A Midsummer's Love Tale
The next day without Alina was totally unbearable for me and I was feeling completely lost.
The whole night had been spent tossing and turning piecing together the events just taken place. It was as if she had me possessed. It was simply Alina and I, dancing on the floor, holding each other tight. Nothing else mattered.
So if this was love, surely I didn't want it to end, it was too delightful and delectable an emotion.
In my anxiety to meet her, I had gotten ready in a jiffy, and by 10 o’clock morning, I was at the gates of the Club, which usually started filling up around 10.30 a.m. Some die hard visitors started to line up at 10 o’clock as I had done; although my reasons for doing so were completely at variance from the rest of the crowd, or so I hoped.
People came to this Club for cards,clubbing, drinking, meeting old friends, socializing and some came for sailing on colorful yachts among other things.
My reason was personal - I had come only to meet HER….
It was still too early so there was no option but to wait for her to make an appearance. Only she could provide the 'healing touch'........
She didn't however come down to the Boat Club, and my eyes kept darting to and fro to the entrance of the club, searching out Alina in every entrant who came from outside, as if beseeching them, 'where was SHE……!'
Sitting up in the Club lobby gave me an aerial view of fresh arrivals. I realized it was almost lunchtime, and I had scanned practically every visitor coming in. I could now no longer bear it and walked up to the receptionist who was sitting at the entrance counter.
‘Excuse me Miss, could you cross check if there is an entry for Miss Alina Patwardhan?’ I asked the girl, trying very hard not to sound desperate as she checked the register.
‘Is she a member of the Club Sir?’ she asked me.
‘Well wouldn't be aware of that,met her last night. I mean got to talk to her just last night’ I blurted out sheepishly.
The receptionist gave me a hard look as if sizing up my intentions, while recognizing my nervousness, and went about checking the register.
‘Alina… Alina … hmmm. Sorry Sir, but there’s no entry by this name. No wait…wait, there is one Alina…..Alina Kapoor.’ She smiled giving me a triumphant ‘gotcha kind of looks.’
I brightened up at the mention of her name but then my face fell again, ‘Heck no she’s Alina Patwardhan, not Alina Kapoor.’
While we were engaged in this debate Mehak, her cousin with whom Alina was staying in Naini walked in; but SHE…..my love, was not with her.
Mehak had come alone....
My heart sank, and I had this uncontrollable urge to run across to her cousin, grab her by the shoulders and ask her, ‘Why have you come alone? Where is Alina’?
However, I controlled my inane desire to question Mehak and waited for her to settle down.
I finally got my chance after about 15 minutes of waiting. In fact it was Mehak who walked across to where I was sitting in a corner, looking glum, downcast and depressed.
“So searching for someone, are you,” She asked, giving me a provocative and mischievous smile.
‘Your lady love perhaps, right?’ her smile was now broader.
“Alina’s not well today and is at the house resting. Won’t be coming down today, asked me to convey you this message”
She had innocence written all over her face and there was no mocking in her voice, but my ‘heart’ sank completely.
The moment froze for me, I became numb, and slumped down in a chair.
It was as if my world had come crashing down, and there was nothing left for me to look forward to. I was left feeling dizzy and sick. I quickly held on to a table for support, as my legs were suddenly weak and wobbly. So what to do now?
‘Not well? What is wrong with her? She was fine till last night? I gave her a weak and questioning look.
‘When she went from here she was fine wasn't she? You also accompanied her.'
‘So many questions all put together at one time?’ She smiled at me.
‘Are you trying to tell me Vikas, if someone is well today, they can’t fall ill the next day?’ she asked me jokingly.
‘No, no! that’s not what I mean,' the desperation was apparent in my voice.
‘I mean what is wrong with her,hope she’s fine and there's nothing serious?’ I was trying to pacify myself. More than anything else I also wanted to know how Alina actually was.
‘She's fine, just a wee bit feverish with all that excitement taking place last night.’ She looked me in the eye and winked; or so it seemed; perhaps it was just my imagination playing tricks. I decided to let that pass.
I slunk off to a corner and sat down with a soft drink in my hand. My thoughts again went back to the time I had spent with Alina yesterday. The moments of dance fun and frolic. The close contact we had with each other was still fresh in my mind.
The way she had clung to me while dancing, with her head resting on my chest, both her eyes closed was intriguing to say the least. There was something magical about those moments of tenderness which I can’t describe, but could only be felt by my thumping heart. The pain of not being able to meet her, be with her,not being able to dance with her or to see her again…was causing a lot of heartburn. Only I knew how miserable I felt at that time.
I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I didn’t notice her cousin Mehak walk up to me again, ‘Hey Vikas, a penny for your thoughts? Alina has given me another message for you, do you want to hear or not?’
‘Yes, of course honey,' I tried to smile,' any message from ‘HER’ was more than welcome.'
