A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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True Love

You don’t question love when it comes a-visiting. You simply wallow in it. You savour each moment it stays; you agonize when it slips through your fingers when you tried but could not keep it. For it has its ways. It has its seasons. And, it has it own penchants. He remembered these words from a book he’d read. It seemed so apt, right now, as he simultaneously gloried in and agonized about being with her.

Aditi. That was her name. It was what he wanted to name his daughter, but his wife had other ideas, and he gave in. She wanted her named Akriti, and so that was that. He did not really mind, and anyway his daughter was a darling, no matter what she was named. At a precocious fourteen, she was a charmer, and a source of great anxiety. But of course. Still, they had a close bond between them, more so than she did with her mother, though she stayed with her. He did not question it, but simply enjoyed it. He was careful though, to never express it obviously and make his wife feel any lesser. In fact, he supposed she felt the same way – that Akriti was closer to her than him! Parents! He sighed. And daughters! How they twisted you around their little fingers!

As he mused, she walked past, slim, svelte in a crisp cotton saree neatly draped, but sensual, to him, all the same. He was behaving like a teenager, he knew, but he simply could not help the attraction he felt. It started with the name. And then he got to talking to her; she had just been transferred from the Pune branch to his, at Bangalore. Ooops, Bengaluru. He’d never get that new name. It would always be Bangalore. The place he grew up in, and now unrecognizable, even the City Market and Majestic areas that he thought would never change in an aeon. She was new to the city, and he was generous with his time, directions and information, never coming on too strong- just that right balance of friendliness and courtesy. She soon relaxed in his company and looked forward to his presence. They found they had a lot in common too, and there was never a dearth of topics for conversation.

She turned in his direction, and smiled as she walked past. He raised a hand in acknowledgement, and returned the smile. He needed to talk to her. Now. So he got up from his cubicle, and stretched, looked around, and slipped out on the aisle. It was almost time to go home anyway. The weekend was here, though he’d have to come in for a bit on Saturday morning.

“Hey there. Done for today, Aditi?”

“Hmmmm. I’m just getting a couple of reports xeroxed. Need to do an analysis on that data for the Project Presentation on Monday. You done?”

“Ahan. So you’re going to work over the weekend?”, eyebrows raised. He was really fishing, and he hoped she’d take the bait.

She smiled, tilted her head slightly and then giggled. He looked startled.

“Gotcha! But seriously, no I am not. NOT. I’ll get this done tonight, and the weekend is all mine!”

“Lucky lady! I need to come in for a couple of hours – sort some stuff needed for the DGM. He’s coming on Monday. ”

“Oh. I was hoping… Well, another time maybe!” She turned, took her copies from the machine, and walked past.

“Aditi, wait. You were….? Errrm, going to say…?”

She looked embarrassed  “Well, a journalist friend had given me a couple of tickets for the Spanish Film Festival going on in one of the theatres. I don’t know the place well, and I thought I’d ask you. You always go on about those foreign films. And there seems to be no one who’s likely to be free, anyway.”

He exulted inwardly. But looked nonchalant. 

“Oh. If it’s a show in the afternoon, I could certainly come. If it’s ok!” And waited with bated breath for her answer.

“Wonderful.” She looked relieved too. She gave him the details, and they arranged to meet at the theatre.

“See you then. Bye.” She left, leaving that faint floral scent lingering in the air. Orphan Annie’s song about ‘Tomorrow’ came to mind. ‘I love ya, tomorrow..”, he hummed softly to himself. He would not think of any thing else, he decided. He would spend time, precious time, in her company, and let what had to be, be.

He was early. So he spent time in the lobby picking up the leaflets about the festival, and wandered looking at the pictures on display on the boards. She was on time, and somehow he knew she would be. Today he’d tell her how special her name was to him. He had to. He wanted to know her, and wanted her to know him. He only hoped something could be, between them. Even with Tanya, he’d never felt like this. Theirs was an arranged marriage that simply did not work out. Different perceptions, long distance relationship, a wife who was simply not there, and a husband who did not really miss her. The zing was not there at all. They’d divorced when Akriti was ten. And she being theirs, was fully cognizant of the reason they could no longer be one unit.

