As it Happened

whitegown

What’s happening in Sara’s place? I saw flashes of light this morning. Ambulance arrived.

This is something out of my control. I think it is him. He is the one for me. He is the one I was waiting for a long time exclaimed nineteen year old Sara. Yes, you are right! It is Sara that tall, bubbly, dusky … Siddhartha’s ‘Ex girl friend’. “We were strangers until my friend introduced him to me. I experienced that opposites attract is true when I met Siddhartha. We were hi and bye friends before we officially talked for a reason. ” recollects Sara.

Sara: So are you interested in playing this role in my play?

Siddhartha: Yes. Actually I like the script. It’s nice dude. Did you write it?

Sara: (he wasn’t listening to it I know that) Yes it’s mine.

Siddhartha: I need clarification in the climax. Can you please repeat it?

Sara: yeah! See the plot is like you want to go to…

(Siddhartha was just watching her playing with the pen, expressing the story in the best way through her eyes. He saw her passion for theatre. He liked her for the drama queen she had been.)

So you become what you wanted to be. Lights fade… lights off.

Siddhartha: Now I get it. When do we start practice?

Sara: Probably Monday! Okay I got to go.

Siddhartha, he is my first crush. I told you we were opposites. His favourite colour was black, mine was white. He loves and has a dog, I hate dogs. He was an automobile freak. I know nothing about them. He hates Chennai especially its traffic. I love Chennai no matter what people say about it. He doesn’t like the institution we study and as usual we were opposites. I loved the place, the people, the weather, the monsoon rains, the greenery, my department; it’s weird when I recollect saying of course I liked a few subjects. He on the opposite had no friends, made no friends, hardly talked to people and wasted a semester in FIFA, DOTA and GTA. That’s a brief introduction about us.

“Next monday we have internals let’s start at least this Wednesday” I told him over the phone. He said yes but never did. “Sara! It’s me. Hey I want your notes to study for tomorrow’s exam” pleaded a voice over the phone. I had never helped anyone in this situation instead I made them cry for not asking me in advance. But this guy is someone I could never say no to.

I liked him. He even did. I woke him up every morning after a battle of seven- five minutes he asks for before he gets up from bed. Between I get dressed up, skip my breakfast to meet him for a morning coffee and then we went to class. I sit in the third row second column and he at the fifth row third column. I started falling for him. I often made eye contact with him, took all his practical works, records, assignments and made him free so that he talked to me a little longer after college hours. I always put an extra effort towards everything. In particular, studies. “Love always takes you in the path of success and if it doesn’t it’s not love”. I read this quote in Facebook. I wanted to prove that it’s love. So I did.

We now started understanding each other well. I convinced myself to like dogs. I wear black frequently now. I also search about the release of new cars in Google. I have transformed myself to a person whom I never wanted to be. He on the other hand stayed the same. Again we were opposites. I gathered courage and confidence to propose him before he left for his 20th birthday to his hometown. He said yes the next week. Now ours has become an unusual love story with usual stuff in between. The usual long night talks, text messages under the table, frequent lunch dates at canteen, gifts, surprises and fights. But, something in me said it is not going to last long.

I was no longer able to resist being that person he made me. To be precise, I made myself for him. I started realising; apparently thinking that I have changed so much for him. On the other hand he has done nothing for me and this induced that spark of battle in our love. I often quoted this and made every petty issue big. “I never asked you to love me, or change yourself for me. Honestly I don’t love you because you are not the person I loved. It was just a mask” he shouted. He started avoiding me. I tried calling him to meet but, ended up leaving voice messages. My status said “Love stories are written to be felt, not to be read”. His status replied “I hate love stories”. When mine was “What’s more painful than being hurt by the one who loved you the most?” His read “no pain no gain!” Was this intentional? I didn’t know. I always had a smile when I thought of him. This time we are not opposites. He felt the same. His ego stopped him from talking to me. My self-respect asked me not to. And, Time separated us.

‘I saw him with his family recently in the alumni meet and I was talking to his wife. She was beautiful. She has exactly the same ideologies, wishes, aspirations as that of him. She must have been the one for him. They are so perfect together. And now I realise “opposites just attract but only like dissolves in like.” After a hard day of struggle I gained the courage to talk with him. I saw him with his friends. He was coming to me. I smiled. He smiled. Not every smile leads to a happy ending. We shook hands, said bye! And again we became strangers but this time with memories’. She cried.

Yesterday I saw him offering condolences to her family, placing her favourite white gown over her tomb, crying at her funeral. I suddenly noticed that it is the same white gown she is wearing now and my Ouija board burned to ashes.

A Coffee Meeting

wait

“Wake up, Charvi!”, mother called out. 6.30 A.M. Mom’s voice as wakeup call was so much solace rather than the alarm tone that would ring on working mornings at my apartment. It was supposed to be a happy weekend for me at home. I was one another from the corporate world that loved the job she does but awaits weekends to get a break from assignments and projects.

