Coffee and you

You sat at the corner facing the road, gazing into the coffee cup as if a world lay hidden within it. The passing cars with their glossy lights, threw shadows on your face but your eyes didn’t register them. It was your eyes that made the decision for me. Black pools of liquid loneliness.  What is it with eyes? Why do they betray us like this ? They bare our souls naked for anyone to see, especially when we are unaware of it. So I walked out to you and said, ” Hi, do you remember me? How are you??”

Confused and surprised you looked up and asked, ” Sorry??”

” I guess you don’t remember me …. Ruhin right? ”

” Yes but… ”

” We used to go to school together. Its been like.. 20 years now .. isn’t it ? Do you mind if I join you for coffee? ”

” Of course not. Its just that.. I … ”

” Never mind. Tell me how are you ?”

” Quite good thank you.” You are completely stumped but trying to place me you ask ” How are you ? And what have you been up to all this while ? ”

” Living” I reply tongue in cheek and you chuckled companionably.

And as we played the cat and mouse game of careless banter, the evening slipped laughingly into star studded night. I could now see your eyes glitter in interest. How easy it is , sometimes, to dispel the shadows. If only they’d stay away!

When it was time to close the cafe, we both reluctantly stepped out and started walking down the street.

Unwilling to let go yet, you asked if you could drop me home and I agreed.

Somehow our ride to my home was very strained. The easy bonhomie that we felt in the cafe had given way to this awkward silence. May be the intimacy of being alone in the closed car made us realize what we really were. Two lonely strangers.

When my stop came, You rushed out to open my door and lightly kissed me good bye. Then self consciously said, ” I really enjoyed our evening but I wish I could place you. I am really sorry but I am unable to recollect”

” That’s okay” I said with a smile ” You don’t know me anyways”

” Then why… ”

” ‘Cause you seemed like you needed company”

And with a wink I said, ” I needed too” and disappeared into the dark passageway.

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Guardian of the tree.

He woke  up groggily. It was dark outside but not pitch black like midnight. He figured it must be nearing dawn. Instinctively his hands moved to turn on the table lamp next to his bed,  only to be met with the feel of a cold metal. His mind cleared a bit.  Where was he?

Slowly it dawned upon him that the bed below him was not soft, in fact it was not even a bed. He was not home.
So where was he?

He didn’t know.

He groped around with his hands to explore in the feeble light of pre dawn. It looked like dawn would at least take  two hours. He was not planning on waiting till then to find out where he was. The last he remembered, he’d crashed on the bed as soon as he returned from his friend’s birthday party. He got a little drunk. Lot more than a little drunk. But that was okay. He had gone home. What happened after that?

He didnt know.

He moved and winced in pain  when his leg accidentally hit a stone. ‘Fuck!’ , he cursed.
How the hell did he end up here?

After almost thirty minutes of desperate searching , he got lucky.  Never did the cold sleekness of his flash light felt more welcoming. He switched it ON.  Not much of the surrounding area was visible. This wont work.  He would have to wait for the  sunrise.
And then he drifted off to sleep. When he woke up again it was morning.
It was eerily silent. Not a single bird, bug, nor an insect made any sound. Something was wrong. He looked around and found nothing but barren land, left to fallow,  in all the  directions but one, for as far as he could see. There was a dense forest to the north .

He was on some kind of a primitive rocky platform. The view from that point was beautiful and yet the position was strategic. No  one could enter the forest without being noticed. So he figured he should be going to the forest. If anyone used this as an observation point, they must live in the forest. He leaned at the edge carefully to find out what was there right below and almost toppled over. The sheer depth of the cliff and the steepness made him nauseous.  If he had not waited for the morning, one misstep and he would  surely be dead. Thanking his lucky stars he stumbled down the platform.
Again he tried to recall how he managed to get himself  in this strange place but couldn’t. Resignedly, he marched towards the forest. Much to his delight, he found that the forest was not as far as it seemed.  A small hillock hid it partially and hence it seemed closer than it was.
As he neared the forest he started feeling a strange premonition. It felt like something or someone didnt want him to enter the forest. He ignored it. He was not the superstitious kind. The silence that had followed him since he woke up, seemed more ominous within this forest. Almost like a pause before the storm. His senses were tingling. But he kept following the trail. Then a  noise erupted startling him and a lot of things happened together. A huge host of birds started flying towards him while he ducked and  hid. In this confusion, he ended up falling  on what seemed like a thick covering of shrubs  but was a trap. He had slipped into a deep delve  with no end visible  and there were not one to help. He screamed , tried to hold onto the shrubs along the way  for support but couldn’t reach .
He hit the floor with a loud scream and woke up breathing really hard. For a moment,  all he could do was let his heartbeat return to normal.

