“Tomorrow is an important day P,” he said. “Or else why would I shave?” Z murmured sadly.
It was a scorching Sunday Noon and Z has to go to Mumbai from Pune, for his Visa interview. He was telling P on how important these coming days were. They both were sitting in P’s apartment hall diving into the pool of hallucinating twinkling stars at noon, courtesy the rolling and smoking. Z, reposed, got back from the stars, partially, and said to himself, counting with a nodding head:
“I have to go for this Visa interview”, Z’s anxiousness and apprehensions spoke first. This was going to be his first air travel, and that too a costly and distant one to Cleveland from India for his Masters.
“Tomorrow is the last day with Abhishek JI”. The shooting stars of his imagination made him recall his memories with his roommate for last 2 years in Pune.
“And yeah ahh, I have to shave”, his disgust, to shave his 9-month-old well-groomed beard for his Visa interview, made him repeat this, AGAIN.
These were the key points Z mugged up before his departure to Mumbai with Abhishekji- yeah JI because he was from Bihar.
Sometimes our mundane day to day activities consumes us so much that we tend to adapt what’s been offered. But then that’s the beauty of it, as we then tend to forget what life can or could offer us; resulting in appreciating the new offering of life by calling them absurd and unique. The highly edited version of life which we try to see through our unanimous for all and self-painted shades, get a slit of difference when life introduces its quirks.
Life offers all. Then it comes to you. You can see it as an image of a biscuit with plucked petals, or you can see the beauty of decoration and smile.
Z, P and Abhishekji had worked together for past 2 years in an IT company in Pune. And like all—- No, like most IT employees, were death bored with their job and its proceedings. Z is leaving India for his masters and Abhishekji is moving to Delhi for a month, on a sick leave to prepare for his IES preparations. [Told you Abhishekji was from Bihar]
And tomorrow was their parting day.
It was time. Z went and met Abhishekji and they quickly rolled one, smoked and dived into their stars as a tradition before heading out for the bus stop. They were happy. The happiness and the stars accompanied them in their scenic plush bus journey. The peace could not only be seen but could also be sensed from their resonating faces and souls. Guys and emotions, usually, don’t go well, or to put it smoothly, are not usually expressed well. But the perfect comfort with the soul, mood, set up and the company can only be established by true friends; the true sense of just being there without even uttering a single word.
They both reached Mumbai. Abhishekji was forced to attend a family function in Mumbai that night followed by an interview in a leading Mumbai-based PSU the next day. Z had already booked a hotel room near the consulate. Once they reached the room, Abhishekji immediately started getting ready for the function while Z immediately sat and started rolling, again. Abhishekji left his luggage with Z, making an assured excuse to escape from the family the next day, to meet Z. Once he was ready, they quickly finished the rolled one and dived into the stars. And this time, the stars were of memories, memories of their friendship and time spent in Pune, which seemed as fresh and close as if at a hand’s distance from them and they could actually relive it together just by mere sharing, sliding and discussing them. Though they both agreed to meet later in the night but then they both knew that that was just another polite way to bid goodbye. Owing to the situation, they both might have taken a selfie, but AbhishekJi’s phone was discharged and Z’s phone was from a primordial era with a broken screen which had so many dendritic cuts all over that it could be used to shave or kill someone using the sharpness of the cuts.
They shook hands. Hugged!!Exchanged looks!!Took a moment beneath the actual glittering stars of the black sky, amidst the cool coastal wind of Mumbai, before parting ways. Friends, friends for life was the concept Z has followed throughout his life. And life, in turn, has never disappointed Z in merging the two distant lines of friends and life, gifting Z the uniqueness of having, friends; friends for life, almost always.
Everyone gets friends, it’s just a matter of respect and the way you perceive them.
The next day seeped in bringing the light for the day for which Z had shaved. Z got ready and headed for the consulate in the Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai. Z went in, only to come out with a disappointed half an hour.
The disappointment was not because the interview didn’t go well. But instead because there was actually no serious formal “VISA” interview as Z had expected. They took pictures, thumb imprint and asked him to leave, making Z regret the whole while and sulk even later on why he shaved his beard.
The day was not as important as he thought.
Anyhow, the “not-so-important” important interview completed and he was out by 11:30am in the complex campus, where he was supposed to meet Abhishekji, with both of their luggage. He checked the phone; there was a missed call from him. Z tried calling back but now his phone was switched off.
He waited, nobody came. He waited more, nobody came. He had lunch and waited for more, nobody came. Luckily his phone cum shaving machine worked but AbhishekJi’s phone was not charged. Z did all that he could do to time pass but no, nobody came. He read and re-read the newspaper. He checked out all the girls in the complex to an extent that the receptionist there started suspecting of him. He moved out and waited, but nope, nobody came. After spending much time in the complex, at around 5PM, he thought he will move. He first thought of going back to the hotel, but then he knew that Abhishekji had his flight, hence he thought he’ll push off directly for the airport. He dropped a message to him that he is leaving for the airport. He picked up the bags and boarded a local bus for the domestic terminal. Within some 5 mins of bus leaving, the much waited and prayed for call, the call from Abhishekji came. Z immediately picked up and started venting all his over the hours accumulated frustration on him, right in front of everyone in the bus.
