strange are the ways of love…

He used to smile at me often, from his window seat where everyday he perched himself with a book. A hard bound green book which he seldom read. Maybe it is the daily fellow-traveler acquaintance  that prompted him to smile at me. I don’t remember when it began, the smiling sessions. I have been travelling in the same bus for 5 yrs now and it seems like my journey began with his smiles.

He was old, his gray streaked hair always shone in the sunlight and during the rains they stuck to each other as if glued. His glasses were black rimmed and cracked. His wrinkled fingers seldom leafed through his green book. One day I got to sit near him. And I looked at his book anxiously and when he mutely passed it over to me, I simply took it to realize that it was the Bible. He never talked and those few times when the crowded bus allowed me a seat near him, he seldom spoke anything. Our friendship started and ended with a smile everyday.

When one fine day, he disappeared and my day began without the smile. I didn’t mind. But when I missed four days of smiles continuously I sensed something was wrong. Upon inquiring with the bus conductor I got to know that the old man who sat on the 5th seat everyday, had no particular destination. He got in with the bus’ first trip everyday and got down at the last stop. No body knew his where abouts and I felt helpless and intrigued. The next day however, he was promptly on his seat. I kicked and pushed through the suffocating crowd to get near him. When I asked him about his absence, he smiled and simply thanked me   for noticing. As I got down I felt foolish and strange for being concerned. When the old lady who got down with me stopped me to tell me that this old man had lost his wife during a bomb blast in a bus 7yrs ago and since then has been travelling everyday like this, I felt all the more strange. A man with no destinations and every journey a new search for his lost love. Strange are the ways of love…

Love – an illusion!

It was dowdy everywhere, people were jostled, confused, heckled. The bleak noisy surrounding was exacerbated by the interventional hullabaloo of the negotiators. She was standing under a huge pillar of the 400 year old heritage building. The sun stared fiercely, she was dripping inside. He was happy, chatting with a friend, whom she did not know. He drank tea, inspected the mundane surrounding like an inspector who had come to settle yet another of his long pending assignments. He then walked up to the museum where the historic trials of the freedom fighters were being held during colonialism.

He came out with a complacent smile as if he was liberated of bulk of his earthly sins, the rest he would be by evening for sure. She was shocked to see him so carefree, so blithe, so indifferent, She did not want to use the term happy, it would shatter her. At about 2-30 in the afternoon, they were being called inside.

It was pretty much like the ones we see on TV. A dais where the chief sat, two wooden cubicles on both his sides, little lower was the most ordinary chairs arranged in most efficient alignment! About 100 black cloaked people had their respective chairs, behind were the settees for the commoners. They went and sat there. The chief, with a velvety black, supremo apparel, started amidst pin drop silence, one by one the black cloaked placed and argued their says. The attendant hollered 107: 2007 and two black-cloaked men walked up to the dais. She and he stood onto the left wooden cubicle.

After a few normal questionnaire, which, mostly, he answered with an eerie, untroubled heart. The man scribbled the testimonial and they were severed for life! It was that easy! She drooped down with a bleeding within, shuffled down the long stairs with heavy legs and finally managed to reach the car all alone.

She had never wanted this to happen, never in her life. It was a long, tiring, depressing, demoralising day. She was finally dissociated from her love, the love that she never had. It was an illusion!

Love is an illusion!

Her last battle

The dawn never ceased to awe her. She raised the hot cup, caressing its rim with a tenderness that made her shiver.That’s how he left her feeling every time, with a cold shiver that’s exciting and annoying at the same time. Maybe, all the doors have been already closed.

Maybe, there is no point anymore in repentance and reminiscences. They did have good times and they had been through hell. A love story of so many years. They played hide & seek through  out their childhood. Youth threw them apart in its early years. And when she had received a call on that fateful afternoon, she never realized that she would mistake it for a hand of escape. It never was, she should have remained there, deep down, alone in her exile.

Demons, she carried them inside and loved them too. For they were her sole companions when everyone else had discarded her, when she had left. Life in a lonely city and then life with him.The sun seemed to draw nearer, its going to happen soon now. She caressed her tummy, in a few months the bulge would have been visible. In a few months, if she was still pregnant, still alive…

He loved her and she loved him back, but sometimes love can wreck lives. Her possessiveness threw them apart. She had no one, except him and so she clung. To the extend of  breaking the chord. And now,when she would have happily disclosed, he shut her up with a proposal of mutual divorce. So she watched the sun rise, with her baby. And a drop of poison in her steaming coffee. When he came behind her and kissed her, all she did was remain numb. When he showed her the pregnancy test papers, all smiles, she couldn’t blink. When her eyes closed, all that she could hear

were his sorry s and she died of having won the last battle, with her baby inside.

If Tomorrow Never Comes

I had been going through a bleak phase where living was a miracle and with each passing day I cursed myself for still being alive. I wanted to say so many things to my close ones-I could not, for I was a shy girl who would dare not go against the slightest impropriety of her so called values. I could not protest the indecency going on around me nor could I express my feelings for my dear ones. And I thought I say it best when I say nothing at all. Then one day I read this beautiful story. I learned life is beautiful and desirable, so we should try and live for the moment. I learned expressing is as important as feeling it. I believe, if tomorrow never comes for me let me vent out my feelings right now, right at this moment. I bet I would never want to live an unpleasant life I had lived once. Having said this I must also tell you that we all should change for the better, we should change with the world but we should never change our values they are like roots–once shaken the whole tree stumbles down.

There was this guy suffering from terminal disease. The poor boy was not even allowed to go out, his parents prospered him with everything big and small to make it up. One day the boy decided to go out. His mother succumbed to his wish and eventually gave permission. Walking down the block was a pleasure he thought he would die for. The sky was bright, blue and open, the spring flowers all red and yellow were adorning the road with each wind call. He could smell the fragrance all over and love was all around him. He was a happy man. He browsed through many stores, never thought of shopping anything though for he had so many of those lavish at home and the weather alone did the wonder who cares for materials. The air was so fulfilling! Walking all along the block he saw a beautiful girl. It was like love at first sight and he walked up to the girl. The girl at the counter smiled and asked “ can I help you with anything, sir?” The guy could only think that it was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. He realized it was a music store and stuttered, “ well I’d like to buy a CD”. He grabbed the first one that he could have got hold of without even looking at it and gave her the money. “ Do you want me to wrap it?” The guy was overwhelmed and the girl went inside to pack the CD. The boy thrilled, struggled with his disposition, took the wrapped CD and shuffled his way back home. It was a perfect day out; life could not be better than this!

Love was on the air. From that day on he visited the music store everyday and each day he bought a CD. And each day the girl wrapped it up and the guy stored them unopened in his closet. He never found the urge to open it for he had all those latest music in his collection. It was just an excuse. A CD, a book or even a coke – it would have made no difference for him at all! The beautiful store girl was dream come true for him.

He was a shy boy, and although he tried he couldn’t ask the girl out. The next day the guy set out for the store with a strong heart. Like as on previous occasions he bought a CD and the girl wrapped it up as usual. This continued for some time and one day while she was busy, he left his telephone number on the counter and rushed out.

The next day the guy didn’t visit the store and the girl called him. His mother answered the phone wondering who it could be. It was the girl from the music store!

The mother started crying. The girl asked what was the matter. “Don’t you know he is no more!”  There was a long pause…….

Later that afternoon the mother entered his son’s room. She decided to start with his closet and to her surprise she saw a big pile of unopened CDs wrapped in festive paper. She was curious and she opened one. She tore open the package and noticed a slip of paper that said: Hi, you are cute, I would love to meet you, Let’s go out sometime, Sophie.

A drowsy numbness engulfed all her senses as she continued opening another and another and another. Every single CD contained a slip of paper that said the same!!

That’s the way life is, don’t wait to show those special people the way you feel. I guess, expressing is as important as feeling it. Tomorrow could be too late!

Arranged Marriage

He was very happy, he met her at a formal get together arranged by both the families and after coming back everybody in his family was very enthusiast in accepting her as their daughter in law. After all she was the first bahu in the family and bound to get the extra love n affection.

He was trying very hard to make her comfortable in a new environment which was supposed to arrive to her in next few months.

He even, started discussing her his deepest feelings for his family, for his friends and for her. In no way, he wanted to lose her now, despite increasing tensions between the families due to minor issues related to wedding.

She, on the other hand, had no idea that how he is trying his best in saving this relationship.

On that particular evening, he ringed her n discussed what he was trying to balance.

In next few moments, a call came to his family, and families’ ego reached at a point from where there was no turning back.

On one hand he has his family for whom he devoted his life, and other hand, he had his love whom he didn’t want to lose.

It took him quite a few days what he wanted in his life; it was just peace, even if it cost too many emotions.

He used to be a charming, energetic person by nature but this incident broke shattered him completely.

And then, one fine evening, his mailbox read,

“You are the worse person i have ever met, you don’t even deserve to become my friend, leave the life partner thing aside. This is supposed to be a last mail, if not it better be. You are a closed chapter now.”

What was that, a reward for being so trustful to a girl he doesn’t even know 2 months back?

The fishing net

Shantaram knew that his fishing net was his identity. It wasn’t merely his livelihood, but his raison de’etre. He was always focused, and immensely experienced. So be it a high tide or any temporary whirlwind; he knew he had to be there, right in the middle of that aggravating ocean, though he knew the dangers. On few earlier such occasions in past, when warnings were given to fishermen not to venture in the sea for fishing, he had turned a deaf ear.

After all he had responsibilities; a young daughter to be married off, that very year, as far as possible. So this says it all. But Lata, the daughter was not in any way illiterate or a burden; in fact she was in her last year of graduation. She too was an earning member; she taught part time in the neighborhood pre-primary school.  Lata used to convince him not to work any longer, or at least to take it little laid back, because she was planning to start working full time once her graduation results would come out. But Shantaram hardly listened, and used to shrug off his shoulders by replying” I’d never give up my fishing net”.

