‘You have to help me,’ pleads Manoj, ‘Come on Amar, you’re my best friend.’
‘No, I’ll not help you.’
‘It’s just an address.’
‘Just an ADDRESS!’ Exasperated, Amar stops walking and turns around.
Manoj continues earnestly, ‘You know I have been following her requests on the radio for the past year. She and I love the same songs, write similar poetry, have similar ideas about liberating our country. She and I…’
Amar resumes walking before Manoj can finish the sentence.
‘She is my soul-mate. Help me find her?’
‘Soul-mate,’ Amar laughs derisively, ‘You are talking about a woman who writes weekly postcards to All India Radio, requesting songs. You have never met her, never seen her. For all you know she is an old, fat married grandma of ten. Moreover, being a majnu is a fulltime job, not for lazy latsaabs like you. You can’t be bothered to join the freedom movement, what are you talking about liberating the country?’
The look of utter heartbreak on Manoj’s face stops Amar from continuing.
‘This is totally illogical Manoj. You are a Physics professor in a prestigious college. If word gets out about…’ Amar gesticulates with his hands, ‘all this, then what’ll happen to your good name?’
‘Are you going to help me or not?’
Sighing, Amar nods.
The knock on the door has Manoj looking up. He smiles broadly as Amar steps into the room.
‘Abbe sale, you disappeared for three months. No news, nothing. And forget everything else,’ Amar says slapping Manoj’s back, ‘Tell me, did you meet Rajjo Ji. Was the address correct?’
A smile blooms of Manoj’s face.
‘The address was correct. She is at Allahabad University.’
‘So how did you meet her? What is she like?’
Huh! For someone who wasn’t willing to help, he’s certainly very interested.
‘Of course, I cannot thank you enough for the address. At the first opportunity, I went to the campus. There’re only a few women in the Hindi department. When I enquired, I was pointed to two women standing under the gulmohar tree. One of them looked to be in her mid-forties wearing a beautiful cotton yellow sari. She looked like she belonged to an affluent family. The other was a young willowy girl. She had beautiful skin and a radiant smile. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.’
‘Wow! So, she is beautiful.’
‘Oh yes! When I called out her name, the lady in the yellow sari turned and said ‘yes’.’
‘Oh no!’ Amar exclaims, ‘I told you, she’ll be old.’
‘She is elder, yes…’
‘No, yes. I hope you left then?’
‘Do you want to hear the rest?’
‘I have to admit, I was shocked. But once she got talking, it was easy. We met at the university regularly. She may not be the love of my life but she has introduced me to it. I have decided to join Netaji’s Indian National Army.’
Amar gapes, open-mouthed.
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