He was new in the team and Anusua used to notice his movements very carefully. He looked like a complete bewildered soul in first few days of work. In a world that sought for gold and fame he was probably the one who was least interested in materialistic amity. He tried to stay aloof but he was the most dedicated, talented and creative photographer in the team. The director praised Sam in front of everyone as the recent Mutual fund campaign took our clients by surprise and a complete awe. Anusua tried some friendly gestures to attract his attention; he nodded with a gentle smile and preferred staying aloof. Just before the Christmas arrived, one afternoon as the entire team was enjoying their lunch; Sam removed his shades and quietly sat beside Anusua. His voice sent a shiver down her spinal cord, “Do you have any important work this evening?”
After pack-up, Anusua and Sam walked down the length of a busy road barely speaking to each other. Some of the street hawkers mobbed them with various proposals but they were quite engrossed in something that was far more deep-seated. Anusua broke the silence with her whimsical tone as she demanded a photo shoot on the streets. “I think, you’re very greedy, do you think you are the most talented photographer in the city? Now that your work is praised every now and then; let me see how good you are imagining me as your subject?” She laughed at her own words. Sam looked at her unperturbed. He raised his hand to call a cab, Anusua responded quickly to attract one of the cab drivers who looked promising. “Princep Ghat, Bhaiya.”
The cab was already filled with some nostalgic numbers from the late 70s as they drove past the busy city traffic. Anusua was visibly excited. She initiated the conversation again. “So, who all are there in your family; you are from Calcutta, aren’t you? Although you don’t look like…” Sam was staring outside the window. He turned towards her as she noticed his beguiling eyes looking straight into her soul. Her hair was occasionally getting ruffled by the December wind. She was feeling an obvious conflict in her mind and heart. She waited eagerly for him to speak.
“I am alone in this city, I came from Siliguri. My parents and my younger sister stay there along with my old granny”, he said after a short pause. Anusua felt the urge to know more and asked about his local residence. She tried to know if he had a girlfriend or if something is bothering him all this while. “Are you like this from the beginning? I mean, I don’t know if I can call you an introvert, but you are certainly a stranger among the known faces in this city.” Sam smiled at times and sometimes looked at her through his lenses. He clicked a few snaps in the cab as Anusua tried hard to manage her hair. He prevented her. “Let them be, your disturbed hair personifies freedom and as far as my answers are concerned; they are blowing in the wind”, he said.
“Madam, Princep Ghat”, the cab driver intruded in the subtle romance that Anusua was longing for so long. She probably wanted the journey for a little longer. He insisted to pay the bills but the cab driver kept on staring at her. She settled the dues.
She hated taking work back at home and in her position as the copy chief of the ad agency, she had but very little options to avoid it. Her mobile was ringing for a while. She was ignoring the call while she was in the cab. It was the director. She answered the call as she noticed Sam go ahead searching his own mystery. “Yes Sir, I left the file on your table along with the flash drive with all the documents.” She stayed quiet for a while as the voice from the other end shared some more information. She continued, “I am not quite sure but I certainly believe that there is a misunderstanding, I know him.”
They were seating by the Ganges for the last half an hour. She broke the silence again, “Sam, do you know that our mutual fund campaign is leaked?”
“No, is that so? How did that happen?”, he said in cold voice.
Anusua smiled and stood up. She pulled his hands and took him near the water. She sat very close to the last step of the ghat and said, “Will you capture me like no one did before?” She was adjusting her hair, her red and white muffler was hanging as a knot from his side bag. He went up to her and stood very near to her where she they both could feel their existence. He took out the muffler and put it across her neck and asked her to undo her hair. He went back!
“Should I look a little more left?” She was feeling very special as he continued to instruct her positions, smile, wardrobe and gestures. She didn’t know if it was an illusion. She took out a bottle of vodka from her bag. She took a sip and invited him to take a sip. He obliged. In the next half an hour the bottle was sailing alone in the waters and Anusua realized she too had wings.
She wanted to kiss him but a sudden harsh sound broke the harmonious and romantic space that was growing friendlier between them. There was white flash of light that disturbed her vision. Her hands tried to find Sam. In the next few moments the things that happened with her changed her romantic getaway into an unbelievable and horrible incident that she cannot describe in words.
It was 6 a.m. in the morning. Her eyes were swollen and the wintry weather solidified her tears preventing her from opening them comfortably. She slowly understood that a group of inquisitive people were staring at her as she was lying on one of the muddy steps by the river. A policeman approached as she was trying to reason herself.
Cop: What happened to you madam?
Anusua: Where is Sam?
Cop: Who is he? You came here with a friend?
Anusua: Yes, I was with Sam.
Cop: Your parents are waiting at the police station. Please come with me.
In the course of these events, she made a number of calls; to her director, to her colleagues and Sam. No one knew who Sam was. She kept on checking her camera on her way back home…