Monday, June 20, 2011

Two friends

 This story is a work of complete fiction and any resemblance to any characters or incident in reality is just coincidental.
I wish I could say the above line but unfortunately or fortunately it is not the truth. This story is about two young boys in their adolescent age. They had been friends since they were 8 or 9 years old. Now they are 16 years old. Both young, immature but want to break into the world outside. Like all young boys they had one problem. A common problem. Parents.

Ram is brilliant, smart and always the life of a party. He has always been in the top 5 rank-holders in the class. And everybody liked him. Bharath is just another average guy. He was smart in his own way but never outdoing Ram and he had always been with Ram since they met. Bharath was never as popular as Ram nor as liked but he was not worried that much about that fact. For him, he had a good friend Ram and a few more good friends. They were a gang. And he was content.

This was the time when they had completed their public exams (12th standard), waiting for their results and preparing for their entrance exams. Both had certain liberties like - to go out of their home, visit friends and have fun. And they had too many restrictions (atleast according to them) like "don't talk against parents", "be at home on time", "keep studying always", "don't watch TV" and so on. I think you get the idea. There was always a tension prevailing at home and both of them wanted to be out. With their friends.

They both attended the same coaching center for their entrance exams "Victory Coaching Center (VCC)". It was a routine those days to ride back home together until the road split for their individual homes. One evening after such a class, they started with their bicycles and Ram asked, "Can we go somewhere? I need to talk to you." This was new for Bharath. He was not sure what to answer. He was contemplating his own problem (going late to home). Noticing Bharath's hesitation Ram insisted, "I just don't want to go home yet." This was totally unexpected for Bharath. He didn't know what to say. But Ram was his friend. So he agreed. "Ok. Where do you want to go?", Bharath asked. "How about the beach?", Ram replied. "Fine.", Bharath finished and they both rode together to the beach.

Once at the beach, they parked their bicycles and sat on the curb overlooking the beach. Both sat silently looking at the beach for a few uncomfortable seconds. Bharath was not sure what to do. He had never been with Ram and felt this odd before. He did not want this uncomfortable moment to persist and broke the silence, "So, what do you want to talk, man? And what is wrong with you?".
Ram, as if some dam broke inside him, blurted out with anger, "It is my parents, man. I just hate them. I do not want to go home." After so many years of being together, this was the first time Bharath had heard Ram complain about anything. He was stunned, " Why?? What happened??? Did they scold you or something???". Ram replied still with anger in his voice, "I had a fight with my father. We argued a lot. And I just don't want to go home." After all these years with Ram, Bharath knew about Ram's anger and knew better to stay silent until Ram had vented it all. Bharath just kept telling Ram some comforting words.

After about an half hour, Ram's anger drained and Bharath thought this was the time for him to speak, "I know your feelings, dude. I am having those same issues myself. But remember, it is just few days. After that we may go to college somewhere outside of this city. Then all your issues will be over." This thought somehow soothed Ram. Ram felt much better. Bharath did not know what he was feeling then. It was always Ram who used to provide support and help to him and others. This situation looked totally alien to him. Since Ram felt better, he was fine too. Ram finally decided it was time to leave home. So they both picked up their bicycles and started again.

"I want you to come home. To my home.", Ram asked Bharath. "I'm afraid my father will still be angry with me. If you are with me, he will not beat me.", Ram finished. Bharath had no choice. He cannot say no to his friend. But the prospect of facing Ram's father was something he was not happy about. To top it all, he might have to lie to Ram's father. Now it is one thing to lie to your own parents and something else to lie to your friend's parents. Especially people who trust you. But who are these people if not for his friend. His friend was more important than their trust now.
"Okay, I'll come.", Bharath agreed.

