“Aggarwal saab? Mr Aggarwal sir, over here,” the chauffeur called out, waving his arm in the air even after his slightly annoyed client had nodded in acknowledgment.
“It’s Agrawal, for-”
“Here Aggarwal saab, let me carry that for you,” the betel-leaf chewing man chattered on. “Arre sir, it must being very hot in Kolkata, no? How you people managing, tsk tsk. I tell you, you should…”
Rohit Agrawal rolled his eyes and tuned out the driver’s how-to-survive-in-Kolkata monologue. The only “chutter putter” he longed for belonged to someone who was probably serving jalebis to her parents at home, her eyes sparkling as she spoke about her day at work. He marvelled at her capacity to work for 8 hours straight, day in and day out, only to go home and cook food. She refused to let the hired help cook all the meals, claiming that making one hot meal a day with her own hands was her way of giving back to her parents, who had supported her throughout her rather long cycle of career changes.
“Besides, I won’t get to do this once I get married….” she had said coyly when he’d persisted.
He shut his eyes while the car sped over the Bandra-Worli sealink. He reminisced about the day they’d sat on Marine Drive, or as she fondly called it, ‘Queen’s Necklace’. He remembered how she had pointed out the street lights and compared them to pearls on a necklace. Who would have thought he’d grow to love her and her city almost as much as his hometown. True to her name, she brought light into his life. Metaphorically and literally.
That crimson red dress that she had worn the first time they had gone out, the bronze streak in her hair when he had brushed aside a stray ringlet, the flush in her cheeks when he’d complimented her. He longed for that colour, vivacious and bright, and he knew deep within that he would travel across continents to meet her if he had to. What blue had it been? Ink blue? No, prussian. Yes. Prussian blue. He laughed softly. The way she had shaken her head, with a tiny crease between her brows, her lips pursing just the slightest, till he had guessed the colour right.
The arrival of his destination pulled him out of his reverie. After he had put all his luggage in place, he called her up, like he always did when he reached. Her voice instantly relieved the exhaustion that had settled within him after the flight. After deciding when and where they would meet the next day, he hung up, a soft smile playing on his lips. It did not fade away till he had fallen asleep, probably thinking about her even in his dreams.