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Friday, August 29, 2008

When tomorrow comes: chapter 2

This one is for DJ ("Part 2') and Kapil ("..take chances")
Starting from where I left it.

She closed her diary and shut her eyes. A thousand thoughts came rushing in. There would be some time before she wrapped up her work here and joined the new account office in Europe. Good enough to visit home in India. Why not?

Home. She often wondered where her home really was. It had been a while since she visited her parents in their hometown. She called them up almost everyday and had sponsored their visit to US twice in the last two and a half years, but she hadn't really been spending much time with them even when they were around. There was always too much work.

Honestly, she didn't feel much attached to the bungalow they now lived in. She had grown up elsewhere- in a small, cozy home which had windows facing the southern winds. The new house was in a posh locality, glamorous and decked up like a new bride - but it lacked the soul and the memories she had of her childhood in the older house. The guava tree that bore fruits all year long. The white, fragrant jasmine flowers she picked from the dew-clad grass on Autumn mornings. The Banyan tree that changed its color and form with seasons. It had a betel nut tree growing from inside it which she considered a wonder of nature. Pri asked her mother once how it was possible. Her mother surmised: 'I think a bird eating a nut might have sat on that tree and you know...' She didn't want to accept that something as beautiful could be born of pure shit. Now, she reconsidered a few things she disbelieved as a child.

She thought more of the green fields and the cows grazing in the meadows, and the narrow mud lanes that ran amuck. She heard herself laugh and giggle with the neighbor's kid as they sat on a brick wall with their legs dangling in sync. On Summer afternoons, they ate watermelons and spit out the black seeds to see whose went the farthest. She proudly claimed him to be her best friend until she joined middle school. And then, suddenly, his running nose, his loose pants and his inability to converse fluently in anything other than the vernacular seemed to matter. Her new friend was a classmate who had fancy clothes and the poorest grades.

She wouldn't have befriended her but Nita's mother had come over to Pri's house one day and asked her mother to help them with their ward. Pri had felt disgusted initially. She had sat next to her in an English class once. Nita wouldn't note down the homework the teacher marked for the following day. When Pri asked her the reason, Nita rolled her eyes and said: 'I don't want to!'

In the following years, when she got to know her more, she saw her do that often. Everytime Nita didn't want to do something, she would roll her eyes, make a tortured face and say: 'I don't want to !' Nita's mother was a very good friend of Pri's maternal aunt. That made things difficult. Maya aunty thought her daughter to be 'a little soft on the head'. But Pri knew that Nita wasn't stupid- she just didn't want to work hard. She had a severe aversion for studies. Maybe she had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Who knows? She didn't learn the name of the syndrome then.

With Pri's help, Nita's grades improved but it didn't last. Soon she moved to a different school, which Maya aunty considered to be 'more humane with the kids' in terms of homework and discipline.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Odd couples

A police dog carries a cat when ordered to, in a display of skill, during a show at the Russian OMON riot special police training base outside Moscow, May 10, 2007.
(Alexander Natruskin/Reuters)

Dema, a 26-day-old male endangered Sumatran tiger cub, cuddles up to 5-month-old female orangutan Irma at the Taman Safari Indonesia Animal Hospital, on Feb. 26, 2007 in Cisarua, Bogor Regency, West Java, Indonesia. Irma and another orangutan were rejected by their mothers while two Sumatran tiger cubs, including Dema, also born in the hospital, were also rejected by their mother, Cicis, and are being looked after by staff at the Animal Hospital.
(Dimas Ardian/Getty Images)

A little macaque nestles its head on a pigeon that responds peacefully on Neilingding Island, China. Three months ago, the macaque was born on the island, but strayed from its mother. Luckily, it was taken in by work staff in the protective station and made the acquaintance of the pigeon. More than 2,000 macaques live on the island.

Isabella, a yellow lab at the Safari Zoological Park east of Caney, Kan., has adopted three white tiger cubs that were abandoned by their mother in this July 30, 2008, photo.
(Rob Morgan/The Daily Reporter, via AP)

Courtesy: ABC News. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When tomorrow comes

This short story is dedicated to Candid Diary who asked: 'Do you know how some of your readers feel when they don't get a regular dose of your posts?' Like I said: '.. if there is even another reader like you, then I will feel that my blogging has not gone to waste.'

In some other cross-function of space and time, maybe this snapshot is the reality for someone. At least, I hope.



'It is a great relation and all that but I miss the sex.' She thought to herself and looked around the subway compartment. A young, blond chap was smiling at her. She smiled back. He got up and sat next to her. The usually crowded Boston red line was sparse today.

'You have a great smile.' He whispered into her ears. She smiled again, not sure what to say. 'You are gorgeous you know. I wonder what a guy has to do to please you.' She felt her whole body stiffen. He was definitely trying to pick her up. He looked good- healthy, clean. Good enough for a fling- but she wasn't ready for it. She was still trying to figure out what she wanted from life.

Siddarth appeared so distant recently. They hardly got time to see each other, though they were living in the same city. She had hinted at the option of living together. But he was not so enthusiastic about it, so she let it pass.

