THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – VIII

CHAPTER FOUR (Episode Two)

“A Love Letter”

 

Couple more weeks had passed…

 

I will do that ma’am. Allow me.” I stood up with a heavy heap of innovation concepts project assignments.

 

Ms. Roohi wanted me to give my points of view for each concept while she evaluated in the staff room on a holiday. She might have mistaken me for Einstein or someone of that genre. I stacked assignments in the cupboard. The innovation concepts of my brilliant classmates seemed heavy. My arms were paining. If you are intelligent, teachers think you are superman. Being the star of the eyes of Ms. Roohi, I had little choice but to help her out with such stuff.

 

Thank you, Shayaan”, she said on a parting note.

 

You are welcome ma’am”, I had to say this though I was not willing to spend my holiday like this very frequently. “Shall I leave ma’am?” I asked as an obedient student.

 

Sure, sure. Good bye and Thanks again,” her smile was as graceful as always.

 

No problem,” I left with a smile too.

 

Missing Sarah in college had become a habit for me over last couple of weeks. She had stopped coming to college and nobody knew why. I had a strong feeling about her changing the college, I don’t know why but I had always thought that she wouldn’t continue here. Even though I wanted to change things, I had somehow managed to accept this fact. With these thoughts in a corner of my mind, I went past HOD’s cabin. There was a peon standing by the door. Principal used to work often on holidays. It was not unusual. What was unusual was the bag that was outside his room. In a long distance glance, I saw an orange sunflower on it. I stopped and turned back to have a closer look at the bag.

 

Kya chahiye” peon asked.

 

Kuch nahi” I had to keep the conversation going to stay there. I asked, “HOD Sir hain?

 

Haan busy hain”, I was not even listening to what he was saying. I got a good look at the bag. It was Sarah’s. The only way that bag can be there is by Sarah being inside HOD’s cabin.

 

Andhar aur koi hai?” I asked the peon.

 

Haan, ek student hain

 

Kaun?” I inquired. He gave me a suspicious look telling that was none of my business.

 

Maloom nahi, koi ladki hai. Tumko kya karna hai?”, he seemed irritated at working on a holiday.

Kuch nahi. Aise hi. Thank You,” and I left.

 

I walked downstairs and waited at the lobby. As luck would have it, just a few minutes later, Sarah appeared. I saw her after weeks. I was delighted. My heart pumped. Emotions. I started suffocating. My chest was heavy. I got a tiny attack of anxiety. It was an anxiety due to extreme delight.

 

She was busy adjusting her bag over her shoulder, wearing a blue jeans and a white t-shirt. There was a white scarf covering whole of her head. Though her usually-silky-smooth hair weren’t visible today. I positioned myself so as she cannot see me. She was walking very slowly. She looked weak and gloomy but adorable as always.

 

As she approached the staircase, I could not resist.

 

Hey…” my voice echoed more than I had thought because of a quiet surrounding on a holiday.

 

She stopped and turned slowly.

 

Hi Sarah,” I went towards her.

 

Hi…” she paused for a second, and continued with my name “Mister Shayaan with an advice…” she smiled. “I remember your advice…”.

 

I was almost overwhelmed. “Good” was all I could say.

 

So?Studying hard on a holiday?” she tried to dig me up to my reason to be there.

 

No, just for some help to Roohi ma’am.

 

Hmm. Star student. Big responsibilities,” she felt comfortable enough with me to pull my leg. I enjoyed that.

 

Nothing like that” I acted modest.

 

I know”, she laughed. I could not get my eyes off her face. A little dull today, but yet she was so beautiful. It was quiet there except her childlike candid laughter.

 

She was there, right there, standing just an arm away. God was making up for my thirst for last two weeks to get her glimpse. God did a wonderful job!

 

She coughed. She appeared unwell too. Throat infection, I assume.

 

So why are you here today?” I wanted the conversation to go on.

 

I needed to meet HOD Sir,” she kept it simple and short.

 

For?” I detailed my question.

 

Nothing”, she was not willing to unveil the details.

 

I gave a frowning look. She did not care much.

 

Ok, I got to go,” she said to my dislike.

Please don’t” is what I wanted to say, but I had no reasons to stop her.

 

Okay bye. Take care”, I said as I waved like a kid.

I was atleast happy seeing her.

 

I stayed there to keep her in sight till the last moment I could. She stepped down the stairs towards the sidewalk. As a pleasant surprise to me, she turned and waved a bye. It brought a big goofey smile to my face which I couldn’t resist. I looked cute with that smile. Hence, she reciprocated. Alright, I mean “I might” have looked cute while smiling, ‘cause that’s why she reciprocated with such a beautiful smile. I wanted to say “Aww” at her smile, but I wanted to look more chivalrous and manly.

Before I could cherish the moment completely, she slipped and missed a couple of steps. She stumbled over the stairs. I hurriedly ran towards her. However this was just a 4-step staircase, I almost felt like a hero running to save a heroine from falling over a mountain cliff.

 

I reached her. She was fine. She was just sitting instead of standing on the staircase. I bent down to help her get back up. She preferred to stay sat.

 

Are you okay?” I was concerned and I wanted to exhibit that too.

 

Just a little wobbly. But, I’m fine. Thanks”, she coughed. She tried to get back up. I wanted to seize the opportunity. I offered my hand and… she held it. I had goose bumps. A current ran through my body. She smelled amazing. I held her palm tighter. Had I held it loose, she would have noticed my shivering hands more vividly, and I didn’t want her to know how nervously excited I was.

 

I had imagined this moment in my dreams. But, this was far more impactful than that. No matter how exciting you find fantasizing a cricket game, when you actually have a bat in your hands on a dusty ground; it is a different feeling all together.

 

Sorry for troubling you” she said.

 

It’s no problem at all” I meant it.

 

And sorry again” she continued.

 

For?” I wondered.

 

Nothing” she replied.

 

As she tried to get up, she still felt dizzy and could not balance.

 

Don’t get up. You need water” I suggested, “Let me get it, stay here.”

I ran as hard as Usain Bolt to get a bottle of water from outside. I did not want to miss a moment of staying close to her.

 

Well, everything… almost everything was perfectly alright till this paragraph of this last episode of the entire story, if perceived from my optimistic perspective. There seemed to be infinite possibilities not only in my life, but even to the readers of this story. Just like most of you reading this story right now have that tint of excitement about the unknown, I too had it. I too was optimistic, I too was hopeful about – ‘whatever the future brings’. But… this particular paragraph of my story had the biggest flaw of my fate hidden beneath. A flaw that changed the entire dynamics and dimensions of the universe I had been living and imagining in; the universe where I had imagined of infinite possibilities of things to happen in more exciting and hopeful way. But… I was wrong. This universe had an altogether different fate written for me, for my story. As I came back with a bottle of water, what I saw was extremely beyond my abilities to withstand. I couldn’t stand. My legs shivered. My heart, that had started pumping few moments back, came back to an abrupt halt. The excitement was temporary. Unaware of me standing at a little distance, Sarah was tying her scarf that had loosened when she slipped. She was removing the scarf to refold it. I could not believe my eyes. Sarah was completely bald. My eyes opened up as wide as they could. I was stunned.

 

***

 

Is this why she always wore something over her head since the college reopened after that strike-call break? Is this why Rizwan had issues with her? Is this why she has been dull? Is this why she has stopped coming to college?

 

All weird questions struck my mind in a split second. I wanted to believe it was a dream, my weirdest ever dream. I got a reality check when the bottle fell from my hand.

 

Shayaan?” she was as shocked as I was.

 

Oh, you got water?” she tied her scarf back as quickly as she could. She pretended nothing happened. She hoped I did not see anything but she knew it was otherwise.

 

Still stunned, I picked up the bottle and went to her. She had water and composed herself.

 

She looked at me into my eyes and smiled. I could not smile. I was not being judgemental but I was still in shock. She knew it.

 

There was silence.

I wanted to ask what had happened without hearing that it was actually true, whatever I just saw. Gathering an involuntary courage, which I’m unaware of, I broke the silence…

 

How?” my voice sounded weakest.

 

She looked at me, in my eyes, while my eyes had lost the capacity to look into her eyes. On a scale of 10, I was ‘infinitely’ anxious. She gave me a smile. Said nothing.

 

Silence followed again.

We kept sitting there, just like two statues, saying nothing at all to each other. I hadn’t thought of anything like this in any of my dreams I had of her till this moment. Everything was happening in contrast.

 

“LEUKEMIA”, her voice broke the silence this time with a big thunder. The biggest ever. The earth shook beneath me.

 

I froze. I turned still like a stone.

 

There was silence within me. Leaf drop silence. I could not speak or even blink. I just kept looking at her like dumb. She was not looking at me. I badly failed to reorganize my inner self and absorb the shock.

 

When words fail to describe an extreme rush of emotions, two things follow. Silence, and wet eyes. I had attained both of them by now. I wanted to hide my eyes though, but I couldn’t hide the loud silence that banged and banged and fucking banged into my ears… BC. There were screams in my fucking head. It wasn’t silence. It was hyper-silence. The kind of illusionary loudness that exists beyond the point of silence. I wanted to plug my ears with my hands. I wanted some miracle to rewind time and recreate this particular scene of my life. I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry bitterly. I wanted to disappear before hearing that.

 

She was breathing rigorously. I was too. I had a flood of skeptical feelings storming through me after she broke the shackles and said that word which moved earth beneath me.

Her smile never seemed so helpless. I felt weak. I did not know what to say.

 

***

 

 

 

 

I want to study for as many days as I can. Yes, I just have ‘days’ now. On my request, college has allowed me to study from home and appear for examinations too. I had come to meet HOD Sir today regarding the examination forms. I stay away from coming to college in working day to spare my friends from embarrassment. Actually I want to dance too, but I can’t. I dance in my mind. Haha.

 

Why have you come alone?” I managed to ask this out of my shock.

 

I have come with my mom. She is waiting in car outside. I asked her to wait there. I want to feel normal when I come to college, not like an escorted patient. I am strong enough to go through this on my own,” she was strong.

 

But what if something would have happened to you today?

 

Nothing would happen. And infact something is going to happen someday soon. Just like they say in old movies – I am going to go to God soon. But he is kind enough to grant me some discount. Today, you were my discount”, she winked. Had she winked fifteen minutes back, I would have been flying. This wink was overshadowed by the facts surrounding it.

 

Don’t think like that. You are going to be all right. I know it. You will be totally fine. Trust me,” I sat closer to her and held both her hands with mine. I was telling more to myself than to her.

 

In last fifteen minutes we both had bonded more than we would have ever imagined. We had found friends in each other.

 

You have already heard how it went with Rizwan. Why would he be associated with someone like me now? Why would he care? That is fair on his part too. I cannot force him”, she was telling this to herself.

 

See, don’t get me wrong but you wanted someone to hold your hands and just sit with you for a moment, right?” I said. “So here we are,” I smiled after a long time, “I am telling you Sarah, you are going to be fine and back to bright life once again. Just keep faith.”

 

She knew the facts but probably she didn’t want to disappoint me. So she nodded. I understood the sensitivity of the moment. She wanted to be cared about. She wanted to be loved. She just wanted to have someone to tell her it is all going to be okay. And all I wanted to tell her was – ‘I love you’.

 

Sarah. I have loved her when she didn’t even have an idea that a guy namely ‘Shayaan’ exists. I thought I loved her for her beauty, for her innocence and her attractiveness. But I was wrong. Even after seeing her without her scarf today, I had realized I loved her. Truly. I felt good about feeling this.

 

I realized that I didn’t have a crush or an infatuation. It was goddamn love. I had learned the true meaning of love.

 

I carried on, “I do not want anything from you. Not because you cannot give anything to me; but because I cannot give anything to you in return. I can’t return the happiness that you have already given me by just being. I just want you to be happy. I want you to know that your smile brings happiness to someone. So do not underestimate the power of your smile. Make most of it.”

 

I said something I myself couldn’t believe. But she did. She just kept listening to whatever the bottomest part of my heart poured. I was still wondering if I was actually saying this looking into her eyes and holding her hands. I had unwrapped my long swathed heart for her in last few minutes. She was smiling thoroughly.

 

Thank You. Thank You for showing so much concern, Shayaan…”, she said.

 

It is my pleasure, always.” I responded.

 

I should be leaving. I am not feeling well”, her health interrupted. I could see pain in her expressions. Her body had turned out to be fragile. I held her hand. She stood up and started to leave.

 

Sarah”, I stopped her. She turned around.

 

Promise me something?” I requested.

 

What?

 

You will not think negative about your physical circumstances ever. You are going to be fit and back to normal life very soon. I know that. Let us fight your physical weakness with mental strength; you and me, together. Please co-operate with my prayers.” I was over-flowing with emotions. I just wanted to run to her and hug her. Tight enough. Never to leave her. Never to let her go.

 

She nodded and carried on. I followed her from a distance till she left in her car.

 

***

 

 

 

About a month later…

 

My world had turned upside down since that afternoon. I could not think beyond praying for her wellness. There was next to none scope of getting to know anything about her condition. Even fatso’s sources had failed this time. She had isolated herself from college.

 

About a month later, as I reached college, I saw everyone assembled in the lobby, some of them moving into the auditorium. There was a lot of whispering. I saw Danysh and Davar standing aside; waiting for me.

 

What happened?” I asked quietly.

 

Without a word, he hugged me first. “I am sorry. She disappointed you.

 

Whha.. Whaat?” I choked.

 

Sarah passed away,” Danysh gave it away straight for me die inside. I wanted the judgement day to occur that very moment. I was reminded of Surah-Al-Zalzalah from the Qur’an. I wanted the final earthquake to hit the entire earth and swallow everyone and everything that ever existed, most importantly, me.

 

She fought hard, very hard; but quit yesterday. She was a brave girl. Department has put a notice about this. We are observing a day off in her memory today. I pray her soul rests in peace.

 

My strength collapsed down my knees and earthed. I could not stand. All my prayers had gone unanswered. I was angry, very angry. I had no words to say.

 

Shayaan, I know this isn’t the right time but before I forget, take this”, Danysh handed over a red envelop to me. “Busheer, our peon asked me to give it to you”, he explicated, “he said some lady gave this to him”.

 

Let’s go home”, I said. I wanted to be alone, as much as I could. I left the place without attending any commemoration.

 

Just as I was leaving, I saw the ‘wall’ that had made a special place in my heart. I went there, just stood there. May be I was trying to relive the moments that were never going to return.

 

After reaching home, I threw my bag and myself on bed. I placed the envelop on side table, and

I cried bitterly. Something told me to open the envelop. I picked it up and opened carefully.

 

There was a paper, probably a letter. It was neatly written in decent handwritings.

 

***

 

I unfolded. It read…

 

Dear Stranger,

Oh, I mean, Mister Shayaan with an advice,

 

I hope you are keeping good and kind as you have always been. I am pushing myself hard towards staying good too.

I am writing this to Thank You. I have not been able to thank you enough as I would have liked to. Our short but strong bond has given me strength to sustain the pain and strain positively. I never got a chance to tell you but your few words in a couple of little conversations of ours have changed my way of looking at things, looking at my life, how much ever is left with me. You are powerful in your words, and have motivated me to stay and feel alive when the string of my life seems to be stretching every passing day. Your words have been my strength all this while. Thank You!

A secret I want to share with you. I knew about your feelings for me. They were evident. Your eyes spoke for you.

Yes, we girls have that secret sense of judgement in these manners. You were also conscious about your average looks whenever we crossed paths. Just for your information, girls are fond of intelligent men more than just handsome. Only fairytale kids run after handsome guys and fictional characters. Anyway, you are not bad at it either. You have a fair chance. Stay you! Wink.

 

And yes, never exchange your answer sheets with anyone else in future just to help them top and yourself flunk. Be mindful of that.

 

Untill I met you, I was always loved for my appearance, not for who I was. That day, on the staircase, those 15 minutes were one of the best 15 minutes of my life. There are very few better feelings than knowing that you are loved, by a pure heart, for no reasons, but for just ‘being’. When you are loved above the appearances and physicality, you are blessed. Even after seeing my appearance and imagining my future, you still loved me. I could see that in your eyes and feel in your touch when you held my hands. I did not say ‘I Love You Too’ because I do not want you to be weak. For me or for anyone, I do not want you to cry. This ‘wordless’ love story is not going to end with this letter. These are just words; while you and I, we share feelings, eternally. Yes, love is eternal.

