He was leaning against the gate and waiting for him to come out of the house. He took out his mobile to check on the time and saw that it was not even eight in the night yet. There would be enough time to get things done before sleeping. He heard the noise of someone rushing down steps and turned to see him come out of his house.
“What were you searching for so long?”
“I was searching for my watch.”
“What the hell do you need a watch for?”
“Anyway, while taking my watch out my eyes fell on this, so I thought that maybe we could have it today”
He pulled out a slender metal cylinder from his pocket and handed it to him. He pulled open the cap and inhaled a deep long breath, taking in the aroma of the cigar in.
“Romeo Juliet, good stuff. I thought you were saving this to enjoy on some occasion.”
“I was, and I will be leaving today. What better a time to enjoy it? Besides if I leave it behind, how is going to anything to it?”
Having secured a seat for studying statistics, Rajesh was to leave for Washington the next day and wanted to spend some time of his last day with his good friend and class mate Sameer. Rajesh wanted to go to the States for quite some time now, for he believed that not only a better education but also a better life style and standard of living awaited him there. Sameer had not shown such desires yet. Rajesh pocketed the cigar case and sat behind Sameer on his bike. Sameer pushed the start button on the handle, changed gears and rode off towards the road, careful to avoid the potholes on the connecting lanes from the society to the road.
It was a short drive to his place which was just about 2 kilo meters away. Rajesh got down so that Sameer may park his bike in the ground floor parking. He nodded to the watchman sitting on his steel chair next to the elevator and pressed the button to call the elevator down. Sameer was there with him by the time the elevator doors opened. They got in together and he pressed 6 for the floor on which his house was while Rajesh closed the grille which served as the inner door.
“Have you got booze in the house or will we have to go and get it?”
“I think three or four bottles of beer and some of the vodka we had got the other day.”
“Should do enough. If there is any less you’re going to drag your fat ass all by yourself to buy some.”
“ Balls. I am just going relax on the bean bag while you bring it yourself. Who asked you to drink so much last time?”
“Oi, it’s not like I made a mess!”
“Yeah, that is all I need. Feed you free food and beer and then clean up after you throw up. Very relaxing.”
“Exactly, I don’t see why you’re cribbing about it.”
Both of them entered the house grinning. Sameer went on to the kitchen to bring glasses and bottles while Rajesh sat on the couch and turned the TV on. Sameer brought it all out on the table and while he was pouring the drinks out, Rajesh was emptying packets of salted cashews and dried figs. They took their first glasses of beer, clinked them, said cheers and drank it up. Soon the cigar came out and Rajesh and took two puffs before passing it to Sameer. He put it in his mouth and waited for the flavour to seep in before taking a puff and heaving a deep sigh.
“This is some real good stuff. Top Notch”
“Totally. Do you remember our first cigar?”
“Hahaha, yeah. We went to the other side of the city to have it so that no one would catch us.”
“It was one of those cheap flavoured cigars, but back then we felt so rich doing it.”
“Yeah, stupid kids.”
“Oye. Speak for yourself, mister.”
And then they went on to talk about some of other good times they had shared together in college and after it.
“So when do you leave for the airport tomorrow?”
“Around 12, want to check in a little early and go inside. You know how mum and papa are, they will get teary.”
“And will they be ok going back on their own?”
“ Yeah, my cousin will also come to drop me off. You should come too, you know. ”
“I wish, but I have a presentation tomorrow and boss won’t give me a day off.”
“Not to the airport, I am talking about US.”
“Now where did this come from?”
“I know I am going to do masters before getting a full time job, but it’s different there. You can save up from your part time while studying so you don’t have to ask your parents.”
“And other than that it is not like here. Over there people aren’t bothered about others. You’re only treated as good as your work. People let you be who you are.”
“Yeah, that is what Sonal told me too. It’s a great country that you’re going to, and I would totally love it over there. But you know how I feel about it. We all want to leave here because we say that this place sucks, but nobody wants to stay back and do something about it.”
“Dude, that is all nice to read about in the books you have. You’ve been reading too much of this philosophy crap. Someone as good as you would do great there.”
“Hmn.., which is I want to stay back here.”
“Whatever, if you change your mind let me know. Now come drop me off to my house.”
“Can’t man, can’t drive like this. I am a little drowsy. I’ll walk you down to the road and get you an auto.”
They walked down to the road and waited for a couple of minutes till an auto rickshaw came. They hugged each other and Rajesh left in the auto.
Sameer was sipping coffee with his back rested against the wall. He straightened when he saw the boss coming his way. He greeted him and told him that the presentation went well and the director was pleased with the results. The boss shook his hands on a job done well, gave him some updates on what was supposed to be done the next day and walked ahead. Sameer got back to his coffee with his back against the wall. He looked at the large wall clock in front of him. It was almost five in the evening. Rajesh must be in his flight by now. He couldn’t help but feel envious of him. He smiled and wondered if it was because he had made it.