A Stranger Witnessed a Fight

She screamed into the phone, “Where are you?! I have been calling you for so long!”
He replied, “I already reached home”.
“You went home?” she screeched. “I told you I was going to come, didn’t I? It’s my birthday. We were supposed to meet!”
“Well…” his voice trailed off apologetically.
“Fine! Just tell me what to do now?” she demanded.
“Why don’t you come over to my place?” he suggested.
                             *
She opened the door to reveal a darkened room. Suddenly the lights popped on and her friends jumped up:

SURPRISE! Happy Birthday!

With a wrapped box in one hand he walked towards her and kissed her cheek, “I hope you forgive me now”.
                            *
This is an oneshot story I wrote after I overheard a girl talking angrily on the phone. The conversation forms the first part of the story. I only heard her part of the conversation and imagined the rest. It is highly probable she wasn’t even talking to her boyfriend but a female friend or a relative. But my overactive imagination constructed it into a lovers’ quarrel. The second part of the story is entirely my own imagination.

Heartfelt Words…the best gift

Damini was the friend of a friend, and I met her at his birthday party. A girl as unlike me as possible. Where I was a nerd, always poring over books and worrying about exams, she was carefree and loved playing sports. She was a wonderful sketch artist. I couldn’t draw to save my life!

Yet somehow, despite our differences and our contrasting personalities, we connected. It was like we were friends in some past life, and when we met in this life, our souls remembered each other, even if our memories didn’t. For two years, while I was still in junior college, we remained good friends. We would meet each other during vacations and after school. Her eighteenth birthday was a few months before our final board exams and bang middle during our preliminary exams. I knew that from next year onwards things wouldn’t be the same. We would move to different colleges, make new friends and lose ourselves in new activities. For a few months maybe we would call each other and talk, but too soon awkward silences would develop. When our lives would change the little link of commonality that we still had would snap. All that would remain is a sweet nostalgia for times past…

I wanted to give her something special for her birthday, something that she could look at 50 years from now, and fondly reminiscence about the bygone days.

A teenager is always short of money. We are a perpetually bankrupt species and our meagre pocket money can barely keep pace with our grandiose dreams. So buying something for her was out of the question, but I did have one thing that I could gift her — my words.

I set my pen to paper, and the words flew out weaving a tale of our friendship, of our memories, of us:

Today, as you are on the threshold of a new journey,

Let us take a short walk back down the memory lane,

Let us sniff the fragrance of our sweet friendship,

Laugh at jokes that once we had shared, shake our heads over the quarrels;

Start from our first trip together to Infinity and Inorbit,

There were just too many French fries weren’t there, and you learned I was an inexorable chocoholic,

Then let us move on to all those evenings we spent together –

Board games, friends, gossip and laughter – what more could one want,

Look at Ranbir Kapoor strumming his guitar, and then look a little further,

Six friends dancing on the road together in the twilight, oblivious to the strange gazes,

Hear the tiger’s growl, and the monkeys’ chatter, as we visit the old caves of ancient Buddhist monks,

Our jeans and T-shirts in sharp conflict to the age-old eternal statues with whom we pose,

Again four friends, journeying in history together, and I doubt whether anyone then or since has passed those silent, eternal statues with a sweeter, more carefree friendship than ours,

Picnicking in the meadow, boating in the sun, with the cool air fanning our cheeks, in a bubble of friendship,

Can there be a better summer’s day?

Look over there, can you see me, with ice-cream on my shirt (clumsy, as always),

Then to the vibrant night, with the deep rumbling of drums and loud music,

As we shake a leg on the dance floor, and I finally learn to dance Dandiya,

Two years gone by in a flash, I never heard them passing, did you?

Rude of them to leave without giving us a chance to say goodbye,

But Time has always been known for being inconsiderable to one and all,

Wherever we go in life from now, even if we part ways,

Remember me, and remember these days, as I will –

Forever Cherish These Days,

Thank You, for making them so special, thank you for being my friend,

So, here is me saluting those days, and a toast to you,

May you have a wonderful life, as sweet as ‘us’

And Happiness forever rule your path, I hope.

Since then I did indeed lose touch with her, but a couple of months earlier I met her at a college fest. We hugged and chatted for a few minutes – nothing like our long late night conversations – but just a minute before she was swallowed up by the crowd, she said, “By the way, I still have your letter…”

I am participating in the #DilKiDealOnSnapdealactivity at BlogAdda in association with SnapDeal.

