Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -10)

Chapter 9

A new beginning

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

(Click here to read the first episode)

Present

“You needn’t apologize Sid”, said Amulya.

She was wearing a black t-shirt and pajamas. Her hair was tied to form a bun. With a serious face, she was no longer the 21 year old kid she used to be. A Lot had changed over a period of ten days.

She had joined a theatre group and had shifted to a ladies PG.

It’s said that there are five moments in a woman’s life, which bring in a significant change in her behaviour and outlook.

  • The First time she gets know that some guy likes her.
  • The First time a guy tells her that he loves her.
  • A guy breaks her heart for the first time.
  • That moment when she gets married.
  • That very moment, when she gives birth to her first kid.

Amulya was living in the aftermath of the third. I could rightfully take the credit for her new-found tough attitude towards life.

“You must go back home. I know I disappointed you, but why are you punishing yourselves for the mistake that you haven’t done”, I tried to convince her, once again. Her parents had tried doing it every single day, but in vain.

She looked at me sharply. Her innocent eyes were long gone.

“Sid..! I am happy the way I am.

Why are you considering it as my self-imposed punishment? Who told you that I don’t like doing theaters? I love acting. In fact, I always wanted to be an actress”, she spoke like a lawyer fighting her case.

“But why a sudden interest in acting? Why didn’t you tell your parents about it, when they were planning to get you married?”, I put forth my argument.

“I didn’t have courage! I am not denying the fact that you left me shattered by calling off our engagement. That wasn’t easy for me”, she paused to study my reaction.

The sense of shame and guilt had swarmed over me. I looked away.

“Moments like those don’t make you weak; they make you tough. It gives you enough time to think about your life. It makes you realize that you should start making decisions, instead of letting others do it for you.

Let me tell you, now I have an excuse to pursue my interest. I am able to do something beyond my studies. And I am very much excited to embrace it”.

“But..!”, in spite of feeling happy for her, I wanted to give my one last try.

“Sid.!  I am happy now. It’s a new beginning for me. Please don’t force me into my old life. I am feeling relieved that I don’t have to live with the nerd tag any more. Want to do something cool.!”, she pleaded, gently.

“All the best, then!”, I wished her luck.

“Thank you Sid. And chill dude!”, said she. She had intentionally played the ‘dude’ word trying to prove that she was happy. I smiled in return.

I was filled with remorse and wanted to come out of it. I sincerely hoped that she is and will be happy with her life.

“It’s my marriage. I want you to be there”, I said.

“Wow.! That’s wonderful?”, she exclaimed. I fell silent.

“Where’s the invitation card, Sid?”, she asked, this time playfully.

“I will text you the time and venue in a while. Hoping to see you tomorrow”, I said.

“Tomorrow? Sid..! They are picking actors for their next play. I should be here. It’s very important for me. I am extremely sorry”, she put up a sorry face.

“That’s okay..! Which play?” I asked.

“Based on O Henry’s last leaf”, she answered.

“Good luck”, I wished her luck, with a faint little smile.

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Chapter 10

The proposal

Past

I double checked the ring in the velvet box. The beautiful jewel, with a heart shaped bright white stone was shining brightly under the sun.

A little girl tapped the window mildly. She was ten, I guess.  I was at the signal, waiting for it to turn green. I lowered the window and she held a bunch of roses towards me. It was as if she knew my plans for the day.

“How much?”, I asked.

“Ten rupees anna”. She handed me a rose.

She had a large blue polythene bag, good enough to carry over a hundred roses. “How much for the entire bag?”, I asked.

She was taken aback by the huge order that I had placed. I think she wasn’t prepared for the math.

She took a while before replying. “Hmm.. Don’t know uncle. Let me count”. I don’t know what prompted it, but she had switched to ‘uncle’ from ‘anna’.

Seeing her struggle to count, I asked her if she knew how to count.

“Not properly, anna”. The anna word had reappeared and I felt good.

“See.., this is why you should go to school. Okay.! Tell Me.! How many roses did you carry in the morning?”

“Ninety. And I have already sold ten”, replied the proud little girl.

“That makes it, eighty in the bag. And I have to pay you eight hundred”, said I in an attempt to teach her mathematics. She nodded with a smile.

I didn’t want to give her a lecture on the importance of schooling. Not today, I thought. I took out two notes of thousand rupee.

“Give me all those roses. I am going to pay you 2000 Rs. I want you to give this one note to your parents, showing it as your earning. With the other note, buy yourselves a nice little chappal and a cute little frock”, I said.

I don’t know if she understood it completely and I wasn’t sure if she was convinced the thousand Rupee note. She nodded in response and handed me over the large blue bag.

“Thanks anna”. She put into exercise, her dimpled cheeks.

I took out a rose from the bag and gave it to her. I think she felt a little shy, so she quickly ran across the street after refusing my rose.

‘This rose thing is indeed difficult’, I smiled to myself. The signal went green, the biker behind me honked and I moved my car.

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I had worn a white full sleeved shirt and white trousers – Helps you with positive vibes while talking to a girl, somewhere I had read. However, when I reached the college, Mother Nature had some other plans in store.

In no time, the sunny day had turned rainy. After parking the car in the parking space, I dialed her number.

“Hey I am in front of your college”, I said.

“And I am inside it”, she replied.

“I haven’t carried my umbrella. Can you come out?”

“Sid..! Even I haven’t carried any! Who would carry an umbrella during summer! Moreover, it’s ethnic day. I am in saree. You don’t want me to spoil it, do you?”, she scolded me with a mix of laughter.

‘And I am in white and white. People are going to file an obscenity case against me for wearing wet white cloths”, I badly wanted to say. Intended words didn’t escape my mouth after I pictured her in the saree!

‘Wow.!’, I silently exclaimed. “Okay. Tell me where I should come”, I asked her, hiding my excitement.

“4th block, third floor. Information science final year classroom”, she replied.

“You got to be kidding. I am not coming to your class”, I complained like a kid. I didn’t want my proposal plans to be ruined.

“Come on. It’s ethnic day. We don’t have lectures today. Everyone is busy posing for photographs”, she said.

“But.. You wanted me to surprise you”, I said.

“Yeah! Surprise me in front of my friends”

All rite lady! You are asking for it. I am going to propose you, in front of your friends.  Don’t blame me later,  thought.

“All rite! In two minutes”, I said and cut the call.

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Thanks to my sprint across their slushy college ground, it appeared as if I had spilled a can full of chocolate milk shake, all over my pant. My rear had got leopard prints all over it. The wet white shirt had turned transparent and I was standing in front of her classroom with a large blue plastic, torn at places.

I wasn’t offering a pleasant sight. The class stood staring at me and I felt like a clown.

I looked at Anahita. She was looking beautiful in her mild orange colored Saree. She had let loose her hair and had a bindi sitting prettily between her eyebrows. Her long earrings were dancing each time she moved. I am not sure if there is a research done on it, but on any given day, traditional Indian attire adds to the beauty of a woman.

When the girl you love starts looking extra beautiful, it grows you nervous and makes you struggle to breath. You will find it hard to resist the urge to continue looking at her. I was struggling to breathe now.

“He’s Sid, my friend”, she introduced me to her friends. I think the other group had already started gossiping.

“Hi.! And she’s Anahita”, I introduced her to her friends. I thought that would make them laugh and project my humorous side. To my disappointment, none of them laughed. My confidence sunk to bottom in seconds.

What was I thinking.! I felt stupid. This proposal thing is not going to happen today, not in front of her friends, I knew.

“Belated wishes Anahita”, I wished her and held the blue polythene bag towards her. Few roses and stems of other few were peeping through the plastic. “A bag full of roses”, I heard some girl whispering. I could easily trace the hint of mockery in it.

“So, That’s how you surprise people? With a bag full of roses?”, Anahita asked without batting an eye.

“Err. Hmm. I don’t know”, I smiled like a fool. God..! Why isn’t she smiling! Didn’t she like the surprise, I questioned myself.

Being in the middle of the unfamiliar college crowd was getting me suffocated.

“Happy birthday again”, I said. “Got to go”, I waved a bye after realizing that I won’t be able to propose her today. Without waiting for her response, I quickly ran down the stairs. I think, I heard them all laugh.

I had hardly entered the college ground, when my phone rang. The rain had refused to slow down. I ran under the tree to answer it.

“Where are you?”. It was Anahita.

“Under the tree”.

“Which one?”, she asked.

“The green one”, I said. And before she could ask me to stop answering like an idiot, I quickly added “The one in front of the e block”.

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“You have spoilt your saree”, I said pointing at it. In spite of walking under the umbrella, she was completely drenched. Rain was dancing in every possible axes.

“That’s okay. Buy me a new one”, she said and before I could reply, she handed me over the plastic bag of roses. Rain water had formed puddles all over the ground and there was one next to us, under the tree.

“You didn’t like the flowers, did you?”, I asked.

“Everyone in the class is making fun of me Sid. Especially, my class guys! They think that you are my boyfriend”, she made a complaining face.

The wet green leaves hanging from the tree, were kissing her cheeks. Rain drops were running down them. I cleared them for her.

“Oh.! I am sorry”.

“Sid..! Do you want to come upstairs and flex some muscles?”, she winked.

“Ah..err.. I don’t know. I mean I can. But..”, I started searching for an appropriate answer.

