A Story – Part 1

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Oct 5, 2011.

Love, some say it’s magical, some say it’s divine, and some say it’s eternal. Conversely, some say it’s a mere shit. I won’t say any of those, at least about mine. I would rather say it as a simple feeling that conjured in me only to make my mind complex.

I saw her. It wasn’t a love at first sight. In fact, I hardly saw her face when I saw her for the very first time. She was showing her back to me. It was in the library located in my nearby colony. The library was small and privately managed by a resident (who would later become my good friend) of that colony. The specialty of the library, in my perspective, was that, it was the only library near my locality that had English novels and CAT study materials. Okay, now don’t get into an idea that I was preparing for CAT or something. I hardly touched that rack.

I had been a member of the library for the past 8 months, but I never saw her before. Though I wasn’t a regular visitor of the library, you could have seen me there on most of the weekends reading newspapers, and rarely, on weekdays when I was there to return or issue a new book. She must be new to the library, I thought. From the conversation between her and the librarian, I figured she was there to register her membership of the library.

All my life, I neither was a strict follower of the rules nor an ardent admirer of the rules in the first place, be it in school, or college, or anywhere for that matter. Whenever I saw a stupid rule stated in any of the rule book, I would get furious about it. But ironically on the other day, due to the reasons unknown, I was glad for the rules. The girl was told that in order to become a new member, she should be nominated by an existing member. I then heard her reply that she was new to the colony, and that she didn’t know anyone to nominate her.

Her words struck me hard, didn’t know why. I just wanted to go and help her – It wasn’t a big deal for me as I was a member already. Simple. But I held myself back in the chair pretending to read the newspaper that I was holding in my hand. I don’t even remember what paper I was holding back then. I thought she would come to me and ask for some help. But then, I looked around. There were four more people reading something. For a moment I suspected them to be as pretending to read as me. Maybe not, I thought as they were at least twice my age, meaning they should roughly be of her dad’s age. Still, that wasn’t a favor for me for she might choose someone else over me to help her.

I was wrong. Nope, don’t think she chose me. She didn’t. She didn’t choose anyone at all; rather, she turned to leave the library with disappointment sprayed all over her face (That was just my imagination. I didn’t see her face yet). As she was about to reach the main door, I called her. “Hello,’ I said. She turned to look at me still wondering if it was she who was called. I saw her, I mean, her face.

“Are you here to become a member?” I asked.

She nodded, this time her face showed she was sure of her being called [by me]. She came towards me. I gestured her to follow me to the librarian.

“Ma’am, I nominate her,” I said to the librarian. “She is a friend of mine.”

The librarian stared at me. I turned towards the girl by my side. She too was staring at me.

“Okay, not my friend, but she doesn’t look like the one who will run away with your books,” I continued, “so enroll her with my nomination.”

Ten minutes. She became a member of the library. I thanked the librarian. Neha thanked me. Neha, it was her name. I saw that in the registration form. I walked past her throwing a half-smile and ignoring her thanks. I still wonder why I acted that way. Only God knows. I left the library immediately while she still stood near the librarian. Late in the night, I cursed myself very badly for my act. “Never mind,” I consoled myself saying, “now that she is a member, I could make it up anytime sooner.”

It just took me two more days to run into her. She had already been in the library by the time I entered. She had some CAT study materials with her, and was working out some problems. I walked past her slowly so that she could get a chance to look at me. Man, I couldn’t have walked any slower than I did that day. It was of no use. She didn’t look at me. I was angry, not at her but at me.

I went in and took a CAT study material. I didn’t know what topic was that book about. Moreover, it wasn’t in my mind before I entered the library, or until I saw her. Actually, it wasn’t the purpose I went to the library for. All I wanted was to return the book I took few weeks back and get back home as soon as possible to catch the football match live on T.V.

But there I was deeply pissed off for her not looking at me, and as a result, taking some random CAT study material, and walking towards the study hall to sit opposite to her. On my way, I returned the book to the librarian and borrowed some papers to scribble (I should show her I, too, was working on some problems, right?).

Luckily, the seat opposite to her was still empty. I sat scratching the chair against the floor as hard as I could. The noise that I was sure had enough decibels to disturb even the librarian who sat in the other room. That wasn’t my intention though after all. Mine was just to disturb Neha so that she would care, at least by now, to look at me. It worked. She looked at me and smiled only to get back to her work of scribbling, okay, not scribbling, but solving some crap problems.

Until then I wasn’t aware that I didn’t have a pen. In all that tension, anger, and hurry, I wasn’t sane enough to borrow a pen along with the papers.  It was only when I opened the book and saw a problem, and when I wanted to solve it, I realized I didn’t have one. It’s this human nature that even though you’re sure that you don’t have something with you, you still search for it in your pockets, or bags, or whatever you have with you as if it would be born out of something from nowhere. I was no different. I was human after all. And hence, I did the same. I groped for my pen in my pockets.

That act of mine drew her attention. Any fool would figure out my action for certain. Here, she, who was preparing for CAT, will definitely be better than a fool, right? Yes, she was. She dug into her bag, and offered me a pen. I smiled.

… to be continued (part 2)

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Random Ramble – 2

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Mar 1o, 2012.

“Is this a right place to smoke?” she asked.

“What?”

“Sorry to ask, but I was fined for smoking in a public place a couple of days ago,” she said raising her shoulders.

“Oh, really?” I asked her, though I knew how lame it was to ask.

“Yes,” she nodded. “So, could you please, you know, confirm or ….”

“Of course. I, uh, yes…. Yes, it is,” my words twitched.

“Thank you.” She offered to shake my hands. I responded promptly.

“I’m Jessie, by the way. Jessie Parker,” she introduced herself. I was floored. Floored might be too big a word to use for this simple happening. But if you are me who had never been bumped into a situation where a girl – a stranger, who is also stunningly beautiful, had volunteered to introduce herself, not to mention by shaking hands, you’d have used the same or something even more impactful depending on how strong you’re in your vocabulary.

“Hi Jessie, nice to meet you.”

She looked straight into my eyes, and damn, I had to do the same. I was forced to do the same, I’d say. Dignity, they say. Fuck it. No offense to her eyes, but there were many other fantabulous whatever of her to look at.

