Lilies And Roses

As a child, my mother always told the not-so-romantic fairy tale behind her marriage and how she did not have a big lavish wedding because of financial restrains and how she wants to have a huge, fat Punjabi wedding for me. I had heard that story a million times while growing up, but even today, I would give up on anything to hear that tale all over again, to a have a glance of the excitement and enthusiasm with which she tells it, to see the spark that fills her eyes when she dreams about me.

Finally, the day had come. I have been waiting for the day since long. A tide of emotions is within. But the flowers, decoration and caterers will not let me feel any of them completely. The house was decorated like a palace. The front door had these beautiful white lilies and red roses. Lilies were my choice as I knew they were his favourite flowers and roses were my mother’s choice. She said they were dad’s favourite. My dad left us for his heavenly aboard when I was 12. He was my hero. He always took care of all our needs before we even realised them. As a kid, I believed he had some superpower as he just knew what I want before I told him. He took care of everything. I and my mom were totally dependent on him in every aspect. After he left, it was a little difficult to adjust with the fact that now there would be no one to depend upon. Now I am my own dad.

All the chachas, mamas and buas had arrived. Except Billu mama. He is always late at every occasion. But I was hoping that he would make it on time this time. He knew how much this day means to me. HUH! The living room was full of people. Aunties shouting on the top of their voices and calling it singing. Small kids running around, either looking for food or their parents. And the never ending Bitching and QA session.

“How do the groom and the bride know each other anyways?” one old lady, who is my grandma, however distant she may be, enquired suspiciously. “They are schools friends’ ji. They must have been in touch all these years.” Replied another distant relative of mine.

As I overheard them, all that I could picture was two vamps from Ekta Kapoors daily soap, with a really long bindi on the forehead and makeup as horrifying as a Halloween costume, talking. I could sense the suspicion, complaint and all the negative adjectives that I cannot thing of now. I was just sorry for the size of the brain they use to think. Being the big fat Punjabi family that we are, and by fat I mean literally, all this was meant to happen. As much as everything was chaotic and I had so much on my plate to do, seeing a place so colourful, musical and energetic, was a joyous site.

The moment was finally here. He was standing up on the stage, all armed and prepared to face the storm that was to hit his life. I had never seen anyone as  prepared as he was for the battle. And walking the aisle was the most beautiful bride I ever saw. As she walked towards her knight to begin the new adventure of life, every moment spent with her just flashed and I couldn’t control all the overwhelming emotions within.

As she approached the stage, he came forward to receive her. And a tear rolled down her eye. No daughter would have ever felt as satisfied watching her mother cry as I did at that particular moment. She wore the same saree as the one she wore when she married my dad. A beautiful red saree with a sparkling white border.

Like all parents, my mother had and has a lot of dreams for me. She always gave me the best of everything. But it took me a while to realize that behind the woman who is always smiling, who is tuff as The Hulk and who was the “Dad” of my life, was alone and vulnerable all these years. And my dream was to give her a companion she needed, a partner she deserved.

Yes, I gave my mother the wedding she always wanted. Ohh sorry, I gave my mother a 2nd marriage, in a way that she always wanted

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LIKE EVERY MORNING

Like every morning, he was late for the office again. All he could think of, while rushing to catch the 8:20 Bus, was “Who can hire me if they fire me!!”

Though it was a cool day, the sun was resting behind the clouds and a sweet breeze was on its way to whisper into ears some place nice, Amit was so quick and kinda a restless to catch the bus that he was  sweating profusely.

Surprisingly, Amit reached the bus stop 5 mins early. But to his surprise, the little boy who sells the newspaper every morning right at the Bus stand was not present today. Amit bought newspaper from him and made a small talk every day. He got kinda worried not to see the little boy like he did every morning. As the anxious guy he was, Amit kept thinking of all the possible reasons for the young man’s absence. “May be Raju has taken his business to some other Bus Stop.” Was one of the many thoughts that popped in his head while he was drinking water to get hold of his breath.

Suddenly, Amit remembered a conversation he had with Raju about a week or so ago.

“The taught us the Table of 19 last evening. We also read a small poem.” Raju had told.

“Ohh great. You seem to be really liking your evening school. Aren’t you?” Amit enquired with excitement.

