Answer me, God!

One incident took away almost everything from my world. Aayush, my younger son was only 4 months old then; I could have never heard the word “mamma” from him  neither would I knew how well my elder son, Aryan could sing or how handsome he looks in his all white cricketing attire. It all happened little more than a year back but it is still so vivid in my mind as if it happened just a week before. I am writing this on the eve of my birthday, thanks to the saviour for he gave me an opportunity to celebrate my birthday this year with my family.

We met with a  road accident when we were coming back from Pondicherry to Chennai after spending a superb holiday. Our red car, as Aryan recalls, “Papa’s red car fell and broke into pieces so papa bought a big black car.” Our car was rammed by a xylo from behind and the world became darkness to me.

When I was back to my senses, a month had passed and I was still in the hospital with a severe head injury. The worst thing that happened during this accident was that I suffered from retrograde amnesia and lost my last one-year memory. Due to that, I even forgot my younger son, since he was only 4 months then. Still, I keep on urging everyone individually, not to disclose this to him when he grows up. He will be very hurt when he will know his mother did not remember him. Many more things happened in that one-month period when I was in the hospital, but I was simply clueless.

Finally, one day I was released from the hospital, still on a prescription to continue my high dose medicines for an indefinite time. One day I was just lying in my bed, and found my aunt’s digital camera. She came down from Kolkata during those wretched days to help us. I took the camera and started browsing the pics in it. I saw the first pic, and then the second and then as I pressed the next button, the third pic came up. I stared at the picture blankly. It was Aayush’s pic, with one of his leg wrapped with a white plaster. I immediately ran to my hubby to enquire further. He didn’t hide a bit and told me Aayush fractured his leg during the accident. If that was not all, the fracture got detected after a couple of days when the leg started to swell. Poor Aayush underwent a massive pain for those two days.  In addition, my elder son, Aryan who was only 3 and half years then, broke his left collarbone and was in trauma since he was the only one who saw the whole thing. I became numb and only my tears, which do not follow any rules, continued to roll down my cheek. He also said that every night both the kids kept on crying. The younger one tried to pronounce “mamma” and kept on crying and the elder one, kept on asking everyone when his mother will come back to him.

For better care, my hubby sent me to my mothers place to Kolkata after a few days post my return from the hospital. During that stay, I would ask my mother about all that happened when I was not in my senses. She would always start her narration with Anirban, my hubby, how he took care of me. He was badly injured too in the accident, 21 stitches in his head and with a broken shoulder, still he spent all the nights in the hospital sitting next to me. His routine was somewhat like this; he joined his office few days after the accident – he would go to his office in the morning, return by 5 pm, then feed and make Aryan sleep (He was not allowing anyone to feed him and making him sleep).  After Aryan slept, hubby would have his dinner and go to the hospital with my dinner. He would feed me and then used to sit the whole night awake next to my bed and the next day morning again the routine continued…. I always love my hubby a lot but after hearing all this from my mother, that love increased manifolds and the respect I had for him increased too. He too was badly injured and required proper rest after the accident, but due to his commitments then he did not get any rest and now he is suffering from the side effects. 6 months after the accident, he started getting tremendous back pain, for which he still have sleepless nights. After a check up from the doctor, we came to know during the accident, he badly hurt his back, if he would have taken proper rest then after the accident, now he would not suffer from the side affects. I am very lucky to have him as my best half; he showed me what life is and where happiness lies.

I had no clue what my parents went through as i am their only daughter. Few months back when I was visiting  my aunt, the topic reappeared. She disclosed that my mother kept fasting because I could not eat properly when I was in the hospital. She used to tell, “I will leave my fasting only when my daughter starts eating normal diet.” ‘Hat’s off to you maa, you have shown me what mothers are for and thanks baba for your support.I know you too went through a lot of pain !”

A year flew by but the stigma of the incidence is still crystal-clear in my mind. Very frequently, I get the memories flushing my mind and I always ask with moist eyes – ‘why it was me and my family, who had to experience such a horrible fate.’ This is the only question that I have for Him, the power known as God!