 

By the time you read this letter, I may be long gone. I want you to promise me something. Promise to be yourself and be happy. Keep making yourself proud, and me too. I am leaving a part of me with you as a token of our short and strong connection. Value it and pamper it. God Bless You!

 

Love,

Sarah.

 

***

 

 

THE END.

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – VII

CHAPTER FOUR (Episode One)

“Behind The Wall”

 

 

Kashmir – is an atrocious paradise. ‘Uncertainty’ is the tagline of this beautiful, oh, ‘atrocious’ paradise. Soon after our semester exams were over, we had a 10-day vacation. Towards the end of vacations, something ‘usual’ happened in the valley.

Kashmiri Youth Killed By Armed Forces” – Greater Kashmir (a local daily) read. Well, killings in this part of the world are those ‘usual’ happenings I was referring to. Anyway, this incident was followed by stike calls and curfew, a battlefield for our separatist leaders and mainstream politicians where they play ping-pong with each other. This game of political gimmick, to a common student, meant an extension in holidays by an uncertain number of days.

This uncertain number brought laziness and attached me to my bed. Eat, Drink, Sleep – this funda became the order of the day. Yes, ‘pee’ too. Soon, this extension resulted in 23-days of vacation.

Twenty three days of unrest, protests, slogans of resistance, equally reciprocated by fires, bullets, sticks. And then abruptly, people get bored with the slogans, and life starts to restore. In the midst of all the melodrama, an innocent 9th grader lost his life; while his mother, all the hopes.

 

***

 

 

An eighteen year old boy, dreams yet unborn, afraid of nightmares, now buried in vacant scares, under six feet deep, for an oppressed sleep, with pellets in chest, has been laid to rest, in a deep dark graveyard bed, mom kissed a goodbye, on a bandage soaked forehead.Shayaan Mir posted on Instagram. That’s all we people do. Pelt either stones, or poems.

 

But a very weird phenomenon took place in my life after hearing that incident. That following night, my mind started drifting away, my body was in pain, I became a writer, and named him Mark Twain, but all went in vain, for humanity had already turned slain, when it rained fire, not water… over Gaza, over Syria, over Kashmir… and Pales-teen.

That bizarre night, very much oneirically (didn’t have a better term to describe what I meant); I repeat, very much oneirically, I embarked upon a journey to one of the domiciles of a victim of genocide in Kashmir, I see a nine year old girl weeping silently, under the light of a flickering pale bulb in her room, without making sound in between the gasps of her breaths, with an objective of not letting her younger brother get congnizance of the reason as to why she’s crying. Her breath seems choked, the lump in her throat is getting denser, the tears from her eyes seem unending… at the death of her elder brother, the sole bread earner of the family. Her five year old younger brother is making a drawing on a notebook – the drawing is of a star, probably that star is a representation of his dead brother. He is unaware of what has happened in the family, incognisant of the death of his brother, he’s been told that his brother has gone to heavens and will be back with a lot of gifts and toys for him. He’s happy; in a happy state of unmindful grief. The duo are survived by a mother whose tears have dried up on her cheeks, whose forehead aches when she weeps, she has wept enough. The mother has lost the apple of her eye, who’s now become a star on some crimson sky.

He was eighteen. Since childhood he had dreams. Dreams to earn for his family and buy a new house someday. He wanted to see a smile on his mother’s face. But that couldn’t happen, as around 150 pellets that pierced through his body shattered not just his skin and flesh, but tore apart all his dreams. Now the child is gone, the dream is dead, and the smile has grown, into despair.

The pellets had perforated his lungs, and before his death when he was on his death bed, every breath he inhaled would exhale from the tiny holes in his lungs and chest. It was a terribly wicked scene. One of the tiny balls of pellet had hit him in the pupil of his eye, causing a deathly pain, he was screaming and suffering before he was shifted to a local hospital. He wanted to shield his body, but the pieces of metals in his body wouldn’t let him move, he wanted to live, he wanted to survive the suffering; or probably he wanted to end his pain… perchance that’s why he decided to give up on life, and with that all his dreams came to a big fullstop.

Her mother is in a trauma, bearing an emotional wound in her heart, that’s going to have long lasting effects. She doesn’t know what to do. She wants her son back when she knows she can’t bring him back. She wants justice but she doesn’t know who to ask it from. She’s in a mental dilemma after the death of her son. All she’s doing whenever she cries is – cursing INDIA. She doesn’t curse the man who triggered fire upon her son, for she knows that those men are just whipping boys holding guns, and are sponsored and patronized by – INDIA, a country where humanity has gone into absentia.

 

This whole thought, this interpretation of the ‘conflict’ in Kashmir came to my mind, out-of-just-nowhere. It was rare, somehow a kind of a supernatural imagination, or maybe a wide-awake dream, or call it just a glimpse-of-truth, that appeared infront of my eyes.

 

***

 

 

 

Anyway, time passed. Autumn came. Graveyards got silent again. Roaring cannons were muted. Wailing noise ‘for the dead’ disappeared. And ‘dead’ disappeared too, from homes and hearts, their sacrifices thrown in some garbage cart. Hah! And then we write poetry on ‘conflict in Kashmir’, and call it ‘Art’.

 

Twenty three days of unrest finally came to an end. Obviously.

Usually ‘usual’ life returned.

College will be reopening on Monday” – read our College’s Facebook Page. Whatsapp texts started to ping as soon as the news spread. Forgotten friends emerged back from hibernation.

And finally, long awaited ‘Monday’ returned.

 

This Monday was special in many ways. I had that pinch of excitement in my eyes; the mirror reflected to me in the morning the moment I woke up with a messy hair resembling a pigeon’s nest. My previously ‘all failed resolutions’ made me have a good laugh at myself. I wasn’t looking cute.

After twenty three days of dormancy, this Monday emerged like a bright sunny day after months of dark harsh winters. It was the first day of our next Semester. Also, it was the day when I would again have those tiny tickling butterflies in my stomach. I don’t exactly know how they appear and how they enter one’s tummy, but I have heard of others saying this at times of sweet excitements, that’s why I say it when I feel overly excited about something. See, I don’t want to sound girlish. It was the day when I would again see her smile and feel that the whole world is so beautiful. It was the day when my heart would again skip a beat if she accidentally looks at me. It was the day when I would fall for her all over again after a cruel void of twenty three days, plus the days of exams. I wouldn’t get to see her often.Her place used to be in another exam centre. I felt her innocence and gorgeousness must be missing my silent appreciation for a while.

Just as the college started to crowd, my eyes kept scanning through for a face that had taken my breath away from over last two semesters.

 

And finally, I was on my thirteenth round looking out from the front-window towards the entrance when she appeared from the stairs right behind me… like an angel appearing from nowhere. I was surprised, got a bit nervous as the person at the least distance from her was no one else but me. So of course I had to be the first one to exchange greetings. Even after spending all the vacations thinking about her, I still wasn’t prepared for this moment.

She was wearing a long red coat, a black Tam-o’Shanter (Kann -Toup) over head and a woollen scarf twisted twice around her neck, the stairs got a chance to kiss her long black boots, while the bottom of her jeans was tucked into the boots, so decently. Since I was the first person she had to cross on her way through the corridor. I smiled, she reciprocated: “Hi Shayaan…” with a smile. Her nose was red with cold. Her breaths were heavy, vapors visible. My eyes met her emerald eyes. That moment was enough to quench all my two month-five days-sixteen plus three hour thirst.

There were tickles running down my tummy when she greeted me with a smile. Girls call these tickles “butterflies”. Her smile always had an impact on the buffer mechanisms of my cardiovascular system. I felt like there were rolling drums inside my chest. I could even hear them like big big bangs. Anyway, she’s a human, with no special-ray-lenses to observe this weird condition of my heart. As she passed by… after greeting me, the smile on her face slowly faded… But I, just like idiots, stood like an idiot and clinged to that smile on my face. That smile was time-invariant. I didn’t want to lose it; it was my first gift of the year and the most precious one. I didn’t want to let it fade away from my face.

 

For the whole day my eyes and mind kept shuttling between her seat and the lecturer in class. Again, my anxiety, excitement, nervousness, impatience and countdown to this day were all worth it. She looked as pretty as ever. However there was an evident difference in her compared to how I had seen her last as closely. The ever bubbly charming personality had turned into a little dull and tired one. Nothing was compromised but the spark was missing. I was puzzled. I couldn’t stop thinking about what could it be.

I had another sleepless night, for a different reason. It was difficult to get my mind off the fact that she was not the same today. Her smile was different. Something was definitely different. Something was unusual.

 

***

 

The next day at college started more dramatically than I would have imagined.

 

I had reached college earlier than my friends, so I bought a pack of cigarretes and walked to the lush green calm secluded area of the campus to smoke. I was lost in thoughts as I approached sidewalk. It was sort of desolate section of campus. As I rested in between an old abandoned building and a boundary wall to smoke, a typical murmuring struck my ears. It was from the other side of the wall. I went closer. I normally don’t do that. I’m a introvert when it comes to minding my own business. The whole scene seemed a little suspicious. Amongst usual noise around, I tried to focus on what was being said. It was very faint. I glued my right ear to the wall. Someone was crying. I concentrated more. That was a girl.

 

I need you”, she said in between sobbing.

 

I don’t care. We cannot be together anymore and you know that. And you know why too”, a manly voice replied.

 

You cannot do this to me. This is the time when I need you the most”, weeping became clearer, probably louder.

 

Don’t you understand what I’m saying? Why don’t you get it? I have my whole life in front of me. I can’t stay stuck with you. I can’t invest emotions in you. If I do, I’ll be the one on the losing end”, he was firm and rude.

 

I am not asking for anything more than just holding my hands. Can’t you, please? I need you”, she was almost begging.

 

What you hear may be different than what you see. I was unable to resist my willingness to see what was going on.

 

Before I could peek, he said, “I got to go. Bye”.

 

A moment later, a handsome guy appeared from behind the wall and went rushing by me, I felt like being caught red handed while stealing. I looked here and there to hide my embarassment and pretended as if I didn’t have a clue about the episode on the other side of the wall. He glared at me but continued walking. He was angry and irritated. His face seemed familiar. As a clue for me, he was my schoolmate though from a different section.

 

I was still curious to find out about the other side of the wall. I gathered courage and peeked a little. A cream bag was resting next to the wall; it had a big orange sunflower’s print. A girl was standing with her back facing me. She was looking down, particularly at nothing. Red scarf was extending till her neck. She was still crying. In fact she was crying more than before. I feel awkward in situations like these. I wanted to comfort her as much as I wanted to run away. Dilemmas are not for people with weak decision power. My mobile phone decided my choice for me. It beeped. She turned around. It was Sarah.

 

***

 

I was stunned. The girl of my dreams, the girl whom I had always seen smiling, the girl whom I always wanted to see smiling, the girl whose smiled used to make my day, the girl for whose smile I wanted to be the reason, was shattered in tears. Her eyes were red and swollen. Shit. She had cried more than I had heard. She abruptly stopped crying and started wiping her face. She was embarrassed. I was too. She did not want anyone to know about what happened. She bent to pick up her bag and started to leave.

 

It’s okay”, I do not know from where I could excavate the guts to say that; more importantly, at that time.

 

She stopped. She did not want to make an eye contact with me. I permitted.

 

It’s okay. See, I do not know what is wrong, but whatever it is, I am sure there will be a way to get through it. Please don’t cry. Please.

 

She looked at me. Her eyes were asking a few questions. Before I could shuffle my thoughts for a few words, she asked in tattered voice, “What are you doing here?

 

I am sorry”, I said, “I was just passing by and overheard your conversation. I am sorry; I did not mean to interfere.

 

Okay”, and she started to leave.

 

I wanted to stop her, I wanted to tell her so much. I wanted to tell her how I was feeling seeing her like that. Only what came out was, “Sarah!

 

Yes?”, she didn’t want to stop there. She wanted to run away.

 

I just want to tell you something…”, I said.

 

Yes?

 

This is not the right time to tell what you actually want to tell her. Be responsible, be sensible, do not ruin this, do what situation demands, comfort her. I thought to myself.

 

I want to tell you that… mmm… How do I say it?”, even though I was getting a little comfortable with the situation, I could not find words to express what I was feeling.

You are so beautiful and no reason can be big enough so as to bring a tear to your eyes. Please don’t punish yourself. I know, I know I have no right to tell you what to do or not to do, but I have an advice. Do not let anyone decide lifetime of your smile. Your smile is what you earn by being yourself; value it.

 

I was surprised at what I said. This is not anything from what I had rehearsed in my mind a million times as my first conversation with her. I was sounding astonishly mature in my own ears. I didn’t know how she perceived it.

 

There was a weird awkwardness about the whole situation. She was taken aback by my advice. To fill in the void of the situation, she took out her pink hanky and tried to rub off her sadness along with her tears. It was a failed attempt. She was still standing there. Why? Why is she still waiting here? She wanted to hear more from me but I was running out of words. I hate these situations when I know what I have to do but I don’t know how. Anyway, sadly, without having any clue, I asked her, “Shall we go to class?

 

You carry on”, she said. Made me realize I screwed up with that.

 

Okay”, I couldn’t have continued to bug, I turned around started to walk away.

 

Shayaan”, she said in the clearest voice till now.

 

My tummy tickled. My name never sounded so pleasant to my ears, I turned and smiled, “Yes?

 

Thanks”, with still teary face, her smile looked beautiful.

 

Welcome. Take care.”, I had got the perfect closure to the conversation. I had got a smile to her crying face. I felt like a man.

 

***

 

Who was that guy?Why was he so rude? Why was she begging of him?

 

A flurry of questions kept flooding my mind the whole day. Finally, I revealed my trump card. Fatso! I narrated the incident to him. His childlike curiosity and detective-like suspicion had always been my savior in situations like these. He was a self proclaimed police officer by birth. Mission given to him was hardly left unaccomplished. I was expecting outcome of the operation within a week.

 

Nearly a week passed in anxiety. I had not seen her since we had that non-scripted chat. My nights had become sleepless. Days had become dizzy I had no clue of what did I want to do next. My passiveness had worked as motivation for my detective. He used to stay missing during breaks, to work on the case, I guess, I was running out of patience.

 

The next morning, first up I asked Fatso for a status update; there was a manager-in-the-making in me.

 

He looked into my eyes and put his arms on my shoulders.

We are almost there dude, just give me a day, just today.” He seemed confident, I approved.

 

For the whole day my vision kept panning to her bench and returning depressed. I could not wait for the day to end.

 

The moment Mr. Mueed finished his lecure and put his foot outside class, Danysh said, “Let’s go!”.

 

Where?

 

Come on, take your bag. Make it quick. We got to before teacher comes in,” and he started packing his bag. He was stuffing it more than ‘packing’.

 

We still have the science lecture to go. Science!” I said in a sincere tone.

 

Oh hello, it is science, not Rocket Science! So, we are bunking that.” He simplified. “It is about Sarah. Now move your ass”, he simplified further.

 

Oh, you cracked it?” my tired eyes sparkled.

 

His proud and a notch egoistic smile answered me and in a moment I went, “Screw science! Let’s go!

 

We picked up our bags and hurried out. It was easier because of the usual out of order activities in between the lectures. We ran through the trees on the side of the playground till the backyard of the prayer hall. According to fatso, it was a safe shelter when you bunk.

 

Tell me, quickly!” I could not wait even to breathe.

 

Calm down”, my Karamchand Jasoos said. “Water?”, he offered me a bottle from his bag.

 

I denied. “Dude, stop it. Come to the point.

 

He started laughing. He was enjoying my restlessness. He had this habit of exploiting my vulnerability. Eventually he pitied me.

 

Alright, here you go. Rizwan! That’s his name; popularly known as Romeo. He is Sarah’s boyfriend. Well, they met at a music academy last year where they used to go to learn music. So they’re were kinda music partners there. When you practice music together, are good looking and single, it is difficult not to get in a relationship with each other. They have been in a relationship for about a year now.

