Monday, September 13, 2010

Malabar Beedi

(Hi Guys, I guess it’s time for a short sweet story. A big thank you to my friend Poorvaja, who has helped me edit this story. Happy reading folks and please do post you comments. They motivate story writers a lot!! :) )

I stood there all alone in the capacious restroom that could accommodate about twenty people, admiring my neatly combed hair looking at the mirror, humming my favorite song.. behka main behka hmmm..hmmm (whistle…). A few drops of the elixir of life onto my comb had done its job as good as any branded hair cream. Just as I was all set to leave, I heard the thumping footsteps of two gentlemen enter the heaven.

“She was so plastic man! She has no acting skills?” spoke one person to the other.

“Asin does act well alright! and much better than many other actresses” defended the other.

I clenched my fists and my eyes shot up red. How dare he speak about my goddess like that? I was about to have a go at my enemy when the protestor finally decided to accept the eventual fact. ASIN IS AWESOME!!! Oh! He better! Grrh!
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“Machi, I hate the timings da” I loudly protested. My voice towered over the noise generated at the canteen.

“I know da… You will get adjusted in a week,” explained my friend, Karthick, trying to cool me down. I just wished my manager sitting only a few seats away had overheard our conversation.

But that was not to be. I was given orders to work during the second shift till 2 am due to lack of PCs in office. Damn!!

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I eagerly read one review after the other. Each and every one of them had critical appreciation for my archangel’s acting skills in her first ever Hindi movie – Ghajini, which had been a blockbuster hit. Wow! My goddess was really going places!!

I treated 5 of my best friends for the movie of the year at the Satyam Cineplux a few days later, celebrating my Asin’s success.

“Machi, thanks a lot da. I never knew you were such a big fan of Asin,” quipped my friend, as I stared at the picture of Asin on the movie poster. Mesmerizing beauty… Man! She’s just so beautiful!

“I hope you get to meet her once”, he concluded. I just wished I could.

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“Hi, this is Asin Thottumkal” read the ping on the popped up window.

Another imposter. I just crossed my hands at the top of my head and thought of how crazy this was.

Chatting anonymously on yahoo general chat at 12 am was the craziest thing I had ever done. But what else could I have done to kill my boredom. I had no project mates or friends around me. A ding on the chat screen disturbed my thoughts and brought me back to reality.

“You there?” pinged the so called Asin.

“Yeah. What is the proof that you are Asin?”, I questioned, getting back to the business of knowing the truth.

“Well… You just have to believe me. I usually chat anonymously late after my shoots. Ask me anything about my life and I will tell you.”

I weighed in the option but even being her greatest fan I hardly knew anything about her.

“Can we meet up?”, I pinged back trying the conversation to next level. I smirked.

“We can”.

My heart just skipped a few beats!

“But before that we need to chat a little more. I just need to know if our frequencies match up.”

Frequencies?!.. What the..

I regained my composure and replied back “Ok . We will catch up at 12 am everyday.”

“Done deal.” I just laughed at the idea that some imposter was taking me for a ride but it was a great idea to kill boredom in the middle of the night.

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“Macha…,” I lowered my voice. My best friend, Karthick, who had been keenly watching a table tennis match in front of him, turned towards me. Quizzically raising his eyebrows he bent closer to me.

“I have been chatting with Asin da”. Slowly he recovered from those high voltage words and let out a mock laugh at me.

A little angry and hurt for losing my friend’s trust, I spoke “I knew you wouldn’t believe me. That’s ok. I will be meeting her this Saturday.”

He slowly nodded, “Dude, I think somebody’s taking you for a ride. Just be careful. Do you want to me come with you?”

I shook my head, “I don’t need any support da. Even if it is not Asin, I want to meet the person with whom I have chatted for the last three months.”

“Cool da. All the best. Call me if you need any help.”

I thanked him for his offer to help. Finally! I was going to meet my goddess – my cute, adorable, divine, pure, splendiferous Malabar Beedi or some cheap imposter.
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I checked the watch for 21st time as I stood impatiently outside the Satyam Cineplex. The meeting time had been decided as 11am that Saturday. I walked to and fro as I waited for her. Excited and nervous at the same time…

My thoughts paced faster than the bikes that zoomed past me. Is she really Asin? How would she arrive here? She would be mobbed to death, if she were to come somewhere like here.

The behka behka ring tone woke me up from my thoughts. Strange, there was no number displayed. It was from a ‘private’ number.

“Hi, this is Asin”.

I nearly dropped my month old Nokia N72 on hearing the heavy Malayalam accented English. I quickly recovered, “Hi”

“I am actually stuck in traffic here. Could you please come up to Spencer Plaza?”

If we aren’t going to be able to meet at Satyam, then meeting at Spencer’s stood absolutely no chance! Setting aside my disappointment, I spoke. “I will be there in 5 minutes”. I hung up and raced my bike towards the new destination.

As I waited apprehensively outside Spencers parking lot, the ‘private’ number flashed again on my mobile display.

“Park your bike, wait outside and check for a silver Merc”

Before I could speak anything, she hung up. A small roadside stone bore the brunt of my frustration as it travelled hundred feet with my feet providing the necessary kinetic energy.

Let me see how far this goes. Determined to finish the game I started on a night three months ago, I parked my bike and stood patiently outside the parking lot.

To my surprise a huge Merc E-class sailed into the parking lot. The back-door swiftly opened, but no one came out. I cautiously walked up to it and peered inside. The huge black tinted glass had created a near night like atmosphere inside the huge car.

As my eyes slowly got adjusted to the darkness, I stood frozen to the ground. It was as if somebody had hit me at the back of my head with an iron rod.

“Come on in”

I nearly chocked with the saliva locked in my throat. Abruptly swallowing it, I gradually slipped inside the big Merc next to ASIN.

It actually was her! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

She looked drop-dead gorgeous in her ravishingly beautiful dark green collared chudidhar with a golden border. Her kohl-smoked eyes elaborated her already piercing, bulgy eyes. A few strands of hair fell on her oblong face blushed with pink rouge. She wore a golden bindhi, which accessorized her forehead. The platinum round danglers she wore blinked brilliantly. Her curvy pink glossed lips contrasted her silky wavy hair.. What a beauty…Oh my GOD!!! Is this real? I pinched myself twice to confirm that it was indeed real.

“I guess you didn’t expect me”, her honey laden voice soothed all my tensions and transported me beyond the farthest of planets known to human world.

“Go to Chamiyan’s” she ordered her chauffeur.

My world stopped still for the next 20 minutes as she talked about our chats and about herself as the huge ship weaved through the densest of traffic congestions to reach our destination.

As we got down, she looked at me quizzically, “Are you the person whom I chatted with?”

I let out a small laugh understanding her concern. “Am.. am so sorry. I am just too stunned and amazed by what has happened. I never dreamt that I would be having lunch with a person whom I adore ” I said, thanking God that I didn’t use the word ‘fancy’ instead of adore. Phew! Thank God for that!

She gently smiled and asked me to join her in to the restaurant. I was little amazed to find this small restaurant in the midst of a residential colony. I could hear the shouts of children playing cricket a few blocks away reminding me of my younger days.

“Please sit here”, offered the waiter not flustered even a bit by the star’s presence. Asin must be a frequent visitor here. I could see few people dining in there. Somehow, a restaurant feel seemed to escape this place.

As sumptuous feast of tasty egg biryani and shrimp masala was delivered to our table, I gently requested that I could eat the biryani only. She gently nodded and munched into the shrimp masala delightfully.

We spoke lots as we slowly devoured our tasty lunch. Through our conversation, I could see that she had such a plain beautiful heart. Her jokes, witty remarks, one-liners matched my frequency just too much. I just wished I had a girlfriend like that!!!

The conversation abruptly turned to how much problem she was facing in the industry. My eyes turned moist listening to her stories on how hard she had to work in her movies and how people take her work for granted. Guess that’s the price for stardom.

“I have never ever felt so happy in my life” she spoke as she finished off the last shrimp piece on her plate. I just wished that the lunch meeting got over fast so that I could tell Karthick what a great meeting it was.

Suddenly she took my hands in hers and gazed deep at me through her kajal laden eyes. “Sometimes it takes years to find the right person and sometimes he is sitting right in front of you and you don’t realize.”

“I really like you. Do you like me?”. A 20,000 watt shock ran through my brain to my feet. I nearly fainted and felt paralyzed from head to toe. I was blacking out and my system was slowly shutting down.

“Hello…”, I could hear her voice echo deep into my ear drums and I could see Asin waving her hand over my face.

Suddenly a lightning of energy spiked through me. Regaining my conscious, I stared indefinitely at her. Not only I am sitting next to my goddess, but she has also proposed to me.

“Asin.. I .. I really…”, damn the words, “I .. really like…” and suddenly there was a huge commotion and a huge screen peeled off with fifty people standing huddled together.

The huge camera glared directly at me and I could see that a fifty year old person walk up to me and put a cap on my head. I gently removed it off my head and read it “Bakra with a STAR”.

DAMN!! I should have guessed it. I could not believe that I had been cheated or I should say bakrafied.

I looked at Asin who let out a huge roar of laughter along with the rest of the crew of the show. I tried to join their laughter, but feeling deeply cheated, I chose to remain glum.

The director explained how they had chatted anonymously with five hundred people and narrowed down on me and how Asin had taken over the chat from them. That’s why she was not present for three weeks citing shooting commitments for the transfer from the person who had first made contact with me. Furthermore, they had set up a restaurant in the midst of a residential colony and that’s why most of the place seemed fake.

I was dejected, furious at being cheated so badly. I shot a cold stare at the director, the crew and finally at Asin.

I took Asin’s hands in to mine like she had done earlier. “Asin, I don’t know why you did this and I am deeply disappointed that you have been a part of this”

Asin started to speak up to defend herself, when I raised my hand to stop her. “However, through this bad experience I have learnt that I have a great frequency with you and I am deeply in love with you”

Asin’s jaws dropped and her eyes nearly popped out.

