Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Blue Dolphin

Wrapped in love, they wandered through the aisles of the mall, experiencing togetherness. Like the lovelorn couple in the eighties, who would wander aimlessly through shopping streets, admiring, giggling and in general having fun.

While he looked to the right, where electronics flaunted themselves with the pseudo promise of a hassle free life, she looked left. Arranged in delightful rows were soft toys of all colours, shapes and kinds. So far content with holding his hand, she now let it go, to momentarily pamper the child in her.

She picked up quite a shapeless blue dolphin and rubbed her cheek against the soft fur. It felt so wonderful. She eyed the dolphin with longing and was reluctant to let go of it.

“Charming the dolphins are you?” he said coming up behind her.

She smiled at him. Secretly she wished he would sense the unspoken desire to possess the dolphin. But moments ticked by and her desire threatened to remain a ‘forever’ secret.

It was the 21st century after all and a more direct approach best suited the situation. She nudged him playfully and said, “He is so cute, ain’t he?”

He had picked up a brown teddy bear from a nearby rack and was eyeing it with the curiosity mowgli had reserved for Radha. He put the bear down and shrugged his shoulders, “What do you find so cute about balls of cotton wrapped in Turkish towels? Beats me!”

That definitely did end the discussion. There was no way he was ever going to gift her a soft toy. She sighed inaudibly and put the dolphin down with a last pat. Wines and chocolate he definitely had a taste for, but soft toys? That would have to be another story altogether.

--

She had woken up that morning feeling out of focus and in a mood to war with the entire world. She had snapped at the maid, her early morning conversation with her mother had spiraled hopelessly out of control and she had lost her temper there too. When he had wanted to hug her good morning, she had cold shouldered him and walked away.

She had been snapping at his heel, right till the moment he exited for work. He hadn’t said one word. She had had a sleepless night and he had claimed he understood. But that didn’t make things alright. They just made them worse. For now she felt like the worst woman under the sun.

She plonked on the chair and willed her pain to go away. Finally, she burst into tears for she had done what she hated doing the most. She had hurt the very people who were trying to show they cared. She cried some more, without knowing why. But it felt nice to feel the tears on her cheeks.
The doorbell pealed. Given her state of mind her first reaction was to get irked at the unwanted interference. She mentally berated herself and went to answer the door. A prettily wrapped colourful package awaited her.

There was no sender mentioned. Curiously she picked it up and even as she walked back in, her finger tugged at the wrappings. She looked at her gift and was overwhelmed. Unknowingly, the tears cascaded down once again.

For hours she lay cuddled in bed, hugging her gift to her heart. The Blue Dolphin.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nine Years

Nine years is a really long time. But she hadn’t changed. Of course she had put on a little more weight, her curves more visible now. But that’s because she had grown from a child to a woman. Even her lips were fuller, more sensuous, more inviting. He was mesmerized by their movement as they chased each other to form words.

But nothing about her had changed. Though he had traveled the world over, though he had visited his family in the bricked structure called home, this is where he felt he belonged. Right here, hidden in the shadows of the tree, watching her from this comfortable distance, this is where he belonged.

She was just eighteen and he wanted to marry her. He was certain if he had asked her then, she would willingly have agreed to. But how much did an eighteen year old know about being married? How much did anyone really ever know about being married? Sounds of her infectious laughter floated to his hears.


He wanted to reach out and run his fingers through her hair; as he had wanted to do those nine years ago when her hair was short, just above her ears. He always felt that they would be like soft dawn, light and soft. But he would never know, because he would never get close enough to her to touch them. He saw the man beside her turn around with a smile on his face.

Had he made her laugh?

He watched as the other man’s eyes lingered on her laughter filled face. She was still laughing as she rested her head on his shoulder. His arm circled her shoulders and caressed her arms. Still, smiling he kissed her forehead. She looked at him with laughter filled eyes.

In the shadows, he moved. He knew what that look could make you feel. It made you feel like for that one moment, you would conquer a million worlds. Something twisted in his heart, but he did not notice it. He had gotten used to that feeling. Every time he had seen a couple in love, he had thought of her and something in his heart had twisted. It had hurt in the beginning, but now it felt perfect. Almost welcome.

He kissed his fingertips and blew that kiss her way. Would the breeze really carry it to her?

She stirred from his embrace as if something bothered her. The breeze blew a wisp of hair off her cheek. She frowned in confusion and looked towards the shadow. Her beautiful eyes squinted to discern what lay there. He slinkered further into the dark. He did not want to be noticed.

The man by her side rubbed her shoulders and frowned down at her with concern. She shook her head, to clear some imaginary confusion and smiled prettily at him. He watched as love wrapped itself once again around her, like it always had. He turned his back on her and left.

Maybe he could see her again after another nine years.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is this the end?

Despite the many pitfalls which make the journey called life a little uncomfortable at times, we still keep going. Why? It’s definitely not for want of choices. Perhaps, it is because along with pitfalls it also has some really refreshing and surprising pit stops. If at one point life estranges someone who had once been a very important part of your world, at one corner it introduces you to a stranger who will soon become the very reason for your existence.

If life showers a torrent of tears, it perhaps has already planned for someone to wipe them with silken handkerchiefs. And if it brutally tears up your dreams into a million shreds, it also gives you the strength to hope. Such is life.

