But the man who he thought was his father was not done yet. He continued, “You know what you are? You are just a pathetic coward! Why don’t you just accept that? And you know something else? You are not just a coward. You are a nobody. Wanna know why? I will tell you why! You are a nobody because you believe your identity comes from who I am. You believe your relationship to me defines who you are! All your life you have lived just as the son of a convict haven’t you? Never able to grow beyond it. You know what that means? IT MEANS YOU ARE A NOBODY! NOBODY!”
“Please stop this!” Samir finally responded. His voice was almost masked in his crying. “Stop this! I can’t take this anymore. If you don’t like me, then please, just say so. But don’t humiliate me like this! Yes you are right. I haven’t come to see you in the past even when I knew I could do so. I also don’t know what you did to go to prison. Mom never spoke about you and I was afraid I would find out something bad if I tried to meet you. But today was my last chance to meet you and I did not want to regret not making the effort to do so later.”
Samir tried to control his crying and began to regain his composure. He could not say if his father was listening to him at all or not. After a few moments, he continued, “But now I feel I made a mistake. Maybe you did something terrible, maybe you didn’t. Either way, you were in prison for a long time. And do you know how it is for somebody to grow up knowing that their father is in prison? You were able to see right through me all this time and you told me things about me that I myself found hard to accept. But what do you know about growing up without a father? What do you know about all the times Mom had to beat me- like a father does- and then console me like a mother? Can you imagine how it felt to answer people when they asked me what my father was doing? I had to face that humiliation my entire life. But despite all that, you know why I still came to see you?”
By now, Samir felt more in control of the situation. His dad was simply listening to everything he was saying without any form of expression. Samir sat back and paused for a minute. He took a deep breath and seemed to get lost in some thought for a moment. He then lowered his voice and started speaking slowly. “I came to see you because I wanted to see for myself who you are, and more importantly, what you are. I wanted to know if we could get to know each other a bit more- like father and son. I wanted to know if I can go back home and sleep peacefully knowing that I have a father who is also something apart from being an ex convict. And yes, you were also right when you said that I have been living as the son of a convict all these years. As disappointing as it may be, it is also the truth. You see, I really didn’t have much of a choice in that. I had to prove to myself and the world on a day to day basis that I was something more than just a convict’s son. So did I blame you for that? Maybe I did, but then I got used to the way people responded. So it didn’t matter whose fault it was after a while.
I didn’t know what to expect when I came here to see you. When I was standing outside, waiting for you, I had thoughts of you and me keeping in touch with each other. Probably even catch a movie sometime. But if what I have seen today is any indication of who you are, I don’t think we will even be in touch, let alone watch a movie together.” Samir paused for a while. He then turned to face his father and looking him straight in the eye, he said, “I have never known what having a father figure feels like. I thought I would find out today. But I guess I was wrong. And frankly speaking, I think I would be more happy not knowing you at all, because if I get to know you more, I have a feeling I will only get more disappointed.”
And as he said those words with a heavy heart, Samir felt tears rolling down his eyes. And as he was wiping them off, his father said, “Take me to the outskirts of the town. I will show you the way.” Samir recomposed himself and stepped on the gas. For the rest of the drive, neither spoke anything apart from his father giving him directions now and then. Samir was surprised that his father knew the directions well but then after a while, he found his father holding a piece of paper with a route map on it. It was then that Samir realized that his father had already made plans after his release. He was not sure what to make of it and so kept on driving without asking any questions. They came on to an intersection where his father asked him to take a left and get inside an old factory. And as Samir slowly entered the factory gate, his father asked him to stop. Samir brought the car to a halt and both of them just sat there, neither ready to make the first move.
“I am going to go now.” his father said after a while. Then avoiding Samir’s gaze, he began to unbuckle his seat belt. He began to unlock the door when he looked back at Samir. Then trying to keep his voice devoid of any emotion, he said, “Look. There are a few things you may not understand. Twenty years is a long time. A lot of things happen to people in that time. A lot of things happened to me during that time. People tend to change. I changed.” There seemed to be a hint of regret in his voice, something almost pointing towards his helplessness in the past. “You are a good kid. And you don’t need me or my identity to move on in your life.”