it was a dream

He was not dying nor was he trapped in a pit like that hero in 127 hours. He heaved a sigh of relief
It was that dream again. This was the 5th time he was dreaming the same thing in the past one year. But that didnt make it any  less terrifying. Does this mean he is going to die falling ? Is this his destiny? Not that he believed in all this mumbo jumbo, but one has to explore all the options. Only other option was to see a therapist.
A small voice whispered inside him ‘ or he could talk to that lady from the cafe who kept staring at him‘ She was a voodoo mistress. Only a fool would contact her. She inspired fear.
He called up a therapist and made an appointment.
On the way to the therapist, a cold shiver ran down his spine. Anxiously he looked around but nothing seemed out of ordinary. ‘Damn! I am  imagining things now‘. he thought. But the uneasiness still lingered. Suddenly he was glad that he was on the way to meet the psychotherapist.
His therapist told him that he was over reacting and sent him on his way. He figured his  friends might have added in his drinks. They were all fond of practical jokes. But a nagging doubt,  a sense of foreboding lingered. So he quickly called his best friend and decided to meet for a drink after work. His friend teased him about  ‘ one great debacle’ and cut the call with a promise to never let him forget this ever . He hoped he didnt do anything stupid, but he felt relieved too. Anything was better than believing that he would die falling.
Later that evening his friend regaled the entire bar about his ‘one great debacle’ while he blushed to his roots and decided to escape. It was when he entered the parking lot of his apartment building that he felt the cold shiver go down his spine again and he realized that in the evening revelry he had forgotten to ask his friend about the prank.  Suddenly it became imperative for him to know for sure. Something egged him on and he didnt like it. When he tried to call his friend he found that his cell phone had no network. He decided to call his friend from his land line and boarded the lift.
The lift opened in a floor before the floor he was headed to and rest of the people got down and then someone came in and lift started crawling upwards. He glanced at the stranger casually and smiled when the smile froze on his lips. It was the voodoo mistress.

She smiled at him and the lift door opened. It was his floor. For a moment he didnt know what to do. Should he ask her or not? Why was she here? She didnt live here. If she did he would know. Besides no one would want to live around her, how much ever wonderful the flat and the location was.
All of these flashed in his mind while the lift door was still open.

‘ Are you going to get down here?’ a sweet lyrical voice intruded his thoughts. It was the voodoo mistress addressing him.

Embarrassed to be caught “wool-gathering”,  as his grandma would call it, he mumbled a hasty sorry and almost ran from the lift. A muffled laughter echoed behind his back. He couldn’t blame her. A reluctant smile sneaked in and soon he was laughing too. He thought that such incidents were a thing of past. He was a shy kid and the flashes of which revisited whenever he was nervous. Apparently, he could still embarrass himself. For once he was glad that his roommate was not home. Else he wouldn’t have heard the end of it.

Somehow, meeting the Voodoo mistress and sharing this joke somehow had eased his jitters. He even laughed a couple of times thinking about his ‘absurdities’.
That night he dreamed again. It was the same dream. And when he fell, he kept going down for a long time. Somehow, he knew this was dream, even while he was dreaming and yet, it felt scary. In fact almost sinister. He tried to grab a bush but the the thorns tore at his palm and he screamed. But he kept slipping down. The drop kept getting narrower and wet as he kept slipping down. The opening seemed like a hazy film of sunlight but he kept dropping. Panic raced through him in waves  and claustrophobia compounded the effect. He tried very hard to wake up but couldn’t.

It must be that witch, he realized. She must’ve bewitched him so that he couldnt wake up from his dream. He was trapped.
What did he ever do to her?
It took him several seconds for him to realize that the vertical tunnel was actually broadening and it was no longer dark. And He was no longer tumbling down. he was almost floating down. His first thought was.. ‘Fuck what happened to gravity?’
Now, he had sufficient light to see that he was approaching a chamber. A well lit chamber.  Anything is possible in a dream. Suddenly it struck him, it was a dream. His dream. He should be able to change it, if Inception (the movie) is to be believed. He tried to create staircase by imagining. Willing it to existence. But nothing happened.
Resignedly, he prepared his body for the descent. When he reached the bottom he found himself facing a dead end. It was dead end on all sides.

