Friday, November 22, 2013

Uncertain Life

The fragrance of the brewing of the coffee filled the air. Sumukh took a deep breathe of the smell as he got up to fill his second cup of black coffee. It just took him one and half months to get addicted to black coffee. He looked out the full wall glass window. It seemed as if he could touch the sky from his ninety-fourth floor of his New York office. Everyone below on the road seemed like miniscule ants in their miniscule toy cars. He smiled to himself, which slowly changed colors. He started to think about his first day in this country two months back.

As he set foot in the airport from his plane, a strange feeling seized him. He felt as if he had left everything behind and would never go back to India. An emotional turmoil coiled him as he walked dazed out into the lobby of the JFK airport. He suddenly started to miss all his people in his town, his parents, his sister, his brothers and all his friends. However, when he remembered Swathi, his eyes were wet and he had a heavy heart. He should have at least approached her parents and asked for her hand, before he came here.

Nobody in this town except his friends and his little sister knew about Swathi. They met everyday in college and even bunked classes and went to movies and lunch. Both of them went to college in their two wheelers which they would park side-by-side in the parking lot before they went walking hand-in-hand along the beach. They talked about everything under the sun, including their dreams about their future after marriage.

It was Sumukh’s birthday and Swathi asked him,” what would you like as a gift? Now don’t say that you don’t want anything,” she added with a smile. “I really don’t. I have everything I asked for.” He said pulling her closer to him. Before either of them realized, their lips were locked in their sweet first kiss. Time seemed to come to a standstill. The air stopped, the sky bent its head, the sun shied away behind the clouds and the flowers in the garden swayed their heads in utter joy. But happiness never lasts for ever. It was then that he told her about his job in the USA, and all that remained were his wet eyes and his wet shirt into which she cried her eyes out.

He finished his coffee and put it down with a sigh. He turned around, faced his computer, and was suddenly overwhelmed with all the pending work he had to do. It was then that he heard a great blast somewhere in the building and he experienced a rumble of the room as if it were an earthquake. He looked out the window and was shocked to see an airplane approaching the building.



Sara always liked to see her personal mails first thing in the morning. It pepped her spirits up when she read nice mails from her husband, her parents and her friends, before she got down to work. She arrived half an hour prior to her scheduled work time for this little personal time. As she watched the screen filled with her husband’s latest pictures, her hand reached out for the half-eaten sandwich on her plate, next to her favorite tea latte.

It was 5 years since they were married. But it was only one year since they were living apart as their jobs demanded it. Today was her last day in New York. She was going to join the branch office in Miami where her husband worked and whom she now met only once in a week or fifteen days.

They both were very much in love with each other as they were 6 years ago when they had first met in an official party. Both had been attracted to each other from the word go. Everything had happened so fast- the dating, the courting, and the nightcaps, that before they knew it, they were engaged to be married and then actually married to each other. Life since then had been rosy all along. They went out to a grand honeymoon, stayed in expensive hotels, soaked in garden tubs there, made exotic love on the grand California-king beds. They were honeymooning ever since, till today. They had postponed the idea of kids, though both loved kids and wanted to have at the least a quarter of a dozen. Their first priority had been their respective jobs, as they wanted to bring their baby into this world in their own home, not a rented house.

She quickly wrote a loving mail to her husband telling him about the flight she would be on tomorrow to Miami. She heard a commotion and suddenly everybody started to run out. She thought that it was the usual fire drill and so did not get up from her seat. “I need to send this mail right now to David. There now. Send.” She jumped up in her place scared when she heard the senior fire officer shout, “OUT”. He literally dragged her and deposited her in the stairwell. She reluctantly joined the exodus not knowing for once why and where she was going. She thought to herself, “Why is everybody in such a hurry?” It was then that she heard a voice behind her scream. ‘A second plane has hit the south tower.’ And she passed out into somebody’s arms. In a matter of minutes, the remnants of the building went crashing down to the ground.


Swathi got married two years after the death of Sumukh, as she could not see her parents suffer agony because of her. Her love never saw the light of the day. Her eyes still cried for him in the nights.

David was still recovering from the shock in a mental asylum. He never even got to know that she was coming to stay with him in Miami.