It took a few minutes for me to figure out, with her help, that she was looking for something else from me.

“And you are…” she started.

“Ah, sorry, I’m Prem.”  I offered her another handshake. The second one was better for two reasons – one, it was offered by me and two, the most important, I wasn’t as nervous as I was during the first; In fact, I wasn’t at all.

Honestly, it was a public place, and there was a rule not to smoke in a public place. The person whomsoever, he or she may be, was right in penalizing her few days back. But on that day, I seldom cared. It’s a rule, after all. I mean, who cares about the rules anyway, unless we are caught red handed. Moreover, rules are meant to be broken. Aren’t they?

She took out a cigarette from a pack and was kind enough to offer me one as well. She was right in offering to share, but at the same time, she was wrong in offering without asking whether or not I smoke. However, it didn’t matter, to say the least. Well, did any men ever cared about any women’s wrong when he is very much happy in her presence. I wasn’t different.

I took one, still fearing how to handle my first ever cigarette in my whole life, that too, in front of a girl who seemed to be well-versed on that front. She lighted hers and then mine. I struggled to hide my struggle to smoke. I failed. She noticed. I blamed it on the cigarette. It was easy; she believed it. Time and again, women prove that they are easily deceivable. Oh, we lucky men.

“So, where are you from?” I broke in while she was on her smoking journey. By then, I had already killed my smoke.

“Atlanta,” She replied exhaling the smoke from her mouth engine. I loved it, loved the way she did it. For a moment, I wanted to get one more cigarette from her and get trained by her. “It’s just a five days trip. We came here for a seminar. We’ll be leaving by tomorrow.”

“Oh, is it? That’s great.” I said. Frankly, I didn’t figure what was so great about it. I didn’t even care to ask what the seminar was about in the first place.

“Nah, nothing great about it, you know.”

She was being humble. I loved the way she was trying to be humble. Appealing, that she was, in whatever she did. Or at least, I found it that way.

That was just a start. Our conversation travelled through different paths for few hours only to end on sharing our email IDs. Those were my happiest hours in a long while then. That’s the fact though it may sound as a cliché or exaggerated.

We took photos of each other with her camera. She promised me that she will share the snaps with me, and that she will stay in touch with me forever. For reasons unknown, I simply trusted her. I felt she trusted me too, and that’s the reason she was ready to take photographs with me, to share her email ID, to gift a book that she was reading then (despite my hesitation to accept it).

“It’ll always remind you to remember me, to remember this day.” Those were her words to convince me.

I wanted to give her something, but I had nothing with me then. She would have probably read my mind. She asked for an autograph of mine. I took a hundred rupee note from my wallet, signed on it, and handed it over to her. She smiled and said, “Don’t mistake me, but I’ve seen kids running behind us to get our currency notes from us wherever we go. And now, to get one of yours is kind of special. Thanks.” She said.

“Maybe, that’s the way we are,” I replied thinking of me running behind the tourists when I was a kid.

I haven’t seen her ever since. But she kept her promise by sending the snaps in the next few days. From then, we have been constantly in touch through mails and chats. We shared a lot. She was very open in sharing her personal stuffs with me. She used to say that she trusts me a lot that she can say anything and everything to me, that I help her in her bad times. We never had any boundaries for our conversations. They travelled through all. The conversations start at one topic, move to the other, then to another, and then end up on something else.

Our relation continued for months, for years. I slowly fell in love with her. I loved her more than anything that I was aware of. I won’t say my love for her was divine or any crap like that. I won’t even term it as ‘a true love’ for I don’t know what ‘a true love’ really means. All I would say is I liked her, I loved her, and I wanted to spent the rest of my life with her.

I even brought the topic “long distance relationship” during one of our weekend chats. She responded positively on that topic. That boosted my confidence. That day as we ended our chat, I decided to plan to get a job in Atlanta at the earliest. How lousy that was? I didn’t know then. I was building my own dream palace for us, for us to live happily ever after until I heard news from her that she lost her virginity to one of her classmates, that how happy she was, and that how exciting that was. I myself destroyed our palace. I knew she wasn’t the one to be blamed. Ah Man, I never gave her any hint that I was in love with her, let alone proposing her.

Days went. I got the news that she broke up with him. The building work for our palace began slowly. But before it was even half-built again, another news came. She thought she was in love with five different guys, and she is staggeringly confused to choose one among them. I thought a lot about it. Our cultural differences made sense to me. That was it. I never built the palace again, albeit my love for her, my care for her was never a bit reduced. Surprisingly, I helped her choose one. That love episode also lasted only for few months. Few other episodes came and went by. She told me everything that was happening in her life.

Months went. One fine day, I got a mail from her. It conveyed a message about her engagement with her then recent boyfriend. I knew it was coming, but not that sooner. Moreover, she never gave me a hint on this. She wanted to surprise me, it seems. She wrote that in her mail. I was a bit disappointed on reading the mail; maybe because she didn’t inform me about her engagement in our previous chats or maybe because she is not going to be my better half ever. But truly, I was happy for her. I replied my heartiest wishes to her.

She had mentioned a P.S. message in the mail asking me to come online in exactly two hours time. But I didn’t. After a few hours, I decided to send her a mail advising her how to keep her marriage strong forever. It’s not like I was qualified to advise her and all, but I knew (she did too) I was far better than her and that it would help her in tough times by some means. At the end of the mail, I added a note that I’d be online the next day. I really needed at least a day to come out of the disappointment.

Meanwhile, in the next few months, I got an offer for a job in Atlanta (not easily, as you might know). I didn’t tell her about it as I was still contemplating whether or not to take the job. But, deep within, I wished to attend her wedding which was scheduled in the next six months.

It was hard for me when I finally decided not to go to Atlanta for the job. From then I was thinking what gift I should send her for her wedding. Exactly ten days before her wedding, I decided to send her the one that would make her smile on the most important day of her life.

I sent her the book – “Are you still there God? It’s me, Margaret” – that she gifted me on the day we first met along with a hundred rupee note, of course, with my signature. I also sent a note “I don’t need anything, anymore, to remind me to remember you forever. You will always be remembered till my last breath. My memory is sharp, you see.  Hope to see you one day in person. Happy married life. And, hey, have my gifts safe forever.”