But that was not going to be just another weekend!

There is another very special reason why I awaited this day. I smiled at the sun that was being generous by not throwing strong rays on my face. I wanted to look beautiful today. I did not want to do anything. I was just waiting to hear his voice. Yes! Aayush had said we shall talk today.

It had been a really long time since I caught the light from his beaming eyes, laughed at his simple jokes, held his warm hands and had a walk out on the beach side.

I met him during my third year at college, not even knowing he existed before. We both seemed to be the ‘keep it simple’ kind of people. Extroverts, both. Always analysing life. No wonder we liked each other, that later grew to be a relationship.

I was elated when we both got placed in the same company during campus recruitments. Ended up being offered projects at the same place. My joy knew no bounds! I totally loved having him beside at office. He liked it too. But in due course, I was able to sense that he smiled only because I wanted him to. It shouldn’t go this way for long, I decided.

This was our conversation:

“What is that you are not telling me, Aayush! What is bothering you?”

“This is not what I am Charu, I don’t find any meaning by typing codes all day. It feels like I am living with machines, killing literature. I just want to go away. Find my life!”

That was when I could feel my temples throb. It was hard for me to swallow. But what I cared more for was his life. I wanted him to love whatever he does, like me.

After passing educational and physical fitness exams with really good results, Aayush joined the Army. I have never seen him so full of life since we took our software projects. And now he comes home only during annual vacations.

We all might feel a little insecure about his career. But Aayush felt, to him, this is perfect.

I was waiting at the table for his arrival with a steaming hot coffee by my side. I wanted to etch every moment with him in my mind since our meetings were reduced to countable times a year.

There he was, finally, with that light in his eyes, sturdy build, reassuring smile.

“Hi Charu! Wassup? Looks like you a long conversation with the moon?”

“Yes. Was catching some of its radiance when you weren’t around!”

Our conversations were always unusually interesting.

I felt like he was all that was real, unmindful of what was happening around me. I could feel myself becoming more alive as the conversation built on. It brought me so much happiness to look right at him, sitting opposite to me. We spoke for 2 hours, time didn’t seem to exist.

Soon it was time for him to go. “Bye Charu, Don’t bore the moon and miss me too much.”, “Haha! You take care, fighter”. I wanted to see him until he left the room, the way he would turn to go; his bold, quick walk. But those little hopes were dead as soon as I saw “Call Disconnected” on the Skype window!

Little Drops

Life. Soul. Feeling alive. Love. Movement. These are all emotions within themselves. For someone to feel these emotions for the first time… only imagination can help us wonder the reception of such experiences. There are some feelings which languages can never express. Birth is such. Love is such and death is such. I hadn’t known these as well nor did I ever have the need to. For, how could I when I was nothing but a fluidic embodiment secreted by biological reactions. But something unexpected happened and I rolled out of my flesh jail where I was imprisoned all these years. I felt a pressure that squeezed me through a tiny pore and before I could realise it, I was dangling at the corner of my sac, with a wavering vibe running through me.

The air around was ecstatic, filled with roars and screams. Fireworks had been set off and drums rolled boisterously. Rio de Janeiro stood right in front, throwing its charm all over as I lay there motionless, struck by the enormity of that enchanting beauty. My translucent skin glistened when the focus lights hit me with their new found allurement. It made me flicker and the crowd roared displaying their emotions. The stands were filled with people dressed in all colours imaginable and long poles outlined the entire field. Flags of various countries waved with pride atop these poles but amongst them one particular flag caught my eye. It flew higher than the rest with five rings- three on top and two at the bottom, intertwined with a sense of fraternity and respect for each other and embedded in plain white background. I overflowed with joy which grew enticed by the eyes that focused onto me. I wasn’t sure why nor could my knowledge locate the reason. But my heart had started melting which made a broad smile bloom across my face. Emotions ran unbound and the need to find reason if it had ever crossed my mind earlier, had been long forgotten.

As the wonder of visual enigma combined with glory and pride caused by nothingness started filling me, I sensed something. A sound reverberated through me… a loud and heavy heartbeat with sound of repeated deep breathing. As I turned about, I saw my creator. He was tall and well built, drenched in sweat and I was seeping from the corner of his eye. That is when truth hit me and I realised that I hadn’t been the creation of god but a mere providence of physiological mechanism and human feelings. I was a secretion, the emotional symbolisation of his historic victory. This realisation led to a fall which was very steep from glory to a common congruence accorded with his emotions. My heart started to regret deeply for I had relished a moment that wasn’t mine. But the shame was short lived and I soon recovered, transforming into a content little soul.

