Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Touch of love

                  It was late into the night and the four of them were still talking. Niharika covered her mouth as she yawned for the nth time. Suraj looked at her with a frown. She tried to sit straight and listen to what he was talking. She had had a busy day and had an early appointment the next day. She had just been ready to drop to bed when the doorbell had rung. Suraj, who was still working on his laptop, had got the door. They had been shocked to see Suraj's brother, Abhinav, with his girlfriend Priya.

                  Priya sobbed continuously which was getting on Niharika's nerves. She wanted to shout at the girl to act her age. At 25, she was behaving like a teenager! Why couldn't she just gather herself and be responsible? Abhinav, on the other hand, was behaving like a love lorn boy of the sixteen. To think that the two of them had just eloped and landed at their house!

                 "Abhi, this isn't the right thing to do. You both are adults. Convince her parents and if they don't agree you can think of registered marriage."
                 "Dada, they will marry her off to someone else. Didn't you take away bhabhi because of the same reason?" Abhi asked.
                  " Just because we did it, does not make it right" Suraj reasoned.
                   Niharika was wide awake at the mention of their marriage. Of course it wasn't right. Suraj had now made it known to her. He regretted their marriage.

                  Niharika and Suraj had been in a relationship for 2 years before marriage. They had been head over heels in love with each other. Different communities, different lifestyle, nothing had mattered. They couldn't keep their eyes and hands off each other. They were just perfect together. When their parents had refused their match, they had run away and gotten married. After marriage, their romance had reached new heights. Then, everything went for a toss!

                 Suraj decided to quit his job and start a company of his own. His new venture took all his time. Dates had been replaced by meetings and birthday and anniversaries had little time. Soon the distance had started seeping in. The conversations were getting shorter. TV time was no longer the same and movies were altogether avoided. Talks became nagging and discussions became arguments. Everything had become partitioned. Bed space, bathrooms, bookshelves. They were hardly a functional pair. Niharika too started spending longer hours at work. They were making a good living but hardly living it.

                 "Abhi, we are dropping Priya home. We will think of something else but right now this is the sensible thing to do" Suraj asserted.
                  Priya, who had finally stopped crying, had fresh tears streaming down. Niharika pitied the girl. How hopelessly naive she was!

                  Niharika took to the wheels. Suraj sat beside her. Abhi and Priya stood outside. He was wiping her tears.
                  "Why are you forcing them?" she asked Suraj.
                  " I don't want them to make the same mistake that I made." He said with a straight face.

                   She fought back her tears as Abhi and Priya got into the car. Suraj stayed emotionless. She parked the car outside Priya's house. Abhi accompanied her to the gate. They stood there holding hands. Watching them made Niharika aware of her own loneliness. How long had it been since Suraj had held her, caressed her or walked hand in hand with her? How beautiful their relation was once and how distant they had grown!

                  She started the car. Suraj watched her in amusement. She had left Abhi behind! A few blocks away, she stopped the car to a side and walked out. She just couldn't take it any longer.

                  He had been watching her since they left the apartment. Usually the one to never show any weakness, Niharika was acting vulnerable. She always smirked at those who cried or acted weak. Only the day they had eloped, she had hugged him and shed tears. She was at her most vulnerable, afraid of the big step and unsure of the future.

                 He went after her. She stood behind the car, her eyes swollen with the crying. Oh! It was just the girl he had taken away for himself. He held her hand just like the day 3 years before. Her hands felt just as moist and soft as they had felt then. It rekindled the madness that had made him pay no heed to anything and run off with her. Where had he lost this girl?

                "It's over isn't it? I was a mistake, right?" She asked him with fear.
                 He took her into his arms.
                 "You aren't a mistake."
                 "But you just said.."
                 "I don't want them to run off.  I don't want them to be shunned by everyone. I just want everyone to accept them. I know cutting you from your parents has been taxing. I don't want Abhi to do that to Priya. Atleast they can give it a try. That's the mistake I made. I should have tried harder to bring our families together."

