BY RAJNISH DAYAL
Rajnish Dayal, better known as Raj to his friends, is an aspiring entrepreneur and full-time dreamer, based out of Bangkok for the last 18 years. When not running his international trading business, Red Hills Co.,Ltd, he loves puttering around the kitchen, researching generations-old family recipes, and scribbling down his thoughts as poetry or prose, as the mood suits him. Here, he ponders upon unusual sources of inspiration.
It was a lazy afternoon. The breeze was too lazy to move, as if the wind had gone out of it. No sound of traffic. Not a bee droned. Even the birds were silent. Thailand takes its holidays very seriously.
I was playing my part, trying to perfect the fine art of loafing, when the desultory silence was broken by the sound of my ringing phone.
It was an unknown number. As someone also trying to perfect the art of holding sparkling conversations on wrong numbers, I happily picked up the phone.
“Hello,” said a soft, sophisticated, feminine voice.
I suppose I must have mumbled something unintelligent.
“Hello,” said the voice again. “Is that Rajnish?”
I sighed, then stammered, then decided to compose myself in order to give an affirmative reply.
Alas, it was not to be.
The lady on the other end must have sensed my distinct lack of vocal or intellectual ability.
She spoke again; “Hello, is that Rajnish Verma?”
I paused and considered my options. As far as reality went, I suppose I was indeed, not Rajnish Verma. My parents had, as a matter of fact, taken some effort to impose upon me that my surname was Dayal. But then, on the other hand, my father’s surname was Tawakley and my mother’s was Sahai. So was it possible that I was indeed a Verma? Probably not. But if I said, “Yes, this is Verma speaking,” then this lady with the dreamy voice would continue speaking with me, and once she got to know me, who knows! We might even spend a rather pleasant afternoon chatting about something or the other ?
Too late. My thoughts were interrupted by the lady’s voice speaking again.
“I am sorry, I think I have called the wrong number.” And she hung up.
I put the phone down. And smiled. The voice brought back memories from days long gone by. Of a dear friend, who spoke in the exact same way.
An irrational, unintentional, international call meant for someone else… and yet…
A bee droned by. A koel let out a tentative call into the blue sky. A breeze stirred. Suddenly the afternoon was not the same anymore.