Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Blonde - Part 2

I was overwhelmed. My chest swelled with pride. Mr. Bajpayee’s words were like music to my ears. The appraisal time is only 3 months away. I am sure of getting promoted now. He thinks so highly of me. If I stay in his good books for another year, then there is a possibility of my getting another promotion next year itself. Wow. A senior manager within 3 years of joining this company would be no mean achievement. My fellow batch mates would go green with envy. My super juniors at the School of Management would cite my success as an example. Aspirants would want to get into the School of Management and emulate my success story. Wow. For that kind of stardom, I don’t mind getting a call from the big boss at weird hours in the morning. As long as I am in his good books, I don’t mind. Has he called me to give me a hint that if I continue working like this, I am a surety for promotion in the coming quarter? Has he called me to praise me on the kind of revenues my product brought in last month? But why would he choose this weird time in the morning if he just had to congratulate me? Why on earth can't he break this news to me tomorrow or any other day when he is relatively free from these board meetings? Why on earth is he being so sweet to me? Why? Why? Why?

“Swami….Hello…hello…Swami….Mr. Swaminathan……Are you there? Hello…hello. Are you there? Swami……..”

That shrill in his voice when he took my name had surpassed the threshold decibel levels enough to pull you back from the world of dreams and questions. “Uh…Yup…Oh…Yes Sir. Hello….hello…Yes Sir. I am right here Sir. Actually I held up my breath for a minute as part of the breathing exercise which I do without fail everyday at 6:18 am Sir. I couldn’t break the daily ritual Sir. I am so sorry to have kept you waiting. I really am.”

“No, no it’s fine. Yes it’s fine. It’s perfectly okay.” I felt I could hear Mr. Bajpayee clenching his teeth, as if trying hard to conceal his anger. Was I nuts? How could he? He has been so sweet and has been praising me all this while. Why on earth will he get angry just because I was not responding to him for a minute? He can’t get angry yaar. Why on earth am I imagining things? Isn’t it winter season? Why can’t that be the reason behind the clenching teethes?

“I just wanted a favor from you Swami.” Mr. Bajpayee interrupted my chain of thoughts once again. This time there was urgency in his voice. He continued, “I think I should not interrupt your chain of breathing and other exercises and come directly to the point of the matter. We are expecting a special guest today late evening Swami. Are you there Swami?”

“Please go on Sir.” I was prompt in replying back.

“We are expecting a special guest from the states today Mr. Swami. It's someone from US Tele, one of the American giants” Mr. Bajpayee continued, “Christy will be here in Mumbai by the 8 pm flight. God, what a young thing! And a brilliant brain to supplement that smart looks. A deadly mix, undoubtedly. It did not take me long to get amiable with Christy, even if it was in the midst of a business meet. I still remember the discussions I had with Christy during the last conference in Bangkok. We had zeroed down on some areas where we could partner and leverage on each others strengths. I had not known that Christy will come down personally to discuss and bring those rough plans to a closure. And you have no clue the tune of profits this strategic tie up is going to bring in Swami. It’s going to be you who will be spearheading this project if the meeting with the top management goes off well. And these Americans really like to be taken care of and be made to feel important. I want Christy to feel at home and personally looked after. Of course we will be sending a chauffeur driven car for Christy. But I want someone to be there from our company to receive Christy. The flight and other details of Christy will be available with Sheela. Please do collect it from her and hand it over to whomsoever you arrange to collect Christy. I have even asked her for a nameplate. Do collect that from her too. I wanted your suggestions on whom to send Swami. Can you suggest someone from the junior management or executives who are pleasant and can handle this?”

There was only one name that was doing rounds in my brain. Christy!! From the States!! Young thing. And brainy. Wow. That was exactly the kind of stuff that my dreams were made of. The kinds that could make any man go week in his knees. I was already starting to reel under the effect of this heady concoction named Christy. An American….Yippeee…it has been my childhood dream to romance a blonde. The kind fantasies are made of. The kind you see only in films. The kind whose touch you yearn for every time you see a Hollywood hero making out with her. Silently wishing had you been born on the other end of the world, you would have at least stood a chance to enjoy these pleasures. An opportunity was knocking right at my doors. It’s not everyday you get to personally receive a blonde and greet her with kisses on both sides of her cheeks. In complete American style. Hmmm…I have to make sure to dab my cheeks with a lot of Old Spice after shave lotion today. Let me keep it in the office bag right now. It should leave her craving for me. I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s not everyday that you get to gift a blonde with an expensive bouquet, and that too on company expense. It’s not everyday that you get to drop her personally to the suite in the hotel. And then bid goodbye again by kissing on both sides of her cheeks. And it’s not everyday that you stand a chance to be invited to stay over the night in that suite with her, if she starts getting pangs of loneliness all of a sudden. Wait. I have to pick up that stuff as well from the medical shop. I have heard that Americans are very particular about that. I don’t want to lose a chance of making love with a blonde for not carrying one. I have to set my reminder to pick up a packet from the medical shop. I couldn’t stop smiling at my sheer luck. Christy had walked into my life unexpected. Just like that. I felt sorry for cursing the morning. This was the best morning of my life. And I had a chance to make it the most memorable day of my life as well.

“Hello….hello…Swami…….God! What’s wrong with you Swami? Hello….hello…Are you there? I asked whether you could suggest someone from the junior management or executives who are pleasant and can handle this.” Mr. Bajpayee demanded.

“Hello..Yes Sir. I am here. Sorry Sir. Daily rituals Sir. I am extremely sorry Sir. Don’t you worry boss. Why should you look for someone in the junior management when you have someone as capable as me? I won’t mind doing something which is not a part of my job if it’s of such strategic importance to the company Sir. Despite being neck deep with work, I will definitely take time out and be there at the airport. I will make sure to lick her up…eh…..pick her up Sir. It would be my pleasure. Please allow me to.” I hoped he hadn’t noticed the desperation in my voice.

“Ok then. Please collect the nameplate, details of the flight, hotel and the cab from Sheela. Thanks a lot Swami.” Mr. Bajpayee hung up.

To Be Continued....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Blonde - Part 1

I woke up from my slumber with a start. The phone ring startled me. I checked the time. It was only 6 in the morning. A glance at my mobile screen took away whatever little remained of the state called sleep in my eyes. Not that it was unusual to receive calls at 6 in the morning, but it gets scary when the person at the other end of the line in none other than your big boss. By the time I was back to my senses and could get a hang of the situation, I had already missed his call. I wanted to call him back but a strong urge to attend nature’s call had me rushing to the bathroom. I think the shock I had got had put pressure at the wrong end. It took another call of his to wake me up from the comfort I had got used to sitting there having a tête-à-tête with nature. I completed the customary formalities of this unplanned meeting with nature and rushed towards the washbasin with the phone blaring away to glory. I washed up my face at a superhuman speed in a desperate attempt to be attentive during the duration of the call. I couldn’t have afforded to come across as an inattentive jerk while talking to the big boss. I missed the second call too. Gosh. I would already be on his breakfast menu by now. I fiddled with the phone trying hard to recall any untoward incident in the past few days which had resulted in this call. I silently prayed to god to keep his temper at bay. I was sure of getting a sound scolding for missing his call twice. Nervously, I dialed up his number.

He sounded visibly excited at the other end. “Good morning Swami. I knew you would be awake at this hour given the fitness freak that you are. And see…that pant in your voice suggests you have been exercising. Doing your yoga sessions eh? Well, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body Mr. Swami.”

I just nodded in agreement. I dared not differ. “Uh…Hello Sir. A very good morning. Yaa…was in the midst of Sheershasan, Sir. I have been at it since the past fifteen minutes. It’s said that while doing it you should not do anything else. I couldn’t pick up your call because of that very reason boss. Another hour of my usual set of exercises and I will be done with my quota for today, Sir. How can I be of help to you Sir?”

“We don’t see health conscious young people like you anymore Swami. It’s really commendable for someone who belongs to the fast food generation. I knew you would be among the few awake at this hour. And I couldn’t wait to brief you till the office starts. I have a board meeting scheduled today from 9 in the morning to evening. I would be completely occupied with that the whole day and wanted to hand this over to someone capable enough. And I could not think of a better person who could handle this small thing well.”

My chest swelled with pride. There is something about compliments. It simply whisks away all your miseries. Compliments are like a performance enhancing drugs. You feel possessed and back yourself to do seemingly out worldly tasks after digesting one of them served on a platter. This drug labeled “Compliment” mixes so easily with blood that the effect stays for long. And bosses are greatest exponents of this art. One clean stroke and you have your subordinate raring to have a go.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


But fate had something else in store. After completing my 9th Std. we got transferred from Mumbai to Gujarat. Crucial board years that followed restrained me from going back to Kerala in vacations. I used to send Appu new year cards without fail. Appu would go all around Krishnapuram showing my card to everyone concerned with an air of pride about him. And here I was, as an engineer coming back after 7 years to visit Krishnapuram on New Year’s eve with a card for Appu firmly clutched in my hand.

The cart shook a little and came to an abrupt stop. “Saar! Krishnapuram Ethi (Krishnapuram has come)”. I alighted and after paying off Vasu headed for our ancestral home. I was overwhelmed by the pompous reception I received from my cousins and other relatives. Delicious lunch was lined up for me. Relatives squared up to have a glimpse of me, to hear about everyone back home.
By evening my arrival phenomenon seemed to fade out and I slipped out of the house under the pretext of taking a bath. I walked along the mud road, had a view of the overflowing river and the temple ruins, and took a shortcut along the fields to Appu’s house. I walked straight into the backyard of Appu’s house, my eyes searching for him. There he was… dearest friend Appu, but not in his usual bubbly self overflowing with enthusiasm.