He looked around and hanging at the corner of his eye, I watched a world that swept into me taking the form of a sea of emotions. His breathing became predictive but his heart raced at a pace faster than he just had a few moments back. Air whooshed past me as he fell on his knees, the gravity of his achievement unbearable even by his fiery strength. That sudden gush of air made me surpass the comfort of his eyelid and I was hanging on an eyelash, clinging hard to it for if I let go it was imminent death for me. I would splatter into a hundred thousand droplets and get absorbed by the coarse red soil of the running route.

I moved steadily to the eyeward end of his lash and swept down his face. Just then, the sky roared. We both looked up and saw a lightning streak creating beautiful art in the dark sky. The air had turned moist and winds blew past me. He kept looking up with raised hands with his face tilted, sloping parallel to the sky and I enjoyed the view from atop him. Little raindrops started falling and a few people started dancing in the stands, a few smiled looking at the sky and the others kept the roaring on. I slid a little forward, nearer to his nose to get a clear view of the stands and for the first time, he felt my presence. He wiped his cheeks and I climbed on the index finger of his hand that now faced the raining sky.

Little raindrops fell all around me, bursting with enjoyment. For, though they would fall to burst and evade life, their short life was filled with the happiness from that wondrous fall. I kept looking up as I locked my eyes on her. She was tranquility… serene, pure and beautiful. Ah, Heavenly…. That was the one word to define her. True, after all she was heaven’s manifestation. She looked at me and smiled but then ecstasy took over as she fell on me. We rolled into one… fluttering, as we mixed and fell. She blushed and I bubbled with the joy of new love, enticed by each other’s beauty. I was salty and understood pristineness with her touch.

She looked below and insinuated that both our lives and love were about to end. The ground beneath was to destroy everything that was gruelled with such huge efforts. Frightened, I looked at her to see her smile. We hugged and fell as one on the ground in front of his knees and soon the earth took us into her.

Emotions… they sculpted the very few moments of my life. I was the physical reaction to a man’s victory. I had boiled with pride, bathed in glory, ransacked in guilt, understood happiness, fell in love and attained eternity. As I look back, I am not greedy of a few more moments to live. No. I feel fulfillment.

Now, as I look below on the vast green fields which I soar over, I feel alive again. I turn to see her right next to me. The sky turns into a deep blue hue and the air is filled with the noise of roaring winds. As we start to fall, she holds my hand tight and we both start roaring, gleaming and bursting with joy. We have been born again in another place and at another time. Life would end soon but these feelings from our past present and future will stay unruptured by time.

Engineering Accidents

Plane wingThe plane was going down. The angle made a few passengers to strap themselves in. It was not because the flight was landing, destinaiton was hours away. It was not because the pilot was almost dead, there was something wrong with the flight which made it go down and also made the pilot hit his head hard, when he was holding both hands to his chest in pain. The co-pilot was flying it alone, he did not hesitate to check a guide in the open as the pilot won’t see it now. The pilot was unconscious. The co-pilot did not know what was wrong, but he knew what could be. He knew that it could be solved if a person with good knowledge on aeronautics and flight, got ten minutes in the room below his feet. The room with wires and switches.

The problem, and the way to fix it was told to the air-hostess. Sandhya was the cutest air-hostess on earth. Her mother said it, she almost believed it. That was the reason she walked with so much confidence. Dusky, not so short, the perfect lip gloss from her sister, and she liked her uniform. Confidence radiated, so people whom she spoke to replied with clarity even in the crisis. They knew death was waiting but they spoke well.

People were asked questions. The pilot could be treated, but could not be made fit enough to take up the stick again. She found two doctors from the passengers’ list, and they went to work on the pilot. The doctors did not hesitate, ‘let him at least die treated, die healthy’ they thought in sync. So they worked hard, sweat more in work than in fear. Extreme risky measures were taken in the heart operation, and the pilot could now talk in vowels and he was also accepting the fate. The pilot even joked about the situation which the spectators found incomprehensible and very funny. They laughed their hearts out.

The air-hostess also found a pilot trainee. He was taken to the cockpit. He reminded the co-pilot of his wife, when the trainee picked his nose. They worked hard in the cockpit, the trainee was intelligent and calm. There was no interview when he walked in. He sat in the co-pilot’s seat and the co-pilot in the pilot’s. The pilot had requested his headphones to talk with the co-pilot. So the acting pilot also heard the joke, he understood it and laughed artificially. He was also getting there, the region of acceptance. Sandhya had no time to visit the cockpit. He did not need confidence, he had something much better.

Yesterday, his wife had called him intelligent. His daughter wanted to make wax dolls, she was heating paraffin over pan. It got to flames, they poured water, turned off the stove. Nothing stopped the flame. The co-pilot put a lid over it and explained, all that need to be done was to cut oxygen. There he was called intelligent. Morning the wife kissed him bye, and called him a clever husband.