“I’ll tell you everything, just get down from the bus, I have reached here. Please get down immediately. You’ll be nearby only.” But Z was pissed; he has waited for nobody for too long.
“Abe there was an accident dude. A distant fucking relative of mine fell in the fucking bathroom yesterday evening. Imagine I was welcomed by that. And as I was the only unfortunate member, whose presence or absence didn’t matter much to the function, he became my responsibility to take care off, in a city which is probably as new to me as for him. The function ended somehow. Until late night, I was busy there.”
“Fucker then you should have called and dropped a message at least?”
“I told you no, it got late. Your Visa interviews were today, I thought you might have slept. I thought I’ll call and tell you in the morning. But today morning your phone was off, I guess you were in the consulate for interviews. I somehow managed to reach that PSU and tried calling you but you didn’t pick. I reached the interview place inside the PSU campus, and it was there I was informed that those fuckers are not allowing camera phones. Hence, I had to switch it off and deposit the phone there. And by the time I got out, the heavy chaos of candidates consumed my time, only to inform me later that my phone was discharged, no battery. Luckily I got a guy with power bank, now at least the phone is switching on.”
“You should have charged it yesterday only. Fucker, I wonder why you even carry a phone.”
Anyhow, after spewing few formal cuss words, Z got down from the bus. They both met at the same reception place and it already was 6:10pm. After the initial few “friendly” greetings by Z, the demand of time and memories of past asked them to not ruin this moment by spending much time. They both agreed upon to go to some place nearby to drink as rolling was not an option then. Luckily they saw a bar across the road, with live orchestra board on top. They both headed that way, thanking their luck and sharing each other’s story of the past day. The bar was in an out of run mill compound with an Irish era door which seemed ready to take one to the other realms of Harry Potter land. As they went across that dilapidated retro themed brick wall to enter the rusty Irish door, a giant bald doorman stepped in their way coming from inside, absolutely avoiding them and their eyes, ignoring them and looking here and there with a complete “Fuck-off” attitude on his face.
P.S: I forgot to mention that Z was a body builder with slight temper issue, and this was not the right time to behave like this. He went ahead abhorrently, grinding his teeth, but as soon as he was about to confront him, a man, who was dressed like the manager of the place emerged from the door, as if waiting for the heat to build and then pop in, only to make truce.
He came and greeted them with extreme humility possible, apologizing on what has happened. Z and Abhishekji wondered how he even knew what happened here. He has just emerged now. Anyway, the noblest courtesy offered and demand of time calmed both instantly. Z and the bald bouncer exchanged ephemeral looks, screaming through eyes-You suck fucker- and went ahead.
The door entered them into a lobby, still maintaining its Harry Potter land aura, which had stairs moving up spirally at its end. The lobby didn’t have any other exit and looked slightly damp and shady. They both moved in and started climbing. The stairs took them to the first floor of the building, which was a small space with 12-13 set of dining table chairs, placed neatly with more than required distance between each. It was a dimly lit space, with full jazzy disco lights, justifying their claim of the “Live” orchestra on outside board. A few orchestra members were standing in their glossy short clothes, struggling to lip-sink the song played in the background. Except them, there was nobody in the entire hall. The orchestra main girl lightened up and the volume increased as these both entered bringing in the vitality in the ambiance and the waiters around. There was a sudden rush of energy in the entire crew. But sadly Z and Abhishekji were not there for the orchestra. They sat and ordered, what was to be ordered. The service was quick and efficient. But even that small time to prepare and fetch the order quenched the spirit in the orchestra crew because of the absolute negligence and appreciation for the performance from them, the entire audience then. Within minutes, the volume went down back to normal complimenting the crew mood with the time exactly as it went up before. After some five minutes of ordering, the order came and with the finish of the first frothy glass, the volume increased again dramatically marking the sudden entry of 7-8 girls from the kitchen door.
It was now the time to turn heads.
The orchestra crew was still imitating and the girls started dancing. Within moments, they saw the fresh set of customers filling in the hall, people who resembled goons of a C-grade Hindi film. All were dressed in plain white clothes from top to bottom, decorated with flaunting heavy gold ornaments in the wrists, fingers, and neck, and seemed regular customers of the bar. Suddenly the lost vitality was reinvigorated starting a sudden commotion in the place. The place was suddenly activated. The waiters went from table to table to ask and serve. The manager came and stood actively, observing and attending with his typical politeness to any who needed service of any sort. The volume and beat went up along with the moves and shakes of the dancing girls.
