Losing out slowly.
One by one.
At each place, we leave a part of ourselves.
Linked with things we had,
Places we had been to,
People we met,
Stupid things we did.
Flow back again when accidentally we bump into the familiar things we once had,
Making new memories.
Never to come again.
With each place we leave, we leave a part of ourselves.
Some meet again somewhere;
Some go to meet never nowhere.
Some you never remember.
Some come as a glimpse into your mind,
Suddenly someday, even after years.
A pain, a joy, a pinch, a fear;
A world of smile or a drop of tear.
Tears of blood,
Inked in heaven,
Shrouds a tale,
Never to be spoken.
Tears of blood,
Inked in heaven;
A lonely boy,
In an empty lane.
Tears of blood,
Inked in heaven.
It hides a loss;
The twist and pain.
Tears of blood,
Inked in heaven;
The kick of fate,
The love went vain.
The days may be scary, the nights may be dark.
The paths may be blurry, the dreams may be far.
But we’ll keep our promise, we’ll keep our pride.
We are the crows, we’ll rise and shine.
We seek for glory, we seek for the stars.
We strive for knowledge, we got the spark.
We are united; we’ll keep the banner high.
We’re the crows, we’ll rise and shine.
We’ll fight for a cause, we’ve got a heart.
We’ll break the rocks, we got the start.
We’ll sweat and bleed, and march up the height.
We’re the crows, we’ll rise and shine.
The horns shall blow, and boom go the drums.
We’ll keep up the spirit, we’ll raise the bar.
We seek for wisdom, we’ll reach the sky.
We’re the crows, we’ll rise and shine.
Out of mind.
Out of sight.
Out of heart.
Is that right?
A can of beer.
A drop of tear.
A puff of smoke.
A bunch of fears.
A lonely lane.
A word insane.
A shadow tall.
A crate of pain.
All I tried.
All I lied.
All I want.
All I cried.
An open door.
Step once more.
Take me home.
I’m not a hero;
You’re not a villain.
I hurt you at times,
You hurt me at times;
So we’re even.
The lakes froze;
So did me.
A baby seal—
So am I.
Burdens the tress,
Like breaking me.
A kiwi roams,
Looking for home;
Lost like me.
Comes from far;
I try to get warm.
The night sky
Shivers like me,
In the winter cold.
Collecting the pieces
Of my broken heart,
I spend the night.
The sound of silence,
Deafens my ears;
Shut up! I say.
I try to write a haiku,
I write something;
I don’t know if that’s a haiku.
Sometimes you think you have left behind something in the past and try to brush it off, thinking it to never appear again, but to your surprise and excitement, it reappears and puts you in a sweet awkward situation. And you don’t understand if it is a sign, or is just another coincidence. You have been gazing into nothingness, walking like a zombie, and suddenly that familiar face comes in front of you and you don’t know how to react. After long years of not meeting each other, you see that face at the wildest of place at the wildest of time you can imagine.
In this world, every second, millions are born; millions die; millions fall in love; millions break up; millions get married; millions are divorced; millions start for somewhere; millions head back home; so isn’t it just a mere coincidence that you happen to meet somebody at some place just because somebody is 10 minutes late, or you happen to be 10 minutes early, or you became the batch mate of Mr. X and not Mr. Y, because you were born a few years later, or you never fell in love and married Miss A as you never happen to meet. Is this what theory of randomness talk about in Physics? Nothing in this universe is certain and everything is an outcome of random events each of which have a fair chance of occurrence!
Or is it following any mathematical rule? Is it prewritten?
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport. 26th April. Flight go IndiGo 6E-618. Departure time 7:55 hours.
My mother and my more-than-a-brother Arunabh had come to drop me to the airport. It was just 6:30 am. The flight was 10 minutes delayed and the boarding time was from 7:40 am. I checked in, collected my pass, submitted my bag that I had carried in addition to my backpack and went out to say them a final goodbye before I left.
I talked with them for a few minutes and then I walked in for security-check. The line was long. Beside was the line for ladies, which was totally empty. Both the lines were designed such that they meet face to face at the final entry point.
I lingered through my line and in about 20 minutes I reached the entry.
And I could not believe to see who was standing right in front of me. Was it a dream? Was I on drugs? I was at home so there was no chance of even taking weed too.
She had taken the ladies line and walked directly to the entry point as there was no one else. After so many years had she to reappear right before me?
She looked into me; straight into my eyes. I looked at her confused. I just realized how horribly dressed I was. I hadn’t even taken a bath and the spectacles that I recently took made me look awful. My hair was long and disheveled and the red headphone that was hung on my neck was embarrassing me now. I normally don’t use it outdoors but since my earphones had been screwed and the long journey would have become intolerably boring without music, I had to use it. The backpack was so fully loaded that there was no space to put it in there and I had to just hang it on my neck.
She looked more beautiful than ever before. I don’t understand how can some people get more and more beautiful as days passed! She looked like a beauty queen— that she was. The pink top and the black jeans seemed like they were made only for her. And her hair that was nicely tied made her face even more adorable.
It was awkward. I was still not sure if she was Ankita. It had been more than 7-8 years that I had not seen her. But still she was stunningly beautiful and I felt too under confident, like a beast standing in front of a beauty. I brushed my hair thinking that would make me look any better. And took out my specs and put it in my pocket. I could do nothing about the headphone.
She was still looking at me and was about to smile. Her face was about to glow. But I looked away. Why did I do that? I don’t know!
That was rude! What she must have felt? Why do I always have to be such a loser!
I moved on. I took a tray, took out the laptop from my backpack and put both on it and put the tray on the belt for going through the screening by the x-ray machine. I went to the male queue to undergo full body scan. One TSA agent was standing at the gate with a metal detector on his hand.
I reached the gate after two-three men who stood before me were done. The TSA agent ran the metal detector over me and it beeped. “What is in the pocket?” he asked. I took out my phones and the key and he said me to put them too on a tray and pass it through the belt. Nobody had said me anything during my security check in Mumbai airport when I was coming home. So it didn’t occur to me.
The lady at the belt shouted at me for not depositing them on the tray the first time and I tried to explain. Ankita must have been standing somewhere nearby undergoing the same process and I had to goof up in front of her when I was trying to act smart! It was frustrating.
After going through the process I collected my stuffs and moved to the waiting hall. On the LED display board I could see: IndiGo 6E-618 Gate No. 5, which was on first floor. I looked around to see if I could find Ankita. I couldn’t see her. I had lost her.
With a heavy heart I stepped on the on the escalator. I reached the waiting hall on first floor and took a seat just at the corner of hall near the entry, facing the ones who were seated on rows perpendicular to mine. I wanted a safe seat just in case she was there; I wanted to see her but didn’t want to be seen.
It was a huge hall and there were many rows of seats; the ones at the ends were parallel facing each other and the ones in middle were perpendicular to these. In between, there was a row of many huge square-pillars standing in a line, parallel to the middle seats, supporting the roof. So visibility was restrained only to a short distance amidst the crowd and the pillars.
And behind the row of the pillars, I spotted her! Between two such huge pillars due to the angle made by the location where I sat, there was a little space that I could see through and through it I could see only one face seated in a row that was perpendicular to mine, and it was Ankita’s!
