Suhasini froze. She wasn’t crying. She sat blankly looking at that piece of paper. Tears were rolling down Tanvi’s eyes. She had never seen such an unusual love story. When Suhasini was running behind false sense of freedom, it was the new husband who experienced true freedom. And, when the new husband dutifully fulfilled all his responsibilities towards marriage, Suhasini was running behind a mirage oblivious to love. Now that Suhasini had realized her love and it seemed they were a pair made in heaven, life had surprised her.
Sufi songs sung in praise of ‘Allah’ had reached a crescendo in the background. Tanvi felt overwhelmed and claustrophobic both at the same time. It seemed like a dead end situation for Suhasini. She didn’t know what will be Suhasini’s fate. However, there are some questions that are best left for time to resolve. She caressed Suhasini’s head and said her goodbye. Suhasini didn’t react. She sat there like a stone idol. Tanvi left the dargah. Ajmer had taught her an important lesson about life.
Bikaner was her next destination, and infact her last destination in Rajasthan. They say if you really want to experience desert and life of people in barren land, then hit the last city of Rajasthan – Bikaner.
Tanvi drove through miles of barren desert to reach Bikaner which was approximately 5hours away drive from Ajmer. As she entered the city precinct, a message flashed on her mobile. She smiled. Tanvi’s FnF amount has been cleared by her office. A good amount of money in her bank account elevated her spirits. She was in a mood to stay royally in Bikaner. It had been quite some time that Tanvi was couchsurfing or staying in cheap hostels.
Tanvi checked into Laxmi Niwas Palace. This is the palace where Bollywood movie ‘Khoobsurat’ featuring Sonam Kapoor was shot. Grandiose architecture was highlighted with strategic placement of yellow lights. A tall man wearing a red turban with a well groomed rounded mustache, opened the car door, greeted ‘namaste’ with a smile, and took the keys for valet parking. Laxmi niwas palace was soaked every inch in royalty.
After freshening up, Tanvi came down to take a stroll of the palace. There was a room decorated with tiger and lions that were hunted by the proud maharajas. There was a huge billiards table right in the middle of the room and carved solid wood sofas were placed all around the walls. A fireplace in one corner gave the room genuinely antique feel. One is supposed to enjoy a drink, play billiards and strike intellectual conversations amidst prized possessions of proud hunters. But Tanvi felt a bit uncomfortable in this room. Dead tigers were intimidating, even when dead years before.
She walked to the bar room. It had good collection of drinks and photographs that give a glimpse of royal life. Tanvi ordered a drink and stood appreciating the antique piano kept at one corner. The bartender suggested her to sit in the courtyard restaurant to enjoy her drinks and dinner with live performance of Rajasthani folk dance.
It was here that she met her muse.