Saturday evening had proved to be a very important evening for Lata. An old time friend Arvind had proposed to her in marriage. He was a lower middle class young man, financially pretty much settled, self made fellow, much like her father, working since the past two years in a localized bank, and earning modestly. While proposing to Lata, Arvind made a mention to her, that he wouldn’t be accepting any dowry from her, and that he would be shouldering half of the wedding expenditure. The two families knew each other, but such an alliance had never brushed across their minds. So even Lata was taken by surprise when Arvind, suddenly out of the blue asked for her hand in marriage. Lata had no reason to refuse. But like any other girl would do, she didn’t immediately leap, but stalled her reply and promised to get back to him in a week’s time.

A week later, was a Sunday, and usually on Sundays, Shantaram took an off from work. Just a visit or two to the market, and he would be home. So Lata, who had by then made up her mind and had already decided to give a nod to Arvind, had planned to speak to Shantaram that evening. After heading back home from vegetable purchases later that evening, she asked her mother where her father had been, and when he’d return. She was restless, as today she was eager to talk to everyone at home about Arvind.

Her mom’s submissive reply told her that Shantaram had been away since morning. One of his long time associate and old time friend Ganesh told them that Shantaram had headed to the sea, hoping for some extra catch that day. The family learnt from Ganesh that very day itself that Shantaram had a substantial loan to repay, which he’d borrowed from some middlemen in the market. To add to his financial qualms, he was trying to save on regular basis for Lata’s wedding; because he knew that it would be quite a sum. Rightfully it was a tight rope that he was walking on. And so today, despite having got a “Do Not Venture in deep seas” warning, Shantaram had gone against the wish of the wind; his fishing net tucked in his arm.

And the worst finally happened. The thunderous sea took him in its arms….he went there that day, never to return; never to see his daughter becoming a bride.  It was all palpable. His confidence, his risks, his never say die attitude, his daring approach- all washed away in a thud! His earnestness to load up his financial kitty and save for Lata’s wedding did him no good. He would have been a slightly relieved father that evening, had Lata got an opportunity to talk to him about Arvind’s proposal, and his desire to bear half the wedding cost.  But Alas! What a manifest paradox life is! Shantaram and his identity- his robust fishing net, both washed away in the boisterous waves. He didn’t lose his identity till the end though; in fact he carried it with him to the doorstep of death. Till death do us apart, as they say.

All that was left ashore was a succumbed wife; a helpless daughter; but a dependable to be son-in-law….The rest was taken away by the stubborn waves….

Life is beautiful

Life is beautiful for this ten year old dark mahagony colored wooden bench placed in the public park about eight years back. It was brought here after the park opened for public, and since then it’s been around day and night, through scorching summers and chilly winters.

Over time, the bench has had many a buddies, who come and sit on it while visiting the park. But ask the bench to pick five to six of its most favorable buddies and it doesn’t hesitate one bit to describe them.

Dr. and Mrs. Kapoor are the firsts to visit the park for their morning walk at 5.45 am every day. Dr. Kapoor is a renowned physician in town, and after their walk, every single day Mrs. Kapoor inquires to him about his schedule for the day. Every now and then Dr. Kapoor has an operation scheduled. Today he tells Mrs. Kapoor he has a major operation scheduled and that he’s tensed up whether it would go well. He sits on the bench and discusses about his anxiety with her. The bench quietly wishes the doctor ‘all the best’.

Then at 7.30 sharp enters Mrs. Rustomjee and her cousin Sally. They are associated with an NGO and have almost devoted their life to service. Dreaming about a clean city is what Mrs. Rustomjee believes and fights for, day in and day out. For her mission close to her heart, her NGO organizes several rallies and drives to bring home the importance of clean and healthy cities to urbanites at large. Be it schools, hospitals or slums, they organize the awareness drives across the board to seek maximum involvement and people participation. Every day when they perch on the wooden bench in the morning, the bench comes to know how the women’s day would be unfolding, and what all chores they have in store for the day. And thus the bench feels nice and fulfilling from inside, to have such a workaholic person as its buddy.

At 8.00 am walks in Mr. Pujari, a senior citizen, retired judge accompanied by his dear friend Shri Kher. After a brief walk around the park, they settle down on the wooden bench and discuss everything there is to discuss under the sun- whether it is affecting or not affecting their lives directly or indirectly. They talk politics, law and order, about busy lives, about the changing societal patterns, about how these days even to visit a close nephew or niece they need to call up before hand and then visit, they talk about the latest books each one of them has recently read and the conversations just drift on and on till 8.30, when usually it is Mr. Kher who peeks into the watch and remarks it is time for them to get going….Sometimes the bench wonders why it is very fond of these two senior citizens and then it convinces itself that it is because of these two gentlemen that the bench stays up-to-date on the happenings and events around the country/ world at large. So in a way, the two buddies are the bench’s information bank!

As the day advances, the bench sits all alone amid the scorching heat, sulking and waiting for the evening….because it is only in the evenings, that it gets to meet three of its last set of buddies.

Jay enters the park at 6.30 pm. After a brisk round of the meadows, with an i-pod stuck to him constantly, the fellow halts for a while and perches on the bench. To the bench, he seems to be a confused guy. Actually he is well educated and all, and he has also begun work recently. But the bench somehow feels that he isn’t enjoying his job. It isn’t giving him the kind of kick and push he’s perhaps yearning for. Although the bench doesn’t know where the problem lies. And then, every single day, slowly, he dials a number from his mobile handset, only to disconnect the number….until some day he musters some courage and dials the number again. This time he speaks to the person on the other end. He addresses her as Priya, and then slowly but surely the bench comes to know part of Jay’s confused life….girlfriend, less paid & stuck up job, zero job satisfaction, rising parental expectations….But something about the guy tells the bench that he’ll someday come out of his issues and pangs surely. There is one glitter and twinkle in the eyes of Jay, which the bench is very fond of, which tells him, that this boy will surely find his path. And the bench waits for that day curiously….

Exactly one hour after Jay leaves, a lady walks in, completes her daily 10 rounds of brisk walks and silently sits down on the bench. She’s been a visitor of this park for a longer time than the bench has been around. Till as recent as the bench could remember, this lady used to exude a sense of confidence in her walk, in her demeanor, and in general in her attitude. But it’s as recent as the past year, that she’s appearing to be kind of clumsy, irritant, absent minded and angry in general. Nowadays, every once in a while she forgets something or the other on the bench. One day, it’s her purse, some day it’s her vegetable bag. And then the bench wonders how a person can age so fast and how it could affect that person’s daily life….Then one day it is from his information buddy Mr. Pujari that the bench came to know a term dementia, and then it struck the bench that perhaps the lady is precisely suffering from this kind of similar disorder. Like a tree laden with fruit and flowers on one day, and then other day having shed all its flowers and having become dry and worthless, the bench has seen the journey of this lady transform from confidence and charm to the uninviting corridors of memory loss and dementia. And the bench’s heart reaches out to the lady….if only it could help her in her agony…

The last buddy whose story the bench wishes to share is a fifteen year old girl name Meera. She stands outside the park every day in the evening, selling flowers and garlands. As the sun sets and the park becomes a desolate place, she enters the premises, and quietly perches on the bench, opens her tiny yellow colored pouch, which is her money bag and sits to count her day’s earning. The bench doesn’t know about the whereabouts of Meera’s parents, or whether she does even have any family to go home to. Because right after finishing the money count, she heads out of the park to a stall, gets herself some quick bite and continues sitting on the bench for a long time. She just looks up into the star studded sky with eyes wide open. Perhaps there’s no one to tell her any stories about stars, perhaps she wonders about the universe or about her destiny….or perhaps the bench wonders she gathers dreams in her eyes and watches the stars awestruck.  Her earnings are meager, the bench understands. It’s just herself that she’s supporting, the bench guesses. As night falls, her sleepy eyelids grow closer and in a moment she falls to sleep, like a child in the lap of the bench, under the envelope of the night sky to take care of her and to sing her a quiet lullaby. It’s been almost three years that Meera is going on with the same schedule, and then bench is more than her buddy. It’s her care taker.

So for this eight year old mahagony bench, this is life. Those who come and sit on it, all those special ones whose stories it shares heartily are its mirrors to the outside world. With their experiences and stories the bench realizes and comes to know how bad or sometimes good the world can be. Their anguishes and hopes ignite a curiosity in the mind of the bench, as it keeps on sitting where it always has, though quietly praying for each of its buddies; hoping that wherever they are, they stay happy and contented, and hoping that its friendship with all of those continues for years on….

For the wooden bench, this is life and life is beautiful, just like the scented flowers grown on the tree right beside it, the fragrance of which the bench keeps getting as seasons move on. Sometimes the fragrance is maximum, sometimes minimum, but the bliss stays etched in its memory until next year when the blossom would come back in full swing. Until then, it’s just the bench and its six close buddies.

Unexpressed Feelings

Ramesh went to the old store room, searched for a carton on which it was written with a marker “Dad’s things”. He finally found that carton. He sat on a small stool, after pulling this carton towards him and tearing its seal open. He picked up his dad’s old diary into his hands, and went through it.

“I had brought up my son with lots of love and care. I never expected that he would do the same thing in return when I grow old. I had thought the least I could expect from him was that he would spend some time with me and say something nice. Sadly, that never happened. Maybe my expectations were too much. He had become very busy in his life and never found any time for me.”

Ramesh sadly turned to the next page of his father’s diary. He found a peacock’s father between the pages. He picked it up and read the note on that page.

“As a kid, my son loved this peacock’s feather a lot. As he grew up, he had forgotten about it. I felt it would be nice if I could treasure it. It has sweet memories of my dear son playing with it.”