I thanked my luck and just kept staring at her. She was far away and I hoped she would not be able to see me. She must also be going to Mumbai too and most probably she’s on the same flight, if my luck favoured. I had heard that she stayed in Mumbai, but never happened to come across her. Maybe today was the day and god had brought us together so that we could become friends again.
Suddenly, she looked towards me and I freaked out. Did she see me? Did she notice me gazing at her? I just looked away and pretended to be lost in thoughts.
I sneaked my look again towards her. I didn’t see her. Where did she go? I looked here and here trying not to make it look deliberate. I didn’t find her.
Meanwhile I noticed that only a few minutes were left to departure time but still the boarding had not started yet. I looked into the display board again. IndiGo 6E-618 Gate No. 3. What? Gate No. 3 was on ground floor. Did I make a mistake while looking the first time?
I hurried to the ground floor and saw a long queue already ready to go through the final check, in order to board in. I got into the queue after confirming from the lady standing at the last and tried to look for Ankita. There she was! Towards the front of the queue. So she was on the same flight. Maybe the boarding gate had been changed so she had left for the ground floor and I missed everything as I was pretending to be oblivious.
Once the gate was opened, we got into the bus meant to take us to the plane. She was seating at the seat near the door. I was tempted to take the seat beside her which was vacant. But I walked to the last row and took the window seat. I was facing towards her. A girl sat beside her and I was sneaking looks at her from my seat.
The bus stopped and I deliberately became the last man to get down. I was afraid to cross her. A flight personnel looked into my pass and told me to take the rear door. I didn’t see her. She must have taken the front door and boarded in.
I desperately hoped that she were in the seat next to me. At least then we couldn’t have escaped each other. But that didn’t happen.
I took my seat. 19B—the middle seat that I hated the most. The one seated to my left looked like a Korean gangster. He had tattoos all over his body parts whatever were exposed and a funky cap on his head. His T-shirt and the pants too were too colorful and fashionable. He was talking to someone on the phone in a language that I couldn’t understand. The one seated to my right looked like a normal human being— well dressed.
I stretched up in my seat to see if I could see where she sat down, though I didn’t hope to see her. But to my surprise I saw her again—just one row between us!
She was seating at the window seat two rows ahead of me and me at the middle seat two rows behind her so that I could see her; or at least parts of her from where I sat.
The announcement was made to switch off all electronic gadgets and fasten the seat belts. The flight took off and once it got steady we could switch on the gadgets and untie the belts. The airhostess started their onboard food service and people started ordering various food items. I was still looking at her though I could only see a part of her head above her seat. I saw her ordering something from the airhostess. The airhostesses were nothing in comparison to her beauty. They must have felt inferiority complex looking at her!
Few years back, she was so close to me and now so far! It seemed just like yesterday.
I was new at that school then. And she had come to that school few years earlier and was properly settled. We had earlier studied in the same school, and she was a few years junior to me. Though we never happened to talk with each other while we studied in the older school, she somehow remembered me and particularly my acting in the school plays; she’d often ask, “How did you get your tooth removed when you did the role of the old man?” and I’d say, “The tooth was still there, I just pasted a black paper over it and from a distance it seemed like gone.” She would listen to me as if amazed by my trick.
We stayed at the same place so used to travel in the same school bus. She was in the junior section and me in the senior; I was in class 9 she was in class 6. Their classes used to get over few minutes earlier and all the junior section students would get into the school buses and take the seats. Since the number of students in the busses were more than the seats, it was difficult for the senior students to get seat easily; either they had to create a fear so that nobody will take their seat or had to carry some kids on their lap and I liked none.
She started keeping a seat for me; the seat beside her. I don’t remember if I had told her to do so or she did that on her own. There were times when her friends would call her to seat with them and she won’t go. And I started liking her.
And we started sitting next to each other every day while going and coming. While going ours was the first stop so there was no problem. We’d talk a lot of random things and I would at times just look at her—blank, as she kept talking. She was quite good in studies and also danced well too.
I fell madly in love with her. Once I had come after having a haircut. She said I look better in short hair; I was so happy to listen that.
But one day we fought over something. It was something stupid that I don’t even remember now what. We stopped talking to each other and started seating separately. In a few days my class 10 was over and I shifted to another school. I couldn’t even tell her how much I liked her!
The announcement that the plane was about to land, brought me to the present. I looked at her; she was looking out the window.
The plane landed and we un-boarded. I hurriedly took the rear door as I was scared of being seen by her. I booked a cab and was waiting at the pick-up point. There in a cab I saw her going.
She looked at me. I looked at her. She smiled. I smiled back.
The best things in life
Come free to us,
And we lose those pearls
While we chase a mirage.
We want a better life,
And in the pursuit of happiness,
We lose our life;
We just wander in wilderness.
The simplest things of life
Can give us the greatest joy.
But we’re so blind that
When they come we just avoid.
We’re so busy running,
Trying to find something else,
That we can’t even realize,
What our heart really tells.
And in no time,
We’d be in our death-bed,
Counting what went wrong,
How things could have been different.
Only if we had taken a step;
Left all our greed and concentrated,
On what we really needed;
For happiness cannot be purchased.
And only the simplest things in life,
That comes free to us,
Are the best things in life,
We should realize.
Thanks everyone. Thanks a lot.
Rohan passed a fake polite gesture of gratitude to all the members who were on the call— some spread across India in the offshore teams and some onsite in California, US, as he disconnected the call. It was as pretentious as the ones that he received. He knew. Who would like to work on Saturdays and then again on Sundays till late night or rather early morning?
His whole weekend was spoiled. He had plans of taking out Jenny on Saturday and spending the whole day with her. He had promised to take her to the newly released Hollywood movie Kingsman and later going out for dinner at the MunchOut- their favorite eatery. And then he got the message, from the onsite guy, Suraj on Friday night that ruined everything: You guys got to do some work on Saturday evening from 3 pm Indian time. Reply as soon as you seen my message.
Rohan felt like switching the phone off and throwing it away. But then the status of the message would be seen and the onsite guy would know that he ignored the message.
Rohan replied back: Suraj, I have some plans. Will it be okay if Piyashree alone works?
Piyashree, Rohan’s colleague, was the only other member in their Mumbai offshore team. There was one or two in Hyderabad, one in Bangalore and most of them were on site in US.
The reply came promptly: It’s critical. You got to be there. It’s just 30 minutes work.
And Rohan knew very well that ’30 minutes’ were never 30 minutes. But Rohan had no choice but to comply and say ‘Okay Suraj. I’ll be there’.
It would have been easier for Rohan to go to the border and convince the Pakistanis than to explain Jenny. I hate you— she replied. We had planned for this since so long!
‘What can I do?’ Rohan asserted and sent a screenshot of his chat with Suraj.
‘It’s just 30 minutes. Come with your laptop; I’ll bring my dongle. You get online from anywhere we are’– Jenny said.
Rohan knew he couldn’t take the risk. What if there is network problem. And what if he has do just work till hours…
So he cancelled the plan.
And as he worked for 4 long hours on Saturday afternoon from 3 pm, Jenny sent him photos after photos of her with some other guy, whom she took out with, just to make him jealous.
Damn these girls! Rohan Thought.