                She looked at him, smiling and hugged him again, breathing in his smell, feeling loved by his touch.
                "Shall we go home?" she asked.
                "No, let's not go home. Let's just run away. Let's take a holiday no one knows about!"

                 The touch was back. The touch of love, the touch of madness.

 This post has been in written in collaboration with Parachute’s                    #BringBackTheTouch campaign. You can find more details here: Do check out their beautiful video below



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Childhood revisited

               For the last couple of years, a new trend has been catching up on social networking sites. Everyone has been flashing the toothless grin of childhood on facebook for Children's Day. For once, the duck face and pouts are given a rest. Like everyone else, I too  had my profile picture changed to a cuter version of myself. Poring over the pictures makes me transported to another time. A time of carefree abandon and innocence.

                When I was in primary school, Children's day was celebrated with much  gusto. We were allowed to wear "any dress" as against the boring school uniform and it used to be a half working day. Regular classes weren't conducted and we were made to read essays about the relevance of the day. Music and games occupied us.

                 I never liked going to school. I wasn't the one who cried everyday on the way to school, yet it was something that was a chore that had to be ticked off. On one particular day I just put my step down. I just wasn't in the mood to go. That day happened to be an important day as we were going to be photographed for the school id card. So I was dropped to school against my wish. I entered the compound and decided that I don't care about the id card! Off I ran on to the streets with two school guards at my heel. Thankfully, my aunt hadn't left already and she took me back home, crying all the way. Don't get me wrong. It was she who was crying. I was happy to go home, leaving the guards panting at the gate. I faced the music in the evening when Dad came to know of my behavior but that is another story.
                The only part about going to school that I liked was, stationary. It was much later that I enjoyed the company of humans! Stationary was my treasure. The fresh stock of non dust erasers, the smell of new notebooks, the neatly brown-covered textbooks, and the long, red and black stripped Nataraj dark pencils. I had an obsession with pencils. I loved and kept them sharp at all times. My pencil boxes usually turned black very soon with all the lead I was sharpening!

                 The best days of my childhood were the ones I spent at home. Sundays were the days I looked forward to, for that was when my parents were  home.

                Things as simple as watching Jungle Book on Doordarshan or comprehending Malgudi days together was a high. Cable often was unsteady and Doordarshan brought in some of the best series of those times. How could I forget Shaktiman which had my friends in awe. Personally, I thought it to be an idiotic series but I kept mum. I have no knowledge of cartoons or superhumans. For me Malgudi Days, Jungle Book, Lion King, Hocapontus, Zorro, these were the series!

                How happy and content childhood is! Perhaps a lack of choice made it all so enjoyable. We did not have 100s of channels to surf and yet had good series to entertain. We did not have various cream biscuits endorsed by superstars. On a lazy evening, nothing felt as good as dipping Parle G biscuit in a hot cup of tea while having a friendly chat in person.
                When the only game we played was- OUTSIDE!

                When the only time we shopped was- Birthdays and Diwali

                When we knew no brands and everything new was valued.

                When commodities were limited and emotions endless..

                                                photo credit- google

P.S :  First time, I haven't written a story for WOW prompt. The three words just brought so much of childhood memories that I couldn't help but write it down :D

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dear Ma

Dear Ma,

It feels strange writing to you. Now, after so many years of silence between us. It must be equally awkward for you to open a letter addressed to you. In the times of smartphone, I had to choose this mode to reach to you. I am sure both Keshav Da and Shobit da call you often. How long has it been Ma? Do you even remember my voice? I could not muster the courage to call you up and have you ask me, "May I know who is speaking?"

By now you must be wondering why I have written to you. To be frank, I have no idea. I have come a long way from home Ma. I live in the city of dreams that is constantly on the move. The hustle of the city is just what I needed to comfort my vagabond soul. I have always been looking to belong and in this city where no one cares about anybody's business, I finally belong. My job is taking me places and I am constantly surrounded with people. Yet on days when I have had a tiring schedule and try to sleep, I have a hollowness in me. It feels like a hole that is deep in my chest and it refuses to cease. I toss and turn in darkness, trying to draw happiness from the past and all I can see is you.

