Live through stories!

“I am not the most patient person in the world, am I?” Fidgety fingers and feeble foot-taps had already given it away, but his impatience would still require a nod of confirmation from her.

“I don’t know about the world, but you are!” The smile on her face had a hinge of naught in it – she was in no mood to let him off the hook so early.

“Sometimes – you can just lie and nod, can you?” He was irked right now. “There is a good chance that I am writing about this incidence in my next novel” His hands were busy in adjusting his tie for the thousandth time now. This meeting was going to decide if he could call himself ‘a published author’ in the coming weeks or not.

“Chill, its going to be fine.” She handed him his manuscript.

“I am okay with you writing about this. Cause conversations can be forgotten, but I want them to live forever through your stories!”

He calmly took his first script in his hands – from the writer of his own script in making!

Enjoy the ride!

“So, its a no?” His eyes were fixated on her face. She never had any control over her expressions – her face spilled the secrets much before her words would join the act.

“You know the situation!” This time, the act was an unenthusiastic euphemism.

“You know me for a long now. You know that I try till the very last moment. Right?” He was born stubborn, and this time, he had a cause for the fight.

The glance was a little longer than the usual one, until it became too much to handle for a pair of eyes.

“I’ll say, don’t try too hard this time.” A sigh first sliced thick silence in the room, and the words just followed the cut.

“Okay” That was a very quick reaction to the blow just received.

“Why are you smiling?” She was puzzled now. She didn’t expect explosions, but a tinge of anger and frustration for sure. Smile, wasn’t indeed the expected response.

“You said don’t try hard. You didn’t say don’t try.” The smile was converting into a laughter.

“You are impossible” She was still confused about his response.

“Even you know how something is going to end, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride. Right?” Stolen quote, but the charm was real. And so were the shades of calmness in his eyes.

“So, the usual tea and walk?” The smile was back on her face as well.

The tremors were felt by both the hearts thoroughly, and yet the feet danced the road like it was ‘business as usual’.

From a cradle to the coffin!

And then there comes one of the nights,

When you feel the entire purpose of hope,

is to transcend you to the lack of it,

that you’ve been knocking on the wrong door,

all the time,

and the room was empty,

that is why the sound was profound,

the hollowness didn’t only resonate the other side,

it was filling you to the core as well,

And you mistook it for something real.

The mirror still stares back at you,

with the same intensity and the guile,

but you can’t look at it again,

as you know, what you wanted to be years ago,

is a dream of the past now.

The warmth was never there in the air,

it was the lack of chill,

but your spine is full of it now,

and so is your heart!

And then there comes one of the nights,

when you realize the plain truth,

there’s only one path that trails from a cradle to the coffin,

and it’s called life,

all you have to do, is take another step, towards the inevitable fate!

A crossing under the lamp post!

He noticed the figure approach him again, as he continued his daily walk on that circular footpath around the park. It was tracing that path in the anticlockwise direction, opposite to his clockwise trail, and so they would pass each other, twice, as they continued to promenade in that dark night.

He tucked his hands even more tightly in his jacket, and decided to concentrate on the songs in his headphones, as he crossed that figure again; but the thoughts in his head were louder than those songs.

She is a woman. She is the same woman.

He was not seeing her for the first time. He has been seeing her every night, for the past 2 weeks now.

5’5″ or 5’6″. Wheatish complexion. Long black hair.

He noticed the same features, as she crossed him again, and he again felt the same chill in his body.

He had not seen her face quite properly yet, as the park was not very well lit in the night. Only two lamp posts were spraying light into that darkness, both in front of the two entrances to the park and diagonally opposite to each other; but the two sole creatures had not cut their paths below those lamp posts yet.

The crossing would always take place a few feet before or after the lamp posts.

“What does she look like? Is she giving me a smile when we pass, or is it a smug that she is sporting? Friendly eyes or piercing glance? Damn it, I need to see her face once.” The train of thoughts in his head was moving as fast as he was on that track, so that he can match his crossing with that mysterious girl under that lamp post.

Blue jacket. Hands folded. White headphones. Piercing eyes.

He could guess some features, but not all, as he moved a little too fast and crossed the lamp post a few seconds earlier than he could cross that girl.

“Is this some coincidence, or am I just imagining this girl?” thoughts crowded his judgement, or was it the nervousness, as he couldn’t keep the speed up, and missed the girl-under-the-lamp-post crossing again.

He made up his mind.

Hands out of the jacket. Songs off. Headphones out of the ears and eyes fixed. A near run for 5 seconds, and then a slow gait to make it appear casual.

