An Unexpected Sunday Afternoon
An Unexpected Sunday Afternoon26 mins 23.9K 26 mins 23.9K
You are late. You are fucking late. I said to fucking Air India, as it arrived 15 minutes late. It was Sunday, 11:30 A.M. I haven’t slept for 43 hours, and the flight arrived late. GREAT. 25 more minutes to get the dumb air service flight. Great, I said to myself. Till then, I had to sit with 15-20 firangi passengers, many businessmen, many tourists and the holy gang of about 50 Gujaratis.
I was sitting in the Indira Gandhi international airport, New Delhi. I lived in this city and was taking a flight to New York. The particular on-time person I am, Air India really pissed me off by arriving late, forget the departure. And these Gujaratis, man, how they love America! I still remember when I was young and in Ahmedabad, so many friends of mine left for the USA with their families. Reason? America. Gujaratis love America. Nevertheless, It was wonderful to talk with them in Gujarati, after so many years. Although a Bengali, I always considered myself a Gujarati after living in Ahmedabad for 21 years. Many were from Ahmedabad so there’s always a “Bhai-Bhai” touch from whoever is from that city.
Finally, the gates opened and we were led into the tunnel after the boring security check. Sometimes, during these checks, I really get pissed off and I always wonder that I should say, “Hey, I got a bomb in my underwear. Wanna check it?” But then I remember, home feels better than jail. So I shut myself up. We finally enter the plane. A hot hostess greeted me with a Namaste. I didn’t greet her back. Why should I? Anyways, the plane was huge. An airbus 380. It HAD to be huge. But I wasn’t surprised, after traveling 23 times already in 380s. Nah, I am still 27 years old. It’s just that having a lot of money takes you to places. Many places. Far too many places. I got my seat. 38-A. Window seat! Yeah! I always loved window seats, be it a car, train, plane, anywhere. I loved it. And no matter how many times I traveled in a plane, I had to see the wing check, the outside view, the taking off, the land getting smaller, the clouds, the linings, the sun, everything. I quickly set up myself in my seat after taking the laptop and the headphones.
A little kid was sitting next to the seat next to me. By kid, I meant a teenager. He was an Indian. A rich fathers son, otherwise which normal dad allows his son to go on a flight alone? He was checking his phone. Must be texting his girlfriend, I thought. Anyways, I kept the laptop in my lap, headphones around the neck and loosened my tie.
No, I never wore suits. I hate suits. I literally hate them. And the amazing part? I don’t have any reason to hate suits. When I was a kid, if anyone made me wear a suit, I’d start crying. Now I don’t cry, but I hate wearing it. Though I am the “invisible” CEO of Ray enterprises, I still attend important meetings. And I would always wear full-sleeve shirts, rolled up till my elbow. And a tie. A tie was must, and necessary. But no suits.
“Wait, are you who I think you are? Are you Kalp Ray?!” The kid asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” I replied. Then the kid showed me his touchscreen phone, running android 5.0, lollipop. The phone was of my company, Ray enterprises.
“I never knew I would meet the guy who owned the company that made phones that I’m using!” He exclaimed.
Then I showed him my phone.
“Same pinch,” I replied. I was in no mood of a conversation, actually.
“So why they call you an “invisible” CEO? Why you don’t attend meetings and conferences and all?” He asked.
“Look, kid, thanks for using the phone made by my company. Now I’ve not slept since the last 43 hours so either you can have my autograph or you can just shut the fuck up,” I said, losing my mind.
“Sorry Mr. Ray, I didn’t know you haven’t slept. Here, give the autograph. Also, can I please have a selfie with you?” He asked.
