Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friends

He: Big bash at Ivo’s, wanna come?

She: Sorry?

He: Thursday?? New years eve? Ring a bell??

She : oh! Yes! I mean no! As in yes of course 31st night and blah, but no thanks- for the Ivo’s bit…

He: it’ll be fun! Karen’s gonna be there

She: Karen who?

He: Karen? The item number queen? She’s the star attraction

She: good for you!

He: And that useless dud of mass Akshay

She: wow! Some star studded event!

He: Tempted?

She: got other plans

He: really?

She: yeah. A private bonfire party at a friend’s. Lotsa booze, sad men. Should be fun.

He: Great! Happy New Year! wont call. Networks are jammed anyways

She: lol! You too!


He signed of the chat window and stared at the monitor. He shook his head and smiled. He touched the couple entry pass to Ivo lying in his breast pocket. His smile widened. Getting a pass to the new years bas at Ivo’s was no small deal. There were limited passes meant for the who’s who of the star city. Being at Ivo’s guaranteed a page three appearance. “I am partying at Ivo’s, what are you doing?” should ideally be his facebook status.

“You want a pass to Ivo’s” his boss had remarked without looking at him. “I have one, but I am not going. Wife wants to take the kids to Jamaica!”

His heart beat so fast that, he could imagine his shirt flutter with its vibrations. “The party does not begin the nine thirty,” his boss was saying. “ The Japanese delegates arrive at noon. I obviously wont be here, so you take care of the meeting?”
He gulped. A meeting with the Japanese delegates meant wining and dining them too. Could he really wrap all of that before nine thirty?

“Besides,” his boss continued, “ since I am taking the week off, I wont be able to work on the presentation. You wouldn’t mind taking care of that too, would you?”

His heart plummeted. He would be stuck in office till midnight till the thirtieth! Did a pass to Ivo’s really mean that much to him? He could always take off to Goa with his friends like every other year.

It would mean something to her. It would mean everything to her. How many times had she raved about celebrating, at least once, at Ivo’s? He had lost count. He even knew that she wanted the black dress from Giovanni’s to wear to the new year bash. Besides, after all that she had been through the past couple of months, she deserved to have at least one dream come true!

So he had gulped and agreed.

And she had equally politely and sweetly turned him down in favour of a bonfire at friend’s!

“Atish!” his colleague called from the other room. “ Dude you had better look at these statistics, they somehow don’t fit!”

He fished the pass from his breast pocket and headed towards the conference room. He poured over the presentation with his colleague and modified some figures. After another grueling two hours, they were ready to call it off. He glanced at his wrist watch. It was two in the morning.

“Joel!” he called to his departing colleague. “You have really messed up some nights working for this, haven’t you?”

Joel shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “I think you deserve this,” he announced as he slipped the pass into Joel’s shirt pocket.

***
She hugged her knees and rested her chin on them. What was he doing right now? Was he thinking of her, like she was of him? Was he busy waltzing with that other woman at some private party? Maybe he was spending some ‘alone time’ with her at his holiday home in the mountains?

Why was she thinking of him? She should have just gone with Atish to Ivo’s. Hadn’t she always wanted to go there? Hadn’t he always promised her that’s where he would take her this new year eve? It would have been so easy for him! Just a call to one of his connections and they would be dancing past the bouncers! Yet it was not him, but Atish who had called with the pass! Why had she refused to go with Atish?

Suddenly she did not like Ivo’s. Overnight she seemed to have developed a distaste for parties and loud music and anything that had ever been common between him and her. All those cocktail evenings which had once held a fascination and which had once introduced her to him, seemed like such a sham. She should have always known that her homemade aloo parathas and her grandmother’s hand-me-down recipe for mirchi ka achaar would be just a refreshing break from his caviars and jalapenos.

Why was she sitting here and sulking about him? She should have really gone somewhere! Anywhere! But she could not bear the thought of bumping into any of his friends and she could not tolerate their sympathetic looks. Hot shot places like Ivo’s was definitely out.

Yet, she was discovering that being alone on her secluded rooftop, with a bottle of fine wine and a small burning candle was turning out to be quite boring. She heard soft footfalls and turned in time to see Atish jump over the small wall which separated her terrace from the neighbour’s.

“What are you doing here?” She asked flabbergasted.

“Well,” he set settling down beside her. “There’s the bonfire,” he laughed pointing to the flickering flame of the burnt out candle, “here’s the booze,” he said picking up the bottle of wine, “all you needed to complete this party was a friend!”

He grinned at her, “Here I am!”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Night Queen

She pulled the shawl tighter around her slender shoulders. Had the temperatures really dropped by a couple of degrees within the past hour? She ought to get up and join the party downstairs. The guests had allegedly come to meet her. Uncanny; how none of them seemed to notice the absence of their hostess.

A tiny star twinkled in the diamond lit sky. She winked back at the mischievous imp and smiled. It felt good to smile. She let her eyes wander aimlessly along the black cloak of magical twilight. If they had not missed her for this long, it was highly unlikely anybody was going to miss her now. She could afford to stay here for a little while longer.

The breeze lifted strands of velvety black hair off her shoulders and merged them with the inky blackness of the night. She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the gentle caresses of her unseen friend. Promptly, the night chill planted feathered kisses on her upturned face.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

Startled she turned in the direction of his voice. How long had he been watching her?

“Excuse me?” She blurted.

“Beautiful,” he explained taking a step closer towards her, “You are beautiful.”

She did not move. Her eyes traced the outlines of his square face. He was not classically handsome, but there was something very compelling about those smoky gray eyes crinkled at the corners in a smile.

“What are you doing here by yourself?” he asked

“I am married!” she said wriggling her ring finger defensively. He laughed. The sound was deep and rich and it floated over enveloping her in its mirth. It sounded like he laughed a lot.

“Congratulations!” he said finally. “Does being married qualify you to stand on the thirtieth floor all by yourself?”

“Sorry?”

“If that’s the qualification criteria, then I confess I am a gate-crasher!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I am single. Happily unmarried, actually. Does that mean I can’t linger on a beautiful night, on a beautiful terrace, with a beautiful albeit married lady?”

“You can do what you please!” she said and wedged her feet into her discarded heels. Closer, he was much taller than her. She was not intimidated, she was excited about meeting this stranger. That itself was a scary conclusion. She craved the added inches her heel would provide.

“Leaving?” he asked, his eyes never quite leaving her.

She just shrugged, unsure of whether she really wanted to leave. He watched her as she fastened the straps of her heels around her elegant ankles. Would she leave? She squared her shoulders and looked over her back at the artificially lit cityscape.

She stood there for a long undecided moment and then smiled tightly at the stranger before heading for the doors. He watched as she glided through the magical night and disappeared out of sight.

Her heels echoed in the empty stairway as she clambered towards her apartment. Nobody had missed her. Music struggled to make its presence felt above the rising decibels of human conversation. People had wandered off in groups and were having random conversations of their own. Her eyes sought her husband.

He was standing near the balcony, his arm lazily draped over the shoulders of his friend’s wife. She said something and he threw his head back and laughed. Their eyes met. He straightened up and then raised his half-filled glass to her in a toast.

She nodded and headed straight out of the apartment. The stranger was leaning on the short wall of the rooftop and staring into the night. He must’ve heard her arrive for he turned towards her. He leaned back on his elbows and smiled lazily.