He looked up, touching his face with that peacock’s feather. Then he continued reading his father’s diary.

“Maybe my son loved me, maybe. I would never know his inner feelings as he never expressed much. We had become like two strangers as he grew up. I felt it wouldn’t have mattered if I had to pass away some time back.”

Ramesh had a drop of tear in his right eye, which flowed slowly down his cheek.

He had moved to a distant place after completing his studies. He had seen his parents only a few times. As he got married and had his own kids, it even became a rare thing. It was not that he didn’t love or care for his parents. But he had locked his love for his parents deep inside his heart and never expressed it to them. It was some years back when his mother had passed away.

His father was living alone in the old house. He had asked him to move into their place, but the old man had refused it. He wanted to live his last days recalling the wonderful memories of that house, where his beloved wife had stayed.

Ramesh had given it a thought to spend some time with his father, but that time never came. Soon his own children grew up, and one day his old father had passed away in his sleep.

He had seen his father’s diary a couple of times: once while he was alive and the second time after his death, while packing his things from the old house. Finally, his father’s things found its stay in this store room of the house.

Today, he missed his father a lot and he just remembered that his father used to write in a diary. He felt that he might feel closer to his dad going through it at least now.

“Life isn’t a fairy tale. Reality is too hard to digest.” His father had written in the next page.

“After my dearest wife passed away, for the first time in my life I realized how much alone I was in this selfish world. My dear son had asked me to move with him to his house. However, I refused as I knew that it wouldn’t make much difference moving to that place. So I thought let me stay over here embracing my solitude, with the sweet memories of my dear wife to cherish till my last day arrives.”

“Moreover, my wife had loved this place a lot! I wonder what would happen to this place after I am gone. Perhaps, it would be destroyed to build some thing else. Luckily, I wouldn’t be there to see something my wife had loved being destroyed forever.”

A drop of tear from his eyes landed on the page of his father’s diary. He closed the diary, kissed it and hugged it tightly to his chest.

He went inside and asked his son.

“Son, can you please take me for a drive?”

“Sure, dad!” His son said, standing up.

His son drove his father to the graveyard. The eighty year old Ramesh walked slowly with the help of his son towards his father’s grave.

“Son, I would like to spend some moments alone with my father” Ramesh said.

“Sure, dad, I will pay a visit to grandma’s grave in the meantime.” He said walking away.

Ramesh bent and placed a bunch of white Lilly flowers on his father’s tomb.

“Dad, I hope you are listening to my words wherever you are right now…I am very sorry for having neglected you when you needed me the most in your life…I am extremely very sorry for that…please forgive me…one more thing, I love you a lot! I wish I had told you this while you were around.” He said with tears overflowing from his eyes.

The wind was blowing quite strong, and it carried away his tears towards the big banyan tree, which stood near to his father’s grave. He remembered to having seen a small sapling the last time he was here.

“I forgive you, my dear son. I love you a lot too. I always did. I wish that I could hug you now, but I am helpless being this stupid tree in my present birth.” These were the thoughts of the big banyan tree.

“Dad, shall we go now?” His son came and asked him.

“All right, son” He said, walking away with him.

The wind carried some leaves from the big banyan tree, and they gently touched the old man’s back.

A Little Bit of Luck

Avinash stepped out of the pavements and started to cross the road. The horn, screech of wheels and the sudden swerve of the car came just a second too late, and he was thrown away into the middle of the road, with a pool of blood under him. Everyone thought that he should have been dead.

“Oh, my God, is he alright? Is he..?” cried a young and beautiful girl, who was driving that car that knocked him off his feet.

“Can’t tell?” said a stranger.

“Somebody please get him into my car, in the back seat and I will take him to the hospital…Please….” She cried

They picked up his limp body and laid him down on the back seat of her car and closed the door. She thanked them got into the car and was about to slam her feet on the accelerator.

“Ma’am, I think this belongs to him” Said a stranger, handing her a file. Which she placed next to her seat.

“Thank you,” She said, slamming her foot on the accelerator and driving as fast as she could and raced towards the hospital. Finally, she reached the hospital. He was taken into the ICU. The doctor examined his body. When he came back.

“Any hope?” She asked.

“Can’t say? He has fractured his leg; the loss of the blood is the problem. Because, we do not have his blood group in the blood bank of our hospital and if we don’t get it in the next half an hour or so then he will surely die.” The doctor replied.

“What’s his blood group, doctor?” She asked.

“A+ ”

“Mine is A+ too. You can take my blood” She said.

“Good, then follow me.” The doctor said

Later, Priya came out of the hospital and got into her car. She saw the file. ‘The Whispering Willow’- A collection of short stories by Avinash’

“God, please let him live…please ..” She prayed, starting the engine of her car.

When Avinash opened his eyes, he felt awful. He blinked his eyes, looking at the ceiling. Images seemed to be blurred. He blinked again; it took him sometime before he could clearly see anything.

He was lying in a bed in a strange place that seemed like a hospital. His left leg was covered with plaster and was raised high in the air, suspended to a pulley; he wiggled his toes of his right leg. They seemed to be fine. Then he began to move his arms. Just then a nurse came to his bedside.

“Hi! Mr. Avinash, welcome back to this world” She said.

“How long have I been like this?” He asked, looking at her.

“Three days.” she replied, keeping the thermometer in his mouth and checking his pulse rate.

“Good, you’re making very nice recovery.” She moved on to the next bed. He looked out of the window, opposite to him.

Avinash’s short stories had appeared in the children’s magazines during his schooldays and then in newspapers. When he grew up, he had a dream to become one of the best story tellers of his time. He had joined a book publishing house as an assistant editor, hoping that they might help him in getting his collection of short stories published. Amar Jyothi Book House, where he worked was owned by Mrs. Anupama, a widow in her late thirties.

One evening, she offered to give him a lift in her car. Though he hesitated at first. Finally, he agreed and got into the car, next to her seat.

“Mr.Avinash, do you like reading?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am. Why?” He asked her.

“Just call me Anupama or Anu. I just asked you because, I had seen you going through Jeffrey Archer’s Collected Short Stories so.” She said.

“Yes, Ma’am..He is one of the greatest story tellers of our age” He replied. Agreed. But, do you only read or do something else apart from that?” She asked, looking at him.

“Well, I write short stories too.” He said.

“Really? I didn’t know that!” She said, “It’s exceptionally very good. By the way, give me some to read. Let me see if you really have the talent” she said, changing the gear.

“I will.” he said, turning and looking at her.

“If your stories are really good then maybe I would consider publishing your first collection of stories.” She said
“Oh, That’s really very nice of you, Anu. ” He said.

“Well, met me at 7’o clock tomorrow evening in the office with your collection of short stories” She said.

Next evening at 7, stepped out of the pavements and started to cross the road. The horn, screech of wheels and the sudden swerve of the car…..

“Mr.Avinash, you have a visitor. I think you should see her for she is the reason for you to be alive today. Hadn’t she brought here in time and given her blood to you then it would’ve been a different story altogether.” The nurse said “Would you like to meet her?”

“Of course, what do you expect me to say. Send her in please.” He said.

“Ok, I will send her in.” She said, going away.

He looked eagerly towards the door for her to come.

“So, how are you doing?” Priya asked, coming and sitting on the stool, next to the bed.

“Fine, thanks for saving my life.” He said.

“No, please don’t thank me. Infact, I am the reason for this” She said, pointing her finger at his body, “Well, I couldn’t sleep well for the past three nights. I was always thinking and praying that you should get well. If at all something had happened to you then I don’t know what would’ve happened to me.” She said.

“Nice to know that suddenly I have become the center of your attraction” He said, smiling at her.

“Not just me. But, everyone else too.” She said.

“I didn’t get you?” He said. Well, your first collection of short stories ‘The Whispering Willow’ got published. Believe me; all the copies got sold within one day of its release. Now, it is out of stock in the book stores. All the newspapers had your picture and the critics have acknowledged that you do have talent to be a great writer.” She said, handing him a copy of the book.

He took it and stared at the cover page for a while and as he turned the pages, drops of tears twinkled in his eyes and fell down. She caught hold of them in the palm of her hand.
“Thank you. Thank you, very much. I just don’t have any more words to express my inner feelings of gratitude for what you have done for me” He said “I don’t know how I am going to repay this?”

“No mention. I have already got my reward by this.” She said, showing him the drop of tears to him, “Actually I did nothing. I just happened to read your collection of short stories. I liked most of the stories and I tried to get them published and succeeded.”

“Your stories are so nice, especially the twists and turns in the end. ‘A Plan for a Murder’; in which the husband plans to kill his wife to unite with his lover. But, ends up killing his lover in the end, was great.” she said.

“Yes.” He said.

“In the story ‘Into the dark of the night’; two couple meet with an accident and reach a house
that seems to be haunted. But, what they don’t realize is that they are dead and ghosts, was excellent.” She said.

“Thank you.” He said.

“But, one story ‘The Lost Friend’ seemed to be based on a real story” She said.

“Yes, it is based on a true incident from my childhood days.” He said.

“Did you ever come across her again?” She asked him.

“Unfortunately no.” He said.

“I think now you have.” She said, “I am Priya Sarma, who was studying with you in your school days.” She said, extending her hand to him.

“Really? What a surprise!” He exclaimed, shaking her hand, “Today I am really very happy and pleased.” The door bell rang. Sangeetha kept the pen down on the sheets of paper, on which she was writing something. She went to answer the door. She found Priya standing outside the door. She welcomed her inside.

“What are you doing Sangeethu?” She asked.

“Well, just writing one of my stories, that’s all!” She said.

“What’s the title of the story?” Priya asked.

“A Little Bit of Luck” She replied.

“Nice title.” She said “What’s it about?”