“Yeah, whatever,” I said as the kid snapped the selfie. Fucking new generation, I said to myself. At least the kid kept himself silent. I was just going to plug in my headphones to my mobile when I saw a beautiful woman, of my age most probably, putting the suitcase in the cabin. She was going to sit right next to me. Fuck yeah! At least now the 16-hour flight won’t be boring. She excused the kid and came near me. She was beautiful. I mean, wow. She was fair, without makeup, had dark brown eyes, like I had, big, wonderful gleaming eyes, nice lips, dimples, and straight, long, flowing hair with some curls. She looked like a little girl, but thanks to my experience of dealing with so many people, I knew she was of my age. She was chewing a gum and had headphones around her neck. She wore 3/4 jeans, and a simple pink t-shirt with a red heart in between. She had a fancy looking bracelet in her right wrist and a thin, gold chain in her neck. She was carrying a guitar, which I had no idea how the airport staff allowed as it didn’t fit the cabin luggage criteria. But I didn’t mind the guitar, as long as this wonderful lady was next to me.
“Hi!” She said, disrupting my thoughts.
“Hey!” I replied.
“We just met, but can i make u a request?” She asked.
Wow. A request. Accept it, Ray, maybe you’ll get lucky, My brain and heart said together. “Yeah, why not?” I asked.
“Can I please have the window seat?” She asked.
Wait. WHAT?! Window seat? I mean seriously? She wanted to take MY window seat? I came two hours earlier just to get the boarding pass and book one window seat and now a pretty lady just comes and wants it?
“Well, excuse me?!” I asked.
“Look, it’s urgent. I have a problem with these things. I can’t stay in a closed room. I need some ventilation or a view. This isn’t a closed room but trust me, I won’t breathe right if I don’t see the outside view. Also, I won’t have problems to adjust the guitar as I’ll put it just there.” She explained.
“Who gave you the permission to bring the guitar as a cabin luggage in the first place?” I asked.
“I hate to take favors from dad. But sometimes I do ask. Bentley and BMW has a status, you know,” She said.
She had a point. Rich dad, I thought. Anyways, I got up from my seat and settled into the middle one. She slid into the window seat, happily. Okay, the flight won’t be much enjoyable.
“Thank you so much. I’m Ria. Ria Arora.” She said.
“Yeah. Good name,” I replied, uninterestingly.
“Excuse me? I thought when someone told their name you’re supposed to tell yours,” She said.
“Well, I would if some people didn’t have the habit of snatching window seats,” I gave a sarcastic reply.
“Hey, you could’ve told me no. Come, sit back,” She replied.
“No. Stay there now. Then you’ll have some medical emergency and I have to handle it all. It’s fine,” I replied.
“You love window seats, don’t you?” She asked.
“You don’t say?” I said, another sarcasm.
“I’m sorry, ok? Really sorry.” She said, in a cute tone. Damn it, if she wasn’t that beautiful and spoke in a wonderful way then I wouldn’t even have replied.
“Whatever!” I replied, and slid the headphones back on, playing Drinking from the bottle, by Calvin Harris. It’s gonna be a long flight, Ray. A long, long flight, I said to myself.
I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I tried to concentrate on the music, but couldn’t. I tried to start writing something in my laptop, but couldn’t. All I could think about is the woman sitting next to me, Ria, and her beauty and our conversation. I somewhat felt bad the way I talked with her. So I turned around and saw her. She was starting outside out of the window. All I could see was a lining and the sun. No clouds at 38,000 ft.
“Kalp.” I said.
“Hmm, what?” She turned around and said in her sweet voice.
“Kalp. My name is Kalp Ray. And I’m sorry for my earlier behavior,” I said.
“Hey, it's fine. I took your seat, anybody would’ve been pissed off,” She answered,“ And i think I’ve seen you somewhere.”
“Well, it's nice that you have a Ray enterprises handset rather than an iPhone.”
“Yeah, these phones are really brilliant. And Ray…wait a minute. Of course! Ray enterprises, Kalp ray, of course! You are the invisible CEO!”
“Is it necessary to say the invisible thing? It really pisses me off,” I said.
“So, I want to know. Why invisible? Why aren’t you a normal CEO?” She asked.
“You want to hear my story? My whole story?” I asked.
