True Joy and I studied in the same school in childhood. We went to swimming together, also drank beer together, hiding behind their large mansion. We had to hide not because his parents did not want their son drink; neither they were too mean to mind his having my kind of a low-class girl as company. What they had problem with was beer. How could one of the aristocrats drink a peasant’s drink was the concern. I remember his father once discovered us with beer can in their terrace.  He growled, “What’s that? Throw those in the dustbin. You silly kids – how do you gulp those farmer’s drinks?” We had to obey of course – emptied the half finished cans in the basin. Our obedience pleased him. He announces, “Hmmm, good! I will make you a drink now.” He brought some good wine for us from his cellar, taught me how to hold a glass of wine in style and gave a long lecture about the climatic conditions which make a vineyard grow properly. All kids enjoyed that kind of attention. I did too; but forgot everything about vineyards as soon as I stepped out of their mansion. Obviously his sincere effort could not stop us from drinking beer. We had to be extra-careful anyway.

Joy went to study naval engineering in an institute two thousand kilometers away from home after school. I was admitted in the local Ramananda college of Arts and Science. Even that distance did not hamper the friendship between us. We wrote numerous letters to each other, which turned romantic after a couple of years giving us more courage to meet in a city pub during his vacations. He somehow got drunk after couple of drinks during one of these meetings and that very day he announced, “You have the most beautiful face of all I have ever seen.” Who does not know that only an intoxicated man has the vision to keep every woman happy with flattering? I had reason to fall in love with his drunken words!

Only his mother was not particularly happy with our intimacy. “You know, his love for you will dissolve like smoke in air soon!” Her comment irritated me.

I met Riddhi during these years. She came to visit our town with Joy during one of his vacations. We were in our early twenties. Didn’t I enjoy spending time with the beautiful lady? Yes, I did. She was sober, polite and intelligent. She did win my heart while I played the role of a city guide during the trip.

I returned home absorbed in memories. Avira tried to appease me a lot after she was done with her initial teasing session. My anxiety reduced after some time but did not want to express my feelings any longer. It did not make sense to express much to a colleague turned friend who has  to earn staying alone in a fast city not only to feed herself but also to feed her unfaithful husband in her hometown.


To be cont.