He reached the lamp post a little earlier and waited there. He got down on his knees and started fixing his already-perfect shoe laces.

A few seconds passed. The girl didn’t arrive.

“Did I miss her? Or did she notice my run and that scared her?” the chaos was running a muck in his mind. “Was she a ghost?” the chill-train was running along the tracks of his spine now.

He gave up the wait in a few more seconds and he got up.

A tap on the shoulder. A gasped breath. A quick 180 degrees turn.

Four hands tucked in their respective two jackets.

Two pair of interlocked eyes.

A crossing under the lamp post.

“I was sitting on the bench here and waiting for you. Do you want to take a walk together?”

A smile on the face, finding its way through the air, riding along the tracks of those tucked in arms and residing on the other face as well.

“Sure”

Four feet. Two strangers. A walk in the same direction.

From one crossing under the lamp post.

To another crossing under the lamp post.

Last words!

“That’s it – my fathers last words for me were – I love you!” –

Marshal Eriksen (HIMYM, Season 6, Episode 14)

I wasn’t in for any serious content today, especially when all my flat-mates and friends are not in the town, half the city being closed because of the COVID outbreak, and me hiding in a sad, lonely house – and that’s why I tuned in to “How I Met Your Mother”.

But life had some other plans for me – I stumbled upon one of the most serious episodes of the series – when Marshall’s (one of the lead of the show) father dies and the entire gang travels to Minnesota for the funeral, and talks about the last words their loved ones had said to them.

And I realized two hard truths about myself – I can’t take death scenes anymore.

And I didn’t have the most memorable last conversation with my brother.

“Do you want to come over to my place for the night? I have to catch a plane tomorrow morning though, so you might have to leave very early.” – My elder brother, asking me out of genuine concern.

“No, it’s fine. I anyway have a lot of work to do, so I’ll not take a stop.” – Typical jerk me, acting all busy and avoiding an extra stop in Mumbai, as I was only concerned about some additional sleep I can get by doing so.

The moron me didn’t realize it back then – but it was the last conversation I’d have with my brother.

A week later I received a call from my parents. They asked me to catch the first flight to Mumbai – My brother had passed away. All of sudden. And he was just 29.

Me and my brother – we were quite an inseparable unit when we were kids. We’d constantly play cricket in the home, hang around the city together, drink those boring glasses of milk while making weird faces and watching Shinchan or Tom and Jerry together.

Being an elder brother, he’d always take my responsibility, and would carry me around like his wing-man. He’d always keep up with what would be happening in my life – be it my screwed up placements, or IIM admission interviews or girl troubles – his advise would either be a super hit, or super blunder. But the thing is, he’d always have my back.

And things had taken a turn lately – we’ve not been that close in the past few years – we had our stupid arguments, mostly around me not listening to my parents and running a muck . Though my brother would try to mend the gap by having frequent calls with me, I’d usually have one-word-I-am-too-busy answers for him – I kind off hated the fact that everyone loved him, and such an ideal person he was – a huge contrast to the rebel, impulsive personality I sported. In fact, I had hardly met him twice in the past 2 years.

There were so many things we didn’t talk about in those 2 years:

I never asked him about the girls he has dated or been dating, and neither told him about anyone I’ve dated – maybe I just felt too awkward about it.

We never had a conversation about my dream to become a writer – and I really didn’t know what his true dream was – I just didn’t care much.

I didn’t tell him about my crazy trips around the world – I didn’t need another advice about not hanging out with strangers or hitch-hiking, again!

Neither did I ask him about his recent struggle with his job – I thought he’d be able to figure it out by himself. He has always been.

And I didn’t tell him for such a long time – that I loved him – I always thought, I’d say that to him when we sit together for a quiet dinner, probably after his upcoming marriage, which he was finally happy about.

I always thought that I had time.

But I didn’t! And neither do you.

The thing is, life is one unpredictable, cruel monster – it can take everything away from you in a blink – and all you are left with are unspoken words, and a lot of regrets.

So you think you are too busy for that call with your parents, and you keep stalling it? Are you sure, when you’ll want to make that call, your parents will be around?

So you think that expressing your love to this boy/girl is futile, cause you don’t see the future with him/her? Are you sure, that you have a future for yourself? Or, will that person be around the next time, when you get your surety?

And you are having this little argument with your friend and you’d prefer not calling him on his birthday this time . Remember this, if something happens in life, your last conversation will be an argument.

A stupid argument!

