One day Dax, a good friend, was sitting quite remorsefully at the bar in the Officers Mess. Hey, Buddy! Whats the matter? Why in such a melancholy mood? I asked as I entered the bar and ordered my drink. Sir is already on his third drink, the barman informed me.
Dax, one arm stretched out on the bar counter and intently looking at his drink reminiscent of Dev Anand’s act in the immortal love story Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, looked up ever so slowly and murmured, Shes gone, my friend, shes gone!
Gone? Who? Where? I fired my questions rapidly as I helped him off the bar stool and guided him to a sofa chair in one corner of the room. Since the bar had already opened and the place was filling up, I did not want everyone to hear his love story. As he settled down and gulped down his drink, he said, Come, listen to my story.
Ever since she had come to the colony, she had made her presence felt. However, Dax had never paid attention to her presence although she lived not too far from his own place. Every morning Dax would go for a run or walk around the colony. In fact, Dax was very health conscious and believed in regular exercise. Over the years, Dax had built up a habit of going for his run/walk early morning, even before the sun was up. It was his belief that early morning the air was pure with no pollutants around.
During his rounds of the colony, he would pass a young boy, fully attired in his school uniform with his mother following, carrying the school bag. The boy would be skipping all the way to the main gate or be in a conversation with his mother without looking back at her. In normal circumstances Dax would not have paid attention to the young lad or his mother. However, one morning as Dax took a turn around the building corner, he bumped in to the boy. Good morning, young man! You seem to be very happy today, Dax said as he caught hold of the boy to prevent him from falling. Its his birthday today! Dax was startled as he heard a sweet voice behind him. He looked up to see a beautiful lady, dressed immaculately in a Punjabi suit, her smile exposing a perfect set of teeth.
Oh! Good morning, Dax mumbled and greeted the young man on his birthday. That was the first meeting. Thereafter, every morning Dax would pass by the young boy and his mother and wish them. While the boy would skip and run while acknowledging the morning greetings, the mother would just smile and nod. Sometimes she would respond with a very sing-song gooood morrrrnnning. Just the smile and the manner in which she responded to his greeting would make Daxs heart beat faster. Months passed with the same morning schedule being followed. The morning greeting. The smile. And heart beating faster.
One day, Dax noticed that the boy was alone. Wheres your mother? Dax asked him. The boy looked back and pointed towards his home. There she was, in a flowing red nightgown, leaning on the balustrade keenly watching her son move towards the gate to catch the school bus. As Dax looked up at her, she smiled and with a quick glance back at the balcony door mouthed Good morning. With a slight movement of his hand Dax acknowledged her greeting.
One day, Dax was pleasantly surprised to meet her at the shopping center. Enamored by her presence, Dax gathered some courage and said, Hello! She responded with her trademark smile. I have wanted to speak with you for quite some time. If you don’t mind, could I pay you a compliment? In fact two of them, Dax said, unable to take his eyes off her face. With a quizzical look she said, Hmmm. Okay!
Firstly, you are always immaculately dressed in some wonderful Punjabi suits. And secondly, you have a very beautiful smile when you wish good morning. There, Dax had said what was bottled up inside him for all these months. Oh! My God! Thank you, thank you thank you, she squealed. Next morning and many mornings thereafter, she would be in the balcony ostensibly to see her son off to school while Dax was convinced she was there because of the Good Morning affair that existed between the two.
And then, one fine morning she was gone! Without even saying a good bye. The empty balcony would stare at a very forlorn Dax.
As he ended his story, Dax picked up his glass of whisky and began humming the Dev Anand song from Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Tuu kahaan, yeh bataaa, is nashili raat mein..
I was touched by his affair and joined Dax in both drinking and singing the song!