Monday, October 23, 2006
I was driving fast. I did not want to get late. She must not wait for me. I was checking my watch and cursing the red lights. The traffic was dense and irritating. I must not loose cool, deep breath. Saira! I was telling myself.
It was seven-thirty. It was the arrival time; the flight must have landed by now. I hope she gets out fast. I parked in a jiffy and ran towards the arrival lounge. She was there, coming with a trolley. Wow! She looked stunning. To be honest, I felt a slight pang of jealousy. She is my best friend, I should not think like that.
"Hi, Priya!" I ran towards her with open arms, and we hugged each other tightly. It was like coming home. We were meeting after fifteen years! She was in London for last fourteen years. Last year she had shifted back to India and was settled in Mumbai now. Since last year we were trying to meet, but could not. Yesterday, I received a phone call out of the blue that she was coming to Delhi to meet me. Sandeep was out of station, and was supposed to come back next week. Son was in the hostel and I was alone. So this was a welcome change. When the luggage was finally set, and we relaxed, I looked at her; she was changed. My roly-poly Priya was glowing, her shinning hair was cut in the most fashionable style, her dress sense, which was awful, when we were in the college, has improved to the perfection. She used to hate make up, but now she was loaded with it.
"You are looking gorgeous Priya!" I finally told her. She started laughing, "Thank you dear, but so do you!"
"Excuse me! You don’t have to be formal, I know I am looking dragged in front of you," I was laughing too.
The fifteen years of gap was flying out of the window. We both were changed a lot in our appearances, but inside we were the same. Slowly coming to surface was our childhood dreams and ambitions. We were excited, like schoolgirls. She wanted to catch the last fourteen years, and so was I. The driving was bad at that peak hour, I was concentrating on it, and so we were casually talking about the weather, and the roads, and the poor traffic sense of people here. It was already ten when we reached home.
"Are you tired Priya? Do you want to sleep?" I was trying to be a good hostess.
"You must be mad, I didn’t come here to sleep, dumbo, we are not going to sleep. Let’s get going. I am dying to know about everything." We went to the bedroom, and she threw her duppata and sandals, and jumped on the bed.
‘Make yourself comfortable. I am going to get the coffee, then we will talk’ I was very happy.
"Are you in your senses? I want something hard, where’s the bar?"
‘O.K. Come with me’ I took her to the drawing room. So my roly-poly was changed. She never used to drink, but fifteen years are hell of a time to change.
‘What you want to have?’
‘Vodka with Limca will do. You have Limca?
"Yes, of course." She made two drinks, and again we were back to the bedroom. In the dim light, I could see her sparkling diamonds. My rough tough, far from show-off, friend was definitely changed.
‘How’s Sandeep and Sunny? Show me the photographs.’ Her curiosity was child-like. I took out all the albums and we started going through all the fifteen years passed by. My marriage was the occasion when we met last. She was married to the wealthiest man in town and after that she went away. We were in touch through e-mail and phone, but not regularly.
"Sunny is growing as a handsome man like Sandeep, how old is he now?" She had a twin, a son and a daughter; they were elder to Sunny.
She started laughing like the same old Priya when she saw Sandeep’s latest photo. "He has started balding, Saira! You remember our history-sir?"
"Of course, I do!" He was totally bald and we used to laugh at him, often wondering how would he look-like if he had hairs on his head! His name was Chand, which was very appropriate for his receding hairline. Both of us were rolling with laughter. We were college girls again, carefree and sharing the old times together.
"Hey! Any news about the gang?" She was serious again.
We were five friends, the five most intelligent students, and equally famous for our pranks. We were in touch for quite a long time, but slowly, that bond loosened and we lost track of each other. Just Priya and me were in touch.>"Priya! Do you remember Shobha and Deepak?" Suddenly I thought that I should not be telling her, but this was the last thing I knew about the gang.
"Come on! How could I forget the girl who stole my boyfriend?" She rolled her eyes in mock horror. "Are they married?"
"No, Deepak died in a road accident just before the marriage."
"Oh, my God! When?" She was sad. We were friends after all.
" Long back, just after my marriage, I think."
"Oh! Poor Shobha! She must be heart broken?" Her eyes were moist.
"Yeah, she had a nervous breakdown, then I lost the touch too. No news after that." I went to get the second drink. She came after me and brought the bottle to the bedroom.
"Don’t be silly, you don’t have to go again to fill the glasses, dumbo!" She kept the bottle on the bedside table. We were laughing and drinking.