“Welcome back,” he teased her




Sunday, November 8, 2009

CROSSWORD

He streteched his legs and rested them on the wall of the balcony. A golden winter dust filtered through the dense foliage of the old tree and formed an elegant pattern on his black track pants. He squinted at the pattern. His eyes focused on the tiny specks of illuminated dust while his mind sought to sort out the various thoughts raging inside his mind.
It did not feel like a Sunday.
He felt as tired as on any regular day. Last night had barely brought him any sleep. His mind felt battered and worn out. He seemed unable to shake off the cruel shackles of work. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He did not want to think about work.
He missed her.
He missed her nonsensical chatter. He missed the way her lips would curl in a mischievous smile. He missed the way she would rest her elbows on the pillow and narrate yet another wonderful brainstorm, passion lighting her eyes with an excited glow. He missed the way she would feel in his arms; seeking comfort in his protective embrace and parting a calm of her own. It was so very easy to forget all about stress and strain and drown himself in her magical world.
He shook his head in attempt to shake off the despair which hung heavy about him. His ears picked up the muffled footsteps of his household help as he ushered in tray loaded with warm tea and breakfast onto the balcony. He watched in amazement as the boy lifted a steaming mug of coffee and placed it beside his chai.
"Coffee?" he asked frowning.
"Madam arrived last night," the boy informed him. "She did not want to disturb you so she slept in the guest room. She said she would have breakfast with you."
She was here?!
As if on cue she appeared in the doorway. He smiled at her. He loved the way she looked in the mornings. Her tossled curls framed her face in an adroable disarray. She wriggled her toes and lifted one elegant hand to rub the sleep off her eyes. She leafed through the scattered newspapers and picked up the page she was looking for.
She sat on his lap and snuggled into his chest. All despairing thoughts scattered into the faint cold breeze and floated away to some far away place. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on her forehead. She spread the paper before her and picked up a pen from the table.
He sat there, content to be staring at her while she frowned at the paper and chewed on the back of her pen. She looked up confusion clouding her intoxicating eyes.
"A three letter word for perfect?"
"YOU"

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Holy Grail

"And thus, we conclude that the hyperbolic cosine of the angle subtended by an arc on the center of a sphere is directly proportional to..."droned the professor in his typical monotonous drawl.

The boy, however, was least interested in spheres and the trigonometrical properties of their arcs. His thoughts were, as the intelligent reader would have correctly assumed, were somewhere far removed from the world of SL Loney and Co.

They, which is used here to refer to his thoughts, were on a piece of paper. A particular piece of paper, to be precise. To be more precise, the piece of paper he had found perched on his desk when he, regular as Swiss clockwork, walked into the classroom before any other of his colleagues.

The boy was honest to himself and so he admitted, again to himself, that he was surprised. The reason for his initial surprise was clear as the beaming sunshine to him. He could think of no one else in his class who could have taken effort enough to come to the class before him. But that was the least of his surprises.

He was surprised that someone could take so much effort as to put on paper those alphabets, those symbols which he had been pining for, so long a time now. But most of all, he was surprised that someone could do such a thing (referring again to the particular piece of paper mentioned earlier) inspite of his somewhat consciously self created image as the biggest snob ever seen this side of outer space. He was surprised to see that in spite of not even acknowledging even the existence of anyone outside his select coterie of so-called friends, there would be someone who would actually care for him so much, who would like him so much as to send him this particular piece of paper.

If the intelligent reader gets the impression that the boy was surprised, he is correct. That is the precise impression intended to be conveyed.

However, coming back to this piece of paper. As he caressed it and felt its surface, matted and rough on one side and smooth and shiny on the other, he felt a strange tingle of excitement run down his spines. You see, he was not used to tingles, and certainly not used to ones running down the particular portion of his anatomy called spine. So, it was a sensation he had never felt before. For the n th time, as he glanced at the paper, he saw the answer to his unrelenting quest for the preceding two years.

He could not help but smile inwardly as he found on the paper the solution to the only problem in organic chemistry he had not been able to solve: Benzene Chloride, when treated with iodine pentafluoride in alkaline medium at 90 deg centigrade, yields benzene fluoride.



PS: An experimental post. Criticism welcome.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Women are supposed to be genetically endowed with the magical genes of impeccable housekeeping. Or at least the women of her family were thus blessed. She marveled at the way they hustled about their homes all day putting things right. She often wondered where they got these never ending spurts of energy from.

She was always too tired to work at home. She hated dusting the furniture, she hated putting things in their right place and she positively detested spring cleaning. What was the point of digging out years and years of stowed away crap, dusting it and rearranging it? She was not the one to live with memories. She had a life to look forward to for crying out loud!

But yet, here she was, as sure as she knew she would be, dusting off the proverbial dust from photo albums, frames, books which were at least more than a decade old. She sighed as she placed yet another clean album on the increasing pile next to her feet. Why could she not let this be? Being a working wife was taxing enough; did she really have to do this unfailingly year after year? It was as if she expected her dead grandmother to haunt her every night till she cleaned her attic at least once.

She blew the dust off an old square book. Memories of her grandmother always made her smile. She squinted at the cover of the book she was holding. It couldn’t be? Could it? She hurriedly relieved the book of the layers of dust. Sprawled across the cover was her barely legible handwriting declaring ‘Private and Confidential’. She had even solemnly signed off her name in the same scrawny handwriting. How old had she been? Four? Five?

Smiling she flipped the book open. She paused at a picture of her crooked teeth. Scrawled below the picture were her angry words; “I hate my crooked teeth!”

She remembered that day so very well. Sid did not want her to play with him and the rest of the boys. But she wanted to play with Sid. Sid was her best friend, her playmate. If he played; she did. They had fought childishly about it. Vexed Sid had screamed, “You just cannot play ok?”

“Why?” she petulantly demanded

“Because,” Sid thought for a moment, “ You have crooked teeth!”

Dumbfounded she watched him as he bounded off with the rest of the boys. Hurt she had scrambled into her favorite corner pulled out her book and written those angry words.


She ran her hand lovingly over the picture. She ran her tongue over her teeth. Twenty five years later she still had crooked teeth. She laughed softly and flipped the pages.

She paused at “ Everything about me is so wrong!” written under a picture of her wearing spectacles. She sighed.
She had been the first girl in her class to done on the hated glasses. She looked at her younger self staring at her from the faded picture. She was in her seventh grade. She could still see the dirt trail made by her tears.

All her classmates had mocked her. She hated going to school. Once during lunch when everybody was mocking her, she decided she had enough. She stood up and announced, “You are jealous because you don’t have glasses! I think they are pretty cool!”

She turned her back on the entire lot and was ready to stomp her way out of the laughter which was bound to erupt when Sid said, “ I think they are pretty cool too!”

She had scrawled ‘Sid is my bestestestestestestestest friend EVER!’ in a blue crayon in the bottom right of the same page.

That day she had thought they didn’t make friends better than Sid.

Lovingly she flipped further. “I hate my hair!”

Oh she remembered this one only too well. They were in junior college and Sid was dating Thelma. She had been hurt. Not because she was in love with Sid or something, but because now most of Sid’s time was taken up by Thelma.

After months Sid and she had decided to catch a movie together. Thelma tagged along. She was furious. It was supposed to be Sid and her time together! How could he invite Thelma? She had been so furious that she had picked a fight with Sid right in front of Thelma.

“You will understand this better when you have a boyfriend,” Sid explained patiently.

“With hair like that, who would date her?” Thelma had scoffed.

She shut the book with a bang. How she hated that boobolicious bitch! Thank heavens Sid had found the sense to let go of her! He would be living a nightmare right now otherwise!

Was she really still affected that strongly by something which had happened about a decade ago? She smiled and reopened the book.

“My first Date” Of course it was a reaction to Thelma’s outburst.

Kushal. Sweet. Simple. Handsome. Kushal.

They had gone to the new year eve bash together. All of them Thelma, Kushal, Sid and her. Sid had taken the protective brother stance and for once ignored Thelma some.

“Are you sure you like this bloke?” Sid had asked her. She had just shrugged her shoulders. Sid did some shrugging of his own.

Kushal. They were still very good friends. Kushal was the kind of guy you could count on. Ten years and going strong; that said something about their friendship. She wondered if Kushal remembered this day?

“Beautiful Me”

This one was during graduation. She was wearing her usual blue denims and a faded pink tee. Her hair was tied up in a pony tail and her bag hung lazily over one shoulder. She had been fretting all day wondering why she hadn’t been asked to the dance party yet.

“Must be because I am ugly,” she confessed as he watched Sid dribble the ball.

“Rubbish!” Sid declared as he basketed the ball.

“Right,” she responded as she scrambled to her feet. Sid let go off the ball and fidgeted within his bag.

“Will you go to the dance with me?” He asked. She turned to look at him and he clicked this picture.

“Don’t you already have a date?” she asked

“Not yet,” he said as he headed towards her, “ But if you turn me down, I will have to try hard to get one.” Sid had never had to try to get a date.

“You are just being a great friend, thanks,” she replied dejectedly.

He put an arm around her shoulder and forced her to look at the screen of the digital camera he was holding, “Look! Have you really seen something as beautiful as her? I think the most handsome guy in the college deserves to take the most beautiful girl in this world to the dance!”

That’s Sid for you, she thought. He could brighten your world in seconds.