 

I was listening more attentively than I would have attended any lecture. Mixed emotions were flooding into my blood. Danysh’s facts suggested that I should be sad. What I heard from behind the not-so-famous-till-now wall suggested that I have a few reasons to be hopeful.

 

She has a boyfriend? But he just dumped her, didn’t he? But she still wants to be with him. But he is not worth it. Why did he dump her? Why was she begging of him? Is it over between them? I hope it is, because he is not worth her.

 

Remote thought of them breaking up, boosted my case big time, in my head though. With this ray of faint hope, I asked, “Anything about the recent development between them?

 

Not much but Sarah has not come to college the entire week. Probably after the day you met her”, he said.

 

Hmm.

 

So, what next?” Danysh was curious to know the plan of action.

I don’t know.” I really didn’t know.

 

**

 

Knowing what you don’t know is not important. But knowing and then accepting what you know, is.

And I was lost in between the known and the unknown. That, my friends, is the most dangerous place fate could ever take you to.

After all, FATE.

No matter how much flawed it may seem.

 

EPISODE ENDS…

 

PS: Tomorrow, the last Episode of the story will be posted. Thank You!

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – VI

CHAPTER THREE (Episode Two)

“Mathematics – a nightmare”

 

#time passed… with many ups and more downs. Some situations were amazing, while some behaved insanely. No matter what, we were having a kind of time which we knew were going to become unforgettable mem’ries in near future, kind of mem’ries which leave an impact on your heart no matter where you’re, what you become in life.

Anyway, time kept moving on, my love for her kept floating in a boat which seemed to have no scope of sinking untill it finds its shore. The shore seemed far but I knew there’s no sea in the world which doesn’t bear a shore. I didn’t know where my boat was really going but I knew it was on its way.

By the way, time flew to yet another semester exam, and I landed into the pit of grief and depression; yes, Mathematics caused most of it.

 

 

It was a beautiful but tense morning of the day of exam:

Hurry up!”, Mom yelled to keep me on track, “you will be late for exam”.

 

Yes mom, two minutes. I am just revising the last chapter”, I responded from my room.

 

How many times will you revise? You will not get more than hundred percent marks anyway, son”, she said in a proud tone even though my struggle and repulsion with Mathematics was known to her. My promise to get her ninety percent plus marks and topping the class in this semester’s final exam was assumed fulfilled by her already.

 

I loved languages, poetry, psychology, and in fact physics, even though I had been a Medical student till my 12th standard. After unfortunately landing into Engineering, I had somehow managed to settle in whatever God had written for me. BUT, Mathematics… I hated from the core of my heart with all sincerity. I had been neglectful of the arithmetical evil until last year’s examination when he had played a kill-joy by averaging down my percentage considerably single handedly and keeping me away from the top place in the class. This year, even through my persistent disgust for the differentiation, integration, etc., I had given extra lime light to the attention seeker brat to ensure last year’s misery did not repeat.

 

However, I was not sure what it was about Mathematics that never worked for me. Despite months of studies dedicated personally to this crazy monster, I was not sure of conquering it like other subjects. Conversely, the more I studied Mathematics, the more I ran out of confidence. I had no clue; why?

 

The last night had made it even worse. I had no idea of what the Euler’s Theorems were trying to tell me at the darkest hour. In the war between Alpha Beta Gamma and Sin Cos Tan, I got pissed off. I was turning blank to blanker. For a moment, even dropping out from the exam was an option under my consideration.

 

Still, scoring considerably high in Mathematics – higher than my reach – was my top priority. Nonetheless, it did not seem feasible last night for more than one reason; one – my natural hatred for this subject, two – my fuzziness when it came to formulas and tables, three – the pressure of not letting last year’s disaster repeat.

 

My last night’s secret hard work was known only to me. It was the kind of hard work that I had never done before ever; never. I chose a path to walk which I had never walked before. I planned to cheat, yes, cheat. I preferred to cheat than flunking in exams.

 

With shaking hands and frightened mind, I spent all night in preparing cheat notes for the formulas and expected table hints. I cut tiny pieces of papers and noted down the formulas precisely with a pencil. I had to keep my hands as steady as a surgeon’s while noting down the tiniest letters that I had ever written in my life.

 

The morning was not so usual either. I had hardly slept for an hour; I could not sleep any more. I woke up early, took a bath.

 

I dragged out all my socks from wardrobe and measured each of them against each other to hunt down the longest pair that I had. I had prepared myself for a mission that I had never been to. I got ready with socks and shoes. I slid the cheat notes carefully under socks, both socks. I double checked. I fake walked to make sure cheats don’t peek from within.

 

I realized that fate of my commitment was sealed at my ankles. Shivers!

 

I left all my thoughts behind, picked up my bag and car keys. I was like a cat on hot bricks; very nervous.

 

***

 

All through my way to college, my mind kept shuttling between what was buried close to my feet and the words of a school time teacher that I had heard – “Just give your best. Never cheat.”- these words kept haunting my mind right till the moment I reached my seat in the exam hall.

 

What do I prefer? What should I prefer? A truthful attempt to the best of my ability or a shining score sheet with a hidden cheater-tag which only I would read? What would I prefer? A topper, but not-so-honest or an honest but, not-so-topper?

 

By going down to my ankle, I was sure; in no way, I was going to make myself proud of me. I decided to let my last night’s hard work go in vain. I chose to be honest but not-so-topper. I decided not to use the cheats.

 

Surprisingly, this choice gave me a huge boost. Nervousness vaporized. I suddenly started feeling confident and energetic. I couldn’t wait to have the question paper in my hands. On a day of Mathematics, this had never happened before.

 

Prof. Javid entered the classroom with a light brown sealed envelope containing question papers. ‘Busheer’, the peon followed him with a stack of blank answer sheets. Prof. Javid was known to be one of the sharpest and toughest-to-fool supervisors. He was considered closer to a detective when it came to exam supervision. He had god gifted knack of nailing down the culprits.

 

It did not worry me though, as I was going to go the honest highway.

The clock stroke 10:00 am, and proceedings were on the way.

 

Even while writing the answers, a part of my mind stayed focused on giving it the best shot.

 

Fighting temptation to peek for the answers I did not know, I emerged victorious. My hand even went to touch my ankle a couple of times but ultimately I chose to leave those questions unanswered than utilizing my resources down the socks. I was proud of choosing to do that.

 

This answer sheet was, for sure, going to hamper my target of topping the class; I knew. But somehow I managed to make peace with it. I was happy to pay this cost for holding my head high.

 

I finished, barring the questions I had left alone, about twenty minutes before the designated time limit.

 

Sir”, I presented my answer sheet to Prof. Javid.

 

Are you done already?”, he asked with a sarcastic smile.

 

Yes, Sir”, I replied proudly. I was content with the choices I had made since morning. What I had answered, the way I had answered had overpowered what I had left alone.

 

We need to talk before I accept your answer sheet. Keep it with you and wait there”, he pointed to a corner of the classroom by the window. I was surprised at his unexpected response.

 

I’m sorry Sir. I did not get you”, I tried to decode what he meant to say.

 

Is it so difficult to understand? Wait there till I call you”, he pointed to the corner again in a harsher tone this time.

 

Making my way through the skeptical eyes of each one present in the classroom, I quietly went to the corner with a bundle of questions.

 

Why didn’t he accept my answer sheet? Is something wrong? Oh, is there something to do with the cheats? No, no. It can’t be that. I have not even used the cheats. Then what could be it?

 

I couldn’t stop speculating until the exam time got over, and he collected all the other students’ answer sheets.

 

Once the classroom emptied, the situation seemed even more mysterious. It was just the two of us in the class.

 

Yes, Sir”, he called me after arranging the pile of answer sheets.

 

With nervous watery legs and shivering hands, I went to him and presented my answer sheet.

 

He took my sheet and put it aside separately on the table, raised his eyebrows and asked me something which slid earth beneath me.

 

Remove your shoes and socks.

 

I had my heart in my mouth.

 

Unh? What? I mean, I didn’t get you, Sir?”, I tried to control my fumbles. I couldn’t.

 

Shoes. Socks. Remove”, he simplified for me.

 

Sir?”, I wanted to ask Why? But I could not gather enough courage.

 

Do you hear me?”, his tone was getting stricter with every sentence.

 

I was left with no choice but to follow his instructions. With a hope that world would stop at this very moment, I bent down to untie my shoelaces. I tried to buy as much time as I could to give him enough time to change mind.

 

You normally don’t take this much time to untie laces, do you?”, he knew what I was attempting there.

 

I was already in deep trouble. I chose to keep mum.

 

I removed my shoes. So far, so good. I was hoping for him to let me off the hook at this juncture; but he had other plans.

 

Socks!”, he made his point clearer and louder.

 

Sir, is there something wrong?”, I was still hoping that it was not going the way I was assuming.

 

Let’s find out what is wrong”, he said. Had I been granted three wishes by a genie, I would have turned Prof. Javid into a statue, sent him to Antarctica and buried thirty feet under ice.

 

He had his facts sharper than a national intelligence agency officer. He was stuck in a wrong job, I felt. He should have been behind the terrorists leaving relatively innocent students alone.

 

I bent down with the deepest regret I had ever felt. I removed my socks, one at a time, carefully. I wanted cheats to remain inside the socks. It was my last self-rescue attempt. I succeeded too; but in a pin-drop-silent classroom the paper cheats made enough sound for him to glare at me with an evil smile.

 

He extended his hand asking for socks. I handed over as a gesture of surrender.

 

He plucked socks from the toe end and held it high; one in each hand. A couple of jerks; and tiny paper sheets dropped taking my fate along.

 

Let’s go. HOD Sir must be waiting to see you”, he said and collected dropped cheat notes. He handed over my answer sheet back to me and picked up the heap of other sheets himself.

 

Sir, please. I am sorry. I have not cheated. Trust me please”, Hard work pays, I had learnt somewhere but today I knew I was going to pay for my last night’s hard work.

 

He ignored my lame attempt of salvage and started to leave. Missing the submission of my answer sheet meant failing in Mathematics with a zero; which would have never been the case had I not planned anything that I did.

 

I had no choice but to follow him. I tried my best to stop him from going to HOD but he was a stubborn examiner.

 

My feet refused walking as soon as we approached a shiny, polished brown door with a nameplate which read -‘HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT, E&C.’

 

He knocked the door and went inside. I waited outside with face down in frustration. I had no courage to enter. I was ashamed of myself to the core of my spirit.

 

Why didn’t I throw away the cheats once I decided not to use it? Why, in the first place, I planned to cheat? Was this the way I was going to make it happen? A part of me wanted to kill a part of myself.

 

Come”, a couple of minutes later , probably after briefing the HOD about my case, Prof. Javid came back out to take me inside the courtroom; yes it was no less than a courtroom for the day.

He hit another nail to my name saying, “HOD Sir normally doesn’t meet without appointment, good that you have an appointment; dis-appointment. Please come.

 

Sir, I will not do this ever again, I promise. Please.

He overlooked me and went inside cabin leaving the door open for me to follow.

 

With my head shaking in disgust upon myself, I entered the cabin with baby steps.

 

I wished the land that had slid five minutes back, buried me underneath it. My eyes, widened more than ever. My blasting heart refused to pump blood to my brain. My heartbeat rate would have read double the normal, I could bet. I started feeling dizzy. I was stunned and strangely impressed by Prof. Khanday’s skills of catching a culprit.

 

So, Mr. Mir, the evidences are against you. Cheats were found inside your socks. Do you confess that?”, HOD, the judge, asked me to check if I admitted to my crime.

 

Sir, yes sir. That is right, but I have not cheated is also true”, I was at my honest best.

 

Hmm. Prof. Javid, I leave the decision up to you”, HOD said.

 

Sir, I would not accept his answer sheet. I cannot ignore the evident offense. He will need to repeat the year. He deserves that”, apparently Prof. Javid had forgotten all that I had written in his good books over the years.

 

Sir, I have not cheated. You were at the classroom all the while. Did I cheat?”, I was trying to prove my point.

 

You could be too good a thief. Who knows? You could have cheated under my radar. How do I believe you?”, he had a point.

 

Sir, I haven’t. HOD Sir, I have not cheated”, I was trying to get someone by my side.

 

How do you want me to believe that? Can you prove your innocence?”, Prof. Javid gave me a chance for the first time.

 

I thought hardest that I could and it clicked. Fight against the temptation!

 

Yes, I can prove that, Sir. Please check my answer sheet against the question paper. I have not responded to questions whose answers I did not know. I had cheats within my reach for those; still I have left them alone. Trust me, Sir. Though I had prepared cheats, I had willfully decided not to cheat even before exam started. I did not want to disappoint even myself”.

 

Half a minute of bizarre silence followed. No one spoke. Just a few glares between the professor, the HOD and me were doing most of the conversations. I was clueless.

 

Sir, I can write the whole answer sheet again from scratch, sitting here in front of you all and it will match what I have already written. Please allow me one more chance”, I was putting my case stronger with each argument. Had I a law career? I would have been earning in Lacs.

 

Sir?”, I had no sentences to follow.

 

Prof. Javid joined the mission to blend my brain.

 

I know. I know you have not cheated. I am going to accept your answer sheet as it is”, Prof. Javid gave me a clean chit, or was it too early to conclude.

 

Yes, we know you have not cheated”, HOD, the Supreme Court, upheld high court’s judgment.

 

I took a sigh of relief.

 

Then why? Why did you make me go through all this, Sir?”, I sought an explanation.

 

I knew you had the cheats but I also had a belief that you will not cheat. It was my exam today, not just yours. Had you cheated, I would have been responsible for not being able to teach the subject well”, Professor spoke.

 

I stood speechless as a thief who never stole.

 

He continued, “I want you to top the class; yes I do; but not through cheats. Even if you fail without cheats, I may be fine with it. If you top through cheats, I would not approve it. I want you to win; but fair & square. And remember, it’s not about getting caught while cheating. I’m talking about cheating yourself. I’m happy that you have returned from the verge of jumping off the cliff today. You have made me proud, by choosing to pass me in my exam”.

 

I am sorry Sir for letting you down by even thinking to cheat. I really am”.

 

Yes, you should be sorry. Not for me, but for yourself. The psychological rampage you went through in last half an hour was your punishment. I wanted you to realize how big was the mistake that you had planned to commit”, Prof. Javid said.

 

It is our satisfaction to have helped someone realize importance of choosing a correct path in life and consequences of choosing otherwise. After all that is what teachers should be doing, right?”, HOD said with a smile.

 

Sir… Sir… I am extremely sorry to have even thought of deceit. Today, I have realized what I must not be doing more than what I should be doing. I promise that I will never ever give you a chance to complain again, never ever!”, I said with rejuvenated spirit and a confident truthful smile.

 

Thanks Sir. I sincerely thank you for making me go through this. This will take me a long way in life”, I said.

 

And yes, in next exam, I promise you highest marks”.

 

Now I’m sure you will do that”, Prof. Javid extended.

 

The purity of the path that leads to the goal is the essence of the joy felt at the destination.

 

EPISODE ENDS…

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – V

CHAPTER THREE (Episode One)

“A Puppy”

 

Semesters flew on rosy wings, the entire experience was a rip-roaring adventure ride, and all staggering experiences summed up during these years. Mathematically, this adventure ride of my life could be denoted by a symbol of ‘Summation’ of n^2 + n^3… with ‘n’ running from 1 to infinity; and this ‘n’ was the ‘level of thrill’. This particular year of our four year B.tech degree added a phenomenal lifetime experience to our otherwise boring lives.

 

Since the time I became friends with Danysh and Davar somewhere in the first semester, we always had ‘revolutionary’ ideas in mind which we would discuss all the time, be it at Grills, Shwarma-Hut, or Canada, or even during class, or any damn nook of our college. These so-called revolutionary ideas, unfortunately maintained their scope and importance only for next 24 hours; because next immediate day, we would laugh at our own ideas and call it all ‘Chutzpah’ (Hebrew). But no matter, we always waited for an opportunity. We didn’t exactly know what kind of an opportunity, but ‘anything’ could be welcomed, the only condition being that it should be called as an “Opportunity” with a capital ‘O’.