He was trapped in a well lit chamber. But where was the light coming from? There were no bulbs, no wires. Hoping that someone would be around , he started shouting ‘ Hello.. hello??? IS ANYBODY HERE??? HELLO???”

There was no response. Not even an echo. He realized how misguided his assumption was. He was down a dark abyss, deep inside a dream, trapped by a voodoo mistress. Obviously no one would hear him. A gut wrenching fear coursed through his body and he fell on the floor shivering and crying in frustration.

It was hours before he calmed down. It must be night but it was still bright, the luminance of it didnt change. Definitely a tube or a bulb. A sliver of hope dawned in his heart. Someone has to change these bulbs. That means there must be a hidden door somewhere. And he was going to find it.

It occurred to him that from the direction of the shadow, he could find where the bulb is, but was puzzled to find that, no shadow was cast. How could it be?

Not letting that trouble him, for the moment, he started searching for the door earnestly. Thats when he noticed a  faint sound of water gushing down down. He put his left ear to the ground and covered his right hear to listen better. It was a waterfall. His assumption was correct. There must be a door and that door should lead him to the waterfall. Heartened by this he continued searching
There was no hidden door.
It was the nature’s trick very similar to the hillock, well hidden by the fact that the light cast no shadow. There was a passage through the chamber at his right.  He followed the sound of water through the passage. As he neared the end, the sound of water became louder until the passage opened into a lush forest and the cacophony of the fast flowing water was so loud that even he couldnt hear himself.  ‘ A forest deep inside earth? What magic is this?’

But before he could even finish this thought, his eyes were arrested by a majestic tree covering the waterfall Within the tree there were mercurial rush of colors that were hypnotic, but the tree itself , was golden. He knew then that this his destiny. This tree.

The tree wanted to claim him as its own. How he knew this he couldnt tell. But this knowledge came from deep within. And with that acceptance came a deep seated peace. He had found his place in this world.  He wanted to run to the tree and hug like a child. And when he was about to act on that impulse, he heard someone  say , ‘Down boy!

‘ Down boy!’ A command. And he sank on the floor like a slave.
An  old man approached him and checked him out like one checks out a new object one buys. And when he was satisfied, he turned and went to sit by an opulent chair and a table. There were many cookies and little chits strewn on the table and a silver pen. The moment he saw the pen he coveted it. Mine! his mind hissed possessively
The oldman looked at him and chuckled evilly. “Get me that box from that corner” pointed  the oldman tauntingly as he hastened to comply.
Rage and humiliation mingled confusion warred with his easy compliance. Why was he listening to that evil old man who had his pen?

And then he blacked out.
When he came to senses, he was safely tucked in and in his bed.
There was no disorientation this time. But  a sense of betrayal burned in his heart. It felt like someone toyed with him and then discarded. And a sense of urgency. He wanted to go back there and soon. But he didnt know how.

Ever since, he kept sleeping as much as he could but he didnt dream. He tried everything he could- cookies and milk, sleeping pills, work out. But that dream wouldn’t come. And all the while the urgency kept increasing.He knew he should visit to the voodoo mistress. Only she had an inkling about what was happening to him,  but he was afraid to. And angry. She had toyed with his mind and trapped him in that dream but snatched him back before he could claim his tree.

HIS. That tree haunted him. And every time he fantasized about ‘his’ tree the urgency to find it doubled Finally when his need exceeded his distrust he went to meet the voodoo mistress.

The moment she saw him in her driveway she gestured towards the car and said , “The map and the provisions are in the car. You can leave right away.”
He felt so grateful for her help that he hugged her tight and kissed. It was a right thing to do. She was touched. It had been centuries since anyone hugged her. Being an immortal , she was resigned to her fate. And she knew what was in store for him. He was as much a slave of destiny as her. Already the tree’s magic was affecting his mind. She knew he had not contacted any one since that night.