She heard feet scrambling. Seconds later, her husband was squeezing himself through the small attic door.

“How’s the mood?” he asked, knowing how much she hated the task

“Rather good, surprisingly,” she smiled at him fondly.

“What?” he asked confused. “You are supposed to be in a foul mood, all upset at having to do this dreaded chore. And then I surprise with the wine in the fridge and the food ordered in from Jughead’s and you that’s when you think I am the best husband in the entire wide world. Where is my plan going wrong? Oh yes! You are not in a bad mood!”

She snuggled to him and said, “But you are still the best husband in the entire wide world!”

He hugged her to him, “Boy! This is why I married you!” he whispered against her year.

“I thought,” she mumbled hugging her scrapbook a little tighter, “you married me because the most handsome guy in all of India had to marry the most beautiful girl in the world!”

His laughter rumbled beneath her palm which rested on his chest.

“Sid?”

“hmmm”

“Imagine if you were married to Thelma!”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday

She peered at the black sky, piercing its inky nothingness with her tear-rimmed stare. Nothing. No star twinkled, no moon stretched its silver beams, nothing budged the suffocating black. A tear rolled silently down her soft cheek and splattered noiselessly on the back of her hand.

There were going to be no surprises this year. No midnight calls to wish her a ‘happy’ birthday. She could not bear it. She was not happy and she could not pretend to be either. So, she had just switched off her cell phone and shut out the world. She would enjoy the birthday gift Vishal had given her.

An aching heart and a lifetime filled with empty moments.

She sniffed. The cool night breeze tickled her nose. She allowed herself a tiny smile. Maybe she was not as lonely as she felt. Maybe, like the silent breeze caressing her skin, she had company she just hadn’t taken time to notice. What was the point of moping at her window night after night anyway?

She sighed. She seemed to like moping. It was as if every moment that might have been a happy one, she determinedly squashed its essence. Vishal meant the will to breathe life into every dream. Vishal meant the zest to live every second to its fullest. Vishal meant the birth of new ideas and the sweet joy of celebrating their success.

Vishal meant marriage and kids.

Just not hers. He was married! How could he lie to her about it? Why had he lied to her about it? How could she have been so foolish to love him? How could she be foolish enough to love him even now? For if she didn’t love him, there was no reason for the unbearable ache, was there?

She could feel a fresh surge of tears, threatening to overwhelm her. She pushed back from the window. She turned her back on the darkness outside and squinted in the golden yellow light of bedside lamp. Any second now, the clock would strike twelve.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

“Happy Birthday Idiot!” she whispered brokenly to herself.
She jumped with a start when she heard the doorbell. She frowned hard at the door. Had she not specifically told everybody to not disturb her tonight? What was with people and their urge to ignore her wishes?

Well, she would just not open the door. They could wait at her doorstep all night if they wanted.

She climbed into her bed and pulled the duvet over her. She did not sleep though. She rested against the pillows and frowned. The doorbell pealed again. She pouted and frowned at the door again. She was more curious than annoyed.

She did not move however. She was determined not to have her peace shattered by anybody. She stared blankly at a crimson petal painted on the duvet cover. The bell rang loud in the silence. She looked towards the door.

Should she check?

She huffed and crossed her hands over chest. Would it be Vishal?

She almost got out of bed. If it was Vishal, then he deserved to spend the night on her doorstep. There was no way she was going to let Vishal in her house or her life ever again.

There it was again. That was the fourth doorbell.

Unable to contain her curiosity and thinking of a million retorts depending on the person on the other side of the door, she shuffled out of bed.

She swung the door open, before the bell could ring for a fifth time. A delivery boy stood there with a bunch of mixed flowers. Frowning, she accepted them and shut the door. They were not the conventional roses. The roses were orange and there were red tulips, with pink carnations and white daffodils!

She smiled. It was difficult not to be pleased with the colorful array of beauty. She fingered the lace delicately woven between the flowers. They were beautiful! Her finger touched something. An enveloped lay cuddled amidst the edelweiss. Edelweiss!! How pretty!

She picked the envelope and nudged it open. A white folded paper floated to the floor.

Curious she unfolded it:

Impatient Imp!

I knew you would open the door before the fifth bell! You always did!

If you are done wallowing over your married boyfriend, wear that blue dress you look so breathtaking in. I hope you still fit into it after all the depressive eating you have indulged in. But, trust me, you will look breathtaking nevertheless.

While you might be content with spending your life pining after some jerk who never deserved you in the first place, I have better plans with mine. I plan to spend the rest of my life, beginning now, with the one woman I have loved for as long as I can remember. It has taken me twenty five years to write this note.

I loved you when you decided to call your first Barbie ‘Bar – bee’, I loved you when you hated doing math, I loved you when you fell off your cycle and scraped your knee, I loved you when you thought you looked fat in your first cocktail dress! I loved you when you clicked your heels into every male’s heart and I loved you when you chose my best friend as your first date.

I loved you when you loved Vishal.

I love you now, when you don’t love Vishal.

And if you keep reading this note without opening the door, I am going to freeze on your doorstep, because this delivery boy uniform is not really warm!

From me to you!

She laughed and raced back to the door. The delivery boy was standing there leaning against the door frame.

“Happy Birthday!” he smiled lazily at her.

“Incorrigible!” she said with a smile. “Of course you expect me to go weak in the knees and run right into your arms!” she added sarcastically.

He straightened up and frowned, “That sounds perfect!” he said finally.



Friday, September 4, 2009

Haunted

He could see her running. He was gasping for air. His lungs were bursting with the pressure to perform. But he could not give up. He would never give up. He tried to call her name, but all he managed to do was whisper.

Run!

He told himself, though he was already running as fast as he could. She was always a little faster. She was heading towards the cliff. He could hear the angry waters wage a war against the rocks embedded in their midst. She would either drown or hit her against the dead stones. Could she not see the futility of it all?

Did she not care that he was chasing her to stop her?

She stopped then. She turned around to face him. Her eyes widened with surprise as she recognized him. She took a tentative step in his direction. A watery smile split across her face. He smiled back. All would be fine now. Even the ceaseless rains did would not stop him now.

She raised her pale shaking hand towards him to hold. Her eyes grew round with terror, as her cold fingers breezed against his outstretched palm. She looked horrified towards her feet. He followed her gaze. The soft mud beneath her feet was crumbling fast.

With a whoosh, she swept downwards towards the waiting waters.

No! He screamed.

As usual he was alone. Sweat tricked down his forehead into his eyes. He blinked. Once. Twice. Then he let out a long breath.

He had been dreaming again.

It was the same dream for the past five years. Five years of a morbid life without her. It had started a month after her funeral. At first it had seemed so real, that every time he opened his eyes, he almost expected to see her in front of him. By now the dream was a comfort. He sought the dream every single time he collapsed exhausted on his bed.

He missed her so much.

He loved her so much.

His friends and family alike had given up on trying to make him come alive once again. It was as if, when she left, she took him with her, leaving his soulless body in the wake of a nightmare. He did what was expected of him. He went to work, he came back home, he ate, he drank, he slept. He coveted his nightmare. He wept.
If he could feel so much of pain, he had to be alive, right? Then why did people think otherwise?

He turned a picked up the framed photograph of her. He ran a loving finger down the cold glass and then hugged it to his chest and closed his eyes. In his nightmare, he would see her again. He would lose her again. But that agony was worth it, if he got to see her smile that one last time.

Her cold fingers brushed past his. He knew any minute now she would tumble towards the waters and there would be nothing he could do about it. But he would have to try. Maybe if he tried a little harder, things would be different. He ran towards her. His feet slipped on the wet mud and he careened towards the very edge she had toppled off from. He tried to stop his slide.

Did he really want to?

He was almost off the cliff, when a gentle tug stopped him. Curious he looked up. She had beautiful brown eyes; like those velvety ones of a newborn mule. Her face was not beautiful, but attractive. She was smiling at him and holding on to his hand with all her strength. She was trying to haul him back.

He wanted to be hauled back.

Her black hair clung to her heart shaped face, drenched from the very rain, which pattered down his body. He scrambled to his feet. She let go off his hand. He turned to thank her.

But she was gone.

The alarm woke him up. He shook his head, annoyed. This was not what he had been expecting. He loved his old nightmare. Did he know the new girl in his dream? He frowned hard in thought. He could remember her every feature with startling clarity, yet he was certain he had never met her.