"Now, tell me something about your hubby and the kids." I was wondering, because she did not mention them even once.
"Oh! Debu is fine, busy as usual, and the kids are doing well in their studies." It was some off hand information, something was there, which did not come out.
I remember Priya was the most sensitive girl in our rather tough gang. She was delicate, down to earth, and a poetess at heart who used to dwell in the imaginary world. She was always happy, helpful, and dreaming about a beautiful future for herself—a loving husband with a great sense of humor and out of the world intellect, lots of kids, and a great career. As a writer for herself, these were her dreams, which she was sure is not asking too much from the life. She was a writer who used to write for the local newspapers, and the school magazines. In the college too she was writing and quite famous too. She was always giving autographs to all her friends, and telling them that she won’t be entertaining them in future, as she was going to be a famous and busy writer! She was the darling of the gang. We used to make fun of her dressing sense. Usually she used to wear a long kurta, churidar, and kohlapuri chappals. It was her style and she was least bothered about her appearance. Deepak had a huge crush on her, but it did not affect her.
"Not my type." She used to say as a matter-of-fact tone. Then Shobha came in the scene and he lost all interest in Priya. Even this did not affect her.R>We loved to eat in the canteens or the roadside stalls, but she used to spend all her money on buying books, which we never did. She was like that, and we all loved her for whatever she was.
After two drinks, we were little tipsy. I could see something that was hidden behind the glittering of the diamonds under the layers of the make-up. She was changed; she was just the other woman, not the special Priya anymore.
"Priya! Are you happy?" it was a stupid question, of course she was.
"Happy? What’s that? Ok, if being a wife of a millionaire is happiness, then I am certainly happy." She was smiling, but what was that? There was a faint trace of tears in her eyes. I must be drunk.
"Do you still write?" what was wrong with me, for god sake? Why can’t I keep shut?
"Yes, I do! The list of groceries!" She was smiling again.
"I am serious, Priya, tell me, it was your dream to become a writer." I was persistent.
" No, Saira, I don’t write anymore. My brain is jammed, I can’t think, so I don’t write. Just can’t." She was crying.
"What is this? Can you be a little clear? What’s the matter?" I was cursing myself, why do I ask such stupid questions? She is right - I am a dumbo.
"You see, I am no longer Priya. I am Mrs. Mehra, a great wife, a good mother, nice daughter in-law, a good everything, but I am no more a separate identity, I am just a something to others. Priya is lost." She was sobbing. Priya is lost under the relations, buried under the social obligations, Priya is dead under her own morals, I live for everyone, but nobody is bothered about me, no one is concerned. Everyone is happy, but what about me? What about my happiness? Everything is fine, as long as I don’t speak. The moment I open my mouth, I become problem for them. So, my dear, I learned to keep mum, to play a dumb. I am getting the best food, expensive jewelry, my clothes, I have a social status as Mrs. Mehra, and what else does a woman need? Nothing. So I should not complain. Yes Saira, I am happy, very happy," she was sobbing bitterly.
This is not Priya! This lost, tired, broken woman is not Priya. She was there for some time, but again she was lost. She wanted a third drink, but I did not give. She refused to eat, so we did not. I didn’t ask anything, she didn’t tell. It was a moment of weakness, which passed. She washed her face and came back, much composed.
"Saira, I didn’t want to be pathetic. Nobody is to be blamed. The fault lies somewhere in me. I was always at the giving end, happy; for me, this was the ultimate happiness. I was so engrossed in giving that I forgot to receive. I didn’t demand and they did not give. After so many years, I felt cheated and started asking. It was unnatural, uncalled for from me for the people around me. They were shocked. How could I need something? I was not supposed to. So, problem started. According to them, I was getting everything, so I should not complain. Yes, I have a big house, but I feel unsheltered, I have money, but I feel poor. I have a husband, but I feel unwanted, I have a great sex life, but I feel unloved, I have a family but I feel lonely. Why? I can’t explain. These are very stupid things, so I must not think that I am not happy." She was looking at me, trying to make me understand the things, which even she never understood.
"Let’s celebrate our time together, let’s forget about the worries, and let’s be ourselves. We are always living in the pretence, let’s be us, what we are, not what we pretend to be," she was again the same old Priya. "Give me another drink, dumbo. Don’t sit like a tragedy queen."R>"Of course!" Tears were falling from my eyes now. I too wanted to go back to those carefree years where we were happy and least bothered about things.
