Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -4)

Chapter 3

On the day of my last ever cricket match

(Haven’t read the third episode yet? click here to read it)

Past

“My god.! ” exclaimed our coach. That was our second wicket falling in as many balls.

We were in the finals of Wilson’s cup and it was my last ever match playing for our college.

We needed two runs of the last three balls. With ten wickets in hand, we were looking good to romp home the victory. All of a sudden this twist in the tale had arrived. Vincent’s bowler had bowled two successive deadly yorkers to which our batsmen had succumbed.

The dug out saw a sudden drop in energy! In conditions similar to this, I was always the rescuer. Star batsman of my team that I was, the team had always seen me as a safe bet.

Even before the coach could turn to me, I rose from the seat and picked up the bat.

Since it was my last match, I received a guard of honor from my team while walking into the pitch. I rubbed my glove against the pitch, kissed my bat and took the guard. I was emotional.

A handful of the college crowd had already started chanting ‘Sixer.. Sidhu …Sixer..sidhu..!”. I was known for hitting winning sixes and hence the nickname. I was not very fond of it, yet I had to rise my bat and acknowledge the cheer.

The bowler took his run up and I started scouting for right areas to hit the six.

A full length delivery- I would hit him with a front foot loft or a slog sweep, a bouncer- I would hook it, a short ball and I would pull him, a wider short ball and I would slice it to the third man area; calculations had begun.

Chants got intense, and the bowler approached the wicket. It was five seconds before he released the ball and a crazy thought crossed my mind- how about a tied match? A friend of my cousin had done it during his college days and it sounded fun whenever he narrated it with all zeal and zest.

An Empty mind is a Devil’s workshop and mine was its playground.Without a second thought I decided to play a single.

The bowler released the ball and I tapped it towards the mid-on or at least I thought so.

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To my dismay, the ball took the top edge and flew high in the air, only to rest safely in the wicket keeper’s gloves.

The opponents erupted in joy and there was a wild celebration around me. I could see my pavilion from a distance and the disappointment that had made a nest in the dugout.

I couldn’t gather courage to walk back to the pavilion and silently walked in the other direction that lead to the exit gate of the ground.

The problem with the feel of being a loser and being in the middle of a celebrating crowd at the same time is that, you start getting a feel that every joke, every laugh and every act of mockery is directed towards you.

It’s like a bad dancer dancing in the middle of a dance party. He feels that everyone is laughing at him, but he fails to understand that everyone is busy with their own merry making ways that they hardly notice him.

In spite of being in possession of this wonderful gyaan, I still felt that the rival team was laughing at me. The three minute walk on my way out of the ground was a tough ordeal.

I assumed that my teammates would be waiting for me to discuss the logic behind the defensive shot of the last ball. I could come up with n number of reasons in my defense and could have easily proved my innocence, but the guilt was haunting me. I stuck to my decision of not walking up to them.

I switched off my cellphone and pulled my car out of the parking area and drove towards the Wilmer’s road.

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By the time I walked out of ‘Sleepwalk’ pub it was around 8 in the evening. I was considerably high and didn’t want to be in the middle of a thick, drunk and dancing crowd. Three hours of constant drinking had managed to bring my upset mind to rest.

I was yet to walk towards the car pool; it was then that I saw her. Yes, the lady with the glasses, the same lady from Vincent’s who had embarrassed me in front of my juniors during their fest.

I thought hard to recall her name but the alcohol had done its temporary damage to my brain and I found it hard to put it to work. However, I swore to god that I would settle the case then and there. But, the sensible part of me felt that I shouldn’t be doing so, when under the influence of liquor.

To pick up a fight with a girl is already an act of shame, so the case of being intoxicated should not make any difference- I felt.

It didn’t take me minutes to realize that all that I really wanted was a way to talk to her. Fight was just an excuse.

There was something attractive about this girl. Was it her looks, or those dark framed glasses, silky short hair, attitude or those dimpled cheeks? I was confused.

While I was in the middle of my muted debate, I saw her walking into a book store. I put my silent discussions to rest and decided to follow her. After all, I was yet to figure out if it was the same girl.

I entered the book shop. It was a big book store and with variety of cats in all shape, size and colors performing catwalk all over the store. I had never seen a shop like that.

Amidst the hundred rows of shelves and sizeable crowd, it took me minutes to find her.

psb

I stealthily approached the shelf next to her and stood in a place where she couldn’t spot me. She was wearing a green kurti with a pencil looking stick sitting prettily on top of loosely tied hair. I couldn’t catch a good glimpse of her from where I stood, but I could see her eye frames. She was going through the book ‘A journey through the catastrophic middle earth’, while holding two other books.

The thickness of these non-fictions that she held and the amount of concentration that was seen dancing on her face gave me an estimate of her intellect. She had intellectual looks and a serious attitude; and there’s no better glamor than that.

