Sakhi's Laghukatha

Posts Tagged ‘Fiction

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It was one of those busy days at ER – Two MIs, one stroke and innumerable other patients. Peach was extremely tired and was looking at the clock for her shift to end and praying that there will not be any more cases. But as luck would have it, another case came in just as she was about to leave. She rolled her eyes and rushed to see her new patient.

There sat a very handsome man, with disheveled hair and visibly in pain. “Tall, dark and handsome”, Peach mentally noted and smiled to herself. It looked like he had fracture of the great toe with history of his heavy camera equipment falling on his foot. As she prepared his papers to be transferred to the relevant department and gave him some pain killers for immediate pain relief, she kept talking to him softly, explaining him the procedure and the next steps. As the drug effect started doing its magic, Joel started to take his surroundings in. He felt grateful to Peach and thanked her profusely as he was wheeled away to get his X-ray done. He was disappointed when he learned that he would next be consulted by an orthopedician and not by Peach.

Once home, Peach had hot dinner that her house help had prepared and flopped on the bed. She went into deep, dreamless sleep immediately. Next few days were as good or as bad as always. ER can be a maddening place. Peach was thinking of asking the hospital superintendent to shift her to some other ward. She mentally created a check list to be referred to later. As she cerebrally checked her list, she thought she saw Joel again, this time holding his tummy. She had to look again to check if she was dreaming. He came in a wheel chair as his foot still hurt and now, he was complaining of severe abdominal pain with diarrhea. He gave all the details of his medical condition and gave Peach a wide grin. Peach smile back, with a little confusion on her face. If he was so much in pain, why was he smiling as if he was a child in a candy store! Routine procedure followed, forms filled up and Joel sent for further work up out of ER. Next week, this happened again. This time Joel came up with sleeplessness and severe headache. Peach almost rolled her eyes at her patient but was cordial enough to do the needful.

Peach’s shift ended and she was dying to tell her best friend about this cute guy who kept coming to ER. She knew from his reports that Joel did not have any medical problem, except for the fracture for which he came for the first time! Peach and her friend giggled over dinner and Peach was teased endlessly. They felt that this was not the end of it and their feminine instincts came true. Joel appeared again, this time with complains of “heart ache” and Peach could not help but laugh at his dramatic presentation.

“You are getting creative”, said Peach to Joel in a teasing voice.

“Can’t help it. This is the only way to see you.”

“You mean you were faking all this while?” asked peach in mock horror.

He grinned sheepishly.

“Will you see me for coffee sometime?”

“Are you asking me out for a date?” she smile cutely

“Well, if you have an objection to that, let’s say I want to know you better, be friends. So, coffee?”

“Hmn… okay.”

“Saturday, 4 pm, Starbucks?”

“I work on Saturdays. Sunday?”

He thought for just a split second, mentally calculating something and said, “Done”.

“Do you still have heart ache? Shall I get the nurse to prepare for ECG?” winked Peach

With a loud laughter he excused himself out of ER. “Not very subtle,” thought Peach with a smile and rolling eyes at the same time. The nurse raised her eyebrows and asked her with a gesture, what was that about. Peach just shook her head and went about her work for the remaining of the evening. ER did not seem as busy after all.

One coffee meet led to another. Joel got to know Dr. Prachi was known by Peach among her friends and he loved the name. She was cute and chubby and super soft at heart, hence the name. He totally agreed! Both were busy professionals but took time out for each other. Joel traveled a lot for his photo shoots and Peach has weird working hours at the hospital. Peach made him laugh with her quirky medical stories and he loved listening to her. She brought the humane angle in his life that he felt lacked in his kind of work. He would not share too many details about his work with her but will not forget to video call her even if he had only a few minutes to spare or to ask for her picture just to see her or simply send a hello. When they met, which was not so often, it was magical.

