Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Train and Our Chance Meeting


*Mangalore-TVM express. 9 pm. *

I sat by the emergency window, the red grills stuck open on the upper frame. A joint family filled the three adjacent berths next to ours. Having forgotten to carry a book, observing them was my means of entertainment at present. There were those two chatty girls, a spectacled boy sitting next to his grandma, another smaller boy and a few other uncles and aunties.

Bored soon enough, I switched over to my phone for company. I didn't look up until much later when mom got up to use the washroom. Casually getting back to my phone, I suddenly noticed a pair of eyes on me. It was the family's spectacled boy. Was he really looking at me? Or maybe staring at open space? When my eyes met his, he waved. So, me. I raised my brow in response.

"Recognize me?" he called out from his berth opposite mine. I peered at him more closely, trying to figure out who he was. With a creased forehead, I shook my head.
"Bhabha!" he exclaimed, to which my eyes widened.

Was he my batchmate from Bhabha? Oh, and FYI that was the name of my tuition centre (Let's not make fun of the name at least here!).  Maybe he was, there were like a hundred people in each class after all. Just as I got all geared up to go talk to him, mom appeared before me and started speaking all at once about a vacant seat a few berths away we could go to.

I had to wait another five minutes before approaching him. And when I did, I asked his name the first thing.
"Sid." he said. Nope, I knew no Sid from Bhabha.
"My batch?"
"Yeah...last year? Before the batches got shuffled? "
"Ahh I see, don't remember- my bad."
"Well, you looked so familiar, couldn't be sure though...and I didn't want to risk getting slapped"
I grinned.
"So, going for an exam?"
And a little more of Bhabha news plus talks on future plans followed before I remembered that mom was waiting.

So there I was back in my seat and it suddenly dawned on me that he hadn't yet asked my name. The next half hour I sat battling with my mind about whether or not to go back and talk with him. I could do with some company, but then he didn't even give a second glance till now. Giving up, I climbed over to the upper berth out of his sight. I had an exam the next day. I needed to sleep.

Lying down, I peeked through the grills on the wall separating the adjacent seats. All too soon, the back of a head popped up behind those grills. My fingers crossed, I waited for the head to turn. But all it did was look sideways to reveal a pair of spectacles. So that was him. Sigh. Maybe he was too good a guy to even turn around once?

A small commotion from below distracted me. A baby was wailing too loud for our liking. Heads were turning to find the source of the noise. That spectacled face turned around too and noticed me.

He waved again, and me back. Then he turned away. Okay...well at least he waved. He was probably busy with - oh hey he was facing me again, asking me my name. I grinned and sat up, trying to mouth my name to him. You see, we weren't in hearing range unless we wanted the whole compartment to hear us.

He flashed his phone's screen at me. I nodded, typing my name in my phone. Wait, what? How was he supposed to read it through the grills? Maybe I should zoom it up and -
"Beta!  Please hold the baby for a while! " the wailing baby's mother was holding her baby out to me.
"Sure aunty!"  As I took the baby from her, she climbed up to the berth in between us. Shit.

Thankfully, she didn't cover up the grills. He was now flashing his mobile number at me. Not easy to read through the grills. So he fingered his number digit by digit to me. I was carefully noting down each digit through his gestures, all along sensing the aunty's eyes on both of us. What was I doing?

Once the ten digits were done, I tried to give him a ring. It said switched off. I shook my head at him and he flashed his number on his screen again. All I could comprehend was that I'd gotten the last two digits wrong. Retried. It was now 'Out of coverage area'.

Someone turned the lights off. The only sources of light now were both of our phones. Great. Why did people sleep so early?

He was now showing me his WhatsApp contacts. Right. I still wasn't sure if I got the number right. Maybe I could search him up in FB? But I needed his full name. Turning the mobile data on, I  waited for the network. Loading. Loading. Aaandd......still loading. I looked up and he flashed his own loading circle in his phone.