“Yes sir, may I help you?” all of a sudden a customer assistant spoke in his squeaky voice and lady in glasses moved few steps before turning towards me. I didn’t know what to do and grabbed a book next to me.

I quickly pulled out a list of reactions that I could give. It was important to act before she suspects that I was following her.

I could say ‘Hey.. good to see you.!’. Even though it was my true emotion it might sound too artificial.

‘I was not following you..!’. But she is yet to accuse me of doing so.

‘What a coincidence..!’, an absolute wrong choice.

I was yet to react and she looked back into her book. There wasn’t even an ounce of sense of recognition. She had failed to recognize me.!

I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a Bollywood hero or a guy with great looks for her to remember my face! One more reason could also be the fact that we were under dull light when we had that fight in the college fest.

I cursed myself for burning my grey cells into needless thinking. I was yet to recall her name.

She lifted her head from the book and started walking towards the billing counter. I quickly grabbed a copy of the same book –‘A journey through the catastrophic middle earth’, rushed towards the bill counter and stood behind her.

“Can you get this one gift wrapped?” said she after doing her payment. She then looked at me and I was yet see that ‘Hey I know you!’ expression in her eyes. I decided to do make the first move.

“Oh.. Even you have bought the same book! This author’s gonna be rich overnight!, I tell you.!”, I said in an attempt to sound funny. My ugly chuckle had surely spoiled the joke.

She half smiled. I could understand that she wasn’t impressed with my sense of humor, but how on the earth couldn’t she remember me.!

Cashier directed her towards the gift wrapping counter and I raced towards the same after paying for my book. I had to know her name.

I knew that I could find it out from ‘Best Wishes’ label that would be pasted on the gift. To my disappointment, she didn’t ask for one and I was compelled to prompt her- in an indirect manner.

“Hi, I would like this gift wrapped. And Yes, it would be really great if you could hand me out a best wishes label” I grinned at the man in the counter. I made sure that I was heard in the radius of 100 meters.

I knew that my trick had worked when she turned and asked the man for a gift label. She collected the label and looked at me again; I widened my cheeks and extended my grin. She frowned and started writing on the label.

She paused and looked at me.

“Do we know each other?” she asked. Yes lady, we do. I swallowed my words.

“Call it a coincidence. Even I was about to say that. Your face looks familiar”, I tried to put a cool dude attitude.

She smiled and the next moment the frown reappeared between her eyebrows. Her memory had played its part and she remembered who I was. She didn’t speak, but left the place in hurry. Was it because she knew that I was drunk, I pondered.

I looked at the counter and found the label that she’d left there.

Best wishes from Anahita

It read.

God..!! Yes.. Now I remembered Anahita Bannerjee.. that’s her name, I pumped my fist in joy and raced towards the exit.

“Anahita”, I called her name. Like an athlete in the last lap of the race, she shifted her gears, walking more briskly towards the parking arena.

I knew that this act of mine would be labelled as ‘indecent’, but I refused to give up. I jogged for about ten seconds and called her name again.

“Anahita Banerjee”. Surname always makes it sound  respectful.

“Don’t” she said in a suppressed tone after stopping and turning back at me. With those pair of intense eyes, straight face and forefinger pointing at me, she was looking scary.

I stood motionless while I watched her walk a couple of steps to reach out to her scooty. She pulled out her keys and tried opening the side deck.

In the process, neatly wrapped novels fell out of the gift bag. When she tried to prevent them from falling, she dropped her bag, mobile and then her wallet- They all fell like toppling dominos.

 I kicked out the ‘a’ and turned a theist. Faith in god had grown leaps and bounds in those five seconds.

‘God. Thank you for this lovely filmy moment!’, I silently thanked him.

I wanted to help her pick her things like we see in movies. That’s how it works. When both bend down to pick up stuff, their heads collide. Then there will be this ‘your eyes meet mine’ moment and then comes the chemistry which no text book has ever tried explaining.

With all hopes of seizing the opportunity, I quickly rushed to her. I had hardly moved inches when she gave me that second look with those same pair of intense eyes.

‘Don’t even try’ – I think it meant. Like a driver obediently waiting for the signal to go green, I just stood there – until she picked her stuff, started her bike and disappeared from my sight.!

-To be continued

Click here to read the fifth episode

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -3)

Chapter 2

My first visit to Kolkata

(Haven’t read the second episode yet? click here to read it)

Present

It was my first visit to the city of Kolkata. I had straight away flown to Kolkata after meeting Amulya and calling off our engagement.

There were more than thirty missed calls from home. Clearly, I had managed to create a huge chaos back home. I was not in a position to answer their anger and justify my decision.

“Kamalini nagar?” I asked the taxiwala after exiting the airport. The forty looking driver had neatly combed his hair. Hair oil dripping on his forehead reminded me of my childhood.

“You can take the metro. It goes there” he replied.

I understood it as his rudeness and went to a taxi which was parked couple of meters ahead.

“Kamilini nagar?” I asked him. “Sorry sir. It’s already booked” he replied. Now that was polite.

