I saw her the moment I entered the room, sitting by herself, dressed in a red, low-necked tight mini dress. Her blonde-dyed hair fell partially over her shoulders. A few strands cover the large white beads she was wearing. Her hands and legs are crossed and she was carrying a small black evening bag. Her dainty feet were wearing white shoes. There was an empty chair beside her. She looked a bit lost.
I looked around the room hastily and my host saw me and came over.
" So nice, you could make it"
She went on to introduce me to a few people around. As I was making small talk with my new acquaintances, I darted my eyes frequently to the lady in red. I saw the Service boy approach her with a tray of wine-filled goblets. She took one with a colour-less drink. From where I stood, diagonally opposite her in the room, I could see she wore hardly any make up except for the dark shade of lipstick, which contrasted, with the colour of the wine she was sipping. The chair beside her was still empty. I began to stroll over to her side. She saw me approaching. At first she gave me a casual look. Then she looked again. Was she wondering if she knew me or was she just wondering why I was looking at her so constantly? The Service boy interjected our view of each other with a tray of wine. I picked up the same wine she was sipping. I was only a few feet away from her, when a young man in his late twenties suddenly came and sat on the chair beside her. She looked at him and he whispered something. They seemed to be quite comfortable with each other. She turned to me again as I was very close to her by now. I did not stop to look or smile at her. I sat on a chair behind her. She began to fidget around in her chair and quite unexpectedly, pretending to look behind her chair, she gave me a quick furtive look.
Who was she? Sitting behind, I could only see her back. Her hair covered some of her back but I could see the well – defined shoulder blades, as if they were holding her spinal column. Or better still, as if they were holding " Reiki" between them. She had a slim waist and she shifted often as if she was aware of the piercing looks from behind her. Momentarily, I looked away at the people filling the room. I recognized a few faces but was in no hurry to meet them. I was enjoying nursing my wine and playing with the globlet, tuning it in my fingers as if I was turning a thought in my mind. Maybe I was. I became aware of her again… she was looking at me, as I was looking away elsewhere. The man besides her was also curious. He looked behind to see what she was interested in. He did not think it was me. I shifted my glance elsewhere, too conscious to be under her direct observation. I crossed my legs and folded my arms over my solar plexus in order to protect myself from her direct looks. Something in me was moving at gut level and I skipped a couple of heartbeats as well. A couple was approaching them –
" Mr. and Mrs. Soni" They exclaimed " How nice to see you here"!
So she was married. He…was her husband. They stood up and began to talk with their acquaintance. I moved from behind her to a place a little away but from where I could see her face to face. So we kept this eye contact so to say, looking at each other, only when we were sure the other was not looking. When our glances fell on each other, it was very brief, never too long, nor too short…just that much! Just that right much!
The band had started playing their song and I saw her being lead by her husband to the dance floor. My host came over to me –
" Are you enjoying yourself? "
" Yes! " I said graciously.
" Want to meet someone"?
" I already have," I said in my mind, but audibly " Sure!"
" Meet Rahul" She said beckoning a tall, dark man in a grey suit. He looked like he had just come in from work.
" Rahul, this is Julia. You have been asking to meet her"
Rahul’s eyes lit up. " Yes, of course. I am delighted to meet you " he said with absolutely clear British accent. I approved of him, instantly.
" Will you dance with me"? Rahul asked.
We moved to the dance floor. I saw her there again and this time our eyes locked for a moment. She also looked Rahul up quickly. A fast number was playing and I lost myself to the music and my body began to answer to the need of the moment – I began to dance with Rahul. In between, I kept a watch on the lady with red and she kept an eye on me. Rahul had many questions – I had single syllable replies. Questions like when do I find the time to write? What inspires me? How does it all start in my head? Would I like to go back to advertising? And, I seemed a bit distracted…. Was something disturbing me? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. I feared he would lose interest. But! The music changed and Rahul with I drew closer, our steps and bodies moving in slow and steady swaying motions. We also moved closer to the lady in red with her husband and then it really started to happen. We were both looking over the shoulders of the men we were dancing with and while I could see her husband was not inundating her with questions, Rahul was talking a lot. And making an effort to make me laugh. Which I did but everytime I laughed, I could see from the corner of my eyes that she was watching me more closely. I began to feel conscious. I was probably even blushing. And as luck would have it, within a few moments we were dancing almost brushing against each other. I gripped Rahul’s shoulder a little tighter as the moment of truth, so to say, stared me in the face. I looked away from her completely as I did not want to die if we were to touch each other, even vaguely. We were engaged in an act of desire and deviance from the existing circumstances in our lives. To distract myself from the moment, I began to talk to Rahul about whatever came to my mind. He, I suppose was aware there was something amiss. It was too much for me! So when I excused myself and went away to the cloakroom, he was not surprised at all.
But she followed me. As we approached the cloakroom, I proceeded out towards the doorway. She moved into the cloakroom. I returned and stood on the opposite side, wondering whether I should go in or not. There would be too many women inside. Or maybe not. Should I? Should I not? I decided I should and just as I opened the door to go in, she stood one foot away from me, trying to come out. Time stood still. If a Kirlian photograph had to be taken, our aura would have shown as merged. If an x-ray which measured the number of energy streams crossing each other between us, were taken, it would have shown only as a mass of energy, so dense that it could be seen as a solid bar only. Our heights were almost the same and therefore the curves on our torso, matched their opposites.
" Excuse me" she said softly.
I could not move. The moments were unending. Stretchiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing to eternity. I turned my head over my right shoulder and looked down and what happened after that was all in slow motion. She took a step on the side almost brushing my shoulder with hers, the front of her body almost scraping along mine as she moved to leave. I saw her drop her Business Card. As soon as I could, I picked it up from the floor. It was a simple card, which said – Ritu Soni. Writer. She had cancelled the home number and instead penned her Cell number. I hurried to the doorway. I was there just in time to see her husband drive in the Ford Icon. She opened the front door, and her body curved to make it accommodate inside the car. Her dress hitched up further to expose her biceps and as she bent to sit, her body exposed her cleavage slightly, just enough to stay with me for the rest of the night.
I turned the key to my own flat. It was 3am. I threw myself on the chair and pulled out the Business Card. I dialed the number. She picked up the call. And for the rest of the night, we kept the line engaged, speaking to each other with our breath.