My unfocussed eyes wandered around the room. It was sparely lit; only a few dim lights illuminated the entire room. Several sets of couches spread over, and then my eyes’ focus ran over the people huddled together face-to-face and drinking beers.
A little farther, one dark corner, I spotted a handful of neatly dressed young men. They were holding microphone each and singing to rigsar song that appeared on the screen mounted on the wall. This is one fine karaoke in Thimphu, I thought.
Then a little right, at the counter, my focus stopped abruptly. A strikingly attractive bartender kept mixing and serving alcoholic drinks. Oh my god, her arms, so slim and graceful; her eyes, so bright and flirtatious! She was at the peak of her beauty.
Each time she passed the drinks to her customers and received money, her face glowed in an expansive smile, all the more prettier. She was a joy to watch, honestly.
Oh, I forgot to talk to you about my friends; I put blame on that bartender. By the way it’s a catch up party, after long time, with my old college friends. After we started working and have our own family, it’s quite difficult to meet often.
So five of us lounged on a couch in the karaoke and we sipped our whiskey. Meanwhile, we passed on microphones and sang to a song of our choice. It’s the Bryan Adam’s “You’re still beautiful to me”:
Turn out the lights and close the door
Put your head on the pillow and let me keep ya warm
I wanna run my hands across your face
Ya lyin’ beside ya still the perfect place
This song – every word, every line, and every stanza – evoked ripe memories of our college time. The time when we were so young, so naïve, so passionate. We remembered those nights when we used to stay late and sing to this particular song.
So once again, we said cheers to our whiskey, this time for our friendship. And we burst into the song, louder, reliving all those reverberating memories:
We’re still goin’ strong
So glad that you came along
Ya babe in every way
You’re still beautiful to me
I just - have to say – you’re still beautiful to me
So beautiful babe
Time and again, the jarim bartender would visit our couch and refill our whiskey glass. And always she smiled in that way, mesmerizingly; how my heart went just zinging and zapping.
I’ve no idea how it came to be, but my eyes following her so much of the time. Furthermore, I was fascinated by her long hair worn straight and swaying right and left where it met her shoulder. Sometimes, it spread wide and ran over her fair arms. Oh, she looked the classiest and the sweetest. Because I had this mysterious attraction for this girl, I don’t know why.
We selected another song, The Calling’s “Wherever you will go”. As my friends burst into the song, I turned my gaze to the bartender again. This time she glanced back at me and smiled when our eyes met. Finally, I made up my mind and walked to the counter. I ordered one more peg of whiskey and sat on bar stool in front of the counter, in front of her.
“I know you,” she told me.
My head swelled with wilderness, and at a loss of words, I took another sip of whiskey.
“Well, you’re Riku Dhan Subba, right?” she asked me with a gleeful smile.
As soon as I nodded my head, she continued, “I follow your blog. You write very well. But I love your pictures the most.”
I thanked her genuinely impressed, but at the same time felt deeply saddened. Firstly, writing is my first love, not photography. Secondly, I asked myself, can I court my follower?
Instantaneously, I ran back to my friends and joined them singing,
If I could, then I would
I’ll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I’ll go wherever you will go