I was about to go to the next one when the first guy came back to me.

“Sir, Kamalini nagar would take you more than one and half hour. You have to go via Newtown market where traffic refuses to move. If you go by metro it would take you less than thirty minutes. Saves you money as well” He said. This guy was trying to help me save my cash and time. I was surprised.

“Oh. I am new to this city. Moreover, a taxi ride would give me an opportunity to look at the Kolkata life little more closely. So.. you know” I grinned.

“If you want to have a closer look, you should be opting for a bus ride. But if you are keen about taking a taxi, I am at your service” he winked.

I smiled in return.

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“This is the Newtown market that I was talking about”, the driver said. I could see a sea of car roofs and helmets ahead of us.

I wondered if I should call up Anahita and tell her about my surprise visit. The next moment I realized that it’s against the ‘rules of giving surprises’. Moreover, I was unsure if Anahita would answer my call – she had never, in those last four months.

I felt like having a conversation with the driver.

When you think of Kolkata they all come to your mind – Trams, British buildings, fish markets, rasgullas, Sourav Ganguly and hand pulled rickshaws.

I enquired about trams.

“Trams are not for long distance commuting. Till my age 30, I had always thought that trams are present all over India and so was my idea about hand pulled rickshaws. It was surprising for me to know that it’s only here in Kolkata, that you get to see them” he felt proud as he spoke.

There was no sign of the traffic jam to melt down. We gradually shifted topics from Bengali movies to IPL cricket, fish recipes to state politics, Bengali accent to byomkesh bakshi.

The more I spoke, the more I got to know about Bengal.

I was surprised to know that the surname Banerjee is as same as Bandopadhyay, Mukhopadhyay is another name for Mukherjee. Similarly, Chattopadhyay for Chatterjee and Gangopadhyay for Ganguli. So Sourav Ganguly could also be addressed as Sourav Gangopadhyay and Anahita Bannerjee could be called Anahita Bandopadhyay.

The kid inside me felt like surprising Anahita by calling her with the other surname.

“On office work?” he asked casually.

“I am here to meet my lover” I replied and looked at him. The word lover sounded very bookish and odd to pronounce. I turned brick red in embarrassment.

“Oh.. Love story?” he smiled. “Even I had one” he added.

“Oh.. that’s great.!”, I said. Everyone has a love story, there’s nothing great about that. However, when someone tells you that he has a love story, you got to act courteous.

But, wait a minute..! He said that he ‘had’ a love story.

“What do you mean by had? Is she married to someone else now?”, I asked.

It opened up a new conversation about his sweet, short and a sad story of love.

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His name was Shoorjit. He was nineteen when he had first arrived in the city of Kolkata. His uncle’s friend had promised to arrange a job for him.

He landed up as a driver in one of the many cars owned by Swarnava Chatterjee. Swarnava Chatterjee owned a diamond jewelry chain in Kolkata.

He had the responsibility of driving Swarnava’s wife and daughter Mrinalini, who was visually impaired, to their music classes. Shoorjit had no great talent apart from his driving skills and storytelling ability.

Every day, he narrated stories while he drove the mother and the daughter to their classes. His stories, often inspired from his childhood and neighborhood incidents, had elements of innocent humor in them, managing to leave the Chatterjee’s in splits.

Mrinalini fell in love with Shoorjit and so did he. Swarnava had no qualms about it. He had them married with all festivity and grandeur. Mrinalini’s blindness was never a handicap to their relationship.

Mrinalini died within a month of their marriage, in an accident. Following her death, Chatterjees had offered to transfer all their wealth to Shoorjit. With all dignity, Shoorjith declined it and chose to live his life on his own terms.

It had been eight years since her death. He could have remarried. He could have lived a luxurious life with all the wealth that Chatterjees had. For some strange reasons called ‘true love’ and ‘self-respect’, he decided to continue as a car driver and lead a lonely and happy life.

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‘Dew drops’, read the board on the gate. Anahita’s house was a two floored one with clay tiled roof. East facing balcony had a mini garden. The house was situated in a scarcely populated area surrounded by silver oaks and construction sites.
After waving a bye to Shoorjith I quickly pulled out my cellphone and typed out a message.

“Hey Anahita Bandopadhyay. Guess who’s near ur gate”, and sent it. My attempt at humor was aimed at diluting the tension that had made it’s living between us.

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I was standing next to the door shocked, confused and scared.

Anahita was on a wheel chair. Chained to window grills was her German shepherd barking wildly. It was biting the loosely tied nylon strip around its neck every now and then. In any minute it could break free.

“I don’t know. Since morning Snoopy is acting this way. I don’t know what to do.!” She was trembling in fear.

“Anahita..!!  What..” I found it difficult to complete my question. I pointed at the wheel chair.

‘Is she okay? What’s with the wheel chair. Has something happening to her legs’, I was lost in distress.

