( Disclaimer – This is a work of Fiction . Any resemblance to any person or event is a mere coincidence )
Dipanwita was in two minds since last few days and had not been able to resolve whether she should go and receive him or not. The early morning phone call put her into further dilemma.
Anyway, now it was too late to back out and she did admit to herself that the prospect of meeting someone as unique as him did give her adrenalin levels a boost.
They had been talking on the phone for over six months now, it had become almost a routine that his call would come at 5:15 p.m. sharp and would last for at least an hour. What they talked was like a dream to her. There was nothing and there was everything. All she knew was that time flew when she was in his company and the world was wonderful when he was in touch.
So it was natural for her heart to start pumping faster when he mentioned two days back that he would be coming to Calcutta on a short trip and it would be nice if she would agree to meet him.
Agree to meet him? What sort of question was this? She had asked him.
Where was a question of not meeting him? Her life had turned a full circle ever since she had known him.
Curiously, he had got in touch with her quite by chance by dialing a wrong number. And then their friendship had grown within a matter of a few days. They both enjoyed each other’s company even if it was only on telephone and looked forward to be appointed hour.
He made her feel like a small girl on the verge of her teens falling in love for the first time. His voice too had a young feel about him which would never betray his real age. Maybe what he talked was just words, but how would she know unless she met him. There was no question of letting this opportunity go. But then, she realized a woman has a lot to think about so many things.
His sudden call at 3 p.m. instead of the usual 5:15 p.m. two days back took her by surprise. He was understandably excited, because he had come to know that he was being sent on duty for a few days to Calcutta where she lived. She was amazed at his openness as he wanted to inform about this to Sanjana, her four-year-old daughter whom he used to talk very often and both had started liking each other a lot. It was only with a lot of difficulty that she could convince him not to tell her at that juncture.
After informing her of his trip, the question that he asked should not have surprised her, but it did.
“Would you like to meet me”?
Her heart was pounding at a faster pace as she tried to contain the wavering in her voice, “what do you think”?
“I think we should”
Smiling, “of course, what about you? Would you not like to meet?”
“You know very well that I would insist”, he laughed.
And then he was back to his teasing, jovial self.
“Are you aware of the perils?”
“Oh! You do not know”?
“How would I know what’s in your mind. And what are the perils in meeting you, May I ask?”
“Well, let it go for the moment”, he laughed “I’m sure you know. I have been quite vocal about it in the past”
“Okay, we shall see.” she said knowingly and smiled.
He rang again the next day with a sense of urgency.
“Hey, you know something? I’m so excited about meeting you that I wish it would be as soon as I land.”
“Are you trying to give me some hints?” she asked in a teasing manner.
“Of course”, he laughed “I want you to come to the airport so that I set my eyes first on you.”
“Flirty, as always” she laughed back. After a slight pause, “okay, I will come. I do want to, but it all depends on what time the land. The airport is far and I do not want to be there late in the evening as the kids would be alone”
“No worries”, he said. “I will be coming by a service aircraft which would land there around 5 p.m. Would that time suit you”?
“Yes, that would be fine, I guess”
“It does get late sometimes, but I will keep you informed before the take off”
“That would be nice. I could start accordingly from home. It takes about one hour to reach”, she said.” but I haven’t seen you, so I hope we would be able to locate each other”
“Don’t you worry”, he laughed. “Leave that to me, I would seek you out among the millions of Calcutta’s population”. He was flirting again.
What should she wear? She was wondering. He had admitted that his thoughts were focused only on her beautiful face so she need not to do anything more about her appearance as he found her perfect. Crazy guy. In his simplistic world he wouldn’t agree that a woman still needs to plan for her appearance. Despite the hours of daily talks that they did she had never asked him what he liked or what his favorite colors were. He insisted that he liked everything about her. All she knew was that at the age of 45 she had met someone who could send her heart pounding faster than she had known.
Initially, it all looked like a dream to her which had over the period of time formed into reality. The effect he had on her was something else. Some of her friends even commented that she had started looking lovelier than ever with more radiance in her face. One of them called Sapna actually caught on and remarked that she was sure that she was in love!
When she mentioned this to him, he broke into an uncontrollable fit of laughter and said he wanted to meet this wonderful friend of hers. The romantic flirt that he was. She could almost foresee his reactions at most of the times but there were moments when he would surprise her, which is what she loved about him.
The last two days had gone in preparation of his visit. Typically, he had not disclosed anything about his plans. Not that he might be having any. In his erratic way of thinking there was no need to plan anything when the chemistry was just right because that would start the reactions automatically.
