Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Redundant Life


‘I wouldn’t be having dinner tonight’, I told mom as I came running from a friend’s place who resides near by.

I went straight to my room to avoid the gamut of questions my most caring mother was ready with. I tried sleeping keeping books aside but I knew it wouldn’t come that easy.

This wasn’t for the first time that I felt somebody was stalking me. It has been a week now. The only reason for not discussing with anyone was that I thought, it is just a figment of my imagination. But it’s kind of getting precarious now.

‘What if this is not an illusion?’
‘What if somebody is actually following me?’
‘What if someday he finds me in a secluded place and tries to kill me?’

The thoughts not just hounded but haunted me. I got up petrified and drenched as if someone poured a pail of water. The clock struck 2. Had I been sleeping for long 6 hours? I wondered why mom didn’t come when she knows I have to have milk before sleeping.

I could hear some noise in the living room. Suddenly the tumult reached its height. Somebody was watching the television and I could hear people murmuring. Who can be awake at this odd hour of time? Wobbling, I stepped out of my room and found the house was illuminated. There were so many people running hither and thither. I saw mom serving snacks but who are they?

‘What’s happening here?’ I asked my mother puzzled.

‘Oh some guests turned up. Your father’s friends’, she said calmly.

‘At this time? Are they out of their wits or what?’ I sounded irritated.

‘Watch that tongue. What has happened to you? I don’t think 9 is late enough to fuss on’, she said losing her cool. She was shocked at my edgy behavior as I don’t normally behave like this.

‘Is it just nine? I thought ….’ I stopped in midway as someone asked for water and mom hurried into the kitchen to fetch it.

I turned to go back to my room when suddenly I heard my name.

‘Devika, come here. Let me introduce you to my friends’, dad called.

Soon after the formal introduction I excused myself from the horde. I checked the room clock and discovered that the weak batteries had conned me. I don’t know till how long the guests stayed as I had gone back to sleep after having milk.

‘Trinnggggggg..’, the door bell rang. It was my best friend Riya who had come to go to the college with me.

‘Devika you are not yet ready. We will be late for the lecture and you know Miss Weird Sharma.’, she sounded panicky.

‘Just give me 5 more minutes please’, I requested her.

We reached in time and everything seemed normal but the horrifying thoughts still clouded my senses. Being in a pensive mode, I couldn’t concentrate on anything that was being taught. I wanted to discuss this with Riya but I know she will only deplore.

“I believe the concept of ‘Demand’ and ‘Supply’ is clear to all of you…. Now that everyone is silent and confident, let me ask a few questions”, Miss Sharma said wryly.

‘Okay let us begin with the easiest one. Devika, I would want you to explain the relation between the two’, she asked sardonically.

I got up and stood mute as I barely heard the question plus I wasn’t interested too.

‘If you have come here only for attendance, I’ll mark it. Don’t sit here absent-minded’, she recited her favorite dialogue.

She was right; there was no point sitting there. I dauntlessly made my way out of the room. A few apologies will cover it up but I was in no frame of mind to elucidate the cause.

I left the college and started my way back home. I knew someone was stalking me as I could hear the rhymic taps of the footsteps. He patted on my shoulder as I ignored the repetitive ‘Excuse Me’s’.

‘Hi, my name is Vaibhav. I have been noticing you for long but never got an opportunity to converse, as you were always surrounded by your friends’, he said smiling.

‘Do you think it’s just you who noticed? I very well know that you have been coaxing me for long. What did you think you’ll frighten me? Let me tell you that I am not terrified and you better keep your dirty hands off me else you will soon find yourself behind the bars. Do you understand that?’ I blurted out my frustration. He stood there nonplussed, gaping at me. I guess he didn’t expect the retaliation.

‘You are taking me wrong. I never chased you, atleast listen to me’, he implored.

‘Don’t act smart. I know, now that you are caught, you are trying to defend yourself. I won’t buy a single word because I am so damn sure about your moves’; I started off as if I’ll never stop.

‘I am so sorry. It is entirely my mistake. I didn’t know I am wasting my time on a paranoid’, he ranted sarcastically.

I knew it was his ploy so it didn’t matter to me. The rest of the way was peaceful but the night was restless. He didn’t look like a stalker to me but face values aren’t worth a dime. Above that the word ‘paranoid’ hung like a sword in my gyrating mind.

A few weeks went by and I was content to know that I have detected the culprit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end as I sensed the same yet again. I have to tell this to Riya.

Next morning I dictated the entire experience to her. As expected she didn’t believe it and commiserated.

‘I think you are too stressed out. Why don’t you eke out some quality Z’s?’, she consoled.

Being my closest friend, I thought Riya would understand but she disappointed me. There is nobody else with whom I can discuss about it. It continued to happen and what baffled me was that I never saw that guy again….