He shrugged his shoulder and headed to dress up. Anuj’s sister was getting married and as his childhood friend, he could not disappoint the entire family by not showing up.

The sun was nice and bright. He squinted skywards, but there was not even a hint of rain. So no part of the nightmare was going to come true today. He sighed.

In minutes he was embraced in the noise of celebration. It was noise. Nothing pleasant about it. He hated crowds and he hated attention and hated the sympathy which he saw in the eyes around him the most. He was content the way he was, why could people not let him be?

He headed to the verandah’s to grab some fresh air. He saw her then. She was in the garden with some other people, discussing something. She was exactly the way she had looked in his dream.

Was he hallucinating?

He could not take his eyes off her. Once again he tried to place her. Once again he failed. She shook her head in confusion and looked around. Her eyes alighted upon him. She had the same velvet brown eyes. Her eyes widened fractionally, as if she recognized him. She smiled tentatively, then shook her head and looked away. Did she recognize him?

Anuj caught up with him.

“Who is she?” He asked Anuj.

“Gaurav’s wife,” Anuj replied, “beautiful isn’t she?”

Thick drops of rain pelted from a clear sky, casting a brilliant rainbow against the pale blue.

Yes, beautiful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drenched

Was there a point in carrying the umbrella? Her damp saree clung to her body, in a desperate attempt to avoid the pattering drops. Wet tendrils of brown black hair kissed her neck and forehead. She squinted skywards seeking the elusive sun, knowing she wouldn’t find him there. Her feet, comfortably ensconced in her practical footwear, beat splashes of water in the puddles as she hurried homewards. Once again her eyes skirted the periphery for the remotest signs of an auto.

Her gaze collided with jet black ones. Before she acknowledged him, her heart skipped a beat. Time slithered to a complete halt as memories flooded back to recreate a new moment. She wanted to say something; a million things all together. But words just tripped over themselves inside her head. The torrential rains veiled them from each other, but their eyes did not need the help of vision to know what lay on the other side. Just a blink and all would be lost. She knew that, he knew that.

A pearly droplet landed on her long eyelashes, blurring her vision. But she did not blink.

Somewhere in those recesses of her mind, which were beyond her own reach, she wanted this moment to last forever. She stared as the traffic buzzed in between them, unaware of the storm brewing on the opposite sides of the street. She watched him as he stared back at her.

Her cell phone rang. Without taking his eyes off him, she reached for her phone.

“Mamma?” the three year old crooned. “Gods are really angry, they sent the rains to scare me. When are you coming home?”

She looked away from him and stared at the phone. She looked back to where he was standing. He was still watching her.

“Mamma?”

Which of them were real? She stared from her phone to him and back. A tiny tear mixed with the rain and beat a hot path down her cheek. She put the phone back to her ear.

“I’ll be home in ten minutes baby!” she consoled her frightened daughter.

On cue an auto stopped right in front of her. She hurried into the backseat, lest she be tempted to glance back and be captured by that black gaze forever. She threw her head back and let the silent tears cascade down her cheeks. How she missed him!!!

She had missed him all these years. Yet, she had never known how to find her way back to him. What was he doing in her town? Why had he come after all these years to ruffle her peace. He would have to know how it would affect her. Was it his way of exacting revenge?

How could he affect her after all these years? She had married the man she loved, hadn’t she? And her husband loved her back with a crazy passion? Why on earth then, did that rainy moment threaten to haunt her in the days to come?

The auto screeched to a halt in front of the gate. She walked in and hugged her three year old daughter, deriving comfort from her warm body. She was not only married, she was also a mother. She had no business letting a stranger disrupt her life. Only, he wasn’t a stranger. If she closed her eyes, she would in a flash recreate everything about him, as she had known him.

But that was five years ago.

Time did strange things to people. She had changed in these five years. Drastically. They say, marriage does that you. Yet, in that one moment when their eyes had met, his black eyes had cut right through her defenses and stared straight at her soul.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Two dots and a curve

Gtalk conversations:

HE: c’mon its just a matter of 2 days!
Sent at 1:50pm on Friday

SHE: I cant stand him for 2 hrs, let alone 2 days
Sent at 1:51pm on Friday

HE: But I promised!
Sent at 1:53pm on Friday

SHE: You didn’t ask me b’fore you promised!
Sent at 1:54pm on Friday

He: C’mon honey just this one time, please ?
Sent at 2:01pm on Friday

SHE: You mean till you goof up the next time?
Sent at 2:02pm on Friday

HE: :* you know that’s why I love you! So he can come?
Sent at 2:03pm on Friday

SHE::)
Sent at 2:26pm on Friday

He thinks: man! So much ado just to have a good ole bud over! But all’s well, she did smile in the end, didn’t she?
She thinks: You will never understand, will you? I bet you thought that smiley meant I was smiling! Men!

SMS saga

From : Him
Date : 03.07.2009
Time : 18:00
Hon, b late. Imp meeting. Fuckin boss. Pls pik him up

From : Her
Date : 03.07.2009
Time: 18:11
Pic hoo?

From : Him
Date : 03.07.2009
Time :18:12
Akash? He comin over, u agreed dis aft remember? Wont b able to pik him up myself. Imp meeting

From : Her
Date : 03.07.2009
Time: 18:14
He really coming? And now I have to pic him? Wt fuk?!

From : Him
Date: 03.07.2009
Time: 18:17
Hon pls. promise wil make it up 2 u. shoppin morrow? My treat!

From : Her
Date : 03.07.2009
Time : 18:30
:)

He thinks: phew! That wasn’t so difficult was it? Maybe just a bit heavy on the pocket tomorrow but what the heck…
She thinks: such an arrogant prick?! Now he wants me to go chauffeuring his buds! Shopping tomorrow? What’s he thinking? Buy me some pink candy? Gawd! Men!!!

Email Bonanza

Date: 04.07.2009
Time : 10:05 am
From : him@rediffmail.com
Subject: Thank you ma love

Hey gorgeous!
You know I hate waking up without you next to me. Do you really have to work today?
Mmmmmuwah! Thanks for being a sport yesterday
- Me

Date: 04.07.2009
Time :10:12 am
From: her @gmail.com
Subject: Re: Thank you ma love
You slept next to Akash last night, how would you wake up beside me?
Yes, I really need to work today.
---
>Hey gorgeous!
>You know I hate waking up without you next to me. Do you really have to work today?
>Mmmmmuwah! Thanks for being a sport yesterday
- Me

Date: 04.07.2009
Time: 10:43 am
From: him@ rediffmail.com
Subject: RE: re: Thank you ma love!
Come on! You know I was just trying be a lil romantic here! Cut this guy some slack! Besides its sexy weather and ma babes not even on gtalk? What if I flirt with someone else?
---
>You slept next to Akash last night, how would you wake up beside me?
>Yes, I really need to work today.
---
>Hey gorgeous!
>You know I hate waking up without you next to me. Do you really have to work today?
>Mmmmmuwah! Thanks for being a sport yesterday
- Me

Date: 04.07.2009
Time: 11:03 am
From : her @gmail.com
Subject: re: re: re: Thanks ma love!
:)
--
>Come on! You know I was just trying be a lil romantic here! Cut this guy some slack! Besides its sexy
>weather and ma babes not even on gtalk? What if I flirt with someone else?
---
>You slept next to Akash last night, how would you wake up beside me?
>Yes, I really need to work today.
---
>Hey gorgeous!
>You know I hate waking up without you next to me. Do you really have to work today?
>Mmmmmuwah! Thanks for being a sport yesterday
- Me

He thinks : Crap! Say hello to another ‘wooing Saturday’! What’s with women really?
She thinks: Flirt with other women? Really? See if I care?!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why?

“ … Why, is such an inconsequential question! Why would a parent do something like this? Why do bad things happen? Why are children across the globe being mistreated? You want me to make a list of Whys? It would run so long, it could guarantee a draught hit continent as life-time supply of toilet rolls!” He took a much-needed pause. He looked down into his folded hands, shook his head to erase the troubled frown creasing his handsome forehead, took in a deep breath as if breathing in fresh thoughts and continued, “This is not another movie, aiming to shred block-buster charts. It is a movie which will rip your soul from your body, slam it around till it’s battered, and shove it right where it belongs. So if you are not looking for that moment, which will turn your life upside down, if you are not looking for that moment, beyond which life can never be the same again, then you had better sit at home and twiddle your fingers across the remote control, flicking through brainless emotions, which register but don’t matter.”