Second most spectacular part of this year was my ‘incredible’ tryst with the one I had always adored; the one who contributed 90% to the reason I would get up early morning for college, while the remaining 10% of the reason was Prof. Khanday’s morning class. I call this tryst ‘incredible’ for two important reasons: One, looking at that person had always been incredible; Two, she was incredible.

 

Anyway, after going through around a hundred lectures in this particular semester, consistently, without a break; now was the time when our beloved HOD had finally agreed to our seniors’ request of going for an excursion this year. The good news reached us when a senior girl ‘Naazira’ entered our class and announced – “Guys, we’ve arranged an excursion for coming Saturday; we’ll be going to Doodh-Pathri; you all must report to college at 7:00 am sharp; we have arranged the transport… just be on time”.

 

Wooohhh…”, the whole class chorused loud and long. Technically, this was the first time during our tenure that such an extra-curricular activity had taken place. Why?

Because we belonged to the most cunning, most ruthless and merciless department of the college – the Engineering college. We were barred from all the sports and co-curricular activies of the college. We couldn’t participate in any college team; not cricket, not football, not basketball, not even in any educational event; we couldn’t attend seminars, workshops, other than those based on technology or engineering. Our HOD wouldn’t give permission for any of this. It was after the first time experience we had with him when the Sports Department of the college had sent a notice to students seeking those who were interested in participating in the cricket team; and to our dismay and regret of joining this department, our HOD straight away told us – “No kirkat-wirkat, only class and study”. That day we realized where we really were. And since then we have only attended such activities through proxies, never officially.

So this “Wooohhh” was supposed to be really louder and longer than the version that resulted; but for obvious facts, our excitement to go for our first excursion was restricted; Prof. Khanday’s presence being one of them. He was no less than HOD. They all seemed to belong to the same race of wild animals who’d only hunt for the most innocent animals and peace-loving birds – students.

 

And as anticipated, he interrupted, “What’s with this ‘Wooohhh’?

 

Danysh gathered guts to respond to it, out of excitement, with a cheesy smile on face, “Sir, hehe, this is actually… the first time… umm… so we’re all surprised that such a thing happens in this department too…

 

Oh! But you never Wooohhh when I teach you a new thing in class… Do you? Or tell me, did you ever, till date, Wooohhh for learning a new thing in my class?”, the lion in the den seemed to have been pissed upon by a rat.

 

Fucker, say Sorry, and sit down”, Davar advised him a mantra.

 

Sir, sorry… We won’t ever do that again…”, Danysh followed the mantra, and sat down. I giggled. He tried to keep a straight face while looking at his notebook, as he knew the professor would still be looking at him.

 

Bitch Please”, after a while, I advised Danysh not to try to be good and friendly with these people, they are worms of books who have never known any other emotion or feeling.

 

***

 

Jumping directly to the day of excursion…

SATURDAY

 

Puraani Jeans… Aur guitar… Mohalle ki wo chatt, Aur mere yaar…”, the happy looking mates started the day with this sexy friendship song sitting at the back seat of the loaded bus, while girls occupied the front half of the seats. It was just in the beginning that the girls were quiet; as soon as the bus paced up over the roads through the meadows, the girls got into their power-packed voices and started singing along… all the way.

Sarah? Yes, she sang too. She didn’t look shy at all today; she was in a kinda western dress – jeans and a shirt. Oops. I don’t want to describe. Honestly, I never wanted the readers of this story to fall in love with her. I just wanted to keep her, entirely, to just myself. I am possessive. Though in a good way. But as you can see, I can’t help my way-of-expressing how beautiful she was; so your falling for her is legit. Even if you’re a girl reading this story, you too are allowed to fall. Love is beautiful after all.

 

We stopped at couple places for Chai at Tapris. It was a four-hour journey. Our asses were tired sitting at one place, so we were almost standing in the bus, that’s how the dance-time started. We had gone crazy, as if on some weed.

As we stopped for the third time for a five minute break, I decided to drive. My craving for driving a passenger bus had always been unfulfilled. Today I wanted to fulfill this wish.

 

Are you mad? The driver won’t agree”, Davar said.

 

Even his dad will…”, I winked at him, and straight away went to the ‘Driver Uncle’ urf ‘Wosta’ who was sipping tea with his other driver mates; and all I did was – just sat with them for a five minute good conversation, ordered a cup of tea to enjoy sipping while cracking jokes with them, praised him infront of his partners for the way he drove since morning, and yeah, paid the bill for the tea. That was it. Infact, while going back to board the buses, bought a pack of Cavendar Ciggarettes for him. He was happy. His happiness worked for me.

 

And that’s why, as we walked towards the bus, to Davar’s surprise, I already had grabbed the keys.

 

The driver uncle sat at the back seat, lighting up his ciggarette. I took the driving seat. And to my astonishment, Sarah was sitting with her friends just in the cockpit of this airplane that I was going to take-off in a moment. Shit. Now I was nervous, for I knew I was going to see clouds on the roads, as if on some cloud-nine.

Everyone in the bus initially thought that I was just kidding, but their eyes popped when I twiddled the key to turn on the ignition system of the bus…

 

What The Fuck?”, they chorused.

Shayaan, are you mad?

Dude, this is a passenger bus, not a car

Hey, you can’t drive it. Its control and steering and everything is different, man…”, they kept saying, on and on. While some students badly affected by being electronics and mechanical engineers, gave a hundred different theories on how the alignment of a bus-driver and the one who drives a car, is different; and how that “rpm and other shit” would affect my ability to drive a bus.

 

I waited for the rest of the buses to leave first, because they had faculty members and teachers in them apart from senior students. The faculty didn’t like our class much. They wouldn’t sit with us. And we were quite happy about this fact, atleast for today. There was no stupid interference.

 

I shifted to the first gear… then my right foot settled on the accelerator while the clutch was on. Slowly, I started taking off my foot from the clutch pad, and pushed the accelerator hard enough. I had an intuition that buses need extra push over everything… the gears are hard, like very hard. The accelerator-pad has a small surface area, and need to be pressed deep enough before the bus actually thinks of picking up any speed… Ow, and yeah, the fuel meter, the RPM scale are always dead long back. Rest in peace! Now I really felt like praising the beloved ‘driver uncle’. Luckily the ‘speedometer’ was somehow working in this particular bus.

Next five minutes, everyone was quiet like dead, I was completely concentrating on the road, driving and steering very very carefully, as if it were the first time I was learning to drive on the main road. And after five minutes, the talks resumed. Some of them heaved a sigh of relief, which indicated that they had finally put their trust in their new ‘Wosta’; and that’s when the back-seaters including the actual driver started the slogans – “Zero Batta Zero; Syon Wost’e Hero” and…

Wostas Yeariy… Speed Thaw Jaeriy…

 

That made me laugh. My heart was pouncing, like literally. Not because I was driving. I had already gotten into my comfort zone of driving now. I was nervous and excited because I had my dream-girl sitting just one meter away from me, on my left.

 

Now since I was the incharge of the Audio-Tape of the bus as well, so I tuned into the song number four – which was, “Aey Mere Hum Safar, Ek Zara Intizaar… Sunn Sadaaye De Rahi Hain, Manzil Pyaar Ki…

 

This was one of my favorite songs. And the moment the song started, I heard Sarah saying…

Please Please Please… Don’t change this song. This is one of my old favorite songs in hindi”, what a coincidence. I didn’t know we shared favorites.

 

This is what I meant when I said this trip is going to be beautiful”, she said, addressing to her friends, while looking at the scenes from outside the window.

Just look at the bright visible rays of sun finding their way through these pine trees, the lush green farms seem willing to have the sun in their arms…”, she continued in a poetic flow. I didn’t know she was interested in nature. I’m a hardcore nature love. And she seemed to complement that equation. As a matter of fact, till now I didn’t know anything about her, anything substantial about her life, her past, her present, her future, her dreams, her interests. I have only always ‘seen’ her and adored and admired her wordlessly. Wordlessly, bidirectionally.

 

The song playing… I mean ‘our’ favorite song playing mildly in the background was adding to her smile and composure. I couldn’t help but turn to look at her mildly smiling face, with her hand placing her hair behind her ear to continue the view from outside the window. Damn! She looked utterly adorably pretty.

 

I do not think we would ever be able to see and feel such a view in our city life, do you? I think we should build a farm house and settle here. What do you say?”, she queried while continuing looking outside.

 

Hmm…”, I replied. The reply was involuntary. My mind didn’t even decide to say it. Fuck, I mean it just happened. I said it without being able to resist a smile. Although I knew she was talking to her friends, asking them about their views, not me. But how could I explain that my sensory perceptions had applied a ‘filter’ to filter out all other voices and sounds in the surrounding? I wasn’t even aware that I was driving a bus for the first time, and that I need to concentrate on that rather than on replying to her fantasy of building a farm house and settling somewhere.

 

What Hmm?”, Insha threw it to me, straight at me. How could I tell her that it was my response to the fantasy that Sarah only talked about, but I, even imagined in my mind? I even imagined the ‘Walnut Wood Panelling’ used in the interiors of that farmhouse, and the whole of furniture, and Sarah warming herself covered in a blanket in chilly winters, sitting near to a fireplace, and me… fulfilling the only option for living that I had in a place like that – ‘farming’.

 

Hey, is the driver uncle alive?”, I asked Insha to change the topic.

 

Shall I change the song?”, Sarah

interrupted, I didn’t know who she was seeking permission from. She anyway changed the song, and didn’t wait for an answer from anybody. Sometimes her questions do not seem to seek answers; I like it then.

 

I guess…”, Insha replied to my question, and she looked towards the back seat and added, “Oh, uncle is lying down occupying the entire back seat… Haha, he seems to be in a deep sleep… Shayaan, you’re the permanent driver of this bus now”, she laughed and her friends joined her.

 

Well, then let’s add some fun then… What’s say?”, I asked, winked at the group.

Most of the classmates in the bus had now gone silent, tired, lazy, sleepy; some were yawning, some were enjoying the view outside silently, some were listening to music through earphones; everyone seemed low on battery even before reaching the destination.

Three hours had passed. One more to go.

 

Mann Amadan… Hoi Hoi Hoi… Mann Amadan…”, an Arabic song, after changing and rejecting around two dozen songs, Sarah finally settled on to this one. A smile of success appeared on her face. She was cute. Her hunt for the track was through.

 

Mann Amadan… Mann Amadan…”, she murmured in her unique way of enjoying music.

To appreciate her efforts to match the lyrics of an Arabic song, I just put my left hand over the dash-board and gently tapped with the tune of music.

 

You like the song?”, she asked, and for two seconds when nobody answered, I, just by the way, looked at her, and… O my grace, she was looking at me; well, yes, she was asking me.

 

Hm? Yeah. Yes… Yes… I like the song… I like it, very much… One of my favorite songs…”, I exaggerated I know. I had to. The question came down upon me abruptly even though it was just an objective type with no wrong answer.

 

She smiled, “me too, I like the language…

 

I could feel there is really a child in her, not literally, as she continued her battle to match the accurate lyrics of the song.

 

Well… my foot pushed the accelerator-pad way too hard, out of excitement of Sarah speaking to me, even though just a general thing. Whatever, it was really a rare moment for me. As soon as this one amazing moment occurred during the entire drive, the speedometer of the bus automatically started synchronizing with the speedometer of my heart; I straight away went to 120.

120 kms/hr, – read the bus meter.

120 bpm, – read my heart, probably.

 

Shayaaaaaaaannnnnn…”, everybody sleeping in the bus woke up as if they had the worst nightmare of their lives.

Shayaaaaaaaannnnnn…”, the others listening to headphone music got up from their seats as if the bus had met some terrible accident.

Khrrrr… Phrrr… Khrrr…”, the driver uncle was chill, snoring and having a sound sleep, completely undisturbed.

 

And… there was one more,

Shayaaaaaaannnnnnn…”, and a tight fist grip, long nails included, felt on my forearm as the bus was still at 120 kms/hr.

I looked at this tight fist gripping my forearm, and slowly scrolled my eyes over the arm of the person holding it, and then the face. My mouth remained wide open; my eyes resisting to bat an eyelid, even for a fraction of a second I didn’t want to lose the glimpse of what I was looking at. Sarah. Sarah’s face. She was the one holding my forearm… tight enough.

A bizarre look on her face, frightened.

The facial expression asking me to slow down.

The gulping of dry breath telling me she was afraid.

But I kept looking… I kept looking at her. I was straight faced by now, the bus speed had gone considerably down, as I had taken off my foot from the accelerator. My heart broke all records. There wasn’t any reading available at that moment. Neither zero nor infinity, nor anything inbetween. It was a paradox. I was in love.

I was in love, all over again.

 

There was a pause; like a pin-drop silence. As if time stopped. As if the bus was on auto-pilot mode. As if everyone shouting in the background was kept on ‘Mute’ or asked to ‘Fuck Off’ for a while.

And amidst this,

 

Ssshhhh…

I whispered to her, looking deep down into her emerald eyes, asking her to calm down, asking her to just relax. That everything is alright. That she doesn’t need to be afraid. That I won’t ever let anything happen to her. That “Ssshhh” was just a whisper; our eyes spoke the rest.

 

She calmed down. She blinked. And that blink in her eyes brought everything back to reality. I jumped back to concentrate on the road. The bus was moving. The passengers had gone crazy and were shouting. Noise re-entered. Time resumed. Yes, they all seemed strange ‘passengers’, as if I didn’t know any of them and didn’t care about anyone getting a heart-attack. All I cared for, was the one whose nail-marks were still fresh on my forearm.

People keep hunting for the best of the oinments that could erase the scars and marks from their skin and bodies. This be technically the first time that somebody would be searching for an oinment which could keep such marks on your body, for ever.

 

This was also the time I realized that in a car or a bus with girls in it, the ‘brakes’ are installed on the non-driving front seats, which are auto-operated by inputs from the speedometer’s visual readings. Out of no choices, I chose to settle down at 70.

 

Now relaxed Sarah turned and got back to her breeze and hazy scenery with the same cute smile. With a periodic gaze at the speedometer from the corner of my eye, I focused on maintaining 70.

 

Iss qadr pyaar hai tumse, humsafar…”, the track that brought smile to my face and peace to my mind, began. I turned to the tape for a moment to increase volume.

 

Shayaaaaannn… Watch OUTTT…”, Sarah screamed at the highest decibel.

 

My vision panned to the highway in a split second. I could vaguely sense some random movement on the road. Before I could relize, my foot was glued to the fully pressed brake paddle without even consulting my brain. After all, Sarah had called my name the second time today.

 

Adrenaline pumped!

 

Silence was all I could feel that moment except, I could hear my blasting heartbeats. However I had skipped atleast a couple of them in last three seconds. I immediately turned to Sarah whose eyes were focusing on the road. Something, that was little, dark and four legged, was running around here and there.

 

What’s that?”, Mehak, Sarah’s another friend asked.

 

I don’t know…”, Sarah replied.

It was too little to be identified from there.

 

Somebody please go and check…”, she said, holding Mehak’s shoulder, insisting her to tell somebody to check it out.

Mehak turned to me, “Shayaan?

 

I knew it had to be me. Rest of the guys were dead tired and glued to their seats. Nobody would get up and care to check a tiny creature on the road.

 

Will you please go and check?”, Mehak requested. Her request was driven by the push from Sarah. So indirectly, it was Sarah’s request. How on earth could I even say a ‘NO’ even if it was about jumping off a cliff?

I looked at her, and her puppy cute face was pushing me into a bullfight. Curiosity is good to the extent where it either benefits you or atleast does not hurt you. Here, I was not sure about either.

 

I safely parked the bus towards the safe side; a little hesitant, I stepped out of the bus. Once out of the focus of the bus, the little creature looked even more mysterious. I looked here and there for a bit to see if any car was on the way. But I could just find a long empty wide highway and looked back. Sarah was eagerly waiting to see the result of the experiment she had conducted through me.

 

Go…”, I could read her lips which were perfectly positioned making a big ‘O’. Her expressions were curious as a baby’s.

 

When you’re uncertain of what you are getting into, you run out of self-motivation. I could not understand why we need to do this? Why can’t we just go to the picnic destination just like other buses who are already ahead of us, do. Even the biggest elephants can’t scare you so far as you know that it is an elephant. But even the tiniest unidentified mortal can scare the hell out of you.