A Mother's Concern

Mrs.Daisy in her green and pink overcoat
flip-flopped on the worn out carpet
in the living-cum-dinning area
of her studio apartment.
She paused at the half-broken shabby window
and looked out at the creaky
black wooden gate.
Sausages and salmon fry
and a week old dinner rolls
lay on the metal-edged dinning table
waiting to be relished
by the owners
of the flea market Corning Ware.
The odd looking dangling wind climes
were attached to the cheap but fancy
clock on the breached wall
which read the time 12 o’clock.
Her daughter, Betty
worked late again
in SC Johnson’s and co.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goodbye

I'm sure even Shah Jahan wouldn't have been so excited if Mumtaz got up from dead, as I was when I saw him.Imagine meeting him after all these years at the Taj Mahal,the symbol of eternal love. For a moment my heart raced like a teenager,faster than the car I drive on the LA freeway. Everything around looked rosy to my eyes and as if walking on a cloud like in the old hindi movies,where the girl glided on the clouds in a white dress , he slowly reached me, with the same dreamy twinkle in his eyes and the same naughty smile on his lips. My world stopped dead in its tracks.

"Hi Priya,what a pleasant surprise". He hugged me quickly and let go before I could even react.I looked sideways at my husband, who smiled at me startling me. I looked at my kids, who were by now staring at me and the stranger, who had hugged their mom.

"Hi Rahul.Nice to meet you after ages." He shook hands with my husband and that shocked me all the more. How did Rahul know Nishant?

"Sorry Priya,I wanted to surprise you and so didn't tell you that Nishant was coming to meet us here." Rahul still had the warm smile on his lips and I didn't know how to react. Here on one side was my dear husband of 10 years and on the other side was my first love, who had just disappeared from my life when I was in college, re-appearing now after 12 long years.

Words seemed like floating out of Rahul's mouth as I stood staring at both of them. The words had sound attached to them... Nishant wrote an email to you which I read and deleted so as to surprise you. I'm sorry I didn't tell you..... the atrocity of sharing email ids!! But where in the world did he get the email id? From Suhani? From Nupoor? Or was it my best friend Sirish who betrayed me? Betrayal? Wasn't I happy to see Nishant? Wasn't I happy to meet him after so many long years, when I had thought of him so many times, wondered about his whereabouts? No, all I wished was that I had not met him here at the Taj where memories flowed in abundance along with the Yamuna river.I looked around me and wondered as to how much did Rahul know about my memories.

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In the moonlight of a full moon,even after 356 years, Taj looked as beautiful today as it might have looked then.The reflection of the sunlight falling on its white marble facade changes color from soft gray and yellow to pearly cream and dazzling white, as the day passes.The time of dawn presents Taj in delicate shades of pink, while the setting sun washes it with orange color. However, the beauty of the Taj reaches its peak during the moon lit nights, especially on a full moon night. Bathed in silver light of the moon, it seems just like a dream that has just come true. And for people like us, it indeed was fulfilling all our dreams.

Nobody was allowed near the Taj at night. But we were sitting on the banks of Yamuna and could see the Taj at night from there. Nishant had his hand in mine, as we looked more into each other's eyes dreamily than we looked at the beauty of the Taj.Nishant always had a perfect gift for me, and this year, it was a small diamond nose-stud. He put it into the hole and kissed my nose. He enveloped his arms gently around me and pulled me closer to him.I snuggled closer and the warmth of his body send ripples into my veins. He dreamily looked into my eyes and with a forever naughty smile on his lips, said, " You are so beautiful Priya. Please allow me to kiss you." I pushed him away, and jumped up to my feet. "No way! Come lets go now. Suhani and Sirish would be waiting for me. I promised to take them for a treat."

Every year since we met 3 years ago, we come here on my birthday, and spend some time looking at the Taj and have romantic talks. Sometimes I sing old melodies for him as he silently enjoys the ambience. I was a part-time singer for the TV and thats where we had met. Nishant was the director in the advertisement department.Once when I had finished my shooting of a song, and was waiting for Nupoor, my co-star, to come from the TV head's room,this man came out of one of the many rooms. I forgot that it was rude to stare when I saw the most handsome face, I had ever seen. It was as if he walked in a dream, as he was so light on his feet as he walked, and the unfading smile on his lips and the naughty gleam in his eyes ,were fighting with each other to show themselves prominantly on his face. Whoever said that 'love at first sight' was a myth, may have to think twice. He stopped in front of me and as if ,we were long lost friends, smiled at me, extending his hand said, "Hi". Before he got an answer from me, said, "You have such a good face.Why don't you try modelling? You would look fabulous in pictures." I was speechless. His voice was so deep, that I felt that I was really in a dream.And indeed ,my dream was broken when Nupoor came out in her usual breezy style and pulled me along with her, saying a quick hi and bye to the man. I turned back just once before the door closed and my heart missed a beat when I saw him staring at me with that same smile smeared over his face.