He was eerily silent, lying still inside a large mound of mud with a few flowers by where his head was supposed to be. My dearest friend Appu, buried there. My feet suddenly gave away and I embraced the mound, letting out a loud wail, tears swelling in my eyes. The news of his death last year, when I was in my final year of engineering, had come as a big shock and hit me hard.
Our very own Bharatapuzha river had swept him along on one of his bathing sprees, taking Appu with her on the embarkment of an eternal journey.
I could not stop crying for the months to follow at the thought of loosing my dearest friend. But gradually, I began to feel that an angel form heaven was always by my side, ushering me to go and get everything under the sky with that usual stammered call of his, “Ssss…..andu, Go, Get it !!”. I placed the new year card by his side, looked up towards the sky, as I knew that Appu was up there, and whispered to the winds, “HAPPY NEW YEAR,APPU. I REALLY MISS U DA!!”
The setting sun was painting the sky with a flourish of gold and red. I had a strong feeling that Appu was welcoming me back to Krishnapuram. I listened to the symphony of the water lapping against the hull of the boat. Like a miser, I clung desperately to the moment. It was late into the night when I got back home, blew out the hurricane lantern and surrendered to the bed.

The End.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Appukuttan or Appu, as he was more popularly known, was 10 years older than me but behaved as if he were a 6-7 year old. Since my primary school days he was my soulmate during the summer vacations, remaining with me like a shadow for these 2 months every year. It took me some maturity to learn the fact that Appu was not normal, that he was mentally retarded. But that did not deter me at all. Our bond grew stronger and stronger and stronger with every passing year. I had become used to that familiar stammered call of “Sssss…anndu” ( as Sandu was what he lovingly called me). Tucking up his lungi every now and then was his hallmark. His description is incomplete without the mention of the heavy Gandhian glass he wore. A constant source of worry for his father, a new pair of glasses would not survive more than a week. His father’s novel idea of tying a string around his neck attached to the glasses to prevent them from falling down wasn’t much of a help either. Yes, it did bring some improvement in the survival time of the glasses. Appu was a staunch believer of cleanliness. Just a speck of dust on his glasses, and he would give them a nice wipe with his lungi. In this way he ended cleaning up his glasses nearly 35-40 times a day. So thorough was the wipe he gave them that many a time while cleaning the glasses, the glasses would succeed in finding their way out of the frame that seemed to imprison them.

The next moment I realized that I was laughing my heart out and Vasu, the cart owner was giving me an amusing look. “Saar! Bet you just saw a very nice dream, didn’t you?”. “ No Vasu” , I replied, “Just remembered my good old Krishnapuram days. Those 2 month summer vacations every year when this place was my heavenly abode. By the way, anything new in Krishnapuram? What about the Bhagawathi temple?”. Vasu answered in a sad tone, “That temple’s now in ruins saar. After Unni Namboothiri’s untimely demise 5 years back, the temple has had no caretaker. Even the suspension bridge to the temple is in a very bad state. Every year the politicians pledge to repair the whole thing but do a disappearing act after the elections. Even the public is not interested saar. The world is definitely going to end soon, with the people having no time to spare for their creator. Oh God!! Please forgive. Shiva, Shiva.”

The cart was speeding its way through the jungle. I felt sorry for the state of the temple. The good old Bhagawathi temple on the other side of the swaying suspension bridge, poised on top of a pinnacle like hillock that seemed to soar out of the swirling waters. We would sit there for hours over viewing the beauties of nature. I used to luxuriate there in the gentle pace of unhurried activity engulfed in an enlightening divine feeling. Here, overlooking the land which celebrates the bounty of nature with a riot of vegetation, I relaxed and contemplated the seconds as they ticked by. Sailing with Appu across the Bharatapuzha river which kissed Krishnapuram was like drifting into a mysterious world untouched by time. Our days used to start with a bath in the river, often accompanied by my father. Ever heard of someone taking a tumbler along to the river for a bath? That was me, as I didn’t know to swim and neither did Appu. But that did not deter us from going to the river for a bath. We would set about with a professional swimmer like stature. Villagers would enquire where the Siamese twins (villagers gave us this name) were heading for and Appu would give them a prompt reply, “To the river to have a bath. Ssss…andu is too scared to go all alone you see. Moreover he doesn’t know swimming as well.” As if he himself was a born swimmer. The villagers would giggle at his reply and I too couldn’t help giving a faint smile. Once near the river bank we would just go knee deep into the waters as we knew our limitations and then use to exchange turns to use the tumbler, with the river serving as a bucket for us. Appu would often treat me with a soda at Renjith’s store where his father had opened him an account in his name. Appu was a complete movie buff. Sometimes even I would doubt on his mental status when I would hear him delivering dialogues from each and every movie he had seen till date. Appu was my soulmate and I would confide in him everything. He would be really concerned to hear my problems. No one could break our friendship; no one could take us apart.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


“All passengers to Krishnapuram to alight here!!” , shouted the bus conductor at the top of his voice. Half-drowsy I strutted about my way to exit and alighted down to confront the mild welcoming morning breeze. This along with the excitement of getting back to Krishnapuram, my native place, after a gap of 7 years was pumping adrenaline down my viens. “Namaskaram……Saar!!”, saluted a rather stout looking, dark, lungi clad man heading straight towards me. “Saar…Vandi (Malayalam for vehicle)” , barely had he uttered these words that he had snatched my baggages from my hand and was directing me towards his bullock cart. I followed him blindly like a man in spell. Krishnapuram, a sleepy village in Kerala, was a good 30 kms away from this city and one had to take a path through the forest to reach there. Once I got seated comfortably (not on par with the comfort of motor vehicles), Vasu, the cart owner, gently tapped his buffaloes and we were on our way. The morning breeze along with Vasu’s humming of an old Malayalam song was creating just the right atmosphere for me to relax.

My first glimpse of what lay ahead was when, on the outskirts of the town, a swarm of butterflies fluttered across the road to create everchanging patterns of rippling colours. A dramatic welcome like that is a hard act to follow, but Krishnapuram did not disappoint. The jungle was filled with a deafening void and only the occasional twitter of a bird nibbled at its fringes. As I sliced through this quiet on the cart I started to understand the potency of silence; it is the code of the wild, the invisible fabric behind which the predator hunted and the prey hid. Yes…….this was Krishnapuram; my soul, my great escapades after a torrid year of academics in the concrete jungle of Mumbai, year after year after year. How I simply loved to reach here everytime in my vacations, to run along the river banks that skirts this lovely village chasing a host of colourful birds with my dearest friend Appu. Appu……….my fellow adventurer, a total freak.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A day in my life(Muthuswamy Namboodiri)

I woke up with a start. I was sweating all over. The same old recurring dream of a yakshi(spirit) chasing me. It was around 4:30 in the morning. I glanced at my watch to confirm the same. It showed 10. Damn. I banged it twice and wound it again. This antique piece had been gifted to me by my late grandfather. The dial had cracks which made it impossible to check the hands of the watch. But I had mastered the art of using this antique. Poor thing was desperately shouting for retirement but I had turned a deaf ear towards it. How could I afford a new watch when I could hardly make ends meet here in Delhi? I would send most of my earnings back home, which left me with pretty little to indulge myself. I headed towards my old tape recorder set I had brought along with me from Krishnapuram. This was my most prized possession. It had been with me right from my school days. Days when we were well off and could afford such luxuries. We were one of the first families in Krishnapuram to own one. I would proudly turn it on and play it in maximum volume. It still manages to give a decent output. I inserted the tape and turned it on. Music filled my one room setting in Mayur Sarai. My mind relaxed in the soothing music.

"Kausalyasuprajarama purva sandhya pravartate, uttistha narasardula kartavyam daivam ahnikam…Nava Suprabhatam…….."
(O! Rama! Kausalya's auspicious child! Twilight is approaching in the East. O! best of men (Purushottama)! Wake up, the divine daily rituals have to be performed.)

"Muthuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!! Muthu you fool…..are you bloody deaf to play this on full volume at such unearthly hour. Everyday I have to go through this ordeal. Enough is enough. Ufffff….What the hell Muthu anna?? God Swamy…you are impossible….Grrrrrrrr", growled Ibrahim. Ibrahim shares the room with me. Shouting at me in the morning has become a habit for him. Poor Ibrahim. Three sisters to marry off back home in Mangalapurram keeps him on toes. Toils day in and day out at the motor workshop here. Khan Saab was gracious enough to train him and accommodate him in his workshop. Good man. It was because of him that I could land a job at the Udupi restaurant opposite the School of Management in Qutab Institutional Area. I had given up all hopes of getting a job and was preparing myself to leave Delhi when Ibrahim asked me to meet Khan Saab. And here I am today. Cleaning tables and picking up leftovers at the Udupi Restaurant.

"Muthuuuuuuuuuuuu….Come out….Will you take an eternity to bath? It's already 5:30 you fool. I have to deliver the car at Tripathi's house at 7 am. Will you come out or should I barge in?", Ibrahim shouted. You had to be very punctual with all the stuff which requires water here at Mayur Sarai. The municipality water comes only from 4:30 to 6:30 in the morning and then in the evening. Evening timings don't matter to us because at that time we are slogging it out at our respective workplaces. The music was still playing. Though Ibrahim would shout and curse me for playing Suprabhatam every day, he never ever switched it off. He knew that this was one thing that transported me back to my home at Krishnapuram and respected it. Ibrahim was good at heart. After my bath, I would head straight to the Shiv temple nearby on an empty stomach and sit there for an hour chanting hymns and offering prayers. I followed this like a ritual everyday. This was one thing that had been ingrained in me at a young age. I would apologize to god for lying to my parents and keeping them in dark about my occupation here. I would again plead almighty not to send me or my family to hell for deviating from a Brahmins path and picking up leftovers and cleaning tables at a restaurant. I would confide in God all my fears and feel light at heart. I would then head back home. Selecting a shirt to work was not a tough job for me because I was never spoilt for choices. I had only two pairs which made the decision easier. I would continue putting one till the other one would dry up. Three shirts was a luxury to me. Ash smeared on my forehead, I would head to the Udupi restaurant. The place which is the reason my family sees a new sunrise everyday. The place which is synonymous to a temple for me.