Samir glanced ahead and saw a car approaching them. as his father opened the car door and got out. The car stopped beside his father and a middle aged man stuck his head out of the window and looked suspiciously at Samir. The he said to his father, “I thought you were going to get a taxi.” His father looked at Samir for a while, and Samir felt his father must have had a million thoughts running through his head at that moment. Then without turning back to the other guy, he said, “That’s alright. He is my son.”
Samir tried hard not to let his emotions that began building inside to get the better of him. He put up a composed face and watched his father bend down to the window. He said, “What I did back then to go to prison…. It wasn’t bad. And it happened a long time back.” He then hesitated for a moment, as if gathering up his courage for something. Then he said something that Samir would never forget for the rest of his life, “I am your father. But I cannot be the Dad that you are looking for. I am sorry.”
As he got into the other car, Samir knew he was going to hang on to those last few lines that his father told him. And as he watched his father drive away from him without as much as giving a parting glance, he knew that he would never ever make the effort to find out what his dad had really done to go to prison. But as the car began to disappear from his view, Samir found himself uttering that one word he wished he had said earlier, “Dad…..”
Samir thought about all those times in his childhood when his mother shouted at him for asking when he would see his father again. He remembered how he had spent everything that he had got on his 19th birthday to track down where his father was held just because his mom would never talk about it. Then he thought about all those times when he set out to go see his father but would back out at the last moment out of fear- fear of uncertainty. And last night, he had thought long and hard, fully aware that his last opportunity lay before him the following day. But when he looked into his father’s eyes, driving the car, he felt the same fear that had prevented him from visiting his dad before.
“I wanted to see you free.” Samir replied.
“I just wanted to see you free..thats all!”
“As opposed to..?” his father continued. But Samir didn’t answer back this time.
“As opposed to seeing me in prison? Is that it? Is that why you never came to see me all these years?” His father was still shouting.
“Yes…” stammered Samir.
“And why exactly would you be scared to see me in prison? You were definitely aware of the fact that I have been there since a long time. So why the worry?” his dad asked him. This time, his tone had a more sarcastic and mocking attitude to it.
Samir found it increasingly hard to think of reasonable replies to his father’s queries and focus on the road at the same time. But his thoughts were elsewhere. He knew the fear that kept him from visiting his father was not just based on the uncertainty. There was more to it than just that. He knew exactly what it was that had kept him from visiting his father all these years. But it was also something that he could never bring himself to face head on. He turned and looked at his father’s eyes and their gaze met for a fleeting second, before he looked elsewhere. But that fleeting second was more than enough for his father to see right through him. Samir’s eyes had betrayed the ignorance that was so far masked by his silence, and that fear then revealed itself fully. His father was taken aback for a second, before he understood what lay behind that façade of silence and then he wondered aloud, “You really have no idea why I was sent to prison do you?”
Of course, he didn’t have to wait for Samir’s response. The answer was written all over his face. His father began to laugh softly, muttering to himself, “Unbelievable! All this time, all these years, you never even knew WHY I was in prison! Your mother never told you did she?” He laughed a little more before another realization seemed to hit him. Then he continued, “So that’s what you were scared of? Is that it?” Once again, Samir’s eyes did all the talking.
“So all this while, you were scared of finding out about the crime I committed to get myself into prison. You didn’t have the courage to find it out yourself. I know you could have found out so don’t pretend otherwise. And now you are scared that you will find out.” said his father.
Samir knew the naked truth was out. He couldn’t deny it. But accepting it brought with it the uncertainty regarding his father’s past- what he was, and perhaps what he will always be. However, he wanted to think of it as a necessary measure to put the past behind him. Not knowing what his father had done would inevitably make it that much more easy. But yet, there he was, on the verge of discovering what he dreaded and feared the most.
“It doesn’t matter….” he stuttered in a desperate effort to stop his father.
“I said it doesn’t matter! What you did… it happened a long time ago. It doesn’t matter now.” Samir tried to justify.
His dad eyed him for a second or two, then bluntly, he said, “You really don’t know anything about me do you? I bet you have had this whole innocent-man-wrongly-sent-to-prison idea about me all this time. And now you are just waiting for me to validate that so you can go home and sleep peacefully!” He gave out another small sarcastic laugh.
“But what if I did do something wrong? And did it deliberately? What happens then? What do you think I did? In fact, tell me this. What do you think I COULD have done? Go on. Tell me.”
