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The beginning of our fall

“I am scared Ryan! What if..” “You must relax Tara. All will be well. We are almost there at the hospital. Try holding on for a while.”

She had asked me stay back home, she knew that she wasn’t alright. It was her last trimester and I should have been there next to her but I wasn’t. I had these dreams of building a perfect future for our kid, a world which we couldn’t receive. I never realised how carried away I would become. I never did, even then.

We luckily reached on time, and all went well. Our daughter Arya was born. She had her mothers eyes, those curious little ones which followed me wherever I went.

But now when I reminiscence the day, I could clearly sense that something broke between me and Tara. She didn’t actually confront me but I could see it in her eyes. I had let her down, and it became the beginning of our fall.

#EpisodesOfLove  #Tara&Ryan

The First Night

Marriages are mostly arranged in India. Mine was no different. It was in the fall of 1999, I had been working for a civil consulting firm for the past four years and was ready to take the big step of marriage. I had a failed relationship when I was in college; the heart break had left me shattered for years. I just didn’t have the courage or the excitement to move on. The pain was pretty intense initially but it waned way with time, slowly bit by bit. Now when I was ready to get hitched, a small part of me became curious, the one which badly wanted to fall in love all over again. That’s when Tara happened to me. She and I had met only a couple of times before we got married. We didn’t get a chance of getting to know each other more, it was only after marriage that we realised how perfect we were for each other.

The first night together is always the most awkward phase in any arranged marriage. I remember Tara walking in with the trademark glass of milk in her hand. Her hands were shivering as she placed the glass on the table and sat right next to me. We both were nervous and we both didn’t know what to speak then.

“What do you know about me, Tara?” I passed a line to break the silence.

“That you work for a consulting firm and you’re a talented civil engineer.”

“About my personality, my character?” I stressed. Her eyes moved curiously towards me.

“I think…that you love speaking a lot. You didn’t give me a chance to speak back then when we met.” She had a sigh of relief as she finally muttered those words. I on the other hand was a little shocked but pleasantly happy. She was finally speaking up and it was my turn to reciprocate.

“You had those curious eyes stuck on me, just the way you have them now. Every time I finished a statement, your expression remained the same so I thought you were expecting more. And so I went on!”

“You have a nice voice Ryan. It felt like I have heard your voice somewhere. It was like a deja vu for me. That’s why that expression I believe.”

“Thank you. That’s a first. Where did you hear me before?”

“Do the math engineer. Where could our lives possibly intersect?”

“I had attended an event in your college. But I don’t know whether you were there in the audience. We were staging a play and I was the narrator. That’s the only connect I can think of. I moved to Delhi, and you to Bangalore.” Still thinking where else she could have heard me.

“Do you remember the host for the event?”

“I don’t, to be frank. But there surely was a lot of hooplah by my friends about the cute host. I on the other hand was busy on my phone, narrating every detail to my ex.”

“You are bang on. But I didn’t knew that I also got compliments! I was too scared of my saree, I had worn it for the first time.” She paused for a while, then continued as she passed me the milk and picked up an apple for herself.

“Ex? What happened, if you don’t mind?”

“Not a problem, it was a long time ago. We broke up after college. Long distance doesn’t work in my case. To be honest it took me time to get over her. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I had so gotten used to her company that after we fell apart, I found no one to share them with. My stories, my emotions, I just couldn’t handle them.”

“Then how did you cope?”

“I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, time does heal. I found my voice through my blogs, I tried to showing my emotions in open. I slowly tweaked my quality to become more of an extrovert. It wasn’t easy but I had already made up my mind to make things work. So I think they finally did.”

“That was deep!”

“I have a habit of going deeper in conversations. Hope you don’t mind.”

“I am similar on that note.” She added.

“Tell me your story? Boyfriend?”

“Where do I start?”

“That seems like a long list!” I tried my humour but all I got was a blank expression from her. She sat down near me, after placing back the jewels, with a dead pan expression, looking straight at the wall in front.

“No Ryan. Akash was the only one.”

“What happened then?”

There were tears that started to appear. She spoke slowly and finally uttered, “He is no more.”