“Yeah, when I ask the same question, you tell me to shut the fuck up. When a pretty lady asks, you offer the whole story. Awesome,” Said the kid next to me.
I told him in a whisper, “Look, kid, this lady is pretty and I might as well have a chance. Try to understand it bro. Okay, I’ll give u anything you want to buy on this plane, how about it?” I asked.
“Deal!” The kid said.
“Ehm Ehm. Someone was going to tell his story.” She said.
“Let’s begin,” I said.
“So I was a nice guy till tenth standard. By nice I mean, really nice. Nice in habits, studies, social interactions, everything. But taking science and entering 11th standard changed everything. I fucked up studies, and everything actually. It continued till I finished school. I had become a psychopath, with bad grades, I fucked up my love life and I was totally devastated until I met someone. Her name is Dhruvi. I don’t know how we became friends, but we did and she changed my life. She’s my best friend. I have another best friend, Chaitanya, he’s with me since we were just one year old. They are just two of some people who I hold dear. After Dhruvi solved many of my problems, I kinda got back on track. Slowly, but I did. I went to a shit college, but still I had the mindset that I’ll make the most of the things I’ve got on hold. I always wanted to be an author, but I chose civil engineering. Because it’s India. In the USA, you can leave home and be whoever you want but in India, that’s not possible. So I thought of something. I decided to study more and more, and balance the writing too. I studied engineering hard and had wonderful results. Meanwhile, I had joined the British library. They have great author links so through that, I went to a freelance writer website and registered some of my works. They liked them all, and my job was to write 4 stories a week. In return, I got 1000 dollars, per month.”
“60,000 rs per month, and while in college?!” She asked.
“Yeah. That was the boost. After my B.Tech degree, two of my friends decided to start their own civil engineering business. I joined them, partly. I decided to get 30% of what they earned. Meanwhile, I gave CAT exams and joined IIM-A to study business. After the degree, I left my friend's business and decided to start on my own. And let me tell you, it wasn’t hard at all. My dad knew many civil engineers who were ready to help me, and they did. Soon, after 5 months, I made my own company, Ray enterprises, in Ahmedabad. My company had builders and workers and we also accepted projects, big projects. From project to project, my company grew. Investors flew in and we became rich, richer. Soon, Ray enterprises was the pinnacle of engineering projects in the country. Then I decided to do something even bigger. I decided to increase the reach. So I called my old friend, Chaitanya, with an aim to create an IT sector of Ray enterprises. He happily joined and I don’t know how he did this IT stuff, but he did and here I am. All of this happened in four years. Just four years. I went 6-7 days without sleep, consuming as much as coffee, tea, coke, whatever kept me awake and worked tirelessly. Finally, I reached my aim, of having money. Why don’t I attend most of conferences and meetings? Because I don’t like to. And because I stay too busy with my writing. And that’s the story of Kalp Ray,” I completed the narration.
“That’s some story. So why New York this time, business again?” She asked.
“No. I’m here to resign my post as the CEO. I’m leaving my company,” I said.
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“Nope. I want to become a writer. So I’m here to first complete the formalities of resignation, then I’ll meet some authors and then go somewhere away and concentrate on writing. I wanted money just for this. Just so that I can be away from everyone. I even threw away my old sim card. No contacts. It’s just me, finding a new identity,” I said.
“Wow. We have something in similar actually. I graduated English honors from Delhi university. But my dad was all like get married to a rich guy and blah blah. But my interest was always music. I wanted to sing. I wanted to become a singer. But dad and mom wouldn’t accept. So, except some few friends in touch, I deleted all contacts and am going to New York,” She said.
“That’s great. Chasing dreams. So what kind of singer?”
“If I say, you’ll laugh,” She said.
“If people don’t laugh at your dreams, your dreams aren’t big enough,” I said.
“I want to be a singer. But first, I want to sing in bars in New York. I want to start there,” She said.
“Oh. That’s good.” I replied.
“You don’t find it weird?” She asked.
