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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Love Belated

Plot: Contemporary Beauty and the Beast with alternating narration
Plot Credits: Prasanna Rao
This post is a voluntary submission for the 6th exercise of Indifiction Workshop. Read the story here.



I looked at the pathetically selfish being in the mirror. I was terrified by my own cruelty. The way I just acted in front of poor Priya. Tears trickled down my cheeks and I stood in front of the mirror, crying for the first time in what seemed like a thousand years. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you ought to own that person. “Let her go”, kept saying a voice in my head. I mustered the courage and walked to her room where she was sitting on her bed hugging her pillow all wet by her tears.

“I am sorry, Priya”. I said. “You should go with your sisters to Goa for the vacation like they have asked for. I apologize for holding you back.” I somehow felt relieved after verbalizing those words. Indeed my heart broke a little but it was my penance as in the three years of our marriage I had never let her go anywhere with her sisters, may be because I didn’t trust them or may be because I always had this fear of losing my beloved wife.

“But do come back before the 25th of this month. The grand party of our anniversary will await you.” I added.

*

Ashok had never been so gentle to me like today. He even made the morning tea for me today and served it with a note saying “I love you, Priya. I already miss you”. I wondered what brought about the change. But no matter what, I was happy, as happy as never before. My sisters were waiting outside our bungalow in a cab loaded with their luggage, as I applied the lipstick Ashok bought me a few months back. Ashok always hated my sisters and prohibited me from meeting them. Even I never insisted as it was them who had conspired to ruin my wedding. Also one could easily blame our late father’s heart failure on them.  Three years had passed now and I was glad everything was forgiven and forgotten.  They had insisted for a trip to Goa as a get-together and Ashok not only allowed me to go but he even volunteered to pay for the entire trip. Too bad that my sisters didn’t utter a single “No” or “Thanks” when he offered to sponsor the vacation, but it was expected as they had always been that way.

Ashok was busy in his office so I texted him and left with my luggage to join my sisters to our destination.

*

I was attending to a client of mine in my cubicle when my cell-phone beeped to show a little envelope on its screen indicating a new message received. It was from Priya and it read: I will be back on 25th. I promise. XOXO.
I sighed and kept listening to my client talking while my mind kept consoling my heart with the song “Let your heart hold fast. This soon shall pass.”

*

I never loved Ashok, it was a marriage my father arranged when he couldn’t pay back the loan my sisters had taken from Ashok’s father. I loathed the fact that I was nothing but a property subjected to mortgage, a slave sold, a deal made. It was after my marriage when I realized that Ashok didn’t consider himself my owner but treated me more like a friend. After my father, Ashok was the only person who took good care of me. I never had any real friends; even my sisters were distant from me and when my father passed away, I was glad Ashok was there for me or else I would have been all alone.

“So have you given a thought about what I said?” The voice of my eldest sister Shreya interrupted my train of thoughts. She had been telling me from the last three days how much I hated the idea of marrying Ashok three years back. “Wouldn’t you love to live independently again? The debt is paid in these three years I guess” she had said the previous night. I had cried the whole night listening to her. I wondered what made me sadder- knowing that I was a way of paying the debt we were in or knowing that it was my elder sister who was hurting me with those words. I was still in a quandary wondering if I loved Ashok enough to stay with him forever or wanted to live alone. It was Kriya who consoled me that morning when she saw my eyes swollen and red and teary.

“Let’s go for shopping.” Kriya said when Shreya had again brought the topic of the previous night into discussion.

*

I woke up early on the day of our anniversary. Priya was supposed to arrive that day. Although she hadn’t texted me in the last few days, I knew she wouldn’t break her promise. I had the party all arranged and the guests were arriving by five in the evening. Each part of my body wanted to call Priya asking about her whereabouts but I somehow refrained myself from bugging her. “Don’t be so nosy, Ashok. Give her some space”, Instructed that little voice in my head.

 I waited the whole day with no signs of Priya, not even a text. The guests had finally begun to arrive. “Priya will come in any second. She will surprise me, she will.” I consoled myself.

*

I was supposed to leave Goa on the morning of 25th. I had booked my tickets but it was Kriya who was crying from the morning and I couldn’t leave. After all she had been sweet to me when Shreya hadn’t.
“I will miss you, dear sister. Don’t leave, please. Stay with us.” Kriya kept chanting the entire morning and Shreya joined her too. I had no choice but to stay. After all they were my sisters, I grew up with them, I loved them and they loved me. Being with them, I had forgotten all about the party Ashok had planned at our bungalow in Mumbai. And I decided to stay one day more with my sisters.

*

It was half past nine and there were still no signs of Priya. The guests would leave by ten or eleven and it was embarrassing that I was throwing a party for her and the person for whom I was doing this wasn’t present. I finally decided to make a call. Why had she promised she would come if she was going to break her promise? And she could have informed me at least. Her phone rang twice before a sweet voice answered the call. “Open the door, sweetheart.” Priya said. I turned my head towards the door to look at the love of my life standing at the door wearing a red gown holding a bouquet of red roses in her hands.

We both, just like they do in the movies, ran towards each other as the guests clapped and cheered. I held her in my arms and hugged her tight, I had missed her all these days and I knew I couldn’t live a second without her. She whispered in my ears, “I love you, Ashok. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you and only you. I will never leave you alone.”