It was almost a year that Joel had fractured his big toe. It was amazing how Peach had filled his life with colours and laughter and happiness. He wanted to take this relationship to the next level. Though they had pecked each other or held hands sometimes, Joel wanted more, and he had seen in Peach’s eyes that she wanted it too. Joel surprised her with flight tickets for a short get away with him during his shoot at Sri Lanka in a month’s time. He hoped that he had not read her emotions wrongly. She smiled, blushing profusely and letting him know that she will check if she can get her leaves cleared. Joel breathed with relief, he did not even realize that he was holding his breath.

As the time of going to Sri Lanka neared, their chats got spicier. All these talks made Peach to think about her body. She stood in front of the mirror and found innumerable faults with herself. She was always on the chubbier side, not so sexy with the current definition of the body sizes and right now those love-handles did not look flattering at all. She was used to looking at imperfections in her daily work and knew that there is nothing called as a perfect body, but she also knew that in Joel’s line of work he met the most beautiful, chiseled, lithe ladies every day. Even if there was so much as an extra blemish, he would remove it in post-production of the shoot and here she was having ugly stretch marks. She tried to reason with herself – he loved her and that’s what matters the most, but at the back of her mind there was this growing storm that wanted to seize her sanity. She thought about Joel and he came across as “tall, dark and handsome” just as she remembered him from when she first saw him. Suddenly, she started feeling that she was not a match for him at all, not the way they looked together. They might be great as friends and even something more but definitely not as physical partners, she cannot match his league.

Just a couple of days before they were supposed to leave for their first holidays together, Peach broke off with Joel.

Joel did not know what hit him. Well, neither did Peach!

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Eva picked up her phone to check the notification. She had a “match”, again! She opened the profile and saw smiling face of Zeus with some impressive credentials. She was pleased. Though this was not her first match, she was new to this online dating game. Her best friend Maddy was after her life to “get a life” and downloaded this app. She even created Eva’s profile. Eva was not averse to dating but even though she was a millennial, born and brought up in a metro city, online dating was something that she did not fathom or trusted. Maddy would not listen to her, however and got her on Tinder. After swiping on Tinder for weeks she got around 4 matches. Nice men but they were all looking for casual affairs, nothing serious. Though it is generally understood that Tinder is for flings, Eva still wanted something more. She did not connect with any of them and so conversations died after one or two chats. Eva was already bored, and she had swiped right for Zeus as one last try.

Their conversation started with a simple hi and Eva soon realized Zeus was as skeptical of online dating as she was and that gave her some comfort. The chats that had started tentatively went on to become full blown colloquies with varied topics from environment preservation to current affairs to discrimination against LGBTQ to Bollywood movies… they would discuss anything under the Sun. Zeus had a match in Eva and Eva could not believe that she found such a friend on Tinder. She had started liking Zeus a lot. He was funny, sharp, sensitive (sometime, a little too sensitive for Eva’s taste!) and caring. Everything that she wanted in a partner. He had a stable job and basically seemed like a right person for her. What she liked best in him was that he understood her perfectly – her passion for art, sensitivity towards animals, her silly dream of becoming a PM one day – everything. She was a total extrovert and he was a complete introvert (or so he claimed!). They complemented each other, like Ying & Yang. After online tête-à-tête for about 6 months, they thought of meeting in person at least once. Actually, it was Eva’s idea. Zeus was a little reluctant, but Eva did not leave him much choice.

As they both were from different parts of the country and decided to meet at a neutral place – Jaipur. Eva proposed this place as she thought it reflected her personality; vibrant, colourful and chaotic. Zeus laughed at the comparison. There was still a month before they would be able to see each other in person. Eva could not contain her excitement, but Zeus was getting silent by the day. Eva did not perceive this change, but their discussions were getting shorter. One month passed in a flash for Eva – D day arrived. Eva kept pinging Zeus till she boarded the flight and he kept sending back emoticons with various expressions. There was a bounce in Eva’s stride and had a big grin on her cherubic face. It was matter of a couple of hours before she would be able to see Zeus, hug him, hold him tight. The thought of being with Zeus filled her with unknown anticipation and exhilaration.

