“And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.”– Holy Bible

At the dusk of another year, I am left with sundry feelings of apathy, procrastination, repugnance and guilt. Its nothing new and quite trivial to contemplate because the reminiscence of the past year haunt each one of us in one way or the other.

On the personal front, this year was good for me in parts but professionally I always drew the short straw in all occasions. In the end something has seriously smitten me…. I am exploring but unable to ascertain the exact cause… My ability to put my thoughts to meaty words have suddenly kicked the bucket…. Is it writers block??? Nahhhh…… it is laziness for sure and there are no two ways about it!!!!

As always, let me welcome the new year and hope for a fresh beginning, fresh thoughts and all the best things in life!!!!!!

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”– Hal Borland

Pic courtesy: Internet

Advertisements

“Daddy…. I want bangles!!!” little Surumi yelled as she shook me up from my afternoon nap.

I felt irritated but tried to  smile so that she wont notice my irritation. She was our only kid and I wanted her to be happy. I tried to fulfill all her wishes and she grew up as a spoilt child. Even my wife was against my way of handling Surumi and she blamed me for the little one’s temperament and mood vacillations.

“Daddy….. bangles!!!!” she said softly, realizing that I was awake.

“Why do you need bangles now my dear…. I will get it for you in the evening when we go out for shopping” I said trying to pacify her.

“No….. I want it now!!!!” She shouted twitching her lips and I knew she was at the beginning of a sobbing spree.

My wife who was listening to our conversation gestured me not to cave in for her demands.

“Ok baby… I will get it for you” I said as I got up from the sofa. I looked at my wife and she pulled a face at me showing her displeasure on my contrary intentions. I ignored her stare as it was easy to endure than Surumi’s glumness.

I dressed up to go to the kids store and one my way out I asked Surumi “Are you coming with me?”

“No dad…. I will stay with mom and watch pokemon on cartoon network” she said.

I knew that she was interested in the latter part than the former. I smiled at her and went out.

The bangles section in the kids store was like a museum of colours. Bangles of all colours…… Green, blue, yellow, violet, red, white, black, magenta…. you name a colour and they have it. I selected two sets of bangles…… a set of green and another set of blue. The shop keeper smiled at me as he knew very well that my presence in his shop was coerced by Surumi’s mood swings. He neatly packed the bangles in a box and handed it to me. I paid him and left the shop feeling contended for finding the best stuff for my daughter.

As I opened the door, Surumi came running to me, screaming at the top of her voice. Screaming was her dearest way of conveying happiness. She grabbed the box from my hand and tore open the cover. The bangles fell on her lap and she picked one and looked at me with wide eyes.

“Dad… What is this?” She asked.

“Bangles.. my dear… green and blue ones” I explained.

She turned to my wife and said “Mamma….. this dad doesn’t know anything. I wanted ‘Bangles’ video game and look what he have brought…”

She threw the bangles on the floor and it broke in to a million pieces….. green and blue!!!!

Courtesy: Internet

She might be around 12 years old… slim and beautiful…. with sleepy eyes, loosely tied hair, a heavy school bag on her shoulder and clad in a coffee brown pinafore with cream inner shirt…. a typical school girl. She lazily boarded the bus and with her droopy eyes she started exploring for a vacant seat. She was apprehensively eyeing the vacant seat next to me and slowly took a step forward but retraced nabbing her purpose at the last moment. She turned towards me, still fighting with her cerebrations and I gestured her to sit down. She sat down beside me but with great dubiety. The weariness due to a draggy day at school might have impelled her to make the decision.

She was not young enough to be my daughter and was not old enough to be my sister but I felt a similar bond with her. A fond regard which was unaccountable. The air around her, her slender arms with tiddly hairs, her visible cares of sitting with a man, the way she clumsily moved her head, her hand kerchief stained with blue ink, her uniform, the belt and the black shoes….. reminded me of the girls in my school days. I felt a sudden urge to go back to my school and to be with my friends.

In the short journey, I remembered all my friends in school- boys and girls, who were once an inherent part of my life.. whom I had gradually lost in the flux of time. I remembered everything… the small fights and quarrels, the pranks- on friends, teachers and all those who came by, the competitions- academic, curricular and extra curricular, the fests- house day, school day, sports day etc, the modest celebrations for Onam and Christmas, the treats for birthdays, the tensions of exams, the exultations and pain of results, the vacations, the rides in school bus, the thrill and anguish of being in love, the rules that were so tempting to be broken, the pangs of bidding adieu…. etc etc….

I sat beside the lovely girl and I felt as if I was back to the old halcyon school days. Such small instances can bring fond and warm memories of the bygone era. Though nostalgic, I felt so refreshed and happy too… inadvertently this little girl has made my day!!!!

