In a parallel universe
Where gravity does not exist
Nor the impenetrable boundaries created by the human race
I will meet you there
And hold your soft and delicate hand
Only to float away in the limitless blue-sky.
In a parallel universe
Where gravity does not exist
Nor the impenetrable boundaries created by the human race
I will meet you there
And hold your soft and delicate hand
Only to float away in the limitless blue-sky.
I happen to meet you at every railway station.
I see you in that Hizab wearing girl
She has been sitting next to my bench
for so long that I have taken several dives into her black eyes.
Quiet unaware of me, she carries on with playing with the one extreme her dupatta
I find you in that girl
Who with her crooked tooth and silver nose-ring
Could have easily inspired thousands of warriors to sacrifice their lives for her.
I meet you in that girl
Who has been talking incessantly on phone
She has been moving her lips as if they were rose petals
And were fluttering in the cool breeze of autumn
She too does not get transfixed by my unusual renderings.
What about that girl
Whose red-white polka dotted Salwaar appears to me as if thousands of murderous wars have been fought there
Doesn’t she look like you
Ah! You may declare that these all are just my glorified imaginations
And you don’t shadow chase me everywhere
But what about that mischievous smile of yours
which kills me thousand times
when I happen to meet you at the railway station.
Animesh had never expected it. He was totally lost looking at her . His eyes could not believe what was happening before him. The day was little hazy. It was drizzling outside the Blue Wave Cafe where he was sitting with Anamika. Orchestra was playing Bob Dylon’s blowing in the wind but at that time his mind was senseless, his ears were not receptive to any sound, any music. The only sound which was occupying space in his mind were his random thoughts which he dangerously thought and un-thought an hour ago. Yes just an hour ago, he was in office. NO, not exactly in office but in a little dark space at the corner of the office where his colleagues often smoked cigarettes. Office hours were over so there was no one.
He was restless, frustrated with his body shimmering inside and out. He took out his cigarette pack but there was no cigarette left in pack that he could smoke so he just started playing with his lighter, switching it off and on, again and again. In past month, at least ten times he made his mind that he would propose Anamika, but every time he had to take back his steps because he could never gather enough strength to do it. Sometimes even he thought if he would ever be able to express his feelings to Anamika.
He had an intrinsic fear that if Anamika told him no what he would do.His life would be totally purposeless. She was the only friend of him in this unforgiving city. He met her when both were attending a conference on child rights. First they exchanged only numbers but gradually they shared every secrets, pain, happiness, laughter of each other. But he was still unsure if he ever propose her, she would not take it otherwise.
These thoughts, slightly insipid and insane, had turned him into an insomniac. His half-lit face in dim light of lighter was expressionless and clueless. For a second he even thought what would happen with him if one day Anamika leaves the city. Then he would be same like a green tree which had been cut by its roots. Every time he thought about it, he felt a chilling down in his spines.
Every time he imagined her face, he resolved again and again to have a discussion with her on this topic. Her innocent smile was overpowering his restraint. And suddenly, and yes just an hour ago, finally he decided to be a gambler with putting all his good time spent with her on stake to propose her. He stood up energetically and threw his empty Wills Classic pack in dustbin. He searched if his mobile was in his pocket, not at his desk, as he usually kept it there, so he could call Anamika. Yes, it was there.
He took out his mobile and dialed her number. He never used his mobile phonebook to dial her number. He remembered it as if it was his date of birth. He was deeply scared if she didn’t take her call. But after two or three rings, he heard a relieving voice on other side. He could not be able to speak anything for sometime. In a choked voice he could only manage to say that he wanted to meet her and it was urgent. As she gave her nod to meet him at The Blue Wave Cafe near her office, he disconnected the phone and rushed to washroom. He hurriedly dressed his ruffled hair and buttoned his shirt.
Just in few minutes, he was out of office. He hired an auto rickshaw even without asking fare. He halted briefly at a jewellery shop and bought a diamond studded gold ring paying through credit card. The blue Wave Cafe was not far from his office but at that time it seemed to him as he was travelling in a desert with no clear destination in sight. It had started raining. The cold misty wind was blowing, giving comfort to his agitated mind.
It had taken twenty minutes to reach the Cafe. He paid the bill to autowallah and walked towards Cafe with long steps. Suddenly he stopped just near the main entrance and took a deep breath. He took a glance into Cafe through its transparent glasses. He watched towards the couch where he and Anamika used to sit after office hours. Yes, she was there, reading a book titled In The Valleys Of Shadows by Abhay Sapru.
