Coming of Age
The journey had been smooth. It was a Friday and Mr Dutt had left from office straight for his farm house at 7pm. Fridays had lesser traffic then the weekends. He would have liked to reach his farm house before dusk but today had been a busy day. He felt good he had finally putting together all the required designs. He had added the final changes and was happy with what he saw. As always, he was confident that the project was going to his when the final discussions happened.
He could have gone home to his wife but wanted some thinking time to decide how he was going to make the presentation on Monday. Also the Mumbai traffic could be tough in the evening. He would have taken as much time to reach home as much as reaching his farmhouse though quite away from the city. He had called her about his plan. His wife was a partner at a Global Consulting firm. Being a CA she was great with numbers and systems. She liked to go by the book while he being an architect, liked to think out of the box. He loved challenging the conventional. His wife was anyway going to have an all nighter at office as they were preparing for a pitch to a client.
He enjoyed cruising his BMW when he wanted to think. Driving away without signals and traffic was the perfect tonic for setting his mind to think. He would have had his favourite single malt on the way but he did not have his chauffer today.
As he neared his farm, he could already see the villagers had already called it a day. It was just about 10pm. In contrast, Mumbai, rightfully called the city that never sleeps, would still be bustling.
He turned off the highway, on the dusty narrow road. On a regular day, he would have halted his vehicle at the tea stall. The smiling kid at the stall would emerge in no time carrying a cutting masala chai steaming in a glass. He always knew what Mr Dutt wanted.
As Mr Dutt would sip his chai, he would take in the appetising fragrance of fresh samosas being fried. By the time Mr Dutt would finish his glass, the boy would return with 8 of them packed. He took the samosas for himself and the caretaker. The farm was managed by a lady, Jaya. She had a cute daughter. The mother and daughter had already been there when he had bought this lush green piece of property a 7 years.
She had escaped her drunkard husband. Her parent’s family, while well to do, was orthodox and refused to support her. Like most south Indians, Jaya was educated and cultured. She also had a mind of her own. Not one to be a cowed down, she had runaway and found shelter in this farm. She was from a small town in Kerala and felt happy to be way from the city noise.
Over the years as Mr Dutt had seen the daughter, Kajal, grow up; he had insisted that she get educated in the city and be ready for a new world.
He drove carefully in the darkness. His car’s beam of light cut through the quiet darkness as he ambled ahead. The peaceful journey had helped him prepare his presentation. He was now ready to relax.
Normally Jaya & Kajal lived in the cosy outhouse. As he reached the gate, he could see some light filtering out of the main home. He did not think much about that but as he neared the usual parking spot till he could see a car there. He could also hear some music. He experienced a mix of irritation and worry.
As he opened the car’s door, he took in the fragrance of the lilies. The air felt cool. As he softly walked to his home, he could hear squeals of laughter. He silently entered the home to maintain an element of surprise.
He suddenly saw two young girls and a boy dancing. After a few moments the boy noticed Mr Dutt and his face showed concern. Kajal realised something was amiss and turned around. Her eyes met Mr Dutt and she felt embarrassed.
She quickly stopped the music and turned on a few more lights. Mr Dutt saw a few beer bottles, a cake and some snacks on the table.
Kajal stuttered “Sir, it was my 18th birthday and my friends insisted we celebrate. We drove this afternoon. I am so sorry, I wasn’t expecting you.”
Mr Dutt not wanting to embarrass the girl in front of her friends smiled “Happy Birthday. Sorry I intruded in your small party.”
Kajal knew Mr Dutt hadn’t liked this surprise “I still am sorry. We will move to the outhouse.”
Mr Dutt tried to iron out their worries “Okay let’s cut the cake. I am hungry and could do with some snacks. He couldn’t help but notice that Kajal had become a big girl. He saw her on and off but not since she had moved to the city 18 months back. He also observed that Kajal had developed beautiful features, just like her mother. Her nice big breasts made her look bigger then her age. Maybe she looked bigger in her tight t-shirt. She wore a mini skirt that showed her toned thighs. She had nice thick wavy South Indian hair. She was dusky like her mother. Her full lips painted with dark lipstick made her look sexier. She definitely wasn’t a kid anymore.
Mr Dutt wanting to break his trail of thought spoke “Where’s your Mom?”
Kajal responded with a little dejection in her voice “I came here to surprise her. She had already gone to the nearby village to help them manage a big lunch program. We were to leave back for Mumbai in the evening but since she wasn’t here, we decided on this small impromptu party”
Kajal was still tentative as we celebrating the cake cutting. This is the first time she had celebrated something with Mr Dutt.