*

I will probably never tell Ashok what happened that day in Goa. Although I want to be completely honest with him, I don’t want to ruin this perfect night. After all, we made love for the first time in three years. It is true love that makes me watch him sleep besides me tonight. I stroke his head lovingly, hoping this moment of love lasts forever. Honesty can rest for a few days. Moreover it will be embarrassing to tell him that my very own sisters were conspiring against us. More embarrassing will be the fact that I eavesdropped on their conversation to find out the truth about them and the fact that I actually left them with bitterness and stormed out of the hotel room with my bags without bidding my goodbyes. Also, it will be extremely hurtful to let him know what our sisters think about us, that they were making a fool out of both of us that they wanted to either break the marriage so that I live alone or to make me steal all his wealth. And above all, telling him all this will turn this extremely beautiful night of lovers to a night of friends griping about something bad that happened. I shall not tell him. May be I will tell him a few days later. Or maybe I will tell this to him tomorrow morning itself. I don’t know. I am still unsure. But what I am sure of is that I will always love him.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Image She Loved


She tossed and turned in her bed. Tears, there were, flowing from her tiny eyes, which he had lovingly called almond-like. She never understood how can someone’s eyes look like almonds, but leaving all logic behind, she loved anything he would call her. He wasn't anywhere near to call her anything anymore. Since the last three months, he was gone. “’Lost’ is the word”, she would explain. Indeed, he was lost; she lost him to the hands of time and fate, to the hands of love and hate. She had wailed, begged him to stop. He didn't stop that day, nor did he look back as he walked out with his suitcase and backpack. She had called his name out, so loud that even her neighbours came out of their houses. But he didn't for once turn around, not even to bid his final adieu. “Probably he didn't hear me, he has always been absent-minded in his own train of thoughts”, she had reasoned herself like a dutiful wife. Three months have passed since she last saw him. Getting into a cab with his luggage was the last image of him imprinted on her mind. What happened before that was something she chose to forget; the direful argument, vases flying off their hands to break into pieces, his broken cellular phone which he had recently bought with his first salary, the smashed TV, and the cracked mirror in their bedroom. They say when there is a mirror in a couple’s bedroom it gives an entryway for a third person in the couple’s life. She wondered if it turned out to be true. “I’ll never know”, she said to herself. Three months passed away quite quickly, now that she realized it. The first week was the longest; she would wail and weep sitting in the cold floor of her bathroom, where they had taken a million showers together. The second week was the week for remorse; she would sit in the veranda  look at a distant star and think for long hours in the evenings. From the third week her life resumed; she left her old and took up a new job, replaced the broken TV with a new one, started to read and began listening to songs, soothing ones. Life was actuated for her, although aimlessly, but it did finally. The next couple of months passed easily, or probably too swiftly. She would miss him occasionally; when she would come home from a long tiring day, she would miss his comforting touch; when she would have a controversy at work she would miss his reassuring words; she would miss him in the loveless nights when she would just lie on her large bed looking at the empty space where once he used to sleep stroking her head lightly with one hand; and she would miss him the most in those sleepless nights, just like this one, reminiscing his snores that would lull her to sleep every night. She got up from her bed, she couldn't sleep. “Not tonight”, she thought aloud. Something troubled her; not his memories, for they were her everyday visitor, her comrade, and she was more familiar to them than her own self.  Although she hadn't seen or heard from him for three months, she had formed a perfect image of him and his new home in her mind. And that image would do his daily chores yet finding time to talk to her when she would sit alone daydreaming. The image didn't come today; she missed it the whole day. “It’s all in my head”, she reassured herself knowing pretty well that it’s her imaginations and she could turn everything around in her mind. But she didn't feel reassured, that image seemed so real for her in those three months. It seems like loving his image was far easier than loving the person whose image it was. She was the owner of his image; of him, she knew nothing. The image loved her dearly, while he is a thing of the past whose love was ephemeral. She looked at the clock on her bedside table; it was thirty minutes past four in the morning. She decided to wake up and complete the work she brought from her office. Working has always been a source of satisfaction for her, when nothing else was. A cup of coffee with work was her idea of a perfect life. She worked restlessly that morning, trying hard to subdue the anxiety that rested within her. It was after three hours that she grew tired of working, her anxiety turned into a rapid throbbing of her heart that became so well known in the last couple of hours that she forgot she had a fear within.


The following evening they found her with her head on the table, one hand holding a cup with remnants of a bitter coffee, another holding a pen with a loosened grip. They carried her body through the door they broke to enter her palace of woes. They stepped on the newspaper lying near her doormat as they carried the cold corpse to the truck waiting. The pen fell from the hand of the corpse, and it fell directly where it should have: on the obituary column of the daily, where printed was the name of the mortal whose image she loved.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Play With Fire


Let's play with fire tonight

set our dreams on flight

relive all the memories


all that's gone out of sight


Lets play with fire tonight

ditch the lull of the night

make new memories

let the lost love ignite



Let's play with fire tonight

do all the things that incite

mess about in those memories

memories of that amorous night


Let's play with fire tonight

for we know it will burn bright

pieces of the torn memories

and nothing will ever be alright