Dhritiman and Ritwika were meeting frequently by the time Mithya landed in Delhi. Dhritiman generally used to catch up with her over lunch and they ended up discussing lot of random nonsense on life and things mundane and dull, otherwise. The possibility of anything further than talk was perhaps sabotaged by the fact that they met only and briefly over short durations unless Dhritiman asked her out to check out his business venture at Noida. Once while he was passionately discussing the possibilities of private entrepreneurship and government coming up together to build up a model plan on augmenting the economy to better heights, Ritwika had shown her interest at that time and for the first time in how Dhritiman wished to work on the same. And today he had asked her to accompany him. Which meant around four to five years of being together on an otherwise free Friday for Ritwika.
She liked he guy. He was sensible, mature, a visionary and above all an honest soul. But she kept thinking if she really deserved a man like him. Ritwika was a very contented soul. She did not seek many ambitious plans and successes from life. She desired a happy, small, calm home for herself. She did picture a man in her life. She did see the possibility of a caring and loving home maker in her but she could never really relate to this 'i-will-present-a-great-model-to-the world' game in life. For her simple things in life mattered more. Like eating at least one meal with the family together. Having a cosy, warm bed to come back to after each day's work. She did not dream of ten plots around India and one in Bali. She was more of a girl still stuck in the great tradition of the great Indian middle class dreams. When she heard Dhritiman talk feverishly about investment ventures and vulgarly associate the whole to the circular flow of money in an economy, and therefore augment the entire rung of the socio-economic classes towards greater mobility and development, she felt sick and tired and drained. Not that she did not like the drive in him, she was merely preplexed at how people could actually live and believe in a world so naive that they build for themselves? About how people actually saw life as this balanced chemical equation measured and quantified in proportions as precise as these? About precisely how they could manage to be so immaculately innocent in their hypocritical optimism?
"Hey, is everything ok?"
Dhritiman asked Ritwika after ten minutes of this silent drive.
"Yeah..yeah i am. Just that...mmmmm...leave it."
"Tell me Rit..can i call you Ritz?"
"Yeah. All my friends call me the same."
"Ritwika, all i wanted was some hours with you. I want to know more about you. I want you to know more about me."
"Dhritiman, have you already begun to love me?"
At this he could merely look at her for a few seconds without saying much. The next thing Ritwika realised was Dhritiman leaning over to caress her hair spread over her eyes and say, "If you think, i shall kiss you over, i would not, despite the fact that i am tempted to. Does it answer your question, lady?"
Ritwika could merely smile at this. They drove to the plush design of a corporate office half-made.
"We got this land long time back. Maa and Paa got it only to invest in some cash. But when i got in here, i realised that this can be put to use in a lucrative business idea. I don't know why the fuck did i care to sit for civil services?"
"Because you wanted to have the ease and comforts of luxury with power is what you told me. Is there more to it?"
He laughed at this and added, "It was also ego. And lot of it. The Bihari in me did want all of that but that was not enough. It was more of this sense to prove that i am still one among the leads which kept me going. I was pretty young and flushed with energy then. Trust me, had they posted me somewhere in a remote corner in Andhra, i would not have joined. But as luck goes, i am here to stay."
Ritwika abstained from saying, "This is what i like about you. Your honesty." But she did not.
"May i ask you a question, Ritz?"
"Do you like me? I mean i get this feeling that you do. But then you never seem to not like anyone. You seem so stoic and calm that it is difficult to discern why you actually turn up for these hang outs. I mean, i ask you, you never refuse. You never deny me any will. But you never ever want to take call, even once. Not that you are you are rude ever. But you are not here despite being here. You are as sweet as you were the last time i met you. So how then do i know?"
"Dhritiman, what do you wish to listen?"
"Whatever you wish to say."
"You just said that i do not have anything to say to you or anyone."
"Do you know that you are irresistible? But then at the same time, you offer no resistance to anyone who wishes to succumb to you. Sometimes i wonder if you can be owned by anyone ever? And i wonder if i should every try doing that to you."
"Dhritiman, what are you talking? How did this business guy suddenly turn philosophical? I don't know what you mean, but i guess we should have something to eat. I am starving."
He joined her in her laughter and then the rest of the day went - he explained the designs and plans of the venture and Ritwika managed to add a couple of intelligent questions here and there.
On their way of return to the city, Dhritiman asked her, "What if i proposed to you tonight, Ritz? You look lovely right now."
He inched closer to her and smelt her hair. She let his fingers touch the contours of her neck. He kissed her on her lips. She did not move even an inch. It seemed as if he could do anything he wanted with that beautiful body and leave without regret.
"Damn you, Ritz! If you love someone else, i deserve the right to know at least."
To be continued....