Cocktail by Vikram Karve

 CHAPTER 4 – THEIR STORY

Sanjay delivered the lecture with newfound verve, radiating self-confidence and professional competence. Rajashree was sitting in the first row.  From time to time, Sanjay looked at her.  She was directly concentrating on him; the language of her eyes clearly projecting approbation, assurance and encouragement.  Silently, she cheered him on.  She was Sanjay’s inspiration, and motivation.

“As the applause died down, Sanjay sat down on the stage.  He looked at Rajashree.  She gave him a canny look of congratulation, got up from her seat and left the auditorium.  Sanjay, desperately wanted to follow her, but he was helpless.  The chairman was delivering the vote of thanks for him and Sanjay couldn’t possibly leave the stage.

Time crawled.  Sanjay became anxious.   The chairman was going on and on with his long-winded speech.  Sanjay looked at his watch.  He realized that the chairman had spoken only for five minutes.  But these five minutes were the longest five minutes of Sanjay’s life.

He was desperate to meet her; afraid he would lose her, forever.   She was the one bright spot in his present life.  He did not want to lose her.  In his frustration, he mentally cursed the speaker for talking so long.  Finally, he could take it no longer.  He excused himself and left the auditorium.

Outside, he frantically searched for her.  But there was no joy – he drew a blank wherever he looked for her.  Sanjay was crestfallen.  His mind went blank.  Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned around in anticipation.  He was disappointed.  It was some other woman – one of the seminar delegates.  Probably wanting to compliment him for his lecture.

“Mr. Sanjay Kulkarni?” the woman delegate queried, her eyes arched.

He nodded in affirmation.

“A letter for you,” she said, giving him a synthetic smile; and before he could react, quietly walked away.

Sanjay tore open the envelope and began to read the letter.  His pulse had quickened and it was only with difficulty that he could concentrate and focus his eyes.

“Dear Mr. Kulkarni,” the letter began, “or shall I call you Sanjay? Don’t wonder how I have found out your name.  It was announced before your lecture.  I cannot express in words, or begin to describe, the sentiments and feelings you have evoked in me.  The language of our eyes was something that surpassed the language of words and speech.
I want to cherish those wonderful moments – the sublime experience.  It was the one bright spot in my depressingly vapid life. I never imagined that such a seemingly trivial occurrence would have such a profound influence on me.  The appreciation and love in your eyes aroused the dormant woman in me. For years, after my bitter divorce, I had repressed my natural feelings, forgotten the simple joys of living.  

I saw true love in your eyes and that is why I am afraid of meeting you.  I do not want our beautiful sublime relationship degenerate into something physical.  I feel as if I am caught between two fires – my sense of values and my emotions.  I am experiencing the conflict between the practical and poetic version of life.  Our strange and brief encounter has awakened the womanhood in me.  I feel youthful and invigorated, but also lonely and vulnerable.  I have fallen in love with you.  That is why I am scared of facing you.  I am afraid I shall ruin everything by succumbing to temptation.  It may lead to something that we both may later regret.

It may sound strange but the lively experience has also awakened the motherhood in me.  It may appear irrelevant and trivial, but it is true.  I had put my daughter in a boarding school in Ooty.  Maybe I wanted to shield her. Maybe I felt I had no time for her. Only my ambitions, my career mattered.  I had got my priorities wrong.  I was chasing rainbows.

Thanks again for the wonderful and enchanting experience.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I now feel in harmony with myself; don’t want to hide from myself.
I shall always remember this wonderful encounter and cherish the simple joys of living.  As we made love to each other with our eyes, it appeared as if I had journeyed inwards to explore my true feelings and discover myself.  It has been an enjoyable romance – for this once. Let’s keep it that way.

             With love and best wishes,

                                                Rajashree.”

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