The Rendezvous

The Rendezvous

Sangeeta Saikia Pathak

            She looked at the view outside through the window of her hotel room in Darjeeling.The bright sun now stood smiling away cheerfully in the clear sky!!! It was a very pleasant sight.The aerial view of the  entire town of Darjeeling now stood before her as the Hotel Alice in which she was staying was situated on top of a hillock. Far beyond those sloping roofed houses in multitudes she could see those snow-capped mountains that glowed in a golden reddish hue as the rays of the sun slowly enveloped them and radiated their splendour and beauty all the more!!!  She could also hear the gushing sound of the water that emanated from a nearby stream flowing down that hill!!! For a while she was transported to her distant past ……when she was a maiden girl……she remembered having witnessed such a sight before as a university student !!!! Several years before she and her friends would gaze at those snow capped mountains through the window of her classroom in the English department of Tezpur University just before the professor would make his entry into the classroom in the wee hours of the morning. Looking into those distant mountains in those days through the window was like some kind of anticipation of what the future held in store for them after their post graduation from the University………

             Snata and her daughter Liya were standing in the reception hall of the hotel eagerly awaiting the arrival of the taxi that the hotel authorities had booked for their sightseeing.  Arnab, her husband was yet to arrive there, he being a late riser as usual. Just then they could hear the honking of the taxi that had just arrived and now stood in the porch of the hotel. “Ohh….please come soon….dear. The taxi has already arrived.”—– Snata speedily dialled her husband’s number!!!! Within minutes they all found themselves in the taxi heading for the famous The Schefields Restaurant of the town.They would have their breakfast there before going for sightseeing!!!!!

                Seven years of marriage had passed by in just the wink of an eye. Snata had never heard of Arnab before her marriage. Arnab was her friend’ s cousin. During those days Arnab’s parents were actually looking for a girl for their only marriageable son. It was Arnab’s cousin Neha’s marriage. Snata was the bridesmaid. Never before had Arnab been smitten by the beauty of such a girl!!!  Her simple and innocent smile made Arnab go heels over her!!! It was only after when all the wedding rituals were over that Arnab’s parents sent a formal proposal to Snata’s home. Arnab first met Snata in a park. Thereafter around two- three chitchats Snata’s parents finally agreed to the proposal . Snata was now happily married to Arnab who was an engineer by profession and was also the mother of a five year old girl!!!

             They had ordered the  Schefield’s special breakfast menu for their breakfast in the restaurant. It was a mixture of both the continental and the Indian cuisines over cups of special masala tea.  They were talking to each other over the matter of shopping  and their sight seeing plans.”You know….Ma has asked us to buy as many shawls and sweaters from here. She says that good quality woollen clothes are available here on discounted prices as the shopkeepers here are exempted from taxes , Darjeeling being a hilly area!!!”…..when Arnab’s eyes suddenly caught those of someone.Yes….he was Avinash Saikia, his schoolfriend of yesteryears whom he had quite lost touch with……for quite a long time……..

         ” Hey Avinash… you recognise me, dude???? ” ” Definitely, I do….yaar”, retorted back Avinash who had been sitting across the table all alone.  Avinash then joined them at their breakfast table……Then followed a series of introductions to each other…… Arnab introduced his wife Snata to his childhood friend, Avinash Saikia who was a writer and  journalist by profession and had come to Darjeeling on some official visit along with his colleagues.

             But as Snata began to talk with Avinash….she felt some distant past surfacing in between them. Snata just could not control her tears and left for the lavatory first and then went outside the hotel along with her daughter on the pretext of enjoying the view of the beauty of the garden outside the hotel !!! Soon the breakfast arrived…..which they finished and then hurriedly left for sightseeing after parting with Avinash. Just before leaving Avinash handed over his card to Arnab that contained his contact number and office address.

             Throughout the day Snata did not feel good enough.They went for the toy train ride after which they visited a monstery. In the evening they went for shopping and finally after finishing their dinner they landed up in their hotel room…..But that night Snata could not sleep well.She found herself shedding tears all through the night with images of her distant past peeping in…….!!!!! Several years before Snata while being a university student used to regularly write poems for the literary supplement of the leading newspaper of her city. During those times Avinash Saikia was also an upcoming writer who too wrote regularly for the same paper. Love had bloomed between them through their writings and they had even started writing to each other……

              Two days later  they returned back to their home town Guwahati. Snata could not even eat well for several days. One afternoon she dialled Avinash’s number which she found in the card that he had handed over to Arnab——–

              “Do you recognise me, Avinash???”

” Surely, I do….Snata.Can I ever forget you in my life, dear??? Those days I was trying to locate you very hard….but unfortunately in one of my searching sprees I met with a fatal bike accident…..My right leg had to be amputated after that accident. I am on an artificial limb now…..I lay in my hospital bed for nearly six months….I only wish that there was a thing like facebook or instagram during those times!!!! I haven’t married as yet…..It was really a big shock for me that day to know that you are now the wife of my close buddy, Arnab!!!!”

             Hearing these words, Snata just hung up!!!!  It was really a very unconsolable moment for her… realise that she had lost the love of her life……. forever ……….from her life.

Sangita Saikia Pathak has been writing poems, short stories and articles since her college days. Soulful Musings is her first poetry collection. She works in the Govt of Assam.