I slept peacefully that night. The book will always remain as one of the most valued gifts I had ever received. It’s just that the book won’t be with me anymore, but memories will.

Random Ramble – 1

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Dec 9, 2011.

He woke up, only mentally, still lying in his cozy bed with his eyes closed. It wasn’t the case for him normally, that too when he slept after midnight, not to mention the empty beer bottles lying around haphazardly in his room.

That was the first time he boozed alone. No friends, no random rambles, and no fun. Also, that was the first time he was fuddling all night to get over his sadness; he knew he can’t rely on his usual excuse, ‘I drink for fun,’ anymore.

It was too early, but his thoughts were running between his days with her and her last words to him.

It was a chill Sunday morning. He felt the blanket of mist around him. He rushed to turn off the fan, again only in his mind. His body was too lazy to do it physically.

He wanted to smoke.

“I found a lighter in my son’s pant pocket today,” his neighbor said to his mom, fuming.

“Is it? God save this generation kids. I mean, what’s his age? 17 only na?” his mom said. “No matter how strict we are, they still find ways to cheat us.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what to do. For a moment I thought it was his dad’s, but then I found one in his dad’s pocket as well. I’m confused whether or not to let his dad know about this,” his neighbor replied.

“Glad, my son hates smoking,” his Mom said ignoring her neighbor’s concern.

“Get the fuck out of my room, you idiot,” he shouted at his friend who lighted a smoke in his room.

“Cool, dude. I can’t booze without this, you know,” his friend tried to explain holding a cigarette in his hand.

“Hey, go to the terrace to smoke and get back once you are done. He hates smoking. Don’t you know that, you dumbass?” his other friend who had already gulped three beers voiced to prove that he was still in his senses. Prestige issue, it was.

“Smoking is the best remedy to get over your sadness.” Those were his friend’s words in his lecture about the advantages of smoking. It was during one of the bleak Saturday night chat sessions in his final year of college.

Not to forget, the guy, who gave the lecture, was a chain smoker. And he was careful enough to end his lecture without answering the question, “How do you say that?”

He wanted to smoke.

He woke up, physically this time. He walked zigzag across the room only to end up holding the wall at one corner of the room.

After few minutes of struggle, he managed to stand before the mirror. He was not able to see him in the mirror; instead, he saw her. She was smiling. He kissed her in his hangover senses; but kissed the mirror in real.

Beta, do you smoke?” his mom questioned him as soon his neighbor left for her home.

“Mom, what question is this? Don’t you know how much I hate it?”

“I know you, beta. Just be careful with your friends. People always change; some people make the other people change, just remember.”

Bhaiyya, ek filter cigarette, please.”

He lighted the cigarette. He struggled to smoke, not because he was shivering from the cold, but because he was fighting with his first smoke of his life yet.

He unlocked his mobile as he wanted to engage his other hand in something. His Mom smiled in the wallpaper.

He switched off his mobile at that instant.

Finally, he was done with this first smoke, but still not with his sadness. She circled his mind still. He loved that feeling. He loved the feeling even more with a smoke in his hand. He found happiness in his sadness.

In another half an hour, he was done with a whole packet of cigarettes.

After a few days, his chain-smoker-friend called him as his competitor. He has become a proud chain smoker now. Thanks to her. No. Thanks to his love for her.

Some people make the other people change, he remembered.

Fictional Diary Pages – 2

Fiction

~ Originally posted on May 10, 2012.

I wish I walk her home every day.

I wish I don’t get jealous when I see her with someone. Yeah, by someone, I mean only a guy.

I wish I take her to my favorite restaurant once a month, preferably on a Saturday night and to hers anytime, any number of times.

I wish she talks her problems to me.

I wish I will be able to comfort her with my words, if not with my presence.

I wish I’m smart enough to lie to her aesthetically.

I wish for her to be smarter than me to read my lie yet act artistically as if she buys in everything I tell her.

I wish I kiss her good night, every night.

I wish to see her first when I wake up and wish to see her last before I get to sleep.

I wish I make her a tasty coffee, and with it, I get her out of her bed/laziness on any hebetudinous holiday morning.

I wish she never makes me wait, especially when she is busy shopping.

I wish to spend every Sunday morning with her in the beach.

I wish she talks a lot of nonsense, and wish all that seem to make sense to me.

I wish I have as much patience as to listen to whatever she has to say.

I wish for her to beat me in everything we compete, and not beat me with everything. 🙂

I wish to take her to all her favorite places without her insistence.

I wish for her mind to perch on mine, always, to guide me in my life path.

I wish I never deviate from my goal of making her dreams come alive.

I wish I give her my heart and my everything and get hers in return.

I wish I meet her pretty soon.

I wish I should have taken some more time for penning additional wishes.

And I wish all my above-listed wishes to happen in real.

And I wish I don’t ramble any such fable things ever again in my diary!

Fictional Diary Pages – 1

Fiction, Uncategorized

~ Originally posted on Apr 21, 2012.

I reached out for a pen and paper. It was my New Year’s resolution to pen down my every day’s experience. Please note that it’s not just for the sake of recording the happenings. The aim was simple, realistic, and apprised by my beloved teacher. It’d be optative to call aims rather than a mere aim. They were – one, to make myself fluent in the language (I swear, I didn’t know what level of fluency he meant anyway); two, to make myself know where I stand every day (I never even had the slightest idea of where I stand in my life. I never wanted to in the first place;) and three, to improve my hand writing (‘Are you serious?’ That was my instant thought when I heard him say this).

As any hopeless, lackluster, and carefree kid would do, I did nothing. The problem was that he never saw me as a kid who was in the bounds of the previously mentioned adjectives. And that was the reason why he, of the several others, became my beloved, my only beloved. But, regrettably, that didn’t save me from lying to him often. I didn’t know if at all he knew that, but whatsoever, he never eft a hint. I was safe. I mean, I felt safe. Always.

It had been several months since he asked me to do the writing stuff. I never did that till date. What I wondered the most was, he never got tired of asking me about how it was coming along, every single day – save the days when I didn’t meet him at all. Unsurprisingly, I too never got tired of saying the same words to him – “Great! I can see the progress myself.” He merely smiled and patted my shoulders. I never understood the real meaning of that smile and the pat. All I assumed was I was good at lying, and that there was someone who believed whatever I said.

