The Reunion2020-02-25T07:35:20+05:30

The Reunion

 My wife had two very dear friends during college times—Protima and Manju. The friendship was close and every small event of life was shared by her with them. The imminence continued till each of the threesome got married.

In seventies and eighties, there was no facebook, nor any mobiles or email addresses. So, engrossed by her new set-up and then the kids, my wife lost whatever whereabouts of her friends she had. Only their names figured in her talks about the college, the Panjab University and the pre-marital days.

25 years after the marriage, she started remembering them a lot. How could I find them? She would often mumble and fall silent. During such moments, I resolved to locate her friends though I never committed this to her.

One day, while sitting together, I asked her where had Protima got married. She thought a lot, then remembered, ‘To someone in Kota. Her father-in-law had a big chemist shop. That’s all I know”.

That night I sat at my PC and searched the Net. A list of Chemists in Kota sprang up. What was her full name? I asked. ‘Protima Oberoi’, she replied. I short-listed a few chemists owned by the people of same caste. Next morning, I started ringing them up, one by one.

‘Would there be some Protima Oberoi in your family?” the question was odd but I persisted, explaining the reason behind. A firm ‘No’ followed by a hung up would happen every time. Exactly when, I started getting wary of the exercise, a person replied, ‘Why, Yes! She is my wife!’

Then a long talk followed. Protima came on line. There was a heart-to-heart talk between the two lost friends, telephone bill notwithstanding. ‘Do you sing as beautifully as you used to during University days?’ my wife asked. ‘My daughter sings now,’ laughed Protima, ‘She is getting married next month. Join us then!’

And it was hard for my wife to erase her frozen image and imagine the young, chubby Protima having a marriageable daughter!

One friend discovered, I asked about the second too. ‘I know nothing except that Manju had found a job in IDBI bank and was married in a Luthra family’, she told me.

There is a saying that Delhi people never leave Delhi. Now, it applies to NCR also. Since my wife and Manju were together in Faridabad, as an arrow in the dark, I enlisted all branches of IDBI bank in Faridabad and Delhi and kept the list with me.

One fine day, I began dialing the numbers of IDBI bank branches. There was no breakthrough. Due to some work, I had to leave the list halfway down. In the evening, I resumed the task. I didn’t know when the clock struck 6.00 pm. ‘Oh! The banks might be closed’, I thought as I dialed the last number.

Someone not sounding like a bank employee picked up the phone. A wrong number, I thought yet asked him. He was the watchman of the branch. I repeated the question I had asked a dozen times by now, ‘Is there someone Manju Luthra in your bank?’

‘She is the Chief Manager here,’ came the reply. ‘Now she has gone home. Ring up tomorrow,’ he said and hung up.

Stunned, I kept sitting like a statue. Then a sort of euphoria of discovering something impossible took me over.

Next day, again, a heart to heart talk between my wife, her face beaming with joy, and Manju followed.

‘You have fulfilled my long pending dream,’ my wife said. ‘I had never thought I shall ever meet them again in life’. I reveled in my accomplishment.

Next morning, when I got up, my wife came to me with a cup of tea. ‘You know, I had a very dear friend, named Suman, in my childhood. Could you find her too?”

I sat with my mouth gaping.