The background trance music was loud and unsettling. I felt cramped and crammed from within. It seemed like the party was touching its prime. Men and women in bizarre green masks held each other and danced in slow motions. For some reason, my head was on a constant throb. It was like there was a bomb inside ticking. There was a friend with me, which one I could not be sure. He whipped a tall glass of powder green liquid from a passing waitress and handed it to me with a wink. I dropped the glass on seeing baby reptiles crawling out onto my right hand. Walls of the room were also lined with reptile cages. I could not see much in the dimly lit room except these traps that were illuminated in dark green shade.
A strange numbness that comes after millions of needle pricks on your body took over me. I fell down to my knee almost hugging the fake marble floor. My eyes carried me to across the room, where I saw her. She seemed calm, at home with everything. Her white dress was long and covered her slim body well. Our eyes met and she smiled. Did she remember me from last night?
I wanted to go to her, to touch her, to talk to her but she turned away and I lost her. Sitting on the floor, I wept like a teenager who had been freshly dumped. I wanted my friend to help me and to my utter distraught, he was nowhere. In his place, a person in a giant lizard costume stood. I screamed my loudest and woke up to early morning sweat.
Air con was breathing life into my dead bedroom. I pulled away the sheet to allow my sweat to dry. My fists were knotted and my nails had dug into my palms. I sat up, shrugged off a nightmare so real that my reality had seemed like a distant dream. Last night…
Last night flashed before me, when I had met her for the first time. Since then her visage had never left me for a moment. Some faces live with you, forever. I was at ‘Someplace else’, a hangout for guys like me, who would rather be someplace else then currently where they were in their life. A live band was doing their bit at performing covers of English classics. The only part, I had liked in the entire gig was their song selection. ‘Please don’t go’ floated around. Unlike the original, a woman sang the song. I had not cared to turn away from my drink on the deck of the bar to check who was singer at helm.
The dance floor was spilling over with scantily clad women, wrapped around their men friends, mostly colleagues. There was this woman; I had spotted some half an hour before who had my total attention. Yet, I pretend concentrated on the glass shelves opposite me over the bar filled with show cased bottles, mostly wine. I caught my reflection on the mirror frame that bordered it. One could safely call me good looking, if one liked curly hair and down slanted mouth. I wore a formal shirt, open to expose a toned chest. I am six feet plus and carried myself in ‘cotton world’ pants and dark work ties. A voice trainer at Wipro, I had girls coming onto me, for both professional and personal support, which I provided depending on my whims and moods.
I had kind of surprised myself by getting worked up over a girl, a strange girl at that. Never in my entire twenty eight years did my wild side go ballistic, like it was the John of the Jungle over a random girl. Her black kameez looked like it was made by a tailor, who knew all her curves intimately. Her neck line was a deep ‘v’ exposed by her chiffon dupatta that was hugging her neck closely. The tan on her skin seemed from a recent holiday by the sea. Her eyes were set wide apart, giving the impression that she was easy to surprise. Her mouth was arresting, small and full like a ripe plum.
Like she read my mind, she came straight to the counter beside me and leaned over. She had ordered a Bacardi and insisted on freshly squeezed orange juice to go with it. I could not help smirking and then our eyes met. I had a embarrassed smile to offer and she smiled like we were friends. I saw a slight flicker of recognition or was that my drunken imagination. I allowed myself to hold her gaze more than it was socially decent. She did not seem to mind.
‘You work for Wipro, right?’ She asked.
‘We know each other?’ I came forward as the music was loud and also because I wanted to know if she was wearing any perfume. I liked what my nose picked out but could not place it. It was lemony and very appetizing.
‘Nope, I have seen you at the Wipro café’.
‘You work for Wipro too?’
‘Heck no again, I am next door. We hop over to Wipro’s café during break for awesome pakoda and amazing guys’. She talked naturally and puckered up her mouth in a way that was a cross between a pout and a pucker when I spoke.
‘Thanks that I take as a compliment’. I was animated. She was served her drink. Wonder how the bartender managed freshly squeezed orange juice at that hour. He threw a smile at her and placed her glass neatly on the counter over a napkin.
‘The other day, I saw you getting out of the elevator. You were sand witched like a burger’.
‘Funny but how do you mean?’ I was seriously getting drawn to this one. She turned around and waved at some people sitting around a table to a corner to our left. I put two and two together; she was with a gang of friends and had come over to order a drink. She probably had jealous boyfriend somewhere out there and that should have held me back. It did zilch to my ardor.
‘Those two girls you were with were soft and round. You were like this beef in between’. She looked at me without any amusement in her beautiful eyes and rested her mouth gently on the glass ring to sip her exotic drink.
‘You are a babe, aren’t you’? My breathing was irregular and I was feeling a little high. I had an urge to drink what she was drinking, to go where she was going and to be with her, generally.
‘Babe? I am just an admirer; you have in your closet’. She was flirting. I turned around to check, if anyone was keeping an eye on her and when I found that her gang had left the table, I leaned over and kissed her. Her pulpy mouth opened in shock reaction, giving me a false sense of response and killed me further.
‘I am sorry, something came over me’, I apologized, ready to accept all the dirt. She stepped away from me. A man came between us. He was short with a face that looked like a rotten potato.
‘You guys know each other’? He asked her casually. He obviously was not a very aware person.
‘Yes’, she covered her alarm better than me. One could easily tell, her friend was rich from the way he dressed, not taking into account the thick gold chain around his fat neck.
‘Good, in that case, let’s invite him for our anniversary. Take his number, will you?’ He patted her lower back, collected his Johnny walker and excused himself within a minute.
‘Your number please, Ashim would like to invite you for a party’, her eyes were casted down and she looked like she had just lost something very precious.
‘Give me a miss call, that way I get to store your number’. I suggested.
I dictated and she dialed my number. I gave her time in between to press the required buttons. She disconnected soon as my phone responded. I wanted to ask her name to store her number but she was out of there.
I saw her again only in my early morning dream. I took a shower and walked to the cafe, downstairs for coffee and sandwich. It was here, I received a call from a Sub inspector, park street branch police station. He asked me to come straight over. He needed me with respect to an investigating of a young model’s suicide that took place last night. She was all of twenty four and was engaged to be married. I was on the list of suspects. Mine was the last number dialed on Ms Rabia Khan’s cell phone.