“I don’t know what to do Sid. I am scared.” she held my shirt in fear. She was not in a position to answer all those questions that had made home inside me. The dog tried to leap towards us, barking ferociously.

“Where is your mom?” I asked and closed the door behind. It was important to not let the dog go out of the house, in case it manages to slip the chain.

“Sid..! Do something” she cried again.

“Do you think its Rabies?” I tried to put forth my doubt.

“I don’t know Sid. But, it has never been like this”, she was trembling.

Events that I was surrounded with, was too much for me to handle. The dog appeared to have turned mad.

“Did you call up veterinary?” I made a quick enquiry.

She nodded a no.

I dialed a local veterinary hospital’s number but no one answered it. I tried calling city Municipal Corporation in a hope that they would send the dog catchers. The result was however the same.

The dog tried to leap again with all its might and started biting the chain.

Yes. I should kill it. This seems to be the only option, I thought.

The two and half feet tall animal started ravaging the neck belt with even more intensity. The danger of getting savaged was inching closer.

Animal lover that I was, it was becoming increasingly difficult to live with the thought of killing it. Doing so in front of its beloved owner was perhaps the most difficult situation that any person can get into.

“Sid.! Do whatever you want. Kill it” she said crying helplessly, even before I could tell her my intentions of killing it.

I ran in to the kitchen and grabbed few eggs and started hurling them towards the dog. The smell of the smashed eggs managed to attract its attention and it stopped barking. Slowly it started licking them all.

I then smashed few more in a small bowl and started pouring phenol into it. I couldn’t think of any better agent of death. By now, the dog was done with the eggs on the floor.

I threw the bowl of phenol mixed egg yolk at the dog. It toppled after landing near the German shepherd and the yolk was again all over the floor. If all goes by the plan it should be dead any minute, I thought.

The dog sniffed the mess for ten- twenty seconds and looked back at us. It had stopped barking and its eyes had turned cold now. Eat it – I mumbled.

It started sniffing the liquid again. It was only then it occurred to me that it was next to impossible to poison a dog- the animal gifted with a superior sense of smell.

In a strange turn of event, it was now looking peaceful; the ferociousness in its eyes could no longer be seen.

“Sid..!! Snoopy looks okay now. See it’s not barking. Thank god we didn’t poison it” she said and slowly started wheeling towards the dog.

“Anahita don’t” I was yet to complete when the beast resumed its act. It lunged violently at her, barking madly while doing so.

Anahita screamed in fear and I pulled her chair towards me.

Here there was Anahita on her wheel chair, reason to which I was yet to find out and there was this dog which was threatening to tear us apart. My mind turned numb.

I asked her where the store room was and hurried in the direction that she pointed.

I came back running with a long metal rod. I was in a combat with my conscience.

“What?” Anahita was further shocked. The dog had again started biting the collar belt.

“I don’t know”, said I and landed a heavy blow on its head.

The dog let out a huge cry and started beating its legs in pain.

Anahita screamed too. Snoopy looked at her helplessly. It no longer appeared a beast. At this moment, it was a feeble animal begging for its life. It was that lovely pet of its owner, which was looking for her to save it.

“Please don’t do this”, Anahita pleaded.

That was the most heart breaking scene I had ever come across. I had neither the heart nor the courage to land a second blow. Tears ran down my cheeks and I dropped the rod.

“I can’t do this” said I and took Anahita out of the house and locked the door. I was crying heavily.

I ran up to a group of laborers working at a neighboring construction site.

I held a bunch of blue colored notes at a forty looking muscular guy, explained him everything and asked him to kill the dog.

He bluntly refused the offer.

“It’s almost dead. It can’t attack. It’s just that I can’t see it dying. I can give you more money” said I, wiping my tears and took out my wallet. Kids aged less than ten were trying to hide their laugh, seeing a grown up man crying.

“It’s not about getting attacked. And no.. It’s not about money as well. It’s about killing. I can never do it. Sorry sir” said he, this time politely. It was a moment of truth for me.

“Someone please..!” I requested, but no one came forward.

The group then directed me to an aged man named Mandodar sitting next to the concrete mixer. I offered two yellow notes to him.

Anahita tried hard to control her emotions, standing outside the house. Each time Mandodar swung the rod at it, Snoopy let out its final cries of death. After a minute everything went silent. Mandodar came out of the house wiping his sweat.

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Till evening we had a couple of maids helping us clean the house. I made a veterinary doctor come to the house, offered him double the money and asked him to run a rabies test on the dead animal. I wanted to be sure that we didn’t kill an innocent pet.

I and Anahita didn’t have a word during the entire time. I had hundreds of questions about her sitting on the wheel chair. I held back all my questions, considering the situation that we were in.

Moreover, I didn’t have the courage to speak to her.

At about six thirty, her mom arrived. Anahita hadn’t told her anything about it till then. The dog incident came as a shocker to her. She went to the backyard and cried next to the place where we had buried snoopy.