“I’ve heard weirder things, trust me,” I said. Then we talked with each other until we felt tired. I was just falling asleep when she put her head on my shoulder and slept. I couldn’t sleep for two hours until I was certain that this was happening. Then I too fell asleep.
“Kalp. Wake up.”
Then I woke up after maybe a 6-hour nap. Ria woke me up.
”We’re about to land. Half an hour to go,” She said.
“Oh. Great,” I said. Then I ordered some coffee to freshen myself up.
“So, where are you going to stay? Hotel or a house?” She asked.
“Haha. I’m not that rich, lady. Just kidding, I’ll be staying at a rented house. I don’t think wasting money in a hotel just for some days is wise enoug,.” I said.
“Actually, me too. A friend’s friend is an owner of a two-flat apartment. I’ll be a paying guest there,” She said. Then an idea struck me. What if.. "Kalp” She said.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“We just met but can I ask something?” She asked.
“Can we stay in the same house? I mean the one I’m going to has two rooms. We can share,” She said.
Wow. That wasn’t expected.
“Actually, I was thinking the same,” I said. Then we got off the plane. And towards the immigration counter.
“Reason for v…holy shit! It’s Kalp Ray!” Said the immigration officer.
“Yeah. Do I still need a reason?” I asked.
“No, sir. Of course not,” He said and put a stamp on my fifth passport. I had to go through all four to see which had the current USA visa.
“The lady behind me is with me. Her reason, if you want, is chasing her dreams,” I said.
“Anyone coming here come chasing their dreams, sir,” He said and put a stamp on her passport too. Then we got on one of the million yellow taxis.
“76th Avenue, near Central Park,” She said.
“You don’t have to say Central park, madam. Sab avenues udhar hi hai. He turned around and he happened to be an Indian.
Wow. New York. Hell of a city. I’ve visited here 15-20 times, but every time it amuses me. After you start from the airport, there’s nothing to look. It’s just a boring city with row of small houses, hot dog stalls, some beggars, and million people walking. But then you go to Brooklyn Bridge. This bridge has an almost identical structure to the Howrah bridge in Kolkata. Now, as soon as you cross the Brooklyn Bridge, awe starts. One world trade center, empire state building, wall street building, skyscrapers that you can’t even imagine seeing in India. Limousines, Bentleys, Audis, Lamborghinis, hummers, almost every car you have ever seen on the internet or in magazines, you can see live. Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Nike, Adidas, Starbucks, almost every famous shop is here. Then as soon as you cross the 82nd avenue, comes the central park. The world famous central park. It’s the only park in NY but boy, it is big! It’s rectangle in shape, and a huge rectangle. It’s like a forest, actually. As soon as you take a right turn from central park, comes 76th avenue. There, the first house was where we were heading. We gave the driver his share and went towards the house.
“You made it!” Said another pretty woman.
“Hii Ayesha! After so many years!” Said Ria as she hugged her.
“Ayesha, this is Kalp. Kalp, Ayesha.”
“Hi!” I said.
“Hello! Let me guess, Ria’s boyfriend?” She asked. I wish I was, I said to myself.
“No. He’s a friend I met in the plane. We’re renting together,” Ria said.
“That’s good. Company is always good. Hey, Ria, take the keys. I’ve gotta go fast,” Ayesha said.
“New York keeps busy, eh?” I asked.
“Just stay here 10 days. You’ll know. Bye!” She said as she ran to catch a taxi. We entered the house. It was pretty nice actually. A couch in front of a 32 inch TV. Heater in every room. There were two rooms actually. With a bed each and a rocking chair. Rooms had inbuilt toilets which was good. There was a kitchen and a balcony.
“Pretty nice, isn’t it?” Ria asked.
“Nice and simple. Just what I wanted,” I said.
Then we went to our respective rooms and I slept, I’ve no idea when. Then I woke up after some six hours.
“Good morning!” Ria said, watching tv.
“What’s the time?” I asked.
“2 am.” She said.
“Fucking jet lag,” I said.