“I promise you that the next time I meet you, I will sweep you off your feet and we will be happily married”

As Asin shook her head in amazement, I slowly walked out of the place. The whole crew and the fake set-up people who had gathered there, stood rooted, shell shocked in total disbelief by the turn of events.

As I slowly walked out of the place, I heard Asin calling my name aloud and she along with the crew ran up to me.

“I am so sorry. I never knew that my words have affected you so much. Please.. please forgive me”, she spoke, breathing heavily.

I gently smiled at her and slid the bakra cap on her head. “I believe somebody got bakrafied. Welcome to Bakra with a Star”, stressing the last word heavily, pointing at myself. Asin and the whole crew let out a huge sigh of relief and there were huge roars of laughter.

Asin took a step forward, leaned on me and softly placed a kiss on my cheek and gave me a warm hearted hug. Now that’s a dream come true!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Code Red (Part 1)

(Hi guys. I am back with my stories again. I would like to thank my friend, Deepak Bhuvarahan for helping me edit this part. I hope you like this story as much as you liked the previous ones. Your comments are quite valuable and keep motivating me to write stories. So please post your comments once you have finished reading. Thank you :) )

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“Code Red”. I immediately left all my busy work and rushed to our favorite hang-out place, a small coffee joint near Sathyam cinemas.

As I took my place near a small window overlooking the road, I stared at the beautiful rains lashing outside. Code Red from Anu meant something really serious. As my hot cup of tea arrived a few minutes later, I started to relax a little and started enjoying the cool breeze. There are always some special people who become our friends and more special people who change our lives. This is my tale of friendship and love…
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I stood in the middle of a vast green land, completely mesmerized in its beauty. Then suddenly from nowhere, a horse carriage without a carriage driver rode up to me. Notwithstanding my amazement, I slowly stretched out my hand to open the door of the carriage. I could immediately see a beautiful angel sitting in quite an erect posture. She wore a beautiful white sleeveless gown with a pearl necklace lacing her beautiful neck. I extended my right hand and she held it gently and jumped out from the carriage. A thick wedding veil covered her beautiful face. My eyes peered into her veil and I could see beautiful doe shaped eyes.

She motioned me to walk to a huge apple tree nearby. As she led the way with her long gown gently grazing over the ravishing meadow grass, the last rays of the evening sun shone brightly on the huge tree making it look golden. As we neared our destination, I tried to speak but words would just not come out. I tried to gently remove the thick veil and to my surprise she didn’t try to stop me this time contrary to what usually happened every time. At last I will get set my eyes on this ravishingly beautiful angel. My hand shivered with a new found excitement. I nearly moved her veil up when…

“Santooooooooosh”. Damn, I have heard that voice many times before. “Get up, you lazy boy” my mom shouted from the hall.

“Amma, just a few minutes of my dream and I will just get to see my princess” I protested desperately trying to get back to my dreams.

“You can see her tomorrow” joked amma. “She comes daily in your dreams. No big deal if you don’t see her today”

“Amma, why do you do this every day to me?” I demanded, nearly about half awake now.
Mom came and sat near me. She gently ruffled my hair and winked at me. “I just have you with me. Your princess has two horses and a big castle”. Mom is back again doing what she does best. Pulling my leg.

I gently hugged her and got up shaking my whole body to shake off from my sleep. I could see that my mom had already gotten ready for her Sunday morning temple visit.

As I squeezed a few ounces of paste onto my brush, I just could not help but admire my mom’s courage. She had single handedly brought me up after my father took a one-way ticket to heaven when I was very young. I hardly remember seeing his face. It is been my mom all the way – my guide, my teacher, my best friend – my life!!

As I started brushing, I spoke through the thick toothpaste foam “So what temple today?”

“Why is it that you ask the question when you start brushing?” she responded.

“Because I know you don’t like me speaking to you without brushing my teeth” I tried to joke in a muffled voice.

Amma smiled at me “Today’s temple is a beautiful one”.

“You say that coz I have to drop you at these old temples on a chilly Sunday morning” I protested.

Mom looked concerned as she peeped outside the window. “Now stop asking questions and get ready. It’s already so dark and cloudy outside. I guess it will start raining soon”.

“Don’t worry ma... I am there” I assured her.

“That’s also one of my major worries” she mischievously smiled at me. Mom really knew when to pull my leg. I liked it as much I liked her…
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“Take a U- turn there” mom ordered.

“I know this place amma” I told her.

We had arrived at the beautiful old Mylapore temple. As we circled around the big pond to reach the back entrance of the temple, it started drizzling heavily.

As I stopped my bike in the parking lot, mom got down, crossed the road and rushed to the temple entrance. I loved to get drenched in the rains and slowly crossed the road to park my huge black Pulsar. Suddenly a black scooty shot into the parking lot next to me. A girl in her early twenties wearing a beautiful green sari with a golden brown border got down from her bike. I just could see her beautiful eyes through her helmet visor; I was shocked to see how closely they matched with my dream princess. I stood there paralyzed.

As I stood there transfixed by her beautiful eyes, I failed to notice that she was struggling to park her scooty wearing her sari. I quickly took hold of her scooty as it was about to fall on her. I could see her cheeks turn pink as her beautiful bangles clinked with one another.

“Park it and give me the keys at the entrance of the temple” spoke a honey laden voice as she rushed to her nearest shelter. As she skipped over the little puddles of water, I could see her gorgeous hand-crafted golden anklets. It was as if time stood still and I could see my angel crossing the road and joining my mom near the temple entrance.

I did not take my eyes of the angel, as I parked her scooty. From the corner of my eyes I could see her remove her helmet and out came her hair flowing down like an unbridled stream of fountain water and also quite closely matching to those of pretty actresses in the shampoo advertisements. I could see her speaking with my mom and I too wanted to join them as quickly as possible.

As I started to cross the road, a water tanker streaked past me. I pulled myself back in the nick of time but that incident temporarily blinded me from her. As I crossed the road to reach the temple entrance, my angel had disappeared. My eyes desperately searched for her. Damn, why does all this have to happen to me again?

I cursed myself bitterly for letting this happen. “Where is she?” I demanded.

“Where is who?” replied my mom pretty confused.

I took a deep breath “The girl who just spoke to you now”.

“Oh, that sweet girl. She has gone inside the temple”

I started to walk inside the temple when my mom stopped me in amazement “I have heard some people don’t believe in god”. I didn’t believe much in god and usually would sit outside or reluctantly accompany my mother inside the temple sometimes.

I could see a mischievous smile crossing my mother’s face and it always meant something. I had always wanted to see her happy but today I was in no mood to let go of my princess. I was about to enter the temple when my mom caught me and temporarily stopped me.

“The girl will be back soon. Give me the keys to her bike and get a archanai plate” she ordered. I thought about her order for a second. Reluctantly I followed her orders as I also didn’t want to go inside the temple. Perhaps it was a win-win situation for me.

I quickly tried to grab an archanai plate from a vendor right across the road. I kept glancing at the temple entrance every two seconds to make sure that I don’t miss her this time around. Then suddenly in a momentary flash, I saw her speaking with my mom. In a moment of extreme adrenaline rush, I ran back to my mom crossing the road. Damn, the water tanker lorries..

As I panted for breath on reaching my mom, I could see my angel taking off on her black scooty. My legs were no match for her tires. I gave up the chase mentally.
“Are you crazy?” spoke my mom amazed at my effort to see my angel. Damn, How can I ever miss her two times in a span of five minutes.

“Amma..” I bent down to catch my breath “I just wanted to see her”

“Stupid fellow. What would have happened had you been hit?”. She was definitely angry at me. “I have already lost many things in my life”. A sudden grief descended there.

I felt like kicking myself. I had missed my angel and also started a misfortunate day making my normally cheerful mother really angry. We both lost our interest in our early morning expedition and headed silently for home. I was bitterly disappointed with what had happened and silently prayed that I would get to see her soon.
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I just started at this hugely imposing building standing right in front of me. The Karapakkam Center of operation was highly reputed and was Tata Consultancy Services’ single biggest center for all retail operations in South India. I was extremely ecstatic to start my career from there. I had just completed my month long training in Hyderabad and had made some really good friends while trying to learn a little bit of Telugu in my month long stay.

“Machi.. building ella undi?” spoke my Andhra friend, Venkatesh Bippimolli. Though I could never spell his last name, Venki had been a really cool friend of mine. I had learnt a lot of Telugu from him and he would often test me by posing Telugu questions like this one.

“Mui bien” I spoke in the little Spanish I knew. As he scrahed his head, I avoided his quizzed look and walked in the main lobby of the huge building along with my other batch mates. As we wrote down our names in the big register book, I saw a gorgeous girl in one the brightest pink chudidhars. I could not see her properly as her open loose hair covered most of her face. As she walked into a nearby lift, something struck me. Like the usual heroes in the movies, I ran up to the lift skidding right in front of it. Damn.. All I could see was the lift doors closing at the last moment. I punched at the down arrow lift button repeatedly in frustration.

“The lift will take 15 minutes to come down son” spoke a person clad in a dark blue suit. He looked like a big shot given his mannerisms and his dress. I gently shook my head and headed back to the lobby avoiding the millions of stares at me.. Perhaps in my rush I didn’t realize that this was not my college to run behind girls. Damn, this is a professional place… I reminded myself.

As I gobbled up the last morsels of the veg pulav of my lunch, Venki just stared coldly at me. “You know what. Just 300 people were staring at you when you ran across the floor. What do you think you were doing?”

“Machi..” I spoke in a low voice pretty ashamed of what had happened. “I saw my angel..” and I repeated my Sunday morning encounter at the temple.

“So how do you know that it was this girl in the lift?” Venki posed a challenging question.

“The hair clip. She was wearing the same golden clip today” I answered.

Venki just mock-laughed at me. “Are you kidding dude? Any person in here can wear the same piece of jewellary”

“But that was a chance that I had to take to see her” I protested.

“A costly chance..” he muttered. “Did you get to see her atleast?”