The morning call brought the panic back. Not because she was going to meet a strange man whom she had never met before but because of what he said.
“My flight will take off at 12 noon and land there around 5 p.m. as they are planning a stopover at Agra and Allahabad. It might get delayed by 20 to 30 minutes. Will let you know if I can”
“Okay, fine”, she said. “But where should I wait for you”.
Then added “are you sure you’ll be able to make out”
“Sweetheart”, he joked “there will not be many women there, so I will be able to easily spot you being the prettiest. My worry is that you do not go away with someone else because all the guys will be in uniform and I hope you are able to differentiate”, he started laughing uncontrollably.
“Yes, you never know”, she played along teasingly.
“Oh, by the way,” he instructed “I forgot to tell you that you got to wait outside near the technical area where the air force planes land. There is a big gate while on the way to airport which you cannot miss. So be next to it in your car.
“But I have never seen it earlier” she said. “I guess I will have to go a bit earlier just in case”
“Yes, do that”. And then the bombshell.
Almost instinctively he added, “And I do not know how you would react to be kissed full view on the tarmac”
“You seem surprised” He said, “don’t you know me by now? Nothing can stop me from kissing you when we meet, so be prepared”, he laughed loudly.
He used to talk like this most of the time but since it was always on the phone, she would play along knowing that it was mere talk. But now, this was for the real and the suddenness of his idea caught her off guard. Somehow, she knew that this guy was mad enough to carry it through.
“You are mad even to think about it” she said, admonished him and feigning anger.
“But I will”, laughter.
“Don’t you try”, she laughed back. “You think I will let you?”
“You will have no choice”, he laughed like the man knew his mind and added. “It would happen naturally”
“What do you mean naturally?” she retorted. “People do not kiss on the tarmac naturally”
“People in love do and I love you, so I will”
“That is natural?”
“Well, let me put it this way. It will be as natural as what happens to a snow flake when it falls on the skin”.
“Nice dialogue” she laughed “and what, may I ask happens naturally to it, Mr know all”.
“Oh, does it? Whatever, don’t you try any stupid thing out there else I won’t come?”
“Okay nothing stupid if you say”, he reconciled.
Than laughed “only what is natural”.
“You better behave, else I will not come or get Sanjana with me”, even before she uttered this, she knew what would come.
“Oh, why not? Do get her. You see, she is on my side, she loves me”.
This was right. Sanjana would talk to him for hours and had become very fond of him. He had a fantastic capability to break down the age barrier and come to her level when he talked to her. In fact, she talked to him and was closer to him more than to her own father who had just no time for her.
Breaking her thoughts he said, “Okay, now I got to go for check-in, so catch you on the tarmac later in the evening”, he laughed loudly, enjoying her predicament.
But she had faith in him and they had got very fond of each other. She admitted to herself that somehow she would not mind it and that it was what she wanted too. Stupid. She smiled at her own thoughts.
The flight was delayed by 30 minutes but she came well in time and parked the car under the shade of a big tree slightly away from the main gate of the technical area. The guard on the gate was courteous and even offered her to come and relax in the reception lounge which she declined. She did not want to confront many people on this little meeting. God knows who she would find there.
It was very hot despite the sun having set and she put on the air-conditioner of the car to make it tolerable and prepare the car for the visitor. Taking a glance at her image in the rearview mirror from various angles she ensured that she looked attractive. She was excited about meeting him and catching herself looking in the mirror Sapna’s observation came to her mind and she smiled. She was looking beautiful, she reflected.
Suddenly, the flight was announced and there was a flurry of activity near the tarmac. Her heart started pounding faster as the big gates of the technical were opened and a crowd of men wearing combat uniforms came out carrying their baggage. The area was full service vehicles and people who are come to receive them.
God! How would she recognize him among this crowd when everyone looked almost alike? It was good that he had volunteered to seek her out, as she was one of the very few women who had come there.
Just to make it simpler for him, she stood outside the car amidst appreciative glances from the people passing by.
She looked at her watch. It had been 10 minutes since the gates had been opened. Where was he? Suddenly as if on cue, voice popped up from behind her.
“Hello, Dipa”? It was a question as well as acknowledgement of recognition.
She should have guessed it. He would have never made a silent entry. She turned around and recognized him from his pictures immediately.
“Yes, that’s me”
This is all she could say.
The snow flakes were melting.
… Further Story…Part II…Read HERE
(To Be Continued…..)