“What? How?…Sorry.”

“It was three years ago. There was a car accident, a lorry had rammed into his vehicle. And I didn’t see him again.”

“I had just spoken to him an hour before then. I never knew that it would be our last. I never knew that.”

“I am sorry Tara. I really am.”

“Don’t be Ryan. I am okay now. He is the reason for me starting my NGO, “Rakshak”. It deals with implementing better rules and infrastructure for road safety. We are working with the government to get the Act together, and if brought in & passed by the house it would be revolutionary Ryan.”

“I now remember. I saw your interview in “The Hindu”, Tara. You have wonderful ideas lady, I hope your dream succeeds.”

“Thank you Ryan. Won’t you be supporting me?”

“Always will, always.”

“You still thinking about Akash?” She enquired.

“Yeah. See I will try making one thing clear Tara. I won’t try to take the place what you have for Akash; I won’t ask or compel you to forget him. He is part of you and I respect that.”

I could see her eyes get moist again; she had those curious eyes back on me. She wiped away the tears and made herself comfortable on the sofa.

“Come here Ryan. Are you tired or can you narrate a story to me?”

I smiled as I sat to her left, and narrated the story I know the best. Her expressions, I could never forget them, they were the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. She had her giggle going for her, and I saw her finally the way I always hoped her to be, smiling. The conversation went long; we moved from one story to another but managed to keep our curiosity burning high even after the exhausting talk.  That night we shared a sofa, like all friends do. She dozed off on one end while I on the other. We woke up with a smile for eternity in our eyes but never knew that we would end up divorcing each other eight years later.

I got up from my seat as I saw her coming. It felt like she hadn’t aged at all, the twinkle in her eyes remained alive for me. Though we did have our share of grey hair, but a date was a date. That too after ten long years since we separated. I decided to narrate what I knew the best, and she was all ears to the old story of mine which she had heard enumerable times before. Her curious eyes remained the same, even after eighteen years since that night of our marriage. So I began.

#Tara&Ryan
#EpisodesOfLove

The Seperation 

“I sat down, recollecting and refurbishing the details of our last encounter. The time froze as the thoughts poured in to the floating phrases that I had been left to deal with. I closed my eyes, and finally allowed them the space to regroup into a complete whole for me to understand. The play was disturbing; the first thought that sparked reminded me of the void she had left, years ago. It’s really strange that the first possible thought we get when we meet someone, who used to be close, is the one of departure, the one that actually hurts.

It was raining heavily that day; cyclone warning had been issued and the landfall was expected in the next 6 hours. I still remember the frantic calls she had made to my office and how easily I had brushed them aside. She kept telling me to come home soon but I had an important client to satisfy. The deal would have been a big boost to my company, it would have sent us to the next level and I was too ambitious to avoid that. The last call that I received from her was on 8:05 P.M. There were 12 missed calls from her in total. When I finally gave her a call an hour later, the lines were left jammed. I kept trying her phone but all I could hear was how unreachable she was. I didn’t leave hope, as I frantically called her number every other minute, but signal was nowhere to be found.

I left the office in a hurry, managed my way through the overflowing flood to finally reach home. The lights were cut off, the house door was left open. The water had seeped in and all the items were floating in the verandah. I sensed my daughter’s teddy bear near my leg, while her favourite red dress was flowing away in to the main road. I couldn’t control my anxiety any more; the endless thoughts were running amok in my head. All of them related to their safety but I couldn’t find a trace of that in the house. I enquired with the neighbours but nobody was able to answer. I leaned towards the wall and seated myself with the tears that began to flow; it even beat the rain that stopped half a day later.

Next day, I reached my friend’s place after I received a text from her about Tara and Arya.

“Is she safe? How is Arya? Where are they?”

“They are upstairs.” She replied.

As I made my way towards the stairs, my friend stopped me with words that shook my world and left me shattered in a second.

“She wants divorce Ryan. She can’t handle you anymore.”

I didn’t want to believe those words, my Tara can never do that to me. I know my selfish self was talking again, but some characters in us are really difficult to be plucked.

