Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Delhi Diaries

Page 1

That familiar sweet smell of freshly baked cakes and cookies wafting across through the AC-vents from the neighboring flat woke him up again that morning. 
photo courtesy: hayasbakery.com

Rubbing his eyes, he stretched his tall lithe body across the bed and glanced at the clock.........6.40 am. Still feeling a little groggy having kept awake for a late night conference call with his company seniors in US and the Indian collaborators, he decided to go to for a refreshing jog along the artificial lake in the condominium.

30-year old dashing go-getter Neil Samson had only recently shifted to India from the USA as the COO of a multinational company introducing its chain of globally popular bakery and confectionery products in India. He was still trying to settle down in the plush service apartment on his first morning in Delhi, when that tempting smell of chocolate cake hit his nostrils and rekindled some long forgotten memories of his childhood.  

He lived in a small Odissa village with his parents and two younger siblings. They were not exactly poor. His mom and dad ran a small laundry. He went to the local school run by a Christian missionary couple from Scotland. The school children, along with her own six-year old daughter, would often be treated to goodies from Mrs Williams' clay wood-fired oven and that's how he had his first whiff of a freshly baked cake. 

One horrifying night, he was woken up by screams for help from the neighborhood, his parents had already rushed to douse the cackling flames shrouding the missionaries' thatched house. The cruel flames, emboldened by a severe wind, defied all efforts of the villagers and soon engulfed their own tenement too. Before his very eyes, the fire God snatched away his entire family.

Next day, the police scrounged through the still hot embers for some clue about the source of the devastating fire in which, they informed the villagers, the Williams couple had also perished along with their daughter. Some kind villagers tried to feed the inconsolable 8-year old for some days, then he found himself inside a city orphanage. Some months later, a childless couple adopted him and took him away to Glasgow.

Neelotpal Patra was now Neil Samson. But behind the stern demeanor of the COO, still lurked the fading faces of his parents, younger brothers and........Janet.

Sweating heavily after the five-mile jog on a hot sultry morning, he swiped the card-key to his apartment when he heard a faint cry. Turning around, he noticed that the usually closed door of the neighboring flat was slightly ajar. Curious but hesitant, he peeped inside the door. A beautiful girl in her late twenties was unsuccessfully trying to apply some ointment to her upper elbow. Knocking lightly to catch her attention, he asked if she was hurt and needed help. A little alarmed, the girl declined the stranger's offer and picked up the remote to shut the smartdoor. He turned to leave and then.........he saw the three happy faces smiling through the photograph on the wall!

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