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“I forgot to introduce myself aunty. I am Sid. I am Anahita’s friend” I said, soon after her mother came back to the hall, washing her tears off the face.

“I know who you are son. I am surprised to hear that you are calling yourselves a friend” she spoke bluntly with a straight face.

She knew everything about us.

“Well aunty, Yes.. I am her boyfriend” I had to speak the truth that she knew. Anahita looked away.

“And why are you here?” her mom asked me.

Without a second thought, I replied, “To take her back to Bangalore aunty. I called off my engagement with that girl. I want to marry Anahita. I want to marry her right away”.

Anahita looked at me in shock.  Her mom continued to speak with a straight face.

“I am afraid, I have to ask you to leave son” she said. I looked at Anahita. She was trying to act as if she was not paying attention.

“Aunty please” I tried to convince her.

“Sid. I said.. Leave”, her mom spoke again, like a strict principal.

I turned at Anahita. In the afternoon when she had hugged me in fear, I had thought that the bitterness was long forgotten and everything was even between us.

“Sid. you heard my mom”, said she in a tough voice and showed me the way out.

I was not sure as what had earned me their hatred. -Engagement to Amulya or the death of the dog.

“Let me explain Anahita”, I made a helpless protest.

“You have already given enough pain to me, to us. I would hate to see you any more Sid”, said she. If she had cried while saying so, I could have assumed that she still loves me.

But, she didn’t cry. She had a serious straight face. An expression that meant that, it was all over between us.

Without any courage to speak any more and to stay any further, I stepped out of the house and disappeared into those dark streets.

-To be continued

Click here to read the fourth episode.

——Follow Passionophoria Facebook page to receive updates on the episodes to be released——

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -2)

Chapter 1

My First meeting with Anahita

(Haven’t read the first episode yet? click here to read it)

Past – 6 years ago

The crowd was shouting at the top of their pitch. Lights from all ranges of the spectrum were dancing around. Loud Music was only adding to the merriment of the evening.

“Sid..! Sid.!” I heard my name being called out loud. I turned towards my right to find a small group of people dressed up in black, peppered with red glitters. They were my college juniors.

“We need you near stage. We are in trouble” said Disha in a voice that could be faintly heard amidst the deafening music.

We were at Vincent’s College of engineering and it was their annual cultural fest –‘Summer Rains’.

‘Summer rains’ was the biggest cultural fest in Bangalore. Every year students in tens of thousands used to gather to be a part of it. Dance, drama, Music, Fashion show, Street dance -it had it all.

‘It beats and beats and it’s never gonna stop

It doesn’t give a f*** whether it’s heard o’ not..!

Yes your heart..

 oh…. yes your heart…!!’

Sound speakers were threatening to burst themselves open. The bald guy on the stage was straining his voice box while performing the rock song along with his band.

“What happened?” I asked while sipping the cola. They tried to tell something but the guy on the stage had his voice all over the place. I could barely hear my juniors.

I sailed through the crowd and reached them.

“What happened?” I asked.

“They are not allowing us to register for the event”, Raghav complained.

“And why is that?” I asked.

‘Yes your heart..

oh…. yes your heart…!!’

Guy on the stage repeated for the umpteenth time.

“It seems that registrations are closed. 6:30 was the cut-off time”, cried Manu.

I was a Final year BE student from Roy’s College of engineering. There were reasons behind these college juniors of mine seeking my help.

The first reason – They were in a trouble.

The second and the most important reason – I was the president of ‘Stumps’- the cricket club of Roy’s College of Engineering, which organizes the city’s most prestigious inter collegiate Cricket tournament. Hence, I enjoyed a major share of popularity and influence amongst the student leaders of various other colleges.

In India, cricket’s a religion. In the city, I was this religious leader.

I followed them to the registration counter.

“Yes?”, the girl at the desk asked. There were about twenty similar desks, five feet apart from each other. Volunteers at the desk were dressed in black t-shirts.

“The dance competition registration”, said one of my juniors.

“Sorry. It’s closed. 6.30 was the deadline. You were supposed to report by then” she threw her hands suggesting helplessness.

“It’s okay. The team has practised a lot. They have been winners all through the year. Try to accommodate them”. I was yet to lose my cool.

“We aren’t the ones to take decisions. We were instructed and we are carrying it out”, a voice spoke behind us.

I turned around. She was as tall as me, I would say 5.9”. Her eyes hidden behind those glasses were exactly in front of mine. She was wearing a black t-shirt carrying the name of the fest, which meant that she was either one of the event organizers or volunteers. But, ‘we were instructed’ suggested that she was a volunteer.

“Excuse me?” I said. I was not used to a treatment of this sort.

Without blinking her eyes she replied, “I guess you heard it right. Now please clear the area and help us attend others”.

My juniors looked at me in horror. My pride was at stake.

“Listen lady.! That nose of yours, let it only carry your spectacles and help you breathe. Let it not poke into matters which do not concern you.