I went ahead with the stairs and knocked her door only to hear the same words from Tara. The only difference was that this one broke my heart to pieces which I was sure would be never fixed again. I could hear my daughter sob from a distance but I wasn’t allowed inside the room. The door remained shut despite my endless protests. I didn’t realise then that the door would be bolted for me forever.

We signed the divorce papers the next Wednesday, and the last sight I remember of my daughter was in the court where her mother took the custody from me forever.

Today after ten long years, I saw Tara again.”

#EpisodesOfLove
#Tara&Ryan

Heartfelt (Part-2)

Written for a competition by Times of India.

This is the continuation of the earlier part which I posted yesterday. 

Ten years had passed since our first kiss, we had many fights like any other couple but we did love each other more than any other couple we knew. But we dared to say it in public that we loved each other like lovers because we knew that our parents will never accept and our society will never permit. It was always a closed affair, there were many rumours about us but we never cared, we never did. She was my pillar of strength, she was the reason for my hard work which eventually paid off as I got selected for Junior Nationals in 100m and 200m sprint. Those were happy days, I thought to myself.

Finally we decided to tell our parents about our uncanny love for each other, we wanted to live together somewhere but with their permission. It was she who broke the news first, she did expect her parent’s reaction but what shocked her was their action. They disbanded her out of their sight, locked her up in a room and then found the earliest match for her to get married to. They forced her to a point where she couldn’t refuse, and the only options left with her were to elope or to forget me forever.

There we were, seeing our worlds shatter in a single day; I was sobbing in her arms but she comparatively was more strong and determined to get us out of this mess. I told her that my mother had thrown me out of her house; she felt I was a disgrace to her and she even said that she would have been happier if I wasn’t even born to her in first place. As Sakshi heard my side of the story, she came close and hugged me while I held her tightly as I felt that this might be our last. She tried to console me, by telling me about the times worse than this and how we had emerged victorious then. But I knew it in my heart then that this would be it; this would be the one which would break us into pieces and I knew she felt the same.

Suddenly out of nowhere, a black colour Innova appeared and her parents walked out. She knew her time was up, so she hugged me tight for one last time and she left. I never saw her again after that.

I never knew what happened with her later. Whenever I tried to find something out about her, I was always met with a deep silence. She just disappeared leaving a number of rumours which I started to believe in with passing of time; some said she married and left, some said she went abroad and some even went to the extent by saying she committed suicide. I knew she would never do that, I only hoped she would be happy wherever she was.

I felt like a broken glass, a dying soul who was searching for a new meaning in her life. There were always murmurs of me being a lesbian but it fell into deaf ears when she was there with me but now, I had started to take them seriously. I tried hiding behind an invisible veil; I tried becoming someone who I wasn’t, may be it was to escape the humiliation by the society or maybe I didn’t have the strength anymore to fight them all alone. I only missed her more in all this and that made me miserable. So with the passage of time I tried keeping myself occupied ,24×7, and the only option for me was to run.

I had qualified for the senior nationals in 100 m and 200 m race, and as the procedure went by, I had to undergo many medical tests which I cleared by flying colours, except one thing. The very thing which my mom never told, the thing which said I had two hearts connected in one me. Initially I felt this was some kind of a joke, but when I really understood its meaning, I didn’t really know whether to be happy or sad. I just remained numb. The news had become public, and suddenly the Kolhapur express was the main headline of every news channel, making me an instant public celebrity.

Days passed by, and a strange request knocked my door. It was from a major celebrity who had been hospitalised for several days because of his weak heart. He was pretty famous around the globe, they said he was the man who knew infinity; some said he was better than Ramanujan. The doctors had found that I was among the few who could save me. They said my heart would fit perfect for him and it would be wonderful if I could help. They even went ahead to say, that the operation would carry no danger to me.

My mother rejected it on the face, but she knew that I took my decisions on my own. So she left it for me to decide.