“Hey, Mr. Ray, you won’t use the F-word in front of me, understand?” She said.
“Yeah, whatever. So what’s your plan?” I asked.
“I’ll meet some agents who can set me up in some bars, then I’ll take music classes during the day, and if I get an offer to sing in a bar or two, then I’ll be out at night. What about you?” She asked.
“It’ll take around 10 days to complete the resignation. Then I’ll have to sell my old villa in Delhi and transfer the money, I’ll have to transfer 20 million rupees to dad’s account so that he and mom don’t have financial problems. And some more bank work to do. This all will take around a month. Then I’ll meet some old friends and I’ve got an appointment with 2-3 authors to get suggestions. That’s the plan for now. Oh, and I may stay out some nights so you lock the door and sleep. I’ll make a duplicate key of the house,” I said.
“Okay, sure,” She said.
After six months
“I love you, Kalpu,” Said Ria.
“I love you too, Riri,” I said.
Yes, we were committed. She called me Kalpu and I called her Riri. How it happened? Let me tell you what happened in these six months. I did all the bank formalities and resignation done. It was officially announced on the website that “Ray enterprise’s CEO, Kalp Ray, steps down” Which was good. I then started my book, the engineer’s diary. I used to get reviews of some specific chapters from some authors. Meanwhile, Ria got calls from various bars to sing. And she was very happy. Then finally, I fell for her and I told her. She said yes. Since then, we were happy and committed. But I was not. It was not going according to plan. I was not supposed to meet someone like Ria, forget falling in love. But I did and the plans changed. I was supposed to complete the formalities and meet the authors and leave for a villa I bought at a hill station called Wordswrith in Scotland. I was supposed to be there 3 months ago. But I couldn’t let Ria live in this city alone, so I stayed. But I couldn’t focus on writing. I just couldn’t. Then finally, I decided to go away, from Ria. I had to go to Scotland to concentrate. But I couldn’t tell Ria directly. So I bought another SIM card, messaged some contacts that this was my new number, except Ria. I didn’t tell her. When she was out, I booked a flight to Glasgow, Scotland. And I left a note for Ria.
Hi, my Riri. Listen, when you read this, promise me you won’t weep and you won’t try to find me. I am going somewhere Riri. I am going so that I can complete the dream of becoming an author. I love you, and I wanted to stay, but it isn’t possible sweetheart. I have to go. I’ll be gone for some years, maybe. And I won’t keep contact. But you know what? You have to promise something if you still love me. I’m not falling for someone else. I’ll forever love you, you and only you. I want you to promise me that you won’t fall for someone else either. I’ll wait for you for these years. I want you to wait for me too. I’ll come back Riri, promise. And you know I don’t break promises. I hope you become a singer fast, and I know you will. Just keep me in your heart and mind. And I promise I’ll be back Riri. I will. And I loved you, love you, and will keep loving you. Bye. And take care.
Your stupid boyfriend,
I kept the note near the tv and went to John F Kennedy airport. I took a flight to Glasgow. From Glasgow, it was a two-hour bus journey to Wordswrith. I reached as the neighbors greeted me.
“Hello, Mr. Ray, I am Will. Will Adams. You made it!”
“Yeah. Wow. This villa looks better than in the pictures,” I said.
“Sure it does. Congratulations on being the first Indian to come to Wordswrith. Now listen, if you have any trouble with anything, you can freely contact us. If you need a cook..”
“No, Mr. Adams. I’m fine. Actually all I want Is utter silence as I’m here to concentrate on some important work. And don’t worry, we’ll surely hang out,” I said.
“It’s completely fine, Mr. Ray. Someone from New York comes to this small hill, then there must be some reason. Still, if you need anything, me and my daughter here, Alice, are always there,” I looked at her daughter, my age, she was pretty. But not as pretty as Ria.
“Thanks, Mr. Adams. I surely will,” I said.