“Actually she has planned a picnic for tomorrow at the Governor House lawns. Everyone in our group is invited and that includes you too.'
'Please get ready early tomorrow, and you must reach the Club by 9 o’clock! OK bye, I have to leave now. Alina must be waiting.” Waving her hand she made her way out of the Club,before I could even react to what she had told me.
Inwardly however I smiled because she had ‘read’ my mind, and made me so happy for a change.
I managed a smile as I was relieved now. Her words had indeed comforted me to some extent. At least she was still thinking about me. So what if she didn’t come down to the Club today. I was part of her plans for tomorrow.
So tomorrow I would be meeting my sweet Alina again. Her cute cherubic face with her sweet smile flashed quickly before my eyes. I could almost smell her perfume.
I now had something to look forward to again and I started making plans for tomorrow. How I would greet her, meet her and perhaps get my chance to express my love for her. All my ‘pent up’ emotions and expressions were now dying to come to the fore, to express what I felt for her.
I could breathe easy now. So this was love I thought to myself, pure and unadulterated. I quickly gulped down my drink and signaled to a passing waiter for my lunch. I was suddenly hungry and realized that I hadn't had any breakfast.
I ordered a fairly heavy brunch, and then settled down on the club deck to view the outside world. I was sitting on the upper deck. There are two decks in the Boat House Club. Last night I was in the lower deck and today I was seated on the upper deck. The view from the upper deck is more spectacular and panoramic, as one can look around from a slightly raised platform.
As I sat there watching the Parade Ground and the crowds milling around one another, and the countless people, mostly tourists going out for boat rides, my heart suddenly froze. I couldn't believe what I had just seen.....
There she was, my lady love, Alina, amongst the large crowds making her way quickly towards where the boats were tethered. What was she doing here? Was she preparing to go for a boat ride?
But HOW could that be, she was supposedly resting at home, not feeling well; that’s what her cousin Mehak had just told me. So had she lied to me? But why would she do that? I was extremely puzzled.
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Was I making a dumb mistake? Heck no, there she was, talking to a boatman, and sure enough, the very next moment Alina climbed on to a boat quickly, for taking a round of the lake. She was all alone. Maybe Mehak was waiting for her somewhere or had gone straight home. She pulled out a hat she had carried along with her, covering her face, probably for fear of being recognized, or to shield her fair skin from the bright afternoon midsummer sun shining down at her.
I couldn't take my eyes off her. That was indeed Alina. I followed her sitting in the boat, thinking to myself that in case she saw me, her ‘lie’ would get exposed. I didn't want that to happen, so I backed off inside towards the club, away from the upper deck, asking the waiter to bring my food there itself. I didn't want her to see that I had spotted her. There must be a valid reason to do what she was doing. Hiding from me....
Whatever be the reason it was obvious she didn't want to meet me today. Period.
So in all likelihood my angel was playing hard to get. So cute but.....
All right angel. So I decided to play along, it’s not every day that you get a beautiful innocent girl trying to play love ‘games’ with you. Two can play a game.
Did I say innocent. Well hardly, this was not innocence, but maybe she was trying some kind of tested formula on me, the kind which are ‘reserved’ for people in love. I was enjoying this game of love she had started. I smiled to myself and it was the waiter who brought me back to reality.
‘Your lunch is ready Sir.’ He bent down with a smile and started placing the dishes I had ordered, on the table kept before me.
I smiled back at him and nodded in approval, and motioned with a wave of my hand to keep the food on a vacant table just ahead of me and moved myself there. This table was slightly away from the main upper deck; whatever be the reason I didn’t want Alina to know that I had ‘discovered’ her prank.
Her secret ought to remain safe with me. I smiled at her ‘unabashed prank’, what else could I call it, there was no other name I could think of.
I suddenly decided I needed a drink, any drink; this excitement was taking its toll on me. I signaled to the waiter again. So, what was I expected to do in this situation. React or not to react. I decided to give my thoughts a miss for now, because my delicious lunch, was waiting for my approval. I realized how hungry I was. I dug into my food as if I hadn’t eaten for ages.
Despite her reluctance to meet me today our love was intact and that's what really mattered. To hell with everything else. When things go right, everything’s on cloud nine.
Now, I was already thinking ahead. What should be my next move, should I hold her tight, would I manage to ‘kiss’ her full inviting lips?
Would I be able to do that? Little did I realize that when ‘opportunity came knocking’ I wasn't found to be wanting.
In fact the chance to express my new found love for the love of my life, and my ‘first kiss’ with her happened all too soon. In fact on the very next day when we had gone for the picnic to the Governor House grounds.
Oh what an experience it turned out to be. It was heavenly and I could go on describing it for eternity. Her soft lips against mine, so delicious,so delectable…..oh ever so ‘tasty,’ an indescribable experience, only to be savored …….. by who else but me.....
End of Chapter Four - A Midsummer's Love Tale
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