The Sapphire Pendant…

1

I am Naina Sanyal. For the last seven years I have been working as a Program Manager in California and life has been work to me. I knew I never wished to be in Kolkata, but here was I again. The city where I studied, the city where many of my friends lived….. yet  I had jitters down my spine to be back here once again. I felt the same when Swarna gave me a call and told me that I just had to be there for her wedding in Kolkata.

Would I be able to face everyone once again? Would I be able to stand again from where I had left? Would I be able to face Akash again? Or is it okay for me to be facing him yet again?

I knew Akash would be there in the wedding too. Swarna is sure to have invited the entire group that we used to have in college. I cannot deny that though the very thought of standing in front of Akash gave me shivers down my spine yet I wondered how it would be after so many years. I knew Akash might have never been able to forgive me and he had all the reasons for that, yet I fancied meeting him again. May be it’s all the bygone years that has given me the courage to even consider that today.

Akash taught me what it was to love and to be loved. I don’t remember how and when we fell for each other though but what I clearly remember is the long walks that we took holding hands in the canopied pathways. I remember, the songs he dedicated to me in college fests as he kept looking at me from the stage while he sang strumming his guitar. I remember how he inspired me to study harder and excel.

What I loved about him was his street smartness and the casual approach that he had for everything, quite contrary to the serene composure that I had. But to all the casual attitude that he carried he had a warm heart enveloping him, a heart which beat for me. I remember once I was down with very high fever. I was in the college hostel then and the food there was pathetic. I missed home when I had high fever and I missed the love of a near and dear one. Then suddenly the security comes up with a box telling me that the gentleman down send it for me. It was Akash, who had prepared Dal,  alu and egg bhujji  with a sweet and some pickle to go with it. The box also had a note…

Get well soon dear. Do eat what I cooked for you. I know it’s not like home food but at least it’s better than the hostel one. Love you. Sleep well.”

I was in tears once I read it and I think I still have the note with me. If I go on like this then I can write pages on our days and you must be wondering then what went wrong? Why aren’t we together?

We were together. In fact we were like the ideal couple of the college. On the fare well day we had a dance  and as we took the stage everyone said,”they would make a lovely man and wife.”  

It was that day when after the dance backstage, Akash gave me a beautiful Sapphire Pendant. He had spend a fortune on it and spend all the hard earned student income that he made those days. “Wear this forever.”, is all he could say.

Forever didn’t last very long though,  may be a year or more. I got a job  soon and so did Akash and they  posted me off to California. I  remember, we shed tears as I bid  him adieu in the airport. We were in touch for some time over the phone and mail but slowly I immersed myself in work and found those long distance phone calls meaningless. I tried to resolve the distance. I asked him to shift base to the US too but Akash refused. He was not ready to leave his family and his country. I never wanted to get back to India too. Our arguments rose and the love seemed to have flown out. Akash waited that one day I would decide to be back in India and then we could settle down. I knew that was not to happen. I was ambitious, careerist, doing well in my job and I knew going to India would spell doom to my career. Just when the dream of being someone in life was coming true I couldn’t sacrifice everything for love. We broke off. Rather I was the one who advocated it. The day I told it to Akash over the phone, he broke like a man who’s lost everything in life. He wept and requested me to be back but I was firm. It was not easy for me too, I loved him and didn’t want to hurt him but that’s how it turned out to be.

We were in touch for some time and then slowly lost touch. Life for me was lonely in US. I worked and gave everything to work. I did meet men but not any that interested me in a different way. Seven years passed by and today I can say that I have done extremely well professionally but not even a day passed by when something or the other did not remind me of Akash. I thought of calling him up so many times but didn’t have the courage to do that. It was few months back when I rummaged my almirah, that I came across the blue sapphire pendant. I hadn’t worn it ever since we parted. I held it in my hand for a long time and then considered wearing it.