“You are impossible”, she laughed.

“What?”, I asked.

“You were planning to propose me, weren’t you?”, she asked. My heart skipped a beat! Was I being so obvious in the class, I wondered.

I tried to smile through my nervousness.

“Yes or no?”, she asked like a kinder garden teacher.

“Yes..!”, I replied like a kid.

The tree and her umbrella weren’t able to completely shield us from the rain.

“How were you planning to propose me? I am curious.”

Her question and the tone, with which she asked it, conveyed something – The moment was here.

I think she was in love with me. Else, why would she want to see the way I wanted propose! What kind of proposal is she expecting? I can go on knees, but what if she finds it clichéd!

Parking aside my all other thoughts, I decided to start with a speech. I adjusted my hair. “Anahita..! I was always looking out for reasons to make you feel special. And I have found one in your birthday”, I started.

“Oh god..! Not again.!”, she interrupted me.

“What?”, I asked.

“This is the same speech that you gave on my birthday, right?”, she laughed.

I felt surprised and embarrassed at the same time. How did she know? Did someone upload that birthday video on YouTube? I felt puzzled.

“I was there. I watched the whole thing from the balcony. I was the one who had asked Sheetal to lie to you. Wanted to have some fun, you know.! I even have the video with me. My god..! That was quite a speech. And I must say, that was the most beautiful cake that I had ever seen”, she spoke with admiration.

“Oh.! I am embarrassed”, I said trying to look away, in spite of feeling proud.

“No. Not before you propose me”, she said.

Realizing that I can’t run my well-rehearsed speech, I had to proceed to the next ritual. “I can’t go on knees. I am wearing a white pant”, I complained.

She pointed at my trousers. I realized that my pant wasn’t white anymore.

“Fine..!”, I relented, went on knees and took out all those flowers from the bag. She lowered her umbrella to keep me away from the heavy downpour.

“Anahita..!”, I said.

“Too much rain. Can’t hear you?”, she said with a naughty smile.

“Anahita..!”, I added extra decibels to my usual tone. There was the sound of rain and that of mine. The stage was perfect.

“Yes..!”, she answered.

“I hope no one is watching this”, I spoke in anxiety.

“No stupid. Do it fast”. That was the first time that she had called me stupid. I felt good.

“Okay listen.! I am deeply and madly in love with you.

You might not be the most beautiful lady out there, but I know that you will be my most perfect partner.

I don’t want to be your boyfriend Anahita, but I want to be your lover. I don’t know the difference between two. But, I do know that I want to be with you, forever and ever.

Someday in the future, I do want to marry you.

And before my speech gets anymore filmy, boring and lengthy, and before I blabber some more nonsense, I want you to tell me that you love me. I want you to accept these roses, before my knee starts complaining”, I ended my one minute speech.

“Wow. This would be one of the most unromantic proposals ever made in the history. And with those wild thorns, your rose garden looks dangerous to touch”, said she and held the plastic cover towards me.

I was on my knees, wearing wet white cloths, completely soiled; under the tree; holding a bunch of more than hundred roses, wildly arranged.

In front of me was a girl whom I loved, standing under the rain holding a blue colored umbrella and a large polythene, signaling me to put all those roses in it – She was right..! This was one of most unromantic proposals that the world had ever seen.

“Everyone cannot have a perfect filmy proposal Anahita.! But I will try my best to ensure a perfect life ahead..!”, I said.

“I love you Sid.. and would love to stay with you, forever and ever”, she said with a sweet smile.

Is that all?  Isn’t she going to tell me why she loves me.! – I felt disappointed.

I heard her sneeze.

“Wow. That was cute. So can we kiss now?”, I asked. I think, I should have looked into her eyes and let that thing happen automatically, instead of seeking her permission.

“I think you watch too many movies. This kiss thing is not going to happen with me, not until we get married”, she said.

This sounded disappointing less and cute more.

“In that case, I don’t care if we are going to have an orthodox Hindu wedding. But when we do, I am going to ask one of my friend to conduct the ‘now you may kiss the bride’ ritual, right after I tie the mangalsutra around your neck”, I laughed.

“I am not going to oppose mister”, she said, this time in a loud voice.

I quickly remembered about the ring.

“Hey.. I have carried a ring too. Shall I put it around your finger?”, I asked and held out the ring in front of her.

“Oh my god..!”, she clasped in excitement and I stood up with a confused face.

“For few things, one must not seek permission”, she said, trying to hold back her tears. You can never know the kind of things that will run a girl into tears. She was immensely happy and emotional.

“But the kiss..”, I was about point out that she had denied me a kiss.

“Sid..! I said ‘few things’. And the kiss is definitely not amongst them”, she sneezed again.

“I will be waiting for the day we get married Anahita”, said I and put the ring around her fingers.

The rain continued to lash, heavily. And I stood there under the tree, with the lady I loved, being the happiest man on the earth.

nature-landscapes_hdwallpaper_cold-fall-rain_3772

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Chapter 11

The wedding

Present

My dad placed the silk pheta over my head and my mother adjusted my tie.

“Shall we?”, asked Amit. I nodded and he signalled the nurse to open the door.

I slowly entered the room. There were around fifty people in that large room of the hospital – friends, relatives, employees of my company and hospital staffs.

Anahita was on the bed, next to the wall. She was on artificial ventilation, with her eyes closed.

She had suffered a spinal haemorrhage. The loss of blood was immense and had refused to stop. Doctors had given up and she was counting her final moments.

When you know that your loved one is in her dying moments, you can do two things –

Think about the future without her and weep

Or..

Live in the present, make those final moments count. Make them beautiful and worth cherishing.I didn’t think twice before deciding to marry her.

On my request, my dad had asked the hospital administration to allow us carry out the ceremony in that room.

I wanted it to be special and romantic– something which Anahita always wanted. I had the whole hall filled with white flowers. Everyone was dressed in white.

Large photographs of her, capturing those beautiful moments of her journey – from childhood till date, were adorning the walls.

I looked at my watch. It was five forty in the morning.! In spite of being an early morning affair, I could see that no one had strained eyes.

Anahita’s mom offered me topor, the turban worn by the groom in Bengali weddings. I handed over my pheta to her and bent my head. She placed the topor on my head.

After taking blessings from my parents and her mom, I went up to her cot and stood next to it. The whole hall was silent.

I was perhaps the only person in the hall, who stood smiling. “It’s good to see you all here. Means a lot to me”, I thanked everyone in a calm voice.

“It doesn’t happen in Hindu marriages, but I want to deliver a short speech before I get married. You might feel that few things are being overdone and few other things might sound dramatic, but I want you people to know that, it’s important for me. It’s important for us. Please bear with it”, I added.

I turned towards Anahita.

“The moment is finally here Anahita. We are getting married”, I said and my voice choked. I wiped my tears and reminded myself to stay in the present.

“Every guy on the earth claims to be lucky, when he gets married to his lady love. But let me draw an exception”, said I and looked at her. All the calmness in the world was resting on her face. The nurse standing next to her was smiling through her tears.

“You are the luckiest woman in the world. You are getting married to the one who loves you the most.”, I paused again.

“On this day, I needn’t tell how much I love you. Because, you know about it and I don’t find a need for the world to know it. On this day, I don’t want to tell why I love you. Because, everything about you is equally specially to me. However, I do want to tell something. Something, which the world might find uninteresting, but you will definitely appreciate”.

The time read six. I signaled the staff and they slowly opened the windows of the hall. First rays of sun made their way to the hall and to the beautiful garden outside. Strokes of cold breeze traversed through the window. Birds started singing the music of the hour.

“Dew drops, sunshine and a blade of grass.! Few days back you had asked me the meaning of it, when I floated those words in front of you. That moment, I had no answer. But Now , I do have one.

The grass stays on the ground till it dies. Sun has been maintaining it’s routine for years. Dew drops make their presence felt in the night and starts disappearing with the first stroke of sunlight.

Everyday sun wakes up to tell us that it’s a new beginning.  That very moment, you neither think about the past, nor worry about the future. You live in the present, you live the moment.

That very moment..,where dew drop, sunshine and blades of grass meet up for the only time in the day. It comes only when your day begins, signalling a beautiful beginning to a new chapter.

The words ‘dewdrops, sunshine and a blade of grass’ will not make any difference to those who have not seen it. But those who have lived the experience, can understand the beauty behind it”, I said and pointed towards the window.

Everyone in the room looked in the direction. The tender rays of sun were amplifying the beauty of the moist green plants in the garden. The white flowers in the room, the greenery outside and the orange tinge from the sun light was dressing up the whole scene. It was grandeur in all its serenity.

“On this day, I want to tell you that our journey together has had several such chapters with beautiful beginnings”, my voiced choked again. Once again I asked myself to stop picturing a life without her.

“I want to tell you that this is once such new chapter in our life. A new chapter with a beautiful beginning. ! This day when I am marrying you, I want to tell you that this would the most beautiful chapter in my life, which I will cherish till my one last breath. Wishing both of us a happy married life”.

I was done with whatever I had to say. I don’t know if she was able to hear all that I said. But it didn’t matter. She already knew the only thing which I wanted her to know – that I love her.

Anahita’s mom handed me over the mangalsutra. The lady doctor and my mom along with a nurse approached the bed. They slowly lifted her head and I tied it around her neck.