The resonance he felt in Aditi’s company was what he’d always wanted. It wasn’t just physical, but there was the ardour he felt for her mind, for her way of reaching out in conversation. He could only hope she would linger on in the same way.

“Hi, KC, you been waiting long?”

“Nope. Only an hour!” He laughed. “Just kidding! Shall we?”

Watching a film in a language he knew nothing of, reading the sub-titles and knowing it wasn’t doing justice, knowing she was there next to him, all of these things overlapped and made the entire experience enjoyable. He would probably learn Spanish, for the fun of it! She seemed to enjoy it too, going by the smile she gave him when it was over.

“Coffee?”

She declined, smilingly, and said she needed to be off. He saw her into an autorickshaw and strolled down the road, to his own Honda Activa. He was on a high. Would it or would it not. Rather would she or not?

Monday morning, and the blues did not come. He was a first-crush dude that morning. But no sign of her. Slowly the euphoria faded. She breezed in during the lunch hour, while he was busy with the DGM. When he finally got free, he walked, dispirited, back to his cubicle, to see her waiting there. Ah, the travails and the fickleness of a mind infatuated. Life looked up.

Even though she said she was late that morning because her estranged husband surprised her with a visit. His looked carefully. The hell with it, he decided. He’d still want her anyway.

29 March, 2013
Online
Pushing it too far, I guess, but what the heck, Experiments are fun 😛

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25 Comments

Clichés

To the rapt fifty, that day
(Or was it forty-eight?)
I ranted.

When I rant
They need to be rapt!
Or else… 😛
The ogre, you see, is at work!

I, as usual, on my soapbox-
About clichés –
In speeches, in essays
In letters, in e-mails
They’d need to write
For me to evaluate.

Class Eight.
Writing tasks 😀
Now you’d be a-thinking-
This here lady’s really
Got a nut loose.
Clichés, and Class Eight?

Well, yes. I did.
They listened. They giggled.
I swear I even heard some snorting too! 😛
In the next fifteen minutes
I had to be done. Just in time I did.
They were saved, by the bell! 😛

And so, I forgot, as I suppose, they did too.

Till.
Ta-da! Surprise!
Exams time, and papers galore
(That, incidentally, is where I’m at 😛 )
Some neat, some spidery
Some short, some too darned lengthy!
Some diatribes, some earnest
Some irreverent, some irascible

And some – God help me!
To wake me from the stupor
of the overdose of the work-
For, I spy …

Cliché.! I jump. I cheer.
I look again. Ooooh yes!
Right along there – c l i c h e’
That dashing tiny accent too, to boot!
I have never been more blessed! 😛

Never mind that the child wrote:
I quote:
“It’s a cliché to say speeches like this
Unquote
About the topic; and put me well in my place!
I do this fist pumping grunt of satisfaction.
I accept that criticism.
And I do that clichéd thingy.

I write a ramble.
This a-way.

Clichés are good.
😆

23 March, 2013.
A ‘eureka’ moment 😀

 

 


11 Comments

Secrets

secret

Secrets to keep
And some to share
Many to tell
But none to hear

Secrets blossoming
Each day, within, without
Some haunt; some are hunted

Tall tales, and short jabs
Some Spicy and
Some just plain ol’ drab
No matter what the flavour-
Can you resist even one?

Secrets they damn
And they sometimes do more harm
Than good, if you ever saw any in ’em!

You’ve got yours
I know,
For, I sure have mine!

So, I’ll tell you one
If you tell me another
Let’s make it one, together
Or maybe, take a bit farther?

Or let’s just secret it away
Till it burgeons, and spills
And let’s itself out;
For that is it’s nature

Secrets are to hide,
And then to tell
Then to spread
Till finally, back at you, it heads!