If I get back to India will Akash accept me once again? Will he be able to forgive me? Can I not just walk up to him and tell him that I want him to make me wear this pendant round my neck? Yes I was wrong. I missed him, whenever I thought of the future it was only his thoughts which were in my  mind. I couldn’t think of settling down without him. Oh! I was so terribly wrong but can’t I just walk up to my Akash and give him this pendant and ask him to tie it round my neck? would he not understand…. ?

I had arrived at  Swarna’s wedding but my eyes were on finding Akash. I was carrying the sapphire pendant in my clutch bag hoping that things would again fall in place.

It didn’t take me long to notice him, dressed in a kurta pyjama. He hadn’t changed much. The same Akash I had known to be mine once. Our eyes met and we smiled.

My heart skipped a beat. It felt all so awkward to be meeting him again, yet I had to do it. He would understand his Naina, after all he had loved me once or may be even today?

Hi! How are you Naina. You look very different with the spects and everything.“, Akash had walked up to me.

“I am good. it’s been a long time.”, I said as I nodded at him.

We sat beside each other and spoke for sometime like strangers discussing about the weather, the Indian politics, old acquaintances and everything,  but us and the age of knowing each other.

I had to do it… I thought clutching at my bag with the pendant inside. I am sure he would understand me. Should I just hand it over to him?

We were silent for sometime when Akash spoke…” Want to introduce you to someone.”

Meghna, can you please come over here once.“, said Akash as a beautiful girl with long dark brown hair, dressed in a saree joined us.

This is Meghna, my would be…. And Meghna this is Naina, my batchmate in college.  “

I stood there quietly shaking hands courteously with the girl and she stood there beside Akash. They really looked good together. For the rest of the evening we were all there watching Swarna take her vows for life.

Just before I left and was bidding goodbye to everyone, I walked up to Meghna and Akash.

Hi! Meghna,  Wish you all the best in your new life which is all set to begin soon. I don’t know if work will permit me to attend your wedding but there is something which I want to give you. “, I opened my bag and took out the blue sapphire pendant and put it in Akash’s hand.

Come on now! tie this to her neck.“, I said as a surprised Akash looked at my eyes and Meghna glowed in happiness.

I left India the next day.

2

I knew Naina, that  possibly you wouldn’t be back but everyday since you left my life,  I wished I would open my door and see you standing there, back forever into my life. Seven Years passed by with me imagining every day that you would come back to me saying that you were wrong, that you were immature and we would be together again. Naina, I so missed you. If only you realised what you meant to me.

You left me feeling like a loser in life but forever you robbed me of a desire to lead a life again. With you gone, I just lost “me”. Years passed by but I never felt like living again. It was work and family which saw me through. I tried getting in touch with you but after few abortive attempts of you not replying my mails and not picking my calls stopped that too. But believe me my dear, I waited for you every single day. I knew,  one day you will be back in my life and I waited for that day. My parents wanted me to settle down but I could never think of the future without you.

Then after  so many years Swarna told me that you would be here in Kolkata to attend her wedding. The first thought which came to my mind after hearing that was the moment I see you again I would take you in my arms and cajole you back into my life. It’s never too late for love, is it?

But what if you are still the same? What if after you broke off you erased me out of your mind? What if the comfort and success that US gave you just made you forget those innocent days you spend in Kolkata with me? What if my name doesn’t even ring a bell in your mind now? Is it that I am forgotten in some memory lanes ?…. and me… I tell you that I missed you, that every day in these seven years I have waited for you, that even today I so badly wish that you come back to my life, so badly wish that you still wear the sapphire pendant I bought for you. What a loser am I !!

Ma was after me for a very long time trying to fix a match. Swarna’s wedding was just two weeks away and I had to act fast.  At last I gave in to Ma’s persuasion and agreed to marry Meghna. I knew it was wrong that I was doing to her but I cannot pose like a loser in front of you when we meet.

When I met you, I still hoped that some miracle would happen and you would be back in my life.

But your last words just shook me. Couldn’t you have given that pendant to me and asked me to make it wear round your beautiful neck? I would have forgotten everything of that past and we would have been one again. If only….