It was a nice appeasing weather and I decided to take a stroll thinking that it might help me keep worries off my mind. I wasn’t too far from my place when I heard the foot-stomps. I turned and found a group of people approaching me. I scampered and saw dad in halfway. They all vanished as soon as I asked him to identify them. He was flabbergasted to hear what I’d been going through.

He looked after me, loved me and did everything to pacify but nothing helped which shocked him. The thoughts didn’t seem ready to escape my mind. It was indubitable that either somebody was stalking me or I was being made a victim of some filthy game.

Another day, to my surprise, dad took me to a health centre. Though I didn’t want to go but for his sake I agreed. The professional diagnosed me and asked for an additional visit. This time he very conveniently convinced dad that I am suffering from Schizophrenia. As the name of the disease was a jargon so he explained him, that it is psychotic disorder wherein a person gets hallucinations, for example, they hear voices and witness images that are imaginary. But you don’t panic, it’s curable. I assure you………

He wanted to continue but I was overhearing and couldn’t tolerate anymore, so I barged into the room.

‘It’s preposterous. I am perfectly all right. Trust me dad, he is a bloody quack’, I shouted pointing towards the doc.

My agitation went against me and proved him right. I was taken back home and was treated like a psychologically challenged person. My own parents, who have fostered me for 20 years trusted the physician and not me.

I was totally shattered and was forced to do this to myself. I exercised my brains a lot and it was not easy to make a gross decision of killing myself. But it was better to die than to live a life like an alien amongst your own with a tattered soul.

I am writing this note to let you know that I wasn’t insane and it’s not a morbid death.

Hope you believe me brother. I am sorry that I didn’t wait for your arrival because I knew you wouldn’t have let me do this. I missed you.

Your loving sister,


I was numb by the time I reached the end of the note. We had the best of time together and today I feel so helpless sitting in front of my adorable sister’s cadaver. A gust of tears rolled down my cheeks and I was hurt to discover that my parents kept it a secret.

I cursed myself for not being there with her when she needed me the most. I wanted to clamor and tell her that it doesn’t matter if anyone trusted her or not but I believed every word that was written.

I wish I could bring her back……

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fickle Fate

My heart skipped a beat, the moment he made his appearance out of nowhere. We could only see each other’s face and I was glad for that. He had changed beyond recognition. The French beard was gone plus he looked haggard. What didn’t change was his radiant pair of eyes. Those deep eyes, that had an ocean brimmed with infinite unanswered questions, were fixed on me. I could not help but stare back and implored the moment to freeze. It was so much like the first time we saw each other. Though I have someone else in my life now but all this while he remained and will remain a part of me…

3 years ago

"Just zip your lip Yash and how many times will I tell you to call me Anika?"

‘Masi please take me to the fair naaa’, my nephew beseeched ignoring the tirade.

The fair is so boring Yash and did you just say Masi again? (It may give a nice feeling calling it out but it surely doesn’t sound nice at an age of 21). Now stop reciting the same like a parrot.

‘Okay Masi, I promise I won’t call you Masi again but I really want to see the fair’, he replied ingenuously.

His consecutive pleas made my adamant heart melt. Finally after an hour’s long session inundated with excuses, I gave up.

‘All right, I’ll take you but mind you, I won’t stay a minute longer than half an hour’, I commanded and his face beamed with joy.

So there we were at the so called Fair that appeared more like a Fish market to me. No wonder as they both share the same initial which is ‘F’. While Yash enjoyed checking out the new Formula 1 racing cars that required no fuel (Thank God!) but just two dry batteries for the remote control, I preferred to saunter.

I couldn’t find anything captivating except for one that stood right in front of me but thankfully a good distance away. He was arrestingly handsome with eyes oozing sheer innocence. His constant gaze didn’t make me fluster rather it made me feel special. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and I hated myself for that. I was like a lost ball in high weeds. We stood like statues, oblivious of our surroundings but neither of us could muster the guts to initiate a conversation. It was when Yash shook my hand, I came to my senses.

‘You were right Masi, this fair is uninteresting. Let’s go back’, he requested.

‘Oh no, I was badly mistaken. It’s so lively and colorful. Why don’t you try the swings out there?’ I tried to convince him.

‘I want to go home. Didn’t you say that you won’t stay a minute longer than half an hour? Will you not keep your words?’ he said. He repeated my dialogues verbatim. I doubt if he ever learns his chapters that well.

Any further argument would be imbecile, so we began our journey back home. I felt this incredible urge to go back and speak to him but if destiny permits, I’ll surely see him again. It seemed like he too wanted to talk to me as he made a sudden move when he saw me leaving but I guess something restricted him.

Next day I went to that place again hoping to catch his glimpse but couldn’t spot him anywhere. A watched pot never boils and so was the case with me. After a week and a half, I encountered him again. He looked much better today or it was probably because I was so engrossed that I failed to notice anything. He had meticulously defined features and a smile to die for.