They reached Ram's home and entered his home. Bharath's thought was all about how to face his friend's father. He was sweating a lot more from his fear than the ride. Ram's father was sitting in a wooden chair and his face had that look Bharath had seen in his father sometimes. Ram stayed silent at the door. Eventhough Ram's father was surprised at Bharath's appearance, he did not show anything. "Hi, Bharath. Come in. How are you? Where are you guys coming from?", Ram's father started. Bharath knew this line of questioning. He knew something was wrong. He had only moments to decide. Either he can tell the truth and save his face. But that meant betraying his friend's trust. Or... Lying to Ram's father and facing his anger. But that meant protecting his friend.  His heart was pounding which it always did when he was lying. "We... We are coming from the coaching class.", Bharath finished sweating more. "Isn't you class supposed to be over one hour ago?", Ram's father questioned again, his eyes drilling Bharath now. More lies, thought Bharath, "Er... We.. had special class.". Ram's father was smiling, but this was not a comforting smile Bharath was used to. Bharath felt his whole body turn to ice. He knew what was going to come. "I just called the coaching center and found that there were no extra classes today. Why??", Ram's father replied full of anger and at the same time some resentment.

Bharath was in shock. His brain had stopped acting and his whole body felt like he had been subjected to a cryogenic treatment. Complete numbness surrounded him. Ram, who had been silent the whole time, spoke for the first time, "We went to the beach. I asked him to come with me. Nothing is his fault.". Bharath jolted back from his shock listening to Ram speak. He was both worried and happy for Ram. Ram had stood up for him against his dad but that also meant he had infuriated his dad more. Bharath expected a torrent of words and may be some palm on cheek action from Ram's father. To his biggest surprise, Ram's father was silent and no longer angry. He looked at Bharath and asked, "What is wrong with him? Why does he act like this? We are here for him. Why doesn't he understand that?". Bharath didn't know how to respond to such a question. He didn't even know if it was his to answer. He stayed silent his eyes on the floor due to shame. "I think it is late. You need to go to your home.", Ram's father addressed Bharath. "Your parents might be worried." Bharath was not sure if his parents would be worried. But he certainly wanted to leave that spot immediately. He looked at his friend. Their eyes met and silent thanks passed from Ram to Bharath. Bharath left the house with some relief.

That night had Bharath worried about Ram and how he would face Ram's parents again. And whether Ram's parents would decide to call his parents and inform them about his act. He was almost sleepless until exhaustion took over him. The next morning they had their classes again. Bharath met Ram which was itself a relief. That meant Ram was not in as deep trouble as he had expected. Ram came to Bharath and told him, "Thanks, dude. I never got to thank you properly yesterday.". Bharath was happy to see Ram in good health that he was not worried about the thanks at all. "You never asked me the exact problem I had with my parents. Don't you want to know?", Ram asked Bharath. Bharath just replied, "No. I don't think that is important." They never spoke again about that day afterwards. They were still good friends even though they went to different colleges and found more friends.

After that day, they had lots of fun together. Lots of memories to cherish. And lots more memorable events in their life. But their defining moment will always be that day when they were tested by friendship. Sometimes all it takes for friendship is a small act.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Boy and The Girl

"I wanted to write this blog for sometime now and after many hurdles (moving states, house, staying in hotels, no internet, etc., etc.,), I finally am beginning to write this one. The following blog is a derivative of my own life's event. So it is part fact and part fiction. Just to protect identities, she will be referred to as "she" and I will be myself. I hope you enjoy reading this."

For every boy, his girl is always the most beautiful. Even if there is a Miss World around, he would have eyes only for her. And I was no exception to this rule. There she was. Right in front of me, mesmerizing me with her beauty. She wore a simple yellow t-shirt and tracks but still managed to do all that she does to me. Just an half hour ago, I was in my room wondering how to kill the next minute.

It was a boring afternoon in yet another day of my college life and I was sitting in my hostel room, its walls looking as dull as me. Sometimes I wonder if it was really the walls which made me dull or the other way round. Whenever a boy (who is in love with a girl) is dull and alone in his room, his only escape is to think of her. So, I thought of her again. The first time I laid eyes on her.It was a pretty unusual first time. From the day, I joined college I heard about her through my friends who described her as beautiful, homely, lovable and so on. Almost all of my friends had seen her, some where or the other and described how beautiful she was using all the words related to beauty in their vocabulary.