At times, he used to ask me to show my scribblings (yes, he always referred my writing as scribbling. He was trying to be funny, you know. Nevertheless, my academic writing was itself a scrawl anyway.) I’d blatantly reply, “Sir, it is personal.” And guess what, I’d always get to see his smile and feel his pat. In a way, I liked them. I as well liked to lie to him and enjoy his response.

On the first day of this year, as I was still asleep, he came down to my home. My mom had to wake me up to greet him. It was 9:30 A.M. already. I wasn’t sure that it was the question in my mind that he read or it was the usual habit of his to explain things, but he told us that he was crossing my home then and thought he should come by to wish me. By the way, the question in my mind was, “What the heck is he doing in my home at this point of time?” I was a dumbass, after all. Before he left, he gifted me a pen (the one that I’m holding in my hand now) and wished me luck. My parents were lame, but I wasn’t. It wasn’t a random visit. I knew he came by purposefully, and it was to gift me the pen; otherwise who would walk somewhere with a pen gift-wrapped in his pocket, no?

That was when I decided to take this New Year’s resolution – to scribble (in his words) or to write (in my assumption) my every day’s experience. I went back to my room, took out the diary that I had got from my dad the previous night, sat in the table, and started ‘Jan 01, 2001’. Before I could round off what to start with, my mom called for me from the kitchen. She was howling to get me brush my teeth and have my breakfast as it was late already. To take shower was out of question as she knew that if it was included, I’d only have my breakfast at lunch time. She became so adjustable with me. I loved her for that and for every other reason regardless. That was it. That diary only had the date scribbled by me yet.

Today, the calendar in my room shows the date as Jan 06, 2001; but that’s not today’s date in real. Lucky, at least I was sane enough to know that it’s not. Blame it on my laziness – the laziness to tear off the paper every day. Having said that, I don’t exactly know what today’s date is. Maybe, 16 or 17; well, probably, 16th of January. I have to go to the other room to check. Ugh, forget it. Who cares? In fact, that’s the least important of all. On this day of the year, I don’t own a cell phone to check the date and time in a split second. I haven’t even held one in my hand yet, let alone owning one. None of my family members own a cell phone, which I hear is tardily becoming a sensation, at least among the younger generations.

Okay, what’s with me now? No answer. A Blunt mind, which is all it is. It’s been fifteen days into the year with my doing nothing to be proud of, an absolute nothing. Not even able to be true to my beloved teacher; worse, not even able to be true to myself.

Well, that’s not the real reason that made me to sit straight up here from my bed to pen down my first diary page (not precisely in a diary though. Who knows, probably I’d paste this paper in my diary later). It’s the dream I had. The dream in which my beloved teacher met with an accident. And as he laid in his deathbed, asked me about my scribbling. Heck. I was so bad at lying in my dream. But still, he smiled and patted my shoulders before he closed his eyes.

Why did I get this dream all of a sudden? That’s the life, can I answer to myself? Life treats me badly, I feel sometimes. Whenever I feel it, what I fail to do is to treat life differently, as in brazenly different. Things change, in an unexpected and undesirable way. But when and how are the questions. They can’t be answered precisely. We only have to experience them as and when they come along – just like the way I’m doing for a while now.

Surprise

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Jan 1, 2017

“Surprise me,” I said.

And she did. With a lot of passion and a few long breaths.

I looked at the watch. She took 12.14 secs. That was rather quick, I amazed.

“You’re going to be a champion one day,” I said, “by breaking records.”

Unpredictable Life

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Dec 6, 2016.

He wrote a wonderful piece about Dad-Daughter relationship and shared it with her. She couldn’t appreciate enough. He was on cloud nine. Little did he know then that it would have such an influence in their lives.

She decided to ignore his proposal only to marry a stranger her dad had arranged for her.

He decided to adopt a baby girl only to spend the rest of his life in her memory.

Such is the life, unpredictable, they say.

You, I, and The office

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Dec 4, 2016.

First day at office, I didn’t have any idea of what it would be like. It was only fear that blanketed my mind, to be honest. It’s true that there was also an excitement in me; a tad more than my friends I’d say as I was there at the office two hours earlier than the expected time.

Of all that I thought would happen on the first day, you weren’t one. But, without any second thought, you seemed to be the best of all. A spark, as some would call, was what I felt. I still couldn’t figure out why you chose the desk next to me. Was it the same spark that made you do it? No, you would say. I can only guess. I will never know.

Well, the days we spent together, of course, working (or not), the hours we consumed for our chat, the minutes we spoke in silence, the seconds we looked into each other’s eyes. If only it was a two-seater cubicle instead of four. Know what, most of the days, the other two didn’t exist for me. Seriously. I mean, did they? Not, at least, in the world of conversations we had.

The stories you told, the disappointments you shared, the happiness you made me to be a part of. It didn’t seem I met you after twenty years of being in this world. It rather seemed I was with you since your childhood. I’d have lied if I had said I didn’t feel I met you late in my life. Yep, twenty years too late.

Your first love was the funniest story I had ever heard. I was secretly glad that it didn’t materialize, you know. And whenever you bumped into a guy, a friend of yours, at the cafeteria, or at a shopping mall, or at the theatre, a shiver ran down my spine. It only vanished when you yourself assured me that he was just a friend. I was happy you always had this urge to mention that to me. What were you thinking of me then? More than a friend, no? Looking back, you spent more minutes talking to a guy than to a girl with me waiting nearby. And what were those giggles for? Did you do it purposefully? To make me feel jealous or something? If so, you won. I was.

Your desk was the temple I visited before I started my work. You were the Goddess I went to for my peace. You probably didn’t know, but you made me function appropriately. Yes, you did. You were the reason I excelled in what I did. Not to impress you, but simply to be in par with you. You were smart, and made me smart (or more so.)

It was amazing that there was nothing common between us. You liked to go to office earlier, while I preferred to stay late. You preferred breakfast; lunch was for me. Music means ARR to you; YSR occupied my playlist. It was no wonder that Maniratnam vs. Selvaraghavan became our frequent leisure time talk. I had nothing against Maniratnam, but I loved to see the anger that sprayed on ur face every time I had a point against him. Ah, how I wished it would go on forever. You were North; needless to say, I was South. Opposite poles attract each other, my teacher had taught when I was a kid. I didn’t believe it back then although I pretended to agree and wrote the same to get good marks. It was only when we had a common ground among these contradictions that I realized how right he was or rather the scientist, who proved it, was.