That thought flooded in, he heard his wife’s voice ‘intelligent’ ‘clever’. Too much happiness to handle, the muscles could not help but curve the lips to a permanent smile. That was enough for him to think clear. Also he had the trainee who reminded him of his sweet wife. He did not need Sandhya to walk past or talk confident, like the passengers had needed. He and the trainee found a way to delay the death. The flight was now straight. But there was leaking fuel and no communication. Not a good situation, but death was as far as it was sure. Two hours was good time bought for an almost nose down flight.
Two hours to death. Everyone knew.

It was clearly party time. A couple kissed in front of everyone. They did not even hold hands in the flight till then. A stand-up comedian, whom Sandhya and an old man recognized was requested to perform and he did. A bartender from the list, and all the alcohol and juice from the pantry and the cargo, it became a legit party. The smuggler did not take out the cocaine out of his tummy, he felt that god won’t accept him into heaven if he helped in intoxication, a sin, before death. But Sandhya called him, he was astonished how an air-hostess found what the army of security at the airport missed. He forgot he was a psychology student. He was asked to talk with the children. He accepted to do it, god is going to love him. Doors to heaven inside the man’s head opened wide open when the kids were made to stand around him with ice cream cones in hand.

Every professional, or pursuer of profession had work. They were the best on earth for the couple of hours.
He was watching it all. He was an Aeronautical engineer, the kind which deals with flights and rooms inside flights with wires and switches. He felt guilty for not volunteering to help. Half hour since the technical failure. He had not spoken a word. He had the only unhappy, painful heart in the flight. He overheard the co-pilot talk with the pilot trainee after the flight was put to autopilot and they joined the party. All that needed to be done was to have an appropriate engineer in the room for ten minutes. After that the flight can be made to land in the nearest airport.
His guilt, engineering college ID card and doubt was killing him. The former two teamed up and so he called Sandhya. He was about to accept that he was an engineering final year student. He was ready to take up the responsibility, to try fix the plane. She walked to him, smiling. To the student it looked like she knew what he was about to declare.

“Yes, I know. We have an hour now. I do not want to risk making it short giving you the room.” she said. So she really knew.

It hurt, but did not hurt his ego. He had company of millions. Students who don’t exactly know what they study. His feelings showed on his face. Now Sandhya was hurt.

“Are you single? Men’s college right?” she looked at the ID card which he had waved to call her.
He had replied positive, and also added he had always been.

“I love you. I mean it. You did not fight, but accepted the ignorance, and let people live. I am your girlfriend. If we survive, I will marry you in two years.” She patted him and walked away to the children. There were no parachutes, they were all damaged at the beginning of the problem. Also he cannot just try fix two for a marriage.

It was enough, dying with his love. Which was the initial concern when the problem was announced, dying single. She had been loving and caring. The beautiful glances she gave was enough to prove it. He also began to smile. He plugged in earphones and created a romantic playlist and listened to it. The first playlist on his mobile. He was happy.

Only regret, he was an engineering student. He could have helped in some way had he studied something else, or just gave up the idea of education in an institution after school.

When it was one hour fifty minutes since the announcement, Sandhya sat beside him and held his hands for twenty days. The first eleven minutes of the twenty days they were alive.

MORALS OF THE STORY:

  1. It is not easy to become a doctor. Requires too much marks in schools and lot of money. So the number is less and most of them are good.
  2. Most other professions do not need the kind of dexterity and precision.
  3. An engineer needs the above and more, but there are too many engineers to trust one (many do not trust themselves), especially a student. Not all engineering students become engineers. Actually very less do. Most work in IT, sales, marketing, media and arts.
  4. Everyone knows this but few realize it at the right time.
  5. Take right choices and prevent accidents.

Nothing Will Change, I Promise

Coffee

Another Sunday!

Sleep, eat, roam about lazily, repeat. This, is how my Sundays go, I’m sorry, used to go. Being 25 and unmarried just ruined everything. Sundays became the time for me to converse with strangers for like, half an hour and decide whether to marry them or not. Four such horrible Sundays passed by in three months. This, is the fifth.

“Varshu! Aren’t you ready yet?” That’s Amma’s voice. A worried voice to be exact. Not only her, everybody at home were so worried. Especially, when Amma’s sister’s cousin’s daughter Reshma got married at 23, Appa’s colleague’s daughter Sanjana quit her job to go to the US with her husband and ended up successfully giving birth to a baby boy at 22 and here I am, unmarried with a successful career. Now that, should hurt a lot!

Arranged marriages are complex, already. Horoscopes and the mathematical calculations that decide whether a boy and girl can have a successful and good married life make it even more complicated. Despite the horoscope matches with the four guys I previously met, nothing worked out even in the half hour talk, forget about the rest of life. Arranged marriages don’t give you soulmates, I know that. Just to find a person who is like, tailored for me and not only my horoscope, I am doing this.

