"Is this yours?" Pointing at my newly bought Gucci bag, a young guy told me, "You should take care of your valuables. Please keep it on your own table." I kept my bag to a vacant table as our one is full of food. We hang out in this particular café every evening but I didn't see him before.
We mean Natasha, Tiara, Zainab and me-four friends. When Zainab talks, she shakes her hands and thus she spilled her cocktail on the table and that guy rushed to clear that. In the wink of an eye, he also took away my half finished water melon slush. "What the heck!" I murmured. My friends burst out of laughing.
It's so unusual but I see that guy looks at me unnecessarily. Whenever our eyes meet, I notice it's not a mere glance, rather indicates indistinctness, a desire to come closer. We have stolen glances at each other. But he has never crossed a certain line. It's an inexplicable feeling which makes me anxious to spot him the next time. After realizing this, I stop looking at him. I don't want this to happen to me. What will my friends think about me if they know this? I can't even share this with them for the simple reason that they would make a mockery of it.
I stopped going there. I started avoiding my friends too. My friends understand my change. "Why have you become irregular in the adda? " Tiara asked me over phone. "I cannot join you there. Can we meet somewhere else?"
I replied. "Why? What's wrong with the place and what's wrong with you?" She responded with surprise. "I'm just bored with the place." "Hey, what's in your mind? Are you also bored with us?" Tiara asked. "No, gals". "Then, shake off all your monotony," she said. "Its Zainab's birthday and we are planning a surprise party at 12:00 PM in the café. Be ready, we are coming to take you out tonight". 'No, I couldn't come", I replied. But she cut off the line.
The gang came to take me there. "Hey, what happened? Tell us. Are you hiding something from us?" asked Zainab when she saw me. "Nothing, I am just pissed off with my career." I tried to change the angle so that they couldn't understand anything.
"I need to go now. I'll go on an office tour tomorrow morning." I told them. It is already 1:00 AM. I was so sleepy that I couldn't open the exit door of the cafe. Suddenly he arrived there to help me open the door. My sleep vanished at seeing him. I spent the whole night just thinking about him. In spite of my extreme effort, I couldn't stop thinking about him.
I was out of town for a month on account of the tour. I visited the café to meet my friends in the evening. But my eyes were looking for him. Is his duty hour changed or is he on leave? I didn't see him for several days. Three months gone. Probably he has left the job.
Has he returned to his home country, Nepal? Oh no! I recalled that a few days ago there was an earthquake in Nepal. Have the rumbles of stone buried him? I wasn't able to think anymore. I recall our last encounter before my tour. That was a rainy day. He was calling a taxi for a customer. Then he told one of his colleagues that he was going to Nepal.
Amidst the din and bustle of the café, I felt suffocated. The crowd, the food, the aroma, the laughter and the music do not mesmerize me like always. Those stolen glances, those sudden encounters make me unmindful. So I got outside. The outside is silent.
A speck of rain drops on my head. I look up at the sky. I stretch out my arm to catch the drop of rain, but can't . . . as I couldn't get to catch a glimpse of him anymore in this world.
The writer works in The Asian Age
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