Room Number No: 001
The four-year-old girl in the picture, with her dad throwing her up towards the sky, the girl was laughing and her eyes fixed on her father. She knew his hands would never let her fall. Her mother in an 8mm camera shot the picture; it was then scanned to a floppy disk, and then copied to a DVD disk, now it is in her father’s android tablet.
He was 32 when this picture was taken, now he is 71, lying in the bed, looking into the IPS screen and gathering whatever memories he could of that day.
The three-year-old girl in the picture was supposed to meet him with her son for their New Year festival. She had not met him even once; post her mother’s funeral two years ago.
The phone on the coffee table began to vibrate, it was her.
“Hello beta, where are you now?” The old man asked.
“Daddy, I am still caught up in office, I’m sorry, but I will have to cancel tomorrow’s flight. The new marketing manager is dropping in for a visit; my pretty face would be expected in front gate to greet him. You know, with being the new tech head and all.” She seemed to be walking somewhere in a hurry.
“Kamla, but you promised me, baby”
“I know, dear, but what to do, weren’t you the one who always would tell me that work should come first.”
“Yes, dear, work should always be first.” The pension he got for 45 years of service allowed him to afford a room in this star hotel, but the social isolation, which came from spending too much time in office, has led to no visitors.
“I will be there next season for sure alright, please ask varadhamma to prepare my favorite fish curry when I come alright?”
“Varadhamma died last week Kamla.”
“What! Oh my god…”
Silence followed for a moment.
“Kamla, a lot of things have changed here, please drop by to find out what they are.”
“Alright dad, I got to go now, call you later ok?”
“Ok Kamla, it’s time for me to go to sleep as well, good night.”
The old man was once very proud that his daughter was abroad, working for a multi-national software company. He even supported her when she expressed the desire to marry an American.
A few years later, he consoled her when the man left her and her son for another woman. He trained her in meditation and helped her focus her attention towards her career and the welfare of her son and herself.
The old man would usually take half a pill for sleep, today he mixed ten of them in his milk. He stirred them well and drank it in one gulp, much like how he would gulp down MILO as a twelve-year-old.
He lay on his back and flipped through the images on the screen once more, he saw his wife and daughter through the best times of his life, the times he wants to take with himself as he prepares to say goodbye.
Room No: 420.
The fan in the room creaked louder each time Jerry tried to turn down the knob.
“I swear to god, I am going to shoot that thing!” Stephen said.
“George would find our room a lot easier then, but he would be followed by the hotel staff and the police.” Jerry moves to the small coffee table and picks up the newspaper.
“Why isn’t he responding, it’s almost midnight,” Stephen checked his wristwatch, placed it near his ear to check for the ticking sound. He leaned forward to hold a large briefcase next to the coffee table.
“He is a man of his word, must be stuck somewhere.”
“Where can he possibly get stuck at this hour?”
“He is on his way Stephen, now calm down.”
“Man, it shouldn’t be like last time, you remember how narrow that was?” Stephen placed the briefcase on the table.
“That rat son-of-a-bitch actually did put bags of salt on top, I thought he was joking,” Jerry said, “Hey, why are you opening the suitcase?”
“To see how much stock we have hanging on our bellies,” He opened and his eyes grew wide, Jerry leaned forward to look, four large transparent bags, and within it, several clusters of smaller pouches, each filled with crystalline silver powder.
“I thought its color is white,” Stephen said.
“They skip the last phase of processing until it reaches the delivery unit so that crackheads like you don’t snort it off along the way.”
“That’s bullshit, I never heard of any such thing, I need a whiff right now and I am going to try this shit.” Stephen was shivering as he held the briefcase in both hands.
“One whiff of this silver will blow your lights out the next second you fool, and why the heck are you acting so weird? I thought you were off it now, which was why I called you for this in the first place.” Jerry said, as he got up, his hand went into his holster and unbuckled it. Stephen’s eyes were fixed on the briefcase as it was like a treasure.
“Yeah, yeah, I am off it, but no man can resist a sight like this brother, so much… I can see heaven before my eyes brother… heaven…”
“Stephen, Close the briefcase right now...”
Stephen turned around to see a colt 45 pointed right at him, he broke into a cheeky smile. “I was just joking brother, just joking… See my hand…” He held out his fist at Jerry, It was firm.
Jerry lowered his gun and calmed down. “Business is business Stephen, friendship can only take you so far, and I care for you alright… Now, Let me just take a leak, Keep the bag behind the television box now.”
“Alright, alright sir. I can’t beat you playing the honorable one with the gun” Stephen zipped the bag, nursing a small pouch of the silver into his pocket.