Obsessions of a poison lover!

“Hey, do you remember me?” – That is what was written in the email in my inbox, which I received from an unknown creepy id, [email protected]! It seemed someone had created the id just for me, using my name into it, as if to challenge me to figure out the creator’s identity! I was confused since I had just opened this new email account about nine months back, just after my marriage and only a selected few knew about it. I looked at my computer screen blankly, wondering who it can be. My thoughts were disturbed by my cell phone’s ring tone. I soon took the call and it was my best half. It was almost like a routine that he would call me once he reached his office. Just going by my reflex I started to tell him about the mail. But soon checked it and thought not to bother him for such a small issue. I disconnected the call saying “love you too honey, see you in the evening”. My thoughts were cluttered by that mail, I thought of replying and eventually did so, “Hey who are you? What’s your original name?” I logged out and got busy in my official meetings.

The next day as soon as I reached office, I opened my mailbox to check if any more mails were there from that id and to my surprise there was one indeed. He just replied me in two little words, which made my world go up side down. “Your lover!” I froze for a while and then jumped out of my seat. I ran towards the canteen aimlessly with my mind was full of questions. When I reached the canteen and thought of having some hot coffee to lessen my restlessness. I sat alone on a table having coffee when suddenly something came into my mind. Someone used to mail me in the same way when I was in college. That too was from a weird id, [email protected] started contemplating whether both of them were same person. I didn’t knew what to do, I went back to my desk and without thinking for the second time, I started replying. “Hey who the hell are you, Are u mad? I am married and my hubby is my lover!” I clicked on the send option and immediately logged off from the site.

To my surprise next day also I received one more mail. He wrote, “Who cares about your hubby and yes I am mad about you! Surprising that you don’t remember me! How quickly people forget old days! Will u b my friend?” I was shocked and started to wonder what will be my next step. First, I thought I must inform my hubby but then I thought of handling it alone. I dialed a number from my cell, “Hey hello. I am Ria, your college mate! Remember me?” It was Amir, one of my batchmates. He replied, “Hey Ria…how you doing? Where are you these days? I heard you got married?” I updated him that I was in Bangalore and said, “Hey I need a small favour from you Amir! You need to hack someone’s email id and give me his details!” Amir during our college days was an expert of such tasks, although he did all that for fun. But now its only Amir who could help  me. I briefed him about the mails from the unknown guy and after hearing the entire stuff he agreed to help me out with it.After disconnecting the call, I forwarded those mails to Amir and I sighed!

It was a Sunday, I was at home alone, my best half was off for an official trip for a week, when suddenly my cell phone rang. I took the call and found Amir on the line. He said, “Hey Ria, I got the information. These mails were coming from an renowned MNC company’s firewall. Its located in Noida and the guy’s name is Neel, though I am not sure if he is using a real name or a vague name!”

I just managed to thank Amir and then I sat on my bed helplessly. I could not believe it was Neel! We were old buddies and though I knew he always had a strong crush on me. But from my end, he was just always a good friend!  I never expected him to do all what he was doing! I felt dizzy, I felt weak…I reclined in my bed and closed my eyes, all the memories from the past came rushing into my mind!

Neel was not from my college. He was studying engineering in Pune. It was during my college fest, when I first met him. He was a handsome, good looking, extrovert kind of guy. First time I spoke to him, I was quite impressed by his charisma, he spoke a lot and it was fun to hear what all he had to say! Those days I was little down since I just had a break up. Almost a month after the fest, there was a call on my landline. When I took the call, the male voice on the other end said, “Hey remember me?” I couldn’t recognise the voice and wondered who could it be. It was obviously not Raj, my ex boyfriend. I anyways knew Raj’s voice very well! Suddenly the guy spoke again, “I know you couldn’t recognise me. I am Neel. We met in your college fest. Yes, I am that handsome hunk!” he said with a smile and continued, “Ria, I just wanted to give you a name! And it’s POISON!”

“Neel, you are over confident about yourself anyways and may I know why such a weird name? Poison?” – I asked.