 

Certainty is a catalyst for peace of mind.

 

Nonetheless, slowly but steadily, I continued moving towards my mystifying goal.

 

As I moved closer, I could sense the little thing was getting more and more scared and it stopped moving eventually. It preferred sitting on the floor with its body as closely folded as possible. This gave me confidence to move further closer to it, which helped the cause big time.

 

It’s a puppy”, I shouted as proudly as probably Columbus would have said “It’s India”, when he thought he discovered India. The only difference being, when I said ‘It’s a puppy’, it was really a puppy.

 

What??? Wow…”, Sarah jumped out of the bus with sparkles in her eyes; and with her, her friends joined this ‘ladies squad’ after the bomb-squad-expert had already diffused the bomb.

 

Even though girls’ extreme and selfless love for dogs was well known to me, but I found Sarah specifically somehow superfluous. Or was this my repulsion to dogs talking?

 

It’s a puppy…”, she said as she came closer. Her smile was bigger than the puppy itself.

 

I know”, I tried to normalize her excitement. I failed. She didn’t even listen to it, out of the over-excited state of mind she was in.

 

Awww… He is so cute!

 

He?”, I could not even see the puppy as a whole clearly, how did she manage to conclude this was a he?

 

This is not a safe place for him. Can you please help me take him to the side of the road?

 

Me???”, I asked and waited for nothing.

 

Getting an idea, by my reaction, of the disgust I had for dogs, Sarah chose to do it herself.

 

Careful”, Mehak said. Apparently Sarah had forgotten about everything else ever since she had popped out of the bus.

 

In spite of puppy’s resistance, Sarah managed to pick him up. Yes, by now she had managed to mark the puppy as a he in my mind.

 

He is so innocent, no?”, she questioned to which she had already answered.

 

He?”, I publicized my thought this time. Obviously I had gotten a bit less-nervous for the first time in past more than a year, “How are so sure that it is a guy?

 

With a ruthless stare, she presented necessary proof and got back to cuddle mode with the ‘gentleman’.

A girl is an exceptionally dangerous character when she has her facts right. And the worse is, she knows it.

 

Can we go now please?”, Danysh appeared from nowhere, requesting the female folk to get back now and continue the drive.

To his dislike too, the puppy had got comfortable with his savior by now and vice versa.

 

Sarah, shall we leave?”, fatso tried again, and failed to get a response. It is funny sometimes how priorities change, especially from humans to animals.

 

Danysh silently requested her friends to ask her to come back now. Some of them were overjoyed too at the sight of this dude – puppy. Mehak and Insha did try to convince her though.

 

What? How can we leave like this? What about this little one? Where will he go? What if we leave and some car crushes him like we almost did?”, she asked.

 

Baffled by the flurry of questions I could not understand how to respond; in fact none of us did.

After a breather she continued, “I cannot leave him here like this, guys. I just can’t…”, I kept thinking to myself – OMG what a cute child she is; and at the same time, if she could be so much committed and in love with just a random puppy on some road, how committed and loyal and sincere she would be to a human being; ofcourse that human being being me.

 

Let him go, Sarah…”, Mehak hesitantly tried to convince her further.

 

Mehak, do you think he will survive on this highway even this day?”, she said looking at the puppy with pity.

 

At this point, Sarah had put all of us in a predicament. This situation is referred to as “catch-22” in English dictionary.

 

Anyway, no problem at all. Let us all stay here whole day, Okay?”, Danysh responded sarcastically with a bit of humor expression too.

 

Sarah gave her an ‘O’ ‘K’ kind of look and said, “I did not say that”.

 

Then what do you want to do Sarah?”, Insha interrupted.

 

Mmm… I was just thinking… why can’t we take him with us?”, hesitantly, she presented her point.

 

O- My- Gowwwd…”, Danysh emphasised on the surprise while looking at me, with an eye-brow raised, “What? Are you crazy?

 

Guys, come on, think. Just imagine how would you feel if you get to know this little puppy was crushed under a car at this very place? We will just take him to the city and drop him at a place where he can stay safe… I will take that responsibility… Please”, she insisted. Her face and puppy’s looked similar. Ahemm! I mean both expressions demanded some pity.

 

Eventually, I came to her rescue. “It’s alright. I like the idea. I think it’s done. Get him along,”, I said, breaking the much needed string of hesitation.

Her pretty and sympathizing face helped her motive. Plus, deeper inside I could relate to her. That was not at all a safe place for the puppy. A couple of cars and trucks zoomed by to vote in favor of Sarah’s proposal. More importantly, she was happy now.

 

Thank You. Thanks so much…”, satisfied on being thorough savior, she relaxed and imitated hugging the puppy. I would have preferred her hugging me instead. Though it would have been difficult for her and uncomfortable for me to hug with a puppy in her arm.

 

We will drop him as soon as we find a safe place for him…”, Mehak confirmed.

 

Okay”, she agreed.

 

We all got back in the bus. The driver uncle had just woken up and had just started looking for the missing driver. I handed over the keys.

I joined my friends at the back seat while Sarah and her friends got busy feeding ‘LAYS – Plain Salted’ chips and ‘Pepsi’ to the new guest.

 

Soon we reached the spot – Doodh Pathri.

It was a rare and a magnificient spot with lush green meadows and the river water flowing and gushing down, hitting rocks and producing a gushing sound, like a storm wind blowing.

Horses were available for rides. Sun was looking bright. We hid from it under the shady pine trees, trekked around the hilly areas. My day was already made. A puppy made it big time. Everything was amazing. I wasn’t really interested in the picnic anymore. I had achieved more than I could have imagined. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life.

But remember, beauty doesn’t last long.

Apathy stays till loneliness lasts, everything is lost after a hurricane of past.

 

EPISODE ENDS…

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – IV

CHAPTER TWO (Episode Two)

“HUNARR”

 

It was in the mid of this Semester; and after getting bored with routine boring classes, we finally shifted from INDOOR Classroom games like BINGO, ‘ZARB ZERO’, and Android Multiplayer Games to OUTDOOR activities. Yeah, extra-curricular is important. And we realized in Engineering, extra-curricular is more important than attending classes. They don’t atleast let your brain grow tar-coal inside.

So GAME of this semester was BASKETBALL. Eh? I’d never played this game in my life. Being a Biscoe Boy, I always had the opportunity to play this game in one of the most renowned Basketball Courts of the state, but this brick colored ball had always been an untouchable object to me. I never knew I would play this game ever in my life. Engineering makes you develop habits you’d never even imagined you would. But here, I must admit, in this case, it wasn’t only ‘engineering’ that made me play this game.

Basketball Court of our College” – a Tennis Court turned Basketball Court actually; Only one post. The entire Semester, we played only half-court. The scores were based on points. One could shoot 1-pointer, or a 2-pointer, or a 3-pointer depending on the shooter’s distance from the post and few more criteria. I remember, I once, by accident (not even by chance), shot the ball directly into the net from the centre, and started claiming it as a ‘5-pointer’. LOL. Yeah that was silly, I know.

Later my friends taught me this game recognized shots of maximum of only 3-pointers.

We would go to the BB Court at 1:00 during the break time and our return to attend classes would always be uncertain. We would bunk the entire second half. I was not even a beginner. Beginner, according to me is the one who wants to learn and practice the game. I… I just ran among the players, across the dimensions of the court and sometimes jump… whenever the game started. I would sometimes walk; run holding the ball in hand. That used to spoil the basic rules of the game. My faults and fouls were at times omitted by the opponents because honestly I never learned this game. I was never even interested. Since my friends played this game and this had become the only time-pass we had during the day, I too got addicted to this court. With time, jumping and running seemed fun. Atleast, it was a good body exercise.

This game we initiated gradually became public and attracted students from other departments as well. Juniors, seniors from the Business School of our college seemed to embrace this game. They became our dear opponents at all Basketball matches.

Now, it was about Competition. Engineering Students vs. MBA Students.

We played dozens of matches with them. Won most of them, lost a few. It used to be fun. A great time pass at a very very boring place it was.

 

Hey, where is our hero?” Danysh asked, casually while taking a drag sitting in the BB court.

Who’s ‘Our Hero’?”

Shekharrr… who else? Haha”, and we saw the old 2002-Model White Maruti 800 limping towards the BB court entrance.

Talk about the devil, and the devil is here…”, I exclaimed. It was Davar.

Aaaaaayyy. Shekharrr”, he shouted while walking towards us. This is typical Davar istyle. “Aaaayyy Shekhar” is his welcome code. Always greet him with the same code. Anyone who greets him this way is his friend. Though till date I don’t know who the fuck this ‘Shekharrr’ is.

After buddy hugs, his seductive kisses started. No, he’s not gay, though he behaves like a dog sometime; he bites when he tries to kiss.

Soon after the welcome address was over, he got back to his ‘pissed-off-at-everything’ mode.

Hell, it’s so boring here. Even bunking has become so mainstream. Let’s plan something”, he said in distress, seeking a little hope from two of us.

 

Let’s plan a trip”, Danysh interrupted with his usual spontaneous ever-ready trip plans.

Where? Gulmarg?” I enquired.

 

Hell with you. You’d never think beyond the Banihal Tunnel. Lethargic bietch”, it sounded like he had a better plan.

 

Ok, choose Chandigarh or Shimla?”, he sounded serious.

 

Ooo, Taj Mahal…”, Davar poked with a silly jape. A humorous anecdote even by a school kid, intended to provoke a laughter, is supposed to have some ascertainable point. But here, in Davar’s case, nothing had a point. So please read him with love and care. And always try to laugh in advance whenever his name appears in the story. Anyway, we didn’t laugh to his ‘Taj Mahal’ comment. ‘Cause if we did, then he’d have continued with his poor gags all the time, and the basic purpose of any conversation is lost; rather screwed. But anyway, he is a dear friend, someone without whom the group seemed incomplete.

 

Well, in case this plan is serious, and incase this is executable. And in case we’ve only these two options, I choose Shimla. Let’s have a spiritual trip”, I entered my comments.

 

Yes, I vote for Shimla too”, Danysh said, “…it’d be too hot in Chandigarh, intolerable. Shimla is cool and calm”.

 

Now? Do you guys mean we’re really going? When? What about classes?”, Davar questioned.

 

Classes? LOL. Look who’s talking. OMG. Davar can’t skip classes, as if he attends each one of them, every single day, Chocolate”, we made good fun of him and laughed.

 

Listen guys, I’m serious and ready. Even if you tell me to leave tomorrow, count me in”, Danysh gave us a little hope and courage to carry this matter further.

 

We decided to talk about it and obviously seek permission from our families before we plan it any further, the chances of which were already negligible. We anyway decided otherwise.

 

***

 

Next immediate day, all three of us planned to talk to our parents for permission. This was followed by an argument where my case wasn’t pleaded by anyone but me, and me being no lawyer failed to convince. Miserably. Though it was pointless, I tried to convey my disinclination towards cancelling this trip. With a diminutive hope, I further tried to convince my parents with an apparent probability for a favor. But… after getting a very bright ‘RED signal’, I was tight-lipped, lost all the little hope for some favor. My plan seemed sacrificed. I badly wanted to go to Shimla. But with no option left, I went straight to my room; imagined it to be Shimla and had a little nap, wishing I could atleast dream of the so-called ‘spritual trip’. As I woke up, finding myself in my room, and not Shimla, and after realizing I shouldn’t fool myself to such an extent, I got up and thought to go to some sea-shore where I could sit and throw pebbles one by one into the sea; well, atleast Bollywood movies reveal that it’s the best way to vent out your disappointed state of mind. But unfortunately we have no seas in Kashmir; Dal Lake was no good option; it was so dirty and polluted that I felt bad for cute pebbles before thinking of throwing them in the lake. So I grabbed the keys of my car, decided to meet up my friends and tell them about this not-so-good news. A ‘solution’ or ‘sympathy’ was my dire need that moment. I’ve observed that when something is not going your way, the other things join in happily to disappoint you even more. I reached the garage only to find the rear tyre of my car flat. I took a moment, named the tyre ‘Shimla-Trip’ and kicked it hard. Tyre was intact, my foot wasn’t. I regret kicking it that hard. I decided to take a taxi. As I approached the main chowk, one more bitter pill got added to my prescription. It started raining cats and dogs. I ran to take refuge under a tree. I was not going to get a taxi easily. Getting wet was adding to my annoyance big time. Why always me? Why others have always got a better life, better plans, and better options? I kept consoling myself. Disappointments and frustrations had become a frequent occurrence in my life. Finding no reasons to smile had started worrying me. My life, my dreams and my plans were nowhere even close to topping my list of priorities in dominance of others’ wishes. My plans had become a pipe-dream. Realizing my hope being unrealistic worsened my mood even more. No sooner I came out of this distressing dreaminess, I perceived some activity on the other side of the tree. I was conscious about not getting wet. Out of curiosity I turned to the other side, bowed a little to peek. By the roadside, under a small tin-shed, I saw a little girl about eight years old; and a puppy making quick round walks in that small tin-shed, limping. The dog was hurt. It was a stray just like the girl. The little girl wearing an untidy dusty frock was looking for something in a big Polyethene bag lying by her side. Just as I was about to ignore the scene, the girl took out a packet of bandage from the bag, stripped its packing with her teeth, signalled the puppy to sit down on a fiber- board sheet which was spread fairly neatly. The girl first had a closer look at the dog’s leg for about 20 seconds and then started nursing him; dressing his wounded leg. As the treatment was over, a matador arrived. I wanted to jump in… but something made me stop. I stayed under the tree and kept watching the scene happening under that tin-shed. The girl turned to her bag again and this time fished out a packet of half-empty bread. Took out one slice and wrapped the remaining back in the bag. The bread looked stale. The girl dusted the bread against her frock probably thinking it would make it fresher. Flipped it and dusted again, either side. The puppy was curiously observing, rattling his tail. With a naughty smile, she held one corner of the bread in her mouth inviting the puppy to have the hanging part. After a couple of failed attempts, the little girl leaned back. The puppy managed to grab the hanging end and pulled it to cut it to half. The girl laughed and hugged the puppy tight. Her laughter was carefree. Two taxis had arrived. I had missed both. The lesson couldn’t be avoided. For a moment I had forgotten about my disappointments. I had not realized; my eyes went moist. This little girl had perhaps nothing that I had. She didn’t even have issues that I’d; conversely she had bigger ones. She didn’t want what all I wanted yet she’d everything I didn’t have – the ability to find a reason to be happy. She had unknowingly taught me a priceless lesson. Happiness doesn’t depend on what you’ve; it depends on how you perceive what you’ve. If she could smile in a situation she was in, who was stopping me? Obviously “me”. I ran to the Food-Hut nearby and bought a meal-pack, offered it to the little girl with gratitude. She looked at me with an innocent smile. I didn’t pity her. She curiously opened the pack and started enjoying her meal, inviting the puppy to join. They were happy. I was happy. With a whole new attitude towards life, I started walking in rain. Yes, I was smiling. I had no worry of getting wet anymore. I had learnt to find a reason to smile from little moments of life. Angels may not always have wings and may not appear from skies; they may just be by the roadside under a tin-shed in a dusty frock, on a rainy day.

 

I took a U-turn back to home, with a smiling face. On reaching back home, I texted on Whatsapp Group – “Shimla Timla” was the name given to the group we had created in the morning.

 

RED Signal! Sorry guys. I didn’t get the permission,” followed by a sad smiley. That one ‘emoji’ with just one tear drop falling from his left eye. Maybe because I wasn’t too much sad about it now. So just one tear drop emoji.

And I was excited to know that the two of them too didn’t get shit from their ends either. They hadn’t gotten the permission as well. This convinced me that I wasn’t the only spoiler of the game. Yay!

 

Consoling each other, we kept the ‘Shimla trip’ on hold, and decided to plan it in winters. Everyone agreed. Obviously enough. We had no option other than accepting and agreeing to postpone it to winters. In the same conversation, I, just to divert from the Shimla topic, narrated to them the same little-girl and the puppy story. Now we all were in awe for that little girl. This conversation didn’t stop at the narration. This story gave all three of us goose-bumps; enough, that we started talking about helping this particular little girl. This thought of ‘helping this girl’ multiplied and diversified into a bigger concept – which was – ‘helping not just one girl but poor kids in general’.