Amit stepped forward. “Now you may kiss the bride”, he said.

I smiled at him and bent towards her.

I closed my eyes and placed a peck on her lips, though the ventilation mask. A tear silently slipped from the corner of her eye, down her cheeks!

New-Picture-37

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Chapter 56 and counting

The final chapter

Some day in the future

“I must say, that was quite a wine. I really appreciate the way you have dressed up the whole reading section. And I love the name that you have given to this place. It’s beautiful”, said the old man in his sixties. He was sitting in my cabin. He was a retired journalist.

I thanked him.

“Goaaaal….!!”, the loud cheer from the other hall breached its walls, reaching us feebly and I smiled.!!

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I stood there, facing the sky

On the top of the hill, all alone..!

All ears to the orchestra of birds

Arms outstretched, eyes closed and feeling the breeze against my skin!

The first ray of sun kissed my skin and made it warm.

I knew at once – A new day was here..!

A new day, marking a new beginning

Punctual as usual and being pleasant as ever!

I opened my eyes and looked all around..

Coming together for the only time in the day

Stood there.., smiling all around me…

Dewdrop, sunshine and blades of grass..!!

Adding a touch of beauty to the new beginning

Dewdrop, sunshine and a blade of grass..!!

gwxmxw

************   THE END  **********

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Thank you for reading. I cannot be sure that you have enjoyed this series, but I sincerely hope that you did.

If you have liked this series, please share it with your friends. That would help me reach maximum people, which I cannot otherwise. 🙂

I would also love to hear your feedback. You can provide yours by commenting here, or dropping an email to chandrajith.pb19@gmail.com.

Thank you once again 🙂 🙂

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -9)

Chapter 8

Strangers in car

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

(Click here to read the first episode)

Present

“I will explain everything, once I am back”, I said. All that I heard in return was the disconnect tone. Something similar had transpired a few minutes ago. Earlier, it was my mom and now it was Amit.

I had switched on my Bangalore number after more than a week. While my parents had tough time responding to queries from my relatives, Amit and my other business partners were unhappy about my absence during the business critical phase.

Company funds were about to exhaust, operation costs were increasing and we had hardly made any profits. We were yet to find any investor for the next round of funding.

“Is everything fine?” Anahita’s mom asked me, as soon as I returned to the lounge.

We were at the Kolkata airport and the check-in was due in few minutes.  Anahita and me were flying to Bangalore.

Her mom had agreed to send her along with me, but only after iterating through the following list of conditions, six times.

  1. She should stay at her aunt’s place.
  2. I should convince my parents about the marriage within one week.
  3. I must keep updating her mom about her health, twice a day.
  4. Anahita’s mom shall fly down to Bangalore during weekends and I mustn’t invade their privacy..!

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“So what did your dad say?” Anahita asked me after bringing down the window shutter. The flight had taken off.

“Nothing! They are mad at me. Cancelling the marriage is a big thing! My family has got a feeling that I have shamed them. ”, I paused to hand over the hygiene towel back to the air hostess.

“I haven’t spoken to my parents in last ten days. That has kept them worried and annoyed. And that girl Amulya, she is upset with her parents and has left home. Her parents in turn, are upset with mine. When my parents see you, it will only add to the chaos and madness”, I let out a helpless laugh.

“What do you want me to do?, she asked me, pressing my shoulder.

“I want you to just stay with me and make me feel strong”, I smiled.

“And your friends? Amit? Did you get to speak to them?” she enquired.

“Even they are mad at me and it’s understandable. We are going through a tough phase and I was not with them in those last ten days.”.

“What do you want me to do?”, she asked me again. She looked very worried.

“Stay with me and make me stronger”, I pulled her cheeks and smiled.

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There wasn’t any need for me to ring the doorbell, the door was wide open. On my way from airport to home, I had called my mom and told her that I will be bringing Anahita along with me.

The cast ensemble at our home was huge. There was my dad, mom, her three sisters with their husbands, my dad’s two sisters along with their husbands; half a dozen cousins, mom’s socialite friends and a couple of neighbours.

I assume that they had come over to lend their moral support. Surprisingly, they weren’t dressed for the occasion! Ladies were all dressed in their rich sarees and had glittering gold all around their neck and wrists.

“Ask him to leave”, said my Father and made an exit from the hall as soon as I reached the door. It was like those 20 seconds role of a junior artist in the movie. He waits for his moment and when it comes, he plays it to perfection and vanishes!

“This is Anahita”, I introduced her to the rest of them. Anahita raised her right hand to wave hi. I signalled her from the corner of my eye and she joined hands to do a Namaste.

“Because of you, that girl’s life is ruined. We are ashamed to make a public appearance”, scolded my mom. I was expecting the scene to be dramatic, but this was all cold serious.

“It’s not her fault mom”, I tried to shield Anahita from all the undue scolding.

“Now you don’t tell me whom to blame. Why did you bring this girl here, to shame us further?”, she spoke in tough voice and approached the door.

“Mom.. It’s j..”, I tried to explain her when she interrupted me again.

“No. None of us want to hear anything from you. You are not welcome here, unless you find Amulya, make an apology and convince her to go back home”, she said and shut the door.

The treatment was expected. I looked at Anahita with an apologizing look.

“Not a great welcome. My mom in law loses 500 points for this”, she winked. That was her way of telling me that she didn’t feel bad. I felt immensely proud for having chosen a girl who cared to stand by me, during my tough times.

“Next what?”, she asked.

” You must be tired. Let me drop you at your aunt’s place”.

” You were supposed meet your business pals right! Let me accompany you”, she said and walked towards the car.

“In that case, I think we should be geared up for one more round of humiliation”, I issued a statement of caution.

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I felt completely numb.

“Come on.! You can’t blame it on us now. We had tried calling you. Who’s fault is it, if you had chosen to keep your phone switched off”, Vinod yelled at me.

It was my idea and my company. I wasn’t expecting to be yelled at.

A day earlier my business partners had met Syndrone VCs, who had agreed to fund the company. In exchange they wanted 45% stake in the company. To my horror, these guys had agreed to it- without much thinking.

“We were under pressure Sid. You have to understand. What if our stakes are less, the investment that we will receive is still very huge. We will be rich anyway” – Nayana tried to explain with all her calmness.

“You guys don’t understand this. It was my idea to start this company. You cannot discount me when it comes to decisions like these. It’s as if I don’t exist”, I vented out my anger.

“Sid! The company was built on your idea, we agree. But we helped you build it. We have spent more than two years to bring it to this stage”, said Vinod and took a deep breath.

He continued with a cold voice. “Two years is quite a lot of time Sid. None of us had time to roam around with our girlfriends, none of us had time to get engaged to some random girl and definitely none of us had any time to cancel that engagement”.

He was effortlessly serving me the sarcasm sauce and I wasn’t able to swallow it with ease.

“You are trying to get into my personal space Vinod. You better watch your words”, I warned him.

“Of course Sid. I will watch my words. But you try to educate yourself. If you think idea alone helps you qualify as a major stakeholder, then you are definitely wrong. It’s about investing your time, thoughts and making sure of staying with the company when it matters”.

My conscious was silently agreeing to whatever he said, but I had to keep my dignity afloat.

“So.. what..! you want me to quit the board?”, I got fired up. The discussion was turning ugly.

“I think you guys have to cool down”, Amit tried to bring the situation under control.

However, Vinod had no intention of putting down the flame. “It’s your choice Sid. If you want to quit, you can. I will not stop you. You will still get your share of profit”.

It was unexpected and I wasn’t prepared to hear that answer. My anger saw a meltdown. I fell short of words.

It’s not the feel of getting ousted that made me emotional. It was the plain truth that he made me realize – I didn’t deserve to be in the board!

“Ah.. I am sorry. I think you are right!”, I said with a plain smile. “I think I am not the right person to run the company!”, I added.

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

“What happened?”, she asked me.

The security guard opened the gate and I drove my car outside the company premises.

“This might sound crazy, but I am out of my own company”, I took almost five minutes before replying.

She didn’t speak. I stopped my car and looked at her. Her eyes had turned moist. There was a loud thunder outside and it started pouring all of a sudden.

“What’s the matter Anahita?” I asked her.

She lowered the window and looked away. “I am sorry Sid. This is all because of me. You have been forced into these personal and professional hardships because of me. I don’t know what to do.! I am feeling so guilty”.

She was feeling very sorry and I had to tell her that it wasn’t her fault. I wanted to tell her that I was feeling better after quitting the company. I wanted both of us to forget about all these things for a moment.

“Hey, do you want to play this little game ?”, I asked her.

“Sid.!”, she made a complaining face.

“Hey.! the game is really an interesting one. It’s called ‘strangers in car’. It was invented by this chancellor of zorpia, in the year 1726. It was a snowy winter. The volcano in the fifth mountain of Seramis mountain range had erupted..”, I started explaining.

“Sid.! The first ever car was manufactured in the year 1886”, she smirked.

This is the problem of dating a general knowledge whiz kid. They will be on their heels to show off their facts quotient.

“Sid.! I know that you have made this up just now. You invented the game while you spoke, didn’t you?”, she asked.

I nodded. She knew me inside out!

“Anahita..! There are few things that you shouldn’t question. It’s in the interest of the game”, I played a lame defence.