The next day, Rohan reached office early morning as he had to join the call for the Quarterly Release from 9 am. He had to work for the Pre-Deployment activities till 4 pm and then again at night, he had to work from 9 pm for Post-Deployment activities. The day shift was crowded as most of the teams had their releases, but the night shift was deserted and by the time 10:30-11:00 pm all were gone except him. Piyashree too, being a lady, was also asked to leave as it was the last escort time. But Rohan had to continue alone—another victim of gender discrimination. There must be a security guard outside the ODC (Offshore Development Center) door, which too he can’t guarantee; he had not gone out since 9 pm.
It was 2:13 am by the time the Release activities ended. Rohan had planned to spend the night there itself as it would be difficult to find transportation that late, and considering the rise in the criminal activities in the city that was believed unsafe. And as the rainy season was on, a sudden downpour could put him in real trouble on his way home.
Rohan went to the washroom; it was inside the ODC. The entire ODC was illuminated by only one light—above his seat other than the ones in the washroom. And besides that, the entire ODC, which accommodated perhaps as many as 500 employees, was dark except the faint moonlight that sneaked inside through the glass walls.
Rohan took a leak, sprinkled some water on his face and went back to his seat. There was something eerie about the environment and Rohan felt uncomfortable being all alone in the huge ODC, at that part of the night. But Rohan could not have second thoughts; the rain had already started pouring, the clouds hiding the moon, making the already dark ODC even darker; and it would have been terrible idea to head back home under such conditions.
Rohan thought of Skyping with Jenny. She is a night-owl and Rohan knew she must not have slept till then.
Rohan clicked on the skype app, send her a request and in no time they started talking. Everything was back to normal. And Jenny started talking as lovingly as she did in their initial days.
How childish is she! Rohan thought.
They were in their romantic conversation when Jenny suddenly stopped. She looked perplexed and her eyes seemed probing something. Who’s in the cabin behind you? She asked.
Who? Rohan repeated the word and looked behind. Rohan was pretty much sure there was no one in the ODC besides him.
The glass cabin, occasionally used for meetings and discussions, made of frosted glass was translucent and passed enough light to ascertain the presence of people inside, provided anybody was in.
Rohan scanned the room from his seat as carefully as his eyes could see, but didn’t find any hint of someone being there.
‘No one is in there Jenny’, Rohan confirmed.
‘I felt as if someone was staring at us from there’ Jenny said, but she dismissed her thoughts and continued with their love chat. And Rohan wondered how cute Jenny was that he fell in love with her over and over again.
Jenny went with her blabbering and Rohan just stared at her and listened, as always.
The temperature had fallen by the night and AC was high enough that started to give him shivers. He cursed himself for not remembering the Phone number of the facility.
‘Jenny, excuse me for a minute. I’ll just go to the facility and ask them to switch off the AC. I’m feeling cold’, Rohan said and walked out towards the ODC door. He swiped his card on the door lock, but to his horror it didn’t open.
Damn! What happened to this now? Did the security guard lock the door from outside thinking no one was in? Rohan wondered as he had a sudden jolt of fear.
But he had no choice but to go back to his seat and bear the cold and the jinx that the night had casted upon him. He tried to pull himself together and consoled his mind that everything was okay; he just had to pass the night in which only a few hours were left. He could have called someone among his friends and asked for the number of the facility, but, calling someone at 3 o’clock at the night didn’t feel like a good idea and he didn’t want to disturb anybody. Moreover it would have exposed his panic making him a laughingstock in front of his friends for a few days and he didn’t want to risk his ‘reputation’. So here he was alone, locked in the ODC room.
Rohan shrunk back to his seat.
Before he could say something Jenny uttered, ‘I think I saw someone. Someone is in the cabin.’
‘C’mon Jenny! I’ll not fall for you trick’, Rohan said. He was a bit irritated now. He had seen Jenny’s mischiefs earlier and was sure this was another of her trap to fool him. She just likes playing with him.
‘Are you trying to take revenge on me as I didn’t take you out in the weekend?’, he said trying to lighten up the mood.
Jenny smiled back, ‘No Rohan, I seriously felt someone was there’.
‘Maybe the ghost of your one-day boyfriend with whom you went outside Saturday is roaming around; jealous that you’re back with me’, Rohan joked and they both broke into laughter.
They had just continued their conversation for few minutes when they heard a sound; a thud as if a pile of books had fallen on the floor.
‘Now Rohan, I’m dead serious. You better take me seriously or else I’ll kill you’. Jenny shot back.
Rohan could not deny anymore. He too had distinctly heard that sound. His jolly face suddenly turned grave serious. He looked towards the cabin and then looked back to the screen.
‘See the chair is moving’, Jenny shouted.
Rohan tried hard to hide back his horror from his girlfriend. But his heart beat was racing like a wild horse running for his life from a predator.
He looked towards the cabin again. He got a shiver down the spine when he really saw the revolving chair moving in slow rhythmic circular and anti-circular motion, like a pendulum, that was so slow that it was hard to ascertain; and blurry image seated upon it. He couldn’t make sure what it was. He started to sweat in the cold AC room and a sudden look of fear crouched upon his usually calm face.
He saw that image getting up from the chair and slowly moving back and forth and finally heading towards the cabin door.
Everything went silent for a few seconds.
‘What happened? Where did it go?’ Rohan regained his composure only when Jenny spoke those words.
‘Okay, I’ll go inside the cabin and check’, Rohan said. Even though he was scared to death, he wanted to have a closer look. Deep down he still hoped it was his mind playing tricks under the influence of naughty Jenny.
‘No no… Please don’t go in’, Jenny pleaded.
But Rohan wanted to be sure if someone was really in or was it just Jenny fooling him again. So he went inside the cabin.
He scrutinized the cabin thoroughly. He even sat on the chair and looked beneath the table just to be sure. There was no one. So now he would go out and Jenny would burst into laughter shouting ‘Finally got you’.
Silly girl! He thought finally relaxed.
He walked out of the cabin and as he opened the door, he almost had a heart-attack of what he saw; someone his size and wearing a dress exactly like his, was already seated on his seat. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled and he could hear his own heart-beats.
‘See I told you. There is no one’. The voice said, which sounded creepily familiar.
‘No someone is there; he has just walked out of the cabin’ Jenny uttered in a voice that sounded terrified.
As Rohan walked near his seat Jenny started to shout, ‘Rohan, he’s coming to you…run…run’.
But the person didn’t move from his seat.
Rohan’s breathing quickened severely and he started shaking a leaf caught in a storm
He took a few steps and stood behind his seat. He looked at the computer screen. The image that he saw on the self-view screen petrified him.
‘Noooo…..’ Jenny shouted with eyes wide open— finding hard to believe, and the person looked back with a sinister smile on his face.
It was Rohan’s own face.
The light flickered for a second before everything went out dark.
Looking back into my life, I see how things have changed in my life over these years. When my friend said, “today is Bihu”, with a hint of taunt in his voice as I was getting ready for office, without taking a bath, I realized how things have changed dramatically. It was the one of the two days in the year my mother would not leave me from bathing, even if I didn’t bath on all the other days in the entire year. And today, I’m going to office without bathing, that too for the second day continuously. I smiled when I realized I missed both ‘Uruka’ and ‘Bihu’- the two days my mother would drag me from anywhere, like a cowboy dragging an adamant cow, and put me under the tube well and bathe me. And now, I had bathed the entire year except these two special days (a day or two maybe I have skipped which I don’t remember).