She was calm and composed, wearing yellow-green Salwaar-Kurta with blue polka dots all over its border. A bunch of hairs was falling over her eyes obstructing her read. Her one hand was busy arranging those stubborn hairs to side of her ear. She had just finished a cup of green tea and murmuring some passage from the book . He opened the door and went straight to the couch. He sat before her without making any noise.
He could not remember what happened with him in past half an hour. Now his eyes were set at watching Anamika. He never imagined that Anamika’s reaction would be like this on his proposal. It was hard to believe for him that he was looking at the same face he was so used to. When he proposed her, she was in a utter shock for some time. Within moments tears started falling from her eyes like a cascade with her body intermittently sighing with relief.
It took no time when a smile christened her tear-stained face. Her eyes were red rimmed, but the dark liquid it held, still shone nonetheless. And, then she burst into round of tears, causing injustice to the pretty smile she wore a few seconds ago.
He was standing beside her, studied her, unsure of what had just happened. He watched closely, every time she haphazardly brushed away the tears that fell in abundance. When she regained her composure, she would tuck the silky ebony strands of hair that escaped her almost neat chignon behind her ear.
And then rub furiously at her nose with the handkerchief he had so graciously lent her. He had not known what to expect. Well, he did expect tears. But he was not prepared for the storm, that he received instead. Damn, women and their emotions. Animesh patted the woman’s back and tenderly brushed his lips across her forehead. But that did not help, in fact that made it worse.
She clung to him and dampened his favourite cotton shirt. He should have never came straight out and asked her. Animesh cursed himself mentally. For sometimes he thought internet would have been a more suitable mean. Sensible people relied on such technology. Yet, he had to be old-fashioned Animesh and tell it like it is. He closed his eyes and embraced her thin frame tenderly.
He wished this awkward moment would end so they could get on with their lives. He opened his eyes when he felt her small hand tap his shoulder. He gazed into the woman’s eyes feeling a sudden sadness creep up on him. Just then, a radiant smile replaced the unmistakable innocence in her eyes, as she removed the dainty ring from her left hand and placed it into the palm of his hand. And then very sweetly, she added, “Please Animesh, one more time, please ask me one more time? He glanced at the glittering piece of jewellery in his hand and boldly repeated his proposal. “Will you marry me Anamika?”
Aruna wrapped in green pinkish sari gazes out from a window in a seaside hotel, feeling the faint breeze against her face. Her one hand is suspended on a grill, with other hand she is caressing her hairs that are fluttering in the way of cool breeze. Her eyes are shut, she is feeling the white sand warm between her bare toes although she is confined to her hotel room. The place is beautiful beyond belief, she can see ultramarine sea with roaring streams. Some bare-chested Foreign tourists are playing beach volleyball, jumping and screaming. Some local boys are diving into the sea.
These intermingling scenes can alleviate any pain but her grief thickens as she remembers the last time she had been here. A series of past events moves before her eyes.
She had married Vivek right here on this spot three years ago to the day. Dressed in a simple white dress, miniature white roses attempting to tame her long dark curls, Aruna had been happier than she had ever thought possible. Vivek was even less formal but utterly irresistible in creased summer trousers and a loose white cotton shirt. His dark hair slightly ruffled and his eyes full of adoration as his looked at his bride to be.
They tightly held their hands and laughed at the sheer joy of being young, in love and staying in a five-star resort on a seaside. They sat together on beach. They promised each other to be together forever. They planned their children, two she said, he said four so they compromised on three (two girls and a boy of course); where they would live, the traveling they would do together – it was all certain, so they had thought then.
But that seemed such a long time ago now. A lot can change in just a few years – a lot of heartache can change a person and can break even the strongest ties, break even the deepest love. Three years to the day and she has returned, though this time for revisiting those days and forget them forever.
Aruna leaves out a sigh that is filled with pain and regret. What can she do but move on, find a new life and new dreams? – the old one is beyond repair. How can this beautiful place, with its lush green coastline, eternity of azure blue sea and endless sands be a place for the agony she feels now?
Three years ago, it was the same beach where Vivek stood watching her from the edge of the palm trees. She was taking a bathe inside the sea. Vivek couldn’t take his eyes away of her. As a professional photographer Vivek had taken some great pictures of her. She was beautiful, with her slim figure dressed in a loose flowing cotton dress, her crazy hair and bright blue eyes not far off the colour of the sea itself. Although later Vivek had told her that it was her loneliness and intensity that attracted him. Vivek approached her when she had come out of the sea. They had few drinks at the bar. Amazingly within days of meeting they decided to marry each other.