I entered the villa. It was huge. I mean, just like a grand palace. I can’t even describe what it looked like. Okay, remember Hogwarts from harry Potter? Or the Gryffindor common room? It looked just like that. I went upstairs and chose the master bedroom. It had an awesome view of nearby hills and snow capped mountains. There was nothing else except 4 more such villas, the vehicles they had and some farmers doing their farming. Everything else was silent. No more phone calls, no more car honkings, nothing. All silent. Just as I wanted. Then I finally started writing the book.
Two years later
Me, Mr. Adams became good friends. Her daughter too was a good friend. I also came in touch with the other four villa owners. Scottish people were really nice. Alice kissed me once but then I told her how I still loved Ria and that I can’t fall for anyone else. Meanwhile, I completed writing my book. Yes. It was done. I went to Glasgow one day, to Harper Collins.
“Hmm. This is some piece. I don’t understand some terms, though, they’re unknown to me,” Said the chairman of HC.
“Yeah, there are some Indian terms. If you want, I’ll explain,” I said
“Mr. Ray, I’m not joking. The book is really wonderful. What I want you to do is, here, take this address and go to our main branch in London. I’ll give you your reference beforehand. They’ll be able to help you more,” He said.
“Thanks, a lot, sir,” I said.
I took the next flight to London. London, the one of my favorite cities. Everything of this city is magnificent. I can never be tired to roam in this city. But I was here to do complete the job. I went to Harper Collins.
“Yeah, I got the reference from Glasgow. Here’s my friend, Mr. Chaudhary, who’s also an Indian, and we review new authors. Let's see if you’re any good, eh?” He and Chaudhary took the manuscript. I waited for 5 hours. Then I finally got called.
“Why not publish in India?” He asked.
“Personal reasons,” I said.
“Whatever. Listen, we’re publishing it, and we really liked it a lot,” He said.
Finally. My struggle paid off.
“Thanks, a lot. Let’s talk money now, shall we?”
“Look, you’re a new author in the grid. For new ones, we hold the advantage over green notes. 60-40,” He said.
“I can go somewhere else. Or you can accept 55-45.” I said.
“Hard ball, eh? Okay fine. Done.”
Then we shook hands. One thing done, another one to go. I had to stitch my and Ria’s relationship back. I called my cousin, who was staying at London. We agreed to meet at the Grand Royale.
“Brother! After so many years! Where have you been?” He asked.
“Important work. We still look like twins, don’t we?” I asked.
“Yeah!” Then we started dinner and I finally opened up.
“Bhai, I need a favor,” I said.
“Anything for you. Shoot.”
“You’re going to Kolkata, right?” I asked.
“Go to India two days early. Here’s your ticket. You’re going to Ahmedabad.” I said, handing him the tickets.
“Ahmedabad? But why?”
“Will you go?” I asked.
“Okay fine. Now tell me the reason.” He said.
“Okay. Now listen carefully. Here is your Ahmedabad ticket and here is are two notes. The first one is an address. You’re going there. My best friend Dhruvi lives there. You go in, and here, give her these two tickets. These are of London. One for her, and another for her boyfriend, who I hate. But I don’t want her to come here alone. You tell her, it's an emergency and she has to visit London. Now, she won’t believe you first. So tell her that Kalp is in an emergency and he needs you. After that, give her this note. She’ll understand. Give her this hotel’s address, and tell her to come here straightforward. The rest I’ll handle. And when you reach Kolkata, tell my parents I’ll be coming to meet them in a few months.”
“Okay, sure brother. Anything else?” He asked.
“Yeah. Tell Dhruvi to bring some khakhra. I really miss eating it,” I said.
After 15 days, Dhruvi and her stupid boyfriend came. I really hated that guy. She came and hugged me and then slap slap slap three slaps on my cheeks.
“These were for the three years you stayed out of contact,” Another slap.
“And this is for how much I missed you.”
“I’m sorry Duvi, but it was important. How are you?” I asked.
“Lets sit first.”
“How are you tray? No contact? Nothing? What are you up to? I saw you resigned,” She asked.