He smiled and replied, “You are a sweet poison dear, and you are very intoxicating. I just saw you once but from that day, you are always in my mind! I couldn’t control myself and had to force our common friend to get your number and finally here I am speaking to you”

I could not believe on his words. To cut it short I said, “Hey, I had a boyfriend, just had a break up with him and I am not interested to start another relationship now. Anyways it was nice talking to you.” Just as I just started to disconnect, I heard he was saying something. I put the receiver back to my ears. He was saying, “Hey poison, I know about you more than you know yourself! Let’s meet up, let’s be friends at least!” I did not reply and just hung up.

After two week or so, we were sitting in our college canteen when suddenly I saw Neel was coming towards our group. Our common friend was present there. They greeted each other and immediately after that, Neel said in front of my other friends, “Hey poison, how you are? Why are you avoiding me?” I didn’t know what to say as rest of my friends looked at me with eyebrow raised listening to my new pet name! I could not even ignore him as he was in my college and the friend of my best friend! Since then he came to our college often, we all chatted in our college canteen, and within six months time we became buddies! Neel had a different attitude…it was always he who called me or came up to my college to meet me. I didn’t knew much about him and he didn’t even bother to inform. With time we started meeting up alone but just as friends as I never had any feelings for him. I was still madly in love with Raj and cherished the wonderful memories of him.

I always felt during our meetings that Neel likes me a lot, he didn’t miss a single chance to impress me but all were in vain. One fine day when we met for lunch, he said, “Poison, its long time now. You must come out from Raj’s world and move on. I know you still love him but it has already been 8 months since you people broke up! Move on poison, look around, and see there are people who are craving for you. Accept the best amongst them and make your world colourful once again!” I didn’t know what to say and looked at him with tears in my eyes. I felt sad and shattered. I just managed to say, “I am trying…let’s see what the future holds for me!”

Neel was untraceable for the next two months. Finally one day he called and said, “Poison, I miss you yaar. I am in Delhi, got a job. I had to come here all of a sudden and did not get time to inform you. Moreover I was giving you time to miss me!” he chuckled. I changed the topic and asked him about his new job, wished him and disconnected the call. After that, he started calling me time and again from Delhi and started to mail me. This was also the period when I started to get strange mails from the weird email id, asking whether I was interested in friendship! Mails from both of them went on and on in parallel until one day when Neel called me.  I thought he had called up from Delhi but it was actually from Kolkata itself! He conveyed that his trip to Kolkata was as short as two days and hence he needed to meet me urgently. We met at a café. Within no time he spoke, “Poison, I always thought that I was attracted towards you and it’s just an infatuation! But after I went to Delhi I started missing you like crazy!” He paused, “I think I am in love with you. I am just addicted to you!” I felt helpless as I was still in my Raj’s world and moreover I always considered Neel just as a friend. I didn’t reply and walked away from the cafe and also from his life forever!

Days went by and after six more months, Raj once again walked back into my life making it worthwhile! Just a couple of months later we got married.

I opened my eyes when the aura of twilight touched them and I saw it was almost evening. I slowly walked up to the window and looked outside.  I started solving the puzzle as now I knew, both the persons are in fact the same, both the cases it was Neel only using the weird email ids. I recalled how Neel reacted when I told him about the guy with the weird id. He laughed off and said, “Poison, you are anyways so intoxicating! No wonder, you have a big fan following!”

Last time he mailed me from the weird id to understand if I was interested in some other guy and now he was mailing me to check if there was any chance for him to get me back in his life! He hacked my new email id just to reach me!

I logged into yahoo, saw few more mails were there sent by him, but I didn’t even bother to read any of them. I clicked the reply button and composed, “Are you really Neel? Trust me I cannot believe it! Moreover, what you are up to?  You know that I would never like it. I was always in Raj’s world and I am always with him. I always thought you to b a decent guy, despite of all your crazy deeds. But now I am really stunned. Tell me Neel, when did we have an affair? Never! You were just my friend. You were always by your own, when you felt you called me and when you wished, you met me. You went to Delhi without even informing and then suddenly one day you came back and said you love me! Did you ever bother to know what I felt? Or as you always said I was not good as a girl friend, but I would always be a good wife! So now, I am trying to be a perfect wife of Raj. Now I truly believe that you never loved me or else you would not have hacked my id and mail me saying that we were lovers! You are simply obsessed about me.” I clicked on the send button and logged off.

