Most Saturdays we went out for a team lunch. But that was a different Saturday. All my teammates had their own plans and went their own ways. As I was the only one without any agenda, I had to decide on how to feed myself. Bangalore Central was at a walk able distance from my office and the food court there served a decent north Indian meal so I decided have my lunch there.
For a Saturday afternoon, the place was sparsely crowded. I was on the escalator when this ‘sardar ji’ who was two steps ahead of me turned back and said ‘hi’ to me. For a second I thought he was addressing some one behind me, but a quick glance proved me wrong. We were the only two on the escalator. I returned a ‘hi’ to him. “I can see very few people here, is it generally like this” he said. “No today is an exception. Otherwise it’s quite full over the weekends” I replied effortlessly.
As the food court is on the top floor, you need to take a succession of escalators to reach there. As we arrived at the first floor, he asked “which floor is the food court?”
“It’s on the top floor. Even I am going there. Come” I said.
“How long have you been in Bangalore?” he wanted to know “I have been here for a while. What about you?” I answered with a question.
“I moved last month only. I moved from Delhi to start my business here. Still settling down” he revealed.
Both of us collected our Punjabi thali and settled down in our chairs. Just when I was about to take my first bite, he interrupted “are you married? I didn’t know why he wanted to know that, nevertheless I said “No”. “Are you in a relationship”- he was curious. Now that was getting too personal. I gave it a skip and kept looking into my plate. But he was not to give up easily. He repeated the question and he was louder this time. “Ya. I have a girlfriend” I retorted. But that didn’t stop him and he was up with his next question “When are you getting married?”
“I don’t know” I said in a disinterested tone. But he continued further “You know I have a son. He would be turning one next Saturday. I am planning to throw a party though I don’t know many people here. But I will definitely invite you. You have to come”
I didn’t know how to react to this. Here I am meeting this guy for the first time and he is asking me to be a part of what might be one of the biggest celebrations of his life. I was amused but a little cautious as well.
We almost finished our lunch when he dug out a business card from his wallet. As he handed it over to me, he anticipated my reciprocation. “I am sorry I ran out of my cards” I said apologetically. “That’s ok. I will save your number. Tell me your number; I will give you a missed call”. May be we were destined to meet I thought but by any standard this was too fast. However I didn’t save the number.
It struck to me on my way back to office that I forgot to ask his name. In fact even he didn’t know my name. I was wondering with what name did he save my number though. It occurred to me that he did give me his card. The card had ‘Singh & Singh Sons Ltd’ Written in bold font. Then there was his mobile number and a generic email id which was info@ name of his company.com. Conspicuously his name was missing. I smiled as I referred to him as ‘Some Mr. Singh’ in my mind.
He called me on the next Friday. I disappointed him by not recognizing his number “I think you haven’t saved my number. I met you in Central last week. You remember?” I lied spontaneously “Sorry I changed my handset and haven’t transferred my contacts to this one yet” “Its Ok. I called you to invite you to my son’s first birthday party. Note down my address, you have to be there”
I pretended to take a note of his address, but I always knew that I wouldn’t go. It just didn’t seem reasonable to me- meeting someone just once in a mall and landing up at his place for a party. May be I have outgrown that stage.
It’s a pity; I forgot to ask him his name even this time around.
I completely forgot about the whole incident till I chanced upon his business card some six months later. I was getting married in a month’s time and was preparing the guest list to send the invites. I was cross checking my business cards folder to see if I have left someone. This card suddenly appeared there. I don’t know why but I felt like including him on the guest list.
Anyhow I was getting married in Jaipur and it was highly unlikely that he would come all the way for me, but at least, I would have returned his favor of inviting me to his son’s birthday. I tried calling the number given on the card but a female voice kept reminding me in three different languages that the number didn’t exist.
I mailed a scan of my card to his email (info@ name of hiscomoany.com) addressing it to Mr. Singh & family and thought my job was done.
I got extremely busy with the preparations and didn’t realize how quickly the time had passed. It was my engagement night when a beautiful bouquet of red roses was delivered to me in my hotel room. The delivery person wasn’t helpful in establishing who had sent it, all he said was “sir, yeh Bangalore se aaya hai”. I assumed it was from my office. There was this note with the flowers which I opened without much thought.
It said “Wish you a very happy married life. My husband would have loved to be there, but I guess God needed him much more in heaven- Mrs. Singh”