The place went shadier than what it was before. Z and Abhishekji came there to talk but couldn’t, not because of the sound and noise but because of the quirky change in setting. All the girls wore short dresses, with bulging bosoms and arousing dresses. The foundation and mascara laded faces were complimented by the glitters on their cheeks and body. The sparkle from their makeup and fashion sense clearly established that the orchestra was just an illusion for the outer world, as the fashion was an illusion for their inner dark and sad souls. Z looked at Abhishekji and winked and prompted a minute later, “Shitt bro. My beard man!! These people will treat us like kids.”
After a few lewd songs and a couple of bottles, the place was filled with people double the age of Z and Abhishekji. The entire hall was filled with girls, booze, music, dim lights and characters, whom their parents and society have always marked as bad or suspicious since childhood. The service was still brilliant and the waiting crew didn’t seem to be distracted even a tinge from the girls, whose beauty according to Z was par excellence. The girls danced and flirted sportingly while almost all the people on the table made all sort of lewd signals and smutty comments at them. Nothing bothered the girls as except Z and Abhishekji’s table every other table had stacks of bundle of notes, which the customers spewed on the dancing girls. More vulgar the move, the bigger the stacks were poured. While the money was flown more ceaselessly than the alcohol in glasses, off course no one came near to Z and Abhishekji’s table. While the rest tables were surrounded by girls and the unimaginable number of notes flying and lying here and there, they both were still relying only on the card payment to settle the bill of their table. ‘Money’ Z thought in mind.
‘Money’ Z thought in his flying head.
Though the girls were partial, the attention and humility in service for all the tables by the waiters were exactly the same. The manager was brilliantly focused and strict on service. Every single table was paid the same heed and importance including theirs.
When properly buzzed, they both just chuckled by the scene and the arousal of their swine within. They looked at each other; they both knew that they both needed to stay back. They wanted to unleash the swine within but the time and the amount of bill prompted them to leave now. Z ordered for the bill. The manager quickly signaled for the same. Within minutes, a lady came with a tray to their table, finally. She came, with an enticing smile on her face with only seduction in eyes. Her dress complimented her expressions brilliantly. She came and started wiping the table, brushing them both occasionally at places where they wouldn’t have allowed if it was someone else. She leaned at Z a little. Smiled naughtily and moved her fingers across Z’s face starting from his forehead along his cheek, chest, and belly and went down till his waist and then backed off suddenly, saying “You naughty boy.” She then cleaned the table arousing the already aroused vices in both, winked at Z with a coaxed smile and left by giving him a card. As soon as she left, the manager came in with his usual wicked smile on his always shrewd-looking face. He with extreme politeness said, “Dear Sir, I hope you enjoyed your time here. And as you can see we provide all sorts of eating and pleasure relating facilities here”
Then turning towards Z he said “And you would be delighted to know that we do hire as well. And you seem to be of the perfect age of people our client demands.”
He said with an impish smile on face. “This is an untapped business world, Sir. You have our card,” he said taking the card from the table and scribbling on its back. Then pointing at his scribbling he said, “Here is my personal number, you can call at your ease.” He said with fading mischievousness, going back to stand still at his place all strict, with a formal smile back as before.
The time was less. It was already 7:45pm. They both got out and rushed to their hotel room being absolutely flummoxed and amazed on what all happened. They reached the room with their hyperactivate vices still buzzed on drinks and everything else. They reached and started rolling without uttering a word. While sitting on the balcony under the expanse of the black sky, they both lit and then dived in; Dived into the stars of their own sky, wondering on the bizarreness of what just happened. Z also dropped a message to P in Pune to be awake as he has a lot to tell him (P) tonight. Z also knew he will miss this and off course Abhishekji, while still looking at the card, kept on the table. The time was less; they very quickly finished the rendezvous and gave the stars their time to settle down before moving out, FINALLY. They reached the airport and the moment arrived. They were buzzed; they were high not only on substance but also on experience, memory, and feelings. Both of them wanted to speak but couldn’t. Probably the best and the worst moments of life are always tackled with silence.
They reached the airport and the moment arrived. They were buzzed; they were high not only on substance but also on experience, memory, and feelings. Both of them wanted to speak but couldn’t. Probably the best and the worst moments of life are always tackled with silence.
Owing to the situation, they might have taken a selfie, but AbhishekJi’s phone was discharged, again, and Z’s phone……. ahhh you know. There was this awkward silence between the two. The boarding time came and now it couldn’t be delayed. They both wanted to say something, something quickly; they both wanted to say something and bind the moment in memory with perfect words as there was no time at all. Z moved forward and hugged. They both just froze for a while in the moment before separating.
“Abhishekji,” Z prompted in a wincing tone.
“When we’ll meet the next time, we’ll have a lot to talk about this last time”, he said with pursed lips.
Abhishekji nodded silently, turned and started walking away. Z looked at him for a while and then bidding adieu mutely to the silhouette of the walking away friend, he went and sat in the cab. His left hand tapped the driver’s shoulder, while his right hand was in his pant pocket, scratching the edges of the card from the bar. His head was emotionally confused with maybe slightly moistened eyes.