Sakhi's Laghukatha

Posts Tagged ‘Short stories

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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”.

It was the year 1972. Since Alekhya was neither good at studies nor good looking by general standards, her wealthy family thought best to get her settled in life. She was soon married to Sunil, a young, extremely handsome guy who held a stable job in government, albeit not very rich. Alekhya was all of 18 when she was married off. With the dream of love and fun-filled life in her eyes, she shifted from Hyderabad to Mumbai to be with her new family.

New life was far from what she had imagined. Sunil was a quiet guy; he was not really interested in her, nor was he interested in anybody or anything else. He would keep to himself. Their physical intimacy was few and far between. This frustrated Alekhya to the core. At her maternal home, she would throw tantrums and was used to getting things her way, but her tantrums would not work here, simply because no one really cared. She would look around her tiny matchbox chawl room of Mumbai and compare it with her sprawling home at Hyderabad. She cringed every time she had to stand in queue every morning at not-so-clean community toilets. She would curse her destiny and her family for subjecting her to this torture. At the same time, youthful Alekhya dotted on her husband and tried to find meaning to her new life. A year flew by and one evening, as they were having celebratory family meal Alekhya heard a thud. She saw her young husband sprawled on the floor in front of her, in violent seizures and frothing at mouth, getting soaked in his own urine and faeces. Alekhya was horrified beyond words. She, bewildered, looked at other family members to find them completely nonchalant. After a couple of minutes, the horror stopped, and her husband lied there, lifeless. Her mother-in-law asked Alekhya to pick him up and get him cleaned, as if nothing had happened. 19-year-old Alekhya, sat down with her unconscious husband and cried. She did not know what else to do, so she just cried. After a while, when Sunil groggily came out of his stupor, she supported him to take him to the bathroom. She had many questions, but Sunil avoided to even look at her. On the day of their first anniversary Alekhya was gifted by the news of her husband being a chronic epileptic! She wasn’t sure how was he able to hide this for so long.

Alekhya now became full time care giver to her epileptic husband. She would always be scared when he would go in to seizures. It happened so many times that people would come drop him home as he would have fallen on streets. Having emergency medical card in pocket would come in handy but this did not take away the fear of losing him to accidents. Medical advances in epilepsy in later years would reduce the number and intensity of attacks but not without central nervous system side-effects of long term seizures and medical treatment. Alekhya started brewing from within. She felt cheated, both by her father, whom she loved and revered dearly, and by her husband. Sexual frustration and loveless marriage intensified her dormant manipulative character.

Alekhya had always loved to be in the center of attraction all the time but it cannot be said when she started enjoying her victimhood. Whether due to guilt or out of pity, her father started lavishing money and gifts on her, sometimes even against the wishes of his own son. Alekhya started playing the devil sister-in-law that you would see in Bollywood movies. It was amazing to see how an innocent looking lady can be so devious in her actions and motives. Probably, even she did not understand why and what she was doing as there was no direct gain visible of her petty conduct. She gathered ire of her near and dear ones, including her children (yes, she did have children, whom she abhorred!!). Her children grew up to dislike and love her at the same time. After all she was their mother! She inflicted mental and physical torture on them till they were dependent on her. Sunil never came to their rescue, most of the time he was not aware and other times he just ignored. Maybe he was too dependent on Alekhya for his own survival that he chose to look the other way when his children suffered atrocities by their own mother.

There was another side of Alekhya that was surprisingly opposite to her general behaviour with her family and friends. She loved taking care of people who worked for her as house helps or anyone who was not directly related to her. She would go out of her way to take care of them and they her. Many layers of Alekhya!

Years passes with her mundane, home bound and dormant life. Alekhya tried to make it interesting by taking up hobbies like crocheting, making pickles, jams, mouth fresheners etc. and selling them. This kept her happy and also helped her with little pocket money. Money that she received from her father was spent lavishly on no-body-knew-what! However, nothing gave her more pleasure than scheming, gossiping and lamenting about her own life and that of others.

Over the years, Sunil gradually became more and more dependent on Alekhya as his health deteriorated significantly and she too got used to her dreary life. Children grew up and went their own ways, one of them vouching to never return to the parents-that-were-never-there and the other hanging on the periphery. Alekhya being Alekhya, tried to create wedge between her own children and their spouses too. She made sure that her son and daughter-in-law did not have one peaceful moment till they decided to leave them and start their lives separately. Grand children weren’t spared either.