Now, I should tell that I was hardly a guy who would qualify the expectations of a beautiful girl. With a slim build, dark skin and very little social life, I had convinced myself I was not the type for girls, let alone a beautiful girl. So, I stopped developing any further thoughts about her and did not show keen interest in her. Few months of our college life had passed and the buzz about the beautiful girl dropped replaced by psycho professors, hectic assignments and bad hostel food. Life had settled to a rhythm in our college.

Soon enough, months flew and our first semester exams arrived. By this time, I had spent almost 5 months in the college and she was in the same building as mine (just a floor above me) but I never saw her. Our first exam was Engineering Mathematics I. As it was the only subject that I was confident of or rather over confident of, that I was truly under-prepared. On the morning of the exam day, I had read only half the chapters for the exam with vague ideas about the remaining chapters (in fact I hardly had any idea about one chapter). For the first time in my life, I was scared about a Maths exam. I was trying to cash in on the remaining time left that morning trying to remember all the formulas, the linear equations, calculus, integration.

Me and my friend were walking side by side, he mugging down all the formulas and me listening intently to him to grasp some formulas that could help me. As we entered the big corridor that stretched from one end of the main lobby to the other, our path was blocked by people walking in front of us. Until now, we never noticed how fast we were walking in our attempt at mugging fast as if walking fast was directly related to our fast mugging. We looked up and saw that the corridor was filled with numerous heads all bent over their books. Some people just like us last minute preparations. Some revising their well prepared notes. Some others went further trying to predict what the possible questions were, others listening intently as if the professor was explaining to them. I could see tense faces everywhere. The noise level was at an all time high. I dropped my gaze to the book, my tension increased twofold and my mugging speed increasing fourfold if that was possible.

My friend interrupted me to say something when I was in the middle of my linear equation. In my heightened anxiety, I just threw few F words at him and returned to my linear equation. He still interrupted. I was beyond crazy now but something he said stopped me. He spoke her name. I listened again. "Hey. She is right in front of you. I thought you wanted to look at her.", he said. I could see the back of a girl in a black chudithar in front of me walking between two other girls. The curiosity cat that I had curbed was out in an instant. I rushed my friend to overtake them so I can see her. I walked past them as quick as I can without giving them a glance and reached the center of the main lobby and turned.

At that instant, my whole world froze. I could not see any more heads preparing for exams, no tense faces. All I saw was beauty. It struck me so hard that I was bedazzled. She was like everybody told me. Beautiful. Pretty face, charming eyes, well shaped nose and lips that seem to smile at me. Her black chudithar highlighted her fairness even more sending me to a trance. For the next twenty seconds, I had not moved a muscle. I was not sure if I was breathing even. At that moment, all the linear equations were replaced by the curves of her beautiful smile. My friend noticing my weird trance shook me a little bringing me to reality. I was brought back to the world of linear equations. I took one last look at her before entering my exam hall. After three hours, I came out of the hall. I was sure then she had changed my life forever. I had spent 90 minutes of the 180 minutes thinking about her during my exam.

I heard a bang at my door and I was brought back from a beautiful world into the room with dull walls. I saw the dull walls around me and pitied them that they never saw what beauty looked like. I got out of my bed to open the door. I found my friend from the photography club wanting me to accompany him for a seminar. Eventhough I was not too keen on joining him for the seminar, I agreed so I can atleast get away from these dull walls. I put my dirty jeans and t-shirt, said a good-bye to the dull walls and hopped onto his bike feeling the fresh air on my face.

He drove to the SAC (Students Activity Center), the open air theater, wanting to get keys to the photography room from another friend of ours. He was a dancer and was preparing for the college event which was to happen in couple of days. We saw him through the window of the preparation room and asked him to give us the keys. He shuffled around for his bag to get the keys. I had gotten a little hungry by this time so I asked, "Can we go to the dhaba after this seminar? I am hungry." He replied as always, "You eat like a pig and still remain slim. I don't know where does all the food you eat go." I did not mind this as I was used to all this in the past one year in my college life.