You were the missing piece of my unsolved puzzles. When you weren’t, you had it somehow. Always. Without you, I didn’t know how I would have survived. I didn’t even know if I would have in the first place. There were days I wondered what the reason was for me to get to office every day. You or the work? The question flashed in me often. Every time, the answer was You.

What is it that we have, I had questioned myself many a time. Acquaintance? No. Friendship? Not just. Crush? I was there. Infatuation? Certainly not. Love? Maybe. I was not sure yet. You weren’t either, I thought.

‘The office’ fevicol affixed us more than it should have. You, I, and the office. What a story it had been? I hope you too get it one day.

Daddy Love

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Oct 4, 2016.

He was desperately in need of a kiss.

He called out her. She ran down to him almost instantly with a charming smile and gave him a tight hug.

She knew what he wanted. After few seconds, she pecked him on the cheek. And then one more on the other side too.

He felt elated. She was the best thing ever happened in his life, he thought.

“Love you, dad,” she said and hugged him tight again.

“Love you too, dear,” he said and kissed on her forehead.

It was time for their usual morning walk. “Shall we start?” he asked. She nodded. For her, it was the most amazing time of the day, and the one she always looked forward to as soon as she woke up every day.

And a leisurely, pleasant stroll began.

One Night With Her

Fiction

~ Originally posted on Apr 8, 2015.

It all started with a sad smiley. He wasn’t someone who spends much time chatting, and on the dot, he wasn’t comfortable chatting with mobile. He didn’t like the pain his fingers develop when he constantly texts, but things changed once he got into WhatsApp. Even if he doesn’t start, someone would message him – and the notification pops up – which he couldn’t ignore.

Worst part was being a part of a group – a group for school friends, a group for college friends, a group for colleagues, a group for cricket team, a group for roommates, and one for ex-roommates and then a group for whatnot. He didn’t want to become that guy among the group who would be a scapegoat for not being active in the group and often being accused of for not respecting others. From the little experience he had, he knew that it would unarguably become a talking point on the days when no one in the group has anything to chat about. It’s more prudent to reply than to ignore, he thought. So he replied to almost every message he got, be it in a group or direct.

Eventually, he sort of became an addict, and used to check WhatsApp even when there weren’t any notifications at all. What he did was to glance over the list of contacts and read their respective status messages. He knew he gained nothing out of it, but still, he did. Checking WhatsApp replaced reading and became his number one, or rather only, activity to beat the stretches of boredom. Anything that’s done beyond convention becomes an ineluctable addiction, he realized it later – only it was too late.

It was one night when he was scrolling down the contacts, it hit him. The status of his friend (to be precise, friend is too good a word to use considering the fact that they hardly spoke before) was a simple sad smiley. He stopped. He clicked her open in a chat window and typed, “Hey….” He was hesitant to send it. The message, it stayed there in the text box for a while just as he stayed in his bed – helpless and lost.

All this while, he wondered how he still had her contact saved in his mobile. It’s been three years since he had seen her. He didn’t even remember talking to her then. She was from his college, and not even from his department. She was the girl whom he met on the very first day of their college when she asked him the way for her department. Only then he knew that her department existed in their college. It was the time when he didn’t know the way for his department in the first place and was ruing his decision to go to his class all alone after getting tired of waiting for his roommate.

“Sorry,” he said.

“Thank You,” she replied and turned around to walk away.

He didn’t want her go. He called her instantly provoked by the fear of losing her from his sight.

“Hey, I can help you find it,” he said.

She looked perplexed.

“I mean I’m looking for my department anyway, and the other guy told me that it’s near yours,” he lied.

She nodded her approval. They both walked together. After few left and right turns, and with the help of a couple of passers-by, they reached her department only to find it was an idle building in one corner of the campus.

She looked at him. He got the words out of it.

“Oh my god, that guy must have misled me,” he said and pretended his disappointment.

“What’s yours, by the way?” she asked.

When he said his, she laughed and said, “Come, let me walk you to your department. I have seen it across the playground when I was searching mine.”

“No problem, I can find it myself. I don’t want you to be late to your first class,” he said reluctantly, hoping that she wouldn’t be obliged by his words. Sadly, she did.

“Alright then, you have a great day, and thanks,” she said and stormed into her department. It was the first time he grumbled about his stupidity in a long while.

For the next few weeks, he stalked her. She, or anyone for that matter, didn’t know about it. He kept it that way. Years passed. It almost took four years for him to cross her path again. It was in the final year, at their college cultural organizing committee meeting, he happened to meet her. They exchanged numbers, not because they knew each other before, but because they had to, for the sake of the committee activities. To be honest, it was heartbreaking for him that she didn’t recognize him. He, in order to maintain his dignity, didn’t bring it to her either.

The next few days, he refrained himself from calling or sending texts to her, no matter what. The night before the first day of their cultural, he received a text from her asking to come early to the stage the next day. He felt happy, but chose not to respond to it assuming she would send him another text to check on him. His wait wasn’t fruitful. No more texts came his way. He slept. Next day, he reached the stage as early as he could only to find a bunch of other people there. It was then he realized that she had sent that text the other night to everyone in the committee. He laughed at his stupidity.

Three years later…. You could imagine his hesitation in sending the message to her. A lot had happened in those three years. He had rejected the job in a leading IT company that he got selected to in the campus interview only to follow his passion. He had pursued journalism against his family’s wishes and was working as an intern in a leading regional daily. She, on the other hand, had taken the job she got selected to (for a different IT company) and was living in the United States for the past few months on a short term assignment. He came to know about her whereabouts when he bumped into an old college friend few weeks back.

After all these thoughts, he finally composed himself and sent the message. He didn’t get a reply, although her status showed online. He waited for few minutes. No reply yet. He thought maybe she would have lost his number and chose not to reply to an unknown number. She is nice, he thought. He wanted to send a message with his name next, maybe, after a few minutes. Meanwhile, the boredom made him to browse through the contacts to read their respective status again. It was by then he noticed her updated status – which was still reflecting the sadness in her.