We and this lady at the counter, we are having a conversation. And you better stay out of this”, I said trying to suppress my anger.

I guess, she had felt like scoffing at the dramatized words of mine -I couldn’t help but notice her blinking for the first time since we met.

She stayed quiet, walked past me and whispered something in the left ear of the girl at the desk. The girl at the desk got up and walked away.

“And from now on it’s of my concern sir”, the girl with glasses spoke in sharp voice. For the second time we were looking into each other’s eyes.

I dropped my sight and noticed her name on the ID card.

“Anahita Banerjee. Ok. That’s your name. Listen Anahita.! I don’t want to set up a scene here. It would be better on your part to let these guys take part in the contest”, I said. This time I was pointing my finger right at her.

Juniors of mine- the dance troupe grew little scared now. The situation had turned awkward.

“Sid..!! Forget it. Let’s just leave. If not this fest, some other fest”, Disha tried to drag me away from the scene.

“Sid. Ok.! That’s your name. Listen Sid.! I don’t want to set up a scene here. It would be better on your part to just leave. Bouncers are hardly a phone call away. I call them, and you will be thrown out of the campus in no minute”, she said pointing her finger back at me. This girl was ridiculously daring, stupid and smart.

How much ever hard the world might fight for gender equality, there are few things that you can’t imagine about a young girl. Girl getting her nose punched was one of them. If there was a guy in her place I would have certainly punched his nose.

While my mind was still deciding on my next step, Manu shouted at her. “One phone call and he can have you replaced”, he said.

‘Nice thought buddy. But I am not up for any dirty politics’- I wanted to shout at him.

I had every luxury of calling up the event organizers and asking them to settle the matter. But I had decided against using it, because of the attempt by my juniors to feed on my power. I decided to exit the scene with all dignity but swore in my mind to teach this girl a lesson.

“Forget it guys” I said. “Let’s not waste our time on this. If not this fest, some other fest” I added.

“Saves us both a phone call” came a quick reply. There was a hint of taunt in that voice.

She was like those squash walls. You throw the ball at it and it’s for certain that it bounces back at you- with a greater speed.

If the father of our nation was alive today, he would have been proud seeing this girl challenging the most influential student leader of the city.

I looked at my juniors who were looking disappointed with me. By now, a small crowd had gathered around us in an expectation that some major fight would break out.

I had an immediate change in mind and pulled out my phone. Frowning at her I dialed Farhan’s number.

Farhan happened to be the student secretary of Vincent College’s Cricket club and one of their prime fest coordinators.

“He is calling up the event organizer” said Manu. He had an impressive skill of whispering loud. I silently thanked him for being my subtitle.

Anahita didn’t look bothered and continued attending other registrants.

After about ten rings Farhan picked up his phone and all that I could hear was

‘Yes your heart..

oh…. yes your heart…!!’

The bald guy was still performing.

“Farhan, are you able to hear me?” I repeated twice. But the response was his faint voice which was being suppressed by the loud

‘Yes your heart..

Oh… your heart..!!”

I felt like running up to the stage and ripping his chest open. That would have done a complete justice to the song.

Farhan cut my call and texted saying that he would call me after the fest.

“I am not able to hear him. He has texted me saying that he would meet me after the fest” I said in despair.

“Text him back bro. Ask him to come here right away” shouted Anuj who had chosen to stay quiet all this while.

Okay, after having suffered embarrassment by a girl, now I had to suffer the embarrassment of taking orders from a junior.

I had only two choices now:

  1. I walk away from the scene with shame, accepting my defeat to the lady.
  2. I do as my junior suggested which would make it appear as if I was carrying out their orders.

The common denominator was that I would end up with further humiliation.

Before I could choose between the two, Anahita had made her choice. She had chosen the third.She had called up bouncers who were now standing in front of us, all set to throw us out of the campus.

I looked at them and then at Anahita who acted helpless and threw a smile, a smile suggesting a taunt.

I was an influential student leader but not a professional wrestler. Hence, I had to act wise.

“Easy guys! Be easy. We are walking out”, I said lifting my hands up in the air to convey that I meant no harm.

Even before I could complete my sentence, “You don’t know whom you are dealing with. It’s Sid”, Manu blurted out.

The next moment, I was in the arms of a towering Bouncer. While he carried me towards the college entrance, I took a one last look at Anahita.

I was expecting her to laugh and act proud for having won the tussle. Instead of doing so, she chose to raise her eyebrows and bite her lower lip. Even before I could take a second look at her, she was out of my sight and I was out of the college gate.

-To be continued

[Click here to read the third Episode]

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -1)

Chapter 0

The Confession

Present

‘What’s the most difficult thing in the world?’, a VJ running her street show had asked me once.

“To propose your love in front of a girl whom you like”, I had replied. I was seventeen then and my friends had a good laugh on hearing my answer. Of course they were laughing at my profound silliness.

Now, after ten years, I was facing the same question. This time I was in the middle of my self-confrontation exercise and the answer was in stark contrast with the former.