I made a drink, and again we started talking about our English research scholar who once proposed to me; we were all taken aback! He was already married! And about that Sardar boy for whom I had a huge crush, and when one fine day he offered friendship, I refused! I cried and cried for days. Why did I refuse? Oh! I was a dumbo, what else!
We were laughing again. The dawn was coming slowly, and when the sun rose, we were sleeping like babies.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
The path of life was so tough
The way was same, but I was not
The game was same but you were not
I was reshaped and melted in you
You came, held my hands and it changed
Looking into my shattered dreams
And standing on the crossroad of life
You came and pushed me tight
Stunned with fear and disbelief
Holding my life in my hands I fell
I looked back and saw you smiling
I was amazed to feel and see
Some tiny wings coming out like fire
Fear was turned into a butterfly
I started flying on my wings of desire
Collecting tiny pearls of love and care
Pilling up affection in mind and heart
Promises of a lifetime to share
I look at you and I know
My search of soul mate ends here
Monday, August 28, 2006
The life moves, as it is the law of nature, the life stumbles, as it is the nature of us , the humans. The life slows down, as it is the process of movement. The life flies, as it is the moment of awakening. The day started as a normal day, but ended in the most extra ordinary way. The day that changed, the course of two lives. One almost on the verge of an end, and the other on the point of a break down.
It was a casual chat for every other person on Internet , but for me, it was the last hope to cling to life! I was frantically looking at the messages , e-mail id, sex, age, locations etc, sending messages, expecting the reply, but everything was turning blank in my eyes. No one, just no one was there to save me.
No one with whom I could go on after a HI message. Frustration was mounting inside me. Determination growing stronger.
That is it! A woman of forty years? What is she doing on the open chat? Oh! Looking for some thrills? May be. But I got started. Conversation initiated. Please God! I need some brains, not the cheap stuff only. I wanted to talk sex, I wanted a diversion, and I wanted to let go things, which were killing me.
She was there for twenty minutes, and I could talk. She was responding cautiously, smartly, and VOILA! She had brains. She had to go, with a promise that she will be back tomorrow. It was an introductory chat. I made some advances, which she rebuffed genteelly, leaving me in wonder, what does she need? This is it. I can wait till tomorrow. She has a lot to offer, I suppose. The typical Indian woman, may be a disturbed marriage, or looking for sex partner? She was cautious. I have to be careful. Careful that I would not enter the topics, which she does not like, you know, just to show off. But I can wait, till tomorrow
Next day, she was there, waiting for me. Waiting, because, the moment I entered, she popped with a big Hi! I was excited. So, she is the one, who is going to divert me. I responded with an equally big Hi! And man, we talked, some wonderful things. Whatever she said, was real talking, to the person with same interests. She sounded a gentle human being. So, let me not offend her, I can talk to her .We were on chat for almost three hours! She was there, with her best of humor, inquiring, about my family, my kids. Telling me about her. She was a mother of two wonderful kids, happily married. I asked for her phone number, she avoided. Smart. She was intelligent but not of my caliber, but she was talking just fine. She had to go, so it was again bye, which I did not like a bit, but happily said bye to her. " You will come tomorrow? I tried to be casual. "Yeah, definitely" she said and was gone.
I was again there, waiting. She did not come that day. It was a Saturday. There was a message off line-‘Going to some place, won’t be able to make it today. Bye’. I was irritated, violent, frustrated. No, I can’t be dependent on somebody for his or her mercies. I have to go. I must go. I want to go. I sent her a mail, with my phone number, and left an off line message, ‘Please, check your mail’.
It was a Sunday. Again, I went to the café, and she was not there. What is this? What’s going on? Now my mind was clear, my decision was final. Nobody can hold me, no one can help. Today is the time. I Wrote an off line message- ‘Today I am going to commit suicide, to end my life. It is easier to tell a stranger, than to the loved ones. Thank you, for everything. Good bye!’
It was over for me. I started my car, and went home. I must prepare, myself, to end this ordeal. Seema , can take care of herself, and both the kids. Mom can tolerate the blow; she is a strong woman. She has other children, who will make her happy. My journey to life must stop today. I must go. I reached home, looked at every thing, like an outsider. I was detaching myself, piece by piece, from the family, from the life. Good-bye life, you really were cruel to me.
