Hjjer , Annie: Hotel Guest in India

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“Hi Anita, I wish you a very happy new year too. Thanks so much for calling. Are you still on duty?” I asked.

“Oh Hjjer, it’s been such a tough day, I’ve been here for 18 straight hours and I’m just getting off my shift” said Anita. She sounded pretty bushed. “But forget about my day; how are you? Are you partying hard? You’re not at our hotel so you must be somewhere else. Just wanted to wish you; sorry if I’ve disturbed you or interrupted something” That last, I thought, sounded almost tongue in cheek.

“To tell you the truth Anita, I’m not partying at all. In fact I’m at my apartment, about to make myself the third drink of the evening, and I’m alone.”

“What!!” she screamed into my ear. “That is terrible. Are you well? What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, things are fine” I replied to Anita. “I just wasn’t up to going out to the same corporate gigs that happen every year; just tired of all that. And I also wasn’t feeling too energetic, so I thought I’d chill at home. But otherwise things are cool. What about you; heading out for a late nighter?”

“I’m coming over to your place” And the phone went dead. I thought of calling her back to make some excuse because I wasn’t sure I wanted any company in my present mood and frame of mind. But then thought that maybe her coming over could get me out of the blues. So I let it pass; went to the bar, made myself another drink, saw myself in the mirror, and was quite horrified at what I saw.

I needed to make myself more presentable so I went to the bathroom, had a shave, took a quick shower, and then slipped into a comfortable pair of jeans and a t-shirt. While I was getting ready to meet Anita on this dreary New Year’s eve, my mind drifted back to the early years in India.

The hotel had been my home away from home before moving to this flat that I was now staying in. And over the years, I’d got to know virtually all the staff at the hotel; had seen two changes in the General Manager and a host of other departures and arrivals in all their other departments. Anita however had remained a constant, rising through the ranks with promotions every 18 to 24 months.

Of course I wasn’t a permanent resident but my visits were relatively long-stays and there would be four or five every year. And while my rooms weren’t always the same, I was invariably upgraded to the best available suites. My first year in India was an extremely busy one and even though I was based at the hotel for almost a third of the year, I was constantly travelling to various spots in Asia generally and India more specifically.

Sometime midway through my second year in India, I had just flown back to New Delhi directly from New York, where I’d gone for a short two-day conference. Apart from the long non-stop flights and the hectic scheduling in the US, I was also rather low because of some work related issues. So when I was checking in at the front desk at the hotel, I probably looked like shit to put it mildly. Anita and her GM were both behind the counter and their concern at seeing me in such a state seemed genuine enough. I apologised for my demeanour and quietly took the key card, heading to the elevator bank.

It was midnight and I was beat. I hadn’t checked out so my suite was still exactly the way I’d left it and the small suitcase and overnighter which I had taken to the US I carried up to the room myself. I immediately took a hot shower and changed into my denims and a loose t-shirt; then went to the min-bar and got out a miniature bottle of Chivas which I poured into a tumbler and carried to the desk. I booted up my laptop in order to check emails that had arrived over the last 18 hours or so.

It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning but jet lag had the better of me and although I was tired, I wasn’t sleepy. I was sitting at the work desk when I heard a faint knock on the door. That surprised me because at 1:00 a.m. there wasn’t likely to be any housekeeping service, and I hadn’t ordered from room service although I was beginning to feel a little peckish but ignored that for the moment. After about half a minute I heard another knock on the door but continued to ignore it, hoping that the visitor would go away thinking I was asleep.

After another minute, I heard what sounded like someone trying to slip in a key card into the door so I started to get up from the chair in order to open the door and see who it was; probably another drunken guest that had his room number wrong – I’d had that a couple of times. And then the door swung open silently and slowly.

Framed in the doorway was Anita. I sat back on the chair, staring straight ahead at her as she tentatively took a step into the room before she saw me. “Gosh! I’m so sorry, Sir. I knocked. I’m really sorry” she said as she began to withdraw back into the corridor.

“No, Come in, come in” I said, not wanting to lose sight of that beautiful apparition that had just walked into the room. “Don’t worry about it, I was just about to get bursa escort up and open the door”

“I got a little worried because you didn’t respond to my knock so I just wanted to check. I’m very sorry Sir; I didn’t mean to disturb you. Please.”

