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The moment she saw him, she was overwhelmed with all the old emotions that she had been trying to suppress for years now. She began to feel sick in the stomach and could not help feeling short breathed. She could immediately remember each and every detail just like it was yesterday.
Some 12 odd years back, when she had just entered her first year of graduation. Belonging to a small town in the eastern UP, the big city of Mumbai was like a dream to her. She could not believe that she was able to convince her parents to let her go to such a big city. Her parents, while not very rich themselves, were not exactly poor. They had a sizable amount of agricultural land and led a comfortable life with all modern amenities. Even then, it was a task for her to convince her parents to let her pursue her dream of higher education.
So the first day of the college came and boy! Was she excited? She went to college and began regular studies. Very soon she was able to establish a close group of friends. Of course, being in Mumbai, very soon they started going out for various parties; some even extending to the early hours of the morning. Despite all the partying, boozing going on around her; she used to maintain that humble air about her which most people took her as being shy.
It was at one of these parties that she met Vikas. There was an instant connection between the two and she felt that she could easily talk to him. He seemed to be a nice guy. That is until the midnight of 14th Feb, 1999.
As her friendship with Vikas developed, they started going out more often. But she was still hesitant about anything further because of her small town, cautious upbringing. And she discussed this with Vikas as well, who said that he was fine with this. But apparently he was not. After the V-Day party, he took her for a midnight drive. Being unfamiliar with the city landscape; she did not know the area well. Vikas stopped the car at a lonely place and forced himself on her. Try as she might, she could not get herself away from his clutches. She was shattered after the incident while Vikas absconded from the city. And she could not even create too much ruckus about it else her parent would have cut short her studies and that would have been the end of her career, much before it even began. So she kept the things to pretty much herself and maintained a low profile for the rest of the time.
But that was the day which scarred her life forever. That day was the reason that she pushed herself so hard that she would not have time for anything else in life. That day was the reason that despite all the psychological counseling she still needed sleeping pills every night.
And all those memories flooded her as she came face to face with Vikas on her flight from HongKong to Sydney with her feet still aching in her Jimmy Choo stilettos and the LV bag refusing to stay in position. So, she purposely dropped her purse in Vikas’ lap to let him establish the connection. But all she got was a smile in return. Bloody man didn’t even have the courtesy to hand her bag back to her. Absolutely no trace of recognition! How could it be that while that one incident has scarred her so badly; Vikas seems to have forgotten her completely?
“That could not be right” thought she. And it was then that she saw him sipping scotch and a plan began to form in her mind. She requested the air hostess to switch her seat to one next to Vikas.
L: Hi! I am Liz. What’s your name?
V: Hey! This is Vikas. So what do you do Liz?
L: I am a director with a multinational entertainment giant. I handle a lot of fortune 10 clients and their advertisement campaigns.
V: Hmmm… that sounds interesting. I am into an NGO for social welfare of poor and illiterate women. Teaching them how to read and right, among other skills.
L: Wow that is so cool…
And the conversation continued so on for next hour or so with more drinks being ordered. Being a teetotaler, she did not drink but ensured that Vikas had plenty of it. When, after another hour or so, she was sure that he had stopped moving, she pulled a nightcap on his eyes, switched off the lights and whispered to the air-hostess “Poor guy… dead tired… Please ensure that nobody disturbs him till the flight reaches Atlanta… not even in the stopover at Sydney”.
She de-boarded at Sydney and went to the luggage section to pick her baggage. Where she was standing, a boy was asking his mother “Mom please help me with 6-Down. A seven letter word. Best served cold.” “I don’t know honey… please let mama check the baggage out”.
“Revenge” offered Liz “Revenge is a dish best served cold!”
"Thanks ma’m” said the boy.
Liz walked away with a new spring in her steps, stopping just long enough at a waste-bin around the corner to throw away the freshly emptied strip of sleeping pills…
Images Courtesy: thefarpoint.org, blog.30dollardatenight.com, chinatownconnection.com