"Keys." A voice announced. I turned around and saw her in her yellow t-shirt and tracks. She was mesmerizing me. Her hands were extended with the keys towards me. I got down from the bike and got the keys from her. I must have looked funny to her because she smiled at me. I opened my mouth to say "Thanks" instead said, "I would like to talk to you." I still don't know how "Thanks" and "I would like to talk to you" are related but nevertheless I said those words. Her face had the expression of a question mark. She turned away from me and I realized my mistake. I quickly said "Sorry". She stopped. I added, "I would like to talk to you". She turned around and looked at me, now with an expression nearing amazement. She kept looking at me for another full minute and I was glad to return the gaze to her, atleast now I got a licensed chance to look at her. After a thoughtful minute, she said, "Why not!" We walked a few paces away from the bike with my friend still on it (I think he was beyond shocked by now).

I had been preparing for this moment for a long time. Rehearsed how I was going to speak to her the first time. How I was going to tell her how I felt about her. With me still preparing my first words to her, she started, "You know what. I agreed to talk to you because you look so ordinary and I don't see ordinary looking guy wanting to talk to me often." I had imagined hundreds of combination of our first talk. This, definitely, was not one of them. This, definitely, was not the start I was looking for, definitely not ordinary. Anyways, I fumbled a reply, "Thanks" and regretted immediately. What was with me and the "Thanks" today, I cursed under my breath. She laughed immediately and said, "You are funny." I cursed God for making me look like a clown in front of her. "Can we be friends?", she asked, with a smile still on her face. I immediately took back the curse I gave to God and said to him "Thanks". Then I said to her, "Sure". "You are Raj. You are the guy from IT branch. Am I correct?", she asked taking me by surprise. "How did you know?", I questioned her still my face full of surprise. "When a guy keeps staring at me for the past one year, I should know something about him. Shouldn't I?" I managed an embarrassed smile. "Can I ask you a favor?", she asked and continued in a hushed tone as if she was sharing a secret, "Will you be able to stop staring at me now that we are friends?". I laughed at that and said, "I will try but I can't guarantee anything". She seemed to take that fine and extended her hands for the second time towards me. I took her hand (her touch gave me goosebumps) finalizing our friendship deal. She smiled and turned around to leave.

"Can we meet today at 6? We can go to S.N.P canteen for a coffee." I was pushing my luck. I was hoping to get an angry stare from her. Instead she smiled and said,"No, I am sorry." Eventhough she rejected the idea, I could see she was honest about her answer and was not just avoiding me. "I have to go home early today. I am a day-schi (short for day-scholar), remember. How about tomorrow at 4?". I replied an "Yes" in a flash. "Can I ask you a favor?", I quipped this time. "Depends.", was her guarded answer. "Can you avoid your two friends and be alone when we meet tomorrow?", I managed weakly. Her look turned stern. Before she could react, I added, "My budget is limited. I can't sponsor for all.". At this, she burst into fits of laughter. When she stopped laughing, I saw her eyes were watery. I had made her laugh so much she almost cried. "You are one funny guy. I will be there. Alone.", she finished. "Thanks" (finally i got that right), I replied.

I saw her walk back into the preparation room for her dance practice and I walked back to the bike all the while looking at her. The next day we met at the canteen and chatted for two hours. Little did I know, it was going to be our usual spot for us for the next year. By the next year, our friendship has seen various stages. Initially, I became the guy who she thought was funny and liked to spend time with. Then, I became the guy who she thought was good friend. Then, I became the guy who she thought was her best friend. Every break time was spent with me. Her happiness and her sorrows were shared with me. I had become someone who was special in her life.

All the while, I was madly in love with her. Only, I could never express it to her. We were sitting on the bench outside the main lobby overlooking the fountains and exchanging our day's happenings, when she started, "I don't understand the purpose of studying". This was our favorite topic. To talk about how our curriculum is so irrelevant to the actual real life work we might be doing in a few years. She was wearing my favorite orange color chudithar and looked like an angel in the evening sun. I do not know what went over me at that instant. I said to her, "I love you." Her initial reaction was shock. It subsided soon and she thought over what I had expressed her. "I need time to think. I will reply tomorrow" she replied. She left immediately. I did not stop her or give her any explanations. I was ready to endure a day's wait to know her reply. More importantly, I was ready to accept her "No" because it did not change the fact I loved her.

