The sky was metallic grey and gust of cold wind was blowing. The city was glittering in the neon lights and roads were crowded. I was rushing through the weekend crowd to reach her apartment on 48th street, having walked from the Grand Central station, I walked past the Rockfeller Centre and climbed the lift.
The phone in the hotel rang on the previous day and I immediately recognized the voice at the other end.
‘Hey Alok, I just came to know that you arrived here yesterday for the training, come over to our place tomorrow for dinner, she sounded excited. Barkha was the Regional Manager of our company based in New York! I had arrived in New York two days earlier for a month long training, and was staying in Long Island .
‘Sure Barkha, it will be a pleasure to meet you, as I jotted down her address’, feeling happy inwards that here I am in a new place and what a stroke of good luck to be invited for dinner on the very first weekend itself!
I pressed the bell and the door opened! I was swept off my feet as I looked at her! Sparkling eyes, diamond trinkets, curled tresses, a soft shade of pink gloss and a striking yellow saree! She did not appear a day older than 30 years though she was mother of two young girls aged 14 and 10! It seems that the time had stood still since I had first met her in our office canteen many years back. She was very popular and I had a crush for her! Then one day she came and announced that she was getting engaged and I shook her hands and congratulated her as my dreams collapsed like a house of cards. She welcomed me, as if was a member of her family. How time flew while chatting, eating and drinking, I did not realize. Her husband worked as a doctor in Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in the New York City, and was a equally warm person.
While talking, she casually inquired, why I had not married? ‘
I joked,’ I could not find someone like you’.
‘Ha ha , I don’t have a younger sister, or else would have suggested to you’, she sportingly replied.
I thanked her and her husband who bid me good bye as I got up to catch the late evening train from Grand Central Penn station back to the Long Island. During my month long stay, I met them one more time.
Time elapsed and I got married to Tanvi who had almost similar features as Barka, a role model in my mind! Barkha too came to India and was posted in the same office as mine as a Senior Director now ! She had a knack to make the team work like a clock-work mechanism, rarely loosing her cool. She would write letters to the wives of some of her co workers every year around the New Year time, conveying her thanks for support they indirectly gave in achieving the targets of the company. A very rare gesture in today’s world! She treated the entire group as her extended family.
One day she came to the office and called for an urgent meeting with everyone. We assembled, about thirty odd employees, in a small conference room. ‘ I wanted to share a news with you all before you hear from others’. ‘ In two months time I am moving to our London office, my daughters are already there with my husband’ she continued. The meeting lasted for just fifteen minutes!
After two months she had moved to London on a promotion. Time went by! It was almost an year now, since she had gone. One day about ten of us got a mail from her, to join her with her family on the Silver Jubilee of their Wedding Anniversary in Dubai. We just had to pay for our tickets and rest of it was being taken care by her. When I broke the news to my wife, she was equally excited and the promise to see a new place was difficult to resist! Within a week at least five of us replied to her in affirmative for a function about three months away!
The wait was over and we arrived in Dubai to be carted away to the Sheraton at Deira! Barka and her husband gave us a warm reception after introducing us to her family . We felt refreshed after a long flight having remained awake for most of the night. The next three days of festivities, including a Desert Safari, a visit to the Gold Souk , Spice Market , and a visit to the tallest tower Burj Dubai became permanently etched in our memories! I do not recollect having so much fun ever and Tanvi too had never experienced such a royal reception earlier! What made it even more memorable was that Barkha was more than a family where some relations become special and get stronger even if not related by blood! All of us had traveled all the way from India just to meet her on this special occasion even though we do not attend many a functions of our own relatives even when we stay in the same country!
PS: 1. Image Kind courtesy Google
2.Story submitted for ‘Go further to Get Closer Contest’ by British Airways and Indiblogger.(http://bit.ly/1epU8Uj)