He smoked outside the station and as it rained I ran towards him.
“Why did you call?” I asked breathlessly.
“I thought I would give you the good news first”, said Aditya.
“And the news is?”
“I got it Farooq. I am going to US”.
Now my friend and I have not grown up together. We did not go to the same school. We met at my ex-girlfriends party. We both met at a music concert though common friends. We sat on the steps of our college later where we shared a joint together. We discussed about Malmsteen and Galvin Harrison. We spoke about Iron Man and Bicycle Thieves. From that day on we learnt to drink whiskey and graduated to being men.
“That’s great man! Are we going to Gokul?”
We took a taxi from the CST station. We crossed the beautiful gothic buildings, which welcomed everyone from all around the world. I always felt these ornate new and old structures showed the world we have not forgotten the past and we are no less in the present.
As Antiquity Blue poured in our glasses, I asked Aditya, “So you must be excited. But where did you get through?”
“In the best city in the word!”
“NYU”. I was now extremely happy for him. He had wanted to be a New York man from the time we had graduated from college.
“Thank God you broke up with Seema before all this. It would be a mess” For my friend, love and ambition would never go together. “Forget about me Farooq,” said Aditya. “You will work in Infosys always?”
“Waiting for my CAT results. Hoping to go any of the IIMs. Let’s not start arguing again. I am happy here. I want to own something of my own”
“But dude. At least Silicon Valley. Wouldn’t it be better?”
“I want to be home always. Dude we are at least moving forward. We are not Japan or Greece. We have future here. Right now with ISIS, I feel safe in India more than any place in the world.”
“You feel safe in India. Farooq Sheik feels safe in India. Yeah but nothing much has happened lately in this city. Isn’t it?”
“Thank God for that. The political parties are way too calm and so are the terrorists”
“Fuck Farooq, I know you feel safe man. But don’t say things like bombs and terrorists. To your question, remember what Mame had said? Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!
“Yes The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion”
“Well your attitude suits you. That of a suicide bomber. Dying to do something which no one believes.”
“Like a true Muslim?”
Aditya smiled while looking talking a huge gulp down.
“And if you get through IIM. After that?” asked my friend a bit sarcastically.
“Let’s see. Would want to marry Sneha.”
“Whoaa” gasped my friend.
Under the dim lights of Gokul Bar, we both knew we had set different path. We quietly drank our second glass of whiskey. In some parallel universe we could have a drink in some jazz bar in US. Maybe we would listen to Sinatra songs together. But I loved a woman, lived in a country which was dangerous and benign at the same time. My friend needed to go away because he had reasons of his own. I sensed he knew that it might have been our last drink in Gokul together.
“There is 10:45 show in Metro – Creed”
“It’s just 10pm. Let’s walk it up”
I rolled up a joint. We both smoked sneakily while walking through the alleys of the city. Mumbai was going back home at this hour. I looked around and without Aditya already the city seemed to be bit empty. A group of girls past by us in black and yellow taxi and both of us checked them out. You won’t be able to see stars in this city but you can witness the brilliant city lights which flickered as we both spoke about our possibilities a few years from now. We were back to those gothic structures waiting to write a new history and getting prepared for the future.
As we entered the theatre Aditya winked, “I’ll be back”.