Monday, August 3, 2009

THE LONG WEEKEND- a short story ( Part I)

Sachin parked his car at looked at his watch. 11.30 PM. He was bushed. His neck muscles were tense. His head throbbed. He made his way to the lift lobby and waited for it to arrive. As the lift begun its ascent towards his 11th floor apartment he closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. What had happened to him? Seven years back he was at the top of his class in IIT Kanpur and was considered the guy most likely to succeed. And just seven years later he was climbing the mountain of corporate success fairly rapidly. Then why was he so disillusioned? He tried to analyze his feelings. He had always been an outdoor person. He had grown up in various military cantonments of India where space was never an issue. Even in the hallowed academic environment of IIT Kanpur he had excelled in games and had rarely missed Gym. He could take the mental stress of his job. It was just that the long hours he had to put in prevented him from taking physical exercise. The few laps in the condo’s pool on Sundays were not enough for him. His wife of five years, Anjali was working in a software firm and had to put in long hours in the office as well. As a result they were left with very little family time and recently their relations had been slightly strained. Nothing serious, he reasoned, we just need to unwind a bit. 
He reached his apartment and found Anjali waiting up for him. She too looked tired. He remembered the early days of his marriage. There had been a lot of love and passion, a sense of wonder and fulfillment. The love was still there. The sense of wonder had given way to an easy comfort, of camaraderie and trust. It was just for the past few months the passion had waned a bit and occasional flashes of irritation had raised its head. It’s all due to the stress of work, he told himself again. ‘How was your day?’ asked Anjali. ‘Tiring’ he replied. ‘You do appreciate the fact that both of us have turned into automatons. We are robots at the beck and call of the monstrous entities known as our respective employers!’ intoned Anjali. She had once harbored a secret ambition of becoming an author and was fond of using long words. He smiled, amused by the turn of speech. He still found her trait of using long words endearing. He had a sudden brainwave. ‘Tell you what. Tomorrow is a holiday. That is Friday. With Saturday and Sunday we have three days off. Let’s push off.’ ‘But I have so many chores at home. I have been accumulating the washing. Our bags are not packed. And all the resorts will be full. Where will we go? And how?’ As usual she had many objections. ‘Don’t worry. Just put the clothes in the washing machine after dinner. Pack our toothbrushes and a couple of jeans. We’ll start off at five in the morning and drive to Kasauli on my Bullet. I’ll find some place to stay.’ He was impulsive as always. ‘But your bike has been lying in disuse for months.’ She protested. ‘It’s fine. I know my bike. It will not fail us. After all it’s my first love and you are my second love. Remember our honeymoon!’ She wavered, remembering those magical days when they had driven off on the Kalka- Shimla highway on that bike immediately after their marriage without any plans or a care in the world. ‘Let’s take the car.’ ‘Please, please, let’s take the bike. We both need a lot of fresh air. Now be a good girl and do the needful. We got to get up early tomorrow.’ 
Next morning they were on the road with only a backpack for company. As they left the Ring Road and drove into the Grand Trunk Road, he felt liberated. It had been too long since they had done this. ‘We should do it more often’, murmured Anjali, echoing his thoughts. By eight, they were having their breakfast at Kalka. He hit the hills immediately after Kalka. He rode skillfully, enjoying the raw surge of power of the bike and the touch of Anjali’s body as she clung to him while he tackled the serpentine roads. By ten they were at Kasauli. They looked at delight at the towering mountains and the majestic pine trees. The hillside was full of colorful dahlias which had escaped from the gardens and were growing wild covering entire swathes of the hill. 
Now came the difficult part of travelling without previous bookings. All hotels and resorts were full and no room was available for love or money. Anjali was irritated. She refrained from making a comment but looked at him with I told you so ex-pression on her entire countenance. ‘Don’t worry, dear wife, I will find something!’ said Sachin as he drove off towards the TV transmission tower, some half remembered story of guest houses for rent in that area in his mind. A couple of enquiries later, they were guided to a small Bungalow near the cemetery. It was a beautiful affair with freshly painted tiled roofs, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a small garden. There was an outhouse with an ancient caretaker who was happy enough to give them the keys for two days. ‘It’s beautiful’, exclaimed Anjali as they settled down in the master bedroom. 
They were back on the road after freshening up and they drove to Giani da Dhaba in Dharampur for lunch. The entire afternoon was spent in lazing around in one of the numerous meadows surrounding the town. ‘I’ll cook dinner for you’, he volunteered on his way back. He messed around in the kitchen, banishing her from it as he cooked after years. At eight, he set up the dinner on the dining table, complete with a couple of candles, a rose from the garden and a chilled bottle of Himachali fruit wine. The food was not perfect but everything else was and they enjoyed the meal immensely. 
They went for a walk in the moonlight after the meal and strolled hand in hand towards the cemetery, slightly tipsy from the wine. The marble tombstone shone luminously in the moonlight creating a hypnotic effect. ‘Its divine’, murmured Anjali, as she snuggled up to him to ward off the chill, ‘I could spend the rest of my life here.’ ‘You will be bored out of your mind after a week of this.’ He replied as they made their way back to the bungalow.

To be concluded............


  1. Too good .. reminds me of my blissful riding days with a sort of loved one .. aah those were the days :)