Ramakrishna Iyer, the owner of the hotel, or Iyer Saar as I prefer calling him keeps telling me that I bring in an authentic south Indian feel to his setup. My day starts off with cleaning all tables and dusting the seats. I then dust the restaurant and clean the kitchen. I bathe once again at the restaurant after this and then proceed to make the traditional rangoli with rice powder outside our restaurant. By 8 am students start trickling in. You start off cleaning tables and then graduate to taking orders within 2-3 years. That's when there is scope of some extra earnings as you land up some tips. And you land up plum tips from guys trying to impress gals on their dates. The School of management students do like hanging out here in between lectures. I have learnt distinguishing guys keen on impressing the opposite sex from the other lot. I hope this will help me when I do get promoted to taking orders. Iyer Saar is a good man. He has never slapped or hit me. He only goes to the extent of scolding me in front of customers if I get late in cleaning the tables. Earlier the abuses used to hurt, but it is fine because the customer perceives that he is treated important here. Good for the business. I used to leave my plates for the maids to attend to back in my Illam. I used to treat them very bad. Maybe God wanted me to learn. Maybe God wanted me to be considerate.

The first day I cleaned the tables, I could feel a tear trickling down my cheeks. This was my karma. But I am proud that I work. I don't laze around and am take care of my family. Any work, done with dedication is like offering your prayers to God. I don't care if my ancestors sitting up in heaven despise me for falling down to this state. I don't care if I will ever be considered an outcaste. I don't care if shuddhi is more important to them than seeing your family starve before your very own eyes. I am also doing Shanti(prayers/rituals) work that my ancestors used to do. The setting is different. The way of offering prayers is different. My ancestors used to offer prayers with flowers and milk to Gods. I do so with my work. Yes…I am a Brahmin. I will always be a Brahmin. And God will accept me with both hands when I will knock heavens doors someday. Wont he??

I Love You

I love you
I wish you would only know

Every time I think of you
I don’t believe I love you so true

I may mean nothing to you
But my heart only beats for you

Since the day you touched my soul
My feelings have been out of control

With every breath I take now
I love you even more somehow

You are always on my mind and heart
Despite being so apart

In my dreams I see us together
And wonder why can’t this be our forever…

By Priyanka
I came to your city, but could not reach your heart,
I had always wanted my life, to be your life's part.
I have been destiny's child, going where life took me,
Yet you were that one person, whom forever I want to see.

I sit outside your door, hoping you would come out,
To see what I have become, in your love's draught.
Waiting for you to invite me into your life,
And be then my friend, lover and wife.

I know, in your love, I have become hungry and foolish,
And there is not much in life that I wish.
May be have a normal job or even own some farms,
But should have time to sit on a lake with you in my arms.

(Written by my friend Zaheer)

Monday, October 27, 2008


Come…Hold my hand
We’ll discover a new land
Where you’ll be only mine
Lost in our love so strong and divine

Come…Let’s walk in the rain
And wash off all fear and pain
Where each drop of rainfall
Will be our beautiful life’s call

Come…Let’s watch the sunrise
Together as we open our eyes
Where with each sparkling ray
Life will show us a bright new way

Come…Let’s get lost in each other’s eyes
As therein lies my paradise
Where with each and every moment passing
We’ll see and feel our love blossoming...

By Priyanka

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Love in my thoughts...

As a naïve young girl
Love meant different things to me
Did it lie in the smile someone brought on my face?
Was it the feel someone’s slight touch gave me then?
Was it that look someone gave me when our eyes met?
Was it ingrained in our little talks?
I found it difficult to decipher
My mind too simple to break that code
I thought it was love…
Time passed by and feelings remained in my heart
I hoped someday we would make a start
More time flew
And the little girl grew
And then she knew…
It wasn’t love! was not.

For later, she defined for herself…
Love is life
A connection of souls
A beautiful feeling shared
Someone holding your hand when you are scared
And when that special someone is near
You feel secure, you feel no fear
A sense of belonging
That care that longing
An unexplained urge
Feelings that surge
Its when you share that feeling
That life begins to find its meaning
The moment someone touches your heart
Its then that your life actually starts
I believe in that true love
Yes I do
So strong so pure
So childlike so mature
Love for which the entire life seems less
Does it exist?
I believe in it nevertheless
Yes…the kind that exists in fairy tales!

But still I made a resolve
And never gave love a chance to evolve
Why did I stay away from love?
Because…I feared love!
Yes…I did
I was scared of betrayal
I didn’t want to be hurt
So I closed my heart and shut my mind
And never gave them a chance to rewind
For I was waiting for that true love…
Yes…waiting…for that true love…

Again time passed away…
And then…
Like a beautiful sunrise
Life brought for me a lovely surprise
I was staying away from love,
All the time I thought
But I later realised,
It was the other way round!
Yes…it was love that stayed away from me
Oh oh…how could it be!

Then finally…
Love came into my life!
I felt chosen, I felt so blessed
It came in the most unexpected way
And brought along happiness, joy n gay
Its in the air, in the flowers, in the trees
Enchanting and refreshing like the summer breeze
As pure as a pearl
As soothing as mother’s touch
Its just out of this world!
It gives an amazing feeling
A sort of magical healing
Yes yes yes…
I am in love!

Yes…this is the true love I had been waiting for
My heart knows he is the one!
His love his care…
Oh…life is so fair!
His voice his smile…
Aah…life is so worthwhile!
I held his hand and walked in the rain…
Life is blissful…there is no pain
Every moment I dream of him
Every dream I live with him
I have imagined my whole life with him
Yes...I am in my own dreamland!

In my own dreamland??
Why? Isn’t it real?
Is it just my imagination?
My heart’s desire, my mind’s creation?
No no…I can’t let it go
I just want to tell him
How much I love him!
But…I can’t. I can’t.
Does that make my love less worthy?
Will it remain a dream forever?
Don’t tell me that!
No God…don’t! don’t!

By Priyanka

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A day in my life (Coming soon...)

Namaskaaram! Njan(Myself) Muthuswamy....Muthuswamy Nambudiri.

I came to Delhi with a distant cousin last year from Kerala in an attempt to find some odd jobs here and pull my family out of the claws of abject poverty it had got into. My father was a Mel Shanti(Chief Priest) at our local Bhagawathi temple in Krishnapuram. The menfolk of our Illam(home of Brahmins) were experts in Thantric(vedic and astrology bound) rites. It was not long back when our grandfathers used to practice rigid orthodoxy and sense of caste and purity (Shudham). We used to consider ourselves polluted by even the touch of other Brahmins[Embraan Shudham (by the touch of Tulu Brahmins), Eda Shudham (touch of Tamil Brahmins such as Iyer, Iyengar, Pattar which required us to bathe before resuming activities)], leave aside people from other caste. (*Nambudiri:Wikipedia)

Today, I share a shady little room in Mayur Sarai with Ibrahim, a Parsi guy who, like me, had come to the capital from Mangalapurram(Mangalore) in search of some job. You don’t fill your stomach by clinging on to old traditions and rituals. I would have been an outcaste in my Illam had I stayed with someone from the other caste back then. I still would be, provided I inform my father of the same. All kinds of Shuddhi rites will have to be performed before I get to lie down on my cot back home. For him rituals and traditions may precede an empty stomach, but not for me. He wont touch the money I sent back home after slugging it out in a small roadside South Indian restaurant picking up plates and cleaning tables. He would prefer to die and let the family suffer than accept this fate. He is happy to know that I am assisting a Mel Shanti(Chief Priest) at the Ayappa temple here. Let him remain happy. Let my family have two square meals a day, even if it’s on the expense of my lying……a cardinal sin for a Brahmin.

Catch me soon…Right here….As you live a day alongside me sharing my sorrows and happiness. See you soon. Ohhh…Table no. 4 is done with their meal. I have to pick up their plates and clean the table for the couple who is waiting…….Pinne Kaanaam Ketto(Will catch up later, Ok)

Monday, October 13, 2008


A page from Chattu’s (Tarunesh Kr. Chatterjee/Batch 2005-07/SoM) personal diary

9th October, 2007 / Mumbai

It rained. It rained today. I could feel it. My soul bathed in it. Was it God’s way of washing away my tears? Tears that went unnoticed in the rain. Tears that never trickled when I was with you. Tears that swept away all the emotions and expectations I had painstakingly built block by block. Tears that finally found an outlet after being caged for what seemed like an eternity. Did I notice blood in them? Or was it mere illusion? Whatever, I could feel the pain within. I could peep within and see the dent that one single statement of yours had made in my heart. I could see blood oozing out of it. It is still raining. Why has God turned on the shower to let my wounds sting? What wrong had I done to deserve this?