“Varshini, listen. Please tell me what you are going to talk to the boy?” When Amma calls me that, it means she is pretty serious. And yes, that question is the outcome of all the fear she has about the way I talk.

“Sorry ma! I’ve told you everything that I feel and everything that has happened to me in life. But this, no. I don’t want to get advises on what to talk to the guy and what not to. So why don’t you just trust your daughter and let her be herself?”

“All these days, I’ve let you be yourself, and the result? You’re still not married while all the girls of your age are with two kids and settled down in life. I don’t even know if you care about us when you talk something to the guy. I’m talking to you! Varshini? Look at her, she is not even responding?” she told my father.

“Till you have this stubbornness, you’re not going to get married at all!”

“Chitra, please let her be! Varshu, I believe in you. Just talk whatever you feel like talking okay? Now go, get the bike key” Appa. Someone who trusts me to the fullest and believes whatever I do will be right.

“Thank you for all the trust that you have in me, pa. Just wait for two minutes, I’ll be right back” I had to actually fight my tears on the way back to my room.

Amma didn’t mean any of those harsh words, I know that, but I had tears filled in my eyes and a sudden rush of negativity.

How can I spend the rest of my life with a person who doesn’t like me the way I am? Am I that terrible a person that nobody will ever like me? I was lost in these thoughts! I had so many questions. I know someone who would have answers to all those questions too. I logged into Skype and waited for Shravan Kumar to come online.

Shravan is my best friend since the time when hormonal changes made us adults, so basically, we know both the child and adult part of each other. Gender has never been a bar for our friendship. He knows me in and out and we share literally everything that happens to each other. We’ve discussed about arranged marriages right when we were teens. He used to ask me “How do you decide whether a person is your life partner in just ten minutes?” I mean, how right he was?!

He came online. “How long should I wait for you?” I shouted.

“Hello! I was ju… Hey wait? Were you crying? What’s the matter, Varsh?”

“Shravan, this is the fifth guy that I’m about to meet. The guys whom I met with before apparently ‘didn’t like me’. Am I that bad a person? Mom says I won’t get married till I change, I don’t know… I am just too low. I’m kind of in a complex that nobody will ever like me. It’s all bleh! Shravu, can you… can you actually come here?”

“Why do you think so much at a time? Varshini, get this straight into your head. You’re the most confident and strong woman I’ve ever met in my life! And YOU are failing to be yourself because of some stranger guys?”

“I don’t know, Shravu! I just hate this phase of my life. It’s ruining me!” tears that I controlled earlier fell mercilessly from my eyes.

“Stop crying now. This is not something that I want to witness over a Skype call sitting several thousand miles away. You shouldn’t let any situation ruin you Varsh. I have seen you face worse crises and you’ve handled them boldly. Just throw everything out of your mind and go meet him as Varshini Raghuram. For now, you are not her.”

“Okay if I be myself, you think this guy will like me?” I asked him like a kid.

“That, we can’t tell. But… ”

“Varshu it’s 5 minutes to raahu kaalam! Can we start now?” I just realised that I kept Appa waiting.

“Okay Shravu, that’s Appa. I will leave now. Can I have a hug?”

“Yea you can. Hugging and supporting you with all my might. Now stay calm and be yourself, don’t forget that!”

“Alright! You go to bed now, don’t stay up too late.”

“Yea, I won’t. You take care and ping me when you’re back! Love you dumbfuck!” and he kissed me good bye. “Love you too! Bye!” Talking to him was like a therapy, I felt so relieved and positive. This asshole should’ve been here with me, I thought as I started yet another journey to find my better half. Whoever invented this word to describe a spouse is such a legend. Appa’s bike stopped.

Okay, I’m in front of Adyar Ananda Bhavan, a restaurant which is usually suggested by my parents (I guess even that was years ago, they in fact come up with suggestions like BBQ Nation and Cream Centre these days) and Harish Rajagopalan has asked me to come here, of all places.

“Varshu, he’ll be waiting for you. Once you finish talking, come back safely in an auto or give me a call”, Appa told. I just wanted to go back home with him right away.

My eyes quickly scanned the entire restaurant to find a face at least little similar to the one they saw in SS matrimony (One can never rely on the photos in matrimony sites, they are always the best possible photographs of the person). I couldn’t see anybody like him so I called Appa and asked him to call Harish and find where he was (Tambrahm has it that the guy and girl shouldn’t exchange numbers before finalising the wedding). Looks like he has been waiting for me in the first floor.