He didn’t want to wait anymore. He started typing the usual pleasantry words with his name this time. Before he could send it, he got a message from her.

It read, “Hey…”

“Wow, is she messaging a stranger?” he wondered.

Before he could respond, the next message popped, “How are you? It’s been ages.”

Ha, this is good. This is so freaking good. She remembers you, buddy, his inner voice echoed.

“I’m doing well. How about you?” he replied.

“I’m good….,” her words were direct, but he knew she didn’t mean it.

“Good? Then what’s the sad smiley for?”

“It’s just the mood swings.”

“Oh… is it? It’s Friday. You should actually be happy,” he messaged as he was already rejoicing the fact that it was a Friday night. Given where she was, he knew it was only Friday morning for her, but Friday is Friday anyway.

“Well, yeah. I should be. :)”

“Hmmm…” He didn’t know what else to send.

“It’s changed now…. I mean the status,” she replied.

He browsed back to the contacts list to check her status. It read something in Hindi. He is kind of mein-thoda-thoda-maalum-hai kind. He almost read all the words, but couldn’t get the complete meaning of it. He felt bad for not learning Hindi when he had a chance. He thought he should have listened to his mom’s repeated requests to learn Hindi when he was a kid. His mom even tried the trick of insult by quoting his sister who had been a Hindi prodigy by then. Nothing worked. It was just the age that he seldom cared about the advantages of learning Hindi. Had he known that he would miss out on girls just because of this language, he would have mastered it.

“Hmm… I see it. That’s great, but I didn’t understand it,” he decided to lose his dignity this time.

“Oh, actually it means, weekend is here; so is the happiness,” she replied.

“See, so you have a reason to be happy :),” he tried to go on with the topic, as he couldn’t find any other at that moment to extend the conversation.

“Yeah, but I’m not at home anyway,” she sounded homesick.

“Oh, so you are feeling homesick, aren’t you?”

“Yes, very much.”

“Go watch a movie tomorrow. You will feel better. That’s my remedy when I’m down. It always works for me,” he texted back.

“I have the dance class on weekends. So I enjoy the weekends.”

He was excited on seeing the words, “dance class”, and wanted to enquire about it. He thought that he had got something to chat about, but it lasted only for a few seconds.

He got another message that read, “Bye for now. It’s my cooking time.”

“Sorry, you carry on. Have a nice day,” he responded.

“You don’t have to be sorry. I just said that it’s my cooking time,” she replied back, almost immediately.

“Alright.” He ended the conversation.

He couldn’t come out of the conversation. He felt bad for her. He did wish that he was with her to make her feel okay by doing whatever it took.

He couldn’t lie on his bed anymore. He went out for a walk. That’s what he normally did whenever he had to calm his mind. Immersed in his thoughts, he left his mobile at his home.

When he came back, the first thing he did was to check for any notifications. None other than a couple from NDTV app was there. He then opened her chat window. The last seen time showed that she was active in WhatsApp five minutes back. Why didn’t she message him thenDidn’t she want to chat with him anymore? he wondered.

He checked her status again. It was changed. The same Hindi words remained, but the text, “Missing you Mom and Papa,” was appended to it.

“Hey… still feeling home sick?” he messaged her. He knew it was lame to ask within few hours since their last conversation, but he felt he had to.

“Hmmm…. Nothing changed my mood,” she replied. Though the content made him feel sorry for her, the fact that she replied instantly made him happy.

He didn’t want to seem desperate. He replied, “Just saw your status… And, thought of checking on you. Not intruding or something.”

“Cool, no problem.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be in office by now?”

“Yes, I am, but I took the option of working from home as I wasn’t in a good mood since morning,” she replied.

He had heard from his IT friends about the work-from-home option, and how people actually work when choosing work-from-home, if by chance they do in the first place.

“Don’t you hang out with your friends? I mean, that would keep you from being home sick, right?”

“Yes, I do, but both my roommates have gone to India for vacation,” she replied.

“That’s unfortunate for you. So being alone makes you feel homesick?”

“Hmmm…” she replied blatantly.

“Weren’t you in hostel when you did your college?” he asked though he knew the answer.

“Yes, I was. Don’t you know that, huh?”

“I do know, but was just wondering how come you are feeling homesick still? Being in hostel makes the difference, you see,” he replied.

“Yeah, but still I’m not used to it.”

“Hmmm…”

“Even I went to one of my colleagues’ home yesterday evening to spend some time with his wife and kids. It didn’t help either. I will meet them again today. Hope that changes my mood,” she elaborated.

He wanted to change the conversation for the fact that he didn’t want her to feel any sadder by digging into the same topic.

“Hey, I guess I’m holding you from your work. You carry on,” that’s the best he could come up with, hoping she would say that what it is like when anyone works from home.

“Okay, bye. Have a good night. Sleep well,” she replied.

That reply wasn’t what he had expected before he sent his message.

He remembered the words he told his friend sometime back – “Don’t complain about missing out on things. Enjoy them as long as they last.” It applied to his situation then.

He tried to sleep, but he couldn’t. Few hours later he messaged her again, “Hi… how are you feeling now, better?”

“Hmmm, somewhat normal,” came the reply.

“Feel better. Or just try to,” he replied.

“Hmmm… the thing is that there are other things going weird in my life.”

“Is it? What happened? Is it something that can be shared? Feel free to share it with me,” he asked even though he knew that she wouldn’t. They weren’t that close after all.

“Sorry, but I can’t share it right now. I’m not at all stable.” Her response wasn’t a surprise for him. Who would share something intense with someone who is more of a stranger, he thought.

A sad smiley followed her last message. It only made him feel bad for her again. He desperately wanted to make her feel better. He thought of the ways. All he could come up with was to make her share whatever that’s bothering her because there is nothing better than to talk your worries through with someone who would hear you patiently and comfort you in the best possible way.

Oh, okay. That’s fine, he wanted to send, but that wasn’t fine at all. So he deleted the text and sent, “Oh, I don’t want to compel you, but just so you know, you can message me if you want to, anytime, if that makes you feel better.”

“Hmmm, thanks,” she sent while he continued typing.