‘Uruka’- perhaps it’s the day among all the festive days that I like the most. I still remember preparing meals at the cowshed (in front of our house adjacent to the bamboo fence bordering our house from the road) with timber and bamboo and dried leaves of all kinds which was unusual from the regular days, when food was cooked on gas-stove. People feasting all round in the dry barren rice fields- and Bihu songs (some of them having disgusting vulgar lyrics) coming from all around from the ‘Bhelaghors’ (a temporary house made of hay and banana leaves for spending the night and guarding the ‘Meji’ and then burning it in the morning), where the kids and youths would be feasting- occasionally some loud shouts of merriment or the sound of the cracking bamboo fence in one of the neighbours house, the boys running and the owners chasing behind them. Yes it was fun! My father would always stay till late that night (maybe the only night in the year he stayed till late) warming himself by the fire left after preparing the food to guard the bamboo fence around our house, so that no one can steal it. And despite all the guarding, someone would take the bamboo gate or one or two bamboo poles- and next day my father shouting and us smiling at his rage.
And the next morning-my mother would drag me from my bed to give ‘lag lag’ (ritual of beating a fruit tree with a stick and urging it to bear fruits) on the fruit trees. How much I hated getting up early, but once I’m out of bed I kind of enjoyed the ritual- shouting ‘lag lag’ at the top of the voice, competing with the neighbours and beating the tree with the bamboo sticks, prepared the previous day, so hard that, sometimes, my uncle had to say not to beat it that hard else it’ll break before bearing fruits! Ahahah.. As I grew older I realized how stupid this ritual was? Shouting ‘lag lag’ (‘bear bear’) and expecting the tree to bear fruits early or in more quantity. And if someone’s tree started bearing fruit newly my uncle would say last year they must have given ‘lag lag’ really nice! How funny was it! Wasn’t it? But we enjoyed it. Sometimes stupidity gives more pleasure than logic. And I’d beat the fruit trees with all my strength as if releasing the anger on my mother on the poor tress and shouting ‘lag lag’. Sometimes I’d even beat the non-fruit trees and joke my brother ‘let’s see what it bears!’
And then the worst part- bathing. Somehow sprinkling a few droplets of water on my body and completing my bath in a cold January morning, while my small brother keeps shouting ‘make soon else we’ll miss everything’, I’d wear my new clothes and head towards the Meji (bonfire-a tall conical structure made of hay, banana leaves and bamboo, to light it on this day). Some people would already be there warming themselves by the fire of the Meji and the younger ones playing ‘Koni juj’ (Egg-fight: whosever egg breaks first loses). People would collect the strongest egg from months for this day! I don’t know how they determined which egg was stronger, but they did. Anyway after warming a little I’d walk to the nearby village where my Mama’s house is, seeing all the kids playing marbles on the streets (they were not pukka) and the elder ones playing cards. As if it was the day the elders got license from their wives to gamble officially!
Once reaching there I’d also play marbles with my cousins ( I didn’t play with others as I was a horrible marble player and felt shy to play with others), and then feasting on ‘larus’ (laddoos), ‘pithas’ (cake made of rice flour coconut etc. Although I don’t think the work ‘cake’ gives the actual meaning still I find no other word to describe it) and ‘doi-sira’ (curd and rice-flakes). And then they would come with us to our house and the feast at our place. They were such happy days.
And today I’m going office. That too without bathing! It’s not that I’m scared of bathing. With the availability of geysers why would I be! But the problem was there was no water. From last three days there was no water. Somewhere near our society a pipe had bursted causing this severe water shortage. We washed our bottoms with Bisleri bottles! And for “Uruka” we ordered Chicken-garlic and Surmai Fry from a nearby restaurant as our feast. That was our Bihu now!
I sprayed half a bottle of deo, wore my clothes and headed towards office.
Finally I decided to die. I had thought about dying enough number of times before, but never had taken the thought seriously. Perhaps I was always optimistic about the better days that ‘were coming‘, or maybe I apprehended the obscurity of death. ‘Every dog has its day’ and other shit-quotes, I used to cajole myself with, in my times of despair, every time something went wrong. But there is a limit of everything. There is a breaking point.
And I had reached that breaking point. I could tolerate no more the pain of a human life and I wanted an escape- even if it’s cowardly. I know people will say ‘what a loser’, ‘we have no pity for cowards’ and shits, but who cares! I don’t care anymore. Why should I care when I’ll be long gone by the time they get the news of my death and they can open their filthy scornful mouth. People are full of shit! Life is full of shit! God and hope and faith are all illusions created by sly human beings just to fool others and to keep them lingering in this pain and suffering when they could have a better choice. And I had made that better choice. Finally I had decided to die.
I didn’t waste much time in deciding the method to die— taking sleeping pills. After all that’s the time-tested and perhaps the easiest and the only painless way to die. It would slowly deactivate your brain cells taking you to a never waking deep sleep before you could even tell and all your worries would vanish in a blink. But getting sleeping pills was not as easy as the idea of killing oneself using those pills. I went to almost all the medical stores in the neighborhood, but none would give me one, without a proper prescription. I made all sorts of excuses but all in vain. So I had to think of some of the other means to execute my plan.
I thought of hanging myself from a ceiling fan. After all, one just needed a rope or could just even manage with a piece of cloth. Even the Wikipedia says ‘Hanging is a very simple suicide method that does not require complicated techniques’. And it has high mortality rate— of at least 70%. Fortunately I had both a rope and clothes. I untied the rope in the balcony, which I used for drying my clothes, brought it to my room, stood on a stool, tied one end on the ceiling fan and the other in a loop around my neck and was ready to die. I was ready to kick the stool away and hang there twisting and twirling, struggling for life, waiting to die; but towards the end, the thought of suffocating myself to death freaked me out. I could not hold my breath and stay without air for 30 seconds. I had earlier tried holding my breath, like maybe almost all people, not for killing myself but just to see how long I can sustain. And like all others, I too ended up gasping for air within a few seconds. The very thought of that feeling made me nervous. What if you’re suffering in a deep pain and you had second thoughts? You cannot even back up. Killing oneself by deprivation of air was a scary idea and I chickened out and gave up the idea. I tied the rope back in the balcony and hung the clothes, which I had earlier thrown away, back on the rope.
Next I thought about drinking half a bottle of phenol. But I gave up the idea at the very beginning. Even snakes do not die these days with these damned useless stuffs! What if I ended up in a hospital bed, with dozens of disgusted eyes around me, staring at me and murmuring curses about me in the ears of the person next? That would be more humiliating and painful than the present muddle I’m going through.
So finally I decided it had to be sleeping pills only. I forged a prescription daintily. I wondered why I didn’t think of doing this earlier. It was not that difficult. And why should I care about not doing illegal things when I’m about to die.
Finally all my depressions would come to an end. All my sorrow and grief would cease to trouble me. My job that I hated, the people around me who always gave me nothing but a headache, the car that I never owned, the house that I never built, the lover that I never had, the friends that I never made- will never matter at all. All these things depressed me throughout my life, and had always evaded me despite all my hard work and my efforts. Luck is a bitch! Or maybe I was not good enough for them. But why should I care anymore.