“No machi” I replied sadly.

“Don’t worry. You have many other things to worry” he replied. I looked at him quite surprised.

“Save this surprise for afternoon interview with the account manager” came a stern reply.

“Why do we need this …” my voice slowly melted down.

“Simple. Just to get into his project. If we don’t get into this project, we are stuck for the next one month on the bench”

His warning seemed so kiddish. Who doesn’t want to be happily sitting on the bench. Stupid fella..
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“Santosh” called one of the project team leads, Shankar, in the Walmart account. He seemed a very pleasant guy and I desperately wanted to be in a good project with a good team lead. But for that I first had to clear this stupid interview.

I walked into his room and I could see him pour out a cup of coffee from a flask with his back to my face. I could see that he was wearing a dark blue suit. As he turned, I nearly stopped dead. I knew I would be thrown out of this project, if not, from TCS!!

“Sit down Santosh”, he spoke gently. Somehow all the gentle words seemed to be a like huge roar of waves crashing onto my ears. I wish he had not been one of the three hundred staring at me for my foolishness today morning. He smiled at me softly. I just wished he shouted at me for my mistake.

“You are assigned at the Walmart- Retail UPCs project”. Boy, nobody can understand how much joy those precious words brought to me. I was completely relieved and turned back to leave the room.

“I didn’t ask you to leave the room” commanded a strict voice as I stood there frozen by a cold wave. “You should have made a better effort to reach the lift” he continued to my surprise. “Life is all about running fast. Anyways, who was that girl?”

I was amazed by the complete u-turn. I stammered to get out some sensible words.
“I.. I didn’t get to see her”

“Don’t worry. You will get to see her soon”. I needed all the words of encouragement I could get in an otherwise pretty grim situation.
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Apart from the beautiful people we get to meet in life, we also meet people who slowly become our best friends, who change our lives forever. The first time I met this friend or I should say ‘my life changer’ was on a crowded public bus. I have always wondered why the government supported pick- pockets by not running services on crowded bus routes.

“One Karapakkam please” I gently tapped on the girl’s shoulder. She took the five rupee coin without turning her head and passed it on. I patiently waited for my ticket which never seemed to come. I gently reminded the girl that my ticket had to come before the next bus stop where the ticket checkers hoped in to the bus and made a meal of the ticketless passengers.

“I too have not got my ticket. Please wait” spoke the girl getting a little frustrated with my attitude. I could see that she was a fat girl with a beautiful tanned face. I hated fat girls!!

As the bus halted in the next bus stop, the ticket checkers as usual got into the bus and started doing their job. I became really scared and as one of the head hunters approached I tried to deflect the blame onto the girl in front of me.

The ticket checker quietly verified the story with fat girl and also spoke with the conductor who flatly rejected any such incident. In the heat of moment, I confronted the conductor of the bus. I felt like kicking myself for giving the money to her.

But luckily the ticket checker confirmed the story with many other passengers, we understood that some person had been standing close to the conductor and collected all the money and had vanished. All of us cursed the crook and dished out another five rupees to reach our destination. I could see the fat girl was pretty annoyed with me. I cursed myself for not trusting the girl and wished that was the last time I saw her.
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“Meet your new team member”, introduced Shankar. As I turned around from my chair, I was completely dumbstruck. It was the same fat girl I had seen in the bus. Pretty bad start.

“Hi.. I am Santosh” I extended my hand wishing that she never shook my hand.

“Vaishnavi” she spoke coldly extending her hand to complete the handshake.

“We will have our team meeting in five minutes” Shankar announced to our team of ten people, many of whom were freshers.

All through the meeting I could feel Vaishnavi’s staring at me. I wished I had never met her in the first place. But all through my life, I have had worse first meetings but which eventually gets me the best of friends and this story was no different.

As I returned back to my cubicle I saw a Yahoo messenger chat message with two buzzes on it. “I like you – sweetie pie. Better luck next time”.

As I read the message, I sat back stunned. I saw the yahoo ID – yoursecretadmirer@yahoo.com. Who the hell could be my secret admirer? I closed the chat window and got my brain in active mode thinking the permutations and combinations of finding that one person among the 300 people.

As I walked out of cubicle I saw Venki in a cheerful mood. “What matter buddy?”.

Venki was burst out with a piece of good news “The account manager has agreed to shift me to a new project in Hyderabad”. My heart just sank. I always knew how he desperately he wanted to get to his hometown for he had all his loved ones there. I suddenly felt really lonely even though I was surrounded by a sea of people working all around me.
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As I stepped into the office the next day with a bad mood of losing my best friend Venki, I could see that everybody were doing their work and seemed pretty happy. As I swiped my ID card to gain access into the project room, I saw a ray of core brightness.. a damsel, more beautiful than anything I had ever seen in my life. I saw my angel!!!

As I stood there mesmerized in her beautiful world, she breezed past me hardly making any eye contact. The air around me was completely refreshed by her scintillating perfume. I stood completely grounded and my eyes followed her to the farthest distance I could see her. Her merroon chudi, her white bindi, her red bangles, her loose hair, her pink cheeks.. Oh my god!! What’s happening to me…

As I prepared to run after my angel I heard a robotic voice “Do you want to join us for a meeting?”. I turned around to see Vaishnavi staring coldly at me. On one hand was my angel and on the other was a near demon. I cared not to reply and looked away from her.

As Shankar explained the new requirement for our team, my thoughts were still sailing towards my angel’s world.

“Santosh, please explain the last part of our requirement?” demanded Shankar brining me rudely back into this harsh world.

“Sir.. That was..” I mock coughed twice. “Could you please explain that once again” I requested, pretty ashamed at myself. The whole room burst out laughing. That was the first time I saw Vaishnavi laugh. Though she had stared at me always, I must say she looked beautiful in her smile and soon I too joined the fun. The highest note of self- depreciation, I should say!!
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As I finished collecting all the edible items of our lunch buffet, I searched for a seat to park myself. I really missed my eating partner. The only piece of available furniture was close to Vaishnavi and her friend. After thinking about it a zillion times, I went near them and politely enquired whether I could have lunch with them.

Vaishnavi’s eyes gave me a silent permission to accompany them for lunch. I turned towards Vaishnavi’s friend to say my salutations. She was an extremely thin girl with greenish silver braces on her teeth. It was quite interesting to watch a physically contrasting pair of people. However, she was least cared about me and continued her conversation with Vaishnavi nonchalantly. Little did I know how much my world will change with these two people around.

I turned my sight away from these two people and silently fished into my hearty lunch. The lunches in TCS Karapakkam branch were the best by a far distance from other centers. As I swallowed my last pieces of gulab jamuns, I could see my world light up as my angel entered the canteen with her friends. I nearly spit out the sweet choking for breath.

“That’s queen Elizebeth” spoke the thin girl.

“Is that the Merroon chudi, Anudha?” questioned Vaishnavi.

“She is a big head weight”. I could see how much the thin girl, Anudha, liked my angel.

“What is her name?” I put a silent question to both them.

Both of them stared at me as if I had interrupted Indira Gandhi in her big rally speech. Perhaps a wrong question at the wrong time!!

“Apeksha..” Anudha spoke after a long silence which seemed like 10 light years for me.

“Apeksha?? Strange name..” I muttered.

“Strange girl, strange names” quipped Anudha.

The girls then started exchanging some gossip information about who is dating who in the office.

“You know Shankar..” spoke Anudha excitedly to a vigorously nodding Vaishnavi “He has just come back from US. He has a big onsite love story”.

Oh God… These girls and their crazy gosspips. Suddenly a idea struck me. Perhaps I could use them.

“Does Apeksha have a boy friend?” I questioned trying to give a look like their answer didn’t matter to me.

But I believe girls are the most brilliant creatures after D-Rex dinosaurs and both of them read my mind like the back of their hand and laughed mockingly at me.

“Where are you from?” questioned Anudha avoiding my question.

“I am Santosh, from Chennai. I joined last week” planning not to get myself embarrassed againby extending my hand.

“We are also freshers. I am Anudha” she spoke warmly extending her hands for a handshake.

“And in reply to your question, the answer is right in front of your eyes” Anudha’s eyes danced mischievously.

I saw a fair tall guy joining Apeksha at her table. I stared long and hard at him. Damn.. why do all girls fall for tall fair guys.

“Is he really her boyfriend?” I repeated my question. Both of them smiled mischievously at each other. I knew that they were really trying to put me off in my heavenly pursuit.

“From the most confirmed sources, we both have heard that he is…”. All I could here for the next seconds was the loud ring of the fire alarm.

But I did lip read the last few words from Anudha’s lips and my heart sank.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finnale.. (Last Part)

(This is the last part of the short story series. Hope you guys like it. As usual do leave your feedback and comments. They definitely inspire me :) )

Please read the 1st, 2nd part, 3rd part, 4th part and 5th Part also.
Part 1 - Back to Home

Part 2 - US Syndrome

Part 3 - Get up..Grandpa..

Part 4 - Married Life

Part 5 - Lost Forever
______________________________________________

Meera placed her hand gently on Arul’s shoulder. He wanted to comfort him. She knew that he would break down and that’s why she had left him in the first place.
Arul wiped off his tears and looked into those beautiful brown eyes. “Can’t we do something about it?”

Meera just nodded her head in dejection. “I have been getting treatment for last 6 years. Perhaps I may not live long”

“Six years. Shit.. This bloody cancer.. Why does it have to be you?” Arul's voice nearly choked.

“Arul, I have asked this question to myself for many years now. It’s just better to accept the reality now. Dad lost his life thinking about my problems. Mom is nearly half dead. I don’t want to hurt anyone more”

“Your dad is dead.. Why didn’t you tell me?” Arul demanded. He damned himself for being away from his sweetheart for all these years.

“Arul, just forget the past. I met the doc today. I have about a month to live and I want to live happily. I just want to spend a week with you for whatever we have missed.”

Arul looked mesmerized by her words. He would have been overjoyed, had Meera told him that six years ago. But now he had his own problems to handle. His first priority was to get back his wife.