And then suddenly, he signalled to wait and got down. What? I sat all nervous and excited, watching a figure walk over to the berth right underneath mine. He stood there a while. What exactly was he planning? Was I supposed to do something? Get down? Pass a slip?

I flashed my phone's light at him, and suddenly remembered that the ones below me might be his relatives. Quickly turning off my light, I noticed him going back to his place just as he had come. Now what?

When he was back up, I signalled to him to go to sleep. I also wanted to tell him we'd talk in the morning like normal people but had no idea how to convey that. So I lay down and a little later he did too. But his phone's light was visible for a very long time afterwards.

*2 am*

I woke up with a jerk. The family below me was up and about, busy packing. He was nowhere in sight. Around ten minutes later the train slowed down, and the family was lined up with the luggage on the aisle. Slowly as the line moved, he appeared in the rear end. Look up Sid! Look up!

He did, and we exchanged a final wave of goodbye. Sigh. He still did not know my name.

*TVM Railway Station. 6 pm *

I stared at the saved mobile number in WhatsApp. There was no profile picture. Hoping against hope that the number was right, I gave a ring. No answer. Maybe I should just leave it here?


A new WhatsApp message. Alright. If it wasn't him I'm gonna have to block this number. So here we go.

Holding my breath, I opened the message...

 "Hey, so how was your exam?"



Sunday, 15 May 2016

You Left Without A Word

Gone. Lost. I don't know for how long.

I know we weren't very good together. But haven't you put up with me since day one in school? With you, everything was so much easier. We'd climb mountains together, and reach such great heights! And my friends'd look at us in awe, slightly jealous for not having you for themselves.

Yet after all that we've been through together, you chose to elude me now. Now when I need you the most. For ten years you stood by me, never once was there a betrayal. Maybe that's why I took you for granted. But don't think I hadn't noticed our relationship dwindle in the past two years. Don't think I didn't see the distance   creep in between us. I tried to ignore it, but it was too obvious not to notice. You were around, but never quite with me. Is it because I've spent too much time with those others you don't agree with? Or is it because I never appreciated you much all along?

I hadn't known then that you would disappear so soon. And now it frightens me to think of my years ahead without you. I've been searching high and low for you, hoping you're somewhere around the corner and only just playing games with me. I waited for you to pop out of the blue and exclaim that you'd never left, that you were only fooling around with me, that you would always be by my side. But you never came. 

Two hours. That's how long I've been sitting before my books. Four days. That's how long I have left to study for the exam. My mom's noticed your absence too, though she did not bring it up with me until now in fear of disappointing me. I've tried to convince her that you'd be back soon, that everything would be fine, and secretly wished  my words were true. 

Where are you? These fat books around are scaring me. The chalk white pages are blinding, the letters hard to decipher. Everyone is beginning to notice your departure, and they're taking advantage of it. They're calling out to me right now...that Jane Austen book on the table, the Rubiks cube left undone, the piano badly missing my fingers, and even the plain wall that's made itself interesting, only for me. And yet you don't show up. 
My interest to study. 

Gone. Lost. And I don't know for how long.

Pic Source:

#This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Standing out

She stood by her bedroom window, peeking out at the little crowd outside. There were the kids in the neighborhood who hung out everyday. But she wasn't looking for them. She was looking for her, that new girl who'd moved in. She probably didn't know anyone in here. Would she go out to join them?

Too many tree leaves blocked her view from the window; she could only hear their loud laughter. Swivelling from where she stood, she caught a glimpse of long curly hair. No. That couldn't be. The curly haired head turned sideways to reveal a cheerful face. Her face. So the new girl joined them. And made friends with them, and now laughed with them too. Something she was unable to do despite living in the same neighborhood for the past three years.

How did she do that? That girl's been here for barely 2 days! She looked on from the window, feeling hopelessly left out of all the fun. It wasn't like she never tried. She did go out when she first moved to the place. She did play a little with them, but she still wasn't considered to be in the group. That was okay, because she was new to the place. She assumed time would patch things up. Only that it didn't.