I turned aside, trying to pull myself back from the memory spiral which I had fallen into a while ago. I tried focussing but I felt only pain and anger which I had stored for years now. I didn’t want to help the society who had taken Sakshi away from me and left me discarded for their whims and fancies. I just didn’t want to; but somewhere inside my heart I knew that this wasn’t the ending I deserved. I knew that deep down, I was still that sweet girl who had so much love left for this world, who treated every day as a special, the same sweet girl who I had locked inside after Sakshi left and disappeared into thin air.

Next day, I passed on a message to my mother that I was ready for the donation. She was shell shocked, she tried to convince me but I was adamant. I was holding a piece of paper which Sakshi had given it to me before she left. Tears filled up my eyes, as my mother read the message to me while I lost myself in her memories, smiling faintly with a satisfaction of finally achieving peace with myself.

“Dear Rhea,

I want you to remember this thing that it’s not the world which we have to make peace with, it’s with oneself that matters. It’s not what others do for you which matters but what you do for them which matters more. Don’t curse others for our present; they might never understand our purity of love, but that doesn’t mean we have to spread hatred like them. It’s up to us to spread the message of love, the one which we understood when we were together, and the very one which made us come together. I won’t budge a day to do that, you don’t either. Let’s celebrate and make people aware, that love is free and could be between anyone irrespective of their gender, caste or race.

I love you Rhea, always forever.

Yours Sakshi”

 

Heartfelt

Written for a competition organised by Times of India

‘Are you sure, Rhea?’ asks my mother.

‘Of course I’m. Survival of the fittest, mother. I’m not going against Darwin. Also I don’t want unnecessary scars on my body.’

It’s a known fact that we are all born to die. And frankly, I don’t understand why it has to be made into such a big deal. If it were not for my mother I would have said that to the bunch of people outside my house, some of them with young kids, shouting slogans, waving placards, literally wanting me to cut one of my beating hearts out. “Save A Life. Donate!” they shout.

For someone who is one in billions, 7.125 billion to be exact, I expect to be treated better. Scientists are still befuddled regarding my condition that gave me two hearts in my mother’s womb. But years of research and sticking needles into me have led them nowhere, and they have labelled me as a freak mutation. It’s so rare – literally one in all humankind – that they didn’t even name the anomaly (as they call it, I will call it awesomeness). I wanted to name the condition myself, something on the lines of Rhea’s Heartsawesome but the doctors aren’t thrilled with the suggestion. Instead they want to cut one of them out and save a life. Huh?

An IQ of 180, increased concentration, exceptional athleticism and a phenomenal metabolism rate – are just the few boring benefits of an increased blood circulation. Why would I ever give that up?

Why would I, unless it was for her, the girl who I fell in love with. All of a sudden I found my time reverse as the old memories started to flood in one after the other.

Images started to flash out brightly as I tried to remember my miserable school days. Bad days they were, as I thought to myself, especially the day where someone had made their disgust on me public. With bold letters, they had written in a much derogatory fashion, that I was a boy who acted as a girl. The rumor had spread like a wild fire, I was typecast by everyone and the social boycott finally began. No one spoke to me or even sat next to me, even the teachers supported this, thus legitimizing the boycott. I felt that everyone carried with them a free right to insult me, while I was left with nothing but to suffer.

I tried telling my mother about this but to no avail. She was too busy running the house, especially after my father’s demise. There would be days where I would wait to catch a glimpse of her but even that occurred very rarely. The only person who I relied was my sister; she was my beacon of hope. It was she who suggested me to concentrate on sports than think about what others were whispering about me. She always dreamt high and even encouraged me to use my talents to win a medal for India in the Olympics.

My love for sprinting was always there, and I am still pretty good at it; those days, no one in the neighborhood had dared to challenge me for a race because they all knew that it was impossible to beat The Kolhapur Express, no matter what. It was through this passion in sports which brought me recognition and also an admission in one of the most reputed girls’ school in the city. The school atmosphere was new to me; the kids were from fairly rich background where I on the other hand was from a lower middle class family. As it happens everywhere, an introvert like me couldn’t secure a single friend amid the cluster of girls. So I followed my Dee’s advice and tried giving me those wings where I could literally fly through the race circuit. I trained hard which naturally gave me results as I ended up winning all the gold medals in 100m, 200m and 400m running events in the inter school competition. This gave me my very first detractors, the very ones who wrote those bold wording on the blackboard which left a big scar on me.