“Is it work-related or personal?” he asked wanting to figure things out himself.

“Personal,” she replied. Nothing more.

“I know that you don’t know me personally. I can understand that. And frankly, I don’t know if I’m right in messaging you to check on you, but I felt like I should. It’s up to you to share what you want to. I’m sorry again if I’m crossing my line,” he sent.

He sent it not only because she was someone whom he knew, even if it was for a short while and a long time ago, but also because he was a person who feels he should do something when someone is not feeling good.

“No, no. It’s okay. I know you are just asking me to make me feel normal. But I’m going through a phase which I can’t share,” she replied. It made him wonder what she was going through.

“Oh, okay then. I can’t ask you again.”

No response from her, for the next five minutes. Was she offended? He has to do something, he thought.

“You know what, whatever phase you are in, it will pass,” he messaged again.

Then came the reply, “yeah, that’s true, but it will take a long time.”

It was a reply to provoke his desperation, again. He felt that he had to know the reason, somehow, before she ended the conversation. He thought deep and decided to go ahead with what he thought was the best thing to do, what people call as give and take policy.

“I’m in a bad phase myself. In fact, that’s the reason I care about people whom I know…. When they aren’t alright,” he started, “I only wish there is nothing serious.”

“Not that serious and all,” she seemed to care less to answer.

“Okay, I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but I repeat, if you want to share something, feel free to share with me. You can trust me.”

He didn’t know why he used the word trust then, but he meant what he said.

“Sure, I will do if I feel like sharing. Thanks again for your care.”

For some reason, he felt she wanted to end the conversation. Maybe because he himself wanted to as he was disappointed that the so called give and take policy didn’t work out. In fact it wasn’t even played at all. He expected her to ask about his problems, but she didn’t.

He slept.

He woke up few hours later. The first thing he did was to check his mobile. There was one WhatsApp notification. It was from her. It was half an hour after he had slept. Will she be available now to respond if he messaged? he thought. She will; she is working from home anyway. he said to himself and smiled.

Her message read, “You are also having a personal problem?”

“Yeah, some issues. But I’m okay, I guess,” he replied to her message.

After few minutes, my mobile flashed. It was her, “Are you awake at this time?”

“Yeah, couldn’t sleep. So woke up few minutes back,” he replied and prayed to God that she shouldn’t end the conversation again by saying something like “Go to sleep” or “Sleep well. Good night”.

“Is it? Don’t worry about anything. Everything will be alright.”

“Hope so. Listen, do you have any siblings?” he wanted to extend the conversation. It was obvious.

“Yes, an elder brother.”

“Had bf?” he asked without realizing it was lunchtime for her already.

“No. You think so?” she replied.

What, he thought before realizing what she meant.

“Ha, I meant breakfast. But it’s good to know otherwise too.”

“Ah, you fooled me,” she replied. He could sense her disappointment.

“No, no. That wasn’t my intention. Sorry. However, to answer your question, I actually thought so. I was even thinking that the problem you are going through is related to it.”

“No… No… That’s not my problem. I’m a good girl of my Mom and Papa. So I never thought about these things. And don’t say sorry, again and again.”

“That’s so great of you. I appreciate that. No offense to others, but it’s hard to see this kind of a girl these days. I mean not many worry about their parents,” he replied with great enthusiasm because he really liked that about her.

“Thank You. I don’t like going against my parents’ decision and telling lies, you know.”

He just sent a thumbs-up smiley as a reply.

“Even I do have the permission to do love-marriage. I mean selecting the life partner of my choice, but the condition is he should be of my caste,” she replied.

He wasn’t expecting that from her. He hated the caste concept. The words, coming from her, hurt him. He didn’t reply for a couple of minutes until he got her next message.

“Everyone things about society and about what others think.”

“That’s not good. I hate this caste concept, totally. I’m just saying what I feel. Don’t mistake me,” he tried to play it safe.

“Yeah, I know. But there is a generation gap, you see.”

“I agree.” He didn’t actually.

“You can’t change anyone’s mentality,” she replied.

That’s bulls**t. You actually can. All we have to do is to make an attempt to change the people, at least. Otherwise how will anyone change, he thought.

“Hmmm… What to do? That’s how some people are. We can’t blame them too. That’s how they grew up,” he sent, as he tried not to show his disagreement to her.

“Exactly, that’s my point,” she replied. She didn’t know that he didn’t want that to be her point.

He wanted to put his thought in her. So he replied, “My mindset is that we should try to convince our parents if we really like someone whom we trust will be of a good life partner to us even if he or she is from other caste. That’s true love. Isn’t it?”

“Know what, if I want to marry someone from other caste, my parents will accept, but not without compromising their wishes,” she said.

“Of course, they will get compromised, but when they see you lead a happy life, they will feel happy and will be proud of you that you had made a better decision. That’s how I feel,” he replied.

“Hmmm… I have never been in love, but yes, if that was the case, I mean if I had bf, I would have convinced my parents somehow.” Her reply made him happy. He grew much more respect for her. He was dealing with the right kind of a girl, he thought.

“Hmmm….”

“Arranged marriage is risky, I think,” she said.

“Maybe, yes. You never know. Considering the divorce rate these days, it’s kind of scary too.”

“Well, yes. I’m already scared.”

“Reading and hearing some unpleasant things about the divorce cases everyday made me a better person. I made myself clear and strong that I should never behave like those idiotic guys.”

“That’s great. :)”

“One of my close friends who knows me well once told me that I will a better husband. She knows how much I respect women,” he said on the flow. He later realized that it seemed self-praising.

“Sometimes, I feel that meeting a person once or twice and then deciding to get married to him or her is really not good. In fact, I’m advising my cousins to select a life partner of their choice because I know how it feels if you don’t know much about a person whom you will spend rest of your whole life with.” Her words were unarguably appropriate. He almost saw her speak for him. He had never heard a girl say these things until then.

“Did your parents start looking for a guy for you?” he messaged her and got a message almost at the same second. It read, “Are your parents searching a girl for you?”

“Co-incidence,” he messaged.

“Yes, it is. And yes, they have started,” she replied.