She stopped going out and stayed indoors with her books. Who needed outdoor friends when she could sit home reading lovely books! And so life was good for a long time. Until she showed up, Miss Curly hair. She was her same age, and in her same school. But obviously not the same as her, because Miss Curly could joke with them, while she couldn't. Miss Curly could go out and not worry about feeling lonely, but she couldn't.

That was it. She decided to stop pitying herself. Donning on her shoes, she swaggered her way to the group, looked straight at Miss Curly and said "Hi. We haven't met have we?" She expected an awkward silence; the rest of the group to give a blank stare. But none of it happened. "No we haven't" replied Miss Curly pleasantly, "Hi!"

Slowly, she blended in. People came and asked her where she had been in the past few years and she answered them patiently. She went out with them now, and played with them too. In two years she and Curly had become very close friends. But something was still amiss. She still wasn't in the group. She still felt left out.

With time, she stopped going out once again, back to square one. She had stuff to do indoors, and no time to idle about for hours with the group. They called her the nerd who studied all the time. They claimed the poor girl was confined to her home. But she wasn't. She'd just stopped forcing herself to change her ways to fit in.

Each time she'd returned from the group, there was this uncomfortable hollowness. But every time she chose to stay home with all that was dear to her, she felt fulfilled. It was only a matter of what she chose to do.

She decided to embrace the introvert that she was. It didn't matter if she wasn't like everybody else. She'd accepted who she was, and had fallen in love with it too. And that was all that mattered.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

When I found my Best Friend

Source : We Share Pics

"Who is your best friend?"

The six year old girl looked up at the old man sitting before her. This was a very easy question. Of course she knew who her best friend was, in fact everybody did. She went about telling every person she knew about her bestest friend, whom she loved so much that she even sacrificed a barbie set for her!

The little girl's mother was stroking her tiny hair. "Answer doctor uncle, Poo." her mom whispered into her ears. Poo now shifted her attention to her mommy, who was nodding encouragingly at her.

"So, who is your best friend?" asked the doctor again, his pleasant smile filling the room with warmth. Lifting up her chin in pride, Poo told him her best friend's name, "Sanya!".
 She knew that there could be nobody like the two of them, 'BFFs' as they were.  But why was the doctor shaking his head?

"No." he said, " She is not your best friend." Poo was confused. How could Sanya not be her best friend? If not her, who could it be? Her cute little brows creased as she tried to figure out her other best friends.
"Aishwarya?" she tried again. But the doctor shook his head this time too. Now Poo started getting a little scared.  What was the doctor saying? Did she not have a best friend?

The doctor smiled at the little girl's perplexity. Putting on a serious face, he looked straight at Poo and said, "Your best friend is sitting right next to you."
Poo blinked. The doctor was pointing at her mother. "Mommy?"
The doctor nodded. "There is nobody else who will be your bestest friend more than your mommy, understand?" Little Poo nodded, surprised.
"So the next time someone asks you who your best friend is, what will you say?"
"Momma." said little Poo, feeling slightly ashamed for not knowing it earlier.

Eleven years later, Poo sat in her room with a circle of fat reference books for studies.  She was confused and worried. Her aunt had just messaged her asking what she was doing for mother's day this time. 'I don't know', she'd replied, feeling slightly guilty. Well, what could she do? Her entrance exam was due and her sister was flying to Germany for an interview the same day. There was no time for spotless-clean-kitchen surprises or making their almost-edible rock-cakes this time. Hell, they did not even have a hand made card.

She rang up her sister, wondering if they must make something despite their busy schedule.
"No." she'd said over the phone, "It's okay. Mom would understand. We don't need a specific day to do something special. It's the other way round. We could spend any day with her and it'd turn out to be special. "

Of course, this one day won't make any difference would it? Poo sat pondering when her mother showed up with a cup of watermelon shake.
"Don't study too hard. Take a break will you? Go for your...what was that word again? ootwayoon...go do that."
Poo grinned at her mom, "It's uitwaaein*." she said, "And no ma, I'm not in the mood."
"Don't be so boring." said her mom, shaking her head.