Samir was now visibly shaking. He had slowed down his car considerably in the past few minutes. He felt his driving was on some form of autopilot while his mind was clouded with his father’s questions. He heard his father’s voice amidst the haze and just found himself saying, “I don’t know.”
“You know people don’t get sentenced to 20 years in prison for any arbitrary crime. You know what crimes get 20 years? You think I am an evil man? Tell me something. You think I could have killed somebody?”
And at that moment, Samir snapped! He steered the car left and stamped the brakes hard, bringing the car to a violent stop. Then he just broke down. He just lay there behind the wheel, his face in his hands, making absolutely no effort to control his crying. His father saw him crying uncontrollably but didn’t as much as finch a muscle.
And at that moment, Samir snapped! He steered the car left and stamped the brakes hard, bringing the car to a violent stop. Then he just broke down. He just lay there behind the wheel, his face in his hands, making absolutely no effort to control his crying. His father saw him crying uncontrollably but didn’t as much as finch a muscle.
Samir’s worst fear had come true. All those things that had kept him from visiting his dad all these years were staring right in his face now, as if trying to say, “I told you so”. The uncertainty that was an inevitable part of meeting his dad today had overcome his hopes for a peaceful reunion. His father gave out a small laugh. He said, “You really have no idea who I am. In fact, what if I tell you that I am not your father? What are you gonna do then?”
Samir had not imagined that possibility in his wildest dreams. He looked up to face the man who he had believed, without an ounce of doubt, to be his father. His eyes, filled with tears, were just begging this man to show some mercy. Samir knew he had crossed the point where his disappointment had turned to regret. He just wanted it to stop. More importantly, he wanted to be left alone, because he knew that it was only in solitude that he would stop feeling the humiliation- at least there wouldn’t be anyone around to see him regret his choice.
“Where are we going?” Samir’s dad asked him.
Samir looked at his watch and said, “Its pretty early in the morning. How about some breakfast?”
His dad looked at him without expression for a few moments and said, “I have had my breakfast.”
There was some awkward silence for a few minutes. Samir had not eaten anything since the previous afternoon. The anticipation of meeting his dad for the first time in 20 years had not left any space for hunger in his thoughts. But now, after picking his dad up, his hunger revealed itself fully and he was looking for the nearest restaurant on the highway.
“I am going to pull over shortly. There is a restaurant coming up.”
“Why did you ask me?” his dad questioned him.
“I said why did you ask me if you were going to stop anyway?”
Samir was surprised at his dad’s response and was not sure what to make of it. He sensed a bit of open hostility on his dad’s part but decided to ignore it. This was, after all, a momentous occasion for both of them.
“I haven’t eaten.” Samir replied.
“So?” his dad asked.
Samir was again taken aback with his dad’s reaction. He still couldn’t understand his dad’s reaction, but this time, he didn’t say anything. The restaurant came into view and Samir pulled into the parking lot. His dad didn’t comment and Samir found himself being grateful for that. He just didn’t want any tension building up between them.
They both got out and headed to the restaurant. Samir decided not to say anything until they had settled around their table. There weren’t many in the restaurant and Samir chose the table by the window. His dad simply followed him and sat down opposite Samir. The early morning wind was creeping in through the window and as Samir adjusted his sweat shirt, the waiter came along and laid out two glasses of water.
“What can I get you Sir?” the waiter asked.
“What is available?” Samir questioned back.
“Idli, Vada, Dosa, Poori, Pulao, Kara Bath, Kesri bath..”
“Do you have Masala Dosa?” Samir asked.
The waiter nodded his head. “Get me one Masala Dosa.” Samir told the waiter and looked at his dad. “Are you sure you are not going to have ….?”
“Get me a plate of Idli-Vada. No Sambhar.” his dad told the waiter.
The waiter nodded again and left. Samir then realized that his dad had lied to him when he claimed that he was done with his breakfast. Though he couldn’t understand why, he decided not to say anything about it, fearing it would create more tension.
It was only then, for the first time, Samir looked at his dad closely. His dad was a bit taller than he was. He also suspected that his dad had put on some weight in prison. It was then that he observed the small scar on his dad’s forehead, lying hidden under the hair. Again, Samir suspected that the hair was deliberately pulled down to hide the scar. He was not sure what to make of his dad’s appearance and very soon, he would realize that it hardly mattered. He looked at his dad and forced himself into a weak and hesitant smile, hoping to ease any tension between them. But his dad hardly seemed to acknowledge his presence there, let alone note his smile. Samir began to feel uncomfortable and decided to initiate conversation.