She wanted to grant him reprieve for a day. So she gave him a charm that controlled the tree’s glamor and allowed him to think. The bond was still there and as potent but now he could think. He could at least make provisions for him to disappear in a convincing way. He could also say good bye to all his loved ones before he walked out of their life forever. This was his cross to bear. But she could make it easier.
He understood the importance of her gift and was touched by her concern. So he enveloped her in a hug again before he said good bye and drove to his parent’s place. It was a weekend and he knew all of his family members would be there. It was a tradition and they all took family very seriously. So everyone came. Later that night, he would meet his friends. And then in the middle of the night he would disappear while his apartment would catch fire. He had planned it such that only his apartment would burn and the voodoo mistress had promised to take care of the complications.
It was a very difficult for him to walk out of everything he loved. But the bond that he had with the tree was far more stronger, was far more elemental. It was a soul bond that superseded blood. He mentally thanked the Voodoo mistress for the gift that she gave him. She was incredibly kind.

His journey was neither too adventurous nor too lengthy. Now that he had done his duty, accepted his responsibility and his bond, it felt like the very earth wanted him to reach his destination soon. There were no mishaps and he knew what to expect. He had trained for this for the past one year, in his dreams. He realized thats what the dream was all about. Making him ready for this day. And now he was ready.
Eagerly he reached the forest and ran to the location where the foliage was supposed to be. Instead of finding green lush foliage,however, he found a gaping hole with walls covered in grime. Had the witch tricked him again?

But he knew it was a lie as soon as he thought that. The witch didnt trick him.  He had touched her heart and her  heart was pure. He thought may be the location was wrong. But his instinct told him it wasn’t. He had noticed a rot on some of the trees while he was rushing through. He had seen but not registered the changes as he was distracted.

Something was wrong.

He knew though, that nothing could be done unless he completed his bond with the tree. But the tree was down below. What if he couldnt fix it and he couldnt come up too. It would be all for nothing.He had to trust the bond to protect him and have faith.
Finally taking a deep breath and a deeper “leap” of faith, he jumped. When he reached the bottom, he noticed that the luminance had dimmed to near darkness and the sound of gushing water was almost indiscernible. He was relieved to find his flash light abandoned in the chamber as in his dreams. He wondered if this was also as it was supposed to be?

Knowing that all his questions would be soon answered, he rushed down the passage.

When he reached the tree, he was outraged and scared. Very scared.
The water fall has moved down to a trickle and the tree.. and the tree was dying. The majestic golden had turned to a dusty brown. The branches drooped as if a single touch would make them fall. The tree was dying.

It had all been for nothing. His sacrifices, his leap of faith had all been for nothing. He would die with the tree.

Crushed, he crumbled on the ground. He felt the tree call on to him. It wanted to comfort him. He started to reach out when the old man stopped him with a command. ‘Down Boy!’

He sunk to the ground, helpless. His face distorted with fear, sadness and anger which was soon  bubbling with hate.  He wanted to kill this old man. How dare he force him to his knees when his tree called out to him especially when it was his fault that the tree is dying.
The old man actually looked at him in compassion as if he knew about the pain and the hate.

When he neared the kneeling man, the  young man pounced him. He was too strong willed to bow down to a frail man’s demands. But the old man dint struggle, dint fight. He simply gave the silver pen to young man. And the moment the pen touched the younger man, the tree blazed again. The waterfall filled up and it was again the tropical Utopia from the young man’s dream.
Ecstatic, the young man rushed to the tree and hugged like he wanted to. At the first touch he received all the answers to his questions. He knew that the tree was linked to his soul essence. It fed on it. Thats the reason why only extremely strong willed yet gentle men were chosen for this. For as the tree seeped out the goodness, you are left with just evilness. The old man couldn’t help being nasty and evil.

The power to control the next guardian was essential. If the next guardian touched the tree and completed the bond before the pen exchanged hands, all would be lost. He knew that he would have killed the old man if it wasn’t for the control. Knowing that the old man would die any second and also that he would be alone until the next guardian of the tree was chosen, he turned away from the lure of the tree to look for the old man. But he was no longer there. It was meant to be.

He spent some time exploring his new home and finally went and sat on that opulent chair where fortune less cookies awaited their fortunes to be filled by him. As long as they were believed in, his goodness quotient would never be less than evilness quotient. And if the world refused to believe in magic and fortunes….

He shuddered thinking about the consequences and started to write vague but happy tidings in his cookies.

P.S: The seed of this story came from Nimue. I wanted her to make her story a little more sinister and finally decided to do it myself. I donno how successful I am with that, but I am very happy. Its been more than two years since I wrote a fictional story. And am glad that I finally did it.