I emptied the entire pack of sleeping pills and gulped all the pills in it all together, with the help of a little water. I had managed to buy the pack from a medical store which I hadn’t visited earlier, with the help of the forged prescription. It was a Friday night; I came back from my boring-monotonous work, and decided it to be a perfect day to leave the world. No one was coming to disturb me. And I could die peacefully. Maybe no one would even discover my body till three days, until my office folks start searching for me to do their stupid work, and by then maybe even my body will be decayed.
After swallowing the pills I lazily lied down on my bed. I thought of how to kill time until time kills me. I took out my old-crappy phone and started traversing through the photos in my gallery. After going through 20-25 photos, her photo showed in. Her photo! My eyes became misty. She was my love. Or she is my love. I could still not forget her.
She never tried to understand me. It was always about her. How mean she was! We were in a relationship since school. All was fine. But as we grew up things get complicated. We started talking about family, children and future. Our first difference occurred over my family.
We were at a bar with some other friends. Out of random topics, this topic came out— with whom will you keep your parents? And she became quite unexpectedly serious on this question. I said if they get too old and needed my attention I’ll keep them with me. She was like you can also arrange for a help, as keeping them with us would affect our lives. Obviously it would but I just am ready to take that pain after all that they had done for me. We ended that conversation without any eventual conclusion.
After then, every now and then this question would pop up- who is your highest priority? I’d say my parents are my highest priority. For that she would argue, after getting married your family has to be your highest priority- your kids, your wife, they’re all you are most responsible for. And I would somehow change the topic.
Those days I was very busy. A new product was launched by our company and I being the sales-head of my branch, had to travel a lot of places for its promotion. I had to face all sorts of jerks and had to digest all sorts of insults with a fake smile. To top it, there would be she, always complaining that I don’t give her time. I was too busy, and despite that whatever time I got I used to devote it to her. Yeah I couldn’t meet her on week days. But can’t I expect this much from the person I love? A little understanding!
We met after a fortnight in a restaurant, and there she decided to break-up. She said ‘it never happened’. What never happened? I could not understand. Maybe she never loved me. She was just testing me like you test-drive a car before buying it. And I was not up to her expectations like the car which you test-drove but was not fully satisfied with the features so you dump it.
She was gone. I let her go, I didn’t follow her. If the person doesn’t even understand you, you can’t live a life together. I wiped a tear that had just trickled down my cheek as I gazed motionlessly at her photo.
I traversed a few more photos. She looked so charming! Then I came across the photo of this friend. I liked him a lot. He was two years junior to me. When I shifted to a city school, it was the same year he shifted too to that school, and I being the only familiar face from the same old school, he would always stick around me. Even in the assembly line, when we stood for morning prayers and proceedings, he would stand beside me abandoning his classmates who invited him. I would introduce him to everybody as my ‘brother’; I treated him as my brother. After some time both of us got accustomed to the new school and the new friends and our meetings became rare to none. When I left the school after class 10, I didn’t even thought of asking his number. But after some time I started missing him. And after many years we meet suddenly on a social networking site. How happy I was! We exchanged numbers and started talking frequently through texts or calls.
But after some time he even stopped replying me. And I don’t know what exactly happened. He had shifted to another city for higher studies and I had not had his new number. But I texted him a few times on social networking site and he never replied. If I got to meet him once before I died, one question that I would ask him was- what exactly happened?
Meanwhile, I started feeling a little drowsy. Maybe the pills had started its action. I was a bit nervous. But I was firm on my decision and there was no looking back.
I traversed a few more photos. I saw his photo-my ‘friend’ from office. It was taken with me on a trip we went from our office. Though he was irritating and I didn’t like him, he was the only person in the name of friend that I had here. He was bugging me about the money that I had taken from him and it really got to my nerves. I was depressed about a lot of things, rather everything in life, but it was this incident that triggered by suicidal.
I lost my new Moto Droid, which I bought using his credit card a few days ago. It wasn’t even available in India and I had ordered it from US through eBay. It was worth 45,000 rupees and it hadn’t been even a month that I lost it. Somehow it slipped out of my pocket as I returned from a bar one night. I got down and within seconds I checked my pocket, it was not there, but by that time the auto was gone. I had paid my friend 30,000 rupees and was yet to pay 15000 rupees. Instead of showing a little sympathy for my loss he was more worried about the money that I had taken from him and that irked me.
We had gone to the police station to file an FIR about the loss, but the reaction from the policemen convinced me that I was not getting it back. First of all they won’t even file an FIR; they will just file a report. Because if they file FIR it goes into the records of higher officials and also get into the record of crimes under that particular branch and they become accountable for it. Secondly, they will file it as ‘loss’ and never as ‘stolen’, as ‘loss’ is a much diluted word than ‘stolen’. When I went to submit the Xerox of the report to the police station the next day, the reaction of the police really infuriated me-he just threw the copies into the drawer next to him, without even seeing them or asking how many copies were there. Just to see his response I asked him how many were needed. He said one. I said there were three and he returned two to me without even looking, just as he kept them. And then he chased us away. Bloody mannerless bastards! They only know the misuse of power. It’s been a month now and I had left all hope of finding it.
Now you might think how crazy I am to commit suicide for a loss of a phone. Well I’m not that crazy. No one will commit suicide for a loss of phone unless he is some sort of a psychopath. But it was an indication of how things were going wrong in my life and how I saw no hope. Everything that could probably go wrong had been going wrong, in my life. All these things accumulated and the cumulative effect of everything was the decision that I had taken. It was a chain reaction— there was a chain of awful events that lead to the final outcome and the loss of the phone was just one link of the chain. I could even return his money today if I wanted. But it’s not about the money or the phone. It’s about how horrible things were going in my life one after another and I couldn’t see any hope. I was sure that if there were a competition on the ‘The Greatest Loser in the World’, I could come second even in that event, because I was such a loser that I can never win it! I’m such a loser that when for others it’s a sure shot and you can easily get something, for me you can be pretty sure that something would go wrong and I would never get that. I had had such experience umpteen number of times and the loss of the phone was just the trigger that I needed to make the ultimate decision.
I was a brilliant student right from my school— an all-time school topper. I did well even in my college. But I could not get a job of my choice. I was stuck in a job that I hated, amongst people I disdained, and despite all my effort, was not able to shift to a better place. My girl-friend left me, my friends deserted me, and even my Wi-Fi refused to work the day I needed it the most. So I was a cursed soul— a loner. And my life sucked!
I couldn’t tell when I drifted into a doze only to wake by a call. Maybe the pills had started showing its effect and I would bid goodbye to this sick world soon. It was this friend, whom I owed the money. He demanded for the money citing some family problems and said he would come to get it tomorrow. I insisted on him coming the day after, which he refused outright saying it’s an emergency. We argued for a while and then I submitted. What difference does it make whether he comes tomorrow or the day after? I’ll be long gone by then.