Everything was dreamlike for Aruna for next 2 years. Things started to change when she was six months pregnant. She was the happiest she had ever been when the pains had started. At that time she was staying with her mother as Vivek was working out-of-town. He hadn’t made it back in last 4 months. As the date of delivery approaching, she was desperately waiting for him. She even tried to visit Vivek who was living in another town. But all it was in vain as she didn’t know the address of Vivek and his new adopted family. She never believed when her relatives told her that Vivek married another woman because of her wealth only. She was older than him and had two children with her previous marriage. She later came to know that Vivek was totally bankrupted and frustrated when he had left the town. Many creditors were after him.
Aruna could not believe this was the only reason. How could he left on this petty reasons. But all her longings for Vivek died down, when She didn’t hear anything about him even when she delivered a dead baby. She often remember her mother’s words ” Don’t ever believe a man and if believe, try to test him anyway.” Her mother’s advice always fell on her deaf ear but she could see now how much it was true. Whenever She thought Vivek actually never loved her and it was just an infatuation on the part of him, a simmering tickle shivered down her spine. She wanted to yell at him if she ever get a chance to meet him. She had left with her only her mother’s old decaying house and some archaic furniture.
It was sure She had to start a fresh if she wanted to live. That incident had changed Aruna completely. She now began to hate him, for not being there, for not hurting as much he could but most of all for her tiny baby boy that she held for just three hours before the doctor took him away. All through the following months, she had withdrawn from her husband, family, friends. Not wanting to recover from the pain she felt – that would have been a betrayal of her son.
Looking up in the past, Aruna can see her pain but now she doesn’t feel alone anymore, she has left the unbearable burden. In start it was quite difficult for her to detach herself form those memories. But she recovered from it anyway. She gradually begins to believe that maybe she has a lonely future, but she will make it strong and enjoyable. After all these things, She does not want any man in her life.
She does not want to shed her invaluable tears anymore, instead she wants to make all her dream come true that often sparks in her hazy eyes. Aruna closes the window as she closes past chapters in her life. Now she is embarking on a new life and that is hers and only hers.
It is a morning of early July, Cuckoo is sleeping in her bedroom with her legs folded in a strange way as though she is walking in her dream. Her rounded face is glowing bright like a sparkling pearl. She has tightly clipped her hairs but some of them have violated the rule and falling over her silent eyes. She is wearing a half sleeved red frock embroidered with dark blue circles and stars, a hippopotamus is roaring amidst embroidery. She has strongly belted a pillow with both of her hands as if she is walking with a bag full of precious stones. A table is placed near bedside with an alarm watch screaming in high pitch. A bright sunlight is coming through window span, finally settling d0wn on pinkish puffy cheeks of Cuckoo. Birds are chirping clamorously and a cool breeze is flowing all over the street. It is 6.30 am, Cuckoo’s mummy is in kitchen baking the bread and omelette. The nagging cry of alarm watch fells on her ears. She switches off Gas stove and comes over to Cuckoo hurriedly. She put the alarm clock on silent mode. She sits down on bed and start caressing Cuckoo’s head.
“Cuckoo, my child, get up…” She utters in a shrill voice
” Maa, but its very early. Let me sleep.” says Cuckoo placing one of her hand on her mother’s shoulder.
” No Cuckoo, it’s not early. I have already finished much of my work and my child, your father has gone downstairs to open his shop. Get up and go to washroom.” says her mother with picking up Cuckoo’s head and embracing it to her chest.
” Let me sleep, Maa, you know I had slept very late last night. and Maa my head is aching, I am not feeling very comfortable.” says Cuckoo in a soft voice. Her eyes are still half shut. Her mother kiss her idyllic face.
” Beta, don’t you know, today you are going to school first time. Get up, Beta and have a bathe. I am going to prepare your lunch box.” says her mother while leaving room to kitchen. Cuckoo is still lying on the bed but she is awake. She is looking at window span. She wants to make sure if Maa is right to tell her that it is already very late to get up. She gets up and meanders meekly towards the window. She opens the window and a flash of sunlight falls on her face. Now she can see her beloved Peepul tree with its leaves fluttering in cold blowing air. She takes a deep sigh and a bound of fresh air goes into her stomach through her nostrils. The old decaying branches of peepul tree is home to various birds. Cuckoo does not like crows, especially their acrid scream. She is fond of sparrows, they often come to her window. While watching sparrows, Cuckoo has had this illusion as if she is among these sparrows , a black headed sparrow flies down to her window. She wants to catch this little creature but stops as her Mom is again calling her from kitchen. She closes the window and walks down to her mother. Her mother has prepared breakfast and now she is washing utensils. Cuckoo embraces her mother from behind and says in a arguing manner
” Maa, why do we need to go to school? I don’t want to go to school leaving you alone here.”