“So….how have you been?” he asked carefully.
“Umm.. I just asked how you have been?”
“Err.. I was just checking if you were alright.”
“Are you saying there is something wrong with me now?” his dad asked.
“No, no! I was just checking in general about you.” Samir tried to clarify.
“And why would that be?” his dad remarked.
Samir sensed a tinge of sarcasm in the tone and began to grow more and more uneasy with the whole situation. He had known the uncertainty associated with his act of picking up his father, but he had not expected his dad’s responses to be so cold. The more Samir thought about it, the more he convinced himself that this was only natural for someone meeting his son after 20 years. And, so he continued in his effort to converse with his dad.
“Well I was just checking on how you were that’s all. Just like how anybody asks about anybody else.”
His dad began to say something when the waiter appeared at with the food. His dad took a sip of water as the waiter laid out the food on the table. He waited for him to leave and then just dug into the food. Samir was not sure how he was supposed to interpret seeing his dad devour the breakfast in front of him. He began to wonder why he had lied earlier about having finished his breakfast as it was clearly not the case. And so as he watched his dad finish his plate and call the waiter for another helping of the same, Samir began to feel sorry for his dad. He wondered how bad the prison food was, how it was to eat that same food for 20 years and how it might have taken a toll on his health and taste. He thought about what all his dad had to endure, and become part of, in those 20 years and felt a shudder bring him back to the present and to his dad who was on the verge of finishing his second helping.
“What you looking at?” his dad asked.
“Er.. nothing. I was just eating.”
His dad turned his attention back to finishing his plate and then made a gesture for the waiter.
“Get me one cup of strong coffee.”
“Yes Sir. And for you Sir?” asked the waiter looking at Samir.
“Get me one as well.” Samir replied.
The waiter nodded and set off to the kitchen. Samir suddenly realized that he had still not eaten much and his hunger notwithstanding, he began to finish his plate quickly. The waiter arrived presently and laid out two steaming cups of coffee on the table. Then looking at his dad, he asked, “Shall I get the bill Sir?” Samir’s dad didn’t bother to even look up at the waiter. He was already sipping his cup of coffee. Samir then intervened, “Yes please.” And the waiter left.
“I’ll pay for it.” Samir said after a few moments.
His dad looked up with a frown on his face and said, “You thought I was going to pay for this?”
“You bring me here and you expect ME to pay for it?
“No I did not expect you to pay for it. Don’t misinterpret what I say!” cried Samir.
Samir immediately stopped, watching the hotel cashier who turned to have a look. He paid the bill at the table and said, “Lets go.”
His dad didn’t make any comment and simply followed him back to the car. Once they were back on the highway, Samir decided to try once more at initiating a normal conversation. Though his father had been, at best, laconic, Samir observed that he had never really raised his voice. It seemed like every response, though impulsive, was a calculated reply meant to put him in a discomfiting position. He looked at his dad who seemed totally oblivious to his son’s presence.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“I said are you alright?”
“You already asked me that.” his dad replied curtly.
“…that was then. You were kind of upset back in the hotel. You seem to have something on your mind.”
His dad looked at Samir and said, “That’s none of your business.”
“So there IS something that is bothering you.” Samir replied back, suddenly feeling more in control.
“Like I said, its none of your business.”
Samir sensed that he was getting somewhere with this and decided to pursue further.
“Well you can tell me. There is a long drive ahead of us.”
His dad stared at him for a few moments, and in a cold and sarcastic tone, he said, “Seriously, what does it bother you whats on my mind?”
Samir did not want to get on his father’s nerves at the risk of building up more tension and so decided to ease off a bit.
“Well if you don’t want to talk about it that’s fine. I understand.” Samir quipped in.
“Oh now you understand? You think I will be doing a favor to myself by telling you about my problems? You feel that I have some kind of obligation to tell all my problems to you- somebody who shows up after 20 years to pick me up from prison? I got problems alright. And you wanna know whats the biggest problem I have right now? Its you! You are my biggest problem right now!”
