Unexpected Encounter 

 The family had just moved to Darjeeling. The husband’s was a transferable job so they led a nomadic life for a long time but now he was told it was permanent. At least for a while anyway. He was always told so, so he had very little faith. The wife, amongst many other things, was also a housewife, and as in many other things, she was very good at it. The son, oh the only begotten son was a little bit logy. He was always thriving in his virtual world. 

Now as much as the family hated moving around every three years or so, and having differences of opinion about the new place, this time it was different. All three loved Darjeeling. They were all excited. This was new. 

Theirs was a disconnected modern family. Disconnected because they hardly had interaction among them. Family? Only because they stayed together. Like any other modern family, there was no shortage of love among them. They all cherished being one. The only problem was that they had very little time for each other. Much of this was on account of the internet. The only thing common between the father and the son was how they both spent all of their waking hour staring into the digital screens, pressing buttons, and having, sometimes a look of awe on their faces. This of course had its toil on the duo. The father sometimes suffered burnouts trying to keep up to his hectic work schedule and for the son, the social network, rather ironically took away his social life. The mother was worried at times but she figured this is what the civilization has come to. She demanded that the family should spend more time together, but there never seemed to be the time for that. Once when there was a three days power cut in town (which is so common in the monsoon), the whole house was in the brink of falling apart. The boys had no idea what to do. It was like they were left out in Mars. The delicate balance the World Wide Web had struck in the house, was blown out of proportion. It was difficult. 

They had been allotted a beautiful cottage in the Kutchery (Court) road. It overlooked the whole Darjeeling town all the way upto the Japanese pagoda and beyond. Sadly, the family had never had the chance to catch the glimpse. They just didn’t have the time.  

It was a fine morning when the husband was getting ready for his office for which, he had a set routine. The clothes and shoes he were were predetermined. The only constant in the equation was his hairstyle which had stuck on from his college days. He had some of his college friends in town but never really could catch up to them. •ping• his IM buzzed. He checked. It was Ira. His ex-girlfriend from college. He froze for a moment. He dreaded to slide the notification bar down. All the memories flashed in front of his eyes in a jiffy. It was not at all a smooth breakup. He had loved her dearly, but in the end she had pulled the big old “it’s not you, it’s me!” gig.  That was when he had hit rock bottom in his life. Is was only up from that point on. Coming to think of it, he had her to thank for. All these blue-mellow thoughts ran in his head all day long. He dare not reply though. Not yet. 

In the evening, when he reached home, he was feeling much better. A warm cup of tea from his wife, and he even felt nice. That’s when the phone pinged again. It was her. This time he replied. 

Hello Ira. Long time.

Ira: Hello yourself. I saw you the other day. I must say, you’ve not lost your touch. Handsome still. But why were you dressed up so old. Did your wife do this to you? 😜

He didn’t know what to say. There were so much he wanted to talk about. So many questions. He just didn’t know where to begin. 

Later that night he received another message saying that he should wear his blue cardigan tomorrow. She’d be watching. 

The next morning was a strange one. He woke up early and went for a walk which had not happened in so many years. Later he cooked breakfast for the family. When his son and his wife saw this, they were in utter disbelief. A pleasant one though. They all sat around the dinning table and ate breakfast and talked. Even his son seemed to be getting along as for the first time in as long as they could remember, no body had their faces burried in the gadgets. 

After that, the whole day went amazing. While the father was getting ready, he announced that he’ll be needing his blue cardigan that he almost never wore. He looked at the mirror and even flicked his hair around to try out something new, settling finally to really funny hairdo which he thought looked good on him. His wife was just too delighted today to barge in. 

In the afternoon he received a text from Ira. She said that she saw him today near Singamari syndicate and that her heart leapt. She proposed to meet to which he complied. 

Meanwhile, his son seemed to have been impressed with the new him and picking up. He too, like his father, decided to head out to town. He did some shopping for himself and a little something for his parents. He enjoyed. He even made a few new friends and met a special someone on Facebook. He felt excited. 

Ira and the boys father were meeting at Joey’s Pub this evening at 6 when the pub opened for business. Now, Puran (the owner of the pub)  and himself were college friends. They had a band called the “Forbidden Fruit” to which he was the durmmer and Puran the guitarist. It was during the splitting of the band that he had met Ira or was it because of Ira that the band split. He couldn’t place it. It was so long ago.  He was having second thoughts though as to whether he should go. He had not seen Puran ever since the band split, and to meet Ira there, if at all just didn’t seem right. God forbid should they turn up married. He shuddered. Nevertheless he decided to go. 

He entered the pub. The house was mostly full as always. He went across the hall an met Puran. Puran took a while to recognize him but when he did, boy-oh-boy, did he feel happy. They talked of old times. Friends, foes but mostly about the band when suddenly it hit him Ira was coming any minute. Just then, the pub door opened and entered, his son. They both were surprised to see each other and spurred out synchronously, “what are you doing here?”, to which Puran smiled and said, “I think I might have the answer!” He then excused himself into the staff room and brought in a lady. It was not Ira as he was expecting but his wife. The boy couldn’t understand the situation. She then explained. I’m Ira. She turned to her son and said I’m also Ridhima, your Facebook crush. You see boys, I had made this whole plot up with the help of Puran. To bring you out of your caves. Just to show both of you what you are missing. That we are in such a beautiful place and not enjoying it. The boys realized how boring and dull they had made their lives to be. 

Puran brought a guitar and they started to sing songs from yesteryears, from Elvis’s can’t help falling in love to Bob Dylan’s tambourine man. It was much fun as the evening gradually faded into night. 

To know more about Puran and Joey’s pub click herehttp://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_00006d.htm 

This is a work of fiction.  



  1. Fantastic writing Saawan. Ending is really impressive and unexpected too. Your thinking level is superb. Keep on writing.


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