Why did you seek love elsewhere when I left no stone unturned to let you know that you mean the world to me? Why did you not remember all the things I sacrificed for you when you decided to betray me? Was my love so weak that it didn’t mutter a single word when you were strangulating it in a strangers arm? Or had the stranger ceased being one? Why you keep on repeating the mistake over and over again? Why did you lie to me all this while? Why did you stay in touch with him even when you were with me? How could your conscience allow this? You made me realize that I was engulfed in an illusion all this while. I had weaved my future around this illusion. I had weaved my dreams around this illusion. I had weaved my life around this illusion. I had loved you in the purest form. Was this not what you wanted? Was it a physical relation you wanted? Was it the burden of expectations that my love demanded? Or was it something else? I would never know. I would never know what went lacking from my side. I would never know what it was that you wanted from me. I would never know whether you loved me at all or was it just the need to be with someone. Look at what you have done to me. Look at what that sorry has reduced me to. Will a mere sorry heal my broken heart? Will a mere sorry bring back the love you consciously decided to flush down the closet? Will a mere sorry bring back my lost sense of pride? Will a mere sorry help me not being reduced to a laughing stock in my group? Will a mere sorry help me not falling in my own eyes? Will a mere sorry erase all the thoughts of the stranger that have set home in your mind? Will a mere sorry guarantee an anytime stroll in the corridors of your mind I once owned? You said I was your gift and the best you could ever dream of. Was I? Was I ever? If yes, then why did you succumb to the temptation? You treasure your gifts, however small. You don’t throw them away when you see a bigger one.

Why didn’t you think that I will be reduced to a walking zombie for the rest of my life? Why didn’t you think that I will never be normal again? Why didn’t you give it a thought before succumbing? Why didn’t you realize that a no to him would have made my life so much colorful? Why did you do this to me in the first place? Was a two week whirlwind strong enough to lay to rest the tornado of emotions which you had for me? Why did you erase the words “Trust” and “Love” from my system forever? Why do I fear closing my eyes at night? Why do I dread recurring dreams of you haunting me all night? Why can’t I make myself believe that I no longer matter to you? Why can’t I get myself to believe that all of this is a bad dream? Why can’t I stop loving you despite you shooting me point blank? Why did you do it?

Why do I deserve to sleep when I can’t get rid of your memories? Why do I deserve to walk when I can’t take your hands in mine? Why do I deserve to love when the one I loved most threw me away? Why do I deserve to breathe when I can’t stop filtering out your smell from the surroundings? Why doesn’t this blood oozing out kill me despite you stabbing me time and again? Why do I deserve to live? Do I?

Chattu died a natural death one year later. He was only 25. The doctors never found out the cause of his death. They were clueless what caused his untimely death. Maybe the slow poison his body had started generating along with other fluids after that day took its toll. Maybe he never got over her. Maybe he chose not to get over her. Maybe he chose this fate. Maybe he was a fool. Maybe the fact that he was a cut above the rest when it came to out of the box thinking never mattered to him. Maybe the fact that he was seen as a rising star in his firm never mattered to him. Maybe the fact that he had the biggest circle of best friends never made any difference. Maybe his best friends never noticed his weeping heart all this while. Maybe he chose not to reveal that side to them. Maybe he wanted his image of the naughtiest of the batch to remain intact. Maybe he wanted his image of being a prankster and one who has a forever smile on his face to remain intact.

Maybe he is still looking at us from up there and saying, “I loved only once…And I loved her truly”

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Waited for those eyes
In which I would see my entire life..
So full of love!
I get empty stares.

Waited for those hands
Which would hold me tight..
And make me feel secure and light!
I am trapped.

Waited for that voice
Which would sing for me..
The song of life!
I hear cries.

Waited for those words
Which would mean to me..
The whole world!
I feel cursed.

Waited for that hug
Which would make me melt..
With warmth of love!
I feel suffocated.

Waited for that smile
Which would make my life..
Beautiful and worthwhile!
I see gloom.

Waited for that touch
Which would make me feel..
Wanted and loved!
I feel vulnerable.

Waited for that someone
Who would touch my heart..
With unconditional love!
I am alone.

Waited for the day
When you would forever be mine..
And bless me with love so pure and divine!
I now see reality.

This is how it would feel when your love doesn’t turn into a reality…and instead your life gets trapped in the clutches of someone else…..though the pain would be tremendous and much much much more than what I have been able to express…

By Priyanka

Friday, October 10, 2008

A rainy day... (part 3)

It was the most awaited time of the year. Time for our annual college fest ‘Beats’. A three day event with competitions, music, dance and of course lots and lots of fun. The last two days were most special with Shaan, Indian Ocean and Euphoria coming in to charge up the fest. The cultural committee had been working really hard for the past few days for this special event. Nick, being a member of this committee had been keeping really busy. But still he took out all the possible time to be with me, and when he could not…he always had his sweet special one liners that were enough to cheer me up. Today was the third and final day of the fest. And all of us final year students had made it a point not to miss out even a single day, it being our last fest at college. The last day had a huge gathering, both from our college and from the other South and North Campus colleges.

Ashu was participating in the ‘Mr. and Miss Beats’ contest, and Priya and I were having a tough time preparing him for that. Right from choosing his clothes to deciding the steps for the dance he was planning to do for the talent round…he was driving us mad. It was the final day and just four hours before the event that he realised that the previous song was not good enough, and he needed to look out for another! “Shut upppp!!” Priya and I said almost together. That was enough for him and he got up to rehearse to the previous decided song.
“What should I wear yaar??” I asked Priya for the Nth time! “Nooo not again!! Both of you will make me mad…one can’t decide on the song and the other on her dress! Pleasee…” Priya yelled. “Hmm…I think I should either wear that pink one or the black one-piece…what say?” I still asked. Priya knew I would continue to pester her, so she gave in as usual. “Well…I think the black one is good. You’ll look hot! I am sure Nick will go mad!! Haha…” She laughed. “Damn…he is too busy…I wonder if I’ll get to spend even five minutes with him…” I thought.

It had been five months now since we first met on that rainy day. I still thanked god for that rain. Life with Nick had been just amazing…I felt so blessed to have him in my life. I cherished every single moment spent with him. He made me feel so special and loved that I often felt being the luckiest person on planet!
Many a times I dreamt of our future…our marriage, our sweet little home near the sea, our beautiful life together, playing together with our kids, watching them grow up, cooking breakfast together on a lazy sunday morning, reading novels together, of our families, walking together in rain…of a life so full of love! But somehow I never shared that with Nick. I don’t know what really stopped me. I always felt he lived for the moment, never thought about the future. I remembered talking once of life after college, and he told me to enjoy and cherish what we have today and to be happy in our present. I didn’t like that, but as always…he had something wonderful to say which made me forget everything.

Events in the evening had been a lot of fun, the best part being cheering Ashu for the competition. Though he didn’t win the contest but we could see he had won many hearts around! We found him surrounded by many hot girls from the neighbouring colleges. We left him there to enjoy his moments of glory and went back to the hostel to get ready for the much awaited Rock Night. It was 9.30 in the night when we reached the college again. Priya and I could not stop complimenting each other! She was looking just amazing in her pink outfit, like a cute little doll. Ashu was the first to compliment both of us. “Ohhh wow…Priya!! You are looking gorgeous yaar, and I’ll have to call you Barbie!! Hehe….hope the original Barbie won’t mind! And Barbie, what happened to you today? Black! Hmm…but you are looking just amazing. I am dying to hear what Nick has to say!” He laughed. “Thank you Ashuuuu” Both Priya and I said together. It was actually a day of compliments! Many people whom I didn’t even remember last talking to, came up to say how nice we were looking. I was flattered! But the one compliment that meant the most to me kept eluding me. Nick met me twice but only for 2-3 minutes. He was running here and there making last minute arrangements. Though he did tell Priya how nice she was looking, I got no comments! Priya and Ashu started teasing me on that.
“I won’t even talk to him. Huh!” I said. We could now hear the loud music at some distance. Euphoria had arrived. People were rushing to the main ground. Ashu and Priya were also too eager to move. It was raining slightly. But today even rain could not make me smile. I was in no mood for anything. I just wanted to be with Nick and he had no time for me. Priya and Ashu cheered me up and we started moving towards the ground when I saw Nick coming there. Both my friends moved towards the floor, leaving us alone.

“So sorry sweetheart!! Was just too busy. But now no more work, only both of us.”, he said. I didn’t say anything. We could hear the music getting louder. People were dancing madly in the rain. The weather was just amazing. Nick was looking at me. “Say something dear…I know you can’t stay angry with me for long. Sweetie….hmm…I know why you are so sad....I was…” he was explaining when I cut him in between. “You were what! Priya was looking wonderful na!! But you had no words for me! Huh! Huh!” I shot back. He was laughing. “ are my small baby…really…a sweet little child who gets so angry for small small things!!” He smiled. “I don’t know why but yes small small things matter the most to me.” I said. “I know that dear….and I love you for that. Please don’t look so withered my sweetheart.” He said.
He then came closer, held my hands, and said something sooo sweet…something that I won’t forget ever in life. He said, “If you had been a flower, I would have said Blossom….but you are my lover, and so I say Awesome...”
“Ohhh Nickkk!! I loveee you sooo much!!” I said. I could not find any more words. I was so touched, so overwhelmed with joy. I never realised when he took me into his arms and hugged me tightly. I could feel his warmth. I had always thought love resided only in the hearts, and in the two connected souls, and that physical closeness was simply immaterial. I had seen many couples hugging each other and had always wondered why!! I always felt love was above all this. But this one brief moment of intimacy made me realise how much more I loved Nick…much much more than I had ever thought of before. I could feel even more close and connected to him. And I realised the strong need to spend my whole life in his arms.
“I love you Neha. You are my life. You mean everything to me. Can I ask something……Can I…Can I just spend my life with you…??” He said it all. I looked towards him. I could see my entire life in his eyes which were filled with love for me. I could see all my dreams shaping up his eyes. I just could not reply for a few seconds. But they seemed like ages…I felt as if the time was slowing down…just to make this special moment last even longer. I felt my eyes getting moist and my heart beating even faster. “Yes!!” I said finally, still hugging him. I didn’t say a word more. I just wanted to feel…feel every moment of this closeness. I closed my eyes. Ohhh…how much I wished this moment could last forever…

The End.
[Thank you Zaheer for the very special words.. :) ]

By Priyanka

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A rainy day... (part 2)

“Hmmm…so you are in love!!” Priya was staring at me. “What!! Idiot!” I said. “No…Really? For the first are speaking less and thinking more and more…” she said. “So what?!” I asked. “Hmm…I don’t remember which SRK movie it was…but it had this dialogue that when you think more and speak less…its love!” she winked. “Shut up! You and your SRK movies! All are crap! Its nothing like that!”I said. “Man…when did SRK movies become so realistic!!” I wondered. “Don’t you tell me that…okay…” Priya shot back. “And remember Barbie…people can lie but eyes never do…I can read that in your eyes you idiot!” Ashu said. I couldn’t lie. Ashu and Priya knew me inside out. Just a look at my face and they could tell the entire story behind my emotions. I never found the need to say anything to them. They understood it all. This time though…I kept denying. I wondered how would they react. Love at first sight! How can it be…its too fast for me!
“Ummm…yaa…I have just been thinking of him since I met him. And I don’t know what it is…but I think he feels the same. Even I could see that in his eyes. But, I don’t know!!” I said. “Don’t worry Barbie…you just have to order...I’ll get that goalie by his neck and pull out all the truth!!” Ashu joked. “Promise Ashu! Hehehe” I smiled.