That night, I had counted all the stars in the sky until the sun rose in the east interrupting my counting spree. I got ready before everyone and left to the main lobby to catch her before the classes started. I was waiting outside her department but she never appeared. I went to the lab buildings just to check if she was having any workshop labs today. She was not there either. As time progressed, my anxiety increased. It was almost evening and I was unable to find her anywhere. I was so scared and I thought I would have an anxiety attack if I don't see her soon. I was sitting in the same spot where she left me last. I was watching the sun slowly beginning to make its descent marking the end of the day to plunge me into darkness. Just before the sun went down completely, she appeared. In my happiness, I just wanted to jump out to her and hug her and never leave her. But I held back and expressed all those through a smile to her.

I checked her face to give me any hints but she gave away none. She still managed an uncomfortable smile but there was nothing to take from that smile. "Hi. Did you wait a long time for me?", she asked innocently. "Not much. I just came here.", I lied to maintain some dignity. In reply, she just gave a knowing smile and said, "Then, why did you stand outside my department early morning and roam around the whole college looking for me?". In my attempt at finding her, I never noticed she was following me all along. "Why do you love me so much?", she asked. I thought the question was more for herself than for me. So I did not answer her. "You are not the kind of guy I wanted to fall in love with." I felt something tighten around my heart. I saw an invisible demon stand beside her, smiling cruelly at me and starting to suck my soul out of me. I was feeling intense pain.

"I am sorry. I can't". The words I dreaded and wished would never hear were spoken by her. Even when she spoke those words, I could see she was in pain. She was not enjoying rejecting me either. She started walking away from me. I was in too much pain to talk. With every step, she was pulling a part of me with her. With less than five steps, I felt my whole life going away with her. The pain in my chest was unbearable. Tears started to form and flow freely. I begged the pain to stop. I begged the invisible demon to stop pulling at my soul. Nothing happened. I prayed her to stop. Please stop. Please, I beg you. Don't go away. As if she heard me, she stopped after her fifth step, holding my life with her.

"Please say something to me. Get angry at me.. Please stop me going away from you...". The words came in a hurry as she turned towards me again. "Say something.", she pleaded, her eyes filled with tears. When I spoke my voice sounded distant, strained. "I.... You... You are taking what is rightfully yours. How can I stop you?" I replied. "What am I taking? What are you talking about??" Even though, she sounded like she did not understand me, her eyes were full of understanding. Still, I replied to satisfy her. "Everything. And something called my life. I feel that my soul was split from my body when you walked away from me. I don't know any way to stop it. There's nothing like moving on from here. I feel rooted. I can't move on." "I know", she replied with a knowing look. "I...I feel just the same. I never believed I was in love with you until I walked away. I jusssttt couldn't do it. May be I am already in love with you, but I was stupid enough not to know it." I was dumbstruck at her confession. After the initial awe, I realized the meaning of her confession and happiness, joy seem to be minuscule emotions to the emotion I felt.

"I think I'm stuck with you for life.", she said with a smile. Her face still with fresh tears rolling, once again she was an absolute angel basking in the golden sun. I wanted time to stop there. Nothing can match the beauty of her happiness in the falling sun. I was bedazzled again. "Why are you still staring at me, you idiot? I am crazy in love with you.", she put forth with her arms extended. All my emotions restrained for so much time, I just jumped towards her and hugged her so tight that I believe she must have suffocated for sure. She hugged me back with as much intensity and I felt my life run through me again. Blood starting pumping again. I could feel every nerve of my body reacting to her. I was born again in her love.

"So, what happens now?" she asked with excitement and tears full on her face. "How long do you plan to live?" I questioned her question. She looked puzzled at my question. "According to law of averages, you will live for 60 years.", I helped her. "So?", she asked bewildered. "You have approximately 40 years left in you.". "So?", she was still puzzled. "I don't think that is enough lifetime to live with you. I want to live every second left of that lifetime with you. Will you marry me?", I removed the only ring on my finger and extended to her as I went down on my knee.

It was my "so" time. "So? What do you say?", I asked still on my knee. She was speechless at my proposal. But I could already see her face resolve into her most beautiful smile. She extended her ring finger as her acknowledgment. She was blushing and her face was red and wet with tears.
I put my ring on her finger as the only other person watching us was showering its final rays of the day as its garland to our matrimony.