Afternoon Seista

untitled It was a sunny afternoon. My companion was still sleeping, dreaming her wonderful dreams,  while I looked out of the window, observing the passersby. There were not many. A small  kid of 4-5 years playing ball on the road with his imaginary friend. An old man chiding him to stick to the pavements. A woman in the next building hanging clothes as the wind blew on her face.  And there was a lady waiting to cross the road at the corner, lost in her thoughts.

I wondered what she was thinking. She seemed pleasantly happy. In a way, she was day dreaming. As the signal changed, I saw her looking this way before crossing, just to be sure. I couldn’t help but smile.  Then I recognised her. She was… She was my wife.

There it was. My living nightmare. My most cherished dream. I willed her to look up, to notice me. I hoped she would. Then this charade would end. This game of lies that I played with each living breath. A farce that wasn’t even original.

And then she looked up. And I … forever a coward, instinctively moved backwards. She hadn’t seen me. She was looking at the birds flying in tandem to an unknown music, perfectly choreographed.  I was glad for a moment, and yet, despair seemed to raise its ugly head.

Was it that she trusted me so blindly, or was it that she knew and accepted it as a passing fancy ? And yet, with contrariness of emotions, I could feel a rage building within myself. But whom was this rage directed towards? Her for not noticing?  or me , for wanting her to notice and letting truth come to light, or towards my lover, who by her sheer presence made these lies necessary?

I looked at her receding back. She looked happy. A stranger on the road. My wife. She was happy. I wasn’t.

Presently, my lover demanded  to know what caught my attention. I said, it seemed like raining , as I closed the windows and returned to her welcoming arms.

Role – play…

“So what do you want from me?”, he asked exasperatedly.

“You know.. someone to talk to. someone to care. even though it is a paid one!”

They had gone through the same thing many times over in their sessions.

“Out there somewhere,  someone is waiting just for you. To love and to abide.. just for you”

“Then why am I yet so alone?”

“You have to go out there. Meet people. You cannot sit here, in this therapist’s office and find someone”

“I’ve got you!”, she says mischiviously.

“Are you flirting with me now? I am your doctor. I am not going to have an affair with you!”

“Whose talking about affair”

“Alright. Then I am not going to make love to you”

“Who said about making love. I meant sex” , she teased.

“I am a married man”

“So your being married the only deterrent for our getting together?”

“No. I am very much in love with my wife and I have no plans of having an extra marital affair. Is that what you want?”

“I don’t know what I want. I haven’t ever flirted with a married man. No married men and no men younger than me. That’s my rule.”

“You know you are every married man’s fantasy. No strings attached and yet an attractive, willing female.. What more would he want?”

“An attarctive wife who would pick stuff behind him and yet would hold his hand when he had a bad day when I would be busy bonking someone else”

“If we had an.. you know affair, you wouldn’t sleep with other people”

“But we wouldn’t..”

“No we wouldn’t! So lets talk something constructive. Why are you getting attracted to a married man now?”

“If we were to have an affair, would you stop having sex with your wife?” , she asked, totally ignoring his question.

“You know I can’t promise you that!”

“Then why should I?”

“but we are not going to , so it doesn’t matter”

“Ofcourse. But it were to happen, I would want to meet your wife atleast once.”

“Why?”

“To know the competition ofcourse.”

“This is absurd! I never thought you would go for married men. Didn’t suit your psychological profile. What do I know though.. you can be a special case. I can write a paper on you and become famous”, he said, subtly changing the subject and also trying to gain control of the situation.

“Oh that would be fab. Even I can help you type them out. I am faster than you.”

“That you are. And so you can.” Glad to have changed the subject finally.

“After we make out ofcourse..”, she said.

Stumped, he remained quiet.

So she asked, “So.. will we?”

“Will we what?”

“You know what I mean!”

The clock struck 6.00. Their one hour was up.

“Alright” he said, “Lets meet my wife”

They reached home. He took her to the mirror and said, “Darling, meet my would be lover. She is very persuasive. And insistent that we meet you before we had an affair”

“So when is this despicable act going to happen?, she asked with a smile, facing the mirror.

“In few seconds”, he said, carrying her to the bed.

P.S: I know this is way different than anything I have written so far. Ah well, I thought why the hell not try something way different! But one thing is common. There is a twist in the end. If you miss that one word, this whole story would make no sense to you! If you still want hint.. look for the title!

A story..

P.S: This was written on 1st july. Was languishing in the drafts for 2-3 days now 🙂

I have been shying away from responding to comments for some time. I have no excuses why. For some reason, the power supply at home has been really hap hazard. Its on and off every few hours.  Well I didnt really start this post for giving you guys update about my life..

