A New Year Love Story – Sumana Bhattacharya

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Tiya wades through traffic impatiently on New Year’s Eve. She’s headed to the club to meet her friends where they will usher new year and then go to a friends’ place and chat through the night over a few drinks. This has been their ritual for the last few years and she’s excited about Tarun joining them this year, she sincerely hopes he does. While the over-crowded roads, slow-moving traffic, and constant honking irritate her, she tries to keep her spirit up thinking about the evening ahead!

Like every year she’s been planning this for a long time. It’s not easy to get into a good place in Gurgaon on Dec 31st unless you pre-book, and of course, you are overcharged. While she was thinking about all the trouble she went through to get bookings for the new year’s extravaganza in this club, she suddenly remembered the quiet and simple new year celebrations of her childhood – mom would cook a nice dinner, bake a cake and they would all sit together before the black & white TV (Westin was it?) to watch the special shows. First, a look back at the year that was, a recap of the important happenings of the year passing by that was presented by the suave DD news readers. Meenu, Geetanjali Aiyer, Shammi Narang, and their ilk had a class and a poise that is completely lost to news anchors of our times.

Then came the much-awaited year-ender presented by a Bollywood star, with a lot of nach, gaana, smart one-liners and jokes and Bollywood numbers. In fact, all the different shows on different Bollywood award nights that we see now are basically a modern and glitzy take on the old DD format. The grand finale would come at 12 with a big star presenting a special number welcoming the new year. Tiya vaguely remembered Hungama 85 or 89 was it? After that, they would cut the cake with each other new year and go to bed.

Stuck in traffic that is barely moving now she suddenly missed those simple new year festivities, they didn’t do much but there was so much warmth. When she invited Tarun for the new year’s party he did suggest that she could come over and he could cook her a nice meal and they could watch a movie together or listen to music. But Tiya wanted to impress Tarun with the glitzy club and introduce him to her friends. Tarun, however, wasn’t too excited about the club, though he promised Tiya that he would try to join.

They have been dating for a while now but Tarun is yet to meet her friends. Each time she tried organizing a lunch or an evening do with her friends, there was always some last moment work emergency due to which he couldn’t attend. So, when Tarun suggested a quiet dinner at home instead of a party with her friends for New Year’s Eve, Tiya felt he was avoiding meeting her friends and that made her uncomfortable. Maybe Tarun sensed that and agreed to come.

Tiya wondered whether she could even make it to the club. Most of her friends were already there and she still has an hour to go according to GPS. What if Tarun reaches before her, he doesn’t really know anybody. Soon enough the phone rang, it was Tarun he left very early so he could be in the club on time, and now that she’s yet to reach he will wait for her at the lobby. Tiya felt terrible, the unending traffic and chaos frustrated her. Somehow, she maneuvered her way to the club and found Tarun patiently waiting for her at the lobby. He’s been waiting for almost an hour with a bouquet of flower and an old fashion New Year’s greeting card. Tiya was touched, nobody has given her a greeting card in years. As Tarun smiled shyly, she opened the card, ‘It has been wonderful meeting you’, the card read. ‘Are you sure you want to go to this crowded club?’  Tarun asked, ‘we could still go to my place and have a quiet dinner.’ ‘Let’s just go to your place, cook together and watch some TV,’ Tiya said, she’s had enough noise for one night.  ‘But what about your friends?’ asked Tarun. ‘I will message them, we are very late anyway,’ said Tiya.

They celebrated new year over Tarun’s home cooked meal and few glasses of beer (Tuborg strong was their favorite drink). And they talked through the cold winter night into the new day!

The story first appeared in Storizen Magazine January 2019 Issue.

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