Poo watched her mother take the empty cup and leave the room. Yeah, she'd understand. She was her best friend. And it was not just because the doctor uncle said so. She'd realized it over the years.

*uitwaaein- a Dutch word that means to take a break to clear one's mind.
(Credits to Fabulus and the Blue life #AtoZChallenge )

Monday, 2 May 2016

Paralysed !!

I was pacing up and down my room, trying to recall all the formulas I'd just learnt. Sigh, I was gonna screw the test this time too. Mom was in my room for the third time, asking me to get to sleep. I looked up at the clock - ten past twelve. Maybe it was time to get some sleep.

So I lay down in bed, lights off...and sleep chose to elude me. I lay still, watching the curtains sway slowly in the wind. I shut my eyes in the hope of driftng off to sleep. But I felt something stiff near my ears. Did I forget to remove my spectacles? I lifted my arm to check...only to notice that no arm came up. I tried again, and felt my arm glued to the bed. What was with my arm?

I tried opening my eyes to have a look, but my eyelids wouldn't budge. And then I did what any sane human would do at the time. I panicked. I tried to lift my whole body and felt myself get exhausted with the effort. And yet my body hadn't moved an inch. The wind from the ceiling fan grew louder and louder still, and I knew all too well at that moment that my nightmare had returned. Again.

It wasn't the first time, yet I couldn't stay calm. I knew I was dreaming but it did not make it any better. I tried opening my mouth to scream, despite knowing that it would be futile. Every ounce of strength I had was wasted away in my efforts. My body wasn't under my control; all that existed was my consciousness. I screamed from within, flung my arms and legs wildly in my mind, but my body stay as still as a rock.

I lay there, silently wishing for my mom to come and wake me up. I was afraid that if I didn't wake up soon, I would remain as such, paralysed....forever? With all the voice and strength from within I slowly whispered for mom...only to hear nothing.

All of a sudden, my eyes popped open with a jerk. I was breathing heavily, in shock of what just happened. I found the curtains swishing just as it had been. I sat up in my bed. I was fine. What was this recurring nightmare? And how was it that I was conscious at the time? How could I think rationally? Fear is born with the unknown. I was afraid of what was happening.

With the fear and wanting to stay awake for the rest of the night, I do not know when I drifted off again.
A few days later, I was browsing through FB when I found this...

I googled it up, and heaved a sigh of relief. It had a name! And it was common, and harmless! Sleep paralysis, they called it. And I discovered that my version was way better than the monsters and demons that other people had seen (Just look at that scary picture!). At least now I knew, and it did not scare me anymore.

It so happens that when the exhausted mind does not synchronize with the body. the body tend to fall asleep sooner than the brain, and it has a good time scaring the hell out of you until it too relaxes down. Now I knew what to do the next time, all I needed to do was to calm myself down, not fight back, and wait for it to get over.

But it seems like my brain has accepted defeat, for I ain't scared of it anymore. And the nightmare hasn't paid a visit since.

Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? I know it is terrible, and it is the scariest shit one can dream of...but believe me, there are ways to deal with it and it's simple too. And maybe who knows, you might actually enjoy it the next time (not kidding - there are people who love it!) 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Have you made your bucket list?

This little guy came to me as a birthday gift. My froggy bank.
"Stash all your secrets in it." he'd said when giving it to me.
 Well, I had my diary for that. I knew what to do with this little froggy; it was going to hold my secret wish list. So that every day when I wake up and find its cute 'V'-smile and those rosey cheeks, I'm reminded of all the things that are left to be done.