As she exited the arrival gate, she looked around for Zeus and found him waiting for her. He had landed a couple of hours earlier. She dashed towards him and hugged him tight. Zeus was taken aback with this sudden and uninhibited expression of excitement. He pushed her back, held her at arm’s length and smiled. Eva was so excited that she did not notice Zeus pale face when she tipped on her toes to kiss him on his cheek. Zeus went speechless looking at Eva. She was even more beautiful up close. Her long black curly hair were pulled up in a top bun, flashing dragon tattoo at the nape of her neck, with just a few strands escaping from the sides framing her delicate face. He had always liked her dimpled smile, but today, it was wreaking havoc within him. She had done her eyes with charcoal black liner which accentuated her perfectly shaped eyes. Her smell was enticing. She was a total bohemian and carried herself with that air of self-assurance and free spirit. Eva was chattering away, as she always did – whether it was on chat or video calls. Zeus, however, was subdued. It was as if cat got his tongue. He was totally in awe of Eva. She was holding his hand as if they knew each other forever. Well, they did know each other for a while but Zeus was flummoxed at Eva’s wanton behavior. She was oblivious to Zeus’s reaction. She was just very ecstatic to be with her bae.

As they arrived at the hotel, Eva was surprised that Zeus had booked separate rooms for them. She was a little disappointed but pleased at the same time that Zeus was thinking beyond sex and really wanted to spend time with her, to know her better. As for love making, she would manage it; she thought mind-winking to herself! Two days flew by with lot of sightseeing, roadside eating, shopping, selfies, and late-night discussions. To Eva’s surprise and annoyance, Zeus thwarted her carnal advances politely but firmly. Eva was still elated about their rendezvous, but something was different with Zeus. He was unable to accept bohemian Eva; her zeal for life, infectious uninhibited laughter, her promiscuity. This is what he loved in her, and yet!

At the airport, Eva bid a teary goodbye to Zeus with the promise to ping as soon as she landed. Zeus too hugged her tight and pecked on her forehead surprising Eva. Both parted ways to go to their respective gates; Eva turning back every few steps and Zeus walking away straight.

Eva never got to know why Zeus blocked her on all the social media platforms once they were back from the Jaipur trip, why was she ghosted!! Well, even Zeus did not know the reason; was the very nature of Eva that he loved so much was too much for him to handle?

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Disclaimer: Use of “Tinder” is only to make story contemporary. Author does not personally promote use of any online platform, including “Tinder”.

Adios

Posted on: August 19, 2014

“I am suppose to be your strength, the mind tells me that,

Encourage you so that you become your best;

Just wish eyes would not brim with a mere thought of yours,

And heart would not squash with the memories here on.”

~Sakhi

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Taunts

Posted on: July 12, 2011

“Did you read this today?” asked Rahil, “Men need to cuddle and women need sex to be happy in a relationship.” He was referring to the latest research outcome reported in the newspaper. “Really, hun?” he smirked at his wife, Sati. Sati’s face crumbled with embarrassment.

She was timid and more docile when it came to the physical intimacy with her husband, even a year after their marriage. But his regular taunts were getting on her nerves. It wasn’t that she was not interested or was frigid by any mean. She had a healthy libido but somehow Rahil could not just arouse her. She could not help it!

But enough was enough… she looked at her husband and smiled like never before. Rahil could sense the difference and was taken aback. Something was changed in Sati suddenly. Sensuality oozed from Sati, her kohled black eyes, her big red kumkum bindi, her long loose hair, her sari draped lithe body… everything seemed different. This was not Sati he was used to. He was a bit scared at the transformation. Sati moved towards Rahil with a grace of a tigress. She came and sat on Rahil’s lap and started muttering sweet nothings in his ears. Rahil could hear blood pounding in his own ears. He sat there dumb struck. Sati went about the task at hand. What ensued was beyond Rahil’s wildest imagination. He was taken to heaven and back and then back to heaven again. Sati did not wait for Rahil to take her anywhere, she took Rahil with her. The journey started tentatively and became more adventurous as they went ahead. Sati looked at her exhausted husband and his shocked, idiotic smile. He did not know what hit him but he was not complaining at all. Sati gathered her clothes, went to wash room and smiled; a satisfied, triumphant smile; at her own reflection. She could see Rahil, spent and sprawled on their bed. She half turned and smirked at the sorry figure he cut.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror again, redone her smudged kumkum bindi and murmured “Sorry Jay, but I could not take the taunts any longer. Hope you understand.” With that she was gone to her daily chores and called out to her husband to come and finish his breakfast.