It was one of the smallest mountains in the Eastern Alps. The ever stretching vegetation of oak trees and Scots pine was a treat to watch and it was like a dream come true for me. I had been traveling a lot and I wasn’t sure which country I was in… might be Switzerland or Austria. But I was feeling very much at home and I thanked my geography teacher for giving me such well-chiseled picture of these geographical areas that I never felt like in a unknown territory.

It was cold but dry and the gentle cold breeze flowing through the pine trees made a sweet whistle. I was on a special mission this time…. to take some candid shots of Alpine Apollo butterfly. Among the 20,000 species of butterflies inhabiting this vast earth…..I was wondering why I was attracted towards this particular creature. The reason might be my extreme liking for white colour or my liking for coddlers… like the spots that spoiled the purity of its wings.

I walked through the grove of pine trees to reach a small stretch of scrubland and was hoping for my catch there. These meadows were known to be the abode of such beautiful faunae. And as Google says “I’m feeling lucky” … I was also feeling lucky that day. A kaleidoscope of Appolo butterflies where fluttering on a tiny shrublet nearby. I had always kept the camera ready for any unforeseen action. I rested myself on the ground and adjusted my camera lens. And at that point of time my whole world was focussed on those tiny but beautiful creatures. The perfect frame was set and my brain initiated a signal to my index finger. I was about to click the best shot of my life…. but somebody shook me so hard that my camera slipped off from my hand. I was so furious and taken aback. I turned around to find out the culprit who spoiled my pricey shot. It was a very familiar face…….

“Get up!!! Today is Monday.You have to go to office today, right???” Amma shouted.
“You spoiled my precious shot… Amma” I complained. “And where is my camera??” I asked… still searching on the bed for my lost camera.
“What camera??? It might be in your cupboard” She said, hiding her shock.
“Get ready to go to office… you are already late” She continued and left my room.

I got up from my bed and stretched myself to get rid of the cramps. As I was about to get out of my room, I overheard the hushed voice of Amma… complaining to dad.

“He is very disturbed and has a lot of bad dreams these days. We should consult some astrologer and get a solution for this. I think its a very bad time for him…. Oh God….please take care of him!!!!!”

I retraced my steps and went back to bed wondering about the effect my “Alpine dream” had on my mom….!!!!!

“When I consider life, ’tis all a cheat. Yet, fooled by hope, men favour the deceit; trust on, and think to-morrow will repay: to-morrow’s falser than the former day.” – John Dryden

Ritz Plaza

Room No: 263

I opened the teak finish wooden door of Room No: 263 and held it open for her to walk in. She softly brushed past my body and I slowly followed her in, locking the door from inside. The room was small but bore an expensive look with the white satin bed cover, matching pillow covers and embroidered curtains. As I walked in, I looked around the room. A wooden cot, a wardrobe with mirror, a coffee table and two chairs were the only furniture in the room.

Worth Rs 1600“, I thought, recollecting the advance I paid to the fat feminine guy at the counter. I had thoughtfully ignored his inquiring glance when I signed the check-in register.

I stood at the doorway admiring the worthiness of the money I spent and completely forgetting the presence of another person in the room. She was comfortably seated on the bed with her hand resting on her bag. I looked at her and realized how beautiful she looked in the peacock blue salwar and light blue shawl. I remember the day when she wore it for the first time. It was on her 21st birthday and her father had gifted this dress to her. That was two years ago and she still looked the same- cute and beautiful. She is Sruthi, my landlord’s daughter.

I couldn’t believe that I was with Sruthi in a hotel room and that too in her home city. It was just one hour before when I got a call from her. I was in the office preparing for a client presentation. She said she wanted to spent some time with me in the evening and I readily obliged because she never had the habit of making such wishes. I made up some reasons and left the office to meet her. She was waiting for me at the bus stop near my office and in fifteen minutes I picked her up from there.

She was unusually silent when she sat next to me in the car. I asked her whether she had some plans for the evening. She shook her head and said that she had left her home in the afternoon saying that she was going back to her hostel. She was doing her Post Graduation in a college which was 100 Kms from here. Since it was already getting dark, there was no chance of her travelling 100 Kms at this time. That was it. She wanted to spend the night with me and I have to make arrangements now. I cannot take her to my place because I was living on the 1st floor of her own house.

Lesson: Don’t fall in love with your land lord’s daughter because you won’t have your own space to spent time with her. I always learn things in the hard way.

I had to find a place stay… a safe place to take her with me. I called a friend to ask his opinion and made up some stories saying that my friend and family are visiting the city and I have to arrange for their stay. He suggested to check in at Ritz Plaza which is beyond the city limits and on the way to the beach. I thanked him and thanked myself for calling the right guy.

It was drizzling as I drove in to the parking lot of Ritz Plaza. I went straight to the fat feminine guy at the counter and motioned Sruthi to occupy the vacant couch at the lobby. I paid the advance, signed the register and silently cursed the rules for making me enter my full name and address for checking in. The front office guy looked straight at my face as he gave the key to Room No: 263.

