She locks the door behind her. He smiles, knowing full well the moments to follow; he takes all the time before making the attack. His prey is behind him. He sets his bag down on the other bed and dives onto the one at his right, turning in the process so as to face her, seeing the distance between them reduce, only too slowly to please him. He holds her by her waist and pulls her close. She stands, resting her arms on his shoulders, smiling gently, while he wraps himself around her waist, resting his head against her belly.
‘Her aroma…it always does things to me…’, Nayan smiles to himself, lifts his head up to see her beam down a smile at him, and kisses her belly over the clothes. Pulling her closer he lays back on the bed, bringing her up on the bed, lying over him, her lips pressing tightly on his. He lets his hands on her back wander inside her top, pulling it up in the process. She lets her hair fall over his face as they continue kissing, deeper with every gasping breath.
An hour later they lie tucked inside the blanket, having shivered on entering the air-conditioned hotel room after having a long shower together. The television before them plays the latest songs of the industry, while Nayan is busy playing some silly game on her mobile, and she cuddling him, watching him play it, giggling.
Suddenly, he rolls her over him, looks deep in her eyes, “You are beautiful!”
She shrugs, blinking her eyes, “Tell me something new!”
He reaches under the mattress, while she’s busy kissing him all over his face, both grinning wildly, brings out a handgun, places the nozzle at the back of her head.
She freezes, “What??”
‘That lad there, he’s been waiting since 22 hours straight…I’ll make sure he gets the first ticket today,’ he said to himself. Sitting at his desk since 7 in the morning, the sleep was still not out of Indrajeet’s eyes. The life of the officials at such small railway stations is always a bigger trial than of those at the big stations. He was the only ticket issuer here, and that gave him a mere fifteen thousand bucks a month in return of a dozen hours of work per day. Hard, yes, but it was enough for him to send his daughter to the big town for her education.
In her holidays she would come over to the station at the peak hours and help him with the work. The emergency reservations, ‘Tatkal’, would begin at 11am and within minutes the tickets would be sold out. He found it his moral duty to get through as many passengers as he could during that short time frame. The passengers would often have been lined up since the last night, and it came down on his shoulders to see that their sacrifice of the comforts of a bed didn’t go vain due to his own inability.
Tara had often said she loved him for his dedication. Tara, his daughter, who always quoted his name as her foremost inspiration, who had achieved the highest marks in the senior secondary exams in the entire district and who was now making him a proud father by studying rigorously in the best college of the state. ‘Tara, my star’, he smiled.
‘And that lad in the blue shirt has been standing here since nearly an entire day’, he reminded himself.
It was around 10 when the queue for the Tatkal reservations started forming. There was commotion. Some bully was trying to cut the queue and get to the front by scaring the lad in the blue shirt. The lad was on the defensive, skinny, weak looking.
“The boy there was the first in the queue. No ticket would be issued to you if you don’t quietly go to the back,” Indrajeet announced to the bully. Taken aback and understanding that his fate was in Indrajeet’s hands, the bully sulked away to the last of the queue.
‘A few minutes to go…’ Indrajeet thought.
His cell phone rang, it was Tara. He was a bit irritated; this was no time to baby talk a teenage girl. Still, he picked.
“Hello!” he tried sounding relaxed.
He froze, “What??”
‘Mummy would be home, fine, and dad would be away cutting –stitching some other drunkard who thought he could stop the oncoming car with one leg or something. Better not expect him to be home…’ he typed into the messenger to his girlfriend.
‘Please understand dear, he’s a doctor! Doctors are morally bound by duty, it’s not their choice to not have time for their own family!’ came the reply.
Abhijeet thought about the man at the ticket counter.
‘Still…what’s the point in being a great man if your own family never gets to see your face?’
That phone call must have been something serious. The man’s face had lost all color.
‘Good thing you aren’t going to be one…our kids might get to see your face every day then… :D’ she replied.
His hands had shivered while he had entered his reservation details into the computer. His lips had trembled.
‘And you…every night? ;)’
But he had not stopped. He had kept working. Whatever had happened on the other side of the phone had to wait.
‘Why do you men keep thinking of the night scenes all the time?!’
The responsibility of getting the passengers’ tickets through had been more important for him then his emotions.
Maybe he had saved someone’s job that day, someone’s business meet, someone’s event…someone’s life?
‘Like I don’t know you? I bet you’re thinking of all the places where you can do me once you come here!’
‘Lol…wait…reached home…let’s see who’s in there…’
Abhijeet met his father rushing down the front steps. His father grinned wide and gave him a fleeting hug while dashing towards his car.
He felt like shouting at him. Ask him to stay back. His son had returned home after an entire year. Could he not just spare a proper 5 minutes to him?
“See you dad…” Abhijeet called out, waving. Maybe he would save someone’s life?
The car just turned and sped onto the road.
His mother watched from the door, a sad smile on her face, “Welcome home, son!”
A few minutes and many motherly chiding later, he typed in, ‘Dad didn’t have a moment for his son. If ever I become a father like this, divorce me instead of pasting a smile of regret on your face.’
Reclining on his chair finally after the 3 hour-long operation, Dr. Ratan let the dam of his thoughts open for the first time since morning. How eagerly had he waited for Abhijeet’s return! His MBA son! His apple of the eye!
‘Maybe I should have stayed back a few minutes to welcome him properly. What must he be thinking of me right now…’ he stared at the picture of his son and his wife on his table. ‘He’s grown fat…how I and Shanti would always worry that he would never put on a thicker look! But he must have been eating the outside food…always complained of the hostel food…didn’t he?’
He picked up the picture from the table and held it in his lap. ‘His mother taught him to read and write…was it not my duty? He learnt cycling from his uncle…would I be able to go back in those days and teach him myself instead?’
The intercom rang. He picked instinctively.
“Yes?…Good…good….coming in 5…” he dropped back the receiver.
The girl had been shaved bald. She was just looking around at everything frightened when he entered the room. His doctor’s attire made her tense up a ghastly bit.
“Relax, you’re alright,” he smiled at her.
That was a bad job the bullet had done, she’s lucky it was just a grazing and that I wasn’t late by a single moment. The lad she was with wasn’t this lucky. What was his name? Nayan?
“You’ll just have to do your crop again,” he circled his finger on his head, chuckling. “Your stars were good, Tara.”