Ritz Plaza

Room No: 263

I opened the teak finish wooden door of Room No: 263 and held it open for her to walk in. She softly brushed past my body and I slowly followed her in, locking the door from inside. The room was small but bore an expensive look with the white satin bed cover, matching pillow covers and embroidered curtains. As I walked in, I looked around the room. A wooden cot, a wardrobe with mirror, a coffee table and two chairs were the only furniture in the room.

Worth Rs 1600“, I thought, recollecting the advance I paid to the fat feminine guy at the counter. I had thoughtfully ignored his inquiring glance when I signed the check-in register.

I stood at the doorway admiring the worthiness of the money I spent and completely forgetting the presence of another person in the room. She was comfortably seated on the bed with her hand resting on her bag. I looked at her and realized how beautiful she looked in the peacock blue salwar and light blue shawl. I remember the day when she wore it for the first time. It was on her 21st birthday and her father had gifted this dress to her. That was two years ago and she still looked the same- cute and beautiful. She is Sruthi, my landlord’s daughter.

I couldn’t believe that I was with Sruthi in a hotel room and that too in her home city. It was just one hour before when I got a call from her. I was in the office preparing for a client presentation. She said she wanted to spent some time with me in the evening and I readily obliged because she never had the habit of making such wishes. I made up some reasons and left the office to meet her. She was waiting for me at the bus stop near my office and in fifteen minutes I picked her up from there.

She was unusually silent when she sat next to me in the car. I asked her whether she had some plans for the evening. She shook her head and said that she had left her home in the afternoon saying that she was going back to her hostel. She was doing her Post Graduation in a college which was 100 Kms from here. Since it was already getting dark, there was no chance of her travelling 100 Kms at this time. That was it. She wanted to spend the night with me and I have to make arrangements now. I cannot take her to my place because I was living on the 1st floor of her own house.

Lesson: Don’t fall in love with your land lord’s daughter because you won’t have your own space to spent time with her. I always learn things in the hard way.

I had to find a place stay… a safe place to take her with me. I called a friend to ask his opinion and made up some stories saying that my friend and family are visiting the city and I have to arrange for their stay. He suggested to check in at Ritz Plaza which is beyond the city limits and on the way to the beach. I thanked him and thanked myself for calling the right guy.

It was drizzling as I drove in to the parking lot of Ritz Plaza. I went straight to the fat feminine guy at the counter and motioned Sruthi to occupy the vacant couch at the lobby. I paid the advance, signed the register and silently cursed the rules for making me enter my full name and address for checking in. The front office guy looked straight at my face as he gave the key to Room No: 263.

“Rahul, where are you?” Sruthi quizzed. I was awakened from my thoughts and Sruthi was standing near me.

“Oh yeah. I was just thinking” I answered.

“Thinking about what?” She asked.

“Why did you cancel your trip today?” I asked eventhough I knew what her answer was. But I wanted to hear from her.

“I wanted to spend some time with you and to talk to you” She answered.

“Ok. But why so urgent?” I enquired just to make her lose temper.

“Why? Did I disturb you?” She asked and made a face.

“No, No. But see where we ended up….. in a hotel room” I said mocking displeasure in my voice.

She remained silent.

We had our rare intimate moments together in her house when her parents were not around. I used to take leave from office on those days during her vacation when her parents were not in the house. So being together was not a new thing for us. But that was in the safety of her own house unlike this hotel room. And I need to confess that this was my first experience staying in a hotel with a girl.

My last question had an inverse effect on her and she remained silent for another couple of minutes. I went towards her and sat beside her on the bed. I put my hands around her and gently pulled her towards me. She rested her head on my shoulder as I kissed on her forehead. I looked at her and saw her eyes gleaming. Did I see a tear drop…???? No… I guess!

“Do you love me?” She asked.

“Yes my dear. I love you” I said and kissed her quivering lips.

She clung to me as we descended on the bed and made love.

It was after midnight when I came back to my senses. She was lying on my arms and I had a bad cramp due to her weight. I tried to pull my hand without disturbing her but in vain. My action woke her up and she crawled away from me. I got up from the bed and went to the bath room and had a warm shower. When I came back she was sitting on the bed crossed legged and motioned me to sit beside her. I obeyed her like a child. She pulled me towards her and I rested my head on her lap. She had done this before….. whenever she had to discuss something serious. So I was all ears for her.

“You know Vinod?” She asked.

“Who?” I enquired.

“Vinod….Sankar uncle’s son who is a Doctor in State Service. You have seen him when they visited our home, right?” She asked.

“Yeah. Whats with Vinod?” I quizzed.

Silence followed. And after a couple of minutes she said

“My parents have fixed my marriage with Vinod”

“What?????” I sprang up from her lap and shouted. “You never told me….”

“I had told you that something is fishy…..when they came to visit us last week. It wasn’t a usual visit. I had smelled a rat and had informed you. After that visit my parents were explaining to me a lot about that guy as if I don’t know him. They even asked me whether I like him or not” She explained.

“And remember what you said….. you said that it was just my feeling and there was nothing wrong????” She continued.

