Beauty and the Beast

“Here” she thrust the folded piece of paper hastily torn from a notebook into my hands. Her perfectly manicured nails, though the school didn’t allow us to wear polish, scratched my wrist and drew blood.

“Give it to him”. I watched her run away. Her lithe figure and grace made even the grey tunic of the school uniform look elegant. I remembered holding the skirt straight while she cut the extra inches of cloth away till it was high enough to ride dangerously above her thigh when she sat. Silver earrings dangled from her ears, hair tied in a messy ponytail and just a hint of eyeliner that was too subtle to break the ‘no make-up’ rule of our campus.

Plump, graceless and clumsy I was the antithesis of my best friend. Our friendship was the biggest mystery of our school. All I knew was that Parul had been my friend ever since I could remember. We had entered kindergarten holding hands and grown up together, sharing everything from toys to homework.

We lived next door, played together every evening, swore a blood oath to be best friends forever at eight, lost our first tooth on the same day, bled together for the first time and even received the same marks in all exams. Yet puberty decided to bestow on her a gift while all I got were pimples.

Suddenly she was the most popular girl in class and I was the fat nerd. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ our classmates called us. Parul would drag me along to birthday parties I hadn’t been invited to; shopping at stores where nothing ever fitted me and to lunches with the other girls….till I complained and refused to go along. Yet every night she comes over to my house, and over homework tell me stories of her life, as far from mine as possible.

Boys fell all over her but she would politely kept her distance from all of them…till Abhimanyu arrived. His family shifted from Dehradun and he was wonderful! Tall, smart and a wonderful sense of humour. Sparks flew from the moment Parul and Abhimanyu met. Abhimanyu wrote a poem for her and put it in a Nicholas Sparks novel that he lent to Parul.

I never expected to see my friend act like a lovestruck heroine from the movies, but she did. She would suddenly drift off into day dreams that would make her smile and blush, and behind her notebook she doodled hearts with ‘A+P ‘ written in them.

She penned down a reply to his poem but her courage wore off when it actually came to giving it to him.

He was sitting with a gang of friends in the garden. I walked over. The other boys sniggered at my audacity to approach them, but Abhimanyu smiled and shifted to make room for me to sit. He was always kind to me, and sometimes when Parul had other plans we would walk to the bus stop together. When we were alone like this he would tell me stories about his childhood in Dehradun, and cracked jokes that had me doubling over with laughter. I loved those afternoons.

“I have a message for you from Parul”.

He looked at me expectantly. The note fluttered in my pocket.

The words came out in a rush, “She doesn’t like what you wrote. She asked me to ask you to stay away from her”.

I ran as far from his disappointed face as I could. And once I was out of sight, I took out the folded note, tore it into as many pieces as I could and threw it in the nearest dustbin.

If this was a divine test of my loyalty I failed.

Cupid in Hell smirked.

 

Advertisements

Thanks for the Memories

5eec3176e13962cadadca2444b541b57

In three days, I will be done with my end semester exams and will become a college graduate. And there are only two things that I shall be taking along with me from there:

  1. A document pronouncing me as a graduate
  2. Memories

The first one undoubtedly is important because it will help me in whichever career path I chose in the near future, but the latter is paramount.

It is this wealth of memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and on dark, gloomy days of montony and amidst strangers in a foreign land, the wisps of days gone by will make me smile.

It is a difficult realization: my friends and I, after spending a few years together and aiding each other in the painful process of growing up, shall now part ways. Of course we shall promise to keep in touch, but promises slowly fade away.

Some of us will become famous, and we one fine day, we shall see them on the TV and with a start cry out, “Oh! I knew her!”, and stare at the screen, mentally comparing the gawky teenager we knew to the well-groomed celebrity on screen.

News of some will filter to us through other acquaintainces, and we shall delight or rue their truimphs and defeats vicariously. (In our hearts, we shall long for those days when we were the ones they confided all their news to first).

Some we shall meet, suddenly, in markets and at the bus stop.

“How have you been?”

“Good. Can’t complain, and you?”

“Just doing fine”.

At this point his bus arrives, and we both move on with our lives, and maybe later that night reminisce about the’good old days’.

Maybe right now I am being cynical but change is scary. And yet part we must for whatever next adventure life takes to.

There’s only one thing that can be said…Thanks for the memories!

 

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.

Daily Prompt: Truth Serum (*side-effects include a little occassional rambling*)

Writing a blog together is something me and my friend, Kate (you can check her blog here) have been planning for a long time. So, when we saw today’s daily prompt, we both decided that this was our chance to find out some choice secrets of each other and also write a post together. Me being and her being K, here is how our conversation went:

A: So who goes first?