What was she expecting from him?

What was she expecting from herself?

Why this heartache when she knew this relationship cannot work out?

She was not a sixteen year old who believed in fairytale love stories. She was a mature woman who had seen world. She had always lived her life at her own terms. She was a successful business woman who had recently been featured on Times front page for achieving “Young Entrepreneur Award”. People were envious of her and called her “Ice Princess” on her back but at the same time admired her guts too. She had chosen to be alone in life and had vowed never to marry. It was not that she had never experienced love, but that one failed relationship had taught her never to completely give herself to anyone. She was cautious even among friends.

So what made her long for Kshitij? How things changed between them?

She sat at her french window looking at the gloomy sky. Even natural elements were feeling as sad as her, she felt! She knew Kshitij since more than a decade now. They were never best friends, or so to say, but quite close. They had stood by each other in the testing times they faced in their lives. Even though they did not reside in the same city for many years now, their bond was intact, just a bit rusted.

Then came the news of Kshitij shifting his business base to his motherland last year, coming nearer to her. Though they kept busy with their respective lives, they made sure to keep in touch. Technology had made communication easier. Or complicated?!

She never realized when she started expecting his calls every day or when she started getting upset when he did not sms her good night. He would be the first person she would want to share the good news with. Oh hell, any news for that matter! She felt miserable the whole day, when she did not hear his cheerful good morning. She started getting more demanding on his time and never realized when she clung to him so tightly that made Kshitij suffocated. There were never any exchanges of lovey dovey promises. But the tell-tale signs were there for anyone to notice.

Probably even Kshitij noticed the change in the “Ice Princess”. He saw his friend turning into something else. He was not sure whether he liked that change, though.

She knew she cannot have him for herself even if she wanted. He was married and had two lovely daughters. For all practical purposes he was off-limits. She was not kind of a person who would wreck havoc in anyone’s life, least of all Kshitij’s. Plus, she was not sure what he thought about her. He was always friendly with her, teasing her, bantering with her, sparring with her. He would change subject when he saw that soft look in her eyes, but will not stop talking to her or cutting her off.

Was he too in love with her? Was he feeling guilty of having a wife and hence was not opening up to her? Or was it just that he was too much of a man to insult his friend and cut her off completely but at the same time will not go ahead with anything shameful.

She was so lost in her thoughts that she did not realize someone standing behind her. Kshitij felt a knife twisting in his chest when he saw his strong, iron-willed friend sitting like a lost child at the window. He knew what was she going through, but he also knew she would come around, especially when he was not there anymore. She was made of tough material. He would miss her strong will, her unbending support, her rock-solid backing, but he knew he had to take this decision, for them.

He squeezed her hand. Her eyes lit up the moment she saw him but could sense something was seriously wrong. Her eyes searched his for some clue.

With a lot of efforts he said, “Bye, Roshni!”

At that moment she knew they were never going to meet again as Kshitij never said “bye”, for him it was always “bye for now”.

Roshni looked in his eyes one last time as she asked, “can I hug you just once before you go?”

He took her in his arms and they stood there for some time. Roshni was lost in him when he gently took her arms off him, patted her cheeks and said, “Take Care”. With that he was gone, and with him gone was Roshni’s heart. She stood there with tears flowing uncontrollably.

In a few weeks time ‘Ice Princess” was back with a bang, never to melt again.

Mrinal inhaled deeply, she loved freshly baked cake aroma. She peeked from the transparent oven door and sniffed again. This one was his favourite, chocolate cake. She was sure he would love it. She smiled to herself. Today was their “friendship anniversary” and she wanted to surprise Saaras on their special day.