“Annie! What’s wrong with you? Relax! Don’t get so het up, it’s alright. Come in please. It’s wonderful to see you” I tried to reassure her. “And what’s with the ‘Sir’? I thought we’d gone past that a long time ago.”

Anita was clearly in a state. Over the last year and a half, we’d lost much of the formality in our interaction, except when we met in the hotel lobby or other public locations in the hotel. I’d started calling her Annie within a few months of my arrival in India and I’d managed to convince to call me by my name sometime within that first year itself.

She stepped into the room and let the door shut behind her. She was still dressed in her uniform, but had a bottle of wine in her hand. I knew her duty hours this month were till midnight so she was probably ready to go home. “This is with compliments from the hotel. Welcome back!” she said so softly, it almost sounded like a whisper. “And once again, I’m really really sorry for disturbing you; it’s like a sin to do that to a guest. I should have left after the first knock; especially knowing that you’d had such a long flight and you must be so very tired.”

“Take it easy, Annie. And thanks for the wine,” I said. “I know you’ve just gone off duty so why don’t you sit with me for a while? In fact, why don’t we sample that wine together?”

She looked at me hesitantly, not sure what she should do. I got the feeling she wanted to stay but was also having misgivings not only because I was a guest but also because of the self-inflicted pain she was drawing from her earlier intrusion. We’d never socialised one-on-one and certainly not in my room; I’d attended the occasional hotel cocktail parties that the General Manager threw every once in a while for regular guests, and Annie and I had spent time together during those. I’d even invited her to a couple of staff parties that the office had organised. I wanted very much to spend some alone time with Anita so I insisted “C’mon Annie, one glass of wine with me isn’t going to kill you”

She smiled delicately, and then placed her handbag and a file folder she was carrying on my desk. Seemingly, she had forgiven herself for trespassing into my room. She sat down on the sofa in my suite and said “How’ve you been, Hjjer? You look so exhausted and weary; was it a really hectic trip?”

“Just tired, that’s all. Long flight,” I mumbled as I went to the bar and opened the wine bottle. It was a fairly expensive red from Château Boyd-Cantenac, in fact a Grands Crus Bordeaux. Very impressive. I looked at Anita’s reflection in the mirror and saw her staring at me. She saw how impressed I was with the selection and said she’d gone down to the cellar and chosen it herself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to show it the respect it so richly deserved.

I grabbed the two wine glasses from the cabinet, poured the wine into them and walked over to Annie, handing a goblet to her. We said cheers, and took our first sips. It was glorious stuff. I sat on the armchair at right angles to her and once again wondered at the ethereal beauty of this woman.

Anita was in uniform; in fact I’d never seen her in anything other than the three or four designs that the hotel mandated for front office personnel. Her dark hair was neatly combed back, forming a rather large bun behind her head; clearly the result of very long hair tied up in a chignon. Her face was oval shaped and her complexion a very light beige. Her eyes were large, with long eye lashes; the fine lining of kohl framed deep reflecting pools that I found very expressive. She had a tantalisingly delicate neck that flowed subtly on to her shoulders, the collarbones quite visible since there wasn’t an iota of unwanted flesh or fat on her body.

She, like her colleagues, always dressed smartly, but Anita seemed to carry off her sari with a certain understated elegance that looked almost regal. As she sat in front of me, I felt I could never get enough of looking at this woman. She squirmed a little uneasily, asking “What are you staring at, Hjjer? You’re making me uncomfortable.”

It was either my cocktail of scotch and wine, or just the tiredness in my mind, but I suddenly found myself blurting out “I’m so sorry, Annie. You are absolutely the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and I just can’t get enough of this vision. If I haven’t told you this in the last 18 months that I’ve known you, it is only out of embarrassment and a fear that you would take affront. But I just have to tell you this…so, there!”

“Thank you, Hjjer. That’s the sweetest thing anybody’s said to me in a long while” she said as she demurely sipped the last dribble of her wine. I got up immediately and got the bottle of wine from the bar counter and poured us both refills. I bursa escort bayan needed some action to distract me from the bashfulness that seemed to suddenly overtake me. The wine I hoped would fortify my mind.