K: You

A: Ok – but let’s drink our Truth Serums first 😛

K: Okay. Let’s have our serums. 

A: *gulp* Tastes like licorice. 

10533210_717730778287836_2096986690439839837_nA: What’s my but?

K: But you over-think a lot, most of the times. 

K: My chance – What’s the one thing about me, that just doesn’t make sense to you?

A: How despite being brought up in a Hindu family you got so influenced by Christianity. I have Christian friends who haven’t read the Bible as many times as you have! 

A: What’s my most charming quality?

K:  You are always supportive and encouraging. 

K: If suppose, for any reason, we have a fight and don’t speak for a very long time, and meet after many months, how would you react?

A: Ominous question! But I usually try hanging on to friends for as long as I can. And you are a very close friend – there is no way I am letting you go. There is no way we wouldn’t have talked for months. I would have been calling you everyday, and bombing your whatsapp inbox with apology messages.
But say you moved to Antarctica and we really don’t talk for quite a long time, then I am probably just gonna hug you, and then bore you with all the intricate details of my life in the past months – all the guys I liked, all the parties I had been to, every single book I read, and all the sitcoms I watched. 

A: What’s the one quality about me that annoys you the most?

K: Honestly, I haven’t found anything “annoying” as such. But I guess, when you form an opinion about something, it’s really hard to have to change it. I dunno about anecdotes, can’t think of any at the moment. This response just came to my tongue.

K: Sort of repeating a question that you asked, what’s my biggest asset, personality/quality/character wise?

A: The way you put things across. You are witty, without being arrogant. You know stuff and you correct people’s mistakes, but you aren’t patronizing or condescending. That’s very rare among our peers. 

K: Oh my god! I didn’t even know I do that! I demand an anecdote immediately.

A: Hahahaha…uhm anecdote? Can’t recall…exams messing with my brain. My turn. one thing you wish I would start doing already? 

K: Cool down and take good and adequate breaks from your busy and extra demanding schedules. You should randomly go on mini vacs every few weeks.

A:  Hahahaha – let’s start with that Bordi vacation we keep planning 😛

K: Haha. That is a dream dream vacation plan 😛
What I meant was going solo.

A: And get accosted by strange men? I was walking down from the station today, and I swear I got stalked. TWICE!

K: Oh. Erm. Bad idea then. 

K: What’s your deepest insecurity?

A: My friends finding me repulsive and hating me, and never talking to me again.

A: Turning the sword around – what’s your deepest insecurity?

K: Not being good enough. In my own eyes. I have expectations from myself. And while I don’t go around trying very hard, I do like it if people around me smile because of something I did. And when that doesn’t happen, I feel I have failed in some way.

I think another one of the side-effects of the truth serum is drowsiness, or maybe it’s just because it’s nearly midnight here. Anyway we both decided it’s time we gave the questions a rest, and sleep off the truth serum…before some of the darker secrets come out 😉

Dictates of My Dharma

Today while reading this post on Forgiveness, written by a close friend (I would recommend it to everyone. She writes well, and unlike me, on spiritual and moral issues), and it got me thinking about forgiveness and trust.
It reminded me of a story my father repeatedly narrates to me and my sister  A priest sees a chameleon drowning in the river,  and so he picks it up. In its fear, it bites the priest, who drops it, but then again picks it up. It bites him again, and the chain continues. A passersby asks the priest: why do you keep saving the animal who bites you? Let the ungrateful creature die!

The priest said, it’s his dharma (or duty) to bite me. It’s my dharma to save him.

I am not a very spiritual person. Spirituality is a gift am yet to receive, but I do like this story. I guess there are a thousand ways one can interpret it. But I will tell you how I interpret it. I had a very close friend, who made some very bad choices in life. All his other friends either broke all ties with him, or apathetically ‘tolerated’ him , while mentally cursing him. I on the other hand kept chiding him whenever I felt he was wasting his potential; and would get snubbed repeatedly in turn. People would tell me that I should just ‘let him be’. That I should ignore him and move on with my life. I couldn’t because my dharma told me as a friend it was my duty to try my best to help a friend, if I felt he was doing something wrong. Till date I don’t know whether or not I was write.
Sometimes some people will  tell me that a particular individual isn’t good or trustworthy, that they are Judas incarnate, and that I shouldn’t thus trust them. I believe that one should trust a person, till one is proven wrong. And even if I am proven wrong, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t trust the next person who comes along.
Sometimes my mother will tell me that I shouldn’t confide all my secrets to one person, since there are chances that they might betray me. What she doesn’t understand is that the day my friends betray me, it wouldn’t really matter even if they shout out all my secrets from the rooftops, because the day my friends betray me, everything is already over….
The day I stop trusting my friends, I will become a suspicious and lonely person, breathing but not alive.