Sakhi's Laghukatha

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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?

****

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

Angst

Posted on: August 24, 2019

Gopi looked at the frail figure lying in bed in front of her. Alekhya was a far cry from the tyrant that she used to be. It was almost pitiable to see her mother-in-law in such a state. Gopi believed strongly in Karma and for her this was what Alekhya had to pay for her deeds.

There was a time when Alekhya had made life of her daughter-in-law hell. Manipulative to the core, Alekhya had not left any stone unturned to harass the newly wedded girl. Well, it was wrong to say that harassment was only reserved for the daughter-in-law; Alekhya was a very bitter woman and her wrath had been bestowed on her own children since they were born. She was a very complex woman; loving and caring for all the house-helps but emotional schemer for the family members. Gopi; a very happy-go-lucky, full of life girl; had come to despise her mother-in-law to the core. It was difficult to forget for Gopi how her own daughter was treated by Alekhya.

Life had come full circle now. Alekhya was in and out of ICU wards for the past two years and was completely at Gopi’s mercy. It was getting tiring for her emotionally, mentally and financially to keep Alekhya out of pain and floating. If she was truthful to herself, there were times when Gopi wanted to strangulate Alekhya with her bare hands but now that Alekhya was at her mercy she was feeling pity instead of hatred.  She saw the journey of this once spiteful woman from being an oppressor to a living vegetable. When she took upon herself to take care of this woman when the first hospitalization happened, she had really thought it was her duty to take care of her home’s elderly. But as soon as the first crisis was over, Alekhya started showing her true colours and the whirlwind of emotions wreaked havoc within Gopi. Was it worth going through the pain again? But within a few weeks, Alekhya was in the hospital again and Gopi did not have a choice but to be by her side. One after another, there were more than 10 critical hospitalizations within a span of one year and slowly Alekhya was reduced to a vegetative painful life of not really living and not dying. During this period Gopi went through the ups and downs of emotions. She did not want to take care of this woman who had made her younger life miserable. At the same time the moral duty pulled her towards what needed to be done. She hated the fact that just because Gopi was legally and socially bound she was expected to take care of her ailing mother-in-law, who had not given any love throughout the time that they knew each other. Forget love, she did everything in her capacity to make sure that Gopi was not happy. It also distraught Gopi that since Alekhya was now old all her previous actions were to be forgotten and she was to nurse her. And yet, here she was, being well taken care by the very person whom she abused. Karma plays both ways!

As Gopi looked at the ailing figure in front of her, she wished Alekhya death again but this time not out of spite but to end the suffering of another human being.

Amen!

*****

Click Here to read Alekhya’s Life Story

 

“I loved him with all my heart, for years
Then one day I started loving myself too
And we separated!!”

~ Sakhi

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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!

Mridula opened her eyes and saw his smiling face. She took a dyspnoeic breath and smiled contentedly. At last he had come.

She closed her eyes again and went back to the day he had entered her life. She remembered his first touch all too well. She was ecstatic every time he smiled at her. How she loved it when he came running to her and hugged her as if there was no tomorrow. Her world revolved around him. His choices became her choices; starting from his favourite food to the colours to the TV shows… everything! Even her clothes were decided by his choice.

But slowly and inevitably things started changing. Other people started getting more attention than her. She felt sidelined but smiled and tried to understand. She assured herself that it is just a phase and he will come back to her as he used to do earlier. Of course, he hugged her and kissed her before leaving home every morning but she missed his undivided attention. They no longer sat together and talked about his day or watched movies together with a bag full of popcorns. He did not have time to tell her each and every detail of his life any more. Most of his time at home was spent either on phone or on the computer. She tried learning computer for him too, but he laughed at her. The laugh was not a mockery, she told herself.

As if this was not enough, she sensed other girls in his life too. She tried to enquire about them nonchalantly but he would say they were just friends and she should not be paranoid about it. But she kept a check for any tell-tale signs. She found none. She increasingly felt insecure. More she tried to hold him, farther he went.

She remembered the last fight they had before he left home for good. She had found some gift in his drawer. She kept looking at it and as the time passed she became increasingly agitated. By the end of the day, when he came home she was livid with rage. She started shouting and calling him names. He was stumped, could not understand her reaction or the things she was saying. He tried to make her understand, tried to calm her, but she would not listen. She did not know when she started abusing him. She could see the shocked expression on his face and later the tears too. But she was unable to control herself. She just went on and on. He tried to hold her tight, a hug she was longing for so long. But this time it did nothing to calm her. In her heart she knew, what she was doing, what she was feeling was entirely wrong. And yet, she was unable to control herself. She did not know for how long she went on but somewhere she heard him say that he was sick of her insecurities and sick of her hold over him. He said he needed space. And then she heard a thud, he had closed the door after him.

He was gone, forever.