You know then-
You should have kept it
A secret!

 March 2013
Online, but of course, and getting crazier by the day 😛
Image Courtesy Google Image Search for ‘Secret’ 😛


31 Comments

The Connect

The crowds shifted restively. Instinctively she stepped back. There would always be that feeling of having no control, the helplessness, the slight panic she’d always carry, when people gathered in such disarray, around her. The train was announced, the restive lot became a compulsive congregation of completely focused cattle. For that is what they seemed to her at the moment. She had a reservation in the AC III Tier, so she didn’t have to join the rudderless movement, surging into the compartment when the train stopped. Fastidiously, she waited, but not too long. When the bottleneck cleared, she picked up her suitcase, retracted the handle, and got in. Then pushed the door to the AC compartment open with her shoulder. Number 44. Lower berth. Thankfully the bay that she was in was yet to be crammed with luggage and children. Soulfully empty.

Twenty four hours more to get home. That was fine, for she knew she had enough to keep her sane. Her books, the view from the window, and her thoughts. It was comfort enough. Just another journey, which promised to be as uneventful as those she had been on, all these years. She hoped he would be on time when the train reached her station. It would be night, or early evening, and she wasn’t comfortable anymore being alone, even on a crowded railway platform. A smile formed as she thought about what he’d say, if she called, well after ten minutes of waiting. Just turn around, I’m at the porch, just turning in to park the car. Dammit, the parking’s full! Just gimme five, sweets, I’ll be there! And she’d wait. Less patiently, these days, she thought sadly.

She settled in, hung her tote bag which had water and some sandwiches, books and her toilet bag; pushed the suitcase under the lower berth, curled up in the corner, next to the window, tucking her oversized handbag close. She pulled out her glasses, checked her mobile, for messages, sent one to him, warning him to be on time, and spoiled it all by adding a smiley. She sighed. There was too much familiarity between them. Would contempt come sometime to visit? She’d been wondering too much about such things lately. The joys of having an empty nest? Ha! She thought, not quite. Not yet.

Just as the train slowly pulled out of the station, the man huffed in. A haversack, and a backpack. Fairly big, mean and black. The backpack, she told herself. Over the rim of her glasses she looked at him. He was busy settling in, so she could. Salt and pepper hair – a tiny smile appeared on her face- strong lines, crow’s feet, lanky and vaguely muscular. Odd, she thought. Perhaps he went to a gym. Tan cargoes, a light blue tee, and floaters. And a faint scent of aftershave that suddenly wafted. She found herself giggling inside her head at the way she was checking him out. She ought to know better that give him ideas. She looked away. Not soon enough, for she caught an interested look her way, from him out of the corner of her eye.

He eased himself into the berth opposite from her, away from the window. She looked comfortable there, and he didn’t want to disturb that look of contentment that seemed to radiate from her. A quick look-over gave him a glimpse of a pleasant, almost pretty woman, very self-contained. A seasoned traveller. He knew how it was. He was one himself. Did not like to be unduly bothered. Unduly. He turned that word around in his head. He wouldn’t mind being bothered by her though. She did look interesting. But enough. He felt like a kid caught out. He pulled out his Samsung Galaxy, toggled it on, and got involved in stuff, in it.

To an observer, they were engrossed, each in their world. One the depths of a wireless world, and another equally wireless, in thoughts. That is when I joined them. With the vision of a storyteller, who fantasizes, I’d already had the story about them. The man looked up, shifted, and I sat next to him, pushed my one bag under my seat, and settled my laptop bag on my lap. We nodded at each other. I looked over at her. She was looking out, her fingers drumming to a rhythm inside her head, gentle and lazy. I wanted to know, all of a sudden, what that could be. That rhythm. She turned at that moment, and caught my gaze. I smiled. Politely. She returned that smile. Next to me, the man paused, stilled, and slowly relaxed. Oh. So he was just as affected. I smiled again.