“Yes. I am loving it all except Alka Madam. Do you know why she always is so annoyed and angry?” Raju asked

“May be because she doesn’t has a friend like you.” Both of them had a huge smile as Amit said that. Meanwhile, Amit saw his bus coming. He bid a farewell to Raju as he tapped him on the head.

Amit helped Raju get admission in the evening school. The day Amit first met Raju, about 6 months ago, he looked pale and thin who could barely get out words from his mouth. But he was shouting at his maximum possible voice to convince people to buy newspapers for him. Amit felt sad for the kid, barely 6 or 7, working hard on the busy, polluted and unsafe street.

“This is the reason I have no faith in humanity” Thought Amit, being a pessimist he always has been.

He stood there, waiting for his bus as he had already missed the 8:20 Bus. He tried not giving much thought and attention towards the little struggling boy or his story. He started playing with his mobile but couldn’t avoid looking when Raju coughed badly and almost collapsed.  There were around 20 people standing on that bus stop, most of them well-clothed and looking their best, a few standing right in front of that ailing little kid, reading newspaper or at least pretending to, but none came forward to help Raju.

“Here, drink some water” Amit authoritatively asked Raju as he offered him his water bottle.

Raju, without even giving it a second thought, took the bottle and emptied half of it down his throat in one go.

“I was thirsty since morning. Thank you Bhaiya. May god bless you.” Raju said

“I don’t need your blessing. Why are you not at school? Why are you working when you can’t even stand properly? Where are your parents? Don’t they know this not only wrong but also illegal? You people just don’t understand the importance of education. All you care about is a little extra money.  Take me to your parents. I will talk to them” Amit shot all this in one go, without even stopping to breath.

His eyes looked angry. He looked furious. He suddenly realized a wave of rage within. He has never felt this way before. But today, something woke his demons up.

“Calm down Bhaiya. So much anger is not good for health. Here, drink some water.” Little Raju laughed like a baby after. His innocent laughter melted all the lava within Amit and he sat near Raju.

After a normal and usual QA session, Amit shot the question, “Where are your Parents?”

“I have none. But I have Pappu, Ajay and Hrithik. Ajay acts like a mother most of the time.” Said Raju, and giggled again.

The enthusiasm and happiness on this little lads face was driving Amit crazy. He felt awfully uncomfortable.

“Why.. I mean where are they? What happened??” Amit had almost lost his patience by then.

“Nothing happened to them. I just never had them. Ohh Bhaiya!! A bus is coming. You must see if it’s the one you have to board” Raju said.

Amit saw his bus coming and immediately ran towards it. As he was about to climb the bus, Raju shouted “Bhaiya” Amit turned back “me and my friends play cricket in the park near the chowk. Around 6. If you get time, come. Pappu is our very own Sachin Tendulkar.”

Amit did not react. He got a lump in his throat. He got numb. All he could think was “How can that guy be so happy and satisfied?”

He felt guilty for each moment he fought his parents. For all the moments he complaint for nearly perfect life he had. A volcano of feelings had erupted within him. He settled it down with some water.

After that day, Amit got Raju a pack of lunch and a jar of buttermilk every morning. He greeted Raju with love and made sure to talk to him for at least 5 min every morning, no matter how late for work did he get. Every morning Amit taught a little to Raju and learnt a little from Raju.

Until this morning. Raju was not at the bust stop. Like every other morning.800px-Morning_sun-wallpaper-1920x1080

The Lost Dreams

Yet again, he woke up with empty eyes and an a sobbing, empty heart.

The sun was pouring gold over the roads. The birds, chirping melodiously than ever. The wind was whispering a sweet new message into ears. it was rare morning in the concrete jungle of
Delhi.  But, he woke up with empty eyes.

“Haven’t you over-slept? You will be late for work” a sweet voice called Aniket while he was still in bed. It was Sonia’s voice, Aniket’s loving, caring, newly-wed  wife.

Aniket and Sonia had a sweet, traditional Punjabi wedding after an year of courtship. Obviously it was an arrange marriage. They met only once, at Sonia’s place, back in their home town Ludhiana. Aniket had heard a lot about how Sonia was a smart, educated girl with big and beautiful eyes. He was very excited to meet her. He wore his favourite blue shirt.

