by Chaithali Sharma
She stared into the menu not really reading. The waiter brought her the third glass of wine and removed the empty glass from the table. She gestured that she needed more time to place her order. She was not interested in food. It was early evening on a Thursday, not exactly their busiest time; she decided there was no harm in making him wait slightly longer…
She sipped her wine and felt the chill all the way into her stomach. When the office travel desk had called to say that her flight had been cancelled and they were unable to accommodate her till next afternoon, she reacted in pretend anger. The truth was that she was relieved. She hadn’t taken a day off in 6 months and 24 hours in a hotel with nothing to do in a hotel seemed like a vacation.
So now here she was, soaking the sun and getting drunk at a pool side bar on a weekday afternoon. “Hmmm,” she sighed and sunk into her chair. She had just closed her eyes for a moment when she heard her name, “Priyamvada, Is that you?”
Annoyed at having to be civil, she turned to see who it was.
“No!” her head reeled, “NOT HIM!”
She kicked her head out of her tipsy stupor. “Smile,” she told herself. “Act normal”; “Be casual yet charming” – her brain was giving her a million instructions which she was not following; she had frozen in her place.
One half of her brain was throwing images of their time spent together. The memory of how nonchalantly he had told her he was leaving still hurt. She had met him at a bad time in her life. She had opened up to him. He knew that she was falling for him and yet, he hadn’t thought it was important to let her down gently.
“You look good,” he said. She knew he was telling the truth. She looked great. Her dress was flattering her newly gained weight at the right places. “Thank you,” she answered, finally smiling. “Care to join me?” she asked. “I am stuck in this hotel for a day, it would be nice to have company,” she said, sitting back in her chair. As an afterthought she flicked her head up: “You aren’t here with someone else, are you?”
“No, no… I would love to join you,” he said, offering no more explanation as to how he ended up being in the country or city at the time. He hasn’t changed, she thought, never giving enough information, never letting her in on any emotion.
He wore a crisp white shirt with blue jeans and sported a day-old stubble, which meant he wasn’t working since yesterday. He would never go to work with a stubble. She realized she hadn’t really thought of him much in the recent past, but -within seconds it all came back to her. The things they did together, the movies, the dinners, the steamy nights and how it all ended very, very quickly.
They talked about irrelevant things. A few drinks later, as the sun set, the crowd started filling in the bar. The crowd and the noise were beginning to get annoying. She stood up abruptly and said, “I am done here, I am in 1302 if you wish to catch up later.” She walked away, feeling his gaze on her back.
She filled the bathtub and changed into the oversized hotel robe. As if on cue, she heard the knock. She looked through the peephole to confirm her suspicion and then went back to the bathroom. She decided to let him wait a minute. She looked at her reflection, tied her hair in a messy bun on the top of her head and pushed her robe to reveal a bare shoulder.
Pretending to have been disturbed, she opened the door and found him standing there with a smile. He looked as handsome as ever. Her heart sank.
“Oh! It’s you,” she gasped. “I was just about to jump into the tub.” “I could help,” he said, walking in and closing the door behind him. He grabbed her slender waist and pulled her close to him. She felt his warm breath on her face as his lips found hers. In a sudden sense of urgency they backed into the bed. He untied her robe and slid his hands on her naked waist. She arched into his body and unbuttoned his crumpled shirt, kissing his tattooed chest. He maneuvered through her body with an all familiar arrogance. His lips mapped her body slowly, breaking the last ounce of resistance that she was pretending to put up. They moved in unison, and it all came back easily as if they had just met a few days ago. As the walls of unbroken words and time faded into oblivion they melted into each other’s bodies with urgency that needed to be satiated. And once satiated, they slipped into a content slumber.
She was woken up by his soft breathing on her shoulder. The hotel clock blinked to tell her that she had a few hours before she was due at the airport. She quietly slipped off the bed to soak in the bath that she had left incomplete before he came in – it hadn’t gotten too cold.
Uneventfully, she packed her bags and sat at the foot of the bed. As she looked at him still sleeping soundly, the emotions came rushing back. She had waited to confront him with so many questions. He was right there, in front of her. She could demand the answers that she deserved.
Finally she got up and picked up her bag and walked out of the room. As she signed her bill at the reception, she left instructions on when to wake her sleeping guest up to a twenty-something young man who was struggling to suppress what could only be a mixture of shock and a smart-alec giggle.
Three hours later as her flight started to wheel off the runway, she stared into space playing out the scene that may have taken place when he was woken up and asked to leave the room by judgmental hotel staff. His ego wouldn’t have taken kindly to that.
She found herself smiling; this was one chapter in her life that was surely closed now.
Pic from https://www.flickr.com/photos/clas/