I recall there was a novel by the same name. Then why this title again, you may wonder. I believe lets not get worked up as there can be movies after movies under the same name. Remember Devdas, Don and whole lot of them. In any case neither it’s a novel nor I a novelist it’s a story—short story at that. Plot too is different or is it the same plot enacted by narrated by different people down the ages. Now the question comes why Anita only and not Vama, Vanita, Lalita, Maya, Mona or Monica? OK! I like the name Anita. I feel the ‘essence’ of all other names runs through Anita. Anita is purely an Indian name yet it cuts across the geographical and time barrier like – Back to Future. Anita is forever vibrant, young and pulsating with life. You know any aged, subdued and lifeless Anita? Do you? Really!
I was planning a job hop to a new company running a chain of hotels. My colleague Sood insisted that I’d look for a suitable job for his graduate unemployed nephew in my new company. I was told that like other youth of his age and time he too was nothing short of NRI for his home and like NRI would return home only when left with ‘no where to go’ option. He and his brigade are always busy painting Simla red. There is no greater VELA (idler/waster in Punjabi) in whole of Kaithu (prominent locality of Simla) I assured him I will look into, more out of cold formality. After few weeks of my joining the new company in Delhi, I did receive his C.V., A CV which could at best be termed as less than ordinary. Photo? Oh yes his photo was simply smashing. Photo had more ‘oomph’ appeal than a passport size could contain. I have yet to see a more attractive passport size photo of anyone leave alone a youth throbbing with vigour, adventure and prowling to do something extra-ordinary in this ordinary world. His hair style in photo was similar to those of Beatles. Blue eyes, radiating and beaming sharp intelligence, fun loving mischief oozing out effortlessly. His photo was a heart stealer – one could simply lose one’s heart to him and feel proud of it. What surprise if Anita gave her heart to this hunk of a man in a silver platter…no gold platter, as I said he would do it effortlessly. He was a charmer.
He was real tall, athletic, stunningly beautiful and amiable like a hill man is. I got him fixed as a Receptionist. ‘Innocence’ had permanently domiciled on his face and refused to migrate. Was he photogenic? No, photo did not do justice with his ‘killer’ looks. At work, he would clock more hours than an apprentice was called upon to do. Soon he was what our General Manager‘d often quote, while chiding other employees “...Look at him, learn something from him. Emulate him “As they generally say in colloquial English, one fine morning Anita landed in the hotel with infant baby girl in her arms. Sunil was in morning shift. Anita entered superfluous details in the register kept for this purpose at all hotel Receptions. She looked at Sunil and told him with authority “either you help me with baby or carry my luggage to my room” Sunil called the Page boy for luggage and took charge of the baby. With trained professional bow Sunil came out of the room. After an hour or so Anita came down in lobby, fresh and out to see “real Delhi, “not the picture post card Delhi” Anita confided in Sunil as if disclosing a big secret – I’ve come to Delhi for the first time. I want you to show me around Delhi—beyond Qutab Minar, India Gate and not Connaught Place but the back lanes of Connaught Place. Not National Museum but by lanes of Chandni Chowk and Paharganj. No Red fort. Old fort, yes. Not Humayun tomb but Safdarjang tomb. Majnu ka teela yes, Lodi gardens no. Our hero Sunil after initial hesitation agreed to chaperon her in Delhi. Following day was his weekly off. He dreaded the boredom of staring at blank ceiling of his solitary dingy room, brooding over life endlessly with no happy moments to look forward to. He was far away from the cosy and familiar hills, fun and frolics, once an integral part of his existence. He did not forget to request her not to talk about this ‘guided tour’ to anyone in hotel. Like any other hotel, this hotel too had standing orders – no cosying up with guests and will be perceived as a misconduct leading to disciplinary action, of course, against the employee, for the Guest is always right. She smiled, nonetheless readily agreed.
Next day was off. Second day was another off. Following day it was casual leave. Day after, sudden headache. Fifth day something else. Week flew faster than Sunil could keep pace. Marathon shopping spree, whole day at Qutab Minar, Humayun tomb, and expensive hotels for lunch and ‘bite’. The visit went beyond usual tourist itinerary. They went beyond city limits of Delhi, to Agra and Jaipur. Travelling in luxury cabs, staying together in costly hotels. Anita would clear all bills instantly through several credit cards she was carrying, gold, platinum etc. Sunil felt it strange when she gave credit cards along with currency wands to him insisting him to pay the bill in restaurants and shops. He gladly did it enjoying the vicarious pleasure in doing what he might have dreamt all through his 23 years. Sunil, in the evening, would try to recollect and explain account and she would simply put it off for next day.
All good things come to end... Anita invited Sunil to come to Bangalore and be her guest. Anita returned to Bangalore, Sunil to his smelly Reception counter of the budget hotel with which his fate was monotonously
Two weeks had passed. Sunil on his morning duty was pleasantly surprised to see Anita asking for a room. He was grinning ear to ear, not yet acquired the art of camouflaging his true feelings. Sunil repeated to himself, no not again. No more fooling around. Anita requested him to take just half a day short leave. He was hesitant, no he was plain scared yet the week spent in her company flashed in rewind mode. By evening Anita succeeded in persuading Sunil to take a week off and accompany her to Bangalore. Not that Sunil required much of persuasion nevertheless his main worry was four days gone in journey, how much Bangalore he would be able to see in remaining two days. Sunil had hardly travelled by train. Delhi-Shimla-Delhi was always in overnight buses from Kashmere Gate ISBT (Inter state Bus Terminus). If he had little surplus cash then it was 2x2 deluxe video coach parked outside Chandralok building at Janpath. Anita laughed heartily at his predicament “no bus, no train” she opened her oversized purse and flashed two air tickets of the evening flight.
Sunil thought he was dreaming. True it is—Truth is stranger than fiction. Sunil had witnessed and lived through the lavish large hearted warmth of Anita in Delhi for a week. Now he was to see what exactly large hearted actually meant. Poor Sunil was no better than Alice in the wonderland.
A limousine was waiting for them at vimanapura airport of Bangalore to take them to Anita’s house. It will be an insult to call it a bungalow, it was a palace. She was the only daughter of a stinking rich state politician. Riches were in abundance. Anita’s husband due to his inability to cope with his own complexes simply decided to part ways. Never to return in her life. Our hero Heera lal, Sunil, was so enamoured, pampered and mesmerised by the reception of Bangalore that he forgot all about his Reception counter. Sunil took care of her fleet of cars, factories and other business interests. Anita’s only interest was Sunil. Sunil would often visit Delhi but it was always morning flight and return by evening flight.
Now you tell me could this story be titled ‘Sunil stayed here’ indeed no. No? The story can have ‘Anita stayed here title only.
Sunil took good care of Anita’s daughter. In fact, Anita was impressed the way both (her daughter and Sunil) bonded from their first meeting at the Reception counter. By the way she grew into a beautiful damsel and is a Bollywood star now.