As Sonia entered the room, holding a tray with a lot of coffee mugs, Aniket could not resist to look right into her eyes to find that she actually had gorgeous eyes. Sonia wore a blue dress too. Aniket’s cousin, Akhil, notices the similarity in no time and everybody was excited and happy about the co-incidence. Daadi thought it was god’s message to tell us that this is to work.

Soon after the marriage, Aniket and Sonia moved to Delhi to join their respective jobs. Aniket never wanted to leave his home-town as a child. He was very attached to his family and friends. But as he grew older, he chose to move out of the city for higher studies and there was no returning back ever.

Aniket dragged himself out of the bed. He forced open his eyes and begin to get ready to start the usual journey of the day. As he sat on the breakfast table, Sonia noticed the glumness on her husband’s face.

“You know what, even I did not have any dream last night. I think I was too tired. I slept as soon as I hit the bed. You work too hard. We should take a break.” Sonia said all of that in one go.

Aniket looked at her and smiled.

“My dreams are lost.” Aniket said.

“They will find their way back.” Sonia replied with a smile.

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Aniket has been very depressed for a few years now. He doesn’t have dreams while sleeping like he used to have when he was a child. Every night he sleeps with a hope to visit the world of dreams and just steal one for himself to keep. But his dreams are lost.

As a child, Aniket used to have dreams every night. He had dreams about flying, dreams about fighting the demons, dreams about finding a hidden treasure, dreams about making his mother smile and laugh, dreams about leaving in the peaceful town, away from the devilish crowd of big cities, dreams about travelling the world with a cute little girl he had a crush on back then. He could not remember all the dreams the next morning. But whatever little memory he had, he tried his best to live that dream.

He remembers to get a leg fractured as he jumped from a tree trying to fly and was extremely proud of it as he became a hero for his friends. And once he had run away from school and did not came back until late evening to find the demons that had ate his share of Rajma Chawal. His cousins never fought him over food ever again.

But now, there were none. He had no dreams. He had nothing to accomplish each morning.

Today, he decided to bunk office as he was too depressed to work. He bought a cup of coffee to go from the coffee shop and found a peaceful corner in the park which was next to his office building. It was all green and beautiful around him but he was not able to appreciate the nature. All he could think of was a more beautiful place he saw in his dreams as a kid.

Suddenly a boy came and sat next to Aniket. He was in his early teens, wearing the dull school dress and carrying a huge bag that was weighing him down. Aniket knew that he had bunked his school.

“Did you bunk your school?” Aniket asked the boy.

“Do you know my father? Don’t tell him please. you can have my lunch” the said with scary voice as he furiously took out his lunch from his bag.

“No. No. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody. But you should not do that. It is risky.”

“You must take risks in life.” the boy said, in a very dramatic voice. It made Aniket laughed.

“But why are you here?”Aniket enquired.

“I am finding the monster I saw in my dream last night. It is this big(stretching both his hands wide), he is red and blue and has a big head.” boy said.

Aniket suddenly had all his childhood flash in front of him.

“Why are you finding him?” Aniket asked the little boy.

“I want to kill him. He is evil. Why do you ask so many questions?” the boy said.

“I have killed a lot of devils like this when I was a kid. I used to be so happy after doing it.” Aniket said.

The boy laughed and said “It doesn’t make me happy. I have to be out in the burning sun all day while my friends study. I want to study and get a job in that building.” Pointing at the building Aniket’s office was in. “I only do it because it makes me a hero in front of my friends. And I like that.”

The words struck Aniket’s mind as an arrow. He had tears rolling down his eyes. He was unable to think about anything but those words.
He realized that all his dreams were a way to satisfy his ego and he never really thought about the dreams he saw with open eyes.

He was unable to stop crying. He hugged the boy hard.
“You should use a better perfume. You have an unpleasant body odor. I will suggest Chanel.” The boy said in his own dramatic way.

Aniket smiled and left the place. As he stepped out of the park, he took out his mobile and called Sonia.

“Hello Aniket? Are you fine”, Sonia’s voice from the other end of the phone sounded shaky and worried as Aniket never called Sonia while at work.

“I think I found my dreams back. Can we go on a lunch date?”

The Girl Who Couldn’t Fall In Love!

It was her eyes that grabbed all my attention. They had something about them. Something which was rare. If I have to name the something, it was a spark. A spark I had not seen in ages. They were not big beautiful eyes. They were just rare.