We talked about work, hers and mine, about the US, about France, about India… but my focus was still on this lovely woman. Her saree, like many evenings, was a deep midnight blue and a thick red border with some golden threaded inlays. As usual, it was draped perfectly across her breasts and pinned to the blouse just over her shoulder. The dress was tucked into the top of her petticoat just below the navel, while the blouse came down to about two inches below her breasts. I felt a little ashamed but found my eyes drawn to the midriff between the blouse and the sari – a swathe of unblemished fair skin and the twinkling of her navel every time she moved.

When I got up to pour the remnants of our Bordeaux into the glasses, Annie kicked off her heels and planted her feet on to the coffee table top. She was beginning to relax, just like I was; the alcohol was helping. She let out a long and deep sigh of calm once the shoes came off; clearly not the most comfortable part of her attire.

When I saw her slender ankles and pretty feet up on the table, my body moved instinctively; there was no time for my brain to kick in and rationalise my behaviour. I sat down, not on the armchair I had used earlier, but at the other end of the sofa on which Annie sat. Leaning forward, I took hold of her feet and pulled them towards me, forcing her to manoeuvre her body so that she used one arm-rest of the sofa as a back-rest. I was sitting at the other corner of the sofa and now placed her legs on my lap and began to gently massage her tired feet.

I didn’t look up to see her expression; just concentrated on her feet with my head down. With my fingers on top and my thumb against the soul of one foot, I began to knead the tiredness out. When I did finally gather the courage to look up after about a minute, her head was thrown back on the arm-rest and there was the hint of an absolutely angelic smile playing at the corners of her mouth. Her eyes were shut. I began work on the other foot, and then alternated between the two for the next ten minutes.

“Thanks so much Hjjer, you have no idea how wonderful that felt” Annie said as she raised her torso up, resting on her elbows. “Not just the massage, but the fact that it was you. My heart must have melted as I kept thinking of how beautiful you are, Hjjer. Thank you for being you and allowing me to be a small part of your life” I kept my hands on her feet, stroking her ankles, taking each of her toes between my fingers and feeling the texture and their individual shapes. “Can we have another drink? I’m feeling very happy.”

I told her we’d polished off the wine but there was the mini-bar, and she said she’d have a scotch. I pushed at her legs so that she bent her knees and took her feet off my lap, resting them on the sofa. I took out two miniatures and poured them into the tumblers lying in the bar; threw a couple of ice cubes in, and topped them up with a splash of water.

Glasses in hand, I pushed myself back into the corner of the sofa and proffered Anita her drink. But instead of reaching for it, she took her legs off the settee, eased herself to my end of the couch, then raised her legs up to the other end and pushed her back into my chest which she now used as a backrest. Then, she stretched out her right hand, fingers curled to form a cup-holder into which I placed her glass of scotch.

My heart was in emotional overdrive. I felt faint almost, thinking to myself that I have been in love with this girl since my first day in India. Months and months of pent up emotion were still seeking release but even now, with this wondrous creature in my lap, I wasn’t sure which way the flow was going. And of course I wondered what she was feeling. She raised her head off my chest and bent her neck so she could take a sip from her glass. I did the same. In fact I took more than a sip, I took a gulp.

I put the glass down on the side table and looked down at Annie; I could see the top of her head and an overview of her forehead, raised cheekbones, the length of her eyelashes, and the glint of moisture on her lips. Soft, succulent and red lips! And her body, supine, stretched out in its entirety before me. I saw her flat stomach almost bare because the drape of her sari had shifted to the side; her breasts rising and falling with every breath – to me this was divinity. I wondered if she could feel my heartbeat as her head rested on my chest. Were our souls in communion?

“Annie?” I said in a voice that seemed barely able to escape my lips, like there was a constriction in my throat. She tilted her head backwards and tried to look into my eyes but I think it was too much of a strain on her neck. So she looked back down, maybe at her toes at the other end of the sofa.

“Hmm?” I heard her query. I wanted escort bursa to tell her that I loved her but didn’t really have enough gumption to say it.