He looked at me and waved his hand. Such a basic gesture sent shivers down my spine. He accosted me and said ‘Hi, I am Abhishek. You can call me Abhi’ (How Filmy! I said to myself)

I wanted to say a hundred things but all I could utter was ‘Hi, my name is Anika’. We chose to chat over a coffee and found a bistro without much of an effort. That is when I came to know that he is from Chandigarh and has come to Delhi to pay a visit to his relatives. The smile on my face vanished the moment he mentioned that he has to go back in next 5 days. What restored the smile was that he wanted to meet me again.

We met the successive day and discussed everything under the sun. I enjoyed every bit of it and it was evident that he liked it too. We had so many things in common and my hunch about his innocence was absolutely right.

Days flew away and finally came the fifth day or should I say the parting day though it was for a brief period. He said I shouldn’t be sad; he will come to meet me after a month.

He kept his promise by making a call everyday without fail. He loved me and kept reminding by iterating this umpteen times a day. We had endless conversations that soon it turned into a necessity. A month seemed way too long to me. Above that his plan got shelved which only helped in aggravating my restlessness.

After long 38 days (to be precise), he came to see me and I was elated. We chatted, giggled, fought, clamored and tried spending as much time together as we could in those two short days. We wandered in hope to find a placating place away from this perplexing world. Luckily near the lake we found a bench that wasn’t in a good shape but who cared.

‘You are the most beautiful person I’ve come across’, he whispered.

‘Uhuh, I can see your nose growing’.

‘Yeah right! Just trying to compete with you’, he sniggered.

‘Very funny’, I said with a tinge of sarcasm.

‘Hey don’t be angry sweets, I was only kidding. Did I mention that I like your smile a lot?’

‘A simple tip: Start brushing your teeth properly; soon you will start liking your smile too’, I chuckled.

‘Annie, you are so unromantic’. He sounded irked.

‘Yeah right! Just trying to compete with you’, I imitated. He smiled and canoodled.

We went on and on….

Soon it became a wont. He started visiting me once a month and I treasured the time we spent together. A year passed by making our love grow stronger.

‘Hi dear, how are you? I wanted to intimate you that tomorrow early morning I am leaving for Mumbai with my family’, I dropped a message as his mobile was out of coverage.

He called after an hour. ‘Just got your message. What happened? Is everything all right? Why such sudden plan? How long are you going to be there?’, he started impatiently with a gust of questions.

‘Take a breath. You have asked me four questions, so tell me which one do you want me to answer first?’ I asked cutely.

‘I was just worried baby, Okay now without any further delay, will you please tell me why are you going there?’, he still sounded impatient.

‘Relax! It’s that my cousins have come down from London and want us to come to Mumbai. I am going to stay there for a week’, I answered.

‘Oh wow, that’s a big news. I’ll be having a whole week to relax. I hope you wouldn’t be available on phone?’, he giggled.

‘I am so sorry to disappoint you but yes my number will be in use.’

‘Hey I’ll miss you. Take good care of yourself and don’t forget that I love you a lot’, he said in a quivering voice.

He was close to tears. This was something novel and intimidating too. I couldn’t understand the reason behind that.

‘I love you too’, I muttered.

This was the last time we spoke to each other.

I with my family shifted to Mumbai and my number being the only source of contact had changed. So neither he had my contact number nor was he aware of my whereabouts.

It all happened in a jiffy that I didn’t even get time to absorb the reality. I loved him so much to let anyone else take his place.

I was wrong…..


Back to present

I was so lost in the past thoughts that I failed to notice him approaching and I don’t know how long he stood there silent, looking at me.

‘Why did you do this? I kept rummaging but couldn’t find you anywhere’, he said helplessly.

I wanted to retrogress but wasn’t agile enough as I felt weaker under his spell. I never wanted to encounter him again because I knew it will be more than hard for me to answer his persistent questions. He was firm and patiently stood there waiting for me to reply.

‘It’s all water under the bridge now. We should better not discuss about it.’, I inveighed.

‘I just want an answer and I promise you wont see me for dust’. He meant it.

‘I have someone else in my life who is going to be there forever. It’s good if you can get it through your head’, I tried to sound rude and strong. It worked.

It was apparent that he wasn’t convinced and wondered why am I lying. A tear rolled down his cheek. Without a second question, he turned his back towards me and started moving in an opposite direction. I know he wasn’t hurt, he was totally shattered.

Streams of water left my eyes and I prayed that he doesn’t look back. I did not intend to do this but probably we were not destined to be together. I wanted to hold him and explain the whole hapless episode but that wasn’t the option I had. I never felt that helpless before. Within a few minutes he was out of my sight. I stood there cursing my fate that separated us and imposed someone else on me. Someone who has become my support for lifetime after meeting with the hazardous accident in Mumbai. The two wooden extensions for my crippled legs…