The Reunion XXVI: Dinner with Family and Friends

That night’s dinner was in the hotel itself, which was a relief since none of us had the strength to go anywhere else after the day’s excursion. We had rested a little after coming back to the hotel and then had started getting dressed. I felt happy. My little talk with Hanumanji, the stone deity, had worked and I could feel the ghosts of the past receding, leaving me to be at peace with myself and the ones I loved. Tonight, was the main dinner of our batch. Tomorrow night’s dinner would be an even grander affair, but it would also have invitees from the town and alumni of other batches. Tonight, was our night.

I wore a saffron kurta, white pyjamas and a red coatee. Vaishali dressed in a black saree with stars studded all over and wore a necklace and eardrops of colourful beads which I had brought from Uganda. She looked stunning. The children wore western since it was still very cold. We exited our room and started collecting Appu and Sutanu’s family. On the way I met Umesh Kohli.

‘Abe, Rahul Joshi has come, did you know’, he asked?

‘No man. When?’ I replied. 

I would be great to meet Rahul Joshi after such a long time. He was a character too! Single piece. There was no one like him. For a period of time the five of us used to be really close – me, Rahul, Vineet, Umesh and Dhar. Dhar! The name resonated in my mind, going around it like an echo in a subterranean cave. Yes, Dhar. Where was he? He hadn’t come to the reunion! A few others also hadn’t come. But we missed Dhar. 

Dhar was a Kashmiri Pandit by extraction and a Himachali by residence. We had been really close for a short period of time in college, and I had also visited his home in Solan. We had had real fun there and had also camped out on a hill at night, making a bonfire and eating and drinking and singing ghazals. Later, things had got complicated and Dhar had drifted away from me. He got closer to a group of senior boys and I joined Appu’s group; which itself was disintegrating. 

SMASH. Yes, that was the name of the group to which Appu and Sutanu initially belonged. But like our group had slowly ceased to be functional, so had SMASH. I had entered their group and Dhar had exited our group. Vineet too had drifted off in an orbit of his own and Umesh and Rahul had grown closer to Macha and Dahia and Gaurav Goel. Dahia and Gaurav Goel also hadn’t come to the reunion and, it seems, no one seemed to miss them except a couple of boys. 

I had lost touch with both Dhar and Rahul Joshi after college, and now that Rahul was here, I was excited to meet him. I wished Dhar was here too!

Umesh led me and Appu towards Rahul’s room. As the door opened a familiar smell of tobacco assaulted my nostrils, instantly reminding me of our days back at college. 

‘You bugger, how are you?’ I exclaimed upon seeing him. 

He beamed at me and we hugged. An exchange of friendly expletives followed before it was Appu’s turn.

‘Have a sip,’ Umesh said, motioning towards a couple of glasses where he had already prepared a ‘friendship drink’. 

‘It’s one less’, I said, ‘Who’s not having?’

‘Me’, Rahul said, smiling his crazy smile. The thing about Rahul Joshi was that his smile and his eyes told different stories. He had always been like this. You could never take this gentleman at face value. 

‘Why’, I quizzed? 

‘Ok I will have a sip. I will share your drink,’ Rahul conceded. Umesh looked at him sideways, they exchanged glances, something unsaid was understood between the two.

Our drinks over, we walked towards Sutanu’s room, where Sutanu stood looking like a schoolboy in his red sweatshirt. Appu, for a change, wore a kurta and a coatee, like me, but had complemented it with a jean. How very typical of him! I giggled. 

The women and kids had already left, and thus we hurried on after them. 

The banquet hall of the hotel was suitably decorated and happily noisy. Right inside the entrance was a ‘photo station’. A settee with a backdrop and an oblong frame decorated with flowers had been stationed there for people to pose for photographs. People were already getting their photos clicked there. 

We looked around for our families and, locating them, drifted apart. 

‘Let’s get the pictures done quickly,’ Vaishali said to me.

‘Yes, that will be a good idea,’ I agreed, and started collecting the girls. 

Together we walked over to the photo station, waited for our turn and got our pictures clicked. The photographer was very helpful and was especially friendly with the children. Avinash had made a good choice. 

Several cultural events were planned for tonight and Amita, Sridhar, Teju, Avinash, Logani etc had already taken charge, and were getting the cultural events going. Some kids started to perform their bits, as Vaishali wandered over to her friends and I drifted to the drinks stall. 

And who should I find there? Amit Maheshwari! He was another typical character with his characteristic moustache and strange mannerisms. We roared in joy and hugged each other – it had been a long time. Maheshwari had been in and out of many groups. No one could say which ‘group’ he belonged to. He flitted in and out of several groups with opposing ideologies, as easily as politicians change parties. Sometimes I thought he should have been in politics. He was friends with everyone, but not too close to anyone and had no adversaries. Yes, he was a strange creature.

We hit it off instantly, talking about old times and what happened after we left the college among other things. He told me about how he had fractured his leg and had suffered for several months after that and I joked about how fantastic his moustaches with their upturned ends looked. Umesh joined us, Rahul followed soon after, then Macha came, Mona, Appu, DK, Sutanu – it was a riot. All the boys were laughing, hugging, talking loudly and showering each other with the choicest expletives. It was just like college again!

To be continued………………………………….

Check out the Hot New Bestseller from the author on Amazon –

#TheBattleOfPanchavati

To be continued………………………………….

Check out the Hot New Bestseller from the author on Amazon –

#TheBattleOfPanchavati

Link to Amazon India – https://www.amazon.in/dp/9352016890?ref=myi_title_dp

2 thoughts on “The Reunion XXVI: Dinner with Family and Friends

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: