Sakhi's Laghukatha

Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

Proposal

Posted on: August 28, 2019

fiction_stamp

Kshitij fiddled with his iPhone in nervousness. It was more than 10 years that he had last seen her in person. They have been in touch on and off through Facebook and WhatsApp, but he had never really expressed his feelings to her. He did not even know whether she considered him as one of her many online friends or just an acquaintance from past. Definitely, he was not on her radar!

Kshitij smiled at the memory of much younger himself waiting for her almost every morning to enter their office together. She did not have any inkling, he guessed, of his fluttering heart; she would give her cursory, cute smile and walk off or have a small chat but nothing much. This was the ritual for all the five years that they worked together. He could never garner any nerve to ever express his amorous dispositions. He tried once, feebly, which he now doubted if she even realized to be a proposal. He remembered her hearty laugh, sweeping the whole conversation aside like a pro who is used to such flirting in her everyday life. Contrary to his expectations, neither she acknowledged it nor harbored any ill feelings. Time passed, and they went their own ways as their respective careers took them to different companies and cities.

He tried to keep in touch with her with social media coming in handy. She was always friendly and nonchalant about their conversations. Catching up with her, once in a while, was like a breath of fresh air for Kshitij. Social media had its boons and bane. Looking at her changing DPs or the life updates from time to time was making it more and more difficult for him to forget her. Of course, he could just decide not to follow her or block her for his own sanity, but he could not do the obvious!

In these 10 years, both had grown in their respective careers and had families of their own. He loved his wife and son to a tee but there was this unexplainable void deep down in Kshitij’s heart that wanted him to reach out to her and at least let her know once what he felt for her. As age was catching up, he was getting increasingly jittery. He needed to get this weight off his chest. He was well aware that this confession was not going to get him anywhere. For all he knew, she would completely cut him off.

So that was it… he was going to do it… propose… via WhatsApp!!!

***

10 pm, Friday

Kshitij: Hi

Her: Hey, hi… what’s up? 😊 Been a while!

Kshitij: yeah… how are you?

Her: goooood… as always 😊

Kshitij: You still with A&Z?

Her: yeah… and you?

Kshitij: M&B

Her: Cool… so, what’s new? Howz life?

Kshitij: I wanted to tell you something

Her: shoot

Kshitij: I always wanted to propose to you… ever since we first met

Silence…

Kshitij: Hello?

Her: Are you out of your mind? What are you saying?

Kshitij: Nothing, sorry to have bothered you

Silence again…

***

That night Kshitij did not sleep well. He did not know what to expect. Or maybe this was exactly what he expected. He kept checking his phone to see if she was online or if she sent any messages.

Nothing…

It was 3 am and he dozed off.

Morning came with a brooding mood. Kshitij did not want to wait for something that was not going to happen. He did what he wanted to do, and he was contented about it. Although thought of now never going to be able to talk to her was killing him. Life goes on, thought Kshitij and went about his daily routine albeit with a heavy heart.

Two days later there popped a message on his mobile…

Her: Want to talk. Video call tonight at 10?

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Disclaimer: Use of “iPhone”, “WhatsApp” & “Facebook” has been done only to make story contemporary. Author does not support or promote any of these personally.

fiction_stamp2This was her second trip to Tarkarli. As she was walking on the shore, she looked back on her footprints and wished the other pair was there too. The pair which was with hers that summer!

She had come to this coastal place, for the first time, a couple of years ago for a conference. And she had instantly fallen in love with the unexplored beauty and meditative sea waves of this “not-heard-of” place.

*****

After a long session on “New trends in antibio therapy” Koyal went and sat on a boat parked in the sand just outside her cottage. There was nobody around and the waves had soothing effect on her nerves. She was startled when she heard somebody call out her name, her pen name!

“Cuckoo!”

She was surprised as to who might know her pen-name here!

A handsome young man was coming towards her and was waving frantically. She waved back, more out of courtesy than recognition.

“Hey Cuckoo!”

He had a broad grin on his childlike face, as if he had discovered some treasure.

“Guess, who am I?” asked the young man with a twinkle in his eyes. She was at a loss but her sharp brain was already at work.

“Sameer?”

“How did you do that? How did you recognize me?” There was utter disbelief on Sameer’s face since neither had ever met nor seen each other’s pictures.

“Nobody except you in blogsphere knew where I was!” She smiled, as always. After all she was known as “Dr. Smiley” in blogsphere, wasn’t she!

“What are you doing here? She still couldn’t believe that Sameer was standing in front of her.

“I came to meet you. Aren’t you happy?” Koyal didn’t know how to respond. Of course she was happy… but wasn’t able to fathom why Sameer would come such a long way to meet her. They had become best of friends, online! Offline… they had their own lives, and neither had tried to trespass into that territory for so many years. It was an untold rule. So why now? She smiled again to his question. And saw the reciprocation on Sameer’s face.

It was awkward initially for both of them to talk face to face. The chat lingo no longer worked. But they WERE friends, so after the initial hiccup, they just went on … chatting away to glory. The hand-in-hand seashore walks gave heady feeling to Koyal. It was long since she felt this way for anybody. Neither of them realized where those four days went. The conference was already gone for a toss.

It was their last evening together. The mood was pensive. They sat on the white, sun-kissed sand sipping fenny looking at the setting sun on the horizon. Somehow the words failed the two chatterboxes. Fenny, sunset, waves and solitude was proving to be a dangerous cocktail. Sameer was scared to offend his friend. He kissed lightly, tentatively on Koyal’s lips and looked in her eyes. He could see the burning desire in those charcoal black eyes. The resultant fire would have been unstoppable had Sameer’s mobile not rang. The spell was broken. *****

*****

She pondered over the evening even now and she knew she wanted Sameer at that very point. Wanted with all her heart and body but thank God for the mobile. It saved her from doing something which she would have regretted later. Or probably Sameer would have! She was married and she was at least a decade senior to him. She couldn’t do that to him…just couldn’t.

Yet, she missed him besides her…

How many years have passed!! 10? No, it was exactly 12 years since she last saw this sea. She used to love coming here. When Maanushi was a toddler, her parents used to bring her here and she would giggle and laugh and loved riding on her father’s back. As she grew older, parents’ place was taken by a bunch of friends and they used to hang out here. Sometimes till wee hours debating on anything and everything! How many times had they saved this world from economic crisis, from terror attacks and even UFOs!!!

It felt like home coming. She inhaled deeply as if to keep the essence of the sea within her. She was elated and way too nostalgic!!

It was getting darker and she decided to head to their “once favourite” café. Maanushi felt as if nothing had changed in these years and yet, so much had changed.

That applied specifically for her friends, Ketki and Manan.

Maanushi was to stay with them till she got her accommodation from office. She tried to convince them to stay in a hotel, but they would not hear of it. In a couple of days she could make out that Ketki and Manan were not whom she remembered from her past. They had grown to be different people.

Ketki was not as bubbly and Manan has become considerably quieter. In all those years they talked on phone or kept contact on chat, she never felt anything amiss! She attributed this soberness to the hectic work schedule they followed.

Though Ketki was happy to have her, she seemed aloof; not only with her but with Manan too. Something was seriously wrong. Both were tight lipped and she too didn’t want to prod.

As the days passed, her friends’ drift was the last thing on her mind, as something else was eating at her heart and mind. In the last few weeks she realized that Manan was popping in her head way too many times than needed. His thoughts kept Maanushi occupied even at night. Just a thought of Manan sleeping in the adjoining room gave her a warm feeling. She kept going back to their conversations, replayed them in her thoughts and kept staring at her laptop screen during work hours.

She knew, Manan was not to be blamed for the state of her heart. He had never, ever given any hint in that direction. She tried reasoning to herself saying that this is just a physical attraction since it’s been a long time since she had a male company.

But that did not change the fact that she had fallen head over heels for her best friend… and best friend’s husband!!!!

She wanted to be held by Manan, not like his usual hugs. Not a friendly hug but a hug of a lover. She wanted to be close to him, close enough to hear his heartbeats. She wanted to be the part of his being.

She had dated a couple of men earlier but she had never felt this way for any of them.

She was confused with her own feelings. She did not feel guilty. And, yet, she knew these feelings were not acceptable to the society and probably will not be acceptable to Manan too!

But who is going to tell him, anyways!!!

No, she will not run away from him. She can’t even think of doing that. But she can’t tell him and risk the rebuke. Also she needed to understand her own feelings, whether it was temporary attraction or pity or what???

No, she won’t run away. Instead, she would test the waters. Who knows what is in store for her! 😉

Shruti was surprised to see Krishna’s message on her mobile. They were almost inseparable in their college days but time and distance had drifted them apart. They still kept in touch but the calls and ‘sms’es had decreased over a period of time.

“Get ready to receive me tomorrow morning!” read the ‘sms’.

It was almost seven years since they last met. Though they no longer talked everyday or didn’t share each and every moment of their lives, she was still very fond of him. She was glad he was coming to Ahmedabad.

As she saw Krishna on the airport her heart swelled looking at her old friend. She almost ran to hug him the way she used to do, then she held herself. She no longer was an 18-year-old wearing tight jeans, long flowing curly hair and “kajal” eyed! He also had changed. Navy blue blazer, crisp white shirt with perfectly cut trousers had taken place of tight tee and ragged jean!

Both stood there in silence, somewhat awkward, and shook hands! She smiled tentatively and then suddenly they burst into laughter… the old musical laughter!

“So, how come I have a privilege to have your auspicious company?” Shruti teased Krishna as they were going back to her place.

“Its been a while since I met you and then I have a meeting with some officials in Gandhinagar tomorrow so thought of coming a day earlier and catch up on old times with you!”

The rest of the way to her place zoomed by with their non-stop chattering. There were so many things to be shared.

“Have you got a pair of jeans?” asked Shruti once they reached home.

“Yeah, But why?”

She didn’t answer but insisted him to change the clothes. He did (as if he had a choice!).

“And where is your SLR?” This time he was ready with it. He loved photography and still was passionate about it.

As soon as they finished the breakfast she almost dragged him.

It was the first time Krishna had come to Ahmedabad and Shruti wanted him to see real Ahmedabad, not the malls and shopping place or exotic eateries!

She took him around the old city on a heritage walk. Since it was Sunday, also took him to “Ravivari” (flea market held only on Sundays) at the banks of Sabarmati River and to other places where she knew Krishna would love to go. He thoroughly enjoyed the exotic “Jharokha” of the century old houses in “Pol” and came to know the way of living of people there. He was absolutely delighted to find some rare collection of books on photography at dirt-cheap price at “Ravivari”. He was awed by the fineness of workmanship of “Sidi Saiyad ni Jaali”. His camera was constantly clicking some of the most beautiful snaps of this dusty city! Shruti had made his day!

“Last destination of our expedition today!” Shruti announced proudly. “Jhulta Minara!

He was enthralled by the monument and was in awe of the great architecture and engineering which dated back to 15th century. As they were taking the tour they heard some commotion in the adjacent mosque and suddenly they found themselves pushed and shoved by a mob which seemed to have mind of its own. They didn’t understand what was going on and why suddenly so many people were running around shouting, And then Shruti heard somebody shouting, “bomb, bomb”!

Fear washed over their faces and they were absolutely clueless about what to do!! People were running in all directions and Krishna realized that if they didn’t get to a safe place they would surely die of stampede if not of bomb! He looked around and dragged Shruti to a small hiatus just at the end of the corridor about 5 feet away from where they were standing. They could hear their own heartbeats and blood pounded in their ears… They were unable to contemplate where so many people had suddenly come from and what really was going on!

They felt safe in that cramped up place. As the adrenalin rush came down they became conscious about being so near. Shruti could feel Krishna’s breath on her cheek and something stirred in her! As she looked up she saw Krishna’s eyes getting darker with… with what? Desire? Suddenly the whole world stopped around them as they stood their looking at each other, feeling each other with their eyes! They didn’t know how long they stood there like some awestruck teenagers.

Suddenly the spell was broken when they heard a whistle and realized where they were and what had just taken place. They came out and saw a lot of military people around. Things were falling into place. They were asked for the identity, some formalities were done and were allowed to go.

They walked back to the car in a daze. Dazed for what they had witnessed and also for what transpired between them… without a word!

******

“Sorry Krishna, I could not give you company today as something urgent came up. Hope you and Shruti had a good time.” said Akash, Shruti’s husband, good-naturedly at the dinner.

Krishna could not look into Akash’s eyes, nor could Shruti!

Ritu opened the drawer fifth time since morning and sighed again. A long, big sigh!! She remembered her neighbour’s comments and she backed off. Her eyes glistened. She knew she was over reacting but she couldn’t help but feel down.

 

She was the most beautiful girl of her batch when she was in college. And her beauty was even more endearing for she was totally oblivious to the fact that she stole a lot many hearts on the campus when she smiled and jerked her head back to keep her hair in place. Not surprisingly, she was the most sought after girl!

 

When she got “attached” to Kartik a lot of alcohol flowed in the boy’s hostel…

 

After 5 years of marriage to Kartik and a baby later now when she looked at in the mirror she couldn’t recognize herself. Well, almost!! She has put on at least 15 Kgs post delivery! She still looked charming and beautiful with that sweet smile and cherubic face. It was just that she had filled up a bit on her curves.

 

She had become a woman!

 

But every now and then somebody would comment on how she used to look in her college days and how she has changed now. Most of the time she would just smile but sometimes she felt bad, sometimes she felt enraged and sometimes she went into depression.

 

Kartik was always on her side. If he was around he would shoot his favourite dialogue,

 

“If you want a wife, your children’s mother, a best friend, a professional, a girl-friend, a cook; all wrapped into one and still expect her to be toothpick thin then probably you are asking for too much from a human being!”

 

But it was not always possible to make others understand how one feels when they talk without thinking.

 

Today was one such day. Ritu loved chocolates and she was gifted one by her best friend today. As she was about to open it, her nosy neighbour came and commented on how much weight she has put on and how it is not good for her to have chocolates and other high calorie food! She pushed the chocolate in the drawer but couldn’t push the thoughts which were rummaging through her mind!

 

“Was it her fault that she was genetically prone to put on weight?

 

Was it her fault that she was suffering from Hypothyroidism?

 

Was it her fault that even after taking regular treatment she was unable to shed weight?

 

Was it her fault that she hardly got time to exercise on a regular basis from her multiple duties of being a wife, a mother and a working professional?

 

Was it her fault that she could not diet as she needed those calories to keep her going?

 

Was it her fault that Indian females were made to be a bit voluptuous compared to their western and eastern counterparts?

 

Was it her fault that media was wrongly portraying toothpick thin models and showing that was the way Indian ladies are suppose to look?”

 

As she stood in front of her drawer, looking at her bar of chocolate longingly, warmth enveloped her from behind. Kartik had come home early with a gift for her – a beautiful skirt and a T-shirt from the “All size” store… He knew she would look beautiful, as always, in those floral clothes!

Name has been changed to protect privacy!I was busy with work when my mobile rang. A big smile came over my face when I saw who was calling. It was my hubby! 🙂 But how come he was calling now? We had parted just an hour back! 