Neel did not change even after my clear communication and kept on mailing me, almost to provoke me to all possible ways to get into an extra marital affair with him. Finally, one day I replied to one of his mails, “Neel, you want to meet me right? So let that be! I will wait for you in front of KFC on Brigade road on coming Sunday at 6 pm. If you wish, come and meet me. Bye!”

I reached the KFC outlet on Brigade road fifteen minutes after the scheduled time. I saw him standing there already with a bunch of red roses in his hand. He was looking anxiously here and there and was repeatedly seeing his watch, as if he was feeling his wait was becoming too long! I slowly went up to him and tapped on his arm.

“Hey poison, see you invited and I flew down from Delhi!” – He said in excitement, “You look stunning as ever. This one is for you!” He offered the rose bouquet to me.

I did not show any interest towards the flowers and said in a cold voice,

“Thank you for coming, Neel. But I called you here to make certain things clear to you!”

He stood there muted. I continued to say,

“I know you want me back in your life. But frankly speaking I have moved miles away from where we parted. I am happily married, carrying out loads of responsibilities and enjoying my life.” – I paused. Neel did not say a word. After a while, I said again, “Also I am on the family way and would soon become a mother! Hope that clarifies where we stand now! I am sorry, just for me you had to travel this far but it was necessary to end this. Hope you understand and move on from here!”

Neel stood perplexed as I started to leave. I took an auto from the crossing and saw he was still standing there in front of the KFC outlet with the bouquet still in his hand. I never saw Neel again; neither did he mail me after that day.

Strange Homecoming!

Due to a stupid alarm clock I missed my train: after all I was not so drunk that I would not have woken if it had ever made an honest attempt at ringing. Anyway, the next important thing was to collect a refund and get a ticket back home. This proved to be much more difficult and time consuming than I had imagined. Evhome2eryone was suddenly on an east-bound exodus and thus no reservation was available till the end of the year. Being stranded in Mumbai is a rather unnerving phenomenon. Thanks to plastic money, however, I promptly bought me a pair of wings back to Calcutta (Yes, I prefer it much more than Kolkata).

Oh! Calcutta. The reassuring familiarity of the cityscape; the comprehension of dialogues overheard; the security of a room you don’t have to pay for; food on the table without consulting a menu card — I decided I shall be happy for a while. Cancelling my plans of joining office, I decided to stay put at there’s-no-place-like-home.
But life is unfair and weird and it only gets weirder. Comfort and security accepted; life back home, after eight and half years of staying away, alone, is full of discord. It is agonising. I almost hate my stay here.
I discover that I have evolved to be a recluse. For someone who has done most of the beyond-work-hours talking with self, with words unspoken, the demands of continual verbal communication prove strenuous. The family jabber around the dining table is good for a few days; beyond that it bores you and nibbles at your patience. Again, the conflict of interests of more than two people staying under the same roof is something I am no longer used to. Everything needs such a lot of consultation, coordination, and cooperation. The expectations of eating on schedule, bathing on time, going to bed at night were non-existent in a bachelor’s pad, and now they seem to hound me at each step. The undue claims laid on my time by friends and relations, close and distant, on the pretext of meeting after a long time and ‘don’t know when you will come this way again’, are peculiarly stifling. Hence I decide to not let my girl friend know that I am here. I have invitations for New Years Eve party from at least three quarters, all of whom resolutely believe that nothing could be more pleasing for me than to be with them, and honestly I wish to be with none. Nothing seems more welcome right now than a candle-lit dinner of spaghetti boiled with the help of an electric heater and cold ham, sitting on the jute rug in my studio apartment, eating out of the wok.