Anita sat at the edge of the couch, tucked her legs beneath her and briefly set down the mug of steaming hot coffee on the armrest, knowing it will leave a ring, but not caring. There was a little bakery across the street and smell of freshly baked cookies wafted in through the open window along with the early morning summer breeze. Specs of dust danced in the soft 7 am sunshine, as she glanced at the newspaper, and picked up the coffee mug with the other hand. Her father was still asleep in the next room. Her son had opened an eye when her alarm rang, and mumbled about it being too early. She soothed him, and told him to go back to sleep. The four year old was asleep again the next instant.
The main headline on the front page talked about India winning the cricket world cup. India. It seemed like such a long time ago, and yet, like yesterday. Anita had left India when her son was barely eight months old, along with her father. Her mother passed away two years before that, and she did not want to leave her father alone to take care of himself. Besides, going to a completely alien country without anyone to help out with a little child would have been difficult. It had been a difficult move for Anita. She had to leave everything behind – her job, her house, and most importantly –
No, she didn’t want to think about it, about him. She had left India mainly because of him, for him. To save him from herself. It had been a cowardly move. A selfish and a selfless move at the same time. It was not entirely rational, but they had no future together. She felt silly though; everything reminded her of him – a song, a breeze, a stranger’s smile, steam from the coffee mug… a headline in a newspaper, for God’s sakes! She was not even sure if he liked cricket. See, she reminded herself, that’s how little you knew him.
She was broken out of her reverie when the milkman rang the doorbell. She went about her morning chores, got Nikhil ready for school, and while getting ready for work herself, her mobile phone rang. It was an unknown number, and when she answered, a cheerful male voice responded with a “Hey!”
It couldn’t be. Her mind was caught in that moment where incomprehension met a certain shock, like a dream that had been relived so many times that it manifests itself into reality. It was definitely his voice. But the number began with +60, the international dialing code for Kuala Lumpur. Anita swallowed a lump of uncertainty that had suddenly clogged her throat, and asked, “Saurav? Is that you?”
“Who else, Anita! Who else!” his voice was too upbeat. It brought a smile to Anita’s face instantly. “Look, I am in Kuala Lumpur. You have to show me around! Be my guide for the day.”
There was an endless train of question in Anita’s mind, a hundred excuses she could make. How did he know she was in KL? How did he get her number? Why should she go out with him when she had left her country to get away from him? This was a bad idea for both of them, and she had explained it to him, then why…?
And then another question surfaced – what was she going to tell her boss about skipping work today? At that instant she knew, she was going to say yes to being “his guide for the day”
—–To be continued—-