We made small talk, she and I. He listened, I knew, though he did not participate. I felt sorry. Weary. So I turned to him and drew him in. Was that the latest of the Samsung series, I asked him. I may look macho, but I am ignorant, and arrogant enough of my humility to show it. Plus, I had a whole lot more grey hair. He looked puzzled, and said no. Just the S two. I nodded. And we got to talking then, the three of us, about the way technology, mobiles, are getting smarter, and the way we’re falling behind. Then reading. And books. And I saw animation in them. That is when they were engrossed, again, this time in deep discussion about Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand, no less. Time flew, and did not. The noises from the adjoining bays did not seem to affect us much. We refused the offer of dinner, on payment, of course, brought around by the caterer. Railway food, like airplane food (so they say) leaves much to be desired. At least the trains have stations.

At the next one, I got down, and so did he. We got ourselves some packed chapatis and vegetables, and got back. She was opening her packet of sandwiches, and seeing us back, offered us some. Soon we were all sharing food, laughing, joking. Food, the universal ice-breaker had accomplished its task. I stepped back and watched them. There seemed invisible threads weaving around them in a tapestry. Something would happen there, for sure. She looked like life had happened, alright, and he too bore the badge of having creamed a few moments in life. The crows feet around his eyes were testimony enough. He’d moved across to sit next to her, and they were poring over a passage from the book she had been reading. Quiet laughter and nods. The sounds around were muting. Time to find some sleep. As it was off season, the journey was more than bearable. It was actually comfortable. We slept, each in our own world of dreams.

A whole day waited to unfold and it couldn’t come soon enough for her. For him. Cocooned in their separate, yet together, thoughts, they slept. At morning light, and coffees and teas later, having become human again, I watched them. You could not tell that till a few hours ago they were strangers! The silences between them, us, really were even more comfortable. Well, I mused, there was something in here. The tale teller in me rejoiced. The romantic wove tapestries. I quite forgot we were in a world apart. One that did not even stay still. When that thought struck, I justified myself. Still? Was the world still, ever? Food for thought, I chewed upon it. Or rather the romantic in me did. And did not like the flavour. Soon. I thought. The story would really really unfold soon. It had to. This was merely an interlude.

He wondered when he would meet her again. And she looked up and caught that thought. She knew, as he did, that while the impossible was nothing, possibilities were few. So they, by mutual silence on that tetchy topic, spun a web, and trapped themselves in it. Soon, she would leave. And he would have to stay. And what of me, I thought. Who do I give succor to? The romantic, the tale teller or just the passer-by, feigning disinterest?

Her station arrived. She thought she’d have a few more minutes because he would be late, trying to park the car, hoping she would not fume. The man helped her with her suitcase, stood at the door, then got down, almost took her hand, when she was whirled around by a big, handsome man. A first! Me first, he fair hooted. And she stood simply surprised, unsmiling, her lips parted in a slight daze. I still have it me, you know, he said. Let’s go. And took her hand.

The man stepped back. Stunned into silence by a sudden intensity of disappointment. Not even a proper goodbye. At least they could have kept that. He turned around, and stepped back into the compartment. Which was when she stopped, turned and looked for him. The train started moving, slowly. Agonizingly, for her. For him.

I watched the parting with that undefinable tremor of poignancy. He came back, and sat. Still not having overcome that deep disappointment, and I could almost touch the ‘what if’s going through his mind. He looked up at me, despairingly. My eyes, they calmed him down, and with an imperceptible nod, he shook himself out of his mood. Another six hours to go, he said. And I’ll get off. You’re off before that, aren’t you? I nodded. It was night, and we crept into our berths, pensive. We’d said our goodbyes, for it would be the middle of night by the time we parted company. Ships that pass by night. How true it was.