And with her rare eyes she was reading a book I had heard about, “where rainbows end”, sitting right in front of me. We had been in the same train, sitting right opposite to each other for 2 hours now and never did she lifted her head to look at me or to look at the cute old couple sitting next to her or to look at the vendors passing by every 5 mins. I am not a pervert, flirtatious guy who wanted to ask for her number or something. I am just a engineering student who rarely interacted with girls, with people for that matter, and therefore in the name of the engineering men community, I just didn’t want to miss the chance to talk to a girl.

I was in the final year of my engineering and e and my batch mates  were on our last trip of the college.

“We should go to Kasauli” Anuj proposed.

“Why do you always give such boring suggestions. Bro lets go to Ladhak.” Sid made his point.

This was the discussion in a messed up, smelly hostel room a night before our final semester exams were to start. There were around 7  guys in the room and no two people wanted to go to the same place.

I was sitting quietly in a corner as I didn’t really want to go on the trip. May be because I was too stressed about the final exams. Or just because of the fact that there were too many placement interviews I had given but received no call yet.

After a lot of argument, abuses and bromance, the destination was finalised. We planned a trip to Manali.

I had never been to Manali but the place had a very cliche image in my mind. My decision to not go on the trip became stronger.

“I am not coming. Have fun guys.” I said as I left the room.

There was a weird silence in the room as I was leaving. I made that statement in too much swag. As I stepped out of the room, the silence prevailed. Just walking a few steps towards my room, I stopped to hear the reaction of my friends. I was hoping for a cabinet meeting to be held in that room to identify the reason behind my declining to go on the trip and possible ways to convince me. But all I heard was “Should we take a train or a bus?” and voices were now lost into loud noise.

As I went to my room, I was expecting someone to come and convince me but no!!! Nobody gave a shit. It felt bad. Now I was sure about not going to that trip, even if it meant sacrificing my life, or giving up on my campus placements.

As the exams got over, I was confident that I would surely pass the exams. This confidence changed my mind and my mood,  and I decided to come on the trip. To my surprise, all my friends were happy to know that i was joining them.

All my friends got seats in B5 and since I was the last one to join the trip, I had to make Tatkal booking. I got a seat in B1. Alone. All by myself. I was regretting my call to change my decision until I found the pretty lady sitting at the opposite seat as mine.

I was pretty sure that I had almost no chance to talk to her. But no matter what, I was to tell my friends that I did talk to her and make them all jealous. Yes, you can judge me. Engineering men will relate .

It was a over night journey. As the clock hit 9, everyone around us took their respective berths and slept. But she didn’t. Nor did I. We were sitting on the side lower berth. Now, she was just looking out of the window. She had not spoken a word in past 3-4 hours. My hormones didn’t allow me to keep mum any further.

“Where are you going?” I finally dared.

“Manali”. She gave one word answer with a straight face.

“Oh me too!! With friends, its out last college trip. Are you going with friends too?” I enquired.

“No, I am on a solo trip.” She said.

“That sounds interesting. Do you go on solo trips frequently?” I asked

“This is my first.” She replied

“Okay. What do you do?”

“I have recently finished my graduation in management. Currently preparing for my masters.”

“Ohh great. I….”

Without even realizing, I spoke for 30  mins in a go and revealed all my life secret to a girl who’s name, I didn’t even know. I told her about my past. My exes. My crushes.My dreams.  How my dog bit my neighbour.

I was always fond of bla blaing but that day, I was out of limits. I was going on and on. May be because she was listening so attentively. Looking right at me, she never lost interest in what I was saying. Or may be because of the spark in her eyes. It kind of hypnotised me.

Finally when I realised that I had been speaking for too long now, I stopped and straight away asked the most stupid question a guy can ever ask.

“Have you fallen in love?”

Right after the moment these words came out of mouth, I wanted to jump off the train.

WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE. I asked myself.

I was prepared for a slap or at least a couple of abuses, but after staring at me for a few seconds and realising how horrified I was for asking that question, she started to laugh.

“I can’t fall in love” was all she said while laughing.

I have heard girls avoiding relationship by giving stupids reasons like “We are just friends”  or “I want to concentrate on my exams right now” or “my parents do not approve of this” but this was different.