“I’ll reply you in one sentence. I completed the Engineer’s diary,” I said.
“What! What?! Really??” She asked.
“Yes. 6 days to the publishing of the first copy,” I said.
“You did it tray. Congrats. I’m so happy for you,” She said.
“Thanks. You bought khakhra?” I asked.
“Yes. Here you go. What was the emergency you called me for?” She asked.
“Yes. Now listen. You read the note where I talked about Ria?”
“Yes I did. Oh wait. You called me to..”
“Yes. I need you and….your bf..if he wants to find Ria. Here are the tickets to New York. Please do this for me Duvi, I have to stay in London for some important business.”
“Okay. It’s vacation anyways, I’ll find her. But where should I start?” She asked.
“The last time I remember is that she was singing at bars. Here are some 43 bar names with their numbers. I went there with Ria to see her perform. Just call them and give them my name. They’ll give you the details,” I said.
“Okay sure tray. I will. Anything else?”
“Yes. Just take care and take your boyfriend with you while visiting the bars. And do one thing. You’re gonna stay there for 6 days. Don’t call if you still haven’t found Ria. If you don’t find her in any of the days, call me in the last day and I’ll reach NY,” I said.
“Okay. You too take care tray.”
“I won’t, until I’ve found Ria,” I said.
Dhruvi went to NY. Five days passed, but she hadn’t called. Fortunately, my first copy of the book was published. So I took it and booked a flight to NY. While in the flight, I got a call.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Tray. I found her. Today is her stage performance at 8 pm in the Sir Wisconsin hall. I’ve bought your ticket too,” Dhruvi said.
“8pm? Her show must be of three hours. But my flight reaches at 10!” I said.
“I don’t know tray. It was hard to trace her. I don’t know where she’ll be next. Come here asap!”
My flight reached at 9:45 pm in the JFK airport. Thankfully, I just had cabin luggage as everything else I left at my brother's home in London. I didn’t take a taxi. I took the subway to reach fast. It was 10:45 when I reached Wisconsin hall. I found Dhruvi and took the ticket, then we all three went inside and I saw her. I saw Ria. She was looking so beautiful. She wore a red gown, which I gifted her and she told she’ll wear it when she remembers me. Instead of taking a seat, I went backstage and turned off the lights. Then I asked a technician to put two lights. The first one, on Ria. Then I took the mic.
“You are looking more beautiful, you know,” I said, I still hadn’t got the lights on me. Ria couldn’t see me.
“Who’s this?” She asked.
“The gown. You missed me, didn’t you? Did you keep your promise? I did.”
“Kalp?” She asked. Then the lights were on me. She saw me. And we stared at each other for many seconds. Then tears rolled down her cheeks, and mine too. Then I weakly opened my arms and she came running and hugged me. I opened the first page if my book.
“Read it, with the mic,” I told her.
“She held the first page and read it: ‘This book is dedicated to someone, who I never thought I’d meet. This book is dedicated to someone who stitched my broken pieces. This book is dedicated to someone who gave me a reason to live, to achieve my dreams. This book Is dedicated to my only love, Ria.”
Then she dropped the mic and we kissed. The audience were clapping, but I didn’t notice. We kissed, kissed and we kissed more. After that, we talked for many hours at our old apartment, and then we had it.
We had it. Really.
“You fucking cunt,” She said.
“Hey. I thought F words aren’t allowed here!” I said.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me,” she said.
“Promise. Not even in my dreams. I don’t break my promise, remember?”
“Even I don’t, Kalpu,” She said. Then we had a grand dinner. My books public release was the next day. So I called all my old friends. Many of them punched me, for not keeping in touch. But everyone understood. Dhruvi, my old friend’s group, Chaitanya, my brother and his wife, Mr. Adams and his daughter and her boyfriend, Ria’s friends and family, everyone. Then Dhruvi asked me, so what would you call the day you and Ria met each other?”
“Well, it was an Unexpected Sunday afternoon,” Ria and I said in unison.