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My eyes were red and dry now.I felt totally weak after hours of crying. I had never seen Nishanat's dad or brother before and so couldn't recognize them. As they sat talking to my father, I evesdropped , though I couldn't hear much, pieces of words flew to my ear, making it hard for me to decipher their conversation, though giving me a little clue about who they were and why they came. A shiver passed through me as I realized the situation I was in. What were they telling my dad? And in just half a minute, I knew why, when my dad came in. He talked to my mom first and then called me into their room. My dad kept his room spic and span and didn't allow us kids to go or play there in any given point of time under any circumstances. So going into my dad's study was a privelege. Not for me though, and definitely not today!

My cheek turned pink and started to burn as if set to flames. I stood there holding my cheeck when he lifted his hand again. This time, my mom calmed him and sent him out of the room. She repeated the same question again."Do you know the boy Nishant?" I stood silently not wanting to say yes again,with fear of hurting my second cheek too. She sat down on the bed and sighed. She looked at me sternly and I couldn't met her eyes, not knowing why I was being made to feel like a victim or a guilty person. " Do you just know him or...." she feared to complete the sentence, I believe. Sometimes, we suddenly get a strong rush of blood into our being from God knows where, which gives us tremendous bravery, and in a moment, meekness turns its head to show a face of a brave heart in love.

I took in a deep breath and looking right into her eyes said, "We love each other and he promised to marry me." I would never forget the echo of the sound that the hand and the cheek made when they touched each other. My legs lost balance as it came unexpected and in a rush.

Every mother , now when I look back, I know, cares a lot about her daughter, whom she believes to be her shadow. And she shows her concern in enumerous ways, which does irritate a growing girl in more ways than one. The care and the concern when becomes limitless and the boundaries of neglect or disobedience are broken by the daughter, love flows in the form of tears. But my mom was a strong lady, and I never saw tears in her eyes, even when I was down with a severe attack of jaundice when I was ten years old, the time when the doctor had given up hope, she still had a lot of hope. But today, the threshold of the bridge of confidence and trust broke, flooding her eyes with tears that rolled down to wet her bossom, where I was pressing my face into. Both of us sat there crying, for what seemed like ages.Only tears spoke into the silence of the house, as my dad sat in the next room, feeling humiliated and hurt by the talk of Nishant father. I never got to know what they spoke, but as days passed, from the little snatches of talk between my parents, I realized what had happened. Nishant's people got to know about us and they sent him away some place for his future studies. They wanted to warn my parents about me, lest Nishant contact me and we take some drastic step together. They gave a piece of their mind about controlling girls to my dad, which is what drooped his shoulders and brought his head down. I wondered how much Nishant's parents knew and how much they told my parents, but the guilty feeling of having the little intimacy I had with Nishant two weeks back, was enough to make me cry into the night.The happiness one feels by that first kiss was washed away by the tears into a distant future where Nishant was 'the past'.

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My life actually started with Rahul. He had a warm smile in addition to his jovial and caring personality.From the day we met till today, every moment I spent with him have been memorable, filled with affection and love. Love was what I experienced with Rahul. Everything before that was a myth for me, till this moment, when all of a sudden reality dawned when I saw the same person standing at a hand's distance from me, who had crashed my wall of love , and had left me without saying goodbye. Rahul and the kids were happily talking and laughing with Nishant as they ate their dinner, oblivious of my presence next to them. I looked like a statue even to myself, as no words came out of my mouth and all of the memories with Nishant, seemed to overshadow the life and world I had so lovingly built with Rahul and the kids.Even the best menu of the Oberoi Amarvilas' didn't help my apetite in any way, which I felt was gone for good.As if in a dream, I got up, and not listening to any of them calling, I went into the hotel room. I didn't know how long I stood under the shower, till I heard a knock on the door of the bathroom. " Priya, Nishant wants to leave. Please make it quick and come down."

When I came down, Nishant and Rahul were standing near the entrance of the hotel, while the kids sat in the lounge chairs and were playing, 'Miss mary mac'.
" Priya next time you come to India, you have to come to Hyderabad and let me and my wife host you." I looked straight into his eyes for a second, searching for any teasing in them. There was genuine pleasure of meeting me and my family.Suddenly, the kids started fighting for reasons known best to them, which usually seemed silly to us. Rahul excused himself and walked to them.