“Papa!” Kayla said pointing one finger at the screen and cuddling closer to her. She smiled at her nine year old daughter and kissed her mop of unruly black hair. “Yes, sweetheart, Papa!” she assured.

She pulled her daughter on to her lap and shifted focus back to the screen. Joshua had been very passionately involved in the making of this film. It was a film about a small girl, who tries to escape from her abusive father and how society and circumstances keep pushing her back to him. When he had told her the script, she had cried. She had tiptoed to Kayla’s room and kissed her fragile sleeping form. The world was a brutal place to bring the child in.

“Who is she?” Kayla asked pointing to the star kid of the film.

“She is acting in Papa’s film,” she explained to her daughter.

“Do you think she is pretty?” Kayla asked a small frown appearing on her baby forehead.

She laughed, “Yes, I think she is very pretty! But not as pretty as you!”

“Does daddy find her pretty?” She asked looking straight into her eyes. She senses the jealousy underlying this question of her nine-year old. She smiled worriedly. She had heard daughters being possessive about their fathers. But something about the way Kayla asked the question, was making her very uncomfortable.

“I don’t know,” she said, “Maybe you can ask Papa when he comes back?”

This seemed to satisfy Kayla for the moment. She leaned back into her and continued watching the interview. She switched off the television and told Kayla it was time for bed. After tucking her neatly in, she kissed her goodnight.

“Will Papa come to kiss me goodnight?” Kayla asked as she made to leave.

“Of course, sweetheart he will!” she answered as she moved to turn off the light.
“Mommy…” she asked hesitantly, “does Papa kiss you goodnight too?”

She laughed and hugged her daughter to her. “Sometimes,” she answered as honestly as she could.

“Do you like it?” Kayla asked.

She frowned and pulled back and looked questioningly at Kayla. Kayla snuggled under her blanket and pulled her bunny close to her in a tight hug.

“I sometimes don’t like it when he kisses me goodnight,” she whispered. “It hurts.”

With her heart thudding like an avalanche coursing through it, she ran a gentle finger down her daughter’s cheek, “What hurts, honey?”

Kayla said nothing for a moment. Then as if making up her mind, she peeled off the blanket and raised her night shirt to reveal a redness between her thighs.

She stopped breathing. Her eyes welled with tears, but she did not dare to think. “What happened baby?” she asked as she ran a soothing hand over the sore spot.

“When Papa comes to kiss goodnight, he hurts me, he says it’s all a part of the goodnight kiss. He told me at first it hurts, but later on you get used to it. “ Kayla said self-consciously pulling her night shirt down.

She clasped one hand to her mouth. She didn’t want to sob in front of Kayla. She tucked the blanket around Kayla, willing the tears back into her eyes.

“It’s ok baby,” she whispered, “Papa wont kiss you goodnight after tonight. He wont hurt you.”

“Promise?” she asked innocently pulling her bunny close to her once again.

“Promise!” She whispered brokenly.

She turned off the lights and headed downstairs. She heard his car as it rumbled up the driveway. She walked into the living room.

He saw her sitting by the fireplace, waiting his arrival. It had been a terrific interview! The audience was waiting for their hearts to weep. His performance had moved even a couple of the journalists to tears! Now that was acting.

He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. She had been crying too.

“Was it the interview?” he asked. She nodded. He knew it had been a terrific interview.

“Kayla slept?” he asked pouring himself some whiskey from the decanter.

She nodded again. He gulped his drink in one swig and poured out some more.

“The movie is going to be a roaring success!” he told her with glee. “the audience is hugging their children closer to them, to scared to trust their own partners! That’s the power of flawless acting. Mistrust has crept into every relation…”

He cleared his throat, something was irritating him. The room began to spin in front of his eyes. He shook his head to clear it. Was he going too fast with the drinks? He coughed and sputtered some blood. He looked at her for help.

She remained seated by the fireplace staring at him. He began to grasp for air. She remain unmoved. Through the thickening haze, he saw with startling clarity that she had poisoned his drink.

As he cluttered to the floor all he managed to get past his lips was a choked… “Why?”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coffee

She put the book down on her lap and leaned he forehead against the cool rain-washed window. Rivulets of crystal blue water criss-crossed on the glassy panes, forming a million dreamy patterns. She pulled the baby blue blanket further up and tucked it below her chin. Rains, she thought, were incomplete without coffee. As if reading her thoughts, a rain-mixed coffee smell drifted to her nostrils. She smiled. She remembered a conversation etched long ago in the golden folds of unforgettable memories.

He was sitting facing her, fidgeting with the paper napkins on the table. She watched his tanned hands strike a contrast against the snowy white tissues. She watched his strong fingers first fold, then unfold those tissues. Was he nervous? She wondered. Or maybe he found her boring enough to kill time folding tissues…

The waiter arrived with their coffees. She watched the frothy bubbles of her latte pop soundlessly in the white barista cup. She leaned in a bit closer and smelled the coffee and wriggled her nose.

“I take it, you don’t like the barista coffee much,” he said amusement lurking in his brown-black eyes.

“No! Its not that!” she hastened to assure him, lest he terminate this date prematurely.

He smiled and raised on brow in question. Oh he could simply melt her insides with the simplest of gestures, couldn’t he?

She sighed and confessed, “Its more like the on-the-move coffee, you know.. something you pick up in a hurry to get the caffeine kick?”

“Ok,” he said at length, clearly lost with her explanation. “And you don’t drink coffee for the caffeine kick?”

“Not always….” She admitted. “You see there are moments which demand the savory-coffee. You know? Moments like these? When you want everything to be just perfect! The perfect moment, the perfect atmosphere, the perfect guy on a perfect date..” she blushed feeling hot at being so blatant.

He smiled, blushing a little himself.

“You see?” she continued with her explanations, “moments like these deserve the perfect coffee. The perfect blend, which makes you go mmmmmm in response. The perfect proportions… unfortunately, you must make the perfect coffee yourself…”

She smiled at the memory as she watched the rain. This was one of those perfect moments which oh-so called for the perfect coffee. But she didn’t want to get up and make some herself.

“Coffee?” he said as he handed over a mug brimming with the hot beverage.

Startled, she looked up at him and smiled. She folded her hands around the coffee mug, drinking in its warmth and sniffed the wafting vapors.

mmmmmmm…. Perfect!

He lifted the book off her lap, tucked the blanket beneath her feet and sat himself opposite her. Together they stared out at the rains.

mmmmmmmm… Perfect!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

lonesome tonight

It wasn’t yet night, nor did it have the lustrous charm of a sensuous evening. It was that time of the day when you feel at odds with yourself. Afloat in the vast confusions of complex relationships, you desperately search for an anchor. He hated this time of the day. He hated being alone.

He sighed and threw his head back. People always told him solutions were always directly proportional to the complexity of the problem. It is just that blinded by trouble on tends to lose focus and the solution blurs out. He loosened his tie and leaned his elbows on his knees. He watched the lush green carpet run in deep green lines under the bed. Why does one feel lonely?
He should just pick up the phone and dial a couple of numbers. In no time he would be heading out to a spirit enriched late night fiasco. But he did not want to go. He just wanted to sit here and feel lonely. He rubbed his temples with his fingers.

“Hey,” she whispered, “Long day huh?” She sat on the bed beside him and draped her arms around his neck. He smiled at her. She smiled back and rested her head on his shoulder.

Why did he never hear her arrive? It was almost as if she always tiptoed on him, sneaking upon him, surprising him, spying on his private thoughts. He wanted to undo her clasp on his neck and put some distance between their bodies. He watched her slender thighs, snug in her denims touching his trouser clad one. At one point, this sight would have led to different thoughts and a totally different outcome. Now he just felt repulsed.

What had changed?

Had he?

Had she?

“Coffee?” She asked sitting up straight and stretching her slender frame.

“Sure!” he said grasping the first excuse to put some distance between them.

“Great! So you make some while I freshen up a bit, “ she said as she rose. She took two steps away from him, stopped and looked back. Then she threw her head back and laughed. Once upon a time he would want to sell himself to be able to keep that laugh there forever. Today he just wanted her to shut up.

She walked back to him, snuggled on his lap and kissed his nose. “Kidding! Why don’t you freshen up while I get the coffee going?”