Samir’s hands began to shake and he felt a sweat breaking on his forehead. He felt more vulnerable than ever and had to make an effort to stay focused on the road. He knew that he had pushed it a bit too far and that there was nothing he could do to set this right. His dad was now looking at him in an accusing manner and Samir was left searching for things to say to him.
“You want to know why?” his dad continued. “You want to know why you are my biggest problem right now? Why don’t you start by telling me what the hell you think you are doing here in the first place? You think you can just show up to pick me up after 20 years-just like that? Where were you all these days? Years? Tell me! What were you doing all these years when you could have come to see me? Answer me goddamnit!”
TO BE CONTINUED….
“Ok… so this is how it feels like to meet Dad…”
Samir had not particularly waited for this day his whole life. In fact, even the previous night, he had had his doubts and was not sure if he should be going to pick his dad up. But then 20 years was a long time and he knew it. So there he was, outside the prison, waiting for his dad to be released. It was still quite cold, under the early morning sun and he took out a cigarette and lit it. And as he inhaled the smoke deeply, he thought about what he was doing there.
Samir was a 2 year old kid when his dad was arrested-at least that was what his mother had told him. For 20 years then, his father was locked up behind bars. And that was pretty much all he knew about his dad. Whenever Samir asked his mother about his father, she would just refuse to talk about him. And if he persisted, she would just beat or shout at him. That was when he was a kid. Standing there beside his car, he realized that his mother’s beatings had actually worked as he could not remember enquiring about his father again-ever. There was no communication, no letters, no phone calls, no birthday cards or visits. His mother had them relocated so she didn’t have to face the ignominy surrounding her husband’s arrest. It was almost like his existence was simply forgotten in the house. But Samir remembered the date-today’s date- that his mother had impulsively and accidentally revealed in a fit of rage and anger when he, as a 13 year old boy, had asked her when it was he would see his dad. He had checked with the police station a few weeks back which confirmed his 9 year old memory.
The prison building was a non-descript concrete structure with a long and high compound wall that ran for a few hundreds of meters. His car was parked just outside the main entrance-the only entrance- which was guarded by 3 sleepy policemen. And when the policemen saw him standing there for a few minutes, they began to give him the eye. Samir ignored their stares and continued to smoke. He soon realized that he had a very basic problem at hand. His father did not expect anyone to pick him up, let alone his 22 year old son whom he hadn’t seen or heard from in about 2 decades. Samir was actually concerned how his father would react to seeing him. He could simply decide not to talk to Samir and there would be nothing that he could do about it. It was a risk he was well aware of, and one which he was ready to take. He looked at the photo of his father that he was able to get from the prison office. It was just a recently taken mugshot. And that was all he had. He looked at his watch and silently muttered, “It’s already past 7:30. Where is he?”
And as if in response to that, Samir heard a noise from the inside of the building- the opening of a metal door. The bolt creaked open loudly and the door slid sideways. Samir fidgeted and stubbed his cigarette out. One person, came out through that door and the door immediately slammed shut. He strained his eyes to see who it was who came out and his eyes rested on the tall, broad figure that stood outside the prison gate, looking straight into the sun. Could it be? Samir quickly took a look at the photo he had and looked in the direction of the person. He was now slowly making his way towards Samir. And as he grew nearer and the face became clearer, Samir realized he no longer needed the photo and threw it into the drain. He was staring at his father for the first time in more than 20 years. And as he came nearer, Samir realized his father didn’t seem to pay much attention to his presence and looked more like he had some plans of his own.
“Hi…” Samir said.
His father stopped right in front of him and looked at him quizzically. Samir didn’t respond to his looks and just stood there. He wanted to see if his father could make the recognition and was secretly wishing he would do so.
His father looked at him, and simply said, “Who are you?”
The faint smile that was taking shape on Samir’s face instantly vanished. That was one question Samir had desperately hoped to avoid answering. He just couldn’t get himself to say who he was. So he just stared back blankly, avoiding his father’s gaze, waiting for him to say something else.
“What do you want?” his father questioned him further.
“I am here to pick you up.” Samir replied.
“What? Pick me up? Who ARE you?”
Samir began to sense the beginning of an irritation in his father’s tone and immediately began to wonder if he had made the right decision in coming there. He still did not know what to say.
“I asked you who you…..”