"I know that you didn't like my meeting you or your family." I didn't speak but kept looking at him.
He continued," I was in a coma for 1 long year after I had the major accident while coming to meet you after my father's visit to your house, and when I came out of coma, I went into depression getting to know what happened to you. I am sorry for all the agony my father caused your family.I am happy to see that you are happy. Thanks Priya for being nice to me all this while."

"Nishant...." I started to say something, shocked knowing what he had just told me, when Rahul came back with the kids.

"Ok then, I will make a move Rahul. Bye kiddos. And Priya Goodbye and take care." He shook my hand, and gave me a quick hug and he was gone.

As I sat looking out the window from the flight back into the US, I saw the clouds floating around, and a small smile played on my lips which burst into a bigger one. I took the paper out of my purse, the paper on which Nishant's number and new email id (the old one was not in use anymore) were written, and tore it into pieces.Now I had my goodbyes right. A forever goodbye!

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Nobody would have guessed that it was literally her last goodbye! After one hour, the flight carrying them, crashed into the twin towers!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wedding Bells

The white veil trained along
the red carpet,
like a yellow snake crawling
on the green grass.

I walked reluctantly,
my father’s warm arm
in mine. I glanced around
to see the groom, standing
tall with a gray suit.

“Why gray? Why not blue?”

With white lilies,
in hand, he cast
a taunting smile at me,
breeding familiarity.

A tear was peeping from the corner of my eyes searching for any signs of happiness, in the other’s eye.

“Do I have to wear
this relationship on my finger?”

The commotion in my brain
was like the haunting
bells, in the cemetery
on a new moon night.

I turned around and looked
at the door, engraved
with flowers of the spring
and my feet moved.

The President's Life

She screamed loud. Her voice echoed. She felt for a moment that she was blind, as she could not see anything. However, her eyes did not hurt. Then she realized that it was pitch dark all around her. She could not move her hands and legs. The bracelet on her hand was cutting through her skin and it hurt. She realized that her hands and legs were bound as the tight rope cut at her ankle too. She did not know where she was. There was a throbbing pain at the back of her head. It was then that she remembered. Somebody had hit her on the head and had kidnapped her.

February 16th, 2003.Raisina hill, Delhi. 5.30am

The morning rays of sunlight spread on the empty king size bed. The glass of milk was as it was set the night before. The papers on the desk were scattered a little. Other than that, there was no sign of any struggle as such. Private detective Frank was not very pleased with the situation and was scarred of the scandal the situation would bring. He was frantically searching for any clue, even if it was a small one to start with, so that he could progress with his investigation. In his mind of minds, he was a little thrilled that this case was assigned to him. Not everyday is the President of the country kidnapped.

He checked every room of the palatial Rastrapathi bhavan and thought that he must have surely covered 4 kilometers of his daily treadmill count as he finished going through the last room of the house. This was not even a tenth of the rooms that were in the building. He imagined how his plight would have been if all the 340 rooms were used. All the servants of the house were lined up for interrogation and the servant quarters checked thoroughly. Nothing seemed moved. Nothing was different. Not a thing was touched anywhere. No finger prints. No foot prints. Police dogs also could not detect anything.

By eight, the news had spread like fire in the forest, and the Durbar hall was now filled with all the members of the parliament, near and dear ones and friends of the president. Everybody liked her. Everybody admired her leadership qualities. Since she took the office two years back, she had been like a pillar of confidence and ability for the country. She reached out to the public with her kind heart and helpful hand in the form of funds for the villages and free education for the children whose parents were below poverty line. Everyone was as shocked as the one next to them that she, of all persons was kidnapped. Who would do such a thing? Did she too have enemies? Moreover, how could someone do that from the midst of so many guards and security personals? The whole nation was caught unawares with such a drastic event and the public became frantic and the police restless. Everyone had only one question in mind. What was the motive of the kidnapper?

Feb 16th, 2003. 2 pm.

Everybody waited with bated breathe. Though 12 hours had passed, there was still no word from any kidnapper for ransom demands. The chief of Delhi police gave orders to every police in the country to keep an eye for any unknown person or suspicious character and immediately take them into custody. Everybody in the nation was at a stand still. The prime minister of the country sent out messages to the UNO and the US consulate about the missing President. Cryptic messages wewalls re sent to all the common wealth nations about the incident. The whole world was waiting to know the welfare about the charming Indian woman president.

