The clock struck 8 o clock in the evening, as Dina unlocked the door of her flat. It was dark inside, the bright lights of the young city of Bangalore, could not penetrate through her heavily curtained windows.Dina liked it that way; she always felt that there was a comfort in darkness and also an excitement,of finding what would come to light once the darkness was removed. On entering her flat in the evening everyday, and before switching on the lights, Dina played a little game with herself,imagining what she would see once she switched on the lights.Sometimes she imagined that she would see a little bear sleeping on her sofa, or maybe even the seven dwarf brothers.On more sensible days she would imagine(it was more of a wish) that her mother or her sister would be sitting there on the sofa all ready to surprise her,or maybe one of her old friends from Kolkata, or maybe....But everyday as she switched on the lights, her sofa set, empty and lonely in her big drawing room, would be there to welcome her back. And Dina couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed everyday.
But today, Dina dint even bother to switch on the lights, as she collapsed on one of the sofa s with a tired sigh. It had been a long day...The final paper on the research project that she and her team had been working on for the past one and a half years was finally submitted today, and to her great relief it was a huge success, at least with her faculty . Dina, was a genetic engineer, and was at present working as a scientist and research fellow in IISR.
As she lay there on her sofa, surrounded by the suffocating darkness, Dina cudnt help but feel a little bit proud of herself. After all, it was her brainwave which had provided the final breakthrough in this project, and to think that she had been the youngest scientist in the team. The Dean had been so excited with the outcome of the project, that he had got in touch with some of the top International research institutes around the world to discuss the findings and publish a paper. If only all of it worked out,there would be no looking back for Dina. Dina let out a content sigh...this was exactly what she had wanted her life to be like,it was just perfect. But, To her great annoyance a little voice in her head, or maybe in her heart said..."No this isnt the life you had always dreamed of".
Dina just hated this voice.It kept popping up in her head exactly in the wrong moments.It made her feel lonely in a crowd, sad amidst a celebration, and lost amidst life. It wasn't her conscience, cause it dint really make her feel guilty,it just made her feel empty. But today, Dina wasn't going to let 'the voice' dampen her spirits. She was too happy for words. "You think you her happy,but deep down, you know this isnt the true happiness that you yearned for".There goes 'the voice' again. Dina let out a exasperated sigh.
The sound of her mobile phone ringing, broke Dina 's reverie. After five minutes of rummaging, and then turning her bag upside down, when she finally found her phone, she saw it was her colleague and friend Sunita. Sunita was a couple of years senior to Dina both in age and experience and they worked in the same department of IISR.
"Hi", said Dina, trying not to sound too tired.
"Hi dear, just called to ask you for a favor. I know you are too excited to get any sleep today anyway, so i decided to give you some interesting work.you listening right?" Sunita went on excitedly.
Typical Sunita, thought Dina, as she listened on to her incessant clatter. 'Interesting work' to Sunita had a far encompassing definition, and due to some reason, unknown to Dina, Sunita had assumed that Dina's life was very boring and she needed to make her do some 'interesting work' to color things up. Dina thought she would be lucky if she dint end up boogie jumping this evening.
"The thing is I and Srijan, my husband you know, were supposed to go out this evening. But his boss suddenly decided to come to Bangalore today for some work, and now that it is done, he wants Srijan to take him to a tour of the city. Now you know how long its been since we both could go out, what with his work and my project and all, we really don't want to miss this opportunity. So, I was thinking, if you could accompany Srijan's boss to a tour of the city. He really wants to check out a few good restaurants and you know just get a hang of the city. He is also a Bengali so I thought it would be easier for you guys to communicate and it would be a huge favor to me". Sunita said all this non stop, in a single breath.
Dina was so taken aback by the outrageous proposal, that she wasn't sure exactly which point to refute first, "He is a complete stranger, its 8 in the night, I look dead, I don't know the city well either...and and..." Dina just about started wailing.
"Oh, he isn't a complete stranger, he is Bengali and almost your age, plus minus one year, and also he grew up in Kolkata like you, I am sure you must be knowing him from somewhere....who knows maybe he is some distant cousin of yours. As for 8 in the night, its Friday night for heaven's sake, cant you ever lighten up.And I am sure, if you take a quick bath you wont look so dead. Oh please please don't say no. we have already told Srijan's boss about you accompanying him, and for once he dint make a fuss. Not that he is too complaining. Srijan says he is almost fun, once u get to know him".
Dina dint really like Sunita stress on 'almost', and anyway she wasn't planning to know him. Dina mentally kicked herself for saying the next sentence, "Ok, fine, I'll go.But if its too boring then you owe me a treat in Mainland China".
"Thank you Thank you", Sunita shouted from the other side, and then after calming down a bit, added, "Come to my place in half an hour, he 'll be meeting you here".
A little after half and hour, Dina found herself standing in front of Sunita's door, about the ring the doorbell. Dina wished the ground would just part and she could submerge down somewhere so that no one would find her,at least not Sunita. She would have given anything to be somewhere else in the world,anywhere, but not here, in front of Sunita's door about to meet a complete stranger with whom she would have to spend at least the next couple of hours. But she knew it she owed this favor to her friend. God knows she had helped her out of a few sticky situations at work. Maybe Srijan's boss wouldn't turn up after all,maybe he'l be be too tired,maybe...
"There you are Dina, thanks for making it. You look lovely"...Sunita 's voice broke through Dina's desperate thoughts.
Dina managed a smile and entered Sunita's stylishly furnished flat.
"This is Mr. Subhoneel Dutta, owner and manging director of the famous company "Dutta Enterprise" and this is...."
The rest of the sentence was blur to Dina. she dint need Sunita's introduction to know who he was.Sunita was right, she did know him.But he wasnt a distant cousin of hers. He was the guy who she had dated for five years,he was the guy she was engaged to, he was the guy who broke her heart six years before.He was the reason why she was in Bangalore.