“I am Samir,” he impulsively blurted it out and then looked away.
His father went silent, his mouth hanging open in mid sentence. Disbelief enveloped his face, followed by a few seconds of confusion, eventually yielding to the reality of the situation. He shook his head and looked around. There was no one else apart from the 3 policemen. Samir feared his father was losing his composure. But before he could say anything, his father opened his mouth to speak.
“Is that your car?” he asked, pointing at the Honda behind Samir.
“Then let’s get in the car.”
Samir immediately agreed to the suggestion and went around and unlocked the doors. His father helped himself into the passenger seat while Samir turned the ignition on and started the car. He pulled out of the small parking space and headed for the highway. And so, after 20 years, Samir was sitting beside his father, driving on the highway, to nowhere in particular. This was going to be the longest drive of his life.
TO BE CONTINUED…. (SERIOUSLY).
“Ok….So this is how it feels to lose my virginity…”
Samir was again thinking out loud. He had just woken up from a deep sleep. It was still dark outside with only the dim light of the streetlamp outlining the contours of his room. He stared at the ceiling fan and realized that it was very hot and humid – quite unusual for the Bangalore weather. Then something started to slowly bother him. Something wasn’t quite right. He looked around his room. Even in the darkness, he could make out nothing seemed to be out of place or missing. He strained his eyes to discern the time on his watch. It was 5 in the morning. Still it was not the fact that he had woken up at that odd time that bothered him. There was something else. Then he looked beside himself on his bed. Only then did it all come rushing back to him! There was someone else!
He could see the outline of her body through the dim light streaming in from the window. She lay on her side and he could only see her back.
She was still naked. He smiled.
Samir got up but remained sitting on the bed. He then searched for his pack of cigarettes next to the bed and found them. He lit one and inhaled deeply. He could feel the smoke fill his lungs, and as he slowly exhaled, he began to think about the naked girl on his bed. He looked at her again. She was still in deep sleep. Then he smiled again.
It had all started at the party at his friend’s place the previous night. Samir was never of the idea that Arun even liked to party, let alone hold one at his own home. And he was more surprised when he saw the crowd Arun had managed to gather at his house. But not being much of a party animal himself, Samir just sat down with his former classmates and helped himself to a generous dose of vodka. But as the night wore on, Samir found himself conversing with one of Arun’s friends after he found her genuinely interested in his prized coin collection. It seemed she was into minting too. He offered to show her his entire collection but then she would have to come over to his home. Samir found her a little apprehensive but then she agreed after she learnt that his house was only a couple of minutes away.
Still smoking the same cigarette, Samir now wondered how things had turned out at his home. He was already in a mild inebriated state when he left the party. And he could recollect that even she had had something to drink. But after that things got a little hazy and he could only remember making out on his bed. He now wondered if his invitation had different intentions at Arun’s home. But as far as he could retrospect, he hadn’t considered the possibility of losing his virginity over a coin collection. At the same time, considering the fact that he wasn’t completely in his senses (and he smiled at this thought), he was ready to give it the benefit of doubt. He stubbed out the cigarette and lit one more.
She turned over in her sleep and was now lying facing him. For the first time, he took a good look at her. He observed her face and her body figure. She was looking very beautiful in the dark. Perhaps all girls do. But there was something about her that gave him an air of satisfaction. She was definitely pretty. She had a good figure – her Cup size must have been 34C at least. (He could never imagine losing his virginity to a girl without at least a 32C.) He also really liked the fact that she was into coin collecting as well. And at 22, he couldn’t help but look at what had happened as an achievement. It was then that he realized that she was everything that he had hoped for on such an occasion. Well, almost everything. For one, Samir still didn’t know her name. And second, his girlfriend was blissfully sleeping at her home not too far away from his place!
He exhaled deeply. For some reason, the smoke seemed to be suspended around him. He coughed and regretted doing that almost immediately as it seemed to wake her up. Samir decided that he might as well wake her up and switched on the bed lamp. She instinctively put her hand up to block it.
“What time is it?” she asked in a sleepy voice.
“Its 530 in the morning”, Samir replied in his deep gruff voice.
And just that seemed to suddenly bring her back to reality as she literally jumped up from her sleep, covering herself with the rug.
“Oh my God! Where am I?”
“You are at my house.”