“Tell me one thing first. Why did you leave me in the first place?” demanded Arul.

“I didn’t leave you. You left me” came the reply.

Arul heaved a huge sigh. I guess that's the absolute truth. He had left her in the middle of their relationship.

But he was not ready to accept that it was his fault alone. “You.. You went out with Ajay to Pizza corner and held his hands”

Meera was a little stunned by the accusation, but she soon recovered “God.. Arul, he was my friend. That was the day when I got diagnosed and I was in such bad shape that I wanted to share it with someone. So I and Ajay spoke and during the conversation I just held his hands for support and comfort”

“Why didn’t you tell me about your problems then? I could have helped you”

“I didn't say because of this" Meera pointed towards his tears. "I knew you would break down like this. I didn't wanted to hurt you. I would have never told you this now also. But I just wanted to spend my last breath of my life with the person whom I loved more than my life”

Arul’s eyes became moist again. He tried to control his tears, but he was doing a terribly bad job and soon was sobbing again.

“Listen Arul. I want happiness.” Meera demanded. “I have not come again into your life to see you cry. I want to go on a drive to Mayajaal like before. I want to watch as many movies as before, have all flavors of ice-cream, go to dance classes, sit along with you watching the first rays of sun on the Marina beach and definitely go to as many temples as possible”

“That’s a long list” Arul laughed as he wiped off the last tear drops off his face.

“That’s my guy” Meera hugged his hand. Arul hugged her tightly. I wish I could spend all my life with her.

Arul knew that everyone there was watching them. He gently let go off Meera and promised her that he will meet her at 9 am at her place.

For all things that happened that evening, Arul completely forgot to meet his wife. He took his seat in the PTC bus back home and decided to meet his wife two days later. He wanted to spend as much time as possible with Meera though.

As Arul purchased the tickets from the bus conductor, he saw a couple sitting in front of him. The boy in front offered the girl a beautiful red rose.

The red rose reminded him of his beautiful relationship with Meera. She had been a real tough nut to crack. She just refused to accept his love as she always thought of him as a good friend. But Arul knew that the winds of fortune would change directions soon.

It was precisely that day that everything changed forever - February 7th… Arul leaned on the window and drifted into his past as the breeze whiffed past his face.

It was a beautiful morning and the terrace was quite lit up. Arul had been waiting hours for Meera and was so happy when she came up. She had been avoiding him for a long time now. At last he could hope to convince her.

“Arul, please don’t make me say this” Meera paused hoping that Arul got her message. “You are my best friend. Please don’t bring love into this”

“Meera, I love you. Please understand”. Meera puffed, crossed her hands. Arul realized that this line of strategy was not going to work. “Meera, tell me what is love?”

Meera was taken aback by the question “Well, it’s a.. feeling for your close relationships with people”

“Care and affection” Arul added in as Meera nodded her head in affirmation.

“But love with guys is different…” Meera spoke as Arul lifted his eyebrows questioning her. “I have to marry a person whom I like and live the rest of my life with him”

“Hmm.. Don’t I have care and affection for you?”

“Yes Arul.. but love.. is..”

“It’s is not different Meera. Love is just another word for affection”. Meera was not convinced at all.

“Meera, just come out with me for a month. If you don’t like me, I will never trouble you again” pleaded Arul.

Meera looked surprised. How could anybody fall in love in one month, she thought. But unknowingly, she fell in love when she had just accepted his proposal to head out and their relationship continued albeit past many small fights. Arul gave her a beautiful red rose on 7th of every month.

As Arul's mind breezed through the past events, he could not help but wonder that the next day was a 7th. He sighed and shifted back on his seat on what strategy to use to bring back his wife.
---------------------------------------------

I bet Anjali will like this. Arul held the big bunch of roses close to his heart. They smelt 'fresh and pure' like his love for his wife. He had a great day with Meera yesterday and he was happy to spend some good time with the departing soul.

He jumped up the steps in the hostel building. He really had a very tough time getting past the watchman and the management to meet his wife.

He knocked on the door twice. A small girl opened the door and then called out for Anjali. Arul could see Anjali knotting her hair and walking towards the door. He smiled at her but instead he got a hard glance from her as she stood near the corner of her room with her back to the wall.

He walked into her hostel room and could see various women accessories strewn all over the place. Arul started feeling very uncomfortable, but still he sat down on a couch and handed her the bouquet. He was shocked to see that she threw it casually on the couch.

Arul was pissed off and tried to control his anger. “Still angry with me?”. Anjali looked away.

“What do I have to do, Anjali? Please... Let us stop the fight and get back together”

“Together like what?” shot back Anjali. Arul just spread his hands as he didn’t know what to say to cool down Anjali.

Arul got up and went near Anjali. “Together like this..” Arul tried to hug Anjali.

“You hug a woman on the beach in front of thousand people and now you want to hug me. What kind of person are you?” screamed Anjali. Arul looked shocked!

I have dug my own grave. Arul thought that this relationship is done and over and stomped out of the room.

Anjali shouted at him as he left the room. She stood near the window of her home and saw him walk angrily out the building.

Suddenly out nowhere, Anjali could see Mridula run upto Arul and hug him. She spoke something to him and they both got onto his motorbike and left the place.

Anjali was so damn angry. Arul was not just having a relationship with another woman but also with his sister. Damn it!!
-----------------------------------------------

“So do they know me?” shouted Arul.

Mridula could hardly hear Arul’s voice in the sounds of horns. She just nodded her head.

Arul stopped his bike at a nearby lane, asked Mridula to get down and parked his bike.

“What is happening here?” Arul demanded an explanation.

“It’s a long story” sighed Mridula.

“I have all the time in this world” scorned Arul.

Meera started her long story “You know Mari right?” Arul nodded his headed. "He proposed to me in my college" Arul nodded and asked her to move on as he knew that. "Though I didn’t like him at first, I later accepted his proposal just before your marriage. Mari’s father is a big time MLA and wants to get his son married to another MLA’s daughter. And so you can guess why he wants to eliminate me”

“Eliminate you. Oh god!!” sighed Arul. "One more problem..."

“Why? What happened?”

Arul told her the whole story about Meera and how Anjali was angry with him and that he felt the relationship all but over. He however skipped the hug on the beach part.

“I have an idea. Why don’t you take care of my problems and I take of yours” suggested Mridula.

“I certainly guess that mine is definitely the tougher one. I really don’t know how I am going convince a person who has sent men to eliminate you”

“Well, that’s the trade-off if you want to live with my dear sis” smiled Mridula.

--------------------------------------------

“So have you solved Mridula’s problems?” asked Meera.

“Yep. Just one call to Mari and all problems are solved now” replied Arul. “That’s the power of love” Arul made sure that he stressed a lot on the last word. Arul looked around to find just a few people taking their afternoon nap in the Natesan Park.

“I am sad that today is going to be my last day” spoke Meera.

“Last day? No buddy. I will come and meet you in Bangalore”

Meera looked at him affectionately. He gently moved her hands to his cheek and rubbed it. “Arul, my last wish has always been to peacefully die in your arms”

“Oh Meera! Please stop this talk or I am going to cry again” Arul tried to cheer her up. His heart was beating faster. A strange of fear gripped him. Perhaps the end was near.

“No Arul. The time to tell some more truth has come. The doc had given me a week’s time. I wanted to desperately meet you. Perhaps today is my last day”.

Arul moved his hands to her lips to stop her from talking more. He gazed into her beautiful eyes. She gently closed her eyes and never opened it again. Meeraaa....
--------------------------------------------------

“Mridula.. Hello..” shouted Arul as he could hardly hear the voice at the other end.

“Hey Arul, Mari just now spoke to me. He ..”

Arul interrupted her “Mridula, Meera is dead…” His voice choked. He had no strength to speak any more.

“Can you come to Apollo hospital?” spoke Arul.

“I will be there in half an hour” came the reply.
----------------------------------------------------

“Come fast guys” Mridula pushed them to walk fast.

“Meera.. age 26.. admitted now” Mridula questioned the receptionist as she paused to take a deep breath.

As soon as she got the room number, the three of them climbed up the stairs to the 3rd floor. Mridula eyes searched for Arul. Finally she saw him standing at the corner of a corridor looking out of the window.

On hearing the footsteps, Arul turned around to see Mridula, Mari and Anjali. The next second, he looked away from all of them and stared into the crowded road.

Mridula placed her hand on his shoulder “Arul, are you alright?”

“I have lost everything Mridula… everything” spoke Arul without turning back.

“Arul, I am sorry. I didn’t know what problems you had. Let us forget everything. Let us be together forever” spoke Anjali.

Arul looked at Anjali “I am sorry for all the problems also. Please forgive me”. He hugged Anjali and both of them started crying. Mari and Mridula hugged them.
------------------------------------------

“Hello Meera.. Where are you?” whispered Arul.

“I am here” Meera ran and hugged him.

He lifted Meera, threw her up and caught her. “I love you, my darling”

Just then the doorbell rang and Mridula and Mari came in and smiled at Meera.

Anjali came from the kitchen to see them “Welcome home sis”

“The father and the daughter are the best couple together” spoke Anjali to Mridula.

“They surely are..” spoke Mridula as she winked at Arul.
-------------------------------------------

Hope you liked the story. Do leave your comments

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lost Forever (Part5)

(This is the fifth part of the short story series. Hope you guys like it. As usual do leave your feedback and comments. They definitely inspire me :) )

Please read the 1st, 2nd part 3rd part and 4th Part also.
Part 1 - Back to Home

Part 2 - US Syndrome

Part 3 - Get up..Grandpa..

Part 4 - Married Life

______________________________________________

Amma shook her head vigorously at Arul as she was about to hang up the phone. She suddenly thrust the phone at Arul who was standing close by. Arul was a little surprised but took the receiver from his mom.

“Where is my sister?” threatened a voice from the other side.

“That’s precisely the question I want to ask you” Arul shot back.