 

In just few days, this Whatsapp group name got changed from ‘Shimla Timla’ to “HUNARR” and the tagline ‘THE CREATIVE YOU’ was added later.

 

This way, this tiny Whatsapp group, initiated by three of us took the form of an organization emphasizing on helping little children of all sections of the society. Eventually, we pooled in more and more students and got working towards our first event – ‘Prazalwin Taarak’ (which in Kashmiri means ‘shining stars’) – which aimed at making the less privileged children realize that they’re an integral part of our society.

 

We started conducting meetings, initially many of which concluded without a proper conclusion. But we were determined, and gradually, despite facing technical issues, and having no previous experience, we went ahead with a much stronger force and enthusiasm. It took us months to finally come up with something executable. We were balancing our time between our semester studies and this organizational setup.

 

Within next couple of weeks, soon after finalizing the event, I, along with few of my teammates visited an orphanage in the valley.

 

* * *

 

As I entered the five feet tall door by bending my head and also the upper part of my body, I was greeted by a narrow dark corridor sided by clay-built walls, partly of half-baked bricks and partly of mud with cracks all over. The atmosphere inside was entirely different from what was outside that building. I accompanied by two mates found it hard to find a staircase which led up to the first floor – it was lost in the darkness of that dark corridor. Well, I still had little hope to see better at the first floor, but as I stepped upon the flight of stairs, the unmistakable bad pungent smell of urine surrounded me. It attacked me and made me completely sick. That made me expect the worst. I wanted to run away, leave this task right there and run home. Before I could perish this thought, I heard a cry – a child’s cry probably, echoing through the corridors of that floor. While I was thinking of going back ‘home’, this cry reminded me that – “This place too is someone’s home…”, “home for little children who have none”, “no family, no friends to play with”. That moment sent a quiver through my spine caused me goose bumps.

 

Pertinent to mention, many other students from various departments and universities had joined me now and stood up for a social cause under the organization I had founded – ‘HUNARR – The Creative You’, wherein we had decided to invite orphan kids and boost them up, make them realize that they too are an integral part of the society. So we were on a visit to various orphanages across the city, to talk to them, and visit orphans to check for their age as we had some age-bar for orphans coming for our event.

 

After seeking permission from the administration to allow us to visit the children in their rooms, I was baffled to see the condition of the rooms in which they ‘survived’. The unfinished raw floor, small below standard beds to sleep, windows without curtains, approximately 11×12 feet pathetically small room forced to accommodate 26 children (with sleeper beds) with what seemed to be‘no privacy’for the children, a single 60 Watt incandescent bulb in the center of the ceiling leaving no space for a fan in the room in that hot summer. The worst part was if I distributed the houseflies present in that room equally, each child would get a share of 10, at least. The room was an epitome of discomfort. All the beds were covered with those dusty, itchy, crusty blankets. The mattresses were badly torn, uneven and hard, the raw floor seemed more comfortable than those hard pads. The entire scene seemed like criminals caught in a worst prison without even committing any crime. As I neared myself to the curtain-less, open window of that room from where sounds of ringing bells entered, I saw a crowd of small children wearing neat uniforms playing in a big playground in one of the renowned schools of the valley located just adjacent to this orphanage. I again started to compare… the lucky children of ‘that school’ and… the unlucky children of this place where I first time visited. The moment these children in the room saw us entering, I had expected positive reactions from them, maybe I thought they would be excited to see new faces in their room, but ironically, none of them even bothered to give a second look at us. This reaction of them made me realize that they had no expectations left from anyone trying to help or visit them now. They were drained off all the powers, hopes and dreams, felt like they had nothing to add to the existing corpus of knowledge. They felt dejected, rejected, oppressed by fate, suppressed by destiny and regressed by the diplomacy and carelessness of this world. They found it hard even to smile, I wonder if they knew anything more about ‘smiling’ than just as a curvature of lips. The world to them seemed like a confined prison with no visits by love, compassion and tranquility. Now of course it wasn’t a prison but I definitely felt those innocent children were being mercilessly punished for being born in an unloving family… or because the loving parents they had were unfairly taken away from them. My emotions were swelling up before I even met the children. No one to sympathize with them, no one to play games with them, no one to share their experiences, no one to narrate stories, no one to care for them, no one to even cast a smiling look at them, no one to treat them nicely, no one bothered about what they do, what they become in life, how they ‘survive’ this cruel and brutal life. You want to see brutality? Look deep into their eyes, you will see it. Suddenly this tired silence that seemed to engulf the room most of the times was disturbed by a loud cry from one of the corners. I tried to find the source but in such a room with 26 beds spread all over, it was difficult to look for things in an instant. Finally I tried to manage to reach to the source – and the source of this cry was a sweet, little innocent boy not more than eight, in a loose t-shirt and just an underwear. With his little hands he was wiping his tears off. Oh, he had hit his forehead with a bed edge while coming down from the bed – I tried to calm him down, kissed his forehead and comforted him in my lap. I took him towards the window and he saw the children at the school outside playing, it seemed he enjoyed watching them. After a while, he started crying again, but this time he knew I was there to sympathize and console him again. He had been alone for long; he had hunger for love and care. I spent about half an hour there playing with the children, especially that kid. He comforted himself in my lap again, he got little used to it. He started playing with the ring I had put in my ring-finger. He felt good touching it, so I took it off my finger and wore it to his thumb; his other fingers were too small to fit in. He seemed to have liked wearing that ring, because he smiled at me. About a month passed by, and I still can’t forget that day, that time spent with those innocent children, I still can’t forget the tears that rushed through my eyes as soon as I left that room. I had just gone there to spread a little joy, and one little boy gave me a new life. All I could give him in return was that little thing in his little thumb, and a little smile on his innocent face.

 

***

 

Soon after this visit, we finally organized our first-ever event at Nigeen Club, Srinagar. Invited little kids from various orphanges. I, and my team of around thirty other students welcomed them. We had invited Vice-Chancellors, academicians, intellectuals, civil servants and other elite class of the society to help these kids get inspiration and motivation to move ahead in life with ignited minds and awakening spirits. After the inspirational speech sessions, we introduced games and other playful activities in the event, which the kids enjoyed the most. We had arranged meals and lunch for them. Towards the end, we gave away gifts and presents to each one of them. They were happy, everyone present on the occasion had that ‘hearty’ smile on their faces, which seemed constant through out the event till the moment they boarded the buses in late evening, with all the children peeking their heads out from the windows and waving their hands to us, bidding us warm goodbyes, with cute smiles on their faces.

After the event was over, I wrote a letter to myself, expressing my feelings towards life. The letter read something like this…

 

“I, Shayaan Mir, am really thankful for whatever I have. Most of the times, we complain that life’s a bit more unfair; we complain because everything doesn’t go well as per our sweet will, every reality doesn’t fit in the scenes we create in our heads for our future. My head goes crazy when I don’t get a new gadget, or a particular dress that’s in for the trend, or sometimes ‘not getting a particular dish’ to eat is what pisses me off. Yet, I’m not naked or starved. Atleast I have hope for a better future; I go to college, and I know I’ll be an Engineer tomorrow, if not, then maybe a writer, if not, then something else. But atleast I have a visible hope. There’s this visible hope that keeps us all going.

In contrast to this kind of hope, what I encountered on my visit to this orphanage, was heart wrenching. I discovered that most of the kids in these homes ain’t certain of a future. They live each day as it comes and are glad when someone steps in for a visit, for they know either food, clothes or gifts have come.

The day reminded me of the children who didn’t have the opportunity of knowing their families, those who were dumped or who lost their families at birth or very early in life. I’m reminded of people who live from hand to mouth, who live each day hustling for food for that day. I’m reminded of kids who hawk, those who steal, smoke up because they know no other way to live; those kids who sleep under the bridges, roof-tins, or incomplete buildings of orphanages. I’m reminded of children who haven’t seen school due to lack of finance and sell car-towels at petrol pumps. I’m reminded of young boys and girls who rob, because they never had anyone to advise; or offer them kind words or give them hope.

I’m reminded of those kids who die in the process of hustle or of starvation or due to disease and yet never had someone to preach a proper funeral. The list goes on and on.

As I feel grateful for what I have, so did I decide to give these people hope, to continually try and put smiles on their faces, to inspire and motivate. In this regard, me and my friends embarked on a visit to this orphanage.”

 

***

 

EPISODE ENDS…

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – III

CHAPTER TWO (Episode One)

“After a long winter break…”

 

It wasn’t just an ordinary ‘first day’ at college. This first day was special. I reached college earlier than the peons the first day after the winter vacations were over. Perhaps the first day I reached college that early. On the scale of 10, my anxiety was 11. I had hardly slept through the night. This day had in it the mem’ries of the previous semester, the longing to see the one who had occupied every single hour of every single day of my vacations in my head. The fantasy of her looking into my eyes after two months, five days and sixteen hours was enough for me to spend a sleepless night. They were finally over – the vacations; and my heart was back in action. A pinch of excitement and a hangover of a hectic vacation; yet it was not just another ordinary ‘first day’.

 

Resolutions, I don’t usually make them. But… After spending more than half of the last year and more than two months of vacations of this year wordlessly loving her, it was my new year resolution to express my feelings to her at the most suitable, most promising situation. But before I would plan on how to express, I had to prepare my mind to face two stages of consequences. One, being obviously her response to my feelings; Two, something that gave me adequate facts justifying my readiness to ‘consequences’; This second stage was based on two rules; Rule One: coming from a conservative Kashmiri family, you cannot fall in love. Rule Two: If you fall in love, not in college at least. Even if you somehow manage to escape from these two, when you fall in love with a girl whose family compatibility and background you’re not sure of, and you still look forward and fantasize spending your whole life with, you’re no less than a criminal. You’re dead. I had all these feathers in my cap and yet I was good to go. I was weirdly proud of myself. The echoes of the saying “Everything is fair in love and war” kept reverberating and overpowering all my family traditions and rules. That weird is love, insanely weird.

 

To express these feelings to her was resolution one. Second one seemed as impractical as the first one. I met all my friends after a long break, and based on our previous track record which included dozens of “Get-Out Situations”; weeks, sometimes fortnights of bunking classes; and the pressure at the time of exams; I, in fact we, made a new year resolution (my second) – “We’ll attend classes and study hard this semester” – the voice supporting this statement was so much energetic and spirited that I can’t even describe. In the field of engineering, logic is preferred over theory. And despite this statement being proven out to be the most illogical statement ever, I don’t know why all engineering students still love to stay with this illogical ‘theory’.

 

* * *

 

Anyway, two-months five-days & precisely sixteen-hours of vacations; plus three more hours after I reached the college, had passed. After meeting friends, after making resolutions, I met and greeted all other classmates, many of whom had clean-shaved carrying a typical ‘Gillette Smile’ on their faces while some had turned into ‘long-bearded’ Molvis. It was good. Everyone was feeling excited about joining back the college. Perhaps I was the only one who felt “Super-excited”; excited, because I was gonna see her in sometime. Super-excited, because I was gonna see her in sometime. Every form of my excitement had that same – one – reason.

It took me about a dozen of rounds of corridor, peeking out through the window for any signs of her coming… My retina wanted to quench its thirst. This wait has always been amusing… amazing.

 

Hey darling, missing me?”, and I felt a big thump on my back. I turned and not much to my surprise, that was Danysh. Laughter echoed like that of a nineties Hindi movie villain enhancing his drama. I returned favor by a punch to his chest and a buddy hug followed.

So, what’s new?” he asked, a little sophisticated this time.

Nothing” my eyes were still hunting for diamond in coal mine.

Hmm, so, you are still in the ‘I miss you’ mode. I guess movies, cricket and playstation during the whole vacation were not good enough for Mr. Romeo to lose focus off Miss Juliet, hmm? Dude, I am worried for you”, he winked, I almost ignored.

WTF? What do you mean? Who’re you talking about?”, after failing to completely ignore, I interrupted . Danysh didn’t know anything about my secret wordless affair. So what is he talking about? I kept thinking in my mind.

 

Well, technically, I’m talking about the girl who made you steal an ordinary stainless steel spoon from the College cafeteria just a few months back”, as soon as I heard this, I pinched myself. I had been dreaming of such shocking moments quite often now; “How the fuck do you know that, man?”, I was left speechless.

 

What do you think I’m? Blind assbag? I’ve eyes, I see things; not just the spoon theft but the theft of your retarded piece of heart too, by the way, she liked your handwriting, remember? Ahem”, he tried to calm my tits this time.

 

Dude

 

Yes dude. You tried to hide it from me? Really?”, he questioned.

 

Look, I’m sorry for that. I didn’t mean to hide it, but yeah, I didn’t want to market this either”, I was really sorry.

 

Anyway, chill. It’s alright. Tell me who else knows?”, he asked.

 

Davar does”, I replied to which he reacted, “Fucker. Even he didn’t tell me anything. Bietch please”.

 

An intelligent friend is an asset especially when he knows you well; as well as you know yourself. He was right. My ardor for my desire and subsequent actions were well-known to him ever since we became friends.

We decided to walk down the straight paths of our college, and on way I met a friend from the Management School – ‘Mohammad Yasir Shah’; he’s a calm, sober and a very helpful person. Whenever I would meet him, he would always be in a happy go lucky mood, but this time his face read a different story.

What’s up buddy? You fine?”, I asked.

Yea.. umm. I’m good.”, he replied, insisting his cheeks and lips to help him with a smile.

No, You’re upset about something…”, I assumed and tried to enquire if my assumption had any base.

Nothing bro, it’s a long story. Someday, umm. Okay, gimme a ring when you’re free, will catch up”, he said, while leaving for his school.

Baby, this college has become a hub of Romeos, he’s one of them, alike you. So just chill”, Danysh commented, as we bid a ba-bye to Yasir.

***

 

 

Where is she? Why is she late? Has she changed the college? Had she appeared in AIEEE the second time? Did she get selected there and left this college? No, No, can’t be”, I didn’t realize I was actually saying this until I saw Danysh smiling mischievously.

Let’s go to class, she will not disappoint you”, the naughty Danysh surfaced as we headed towards class.

 

Yes, she won’t”, – self motivation is the only fuel that can keep the wheel rolling in one way traffic of love.

On way to class, met Davar, he had just arrived. Hugs followed. Kicks to doors and switch boards started taking the action. Yes, he’s crazy – like a crazy destructive kid. He would break anything anytime anywhere – just, for fun. If you ever get a chance to visit our department of our college, check for broken windows, locks, doors, mirrors in the washrooms, even broken kamods in the washrooms – remember that there used to live only one SINGHAM, and that’s our friend, Davar.

 

Anyway, coming back to me – a hopeless romantic – my struggle to get a glimpse of her was going to ease out this year. Me, Davar and Danysh started our hunt for our new seat for the year. We always shared bench, always. We chose our bench wisely so that we could see almost entire of the classroom from a corner of the eye. This time I had to be a little more strategic, because this time I particularly wanted a specific person to be in the domain of my gaze. A little strategy is essential for any war and every love, I realized.

 

As we entered the classroom, I saw her, she was sitting right there in a knee length white color kurta that was shining just about as much as detergent advertisements claim on TV. I was jealous of her gold chain for hugging her all day, around her neck. Pink hair band was in a competition with her to win the cuteness award. ‘Pink’ wasn’t that bad pink only ‘Desi’ women wear. It was decent. And trust me, even if she wore some tinglingly reflective shiny seven-colored ‘Saari’, that too would look decent on her. Long beautiful fingers playing with her hair were so damn enviable. Sparkling eyes were blinking with the intention to shoot me point-blank. That innocence was worth dying for. No wonder, to guys, why one of the most desirable one is a girl who carries herself well enough; raw and pure.

Good morning students”, Nadiya ma’am broke into my reverie. I missed a beat. It took me a moment and a glance again at that empty seat to come back from a distant delusion. Shit. I was day-dreaming. She had disappeared. I hate such day dreams; or should I say, I hate returning from such day dreams. I was saddened, once again. She hadn’t come yet. I was only hopeful she does.

Good morning ma’am”, class chorused.

So how was your vacation?” Nadiya ma’am asked with her trademark smile.

