It was eleven in the evening and the marriage party was in full swing. We were in North Park, Panchkula. Almost everybody was there – some of us had planned to stay together, others had decided to leave, and rest had not thought anything. It was a coincidence that we were brought together for the last time by Seema’s marriage, Seema who was most senior in the group in terms of time we had spent while working together.
“Congratulations!” said Aarti, “Shruti told me about the book.”
“Thank you,” I replied, “I’ll send you a copy.”
“Thanks,” and both moved ahead.
Ravdeep and I were together most of the time, though within the group. The first time a waiter offered us wine, I told myself that I would not have it today. Normally I avoid it even if it is a marriage party but that evening I felt tempted. Next time he came to me, Sandeep picked one, his second. As I was thinking, he laughed away, “Is it because it is Tuesday?”
I found a valid excuse. “No kidding,” I told him.
Everybody heard our laughter but soon it died.
“Is it the last time?” I thought, and perhaps Ravdeep was also thinking the same. We glanced at each other as if we were asking each other too. In some time, I saw people dancing and I felt like dancing there.
The orchestra changed its color and the dance intensified. The music got louder and I felt as if all of us were soaked in the atmosphere. But there was less fun that day and fewer smiles were being exchanged.
All those moments that we shared when we had laughed together – inspector eagle parties, birthday and milestone bumps, lunch duties, Mathi’s maaros, Shruti’s however, Jatinder’s do mare kann te (patient energy), Sanjay’s lekin and see! (logic), Ravdeep’s daily laughs, Chander’s but why (cold logic), Geetanjali’s mirchi (lunch), Ranjana’s that’s ok, Hariharan’s boss, Suresh’s NAV, Vikas’s politeness, Seema’s timesheets and sitting in her chair with folded leg(s), and my chai.
At around twelve, it was almost the time to say goodbye. I thought I would say – Stay in touch, write to me, I’ll mail you, sms me – but the mood was different. It certainly didn’t reflect how sad we were, but the precision of sentences used couldn’t hide it either.
As I felt the party was getting over, our group began to scatter. There was not much time for saying anything, rather not much to say. I thought I would cry and I should have cried. Ravdeep said that he didn’t feel like leaving from there. Shruti and Aarti left. Followed by Suresh and Hari. Sanjay had already left.
I sensed how difficult was for some of us to say goodbye and how easy it was for others. As if it was only the state of mind. Was it? Some of us were smiling by heart, and some were pretending to be, and the rest not even pretending.
Mathi and Chander wanted to leave together with us both but we were willing to stay. We wanted to wish final goodbye to Seema but she was not there. I congratulated Anu, her sister who looked more happy than most of us. She told me that Seema would take some time to come for ‘phere’. I realized that we should leave.
I thought of Seema, who taught me what a technical writer is, who was getting married and would soon board a flight to US, don’t know why making me feel that I would never see her again.
So, I was reluctant to say goodbye. You change jobs and suddenly you start loving new friends, without wishing the love for old friends to die. I guess Ravdeep was also feeling the same, wondering that things would never be same again.
I saw different goodbyes that evening – Shruti’s was brief, Aarti’s was friendly, Sanjay’s was missing… but mine was silent, and Ravdeep’s was silent. As I walked back to the car, I felt my feet struggling to support my mind. Others had driven back leaving me behind there, struggling to say goodbye. I carried it home and felt that I should have left it there only.