I see Baba and dadas playing in the garden and you sitting at the doorstep, sometimes cleaning the rice. Remember the day when Keshav da was hit by my ball? You rushed to pick him up and nursed him, giving a cursory glance at me. I thought you would shout at me but you walked away with him. Yet another day when I was playing by myself, I slipped and hit my head. You saw me hurt but instead rushed inside. It was Baba who took me to a doctor. Did you hide away purposely Ma? Did you think I would die and you would let that happen? I was just 6 years old then and that day, while my wounds were being taken care of, a larger one had cut through me. I wondered if I was adopted!

I know I am not adopted Ma. No one could make that mistake. The uncanny resemblance of our grey eyes, the pointed nose, and that grin which so rarely broke in my presence. No, nobody has so much of your features other than me. In a way, I always had more of you in me than Baba. Maybe it was our similar traits that led to the detachment. You kept your distance from me, and although I ached for your love, I obstinately waited for you to melt. It was pointless. You lacked the warmth that a mother would possess for a child born to her.

I often went on a self evaluation trip to identify what was it that was making you repel me. I excelled at studies, but while the teachers were full of praise, you sat grimly through the open houses. You never came to any of the functions where I was performing. While the crowd cheered at my dialogues, my vacant eyes searched for you among the spectators. I erupted into spurts of jealousy when you bestowed your attention of Dadas. Many a times, I thought that you had exhausted your source of love on them. What had they done to possess that?

I know I am burying out dead facts. It will not bring those days of my childhood. The childhood, that I spent deprived of motherly affection. The childhood that I spent devoid of emotions from you. Baba was never the one for words. It made him awkward to express feelings. Even though he did everything in his capacity to give me a normal childhood, I knew he was as clueless about your indifference as I was. With Baba's death, the chord had snapped. I could no longer live in that house where I was not welcome. When I decided to move out, I had a bleak hope that you would hold me back. What a fool I was! I could hardly control my tears all the way towards the station. You stood stone like, with no word. When did you actually stop talking to me Ma? I don't even remember! Perhaps as early as I started school!

There is a lot that I could talk about but 25 years of silence is hard to bridge. I am all set to start a new life here. I have chosen my life partner and I have been lucky enough to have someone who loves me with all her heart. Perhaps the burden of past would make it impossible to step into a fresh tomorrow. How will I ever be able to explain my relationship with you? It would be a nagging question in all I do. Why was I the abandoned one?

I want a closure to this Ma. I know it is too late for things to change. I have convinced myself that you will never be receptive to my pleas. A mother knows it all, but do you Ma? Do you know what I went through? Do you feel my pain? I want to know what made you this way? I do not want to hold any bitterness back. Writing this is making me feel lighter in a way. The truth would finally put my wandering soul at peace with itself.

                                                                                                                                   Your son,

Her hands trembled as she held the letter. What could she answer? She fed the letter to the fireplace.

He would never understand. He did not need to know. 

She had never wanted another child. She had done all she could to abort him. She had consumed all the household remedies and had been relieved when she bled. Yet, 4 months later, the bump showed and she felt the kick. She was in for a shock when she discovered she was pregnant. She was bleeding courtesy the side effects of the herbs she was taking. Her child was unharmed, alive and kicking! 

It took her a long time to accept the truth. When he was born hale and hearty, she scrutinized his every move. She knew something was wrong with him! How could he be so healthy, after all the ways she had tried to abort him. She had never come to accept him as her own. He was like a monster who had fed on her. She was convinced that something would claim his life sooner or later and she was not ready to face it. Knowing that she would be responsible for the abnormality. In a twisted way, she had felt she would be spared if she was detached. 

He did not need her, No. But she did love him. Unknown to him, she checked on him every night. The day he fell, she was scared to death. She had run away to fetch the first aid. It did not occur to her to pick him up first. When he returned with his father from the dispensary, she had been on her toe all the time , unable to sleep. When he left the house, she was frightened about the world he was going to be exposed to. She wasn't the one to hold back. Not him. He deserved all that she had tried to deprive him of. 

As the last of the paper turned to ashes, she closed her eyes. If only she could start over again.