It was our Physics lab today…And that too an extended session, which meant 6 hours straight in the lab with just a small break in between. The thought of it was enough to put us to sleep. But the brave souls we were…we could not give up that easily. After all, devoting three precious years of your life to physics was not a child’s play! I was supposed to do an experiment to find the reflective index of a prism today. As usual…the three of us reached the lab late, but some how managed to enter without getting caught for an explanation by that crazy optics professor. Not that we were afraid of her or lacked the talent to give excuses, but the problem was that we could not understand her! She was from the north east…and as in DU lingo, was called ‘Chinki’. And we actually needed a translator while talking to her. I remembered the last time she caught us…she kept asking something and we just could not understand. All we did was giving blank stupid looks to each other, till she got fed up and called one of the nerds of our class who could understand her.

This time we managed to give her an escape and headed straight for the dark room. Dark room…my favourite place in the lab! Since optics experiments were conducted there…it had complete darkness, a few complicated instruments and lots of fun! The teacher could never make out who exactly was working and who was having a good time watching their partners work! “Where the heck is my partner!!” I thought. And then I saw Kapil…the poor fellow was trying to adjust the prism on the spectrometer. “He must be cursing the day when he was made my lab partner.” I thought. I never worked and he never complained. He was that sweet. I went straight to him. “Hii Kapil…so wassup with the prism yaar??” I said. He looked at me and smiled, “Woww…only half an hour late this time! You are improving in my company Neha! And this experiment, yaar…I can’t do it! Though I have adjusted the prism according to the scale, but I am afraid you’ll have to rotate, get the spectrum and take all the readings because I can’t make out colours!! Me kind of colour-blind!!” he said shyly. “What! You serious? Colour-blind!!” I asked. “Yup, sometimes green looks yellow and sometimes it looks red...its not even fixed..else could have made a note of what is what! And this damn spectrum will make me mad. I just saw the spectrum Ruchi has got and the only colour I got right was yellow! But don’t worry, I’ll do all the calculations once you get the readings.” He explained.
“ problem yaar. But that is kind of interesting. I read about that in my biology classes but never got a chance to meet an actual case! Okay..tell me what colour is this??” I showed him my blue notebook. “Red” he replied. “Hehe…that’s fun! Its blue idiot! By the way…who does your shopping?” I joked. Before Kapil could say anything, I saw the professor entering the room, and in an instant, I was adjusting the eyepiece of the telescope. And then after few minutes of concentration, I finally managed to get the spectrum. “Ohh…wow…see how beautiful it is! All the colours…such sharp contrast. Amazing! Physics can be beautiful too!” I said. Priya was standing at my back. “Yess…everything is beautiful when you are in love!” she winked. And then I saw my phone shining on the table. It was Nick. I looked at Priya. She was giving an even bigger smile now. I talked to him for a few minutes and then got up to leave. “Gotta meet him. He’s waiting down. Byeee..” I said. “ me when you are done. Won’t disturb you in between!” Priya laughed. “Sure!! And please help Kapil with the experiment!” I rushed.

He was waiting near the net. This was the tenth time I was meeting him since my b’day four days ago. Four days…only four days! I don’t know what attracted me to him. “May be his sweet smile, may be his eyes, may be its the way we met, or probably its because of how I feel when I am with him.” I thought. Nick was just amazing. A complete livewire. No one could ever feel low in his company. He talked a lot of crap, shared so many interests with me, loved rain too! He never kept quiet, had so many stories to tell..most of them so funny, even teased me many a times. But somehow I just loved him. He made me feel like a small kid. He was so caring and protective. I liked that. I felt the happiest with him.

I reached the net. “Hiii Nick!!” I said. “Heyyy…you made me wait!”He smiled. “Sorry!” I said. “Don’t be …I love waiting for you dear. I don’t mind waiting five hours for five minutes of yours. You are that precious for me. And I know you know that!” he said. I smiled. He always said something so sweet that I felt myself more and more drawn towards him. He made me feel so loved!
“ was your day?” I asked. He went on telling me about what all he did…his friends, the pranks played..everything. I had my stories. We never realised how time passed. It must have been almost two hours since we had been sitting behind that goalpost. It had become our favourite meeting point…it was a special place…the place where we met for the first time. I was telling him about the new novel I had picked up...when he held my hand. I looked at him. “Neha…I like you so much. I haven’t thought of anything else since the day I met you. You are my sweetheart dear. I can’t even think of a day without you. You have become so much a part of me. You might think its too fast, but I can’t really help it...I think I am in love!” he said.
I couldn’t believe it…I was overwhelmed…I was so touched…I was elated…I was sooo happy…I held his hand tightly…but I couldn’t speak a word. I just kept looking at him. He never asked for a reply. I guess my eyes said it all.

To be continued..

By Priyanka

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A rainy day... (part 1)

“Wake uppp b’day girl!! Its already 10.15…we are getting late for college! Seems the hangover hasn’t gone!! Hehe..” Priya kicked me hard. We had a great party last night with almost the entire hostel there to celebrate my birthday. It was amazing. I had never been out of home but graduation brought me to Delhi University. I still remembered the day when I was to leave home…all in tears with dad and mom assuring me that they would come every week to see me. Oh..and how time passed. Hostel life had given me such good friends. I had never thought life out of home would be so much fun.

I was still half asleep…but was woken up in an instant when I realised that my bed was shaking! “Hahaha…its meee…Ashuquake!!” It was Ashu. “You idots!! Won’t you guys spare me even on my b’day!! I am another year old…haven’t you guys got any lessons on respecting elders! Hehe… and Priya…what hangover dear?? I didn’t drink!! Huh!” I got up finally. “Ok ok.. you didn’ will you get ready for college? I know you are going to take too long with it…your special b’day suit is ready there…No no…don’t thank me for ironing it.. I know how to make you repay!” Priya laughed. “Ohho…so our Barbie is going to wear a suit today!! Man..i have never seen you in one….and let me guess..the colour must be pink…right?” Ashu joked. He always made fun of my obsession with pink and hence called me Barbie! “Yesss it is! And you won’t believe the amount of effort and time Neha spent on getting it made for this day. Chalo..we guys are going down. Get ready quickly!” Priya said. Priya and Ashu…my best buddies at college. And how much I loved them!

I picked up the newspaper…straight to page 4 of HT City. “You are happy and contented with life. Small problems might occur but you can overcome them with ease. Your career and love life will go smoothly. You might meet someone special today. Your lucky colour is green and lucky number 5” my horoscope for the day read. “What the crap! Where are these damn astrologers when earthquakes and bombs rock the world! Absolute shit!” I said. But still, reading this crap had somehow become a ritual for me. I got ready for college. Though I had no plans to attend any classes but I had assured my bookworm friend Priya that I would.

It was a lovely day…light drizzle and cool winds. I had always loved rain. It had an amazing effect on me. An effect that could rub off all tensions and could cheer me up in a moment. Today, I was already so happy and excited. Rain just made my day. I thanked god for the sweet little gift. “Imagine…what would you like to do in this lovely weather…connect the transistors, resistors and capacitors in that crappy electronics lab with that mad professor hanging over our heads with a multimeter…or…have a walk in the ground in this awesome weather with this awesome friend of yours!!” I tried to convince Priya for yet another bunk. “This will be our 4th bunk from lab…attendance??” she countered. “Ashu will do that…chill…he has become an ace in proxies. And he just has to thank me for this special training!” I laughed as I saw her smile. I meant yes. We reached the ground. Our college football team was practising there for the upcoming inter college tournament. We were walking behind the net area and were busy in our gossips and my b’day plans when I was hit by the football. “Shit!!” I shouted. “Ohh…It hurt sweetie??” Priya asked. “No, but look at my dupatta…shit shit…its all muddy!! This damn ball spoiled it all…nooo!!” I yelled.

“Heyyy…I am so sorry!!” the goalkeeper came running. “I missed that one…and oops…it spoiled your dress…sorry for that!” he said. “Sorry! Your sorry would correct this?! Its her birthday and here you are! And Neha..why are you quiet now?” Priya was fighting for me. I didn’t say a word.
He had mud all over his clothes. His college jersey and shorts were almost brown, though I could still make out the original light blue colour at some places. I could easily make out he was above 6 feet. His wet dishevelled hair was covering parts of his forehead…innocent looks yet shining naughty eyes…extremely fair complexion…with slight mud over his cheeks. “ sorry b’day girl…I spoiled your day! Anyway Neha…a very happy b’day! I am Nick…actually Nikhil.” He smiled. And then I saw them…his cuteeee dimples….which made his smile the best in the world! Man…I was busy staring or what…I didn’t even notice when he extended his hand to wish me!
“Umm…thanks…Nick…and its okay...really.” I said. He smiled. I could see Priya giving me those killer looks. “But what you guys doing out here in the rain?” he asked. “Because this crazy girl loves rain!!” Priya snapped back. “Oh wow..i love that too!” He looked towards me and smiled.
“Nickkk” we could hear his team mates calling. “Gotta go..will catch you later Neha!” He smiled and rushed back towards the field…leaving me there…lost. All of sudden, I was reminded of my horoscope. “Man! Have the astrologers finally got it right this time!!” I was left wondering.