Her hands and legs were numb now. She was feeling hungry too.
Why was she being held a prisoner ? Who were her kidnappers ? What would happen to the country? Her head was aching badly now. She tried to wiggle her body and was shocked to note that she was in a box like a coffin . she tried to not to think about it and closed her e yes . She tried to remember what really . happened. Slowly her eyes were getting heavy. . “I have to be awake. Do not fall asleep. Wake up. Wake up.” She told herself. She wiggled her feet and she could feel the pain where the rope cut her ankle .

The Vice President took the acting office of the President. This was the first time in the history of the country that a President was missing from the office. The Prime Minister was in a dilemma as to what had to be done. There was no word or call for ransom. Nothing whatsoever from the person who took the President away .24 hours had already passed by. Not only the whole country but also the whole world was waiting to know about the whereabouts of the President. The Prime Minister sighed and got up to walk about the room.Detective Frank just looked on helplessly. It was then that the shrill sound of the phone broke the silence and echoed against the walls of the Prime Minister’s office.

His voice was throaty and muffled too. He gave the directions to the place where the President was held captive . And then apologized for all the tension and inconvenience caused . The Prime Minister was stunned and no word came out his mouth. Before he could recover from the shock, the phone was disconnected. Frank noted the details as he heard on the speaker phone along with the Prime Minister.

All the members of the parliament and the Vice President were informed of the phone call .Then the Prime Minister called the army and the black Commandos’ office, briefed them of the situation, and asked them to do their work with caution. He warned them that in no way can the President’s life he put in any kind of danger. He told Detective frank in a clear tone that he wanted the man alive and he also wanted to know where he is from and which terrorist group does he belongs to. After making all the calls, when ultimately the Prime minister sat back in his chair, only one thought kept crossing his mind- “Why was no ransom asked? What was the motive behind all this?” Detective Frank was also thinking about the same thing as he instructed his men about the coup.

When the military troops and the commandos went there with the rescue team, there was nobody in the house mentioned except the President. She was still in the wooden box as the caller had indicated. She was immediately rushed to the emergency, and was in the ICU for ten days. She was unconscious when they found her because of lack of food and insufficient oxygen supply from the holes in the box, for 24 hours.

Nothing was found about the person who was behind all this. Detective Frank too gave up the case after trying to solve it for 2 years. None could trace him or know about his whereabouts. He was a very clever person. He did not leave any clue or fingerprints behind, except a note. And the note never saw the light of the day. Only the Prime Minister and the President knew it and had read it. Among other things, it was written, “don’t ever take the country’s security for granted. Anything can happen and to anybody. Be more alert from henceforth. Protect your country.” It was a practical joke, which could have lost the President’s life. A very crude practical joke it was.

Bombay ka babu

All he could do now was wait for the consequences. For good or for bad he did not know but this was all he had ever been taught by the military. When he was all alone on the grounds of war, all he could ever think of was his country and his adding value to it by giving up his life for it. However, fate had different plans and he got out alive and kicking, only to see the sorry state of the country in the hands of terrorists.

There was only 35 seconds left for the bomb to blast. he waited as the ticking of his watch and the pounding of his heart competed with each other. It was all pitch dark around him. Suddenly there was a distant loud sound and the flares of fire rising up into the grey sky. A big group of terrorists were died today in their hiding place. He heaved a sigh of relief and got up. His mission was accomplished. This was the last terrorist hideout that FBI had found out as of now. He called the secret agent office from his walkie-talkie and informed them. His white shirt looked dirtier than ever. He walked tall with his hand touching his long hair and a smile playing on his lips. He was going home for good.

It was then that he saw them get down from the taxi.



Bombay. Or so it was called then. The present day Mumbai.

Travelling in the locals was a new experience altogether for me as I hailed from Hyderabad, where buses and autos were the main means of public transport. Pushing through the crowds to get onto the local train was like giving a fair chance to the livelihood of the pickpocketers. Life with its multi facets was visible in this middle-class commuter media. A woman was with a bundle of wool knitting away to glory, maybe a mitten for her grandchild or a scarf for her husband. A teenager was talking on the cell phone obviously to his girl friend or lover, as he was oblivious of his surroundings and held the phone as delicately as if it was the girl’s hand resting against his cheek. A bi-spectacled girl looked much tensed up, constantly looking into the book that was open in front of her on her lap, and then closing her eyes as if memorizing what she read. Life was so exciting I thought what with different people that we meet every day going to different destinations. Some regular travellers nodded or smiled when they saw someone whom they have been seeing everyday of their life but did not have time ask their name leave alone stopping and talking. Though it took me a little time, I did get used very fast to the hustle–bustle of the always-busy metro city of India.