She explained the story to her. Priya listened to her with much interest. Then suddenly she interrupted her.
“Hey! All this had happened to me and Avinash” She said.

“You mean that short story writer, who became famous overnight?” She asked surprised.

“Yes”

“Oh, so, you know him, isn’t it?” She asked.

“Very much.”

“Can you help me to meet him once? I’ve read all of his stories and I just love them all. I just want to meet him in person.” She said.

“Sure. But, do tell me what happens in the climax of your this story?” Priya asked, curiously.

“I’m yet to write the climax of this story.” Sangeetha said, “I am thinking whether to include a sad or a happy ending.”

“If you include a sad ending then I’m going to kill you. Just kidding” Priya said, “Sangeethu, whatever you had written has happened to me or may be it’s just a coincidence. Even then I would like to have a happy ending in your this story. So let her marry him and live happily ever after.”

“Let me think about it. You should bribe me for that.” She said, teasingly.

“How about tomorrow? You can meet him at Malgudi at 7 pm.” Priya said, smiling at her.

‘The Daily’

At 6.30 AM sharp, every single day, beating against all weather odds, one friend used to come and visit a gentleman seventy three years old residing in Gunwant Society. The man was Shri. Pabalkar, whom family used to lovingly call Appa.  And the friend was his daily dose of news- the regional newspaper “The Daily”. It was like his conversation friend.

The crisp smell of “The Daily” used to greet him at the break of the dawn. Whether anyone at home used to remember to wish him or not, one pal who used to relentlessly wish him ‘morning’ was The Daily. For thirty long years, the newspaper had outgrown to be more than a mere dose of news. It had become more than a sheet of paper; it had almost simply become a friend to Appa. And especially since the demise of his wife seven years ago, he had gotten far closer to The Daily.

That way, the Pabalkars had subscribed two to three newspapers; but they all were in English. None pertained to regional news, which would be written in the vernacular language.

The young lady of the house, Mrs. Pabalkar used to get bogged down by her son’s vernacular language studies, and she used to wonder how he’d be able to cope with his vernacular language at school. Then Appa used to give her a dosage; a quick advice of making the little fellow develop the habit of reading the vernacular newspaper which daily fell by their doorstep. But the modern mom that she was, she wasn’t all too keen on her son wasting his time reading the vernacular language newspaper. According to her, even if he musters time to briefly read the English newspaper headlines, it was more than enough. Little did she realize that one’s language skills can really develop quite well by reading text in that language, rather than merely sticking to reading the textbooks prescribed in school.

She herself used to stick to reading only the English newspapers, so also her husband. Then how can one reasonably think that their son would form the habit of even wanting to hold the vernacular language newspaper?

So, thus, day in and day out, the family resorted to reading only English newspaper, with the exception of, of course Appa, whose friend, philosopher and guide nowadays was The Daily. Every single morning, the paper used to be fallen by the doorstep, only for Appa to pick it up and get immersed in it for almost more than half of the day. After retirement, it was his only time killing factor, apart from his morning walks.

Time went by fast as it always does against the tide; until one day ‘The Daily’ became orphan…..

A prolonged illness saw the demise of Appa, and since then “The Daily” lost a true friend. For almost a month after Appa passed away, it didn’t strike the newspaper boy not to place The Daily by the Pabalkar doorstep. It had become more than a habit for even the newspaper boy. Blindly he kept on placing The Daily. The family kept mum for a month. Then one day, Mrs. Pabalkar, while settling previous month’s newspaper bill, specifically mentioned to the newspaper walla, to stop placing The Daily from the subsequent day.

Next day too, the fellow perhaps forgot to remember her instruction and placed the newspaper. Was it his negligence, or was it his carelessness, Mrs. Pabalkar wondered.

The following Sunday her husband himself waited by the door early in the morning, for he wanted to let the newspaper delivery boy know about it, clearly. At 6.30 AM he arrived with three newspapers on his bicycle- the regular two English newspapers along with The Daily. He dropped the papers by the doorstep. Mr. Pabalkar looked up and protested. He swiftly picked it up and shoved it in the fellow’s hands. With a twist in his eyes he remarked “perhaps you haven’t got the message right. We wish to discontinue The Daily. It’s been almost a month since we have communicated this across to your supervisor. I fail to understand why he’s still sending it to us”.

The fellow meekly replied to Mr. Pabalkar, “I’m sorry Mr. Pabalkar, but I cannot let you discontinue The Daily. It’s associated with your household for a long time. It’s more like it reminds me of the old man for whom I used to deliver it. He had once told me; in fact he had given it in writing, that even after I am no more, please do keep delivering it at our house. My son and daughter in law might protest. But still you do not stop. That’s the only way to pursue them to develop a liking for a newspaper of their own vernacular language”

Saying so, the delivery boy quietly handed over a little moist note to Mr. Pabalkar. It was his late father’s handwriting, he immediately guessed. And really, to his complete surprise, he had actually given a note to the newspaper delivery fellow to keep on relentlessly delivering it, even after his demise. After this dialogue, none said a word. There was just an exchange of glances. Tucking the three newspapers by his arm, Mr. Pabalkar quietly walked indoors. He silently closed the door behind him. He didn’t look back to see if the fellow was still standing outside.

Whether it was as a fond memory of his father, or whatever may be the cause, The Daily kept visiting the Pabalkar household. Perhaps it was his father’s persuasive habit to make the family read it, that today, Mr and Mrs. Pabalkar both, and also their eight year old son, make it a point to open it at least once a day and read though it.

Is it the old Mr. Pabalkar’s memories that they read, or is it the news, one is left to wonder…..

He and She

Her eyes kept straying here and there, as though searching out something, or someone. Her manicured nails were painted red, he noted, as he sat sipping his cup of coffee, from across the table. Fidgeting, she sat, lost in some deep reverie. He had the urge to wake her up, to probe what was wrong, or if at all anything was wrong. But, he did not. He was not known to be a meddler; and he did not want to start to be one now. He laid his cup down, scooped all the files and documents strewn all over the table, and started to walk out. She did not even notice him. He felt anger rising in him, and yet, he knew he had no reason to. So, he stormed out of the cafeteria in a hurry, letting the door slam shut on its own.
Shaken from her thoughts, she looked around. She realized that it was more than 20 minutes since she came in for her coffee. And not a drop of it was consumed. She lifted her coffee to her lips. Cold. She cursed under her breath, pushed the coffee mug away, and shrugged in exasperation. She needs help, she thought to herself. But who could she turn to? The ex-husband, of 12 years, who had suddenly packed bags and left, to Trinidad and Tobago? The mother who blamed her for every single mistake, every single step she undertook? The friends who never would lie for her, but would never hesitate to lie to her? Or her little boy of six, who’d ask her every night where Trin-dad-to-b-go was? Who was she to turn to? She swore filthy in her mind, for, she had no answers. Nor did she have any questions left, she realized to her dismay.
His Facebook profile stared back at him. The photograph showed him smiling away. Mockery, he felt disgusted at his own reflection. The confidence of the picture gave him creeps. He read through his self-proclaimed introduction, and he could not recognize the person who he claimed to be. Someone called out to him over his cubicle. Hurriedly he closed his profile, and turned to face his friend. “What was that dude? A matrimonial site?” his colleague asked; curious. “No No… I was just surfing some stuff” he answered, all flustered. Okay, I’ll believe it (for now), he heard his friend say, amused, as he walked away to his cubicle. Damn, he felt himself angered, though he could not place why he would be so. Soon his desk was piled up with files, new tenders to be made, proposals to be made. His mind no more had the space to ponder over human nature, or at the least, his own.
The clock showed 4 pm. Time for her little one to be picked up from school. She shut her system down, grabbed her wallet and keys, and walked out of her room. She did not care to look at anyone one though she felt a hundred odd eyes piercing her. The lift never works, she muttered to herself as she ran down the staircase. Her car lay stuck in the parking lot, and she failed to hide her frustration. Yelling at the doorman, she demanded the other car to be shifted. The watchman obliged in a hurry, and finally she was out in the open. The Mumbai city traffic never disturbed her. She loved the bustle, the noise, the hundreds of vehicles, and thousands of people around her. Everything was dynamic. None cared to look at her, or judge her. Everyone seemed to have just one thing in their minds, to get going. She felt wholesome, she felt relieved and relaxed.
“Mammaaa…you are late by 2 minutes and 34 seconds…” her son hurled his diagnosis at her. She could not help but smile. She scooped him up in her arms, and safely laid him on the front seat. After tucking the safety belt on, she said “Awww…Mamma is really sorry. Mamma had so much work at the office. I wonder if a jell-o could make you forget this.” Winking at his mom, he said “Hmmm…I guess that would be fine. But do not repeat it. Promise?” “Promise baby. Shall we get going then?” He nodded his approval and the mother-son duo drove away. Their laughter seemed infectious.
His eyes seemed to search for her. She and her once-bright eyes, and her infectious smile which had all off a sudden died away. He did not know why. Nor did he want to know. He had never wanted to be a part of her world, and still did not want to. But he never could understand why her sadness bothered him. It made him ache too. But he knew it made no sense. He heard a car drive in, and he looked down from his balcony. She was laughing; her eyes twinkled just as before. He saw her reach out to her little one. They were in another world; he smiled to himself. And then, he went back to his desk and hid himself behind the pile of files, the load of work pending.
She got back to her floor, her son safe in his crèche with his evening friends. Once again she felt all eyes on her, except one. She looked at him, wondering why he never looked He looked up. She was long gone. The office was empty. He walked over to her desk. It was shabby. It was sad, except for the couple of rare hours when she smiled, and worked, and created art. He flicked open the latest ad script she had made. It was the ad for a relaxing chair. It featured a boring man in a stingy cubicle, with a pile of files stacked on the desk. The man remained hidden from view, except for the fringe of hair on his balding head. His hands went to his hair in a reflex. No, he still had his hair. He smiled to himself and walked out. He called it a night.
The fan swirled on, and the sheets of her script flickered in the wind. Pity, he did not wait to look through till the last scene.