“Nothing”

Instead of saying anything, I raised my free arm and placed my hand on her head, using my fingers like a blunt toothed comb over her hair which was still so neatly coiffed. I stroked her wide forehead and pushed an imaginary strand of hair behind her ear. I let my fingers wander over her beautiful face, tracing the lines of her cheekbones and her jaws, then around the perfect curve of her chin, and up again to her ears. My fingers played with the earlobe that I could access, the other one flush against my t-shirt. My hand strayed again to her chin, then below it to her neck, and swiftly back to her cheeks. I was feeling suddenly braver and less timid, although not entirely fearless; the alcohol playing games with my brain.

In my mind I kept repeating “I love you, I love you Annie” as my heartbeat increased to a thumping rhythm and my blood pumped through my veins in a nervous flow that I hadn’t experienced ever before. I looked at her and felt a heavy weight in my heart, an emotion that must surely sent out the strongest vibes that anyone could receive. And then suddenly, Annie put her glass down on the table and turned completely turtle so that her chin rested halfway between my chest and my stomach. She was looking up at me with those large eyes, pools of the most intimate reflection.

Both my hands were now free, and I raised them to cup her lovely face in them, like a chalice holding the most precious and treasured nectar from the heavens. She struggled to raise her own hands and cupped my face in them. And we stared at each other’s eyes, trying to fathom the road to our destiny.

She laid her head down again on my body, one cheek resting placidly against my stomach. I looked at the top of her head and at her entire length stretched out on the sofa. The back of her blouse and below that the bare skin of her back with the sinuous spine that curved into the tuck of her sari, the swell of her hips and the firm roundness of her buttock all draped in the midnight blue silk.

My hands drifted around the back of her neck and over her shoulders, gently stroking over the silken covering. She seemed to nuzzle her face against my t-shirt covered chest and I felt her press her head deeper against my body. I let my fingers stray down the curve of her spine, first over the blouse and then lower over bare skin. A slight tremor went through her body when I touched the uncovered part of her back, my fingers tracing the groove that sinuously wound its way towards her buttocks.

I caressed and rubbed for almost another ten minutes, my hands going from neck and shoulders down almost to her hips, then back up again. Every three or four such cycles, I would lean forward a little extra so that my hands touched the rise of her sari clad rump, but I could reach no further. I also kept running my fingers through her hair every now and then and as a result the neat coiffure was coming undone.

“Annie?” I whispered. And got no response. I thought she might have fallen asleep because of my relaxing ministrations.

Then I heard her mumble into my stomach “Hjjer?” I touched her cheeks and earlobe and lips with my fingers in response. When my fingers touched her mouth, she parted her lips slightly and I felt the smallest of nibbles from her teeth on my fingertip, then the tip of her tongue, and then she drew in the top phalange of my finger into the warm wetness. “Mmmmm, nice. That tasted good! Can we have another drink?”

“Are you sure?” I asked. To which she nodded her head and said “Definitely. Let’s!” It’s not like we were drunk, but … What the hell! So I started to get up and Anita raised herself off me and sat in her corner of the sofa while I went back to the mini-bar. There was a miniature scotch and a bourbon that I took from the fridge; poured out the Johnnie Walker Black into her tumbler and the Jack Daniels into mine, broke a couple of cubes of ice into each, and served them up on the rocks.

Where were we going with this, I wondered while walking across to give her the drink. There was a mental haze that I was unable to see through; I knew what I wanted – that was an emotional thing – but I wondered whether Annie had any feelings at all or whether this was just a party after work. I couldn’t read the vibes and she wasn’t making it easy for me to figure out.

She wasn’t sitting on the sofa. I was holding the tumblers and staring at an empty space; a couch that was probably still warm from the body heat of two individuals that had occupied it for the last hour or so. The room – my living room I suppose – was lit with the desk lamp and the foyer overhead light; the bathroom door was ajar which meant she wasn’t in there. So I walked in to the other room of the suite, my bedroom, in search of Annie.

The room wasn’t dark, but there was no light or lamp that had been switched on; instead there was moonlight streaming in through the large glass windows, floor to ceiling, on the wall facing the golf greens. Where the peacocks came in the morning. And there, against the glass façade stood Anita.

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