It was at this point of my otherwise routine life, that I met Arvind on one of my trips back home after a tired day at work. The train was almost empty as holiday season was at the bend of the corner. We got talking and I enjoyed his company, as he was a good orator. He was an ex-military man now working for some company whose name he didn’t want to disclose. We talked about everything under the sun until we reached our respective destinations. We met again the next day and the next day too. Sometimes it so happens that you strike a chord of friendship in minutes and sometimes you know each other for ages but still would not be on talking terms. I liked Arvind and even invited him for dinner the following weekend giving him my address and phone number too.

The next day, I did not meet Arvind. The four-days friendship had already made me get used to his presence on the train. Neither did he call nor did he come home for dinner on Sunday as I had invited him to. Days went by and never again did I meet Arvind. I tried calling the cell number he had given me as I was a little worried about his silence, but it said out of reach. I sighed and gave it up.

My busy life went on as usual without allowing me any leisure to think about anything else. I left home early in the morning and came back home way past children’s bedtime. My caring wife very ritualistically waited at the dinner table every night, and I was excessively tired even to smile at her, leave alone giving her a hug. Sometimes she would doze off and would be awakened by my constant buzzing of the bell. It was a sad state of affairs that there was absolutely no time for even your dear ones on weekdays in this city where half your life is gone commuting.

I met Arvind again in very unusual circumstances. My father was 75 years old and suffered from chronic arthritis. He was all alone in my hometown and none of my persuasion made him come and stay with me. All I could do was visit him from time to time and as winter holidays were around, I started along with my family to visit him. We got out the taxi and were paying when we heard a blast and flares of flames rising up in the sky. People were crying, and shouting as they ran for their lives. Out of nowhere Arvind came running and said, “Quick, the riots may start any minute… move it. I will take you to a safe place.” It was surprising to see him again and that too in such an event. Before I could think about anything else or ask him any questions, he had dragged us to a van parked at the corner of the road. He quickly put the children inside, and asked us to get in. “Arvind, what is…..” he cut in between and said, “Please don’t ask anything now. Someday we will meet and talk.” The driver sped the van on the road leaving Arvind stranded there.

Next morning when I picked up the paper, it was full of the Bombay riots. But what shocked me was the article at the bottom corner of the 2nd page. I stood staring at the picture and the article, I do not know for how long. When my son tugged at my shirt, I came back to senses. Arvind’s picture was on the page with an article underneath it, which declared that this person was an extremist. His name was unknown and he died when he was shot at close quarters by somebody unknown when he had just helped someone to escape from the scene. Police were wondering as to who shot him. Moreover, who were the people the witnesses saw that he had helped to escape. How were they linked to this extremist?

It took me a long time to recover from the shock. Arvind had always looked a gentleman and had always talked intelligently. Was he an extremist? An ex-military man an extremist? Or was he planted? I would never have answers to these questions. Nevertheless, like the papers said, was I responsible for his death? Would he have had a chance to escape from death if he would not have saved us? My heart grew heavy with sadness and guilt; though somewhere at the corner of my heart, I still had my doubts about the man, I had met a couple of times on the locals.

Life went on. I still travel by locals to places though I have retired from work 3 years ago. I never again came across any more Arvinds nor did I ever try to start a conversation with anybody on the train ever again. Though 15 years have passed by, I still have the memory of that incident clearly writ in my mind. And I still question myself often, “Who was Arvind?”