“How time flies…” Mrinal thought wistfully. It was two years since they first met at the contemporary painting exhibition. They hit off instantly. They were different and yet there was something special that bound them. After that first meeting they met again at a few more shows and their friendship deepened. For Mrinal he was a wave of fresh air. She loved listening to his ideas. It was not that she agreed to everything that he said but Saaras’ passion for art and culture drew her closer to him. She loved their good natured banter. Sometimes Mrinal’s husband too would join them but mainly he was happy to see his wife getting a friend with whom she could share her love for art, who understood her world of colours. Mrinal loved spending time with Saaras. There was something magical about their togetherness. It was difficult to give a name to their relationship. Friendship was the milder and more acceptable term. Though their feelings ran deeper than mere friendship, there was not even one instance where anyone can point fingers at them.

Mrinal was awakened from her reverie with a beep from oven indicating that the cake was ready. She took it out, looked at it and smiled again. She looked at the clock and rushed to get ready. She wanted to be at Saaras’ place before he was back from work. She wore a beautiful peacock blue saree, looked at herself in the mirror and was happy with what she saw. A small bindi between her brows made her babyish face look even more beautiful. There was no other make-up needed.

Saaras was already home when she reached and was surprised to see Mrinal. She enthusiastically wished him “Happy Friendship Anniversary” and smiled broadly. Saaras smile at her childish exuberance but he seemed miles away. Mrinal sensed that there was something wrong but shook the doubt out of her mind and went on gushing about how happy she was. She proudly showed the cake she had baked and went on to get the knife. She had even got candles for them to blow together. She set the cake on the table and called Saaras to cut it with her. Mrinal offered him a piece of cake out of her hand and hugged him with childlike ebullience.

Instead of his usual friendly hug, his arms tightened around her waist. He drew her closer and held tightly. Mrinal looked up into his eyes and was taken aback at the emotions that lurked there. She tried to wriggle out of his embrace. She freed herself and looked at Saaras with a questioning look, almost accusing him.

“What happened Saaras?” Mrinal asked more for herself than him.

Rather than answering her, he went and sat at the edge of sofa with his head in his palms. He looked miffed. Mrinal was surprised at his reaction and went to sit beside him. He got up with a jolt and looked at Mrinal again with unfathomable expressions.

“What happened Saaras?” Mrinal asked again, a little scared.

Something snapped in Saaras.

“What is all this Mrinal? You are a married woman. All these talks of friendship and platonic love are nothing but bullshit. This is nothing but lust. And when I hold you, you look at me as if I have committed some crime!” Saaras shouted.

Looking at Mrinal’s mortified face, Saaras regained his senses. He swore under his breath and went to Mrinal, to hold her, to appease her, to ask for her forgiveness for his callousness. Once again she looked in Saaras’ eyes with her own moist ones. She got up and went out of his home, without looking back!

“If only you knew, how much I love you, Mrinal!” Saaras sighed longingly after her.

May be one day they will be together again, like old days… may be not!

Yes

Posted on: February 21, 2011

“Why are you not ready yet?” shouted Meenu’s mother with irritation. Meenu’s eyes welled up yet again. She was going to be subjected to the torture once again. She went into her room and stood in front of the mirror to assess herself, which she did a lot more often these days.

What she saw was not comforting, especially just minutes before the prospective groom’s arrival. She heaved a deep sigh and started getting ready for the circus. She took out a mustard coloured kurti with crimpson patyala salwaar and crimson dupatta with golden border. It was a beautiful dress and accentuated her pleasingly plump frame. She put a small red bindi between her well shaped eyebrows, applied a little lipstick and let her beautiful, dark, long tresses loose. She appraised her reflection in the mirror again and smiled a bit. “Not bad”, she thought.

As soon as her mother saw her, annoyance showed on her face again.

“How many times have I told you not to wear such bright clothes! Look at your colour…” she scoffed her off.

