It was after a couple of years that my wife Jyoti and me finally saw a film in a cinema hall. I hardly get time from my busy work schedule and prefer to watch movies on television.
But after this evening, I realized it was these small pleasures in life which I was missing. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We began with a stroll in a public garden, filming each other on our video camera – to preserve the nice moments for posterity. We followed it up by a nice dinner and then saw the Hindi movie ‘Black’. It was a nice film and we both enjoyed watching the movie together.
Our house wasn’t really a walking distance from the cinema hall, but the night was pleasant and we were very relaxed, so we decided to walk it up.
We were holding each other hand’s as we walked , feeling so much of love for each other. Jyoti was walking almost reclining on me. We had been married for 13 years, yet we were so much in love with each other, as if we were newly weds.
“I love you Ajit” said my wife in dreamy romantic voice.
“oh my baby, I love u so much” came my reply.
We kept talking sweet nothings as we walked swayingly. We had all the time and the streets were empty. Normally we arent demonstrative in front of people, but today we were taking a bit of liberty. And there was no one around. We hardly get such moments.
Even holding hands or keeping our arms around each other, is quite demonstrative by our standard.
We cant call ourselves conservative, but we had been brought up in families where we didn’t believe in the concept of girlfriends or boyfriends. Though our parents were not against it, but during our unmarried days, we just didn’t have any boyrfriends or girlfriends. Moreover she was the more emotional kind. She just didn’t believe in casual relationships. I was her first love, and for me too she was my first love. And only when we realized we both were serious about each other , that we went ahead. I proposed marriage to her and she very shyly had said yes. Our parents agreed without any hesitation. Infact at times , because everything went off without any hitch, it almost felt like arrange marriage.
Well, that was long back . But walking down the street it still felt as good and romantic like it was 13 years ago. Our family was what one can say as a complete happy family. My wife, me and our 12 year old son, Nikhil.
Being in middle of monsoon, the streets were quite empty. We didn’t realize that during the movie it had rained outside. But the wet streets added to our carefree romantic mood.
“Ajit, its almost midnight” my wife said, not alarmed, but a bit surprised that we had lost sense of time.
“Ah , its ok, tomorrow is Sunday, and Nikhil is also staying ovbvernight with his friends. Infact I feel like having coffee now” I said with a laugh.
“No lets go home, I will make coffee for us” She said in her sweet voice.
I was so lucky to have her as my wife. She was smart and educated and well placed in her job, yet not too modern or extravagant. She normally wore salwar kameez or saris in a very decent way. She was very reserved with her friends and colleagues and earned their respect for her modest behaviour. She was not like most of the loud frivolous youngsters. She was open with me but for the rest she was almost like a nun.
I agreed with her. It was best to go home for coffee as I was beginning to feel a bit tired with the walking. I am 35 and beginning to put on weight. Though I must say , the years have treated Jyoti well. Despite being 33 she looked fit and trim. Well, just a bit healthier than what she was at 20, but still in proper slim shape.
The streets were known to us pretty well, but it was empty unlike daytime, when its noisy and crowded. Our house must have been still a kilometre away when we saw this bunch of 3-4 guys walking towards us . We just side-stepped onto the pavement as they were walking on the street. They seemed the usual noisy bunch of youngsters – a regular sight in Mumbai in Saturday nights.
We didn’t bother about them and kept walking without looking at them. They too didn’t seem too bothered about us. And moreover Jyoti does not catch too much of attention as she dresses simply.
I heard one of them whistling. We just ignored, as we thought they must be in good mood, and just being loud among playful among themselves – nothing to do with us. But we were wrong. I clearly heard one of the guys calling out at us.
“Hey romeo, apne laila ke saath mazaa le raha hai raat ko”
(“Hey Romeo, you are enjoying with your Laila in the night”)
I don’t know why one of the guys passed that remark. We had even stopped holding each others hands, as we had early itself seen these guys walking on the street. And in no measure did we look like a young desperate couple. We looked and behaved pretty much like well-married couple. I guess these guys were drunk.
Jyoti just nudged me to ignore the guys and walk away . I was feeling irritated, but we kept walking away.
We thought these guys just made a passing remark and would go away. But we were wrong again.
“C’mon yaar, let us also taste your Laila”, another guy said with a laugh.
Now my irritation was turning into anger. But Jyoti kept pulling me away.
I was getting older, but I could still lose my temper at times. Jyoti noticed it .
“Please let us not spoil the nice evening we had, because of these goons” she urged.
I didn’t reply but kept walking .
But that was not the end of our trouble. The guys seemed more emboldened by the emptiness of the road. They began to follow us. I knew there was no way out, and I had to confront them.
“Whats your problem” I asked angrily. “Leave us alone or you will be in trouble. We will report you all to the police“
But my words didn’t have the desired effect, rather it spurred them on. I could see they were quite drunk and were beyond rationale thinking.
“ Hero banta hai, saala”, one of the guys taunted me
(“You are trying to be a hero”)
And before I could react couple of guys walked upto me and pushed me against the wall next to the pavement. Jyoti was about to scream, but another guy put his hand over her mouth. I could hear her muffled cried though his hand. While this was happening a fourth guy walked upto me and punched me hard in my stomach. It felt like a hammer and I fell on the pavement breathless, not even able to speak or groan. My voice was stuck somewhere between my lungs and throat .