He was visiting Shillong after a good forty years. As the plane landed in Guwahati, he saw overcast skies. A slightly hilly terrain was in sight. He had booked a room in a hotel in Shillong, the idea was to take a cab from the Guwahati airport, then drive to Shillong. On the way the road was bad, due to heavy rains.
It was a terrible journey, but his heart pounded with a kind of excitement as he re visited the greenery, the hills and trees seemed a wonderful welcoming sight. It took a good four hours to reach Shillong. He asked the cabbie to take him to the hotel. Pine View is the hotel he told the driver. The driver looked at him grumpily and drove him to the hotel. Forty Rupees extra, he said. He paid the money, he did not want to bargain.
It was well past seven. The hotel was alright, there was a garden in front.
The receptionist said: 'There is no one by the name of S.S.Gupta'. '
But I booked the room online', he said.
'Sorry Sir, no name of this kind has been registered'.
Where would he go now he thought. The last time he was in the town, was when he left it as a child, the property was sold by his parents. He had a hand baggage, which he could carry, that was not a problem. He walked down slowly and came to a main road which he could dimly recognize. Take me to reasonably priced hotel he said.
The driver asked: 'which area?'
Police Bazar he said.
Yes he could remeber PB, they used to call it the town. He managed to get a room in a dingy hotel, but it would do he said. He would stay for five days at the most. There was a knock at the door.
A person asked him: 'Where have you come from?'
'New Delhi' he said.
'What is the purpose of your visit?'
'Why do you want to know?' he asked.
'I am from the police, we have strict orders to check hotels'.
'Oh' he said.
He looked relieved. That night he had an uncomfortable dream. There was a lot of talking, movement in the corridor adjoining his room, and voices, sometimes loud, sometimes hushed. He asked the receptionist about it, the next morning.
'You see Sir. People come to the bar, we can't stop them. They hang on late till night'.
In the evening when he went back there was commotion, a bevy of police were interrogating the people in the hotel. What was the reason? he asked. A man has been found dead in his room. Who was he, his name? S.S. Gupta was the reply.