Meenu tried not to be perturbed, and in any case, this was not the first time that she was ridiculed by her mother. She always sought her mother’s approval and the quest continued in adulthood, though in vain. She stood there with downcast eyes which made her mother even more irritated.

“Now just don’t stand on my head and hope that this man likes you else…” her voice trailed off as she rushed to open the door. Her mother’s voice modulated to a sweet melody as she received the guests.

Meenu knew the routine by now. She had to wait till she was called for and go with downcast eyes and not to speak much. She sighed again and looked up as if asking God, why he had chosen her for such torture. She shook her head in resignation.

She used to be such a happy child. Her mother was always like this but her father loved her a lot. He used to make up for all the hurt her mother bestowed upon her. He never compared her with anyone. He loved her as she was and she basked under his love. She was an intelligent child too, did well in school and went on to become an engineer. Her father was ecstatic when she won gold medals in university examinations. Her mother was hard to please though. She could never come to love her. She chided her father for his affection for their ugly duckling.

“All these medals and certificate will not help in marrying her off!” Meenu had heard this line so many times that it lost its edge, so to speak. Her father would kindly smile or wink or make faces after her mother to make her smile. It was also his way of telling her that don’t take her seriously, you are doing fine. And her heart would swell with love for her father. He would hug her and they would go on to discuss something about current affairs or politics or something silly as which boy was after which girl in the college or how stupid boys were! They would laugh together and her mother’s venomous words would be drowned in their love.

Meenu was awakened from her reverie by her mother’s harsh voice.

“What are you doing standing like a wooden doll?” Meenu smirked at the word “doll” and followed her mother to the lounge.

Even though she was told to keep her eyes downcast, she stole a look at the prospective groom and she froze in her track. Was this a joke? Had he not seen her picture before coming over (she no longer looked at the pictures since she thought it was a futile exercise)? What was the problem with him?

Her heart started beating faster. He looked like a Greek God to her. He was fair and handsome, polite and soft spoken. She cursed herself for not looking at his biodata. She hoped he was not just good looking. As she was floating in the air, her eyes fell on her mother and her jeering look brought her down on earth. She looked at the man in front of her and compared herself with him mentally.

“What is point of coming here and mocking me? One look at me and he will be out of this house. Why insult a girl like that?”

But by the look of it, he was still having polite conversation with her father and stealing looks too. He did not seem like he is going to run away. Their eyes met and he smiled softly at her. Meenu’s pulse quickened and she blushed. His smile broadened at her discomfort.

“Did he make out that I am blushing? Oh come on, Meenu, whom are you kidding? With your colour? Keep your feet firmly on the ground.” she reprimanded herself mentally.

She was startled when she heard her name. He was standing and she knew the meeting was over. As usual she was rejected because she did not fall in the conventional category of being beautiful. No one noticed her delicate features, beautiful coal lined eyes or long, flowing dark hair. No one was interested in her intelligence. It did not matter that she was witty and could make a guy laugh till tears ran down his cheeks. It did not matter how beautiful she was from inside. All that mattered was that she was chubby and dark. She had all the qualities to make a good wife, she had it in herself to turn a house into home, but no one was bothered about it. Her eyes welled up again and she sat there with her head bowed.

She was startled again at her mother’s sweet voice calling her and she looked up to see that he was still standing and looking at her with a quizzical look on his face.

“Shall we?” he asked. She was bewildered as to what was going on. She looked at her father and he smiled at her with his usual soft smile. “Go, talk to him” he nudged her towards him.

More that surprised, she was shocked at the turn of events. “He really wants to talk to me? ME?” she could not believe it but here she was, following him in their garden to find a suitable place to talk.

What followed was unbelievable to her. She could not believe her luck. They talked as if they knew each other always. They seem to share common tastes in music, books and even food. It seemed like a fairytale to her, too good to be true!

“I think I am fine with this match. What do you think?” he asked her. She could not believe her ears. When she did not reply, he went on.