 

‘You are engaged to a young and innocent girl after having exchanged rings in front of your family and relatives.

Now, with a week to go for the marriage, you want to tell her that you want to call off your engagement.

Yes, that’s the most difficult thing to do- calling off your engagement and thereby breaking her heart.

The poor girl would have started building those colorful dreams, dreams filled with you and you are about to crush them’

 

I took a deep breath, trying to supply some more oxygen to my lungs, hoping it would prevent my heart from beating fast and loud.

The traffic signal went green and even before the orchestra of horns could begin; I shifted gears and moved my car.

**********************************************************************************

I could see her college from distance. On the left side of Karanth road was ‘Bangalore Institute of Engineering’ -one of the finest engineering colleges in Karnataka. She was a BE undergraduate there, studying in her Sixth Semester.

Sentry dressed in a grey uniform waved towards right as I approached the entrance. I parked my car in the visitor’s area and went to the security gate.

“Name?” the security personnel sitting in front of the monitor asked.

“Siddarth”, I replied.

“Whom do you want to meet?”, he asked again.

“A student”

He threw a questioning look at me.

“Amulya, Amulya Prakash. Sixth semester, Information Science”, I had to tell her name.

“Purpose?” he asked and this time he was attempting to conceal his smile.

‘She’s my Fiance’, I wanted to reply. But, thirty minutes from now, she would be my ex- fiancé.

“We are engaged”, I chose the right combination of words.

He smiled and looked at the ring finger of my left hand. I wasn’t sure if he was looking for evidence or checking the design.

I went past the gate after collecting the visitor’s pass and dialled her number. She cut the call on the first ring.

After about thirty seconds, my cellphone flashed her message.

‘ Me in class 😦, it read.

‘Can we meet? Now?’, I replied.

‘Aww.. wru’

‘Near your college canteen.’

‘omg.! Omg.! OK. ll b der in ten minutes. Sorry for keeping you waiting’

‘No problem. I will wait.’

‘cya :)’

She was in deep love with me. God, how could I ever tell her that I don’t want to marry her!

But, I had to!!

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Amulya was about eight years younger to me and had far superior looks compared to mine. She would talk less to strangers and formal acquaintance. But with close ones it was difficult to keep her mouth shut.

Topping the state in the class 12th Exam and 3rd rank in the State level Engineering Entrance Exam was also something that she had easily managed.

When we had been to her home for the first time, her mom had even shown us those laminated newspaper clippings from leading dailies of Karnataka, which had her photo and exam scores as headlines.

She was blushing then, asking her mom to stop showing off.

I had then felt like asking why she hadn’t managed to get a seat in either an IIT or NIIT. For obvious reasons, I didn’t.

I was not sure if it was her beauty, her innocence, her academic achievements or those delicious pakodas that she had prepared, but she had managed to impress my parents.

***************************************************************************

My thoughts were brought to halt when my phone started ringing.

“Where are you Sid? Can’t see you”, she said as soon as I answered her call. I could sense the excitement in her tone.

Even before I could give her the latitude and longitudinal coordinates, she exclaimed “Saw you!”.

“Stay there”, she followed it up with an order.

I turned towards my left. She was dressed in green colored kurti with matching ear rings. With her hair tied loose, she was looking adorable.

Her wide eyes shone bright as she smiled in excitement and greeted me.

“Hi.!” She said and sat in front of me.

“Hi”, I said and “Coffee?”, I asked.

After about ten minutes, they brought us our coffees.

In those ten minutes, she had given me a brief idea on what she will be wearing for the marriage, fluctuating gold rates, new dishes that she had learnt, places that she wanted to visit after the marriage and the way her friends tease her with me.

It’s not that she was talking a lot; it’s just that, I was way too silent and she was trying a build a conversation.

All that I was doing was waiting for the right time to bring up the topic.

“Shall I show you around my college?”, she asked me in excitement.

“Yes” I said, in a hope that somewhere in the campus I would find a place with the right ‘vaastu’ that would instill in me enough courage to spill the beans.

*******************************************************************************

“And this is where we used to sit and study during our first semester exams” she said pointing at the tree. Like a tourist nodding in amazement after hearing the guide speak about historical significance of Tajmahal, I faked a nod.

It was almost twenty minutes since we had started exploring the campus, but I was not able to tell her the purpose of this meeting.

“And we used sit there by holding our umbrellas to shield ourselves from those crow droppings. My god..!” she started laughing.

Either the situation had brought down my receptors for humor or the joke wasn’t funny- I struggled to laugh.

She continued to laugh. God..! Such a sweet kid, how could I ever break her heart?

Ok, no more waiting and no more wasting of time, I decided.

“Amulya”, I pronounced.

She looked at me while trying to bring her laughter under control.

“There’s something that I need to tell you”, I spoke with a mild tremor in my voice.

“What?” she asked, with a faint hint of shyness.

Did she get a wrong idea? Is she thinking that I am going to tell her that I love her?