That reply seemed to calm her down as she looked around the room and then at Samir. Then she asked him, “Who are you??!??”
Well there was a question worth answering! Suddenly Samir found he had a problem of choice. He had to choose among “I am the guy who lost his virginity to you”, “I am the coin collecting guy whom you decided to sleep with”, “I am the guy who you find staring at your naked body when you wake up” but then he said, “We met last night at Arun’s party.” It was then that she remembered where she was and more importantly why she was where she was. Then she looked at Samir and asked, “Did we….?”
It was almost funny, she asking it. It was as if she expected things to change just by checking about them. Samir couldn’t suppress another smile. “Yes we did.”
“Oh God! What have I done?”
At that time, Samir didn’t know what to expect of her reaction. But he had a feeling this wasn’t going in the right direction either.
“I can’t believe I am not a virgin anymore!!” she screamed!
Samir choked on his cigarette and coughed violently for some time.
“I’ve just lost my virginity!”
Now Samir was not sure how to react himself. All this time, he had looked at the whole incident as a defining moment only in his life. The thought of it meaning something to her as well had not even crossed his mind. In fact, his only thoughts about her revolved around his own expectations and his evaluation of her appropriateness at being the girl to whom he lost his virginity. So when he learnt that the experience meant something to her too, perhaps a lot more than what it meant to him, he suddenly realized his mistake and felt obligated to say something appropriate. But then what was one expected to say to a naked girl who has just realized that you took away her virginity?
“What’s your name?” Samir asked.
“What?” she said and then realized that even she wasn’t aware who she had slept with.
He waved his palm in front of her eyes. “What’s your name?”
Well at least now he knew her name. He now took in another deep puff.
“So Radhika…”, he exhaled the smoke, “I am Samir!”
She just looked at him in bewilderment, not knowing if she was supposed to respond with a “Hi!” or “Nice meeting you..” or “How do you do?”. And at the same time, Samir realized that if there was something sensible that was going to be said in the next few moments, it would inevitably have to come from his own mouth. And so he began to think of the most inconspicuous manner in which he could introduce the situation at hand to her.
“Please don’t tell this to anyone!” Radhika cried.
Samir had to break his train of thought to accommodate her latest emotional reaction. He thought about it for some time, and the more he thought about it, he realized that he was wrong. Without her own knowledge, she had spoken something sensible. He realized he could never let anyone know about this incident, let alone Ritu, his girlfriend. Well, last he checked, she was still his girlfriend.
“Yes. Let’s keep it that way.”
There was an awkward silence for a few minutes. Neither of them knowing what to say or do. Samir had lit another cigarette and was still enjoying the moment, allowing it to sink in. Radhika on the other hand was still trying to come to terms with the reality that she was no more a virgin. When Samir looked at her, he felt there was something else that was bothering her as well. Daylight was creeping into the sky, some of it even making their way into the room.
Samir knew that he was never going to apologize for what had happened. In spite of his inebriated state, he knew for sure that he had at no point of time, forced her in anyway. Maybe both of them were drunk, but he was certain that there was mutual consent. So he sincerely hoped that Radhika wouldn’t hold him responsible for anything. It wouldn’t be fair. But at that moment, what bothered him more was about not being aware of what she expected of him henceforth. Was she expecting him to start a relationship with her? Or was she comfortable with the idea of a One-Night-Stand? He knew where his own priorities lay and as long as she didn’t find the sudden urge to talk about her first experience, he knew he was safe. But first, he wanted to hear her side of the story. And before he could embark on that, Radhika began her own queries.
“So what now?” she asked.
It was not as much as the question as it was in the way she asked it that gave Samir the impression that she was regaining her composure. He thought for some time before he answered.
“First of all, I suggest we both get dressed. Then we can talk.”
Radhika nodded in approval and they both got up from the bed. Samir stood up and put on his clothes while Radhika got up with the rug around her and tried to get dressed without letting the rug go. Samir saw her struggling, shook his head and let out a small laugh.
“What??” Radhika asked.
“You know there is no point struggling like that.” Samir replied, still unable to suppress his smile. “I’ve already seen you naked!” And as soon as he said that, Samir noticed her trying to hide a smile. At that moment, he remembered reading somewhere on how women tend to trust the man after having sex with him. And as if in quick response to his thought, Radhika took off the rug and put it on the bed. Samir just stood there, staring at her naked body, fully aware that this may very well be the last time he will be seeing it.