Tooooo short”, Danysh replied in a split second. Everyone enjoyed the quickie from the fatso and applauded. Danysh was a popular character in the class, thanks to both his wit and shit.

Here you are Mister Danysh Qureshi. I will surely convey your feelings to the HOD”, Nadiya ma’am had a humor bone too.

I left the conversation there and went back to my fantasy class.

Why hasn’t she come yet? Is there something wrong? She has to be fine. Just as I was getting a little worried, a girl of a cute height, pretty and a little worried, appeared from stairs. Sareh.

A bright ray of sunshine rose from the sea. Birds flew over my head. A cuckoo started singing to me. Violins started playing. Butterflies woke up yet again inside my stomach. My lips widened. My eyes twinkled. 😉

She walked swiftly down the lobby. She was late and she knew it. I could make out from her gestures that she was breathing heavily; but not as heavily as I was, now. My heart was overjoyed like a kid on a swing in the park. Fuck.

Roll No.42… Is there something outside that we all should be watching? Please share”, Nadiya ma’am interrupted my thoughts as hard as Danysh poked me.

Yes, Yes ma’am… I mean no ma’am”, my tongue fumbled as I stood up.

And in a moment, Sarah reached the door of classroom, “May I come in ma’am?”, I could listen to her clearly. May be I chose to listen to her over Nadiya ma’am. Selective use of hearing sense, I guess. I was thrilled seeing her. I could not resist a smile.

Happy?”, a whisper on my left ear brought me back to my classroom. It was Fatso. I nodded, smiled. He patted me on thigh. My focus panned to her. Much to my delight, she settled on a seat that was convenient to me. It was the time to relive my day dream. I took a deep breath and tried to zoom in as much as I could. Beauty personified was right in front of me. How can someone be so beautiful, so innocent? Her white kurta and that chain were enhancing her cuteness. I missed her ‘pink hair band’ though. For a change, there was a purple bandana on her head, very neatly and gracefully tied. It looked beautiful too. She had got some classy fashion sense. How can something associated with her be short of stunning?

So tell us how did you spend your vacation?”, ma’am asked to throw light, again.

Ma’am… nothing special about what I did. Just, it shouldn’t have been this looong”, I categorically disagreed with Danysh’s quickie, obviously for one important reason, and that reason was beautifully covered in white, sitting just convenient to me. This vacation which was probably short for others, perhaps was longest for me – because honestly I counted every hour of every day of the vacation till its last moment. All credit goes to Einstein’s – Relativity.

 

Ma’am, he was lost in dreams of someone”, fatso put my secrets on a projector screen. Everyone in the class looked around and had a laugh. Sarah too about turned, my eyes accidentally collided with hers for about a second of a second. She was smiling. I blushed. How would I not?

Anything exciting you want to share with the class?”, ma’am asked.

Well, my most exciting activity of the vacation would have been most interesting for almost the entire class, had I shared. I decided against it. I didn’t want to share my intense feelings for her with just anyone.

Not really ma’am”, I kicked Danysh for enjoying my discomfort.

For the whole day my eyes and mind kept shuttling between three objects – White board, which I was least interested in; Lecturers, who spoke AabracaDaabra all the time; and Sareh, who didn’t speak at all, yet my heart would jump off the beats on stealing a glimpse of her. My patience, impatience, anxiety, excitement, nervousness and countdown to this day were all worth it. She looked as graceful and pleasant as ever.

 

* * *

 

Time moved on, days passed by, the spirit “We Will Study Hard This Semester” seemed a fad now, which died with time. It was like a loud cry from a mountain cliff with no signs of echoes coming back to embrace the words. Mathematics – Engineering Graphics – E-Mechanics – Chemistry… these subjects of this Semester were enough to lead us to suffering and anxiety; but having “Industrial Management & Economics” as an unnecessary additional subject was intolerable. What the hell is an Engineering student supposed to do with effin Economics?

 

Well, this semester used to begin with Newton classes. It was our E-Mechanics class. The Professor was a Super-Man. He used to teach at our Department in our college and at NIT, not just this. He used to teach at Crescent Classes as well, and at Apex Coaching Centre and at one more Tuition point located in some hilly area. Do you now believe he was a Super-Man? I wonder how the hell did he get time to clean-shave. He earned huge money. That’s why he had bought a White Scorpio which looked more like a ‘Sumo-Drivers’ car, decorated with stickers and shiny items all over.

 

He entered the class, wearing bell-bottom formal pants. His face resembled one of the ‘South-Indian Heroes’ with typical ‘South-Indian Styled’ moustaches. He was very impressive at the beginning of the semester. It was his fifth lecture after the introduction session.

 

“In Fluid Dynamics…” he started explaining while writing the title of the topic ‘HAGEN POISEUILLE LAW’ on the White Board, “…the Hagen-Poisueille Law or the Hagen Equation is a physical law that gives the pressure drop in a fluid flowing through a long cylindrical pipe. It can be successfully applied to air flow in human lung alveoli, for the flow through a drinking straw or through a hypodermic needle. It was experimentally derived independently by Gotthilf Heinrich Ludwig Hagen in 1839 and Jean Leonard Marie Poiseuille in 1938, and published by Poiseuille in 1840 and 1846…”

This definition was followed by an eight page long derivation which made our heads go crazy. At the last page, at the last full-stop, we got a chance to breath. Newton, Einstein, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Niels Bohr – they all seemed kids during his class.

 

 

 

Next after Newton were Henry Fayol classes. Yeah, I mean Management & Economics.

Anyway, the “WHO AM I” activity by our Management Professor was hilarious. Each student was asked to say something about themselves, and at the end of their introduction, the rest of the students were asked to give their feedback about the ones at the dais. That feedback session had always been super-duper fun. We never spared a single girl of class. We gifted some “most-memorable-embarrassments” to some of the classmates during these feedback sessions. The most interesting part to me was when ‘Miss. Sareh’ got the “WHO AM I” call. She stood up, spoke Persian. I mean she spoke in English only, but my ears didn’t exactly want to listen to the content but voice. And her voice was silky smooth, melting on her tongue. It sounded pure Persian to me. The intro was over. Audience students, only girls stood up voluntarily to give positive feedback. However, boys didn’t dare to stand voluntarily this time. I don’t know what’s with beautiful girls. Everyone feels attracted but no one dares to speak a word infront of them. There are two possible reasons; One, nobody wants to give a negative feedback to the most desirable girl because of the fear of losing a chance, even if they don’t really stand a chance at all. Two, everybody wants to give a positive feedback to that desirable girl to flatter her, but nobody does it either, because everyone knows they gotta spend four long years with their classmates and getting taunts from people publicly is like giving yourself a very hard time.

And… when none of the boys stood up for feedback voluntarily, the professor himself decided to choose from the boys section. As he scrolled his eyes over the group of us, I, for the fear of getting chosen, started pretending to be busy with my notebook… But… these professors, I tell you… they have that fuckin eye for the exact person who’s trying to hide the most.

And as you can guess it perfectly right… I… I was chosen. I was chosen for the feedback.

 

“Yes, you? You tell us about your friend ‘Sareh’?” the professor asked.

 

“Friend? Really? Are we?”, these questions arose in my mind. I was not in proper senses to hear what I heard. I didn’t know what could I, or should I say about her.

 

Sir, She…emm. She… She is the… is the… most… beautiful girl in the… in the… NO! Sorry. Not “IN THE”, just the ‘most beautiful girl’ I’ve ever seen in my entire life…”, I said, and continued, “Sir, I’d made a New Year Resolution… and it was to express my feelings to this girl standing there at the front, looking at me so weirdly as I speak all this about her, at the most suitable, most promising situation. And I think this… this is that ‘most promising situation’. I want to tell her that I… that I love her… Sir, I feel like, her one single smile is enough to make my day… while the few following days could be made by just keeping a memory of that one single shot of her smile in my head. I haven’t talked to her much, just know her as a classmate from last some months or so, wordlessly admiring her… but I feel like there is a connection that ties me up with her… and this connection is a very very strong one, as if it’s been there for years. Sir, it feels like my soul already knew her soul even before my eyes met her eyes for the first time on the very first day I saw her… Sir… this is all I wanted to say about her…

 

Yes, this was all I wanted to say about Sareh, but unfortunately this was all in my mind, and it stayed there only. What I actually said were the first few words of the above narration,

Sir, he… he… he is the… is the…” this is what all I said… ‘actually’.

 

I overheard few girls whispering and giggling at “He?

 

He?” the professor too interrupted and remarked, “You even changed her gender?” and laughed.

 

The whole class burst laughing. I stood like an idiot with a red-apple face, if you peeled off this red-apple, it would be red inside too. I blushed like hell with an idiotic confused smile on my face, though I corrected, “Sir, I mean… she is the…

 

Yes… is the…?”, the professor who still had traces of his laugh visible on his face, asked.

 

Sir, she is the friendly girl…”, I replied, with a gross grammar mistake; a “the” instead of “a” in the statement. I was confused like hell. I’m a grammar nazi but that moment all my knowledge about grammar disappeared. When a person is too confused, he/she is bound to make grammatical mistakes. The entropy of confusion doubles when the grammar has to be applied to a beautiful girl; the entropy further increases when that beautiful girl is the one you love the most.

The professor gave me a weird look. I’m sure he thought I sucked at English. He made me sit down immediately after this statement. It was the shortest feedback ever. Not giving me a chance to express my feelings about Sareh wasn’t the matter; the matter lied in not giving me a chance to prove my ‘not-so-bad’ communication skills.

Anyway, I felt more happy about the incident at the end which otherwise was an embarrassing one; all because it made her laugh. I was happy about the fact that it was I, for the first time making her laugh like that. Things were cute. The situation was cute. The fate was unknown. And “unknown”, my dear friends, is always dangerous to think.

 

* * *

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THE FLAWS IN OUR FATES – II

CHAPTER ONE (Episode Two)

 

 

It was mid-summer and our semester exams were approaching. Danysh and me, sitting under the shade of our favorite tree, were discussing about our time-table-plans. Meanwhile, a classmate came to us, this guy had been our schoolmate as well. His name is Davar Shah – a typical chocolate Biscoe Boy, as many of us have known him for being one in school. Anyway, his friends had not come to college that day and obviously he needed company, so he started a conversation with two of us. During this time, we had lots of discussions about our old school days and narrated famous ‘Fayaz Takkar’ and ‘ManTT’ tales to one another. All three of us were from different ‘Houses’ in school. Danysh was from Tatakutti, Davar from Harmukh, and I was from Mahadev House. Every Biscoe Boy feels unusually proud of his ‘House’ and brags a lot about it, and taunts other ‘Houses’. But I realized what matters is that we’ve been Biscoe Boys, no matter to what House we belonged, and that we’ll be one forever. And… In All Things We’ll Be Men.

 

As the discussion took zig-zag random turns, from School thing to College thing, from basketball thing to semester exam thing, I realized that this guy Davar wasn’t that badass chocolate boy anymore as he was when in school. This was a good change we learned about him.

 

Mathematics, I don’t even know the syllabus”, Davar said while we started to discuss about our approaching sem exam subjects. This statement by him connected him to us. We always despised those who knew about every goddamn topic in the syllabus. And we would become friends with those who’re always ‘cool’ with everything.

 

Yeah, we too need to do something about it”, Danysh reciprocated.

 

Well, Mathematics has always been a nightmare to most of the students. Since childhood, students have been hating it. Maths makes one feel depressed, it sucks half of your energy solving problems. It was better till the time it included digits and numbers only, it turned a cause for one’s nausea, fever, headache, etc. etc. the day it started including english alphabets especially “e” and that fuckin missing “X”, and then some worst terms like “Cos”, “Tan” and “Sin”. This “Sin” of any damn “Theta” makes me realize that we’ve committed the biggest ‘sin’ of our lives by getting into engineering.

Weeks passed. Davar started spending more time with me. He would sit with us in class, bunk with us. Gradually, he too became a “Canada Lover” like us. Canada is the place where my lips kissed a cigarette for the first time, and yes, smoked it. Same day, we created a Facebook Page ( https://www.facebook.com/canadalovers ) dedicated to this beautiful place. We used to come to this place frequently, and gradually the frequency increased as such that people used to come to “find” us at Canada rather than at our Department. We made three more friends in class. They too were Biscoeites. I’ve observed Biscoe Boys don’t usually settle as friends with Non-Biscoeites. They can only feel comfortable with their schoolmates. Maybe, because we were brought up with a specific “Biscoe Mindset” that perhaps binds us. Time passed, Davar became a close friend. Davar and me made one more friend, Nadeem. Nadeem was an Engineering Genius; though he was our classmate for first semester only before he got selected at NIT Srinagar. Even though he had joined NIT, but he would visit us every other day, and since we still had same subjects, especially Mathematics. It was during our fast approaching semester exams that we decided to look for a common guide for this hauntingly ugly subject. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to pay to a teacher keeping in view our limited pocket money and would only settle for a guide who’d be cool and easy keeping in view our easy going and laid back kind of nature; so we got one of the Chatturs of our class, Aasif, as our new teacher. He was conceptually brilliant, I could see Einstein in his ideas. It was the first day we three went to his hostel after the classes. It was our first day, and he didn’t spare it, he was that ‘cool’ kind we wanted but he was also good at developing an interest in us for the subject, and due to this attitude, surprisingly we spent about three hours on the very first day practicing various problems; finding “X”. We hadn’t studied even half the amount in our entire semester of what we studied in those three hours. The moment we left Aasif’s hostel at around 8:30 in the evening, we three started feeling like Einstein, Edison & Heisenberg coming out after making the biggest inventions of our lives.

 

We left the hostel, and reached a nearby restaurant – ‘Hatrick’ just outside our College. Nadeem was riding the bike while Davar and me were in Davar’s car. We parked at Hatrick, starting discussing about today’s achievements. After a long discussion, we decided to leave for our places. Nadeem accelerated the bike, I occupied the pillion. One, Two, Three… and he muddled the accelerator, speedometer took off its flight; and in a blink we were on the main road. Davar was following us in his car. We had decided to first drop Nadeem at NIT and bid goodbyes there. As fate would have it, after about hundred metres, the speed of the bike started diminishing with each second, even though Nadeem tried hard to twiddle the accelerator but as per my anticipation, the motion seized within just next couple meters.

 

WTF happened?” I asked.

 

Boss. I guess petrol crisis…” Nadeem replied, perplexed smile on face.

 

Damn it. We had to fill the tank today. The evening class thing interrupted and, hence forgot. Shit”, I got disgusted at myself, “And… Petrol pump is too far from here…” I added.

 

Davar comes out of his car, enquiring about the problem.

Dude, are you guys nuts? It’s 9:25 PM! It’s almost midnight for Kashmir. Your dad owns any petrol pump that operates at this time?”, Davar asked, and LOL, we lost all hopes.

 

In this case, probably manual theories needed to be applied. Nadeem solaced and slapped the oil tank.

Hey one try…” he said, as he opened the tank lid, put in his full breathes, closed it at once and tried to start… and “Zrooommm”, it did. I jumped back on the seat as Nadeem rushed on with the bike, we had to cover atleast four goddamn kilometers, and I guess the bike got a heart attack hearing this, so it straight away denied our stupid idea.

 

Hahaha. Hell”, Davar was laughing, as now he had even parked his car decently on the roadside.

 

What now, man?” Davar and me putting all hopes on Nadeem.

 

You asking me as if I’m some advisory member of Yamaha Motors”, LOL, we laughed.

Come on, you’re studying Mechanical Engineering, you must know things about mechanical shit” Davar and me are good at leg pullings.

 

Well, I think this giant needs some energy…” Nadeem thought he really gave some expert advice, as we provoked him.

 

Hey, I’m also energy deficit. Mathematics sucked half there, now this crisis is sucking another left half…” Davar commented, checking out our reaction.

 

After five minutes, we were found eating Shawarma at a nearby restaurant, two of them flickering ash in an ashtray and making smoke-rings in air, while I answered a call from home, “Mom, we’re studying yet. Will be home in sometime. Okay Bye”.

 

What should we do now?” Davar asked.

Hmmm. Can’t wait for petrol, have to find an alternative” Nadeem interfered, while I, without answering to any of their questions concentrated on Shawarma.