She dropped her eyes. Yes, she was blushing.

“Amulya, I can’t marry you”, I said in one breath.

There was a sharp change in her facial expressions. Laugh faded from her face like the drop of water does after falling on a red hot pan.

‘What are you telling?’ her eyes asked me.

“Yes.. Amulya. I want to call off our engagement”, I made it clearer to her.

Her beautiful eyes turned moist and looked at mine. Again, she didn’t speak but let her eyes do it on her behalf.

‘Why?’ they asked me.

“Come on Amulya. You need to speak. You should at least scold me, yell at me. I know that it’s a shocker but please don’t be silent”. I wanted her to speak. Silence can be suffocating and here was an example.

Her facial expression changed instantly, yet again. And this time she frowned and smiled and finally spoke.

“Ah god.! I didn’t realize” She said.

“Realize what?”, I was confused.

“My dear hubby, you are trying to pull of an April fool prank, aren’t you?” she laughed and pressed my hands with hers.

‘Dear hubby’ sounded odd and so did her ‘hand touching act’. I felt uncomfortable.

“It is 2nd of April Amulya. And people won’t fool others on 2nd. They do it on 1st”. I was trying to teach her fundamentals of April fool.

“But, we used to do it” she replied. Yes, like a kid.

“They don’t Amulya”, I said. Somehow, I felt that the debate on the fool’s day was not so important.

“Ok listen to me. It’s true, every single word that I have spoken. And you have to trust me on this”, I tried to make her understand while slowly taking out my hands from hers.

“Oh.!” Her face dropped again.

“Why?”, she asked.

“I don’t want to get married right now”

“But you are already 28”, she spoke innocently.

27 it is, I wanted to correct her.

“No. I mean it’s like you are younger to me, by seven years”

“Oh. God.! You are simply being concerned. You are worrying for me isn’t it.? I know you look little older. But, I like you. And so does my family. So stop thinking too much. And trust me, you look handsome”.

In a span of fifteen seconds, she had made me feel low by telling me that I look older and made me feel flattered by telling that I look handsome. But the whole outlook was to call off the engagement and I felt that I should be concentrating on that.

“You are still studying. You have one more year to go. Exams, moreover placements. It’s also a question of your career, you see”, I came up with one more excuse.

“But, your mom told me that it’s fine with her. And moreover, don’t get worked up thinking that it would difficult for me to cope up with my studies. I can manage” she replied. Yeah, I do remember that you are a topper.

With hardly any false excuses left, I had to find resort in giving her the right reason.

“I am in love with someone else..!”, I revealed my best kept secret.

Her reaction suggested that it came as a deep shocker to her and her silence meant that she wanted to know more about the girl.

“It’s this girl. Her name is Anahita. We have been seeing each other for the past five years. I was forced into this marriage by my parents”, I said.

Tears reappeared in her eyes. She started looking for a shoulder to rest her head on, or probably a chest to hide her face in. She had appeared to have accepted the fact that I would be able to lend her neither of those.

“I love her a lot Amulya and she can’t live without me. It’s very important that I don’t marry you. I don’t want to live my life with guilt of having cheated both of you”, I spoke fighting my emotions.

There was a brief silence. For about a minute neither of us spoke. I looked at her while she continuously stared at the grasshopper which was fighting its way out of a spider web.

“I am sorry”, I broke our short silence as we had both watched the grasshopper giving up. It stayed still; motionless, signalling that it had lost hope- hope to live.

She looked at me, into my eyes.

“But, you could have done this earlier right?”, she asked. A simple question and I had no answers.

She stood up and turned her back against me.

“Good luck”, she said and walked towards her classroom, away from me and without looking at me.

“Thank you”, I said in a faint voice that got lost in the thin air even before it could reach her ears.

I stood there, for about a minute, all alone. I was feeling sad for breaking her heart.

How difficult is it going to be for her and her family? Every single person would keep quizzing them about this.

It’s a stigma that would stay for long.

She might fight hard to escape silent stares of her friends, the same friends who are now teasing her with me. My heart sunk thinking about the aftermath.

The chaos in my head lasted only for a minute and then everything changed.

My head which was feeling heavy and occupied for all these months, felt empty with no thoughts. I could discern the flow of air in my lungs, notice the color of the sky and feel the mild breeze brushing against my skin.

I sat inside my car. First thing to do was to fly Kolkata and tell Anahita that I had broken my engagement.

She hadn’t spoken to me since the day my engagement was fixed. She had refused to answer any of my calls or messages. I couldn’t reach her through her friends.

Four months and that’s a really long period. This is popularly referred to as ‘break up’.

I started my car and turned on the radio.‘Phir le aaya dil..majboor…’, it started singing.

I was breathing life after months, and this song resonated with my emotions.

Slowly, my mind turned back the pages of the memory book. And it had to start with the first chapter- ‘My first meeting with Anahita’.

voznje_2

-To be continued

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