To be continued..

By Priyanka

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Gift of Life- Blogisode 6

I started screaming once again at the top of my voice. Alaena was getting really impatient now. All my attempts of sending her to sleep were futile now. I myself was dying of hunger. I took some mud and started munching. I saw no other way to kill this demon of hunger that was surfacing within. Two mouthfuls and I could not help crying. I had ridiculed the Idli’s in the morning. God had taught me a very important lesson. There are many in this world that don’t even have the fortune of having one square meal a day and there are the spoilt lot like me who have food in plenty but no respect for that which God had bestowed us with. But what wrong had Alaena done? She was all of 9 months. Why was she getting this harsh treatment from the almighty? I cried when I tried to give her a little mud because her cries were getting intolerable. She ate a little and dozed off to sleep. I think the psychological satisfaction of having had something was what made little Alaena stop crying. I felt guilty. But I saw no other alternative to keep her going. I wanted to get rid of this hell. I had seen enough. Around 27-28 hours had passed since I first saw sunlight in full glare. I wanted to play with my friends once again. I wanted to run around the playgrounds. I wanted to accept the gifts that my friends would have brought along for my birthday party. I wanted to take in their greetings. I wanted to show off my new birthday dress to my friends today. I wanted to bask once again in the glory of the sun. I wanted to stay alive. I gathered all my strength and screamed again. I kept on screaming. I lost consciousness.

When I woke up, I could distinctly hear the sound of hammers and cutters on metal. There was a lot of noise from these. I glanced at Stephen uncle. He was looking in my direction and smiling. That same wide smile of his flashing his dimples. He didn’t blink for a moment and kept giving me that smile. That gave me courage and I felt stronger. For the first time I smiled back at him. I could sense the feeling of hope that these sounds had created within me. I gathered all my strength and managed to scream aloud. I was crying for help. My cries were finally heard by a group of soldiers who were on the rescue act. When they pulled us out an hour later around noon on January 28, I was half conscious but jubilant nonetheless. Alaena was still breathing but with much difficulty and I could feel her move. I could not move my legs which were numb by now. A team of doctors rushed to give us medical attention and first aid. The first question I asked the army medical supervisor, Major Reddy, was, “Is an uncle named Stephen alive?” Major just patted me and told me not to think of anything else.

It took me a good six months to recover from the trauma and the physical injuries that the earthquake had inflicted on me. Alaena also recovered quite well, never forgetting to give her toothless bright smile (though now I could see a couple of teeth sprouting out of her gums). Those 28 hours had spun a special bond between us. Maybe later years down the line, she will say something. Or maybe she might already have told her parents in baby talk about what happened in her private hell on that dark day of January 26th. But I hope she forgets it. I hope we all forget it.

It was quite later when I learnt that Stephen uncle could not make it through and had died of multiple injuries right at the spot itself. There were many newspaper and media reports on the “Smiling Corpse”. He was found dead with a wide smile on his face. I could relate to that smile of his. I knew he had put on that smile just to give me moral support and strength. The thought that he was already dead when he had given me that last smile sent shivers down my spine. I felt guilty that he was not alive when I had managed to give him a smile back. I felt a great loss. He will always have the highest place in my heart for not what he taught me in that traumatic period, but for the birthday gift that he gave me that day. The best gift any friend can give. The gift of life.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Gift of Life- Blogisode 5

I screamed in delight. There sat Alaena beneath a dome like structure without a single scratch but scared at the sights. I guess she recognized me given the way she toddled towards me. I grasped her tight and though I could not move an inch, I felt stronger now. Alaena did not stop crying. She kept on pressing her fingers towards her mouth. I knew that very instant that she was damn hungry. The questions that I had posed to God hours ago were being answered in a strange manner. Was this God’s way of explaining things to me? If I could interpret things for a baby whom I knew since the past few hours, then mothers can know what her child has in mind for sure. I tried to pat Alaena to sleep fearing that she would dehydrate if she kept on crying due to hunger like she was. I wasn’t a 10 year old kid anymore. Neither did I feel like one. I felt more mature all of a sudden, but scared down within none the less. After all the heart that beats within me is of a 10 year old who hasn’t seen the world enough. I thanked God as Alaena dozed off to sleep. I kept on sharing something or the other with Stephen as he insisted on us keeping on chatting for some reason he considered appropriate. And trust takes a whole new meaning when you are faced with adversities. You place your complete trust in a stranger. Had it been a normal day, I would not have trusted him with my chocolate. Today, I was trusting him with my life. It had been 15 hours since we had been trapped. It got darker because of the night setting in. I got all the more scared. Stephen tried to drive away my fears. Alaena has still not woken up. My throat was parched now. My stomach was rumbling with hunger. Anything in the name of food would have found its way to my stomach . Stephen advised me to keep on gulping my saliva so that my throat does not get parched. My legs had gone numb. I wanted to cry. I screamed. Stephen managed a muffled scream. Our screams were lost in the rumbling of bulldozers and trucks. “Would I remain buried here forever?” I asked myself. I clutched Alaena stronger. Stephen was finding it hard to breathe now. He was heaving. I told him this day was supposed to be my birthday and the gift that dad had promised to buy me. He smiled at me and wished me a very happy birthday. I think it caused him great pain but still he managed to sing a short happy birthday song for me. 20 hours had passed since we were trapped in this hell. It was getting unbearable with every passing minute. At some points I could see the heaves of Stephen getting heavier. When I would try to show concern, he would just smile back and remind me to be strong and not to cry. Alaena was getting more and more impatient. How would a baby know that he was not at the comfort of its home where the mother would feed her the finest idli’s in the whole world? How would she know that hunger and thirst did not find a place in the dictionary that they used in this place which I had christened as hell? How would she know that it could be any moment this whole rubble could come crashing on us decimating our hunger and thirst’s forever? I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted the pain in my legs to leave me. The pain in my legs was now getting unbearable. I let out a wail. I did not want this pain. Stephen was sweating profusely now. He seemed to be in considerable pain himself. He was finding it difficult to maintain that smile on his face now. Still he gave it his best shot and mumbled, “Pain is a friend molu. Pain is a friend. As long as you are in pain, you know that you are alive. And that’s the best gift a friend can give. The gift of life.” I tried to drill these words into my psyche. “Pain is a friend Meera…Pain is a friend.” Stephen uncle was now finding it hard to speak. Not that I was well off, but then in a better state than Stephen uncle. He directed me to keep on making voices so that we get heard. Else we would have to endure this torture for more hours. The very thought sent shivers down my spine.

To be continued....

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Gift of Life- Blogisode 4

I screamed…. I screamed at the top of my voice. My screams got lost in the cries of help that were originating from everywhere. “Oh God! What have I done to go through this torture?”, I was shouting at the top of my voice. People who were trapped were moaning in pain. Apart from some bruises, a sore neck and the tangle my legs had got into, I had managed to come out unscathed.

I wanted to get out of this dust and rubble this instant. I was struggling for fresh air. It was suffocating. My white uniform no more seemed white. It was eerily brown. “My class teacher would give me a sound scolding if I will reach school like this on a Republic day. Aiyoo! She will make me stand on top of the bench. Please don’t keep me trapped in this place. I will get a sound beating from my mother for going out of sight for too long. She won’t even know that I am trapped down here. Please help me god! I promise not do any sort of mischief in future. I have learnt my lesson. Now please get me out of this mess. Pleaseeeeeeeeeee!”, I pleaded to the almighty. All my prayers seemed to be falling on deaf ears as of now. I could not remember for how long I kept pleading for help. It had drained me of all my energy and I soon fell asleep. I don’t know for how many hours I slept. The screams that were so strong hours ago now seemed muffled and feeble. It seemed hope had started draining out of their bodies. All the escape routes seemed to be cut, but a dust-choked pocket of air kept me going.

I tried to look around for some help. I saw an elderly male trapped till neck trying to wriggle out of the mess he had got into. His efforts were reducing in intensity with every attempt which indicated that he was in this act for long. He had a thick moustache which was as dark as his complexion. It was the only thing that added some years to his erstwhile boyish looks. I could bet that he had grown them to give the same impression. He had trimmed the hair on his head really short but they could not hide the curl in them. He could have easily come across as a dark skinned foreign national with his looks. He had dust smeared all over. He seemed to be muscular fellow, which I assumed from his square jaws and the way the nerves of his neck stood out and seemed to bulge out every time he tried to push down the beam that he was trapped under. Though very dark, there was something in him that would capture your attention. Suddenly he looked in my direction and our eyes met. He gave me a reassuring smile. I noticed his stained teeth. He had to be a tobacco addict like my uncle. These stains were so similar. Thinking I was scared by his looks, his smile grew wider. I saw two perfect dimples form on both his cheeks. I tried to smile back. It was here that I realized that to maintain a smile in the face of extremity is the toughest thing to do. I could not even force a smile back. All that I could manage was a few tears that were now streaming continuously from my eyes.