Remember the time when we were kids and we told people how we'd grow up and make the world a better place? And then we grew up and discovered that it wasn't as easy as it seems. And remember when we grew into a teen later and dreamt of having all the fun we could possibly have in our lifetime? And then...oh well...I'm not sure about what follows next because I'm presently in the same phase.

Surely, we've all had those round table discussions with our buddies about our bucket lists. All the travel destinations from Louvre Palace to Machu Pichu...all those adventures from sky diving to snorkelling...all those people to meet from our favourite author to the favourite band...and all the things to do from getting a tattoo to running a marathon or writing a book...

Every now and then I'd tell my froggy bank of my new found wishes. And then one day someone asked if I'd ever done any of it yet. I began having a flashback of all the good times of the past. I was beginning to say I did, and that's when I realized something.  That I'd done and gotten much more than what I'd imagined.

This list that I continue to make is all about what I long for; what I might do much later in life. It could simply be a bundle of fantasies I crave for and will laugh at and sigh in the future. Because it tells of all that hasn't happened so far, and all that needs to be done. But what it did not tell, was about all the things that has already happened, the things I haven't wished for.

That's when I noticed that even though plenty more was left to be done, life had its way of surprising us with things we never dreamed of. And when we're busy in pursuit of our secret wish list, we may not value enough the pleasures and surprises showered upon us on the way. If only we look at all that we've had so far filtering off the worries, we'd notice how extraordinary our lives have been.

As I sat there with a piece of paper to jot down yet another spontaneous wish that came across my mind, I was reminded of all the adventures that I'd had so far.

What are our lives without our wish lists? To have a dream is what keeps us going. Else, it is a mere survival, and to live, survival does not suffice. Now as the piece of paper gave me a 'blank' stare, I knew what to write. Enough of junketing around with wild ideas. I'd missed out something more important - to pay back the ones who've mentored us. My happiness, I owed to them. And to give them a dream-come-true experience for themselves, was going to be another one of my wishes.

 Remember the time when we were kids and we were going to make the world a better place? Maybe it isn't so hard after all, as long as our world is but the circle of well wishers we cannot live without. Because these gestures of love are enough to make it a better world.

So have you made your bucket list yet? If you haven't, do so right away. And when you embark on your journey ahead, do remember to look out for the surprises life bestows upon you, and also to plant smiles on the faces of your loved ones on the way.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Once upon a dream

He stood there, leaning lazily over the parked bus, making small talk with his guy friends. I was holding my friend's arm, I don't recall whose. She was telling me something, but I wasn't listening to her. My eyes were busy scanning the crowd. They shifted from one person to the next, searching...

Lost in the disarray,
Alone, searching for thee

Finally, my eyes met his, and they settled down, now at peace. His eyes bore into mine and mine into his...lost in a trance. His lips curled into a slow smile. A smile that brought jitters in my stomach, a smile that made my heart skip a beat. I felt my own lips curve into a smile, knowing that it came right out of my heart. 

I watched as he took small, smooth steps towards me...and I hoped my racing heartbeat wasn't too loud. Everything else around us dissolved as he extended his lean, slender hand over to me. I felt my hand rise and  land itself on his own, and the tiny fingers fit into his warm and gentle grip. 

He said nothing, and neither did I, for our eyes had spoken enough. And slowly we moved, our paces in harmony. Everything else was a blur. All I could see was an endless road ahead, unknown and mysterious. But I knew I was ready for the quest, for anything...because I was happy, I was safe....and I was me. 

For dear, you are my world,
Thus steady now are mine eyes.

Our locked hands hung loosely, and then I remembered what he'd told me one day, a very long while ago, "It's you and me against  the world, so when do we attack? "

The very thought made me flush, and I found myself suppressing a grin. So on and on we walked to eternity.......until the angels from heaven descended to awaken me from my dream.

I sat up in my bed, bewildered. No way. No no no! Oh shit, there was no use dodging the obvious fact. I did have a crush on him after all. My bestie was right all along. 

I sat there, replaying the whole dream over and over again. Little did I know then, that some dreams do come true.