As I waited for the lift to take me to the 4th floor, a roof top restaurant at Gulbarga, a town which drew me much closer and beyond the expectation from a low profile telecom sector that it is, my eyes stuck on a family relaxing under a slab built next to the lift. It would seem deceiving to call them a family. But that’s my perception and purely my wish. I insisted the bigger stronger one of the three be the light holder of the family, another matured looking dogie to be the house maker and a small kiddo running around them to be their child. Seven of us waited for the lift which took its own time to reach. A rather old fashioned lift with grilled sliding doors took me back 20 years in time, to my rather old flat in calcutta which had a similar one. This part of the world has not progressed since the time or probably the stagnancy contributed to its beauty than anything else.
Four of us used the lift first as it was too old to carry more on its drooping, slopping, slippery shoulders. As it carried us up, passing us were the small wall portion which comes after each floor. They were all in all it beauty spattered with red pan spits. My boss felt it was sick. In my opinion people of Gulbarga have a good sense of their targets as to aim a spit exactly on the walls as the lift moved up and accurately avoiding the doors. The view however from the roof top restaurant was pleasing. Spread across towards the southern side was a lake which shared it boundary with the restaurant. On the shores of the lake to the side opposite to us were buildings, only lights of which one can see. Some yellow, some white and furthermore some red. It’s been cloudy but somehow the weather has been kind on us so far. The conversations between the seven of us were purely official or rather mocking at people we knew officially. There were no outside incidents or characters. Everything was internal and slowly a few people were realizing that jokes on one person was gaining more laughter than ever. They continued to build on it and I continued to smile, motivating each story teller to roll out another one with more flavour. My boss by now seemed quite detached and lost in SMS chats quite unusual from his real self.
I started to feel monotonous in my smile and promptly rose from my seat. Walked down to the edge of the terrace and kept observing the scene in front of me. I started to feel nostalgic somewhere. I called her and spoke to her. I wanted to tell her this moment, this view, reminded me of our last ever break up. We chose to remain close friends since some time later, but at that moment that view of the lake, overlooking a varied lighting shore on the other side reminded me of the terrace of skyline apartments, a fore running sky scraper at the marine drive, overlooking a similar view of the Willington island on the opposite side. A night I would have preferred to forget, yet which hit me so hard with a gush of powerful emotions, fresher and stronger each time. That day she admitted it’s over between us and that she has already started seeing someone else. That time it had invoked a lot of senselessness in me. Years later, I stand to realize that she could be a good friend beyond love and sensuality. I dialed her recently changed number. I tried to sound normal, I asked if she had dinner. She confirmed she had and was still trying to settle down in her newly hired flat in cochin. I abruptly ended the call as the six other people behind me had started to get noisier.
I preferred to stay where I am, from where I could hear everything they spoke or rather overheard all what was spoken. “He likes everything in double”. Exclaimed one of them addressing a capped individual between us. “He always have two pegs, two motor bikes, two houses, and to the extend, two wives and two kids each”. Now did I hear that right or were they just joking. But it was surely going somewhere interesting. The narrator became more aggressive as he knew people were interested in further disclosures. “He is addicted to the number: 2. He is never contained with the number one”. My boss suddenly stopped his SMS addiction and looked up at the gentleman. “Hey come on, is it true”? He asked with an obvious curiosity. This is where it all became serious. He nodded his head in a proud gesture. This gentleman, my friend seemed to have two wives and two kids each. In a century with strict objection on polygamy constitutionally and socially, this revelation came as a surprise. I started to get irritated as he started to explain. His first wife is a government employee and when she came to know about the second marriage she revolted. He did all he could to convince her, but finally got into severe blackmailing to curb her down. As he explained his heroics, I felt like to slash a tight slap on his filthy cheeks. But somehow I kept rooted to my conscience as he continued to explain pre and post marriage developments. Was he drawing a hero of himself? It was absurd. Topics went from one to another, to the weather of Gulbarga, to major attractions, to the very prominent adult pick-nic spot of Jhamkhandi, an open human flesh market 120 Kms down west of Gulbarga. Night was getting old and it was time to leave. But still, the capped gentle man and his words kept lingering on me. We waited for the old lift once again to climb the 4 floors to take us down on its arms. I wanted to break my silence, wrapped my hands over his shoulders as friendly as I could and asked him, brother, why did you really do it? His answer was frank and had it all. He said, “Kya karoon bhai, I fell in love. It’s not that I have started to love my first wife lesser, but just that I started to love someone else too”.
His reply in no way convinced me of his doing. But the concept of not cheating on a person he loved pierced me. How many times have we all loved someone in all ways we could and just let it go claiming circumstantial aberrance? Here is a man who I just hated a few minutes back getting some respect in my heart for being so unfazed over his adversity and standing strong over a factor called love which though happened illogically.
We got down the lift, and walked out of the building. It had started to rain and the climate was starting to freeze. In one corner the dad and mom had come closer to make a warm space between them, where rested the puppy, like in a blanket made of love.