He looked at her and nodded. This was the loving domesticity he had craved for all his life. All his life he had wanted to come home to love. Yet now when his dream was staring him in his face, all he felt was… empty.

She kissed his nose once again. He wriggled it, as if trying to shake her kiss away. She giggled at the gesture and the slid of his lap. He breathed a little easier. He watched her retreating back and then made an attempt to get off the bed himself.

His cell phone buzzed. He looked at and looked at the door through which his wife had just disappeared. He answered the phone. He smiled. It was her.

“Miss you,” she said.

“Hmmm”

“Why cant you come home to me?” she asked

“Hmmm” he replied

“I am wearing only a red tie,” she teased. He smiled wider.

“Do you want some sandwich to go with the coffee” his wife’s muffled question floated in through the door.

Before he could answer, she whispered through the earpiece, “Bunk the coffee and sandwiches you can have champagne and me instead.”

“Hullo?” His wife called out again.

“Sandwich is fine!” he screamed back irritated.

“Why don’t I call you back in a bit?” he whispered into the phone.

“Sure,” she said, “enjoy the coffee.”

He hung up and stared at the phone. He had no idea how long he had been staring. His reverie was interrupted by his wife. She was sneaking on him again.

Lonely. That’s how he felt right now. Very very lonely.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Same Time. Same Place.

Heavy gray clouds blanketed the pink summer skies, but they could not steal the warm tingling feeling which the rays left in their wake. A strong wind blew swirls of dust into the eyes of the disillusioned pedestrians, making them quicken their pace. A storm was brewing, and true to their instincts, no wise human being wanted any part of it.

He stopped at the glass door and turned his back on the wind blown chaos. Once inside, he would have to weather a different kind of storm. A storm he both feared and welcomed. It would be the same as it would have been for the last fifteen years.

She would sit at the same table; she would sip the same brand of wine. She would wear yet another shade of blue and once again she would sit there without uttering a single word, till it was time to get up and leave.

Like he had for the past fifteen years, he would sit right behind her, three tables away. He would watch her elegant fingers wrap and unwrap around the stem of her glass. He remembered that gesture so well. She would always do that when she was mad at him and was struggling hard to reign in her ebbing temper.

“It’s safer for the world, if only one of us were angry at a time,” she would kid him; hours after their fights had blown over.

He missed her so much, it was unbearable. Yet, he would bear it through the four seasons spread across the three hundred and sixty four days, to endure the sweet torture of just watching her from this sacred distance, today. Once again, he would toy with the idea of approaching her, for a million times in every second. Once again echoes of the past would chain him to his chair.

Her screams would deafen him to the voice of the speaker. Memories once again clouded his vision as he traveled fifteen years back in time.

“He is not answering the phone!” she half screamed at him. He understood she was not really screaming at him. She was annoyed about feeling helpless.

“Its ok, honey,” he reasoned with her, “look his breathing is stable. We don’t want to jump the gun and raise false alarms, do we?”

“False alarms?” She hissed at him, hen took a deep breath and ran a trembling hand through her ruffled hair. She sat next to their four month old baby and placed a gentle hand on his chest. Tears flooded her eyes and she looked away.

“His temperature is still rising,” she whispered, still not looking at him. “Please call the doctor, he’s your friend after all!”

“Ok,” he said, “ Let’s check his temperature once again. If its high, I promise I will shake the doc out of his sleep. But if all’s well, we meet him in the morning, ok?”

When she still seemed reluctant he pointed out, “ Morning’s only four hours away!”

They recorded his temperature to be a decent ninety nine. While it was not normal, it was not something to panic about. He breathed a sigh of relief. Both of them had not slept in three days. Doctor’s could not figure out what was wrong with their four month old baby, but they promised they were trying their best. She would not last an hour without her son and he would not last a second without her. He would kill himself before he let anything happen to their son.

“He is shivering!” she tugged at his arm in an alarmed whisper.

That was it. He rushed her and their baby to the car and headed to the hospital. While she hugged their son to her and sniffed soothing words in his deaf ears, he called doctor after doctor telling them he would be at the hospital in five minutes.

They were five minutes too late.

For a week after that she did not speak a word. The mourners had come and gone. The house loomed large like an over decked cemetery. There were no signs of life. Two dead bodies, he and her, floated endlessly between the walls.

On the eighth day, she was standing outside the door, with her packed bags stashed in the boot of the waiting taxi.

“You killed my baby,” she said and closed the door upon him.

Today, after fifteen years, those doors still remained shut. He watched her as she stood up and walked towards the exit; the ghosts of a painful past embracing her graceful gait.

“See you soon,” he whispered and raised a silent toast in the direction of the doorway she had just departed from. “same time, same place… next year.”

*****

She shook her head in an attempt to shake away the pain. It was futile.

She knew he was there. Like always she had sensed his presence the minute he had walked in. She knew he sat somewhere behind her. She was always afraid to look.

Would he be alone?

Would he be with someone?

God! If he was with someone, she would never be able to bear it. She still loved with him with every aching memory.

She regretted every word of what she had said that fateful morning. She wished she knew how to say sorry. She wished he didnt hate her. But he had to. Else why would he come here, year after year, and not talk to her. Not once, in the past fifteen years.

She squared her shoulders. She would not think about it. She was grateful to him that he loved their son enough to come once every year to attend the annual meet of the charity organization, they had put together in his honour. It was something she had always respected and loved about him – his sense of responsibility.

She watched as the gray clouds parted without a hint of rain. Dots of crimson colored a pale sky. Soon it would be sunny and unbearably hot. But right now? Right now everything was just perfect.

She would be with him again. Soon. Same time. Same place. Next year.




Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wedding invitation

“I am sorry, but if he is not coming, then I am not getting married,” she said her arms crossed over her chest and her face sporting her most indignant expression. Her mother opened her mouth to counter this decision but was silenced with, “The decision’s final. I am hearing nothing more about it.”

“This is ridiculous!” her father fumed and hurled the newspaper on the floor. “What do you mean by there is no wedding without him? You get married in two days! What’s the point of this tantrum? Look around! You are not four anymore!”

“Exactly Pa!” She said her stance getting more defiant. “I am not four. And this is my wedding. So I get a say in who’s invited and who’s not!”

“Invited?!” her father repeated disbelievingly. “Of course he is not ‘invited.’ He is not even welcome.”

When she did not react to his statement, he prodded, “You hear me girl?”

“Loud and clear,” she said with controlled fury. “Then I am not getting married. Simple” She countered looking him straight in the eye.

“What rubbish? What utter rubbish? Do you want marry Kunal or Veeru?” her father blasted.

“Why don’t we all calm down,” her mother interrupted afraid what her daughter might throw as an answer.

“Why don’t you call Kunal and speak to him?” She asked her daughter, “see what he has to say?”

“Its not his decision to make!” She said flinging her hands in the air. She could not understand why her parents were being so adamant about something they knew meant so much to her.

“Call him! You are about to get married to him! For heaven’s sake at least know what he has to say!” Her father said settling down on the couch once again, secure in the knowledge that he would have his future son-in-law’s unconditional support.

“Fine” she said looking from her father to her mother and back to her father. “But what he has to say, changes nothing about how I feel about all of this. I want Veeru here.”

She fetched her cell phone from her denim pocket and dialed Kunal’s number.

“Hey gorgeous!” Kunal screamed in her ear. “Can I call you in fifteen?”

She could hear massive chaos in the background, almost fifteen people seemed to be hushing each other at one time.

“Where are you?” she asked curiosity momentarily winning over the ‘veeru battle’.

“Oh…err.. ummm…,” she heard a lot of prodding at the back and knew she wasn’t going to get a truthful answer, “Out with friends, you know?” he laughed nervously.

There was more background noise. Scampering feet, ‘idiot’ being hissed from clenched teeth, ‘ouch’ and ‘aws’ and ‘hang the fuck up!’

“Honey, cant I really call you in fifteen?” Kunal almost pleaded.

“Actually not.” She said extremely curious about what her future husband was currently up to. “I need one question answered now.”

“Put the phone on speaker!” her father said from over her shoulder. She was first startled and then rolled her eyes at him. She punched the loudspeaker button.

The room was filled with weird sounds, mixed with muttered curses.

“Sweety,” Kunal’s voice echoed in the hall, “do we really have to do this now?”

“Yeah,” she shouted at the phone. She wanted to be sure that Kunal heard every word, “Is Veeru invited to the wedding or not?”