 

Hey, what’s that?” Davar pointed outside the restaurant, opposite side of the road, and the focus was – a thick round long shrub obviously rooted, to ground.

 

What? That is a shrub. Botany? Since when?” I replied and Nadeem went on a giggle.

 

Fuck You! I’ve an idea. But I need a blade”, Davar said.

 

Blade???” Nadeem and me exchanging WTF look with each other. Exchanging WTF look is my favorite expression, that’s why I use it mostly to describe ‘surprise’ or ‘shock’.

 

You mean… You usally get such abrupt urges to shave your pubic hair anywhere anytime, even at a public restaurant? WTF” Nadeem cracked a serious joke, alright a bad joke, even the restaurant waiter couldn’t control the laugh. His belly ached.

 

Davar turned to us saying, “Yea. Just follow me” and so we three left the restaurant only to get started for “Mission Blade” with two of us still in doubt about the ‘idea’ behind the blade.

Davar walked steps ahead, approaching a nearby shopkeeper.

 

Uncle, can I get a hand-saw?” Davar asked him. Pertinently, it was a local provisional store, not even a super market. How and why on earth would he be keeping hardware tools? But you see, Davar, he can ask anything to anyone at any point of time.

 

Hand-saw? Noooo. Sorry, we don’t keep tools” the old man running the shop shrugged and went back to counting his day’s collections.

 

Well. Uncle. Do you keep a hack-saw, that blade?” Davar asked again.

 

Hack-saw-blade? No. Sorry again” old man replied, “Can’t you guess these tools shouldn’t be available at a provisional store like this?” he got lil pissed off. Pertinently, he lost the count of his collections due to this conversation. Damn! He had all the rights to get pissed off.

Leaving the store, hopelessly, walking a few meters away, Davar took an abrupt U-turn again, towards the store, “Uncle… Uncle

 

The old man furiously turned up at Davar, “Now what?

 

Do you atleast have a blade? Like, a razor?

 

Yes I do have it. But for God’s sake, will you tell me what do you need it for?” he was surprised as fuck.

 

Well… I need to… hmmm.. I need to cut a shrub?” Davar said hesitantly.

Shrub? What shrub?” the illiterate old man didn’t obviously study Botany to differentiate between different types of plants, so he didn’t understand the term ‘Shrub’. Not his fault.

 

Now since Davar had to find a basic easy synonym for a shrub, so without thinking what he’s gonna say, he said, “Well, I… emm… I need to cut a tree”.

 

TREE?” there were now facial expression shifts visible on the old man’s face. An expression of surprise, shock, eyes wide open, and then that chuckle, and he started laughing at the mad man – Davar. Before the already-pissed-off-old-man would start abusing us, I dragged Davar back and somehow this conversation between “Marks and Lenin” came to an end.

After sometime, the scene appeared like this:

I’m driving the car, the boot space of the car is open. Davar is sitting on bike, gears in neutral. Guess where Nadeem is?

Nadeem is sitting on the rear seat of the car, his upper body bent towards the boot space, his head jumping high in the air, his hands holding one end of that unfortunate “tree” (specifically a shrub) and other end of that in Davar’s one hand. In other words, we were towing the bike, using a funny looking shrub. We couldn’t get anything better. Yeah, instead of blade, we should have asked for a rope from the shopkeeper, but anyway, in situations like these, funny things like these happen.

 

All in positions?” I shouted.

 

Yeah, ready”, Nadeem replied while I saw Davar showing a Thumbs-Up signal in the side mirror which read “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”.

 

I started the car and paced at regular intervals, shifted gears with full concentration, and finally after two kilometers of a smooth ride, Nadeem shouted:

 

Hey wait. I’m losing the fuckin grip” he shouted, “sweat lubricating my hands”.

 

Damn. Hold it man. Don’t lose it” I backed.

 

STFU man. It’s going out of control. Stoppp” he shouted again.

 

Wait.

In next phase, like, for next two kilometers, Davar replaced Nadeem and finally in these two phases, we finally, finally… reached my home. Since it was already very late by now, they stayed at my place.

It was the first time we got to stay at a common place for a night. We had dinner, and rushed onto the terrace. Obviously, they had got their Cuppi stock and my room was a “No Smoking Zone”, so we preferred an open sky. Uncountable stars and cold breeze, I asked for a drag from Nadeem and they would never deny that. There is one thing with friends, they would never stop you from doing something which they themselves do, even if it’s wrong or bad. Infact, they motivate you. They offered me a packet, I took out one. It took me four attempts to light up that fag. I wasn’t an expert like them.

We went on discussing… till the topic went on to “Latest Crush”.

Nadeem’s latest crush was “Engineering”, how could we dare to replace his crush with a “girl”. Davar disclosed “Insha” (name changed), our classmate and Sarah’s friend as his latest crush. Want to know why? Because some days ago, during our first minor exam, Davar had bought a ‘cheap’ pen which started showing signs of duplicacy as the ink blotted on paper and the ball of the nib came off, so he looked around, and asked for a pen from a friend who obviously didn’t have an extra one, so this girl ‘Insha’ called Davar’s name and lend him a pen.

 

Wow. What a romantic-crush story” Nadeem commented. I giggled.

 

Anyway, now your turn, Mr. Romeo, tell us who’s the Juliet?” asked Davar.

 

Hmmm. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think it’s a crush; an infatuation neither. It’s just like… I don’t know… Damn” I said without making any sense, without any answer.

 

Hahahaha” they both laughed at my words.

You filmy moron, come to the point – Who – is – the – girl?” Nadeem asked.

 

Hmmm. Okay, it’s Sarah”, this name was followed by a five second silence, maybe they were surprised, more surprised than I’d expected them to be.

Sarah?

Sarah?”, the two of them reacted in unison.

 

Come on, don’t have any hopes. She doesn’t even talk to boys”, Davar warned.

 

Hell… Yeah, maybe she doesn’t talk to ordinary guys. Hahaha” I laughed, and they joined.

 

After the terrace session of smoking and discussions, we went to my room, and were in dead sleep.

I just hoped I don’t dream of any Viva sessions with Sarah, but I did hope to dream of her anyway.

 

**

 

Night passed and came this morning…

Morning: 10:05 AM

You dumbass. Get up! We’re getting late for college”, they shouted at me, as they had no idea what mechanisms are usually required to wake me up from my dead drunky morning sleep; so eventually they dragged me out of my bed, carried my body, walked with it downstairs, and made me stand up on my legs. Fuck. That was terrible. They didn’t even let me wash my face. My eyes were buldged out, my hair was a pigeon nest. The helper was coming upstairs with a specially decorated breakfast tray in his hands, which was ruthlessly ignored; I got a handful of snacks while they were dragging me out. Later realized, they’d had tea early in the morning and only I was left with an empty stomach, at my own house. Bitch.

 

We rushed to college. Nadeem went to NIT.

“E-Mech” class was going on. We started fighting outside the classroom door over who gets in first. He was pushing me, I was pushing him, and eventually he succeeded, and I had to face that morning late-comer wrath, plus that messy unwashed looked on my face added to my awkwardness. Shit, I just kept my head down while walking to the bench – the last bench specifically, where we met Danysh, who was as usual scrolling over his Facebook Feed.

 

Guys, did you wash your face in the morning?”, the first thing he asked.

 

We were late. Didn’t have an option”, I winked at him, I was still sleepy.

 

By the way, Sarah has rebonded her hair today. Dude, look at her, she’s looking awesome”, Danysh said. I kept staring at him. WTF.

 

Aaayyy. Rebonding… Ahem Ahem”, Davar started teasing me over her. I pinched him, “STFU”. I didn’t want more people to know about it.

 

And now was the time, we took out our weapons – pens and notebooks. Relax, they’re neccesary if you want to play the childhood game – “BINGO” during the lecture. Bingo? It’s a number game. We make 100 boxes or 49 or 25, and rest you all know. People used to play such games in their childhood, we play it in our Engineering. I hope this is enough to speak of the frustration an engineering student suffers from. I’m sure if you squeeze the brain of an engineering student, you’d see dark black tar pouring down in liquid form. No matter how many ways and games we experiment to kill time during boring lectures, after playing about a dozen of games, the fucking ‘Clock’ disappoints every single time we look at it. Each minute passes like an hour. Well – “Einstein’s Theory of Relatively”, can’t help.

Finally after burning our asses for three hours in the classroom playing BINGO, etc., sleeping couple of times in intervals, these three hours always appear like three goddamn days of curfew, till the last moment of it. While surprisingly, just a minute before the recession, we get back on energy, and the moment Professor finally leaves the classroom, we all become Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and some of our Bollywood fanatics become Krrish… even Krrish-3. Wooh!

 

**

 

 

 

19 November

Time flew on Jet-wings. Davar had now started developing contact with his crush – Insha (name changed). Danysh and other three Biscoeite friends (mentioned earlier) too were at “Hi-Hello” terms with Sarah’s group. This day – 19 November – as we all were walking downstairs during a free class, Insha and one of her friends called ‘Danysh’ from behind. We all looked back.

 

Give us a moment please!”, they said to Danysh, and he stepped up back to them. We continued walking downstairs, though out of surprise and curiosity we slowed down just a moment later, and waited for him to return.

Soon the wait was over, Danysh came down, with a grin on his face, eye-brow up; I knew he would start behaving like a chick who’s got a new eye-liner – illogically excited. So I let others handle him, cause I knew they wouldn’t spare him untill they make him narrate every word of the conversation he had with him. Twice. No, thrice. That’s with boys sometimes – they behave like gossip chicks.

Anyway, the excited Danysh came up with an ‘Invitation’ for all of us.

 

Invitation? For what?” Shahbaaz (one of the three friends) enquired.

 

Well, it’s Sarah’s birthday today, and they’ve invited only our group to the Café… in next half an hour. Yippy”, Danysh replied, a cute kiddish smile on face – too happy. Happy not alone for the treat, but for the fact that amongst us all, only he was chosen to be talked to.

 

As soon as I heard the news – Sarah’s Birthday – I trembled. I don’t know why. There was a mixture of emotion, I was excited, and I was nervous, and I was sad that I didn’t know about her Birthday, and I was pissed off about the fact that even if I did there was technically nothing I could do about it – I still can’t. I can’t go and make her Birthday the best day of her life. I mean I was no one. No one but just a classmate. She had no idea about what I felt for her – not one bit of an idea.

 

Guys, if we’re invited, doesn’t that mean we too should gift her something? Cause Insha and her other friends are keeping it a surprise, they told me that they’ve got surprise gifts for her… I mean… I’m just asking… should we or should we not?”, Danysh out of excitement stepped into a social obligation.

 

Well, at this hour?” Davar tried to logically avoid the gift shit.

 

Let’s contribute and drive to the market outside and look for something suitable, in case we get something, we buy it and gift it, in case we don’t, then let it be”, Aetif had a point.

 

Eventually, all of us contributed and we got some gift for her, got it packed and wrapped, and placed a greeting card on the top of it.

 

Meanwhile Danysh received a call. It was Hooriya, Sarah’s groupie. Danysh spoke and blushed while speaking. All of us were staring and him and making funny faces to make his face turn tomato red.

Okay sure. Yep. Coming in a moment”, Danysh responded to her and asked us to hurry up.

In five minutes, we rushed to the Café and there, at the corner table, all of them, specifically seven of them were waiting for us, and we entered with out gift packs. A huge customized cake with candles lit, was at the centre of the table, glowing the ever beautiful face of the birthday girl. We placed our gifts alongside other gift packs on the side of the table and wished the girl. I, nervously fitted myself in the queue, somewhere inbetween so that I’m neither the first one to wish nor the last one. “Happy Birthday Sarah

“Happy Birthday Sarah

Happy Birthday Sarah

“Happy Birthday…” I said, trying to maintain the normal volume and tone of my voice, so that it’s neither too low due to nervousness nor too weird and high due to excitement and pretence.

Happy Birthday Sarah

“Happy Birthday Sarah

 

After all six of us wished her a Happy Birthday, I noticed that only I didn’t add her name ‘Sarah’ to the wish. All others did name her. I didn’t. I don’t know, maybe I felt shy calling her name. I don’t know. Anyway it was okay, as nobody else seemed to notice this odd error except me.

 

We occupied the seats. Pertinently, this was the first time these girls had bunked a class, and this day was the first time we boys had decided to attend all classes. Well, this is the thing with me, the day I stand up for something, infact, for something good, someone from somewhere always stands parallel to screw up my stand. But keeping in view the event, I don’t mind someone like Sarah being that parallel person screwing up my stands, even if a hundred million times. Anyway, we had a good time in Cafe. Bitching against professors was the hot topic. I kept listening, silently, concentrated on food. Moment came when Sarah was asked to unwrap some gifts, I hadn’t even seen ones we’d brought. I was asked to write a Birthday quote on the greeting card and I was busy with that when my friends were choosing and wrapping the gifts earlier. I had just contributed. Eventually, after unwrapping each pack, her smile got much prettier with each time. She showed her gratitude towards us. My friends responded to that ‘formal’ part at which I’m totally not good at. Finally, she took out the greeting card, unfolded it and I secretly caught her eyes catch a glimpse of the message scribbled inside the card with a purple sparkle pen – well, that’s what I was provided with and asked to write the quote with. Silly. Anyway girly thing, so girls kinda like that stuff.

 

Thank You so much. It’s so beautiful”, she said, “By the way, whose handwriting is that?”, she asked after reading that birthday message I had written.

 

None other than Mr. Shayaan Mir…”, Danysh threw some limelight. I tried to stabilize the complexion of my cheeks. Davar started pinching my thighs, while there was a big ‘O’ look on my face.

It’s a beautiful handwriting…” she commented.

Thank You”, I responded – the voice didn’t come out audible, but she did interpret it anyway. Davar was controlling his laugh. It was a miserable try.

 

Spent about 45 minutes in the Café, talking randomly about classes, about exams, about professors, about engineering – nobody wanted to make a stupid comment or initiate an illogical experiment for a conversation as this was the first time, and everyone amongst us wanted to project himself as a mature and decent lad. After having food, everyone started getting up one by one, exchanging “Thank You’s” – Sarah, for the birthday gifts she received while others for the treat. I stood up in the end, slowed down my motion for others to move ahead, only… only to steal the spoon with which she ate the food. I wrapped it in five or six tissue papers on the table, placed it in my pocket, and joined the crew for exit.

Yes, RHTDM was my favorite childhood movie, and this disgraceful act was badly inspired by ‘Maddy’ in the film. Though he stole the glass, I stole the spoon, not much difference, or is it?

 

According to Oxford English Dictionary – “an intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by an individual for another individual” is known as – ‘Crush’.

I didn’t know how accurately Oxford Dictionary was able to define my feelings for her, but I had no other option than to call my liking for her – a ‘Crush’; for, love is something beyond that melodrama. Exchanging my paper with Sarah in the first minor exam might have made others especially the readers of this story create a heroic image of me in their heads – an image of a typical bollywood styled hero, who usually make such moves and stunts for the prettiest girl in the town. But in my heart I knew, my action or that reaction to her helplessness was purely spontaneous. I didn’t have to put so much guts in it to do that. Come on, I didn’t jump from a mountain cliff to save her life, I didn’t even take bullets in my chest to prevent them from hitting her. I didn’t have to be a hero. I just wanted to help, and it happened instantaneously. The instant didn’t even give me a chance to re-think before I exchanged the papers. So it wasn’t love; it was a help to my crush, a secret crush.

Well, okay, it could be love too. I don’t know. I’m confused. Can we please leave the answer of this question – ‘Whether I’m in love with her or not?’ to the readers of the story? Fine!

 

Semester exams came. The love story got a pause, obviously the feelings didn’t. Next twenty-one days of exams were hectic, pathetic, bullshit. We survived. It was a happy ending. A happy ending on the last paper of the exam… but a sad ending… cause it was the beginning of our two month long winter-fuckin-break. First time in my life I despised having a winter break. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see her for next two months. I would do anything to break this stupid break, but nothing helped. Anyway, I kept hoping for the best. I kept writing the story. Back then, at that point of my life, I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I was clueless, just like you all are right now, about the Episode number three. Keep waiting. I’ll be back. Alright, I’ll be writing more about Sarah in the next one.

EPISODE TWO ENDS…

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