I was traveling in the cab, when this snippet of conversation simply came into my mind. I loved it so much that I created this story in and around it. Hope you love it as much as I did. And yes. I will soon be replying to your emails and your comments and also, visiting you guys.

And yes! We are planning to go to this “haunted house” next weekend! I am so excited yay!!!

I haven’t named this story coz I have no clue what to name it as!

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How far would you risk your life for your art? ” He asked sardonically to one and all, while Jessica looked on admiringly.

She was lucky to have got the chance to work under Peter Green. He was one of the best photographer the world had come across. If he was arrogant, so what? She was willing to overlook that for all that he had taught her in 3 months. She hadn’t learnt that in 3 years that she spent in the university, even after devoted application.

When anyone praised her to him he would say, “Oh yes, she has talent. So what? Many do. What she will do with her talent is yet to be seen.

She wished, for once, he would acknowledge, she had as much passion as him for her vocation. It wasn’t just that. Photography was a religion and her camera, her god.

Its been six years, since she was an intern. Six long years. Providence had smiled on her. Today, she was a photographer to be reckoned with. Tauted as the only competition for the exemplary Peter Green, she had arrived in the international scene. If only he would accept that.

Jessica had long out grown her puppy crush on him. She now found him irritating, high handed and veritably pig headed. She had fought tooth and nail with him for the current assignment. And it was a hard won fight. She hadn’t won outright, but inched through. She had challenged him to do this assignment alongside her and gracefully said, may the best photo win.

His face, had been a joy to look upon. Recalling that thunderous face, Jessica chuckled as she settled for her next shot. She would show him, she was no less than him.

She adjusted her focus and changed the angle. But for some reason, the shot she had plan didn’t come through. At the edge of the cliff, she was rankling for a sweeping shot of the ravines down below. She had a fear of heights. She knew it was stupid for her to try for this shot. But his mocking eyes and those damnable eye brows raised in bemused expression flashed through her internal eye.

Damn him! She thought and inched till the edge. Vertigo seemed to slowly rise through her body and she precariously sat at the edge. She sat there for some time till the uneasiness settled and then aimed for her shot.

Finally happy with herself, she revelled in the beauty around her. The absolute stillness of the mountains gave her a sense of peace.  Soon it was inching towards the dusk and she tried to get up from the edge. She simply couldn’t manage. It was just to scary. She tried to get help but the signal of her mobile phone was down.

She was startled by a voice saying, ” I can push you down and no one would know, you know? Or better yet, I can simply leave you here for the wild animals to make a meal out of you“.

She knew he would be around. It wasn’t much of a surprise.  Peter Green had a knack of finding her in the worst situations.

But you wouldn’t will you?” she quipped

And why wouldn’t I?

Its just not your style. And besides, you have a competition to win. How can you win when you have no competition?. People would immortalize me like Marilyn Monroe. Who knows that better than you ?

Interesting thought. But no one will remember you if your body isn’t found. Don’t delude your self!

It would have been true may be. But  you like to win. And you can be satisfied with your winning only against worthy opponent.  I inspire you to do better. You are bored of being the best in the bunch of ninnies. You need me to make better art. Come on accept it! I am your only competition. You can never lose me.

The better way would be to simply steal your camera” he said pointing to the camera lying quite far away from her. She had pushed it to safety. “I am sure it is a wonderful shot and worth the risk. Else you wouldnt have taken the risk. I have taught you well

Of all the the things! The arrogant pig! She thought. He always could rile her up and he knew this. She could sense his upturned smile. Her fears were nothing but fun for him! She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her scared.

Oh so you agree I am as good as you if not better eh? I must threaten your talent indeed for you to contemplate stealing my pictures. But you know what.. I show hope and you portray  cynicism. No one will ever believe those pictures are yours.  Those who understand your art atleast. And they are the ones who matters isn’t it ?

God he loved this girl. She could sit with trembling feet at the edge of death and yet spar with him in words! He loved her grit, her humor her sharp wit and more than that.. he loved that she captured hope. She gave hope to him!

Ah! That is the only intelligent point you’ve said so far. And for that I will save you.. on one condition..

I knew this sounded too good to be true.. what do you want chicken head? You want me to withdraw from the competition?