A deep sigh followed from the other side. “I guess she must have gone somewhere nearby”

“I hope so too. I really don’t know why she has not taken her mobile with her” complained Arul. “Hope she comes back soon”

As soon as Arul finished speaking, the door bell rang. Arul’s mom sprang to the door and opened it. It was just the newspaper boy. Everybody let out a collective sigh.

“Mridula, I will call you when she is back. Thank you” Arul hung up.

As Arul’s mom was about to close the main door, a voice called out for her. A beautiful woman crisply dressed in a bright green saree walked in.

“Here she is.. You made such a big fuss” spoke Arul’s mom.

Arul walked up to her. He was really angry, but somehow Anjali looked like an angel to him. He had never seen her so beautiful.

Before he could speak, Anjali spoke up “I am so sorry. I went to the Kasi-Viswanathar temple. It is pradosham today and there was so much crowd at the temple. Your city is always crowded”

Arul could just muster a laugh as his anger evaporated. He tried to hug her gently but she pushed him away “Dirty hero, first get a bath”.

“Call her home and tell that she has arrived” spoke Arul’s mom.

“You called my home?” Anjali questioned Arul.

“Anjali, you were not there and so I…” Arul voice trailed off.

“You thought I had gone back to my home after a small fight?” Anjali shot back getting a little cross.

“Relax Anjali. It was just mom’s idea” Arul tried shifting the blame on his mother.

“It was only you who could have done it” Anjali wagged her little finger on him.

Arul just laughed out. His wife knew that much about him. “Enna di.. over shouting” Arul lifted Anjali despite her protest and carried her inside while his mom reached for the phone.
------------------------------------------------

“Just breathe more and relax”, Arul gently pressed his wife’s hand.

“I just hate these airplanes and the long flights” complained Anjali.

Arul just shook his head; she must be the only one complaining about going to America.
--------------------------------------------------

Arul led his wife into their small home. Anjali was exhausted after the long flight but she had a more important job. She ran to the room which is perhaps the closest to heaven.

“What type of toilet is this?” Anjali came out complaining.

“Have you never seen this?” smiled Arul.

“Disgusting place..” came the reply.

“Anjali, relax. Every new place has its own charm. Give it some time and you will definitely get adjusted. I suffered more than you here. So trust me.. just relax”

“Well you suffered here and now I am going to suffer. What’s the point of all this?
Let’s go back” pleaded Anjali.

“You better get adjusted darling” Arul tried to mock hug Anjali.

She pushed him away and he fell back on the sofa. Arul just smiled at her and picked up the remote next to him and switched on the TV.

‘A special report on reverse brain drain happening in US: Back to India’ blared the reporter.

Anjali laughed at him and mockingly pointed two horns on her head. Arul sprang up from the sofa and chased Anjali down.
-------------------------------------------------

“Don’t you dare touch that” hissed Anjali.

“Dear, this is just beer. So chill!” Arul protested. The party for Anu’s birthday along with plenty of drinks and balloons had lighted the whole atmosphere.

Anjali glared at him. “So you mean to say that you have drunk many other things also?”

Arul opened his mouth to speak but on second thoughts decided keep his mouth shut.

“If you expect me to come to my best friend’s birthday party and not drink, isn’t that pretty cruel?”

“You should have told me about it before marriage” protested Anjali.

“Would that have made a difference?” Arul was getting angry now.

“I would have never married a guy who drinks” Anjali shot back.

Arul was about to shout at his wife when Anu came in “No fighting in my b’day” Anu winked at Arul as she lead Anjali away to her other friends.

“Crazy girl” Arul muttered under his breath. He decided that he better keep away from her. They hardly spoke for the next two days with Anjali even rebuffing Arul’s offer to make peace.

It had started to snow pretty heavily that season and the forecast for the day was pretty bad. Arul had an important job to do and decided to drive to his office in the bad weather.

Arul came back to desk after five consecutive meetings. Things had piled up on his India trip and he was desperate to complete it soon. As he sat exhausted on his chair, he loosened his tie and looked at his watch. He pushed aside the window curtain and could see the heavy snow downpour. Arul opened his drawer and took out his mobile. He usually left it there for his meetings for he didn’t want anybody to disturb him.

Five missed calls from Anjali.. Should I call her back? wondered Arul. He decided to call her little later but completely forgot about it in his work.

After a few hours, Arul stretched up in his seat. He looked at his watch and froze. Shit, its 11pm. He immediately called Anjali. The phone bell rang for a whole minute before Anjali picked up.

Arul could hear Anjali sobbing. “Can you please… please come home fast?” she pleaded.

“I will be there in 15 minutes darling. Please don’t cry” Arul hung up and picked up his coat and ran towards his car.

As he was about to start his car the security personal ran up to him.

“Sir, you cannot leave now. You have to wait till morning” he politely spoke up.

“What do mean?” shouted Arul as pretty tensed thinking about Anjali.

“Come and look for yourself sir” the security personal led Arul to the main road.

Arul could not believe his eyes and stood paralyzed in shock. Even though the snow storm had stopped, the snow had piled up to height of his knees.

“It’s the biggest pile over I have seen in years sir” security guy shook his head.

“Can you get me a cab or something?” Arul voice changed to a more polite tone.

“No sir. There is no way you can drive anywhere in New York. All transportation is closed.”

Damn it, Arul cursed himself. He dialed Anu’s number.

“Hey Arul” replied Anu.

Arul quickly filled in Anu about the situation he was in and asked her if she could drive to his place and give Anjali some company.

“Arul, all roads are closed. There is no way I can reach your home man. Wait till morning and catch a cab back home. Anjali will be safe and I will speak with her”

“Thank you Anu but I have to reach my home now”

“I really don’t think that’s possible and neither is it safe”

“I guess so. Anyways good night” Arul hung up and sized up his options.

The security personal understood the situation and went to his cabin and got a long leather jacket and a big walking stick.

Arul found the idea pretty crazy but realized that his options were severely curtailed. Arul wore the over sized coat and started ploughing through the heavy snow cover. Shit.. It will take atleast 4 hours to reach home.. He loved Anjali more than he had thought.

After a 3 hour struggle through the dark and empty roads he reached his home. It felt to him that he would never reach his home and it was his desperation to see his wife that gave him the hope to walk. He gently opened the door and switched on the lights. He could see Anjali sleeping on the couch. Her face had swollen up and she was looking pale.

Arul touched her, Oh my god.. She’s damn cold. He looked around and saw that the heater had not been switched on. Arul gently lifted her and took her to the bedroom and slipped her under the soft blankets. He gently ran his fingers through her hair and rubbed her feet.

He got up, switched on the heater and slipped into his bed.

A huge cry woke Arul up. He looked around and he could see the first rays of sun kissing their bedroom. He was pretty confused as to where he was and he could feel the pain in his legs from last night’s adventure.

He found Anjali sobbing heavily in her bed. Arul got up and hugged Anjali. Perhaps she is afraid.

“Thata died yesterday” Anjali spoke up.

“What??” Arul jerked up from his bed.

“He died yesterday and that is why I called you so many times”

“Oh my god! I just cannot believe this” Arul stood up and placed his hands on his hips. “You didn’t miss me. You cried because some idiot who literally stopped our marriage, died”

“Mind your words” Anjali shouted back. Her mind was already tensed from the sad demise of her grandfather.

“You know what.. I slogged three hours through the snow walking from my office to home to see you and you tell me that you called me because somebody somewhere died”

“It was not somebody Arul, it’s my grand-dad” she completely forgot his long walk in the heated situation.

“My foot.. you and your grand-dad.. crazy family” Arul raised his voice.

“Stop calling my family. You are crazy. You have caged me in here” Anjali voiced shrieked.

“Go to hell.. Go back to your parents. Keep hiding behind your mom’s saree” Arul was bursting with anger now.

“Don’t you dare speak one more word. Leave me forever” shouted Anjali.

The war of words had got pretty ugly. Arul jumped on to his phone and booked a ticket to India through his agent.
-------------------------------------------------------

The airport was buzzing with calls for departure of airplanes. Arul felt sad that this was the last time he would see Anjali. He had quickly lost his anger and desperately tried to catch her attention, but she was in no mood to forgive him.

He finally broke the silence, “Listen Anjali, I am sorry. Please don’t leave me”

“I am sorry too..” Anjali spoke as Arul’s lips broke into a grin “that I have had to live with a person like you”

Arul clenched his fist in anger. This crazy girl and her overbearing pride. She is a… he could not find a proper bad word to scold her.

Arul had handled many of his angry clients and he knew that he had to keep himself cool. He had lost a lot by getting angry yesterday.

“Anjali, I am not a bad guy. I know you like me” Arul tried to push the conversation.

“I still like you, but I don’t love you anymore” Anjali picked up the bags from Arul and moved in to the security clearance area.

It was not the first time he had heard those words. Arul stood there speechless, shocked and snubbed as he watched his life walk away.
--------------------------------------------------------

“What do you expect me to Anu? Beg.. fall at her feet” Arul was literally screaming and banging the table.

“Nothing. But I don’t expect anybody to book a ticket to India just because one has a small fight at home” replied Anu.

“It was not a small fight. I walked three hours in the snow to reach home and beside her” protested Arul.

Anu smiled and gently leaned towards Arul and spoke “What did I tell you the other day? Stay put in office and that Anjali will be alright”

Arul eyes gazed down. He slowly nodded his head. “What do I do now?”

“Do your work and she will miss you and call you” replied Anu.

“Hmm.. Hope she misses me” spoke Arul dejectedly.

Anu patted on his back “I am sure she will dude. Cheer up!!”
---------------------------------------------

Arul could not do anything properly. His personal and professional was getting too depressing. Perhaps the influence of a person whom he loved on life was way too much and also he had been around with so many people in the last 3-4 weeks that he found his previous peaceful ‘lonely’ life pretty disgusting now.

He just could not stop thinking about Anjali and the beautiful moments that he had with her.

He dialed Anu’s number “Anu, I am going to India”

“No Arul, wait for some more time. Call her from here and see” suggested Anu.