I wanted to ask her what she meant by that statement but after making that horrifying mistake of asking her the question at first place, I had no courage left.

After a long awkward pause, she said “I think your girlfriend was cheating on you from the very beginning.”

Now the situation was much worse than I thought. But we kept on talking and by the time we reached Manali, we knew each other quite well. She was very careful with the information she revealed but she shared enough to make me wanna know her more, better.

We got down at the Manali station. The weather was much more beautiful than I thought it to be. It was mesmerising. As soon as I stepped down at the platform, the sorrow of parting ways with her filled my heart. I did not fall for her or did not experience love at first sight, but she came out to be a mystery. A mystery I wanted to explore.

“See you around then?” she said extending her hand for a polite handshake I suppose.

I knew that I had just a couple of moments before she would leave the reach of my sight and we may never encounter again and I was staring at her like a eve teaser to let her sink in my eyes, my heart. My not reacting to her gesture made her surprised. She said- “

“Okay then, Bye!”

“You cannot do this. You cannot let her go like that.” A strong voice overpowered all my senses and I said

“Do you want to explore the place together? Just you and me? I think we will have fun together. I am sorry. Don’t take me in a wrong way. I didn’t mean that. I just want to explore Manali with you. That’s it.” As I was blabbering and blabbering, she smiled and shouted in my face “OKAY”.

I thought I had made her furious and this time, I might definitely get a tight beating but then she said “where do you want to go first?”

Those words were music to my ears. I wasted no time and carried my luggage and took my first step towards the best journey of my life. I didn’t even give it a second thought. Didn’t even inform my friends. Though later I got a lot of abuses and beatings from them but each of it was totally worth it.

The next five days were the best days of my life. I had seen a lot of good, bad and great moments in life. I spent the moments with some amazing people and a few irritating people too. But those 5 days had moments I lived with all my mind, heart and soul! It would be too predictable but yes, I fell in love with her. At least, it felt like love.

The last night on the trip, we decided to stay in at the hotel and have some drinks. I had never had so much talking to the same person in my entire life as much as I had with our throughout our trip, the thoughts didn’t seem to come end. We had a good conversation over a couple of beers. Laughed our anxieties and insecurities out, shared every possible details of our lives and shared the most comfortable silence  ever.

As the night was coming to an end and we were to take our own ways the following morning,  I gathered all my guts and told her that I had started feeling for her. No, this time I didn’t fear her hitting me. I knew she wouldn’t. But I was sure that she would come up with some reasons to let go the topic and will not acknowledge my feelings.

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As usual, she surprised me.  As I finished my words and was waiting for her to friend-zone me, she suddenly kissed me. YES, SHE DID THAT. TO ALL MY ENGINEER BROTHERS, hear that again, SHE KISSED ME. Few seconds of heaven. Few good seconds of pure awesomeness. It left me paralysed and all I could think was ‘WOW’. It was not the first kiss of my life but for sure, the best kiss of my life. And it was not the kiss that was so satisfying, it was the person it was happening with, it was the simplicity of the relationship, the moment that had nothing but just two people sinking into each other.

As it got over, I hated that it did, I wanted to talk. Wanted to know what the kiss meant. Wanted to discuss if this is the start of a journey together. Wanted to decide the names of our children. But before I could say anything, she said “I told you, I cannot fall in love.”

The world had come to an end for me. Something pierced my heart and it was bleeding. But I never said a word and spent the remaining time together in a dark, uncomfortable silence.

I thought it was an end to ‘US’. I accepted that fact with no regrets and grudges. Every moment I lived on this trip was a bonus in my life I never expected. I was happy and satisfied with the memories I had earned, a friend I made.  But since we had the same hometown, we kept on meeting every now and then and some unsaid feeling were battered each time. The meetings increased, the batter increased and one day we started living together with the full consent of our families. All these years, we never said “I love you”. Never termed or labelled our relationship. We had everything a perfect couple has but the label.

I think she was right, the girl couldn’t fall in love, may be because she didn’t need to fall in love. She didn’t need to prove her loyalty and commitment towards a relationship by shouting about it or naming it. May be none of us needs to do it. May all this hassle of meeting the society standards makes the relationships chaotic. May be we actually never fall in love. May be the we never need to fall in love with anyone. May be all we need is to fall in love with the feelings, experiences, things together. MAY BE!!!