Old Man’s Paradise

The Prologue

“Whose letter is it?” Brinda asked her husband, Ashok.

“Dad’s. He likes giving surprises!” Ashok replied “They haven’t gone to Kasi*”

“Then where did they go?” She asked.

“Old Man’s Paradise!”

“Old Man’s Paradise? What place is that?”

“We shall find out soon,” He said “As he has invited us over there.”

***

The train was going through a place which had greenery on either side. Ashok peeped through the window of the train compartment.

“Do you see him?” Brinda asked.

“Yes, I see him!” Ashok replied, he had seen his father’s friend Dayanand holding a sign board with “Welcome to Old Man’s Paradise!” written on it.

He tried to pull the chain down with all his might.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” asked a man, who was with them in that compartment.

“ We are going to get down the train!” He said turning back “I think it is stuck…come on, guys, help me!” He added looking at his family members.

His wife Brinda and his two daughters Priya and Preethi held his waist and pulled him back. The chain came down as well as the train came to a screeching halt.

“Who pulled the chain?” The T.C. asked, rushing towards their compartment.

“I did!” Ashok said, taking down the luggage.

“Oh, you should be that old man’s son” The T.C. said rather annoyed “You’ll have to pay a fine of…”

“Rupees five hundred…here it is!” Ashok said giving it to him.

“It’s nice to see you guys” Dayanand said with a warm smile “It is about fifteen minutes walk from here. Please follow me!”

“Dayanand Uncle, isn’t there a railway station nearby?” Ashok asked.

“Yes, there is one in the town.”

“And how far is this town from here?”

“Thirty kilometers!”

Soon, they reached the compound wall of the Old Man’s Paradise. As they entered, they saw Gulmohar trees and Yellow flame trees on either side of the path. It gave the feel to the name “Old Man’s Paradise”.

There was a pond with lotus flowers and a wooden bridge in the middle to cross it. On the other side, there was one huge banyan tree with a circular platform below. As they walked ahead, they found a big building with a beautiful spring fountain before it. The spring fountain was surrounded by colourful flower plants.

“Welcome to old man’s paradise!” Ashok’s father Kishore said, welcoming them inside.

“Hi!”Ashok’s mother Rukmini said coming.

“Why are your hands muddy, gandma?” Preethi asked.

“Well, I was plucking the vegetables for the lunch” She said.

“Plucking vegetables?” Brinda asked surprised.

“Yes, we grow our own vegetables in the vegetable- garden behind the house.” Rukmini replied.

Later, they all had lunch together on the dinning table.

“Well, hope you like the food.” Rukmini said.

“Yeah, we like it!” Ashok said smiling at his mother.

“Dad, how did you guys come to this place?” Ashok asked.

“Well, son, it’s a long story..It was long time back…” Kishore said.

“Grandpa, start it with ‘Once upon a time long, long ago..’” Preethi interrupted.

“Once upon a time long, long ago…when we friends weren’t even married…we all set out for a trip in our car. We had lost our way and reached this wonderful village…As it had turned dark, so we had decided to stay back in this village for that night. We were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful hospitality of these innocent villagers. The best thing about them was that they all lived like one big family…” Kishore started the story.

“Though they had their problems. They had power supply only for a couple of hours or so in a day. We, friends used to think that we should do something good and nice to others…which would give us joy and satisfaction in return..”

So we came back again to this village and talked to them about solving their power problem with solar energy. They co-operated with us and we solved their energy crisis.”

“Then the next big problem was that they used to waste their hard earned money by drinking, smoking and gambling. We tried to get rid of these three bad habits of these villagers and succeeded in the same, though this one took longer time to achieve.”

“The impact was so much that the person who was selling vine in vine shop was forced to close it and open a provision store in its place.” Dilip added.

“Wow! That’s amazing!” Ashok said

“Then we realized that these villagers weren’t educated and they were many times cheated in the town. So, we decided to come here some weekends and teach them to read and write.” Dayanand said.

“You guys did all this before you all got married?” Ashok asked.

“Yes, It was then your dad got this wonderful idea of buying some land over here and settling after our retirement.” Pradeep said.

“When we told this to the villagers, they were more than happy and gave us thirty acres of land in the outskirts of this village for a reasonable price. They even helped us to bring this dream place together and took care of the same in our absence.” Dayanand said.

“ But, why thirty acres?” Ashok asked.

“Well, I and Vishnu wanted to grow grapes!” Dilip said.

“I wanted to grow mangoes!” Pradeep said.

“It was my dream to grow strawberries someday..” Raghu said.

“I wanted tomatoes..” Dayanand said.

“Well, I wanted to grow sunflowers..so we needed more land.” Kishore said.

“That’s very nice!” Ashok said smiling at them. “You guys have achieved your dream!”

“Son, If you believe in your dreams, then go after them and never rest in peace until you achieve them.” Kishore said.

You’re right, dad!” Ashok said.

“As a matter of fact, they didn’t tell us too. We all were under impression that we were going to Kasi.” Narmada, Vishnu’s wife said.

They all rested for a while after a delicious meal. Later, they played “UNO” game together. In a way, the game had become like a tradition amongst them. Then they took bicycles and went peddling around the green path. They passed by the sun flowers field, the mangroves, grapes yard, strawberry and tomatoes fields.

When they were returning back, it started raining.

“It is very nice to peddle a bicycle in rain, you know.” Vishnu cried.

“Yeah!” They all cried back in chorus.

When they reached back, hot snacks and tea was waiting for them.

“It’s a wonderful place!” Ashok said very pleased.

“Yes, you won’t regret growing old.” Raghu said smiling at him.

“How about watching a movie in the home theatre?” Dilip suggested.

Krishore led them to the large hall which had a big library of books, music cds and movie dvds at one end, and a home theatre in the other end.

Kishore picked up the movie “Big Fish”. They all watched this movie directed by Tim Burton and enjoyed it.

“I have seen this movie many times” Kishore said “and I have enjoyed it every time!”

Later, Kshore gave a book to his grand daughter Priya. It was a collection of short stories. She was surprised to see her grand father’s name on the cover page of the book.

“Grandpa, I never knew that you write?” She said.

“You wrote it, dad?” Ashok asked, taking it from her and going through it.

“Well, I used to write when I was young. Later, I became busy and couldn’t continue it. Now, I had time so thought of doing it.” Kishore said smiling. “Here is my first collection of short stories!”

“I’m proud of you, dad!” Ashok said.

“Thank you, son.”

The Epilogue

“I hope you enjoyed your stay over here.” Kishore said.

“Yes, dad, we sure did” Ashok said “It was like a dream come true!”

“All this will be yours along with children of my dear friends when you guys grow old.” Kishore said.

“Thanks, dad” Ashok said.

The End

Another Rainy Day…

She had finally managed to get an off day from work, after weeks of hectic round-the-clock work at the hospital. In spite of having made plans to sleep in late, her eyes opened to the six o’clock morn. Cursing her own circadian rhythm of waking up daily at six, she sat up on her cot. An entire day with no work seemed highly appealing. Smiling to herself, she walked out of her room. The quarter wing seemed empty, with everyone still in cozy slumber.

It was still drizzling; as it had when she had gone to bed last night. The rain sprayed itself on her as she walked over to the mess. A cup of coffee and the Hindustan Times paper in hand, she got back to her room. The raindrops fell at her window sill with a clunk, a voice she loved. Sipping the hot coffee, she skimmed through the daily news. Nothing ever interested her. As always, she tossed it across the bed, and switched her laptop on. It had been almost a year since she moved into this city. Kolkata boasted of colours, vibrant culture, fabulous cuisines and rich literature. It breathed a life of its own, and it was almost impossible for her to not fall in love with it. The melancholy of the Howrah bridge and the lushness of Victoria place; she loved every bit of it. It was as though the city read her mind, toyed with her mood and made her feel overwhelmed. And it had a lot many more reasons too.

While checking her mails, she found a name flicker on her chat messenger. Her fingers reached out on their own, typing out a hello. It had been months since she had seen that name in her list of online friends. He replied back. He had known that she had shifted to his city, she found out. But how, she did not ask. He spoke of his wife and family, his work and home and friends and life as such. She told him about her new research, her endless hours of hospital duty, her new life, her husband and lot more. He sent over his wedding pics, and they spoke about married life- about the good times and bad. Two good friends were opening up to each other after a while. A long while, indeed.

The coffee had dried out, but their conversation hadn’t. She remembered the endless times she had heard him go on and on about his city, his Kolkata. She had known the nooks and corners of the city, even while she had never stepped out of Madras. The best sweet shops, the oldest of Indian Coffee Houses, where Tagore and his contemporaries used to have coffee and discuss literature and art; the dingy bookshops across the markets where first edition prints were on sale, unknown to most. She knew it all. She had always dreamed of being here and today as she sat in her room in the very same city, she thought of how ironical life was.

The entire afternoon was spent in the bank, and she felt doggone tired by the time she got back. The day had been kind of funny. She felt happy after her chat, yet a part of her bled of a hollow nostalgia. She decided to not waste more time, and began to surf data for her research. She was startled by a buzz.

“Hi. How are you?”

“I am okay.” she typed back, wondering why he asked her so.

“But I am not.”

“What? Why?” she typed out in a flash. She did not understand him.

“Everything was fine until I saw you today- your texts, the new display picture, and the new you… Knowing you are in the same city had been hard enough. I would see you online most often, but I’d always be invisible. I never wanted to let you know. Just one general conversation, and I am shattered, Yami. I know you are married. So am I; and I know I should not be carried away. I also know that I’d be back to normal in a while. But still, I don’t know why, even after such a long time, you affect me. And, that too, to such a great extent.”