“I tried but could not reach her as she is staying in some hostel in Chennai”
replied Arul.

“So when would you be coming back?”

“I am going permanently da. I somehow miss India, my parents and Anjali a lot” grieved Arul.

There was complete silence for some time. “I understand your position. All the best
for a new life” replied Anu.
----------------------------------------------

A cool breeze in the terrace firmly pushed brushed past Arul’s hair. Arul had never thought that he would be coming back to Chennai forever. Perhaps it was destiny’s choice for him.

‘I like you but I don’t love you’ the last words from Anjali stung him hard. It was not that those words really hurt him but he had heard it for the second time in his life.

Meera had hurt him before and now it was Anjali’s turn. Somehow Arul could not stop thinking about Meera. Only if Meera was here with me…

Trring.. Trring..
Arul picked up the phone. His father had called him up as he had some visitors who wanted to see him and he had sent them to the terrace. Arul turned back on hearing some voices and he was shocked to see some familiar faces.
Mari and Mridula stepped into the terrace from the small attic. He shook hands with both of them and enquired about Anjali’s parents.

“You should talk with Anjali. She gets very angry sometimes” spoke Mridula.

“I will do that soon” replied Arul.

“I want to tell you something more…” Mridula paused and then continued explaining something Arul. Mari moved a little away and could see Arul vehemently shaking his head. Hope he agrees.. thought Mari.
------------------------------------------------------

“Why did Mridula come to meet you? And who is that person with her?” Arul’s mom always liked to combine two questions and shoot them.

“She just came to meet me to give Anjali’s address and Mari is her friend” Arul replied.

“Friend??” quizzed his mom.

Arul had enough problems and did not want to get into Mridula’s problems also.

“Yes, just friends”

“When are you going to meet Anjali?”

“I will go today evening and perhaps take her out for dinner, if possible”

“She will come. Don’t worry. These fights happen in all relationships. Can you not see how our marriage has survived?” joked Arul’s mom.

Arul just hugged his mom and tears flowed down his eyes. Moms are always the best!!
-------------------------------------------------------

Arul knelt down and concentrated in his deep prayers. He always visited temples whenever he had a problem in life, but this was a place he always went to whenever he had the life changing problem in his life. He found peace in god’s home and he loved this Velankanni church.

“Praying for me?” spoke a soft voice.

Arul opened his eyes on hearing the voice. He literally fell off his position but quickly re-adjusted his stance. He got angry and clutched his fist and then gradually loosened remembering his promise to Anu that he would never get angry again.

“Meera.. “ Arul’s voice trailed off. Meera gently smiled at him. Arul could see that Meera had grown quite old suddenly and strangely she had lost a lot of hair.

“How are you?” Arul barely managed to squeeze a question.

“I am good” replied Meera. “Can we go for a walk by the beach beside when you are done?”

Arul nodded his head and they were out on the beach ten minutes later.

“How are you doing?” Meera tried breaking the silence.

“Fine”. Meera did not like the mono-syllable reply.

“Still angry with me?” questioned Meera.

“What do expect me to say, Meera?” Arul shot back.

“Arul… I..” Meera paused. “It’s tough.. Leave it”

“Tough on me, Meera. Do you know how much I suffered thinking about you?”

Perhaps he doesn't know how much I am suffering everyday thought Meera “That’s why I don’t want to say anything” replied Meera.

“Say what Meera? That you and Ajay…” Arul let the words hang loose.

Meera looked up at Arul into his eyes. He had misunderstood her completely. Perhaps the time to tell the truth had come. She told Arul everything.

“Noooooooooo” Arul buried his face in his hands and cried uncontrollably.

________________________________________________________

CLICK HERE FOR NEXT PART
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Married Life.. (Part 4)

(This is the fourth part of the short story series. Hope you guys like it. As usual do leave your feedback and comments. They definitely inspire me :) )

Please read the 1st, 2nd part and 3rd part also.
Part 1 - Back to Home

Part 2 - US Syndrome

Part 3 - Get up..Grandpa..

______________________________________________

It’s all OVER!! Arul sighed. He could see Anjali joining Mridula in their grandfather’s room. He looked sadly at his mom and dad.

His dad patted on his shoulders. “You did your best” he whispered. “Am proud of you, my son”

Arul forced a smile. Thuddd!! All of them heard a hard slapping sound. Arul could see Anjali walking out of her grandfather’s room happily. Mridula and the MLA’s son, Mari joined her out.

Anjali climbed up on the stage and sat in her place. Arul still stood wondering what had happened. Mridula came to the stage holding something small. Arul recognized it as a beetle nut. His eyes questioned Mridula as to what had happened.

“Grandfather swallowed this by mistake. It got stuck in his throat and he choked. Luckily Mari slapped it out his system. Grandfather is perfectly alright now” she glanced at Mari and smiled at him. He didn’t smile back. An old aunt wheeled grandfather out his room into the marriage hall.

Arul could not believe that his marriage was back on track again. Damn grandfather and his beetlenut. He took his place near his princess.

“Mangalyum thanthunanae…” the priest chanted the mantras and flowers showered upon the blessed couple.
-----------------------

“We have to go to the farm temple” spoke Anjali.

“Farm temple?” replied Arul.

“It is about 2 kilometers walk from our native village” Mridula chipped in.

“Isn’t this your native place?” Arul looked bewildered.

“No. Our native is a small village called Seval. We would be going there today”

Arul had no option but to agree to their proposal. He was happy that his parents would be accompanying him.

An hour’s journey in the mini-van was pretty rough. The rain had widened all the potholes. Every time the mini- van ploughed itself into a deep pit, Anjali held Arul hand even more closely. He liked it and wished the entire road was covered with potholes.

They reached the village main road. Arul asked the driver to stop and got out. The road leading to the village was a pucca road.

“Can you drive through this?” Arul questioned the driver.

“No problem sir” replied the driver cheerfully. Arul stretched himself a little and then got back in the mini-van.

Another ten minutes later, they reached Anjlai’s ancestral home. It had a small door and even smaller pillars holding the main walls and roof.

Arul bent his head as he walked his way into the home. He was amazed that the home had a row of 10 continuous rooms starting from the main door. Arul walked straight through all the ten rooms and reached the back courtyard.

He could hear the sound of anklets. Anjali and Mridula soon joined him in the backyard.

“There are snakes here” teased Mridula.

“What?” The startled look on Arul’s face told the whole story.

“Just kidding” she smiled sheepishly. She pushed Anjali towards Arul and ran through a small series of steps.

“Wait..” Anjali ran behind her. Arul just could not believe that the two sisters were playing in the backyard. He just watched two young women turn into two small kids. Strange!!

“Food is ready!!” came a loud, clear shout from Anjali’s mother.

Arul and the two sisters joined the others seated on the floor.

A big plantain leaf with many dishes adorned the floor. Thank god, I don’t have to cook anymore.. Arul smiled at his wife. Perhaps he didn’t realize what challenges lay ahead of him.
--------------------------------

“Have you taken the umbrella?” spoke Anjali.

“We don’t need any dear” replied Arul confidently.

Anjali stared at him “It’s very cloudy”.

“We don’t need it Anjali” protested Arul. Anjali picked up the three umbrellas resting on the front cot.

Arul mentally counted the number of people coming along with them. He caught his wife hand and started walking. His mom, dad and Mridula and her parents followed them. They reached the end of the main road and crossed a small bridge over a canal.

“Usually this is very dry. It running full because of the rains” explained Anjali.

A pleasant strong breeze blew across the lush paddy fields. Arul truly was amazed by the view. A little ahead a narrow pathway led them to a farm of banana plantation on one side and a small canal ran on the other side.

As they walked a little further they could see tall coconut trees. Two people were busy plucking the coconuts. Anjali’s father quickly ran and spoke with them and got the whole gang some really nice coconut water.

“Here.. mapla..have some” Anjali’s father handed the coconut to Arul and then passed onto others. Heavenly.. Arul sipped the last drops of the water off the 3rd coconut.

After 30 minutes of walk they reached the place. Arul had never seen anything like this. It was a much desolated small temple.

“My grandfather had reconstructed this temple” Anjali’s spoke proudly. “The legend has it that a great Pandya king came to visit the Nellai-Appar koil but had to stay here overnight as heavy rains lashed through the city. He caught glimpse of this shiva linga and saw a five headed snake protecting it. He quickly built a small temple here.”

Five headed snake Arul laughed inside himself. He had no major beliefs in temples and gods but would visit temples as he didn’t want to hurt his parents or anybody else. As Anjali swept the place clean, her father dressed up the lingam. Arul looked closely at the lingam. It was a strange rectangularly shaped stone. There were some verses written on it.

“Its olden- golden tamil” smiled Anjali. Everybody settled around the small nandi sitting in front of the god. Anjali’s father started doing the pooja. Anjali sat directly in front of the lord and motioned Arul to sit beside her. As Arul took his seat near his beloved, he saw Anjali close her eyes and go into a trance state.

Arul closed his eyes and suddenly he could feel the soft touch of his wife’s hand. Some strange energy passed through him. He wanted to open his eyes but his whole body went out of his control. His mind went blank.

“ARUL…. ARUL… Wake up” Anjali whispered into his ears. Arul shook a little and opened his eyes expecting everybody to be crowding around him as he thought he had fainted. Everybody was sitting normally in their positions. Arul looked at Anjali and she gently smiled at him. He didn’t understand what had happened.

As they walked back, Mridula walked closer to Arul and spoke “You went blank?”

Arul was startled “How do you know?”

“Akka has powers. She meditates and she gets some strange power while doing that”

Arul nodded his head gravely understanding that Mridula also has had such previous experiences.

“She needs to be around temples” Mridula just completed her sentence when it began drizzling. Mridula quickly gave one umbrella to her parents and one to Arul’s parents and took one herself. She gently pushed Anjali towards Arul and laughed.