Writing A Blog….

writing-centerI will Write! I decided, and with great determination opened my computer. The ‘new post’ page loads and there is no sound in the room except the whirring of the ceiling fan, and the soft crackle of the newspapers in the wind – no sound, NONE – not even the fantastic one of brain gears clicking and churning to produce an idea, that blossoms into a story.

‘Text’ I click on the dialogue box, and a sterile white box opens – waiting, waiting for my words…..as I wait for them to come, to descend like invisible moths into my brain, and help me write. For I want to Write. But nothing comes, and in desperation I open up the daily prompt ‘Shake it Up‘ write about your birthday from when you were 12. Ah! what a nice idea! I will write on this.

I re-open the page. The white box stares at me expectantly. When I was 12 years old….nothing comes to mind, except the image of my mother, my mother in the kitchen cooking for us, my mother waking me up with kisses – my mother who is right now at a hospital, battling for life from hyperglycemia.

mother-and-daughter-1Writing for me is therapy, and so I want to Write, but nothing really comes to my mind. When I think of my 12th birthday, at present it is only my mother who comes to my mind, saturating all my memories, with a heavy sweetness. My taste buds yearn for the taste of the dishes she cooked for me on my birthday, all my birthdays – pulav, prawn curry and chilli chicken. And for desert – caramel pudding and rice kheer. Always! At every birthday, she would be the first person to get up and visit the temple to thank God and pray for my health. Then come back, wrap up my presents – and wake me up to her own rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The whole day she would be busy in the kitchen, in the dreadful heat, cooking up dishes whose fragrance dragged me and my sister to the kitchen door, where we would linger, watching her work. My nostrils ache for that fragrance now. In the evening we would go to my grandmother’s house for dinner, and it would be late by the time we returned. I remember how on our way back I would put my head in her lap, drowsy and half nodding off, and watch from this position the vast blue sky above with twinkling stars, interspersed by tree leaves and street lamps, while she gently patted me to Dreamland – this image always evokes in my mind a sense of safety and security that I cannot find now. I long for it now. I long for the comfort of her hug, the warmth of her arms, the promise of hope and security in her kiss, that could in an instant cure anything – from bruises to heartbreaks. I remember her pushing me on the creaky old iron swing in the park, I remember her holding my hand tight in the crowded roads, I remember her patting me to sleep, and I remember her hugging me tight when I woke up in tears after a nightmare; and later when these nightmares became real in the form of school bullies and cruel taunts.

I want to write, but it is only my teardrops that fall on the keyboard – and they craft their own song of nostalgia, of undying love and of Hope.

Daily Prompt: Shake it Up

The Birthday Conundrum

Once upon a time, in a perfect world, birthday parties used to be about celebrating your special day with those people who mean a lot to you. Your friends came over and gave you little tokens of their love, and you spent time with them. Nowadays birthday parties are more about glamour and show than celebration; and what used to be a private ceremony with special people is now a communal event to be attended by all those one ever exchanged a word with!

The preparation start weeks before with the birthday boy or girl dropping constant and not so subtle hints about their birthday, “I am saving money for my birthday shopping”; “My mother says she will get me a I-phone on my birthday next week”; “I am thinking of calling people over to __________ restaurant for my birthday” or “I want this special favour because it is my birthday week/month”. Just a couple of weeks ago I got a call from a friend of mine who made it a point to mention that I should call her at midnight to wish her on her birthday. Not that I minded wishing her on her birthday, I did indeed wish the best for her and hoped that she would have a wonderful birthday but being almost ordered to do so did not exactly sit well with me. I wished her at five minutes past midnight, and was informed by a very gloating friend that I was the fifth person to wish her. Well I am glad I made the Top 5!

The counting does not end to the number of phone calls ​received but stretches on to facebook wishes and Whatsapp texts. All these are counted.