She felt lost. She hadn’t wanted to bother him, or cause him any trouble. It had been so very long, that she never considered such a possibility to have existed. Her fingers traced over the keyboard aimlessly. A pang of regret stabbed at her. She should not have initiated the conversation, she realized. Somehow, it hurt her.

“I am so sorry. I never thought it would be this way. It has been a very long time. I just could not not say hello.”

“I am not blaming you Yami. It feels wonderful to know how you are, and what is happening with you. It really does. But at the same time, a part of me is reminded of what could have been, and what could not be. I am very much happy with my wife, my family, my work and life as a whole. I know you are happy and life is smooth, with your husband. I know the long distance might be hard, but at the same time, I know you are happy together. So am I. Life is good. Yet, today as you came in, fresh as ever, I feel empty. Maybe I am not as strong as you are. Maybe I never expected it, so the shock. I don’t know…”

She sat back, a lump forming in her throat. She typed back: “I understand what you mean. Just as you said, we’ll go back to being normal, in a short while. It is just a moment of nostalgia, a rewind of those memories which never blossomed. Nothing more than that. So, please cheer up, and maybe another couple of years later, we’d talk again, and then we’d feel differently…or maybe we’d feel the same…But that does not matter. What matters are the present, the daily routine and the often boring normalcy of our lives.”

“Yes. You are right. I am glad I have had those memories with you. I just have one regret. I want to see you once. Once in this lifetime. And at the same time, my mind says I don’t want to; I should not want to, rather. And I know, I would not, too. Well…it’s been a long conversation. I guess I’d get back to the life, which I left behind, the moment I saw you online. Take care, Yami. You are special, and always will be.”

“You take care too. I am glad that we both are happy and enjoying life. At one stage, I never thought you’d be. Nor would I. But time does heal a lot of wounds. Prayers, always. Until life decides to grant us a moment like this from the past, God bless!!”

“You too Yami… Wish I were as level-headed and strong as you are. You manage to move on so well. And I am so glad you do. Hope you have a wonderful life with your husband, and I hope you both get to be together soon. Take care. ”

The green dot next to his name died away. She laughed at the irony of his statements, the irony of her life. Strong and level-headed; having managed to move on with life- ah, ironical. She shut her system down, and walked over to the veranda. The rain still drizzled on. She stood for a long time watching the raindrops die away, merging with the soil.

“Yamini, what is it in the rains that hypnotize you to such an extent?” she heard someone ask. Shaken up from her reverie, she turned back to her colleague.

“I have always loved the rains. I often feel as though the droplets fall for my sake… Just for myself…As though the rainclouds delve headlong into my thoughts, and rain my thoughts away… ”

“As always, I cannot comprehend what you speak Yamini. Anyway, how is the groom-hunt going on at home? Did they finally find someone, who matches all your criteria?”

“Never.”

She said no further, turning back to face the rains. And the rains lashed on in a new fury, as though the clouds were indeed reading her mind. And she smiled at the irony of her life!

Bread and Belt.

I was hungry and wished I could earn my bread just like humans do, but they have left nothing for others. I wish I was in a forest, hunting some animal and living happily, until some other animal hunted me down, but I’m not blessed enough to deserve that ecstasy. I lived among humans who consider themselves as Gods of earth. In one way they are right, they are Gods of destruction. They destruct everything they pass by.

I ignored their atrocity and sat in front of a small bakery, waiting for someone to throw a piece of bread. I never slept with a full stomach but hoped I would get at least a mouthful of bread, so I can survive another day. These days, no dog can be sure he will get to eat something, the next day.

I waited for hours and hours, but no one ever glanced at me. Still, I waited hoping someone would be generous enough to throw a small piece of bread. Hundreds of people walked in and walked out, carrying loads of food with them. For a moment, I wished even I was a human, but the idea was so disgusting, I gave up immediately. I did not want to be a human, who wouldn’t even throw a piece of bread at a poor dog.

I whined supposing someone will hear me and show some pity on me, but no one showed me any mercy. A man walked out of the bakery carrying a belt in his hand and hit me before I could retreat. I limped away from there as soon as possible, not wanting to die today.

I had not eaten anything since morning and on top of it I was hurt. My left leg ached like hell. I prayed to God asking him to give me death if not bread. I did not remember doing anything that would make me deserve so much pain and also hunger, and then I supposed I might have been a human in my past life.

I limped and limped, until the sky cried along with me. I took shelter beneath a tree not wanting to get drenched in cold water. I was already hungry and hurt, I did not want to catch cold too. There were lot of trees around and they looked good in rain. I drank some water hoping it would keep me alive, tonight.

A man ran towards the tree under which I was standing and then kicked me off from there and before I could wonder why he kicked me, my right leg hit a stone and started bleeding. I slept under another tree and drifted into dreams. The dream was wonderful unlike the reality. A young boy offered me a piece of bread and I licked his hand thankfully. He smiled at me…he looked so angelic.

Next morning, when I opened my eyes I found another dog sleeping nearby. I looked around and felt very happy. Everything looked so peaceful, but not the dog. It was hurt. There was blood all around him. I walked towards him and realized my legs didn’t hurt anymore. I looked at them and was surprised to see they were perfectly alright…no blood and no wound.

My heart stopped when I almost walked into the dog that was hurt. Then, I realized I had no heart to stop, it had already ceased. The dog sleeping nearby was me…my dead body. Someone had run a vehicle over me. I was drenched in blood and was almost in two pieces. I did not feel sorry for myself, instead I was glad I had felt no pain while dying. This was better than living with human. I closed my eyes and evaporated into the sky praying for peace.

The Ring in a Mess

Catherine regretted not being a conformist. Why couldn’t she simply wear the ring on the ring finger, where it actually would fit well than on the index finger? To think about it first, always and thus wearing it on the first and not the third finger seemed so stupid a reason now. Only if the ring had fit well, it wouldn’t have slipped into Spot’s feeding bowl.

She had had been rummaging through Spot’s shit for a week now. A week ago, she’d rushed Spot for an MRI to the animal hospital. Spot was alright, a fine, healthy dog. However it was Michael’s ring, that Catherine seeked in the MRI with which he’d proposed Catherine over a five-star, seven course dinner (out of which four courses were completely ignored).

She loved the ring and she loved Michael. They forgot dinner as they drowned in conversation. No one could have missed the twinkle in their talks. Catherine wanted Michael as bad as he wanted her. To show this, she’d bought him a ring too. Equally expensive and equally beautiful. Catherine was a ‘modern’ woman. It was only fair that she’d give a ring too.

Michael was overwhelmed when Catherine said ‘Yes’. He said he’d keep the ring with him forever.

Dog shit has no pleasant feel. And a week of digging her fingers in it probing for a clear-cut diamond attached to a 24-carat loop, hadn’t made Catherine a least bit comfortable to the warmth of poop. But that was her only option, as the Vet said, ”To let it out naturally.”

It was good that Michael had been out of town for that time. He knew nothing of this. She was again at shit-worrying when she got the call.

It was Michael, ”Hi dear! How have you… ummm… How do you like the ring…?”

He confessed to her. While washing his hands in the hotel bathroom, he’d taken out the ring, since it was a ‘tad too tight’ and needed getting used to. However, the bar of soap slipped from his hands and ricocheted on the ring, which in turn fell in the basin and down the sink.

”Please don’t get angry with me dear, you know I love you and woudn’t ever want something that you’d given to go like this.”

”Hmm… Its okay, we’ll talk about this when you come back. I’ve to go now, Spot’s taking a crap now, and I need to check on him.”

Catherine, was smiling now. She hoped that he didn’t notice the glee in her voice. After all he had to suffer too. She’d been suffering for a week!

Spot had dropped the last load on the sidewalk. He straightened up and began wagging his short tail, which made him look like a belly dancer. He was obviously glad about the job he’d done.

Catherine glanced at the the brown, spiral pile. She couldn’t believe her eyes! The ring was there, on top of the mound, perched like a cherry topping on a cake.

Catherine smiled, and then frowned. The relief of finding the ring; now turned to annoyance. How could have Michael been so careless?!

The Promise

One year had passed. The memories still coming back on her mind that repeatedly seen in the golden sunset that shimmer at the meadow. A tragedy that had happened in her life , a bad dream, that she couldn’t take all the heartache, her life had no meaning at all, her days had been darkened like a rainy cloud, her days had been harder to live in each day of her living.It was eight days in August, the night was cruel, and the wind hardly blew. Joe had driven his car going back to the city despite a stormy weather, spending time at his weekend vacation so that he could think about his promise to Sheila, their dreams that they will grow old together, the family that they dreamed about, the loved that he swore beyond the stars that flickered at the sky. He drove his car at the maximum speed, he did not care about the slippery high ways, and even the darkened night that made his vision blurred because of heavy rains. All that he wanted now was to see and talk with Sheila. He could not wait until tomorrow to tell her that he was willing to give himself wholeheartedly. And for this evening he wanted to make it special memories that they could never be forgotten, a night, they could take them to the rest of their life.
Sheila was his life since then, he loved Sheila more than Sheila could ever be known, just like the way Sheila felt for him.
However, time is so untamed for the two hearts that loved truthfully, endlessly. Joe met with an accident and passed away on that night, all that she heard was Joe voice shouting loudly. She didn’t know that it was the last time she could ever hear Joe’s voice but not in that way she wished to be happened. Her anger was kept inside her soul, her love had been vanished away, like a rain that goes back freely to the sea, and her passion had been buried as deep as the ocean.

