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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.


*****

I

'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.

II
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?'
'Yes.'
'I am coming over next week.. and.. I'd like to meet you.'
'Hmm.'

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?

III

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.

IV

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.

V

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.

VI

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'*

24 comments:

Lahari said...

Good story with typical Aparna Style :).. Nice narration of present trend.

Munmun said...

:) very real, liked it :)

passer by said...

why does it feel like reading a novel after watching a movie of the same plot..

but was it hitchcock who said "length of a movie should be proportional to the endurance of the human bladder"

name is but a noun..beware of the unqualified pronoun.

"she" rocks as usual :)

sejuti said...

awesome!! i jus dont know what to say.. while i was reading it, i had so many thoughts; knowing u and anticipating the end.. but after reading it i'm at a loss for words..

candid diary said...

Though the whole story has been narrated from a feminine angle, that of the protagonist- I can (though I belong to the male species) fully appreciate the catalysts working silently in 'her' mind.
Great story from you - as always.
And thanks... for dedicating the story to me :D)

intelligent_bacteria said...

Brilliant!!!I can foresee a book on collection of short stories from you soon :)

Aparna Kar said...

@ intelligent_bacteria
Let's hope so :)Good to see u after a hiatus.

Aparna Kar said...

@candid diary
It's my honor. Honestly? I want to change my genre from man-woman relationships to broader themes like The Thinking Tree But I seem to miss the spunk then. :(

Aparna Kar said...

@sejuti
U r being kind to me :) Thank you.

Aparna Kar said...

@passer by
That's because I told you about the subway incident when it happened with me :P About the length- it's the cost of putting in details. Forget the pronouns. Someone else's story can appear like your own- at least in parts. Don't miss this in the disclaimer: "In some other cross-function of space and time.." Thanks for passing by. :)

Aparna Kar said...

@Munmun
Now, this is something I wanted to hear. "Real" :)

Aparna Kar said...

@Lahari
Wow.. now I have a signature style you can reckon with. :) Whether it is contemporary or eternal- depends on your perception. The setting is contemporary, the theme is eternal.

Sam said...

too close for comfort - is what i blv a lot of ur readers r thinking. my take... reality meets ideal situation... the twain seldom co-exist... the path that Pri walks is treacherous and can often lead down to a wrong alley.. but then realisation at the right time can work wonders...

Her entry in the diary, is very true!! One should love oneself, before loving someone else!!!

keep writing...

ritu bajpai said...

Very well written as always. I totally agree that the path that Pri takes is treacherous. If it is about loving herself she doesn't have to deceive. But then this is the beauty of the writer that she brings to life characters which are as complex as life is. Loving urself before everyone else is again debatable. Though "short" the story leaves enough food for thought.

Aparna Kar said...

@ritu bajpai
U know it, right? U guys make it all worth it :) Thanks for dropping by and for those encouraging words.

Aparna Kar said...

@Sam
Right on ! About reality marrying idealism- this is more like an undesired arranged marriage, and a shotgun one at that.:D I could have given it a different ending. But I can't stop my fingers from typing what they want. :P

DJ said...

i loved it and the ways Pri handled the situation. However, i feel like there would be part-II of this story.

Good Luck..! :)

saikat said...

wow :D brilliant as always :)

short ..crispy..well written and i especially liked the disclaimer

appu....2nd book ta kabe nabachhis :)....'ll be the first on the line in the book launch party :D

tc...keep raaaaaawkinG :D

ciao..

Jawahar said...

nice.. really liked it..
read it while listening I'll be there for you (BKB) made the characters and the story so natural and likeable..

reminded me of a scene in sex and the city where the lady leaves the relation of past 5 yrs.. when she realizes she is not loving herself..

Good luck for your next book

Aditya said...

Good one. (as usual!). Time for a novel now .. :-)

meghan said...

hey .. landed on ur page through links .. very nicely written ..

Sam said...

ah!! well.. if you stopped urself from doing that.. you might as well stop writing altogether... IMHO, true art of any type takes its own form free from all inhibitions... and dats why despite what your sense and sensibility might say deep down you'd always knw - it's beautiful!! :)

you can't create music because you simply want to... you do that that's how you are.. and keep working at it... till what you hear is exactly what you feel!!

sangram said...

very lucid with the flow... excellent narrative :)... keep writing more

Bhargav Roy said...

Wonderful-loved your story for its lucid & crisp style in expressing the complex interplay of human relations & emotions.Looking forward to more of such short stories from you.