The man started speaking in a choked voice, “This is Stephen here…..You….ehhhh…You can call me…aaahhhh…Ste…Ste…Stephen uncle. I hope you are not…not…scared of….me. Ha ha ha…aaahhh..I never thought smiling would cause me so much pain…ouch! Yaa…I was just hoping….God..aaaahhh..just hoping that you don’t start crying as well looking at me. All the kids who catch a glimpse of mine start crying. They can’t stand my…my…aaaaaahhhh…….appearance. They slip into…depression..he he he…ohhh..but you seem to be a…aaaahhhh…brave lil girl. I had this nickname back in college..ha ha ha…aaaaahhh….My batchmates used to call me Stephen IAS. are a kid. You wont know what an IAS stands for. It is the acronym for Indian Administrative Services(IAS). Not that I was academically brilliant and a surety for civil services…. IAS stood for Invisible After Sunset…ha ha ha..ouchhh!! You have some pretty smart guys good with such acronyms….ha ha ha…just imagine…IAS! Who could come out with such…such…ouchhh…such gem? I just grew in height…just like that….ha ha..nothing else changed…the same boyish looks….but this complexion and the curly hairs on top scare the kids away. I don’t intend to make them cry, but…aaaaaaaahhh….I see that you are not scared looking at me…Great…Don’t be scared of this hell we have got into either child….eeehhhhh…..Its not long before the rescue team arrives and pulls us out of this hell. Just relax and don’t cry. The tears would dehydrate you quickly. Even if you want to cry very badly, don’t.” That words registered like God’s command in my ears and I made an attempt to stop this flow of tears.

A resounding cry of a baby made me strain my neck towards my right. My heart leapt at the sight. I could not believe my eyes.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Gift of Life- Blogisode 3

Khan uncle screamed,"Earthquake"!! Gathering his senses he gave Alaena in my arms instructing me to make a dash towards the ground floor and from there to the open, while he rushed upstairs. The intensity of the tremor and the accompanying rumbling noise gradually diminished and suddenly increased atleast three times. I could clearly the see the plinth of the nearest building oscillating through a distance of about 15 cm. I had no clue what to do. My brain had stopped functioning alltogether. I could only here people screaming and running around. Reaching the ground floor seemed like an eternity. People were rushing out in droves now pushing people along. With Alaena in my arms, almost a a munute had elapsed since Khan uncle had left us. I reached the ground floor and was just about to head towards the open when I witnessed a panel wall thrown out completely out of its frame structure. I could not hear any voices. All i could hear was wails, shrieks and a strong rumbling sound which was growing in intensity with every passing second. I stood there frozen as I witnessed two of the lowest floors of the adjacent Malhar apartments plunge into the ground. Something strong struck me at the back and I let go Alaena off my arms.My head felt sore. There was suddenly a deathly silence around me. It was unusually dark and dusty. I was sure that whatever I had seen was a bad dream and the day had just begun. But sometimes, your worst fears tend to come true. I found myself in the midst of a rubble with a bam preotecting me from the debris that had accumulated in heaps right above. I found it hard to breathe. I tried to get up the way I used to jump out of my bed every morning, but some strange force was pinning me to the ground. My legs were trapped. I was stuck under a seemingly endless rubble of cement, stone and bare rods. I could see bodies crushed by the beams lying immobile besides. Blood oozed out of their bodies draining them of their life with every passing second. "What have these innocent people done to be put through such an ordeal? What have I done to suffer like this?", I wondered. I felt like vomitting. It was a ghastly scene. I shut my eyes unable to take in these gory scenes any more. I was trembling with fear. Never in my life have I been more scared. Never. I screamed. I screamed at the top of my voice. My screams got lost in the cries for help that were originating from everywhere. I could see people trying to wriggle out of the mess they were down under. My ears were filled with pleads and cries which were emanating from all over the place. My nose had got used to the smell of blood and the rubble all over. Suddenly, i realized that Alaena was nowhere besides me. I looked around for Alaena. Where was she? I felt my heart skip a beat at the thought of she being trapped under the debris.

To be continued......
(* God...Let there be peace all over. Natural or manmade disasters....please dont test us. Let us pray for the Delhi blast victims.)

The Gift of Life- Blogisode 2

"Good morning Meera", wished Khan uncle. He was my favourite uncle in the building, Meera Apartments. Almost everyone in this building, right from the ground floor occupants to the Khan family on the 7th floor, knows me because i share my name with our building. Khan uncle cooks up the most amusing and make believe stories. He almost forced me into believing how the building was rechristened "Meera Apartments" after i was born to wade off evil spirits. And that they would take control if i were to move out of this building ever. So I should never ever move from this building and in doing so am helping out the other occupants. Khan uncle even jokes how i am famous in the whole of Ahmedabad. He even went to the extent of claiming that he had forwarded the story related to me and the building to both national and international news agencies and how i would be famous world over soon. I sometimes secretly wished i was. Being a celebrity was so cool. And Khan uncle said it with so conviction that i would do mock thanking sessions before my bedroom mirror everyday. That was Khan uncle. And i loved him from the core of my heart. He also enjoyed my company and i would at his place in all festivals as family. Be it Id or Onam or Diwali, we celebrated each of them like one big family. And i loved it this way."The lift is ot of order my dear. I fear that you will have to walk down the stairs all the way down sweetheart. I think Alaena and me would love to give you company all the way down in your marathon attempt my sunshine", Khan uncle giggled and i noticed Alaena in his arms. I recollected him mentioning that he was expecting his cousin's daughter and her child over on Republic day as it was a holiday. Alaena was as cute as it gets. All of 9 months, she gave her toothless smile which had me drooling all over her. Her cheeks were red and she was wearing a red frilled frock which went with her wheatish complexion. I had this desire to hold her the moment i saw her waving towards me. I didnt want to go to school all of a sudden. I wanted to play with this lil bundle of joy. I never liked babies much, but Alaena had won my heart with that toothless smile. I wanted to pull her red cheeks and plant a kiss on each of them."Sweetheart...i know you want to play with Alaena but your bus might be waiting for you. Moreover Alaena is here for a week so you can play with her as much as you wish. But school first!", Khan uncle had read my mind. I glanced at my watch. 8:44 am. All the cuddling and playing part could be carried out in the evening was what I said to myself and started walking downstairs. Khan uncle turned to my mom who was standing by the door all this while, "I think you can carry on with your household chores Mrs. Krishnan. No need to walk all the way down to the ground floor. I have to buy some bread from the market and we will accompany Meera downstairs. I will see to it that she gets on her school bus. You dont worry at all." And with that reassuring words to mom, we started our downward trek to the ground floor. Yes, a trek! I don't know how else would i describe climbing down the stairs from my 7th floor apartment. The two minutes it took us to reach the second floor seemed like hours. I glanced at my watch. It was 8:46 am and we were at the second floor.All of a sudden I felt a high frequency vibration through my feet. I felt the ground getting displaced in the northerly direction. There was a strange sound accompanying this displacement. The sound resembling to that of heavy furniture being pulled over a rough surface. I had no clue as to what was happening. I turned backwards to see a horror stricken Khan uncle. Never had i seen him in such a state. A feeling of fear mixed with horror loomed large on his face. He looked at me and screamed, "Earthquake"!!!!

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Gift Of Life - Blogisode 1

Sorry that I kept all my readers waiting for so long. I dont say that the break has done a world of good for me, but the hunger to write and cook stories has increased manifold. I bring to you another short story from my stable, "The Gift of Life". Hope you all forgive me for the long sabbatical and enjoy this story. Cheers!

“Meera, you are getting late for the flag hoisting ceremony at your school dear. It’s already 8:20 molu. The white uniform that you are wearing is just fine. No need to keep on looking at that small spot on the collar again and again. It won’t vanish by itself daa! Its hardly noticeable molu. Be quick! Ohhhhh…you still haven’t had your breakfast!! Come here this instant.”

I could hear my mom shouting from the dining room. How on earth did Amma know that I was glancing at the spot standing in front of the mirror here? “Mothers are mothers. The supreme beings. They know it all. Their sixth sense antennas are always turned on”, said a feeble voice within me.

Being Meera Krishnan was tough at times. After all why don’t these grown up’s understand that a 10 year old girl has better things to do than have breakfast. I consider breakfast a sheer waste of time. I could have slept a little more or had a longer look at the calendar to anticipate and plan my approaching birthday the next day, January the 27th. I wanted to simply stand there dreaming of the gift dad promised me this time around.

Another routine call by mom had me rushing towards the dining table. I glanced at the clock and wondered how mom managed to give me a call in exact 5 minute intervals from the moment I got up from bed to this instant. I threw my bag on the sofa and took my seat on the dining table. The seat at the centre of this dining table belongs to me, Miss Meera Krishnan. Though I dislike spending time munching stuffs made lovingly by mom, which I consider a sheer waste of time, but I do enjoy being made the centre of attention. Dad enquiring about my day and mom asking me if I would like another helping, my seat at the centre enabled me to have a clear view of both and bask in the attention being showered.

