THE WAIT

It was late. Almost two hours later than the time he had said that he would call. I sat by the telephone looking at it willing it to ring. Calling him was not an option. He had told me not to. I don’t know what was wrong with me – it was like I was addicted to some drug. I needed to hear that soft voice of his whispering  my name “Kamini” ! His voice mesmerized me as did his eyes. It was almost as though they caressed me. When he was around me, it was like I was under some sort of a spell!

We had met under odd circumstances. The city of Bombay was burning up in communal violence in 1992 . I was on my way back from work. The roads were deserted and few vehicles passed by. When he stopped his car asking me if I needed a lift, I was not sure if I should accept the offer. But then, the streets were not safe either.. So I accepted the lift. “A gentleman to the core” was the first impression I had of him. He drove quietly asking me for direction once in a while. It was funny, the silence within the car was not tension filled but sort of calm and reassuring. I watched his hands as they turned the steering wheel and changed gears. His confidence was very appealing. He dropped me off at the hostel gate and waited around for a while until the watchman opened the gate. “Take care” was what he said as he drove off.

Bombay always bounces back to business whatever be the problem that may have put it out of action temporarily. Within the next few days things started getting back to normal and I forgot about being stranded on an empty road and being given a lift by a stranger.

I met him a month later at a conference. He was one of the lead speakers. I sat among the other delegates wondering if I should speak to him during the tea break. I was not even sure if he would remember who I was. I was still wrestling with these thoughts in my mind when I found him at my side. “Hello. Hope you are alright ” was what he said. A soft voice, a voice that I noticed for the first time. I smiled at him nodding my head. “Hi, I am Vikas” he said extending his hand towards me. “Kamini” I said as I shook his hand.

After the conference got over, he invited me for coffee at a restaurant nearby. I don’t know what it was about him that was so interesting. But I accepted. I, who never went out with any man anywhere accepted to have coffee with a person who was a virtual stranger! After coffee, he dropped me back at my hostel. At the hostel gate, we exchanged cards.

He called me  a couple of times at the office. But the office line was not exactly conducive for a long conversation. So, I gave him the hostel phone number f . He always called late in the night after 10.00 PM. We spoke for over an hour. His voice was soft – almost a whisper. It was nightly ritual. I would sit in the mosquito ridden reception area wrapped up in a shawl waiting for that call..! The girls at the hostel were very curious as to whose calls I was waiting up for. I was not exactly what you would call, a very pretty woman. In all my thirty years, no man had even looked at me.! I was confused as to why he was interested in me! What did he see in this stupid ordinary person called “me”?

It was not just phone calls, we used to meet for lunch during working days. I longed to spend weekends with him. But he said that it was not possible. I don’t know why I did not realize earlier that he might be married. Actually I stumbled upon this fact one day when I saw a picture in his wallet- a picture of him with a beautiful woman and a child! I did not have to ask who they were. I knew now and he knew that I knew! We never spoke about this ever!

People may think that he had cheated me into a relationship with him without telling me that he was married. But I think that it is unfair to blame him because he had not exactly lied to me. We had just not discussed this.. it had never occurred to me to ask if he was married and anyway it did not make a difference to me at that point.. maybe if I had known it on the day he gave me a lift or on the day of the conference it might have been different.

I looked again at the phone. Was it my imagination or was the receiver slightly off the hook? I went close to it and checked. No, it was placed properly. I looked at my watch- almost nearing midnight. “ Please,,, please call” I whispered aloud! I wanted to call him. But he had told me not to.. and besides, how would I explain who I was if someone else answered the call..?

My eyelids were feeling tiered. They wanted to close after all the crying that they had been doing over the last hour.. I wanted to go back to my room and sleep. But I was afraid to go – what if he called and I was not around? Nobody was likely to answer the phone in the reception at midnight!

What if? What if?..yes there were many possibilities but none that applied to me. I curled up on the settee in the reception exhausted and closed my eyes… Tomorrow was but another day- I know he will surely call!

( A tale set in the pre cell phone era when hearing a loved one’s voice was not just a palm or finger tip away- a time when one had to get past unwanted persons before  hearing  that  voice that one longed to hear!)

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KP
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 04:26:46

    Beautifully narrated bringing out the agony of the wait and the longing for the call.The many things unsaid leave the readers longing like Kamini to know more about Vikas and why he maintained a relationship with her when he had a pretty wife.There is no hint of any romantic advances besides the long chats and being together.Meera has adeptly transferred the agony of the wait to the readers wanting a sequel

    Reply

  2. Bikram
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 14:56:42

    so what happened the next day then, did he call and where did this relation go to .. I ma curious now.
    maybe he is alone now or divorced or something ..

    and oh yes the days of waiting , I remember when i was in hostel and a fone call came the peopn shouted room num. 121 Fone .. if you hear the call its fine if not then you never knew who had called ..

    Reply

  3. Lopa
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 19:24:37

    I know how painful it is. It’s just too odd, when you like someone for some reason that you’re not sure of. You are not in a relationship with him, you know he is married or may be you’re also in a relationship with someone else. But you share connection of some kind with him, something undefined. Nothing is said and done. And you keep wondering why he looked at you in that way, why he talked to you that way. May be sometimes he tries to avoid you, but you also find him secretly looking at you when you are not looking. It’s so absurd and painful. It’s frustrating. And the worst part is, you never get to know the answer to these “whys”.

    Reply

  4. Jack
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 20:08:32

    Meera,

    A tale of girl in love without realizing it has raised curiosity to know what happened further. Hope second part is coming soon.

    Take care

    Reply

  5. Tomz
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 20:04:45

    Hello Meera,

    delighted to be at your space. that was a nice story. But nicer were those words you wrote in brackets at the end..It brought back all my memories..continue writing..

    Reply

  6. Meera
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 23:40:57

    @ KP and Jack, unfortunately there is no second part to this story. Thanks Tomz for your comments. Shomoita, love is strange. Bikram, this story is inspired by the hostel phone calls- you are right if you are not there you would miss it!

    Reply

  7. pygmalion
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 00:11:21

    True , I remember how I used to check the phone cradle, every minute.. as I waited for the call..
    I liked the feel your story conveyed.. the pre mobile era

    Reply

  8. Gayu
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 11:04:03

    here I am….as promised..:)
    I can see a new side of Meera…a story teller…!!!

    This Saturday is fully dedicated to your blog….I am going to read all the stories….and keep myself busy:)
    I agree with KP and Jack…we need a sequel….please….:)
    When my sister got married and flew to Dubai…I used to wait for Friday’s eagerly….to get a call from her. Technology has bought people closer…but relationships seem to die…..

    Gayu

    Reply

  9. Meera
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 19:12:56

    Hello Gayu, Welcome to my blog! Glad that you like this story. I am not sure about how to write a sequel. Any ideas would be welcome

    Reply

  10. kavyadreams
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 14:11:05

    Truly said, those era where there were beauty of letters reaching our loved ones, the way the air breezes around when we sit near the tree and read those melodies……Super Meera….Thoroughly liked….the relationship which we share nowadays in social networking site cannot be matched to those love longing days….:))

    Reply

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