“Give them an umbrella” shouted Anjali’s father. Mridula smiled at them. “Newly wedded couples don’t need umbrellas”

Anjali’s father ran up to Arul and handed him his umbrella. “No sir. I am fine” smiled Arul as he handed the umbrella back to his father-in-law. He had understood Mridula point only now.

He pulled Anjali closer and took her sari’s pallu and created a small umbrella for both of them. Nevertheless they got drenched partially. I am liking this thought Arul as he kept holding Anjali more tightly with every step. She too liked it. They halted mid-way to take some shelter.

“Stupid girl” scolded Anjali’s father. Mridula mischievously smiled at Arul and Anjali and they smiled back. Parents never understand.
---------------------------------

“Take her out Arul. See, she has been crying continuously from the time we left Tirunelveli” Arul mom advised him.

“Sure amma” Arul walked up to his wife. He could see that her eyes had bloated.

“How about going to a super movie?”

“Any movie is fine” Anjali wiped off her nose with her hanky. Arul gently pressed her head onto his chest. She clutched him tightly.
---------------------------------------

“Hold this” Anjali gave the big bag of popcorn to Arul. From the corner of his eyes he could see the superstar's name rolling out on the screen.

R

A

J

N

I


Arul watched the wife with astonishment as she inserted his finger in her mouth and let out a huge whistle. The people in the front row turned back to see who it was. Arul covered his face with the popcorn bag. He had never heard anybody whistle at ‘Satyam’ theatre before. Anjali sheepishly smiled.

A group of boys sitting upfront stood up and turned around “Super whistle mamae”. They whistled even more loudly. Arul was in complete shock. He looked at his wife and laughed. I have always wanted to do that. I should learn it from her soon. Anjali smiled at her, tucked her hand tightly into his and they watched the movie in silence.

Arul took his bike out the parking lot and started it. As they drove back home, they stopped at the traffic signal. Arul removed his helmet, turned back at Anjali and spoke “Super whistle mamae”. Anjali sheepishly smiled at him back.

“Can I tell you something?” spoke Anjali.

“Yeah” replied Arul.

“You drive really slowly”. Arul was taken aback by this frank reply. He had driven slowly considering the fact that Anjali had worn a heavy saree. He wanted to prove her wrong and drove as fast as he could as Anjali hugged him harder and harder.

Arul slowed his bike down as he reached near his home. Anjali got down from the bike. Arul could see that her hair badly strewn because of the drive. As Arul walked back after parking his bike, Anjali caught his hand. She came close to him and kissed him on his cheek. Arul blushed. This was the first time that Anjali had kissed him.

“I am very happy” she hugged him tightly.
------------------------------------

“Where are we going?” Anjali had questioned Arul for the 100th time that afternoon.

“You will see it in a few minutes” spoke Arul as he clutched her hand inside the auto rickshaw.

“What happened to your bike?” questioned Anjali.

“It was my friend’s bike and he needed it. We are nearly there at our destination” Arul spoke maintaining the suspense.

“I want you to help me a little” spoke Arul. Anjali lifted her eyebrows asking him what help he wanted.

“I want to tie this black band around your eyes. I will hold you and take you inside”. Anjali wanted to protest but decided against it as she also wanted to be surprised.

Arul tied the black band around her eyes and held her and took her inside a huge hall. All the other people standing there were very surprised. Arul slowly took Anjali to a couch and asked her to sit on it slowly. Anjali wanted to untie the band but just held herself. The couch was very much like an easy chair and she slowly kept on inclining her back till her back touched the sofa. She felt as though she would soon sleep on the couch.

“The programme is about to start. Please remain seated” came the announcement through the speakers.

Arul slowly untied the black band. As Anjali opened her eyes she was completely amazed to see the night sky with a host of stars. It took her a moment to realize that Arul had brought her to the ‘Birla Planetarium’. She was damn thrilled to see all the stars and the constellations. She had started liking Arul a lot now.

After completing the show, both of them visited the museum. Strangely nobody was around there. They could see huge replicas of trains and many models of airplanes. Anjali wanted a picture of every one of them and Arul obliged. He had become her official photographer. Anjali went and sat inside every plane and train. Anjali brought Arul his childhood memories.

After their great time at the planetarium, they headed to the Besant Nagar beach.

It was quite late by the time they reached home. Arul paid the auto-driver and could see Anjali smiling at him.

“What?” spoke Arul.

Anjali just nodded her head. Arul closed his eyes and titled his head towards her expecting a good lip service. Anjali gently slapped his cheek, which startled Arul.

“I am tired” spoke Anjali as her eyes gleamed.

“So?” spoke back Arul.

“Carry me on your back to our apartment” smiled Anjali.

“You must be kidding me” Arul shot back.

“No… Please… carry me.. please” begged Anjali.

Reluctantly Arul took her on his back and walked home. He hoped nobody in the surrounding apartments saw this strange spectacle.

Anjali gently kissed his on his cheek as he slowly shifted her down on reaching their home. “Women always do this when they are happy” she declared.

“As you wish madam” Arul bent a royal bow in front of her. Anjali laughed out aloud.
-------------------------------

“Amma, please tell him” pleaded Anjali.

“He will never listen to me” spoke back Arul’s mom. She was happy that this topic was being discussed now.

“Can both of you shut up please?” Arul shot an angry glance at Anjali.

“Can we not stay in Chennai?” protested Anjali to Arul.

“Anjali, it is a matter of few weeks. You will get used to US.” Arul tried to diffuse the situation.

“Why don’t you understand? I don’t want to go” protested Anjali even loudly.

“Answer my question. Can we not live in Chennai?”

“What about my job there? How can I leave everything and stay here?” retorted Arul.

“What about me and your parents? Are we not important?”

“Anjali.. Stop this topic. We are going there. If you don’t like it there, we will come back. But for once let us go there. I bet you will like that place.”

Arul’s mom winked at Anjali asking her to not continue the conversation. Anjali murmured something as she went to her room and banged the door shut.
------------------------------------

“Where is Anjali?” questioned Arul to his mother waking up wearily. He wanted to apologize for yesterday's fight and also wanted to give her tips for the important day.

“I don’t know da. I didn’t see her from the morning. Perhaps she must have gone to the terrace”

Arul quickly climbed up the stairs and reached the terrace. He searched the entire place. No traces of his wife. He rushed back home.

“Amma, she is not there upstairs” Arul spoke hastily as he wiped the sweat off the brows. “Today is her VISA date. We have the appointment at 10 and it’s already 7:30 now”

Arul’s father came out his room. His mom explained the whole story to him.

“Has she gone back to her home after yesterday’s fight?” questioned his dad.

Arul dropped back on the couch; his mind raced fast where is Anjali??

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CLICK HERE FOR NEXT PART
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Get up.. grandpa.. (Part 3)

(This is the third part of the short story series. Hope you guys like it. Do leave your feedback and comments. They really inspire me :) )

Please read the 1st and 2nd part also.
Part 1 - Back to Home

Part 2 - US Syndrome
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“Don’t go” ordered Arul’s mom.

“Amma, you don’t understand..” protested Arul.

“There is limit to everything Arul. Just because we allow you to go and convince her, does not mean she can speak like this”. Arul could see his mom’s head and finger wagging violently at him.

“Amma, listen..” Arul held his mom and made her sit down. “She is a very good girl. She just makes decisions in a hurry. She has not seen the outside world as much as you or me. Give her a last chance”

“My decision is final” declared his mom. “You want us to attend your marriage, right?”

Arul was taken aback by this threat. He sat there thinking what would happen now in his already fragile relationship with his parents. I have seen so many brilliant girls, so many studious ones.. but what I need is a girl like Anjali. Just a simple beautiful house wife.. He wanted to share his thoughts with his mom but decided otherwise.

He walked to the hall and saw his dad lying on the couch and watching an old movie. A few streaks of white hair certified that his dad had entered the late fifties. His dad was dressed in a white baniyan and a checked lungi. He realized that his dad was the least affected by the commotion in the bed room.

“Dad..” Aul’s dad looked at him, literally shocked. “I want to speak with you for five minutes”

Arul made his way up the stairs to the terrace. His dad got up and followed him. Arul stood near the terrace walls overlooking the main road. His dad followed him and stood beside him.

They didn’t speak for 5 minutes. Arul wanted to break the silence but did not know where to start. “Appa..” His dad turned towards him.

Before his dad could say something, Arul hugged his dad as tightly as he could. Tears flowed from his eyes on to his dad’s baniyan.

“I am sorry” he mustered to say.

“It’s ok da” his dad spoke back “It was my mistake also. I should have spent more time with you and our family”. Breaking the hug, dad looked at his son.

“I want to marry Anjali pa. She is a very good girl”. Perhaps it was just those Anjali’s eyes that were playing on him. He had left his last love, Meera, without even making an attempt to speak with her. He definitely was not going to leave Anjali just like that.

“You know about your mom” replied his dad. Arul let out a deep sigh. “But why did she refuse you now. Why doesn’t a simple Tirunelveli girl like a US MS guy with a great job?”. Arul just didn’t want to tell his dad that she had asked him to marry her sister. That’s too big an huge atom bomb for dad to handle.

“Low-on-confidence” replied Arul thoughtfully. “She does not know that she is as good as anybody. I feel that she constantly compares herself with her sister and that puts more pressure on her. I just need a simple housewife, dad”. Arul could see that his dad understood the reason.

“I just have to marry her. I can handle her. I have lived with many emotional people in my life in US.”

Dad thought for a second. “It’s your life son. Think and act carefully. Otherwise you will be stuck up like me” chuckled dad.

Arul didn’t smile. He never liked any jokes about his mom. He believed that his dad was the luckiest person on planet earth to have such a responsible and beautiful wife.

“I will speak to her” assured his dad. Arul knew that the deal was done.

“I will join you at home in 10 minutes” spoke Arul to dad. As his father descended through the steps, Arul took out his mobile and called up.
--------------------------------------

“You listen to me Kalyani”

“No. At least listen to me once in your lifetime” protested Arul’s mom to his dad.

“It is our son’s life. Let him decide”

“Don’t you see his life going the wrong way?” spoke his mom.

