“Do you want another drink sir?”
I lift my chin to see the waiter standing with a question mark on his face.
“Sure, and another plate of finger chips please.”
He nods and walks towards the bar. I empty the last gulp remaining in my glass and resist lighting a cigarette. I have reduced smoking so much that many of friends think I have finally given up smoking. Very few of my acquaintances know that I gave up smoking after my post-graduation, not because I thought it was bad, nor because my physician asked me to, but I started wheezing now and then and felt smoking utterly uncomfortable. Only when I had a couple of drinks, I could smoke, for my chest would be clear. Alcohol does dilate your bronchi.
Many more people are sitting in the hotel now, than were when I had arrived, although it is only about noon. The waiter pours my drink and walks to another table. I make a mental note that this would be my last drink, for I would myself be driving back home. From a nearby table, I hear a couple of people are speaking so loudly that I get disturbed. I take a big sip and begin to stare at the tree with a huge trunk and large leaves.
Cathartic. Yes they say such experience cathartic. If the intervening period had not been so long as to render me incapable of changing the turns my life has taken, it would have been something other than cathartic. It is a shame that I even think of this word to explain the experience. The meanness hasn’t yet left me. Why do I feel so strongly about it? Don’t I have heart? My feelings towards Nirupama have always been ambivalent. But now after all this, at least, I should think differently, feel differently. Am I still not mature enough to view things dispassionately?
I consider what situation she is in now. Has she been a failure in her life? I ask myself. I should ask myself a similar question. Was I responsible for how it all ended? Partly. I confess to myself. I feel guilty about that. I have been inconsiderate. I have been unforgiving. I have been pitiless. I have to accept, I can’t cheat myself. But it is also beyond dispute that I alone am not fully responsible. There are others who are to have a lion-share of the blame. I have only been a part of the pack of wolves. Others, they are still unrepentant. Above all, it was Mohan who should have not heeded to anything that anybody said, if he knew the truth or at least if he trusted that what he knew was the truth. Wasn’t it the classic case of her words against those of everybody else?
I remember that neither Mohan nor Nirupama ever looked serious about their future. At least as far as I knew. Even if Mohan had been serious about marrying her, he wouldn’t have dared say so before any of us, for the fear of becoming a butt of jokes. Bhaskar would have easily called him credulous fool. But why did everyone act as they did?
“Anything else sir?” again, the waiter.
“Nope. Bill please,” I reply and take another large gulp of whisky.
I curse the waiter mutedly for breaking my chain of thoughts. I try to go back to my thoughts, but on the contrary slip even backwards to the time when our second term ended with the annual examinations and the vacations began…