“So tell me about the game!”, she said with a smile. She was the only person who could digest all my idiotic thoughts.

“In this game, people are supposed to act like strangers in bus. Sitting next to each other, we should have a conversation and try to know about each other ”.

She badly wanted to tell me that the game would be as boring as the veg curry in a non veg meal.

“Excuse me.! Do I know you?”, she asked and winked.

She knew that the game was the stupidest game, one could ever play. However, both of us knew that it would help us forget our problems for a moment and that was all that we wanted.

“There you go.!”,  I said. “Hey ! You want to grab a cup of Hot coffee.? Spicy pakodas would be a lovely combination with the weather”.

“Yes sir! By the way, I am Anahita”, she held her hands towards me.

“That’s one of the most beautiful name that I have ever known. I have an equally wonderful name. They call me Sid.”, I shook hands with her and drove towards the MN Street.

She was the queen of drama and I was the guy who wrote them.

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

Rain was pouring heavily and didn’t appear to stop. The mobile canteen guy had tied a blue tarpaulin under which we were standing and having our coffees in those tiny plastic cups. The soil smelt good and the steam of the coffee was helping the cold.

“Kyon aati hai bahaar
Kyon lutta hai karaar

Kyon hota hai pyaar

Na tum jano na hum
Na tum jano na hum..”

The canteen guy had tuned into the FM rainbow station. I stood amazed by the sight of his tiny pocket radio. For a moment, my childhood did a peek a boo and I grew nostalgic.

“This song, the coffee and these pakodas are making me fall in love with the rain”, she said.

“And the conversation with you is making me fall in love with this moment”, I replied. Well, I was trying to flirt with my beloved lady.

“So, Anahita. What do you do?”, I asked her. The game was still on.

“Well.. I was working as an Engineer, here in Bangalore. Then went back to Kolkata stayed there for some time. I had started growing a vineyard. I had named it sunshine and wanted to build an open air library inside it”.

Well, this was something that she had never told me.

“Why name it sunshine?”, I enquired.

“Well..! My dad had named our house dewdrops. Sunshine makes the dew drop look extremely beautiful. So, you know..!”, she explained.

“Sounds nice. So, what happened to your sunshine?”.

“Grapes were all ripe, but then I found this new job”, she added.

“Which job?”, I asked. I was genuinely curious.

“Well.. The job was to create a personal and professional trouble in the life of a person called Siddarth. And guess what..! I have been successful, so far.!”, she said.

I didn’t respond.

“What about you?” , she asked.

“Well..! I once aspired to be a cricketer. After passing out from college, I realized that cricket thing was never going to happen.

My next big dream was to build a crazy restaurant. But my dad wasn’t ready to invest on such a stupid project”.

I paused and asked the canteen guy to serve one more plate of pakodas.

“Since I badly wanted to build that restaurant and didn’t have enough money, I began a startup. And know what, I am out of the company now”, I paused again.

“Ah.! I am so sorry”, she sounded sorry.

“Ah. Don’t be sorry. A true businessman stays undeterred during tough times. I have two things to cheer about. I have my beloved lady with me and I am going to start a new business”, I announced my new plans.

Floating a business idea was turning into a routine of mine.

“What is the business about?”, her eyes twinkled in excitement.

The rain had stopped. Sun had slowly started peeping through the clouds.

“I am going to grow a vineyard, build an open air library and start a winery next to it. Readers would love to have some fresh wine while they read. I am going to call it- dewdrops, sunshine and a blade of grass”.

“Ah..! Looks like someone is stealing someone’s idea. But why that name?”, she asked.

Clearly, I had no intentions of growing creepers, building a reading place and opening a wine store. On the top of it, I seriously had no clue why this name crossed my mind.

“Looks like someone must give someone enough time to come up with a better and beautiful reason behind the name”, I smiled.

“Ah.! I grant you that, but it better be beautiful. By the way, you need money to build that winery don’t you?”, she asked. She had indeed believed that I was going to build that winery.!

My mobile phone beeped. I opened the message.

“What happened? All okay?”, she asked.

 

‘Heard about your startup fiasco.

You bring amulya back to her parents

And

I am going to finance your restaurant business.’

My dad had sent me the message just when I needed it. He once again proved that he had a good sense of perfect timing.

I wasn’t sure how to understand it – Either he wanted to help me out or he wanted to make the most of my situation, by forcing me to bring Amulya back to her home.

“Sid.! What happened?”, she asked me again.

“Looks like someone has got the money already”, I smiled and showed her the message.

She smiled and hugged me out of the excitement.

The coffee shop guy felt too shy seeing us hug.

The rain had stopped now.

“Watch there..! It’s a rainbow”, she said pointing at the sky, as we walked towards our car. It was a beautiful sight.

“I think, I am going to name my restaurant after it – The rainbow. Rainbow stands for variety and it also stands for beauty”, I said holding her hands.

“Ah.. Then the dew drops, sunshine a blade of grass is not going to happen, is it?”, she acted disappointed. As mentioned earlier, she was the queen of drama.

“Or shall we name the restaurant dewdrops, sunshine a blade of grass?”, I asked her.

“Not before you find a suitable explanation for that?”, she said in a complaining tone.

“And definitely not before I make an apology to Amulya and get some investment from my Dad”, I replied and laughed.

“Sid.!”, she said.

“What?”

She looked into my eyes – “When you apologize to her, I want you to really mean it. I don’t want you to think about the money that you will get from your dad”.

She was making me fall in love with her again and again.

“Got it”, I smiled.

The next thing I saw was her collapsing on the ground!!

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

To be continued

Click here to read the next and final episode

Thank you for reading. I have one more episode to be published, before the series ends. I would love to hear from you, things that could be improved ( avoided) etc. It would only help me write better. 🙂

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

Click here to visit the page——

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

Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -8)

Chapter 7

On her birthday

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

(Click here to read the first episode)

Past

A year had passed by, after meeting Anahita in that film workshop….

In spite of pitching my restaurant idea with wide variety of flavours, I wasn’t able to convince my dad and his business partners about its prospective profit.

Taking orders and limiting my creative freedom was something that I despised, hence stayed away from corporate jobs.

Unlike my other friends, I didn’t have an affinity towards higher studies.

The cricketing talent in me had failed to earn me a spot even in a third division league.!

But when your dad is someone who owns a business, that fetches him about fifty million INR a month, you are never jobless and insecure about your future.

Hence the asset of the nation had to park his ‘ass at’ one of his dad’s electronic showrooms in BTR Nagar.

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

Anahita was in her final year now.

For some, there will be a sharp spike in emotions, where all of a sudden they feel that they are in love. Till their one last breath, they will remember that one moment where they had fallen in love.

For others, there will no such moment of realization. Over a period of time, they learn that they are in love. I belonged to the latter category. If I were asked to pin point any such moment, I would either leave the paper clean or litter it completely!

After eight coffee corner sessions, two hundred good night messages, occasional phone calls, six Bollywood movies in theatres and two commercial street shoppings, I was convinced that I was in love with her.

The next thing to do was the obvious – to propose her.

There are two ways by which you can let the person know about your love for her – confession and proposal.

While there have been enough discussions and debates on their definitions and differences, the most satisfactory description could be summed up to this:

‘Confession is a process of telling your prospective partner that you love her.

 On the other hand, With proposal; you are in fact placing a legitimate request in front of her to be your partner.

Proposal could also be considered as a validation process, wherein you can ask your person of interest to confirm if she has feelings towards you.

A proposal would always start with confession. But a confession needn’t be followed with a proposal’.

I had to choose between confession and proposal. Irrespective of the choice that I make, I wanted to play it the romantic way!

magical-proposal

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

I checked my watch again. It read eleven fifty five. Apart from my double dozen friends, half a dozen street lamps and a pack of street dogs, there was no one on street. Five more minutes and I would call her up; ask her to come down stairs.

I quickly dialled a number.

“Yeah Sir.! Everything okay?”, he asked after answering it on the ninth ring. I had woken him up from his deep sleep.

I had called him for the thirteenth time during that night. Every time, I had only one thing to ask.

“Just wanted to make sure that everything goes perfect. The green button would play the birthday song and the red one would light the candle and turn on those lights on the castle. Right?”.

By now, he must have mentally certified me of obsessive Compulsive disorder.!

“Yes sir.! And the orange button would turn on the chocolate fountain”, he replied.

I had ordered a custom made cake, one and half feet tall and built to resemble a castle. It was wired with electric circuits and plugged with motors and rotors. There was a remote control in my hand and I had to make sure that I remember what each button is supposed to do.

“I needn’t check the chocolate tank right? I mean, what if the chocolate gets dry and fountain doesn’t work?”, I shared my concern.

“Don’t worry sir. When the motor in the tank starts, it makes sure that the chocolate turns into fluid”, he tried hard not to sound annoyed.

I wished him a good night and mentally reiterated the steps.

First, I should press the green button and the birthday song would play. Anahita would then start wondering from where the song is being played. I will then lift the wrapper and surprise her with the large beautiful cake.

While the surprise is yet to sink in, I will press the red button. Candle in the hands of a fairy made out of cake, should get lit and so shall those little LEDs plugged into the castle. Anahita would definitely be mesmerized by the beauty of it.

I will then press the orange button and the chocolate fountain would play. Now, which girl wouldn’t like to see a chocolate fountain!