“What you looking at?” she asked.
“You want me to describe it for you?”
This time, Radhika made no attempt to hide her smile as she started to get dressed. Samir thought he saw her blush and was happy that the tension was easing between them.
“Well now its going to be hard to describe though”, he said, pointing at her lingerie.
They both quickly got dressed and Samir served some coffee he had made while she freshened up. The previous night’s party outfit that she wore now looked largely out of place.
“We were drunk,” Samir said.
“Last night, at Arun’s place. We both were drunk when we left his house. I hope you remember that.”
“Yes I do. And I also remember you telling me something about your coin collection.”
“Oh yes. And you did come to my home to see that.”
“But somehow I don’t remember seeing any coin collections,” Radhika said with a smile.
Samir relaxed after seeing Radhika talk more confidently now. He would have loved to continue the conversation with her the way she wanted to but he hated beating around the issue at hand. So he decided to get right to the point.
“So what now?” he asked.
He saw Radhika was playing with the coffee mug, dreaming about something.
“Are you alright?”
“I think I need to tell you a few things,” Radhika started. “Firstly, I am 25 years old and from what I make out, I am older than you. But what I need to really tell you is that I am engaged to a guy whom I will be marrying in a few weeks time. Arun is my colleague at work and I came to his party at his invitation. This was going to be my last party before my marriage and hence the last party where I still had more freedom and lesser accountability for my actions. But let me get this straight. I did not come to the party looking to lose my virginity. Today really was my first time and let me tell you this frankly: I enjoyed it. I do realize both of us were drunk and so I hold myself equally responsible for what happened.”
Samir heaved a sigh of relief.
“But at the same time,” Radhika continued, “I cannot say that I do not have any regrets about this. If I were to choose now, I would definitely wish that this night hadn’t happened. But it has and nothing I do or say is going to change that.”
“So then what do you suggest we do?” Samir interrupted.
“My immediate concern is confidentiality. I just cannot afford this matter to be revealed to anybody at any point of time. I hope you understand that.”
“You can take my word on that as I have some issues myself that will get complicated if this thing gets out. So you don’t have to worry that from my end,” he replied.
Radhika was visibly relieved to hear that and continued, “There is one other thing.”
“What is it?”
“I do not wish to see you or hear from you ever again. My marriage is the most wonderful occasion of my life and I cannot afford to let one night of bad judgment ruin my entire life. I do not want to complicate matters between us when none exists in the first place.”
Samir just stared at her, unable to fathom the manner in which she happened to look at the events of the previous night. He only wished there were many more girls like her living in India.
“Don’t worry. Once you step out of the door, you will never hear from me ever again.”
“So we understand each other then…?”
“Yes we do.”
“Ok then,” Radhika got ready to leave, “I will leave.” Then she hesitantly added, “Nice meeting you.”
“Same here,” Samir replied.
Radhika walked towards the door and put on her shoes.
“Bye,” she said.
Transfixed, Samir just watched as she opened the door and stepped out.
“Wait!” he shouted. Radhika stopped and turned. Samir hesitated for a brief moment. “If its any consolation to you,” he said slowly, “I want you to know that it was my first experience too and I really enjoyed it as well.”
He kissed her on her cheek and watched her go down the road under the early morning sun with a smile on her face. He stood there for some time and realized that he was getting late for a meeting and went inside.
“Ok..so this is how it feels like to lose my virginity!”
Samir just jumped out of his bed after hearing those words! It wasn’t he who said them. He looked beside himself and saw Ritu staring at him! Confused, he looked around in the dark and saw that he was in Ritu’s room. Still not able to make sense of the situation, he looked at her questioningly. Ritu smiled and said, “We got drunk…and then we…..” It was then that the drunken ordeals of the previous night came back to him. And then he realized what had happened. He had slept with two different girls on two consecutive nights after getting drunk! He cleared his head and looked at Ritu. She was still smiling with an air of satisfaction. “I have been wanting to do this since such a long time,” she declared. “And I am so happy that I lost my virginity to you!”
Samir thought about Radhika, and all that had taken place with her. He looked at Ritu and said, “And I am equally happy that I lost mine to you dear..”
And then he smiled.