“Veeru what?” Kunal asked in a half-distracted voice. “Why do you want to invite Veeru? Ah hell!! Crap!! Beautiful I have to call you back. Bye.”

Just like that he cut the phone.

“Why do you want to invite Veeru?” her father repeated. “That does not sound like – Oh sure, let Veeru come! I have no objections!”

She slid the phone back into her pocket with a frown. How could Kunal do this? He of all the people understood what having Veeru at the wedding meant to her. How could he then let her down like this? Was marrying him going to turn out to be a mistake after all.

Her father returned to his newspaper with a smile, quite content to accept his daughter’s silence as an acceptance of Veeru’s absence at the wedding.

Her mother looked at her retreating back, as she headed for the stairs leading to her room. She understood, but she would never argue with her father.

The doorbell rang loud in the silence.

Her mother rushed to open it.

“Veeru!” she screamed with pure glee and rushed with open arms towards the door.

“Woof!” he barked with equal glee and rushed towards her, slobbering her with his happy tongue. She put her arms around the massive dog and hugged him tight.

“Surprise!” said Kunal from the door.

She left the dog and hurled her arms around him.

“But you said we don’t need to invite Veeru to the wedding..” she said looking into his eyes with half gratitude and half joy.

“You don’t invite family!” he said tucking a wayward lock behind her ear.

Marrying him wasn’t going to be a mistake after all!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SMS Frenzy

From : Major Rathore
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:30 am
The book is out. Buy. Spread the news

From: Capt. Shivendra Pratap Singh
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:31 am
Yes Sir.

From: Capt. Shivendra Pratap Singh
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:34 am
Major Rathore’s wife’s book is out. Instructions: Buy and spread d word

From: Capt. Raghavan Reddy
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:36 am
Mrs. Major’s book is out. Buy. Ask ever1 to buy.

From: Cdt. Shivkumar Sharma
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:47 am
Major’s wife’s book out. Buy one copy for me too.

From: Rohit
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 5:55am
WTF?! Why r u msging at 6 in the morn! Hit the bed dude!

From: Cdt. Shivkumar Sharma
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 05:58 am
Just spread d news yaar

From: Naina
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 06:07 am
Up so early? Sure will check the book out. What’s it called?

From : Rohit
Date:14.04.2009
Time: 06:15 am
Abbey saale book ka nam toh bataa

From: Cdt. Shivkumar Sharma
Date: 15.04.2009
Time: 06:20 am
Wat’s da nam of da book sir

From: Capt. Raghavan Reddy
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 06:23 am
Sun book ka naam pata hai kya?

From: Capt. Shivendra Pratap Singh
Date: 14.04.2009
Time: 06:25 am
Beg your pardon sir, didn’t catch the name of the book.

From: Major Rathore
Date:14.04.2008
Time: 06:30 am
You took an hour to realize you didn’t know the name of the book, captain?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Excerpts from Knots and No Crosses

Chapter 4 : Flowers and More

....

...As he stood at the florist, eyeing the array of bright flowers, his confusion multiplied. Out of habit, he headed towards the crimson roses. Almost all the women in his life, who had mostly been single, had invariably been flattered when he had presented them with a bouquet of red roses interspersed with a sprinkling of white nameless dots of flowers. They could not stop gushing over the thoughtfulness behind the gesture and always felt a little overwhelmed by this romantic streak in him.

The old lady who owned the store recognised him and stooped to arrange the bouquet he had favoured all along.

“Nein, Danke!” he stopped her with his no thanks.

“Nicht diesesmal!”

Not this time.

He remembered a long discussion he had with Max about a year ago, when he had just met Nati. They had been discussing why red roses were considered as a gesture of undying love or a tribute to romance. Both of them were convinced that it had to do with the colour red, which signified a burning desire or passion or the thrill of an adventure which brings along with it, a sense of danger. It had however nothing to do with the rose itself. They were convinced that there were flowers prettier than the rose, flocking the florists these days. But it had to be red roses, because Shakespeare or Napoleon Bonaparte had created historical romances using a red rose. So for the joy of a romance rich with history, girls still craved red roses, hoping their mere presence, would add a touch of mystical magic to their very urban romances.

After discussing at length and establishing the unshakeable position of red roses as the symbol of romance, it would be churlish to present them to his wife. He was positive, Nati being herself, would swoon over the flowers, but he did not want to offend Max, who would be doing a mental revision of the very same discussion, which had just crossed Akkie’s mind.

Roses were definitely out.

So if not roses, then what? The Red Dahlias looked very pretty sitting there inviting to be picked. While they were not as romantic as the roses, they were also not as expensive. He was visiting them with a very expensive bottle of wine. He really could not team them up with not-so-expensive Dahlias! Though Max would never notice the difference, Nati would sure point it out to him in a post-dinner cosy conversation.

She would snuggle up to him and say, “I don’t know, I don’t think Akkie really has good taste in flowers! Or maybe he was just trying to balance out his pockets!” And she would giggle as if it did not matter.

Akkie could still live with the knowledge that Nati thought he had no sense with flowers, but he could not live thinking that she had classified him as some stingy Indian.

Dahlias wouldn’t do.

He once again included Roses in his thoughts. Maybe Red Roses were out, but he could see a sprinkling of beautiful pink roses. He also noticed that two people had walked in after him, given him curious looks as he stood there eyeing the flowers, made their decisions, had their flowers wrapped and walked out. What did pink roses signify?

Nothing.

Of course, he could make up a million things right there on the spot. But how would he explain them to Nati or Max? And in the absence of his explanations, pink roses looked like a thoughtless act. Like something he picked in a rush to get to their place and hadn’t paused to give much thought to. And he didn’t want to offend the new bride with a thoughtless gift.

Pink roses were out.

He put his hands on his hips and exhaled loudly, causing some of the blossoms closer to him to stir in their long vases. He looked around seeking help, not knowing who would actually be able to help him with this dilemma.

“Need help?” she asked

He turned around to face a complete stranger. Her rosy complexion complemented her jet black eyes, highlighting her Indian origins. Her hair was slightly wind blown and hung in careless curls around her shoulders. She was smiling at him, an open smile which said she genuinely wanted to help.

He glanced quickly at his watch, he didn’t want to be late for dinner, Max was very keen on punctuality. But he didn’t want to miss out on a chance with a conversation with this seemingly beautiful Indian in the strange city of Munich.

“Getting late?” she enquired still with a smile, noting his gesture.

“I need to pick flowers for a two-week-old bride. A good friend’s wife actually,” he said welcoming both her conversation and her help.

“Ah! And red roses are too romantic, yellow a little confused, pink insignificant, dahlias and gerberas look inexpensive, carnations don’t quite make the mark…” she paused in her speech, cocked her head and looked at him, “How am I doing so far?”

He laughed. Not because he was expected to, but because she really made him laugh.

“I am not sure I know so many flowers,” he confessed, “But you are spot on, on the confusion bit of it.”

She walked him to a section of the store and began plucking some flowers from the vase and grouping them together.

“Pick orchids,” she suggested, “They are beautiful. They are a sign of respect. They say I admire you because you stand out from the rest, just like me. They say I know you are tough, just like me. They say you don’t deserve a mere rose or a lily or something fancy, you deserve something more, something which shows a strength of character. You deserve me.”

She stopped and handed him a very elegant bouquet of blue orchids, laced with a spattering of green and yellow tiny flowers. They did look beautiful. He was mesmerised. He looked from the flowers to her; she was looking at him with an expectant smile.

“They are perfect!” he exclaimed and walked to the counter to have them wrapped. She loitered near the counter, picking some perfectly white lilies and bright orange carnations.

“Do the orchids really signify all that?” He asked still enveloped by the magic of her words.

She laughed, “To me they do. Every flower speaks something to the woman you gift it to. So no matter which flower you pick, it all depends on the woman…”

She moved further away to gather some button roses to add to her collection. On an impulse he picked up a purple orchid from a vase nearby and paid for it. On his way out, he stopped by her side and tapped her shoulder.

Offering that single bulb of purple orchid to her, he said, “This one’s for you!”

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Breaking the Silence

It's not me to be silent, especially for this length of time. Unless and until I have completely and wholeheartedly agreed to say goodbye to blogsville for good. But I could never do that! I could never say goodbye to blogging. I could never say farewell to writing!