After a pitiful death of Sunil at the age of 65, Alekhya thought she would finally live her life the way she wanted; watching movies in theaters, eating whatever she liked, dressing up however she wanted! Alas, Karma had something else in store for her. Within a year, she health corroded. Multiple hospitalizations and surgeries left her in vegetative state and at a complete mercy of the very people she had wronged.

On one of the rare occasions that Alekhya gained consciousness, she looked into her daughter-in-law’s eyes, held her hand and said, “I know I have done a lot of mistakes in my life, please forgive me.” Gopi, looked at her, without much emotions and held her mother-in-law’s hands, not giving away the pain and hurt and loathing that she felt at the particular moment. She also felt pity at the elderly, wrinkled mass of skin and bones but not forgiveness.

Life had come full-circle!

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Disclaimer – Based on true life events. Certain details of Alekhya’s life has been modified taking literary liberty.

To Read About Gopi’s Angst, Click Here

Proposal

Posted on: August 28, 2019

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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?

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

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Aks got up cursing again. He hated to go to office in those crowded Mumbai trains. Even the thought of the crowd pushing, crushing him; where he can smell the sweat of people around him and people breathing air almost in his mouth made him almost puke. The first class pass was not really helping in peak hours either. He shifted to Mumbai some six months back and was still not used to the crowd, the heat, the cacophony and the mad rush that everyone seemed to be in. Even the soothing waves of beaches failed to entice him. He saw filth everywhere. Aks questioned himself again and again why he ever decided to come to this dreaded city. Yet here he was, getting ready to go to work and cursing some more as today he was running late.

As Aks reached the platform running, panting and sweating, he saw his regular fast train pull out of the station and he cursed some more. Sometime later he boarded another train. As this was a slow train, at least the first class compartment was not as crowded. He squeezed himself between two gentlemen who reluctantly gave some space so that he can just about rest his rears at edge of the seat. Ah Mumbaikars!! He rolled his eyes and was about to say something caustic when his eyes fell on a lady in the adjacent ladies compartment.

He kept staring at her. She looked extremely beautiful with big black bindi on her forehead, elegantly tied bun at the nape of her neck, crisp saree… grace personified! He could not believe someone can look this beautiful and fresh even in this Mumbai heat and humidity, especially in a local train. She was so different from others around her who wore more comfortable salwar kameez or jean and tee shirts. Aks kept looking at her and forgot all about his Mumbai woes. He came out of his trance when she got up to get down at her station. He then realized that he had missed his station but for a change he did not curse. A slight smile played on his lips. He had no idea why, but something fluttered in his heart. He kept smiling till he reached his office.

The next day Aks deliberately took the same train and managed to get in the same compartment in the hope of finding Grace (that’s what he decided to call her till he gets to know her real name!). His eyes searched for Grace and a small sigh escaped from his lips on spotting her at the window. She must be a regular here to get a window seat, he thought. The journey to office was breezy that day. Air did not seem hot at all and humidity did not bother him. Fellow passengers seemed more tolerable too. He sighed again. He got down at Grace’s station even if it meant that he had to go back two stations in order to go to his office.

About a week later, by chance, their eyes met and Grace smiled at him when she found him looking at her (probably she was not aware that Aks was staring at her for a week now). Aks’ heart leaped to his mouth, he grinned back a silly grin even though he knew that hers was a courtesy smile, a smile one gives to a fellow passenger. Her smile stayed with him even during his sleep. Next day there was a bounce in his feet and heart felt as light as a feather, he was in fact humming a song while getting ready for office. Now that was a first since he shifted to Mumbai!

He boarded the train and saw her at her usual seat. Aks waited for her glance, to see that gorgeous smile but she seemed oblivious to his presence. Another day went by. As days became weeks, a routine was established for Aks – board this slow train, wait for Grace to smile at him (which she did more often than not), get down at Grace’s station, go to office, go home, sleep, repeat. Grace too appeared to wait for him to board the train. He could feel that when she looked at him her face softened. Some mysterious expression played on her attractive face, her eyes seemed to say something which he could not decipher. However, he was happy to see her smile. She seemed like an anchor to him. They never spoke, never exchanged even a hello yet she, her smile, seemed to fill his days with eternal happiness. He could not understand it but then he did not want to decode this anyway. Weekends seemed longer and he could not wait for Mondays. He was happy and suddenly Mumbai felt livable.