And equally obvious is the fact that in the early hours of a lazy morning, to a sleep deprived mind, overworked with rampant thoughts; the above statements sound profound and drawn from the depths of philosophy. They become larger than life. As they were doing right now with Shikha. She had no idea why or how these thoughts had made their way to her mind and neither did she know why they were busy cat walking down the ramps of her excited mind.

The internet had revealed that Shaina Singh and Shaina Kulshreshtha were indeed one and the same. There was no mention of Shaina Kulshreshtha, but Shaina insisted she was Shaina Kulshreshtha. And there really was no reason to not believe her. Lav and Chris insisted there was no Shaina Kulshreshtha. And then the mysterious Akshay Singh was indeed married to Shaina too! Was it legal in London to have two husbands?

Was it really possible to love two entirely different men, equally much? Did one man compensate for the shortcomings of the other? And what if both of them still didn’t quite live up to the requisites? Then do you go ahead and love a third? She shook her head to clear it off all the cobwebs of unnecessary thought.

Her entire pondering over the Lav-Shaina-Akshay-Chris complexity was unnecessary, a tiny voice nagged her. But try as she might she could not let them be. For some reason, on which she could not quite place a finger; she knew she wanted the truth. And for the same reason she knew that the truth mattered.

Confrontation, she had learned from experience was a double edged sword. You could either draw someone into a confession or push him further away into some dark recessed where reaching out to him would be almost impossible. But given the intricacies of the current predicament, she decided she was running out of the choice of a proper course. Confrontation, it would have to be.

She once again toyed with her cell phone, as if giving herself that one last opportunity to back out. She would be treated like the proverbial plague, thanks to this one phone call. People would run at the mere mention of her name and all her calls would be returned unanswered. Were the answers to her never-ending questions worth all this?

In response, she dialed Lav’s number. It was five in the morning. As the phone threatened to not be answered, she found her mind wandering once again. Would he be with Shaina right now? Is that why he was not answering the phone? Would he be asleep from a drunken night? Where was he?

“Shikha?” He asked, startling her.

“Hey!” She said feeling stupid now that the call had finally connected.

“You do realize its like five in the morning and anybody would consider this to be an indecent time for a casual call?” He said not sounding one bit sleepy and every bit irritated.

“Whatever makes you think my call is casual?” She retorted. She heard him laugh that rich laugh once again and almost felt the tension dissipate through the invisible phone lines. “It is about Shaina,” she hurried wanting to make the most of his good mood.

“What about her?” He mumbled and she could picture him trying to light a cigarette, while talking to her.

“Well, I have been playing the detective. I met her for lunch and then well, she said she was married to you. But then on the internet she exists as Shaina Singh, Akshay Singh’s wife! So I am all a little confused.” She said all this without the slightest trace of any emotion lacing her voice.

He was silent for a while. Perhaps blowing out contemplative smoke. “Ok,” he finally said, “ I will satiate your curiosity, if you answer one of my questions very honestly. Deal?”

She did not believe he was making this so easy for her. “Deal!” she breathed on an excited whisper.

“Why?” he asked, “are all these questions, which have nothing to do with you, keeping you awake all night?”

It was her turn to be silent. How long had she been avoiding this very question? Did she really know the answer even now? “I don’t know.” She finally said.

“I asked for an honest answer Shikha,” he replied. “If you really want honest answers to all your questions, you need to be honest with your answer to my question.”

“OK,” she said vaguely forming an answer in her mind. “ About a couple of years ago, I thought they didn’t make men better than you. Then suddenly you mysteriously married Shaina. I was there at the wedding. Perhaps I was a little heartbroken too. You know how it is. And then you show up as a prospective match for Raina, about a year later. Well, its all a little confusing. You see, then it means you did not marry Shaina that night after all! Which could mean… well…. A million things!”

He was silent once again. Shikha wanted to kick herself for choosing this moment to do some deep soul confession to herself. She was preparing some sort of an apology when she heard him mumble something.

“Sorry?” she pardoned herself.

“I said,” he said a little above a whisper, “ Shaina is married to me, but only in her mind. This one is a little complicated. Akshay and Shaina were married. Are married. Their car was involved in the crazy car accident. Both of them were hurt. Akshay spent three months in the ICU. But Shaina, suffered a blow to the head and she sort of lost her memory. She did not remember being married to Akshay. But she remembered the three of us hanging out together. Seeing me the first person by her hospital bed, when she opened her eyes and seeing her wedding ring, she concluded that she was married to me. The doctors said her condition was still critical and they were not sure how well she could or would handle a shock. It was healthier to let her believe what she did. Akshay meanwhile recovered and now we are trying to jog her memories by doing things Akshay and she normally did when they were together. Like getting married. Like dining out. The idea is that something triggers her sleeping memory and when she turns to seek the familiar Akshay and finds me instead. Voila! Mission accomplished!”

Shikha was dumbstruck. She would have never guessed the magnanimity of the situation. She had completely misunderstood the ties which bound these four individuals as friends. She was touched by the extent of sacrifice they were willing to make, just to set things right .

“So,” said Lav in a trance like voice, “do you still think they don’t make men better than me?’

“What?”

“Well, just trying my luck! Because I think they definitely do not make women any more exasperating, cumbersome or loveable than you Ms. Shikha!” He laughed. A deep rumble which made her toes tingle. “Sleep well!”