First Love

It never helped me much that I had only myself to interact with. Life was never the same after coming home from the dorm. Parents were away for a wedding which I had very conveniently avoided. When I walked down to the nearest video store to pick a movie it happened then. It was the most striking face I had seen after a very long time. I walked up to him and wanted to have a closer look. I was just fiddling with thoughts and words to be put together as I approached him. He had a chiselled face with a sharp nose and lips that were so small that they looked as if he was pouting.
“Hi. I’m Kristy.” I said as I extended my hand. He looked me up and down and smiled slyly . His smile travelled to his dark eyes. I was sure he gasped when he saw the skin that was visible from the slit of my evening white laced gown. I smiled to myself that my charm worked on him. “ Call me John.” He said as he took my hand into his.His hand was big but soft like a baby’s hand. He stared into my blue eyes as he still held my tiny hand in his. We got talking into the wee hours of the night in the bar next to the video store. He suddenly saw the video that I was holding and asked me if I was going to watch it tonight. I said yes and then he said that he had a good home theatre with a 60 inch TV and so if I wanted I could come and watch at his house. I searched for any propositions that he was making along with the invitation.But there were none. He looked genuine.
I said that I would meet him in 10 minutes at the end of the road and ran home. I slipped into something warm, touched up my lips , picked up a matching bag and slid on my running shoes in which my feet were always comfortably snuggled. He was already at the wheel of a maroon marcedes waiting eagerly for me ,with his knuckles drumming on the wheel.He didn’t even give a glance to my clothes though he did smile at me before he started the engine.In 15 minutes flat we were at a huge mansion in a very posh locality. ‘So he is a rich brat’,I thought as I got down the car.But he didn’t behave like one, the voice inside me said.
The house was huge enough to accommodate an entire town I thought as I walked into the living room. The biege colour sectional sofa was elegant with glass side tables. There was a glass vase on one of them which looked like the upper portion of a woman’s body with the shape of the breasts too.Pretty colourful artificial flowers adorned in the place of the head.I had never seen such an artistic piece before. Below the stairway, near the dining area, was a huge modern painting which was colourful too.
John brought some beers and some baked corn chips with an italian dip which he said that he had made at home.Tom cruise looked very handsome and sexy. We ate the ravioli which he had heated up in the microwave as we watched the action scenes of the ‘Top gun’. We were sitting next to each other and I didn’t even realize that he had his hand around my shoulders. I woke up with a start and saw that I had dozed off in his arms. He was looking constantly at my face and the next thing I knew we were staring into each other’s eyes. After what seemed like ages, we came to our senses.
I stood up in an instant and mumbled that I have to go back home.
“ You can stay for the night if you want to. Anyway, it is already 3am and I wouldn’t think it appropriate for you to go to an empty house at this time of the night.”
Before I could say another word,he lovingly took my hand and led me to a room which was apparently not much used, propably was only for guests. “My sis’s clothes are in that closet. If you wish you could change into some sleepwear.” I liked the way he treated me with care and chose the right words to say to me. I couldn’t sleep much the rest of the night not only because it was a new place and new places creep me out, but also because I felt a new something inside me when I thought about John. Is this love? I thought that being a happy-go-lucky-girl, I would never experience any such feelings for anybody. I had a lot of friends, both boys and girls, but I had never ever fallen for anyone and now wasn’t even sure if I had fallen for John. I hardly knew him. But I wanted to know him better . I wanted to know him so much that I would love him all the more and maybe one day would take him home to her parents. I smiled at my thoughts. A voice inside me told me again and again that I hardly knew him.
I got up and looked around the room. It was very neatly organised which I hadn’t noticed with sleepy eyes last night.There was a book-shelf which had mostly business books and some fiction too. I walked out the door into the living room and saw nobody there. I tiptoed slowly into the kitchen and was amazed to see a large designer kitchen but with no signs of regular use. I opened one closet and it was filled with the finest crocery. I took out a glass, filled water from the sink and slowly savoured the cold water going down my throat, as I walked into the family room. It was very much tempting to go upstairs and look at the other bedrooms.
My temptation took the better of me and before I knew it, I was at the top of the stairs. There were three bedrooms and two of them had closed doors. The doors had beautiful carvings on them. I thought of going back down when I saw the half open door of one of bedrooms and stopped. I could faintly hear a voice mumbling something. Walking on my tipy toes, I slowly peeped into the room. Somebody was sleeping with the comfortor way over the head and it was clearer now that somebody was in pain by the voice. I stepped inside the room , mustering courage approached the bed and said, “Hello , need any help?” There was no answer. I called out again. No answer. I slowly removed the comforter from over the head and was surprised at what I saw.
