He sidled up to her, crab like in his approach. His shirt was stretched tight over his pot belly, buttons threatening to detonate any moment.

“Hello”, he smiled greasily, “Why is your glass empty? A beautiful lady like you should never have an empty glass.”

She smiled vaguely in his direction, and allowed him to bring her a refill.

It was his lucky day. He was sure of it. The goddess of his dreams stood in front of him, in the flesh. He wondered if she knew how many fantasies she’d spawned, how many nightfalls she had triggered. Admittedly she was a lot larger now than she had been back then. But she’d filled out in the right places. His eyes lingered on her ample bosom. He licked his lips inadvertently.

“You may not remember me, but I was in the same school as you.”

“Oh, were you?”, her eyes flickered a modicum of interest.

“Yes, yes. One year junior. But heh heh. I was quite thin and lanky back then.”

“I don’t remember you, I’m sorry. I was only in that school for a couple of years.”

“Yes, but you see, I could never forget you. So beautiful back then. Even more beautiful now.”

She smiled sadly, and twirled the lime in her glass.

“Come- let’s sit down”, he let his hand rest on the small of her back, guiding her over to a secluded corner. “I want to know all about you. What you have been doing for the past twenty years. Where you have been. I’m sure it’s an exciting story…..”

An hour later, he was bored senseless. The talk had veered from her life to his, her spouse to his, her kids to his, till it had shot off into new age mumbo jumbo category. For the first time, her eyes had lit up. Animated, she had thrown theories of ghosts and aliens and seances and retreats at him. Flinching inwardly at the vain stupidity of it all, outwardly he had agreed, nodding and smiling, and leaning in, as close as she would allow. He’d watched the cupid’s bow of her lips move, imagining all that he would do to that mouth, disregarding the prattle, his mind just about controlling the loins from declaring themselves.

Finally, she paused for breath.

“So, what brings you here?”

“I try and come once every few years. It’s a good way to catch up with old mates. I’ve made loads of LinkedIn connections here. In my business, I make it my business to network.” He smiled. Then he boldly reached forward and stroked her inner wrist. “And today, I feel like I have made the most important connection of my life.”

She giggled and pulled away. “I’m a married woman!”

“So what? You are just a woman today- a very beautiful one. You deserve to be loved, every delicious inch of you. Love is the most divine connection of them all. Don’t you think?”

He watched her pupils dilate in surprise, and then she blushed.

Bingo! He kept a sweet, patient smile on his face, but once again took to rubbing his thumb sensuously across her wrist.

“Samira….Samira….there you are! I’ve been looking everywhere….Oh!” A plump officious looking woman came barrelling towards them. She stopped short, noting their closeness.

His goddess jumped up, all flustered.

“I’m sorry….I ran into an old friend. This is – “, she looked confused.

He could not believe that the entire evening was coming to naught. He tried salvaging it.

“Well, could I take you out to dinner Samira? Still so much to catch up on.”

“No, I think I’d better go. Thank you for a lovely evening. Look me up on LinkedIn.”

She wafted away with the interfering so and so.

He slumped down, deflated. One button finally gave up the ghost and popped, rolling away forlornly. What bloody luck! Just when he had learned how to inveigle himself into women’s affections, just when he had seen how far flattery could get you, just when he thought he’d hit the jackpot, bad luck had intervened again.

He pulled out his wallet and looked at the picture of his plump smiling wife, and his plump smiling children and sighed. He wanted to swim with the swans. Instead he had to waddle with the ducks.

He drank his whiskey in one gulp and stood up, mentally writing off the evening. He was in no mood to network now. The hotel bed and the porn channel called out to him. He started to shuffle towards the exit.

Then he spotted her. He was sure it was her. She had lived next door for a few years till her family moved away. She was a few years younger and only just starting to develop back then. But he used to switch off the lights in his room and watch her change out of his binoculars.

He sidled up to her, smiling greasily.

“Deepa, it is you, isn’t it?”