“Cuckoo, we go to school to read and learn new subjects, to make new friends” answers her mother
” but Maa, why don’t you and Papa teach me here in home? why do I need to go school?” says Cuckoo meanwhile her mother is taking her to Washroom.
” We don’t have time to teach you, my girl.You have to go school as everyone goes. your father and I also went school.” says her mother while taking off Cuckoo’s clothes to give her a bathe.
” Maa, but tell me one thing, Why little sparrows don’t go to school? They play with each other whole day. ” argues Cuckoo. Her mother has untied her hairs and giving her a warm bathe with water pouring down on Cuckoo’s head to toe. Her mother covers Cuckoo with a towel and brings her to bed room. Mother has gone to another room and Cuckoo, covered in towel, comes in front of dressing table. She takes out a comb and starts combing her hair. She sees herself in mirror and makes poker face of herself. She places comb in right hand as if she is a warrior carrying a sword in her hand. She hums some lines of patriotic poetry. Her mother enters in room, she had some new ironed clothes in her hand and a red colored bag is dangling from her shoulder. Her mother puts down clothes and bag on a corner of bed.
” Cuckoo, my Jhansi ki Rani, come here. Look, these are your new clothes.” she utters with a smile on her face
” Maa, these new clothes are for me, really. and what is in this bag? let me open this.” says Cuckoo enthusiastically with picking up bag into her arms. She opens the bag with her little fingers unlocking the buttons.
” Oh, Maa, You bought these beautiful books for me. Look at these pictures Maa, how amazing they are.” Cuckoo says to her mother. She picks all books out of bag one by one. Suddenly her hand hits a yellow colored rocket shaped pencil box, she picks it up with her eyes wide in amusement.
” Maa, all these books and bag are for me. love you Mom, could you please show me my clothes now.” Cuckoo requests her mother with her hands reaching down to clothes. She unfolds her clothes and tries to wear it without her mother’s help. Her mother is watching her dear daughter’s activity with all embezzlement. She pulls Cuckoo towards her and puts white shirt on her upper body through her neck. She ties a blue skirt around Cuckoo’s waist. She sees Cuckoo’s face in the mirror. Cuckoo is very happy.
” Cuckoo, you know, your father has bought a new pair of shoes and socks for you.” says her mother with adjusting Cuckoo’s shirt.
” Oh Maa, you and father are the best parents of the word. where are my new pair of shoes and socks. I want to see.” says Cuckoo playing with her newly get books. Her mother goes to another room and comes with a pair of new shoes and socks. She also brings two red colored ribbon. Cuckoo is sitting on the bed carefully watching note books. When she sees her mother entering room, a sense of curiosity apparently visible on her face. Her puts those pairs of shoes and socks out of her reach. She ties Cuckoo’s hair with red ribbons. She looks like a Barbie doll with white shirt, blue skirt and two dangling tail on her head making her quite adorable. She wants to get rid of her mother’s protective cover and look her self in mirror. When her mother leaves her hand, she rush towards mirror. Now she is standing in front of mirror, looking at herself. Cuckoo asks her mother with randomly putting her hands on waist like a model , ” Maa, am I not looking like a model? and Maa, why don’t you tell me about these crazy things earlier. With these gifts of your’s and father’s, I am ready to go to school daily.” Now Cuckoo is ready for a new journey in her life. She hears her father calling her from the downstairs. She knows her father will accompany her to school. She wears her socks and shoes with asking her mother’s help. She happily puts bag on her back.
” Maa, I am happy to go to school. You both are really nice people. Father is calling me, can I go downstairs.” says Cuckoo with her luminous eyes reflecting her happiness.
“Father, wait, I am coming.” shouts Cuckoo in an attempt to throw her voice to her father. She kisses her mother on her cheek and says goodbye to her. She hurriedly gets down the stairs. Her father is waiting for her near his shop. She picks one of her father’s finger and starts walking with him. Her mother comes to window, Cuckoo’s walking image is fading far away, entering in a new phase of her life.
” My child’s journey begins here.” she thinks. With Cuckoo’s new journey, here also begins a new journey for her parents.