“I can understand if you do not want to answer right away. You do need to sort out by yourself if you would want to spend your entire life with a stranger. A stranger who has a three year old paraplegic daughter!”

In the last two minutes, this was the second time that she could not believe her ears. What did he just say? A three year old paraplegic daughter?

He was saying something and stopped in mid sentence when he saw her shocked face.

“You knew about my daughter, didn’t you? I had told your parents at the off-set.”

She was no longer with him.

She wanted to look into her father’s eyes just once before saying yes.

Puzzle

Posted on: December 31, 2010

After a long time Sri had time to sit and relax on a Sunday. She took the novel her friend had sent her as a gift and curled up on her cozy bed with her feet under the duvet. With the book in hand she looked outside the window and smiled to herself. She was feeling unusually cheery. The Sun was shining bright which added to her vivid mood. With a happy sigh she tried to concentrate on the book.

She had not even started reading when she heard a loud scream. It was Anu’s. Her heart missed a beat. Hundred and ten thoughts ran through her mind in those few moments.

Within seconds she ran towards her daughter’s room. She froze at the sight of her daughter sprawled on the floor, with bewildered eyes and shocked expressions. From where she was standing she could only see Anu but could not see what caused her daughter so much pain. Anu was on her back and was trying to slide back pushing with her legs. It was getting difficult for her to get up as her skirt kept coming in the way. She kept falling back. Sri ran to hug her daughter, to tell her that all is well. Sri wanted to assure her that her mother will never, ever, let anything harm her.

Sri took Anu in her arms and held her tight, whispering sweet nothings in her ears to alleviate her fear. Her daughter was shaking with fright and burst out in tears as soon as she was held. Before Sri could understand anything, another scream reverberated in the hall. Sri turned back just in time to stop the hockey stick hitting her head. The man lunged with the stick at her daughter again but this time Sri was ready. She held the stick with all her might but her slight frame was of no match to the heavily built man. She stumbled and fell back. She kicked him but her leg did not even, so much as, touch the man. Sri felt lost. She knew she will not be able to hold for long. She called out to Anu. Sri wanted her to call police or at least someone else for help but she saw that her daughter was in a state of shock and was staring blankly at the assailant. Sri looked at the assailant herself and she was baffled at the sight. Everything till now had happened at such lightening speed that she had not realized who the attacker was! Before she could think or react, her assailant came after her again. She had to save her daughter at any cost. For that she needed Anu’s help. She screamed at Anu, to get her out of the stupor. Anu looked at her mom but did not react at all. She was too shocked at the turn of events. Sri slid back; she wanted to get to the open area from where she can call for help. Her mind was working fast. Dodging his blows she ran towards the balcony but the stick hit her badly and she fell down. At the sight of blood from her mother, Anu started crying uncontrollably. She rushed to her mother but Sri knew if she came near her she too would be harmed. Sri assured her that she was fine but Anu had to help her. Anu nodded with tears trickling down her chubby cheeks. Sri asked her to get someone to help. For some unfathomable reason, the assailant was not bothered about the girl getting away. Sri was his sole focus. There was menace in his eyes and terror in Sri’s. Sri managed to get to the railing of the balcony but there was only one way to get away from him, downwards from the 10th floor! He threw the stick on the floor and came with his hands for Sri’s throat. It was easy for him now to throw Sri off; even she realized it and closed her eyes in silent prayer.

But the pressure on her windpipe eased suddenly. She opened her eyes; coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air Sri dropped on the floor. Some people were dragging the man away. Anu came running into her arms and hugged her mother tightly. Sri saw the man’s, her husband’s, bedevilled eyes focused in oblivion.

When Zoe first kissed Shrey, he wrinkled his nose and immediately wiped it off. Looking at his expressions Zoe giggled and went to kiss him again. But this time Shrey was ready, he crawled away as fast as he could. Zoe followed him steadfastly. Looking at Shrey’s plight both the kids’ mothers burst out laughing. The innocent chase of turtle and rabbit, as they were known as, went on for years.