Tears fell from her eyes, her grief etched on sand that can be seen in every corner of the shore. She missed Joe, his smile that she could not be able to be seen since the day Joe was gone through, his eyes that dazzle in sunset. She missed the laughter that sounded familiar in a moment the wave danced at the shingle. She sighed at the wide ocean just like the way Joe and her done before. Walking together, sharing their dreams with each other, laughing at themselves for the time. They had fun just like when they were younger, but those moments were just painted on her remembrance that makes her feel weak and to live her life in a misery.
She felt the warm breeze that deeply brushed inside of her, like a pain through her veins. Joe was her life, but. How? Joe was not on her side, that now she could not be with him . Where was the promise that he whispered a thousand times. Where was the love that he promised that it would last forever. All of these were like a lost soul that hides on a shadow of loneliness that was a blanket by the bitter tears

She walked along on a tide of solitude. She let her body drown. She will follow Joe on the entire life. There she could be with Joe that no one can take them apart, they would fulfill their promises that their love will last forever until the last minute of their lives.

Hidden

Hidden, it remained.

The journey had drained them completely, yet they wanted to continue. It would take more than hunger, few bruises and near death to make them abandon the hunt. They were men of sands and would never go back on their words, not even at the cost of their lives. They were determined to find the treasure, no matter what.

Many who went seeking the treasure, in the past, never returned and their comrades back home supposed that they were dead. With time, the treasure became one of the forbidden stories and whoever spoke of it were punished severely, but some still whispered about it.

The wild didn’t welcome the crew heartily and they knew it would get worse, but they anyway proceeded, bravely. It was so difficult to see through the woods and even the lamp gave out because of the rain, and walking the moss-filled forest ground wasn’t any easier. Their hearts didn’t flinch even at the smell of death and danger, after all they were the best warriors of the sand village. Their village needed them to find the treasure and nothing would stop them from doing that. Uncertain of what was in store for them, they walked to reach an unknown destiny…to find to the hidden treasure.

The sorceress had warned them, “Never follow the Sun, because the death follows it”. She had them well equipped with weapons, food and water, and she had also let them borrow a copy of the map that would lead them to the treasure.

They lost two of their comrades to the hungry wolves and three, badly wounded. Alastor asked them to return to the village as they would only delay the crew if they continued, but they wouldn’t listen and stabbed themselves to death. They didn’t want to go back to the village without the treasure. Though grieving over their comrades, the remaining men went.

The men met neither a dragon nor a enchantress who they believed would have seduced them to death, all they met until now was the wrath of the woods. Nature was their biggest enemy at the moment. The continuously pouring sky forced them to take refuge in a hole in the bark of the tree. The smell of the sweat and the warmth of the bodies pressed upon him was exciting Edward, but he brushed away the sexual urge and went to sleep. He promised to himself that he would get back to village along with the treasure and then take the fairest maiden to bed.

The morning sun didn’t bring any luck either, instead they lost another comrade. After burying him, they had a light breakfast and moved forward. Now, the quest was upon Alastor and Edward.

The death of all his comrades had scared the hell out of Edward. He knew Alastor well enough to continue alone with him. He had seen Alastor’s lust for power. Alastor wouldn’t think twice before stabbing him to get him out of his way. Edward didn’t want to die a virgin. If not for the fairest maiden, he wanted to marry at least a Plain Jane and raise his kids. Deciding to find the treasure all by himself, he absconded away with the map, leaving Alastor in middle of nowhere.

Alastor looked everywhere for Edward, but he didn’t find any trace of him. He supposed that something bad had befallen his last comrade. There was no point in going on without the map that was gone with Edward, so Alastor decided to return home, but to come back later. He wouldn’t give up yet. He was the best among the bravest men of sands and he would never let his comrades sacrifice waste away.

But the elders of the sand village had other plans. Once again, they banned talking about the treasure, even whispering about it would lead one to grave consequences. With years, the treasure became one of the forgotten stories and the treasure itself, remained hidden..

narration

It was nearly mid night, when the train started from New Delhi. It was too cold to bear for a south Indian like me. I was told that the train would reach Phaphoond around two’o clock at night. The tales I heard about that place did terrify me. It was a backward village at Chambal, where even electric supply was hardly available. It was under the hold of naxals and rowdies. I had requested a colleague of mine to arrange to pick me up from the station. I asked the caretaker in the compartment to wake me up when the train reaches that place. Finally I got down at Phaphoond at 2’o clock. Only a few people got down at that station and within a minute they vanished from there. The station was very small and I could see only plain roads on both the sides of it. The place was too dark and absolutely silent. I realized that no car was waiting outside and it would be safer if I stay inside the station. Except a few street dwellers I could not find any one there.

There was a small room supposed to be a ticket counter, on the other platform. I tried my luck to find some one there, but in vain. I sat on one of the cement benches counting the stars. The howling of the dogs and the undesired movements of those men staying in that place were taking a toll on my peace. When I started sleeping, two policemen came and woke me up. After enquiring about me, they advised me not to go out till the dawn breaks.

Three hours passed like three years and I moved out of the station. The village was still sleeping. I prayed the God to show me either an auto rickshaw or an STD booth. Mobile phones were not popular in that area on those days. I walked about five hundred feet and found a booth. I tried the number given to me by a colleague repeatedly. I was infuriated when I found it was a wrong number. Now the only way left out was to find the address myself. I recollected, that in our state at least one could get an auto rickshaw with out much struggle. I returned to the station in search of an auto rickshaw.

A middle-aged man was observing my movements all along. He approached me and asked if I needed any help. My nature is to believe people and I asked him to help me in reaching my address. He took the luggage from me and started walking. I tried to walk as fast as he did. Though I trusted him, I kept the route we were walking in my memory.

He showed me the house where my friend was staying. He stayed on the first floor. He was sharing the main entry path and gate with his landlord. The man cautioned me not to enter the house unless my friend comes out and receive. I called my friend loudly by his name. A voice came from the landlord’s portion asking who I was. I replied that I had come from Chennai to stay with my friend.

I also asked them to open the gate, so that I can go to the first floor. She refused to open the gate. The worst thing was she even refused to inform my friend that I was waiting. The man joined me in calling my friend loudly. After ten minutes of shouting he opened the door. While I was paying the man, my friend asked me “ Why didn’t you come at night, was the train running late?

NEW YEARS!

New Year – it’s meant to be the start of something new, the start of a new life, a new beginning. All of us have problems and issues in life. But New Year – The idea is to face it, solve them, and start out new…to a good end and a fresh beginning.New years hold important to everyone’s life! And so it did in armaan and riya’s life!

He was the dude. She on the other hand was a sweet-princess. Opposites! But they say opposites attract and that happened… she hated his killer attitude while he detested her sweet-bubbly, apple-of-everyone’s-eye personality… He loved to bunk, race, be rude, fight, get involved into tiffs with anyone while she liked to be sincere, and be nice and friendly with everyone! Still they became friends!

They started hanging out, doing assignments (Riya made Armaan do it), bunking (Armaan convinced Riya to!) everything what both of them had not done before…

It had been six months of their friendship that New Year and Armaan wanted to celebrated! Armaan and his crazy ideas… she found them crazy but she liked them!
So Armaan took her to a 5 – star to celebrate…she was the only girl who was like a guy friend to Armaan… she was a true friend. And she also guided him how to pataofy girls! And for Riya, he too was a true friend… she learnt to LIVE life! New Year had to be spent with some one special… and they were special to each other…
And at the party, he discovered that she loved dancing and also the rock star in her that liked to do what she liked, not bothering about the rest… he figured this out when she started singing loudly at the dance floor when her favorite song was being played and she was NOT drunk! Though Armaan tried to stop her she didn’t care. On the other hand she found out that he was very sweet to people he knew, like his friends. He had it in him but always hid it!

Time flew by…They were great friends… Armaan had got a girlfriend (thanks to Riya) that year and in a month it would be New Year again! Armaan wanted to do something for his girlfriend and the only source of help was Riya! They both thought and thought and finally Armaan came up with an idea – a candle light dinner!
With Riya’s advice – girls like this and not that, decorate it with flowers, candles… etc… Of course Armaan’s GF liked the setup. But at the end of the dinner, she confessed that she loved someone else (the same old story!) and Armaan was left heartbroken… Riya consoled him saying he’d get a better girl and stuff… she thought he’d get over it soon, because she thought it was just a fling! She was wrong! It took a good 2-3 months for him to get over it. Riya understood that he was soft and fragile in his inner self! He was the tough guy outside but inside, he cried and wept and was even depressed… it was difficult for Riya to get him back to his normal self… Armaan on the other hand was thankful to Riya for being patient and listening to his sobs and nonsense talks.. He never thought she’d be so patient and understanding… she asked him to forget the past and to move on… and so again he started out new! Despite being hurt, he moved on!
They had fun, new relationships replaced the past ones… this time it was Riya who got a boyfriend… they had been going steady for 7 months and it was new years again… Vicky, Riya’s bf, took her out to his friends party on New Year… Armaan was also there with another friend. The party was at its peaks. Vicky took Riya to another room and tried getting intimate with her, misbehaving and more… he tried getting lucky with her! She somehow managed to escape his clutches. She dragged Armaan out of the party and asked him to take her home! He did that quietly, without asking any questions. He could clearly see that she was in a shock. She didn’t speak a word. He went upstairs and settled her in her PG. He tried talking to her… even though she didn’t respond…
At one point, she just broke down and hugged him… in her sobs she told him what had happened. Armaan felt sorry for her. He wiped her tears and asked her not to cry for that bast***! It was role – reversal… Armaan thought she’d take time, like months to get over this… but he was quite surprised the next day when she said ‘you’re right armaan… I shouldn’t be weeping for that stupid… he’s not even worth it!’ and that’s it! She never looked back… she was hurt but she had a strong mind. He didn’t have an idea she would be so strong… the girl who cried when some kid got beatings from someone in some serial, he thought that for this she would cry buckets! But he was in for a surprise… she was stronger than him! Riya never thought he would play a consoler’s role… he didn’t know how to play it but yet he knew how to be there for someone!
That new year they both promised that they’d never get involved in such relationships… but who knew that this was NOT it… god had something in store for both of them – a new relationship! That year was great for both of them… they were not involved. They had fun doing crazy stuff like running to eat at 1 in the night, going for jogs in the morning and singing loudly, dancing in the middle of the road when they felt like it, clicking pictures at funky locations with XYZ people – for instance with the liftman of somewhere.. dancing with the kaam-wali bai, or with the waiter at the restaurant, flirting with people walking on the road, playing with the beggar’s kids, singing A-B-C while walking on the road, talking to each other in the wee hours of the morning – sometimes till 6, and then getting ready for college at 8, going to the railway station and running after the train, enacting the jab we met scene, – in short doing everything only because – THEY FELT LIKE DOING SO! Whenever one of them had some work or some outing or trip with their family, leaving the other alone, it was an unspoken promise of informing the other and then making up for their absence later.They were both happy in each others company, but they didn’t know it!