I entered the hall and there I could see him, pretty recognizable. Harish Rajagopalan, height 6 feet 1 inch, weight 75 kilos, Senior Software Developer at Zoho Corporation, Chennai. Above all this, something that is of maximum priority, he is Bharadwaja gothram, Kadaga raasi, Poosa nakshathram.

“Hi! I’m Varshini. Harish?”

“Hey! Hi Varshini! Vaa ukkaaru (Come, have a seat)” That isn’t the way you address a stranger, I thought as he went on. Not judging, though.

“So, how does it feel with all the marriage alliance – seeking and the horoscopes and stuff? Boring isn’t it?” So that’s how you start a conversation? Not judging, again.

“Haha yea” Faked it.

“So Varshini, if I’m right, I’m the fifth guy that you’re seeing for marriage?”

“Uhm, yea?!” I stopped with that, though the voice inside me screamed ‘You have a problem with that?’

“Do you know why the four guys you saw previously rejected you?” That was it. I couldn’t stand more crap of a conversation. I mean, who does he think he is to use the word ‘reject’?

“Well, I don’t know Harish! I don’t want to, but let me guess, those guys might be as narrow-minded and drunk with arrogance as you. I am not jobless to come all the way to a place like this and get ridiculed by a stranger! You know what?! Before you say a word, I’ll just leave! Good bye!”

I entered home intoxicated with anger. “Varshu, why are you home so soon? Did you like him? What happened?” I just brushed all these questions away and stormed into my bedroom.

When I woke up it was 8 in the night! Shravan’s call woke me up! “All the best da” I blabbered in a sleepy voice. “My exam got over an hour back. So what happened in the meeting? Was the guy cool?”

“He’s the most disgusting guy I’ve ever met Shravan. Rude, arrogant, ill-mannered…” I narrated him the entire story.

I was so pissed and there was Shravan trying to ‘draw positivity’ out of this incident. “You know what, I’m really proud of you for being this bold. Before you went, you were all down and after meeting him you’re at least not low, in fact you shed all that complex shit though you are pretty angry. I should thank the guy for that.”

“Yea, right! That’s how you thank someone who insulted your best friend!”

“No. That’s how I thank a guy who made my best friend speak her heart out.” Actually, I didn’t realize that until Shravan told, I did open up, yea.

Appa came in “Varshu, you woke up? Harish called just after you reached home. He apologised to you, seems like he had a really important work and so he had to leave. Only then did I and Amma understand why you came early. Thank god, he called and informed. That’s why I didn’t wake you up!” Okay, I didn’t have the slightest clue of what was happening! Why did he have to lie to my father?

“Sorry pa! I can’t see him again. I’m done with him.”

“But… why kanna? He just apologised for leaving early, no? Are you angry for that? ”

“It’s not that pa…”

“Okay, we will discuss about this once you are done talking in the phone, alright?” He went outside the room saying this.

“There’s nothing to discuss pa!” I shouted at the void behind the open door and continued my phone call “Varsh, what was Appa saying? I heard something like the guy wanted to see you again?”

“Yea, I don’t know why he lied to my dad that he was the one who left. Anyways, I don’t want to see him.”

“Varshini, you should watch out for this guy! I think he is cool and I also feel that you never let him talk. Probably that’s why he wants to see you again. So you know what, you have to meet him again!”

“No way, Shravan! I won’t meet him again.”

“No listen… ”

“You listen! The guys whom I met before, told my parents some stupid reasons after meeting me to avoid the alliance, alright? This guy, isn’t even that courteous. He was so rude, blunt and spoke to me in such an arrogant way.”

“Varsh, hang on. Just recall what you told right now. The fact that this guy is different from all the others came out of your mouth. And you know what, he never said he didn’t like you. Even if he said so, he told it to you at your face directly right? So, isn’t he your type?”

“Don’t try to change my mind-set Shravan. I just don’t want to see him again.”

“Varshini Raghuram, if you don’t have a valid argument against my view, just shut up and listen to what I say at least.”

“No it’s not that… ”

“You’re time is up. You’ve not got a point against Shravan! Accept your defeat and agree to meet that guy. Go and tell Appa, NOW!”

“Fine. Bye”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I’ll go talk to Appa and agree to meet him, alright? Bye” He laughed and I kept the phone down.

I agreed to meet Harish again on Monday after office. This time he asked me to come to KFC, a total contrast of a place!

“Would you like to have something? To eat, to drink?”

“Krushers will do. Thanks”

“Okay I’ll order Hot Wings for me!” Hot Wings… is supposed to be chicken right? Oh my god, apparently the white cross isn’t pure white. He continued talking “I’m sorry, are you still angry?”

“Why do you even bother about all that? Please tell me why you lied to my dad and why you wanted to meet me again.” I was about to utter few more words, but he spoke like a rapid-fire, “Because I like you and I wanted to spend more time with you” Shravan was so right in telling that this guy is outspoken, I thought.