“Know what, even I was thinking of marrying someone I fall in love with. I didn’t want to marry any random girl. I wanted to meet someone, get to know her completely and then fall in love and marry her, but…” he decided to take a break. Unfortunately, before he deleted the text, he had hit send by mistake.

He became restless. He planted this part of the discussion as a part of the give and take policy, but that was when he knew it would make her trust him and share what’s bothering her. In the past few messages, it had become evident that no matter what, she wouldn’t bulge. At least he would have kept his secret safe with him.

“But what?”

“Nothing.”

“Come on. Tell me. Is this something related to your problem?” she asked promptly. No wonder, people say Girls are smart when need be.

He didn’t want to do to her what she did to him. So he gave up and sent, “… but it didn’t work out.”

“Didn’t work out in the sense, were you in love?” she asked.

“Yes,” he didn’t find any word to continue further.

“Is she from our college? What happened?” she sounded desperate now.

“Nothing happened actually. Two years back, when I joined the journalism course, I met a girl in my class. We were together for several months. We studied together, researched together, went out together. We almost did everything together. We had this connection between us. I was awestruck by her smartness. The way she carried herself, the way she composed herself during the tough times, it made me fall for her. Maybe I was selfish. I thought she would make me a better person. I wanted her in my life. When I felt I was in love with her, I didn’t think about anything. I just decided to propose to her without any delay. When I proposed, she became a different person altogether. She rejected me giving the caste difference as the reason. It was a shock for me to hear her say those words. It was devastating. We didn’t talk afterwards. We hardly saw each other.”

“I’m sorry to hear this.”

“Hmmm… It’s not the rejection that hurts me till date, but the reason she gave me. My God, it’s obnoxious.”

“You shouldn’t pay importance to this. You should probably hate her for that. It might help you get over her easily,” she tried to make him feel better.

“I can’t hate her. I simply can’t. In fact, I’m happy that she was honest and said what she felt rather than giving some lame excuses. I respect her for that.”

“Hmmm…. You are something,” she replied.

He didn’t understand when she meant by that. He seldom cared.

“Whatever, that’s the problem I have. The thing is I’m getting better these days. You know what, it’s good that it happened soon. Imagine me developing my love for her for many years only to get disappointed at the end. It would have killed me, like, literally.”

“That’s true. You are lucky that way.”

“Yes, I am. And I’m sure I will get over her sooner or later.”

‘It is good to hear that.”

“Sorry to bore you with my story. I don’t know why, but I felt like sharing. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for listening,” he messaged back.

“No, I’m glad you opened up to me. I’m always there to make my friends feel better,” she replied without realizing how glad he would be if she had opened up to him when he asked. He didn’t fail to notice the word “friends” in her message. Did she mean him as a friend or was it a generic statement, he wondered.

“Thanks. That’s how I am too. Whenever I feel someone is not fine, I will try my maximum to make him or her feel better. That’s the reason I messaged today when I saw your status, even though we had hardly spoken before.”

“Hmmm… I understand.”

“Okay, I don’t want to hold you for more time. I will leave you to your work now.”

“He he… There is nothing much to do. I’m working from home, remember?”

“Hmmm,” he used the usual filler as he didn’t know what to say next.

“Okay, don’t worry about anything now. Sleep well.”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Good Night.”

“Thanks. You have a good day.”

“Thanks, bye.”

The conversation ended. It was 3:42 am for him. He couldn’t sleep anyway. Their conversation lingered in his mind for long. He read their conversation again and again for many times until he fell asleep around 5:00 am or so.

The next day as soon as he woke up, he checked his mobile. There were 121 new messages in WhatsApp, but all were from different groups that he was a part of. Nothing was from her.

Few days passed. She changed her status several times, and he kept reading them. Every day he was hoping that she would message him at least to check on him. She didn’t. Meanwhile he read the conversation they had the other night whenever he thought of her, which was quite a few times a day. To be honest, he didn’t want her to message him to enquire about him; rather he wanted her to message him so that he could use it as a chance to enquire about her. Her words, “going through a phase” and “other things going weird in my life” made him worry about her.

The more he read their conversation, the more he liked her. He liked her for the person she was. He desperately wanted to get to know more about her. He decided to wait patiently for her to message him so that he could build the conversation to know her. Surprisingly, she didn’t.

Five-ten years back, if you had wanted to get to know about someone, you would have to be friends with him or her. Or you would either have to spend some quality time with him or her, or you would have to ask directly to him or her. It’s not the same anymore. You have Google. The smarter you are with the keywords, the more information you can get on your screen. Nothing much is required.

He was smart. He googled her with the necessary keywords. He came across a document that had some information about her life during the training period. Most of the information was in Hindi – not in Hindi-Hindi, but in English-Hindi (like kaam karte ho bhi yaa nahi…). It made him to rue his mistake, time and again, of not learning Hindi. Nevertheless, he got Google Translate. He navigated between English to Hindi and then from Hindi to English tabs, and somehow, got something out of it. From what he had got, he found her to be caring, sensitive, and smart. He liked her for that.

After knowing more about her, he didn’t want to rely on her message. He just wanted to message her. He started typing, “Hey, I happened to stumble upon your training scrapbook. It was interesting. I came to know how you were then. It made me to like you. I like you from what I know about you until now, but I want to know more about you. Shall we be friends? I mean real friends who share things and are constantly in touch with each other. Let’s see how it turns out. I’m just saying. If you aren’t interested, then it’s fine with me too. The thing is if I know you more, I might fall in love with you, and I’m also sure that if you know me, you might too. Well, when I say this, I also realize that it’s not only the caste, but also the language that would be a problem. But from what I know, I can confidently say that we could sort these things out. What do you say?”

But he didn’t send it. He was nervous. What if she reacts angrily and feels bad for what he had to say, he thought. The whole whatever they had would break into pieces. That moment he just felt content with the outcome of the conversation they had the other night. He felt happy that at least the conversation led him to know more about her as a person, even though if that’s only a little of what he wanted. He felt that the time he spent the other night with her was simply great and something to be cherished. He, deep down, had this gut feeling that if she had felt something, she would eventually message him one day or the other. He decided to wait with the hope that it wouldn’t merely end as a one-night-chat-with-her.

“Never give up on your guts. It’s what that takes you to the places you couldn’t even dream of reaching,” he remembered the words he once read.