Last Saturday I was enjoying cup of tea after morning walk before next chore of grooming our dog when there was a call on my mobile. As it was little early for telemarketing calls I picked up expecting it to be from someone well known. Sure enough, it was from a good friend whom I had known for more than 20 years and we had been in the same organisation at one point of time. I had shifted to another. We shared a lot of common interests and outlooks to life. Though we did not meet so regularly but kept in regular touch updating each other. He told me that he had just got an invitation to attend a seminar on rural development with emphasis on role of women in it and since I am associated with a NGO working on same issues he wanted me to join him. I had just half an hour to get ready as he was coming to pick me up to reach venue which was a decent hotel in NCR, about 30 to 40 minutes drive from our place.
We got there well in time and found that the persons were still trickling in. We completed registration formalities and were enjoying a cup of coffee near entry to conference hall when I noticed him go still suddenly. He was looking intently towards reception of the hotel which was a little distance away. I followed his gaze and saw a couple standing there facing the receptionist. The man took what looked like keys and the couple turned to go towards lifts. I realized that the girl was daughter in law of my friend. He muttered something like “ What is she doing here?” By then the couple had gone out of our sight. He turned towards me and told that she had left before him saying that she had to go to office for task review meeting. I told him that may be the meeting was here but he did not take that. He then told me that he would like to find out what was it and asked for my help. I advised him to let it be as it might not be something worth it. But he was firm and requested for my help. I then told him that he speaks to her when she gets home or we meet her here to let her know we have seen her. He chose second. So we sauntered to reception and I told the girl there that I knew the man who had just left reception but was unable to recall his name adding if he was attending the seminar or was staying there. She told me with little smirk that he was neither but being a good friend of their Director Marketing, he visits them off & on to utilize room facility for an hour or so. I told her that it was not that important but I was just thinking to say hello to him if possible. She informed in conspiratorial tone that they are not to be disturbed till he orders something. I asked her if she could let me know if we could see him later. She agreed and gave us the room number. So we returned to seminar which was about to start. He was lost in his thoughts and I too felt little upset after learning what we did.
We went back to reception after little less than an hour. She told us that they will be leaving in another ten to fifteen minutes as he had ordered coffee and snacks. So we went upto the room. It was a corner room at the end of passage. I restrained my friend from knocking , telling him that let her come out and find us there. Next five minutes were real agonizing while waiting near the window at the end of passage overlooking main road.
She was stunned and turned pale on seeing us when she came out of the room. Before my friend could say anything, I told her that we would talk later once we are free to do so and steered him away. I kept an eye to ensure that they were following us. We went down together in the same lift and I kept holding onto his arm to see that he does not say anything. That man looked as if he gauged the situation and as soon as lift reached ground floor he quickly muttered something to her and moved off at brisk pace.
PS : This will become a long post, so I will share what happened after that in next post.