Dad remained a little silent. “By taking a decision for him, you are not doing him a favor. If he thinks he can live with her, let him live it. Whatever the problem, he will face it”

“I am not coming to the marriage” spoke his mom firmly.

Arul dad just shook his head. These women.hmm..

“Ok. I will come” Arul’s mom could never disappoint anybody, least of it, her son.
-----------------------------------

“The flight is 1pm” declared Arul as he opened the package he had just received.

“Travel tomorrow son” advised his dad.

Arul just waved the packet he just received. “I will be in Trivandrum at 2pm and its just a 4 hour drive to Tirunelveli from there”

Arul’s mom was too angry with him to speak anything.

Dad stood up to speak something to Arul, when Arul’s I-Phone rang. Quite unusual.. Hope everything is fine in US.

“Hi Steve” spoke Arul.

“Hey my boy, how are you doing?” spoke Steve.

“Going good. Is everything good up there?”

“It is..” Steve’s voice trailed. When Steve spoke like that, it meant big trouble.

“Seeni is finding it tough to keep up with your work” Arul listened intently. “I am sorry to disturb you, but just wanted to know when you would be back”

“Steve, I have 2 more sweeks of work here. Could I come there after that?” offered Arun.

“2 weeks.. Ok. Come as quickly as you can”

“Thank you Steve”

As soon Arul cut the call, Dad spoke up “I think you should leave to US. Leave the marriage issue to cool down”

Even though Arul could see logic ingrained in his dad’s words, he knew the marriage deal was too close to be left just like that. “Just one more try dad..” pleaded Arul.

Who can defeat fate.. thought Arul’s dad.
--------------------------

“How long is the journey?” Arul asked the cab driver as he stretched himself and inspected the white Indica car.

“Four hours drive sir” replied the driver as he put the suitcase in the dicky and closed it.

Arul sat in the front seat near the driver. He was soon in his own world of dreams. The hour’s flight journey had been very tiring. Arul could hardly stretch himself in the small plane and it went through the worst air turbulence he had been, in a few years.

However, Arul was very much surprised by the number of people who travelled on domestic flights. After finishing the security check, Arul waited his plane to be announced. There was no place to sit. As soon as his flight was announced, people pushed each other and hurried to form a loopy line. Arul just chuckled to himself. Worse than central station..

Dhakkkkk.. Arul woke up. The car had passed over a big pothole.

“It’s been raining badly for the past few days sir” apologized the driver. Arul closed his eyes again. He just travelled on a 12 hour journey from Tirunelveli to Chennai and he was travelling back to that place again. How crazy..

Dhakkk.. Arul was familiar as to where to sound came from.

“How far from Tirunelveli are we?” questioned Arul.

“About 30 more minutes sir”

Arul rubbed his eyes off. He could see huge dark grey clouds gather on the way to their destination. He looked around and amazed to see green paddy fields on both sides of the road. The scent of rain hung through the air.

“Let us stop over for some tea” ordered Arul. The driver followed suit and they stopped at a nearby tea shop.

After few samosas and hot ginger tea, both Arul and driver were refreshed. They sped off to their destination.
-----------------------------

As Arul paid the cab driver, he spotted the familiar huge gate. A few women from the nearby houses huddled as they spoke in hushed tones. Perhaps they want to know whether I missed my train yesterday night thought Arul sarcastically.
He looked at his watch. ‘It was 6 pm’. The sun peeked through the dark clouds.

Arul lifted his suitcase and silent prayed that this was the last time he had to convince his lady.

He knocked on the old huge door. Mridula opened the door and Arul just stood there staring at her. She immediately left inside without even inviting him. No smiles.. no hellos.. This is what I get to travelling 700 kilometers back and forth everyday..

Anjali came outside and welcomed Arul inside. Arul learnt that Anjali’s parents had gone to the nearby temple. Arul dropped off the suitcase in the main hall and caught hold of Anjali’s hand and led her to the terrace.

The breeze blew strongly across the terrace. An instant downpour was imminent. Arul lifted Anjali’s face so that he could look at her eyes. She turned her face away avoiding any eye contact.

“What is the problem with you?” spoke Arul.

“Mridula wants to marry you” she spoke coldly.

“That’s a lie. I want to marry you and you want to marry me” Arul tried to keep things as simple and direct as possible.

Anjali looked a little startled as she tried to figure out how Arul might have come to know of the truth.

As Arul was about to continue his long talk, rain drops pelted on both of them. Anjali caught Arul’s hands and led him to the small attic room. Soon, it was heavily raining.

Arul looked at Anjali eyes and spoke “I love you. I want to marry you”

“But Mridula is the perfect match for you” spoke Anjali.

No wonder it’s so tough to change women’s thoughts.

“Would you have said the same thing had we been married?” counter attacked Arul.

“That’s a different story. We are not married till now”

Arul immediately held Anjali close and kissed her gently on her cheek. “Are we now?” he smiled at her waiting for a volcano to burst. A tight slap in this lonely place was not that bad an option.

“You are my sweetheart” she hugged him tightly.
---------------------

“Yes.. Yes.. its this weekend” spoke Anjali’s mother. She nodded and listened intently to the voice on the other end. She spoke of some marriage details.

“Maapilai..” she called Arul after 5 minutes.

“Yes amma.. We decided that the marriage would happen this weekend.”

“No amma… listen.. listen na..” that’s all Arul could speak. “Bring my suit and 3-4 shirts and trousers when you come…. No amma… I am not coming again to Chennnai.. Amma.. Amma??”

“This weekend?” spoke his dad quite startled as Arul’s mom had handed the phone to his dad.

“Yeah appa. The earlier we finish it the better”

There was complete silence from the other side. “So it’s on 28th.. Hmm..” his dad spoke finally.

“Dad, we checked it. It’s a good date to get married”

“Ok son. We shall be there in 2 days”

“Thanks appa. Convince amma also”
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ANJALI WEDS ARUL
28-November-2007


Arul peered closely at the huge signboard.

“Enna boss, any problem?” Arul’s thoughts were disturbed by a sweet voice.

Arul turned around to see Mridula. “Just seeing if the bride’s name is supposed to be changed” teased Arul.

Mridula laughed. “You want Trisha or Asin’s name on that?” she continued his joke.

“It should be just my name on it” spoke Anjali as she joined them.

“See, that was what I was telling your sister” Arul winked at her.

“I heard your earlier comments” Anjali gently jabbed her elbow at Arul.

Suddenly Anjali’s father came rushing towards them “The marriage will start in two hours. Please get dressed”

As Arul walked in to the huge Gayathri Devi Kalyana Mandapam, he could see about 500 hundred people sitting in there. He had never figured out why people loved attending all marriages, leaving all their work behind. Good food.. gossip place.. or a good place to search for prospective grooms and brides.. Whatever..

In the midst of the entire crowd, he could see about 30 neatly dressed people waiting in front of him. He figured out that they were all Anjali’s relatives. He went up to them and shook their hands. Anjali then took Arul to a special relative.

It was Anjali’s grandfather. The wrinkles on his face resembled the crisscrossing lanes of Chennai. He was nearly bald with only some shoots of white hair that had grown at the back of his head. Arul figured that the old man was burdened with lots of gold ornaments probably equaling his weight, which was definitely more than that of any of the ladies standing there. Perhaps he would be better off without that.

Anjali gestured that Arul touch his feet. Arul followed suit and felt a big bang on his head. Grandfather’s heavy watch had banged his head.

Arul got up rubbing his head. Damn.. The last thing he wanted to tell Anjali was what he thought about her grandfather.

Arul walked towards the changing room. Suddenly he saw a dark complexioned, thin tall guy sitting in one of the chairs. I have seen him somewhere. The MLA’s son.. What is he doing here?

Arul went near him and gently tapped his shoulders. The MLA’s son turned and on seeing Arul, got up. “Congratulations!!” he extended his hand.

Arul did not want a big scene in front of the whole crowd. He caught the MLA son’s shoulder and gently ushered him in to a hallway outside the main hall. He caught his shirt collar and threatened him softly “How dare you come here?”

“Leave him Arul” spoke a sweet voice. “I called him here”. Arul could see Mridula running up to them.

“Mridula, why is he here?”

“Arul, I promise, he will not create any problems for us. I have spoken to him”

Arul looked at the MLA’s son and could see him nodding his head.

“You better stay off her dude” warned Arul.

“Marriappan..” the MLA’s son extended his hand once again. I am threatening him and he is extending his hand to me!! “Arul Vaidyanthan” Arul shook his hand.

As Arul walked into the changing room, he could see Mridula whispering something to Marriappan in a hushed voice.
------------------------------

“Where is the bride? Bring her” ordered the priest.

In the midst of all the smoke, Arul sat there chanting all the mantrams. Relatives from both the sides gathered behind him on the stage.

Arul could see his brightly decorated angel,Anjali, walk towards the stage. Her purple colored saree with golden border shone brightly in all the lighting around the stage. She came and sat next to him.

He adjusted himself so that he sat more closely with her. “Asian paint?” he questioned her. She was a little aback by the question. “No.. its Nerolac” she nonchantly replied and laughed.

“A perfect Kodak moment” laughed Mridula standing right behind them.

Just then a small boy came running towards them.

“Thaata.. thaata..” he stopped to catch his breath. “Thaata has fainted. They are calling Mridula akka”

Silence loomed over the marriage hall. All the people on the stage stood shocked. Mridula literally jumped off the stage as she ran towards the grandfather’s room.

“Why are they calling Mridula” Arul questioned Anjali.

“She is doing her MBBS”

Arul didn’t know what to do and figured out that it would be best to sit in his current position.

“Call the ambulance” Mridula’s voice filled the strangely silent marriage hall.

Anjali and Arul got up. “What are we going to do now?” Arul questioned Anjali.

“I don’t know” replied Anjali as she stepped down from the dias.

Arul just stood there motionless.. Oh no!! So close yet so far..

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CLICK HERE FOR NEXT PART
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