Withdraw from something you would lose anyway? How can I waste this opportunity on that! Besides.. I just know how I would rub your face on the ground when my photo is chosen. Nah.. I want something more permanant kinds

what do you want?”, she asked a bit suspiciously

Will you marry me?” he smiled.

She looked at him for sometime and asked. “Do I have a choice ?”.  Sigh. “Yes I will

And they lived happily ever after. Nay. And then they fought happily ever after.

And if you are wondering who won the competition ? It was him. He had taken a photo of her sitting on the edge trying to be fearless while she was scared shitless. She was happy for him. After all it was a photo of her.. if not” her” photo 🙂

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It was just this conversation.. but I couldnt recapture the exact feel or the exact words. I hate when that happens. I even thought of a poem.. but lost it in my sleep 😦

P.P.S: This story is dedicated to Indyeah. Well this is not too mushy babes.. but there you go.. full of romance for you! 😀

The crown

She stood at the door for a moment. More out of nervousness than out of the need to be dramatic, but her face was impassive. Her innate grace and the noble mien gave such an aura of assurance and inscrutability that many were afraid to breach it.  And quite as few had taken it as a challenge only to be scorched by her razor sharp tongue.

None would believe that she once cleaned the very floor, she was standing on. But she had proved thousand times over that she is the worthy one. And that she was the missing princess. Taking comfort and possibly strength from such a thought, she entered the hall. 

She glided through like a swan, greeting her guests in a manner that was deemed proper, only to stumble mid way due to a tedious machination called as “heels”. Thus the crown slipped from her head and rolled over to a corner. 

The hostile guests didn’t leave this opportunity of mocking her and the hall resounded with eager albeit muted sniggers and snickering murmurs. Any other female would have blanched at such blatant display of hate and would have lost her calm. Not she, for she was made of tougher stuff. 

Without missing a beat, she retrieved the crown and quipped, “If I am to be the queen, and indeed I am, the crown shall adjust to me, not I to it.

Rimjhim gire saavan.. sulag sulag jaaye mann….

Little things go unnoticed. Like a sentence left unfinished. A touch unnoticed. A kiss almost distracted till its nothing but a quick brush. We rationalize it and why wouldn’t we? We are in love. And we simply are too busy securing us a future we dreamt about. Only we no longer dream, no longer communicate.

Silence that was once so comforting had become oppressive and then a habit. Words now are almost an afterthought. Nah! Don’t judge me too soon. Its not that I am complaining. I have nothing to complain about. We are happier than most. We can still claim to have a successful marriage. Thats better than most. And we almost never fight. Sometimes I simply wish we did!

Here we are , together, in this rain,at mercy of the rains and traffic. Trapped.

Once, we used this time to cuddle, to whisper sweet nothings.. to dare each other to break the rules of propriety and tease. Ah the sweet delicious touch that is hidden from the unprying eyes of the driver. He trying not to look back at the love struck couple who seem to be acting like a teenagers. Smiling stupidly, looking away shyly. And that open throated, pot bellied laughter full or notorious glee. Eyes hungrily savoring each other, lips taut with the unspoken promise of what awaited yet, on the periphery baiting time.

Clothes flung away hastily as hands explored hungrily. Unabated passion that raged all night only to be reawakened in the day. An unslathed hunger that kept us busy all weekends. Plans broken, forgotten.. excuses fabricated guiltily to friends, families, missed calls… And then blaming everything on the rain..

Nights spent listening to the splotches… drinking hot chocolate. Beneath the blanket wrapped in each others arms reading a novel together… Forgotten. Responsibilities.. Duty.. Career.. Success.. sucking everything away slowly unknowingly, until we became this sterile strangers.. you with your laptop busy typing out an email and me, staring out of the window looking at those young couples who are busy getting drenched, chasing each other in the rain…

My eyes hesitatingly seek respite in your welcoming gaze, only they are busy behind the sleek spectacles that time has gifted you with. I gaze at you for some more time. Nature has been really kind with you. Those crinkly laughing eyes are still honest and clear.. And the hair pickled with dusty grey is by and large quite black. You may have lost your youthful structure however the dignified stance is still the same. The ever ready to smile mouth too. And then you look at me amusedly and smile. I smile back and look outside again. Remembering old times.