So what then, has kept me away from the one thing that I love doing the most?Why, the thing I love doing the most, of course! Sounds a little mad I know. But these past months I have been writing. Actually I have been editing what I had already written in the earlier months. And editing, requires devoted attention.

Why was I editing, you ask?

Because, I am getting my first ever book published!

Yes! You heard me right! Besides being an avid blogger, I am now going to be a published author too!! Isnt that sweet?

And if you have liked what you have been reading here, you must read the book, which hits the stands end of next week!

Does this mean I wont write here anymore?

Of course not!

It means now that I have enough of time on my hands all over again, I am going to be back to writing like always before!


What's the book called? - Knots and No Crosses

Why? - Read the book and you'll know

What's the book about?

The wave of ‘feminism’ has swept over the world and empowered women to shout out from rooftops. They are forever harnessing attention by drawing the mind towards a range of problems starting with PMS, labour pains and now the marital market. The marital market is unfair on the women of today!



Every single time I have read a book about a thirty something single woman warring with the pressures of an Indian prejudiced marital mind set, I have wanted to scream, “STOP!” The marital expectations of an Indian society do not limit themselves to the gender. A thirty four year old male.could also be labeled a ‘thirty something single man’ vexed with his family for goading him into marrying.



So I decided to write about it. I decided to write about, how when it comes to relationships and weddings, life really isn’t all that simple for anybody, male or female. I decided to start with writing about a wedding.


Sneak Peek

"The woman he had no intentions of loving, but who he did love, hopelessly. The woman he had no intentions of dating, but had ended up committing himself to. The woman who had always been four years older than him, but realized it only when she was about to hit London for a PG course.
The woman who had gotten into the car without looking back once, as he stood there on the empty streets outside the institute nursing a broken heart.
Patty, the woman who was today married to some investment banker and a mother of a four year old, who had somehow heard of his wedding and had decided to message him.
She sure deserved an invite."


Akkie’s relationships have followed a trial and error pattern. He finally meets the one woman who completes him. They both plan their ‘dream wedding’, only, the wedding turns out to be anything but a dream! As Akkie, tries to placate his agitated bride three days before their wedding, his past catches up with him, spelling disaster after disaster. The crunching blow, comes when the son of his first ever girlfriend calls Akkie ‘Papa’ in front of a room filled to capacity with the Bride’s family. The wedding gets called off. But Akkie knows, there is no one else for him, but her…



Hope you enjoy reading the book, much more than I enjoyed writing it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Other Side of Lies

Plop!

Another empty pint bottle hit the water and gently sunk to the depths. Chirag opened another one and quietly handed it to Pradeep. It was the last of the half dozen they picked up on the way to the bridge. It had been a long time since they last came up here. They sat on the edge, legs dangling over the edge, watching the sun set over the river.

"You know", Pradeep started, "getting married was my idea. I don't even know if she really wanted to marry me. I mean apart from just getting married which all of them want to do."

"when they reach that particular age," interjected Chirag.

"At that particular age, precisely, I just don't know if she wanted to get married to me in particular. There was Duleep also. They are still friends you know. I think she spends more time talking to him than me!"

"Well you have been busy…"

"Only because we want to move in to a pent house! I am glad where we are. Of course everybody wants to live in a bigger space but it's not like I really want to, it's her" Pradeep moaned. The chill in the air combined with the beer was taking effect.

"And then there is the… thingy," Chirag carefully approached.

"yeah… The thingy. It's not like it's bad. It's good, not great, but good. Of course after the baby and all, I don't really expect it to be like the old days. Phew! We had some crazy… thingy those days. Of course we have special days that we plan."

"you have scheduled… thingy?"

"Don't smirk. One day you will be married and god bless you if she will honour the schedule."

"ok ok, calm down now" Chirag laughed.

The sun slipped gently down the horizon. The remaining light was slowly draining out, the sky awash in hues of purple and reds. Soon they will get up and head back home. It was time to broach the topic before darkness fell.

"So you cheated on her?" said Chirag, staring intently at the water. A slight hiss betrayed his friend, he wasn't expecting the hit.

"Did she tell you?"

"No"

"I don't know why I did it. Yeah, it was sex. But that just wasn't it."

A silence separated them. A man weighted down by his deeds and the other with a emptiness within. They sat there with the darkness enveloping them. From somewhere the sounds of traffic drifted up.

"So now what?" said Chirag.

"I don't know. I wish she would forgive me. I wish she will take me back."

"No wishing you hadn't done it?"

"Oh yeah that too" Pradeep added. "But how did you find out about this?"

"I slept with Kirti last night" said Chirag, "I overheard her speaking to Kash in the morning."

"Finally it happened, didn't I tell you she wanted you! So how was it?"

"Fantastic! It was the best sex I ever had."

"Really?"

"Would I lie to you?" said Chirag.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Origin of all lies

She was sitting at the breakfast table absent-mindedly stirring her coffee. She was still clad in her jeans from last night. Her black pullover dangled dangerously from the backrest of her chair. Her white shirt was slightly crumpled after a heavy night. Kriti walked in groggily and sat herself on the opposite chair. She grabbed the cereal packet and dumped it in her bowl.

“That bad?!” She asked when Kash still hadnt stopped stirring.

“It all boils down to sex!” She declared vehemently. “I mean if it wasn’t for sex, a couple would not need to lie to each other!” She said hotly.

“Sssh!!” Kriti sushed her. “I got company home last night!” She said poiting towards her bedroom door.

Kash eyed the door, then looked at Kriti and finally took a swig from her coffee mug. Kriti crunched on some of the Muesli and waited for to Kash to resume.

“Think about it.” Kash said shifting her butt on the chair. “If a man, or a woman for that matter, didn’t crave for sex beyond the bed he lies in, he wouldn’t have to lie!”

“Ssssssshhhhhhhh!” Kriti said half rising from her chair. “I got company woman!” she whispered through gritted teeth.

“Ok.” She said calming down. “But last night, Shristi is crying torrents and torrents when Pradeep walks in. Why? She screams at him. Why did you this? Was one bed not good enough for you? And I was like duh! What do you want him to say? Yes, I need like a couple of beds to keep me satified??”

“Hmm” Kriti said crunching thoughtfully.

“And to think,” Kash said getting vexed all over again, “They have been married for five years!”

“Sssssssssssh” Kriti said dropping her spoon on the bed of cereals. “For heaven’s sake woman! I got company!”

“Ok ok!” Kash said cupping her mug in her hands. “But did it take five long years for Pradeep to figure out that Shrishti was as active as a doormat in bed? I mean, I had that figured out when she announced that after her first baby, she would rather not have sex! Ever!”

“Woman!” Kriti hissed dangerously. “if you don’t shut up, I will gag you and you will have to write on paper all that you’ve got say! I got company for crying out loud!”

“Sorry,” Kash said in a much calmer tone. “When she asks Pradeep, what have you been upto with her? What does she want him to say? Playing patty cakes?! Arrgh! Dumb woman! “

Kriti was back to munching Muesli. “Are you defending Pradeep?”

“No!” Kash screamed. Kriti glared at her . “ok” she whispered. “No I am not defending Pradeep. I am just saying he lied to her because of sex!”

“Does that justify his lying?” Kriti asked through a crunching mouthful

“No!” She shouted again. “No!” She whispered in response to Kriti’s raised fist. “I am saying had it not been for sex all marriages would be peaceful and there would be no break-ups! Think about it. I mean after a very passionate session, the guy leans back content in bed and has this cat-who-stole-the-cream expression on his face and asks, honey, was I good? What do you want the girl to say? I was actually thinking about the hunky neighbour just so that I wouldn’t get turned off? Or had you lasted five minutes longer I wouldn’t have to fake an orgasm? So what does she do? She lies! She coos and says yes sweety you are the hottest man alive! And imagine, five years later when the hottest man alive gets no action from this woman he has so obviously pleasured, he is confused!”

“Ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh” Kriti said squeezing her own eyes shut for emphasis. “Ok,” She whispered, “I get it! A night with an about-to-be-divorced couple and you are the latest Sex Guru. But for Pete’s sake be quiet! I got company!”

“What company?” Kash retorted annoyed at being sushed everytime. “Fine! So you guys had a rocking time last night. Now get up and get going!”

“It wasn’t all that rocking!” Kriti said still on a whisper. “But he does not need to know that! So will you quiten down? Please?”