Why the hell, nobody comes on chat, which is a little bit sensible, or mature. Nobody wants to talk anything, but sex! But I won’t give up. I have to find a person, with whom I could talk. My Grey cells, were dying, in the need of, some activation. I wanted to talk, something, which is not about, jewelry, clothes, kitty parties. No women talk, infect. I have done enough of this. I wanted to talk, about music, books, poetry, literature, or some real talk. I may not be, very intelligent, but these things do stimulate me. So, I was waiting patiently, for someone, who could talk this, without any pretence. Oh! Somebody is there, at least, who was not in his twenties. He was thirty-five. Younger, but seemed mature enough. Let me give him a try. Someone is better than no one.
He was, well! Intelligent. I must confess, better than, what I was expecting. It was welcome. He sounded different. It was a pleasure talking to him. He was an artist, but why should I bother about his profession? He was chatting non stop, about everything, possible in my mind., and with authority on every subject. What a man! With real brains. I was fascinated.. He tried to talk something about sex too, in a most decent manner, but that was not my cup of tea. So, I did not show any interest. All the good things come to an end, so I said my bye and he asked –can I come tomorrow? Honestly, I was not expecting this. But I felt elated. He definitely liked something, I guess. I made a promise that I will come.
The whole day I was happy, showering extra love and affection, to my kids and hubby. I was live again. Happy. My intuition was right. He was an intellectual man, but a little bit eccentrics. I sensed something unusual, a little bit of detachment to life. A bit of rudeness too, which he tried to hide, smartly? But it was nice, overall.
I got up early with lots of enthusiasm. With a new energy. Completed my daily course. I wanted to talk to him, for hours, without any disturbance. The kids went to the school, hubby to the office. I knew he won’t be there that early, but I was on line as soon as I was free. He came, after half an hour and we got started. It was better than the first day. We talked about the family matters, he was happily married. Thankfully. I was fed up of the people, who were always there, with their sob stories, about their wives. Two kids. It was a love marriage. Nice wife, good job. But he said something about, being jobless, at that time. I did not probe. He confided, that he left his great job, due to some harassment, of the seniors. He was looking for a job, last three months. It was fine. That’s the reason, he was in a café, when men are normally, in their office, working.
We talked about three hours. He was free, but I was not. The kids were about to come from the school. So, forcefully, I said bye, with a promise, that we will come tomorrow, at the same time.
It was a Saturday. I had to go to some stupid family function. It was so boring. I just left an off line message for Karan. I was missing him. Sounds strange, but I really was. I remembered him so many times. Tomorrow morning, if all goes well, I will find some time, to get in touch with him, on line. I came back around six p.m. I saw his off line message. He has sent a mail! Great! So he too missed me. I checked the mail. It was a simple Hi message, with his address and phone number. I saved that number in my mobile. In case.
So, it was the Sunday, a very busy day. I could not get any time to sit on that chat, which I was dying for. Around twelve o’clock, I got some free time, and I was there, checking my on line messages. And, suddenly, I was cold. A wave of chill ran through my spine. I was dumb with fear. It was a suicide note of that man. Karan is going to commit suicide? My intuition said, he was not lying. His eccentrics, his detachment to life, his rudeness came flashing. I knew in the heart of my hearts that this man is not lying. He is going to commit suicide. Today. May be till now? My god! I was shivering. I started vomiting. My whole body was shaking. It was the friendship day. A three-day-old friend was not going to live another day? That intelligent, smart, full of life, man was contemplating death for him? But why? I knew, he was jobless, but this could not be the reason. I was behaving like a mad. I wanted to reach him. Wanted to talk to him. But how? Oh! I had his number. I picked up my phone, and left the house. I gathered all my wits and did something, which in normal condition, I could never do, not even, think of doing. With trembling hands, and shaking body, I called him.
Seema served lunch, Kheer! Why Kheer? It was my birthday. I laughed at this irony ! My birthday! It is going to be very tough for the family. My death day too! The decision was made. All the sermons heard! All the things, and consequences thought. I cannot bear the pain now. Why should I? So the perfect solution is- death. Cries of my newborn baby, was heart wrenching. The son and wife were trying to make some conversation; I shunned my mind’s door for them. The life was calling, but I was deaf.
And suddenly the phone rang. I just ignored it. It was some unidentified number, and was ringing persistently. I picked it up. ‘Hello …’ I was careful. Why should anybody know what I am going through? ‘Hello… it was a female voice. ‘Yes…’ I was curious ‘who is this?’
‘Can I speak to Karan. Please. I am Anu ’ What?? My God!! This was the same lady, with whom I spent two days on chat! ‘ Yes. I am Karan speaking’ I came out of the house. I didn’t want Seema to hear, anything. ‘ Karan?’ her voice was shaking, it was a sweet voice. Soothing. ‘Yes’ I tried to sound casual. ‘Why did u call, Anu?’ being a Sunday, I knew her hubby would be home. I was concerned. ‘ I saw you’re off line message.’ She was speaking slowly ‘Why, are you doing this?’