They weaved a cocoon around them and nobody was allowed to penetrate it. Once, Shrey picked up a fight for Zoe when one of their classmates made a pass at Zoe. Shrey beat the light out of him. But when Zoe went up to him with a smile, he gruffly told her to behave properly. And his tone was such that Zoe’s eyes brimmed with tears instantly. Looking at her crestfallen face, Shrey sighed and hugged her. She just shrugged his hands off and walked down to their school bus. She did not talk to him for the entire time till they reached home, but by evening all was well again. Tiff forgotten, Zoe and Shrey’s were playing tennis by evening. This was not an isolated incidence, but eventually Zoe would forget her anguish and they would be together again, as always. Zoe and Shrey became inseparable, two sides of one coin, always together but never seeing eye to eye.

However, as they grew up it was evident that how much ever they loved each other or cared for each other they were not cut out to be together. Zoe was bubbly and effervescent while Shrey was a thinker and loved to read. Zoe would go on chattering away her thoughts while Shrey would just nod or give monosyllabic answers.   It was difficult to know what went on in Shrey’s mind whereas Zoe was an open book. Shrey would like to keep to himself while Zoe constantly sought his company.  So much so that she would expect him to shop with her too! Their adolescence being at peak, things started changing, or say, Zoe started realizing how much she was imposing on Shrey. She realized he needed space. His gruff behavior started hurting her more; she started reading more into his monosyllabic answers and felt left out. There was a time when she would drag him out of his bed just to go on a long drive or go window shopping. Now, she felt embarrassed or sometimes insulted when he would just refuse to be with her. Shrey’s behavior was probably the same, but Zoe was growing up and her natural vanity wanted to be pampered.

All her grievances went up like a smoke in the air the day she came to know that he was going to US of A for higher studies. It was just for a few days that they were together and the thought of being alone filled her with dread. She could not think of her life without him. She went to see Shrey and could not hold herself back when she saw him packing. All the wonderful years of their childhood came to her like a flash. She just stood in the door way looking at her best friend. Shrey sensed someone in the room and turned around to see Zoe’s crestfallen face. She saw the same turmoil in his eyes and the hell broke loose. She just threw herself in his arms and he held her tight, as tight as he could. Both were crying openly now. They never had any friend other than each other all their lives and now the thought of being without each other was killing them.  They sat on the edge of his bed, holding each other’s hands, caressing softly. Words failed them but they were not needed today.

“You be good, rabbit! Don’t go on hopping here and there.” Shrey said softly.

“And you pick up some speed, turtle. Else you won’t be able to find any girl for yourself.” Zoe tried to make their mood light.

“I am not going there to chase after some stupid girls. I am going there to study, got it!”

With that the spell was broken and they laughed together. There were no promises made, none were needed!

Time flew by and life went on at both the ends. Whoever said, “Distance made hearts grow fonder” was proving to be wrong in this case. The good natured sparring turned to tiffs and finally heated flare ups. Increasingly the feeling of not belonging to each other started creeping in. The joy of being together was turning into a dread. Zoe was getting possessive about him, while Shrey was feeling suffocated with all the love and devotion. He hated to be answerable. Zoe tried to keep tab on his online life, Shrey hated it to core. The final blow to their friendship came on the New Year eve when Zoe called up Shrey to wish, and made a passing remark about some hot young man in the party.  A heated and hurtful argument followed, and how much ever they regret it later, the damage was done.

That was a decade ago.

Fate brought them face to face again. Their eyes met and the world around them ceased to exist. They did not know how long they stood there, in that crowded room lost in their own world. After what felt like an eternity, Zoe noticed someone tug at her pallu, she looked down and Shrey’s eyes followed her gaze. A little girl looked up at her and Zoe smiled at her daughter. Little Zoe clung to her and shyly looking  at the man getting all her mother’s attention. Just then a little boy came bouncing and jumped into Shrey’s arms.  The boy looked at Little Zoe and asked his father,

“Dad, doesn’t she look like a rabbit!”

A happy, contended smile spread over their faces and the lost years fell by!


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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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