This new year eve, they thought of partying at a club… they were dancing to the beats of ‘dard-e-disco’ , ‘dhan te nan’ , ‘badmash company’ and other rock song… suddenly they started playing ‘jaane tu mera kya hai’ from jaane tu.. They looked at each other. Their story resembled the movie in a way. They looked away… it was so awkward for both of them. They went to the karaoke section… he sang ‘hey ya’ mid-way he realized what he was singing and he blushed… somehow he finished the song trying hard not to look at her. After that they went out for some fresh air. Actually it was getting too awkward in there. After a short walk, they went back in, and thankfully they were playing rock songs again. It was the first time Armaan noticed her matkas and jhatkas. She was so full of herself! Then they played aaja leharate from whats your rashee.. While the guys were doing stunts like Harmaan Baweja. Armaan too joined. This time Riya noticed his muscles and his strongly built body.
After the song was over, they played ‘I just wanna spend my life with you from Neal n Nikki’… they both started slow-dancing, unknowingly. They were looking in each others eyes and when the song got over; both of them came close to each other and kissed. It was rough, wild but lovely. They both knew how crazy they were for each other. They kissed again. Everyone at the dance floor started clapping. Armaan knelt down, and everyone in the crowd started cheering ‘go for it dude!’ he said “Riya, I don’t know what we share is love or not but ll I know is I want you to be there with me all my life. I like it be with you and I want it this way only. Will you spend your life with me?” She just said “yes I will spend my life with you!” Armaan just hugged her hard. Everybody clapped and hooted.
They broke the hug… and Armaan is Armaan, he engulfed her into another kiss, hard yet passionate… it was a long one. When he came back for another one, Riya just whispered ‘Armaan, easy!’… He grinned. They left the club soon and walked back to her PG. while walking, Riya said ‘Armaan, I don’t want to walk anymore… heels hurt you know!’ saying that she sat down, middle of the night, middle of the road. Armaan too sat down with her. She screamed ‘whooooooooo’ loudly and he too joined in.
Ar- why screaming?
Ri-I’m happy you know.
Ar- even I’m happy.
Ri- great!
Ar- so?
Ri- I screamed because I was happy. And I am happy because I never felt this way before!
Ar- which way?
Ri- I feel like I’m on the top of the world and I’m in love with the craziest, loveliest, handsomest, cutest, funniest and the most perfect guy in the world!
Ar- oh!
Ri- what oh?
Ar- nothing. You said so much. Difficult to process so many adjectives in one go! But thank you. *he said that sincerely*
Ri- hmmm…
Ar- lets go now?
Ri- yup!They both got up. She was about to walk, when he just picked her up in his arms and started walking.

Ri- kyu?
Ar- you said you were tired. So!
Ri- *speechless, gives him a peck on his cheek* you’re the best!
Ar- *grins* I know!
Ri- hawww… *punches him slightly!*

That night both of them didn’t sleep.

Next day,
Riya wakes up, she checked her cell phone and there was a text from Armaan.
“Good morning, love!” she just smiled… Armaan was never so cheesy and romantic. In fact he hated all of this. But she liked it. For him this was bullshit but she found it cute! So that message was just for her!
She replied back “good morning dear… but you needn’t do this, I’ll love you just the same!” He sent back.
Every New Year was special… the next new year they got engaged, then the next they married each other. Even though something would not come up special for the New Year, they made it a point they’d do something new for it. They never got bored of each other. Every New Year brought out a new aspect in both of them. They discovered something new. They loved being crazy and every New Year they found some other crazy way to love each other!

First Love

It was late in the night. I am searching my shelf for a book. The book which has stored the most precious memories of my life, and there it is, with big golden letters “DIARY 1999”. Took it in my hand, cleaned off the dust and reached for the study table. Ready now, I put on my reading Glasses, opened the book. It took me two licks on my finger to open the page ‘MARCH 7’. Whenever I open this book, I read only Two pages.. The day I met her and the day I wrote letter to her. As these two pages remind me of the whole time I spent with her and the agony I went through Later. There is always a moment right!
Before I began to read, when I wonder, how life would have been the other way. Shaking off my head, I began reading.

JUNE 26

College reopened today and now I am final year student. 🙂 There are many incidents to pen down. But top of all, I met a girl in college today. My friend introduced her to me, as she has some doubts in my subject. She’s 3rd year ECE student. She’s too beautiful to take my eyes off her. Damn.. How I missed her for three years…

As I was reading, my mind drifted back to that warm evening twenty years back. My friend took me to the college garden and introduced her to me. She was pretty, I thought at the first sight. “Hi, I am Sravya” she said simply. An ordinary beginning, something that would have been forgotten long had it been anyone but her. When my eyes met those dark warm eyes, I knew before taking another breath that she was the one I could spend the rest of my life with. She seemed that good, that perfect. Next hour or two I spend talking subject matter and watching her with awe. The way she talks, the way she smile, everything looks perfect. She’s just as perfect as a fairytale princess.

From then, the next few months went like a tornado wind…briskly, but devastating… I got close to her, closer than any other guy in college. We used to spend hours talking, laughing and enjoying. I have seen many beautiful girls before, though, girls who caught my eye, but to my mind they usually lacked the trait I find most desirable. Traits like confidence, intelligence, strength of spirit, passion. Sravya has those traits. I can even smell in her scent.

In December that year, we went for excursion along with our close friends. I can still clearly picture in mind the day I watched sunset with her. The faint aroma of autumn leaves riding back on southern winds, chirping of birds, stars shining high in twilight sky… We shared an hour of silence watching the nature. in that hour of bliss, she glanced at me several times and I can see her eyes twinkle and a smile forming on her lips, every time she look at me. She starts loving me too, I thought. Everything seems poetic. I read in many novels that only close-to-heart ones can only sit next to other and not say anything and can still feel content. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. On that day, i have decided to tell my feelings for her, as soon as possible. And i thought she will accept my love, and we can live rest of our lives in eternal happiness. But later I came to know that life is different from novels. Girls are way too unpredictable. I thought these were the happiest days I had, but later it left me nothing but many painful years to follow..

Barking of the street dogs outside, helped me come back to the present. I slowly turned to the last page ‘DECEMBER 31st’.

December 31

Last day in this millennium. I gonna celebrate this New Year with friends. And today is a big day for me. I propose her today. I wrote a letter. It took me whole day long, but still I feel I couldn’t express my feelings well. New millennium! NEW LIFE!

That day exactly at 12, in the middle of celebrations I gave her the letter and said ‘I Love You’. She was awestruck and took a moment to digest it. She announced her verdict in disgust “I hate love Praveen! And you know that… Why do you do like this? God! even you!!” The words hurt, but again I thought, I heard something in her tone, as if she was saying it to disguise her real feeling. I gently took her shoulder in my hands, making her face me. The fireworks of celebration reflecting in her eyes, as I spoke again. “If what you say is really what you mean, I won’t try to stop you. But if there’s a part of you that isn’t sure, then say yes. This isn’t the kind of thing you go into halfway.” Her answer came, almost too quickly “I mean what I say!” I stared at her for a second, wondering if she really mean what she said.

After that, I came home in the middle of the party. I was thinking about that incident. Replaying it, seeing it again, hearing it again, Running it by in slow motion. “She hates Love” I finally whispered. And then I felt silent. And sometime after midnight, it all rushed inward into my mind and I was overcome with longing. And if anyone had seen me, They would have seen what looked like an old man, someone who’d aged a lifetime in just couple of hours. I cried all the night with face in my hands and tears in my eyes. I didn’t know if they would ever stop.

I spent next few months in sheer pain and agony. I used to spend days lonely and cry all the night. I even forgot that my lips can curve to form a smile. Sometimes when I came across her in college corridor, she just walked past me as if she never knew me. “Girls, Why do they act like that?” “How can they easily forget year long friendship for just a word?” “Girls, they are really sick!” I couldn’t get over the pain of loosing her. I couldn’t forget her. I didn’t even try to forget her. Later, I get used to live with pain, love this pain.

After few years, my parents forced me into wedding locks with another girl. I was quite content with my marital life. One night when I told all this to my wife, Not only she understood, but she had been the first one to explain why. She said simply “The first time you fall in love, it changes your life forever, and no matter how hard you try, and the feeling never goes away. The girl you been telling me about was your first love. And no matter what you do she will stay with you forever. Don’t worry, I make you forget your pain” I’m glad that she understands me well.

Clearing the moist in my eyes, I closed the book and reached the bed. I slept beside Sravya. Yes Sravya! My daughter, I named my daughter in her memory. So that, whenever i see my daughter I remember my first love, even though it is painful. For pain due to love is SWEET!!!