I started out for the golf course feeling a little out of place because of the letter that had arrived. I had decided to open the envelope after the game but could not stop myself from thinking about the contents of the letter. My thoughts had taken a U turn to more a decade back when I had first met D. I remember our first meeting vividly. It was pouring heavily, close to ten in the morning, and I was desperate for a smoke. When I reached the Paan Waalah holding an umbrella in my hand, I saw a man sitting next to the shop puffing on his cigarette which he held with an amazing technique. Everything else on his body or even remotely touching his body apart from the cigarette was completely drenched. I could not contain my disappointment for the closed shop and banged hard at the door.
“Want a smoke?”, I heard him say. A true angel in disguise, this was the first time I had noticed his face especially the eyes. They were discomforting and soothing at the same time and he spoke as if he was looking through me and not at me.
“Would love to......Thanks a lot, mate”, I replied with genuine gratitude.
“No need to thank me” he said as he passed me the packet of cigarette and drew out his lighter to light my stick.
“Ganesh”, I extended my hand introducing myself
“You can call me D. My father named me Devbratta, but I prefer to be called by the first alphabet of my name. Short and sweet. What’s there in a name?” This was to be the last time I heard his full first name and an immediate bond had been established through a firm handshake.
“How do you hold the cigarette, mate, not a drop of water touching the stick?” I always wanted to learn new stuff to flaunt around.
“Heard ‘bout Darwin.....’Survival of the fittest’? I was basically trying to evolve my cigarette consumption technique. It took me two packets of cigarette to learn this. See...” He said, pointing at the cigarette packets lying behind the bench. “Go ahead and give it a try, but you have to learn it on your own to make it perfect. Everybody has a different way of doing the same thing, you see.”
My nostalgia had ensured my overshooting the turn to Sharma’s house. I decided to concentrate on driving, and reached his house in about two minutes. As always I had to ring the doorbell twice before I could get the remotest of attention.
“Bhaisaab, I am ready. Just give me two minutes” yelled a familiar voice from inside. Sharma reminded me of Shakespeare’s Polonius who could give a five minute speech to conclude that ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’.
“He didn’t have the courtesy to even call me inside.” I said to myself. He was a typical know-all, or at least presented himself as one by talking about the latest buzz of the town. I am sure he started playing golf to be a part of the elite, sophisticated sect.
I finally saw him coming out wearing a pink t-shirt on brown trousers with a cheap golf cap having. As soon as he saw me he ran back to the house shouting “Start the car, Bhaisaab. I just forgot something” and came out wearing his black sunglasses. “It is really hot today, isn’t it?” he commented. I avoided the conversation while Sharma started his typical office gossip, acknowledging with occasional nods as we headed towards the golf course.