“Rahul, where are you?” Sruthi quizzed. I was awakened from my thoughts and Sruthi was standing near me.

“Oh yeah. I was just thinking” I answered.

“Thinking about what?” She asked.

“Why did you cancel your trip today?” I asked eventhough I knew what her answer was. But I wanted to hear from her.

“I wanted to spend some time with you and to talk to you” She answered.

“Ok. But why so urgent?” I enquired just to make her lose temper.

“Why? Did I disturb you?” She asked and made a face.

“No, No. But see where we ended up….. in a hotel room” I said mocking displeasure in my voice.

She remained silent.

We had our rare intimate moments together in her house when her parents were not around. I used to take leave from office on those days during her vacation when her parents were not in the house. So being together was not a new thing for us. But that was in the safety of her own house unlike this hotel room. And I need to confess that this was my first experience staying in a hotel with a girl.

My last question had an inverse effect on her and she remained silent for another couple of minutes. I went towards her and sat beside her on the bed. I put my hands around her and gently pulled her towards me. She rested her head on my shoulder as I kissed on her forehead. I looked at her and saw her eyes gleaming. Did I see a tear drop…???? No… I guess!

“Do you love me?” She asked.

“Yes my dear. I love you” I said and kissed her quivering lips.

She clung to me as we descended on the bed and made love.

It was after midnight when I came back to my senses. She was lying on my arms and I had a bad cramp due to her weight. I tried to pull my hand without disturbing her but in vain. My action woke her up and she crawled away from me. I got up from the bed and went to the bath room and had a warm shower. When I came back she was sitting on the bed crossed legged and motioned me to sit beside her. I obeyed her like a child. She pulled me towards her and I rested my head on her lap. She had done this before….. whenever she had to discuss something serious. So I was all ears for her.

“You know Vinod?” She asked.

“Who?” I enquired.

“Vinod….Sankar uncle’s son who is a Doctor in State Service. You have seen him when they visited our home, right?” She asked.

“Yeah. Whats with Vinod?” I quizzed.

Silence followed. And after a couple of minutes she said

“My parents have fixed my marriage with Vinod”

“What?????” I sprang up from her lap and shouted. “You never told me….”

“I had told you that something is fishy…..when they came to visit us last week. It wasn’t a usual visit. I had smelled a rat and had informed you. After that visit my parents were explaining to me a lot about that guy as if I don’t know him. They even asked me whether I like him or not” She explained.

“And remember what you said….. you said that it was just my feeling and there was nothing wrong????” She continued.

“Yeah. But how did it all happen so suddenly?” I quizzed.

“My parents went to Sankar uncle’s place today morning and came back with this happy news” She said sarcastically.

“Vinod has to go for an official trip to Turkey and they wanted this marriage to happen before that” She continued.

I was hell shocked and was walking up and down in the room. I was devastated. I never knew I would have to face this so soon

“You want me to talk to your parents??” I asked.

“Its so late. My father have already given a word and he wont differ. Only way left is to elope with you. Which I cannot do since I don’t’ want to my parents to be unhappy and suffer because of me.” She said.

“What about me? What about our happiness? Will you be happy without me?” I shouted.

“You will forget me soon. Same might be the case with me as well” She said.

“But…” She cut me short.

“Anyway you never wanted any commitments, right? You always wanted to be a free bird and now why are you reacting like this?” She questioned.

“But I love you and I was feeling so complete with you……” I tried to explain.

“Lets not talk about it Rahul. Its Over and I wanted to let you know” She said.

There was a long stint of silence before I talked conveying a false sense of guilt.

“Why didn’t you tell me this when we met today? You should have told this when we came in to this hotel at least”

“No. I wanted you today and I realize that I wont have you anymore. I wanted all the happiness together and wanted you to experience that too. I wanted our relationship to be complete lest I regret in the future” She explained.

The conversation came to a dead end. There was no more questions and explanations. It was like everything came to a stand still.

I looked at my watch. It was 5:30 in the morning. I got up from the bed and dressed up and she followed. We vacated the room and got in to the car.

“Where should I drop you?” I asked.

“At the bus station. I am going back to college” She said.

I didn’t reply.

After a brief silence I asked “When is your wedding?”

“End of this month” She said.

So soon….. I thought. So these are the last few moments. In five minutes she will be on her way and I wont get another chance to call her back. I was feeling the pangs of losing my love. But my inner self was forcing me to remain silent and I obliged.

“Dad will personally invite you and you should be there to bless me” She laughed sardonically. But I ignored her sarcasm.

Soon we reached the bus stand and I stopped the car. As she got out of the car I asked

“Where is the venue of your marriage function?”

“Oh Sorry. I forgot to tell you. Its in the banquet hall of the same hotel Ritz plaza” She smiled and walked towards the bus station.