“Wh… What?!” I gasped.

“Yea! Just let me complete what I was about to tell you yesterday, will you?” our order came. “Chicken saapduviya?” (Do you eat chicken?)

“No!”

“Yea so, the question I asked you was to give a good start to the conversation, but I just didn’t use the right words… ”

“Okay, you asked me if I knew why those guys ‘rejected’ me. This, you believed, would’ve given a good start?”

“Yea, I know. I apologise for the word. I just meant if you ever thought why those guys would’ve responded in negative.”

“No I didn’t. In fact, I don’t want to think about all that.”

“Well, even if you don’t want to think about it, I want you to know, so please let me talk…” he continued. “Uhm, my family kind of did some ‘research’ about how you are as a person and all that. So… they were told you are a bold personality, outspoken, talented and everything, but they were also told that you are not a ‘cultured person’, you are quite ‘modern’, and you always hang around with the guys, you know, such stuff.”

“Oh okay, so you say that those guys would have ‘rejected’ me hearing all these? You know what, I really don’t care… I…” I… was interrupted.

“Relax Varshini! Just calm down. Will you please listen to me fully?”

“Why should I listen to what people bitched about me? Huh?”

“Because I want to let you know that I don’t give a fuck to those opinions of people.” I got bowled over by this reply, to be frank.

“What are you saying?”

“I seriously didn’t want to judge you with all these talks. I just wanted to let you know what is going on around you, considering that you might be clueless about what really went wrong with these guys that met you. And that just didn’t go the way I wanted, I’m sorry for that. In fact, I feel if there’s mixed opinion about a woman and there are people who bitch about her like this, she must be someone who follows her heart without giving a damn to what people think about her. Above all this, if you hang around with so many guys as they say, all of them can’t be your boyfriends, right?” he winked. That sentence angered me.

“Oh, so? If I had a boyfriend and I broke up with him, you’d have judged me like the rest of the people?”

“Absolutely no! I’d think that the guy whom you broke up with couldn’t just hold on to a woman like you.”

“A woman like me? How well do you know me to make that statement?”

“Well, I don’t know you much, but I would like to know more about you! Because, I personally feel that you’re an awesome woman already!” I was afraid that I would decide in haste if I stayed a little longer. So I told him some lame reason and rushed home. When Appa and Amma asked, I told I need time to think.

I called Shravan and told every word of the conversation I had with Harish. “See?! I told you he’s not a bad choice. This is why you’ve to listen to me…” he just ranted on. However, I couldn’t come to a conclusion with that meeting. Shravan suggested that I meet him again. But how, this meeting itself is ‘illegal’ according to my relatives and the elders in my family. I can’t ask my parents to meet him once again, so I chose not to tell them.

For the third consecutive day, I met him. He suggested that we walked the talk.

“Look here, Harish… to be frank, I loved the way you spoke yesterday. But, will it be practically possible to implement your views in life? I am even doubtful if they are really your views.”

“You thought I spoke all that to impress you? Well, honestly I was very careful with the tone or the words I chose, I did try to impress you as the first encounter flopped, but what I spoke, the content, it’s something that I truly believe in, yea”

“Harish, all these years, my dad has trusted me and given me the freedom to do whatever I like. I’ve seen girls of my age who had to face a lot of restrictions. My dad was different and yes, I’ve never spoiled his trust. He has been the ideal dad! All I wish for is one thing. I need a truly ‘better’ half! A person who can give me the same freedom my dad gave me and trust me like him. I don’t want anything to change after marriage. I say “Love you” to my best friend Shravan and kiss him good bye whenever I talk to him. I don’t want that to change. My job, the way I be with my parents, friends, I don’t want any of it to change because of a marriage. Varshini Raghuram should live life no different from Varshini R Xyz. Yes, I won’t remove my dad’s initials after marriage, neither will I refuse to add my husband’s name. I want everybody, I need people…“ I kind of spoke everything that I had in mind.

“What are you staring at Harish? I’m done talking!” I said.

“I’m going to tell my parents that I like you. You just think about it and let me know. ”

“What? Harish, you never told me anything about yourself?”

“What do you want to know about me?”

“What sort of a question is this? Tell me what kind of a person you are and what kind of a girl you’re looking for and all that, I don’t know?”

“The girl that I’m looking for is in front of me.” and before he continued, I got a mini heart attack!

“And what do I tell about myself? I love doing what I like and I admire and have huge respect for the people who do what they like. You’d have noticed yesterday, I eat non-vegetarian food despite being a Brahmin. I’ve not hidden this from Appa, Amma but yea, when I go for a meal with them, I don’t eat non-veg as they won’t like it. I’m quite broad-minded… uhm… not a people person, but yea it is not difficult for me to be with people either.” He thought a moment. “What else, I smoke when I’m tensed… that’s actually a rarity and I drink occasionally. I’ve not been in any ‘relationship’ but almost got into one. And yea, I’m a virgin.” He ended, laughing.