After about twenty seconds, I will press the yellow button and a small princess resembling Anahita will come out of the castle.

It was the craziest cake that one could ever see. It had taken them 4 days to build the cake and I had personally overseen the entire work.

While many of my friends had found this whole idea to be filmy, I had only one answer to silence them all – ‘you watch those larger than life scenes in movies and found joy in them. What stops you from recreating it in real life? Doing something filmy might appear stupid, but it doesn’t matter as long as the purpose of making your loved one happy, is met. And nothing is artificial until you do it from heart’.

The final and the most important step was to wish her a happy birthday and go on knees to propose her. I had strictly ordered my friends (there were about twenty, including girls) to stay behind the big water tank, until she accepts my proposal. They shall then burst paper crackers, followed by celebrations.

The minute hand kissed the hour hand and I went up to the gate. It was a ladies PG.

“Kaanchi re Kaanchi re.. preet meri saanchi..

Ruk jaa na jaa dil tod ke”

The old Gurkha, who was busy listening to the song from a local FM station, stopped me from getting past the gate. Neither the purpose, nor the Indian currency helped me gain an entry.

I had to ask Sheethal, to bring Anahita downstairs.

When she returned alone, I knew that something was wrong.

“What happened?” I asked.

She told me that Anahita’s mom was in Bangalore for two days to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. Both had booked a room in Hotel Galaxy and were staying there.

I tried hard to not look disappointed.

“What about the cake now?”, Rahul asked.

“No idea! The cake will be spoilt by tomorrow. Can’t keep it in freezer, batteries of those motors will be dead. Can’t replace them without breaking open the cake’s base. So that’s it, I guess!”, I let out air of despair.

Few of them suggested me to cut the cake on her behalf. Few others also suggested that it be video recorded and the recording would be a perfect gift for Anahita. I had to comply.

Karan switched on his Panasonic handycam and grinned. He had finally found an excuse to flaunt his new gadget.

I adjusted my thin volume of hair and took a deep breath.

“Anahita..! I was always looking out for reasons to make you feel special. And I have found one in your birthday”, I started speaking- looking at the camera. Samarth had written down the speech for me and I had rehearsed it for hours.

“Celebrating a birthday is like a biggest headache, I tell you. Because, you have to make sure that it is like.. hmm.. memorable, filled with surprises etc. Buying gifts takes even more painstaking effort”. I gave a brief pause, expecting that few of them would laugh, but no one did.!

I continued.

“Dress can either turn tight or fit loose and when it fits perfect, color plays the devil. Jewelry is very expensive. A gift Card is too main stream. Gifting a book is a tricky trade; you can never be sure that the reader will like it.

A Show-piece is not useful and something like a make-up kit is not too memorable. Cheaper watch would look bad; however an expensive one makes you feel that something else could be bought using that money.

Gifting money will make one feel offended and a photo frame is something that you have in numbers”. I stopped for breath.

“Every gift has its shortcomings. However, I am not denying the fact that there are people who are good at buying a perfect gift. To your disappointment, I must admit that I am not in that talent pool. But, before gifting you and celebrating your birthday, let me teach you an important philosophy today”. I played a well-rehearsed pause, again.

“It’s about gifting and being gifted, celebrating and being celebrated. I always believe that one should never force himself to like every gift that she gets. But, she should make sure that she identifies the effort someone has put in, to find a perfect gift for her.

I want you to understand the nervousness of that person, when you open those gifts. I want you to value his thoughts of making you happy and get you surprised.

Gift is never important Anahita. Nervousness in the person when you open the gift is and so is the affection behind it. Those are the greatest gifts in disguise”.

I slowly held out the controller and pressed the green button. The melodious birthday instrumental started playing.

“Today, while we celebrate your birthday, I want you to understand that nothing gives me us more joy than seeing you smile.

I want you to understand that the greatest gift that you are going to get today is the efforts put in by my friends to see you smile and my sincere hope that you will like this celebration.

I want you to know that, if there are people who want to be see you happy, count me amongst them. Many more wishes on your birthday Anahita. Happy birthday !”.

It was not one of those memorable speeches that they had ever listened, but everyone clapped. Of course, they had to.!

It was time to light the candle and then I would go on knees to propose her, I thought. I slowly pressed the red button. The next thing I know was a big spark and a loud bang.

Girls present there, screamed. There was a short circuit inside the cake !

I pressed the red button couple of more times, and while doing so, the orange button got pressed. A wild sound, resembling an old rotating fan started building, slowly.

I knew that something bad was going to happen. However, not everyone who can sense danger, can turn into a savior.

In no minute, the sound turned uglier and it was followed with something worse. The fountain started to dance wildly and began splashing chocolates all over us. Our faces and shirts received thick deposits of chocolate.

“Not bad! If Anahita was here, this would have saved our efforts of dumping cake on her face”, said Sheetal in a tone laced with sarcasm.

I felt good that Anahita wasn’t here. Else, it would have been even more embarrassing.

“You had plans of proposing her, didn’t you?”, Raaghu reminded me.

I touched my pocket and felt the velvet ring box sitting inside it. I stayed quiet and helped others in clearing the mess.

Now that the opportunity was gone, I couldn’t think of any other ways of proposing her. Going on knees and holding out a ring would always be there, but choosing the right moment was difficult.

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

“It’s not going to work this way”, I said while driving back home.

Ritu and Samart threw a questioning look.

“I am going to start my restaurant”

“How come all of sudden?”, Ritu asked.

“When I propose her, I don’t want her to look at me as a loser, a guy who has no job, who couldn’t achieve his goals. I don’t want her to see me as a good for nothing guy, looking after one his dad’s showrooms. Anahita knew how badly I wanted to build that restaurant. A man turns his ambitions into reality; nothing can beat the dignity in that.”

“But, you said your dad isn’t ready to pump in money”.

“Yeah! I know”.

“Then how are you going to gather so much money?”, Amit asked.

“By starting another business”, I replied with no second thought.

“And what would that be?” all three of them jumped at once.

“I think I will start a company that would..”, I started in a determined voice when my mobile beeped.

There was a message from Anahita .I opened the inbox.

‘Sry.! Forgot 2 tell u.!

Its ma bde. Dnt call m nw. Mom’s here.

V shall meet afta 3 days.

You better have smthng to surprise me

Gn 🙂

When a girl expects you to surprise her, it’s understood that you have found a place in her zone of special ones. I read the message six more times.

“Hey you were telling something… about the business”. Amit reminded me about the half-finished speech.

“You know what ..!”, I said.

“What?” they asked.

“Never mind! Forget the business plans for now. Let’s gear up for the proposal day, 3 days from now”, I winked.

This time I had to come up with something better, something beautiful and something memorable. Something.., that would earn me a promotion from ‘special ones’ zone to ‘the one’ zone.

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

To be continued

Click here to read the next episode

Thank you for reading. I have two more episodes to be published, before the series ends. I would love to hear from you, things that could be improved ( avoided) etc. It would only help me write better. 🙂

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

Click here to visit the page——

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -7)

Chapter 6

Persuation

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

Present

After four days….

“Hello..!!” I smiled tenderly when she opened the door. It was 10 in the morning, and I knew that her mom will be in her college.

“I am sorry for that day and for everything that has transpired in these four months. Sorry for coming here in your mom’s absence. She wouldn’t have allowed me to meet you if I had come in the morning”, I apologized and extended the bunch of tender coconuts and fruits towards her. With four months of long silence between us, formal gestures had taken a front seat.

She took those fruits from me and replied “It’s Sunday. And no one runs a college on a Sunday”. The next moment her mom entered the hall, drying her hair with a towel. Gosh..! Yes. It was a Sunday.!

I expected her mom to chase me out, but was completely taken aback when she instructed us both to go upstairs and have our conversation.!

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

As soon as she closed the door, I ran into tears and hugged her. The fear of losing her had turned me into a weakling.

“Don’t be that melodramatic Sid.! I am not dying”, she laughed. For the first time in four months, I had seen her laugh.

It appeared as if all her anger had subsided and she had pardoned me.

“Shut up Anahita. You have cancer”, I chided her. You can take the liberty of showing affectionate anger in moments like these.

“Not anymore”, she smiled.

“What do you mean not anymore? The tumor is removed yes, but you are not out of danger.  There are chances that few malignant cells are still remaining. So you cannot relax”, I replied instantly.

While it’s on the moral side to instill a hope of survival in a person fighting her disease, I had chosen a completely wrong side – displaying my expertise in biological science.

“You don’t know how to talk to a person who has cancer”, she sounded upset. I bit my lower lip and put up a sorry face.

“So why are you here?”, she asked.

“I am here to take you along with me to Bangalore. I want to marry you “, I said. I wasn’t an expert at putting across my emotions in an effective manner. My tone failed to convey how much I missed being with her and how badly I wanted to get married to her.

She looked at me for few seconds. “You broke my heart by getting engaged to her and broke her’s by cancelling it. It’s not some table tennis game Sid. It’s your life and ours too. Stop doing ping and pong”.

I stayed quiet. I couldn’t tell her that my grandma was in her deathbed and that she insisted that I get married at the earliest. I couldn’t tell her that I was too scared about discussing our love with my parents.

In spite of being the genuine reason, it wasn’t something credible for Anahita to believe it.