I stood up still feeling a little dreamy about the whole evening. As I closed my eyes, I felt light and floating up through the air. When I opened my eyes, there was no sunset, I did not see her blushing face. Instead I saw her in her yellow t-shirt and tracks. Her hands were extended with the keys towards me. I was back in the SAC in front of her. I got the keys from her. I opened my mouth to say "Thanks" instead said "I would like to talk to you."

Monday, February 15, 2010

From the depths of me

Here i come again. With yet another array of keystrokes, forming non meaningful words to find a meaning in my own life. These lines, I wish, would tell me who i am in this world confounded with inventing new technologies but always with old ideas. I dont hold a degreee in literature in English, so dont hold me against a grammar that is wrong in my post. Now, coming back to finding me, it is an almost easy question that almost keeps popping in my head and as always eluding answers. Not this time around. I am going to press on the accelerator with full throttle and release it only when the destination is reached. So, here it goes.

IT was in the early morning hours. The sun still had a few hours time to rest before it was going to visit my part of the world. I was resting too along with the sun in the most comforting beds getting as much sleep as i can. Truth be spoken, that is all I had been doing for the past few months or atleast that i remembered of it. The bed i had was one of a kind. It was specially designed by its maker for me. It consisted of an elastic material that was specifically designed to fit my whole body as if consuming me like a second skin. The inner portion of the elastic blanket was filled with warm liquid, a little jelly kind, to keep me warm. The warmthness of the fluid always ensured me calmness even in the worst climates. It was as if i had achieved what many seers were trying years to achieve. Peace.

It was at this time when i sensed something. Something disturbing my sleep. A small stir. And then, a little chillness seems to have entered the inner portions of my blanket. The blanket was opened just above my head. A tiny little opening... Voices started to float around me. The voices were muted initially but then got little clearer. I was beginning to wake up from my sleep as the voices started to get louder. I could hear my mother shouting but mostly her words were incoherent to me. There were two more voices whom i could not recognize. I was a little afraid not sure if i have to wake up, open my eyes and accept whatever lays out there or shut my eyes close and live in my own little world where things were so perfect.

In my fear, i just held tight to my little blanket trying to think it through. It was easy yet so difficult to decide. I had two options. Hang tight to the blanket, stay in and be safe Or Let go, go out and accept whatever is out there. Even before i had time to decide, somebody started to push me out of my blanket. One of the security features about my special blanket was the person inside could come out only when he wished to. It cannot be opened from the outside.

The force just below my feet started pushing me out in earnest now. The fluids within the blanket broke and started rushing out and along with it me. The force was too strong that i felt someone was using a compressor at one of the blanket and pushing everything out. It was such an immense force. I was trying to force myself against the tide of gushing fluids and pressure and stay in.

In the midst of all this, there was a scream. It was my mother. She seemed to be in immense pain. There was no more reason to hide. Her scream was like a trigger. I had to get out and fight whatever is going to be thrown at me out there. I just started pushing my way out of the blanket along with the pressure at the other end of the blanket. I started seeing a hand trying to grab me. I did not care anymore. I just kept pushing out. Slowly, my head was out and the hand grabbed my head. The hand started to pull me out slowly careful not to hurt me yet.

On my part, not knowing what else to do, I just let out a huge wail. Expecting that would bring someone to help. All of a sudden all commotion stopped. I was still wailing, my eyes full of water. The water from my eyes started running freely on my chin. My vision cleared a little and i saw three pair of eyes on me. I could recognize two of them. The third was a stranger. The stranger turned to my father and said "Congrats, Sir. You have a baby boy."

As if waiting for that moment to come, the sun rose above the horizon through the windows of the hospital room and touched me for the first time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My first blog

Ok. Like everyone else i too wanted to try my hand on blogging. It is not like i am being thrown into a prison and the price for freedom is to write a blog. But this is more like an explorer wanting to find a new world, India. Nobody knows if i am going to find India or the West Indies unless i try to find it. So here starts my exploration. Hope i discover new world, India.