Three weeks later…
The radio-taxi weaved its way through the evening traffic in Chanakyapuri, the heart of New Delhi’s diplomatic zone.
“It’s right after the Japanese Embassy,” said Saif, in a handsome black suite in front seat, extending his hand to the rear, tapping Amat, “and right before the Malaysian Embassy.”
“Unnngggghh!” Amat let out a muffled scream and blew frantically on her bandaged hand and almost immediately, started inspecting the empire waist of her figure flattering Emerald evening gown.
“Amat, his hand didn't even touch your hand,”said Midhat, elegant in her off-the-shoulder Turquoise gown.
"It was going to…," Amat pouted.
"No, it wasn't.” Saif rebutted, "You have become completely weird since that poke guy disappeared, double weird of before.”
"Saif…," Midhat said urgently," You were supposed to call the Colonel, Aakrosh's cousin and intimate him 15 minutes prior to our arrival."
"Already did," Saif said as the taxi swerved to the left and stopped on the gate of an compound with a simplistic blue and white four storey building resembling a university block, “even messaged him the taxi no.”
The guard briefed the driver and he drove straight to the porch where the tall Colonel stood in a black dinner jacket with his unmistakable shining pate and French-cut beard.
“Welcome young ladies. Welcome young man.” He said, smiling as they got down, “I’m Col Suresh.”
“Amat, Saif and Midhat” Midhat rattled out as they shook hands with the likeable Colonel. “Thank you for sending the invite, I hope it wasn’t a bother.
“Not at all, Aakrosh told me much in advance.” said the Colonel, and indicating at Amat’s thickly bandaged hand asked, “What happened? Are you fine?”
“Yes, thank you,” said Amat awkwardly, “caught in the door, Its fine now.”
“Please follow me,” said the Colonel, ushering them, “The Party is in the rear garden and we’ll take a little short cut through the building.
They followed the Colonel as he took a longish corridor through the porch and emerged in the rear lawn.
“Wow,” exclaimed Saif as he surveyed the huge brightly lit lawn and the landscaping. On the southwest corner, just below the crimson skyline dotted with tall green trees of the Nehru Park, there were L- shaped rows of white canopies with an outdoor bar established in one, a dinner buffet in the other and a jazz band in yet another. Twenty tables with chairs, three-fourth of them occupied, were placed in front of this arrangement.
“Please come, be comfortable,” said the Colonel leading them towards the tables, “and then you’ll have to excuse me. The ambassador has been held up in a phone call from Berlin and I and some other staff have to receive the guests on his behalf. The chief guests, Muller & wife are expected any moment.” Amat felt her heart skip a beat at the mention of Tom Muller.
As they passed a table a bespectacled tall bearded man in his mid-forties dressed in a Dinner Jacket got up and warmly greeted and hugged the Colonel. The Colonel was thrilled and introduced the bearded man to his companions, “Young ladies, May I introduce the man responsible for your presence here, Mr. Matthias Weber, the eminent journalist. He is the one who organized an extra pass for you at my request.” The tall man waved his hand, “Anything for you, Colonel. Hello ladies, Hello young man, call me Matthias. Have a seat.”
The three siblings looked at the Colonel who nodded and they introduced themselves and sat down besides Matthias. The Colonel excused himself and rushed towards the front lawn. Saif excused himself for washroom and left towards the bar ignoring Midhat’s stare.
Matthias received a phone call on his cell and Amat indicated to Midhat to pick a different table to sit. Midhat ignored her. The tables around them filled up quickly. Matthias finished his call and asked Midhat, “So you’re a big fan of Muller, good?”
Midhat indicated towards Amat and said, “She is. I prefer Ballack.”
“Great,” said Matthias, “And I presume you are from Delhi?
“We study in Delhi,” said Midhat, “We are from Aligarh.”
“Ahh! The one with the famous university... Why did you not study there? Why Delhi?”
Amat was both irritated at his interest and surprised at his knowledge.
“I did not get my subjects in the AMU,” replied Midhat courteously, “and we wanted to study in Delhi too. It is more cosmopolitan, if you know what I mean.”
“I know.” Matthias smiled and picked up Champagne from a passing bearer. Amat and Midhat picked up plain tonic water.
They heard a cacophonic noise and saw a whiskered man in the brown suit in the Jazz band stand blowing into a saxophone. Amat suppressed her laughter. Matthias smiled and said, “Peter Brotzmann. He is the legend of European free Jazz in Germany. He’s no Kenny–G but He’s the ambassador’s favourite. If you don’t like his quartet, you won’t survive the Machine-gun.”
Amat couldn’t help smile back.
The commotion began in the front lawn and proceeded towards them. The eye of the commotion was not visible but it was obvious that it had Muller and Lisa in it. Mr Brotzmann mercifully stopped playing as the procession headed straight for the Jazz band canopy. The ambassador took the mike as Tom, his wife Lisa, The ambassador and his wife became visible to the excited audience. Amat was getting restless to have a better view of Muller and then she spotted the Colonel sitting with an elderly overweight spectacled German with a rosebud in his lapel right in front of the Jazz band canopy. She excused herself and without waited for anyone’s response went and sat down next to the Colonel and the elderly gentleman’s table. The view was much better from here.
Surprisingly the Colonel and his companion did not seem to be interested in the jazz band canopy but were engrossed in their own conversation. Amat did not pay attention to them and concentrated on Tom Muller who stood handsome with his right hand casually in the trouser pocket of his Dinner jacket and Lisa in her beautiful blue evening gown. She wore a beautiful heart shaped golden pendant around her neck.
Then the ambassador began, “Ladies and Gentleman, a matter of honour as it is to have Tom among us, It is a matter of personal happiness to host both Tom & Lisa for me and my wife Ulla as I have long association with Lisa’s father. We are old colleagues in the diplomatic services of Germany since…”
Amat spotted Saif holding what could have been a beer can standing in the first row opposite the canopy staring at Muller, then she was distracted by the Colonel’s voice..
“But Professor,” the Colonel was saying, “how does it matter. In the end he is the son.”
“Well,” said the elderly man, “Some people cannot handle this Colonel. Some can. Some get the complex and start feeling the need to prove that even if they are, it was not the wrong decision.”
“…..and since this is my second tenure in India,” said the ambassador, “I can assure Tom & Lisa that they have made the right choice to spend their holiday time here. With us here we will extend them every possible assistance. Best luck to them.”
Everyone clapped. Amat clapped mechanically and looked towards the Colonel and the professor who were bent towards each other but the sound of claps drowned their conversation. She looked back towards Midhat and found her involved in deep conversation with Matthias. Then she again tried to spot Saif, and was amused to see him passionately explain something to a group of people -Muller, Lisa and the ambassador among his attentive listeners.
She felt a little drowsy and decided to freshen up.
Three weeks later…