It was only a day after my sister’s marriage that the incident had occurred. I had no one to share it with, which made my situation even worse. A new girl by the name Sakshi had arrived a few days later, I still remember that day like it was only yesterday. She came and sat next to me, surprising all the other fellow students including me. There was a huge silence in the class as she began to speak to me; everyone started staring at her as if they have seen a Christmas ghost. I fumbled in my reply as I couldn’t believe it myself either, but corrected myself as I replied, “Hello, my name is Rhea.”

She kept smiling at me as we went over to the canteen for an early snack; she kept inquiring about me, my likes, my dislikes and many things more. Then we both came to a conclusion that our tastes were similar and our preferences always matched, which made us inseparable as the time passed and thus marked a destiny within us. We kept no secrets between us, except the one about the rumor which I wished she never asked.

One fine morning, a few days before our boards I think, we were both sitting near the race track and waiting for our coach to arrive. We were all alone, and there was a kind of silence in our eyes. We did speak a lot but the eyes were transfixed as if everything has come to a stop. There was some kind of a spark which I felt when I looked at her that day but couldn’t decipher what it was. Finally she broke the silence about the thing which was running in her head, “Rhea the first day when I saw you, I felt a spark in my heart which led me to you; I didn’t know what that feeling was, but every time I tried to speak to you, my heart started racing with every word you spoke. I just felt a massive emptiness when you weren’t around; it was surreal and was really new to me.”

Before I could speak a word more, she continued, “by the way I did knew about the rumor but I knew it was never true. You are special and people will always be jealous of you; so don’t worry no matter what happens I am not leaving your side.”

I couldn’t get a word out to say something in return, the only thing which I was able to do was to break down and pour my heart into her. I cried and cried, till she brought me close, close enough to hear her racing heart beats. We hugged each other in solace, with tears flowing down across each other cheeks. I even felt the sun shining in happiness as it looked upon two lost souls who have reunited finally. I tried to sway her tears down as we looked upon each other, lost in each other’s eyes, when she finally moved close and kissed me on my lips. The thought gives me goose bumps even today; it was the most beautiful thing that had happened to me, even true today.

To be continued in the next part.

The initial part of the story ( 1st 20 lines) was given in the competition, and was written by Durjoy Dutta, a famous Indian writer. 

 

The Phone Number #1

Fiction

Exploring the tinsel town of Allahabad was an experience I wouldn’t dare to forget. I had been posted here only a few days ago and was working as a Graduate engineer trainee in one of the reputed construction firms. I had been sent here to add the numerical strength to the depleting supervising bench of the firm over there, which I was initially hesitant but later convinced myself when a convenient incentive was offered.

But I was all stuck and confused, as all the names of the shop were in Hindi and being a South Indian, it was bit of challenge to comprehend. But I did find the shop which I was looking for, the mobile recharge shop. I had to buy a new SIM as I couldn’t tolerate the roaming which was already killing my meagre salary. The shopkeeper assured me of activation within 24 hours, which in actual took another 24 to be put it in use.

And the first message as soon as the number got activated wasn’t even from the telecom provider but it was from some hot shot bank. I opened in curiosity and found lakhs of rupees being transferred into some account number which was also displayed along with the message. Within a span of one hour, I had ended up receiving 20 messages, each carrying a message from the same bank and the same amount. I didn’t think it was some advertising propaganda because the balance kept increasing and stood at an astonishing 1 crore rupees as displayed in the last message. I was in total disarray because I couldn’t comprehend such a huge transaction, all done in parts and all done on a single day.

Three days later

Sipping my tea while I watched the fog engulf the road ahead; the cold had started to take its toll but mind remained restless to know why these messages where delivered to me and why haven’t they stopped. As I unchecked the last message, the phone starts beeping again but all the more continuous this time, so I decided to answer to this unknown number, totally unaware of the mess I was getting into.


Writer’s Note: This is first of the three part series, titled “The Phone Number”.