I started looking into the photos once again. I came across the photo of our school picnic. It was in January last year. We had decided to meet every year in January and go somewhere for a picnic; just us— the batch-mates of our school. We enjoyed a lot last time. I realized I wouldn’t be able to go for the picnic this year as I would be gone on a trip to an unknown place by that time. Somewhat, I felt I would miss something.
I looked into a few more photos. I came across the photo of Nick— the man without limbs. It was auto downloaded from my WhatsApp even without my knowledge. He is an inspirational man without limbs having a happy life and motivating many others. I felt a twinge. If a person without limbs can still be fighting with this world why can’t a normal guy like me fight? Why am I giving up? I remembered about Stephen Hawking. That man too once had suicidal thoughts, after he was paralyzed; but he went on to survive and fight and become the most famous scientist among the living and maybe one of the most famous scientist overall.
Why am I even thinking all these? I had made a decision and must stick to it. Moreover it was too late for a comeback now. I felt a strong urge of vomiting, but I restrained. I didn’t want to take any chance of ending up in a hospital. I felt a sharp headache too. I never thought sleeping pills would cause any pain. This was my first time. I never had any experience of dying before! Nausea washed over me.
I started traversing the photos once again. I came to a photo of my mother. I stopped. I shuddered. What am I doing? For her I had left my love and now for whom I’m leaving her? I was being too selfish. I was only thinking about myself-just like my love. Her serene smile and her calm eyes shook me hard. What will happen to her after I’m gone; who’ll look after her? Who will take care of the house? The roof of the house will remain without a ceiling, the house will remain unpainted, and there will be no walls and no gate of the compound. But that is not what matters the most, what matters the most is that they will lose their only son— their hope, of whom despite whatever he couldn’t achieve, they were very proud. They were very proud of whatever he achieved and they boasted of him in front of the others in the village where ‘no one was as good as him’. What will happen to them if I die! How will they show their face in front of others? And most importantly what will haunt them the most is the question— what exactly happened, just like the one I had for my friend. And both will go unanswered. They had so many plans for me— about my marriage; they said they would get the most beautiful bride for me. They had already made golden bangles for their future daughter-in-law and were pressurizing me to get married soon as they ‘didn’t want to die before seeing their grandchildren’. And here I am killing their future grandchildren! How could I do that?
Just then I got a phone call from the police station, saying my phone has been found, and asked me to collect if from the police station the next day. It was beyond my belief! As if a miracle had happened. How could our country’s police be so efficient? I wondered.
I decided— I had to live. I ran to the sink, inserted three of my fingers into my throat, and vomited as much as I could. I hurriedly called my office friend and he took me to a hospital within minutes, and there I was in the ICU will all sorts of tubes stuck into me and all sorts of drugs injected into me. And I went into a deep sleep soon.
When I opened my eyes I looked around to see whether I was still on earth or I was in hell (I knew I could not be in heaven). But looking into all sorts of electronic machines beeping and lights blinking around me I knew I was still on earth— in the hospital. I didn’t know for how long I slept— whether for hours or for days.
The doctor came in, in a few minutes, with a weird smile. ’Why did you do this?’ he asked. Before I could reply anything he continued ‘Why did you take a whole pack of pills for menopause and cry of suicide?’
Menopause!! I was dumbstruck! I told him I took sleeping pills but the doctor confirmed they were pills of menopause. I cursed the pharmacist for putting me into such an awkward situation. Damn these doctors and these pharmacists! Their handwritings are like encrypted code words which only they could understand. And if the pharmacist couldn’t understand the doctor’s handwriting he’ll give you the medicine that he thinks it is, and is available with him. How can he make such a blunder! How can they give tablets of menopause to me— a man? Couldn’t they even ask me once? It’s the reason why the medical service is so poor in our country— doctors prescribe any medicine they want and pharmacists give any medicines they want. Most people keep taking wrong medicines without even knowing.
I got to know that I was unconscious only for an hour, by when they discovered what pills I had actually taken. So there was nothing serious after that. They just injected some drugs to neutralize the effect of the damned pills and kept me in observation for some time. And after that, I was back to normal as before.
I was fortunate that none of my relatives or my parents were informed about my ordeal. I convinced them that it would never happen again and they too could see that I was having the will to live that’s why I contacted to be taken to the hospital. So they released me the same day and I was back at home, with the confidence of doing better in life; and most importantly with the vow of not giving up till the end.
I resigned from my job the next day, collected my phone thanking the police, and booked a ticket for home. I called my mother. I said ‘I’m coming home’ and I sobbed. My mother said in a soft tone ‘Come home son, come home. We are waiting to see you. And leave that damn city and that damn job. We’ll do something here’. My mother understands me even before I speak anything. I knew. I knew she must have got to know that something was not right here, but she didn’t ask me anything and pretended everything was okay. I couldn’t speak more, I just said ‘Okay’ and hung up the call. And I cried.
I returned the money to my office friend, which he took hesitantly saying I could give it later or would be okay even if I don’t pay. But I insisted. I guess he was not as bad as I thought. And life was not as bad as I perceived. Happiness is after all a state of mind. I was in a much better position than many others and there were people who loved me; I just never realized that.
In the evening a got a phone call from one of my school friends asking about my availability for the picnic and I said— I’m in.
“Oh Fuck!!! It is 10:30 AM.”
I kicked away my blanket and jumped out of the bed. My head was aching severely, due to the booze of the last night. I cursed Jeet for the sudden plan he made. I usually don’t drink on weekdays. But Jeet emotionally blackmailed me saying he had a break-up with his first love (which he said perhaps a hundred times before), and needed someone to vent out his sorrow. I had no choice but to tolerate his sentimental melodrama that became even more furious after he got high. I reached home too late at night, or rather early in the morning; the time of which I can’t exactly recall.
I looked into my phone. Three missed calls from my manager. Oh boy! I was good as dead. I had an important code release today and was supposed to be at office by 9 AM. It was more than 10:30 AM and I was still at home. I knew my boss was going to grill me today.
I quickly brushed my teeth, took a shower, grabbed my things and was on the street in 15 minutes. The 10:45 AM bus didn’t come. Damn these busses! You never get them when you are in a desperate hurry. It got only today to skip! Had it been any other day, I would have bunked office. But today I couldn’t. I was a critical resource and was needed for the release. I had to go office despite my terrible hangover.
I hurriedly got an auto and was on my way to the station. Halfway to the station, I realized I had left my office I-card at home. Shit! I turned my auto back home. Murphy’s law is correct-when things go wrong, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. I reached the station in some time after getting my I-card from home.
The 11:21 AM local was just about to leave from the Thane station. I jumped into the train that just started to move and quickly grabbed a seat. It was the side seat towards the aisle. Kanjur Station was just four stations from Thane and I should be there soon. But the train halted just after moving for a few minutes and let other trains cross, as if it was making a display of its generosity. “Fuck you Jeet!”,I cursed my friend once again.
Just then I saw them coming- the women in her cheap colorful saree and the kid in her black frock. The girl’s hair was trimmed and she wore black, maybe, because it became less dirty or even if it gets dirty it can’t be seen. She had worn cheap colorful plastic bangles on both her hands which I noticed when she reached near. The mother (I assume the women is the mother and the girl her child) sang ‘Shiri Diwali Sai Baba aaya hai tere darpe sawari..’ in her loud cacophonous voice that was totally out of tone. And the girl, 7-8 years old, extended her hand forward asking for alms from the passengers and making a sad-face as if she has not eaten anything for days.