The guy next to her was still saying something- she looked blankly at him. He miscomprehended her expression: 'You speak English, don't you?' - he asked desperately. And she saw a way out. She smiled again- as vacuously as she could. He was almost pleading now; 'You do understand what I am saying- don't you?' She kept a smiling Buddha face- like she had just attained Nirvana.

He got up flustered and went back to his companion : 'But I'm so sure that she understood me !' His friend reasoned: 'Oh it's nothing wrong with you, I think she is engaged. She is wearing a ring. ' He looked at her one more time. She looked away, the smile still lingering on her face.

Rajiv had called up. He was coming to US the following week for his project. She could never decide whether she loved or hated that man. You can't hate someone irrationally until you have loved irrationally. At one point of her life, she believed that Rajiv was 'the one'. They shared a comfort zone like the best of friends and they were passionate like honeymooners. But it didn't last.

The 'Why?' would have no definitive answer. Maybe it isn't a 'Who' but a ' When' that matters. Siddarth was a good man. He tries to make her happy. Though, sometimes, she wonders if it is enough. She was past that mental age where she felt she would die without someone. Now she knew- life finds a way.

'Pri, did you hear me?'
'I am coming over next week.. and.. I'd like to meet you.'

What does he want? But most importantly, what does 'she' want? She had asked the same question when she had broken up with Rajiv.

There are two kind of lovers: one who overwhelms you the instant you meet - and the passion continues in every aspect- when you agree, disagree, fight or make love. And then - there is the other kind- the quieter, more subdued type, who think expressing emotions in unmanly and public displays of affection is for school kids. They support you silently in your endeavors, and resist you active passively. They half expect you to understand them even when they say nothing. She had known both.

She wondered if she really missed Rajiv's presence in her life. The question was redundant now. He had been married since the past three years. And yet, he wanted to meet her. Maybe he repented having let her go. But did it matter anymore?


She tried calling Siddarth but it was his voice mail instead. He was probably working - in a meeting or hitting the gym. She wished he did something crazy for her sometime - like dropping by at the dead of a night to say that he was missing her. Or send her a box of chocolates without telling her when to expect it. But everything they did was planned in advance. And love was a matter of convenience.

Rajiv, on the other hand, was full of surprises. He would pick her at odd hours to have an ice-cream together. Once, they had a fight and he had waited for hours outside her office until she agreed to meet him.

She was not ready for a relation after her break-up with him. She wanted a friend to confide in. Siddarth listened patiently and his innate goodness brought out the best in her. Maybe she wasn't in love, but she had accepted him as an integral part of her life. His calling up at the end of each day mattered, even if she couldn't say,'I love you' with the same conviction he could.

Life was good until Rajiv turned up again. Yet, she couldn't help thinking how it would be to meet him after all these days. She wanted to find out and told herself,' Thinking is such a waste of time', like she did everytime there was a conflict of interests.


She saw him waiting at the station. He looked older since she last remembered him. There were patches of gray on his sideburns. He smiled when he looked at her. She thought to herself: 'What the hell am I doing here?'

They tried to talk about everything - from weather to sports, carefully skirting around what they really wanted to talk about. And then he said suddenly : 'I miss you.' She knew that he meant it. He touched her hand and she felt an instant blast of desire hit her.

She could read his face and she wished she couldn't. Driving down to his hotel was difficult. She tried not to look at him. When they reached, she excused herself to visit the restroom- one last attempt to resist what she knew was about to happen. She took a deep breath, unlocked the door and walked into the bedroom. It was dark. Her heart was pounding. She knew his style, but didn't know where to expect him coming from. He pounced on her, pinning her down to the bed, kissing her neck. She felt almost anesthetic and her senses went limp. It was inevitable. He whispered,' I love you.'

She opened her eyes and looked at him.'You are a tad late in saying that you know.' He nodded. She dragged herself up. Then they sat together side-by-side on the bed, not sure what to say. She looked at him and smiled affectionately, kissed his cheek and said:' It was great knowing you.'

Then she picked her purse and got out of the suite.


She walked into Siddharth's office, he was bent over his MacBook Pro, unaware of her presence. She sneaked behind him, and touched his shoulders. Startled, he turned,' Oh Hi !'

She held his head in her arms and ruffled his hair, 'I was missing you.' He smiled and asked -' Want some coffee?'

They walked to his favorite coffee shop across the street. He picked shots of bitter Italian roast coffee for himself and cappuccino for her. 'Sorry I was a bit cranky last night.' he said,'Some codes are giving garbage output.'

She smiled,'Hmm.It's ok. I'm sure they will turn out fine. Btw, I have to be in Europe for a few months, you think you can manage without me for a while?'
'I have my work and gym... and your memories to keep me warm in this long winter here.'
'Wow, that was romantic !' she said.
'I know' he grinned.

She hugged him and knew it was alright.


That night she went back home and wrote something in her diary after a long time.

'It took me many kisses to realize that I wasn't looking for a frog to turn into a prince. I was waiting for someone who could transform me. But more than that I have realized - that person has to be me. I promise to love you next after I have learned to love myself first.'

* Note: For more short stories, click on the label 'short story'*