Okay, someone please call the ambulance. Varshini has fell!

“Hello? Varshini? You’ve got a problem with anything that I said?”

“Huh? What did you ask?”

“I asked if I told something wrong.”

“No! Not at all… uhm…”

“What are you thinking? I understand, you need time to decide, right? You can’t choose in 25 minutes the person with whom you are supposed to spend more than 25 years of your life. You take your time, Varshini. I can wait. I’ll just tell my mom and dad that I like you. So, if at all this marriage alliance is dropped, I’d be the ‘rejected’ one! Wouldn’t it be cool to reject someone?” He winked at me and bid good bye. It would definitely not be cool or right on my part if I ‘rejected’ such a guy.

Something in me said this shouldn’t be the last time I’m meeting Harish. I gave it a lot of thought and even asked Shravan. He was very happy and excited hearing the way Harish spoke. “Go for it Varsh” he had said. And finally yes, I decided to actually go for it.

There were six whole months between the day his entire family came to see me ‘officially’ and the marriage. Unforgettable days, they were. Roaming around the city, little meet-ups over a cup of roadside tea or paani poori, endless midnight conversations, fights that seemed cooked up just to experience the bliss of reconciliations that followed, and what not. He taught me how to live life, with a child’s innocence and an adult’s maturity.

Thinking of all this, here I am, sitting on Appa’s lap waiting for the holy thread to adorn my neck and he, was standing opposite to me chanting all the mantras. Everybody started gearing up all of a sudden while I just closed my eyes and prayed “Dear God, the smiles, the beauty, the wealth, the kin and kith, all these might not be with the both of us throughout our lives, but let the love stay forever. Not only Harish, his family and friends are all mine too now and I should never disappoint them in anyway. Let us both spread love, more love, again and forever.” With so much optimism, I opened my eyes, they were filled. Harish tied the thaali once around my neck, his sister Shalini tied two more knots and yes, I was married. I told Harish “I love you.” He smiled. He just smiled? “Won’t you say it back?” I asked. “Why should I? Don’t you know it, for you are mine now.” he said. I don’t remember a time I’ve been happier. I looked at Shravu, he was crazily waving at me and giving flying kisses to both of us. And I can’t describe in words how happy our parents were.

I dragged Harish and Shravu and told them “I want a group hug!” They both hugged me in a reflex and Harish told the cutest sentence that a husband can ever say, “Nothing will change, I promise.” That moment will be FRAMED in my heart, forever.

The End.

Alpenglow

It was unbelievably cold. The icy breeze hit my spine like sharp needles trying to penetrate my skin. My legs were so sore that it made me question if I could actually feel them. The wariness in every muscle of my body was so evident. My lungs had grown impatient and refused to do their routine expansion and contraction. I could feel my brain begging so deeply, asking me for just a moment’s rest. Yet my soul burst with happiness and love. I could roar… shout in happiness. I was on top of the world. This time quite so literally I was.

The horizon or more so, everywhere that my tired eyes could expand its vision was pure white. The sound of silence from the valley beneath was deafening. The combined breathing of my trekking team, the gush of ice-cold wind and the sound of my heartbeat saved my ears from blowing up. I sat on the earth beneath that was covered with snow as soft as freshly mowed grass. Staring beyond yonder, at the majestic view, I was overwhelmed with a forlorn dream to fly over this ancient land. A driving urge to gaze over this world from a greater height. Driven by ambition or by mere greed I was not sure. I am a man too after all.

I shouldn’t lie… the surreal thought of being above all, even above the world ran through my mind. I soon shrugged when a hand lay on my shoulder. “Have this” she handed me a bowl of soup and a protein bar. All this was her plan. “Where do you want to go for our honeymoon” I had asked and she had replied “Mt. Everest. Kabir I always have…” she started to explain and I lied “I have too!”. I was… well I am in love with her and would go to any extent just to see her smile. I grabbed the bowl of soup just as she sat next to me. She was as tired as I felt but I had never seen her face glow as it did then.

“Kabir” she called out and as I turned towards her, she kissed me. Our first kiss after marriage. Just as we parted, our guide called out from behind “We have to leave right away”. We both stood up dusted the snow from our jackets. I carried my backpack and we turned to leave. Just then, as I turned to have my last glimpse at that divinity, the sun rose from the skyline and turned everything into a godly orange. The snow reflected that bright orange light and I called out “Nikita” as she turned to see that marvel. She ran towards me and I held her close by her waist. After taking a long deep breath, she whispered “I love you”. I turned to look at her gleaming with joy and smiled. “I love you too”.