I looked at them with disgust. The train had started to move by then.’ Who lets these filth get into the trains?’ I thought. ‘The government must take steps to bar them from trains and other public places. In fact they should be locked in a cage and thrown away in some islands in the Indian Ocean. These people don’t want to work. They just want an easy path’. I recalled few days back my pocket was picked in one of these trains. There wasn’t much cash but all my cards were gone including my Driving License, my PAN card and my Voters ID. I had to file an FIR at the police station to save myself in case of any misuse and get everything re-issued. ‘It must be an act of one of these crooks’, I thought. ‘They are here spreading filth and mess in our society’.
In the meantime three stations had crossed. As the little girl approached towards me extending her hand I gave her a look of aversion that made her draw her hand back. She moved on towards other co-passengers, most of whom just shooed her away.
I got up from my seat and moved near the door. I got down as the train stopped at my station and ran towards the flyover to escape the rush. I was taking the stairs when I felt a touch on my hand. It was that dirty little girl. ‘What happened?’ ,I shouted and freed my hand away. ‘Bhaiya, aapka purse gir gaya tha’, she said as she handed over my wallet, which might have slipped out of my pocket, somehow in the rush. ‘Thank you’, I said with a faint smile, trying to hide my embarrassment over my prejudice, wondering who the real filth was. But she ran back handing over my wallet and was long gone before she could hear me.
(If you haven’t read the part 1 of Dear Love please read it first at the following link- https://liljedi.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/dear-love/)
You don’t know how excited I was when I saw your call. 10:13 pm. I still remember the exact time! Same day. My phone buzzed. I saw your name on the screen. But I was scared. What would I do? What would I say to you? What would we talk? I was so nervous that I couldn’t even receive the call. Before I swiped the screen to receive it, the call ended. I don’t know I was happy or sad. Happy, cause you called me and sad, cause I did that moronic thing, which I’m famous for, once again.
I instantly messaged my ‘love guru’- my cousin. He is a few years elder to me and is an extremely intelligent guy. He has a solution to everything. And he’s friendly with me so I talk to him everything. Of all the other things, the one thing he said was, “Call her moron!!! Call her. Or text or do something”.
Talking to him did not reduce my anxiety in any way. Rather it increased it manifold. But one thing that I was certain was that I must call you. I knew I had to call you. After all the stupid things I did, there had to be one right thing that I did.
So I just looked into my call logs, took out your number and tapped on call.
Tringg tringgg….I could hear the phone ring. But I could hear my heart beat more clearly- faster and louder.
Three times it rang before you picked up.
‘Hi..!’, you said.
There was silence for some moments. I just choked. I was searching for my voice. And all I could say was-
‘How are you?’, you asked.
‘I’m fine. And you?’, I said.
We had talked so many times before. But it seemed as if it was our first time.
‘I’m fine too. And how was your exam?’ , you replied back.
‘Hope it goes well. Else my dad will kick me out of the house.’
I tried to lighten up the mood. And it worked. I heard you laughing.
‘And yours will be great, as always.’ I added.
‘I don’t know. Let’s wait for the results..’, you said in you cute worried way.
‘I missed you’. Suddenly our conversation took a more serious course that I knew was coming.
‘I missed you too’. I didn’t know when a drop of tear rolled down my left cheek as I replied back.
‘Why didn’t you talk to me then’, I heard you sobbing.
I took some time before I could find words-
‘I had to keep my promise. I wished good for you and had to keep myself away from you for your own good…for our good. And moreover I thought you don’t like me anymore…the way you behaved…’
I stopped before saying anything more.
‘You fool! I behaved such to make you jealous. So that you talk to me again. So that at least you fight with me or ask what did I do? I always gave you a hint.’
A girl’s mind is the most mysterious thing on the earth. My ‘love guru’ always keeps on saying. Now I realize that. How am I supposed to know that you like me when you show exactly the opposite? Anyway I liked hearing all these. I was happy that after almost a year we talked. Time flies so fast. It seemed just like yesterday I was at your home and we’re deciding on not to talk to each other. And now after all this time, it still feels so fresh, so new once again. As if I’m falling in love with you for the first time. I fell in love with you yet again. I will fall in love with you over and over again.
We talked about a lot of things. Girls really know how to continue a conversation. Most of the time I was on the hearing side. I like hearing your sweet voice. And I had heard you after so long, that made my feeling even more intense. The tuitions together, the walk together to your home, the occasional walk in some random street- all the sweet memories came back to my mind and that brought a constant smile on my face throughout our conversation. And even later.
‘I’m leaving ’, finally you said that thing which I didn’t want to hear.
‘When?’, I asked.
‘Day after tomorrow’, you said.
I was silent.
‘Can you meet me’, you said breaking the silence.
‘Yes of course’, I replied.
‘I have arranged a small get together for some of the friends before I leave. Can you come tomorrow at 12. My mother is arranging for lunch’, you said.
‘That sounds cool’, I said.
We ended the call shortly after that. Meanwhile my ‘love guru’ was texting me. I texted him back, ‘I called’. He replied excitedly that I made him proud, that I’m his brother bla bla..
I forgot to reply him back. I was drowned in your fantasies. I didn’t know when I fell asleep.
Next day I was at your place. The driver dropped me and was to pick me up later. Some of our other friends were also there. So it was a usual affair. But you mother was happy to see me after all these days. And she treated me with more love than for the others. I could see that. All the while I wanted to be a little alone with you, but we never had the chance.
My phone buzzed and I saw a text from my ‘love guru’. I had texted him in the morning and told him about going to your place today. He was eager to know what’s going on. I replied ‘just with my friends’. I looked up and saw a look of annoyance on your face. I kept my phone aside. My ‘love guru’ kept bombarding my phone with questions.
The day ended. We had our lunch. You mother cooked awesome as always. And all our friends left. I had intentionally told the timing one hour late to my driver. So he had not yet showed up. We two were alone, in your study room. It was beautifully decorated with posters of barbies and all. I don’t quite remember what we talked or how we spent the time. All the while I was just trying to capture your face in my mind, before you left. And how desperately I wanted to kiss that cute face of yours! But I could not gather the guts.
It was time to go. My driver had come. You came to drop me to the door. I got into my car and the driver started the car. As we just moved, I shouted the driver to stop the car. I said I left my phone. I ran back to you. You were right there, at the gate looking towards me. I could see the sadness on your face-the pang of separation. I stood still in front of you for some seconds. I could hear my heart pounding. A smile came in your face comforted me. Swiftly, I gave a peck on your cheek. I saw you blushed. You looked even cuter when you blushed. The red colour on your face-the colour of love. I gave another peck on the other cheek. I tucked in something in your hand and ran back to my car.
The driver showed me the phone that was right beside him, gave a wink and started to drive.
PS: It was note saying I’ll find something at my doorstep next morning. I got up too early next morning and saw an envelope. I wondered when you dropped it . It had two letters. I read these letters with the same anxiety even today after so many years,with which I read it the first time.
How could a mother do this to her daughter? Kuwoli could not understand. She was supposed to be her guardian angel protecting her from every demon on earth. But there she was trading her own daughter, that too to cover up her own sins. How could she!