I hung my head down.

“So what was her reaction? Did she feel affronted?” she asked. Anahita was one of those vocab geeks, who would wait for an opportunity to use those newly learnt words. On the other hand, I was one of those guys who would wait for such lifelines in a tense conversation, to bring in some lighter mood.

“You want me to ask the meaning of affronted. Don’t you?”, I grinned.

“ Sid..!”,  said she in a complaining tone and continued. “Fine.! It means disrespect, insult etc. Okay, tell me one thing. Did you get to speak to her after that?”, she asked.

I silently pushed the word affronted into my vocabulary and replied. “I have switched off my Bangalore number. Haven’t had any word even with my family. But, why are you being concerned Anahita? She would be fine”. I tried to hug her.

She gently pushed me away and avoided the hug. “I should be concerned Sid. I feel responsible. And unlike you, I have emotions and I respect emotions of other individuals”.

The conversation was heading towards a possible rift and I had to steer it in the safest direction possible.

“I understand that I have low volume of emotions, but I am still better than your mom”, I dragged her mom into the conversation.

“You deserved that treatment Sid. Feel good that you weren’t thrown out of the house”, she threw light on the positive side of her mom.

“Hey girl.! Your mom was completely right when she scolded me. I completely deserve that, I agree. But I was referring to that day when your dog had died, when she had left you all alone in the house. You have just recovered from the disease, and it’s not right on her part to leave you unattended”. She wanted to say something, when I interrupted her again.

“For this, my mom in law would lose 400 points. I think it would be difficult for her to impress me”, I tried to lighten the mood again and spoke in humor.

She didn’t laugh. It took me less than five seconds to figure out the reason. Her mom was standing next to the door listening to our conversation. I was pretty sure that she had heard those last 20 seconds of our conversation. I smiled like a stupid and felt like taking a giant leap from the balcony.

“Breakfast is ready. Come downstairs, whenever you are hungry”, the tough principal spoke again and disappeared in no moment.

“So where were we? Yeah. You were telling something about points”, Anahita pulled my leg.

“See this is exactly what I was pointing at. Daughter and her hubby are having a private conversation. Is it right on her part to stand next to the door and eaves drop? She loses 500 points for this”, I acted angry.

“Yeah right..! Convince her to allow me to come with you. Let’s see how many points you are going to lose”, she challenged me.

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

“Poori was nice aunty!”, I offered fake compliments to her mom, after struggling through the dish that she had prepared.

“Sid. It’s chapathi”, Anahita winked. “You lose 700 points for this”, she whispered.

Chapathi seriously?? – I screamed silently. With one liter of oil dripping from them, those were perhaps the most expensive chapathis that I’d ever eaten.

After the breakfast, aunty asked me if we could have a word about Anahita. I nodded and followed her to the balcony. Anahita stayed downstairs.

It had started raining again. Kolkata is usually considered as a steam cooker, but thanks to frequent downpours, I was enjoying a comfortable stay.

“So you want to take along Anahita with you?” her mom questioned me staring at the tall banyan tree.

“Yes Aunty”.

“You are aware of her health condition, don’t you?”

“Yeah! But, nothing to worry. There will be regular check ups for next few months. If any residues found, she has to undergo treatments”, I spoke calmly.

There was a silence amidst the sound of the rain.

“I have nothing against you Sid. But, there would come no ‘yes’ from me, for your marriage”.

I am marrying your daughter, and not you, you old lady. I am not dying for your ‘yes’ – I felt like telling her.

“What’s the reason aunty? Cultural difference? My thin volume of hair? You didn’t like my attitude or is it that I am running a startup?” I put forth an objective question with multiple choices.

She went for ‘none of the above’ option.

“Then?”, I asked.

“Anahita doesn’t want to marry you. Since she was not able to tell you this, She wanted me to act as if it’s me who is against this marriage”

I felt like laughing. “Come on aunty. Anahita loves me a lot, and even you are aware of that. Of course, we had our quota of fights and cold wars, that doesn’t mean that we don’t like each other. If Anahita has a problem with our marriage, she would have said it on my face”, I said.

Immediately, I realized that I had to correct my last sentence – “which she did. But, you very well know that she loves me lot”.

“She loves you Sid. I know that. But, she doesn’t want to marry you”, she replied. It was like an organic chemistry class for me – confusing and hard to understand.

“You have to explain me aunty. You are getting me confused”.

She looked at me. Her eyes were red. I thought she was angry. But when I noticed that fat layer of moisture in her eyes, I knew at once that she was crying.

“Don’t you get it Sid? She loves you and that’s the reason she doesn’t want to get married to you. She loves you and that’s the reason she is not able to tell you this”. The second part of the puzzle was comprehendible, but same couldn’t be said about the first one.

There was a lady crying in front of me and I had to console her. Instead of doing the gentleman act, I did something stupid but genuine.

“Aunty, I am sorry to say this. But you are in teaching profession, moreover you are a principal. I was expecting you to be good at explaining things, but sadly you aren’t. God bless your students!”, saying this I quickly rushed downstairs.

I had to talk to Anahita.

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

“Sid, few things are better left unsaid”, she replied.

‘Yes, like the annoying one you just said’, I almost said it.

“You know why guys turn mad, pick up alcohol or give up everything in life and push themselves into a cocoon, after a broken heart?”, I asked.

“Because, it’s hard for them to forget their love and move on?”, she asked.

“Yes, but only in 10% of cases”, I gave her a made up stat.

“What about the rest?”

“Rest 90% set out on a journey, trying to find answers for questions like, why did the girl leave me? Didn’t she love me? Etc. It’s like a puzzle, very hard to solve. They keep asking this question to themselves again and again and again”, I paused.

“And when they fail to find an answer, all that they try to do is forget the question. They want to stop thinking about reasons. That’s why they pick up habits. It’s never about the failed love story Anahita, it’s about those words unsaid and  questions unanswered”, I put forth my theory.

“So you are telling me that, you will become one of them?”, she asked.

“Nope. I am telling you that, you will turn me into one of them”, I alleged her of a prospective crime.

“Sid. You are making it difficult for me”, she was in tears and I had to stop her from crying.

“What’s the matter girl?”, I took her in my arms and gave a warm hug. She buried her face in my chest.

“Doctors have told me that this momentary paralysis is hard to cure, and will recur periodically. Cancer isn’t completely cured. You have your own life Sid, don’t waste it on me”.

“Not motivating enough to dump you dear”, I winked at her while hiding my emotions.

She mildly punched my chest. The girl you love, punching you mildly you on the chest in moments like these – I think it would count amongst the most beautiful feelings that you could ever experience in your lifetime.

“Let’s be practical Sid. You very well know that I can’t even have kids”, she finally had to tell me the truth.

I knew exactly what she was hinting at, but I felt strange that I didn’t find the truth as an earth shattering one. I could only hug her more tightly.

“Why you worry? Even I don’t want kids. And when we feel like having some, we shall adopt”, I said and kissed her forehead.

“It’s not that Sid. Me and you, we can never have a love life. My body is too weak for that”.

However odd it might sound to pronounce, you can’t deny the fact that sexual life is an integral part of your marital life. Her body was too weak for that, and she was concerned that it would either push our marriage into ruins or force me into sacrificing my sexual life.

If I were put in this situation a few years back, I would have backed off from this relationship! But now it appeared like a trifle.

She had spent these three months thinking about all these, and was trying to let go me.

I didn’t speak a word. Instead, gently pinched her nose. She knew my choice – I was going to stay with her.

Her lips stretched, dimples surfaced on her cheeks and she tightened her hug.

0f2ea9ab16f9e26aa468f317c12404c9

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To be continued

Click here to read the Eight Episode..

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -6)

Chapter 5

One more truth

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

Present

It perfectly synced – Me opening the gate and Anahita’s mom opening the door. I couldn’t have chosen a more inappropriate time.

“Good morning Aunty” I greeted her as my first act of defense. Anahita’s health was a mystery that was eating me from within. I was deeply concerned and anxious.

“I told you yesterday. I don’t want you here”.

“Aunty please”, I spoke like a kid – head bent down.

“I am getting late for the college. I don’t have time for this”, the principal of Claudia Arts College spoke in a tough voice.

“No no aunty, you carry on. I just have to meet Anahita and talk to her”, I spoke like a fool only to earn her glare.

“You are troubling us Siddarth. I have to act tough now” she warned me.

I looked up to see Anahita standing in the balcony. There wasn’t any wheel chair next to her.!

“Oh..! She looks fine. The wheelchair had scared me yesterday”, I let out a huge sigh of relief.

The response was an outburst- “Show some maturity and behave like a grown up”.

This time I was silent again. Not because I was scared, but because I was angered by the way her mom was treating me. I felt like punching the gate with all my might. Since I couldn’t do that, I put my every energy into swallowing words, that otherwise would have come out, in a fit of rage.

I made an exit.

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“Hello aunty. Good evening” I greeted her soon after she answered my doorbell. She responded with a smile as artificial as that flower sitting inside the large brass vase kept on their coffee table.

Artificial or not, the smile had caught me by surprise.!

Earlier in the morning, after all my anger had drained out, I had tried calling Anahita several times, but in vain. Going to their house in her mom’s absence didn’t seem appropriate. So, I had waited for her mom to return from office.

