Two Nights at Neempani


An illustration for the story Two Nights at Neempani by the author Arnaba Saha
Photo of evening in Bhopal
An illustration for the story Two Nights at Neempani by the author Arnaba Saha
Photo of evening in Bhopal
An illustration for the story Two Nights at Neempani by the author Arnaba Saha

I drove all night and did not stop till I reached Neempani. I know the name is strange but the place was too familiar to me. First time I came here was with Sonal. The night was surreal. It was our first date and I drove 55 kms from Betul, just to give us a chance to know each other without any interference. Call it bizarre or just unusual; the date was arranged by our parents. Not completely though. They decided the date and time and I was supposed to take her some place nearby but eventually we ended here at Neempani.

I had heard that she liked long drives. So we took the highway towards Bhopal with her permission of course. The ice between us broke after we crossed Sonaghati. We talked without any agenda. A moonlit night, endless roads and large and ancient trees arching the roads and a beautiful companion to share your thoughts; the night was truly surreal. As we reached Neempani I realised we were too far from home. I suggested we should go back. It was her idea to dine at Neempani. She said she had heard of this place and food here was good. I must say she was right.

We got married within 5 months from that night. We shifted to Bhopal to commence our nuptial journey. Everything was so perfect: too good to be true. With the passing time, the equation of our relationship changed, so did we. Our initial compromise to make each other happy gradually turned into complains and dissatisfaction. As the charm of our marriage withered out, none of us could restrain the urge to pour our bitterness out. There no particular reason we fought; rather it was simple differences that aggravated. One strange day we decided to be civil to each other and came to the conclusion that it would be better if we part our ways mutually. Yesterday we got divorced.

Tonight as I waited for my order to be served I wondered the enigmatic nature of life. Two nights and the meaning and connotation of my life changed. Both the nights are so different yet so similar. Both the nights changed the course of my life. That night witnessed the budding bonding between us and tonight avouches the end of the bitter and spiteful marriage we were in for past 7 years.

I recommenced my journey. While driving through Ghati I could not clear out the thoughts of my married life. As the meandering roads lead me towards the end of this story I thought about the key chapters that twisted this tale forever.

This story is featured in our collection of "feel-good" 75 Short-Short Stories to read when you have five minutes to spare.


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