Unerringly, in few moments my eyes return. There are new wrinkles on your face. The wedge that forms on your forehead, the worry lines , they give almost a sharp beak like look to your nose.  You havent noticed yet. An errant little drop has sneaked into the window and rested precariously on the tip.I wonder what you would do if I simply bend and kiss it away ?  Would you be surprised, irritated or glad? I wish I’d know. Its surprising really, how years together are supposed to make you come closer. Ten years down the line, I would have been absolutely sure about your response. And now, I simply don’t know.

Life with its twisted ironies. You impatiently look at the watch and ask the driver how much longer will it take. As if he is clairvoyant. He simply says its any body’s guess. There is a tree that has fallen down and has to be cleared. The workmen have not arrived yet. You look out of the window to see how far does this Jam go. In a moment you give up. And then, thinking about something you open the door and step out.

For a wild moment my heart skips. You are getting wet in the rain and would be asking me to join soon. But you walk away. Listlessly I ask the driver to turn on the radio. And suddenly I am transported to days that was. Vividly remembering how it was. God indeed has a dark sense of humor. They were playing old romantic songs. To suit the mood. Remember the times when we used to sing together on the terrace, getting wet together staring into each others eyes. Secure in the knowledge that no one is as crazy as us to be out in the wet. Secure that no one would notice us. And the pouring rains muffling our sounds until its an hazy whisper.. we never did complete any song. Other thoughts soon clouded our minds and we got distracted.. singing in between, broken verses, teasing.. and yet so reaffirming..

Welcome to Aapka show Aapki host on X FM the only radio station that  caters to your every mood. Mein hoon Avantika aapki pyaari dost. Aapki host. Aur aaj hamare saath hai Natasha. Natasha ko kon nahi jaanta? Aap sabhki humari sabhse pyaaru RJ.  Yeh aaj mere saath aapke phone call lengi attend karengi aur aap sabse baatein karengi.. toh jaldi se apna phone uthayiye aur humara number dial kijiye.. humara number hai.. #%$^%&&* “

I was jolted out of the reverie by her voice. I noticed that you had not returned and driver had stepped out too. You both were sitting by the roadside tapri and having hot tea.

Natasha. Remembered how I was jealous of her voice? For you used to stop whatever you were doing to just listen to her saying.. “Hello and Good morning everyone! This is Natasha buzzing you from…. “ You knew I was jealous. You found it so silly that you teased me about it all the time.. Its been years since you have done that. Tried to listen to her voice. I tried to woo you. I used to increase the volume when she came up. She came sparingly, as if she knew, we had no time for play. The tapriwala had a radio. I wondered now that you are free would you listen to her again ? Would you then mischeiviously look at me and wink ?

There your ears perked up. You may have not noticed.. but they do so like  a receiver buzzing with signal.. Gramaphone. I used to call you that to rile you up.

I remember my first conversation with Natasha. You had called her up on our aniversary from the airport. The first one of ours that was spent away. I had tuned into it hoping to feel closer to you. I knew if you could you wouldn’t miss her show. And knowing that even if you missed, you would be happy that I listened for you. It was such a shock to hear your voice. It was silly really I thought you have come back. I rushed to the door when I heard “ I want to tell her that I love her the most in this whole wide world.. I could have said it over the phone but I want everyone to know and that I wanted her to know that everyone knows that…” I couldn’t help but smile as tears streamed down my eyes. The joke. No one else can get it but you and me. I suppose that is what marriage is all about. A secret code. Hidden glances. Unspoken words. It was magic. It was perfect even when I knew you are going away and won’t be near for quite sometime. Has it gone lost? Jaded? Can it not be caught again ? I wondered what you were thinking right at this moment. Were you remembering too ? Or were you too pissed about missing your 7 o clk news? After all you were a creature of habit and detest any changes in it… But may be, the fire can be rekindled?

On an impulse I tried to call her up. It must be a omen . Her coming on air after all these years and her sultry voice reminding of all that was. I was lucky. I got connected. And I told them a story. Of a rain trapped evening and how two souls entwined forever in a song. They were so drowned in it that they could never sing it till the end. Though both knew it by heart and have listened to it many an evenings together but they have never sung it to the last. For to have sung it till the end meant that evening was complete. And they can never let that evening turn into the night. And then I requested that song… Slowly the tunes of Rimjhim gire saavan.. sulag sulag jaaye mann…. mingled with the welcoming drops/

I knew that song will get you back to the car, besides me. And now, I can see you walking towards me. I  knew the magic was never lost. It was forgotten. But like those hidden embers all it needed was a gentle breeze and it blazed and throbbed like a fire.