He said nowadays he drinks alone on a quiet Sunday. He used to do it with friends and it was a joyous moment but unfortunate events unveiled themselves when you’re having so much fun.

He is such a nice person. Pity he would wallow on this forever.

We came to the factory the day before and he was the first person we met at the entrance. We introduced ourselves and off we went inside, expecting lines of colors as far as the eyes can see.

Not yet anyway. We were brought to their workplace.

“As you can see…we use vegetable based dyes…this red dye comes from dried chilies,” he said as he stamped the small white piece of cloth on a flat surface and dipped it in some sort of cloudy liquid.

“Are you buying?” my friend repeatedly asked, ignoring the presentation.

“I’m not sure. I don’t really fancy….”

“How come you don’t like sarees?” asked the gentleman.

“Well I’m here because she wants to buy something and had been asked specifically to do so. I have no intention of buying, I’m more of a company than an accomplice.”

“Don’t be stupid. You’re in India. You can always wear it at someone’s wedding. You can wear it at mine..” the friend was trying her bit of persuading.

“Oh stop it. Can you show us the sarees?”

“Not just the sarees. I can show you how to wear them!”

His eyes were glistening. This is not just customer service. It’s getting personal. And he actually likes his job! This man is one of it’s kind.

After a tedious job of choosing a saree for me, (he chose beige and was approved by all the bystanders) looked for the trouble of wrapping it around me, gave me a saree-body-wrapping-manual and buried me and my friend with all the sarees he could find in the room which looked like a saree library, we said we were undecided and we will come tomorrow.

He was devastated. We can’t tell him we were in a financial crisis so we gave him more and more outrageous excuses.

“Don’t worry. Take the sarees first. You can pay later. You can even pay me when you’re back in Malaysia. It won’t be a problem.”

I don’t know if he realized that this is not a very good strategy for marketing. He pressed on but we girls won.

“We promise you. Tomorrow we will be here.”

So the next day when we were back, he was pleasantly surprised. He had dark circles under his eyes.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. I was thinking about you.”

He was referring to my friend. She is his cup of tea, or I might say the majority of the population of Uttar Pradesh.

“To celebrate this, I’m buying lunch. You don’t mind vegetarian, right?”

I don’t mind at all, sir. Do buy us lunch. We had about 12 sarees and 20 shawls and were running out of cash.

“How long have you been a vegetarian?”

“3 years.”

“Why?”

“I made a terrible mistake…”

“What happened?”

I could sense the drama. I heard the music in the air. I am guessing a tragedy.

“We were out having fun that night. I don’t really know what happened, maybe too much alcohol. I was driving and at one point I lost complete control of the steering wheel. We crashed into a tree and my best friend died.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that…”

“The thing is his parents can’t live with that fact. They are still blaming me for his death. I feel so..helpless…It was all my fault.”

“You should stop blaming yourself. Things like that, happened. Though I still don’t understand. Why you’re vegetarian, again?”

“It’s for him, the friend.”

I wonder if deep in his conscience there was a voice compelling him to do something to such extend to alleviate the pain. Honestly I can’t be a vegetarian even if I screw up big time. Heck, nobody I know would even thought of doing just that.

Mister Kamal Malhotra ultimately has my respect.

I lost my friend too, the same one he knew. Pity, I know.

So every Sunday, if we could just join our little circle of death of friends across the oceans, we might be able to drink to them.

To dead friends!

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