That was the last time she saw or heard of him. He never called her or reached out to her. She did not know how and where to look for him.

Today, after about ten years, at her death bed he had come back. At last, her son had come to take care of her. At last he will be all hers! With these thoughts, she opened her eyes again, smiled at him once more with all the love she had for him and her soul gently left her body.

What she did not know and would never know was that he was always around her. He stood by her with all his love and care. He diligently visited her in this asylum every single day. It was just that she could not recognize him.

It was a miracle that she could feel his presence and see him for last one time!

fiction_stamp2“There she is!” A big smile spread over Aagam’s face when he spotted Vaidehi.

Vaidehi was a new student in his class who had joined recently. She was a very quiet girl and had a sweet smile for every one. Initially he found her weird as she was very different from the rest of them. She never wore jeans or skirts or tees unlike his other friends. She never came with them for an outing or never hung out with them after the college was over. But she was with them through out the day and was an easy person to get along with. She never cribbed or never gossiped. He tried to ask her out a couple of times but she politely refused. His charm was lost on her!

Presently he saw her and was feeling happy as it was his birthday and he wanted to invite her to the party he was throwing in the evening. All his friends were going to come.

“Hey, Vaidehi, ruk yaar!”

Arey, aaj to Aagam saheb subah subah college aa gaye!! Kya baat hai janaab?” She teased him good naturedly.

Theek hai, theek hai, jyaada has ne ki zaroorat nahi hai! Haan to mein kya kehne aya tha? Dekh tere chakkar me, mein bhool hi gaya! Arey haan, sun aaj shaam ko party hai aur tujhe aana hai… koi bahaana nahi chahiye, samajhi!”

“Party?”

“It’s my birthday today, so wish me, sweetie!”

“Cut the crap, Aaagam. Tujhe kitni baar bataya hai ki mujhse aise baat na kiya kar! Anyway, many happy returns of the day. But I won’t be able to come to the party. Sorry yaar!” She saw his face darkening with disappointment.

“But hey, we will have a blast here in the canteen.” She didn’t want him to feel so bad, especially today, as it was his birthday.

Yaar teri problem kya hai? Sab hi to aa rahe hai. It’s not as if I am calling you alone and taking you to some god-forsaken place, dammit!” He was really upset and felt the kind of disappointment he couldn’t explain even to himself.

He strode off, livid with anger. Vaidehi stood there looking at his back. She wanted to call him, to tell him the reasons but she knew she belonged to a different world and he can never be a part of it. She was grateful for even been allowed to get back to acaedemics. She sighed and went to the class. The whole day Aagam’s disappointed face floated in front of her eyes. Her heart went out for him. She went home early; she wasn’t able to concentrate, anyway!

Aagam didn’t talk to her for a couple of days. Didn’t even tell her how the party went when she asked. She knew that Aagam was not his usual self since their last conversation. She couldn’t afford to care about it. But care, she did!

Days  passed and everything between Vaidehi and Aagam settled back to normal. As normal as it can be between two adults who are attracted towards each other and are not allowed to acknowledge it. Aagam tried twice after his birthday to say something more to Vaidehi but her face told him not to venture in the territory which might be laden with explosives. After that he never tried.

He  didn’t understand Vaidehi’s attitude though. She didn’t want more and yet he saw her anxious face when he was being playful with other girls of their group. She would get upset if he didn’t meet her at least once a day or was absent from college without telling her beforehand. She was a puzzle to him. But he had resigned to the fate and had accepted to be her friend or whatever they were.

It was third day today that Vaidehi hadn’t turned up for the classes. It was unlike her. Aagam was getting agitated but he didn’t have a choice but to wait for her to come. None of their friends had her mobile number or landline number. She never gave it to them. When she did not come for another two days, Aagam asked Kusum to ask about Vaidehi’s address at the administrative office.

When Kusum and Aagam reached at the given address they were in for a shock. Not only it was one of the posh areas but the bungalow was sprawled over at least 20,000 sq. feet area. They looked at each other and wondered whether they should go inside. They decided to check about the whole issue since now their curiosity was heightened. When the guards were satisfied about them, they were taken into the house.

They were taken to Vaidehi’s quarter and a bomb fell upon Aagam when he saw her. She was wearing complete white as if she was a widow. One of the females there called Vaidehi and she looked at them with a blank face as if she did not recognize them. But as her eyes fell on Aagam, she started crying, softly at first. Aagam and Kusum were dumb struck at the flurry of activity going on around them. One of the ladies told them that Vaidehi lost her husband a few days back. He committed suicide!

Husband?

Suicide?

Nausea rose up in Aagam’s throat; he turned around and almost ran out of the house.

A few days later, somebody showed him an old newspaper clipping: “Impotence being the reason behind the suicide of the leading entrepreneur’s only son…”


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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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