“Yeah. But how did it all happen so suddenly?” I quizzed.

“My parents went to Sankar uncle’s place today morning and came back with this happy news” She said sarcastically.

“Vinod has to go for an official trip to Turkey and they wanted this marriage to happen before that” She continued.

I was hell shocked and was walking up and down in the room. I was devastated. I never knew I would have to face this so soon

“You want me to talk to your parents??” I asked.

“Its so late. My father have already given a word and he wont differ. Only way left is to elope with you. Which I cannot do since I don’t’ want to my parents to be unhappy and suffer because of me.” She said.

“What about me? What about our happiness? Will you be happy without me?” I shouted.

“You will forget me soon. Same might be the case with me as well” She said.

“But…” She cut me short.

“Anyway you never wanted any commitments, right? You always wanted to be a free bird and now why are you reacting like this?” She questioned.

“But I love you and I was feeling so complete with you……” I tried to explain.

“Lets not talk about it Rahul. Its Over and I wanted to let you know” She said.

There was a long stint of silence before I talked conveying a false sense of guilt.

“Why didn’t you tell me this when we met today? You should have told this when we came in to this hotel at least”

“No. I wanted you today and I realize that I wont have you anymore. I wanted all the happiness together and wanted you to experience that too. I wanted our relationship to be complete lest I regret in the future” She explained.

The conversation came to a dead end. There was no more questions and explanations. It was like everything came to a stand still.

I looked at my watch. It was 5:30 in the morning. I got up from the bed and dressed up and she followed. We vacated the room and got in to the car.

“Where should I drop you?” I asked.

“At the bus station. I am going back to college” She said.

I didn’t reply.

After a brief silence I asked “When is your wedding?”

“End of this month” She said.

So soon….. I thought. So these are the last few moments. In five minutes she will be on her way and I wont get another chance to call her back. I was feeling the pangs of losing my love. But my inner self was forcing me to remain silent and I obliged.

“Dad will personally invite you and you should be there to bless me” She laughed sardonically. But I ignored her sarcasm.

Soon we reached the bus stand and I stopped the car. As she got out of the car I asked

“Where is the venue of your marriage function?”

“Oh Sorry. I forgot to tell you. Its in the banquet hall of the same hotel Ritz plaza” She smiled and walked towards the bus station.

I was woken up by the techno beats of my new ring tone. With out opening my eyes I explored for the phone on my bed… got hold of it and attended the call.

“Hello”, I said somnolently.

“Hello” said a hushed voice on the other end.

“Can you be a bit more louder???” I asked.

But he kept his flaccid tone and I felt more irritated.
“You have just 60 minutes left to get up from your bed, dress up and be present at the meeting place” he articulated.

“What meeting place?” I shouted. “I don’t know you and I am not going to come anywhere!!!”

He laughed and said “You will come”

“I wont!!!” I exclaimed. “I have nothing to do with you. You can try this trick on somebody else.”

He kept his prevalent tone and said “It’s better for you that you believe me. I am not going to do you any harm. I want to help you”

“I don’t need anybody’s help and I am happy the way I am. I have a job, I have a happy family and many friends for company” “What else do I need. I am happy!!” I shouted.

He let out a mild sarcastic laugh and said “Are you??”

I was losing my patience.
“Yes I am” I iterated.

“You say that you have everything and you claim to be happy with the things you have… right?” he asked.

“I am not claiming. I am happy”, I said.

He sighed and said “So you are not unhappy about your boss… you are not unhappy about your job…. you are not unhappy about lack of money….. you are not unhappy about not giving your parents a better standard of living…. you are not unhappy about your health… you are not unhappy about love….. you are not unhappy about your inability to buy a new house or a car….”

“Stop it!!!”, I shouted.

“Why?? Am I wrong anywhere??” He laughed.

“You are……. not wrong!!! But you are not right either” I tried to hide the vexation in my voice.

“So you say that I am right in my discernment” He asked.

I didn’t answer. This guy was making me think. His assessment was more or less correct. No….. He was 100% correct. I just surfed through my memory lane to find that such infelicitous material things haunted me always. But I never wanted to admit.

“Why?? Am I right my boy???” He asked again.

“Yes, you are!!” I said with much hesitance.

“Good. Since you agree, just get up from your bed and start moving. Remember you have just 57 minutes left” He said in an affectionate tone and disconnected the call.

I woke up holding the phone in my hand and I realized that it was the snooze function of the alarm that woke me up. The alarm had sounded 3 minutes before and that was what I misunderstood as the incoming phone call. But the voice and the conversation were still dogging in my mind and I couldn’t believe that there was no such call.

I searched my call list and found that there were no incoming calls in the morning. But there was a memo on the phone’s desktop.

Memo:
Interview @ 9:00 am
Wake up… You lazy boy!
Love. 🙂

Infact, I had planned to skip this interview merely out of laziness. I checked the time and was shocked to find that the time was 8:03 am…. exactly 57 minutes to the scheduled interview. And believe me……. I never kept such a memo!!!!!!