Room No: 377
Sunil poured tea into two cups on the coffee table, clad in a shower towel. Mahesh was reading the newspaper from the bed; he was nude except for the blanket tucked until his waist.
“What did you order for dinner?” Mahesh said, flipping through the pages.
“Steak for you, Pasta for me,”
“You ordered soup?” Mahesh said, looking up.
“Oh, you did… which one?”
“One of your favorites, of course,”
“Is it Sweet corn?”
Sunil nodded, handing Mahesh a cup of tea.
“Oh my god, I love you,” Mahesh leaned in for a kiss while receiving the cup from his beloved.
“Don’t be so excited, I am going to taste it before I let you have it this time.”
“Oh come on sweetheart, I am sure this place has good cooks, Let us leave that little diarrhea episode behind us, at what time are we supposed to arrive at the embassy tomorrow?”
“11:00 a.m. I have called my friend Karan there, he said Mr. John, who will be interviewing us is a very reasonable man. It will not be much of a hassle when we present our case. He also feels that John might even help us, but we need to present both our offer letters and everything.” Sunil said he looked down intently and had a slow sip of tea, “I can’t believe this, everything is happening so fast.”
“You think we are rushing into this?” Mahesh came closer and ran his fingers through Sunil’s hair.
“No, it's not that at all, please… Just that, I wonder why is it so hard to live the way we aspire to in this country.” Sunil said, staring at the bed lamp.
“I mean, why should we run away to another country to be married and together?” Sunil said.
“Let’s save this discussion for the next generation shall we Sweety,” Mahesh said, “For this one, this is the only option that we have.”
The room bell rang. “Room service,”
“One second,” Sunil said, as he quickly wore a pajama lying on the floor. He proceeded to open the door.
The young boy, must be around thirteen, entered the room, dragging a tray with two platters. He was jittery as he was serving the food to each plate.
“What happened boy?” Sunil said, glancing at Mahesh for a second.
“Look at me,” the boy looked up at Sunil, “What is wrong?” He asked slowly.
“Well, Sirji, there has been a death in room number 420, a young brother there consumed something and died. The police and all came you know, the top floor is congested now. I saw the man as they took him away on a stretcher, blood coming from his nose and eyes, it was scary… There was another man with him at the time it seems, they are all searching for him now. I have just started work last week and this is so...” He bent down and wiped his eyes.
“Oh my god, don’t you be scared young man…” Mahesh came forward to comfort the kid, but the boy moved away, slightly repulsed.
“Hmm… Don’t worry, everything will be alright, I have been here many times before, suicides are becoming very common in star hotels these days. Have a seat; I will make you some tea to calm you down.”
The young man jumped up, “That’s alright sir, I have a few more deliveries to make, thank you for listening to me, bye.” He rushed towards the door. Sunil leaned forward to shut it. He turned to Mahesh, “You creep people out sometimes, and you know that?”
“I am sorry baby.”
Room No: 969.
Kamla was slowly opening her bags and arranging the clothes on the bed beside her. The room door bell rings. She proceeds to open it.
“Oh my god Kamla, you look so different!” Laina shrieked.
Kamla grinned widely, “You have gorgified yourself too a lot!”
“Is it some new American word or something, I don’t remember reading of ‘Gorgified’ anywhere in the dictionary.”
“Haha, but hey, let me show you something that is truly… American.” Kamla slowly took out a bottle of Jim Beam, “Tadaaa”
“Wow girl, Whiskey! It’s a woman’s best friend.” Laina said with her eyes wide.
“I thought it was diamonds,” Kamla said, slowly handing over the baby in the bottle to her childhood friend.
“Diamonds are expensive,” Laina said, receiving Jim Beam with both her hands. “Oh, by the way, when are you meeting your father, and what’s up with this surprise thing?”
“Oh, that, well, I just thought of connecting with a few of his old friends through Facebook, arranged a meet-up at the Hyatt this weekend, a super grand reunion of sorts you can say.” Kamla took out two glasses from the table and handed one to Laina. “He needs to get around, you know, I keep hearing that he hardly leaves home these days,” Kamla said.
“Well, that’s sort of true you know, I remember how uncle was always so busy with his job and all, but now he is free, but he still is at home all the time,” Laina said, she opened the bottle and started pouring the drink for both of them.
“He kept very little time aside for friends, then what makes you think he is going to change now?” Kamla dropped two cubes of ice for each of them.
“Let’s hope that your surprise helps him then. To Uncle and his social life,” Laina raised her glass.
“To my dad and his good health,” Kamla raised hers. “Oh, I forgot, I should call dad and tell him that I wouldn’t be able to make it tomorrow.” She picked up her phone and started to dial.
Author Notes: If you have read the story completely, please do voice your opinion here.
Good or bad, not an issue, but let it be an honest one.