As the glowing embers of the sacred fire lit at the centre, leaped and twirled in a fiery dance,she could see her dreams burning in the flames and dissipating like the smoke into the thin air. The chantings of the priest filled the small temple room, creating a void in her heart that could never be filled. She felt like a scapegoat- tied to a pole at the market place, cleaned, fed, readied to be slaughtered, while the customer looked greedily, impatient for her young flesh.
She felt uncomfortable in the newly bought white paat mekhela-chador, specially selected for the wedding. A lot of things were uncomfortable in her life lately. She tried to look with effort, from behind the veil of the chador, towards her father. Creeping in a quiet corner, hiding behind the crowd circled around the mandap, his helpless eyes on his sulking face was avoiding a direct eye contact with her. She tried to speak through her eyes, pleading him for one last time, to come to her rescue before it’s all over. But she failed. She shifted her look to her mother. She smiled brazenly… not even an iota of guilt in her eyes, excited at getting her plot so elegantly executed. She then looked towards the man seated beside her who was going to be her husband in some time. With his front hair almost gone, he looked weird. At least to a girl, to whom till yesterday young boys of her class were giving love notes.
She thought about the maths class-test that her friends were writing now, while she attended her wedding. At fifteen, studying in class ten in a local private school, it was her age to study and play, to have boyfriends and to fool around. And here she was getting married. Against her will. She thought about Niyor- the boy who loved her. She regretted for pretending not to having any feelings for him… not giving him a chance. She wanted to take it slow…to make it magical. Like in movies. Never did she knew that she didn’t have time. Was he sitting on the last bench of the left row, from where he could always glance at her, she wondered . Or was he crying somewhere, hiding from the world, in some closed dark room, lamenting that his beloved was getting married, that too to a man thirty years older than her. Or was he coming, riding on a horse along with his mates, like in fairy tales, to liberate her from her misery. She had strayed far away. The sudden cacophonous ringing of the bells by the priest woke her up. Immediately, she shooed her thoughts away and brought herself to reality. Life is not a fairy tale, she knew. Nothing of that sort is going to happen. In some time she would be a married woman, having to look after the daily chores, obliged to keep her husband happy. She’d be violated by the man who had violated many others in the past, including her mother. She will be violated with ‘permit’ and the ‘permit’ was being given by none other than her parents. A barrage of thoughts tormented her head running riots in her mind.
She thought of her father with disgust. That man could not stand for her daughter. At least he could have stood for himself. He was getting her daughter married to the paramour of his wife, even after knowing everything! Isn’t he losing both his wife and his daughter to that man. Who is he saving? His son?…which was not actually his! She wondered whether her brother would still remain her brother or be her son!
Everything started few months after her birth. Her father was posted outside town. He was in the army. Her mother used to stay alone at home with her as a baby. Her father had asked one of his friend to take care of his wife. And he did take good care of him! He started an illicit affair with that lady. The lady too blinded by lust, fell for his lure. They maintained it secretly for years. Until she conceived a child from this man. It was too late for them to abort. They planned to portray the child as her daughter’s and schemed her marriage with that man. Kuwoli with initial resistance, finally submitted to salvage her father’s dignity. That poor man was too weak to do anything. He knew everything but was coerced in allowing plan to be hatched, ‘else that would bring ignominy to the family’. Didn’t the people know? They were not blind to see nothing! Kuwoli was angry at the impotency of her father. He could not do anything. He took to drinking. He’d be high all the time. He lost his health in just a month-frail and seemingly skinny to the bone. Kuwoli had done this for her father, shouldn’t her father have done something for her, she was baffled.
As she took her seven steps around the sacred fire, vowing her loyalty to her ‘husband’, she wondered if her mother kept any of those promises. Did they really mean anything then? Her mother didn’t resist when an outsider touched her for the first time. She didn’t resist when he undressed her for the first time. She didn’t resist when he roamed his hand over her nude body, feeling her curves, reaching to her unreachable parts, the many nights (or days) they slept together. She didn’t resist when he copulated her for the first time.
Kuwoli had read somewhere that ‘there is a good within every single one of us and there is an evil within every single one of us. And each day, there is a constant fight between the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’.’ The evil could be so dominant that it could gulp its own child, she never thought earlier. She had seen now,how low people can stoop to fulfill their selfish interests. At the end of the day it’s only ‘me’ and ‘myself’.
She could trust people no more. The ones whom she trusted the most stabbed her. The people whom she loved the most betrayed her. She will have to find strength to pick up the pieces of her broken dreams. Within moments she could see her life shattered in front of her eyes.
Her ‘husband’ maintained relationship both with her and her mother.
Her father would not be seen for days. He would be lying somewhere, drunk, where from wayfarers would sometimes drop him to to his home. He would not survive long.
Niyor cut his wrist, few months later, for another girl in his class. Nevertheless, he survived to cut it many more time later!
Kuwoli thought of killing herself many times. That would free her from her pain. But she was too weak to take that step. Or maybe too strong to give up hope. She ‘adopted’ the child, taking care of him, trying to impart him some morality and shame.
~In collaboration with Debarshi Thakuria
He never felt loved by his mother. For others she was the most affectionate-kindhearted woman and a loving mother. For him she never cared about his feelings or tried to understand him. His relationship with his mother was rather ‘toxic’.
She always tried to do everything she could for her son. She just wanted her son to be a happy and successful man in life. Is that a crime? Which parent doesn’t want his child to do well in life? But whatever she did, nothing went well with her son.
He never asked for any of the fancy things that his mother would give him. He didn’t even want them. He didn’t want expensive clothes, food in big restaurants. All his life he felt used to save her so called ‘image’ in front of the society. It is a punishment he received for her failures in life. She wanted him to do what she couldn’t, to achieve what she couldn’t. All she wanted was a son of whom she could boast in front of her relatives and friends. A son to brag of. She never actually cared of him. She did everything so that she could say I did make every possible effort to make him a ‘good boy’ (he didn’t even know what that actually meant).
She gave everything to him.Bought everything he asked, maybe, even more, just so he be happy and study well. All she wanted was a well-mannered kid doing well in studies.And she left no stones unturned in trying to achieve that. But he never seemed to care.
He sometimes felt sad for his father. That kind man’s simplicity is the man’s only enemy who never had a say in the family and who had always been dominated all his life. As for him, he didn’t even know where he fit in in the family. For the last three years he hadn’t talked to his mother. To be honest, he hated her. He didn’t want to see her. The only reason he didn’t wish her to die was his younger sister. She was totally dependent on her. And she was too young to understand all these.
She wanted to safeguard him in the cocoon of the house. She didn’t want him to meet ‘spoilt kids’ of the colony. She didn’t want her son to be a useless boy with no ambition in life. He never understood her.
He was imprisoned within the walls of the labyrinth called house. He wanted to explore…to adventure. He wanted to meet ‘cool kids’ and do ‘wild things’. But he was in shackles. His mother thought of him as a ‘useless boy with no ambition in life’. And with each passing day it got stuck in his mind. He lost his self confidence that he earlier had. It killed him. She never understood him.
30 years later
He is now a ‘good man’- happy and successful. His only worry is his 16 year old son who never seemed to understand him!