction would be. My heart was filled with so much joy that I cried.
The next day, I was there, waiting for her in the park. The sun was shining gay and I really hoped that it would not rain. My luck is so bad that whenever I want it to be sunny it is cloudy and when I want to rain, the sun shines as if it wants to drain out all the water in my blood. But today it was sunny, as I had wanted it to be. The park was quite large but there were very few persons in the park. There was a lot of noise and chaos on the road. I looked at my watch; it was twelve thirty and Ella was still not there. I started doubting my decision. I was getting restless; I just wanted her beside me but I knew she wouldn’t come.
A hand caressed my chocolate brown hair and I looked back alarmingly. Can you guess who was standing there? Yeah …you’re wrong, Ella was not there. It was my best friend, James (no not James Cameron; lame, right?). He had followed me and was now behind me. He gave me a nasty smile and said, “I also believe she will not come.”
“Can’t you think something positive? You always think negative for me.”
“That’s what friends do. Am I right?” he sat beside me and slipped his hand over my shoulder.
“No, that’s what enemies do. Friends always wish good for their goddamn friends. Who needs enemies when there are friends like you?” I said, “Why did you follow me, you lousy bastard? Did you flunk the lecture too?”
“No, I didn’t flunk the lecture. I came directly here. I knew you’d be here.” He said elbowing me in my abdomen, just like a typical sidekick teasing a protagonist in love. Silly James!
“I’m sure you know why I’m here.” I said sarcastically.
“So, would you leave me alone, my dear asshole?” But he didn’t move an inch which really pissed me off and I just wanted to kill him.
But after sometime, self-realization occurred and he got up, “I don’t want to but I think I have to.” He teased me, “Goodbye love bird.” And he left the god-damn park. James was just the kind of boy you would not expect to be the friend of somebody like me. I am a mediocre at everything. I am not good at studies; I am just okay but he is the topper. One of my professors once commented, “A topper and a fool can be friends, two fools can be friends too but two intellects can never be friends.” I don’t know the relevance or truth of the statement but I do think he was right. Anyway, I was there waiting for my new found love with no hope at all that she would turn up. You can’t expect a girl to hang out with you just like that. And it was completely fine; you should never trust someone whom you have just met. Still I was sitting there, just for the sake of it. It made me feel good. After sitting there for some three hours, I felt a little hungry so ate some hamburgers and then returned to my hostel.
He was sitting on his chair with a book in his hand. He knew I’d return soon and was waiting there to tease me. He looked at me, humour gleaming in his eyes. My hostel room was very puny and it was as dirty as my jokes. As I’ve already mentioned I’m very messy not because I don’t like clean surroundings but ‘cause I’m too lazy to keep things in order. James, on the other hand, could not live in the mess so he cleaned his part as well as mine. Well….. I should have thanked him but he was not worth it. My books were scattered all over the floor and my bed. My table was clean, just a clock placed on it, because I never used it. James’ table was piled up with books, particularly our course texts. The two things which really mattered to him were studies and pulling others’ legs. And I hated both of them, particularly when he pulled my leg.
“So, did you enjoy your date?” he asked, keeping the book away.
“I knew you would tease me. Can’t you just keep your mouth shut?” I was literally shouting, my face had turned hot and my clenched fists wanted to break his nose.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t teasing you.” He apologized and I knew he had no intention to tease. His face had the same expression that one has before giving an important exam. He was really serious. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am.” I went into the wash-room. Closing the door behind me, I leaned against the wall and slowly sat on the floor. I felt an irritation in my eyes. I was feeling a little dizzy. I had no idea how I was on my bed when I woke up, a few hours later.