The lingering moment of that parting stayed with me for a long time. Long after I had forgotten when it was, and who it was. But their faces were an indelible memory, that haunted. I wondered if they met. Did they? And then? Several years later, a train on the same route, in a noisy bay, in the holiday season, I was desperately trying to hold onto sanity in the midst of a cartwheeling bundle of kids, springing from the side berths to their frazzled mothers and aunts and dads and uncles and cousins, in the main bays. I decided to take a walk, and get some air, even if it meant the sultry, moist air with it. I had almost reached the door of the AC compartment, when I felt a sudden prickling on the back of my neck. Breath held, I turned around. In the bay, but last, was a universe of stillness. A salt  and pepper lanky man, with his arm around a pleasant looking woman; both reading from the same book. I guessed they had been reading that same passage, from Ayn Rand.

Buoyant, I left.

12 March, 2013
Online, since 430pm 😀
Almost 1800 words, and a short story this. Sigh. But I had to. Part of the Story of My Experiments with Fiction. Even there I cannot avoid a cliché! So God Help Me, I’m going to hit ‘Publish’ 😛


6 Comments

Travesty

The day was long and the hours quiet. Just the kind of day she loved. Sunday. Never mind the weariness of the late night before, nor the thought that in probably twenty hours she’d have to be on the go again.

In the quietest corner of her heart, she felt content. At last. It was done, that final absolution of her self-acquired guilt. She had fought hard. In the burgeoning silence that her heart held, for so many years, was the greatest sorrow. She should have done something earlier. Way back, when she ought to have, so that other lives could have been helped too. Her silence simply paved the way for more trauma.

Pushing herself out of the armchair, where she’d been reading the newspaper, she arched her back, and straightened the cricks in her neck and shoulders. She should start getting her cupboards ready; the most exacting and un-fulfilling task first. She smiled to herself. It was so difficult not to punish oneself. The habit of a lifetime not easily unlearnt. Why couldn’t she simply do something else? Why did it have to be something she hated? Laughter bubbled, with the introspection. Girl, you’re not supposed to get all maudlin, you hear?

She was glad, yet again, that she did not have to pick up after anyone. Her single life, all by choice, never had gone down well with anyone; not her family, but of course, and not her friends, but then, in a ‘nice’ sort of way. They still tried, in all manner of underhandedness that only friends can do, to get her a man. The thought itself made her giggle. She liked that sound. In this back of the beyond, she mused, in this back of the beyond. A man, no less. Good friends, certainly!

And suddenly, without warning, nostalgia struck. A painful blow. Not the gentle waves washing over one and lapping at the edge of consciousness  Oh no. And just as fiercely, she missed him. He, whom she could never touch. He, who had spoiled her for anyone else. He, the only one who made her feel. The acrid taste of guilt smeared her heart. Why now, she thought. Why now, Dear God!

They’d been close. Close took on a new meaning with him. But then, such fairy-tales most times become nightmares. She learnt that the most traumatic way possible. The day she knew she could never ever belong – they could never ever belong. The storm that struck them had long since abated, but never done with. The pieces were too many to be gathered, let alone sorted. For he already belonged to another; and could never ever leave. The Never Never Land of No Recompense. If it were only they that suffered, it would have been bearable. But, like all other kinds of forbidden fruit, this one too spread its poison; and took its toll. She left, with no choice but to carry her share. Silently.

The slight curve of her abdomen, braced to bear that shock of memories, slowly straightened. A deep breath. Her hard won composure beseeching her to pull herself out of that pit, she stiffened her resolve. No more going back there. Life was more than memories. She was living proof of it!

And so, to another day. Another day with partially submerged and entirely unacknowledged wistful thoughts, she walked towards her room. Opened her cupboard, and found, instantly, an empathy. She smiled. There she was messed up, just like those shelves. All it took was a bit of care, folding away things, rearranging and re-doing neatly, artfully.

She wondered though, at how mildewed cobewebby corners did not take a long time to form. Again.

10  March, 2013
The Story of my experiments with fiction begins. 😀