Now that I was at the door, I waited for her to invite me inside, but she didn’t. However, she didn’t ask me to leave either. Opportunist that I was, I walked into the house.

I was welcomed with blank stares and half smiles from a quarter dozen members of a family. There was a grey haired uncle, dark haired aunty and a handsome guy of my age. Anahita was sitting facing them.

Empty tea cups and half emptied saucer of chips smiled at me and I smiled at the family and then at Anahita.

There was an ugly silence that made me feel like a sari clad lady in a discotheque – completely clueless and out of place.

“He’s siddarth. My friend”, Anahita introduced me and the family was forced to smile again. “They studied in the same college. He’s here in Kolkatta for some work and I asked him to come over”, Anahita’s mom delivered a strategic lie.

I waited for the introduction of those guests and when that didn’t happen, I could arrive at only thought – The handsome guy must be Anahita’s prospective groom.

I was still standing in the middle of the room and no one had asked me to sit down, not even Anahita.

“So what do you do Mr Sid?”, the guy asked me. His intention was to make me feel comfortable I guess, but I wasn’t a high school kid answering his viva. Standing and answering would never make me comfortable.

“I run a company”, I replied.

“Oh. Nice.. And what does your company do?”, the dark haired aunty was the next to join the interview panel.

“We manage Catering”, I replied.

“Oh Catering service to marriage functions and all huh?”, her eyes twinkled at the hope of having met the prospective caterer for her son’s marriage.

I had to correct her.

“I run this company which helps people connect with caterers. It’s a website where people can search for these guys. You can choose items from their menu, enter the quantity and check the total bill using the pricing calculator available in the website. Once satisfied with the menu and the custom pricing, you can place your order with the caterer”.

I then remembered that in these last two days, I had missed my critical business meetings.. I was also not available on phone, for my startup partners to contact me. Facing them once I return to Bangalore, would be a nightmare.

“Oh..! That’s quite fascinating Sid. What’s the company name?”, the guy asked me with a fake curiosity.

Anahita and her mom had assumed the role of audience. They had stayed quiet.

“Caterkaro.com is our website”, I replied patiently. Had it been some other occasion, I would have played an opportunist and given a demo of our website. Right now, I was dying to know if my speculation regarding Anahita’s marriage with this guy was right or not.

“Very good, son! We need more young millionaires like you”, the grey haired uncle had turned too generous with his compliment. My dad was a millionaire, not me.

In India, owning a startup would draw two major reactions – either the guy is going to be filthy rich or the guy is going to be in neck deep debt.

Anahita’s mom had figured out that my business was not doing good – there was an unmistakable smirk on her face.

“I think we can have a look at his website. It should help us with Karan’s marriage”, his mom spoke to her husband, thus giving me his much needed introduction, in disguise – His name was Karan and he will be getting married to Anahita.

There are moments when you are angry, yet you choose to stay silent. This was not one of those moments.

“Ah.. You think I let you get married? Never! Not even in your dreams” I erupted with fingers pointing at him.

“What? What’s wrong?”, his mom rose from her seat and so did her husband.

“What nonsense is this Sid?”, Anahita’s mom shouted at me.

Amidst all the chaos, Anahita was still quiet.

“Aunty, enough is enough. First of all you have been treating me badly since yesterday and now this is happening. I am sorry, but I am angry and I want you guys to know it”, she was at the receiving end of my reprimand.

As expected, I had fueled Anahita’s anger and she ranted – “Sid. You cannot talk to my mom like that”, and there ended my brief Mangal Pandey moment.

The resentment had taken a nosedive and I apologized.

Karan and family, who were taken aback from my sudden outburst, communicated through sign language and decided to leave.

Anahita’s mom’s face had turned brick red out of embarrassment and anger.

“Karan. I am really sorry. But this is how it is. Me and Anahita, we love each other. And we have plans of getting married. I hope you understand”, I told him and then turned towards Anahita.

Without uttering a single word, Anahit’s mom rushed out of the hall and entered the kitchen. It was followed by loud thuds. Music in the kitchen could mean only one thing- the lady is annoyed and she’s not able to spit it out.

I looked at Anahita, who threw her hands up in the air and spoke to me in tough voice.

“Sid. You badly need a break. And it’s all over between us. You should stop being stupid and annoying. Who told you that I am getting married to Karan? He and his family were the ones to admit me to the hospital. They have come here to see my health and you are insulting them. You never thought about me when you got engaged and never felt for her when you called it off. I don’t want to see your face. Just leave”, she ran a lengthy speech.

Her moist eyes couldn’t let her hide her emotions.

I could have apologized again. I could have explained my unconditional love towards her. I could have cried. I could have also cursed myself for acting stupid and assuming things about Karan and her.

But, her reprimand earned only one reaction.

“Why were you admitted to hospital Anahita? And yesterday you were on wheelchair. What’s the problem?”, I spoke in anxiety.

Anahita walked out of the hall and closed the bedroom door behind.

Karan placed his hand on my shoulder and took me out of the house.

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That day when she had fallen off from her scooter after partial limb paralysis, Karan’s family had her admitted to the hospital. It was then, that she was diagnosed with Spinal tumor.

She was operated on and the cancer was removed, but the treatment was still on. Chemotherapy was advised in case of any further traces of tumor discovered.

Irrespective of its type, the stage in which it is and the chances of getting cured, the word Cancer always leaves you disturbed.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, but I didn’t feel like talking to her. I went back to the hotel, with a crying heart.

To be continued

Click here to read the 7th Episode

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Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -5)

Chapter 4

My tryst with acting

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

Past

When I had told my dad about my plans of starting the restaurant business, he was immensely proud.

The thought of building the restaurant over an area of 10,000sq ft excited him and so did my plan regarding its interior designs. I had even shared my idea about having dedicated sports, geek and family sections.

He seemed to be exhilarated and was ready to pump in money. It was only when he understood my USP for the restaurant that he felt like sending me to a psychiatrist.

To make the restaurant unique and a crowd puller, I had a simple idea and I revealed it over a lunch party in Winland hotel. My dad had invited his business partners, with whom he co-owned the city’s leading consumer electronics retail chain – ‘DNX store’.

“The restaurant that I am going to run would always serve food at a discount of 50%. The maximum discount would be Rs 100 per food item” I spoke in the party hall.

“And?” asked one my dad’s friend, who had plans of investing in my restaurant.

“That’s it uncle. You offer quality food at a discount price and within no time the restaurant would turn into a hotspot” I grinned.

All of them threw questioning looks at my dad. ‘Has he gone nuts?’, must have been their intended question.

“Sid, you are too young to understand the nuances of money making. This is not how a business is run. With business you always expect returns. We are not into charity” my dad opted for a sweet scolding.

‘If you are not gonna respect my views and trust my plans, then you needn’t know what’s in store’ I passed a muted comment and left the party.

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

When I walked out of the party hall and reached the reception, I saw a long queue. A mini hoarding stood next to them with title reading – “How to become a director?”.  A picture of an Englishman with video camera was also featured in the hoarding.

There was a small counter set up .People in the queue were collecting their entry pass from the desk, before entering the lobby on the left.

I don’t exactly remember by how much degree I had turned, but when I did, I stood frozen on my ground. I could see Anahita there. What’s worse? She was staring at me. I was surprised, scared and excited.

“I wasn’t following you”, I exclaimed at once. That was pretty loud and half of the queue gave me unnecessary attention.

For next five minutes we didn’t look each other. After that she went past the small desk and exited to the left lobby.

It was a free, one day workshop by some unheard American filmmaker.

After entering the room I spotted Anahita in the middle row. There was an empty seat next to her. I thought I would look too desperate if I sat there, hence settled in the distant last row.

The filmmaker introduced himself as the director of ‘My princess daughter’, ‘The last flower in the garden’ and ‘Dinner date with two wives’- Movies I had never heard of. I clapped along with the clueless crowd.

He then handed each of us, a one page script.

“In your hand is a scene. You have to form a group of four and direct it.

And when I say direct it, I want you to enact the script and simultaneously one person has to tell what will be seen on the screen, where the camera will be placed.. etc ”, he gave us instructions.

I waited for my chance to get into Anahita’s group, but an old bald guy with a fat moustache walked up to me and dragged me into his group.

An hour ago I was posing as a wanna be hotelier and here I was, scratching my head amidst a thick crowd of ambitious film makers.

My team discussed and debated for about ten minutes. The script was simple and stupid. It could be summarized to this –

“There was this small family with dad, mom and a small girl. The kid comes back from school crying like never before. When they ask for reason, she tells them that on the way from school, she had seen an accident. A car had run over piglets that were crossing the road.

Dad and mom try to console her but she refuses to settle down.

Dad makes a plan and draws cartoons where he first shows the car running over piglets, then piglets with wounded arms in hospital and then them getting recovered and happily dancing.”

Looking at those pictures girl becomes all happy and she hugs her dad”.

Most of the group had overacting cast. Anahita played the mom’s role in her group and had hardly any dialog to deliver. In my ‘men only’ group, I was chosen to play the kid- for, I was the youngest.

“Daddy…!!” I said. The American had to remind me that I was playing a kid in sorrow.

“Daddy..!!” I said and tried to act crying. Everyone laughed. I knew I was a bad actor.!

Fighting the embarrassment for next five minutes, I struggled my way to reach the last part of the script.