I was wondering, why this lady, is so concerned? Why she took the pains to call me, out of the blue? She was desperately trying to convince me. She told me some thing about "Re-birth, life after death, and the karma cycle. If I do this, I have to come back, to the earth, again, to complete the ordeal. It’s our sins that force us to bear the pains of our previous births!!! I was feeling foolish. This woman, who did not even know me, is trying to save me? She was soft and aggressive at the same time, desperately trying to make me understand, the consequences, of my decision. She got so angry, at one point, that she started shouting at me? I liked that. It made me, kind of, touchy! It made me feel, wanted, it made me feel, loved.
‘Hey, listen, you must go home now, kids must be wondering that, where are you?’ I tried to tell her, but I could feel, that she was crying. ‘You promise me that you will not do it?’ She was pleading, as if, she was responsible for my plight.
‘Ok, I will not do it, today, as it’s my birthday. May be tomorrow. I promise not today.’ I was surprised. This was not what I was supposed to do. But let her feel better.
‘Happy birthday! Karan, many happy returns of the day’ Man! She was wishing me? She was wishing, life to a dying man!
‘ Thank you!’ I was surprised.
‘ I will wait for you tomorrow, online. Ok?’ She was asking.
‘Yeah, definitely.’ Yes, I was very surprised.
I kept down the receiver, and came back. I was acting like zombies. Feeling sick. Why? God why this man was doing this? I talked to him for fifty minutes, from the STD booth. I did not want to give him my number, so I was playing safe. He sounded disturbed, irrational, sad, contradicting many things. He was ready for the death, but somewhere he needed somebody to stop him. He himself was waiting for a miracle to happen, which could save him, subconsciously. I just hoped, that, he would not do something foolish. I wanted him, to wait for that miracle.
The friends were calling to wish me the ‘ Friendship day,’ and I was wishing, silently, for a friend, his well-being. This was indeed, the worst day of life. I could not eat, was feeling depressed. He was determined, but promised that he will not do it today. He said that he had tried it earlier too, but somehow wife came to know. I wanted to speak to his family, to his wife, but it was his mobile number. Should I go to his house? But it was not possible, as he was staying at quite a distance.
The night was equally bad. Nightmares of different kind kept coming back. I was feeling like a child, insecure, helpless, and lonely. I wanted to help, but did not know how? He needed professional help, but he was not ready to listen. He knew nobody is going to help him. He knew it very well.
As life goes on, we see it pass, without thinking anything. But, here one life was passing forever, affecting so many people. This man will go, but what about his wife, two small kids? They would die without him. What was their fault? I was getting angry. I just wanted to slap him, right and left, and wanted to make him realize all this. But I was helpless.
He had promised that he wouldn’t do it today. I wish that he kept his promise. I pleaded to him to wait for at least one week. As one week was going to do some sort of miracle! Oh God! I really need a miracle, please. I wanted that man to live. If he is going to die, something is going to die inside me, too.
I got up with a startle. I wish he were all right. I ran out to the lawn, to get the newspaper and checked its every content. No suicides were there. Thank God! I did something, which I had forgotten, I prayed silently. I begged in front of the God for his life. I prayed till I could sit no more.
What was there, which was effecting me so much? Why that man’s life is so important to me? Why I was determined that I was going to save his life? Why he should listen to me? Why? Why?
I was waiting at the usual time on the net, but he was not there. My heart started sinking. Again my eyes were filling with tears for that unknown man. I was waiting, patiently. And, my God! He came. It was the most beautiful massage in my entire life- ‘ Hi, Anu"
The tears started, falling, from my eyes. I was crying with disbelief. He was there. Alive.
"Hi, Karan, how are you?"
"Fine, and you?
"Me, fine too, thanks for coming".
I was crying, but my every message was smiling; was full of life, laughter, and humor. If today he is there, he will always be. My intuition was telling me that he is not going now anywhere.
"By the way I am Nisha, not Anu," I wrote.
‘OK. So, you did not tell me your right name? Nisha, sweet name, like your voice."
It was again that sweet, stimulating, and intellectual talk.
Two human beings were connected without any relation. The destiny was smiling, the fate was happy. Some connections are really out of any explanation, beyond any reason. But the bond was made. Two lives were again living for a purpose, unknown to anyone. Life had returned.
Thank you, God!