It was our wedding anniversary. The day always brings the little stories and memories we have carved for each other. Like every couple, we have had our highs and lows. But the thing that makes this journey worth celebrating is the fact that despite all our differences in opinions, we have stood beside each other in every possible manner-physically, mentally, metaphorically, and philosophically.
She said, “This time we will go to Taj.”
Wish of Highness, on the anniversary is a command. Even if it meant going to Taj without a prior booking.
As we entered the majestic Taj, the lady at the counter asked, “Sir, do you have a booking?”
“No”, I replied “We have just gate crashed.”
“No issues Sir. We have tables in our ‘Sahib’ restaurant.”
“Thanks a lot. I hope you don’t mind if you could offer a table in ‘Oudhyana’ restaurant.”
“It’s full sir and I am afraid we won’t be able to accommodate. But I will still check with the manager, Mr. Akhtar.”
With these words, the lady left and came back after 10 minutes.
“Sir can you please follow me, we have arranged a table for you in Oudhiyana.”
Live music. Dim lights. An Enchanting ambience. Blooming aura. And the face of beloved in front. In moments, life tells tales of perfection and leaves us mesmerized to marvel.
As we settled for this dream dinner of ours, Mr. Akhtar approached “Good Evening Sir, I was told you were looking for a table. I hope we haven’t made you wait for long.”
“It’s perfectly fine, no issues at all.”
Saying this, he gave me the menu. It would be the last order of the day as we were really late. I placed the order.
“Sir it will take around 15-20 minutes.”
“Thank a lot, Akhtar Ji. It has already been quite pleasant. I must say staff in five-star hotels do have something different.”
“I appreciate your kind words, sir. Certainly, for us, guests are at the pinnacle. But personally, you are special to me.”
“How do you know it is my anniversary.”
“Ohh, happy marriage anniversary sir. I didn’t know this, else I would have made it more special.”
“I thought we are special because its our wedding anniversary. What else could have been special?”
“Sir, my grandfather used to tell me. Whenever you get an opportunity to meet a Sardarji try to make a contribution to his life. They are a gem of a person and if you will assist them in any manner it will be an honour for you.”
I was awestruck by the statement made by him. I realized the magnitude of the impact our ancestors have left on this world. I didn’t know at that time that there is a lot more to come.
“Thanks a lot, Akhtar Ji, did your grandfather know Sikh people?”
“Oh yes. He had Sikh friends. He was very fond of them. He could not leave them for a minute. He told me they used to study together and learnt a lot from them. Together they faced the tragedy of partition and…”
“Oh I see, Your grandfather must have been staying here in Lucknow before partition, So his Sikh friends must have protected him at that time.”
“No Sir, actually he accompanied them from Lahore to India. You see, he couldn’t stay without them.”
“So he crossed the borders to be in India with his Sikh friends?”
“Yes Sir He accompanied them till Delhi but the situation in Delhi wasn’t good for him so he had to come to Lucknow. He knew a few Muslim families here and felt safer. Our family has settled here since then. But till his last, He used to go to Delhi to meet his Sikh friends. They also used to come here. They were really nice. My grandfather was right”
I had no words. I didn’t know who deserves more respect…Our Ancestors…Our Gurus…the Sikh Friends of Akhtar Ji’s grandfather…Akhtar Ji’s Grandfather or Akhtar Ji.”
By this time our dinner had arrived. It was really delicious. It had to be as it was served by Akhtar Ji.
After Dinner, a slice of pancake arrived at our table without being ordered.
“Sir, allow me one last chance to make this day memorable for you.”
“Thank You, Akhtar Ji! You have already done enough.”
“The old man must be watching me. Let me do my best Sir!”
I saw Akhtarji. I saw my wife. I saw my son. I saw the entire staff gathered around to applaud us. As we blew off the candles of the cake, it was light all around.
Sarabjeet is an avid user of fountain pens. He loves driving, diving and dreaming. He can make most terrible jokes sound funny….and vice versa! Tallest among us in height, spirit and enthusiasm, he assures there is not single dull moment when we are around him. A child at heart, a seeker at soul and a believer at attaining goals, he can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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