Today was different though, someone else was sitting at Grace’s window. Since Aks has started boarding this train a couple of months back, this was the first time that Grace was absent. He missed her smile, her presence, her everything. He did not know what to do. He knew deep in his heart that it was just one day and she might just have taken a day off for some domestic reason; that he should not panic but still panic he did. He could not wait till it was next day so that he can run to board the same train, to see Grace sitting at her usual window seat smiling at him. He longed to see that softness of her eyes. He needed to know that she was okay. He kept telling himself that this anxiety was unwarranted but some unknown dread filled his heart when he did not find Grace even on the next day.

Aks never saw her again. He tried to find out about her from her fellow passengers but no one seemed to know anything about her. He never got to know what happened to his Grace, why she disappeared without a trace. His days were filled with despondency and Mumbai’s overcast skies matched his mood. The heavy downpour that followed could not wash away the agony in Aks’ heart. Once again, Mumbai was not a happy place.

Had Aks payed attention to News in morning papers, he would have known that Grace killed herself two days back due to severe depression. Her suicide note did mention something about local train and finding her late husband there.

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P.S.  For non-Indian Readers – Aks means reflection

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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.

Storm

Posted on: January 30, 2011

It was as if a volcano had erupted and she was burnt alive. The scars were not visible but they were there and quite deep. She was so shaken that not a single tear was shed.

There was not a single place in this house where her mother had not left her fragrance. Zeenat remembered her soft hugs and her vibrant smile, her constant chatter and love-filled anger. Zeenat knew and so did everyone else that Zeenat was her mother’s universe. As Zeenat grew up she became more of a friend to her mother than a daughter. Lately Zeenat had started teasing her mother about the glow on her face and twinkle in her eyes. She would blush like a young maiden and then they would both giggle.

How she missed her mother!

Suddenly Zeenat felt extremely lonely. Now that the relatives had also gone, the house seemed like a haunted place. It was only her dad and her. Zeenat was never felt close to her father and now that the bond that tied them together was gone, she felt even more alienated. Zeenat felt a pressing need to be with her mother. With trembling hands Zeenat opened the box in which she kept all the cards and little gifts her mother had ever given her. She spread them all on her bed and hugged them as if she was hugging her mother. Zeenat opened them one by one and revisited each event with the most precious person of her life.

While going through her treasure Zeenat came across a sealed envelop with no name on it. Not only was she surprised but a little scared too! She opened the envelop with trembling hands and thumping heart. She was not wrong; the letter was indeed from her mother!

“My Dearest Bunny,

I know you will find this letter sooner than later.

I want you to know that I love you very much. You are my daughter, my friend and my confidante. Since you came in my life, this life felt like worth living. You filled colours and laughter in my mundane existence. You gave me reason to look forward to evenings when you would be back from your classes. When your friends came over our place and complimented our friendship, how proud I felt! That time was very nice and I felt blessed.

Then one day he came in my life and life looked even better to me. He was everything your father was not. In his presence I felt alive, I felt myself. Do you remember, you said one day that I sang well? Baby, I always sung well but I had forgotten that I could. He made me realize what all I had lost in all those years being wife to a person who did not even acknowledge my existence. If it would not have been for you I would not even have lived this long. I know that what I did would never be acceptable in our society. But it felt just right.

Everything felt just right and suddenly one day you saw us together when you came home unexpectedly. I know you saw us together. You went away and did not even ask me anything. You tried your level best not to show it on your face, but I did see confusion and hurt there. I wanted to talk to you but did not have courage to look into your eyes, did not know what to say.

I think I will never be able to look into your eyes. I don’t know if it feels such a right thing when I am with him, why I feel so miserable when I think of facing you. I do not have answers but I am sure that I will never be able to face you. At the same time, now I can not imagine my life without him. I can not choose between the two of you. So, to end this misery I will have to go.

Please forgive me.

Ma

P.S. I love you very much.

Zeenat kept staring at the paper in her hand. Slowly tears started trickling down her cheeks and turned into a storm. She felt as if her heart was being crushed. She crumpled the letter and hugged it tight as if her life depended on it.

“Ma, if only you knew how happy I was for you!”

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!


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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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