A week or so before the birthday, preparations begin at the birthday girl/boy’s house too. Party spots are shortlisted, menus debated upon and guest lists drawn up. The latter is perhaps the most challenging task as the host firstly lists out all her best friends, her good friends, her just friends, those who had invited her to their birthdays, her frenemies and lastly those popular jocks and butterflies you can’t just not invite if you ever want your party to be marked ‘memorable’, to be one which people will remember in years to come and remark upon. Much deliberation goes over these lists – “I don’t like her much, and I don’t want to invite her. But if I don’t she will come to know I don’t like her, and I don’t want that”;”If I call just her and not her, the former will not come”; “I like her but she did not call me to her birthday”. And finally, finally the invitations are sent out.

When an invitation reaches its recipient’s house it causes a sensation there too. Piggy banks are rattled, savings calculated and then the ‘friendship variable’ is calculated – is she a 100 rupees worth friend, 200 rupees or more; and the other variable of what gift did he/she give to me on my birthday. Then if the friend is special some thought is spent over what to buy for him/her, if not, there is always the traditional fall-backs – chocolates, deodorants, t-shirts and arm bands. I have even heard of cases where the most miserly of all people simply looked through their cupboards for something they still haven’t used and is not likely to, put a nice bow on it, and give it to the lucky birthday boy/girl.

Then the day of the party arrives. Guests arrive dressed up in nice dresses and suits, and a lovely smile to accessorize their face. But don’t be fooled by their outward appearances, these are the party critics, and as fearsome as any page 3 critics that ever existed. The party is now judged on the basis of the number of invitees, the food, the theme, the decoration and the music. The usual dances are danced, some jokes cracked, and the cake is cut and smeared all over the birthday girl/boy’s face. Birthday bumps are delivered, because what better way to celebrate your birthday than to have sticky chocolate icing plastered over your face and being beaten by all your friends in turn.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fanatic on a personal crusade against birthdays and birthday parties. I really believe that every person has a right to have a special day to his name that he/she can enjoy with those they love and those who love them, but making it a matter of status and prestige seems simply wrong to me. There are so few precious moments we get to spend with our loved ones in this stressful world, why spoil the few we get by inviting riff-raff whom we don’t want to see, and who doesn’t want to be there either.

Turning 18

ImageSo two days ago was my eighteenth birthday, and just like that I crossed over the threshold of childhood to adulthood. And now, two days into my life as an adult I still don’t know how and when time passed. As a child like most of my peers, the only thing I wanted was to grow up – to be an adult, independent to take my own decisions. There were so many things I dreamed of doing ten years ago at this time – cook like my mother, use a knife to cut vegetables, learn to light a match, go to the shops on my own, go to college, stay up late – small dreams of the forbidden. Now that I finally am an adult why doesn’t it feel so? I haven’t yet had any over-night epiphanies nor have I realized the deep philosophy of Life. I don’t feel grown-up and not at all matured or wise, yet I am supposed to be so, am I not ?

There were no fanfares and trumpets to welcome me into the world of grown-ups. Nothing around me seems any different than two days ago, except small things here and there. No longer do I have to climb a chair to reach the top rack in the kitchen. In that one moment when I look around myself from the eyes of an eight-year old me, I feel like Alice felt when she ate the cake that made her taller. I remember looking up at my teachers, my parents, now I stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and yet I am not half as wise as they are. The old picture books in my bookshelf have been replaced by huge, drab volumes that contain hardly any pictures. My old soft toys and worn out barbies are arranged neatly on shelves, no longer gateways of my imagination. Nowadays, sometimes it is almost unthinkable to me that once upon a time I considered these plastic figures with glassy buttons for eyes to be my playmates, my friends, that I kissed them goodnight, and wished them good morning. The eccentricities of a child!

When I look at old photos I get a brief glimpse of how much things have changed. My parents’ faces have become more lined, parts of their hair have become grey. I don’t fit in my mother’s lap anymore, and it often seems fantastical that I ever did. My father doesn’t lift me up in the air now, and the one-sided acquiescence both reluctant and otherwise I was used to as a child, has now transformed into lengthy debates and discussions between me and my parents. My country now deems me responsible and mature enough to decide to a certain extent its future, to elect a leader worthy enough of leading my country, but politics is still as confusing to me as trigonometry was only a few years back.

Of course there are certain things to look forward to, but adult life comes with such huge responsibilities that I am not sure I can handle, and sometimes all I want is to run back down the time line to my carefree past. I feel like I am standing upon a cliff, where behind me lies my past and all that I have experienced, while in front of me lies the murky depths of an unknown future. And I don’t know whether what I am feeling is apprehension or anticipation.