I made a dash towards the casserole and peeped into it. I closed it the very instant and threw an angry glance at mom. “Idli’s again??? Yuck….Amma, this is not fair! You keep doing this all the time. You promised to make me sandwiches for breakfast last night. I don’t want to take this to school. Kids have labelled me a South Indian ponytail because my tiffin always is stuffed with either idli’s or dosa’s. Stephen Gonzales of our section keeps bringing fancy items in his tiffin everyday. It’s a new thing everyday. Or take Asbah Alaena of Section B. She brings along sandwiches with a different filling every day. She has made so many friends in my section just because she is so cool. Mona Aiyar, Ani, Rajesh, Ttushar…ohhh…the list of the cool people in my section is endless mom. It’s only me with these idli’s and dosa’s. Yaa, there is this Sandeep Balan who brings the same stuff. But that’s precisely the reason no one hangs out with him. Students make fun of him and call him “Dosa boy”. At least I have some friends with whom I hang around. I don’t want to be like that boy and labelled as a “South Indian” mom. It’s not that cool when I have to give explanations that it’s not Parachute coconut oil that we use for cooking. I am tired of telling them that this is the costliest and purest oil around and not the cheap ones which are used for hair. It was just the other day that Mona Aiyar was making fun of me. She said that your mom applies the oil that remains after cooking in your hair. How embarrassing is that? I want to take sandwiches along to show them that we don’t cook in coconut oil mom. Why don’t you understand?” I looked up at mom and she didn’t even show a sign of registering my complaint. If I meet God one day, the first thing I would like to ask him is that why are 10 year olds treated so miserably by heir mothers. I swallowed two idli’s making faces and slipped the tiffin into my bag. I had school for only 3 hours today. Today being the republic day, we had a flag hoisting ceremony in school followed by some sports. I was looking forward to the 100 m dash in my age category where I was among the favourites. As soon as mom ordered me to stop and head towards the school bus which seemed to have arrived below, I jumped out of my chair. I could feel a feeling of triumph within me. I think this is how prisoners feel when they are set free after being behind the bars for years. It is so liberating. I made a dash towards the lift on our floor.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow-2

Note: Story for

(*All characters and situations are fictitious. They bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead. This is my entry for the short story competition at Writer's lounge. This is the second and final installment of the two part story)

“Where is Adrian?”, I questioned Rashid. It was Rashid who had coordinated with the others of my gang. I had left it on him to make all the arrangements. He hadn’t disappointed me by getting all of us under a single roof. All of them…except one!

Adrian D’Souza aka Adi! My roommate for 2 years was conspicuously absent from the get together. To be very frank, apart from sending occasional mails to the group, I had not gone the extra mile to call any of my friends for the whole of last year. I was made to sweat out so much on my offshore project that the only thing I loved to do after getting back to my apartment was to play dead on my bed. Nothing could beat the comfort it offered after slogging hard for the entire day. The fatigue would kill all my thoughts of calling up Richa at the end of the day and I would postpone it for the next day. This would carry on for the entire week. After all the postponing I would end up adding a word or two to my limited list of abusive words every weekend when I would muster the courage to call up Richa. Then she would burst out crying. Over the next hour she would race me through memory lanes, reminding me of the best times we had spent together. All the while making me realize how much I had changed.

“I love you baby, I very much do! I am waiting for the day I will be done with this dreaded project of mine and head back home. Head home to be with people I love, to be with you who is my life. It’s not that I don’t like chatting with you everyday sweetheart. It’s just that I am so shit tired at the end of the day that all my thoughts and feelings die a silent death. Day after day after day. But I try making amends on weekends. Don’t I? It has been an hour since I am trying to explain things to you and all you tell me is that I don’t love you anymore! Come on yaar.”, I was trying desperately to calm Richa. Richa had this wonderful ability. The ability to start a new argument every time borrowing a line from me. She blasted off, “San!! See!! That’s just what I was pointing at. You have been keeping a tab of time. I am so sorry to have taken an hour of your precious US time darling. I really am. There used to be a time when we would chat for hours together. And here you are, reminding me that it has been an hour! Thanks for your time Mr. Sandeep”. Richa slammed the receiver. I wondered what my mistake was? I was making an ISD call after all and had to keep a tab on time. But I had never meant to hurt Richa. Never even in my dreams. There were times when she understood and gave me strength. There were times when I would be blasted off. Distances do make patching up after fights all the more difficult. I would still try in full earnest. Sometimes I would succeed and I would be showered with kisses over the phone; sometimes I would fall flat on my face and see Richa drifting apart. Somehow I had seen the dreaded year through. And what timing it had been. It was her birthday the next day. I had finished off my project well before time to get a reprieve. I had not told Richa about my arrival in Delhi and had warned Rashid from telling her as well. I wanted to surprise her. The love and longing that had accumulated in me in the past year had enough horse power to keep me going after a long flight. I was not feeling jet lagged at all. I had slept throughout my flight anticipating this night out.

“You moron! Wake up!! Day dreaming about your lady love eh! Hey Alaena, it’s Richa’s birthday tomorrow. And our prince charming would be heading to her flat in an hour to surprise her. She will be swept off her feet; I tell you bro. Especially after seeing this bouquet that my lady love has personally selected for you. Take it bro, gift it to her. 200 roses in it, right Alaena? You are a darling my cutie pie”, Rashid kissed her again. Alaena blushed. The couple looked very much in love. It had been only a month since Rashid and Alaena had started going around. And it showed. Alaena had this natural glow on her face. Something which can never be achieved through cosmetics. Something which only love brings forth. Rashid couldn’t take his eyes off her for a single moment. He was completely smitten by this lady. I could see that in his eyes. I could very well do that. Even Adrian had seen my love for Richa back then. Now I realized that eyes give you away. You simply can’t train them to lie.

“Will you tell me the truth Sandy? Come on, don’t hide this from me. Tell me everything about your newfound love. And keep that accounting book aside if you don’t feel like going through it brother. It’s an insult to the author that you are thinking of someone else while reading the cases he took years to pen down. Look here Sandy. It is Richa, right?” Adrian looked at me questioningly. He had that “I know it all” look on his face. I had not shared the latest developments with Adrian. Richa was no more just a friend. She had transformed into the most important person in my life. I knew this would hurt Adi a bit. He had a crush on Richa from the first day of college. He would get angry whenever I abused her in front of him after our famous presentation run ins. Sharing the room with Adi was suffocating me from the day Richa had given her approval. I did not know how to confront Adi after that. And here he was demanding an answer. “Yes. I am going around with Richa yaar”, I mumbled. Adi had never accepted openly that he liked Richa. But I knew deep within that he did. I felt guilty. But then, why? Had Adi told me even once that he liked Richa? That I must allow him to play his cards before I did. It had been a year into the course and Adi seemed to be going nowhere. I should not feel guilty. Richa has to choose. She has made her choice. I got the courage to look him in his eyes. Adi was smiling. “I am happy for you. You should have told me of this earlier. Richa is lucky to have you. Never dare you hurt her. I will forget you were my roommate brother” Adi hugged me. Adi was like that. He was the most silent one of our gang. He was an introvert to the core. I am yet to see someone who would switch off his phone on his birthday, tired of taking the wishes. He did what his heart felt was correct. He never thought of the pros and cons of his decision. That was Adi….Adrian for the world!

“Adi is mad yaar. He seldom takes our calls. It’s only once or twice that we have met him in the past year. He was in Delhi till last month. Now he is posted in Bangalore. And worse still, we get to know this from Crystal’s friend who is working with Adi in the same department in Bangalore. He leaves from office early every Friday to catch the 6 pm flight for Delhi. He has been in Delhi every weekend since he was packed off to Bangalore. The airlines are surviving because of him…he he he! His phone is engaged most of the time, and that bugger does not care to call back or drop a message in return. Grapevine is that Mr. Adi has a girlfriend now……he he. Crystal’s friend is our detective who snoops on him you see. She claims he caught him getting all mushy on the phone. Imagine our silent Adi getting all mushy. If I bump into Adi for once, I am going to slap him hard on his face”, Divya growled. Divya, Adi and me had been in the same group in college and were close. Richa was never a part of our gang. She never got along well with my group. Richa was very clear about it and stayed away whenever I used to spend time with my gang. I appreciated her for being frank enough to admit that. I loved her for that. She was perfect for me. Richa……..oops! I glanced at my watch. It was almost twelve. A few more minutes and it would be Richa’s birthday.

I had to rush. I realized that Rashid had gone to the bartender to collect our next round of drinks. I waited for him to get back and then leave for Richa’s place. I scanned the disc. As it was Saturday night, Turquoise cottage had more than three hundred customers. There were lots of couples who had taken to the dance floor. A remixed version of “Pappu Cant Dance” played in the background. Alaena handed me the bouquet realizing that I will be rushing in a while. Rashid was taking long. The clock struck twelve. Suddenly the volume of music went down. DJ’s voice echoed in the disc, “We have a bday girl in our midst. Wishing Richie a very very happy birthday. And one thing lady…your boyfriend loves you like mad. This is the fiftieth time he has reminded me in the past 5 mins. This one’s dedicated for you.” The hindi remix made way for Butterfly(Crazy Town) and everyone clapped as Richie’s boyfriend picked her up in his arms. She embraced him. People were still clapping. Seemed there was only one birthday girl in the disc today. Seeing the attention the couple was getting, the DJ signaled the light man to put the spotlight on the couple. In a minute, the couple took the centre stage. We also joined in the clapping. The couple had their back towards us. Richie was still up in her boyfriends arms. Then he let her stand on her feet. She put her arms across him and pulled him closer. As my eyes got used to the sudden flash of light, I saw the couple more closely. My heart skipped a beat. It was Richa! I felt as if someone had stalked me with a sharp weapon in my stomach and pulled out all the intestines. I had never felt this much pain. My soul was twitching with the pain. Divya and TJ had already recognized Richa. I felt their touch on my hands to comfort me. I felt betrayed. I felt hurt. I had collapsed in my seat. Divya was trying to pull me towards her to shift my attention from the scene. TJ tried to hug me. I had frozen in my seat. I could hardly breathe. It was then I saw her boyfriend. The one who had replaced me in her life. He looked familiar. Very familiar. Wasn’t it Adrian? Yessssss…it was him. It was Adi.

People started whistling loudly. DJ was egging the crowd on. Richa was kissing Adi. She was kissing him like mad. I don’t know how long it lasted. Time had stopped for me. Rashid was back and my gang was helping me get back to my feet. They were trying to pull me to the exit door. I was still frozen. I didn’t blink even for a second. No tears trickled down my cheeks. My face was expressionless. It had just frozen in the motions. I felt my soul escape from the body that encaged it.