“Daddy..!!” I said again, this time with a sense of joy. Now, that was the last line in the script where I was supposed to be happy. I hugged the fat uncle playing my dad in a hope that he won’t get carried away and end up kissing my cheeks.

“Aww..!!”.. “So cute”.. I heard few exclaims. Few other chose to laugh.

After giving us feedbacks, the director switched to his laptop and projected his power point presentation. We were then introduced to the true intent of the workshop.

A not so famous Bollywood actor had started a film school and had roped in this guy to lead it. This workshop was to promote that school.

He went on and on and on about that actor, the various courses that are being offered at the institute etc. We were into the 120th minute of the workshop. I was about to doze off when I saw Anahita getting up and walking out.

I wasted no minute and pulled myself out of the hall and followed her.

“Anahita..! Wait..!” I called her name. This time I was not scared, because I had to settle this once for all.

She turned around and so did people in the reception. I signaled them that everything was fine and went up to her.

“I have to talk to you” I said.

“Listen! We hardly know each other and you are following me everywhere. I don’t like this” she let out her fuss.

“Okay. Let’s clear the air.! I am not following you. That day in the bookshop and now in the hotel, it’s all just a co incidence.”

“yeah right. So you attending this workshop is a co incidence, is it? Or is it because you are aspiring to become a director, which perhaps would be the hardest thing to believe?”.

“That day in the bookshop I saw you by chance and wanted to talk to you. Again, Coming to this hotel today was a co incidence. But, once I saw you, I felt I had to talk to you. I wanted to apologize for the fest debacle. That’s the reason I attended this stupid workshop and had to play such a stupid role.” I threw my hands up in the air.

“Daddy”, I mimicked myself.

For the first time, she laughed -Signs that I had made my first positive impression.

She took a while before speaking.

“It wasn’t that bad. People enjoyed it”, she said trying to suppress her laughter. I was caught by surprise.

“Daddy”, now it was her turn to mimic me. She was not amongst the beautiful girls I had seen, but she had a beautiful pair of eyes and a cute smile.

“They say that, here in this coffee bar they don’t serve the best coffee” I said pointing at the indoor coffee bar of the hotel. I was pretty loud and attracted the attention of the catering manager. He put up a fake smile.

“Are you trying to ask me out for a coffee?” Anahita questioned me. She was back to her basics – a strict, straight and serious face.

“Nope” I searched for words. “I know that they serve bad coffee, but I want to know how bad it is. Mind helping me in making a judgment?” I smiled.

She smiled again. She was impressed and so was the catering manager.

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

Young couple having coffee --- Image by © Mika/Corbis
(Young couple having coffee — Image by © Mika/Corbis)

“So you attended this because your friend asked you to? Seriously?” I repeated the question for the third time.

“Yes. Siddarth. Her dad is an event manager and he had promised people for this workshop. She had told that she is going to attend it, but then ditched me. And here I am sitting bored and having a bad cup of coffee”.

here I am sitting bored’ part of it, managed to hurt my ego.

“That was quite a compliment”, I had my lines ready.

“Oops. I didn’t mean to offend you but my day has been wasted for sure”.

I stayed quiet.

“So Siddarth, you said that you had a lunch party in one of the above halls and that you are dad is hosting it. Aren’t you getting late?” she asked.

“Okay. First thing. You can call me Sid. And the second thing , I am not going to attend that lunch party” I replied in a stern voice.

“And why is that?” she sounded curious.

I explained her that the purpose of the lunch party was to help me announce my plans of establishing a restaurant chain in the city and that my dad had his business partners to listen to my plans.

“So what did you discuss with them?”

“Ah..! I had to explain them the USP of my chain, It’s revenue model, expected revenues etc.” I started explaining.

“What is USP?”

“USP stands for unique selling proposition, factors that makes your offering stand apart from others. My idea was simple. Come up with state of the art interiors for your restaurant and then have separate sections for sports freaks with sports channel being projected on large screen. Similarly you will have dedicated family sections, valentine section, kids section etc.”

“Interesting” she said. I guess she was faking it- the compliment.

“But my most important plan was to offer a discount of 50% up to a maximum discount of 100Rs per food item. And they didn’t seem to be happy about it. So I just walked out” I said.

She didn’t respond.

“What?” I asked.

“Sorry.! I don’t know much about business. But won’t you be at loss if you show so much of generosity?” she threw the expected question at me.

“My idea of profit comes in two parts. Number one..” I started in an animated fashion.

“Just imagine that you have a toy that cost you 50Rs to manufacture. You have decided to sell it at 200 Rs. Even if one guy buys it, you are at a profit of 150Rs. So if ten guys buy it, you are at a profit of 1500Rs”.

She nodded.

“Now, the toy is quite expensive at a price of 200. At the end, you can expect not more than 20 people to buy it. So what’s the maximum profit that you are going to make?” I asked.

“3000Rs.” She replied like a kid sitting in her mathematics class.

“Perfect.! Now let’s say that I decide to sell the same toy at a price of 60Rs. Now the price of the toy sounds reasonable or cheap for its quality. So it’s likely that more people will buy it. Hence, to attain a profit of 3000Rs, we need at least 300 people to buy it.

A toy at this rate being offered, we are likely to surpass that count of 300. This means we can score a profit greater than 3000Rs”, I concluded.

Since it drew no response from her, I had to deliver the bottom-line – “ You either build one benz C- class or 50 maruthi altos”. I expected her to clap, but she didn’t.

“The profit is not guaranteed, right? Does this formula really work with your restaurant? And these days when you see something being sold at a cheap price, you start doubting its quality” she fired her next doubt.

“There’s a risk. Yes. That’s the reason we are trying to make its interiors rich and elegant. That would increase the footfall in the restaurant. We will definitely get more crowds from the middle tier of economic classes” I smiled and continued.

“But this is only the first part of my revenue generation. Now, based on the lucrative discounts and excellent service we will get excellent count of customers. I will then turn my restaurant into an advertisement hub. There will be dedicated spaces for advertisements, promotions etc. Here we shall put up posters and mini hoardings of advertisers”. I briefly paused to have the last sip of the coffee.

“There will be TV screens all over my restaurant, where these ads will be showcased. In the sports section of the restaurant, I can switch to my advertisement channel during match intervals. This channel shall display ads of my clients. The advertising cost for this would be marginally higher” I grinned.

“Oh my god. You are genius” she exclaimed and this time she wasn’t faking it. For the second time in the day I had managed to impress her.

“You don’t have to be that generous with your compliments. I have borrowed my ideas from multiple places”. I tried to sound humble.

She smiled as if she knew it.

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I had never been able to understand the concept of ‘deciding to be friends’. I mean, how can you ask someone to be your friend. You be good to that person and that person will be good to you. After a while, you will realize that you have become friends.

I  thought that this is how it always works.!

“So friends?” I asked before she left. I had my right hand held out, waiting for hers’ to shake.

When a guy tells a girl that he wants to be friends with her, He rarely means it.

“I don’t know” she smiled again. When a girl says I don’t know, it means that she has an answer. It’s just that, she doesn’t know how to tell it.

“I have to leave now”, said she and climbed down one more step. We were outside the hotel now.

“When do we meet next?” I asked. I was sounding desperate.

“In your restaurant, when you are done with building it” she winked.

If she had felt that I will never be able to build such a restaurant, her answer could be summed up to ‘we are never going to meet dumbo.!’. I felt challenged.

“Can I have your phone number?” I asked. For years I had felt like asking phone number of numerous girls, but here was my maiden attempt at it.

“And why is that?”. That’s what every girl on the earth asks, when a guy asks for her phone number.

“If you give your phone number, then I will understand that we have become friends. And on my birthday I can call you up and ask you to wish me. I can send stupid forwards and needless good nights when I am bored. The list can go on but I will stop at this”.

She just smiled and climbed down the last step to step onto the main road.

“I will be heartbroken if you don’t give me your phone number” I said little loudly.

She waved her hand and stopped an auto. She had not got her scooty. Before climbing into the auto, she turned back and looked at me. I walked a couple of steps towards the auto.

“94800924….” she babbled, intentionally.

“If you have heard my number correctly, I can consider your proposal of becoming friends” she said and sat in the auto. The auto vanished in no moment.

She had spoken so fast that I couldn’t pay attention to the last two numbers. I felt depressed.

I thought for a while, then typed a message.

“So.. friends? – Sid”.

After typing the message, I sent it 9480092400. I waited for about a minute for the response. Nothing happened.

I had to do the obvious now.! I quickly started sending the same message to numbers from 94800924 01 to 99.

It took me about four minutes to send the message to those hundred numbers. Within no time messages started pouring in. Most of them which looked like

“Do I know you?”

“Friends???”

“Sid who?”

“wrong number”

“excuse me”.

Finally, somewhere in middle of these messages I found the one I needed. The number read 94800 92419.

“Congrats sid. We are frens 😉 🙂 🙂, the message read.

70234_55535e0cdcfe055535e0cdd01b

What was she trying to prove by saying congrats, I wondered.!!

“Lucky you.! 😉 ” I replied.!

-To be continued

Click here to read the sixth episode

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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.

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

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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7c229b03dba8c77c3daf1e21c5e3_large - Copy

“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.

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

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.

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

‘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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

“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.

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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.

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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!!

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

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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