 

“Helllllllllooooooo…., how come I have a privilege to talk to you?” I asked smiling.

 “Where are you?” He asked. I was surprised. He only dropped me to my office in the morning!

 

“Office! Where else?”

 

“And where is the car?”

 

“Car?”

 

“Yes, car!”

 

“It is with you, I suppose!” What was he talking about? He dropped me to the office and took the car and now he was asking me where the car was? He has surely flipped!!

 

Suddenly he started laughing!

 

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

 

In the morning when he dropped me to the office, I came to the office thinking that he is taking the car. He got down, took his bag and left the keys in the car thinking that I was taking the car.

 

Apparently, none of us looked back and we both went on our own ways, in opposite directions.

 

And the car? It sat there, with ignition “on”, in the middle of the road, in between two auto rickshaws.

 

But after walking a few yards, hubby looked back casually and found the car still in the same spot. He got worried and came back to check why I hadn’t taken the car yet!!!

 

To his horror, there was nobody in the car and the autowalas were eyeing him suspiciously.

(P.S. Thank God, police didn’t come and caught hold of us as in recent Ahmedabad and Surat bomb blasts, Black Wagon R with a doctor symbol were used to put bombs!)

Name has been changed to protect privacy!

Names not mentioned to protect privacy

 

Suddenly Prithvi came jumping and her frown was transformed in a smile of a mother! In her daughter’s constant chattering she forgot all about them.

 

But can she really forget them? They were always there… in front of her, day in and day out! And she hated them from the core of her heart. She felt bad for these feelings; she had grown up with all the values perfectly in place and yet, she loathed them!

 

And recently these feelings were taking toll on her. She seemed to be cranky all the time whenever she was at home. She lost her temper unnecessarily on her daughter and felt like crying without reason or on a small provocation.

 

*****

She came from hospital and found her wardrobe to be open and her things were at display for the neighbours and relatives.

 

‘What the hell! ‘, she thought. But didn’t want to create a scene on the 3rd day of her marriage!

 

*****

When she repeatedly got hurt by their constant lies, she asked one day why did they lie so much, it hurts her.

 

“What can we do if you are hurt”, pat, came the reply!

 

*****

She and her husband were in midst of a crisis. They wanted emotional support from the family… They got it. From her family! She could not contemplate how parents could not feel anything for their own child now that he was married!

 

*****

Her child was just a couple of months old. And even though both of them were doctors, they were not paediatricians. They got scared when their daughter kept on crying the whole night without any reason. Nobody came from the adjacent room to even ask why their daughter was crying!!!

 

“What could we have done!” was the answer when asked why they didn’t come and help.

*****

 

One morning she opened the door and saw his mamaji and mamiji. She was pleasantly surprised to see them. Later that day she came to know that her parents-in-law had called them as they wanted to get separated from them and without her noticing they had packed all their belongings and divided the food and vessels into two so that they can take their share along with them.

 

“Where was I when all these were going on?” She thought bewildered.

 

They had even packed her husband’s childhood games and story books since they had bought it; never thinking about the child in this house!

 

Ultimately, as an anti-climax, they never shifted out. Apparently, they just were checking her integrity!!!

 

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

 

These and so many other incidences over a period of eight years have changed her from an ever smiling, bubbly, sweet girl to a frowning, irritable and some what distant individual when she is around them.

 

When she thinks deeply, she agrees that now the fault is not entirely theirs. She also lashes out when she can not control herself. Now, after so many years, they have started looking after her daughter better than before. Outwardly things seem to be falling into place. She knows she should forget the past and accept them the way they are. But, somehow, she is unable do so! The very sight of them irritates her to the core. And, yet, she stays with them. Though she never feels that this is her home… never!

 

P.S. Her husband is always with her, but asks her to be more patient! It is his love and support that has anchored her to this house.


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Sakhi's Laghukatha by Sakhi (aka Dr. Dhara Shah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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