She was blonde and had a perfect face and probably the perfect body too from the little that I saw . She was cuddled up with a bear which she was holding tight and her body was slowly rocking. Though she was sleeping, I could see tears trickling down her cheeks. I didn’t know what to do and quickly walked out of the room and was about to run down the stairs when the door opposite to the room I was just in, now opened and there he stood like a greek God. He was in his green night gown and his hair was rumpled and he had a fresh stubble. I stopped breathing for a moment when I saw him standing there all the more attractive than the previous night. For a moment, a thought crossed my mind that I run into his arms, but my senses were pretty alert today for all I knew. I said “hi”, not knowing what else to say in the way of explaining as to what I was doing upstairs.
“Good Morning Kristy. Did you have a good sleep?” I nodded my head and quickly took my eyes from his face as I didn’t want him to know that I was lying. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I need to tell him that I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about him.
I climbed down the steps as he followed me. I was cautiously walking as I knew that he was looking at me, perhaps he was looking at the swing of my hips. I tried to llok from the corner of my eyes tilting my head to the right a bit. I was surprised to note that he was not even looking at me but was lost in a trance as he walked down. He made coffee for himself and me and then I asked, “What about coffee for the lady upstairs?” He was silent for a while and then looked deep into my eyes and said, “ She is sick.” “Oh!” was all I could mutter to say. I was a little surprised that he didn’t bother to ask why I went upstairs into that bedroom. I didn’t want to be rude probing deeper and so didn’t ask any further questions about her health or who she was.
We went and sat on the sofa and watched Good Morning America as we sipped our coffee. We got talking and he asked me about myself, my family,my studies and friends. I myself was surprised how freely I could talk to him about everything, going into details about things from my childhood, about my friends’ boyfriends, why I hated politics, how I loved watching tom cruise movies, everything under the sun. He listened attentively as if he was born to do that. He was a courteous gentleman who was an intent listener as much as he was attractive, I summed up in my mind. He told me about his work, his friends, when and how he had bought this house, everything except about the girl upstairs. My curiousity was troubling me though my good upbringing didn’t allow me to pry into his personal life.
I got up to go , and then it happened. In the flick of a second, I had bend down over his face as he was still on the sofa and closed his mouth with my lips. There was no movement from his side for a while, which seemed like ieons to me, when he put his hands around me and gently set me on his lap all the while kissing me back gently. His hand was on my thin waist which was slowly moving up a little,and every nerve in my body was sizzling with his touch.But, I came to my senses first and pulled myself away and stood up. I was feeling awkward at what I did and guilty too. I didn’t know what had come of me.
“I’m sorry for that” I said.
“Please don’t be. I had never believed in Love-at-first-sight till I met you”, he said. I looked up into his eyes and I could see tears in his eyes.
“Me too”, I said gently rubbing his cheek, not knowing why he was so emotional about it.
“ I need to go now , otheriwse , I would stay here forever”, I smiled and started for the door with him walking beside me.
“Let me come and drop you.” He said and took his car keys from the mantle on the fireplace where there was an old picture of someone standing in the snow all covered up from head to toe in warm clothes. I coulsn’t figure out the person, nor did I want to ask him about, but guessed as much that it must be the girl upstairs. ‘was she the sis whose clothes were downstairs? Or was she a distant cousin who was staying with him and getting her treatment done?And for what?’ Questions ran in my head as fast as the car ran on the road towards my house.
As I was about to get down, he squeezed my hand and looked lovingly into my eyes. I smiled and said “ Do you think we would meet again?” expecting him to answer in the positive. When he said, “No”, I was stunned and looked serachingly into his eyes. They were sad, and he said in a low tone, “I am sorry Kristy. Wish I had never met you. The lady you saw in my house is my ailing wife. She is suffering from Cancer and is not very far..” his voice choked as tears ran down his cheek. I didn’t say anything for a long time. Both of us sat there in silence for a while. And then I sighed and said, “I’m sorry to hear that John. Call me if you need any help.” And handed him my number written on a piece of paper which I had done in his house and had anyways wanted to give him before we parted.
He never called and I never met him again.Maybe that is what fate had in for me as a little taste of ‘First Love’.

Woman

The jingling of the anklets
of the flowery feet
was heard by the deaf man.

The bright face
with the elegant tresses
opened the eyes of the blind man.

The silky melody
from the lustrous lips
brought ‘wow’ to the mouth of the dumb man.

The serene affections
of the soft heartbeat
gave shelter to a homeless man.

Mommy dear

Cell to the ear,
carry bag in one hand,
the little hand
of the boy in other,
I cautiously walked
to the door of the sedan-
Just in time,
the heel of my shoe
did a tango on the icy snow-
Carrots, beets and cabbage
all went flying along
with my phone-
Little John stood
and looked stunned
at the squatting mommy.

Eyes

Your eyes are everything for me.
There is nothing else that I want
My world is void without them.

When you open them
It is morning for me
When you close them
It is sunset for me
My life and my death
Are under these eyelids only!

Without them I can't go anywhere.
They are filled
In my heart beats,
Carved in my breath.
I will hide them
From the whole world.
I will keep them
Embedded in my soul.

They are my world,
My whole existence.
Since I came into this world
I have not loved anything else
Except your eyes!