There were so many things that I had to say to my brother, but I couldn’t.

I hope you don’t make the same mistake with your loved ones – and actually tell them, how much you really love them – without occasions, without clarity about your futures together, without thinking about the consequences. Who knows, those might be your last words to your loved ones!

PS. I just poured myself a glass of insipid milk and started watching Shinchan on TV – and imagined my brother to be with me, drinking that milk while making weird yet familiar faces.

Cause last words are so overrated – it’s the lifelong of memories that count πŸ™‚

Rewriting the past!

“This is just like Budapest!” – Natasha Romanoff

“Well, you and I remember Budapest very differently!” – Hawk Eye

I watched The Avengers for the first time when I was hardly 18, and after that, I’ve kept revisiting it every now and then, just to enjoy the awesome fight scenes, funny jabs, lets-come-together-and-save-the-world story line and of course, the cool dialogues.

And this time, when I was watching it for the Nth time, this banter between Hawk Eye and Natasha got me thinking a fundamental question – “Why do they remember the same time they had differently?”

And which led to the bigger question – Who know’s it more correctly? What’s the truth behind the story?

Which lead to – “what is this concept called truth?”

If you do a quick Google search, you get a simple definition – “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality”.

But is that so simple?

What about the context, memories, and feelings attached with a moment, or a person even, and ourselves? – the canvas of truth has more hues than we can think!

Imagine – you and me – we meet at a bar and I buy you a drink. We talk about our boring work lives, I tell you a some of the cool stories I’ve written, you tell me about the awesome trips you’ve been to, we exchange numbers (and If you are a cute girl, I definitely give you a call later – Oh, lucky me!) – a set of simple events. Nothing more than a bunch of facts, right?

The next day at work – I tell this to my friends – “You know, I met this cute girl at the bar yesterday. We had a great time and I am going to call her tomorrow. Probably, she’s the one!”

Or – “You know, I met this cute girl at the bar yesterday. We had a great time, but I am still not over my ex. She gave me her number, but I guess, I’ll just sit out this one.”

And you’ll tell your friends – “You know, I met this guy at the bar yesterday – he’s totally jerk!” (I am not sure if you’ll have another version about this though πŸ˜‰ )

Two people, simple events – but completely different stories – or truths?

Sabka apna apna version hota he sach ka! (Everyone has their own version of the truth!” (source – ZNMD, of course)

You and me remember the incident in a different way – cause my version of truth is an accumulation of the memories, context and feelings I associated with the facts related to that incident – and so did you.

Imagine this now – we meet again, a few days later, and we really hit it of? You date me, or give me a job offer that I can’t refuse, or we end up starting up a company?

15 years down the line – what will you tell your kids about me?

“Oh, we had such a great time in our first date, you know?

Or, “Oh, he had great ideas – and I saw the potential in them!

Or – “He was and is still a big jerk!!!”

Now the main question is – why am I blabbering so much about so many random things?

So, there is another thing – truth comes with an expiration date – you either forget it, or just rewrite your past!

Our life is a culmination of thousands of truths and memories that we have buried deep down in our hearts, even way past their expiration dates.

“My ex cheated on me, and I am going to make her/his life miserable!”

“My boss fired me, and I am not going to forgive him for that!”

“My brother didn’t help me in my college when I needed him the most, and I will not help him ever!”

Here’s a thing – your ex, your boss and your brother – they have their versions of the truths as well, and solid reasons to behave in the way they did.

If you hold the grudge a little longer, who knows, you won’t be able to have that candid conversation with your ex, or business discussion with your boss. And your brother won’t be around the next time!

“My ex cheated on me – but that’s what forced me to meet the right person!”

“My boss fired me, but that’s what made me improve my skills and land at another job!”

“My brother didn’t help me, but that’s what made me more capable of solving my own problems.”

These versions of truths sound a little better, don’t they?

Rewrite your past before it’s too late – relationships come with an expiration date too, and so does your life!

“Well, you and I, let’s remember the Budapest in the same way!”

Perfect endings!

“So, you just let her walk away?” She was puzzled and angry at the same time.

“Yes.” He wasn’t either. Rather, he was just calmly sipping his coffee, like nothing has happened.

“With her ex?” She just couldn’t believe him. It was not in his nature to be so calm, that too, at such an odd moment.

“Yes.” The cup, half filled with the hot coffee, was on the table now. He had wrapped his hands around it to gather some warmth from it.

“That too, when she had accepted your marriage proposal just a week ago?” She just hoped that warmth from the hot coffee to transfer in her best friend too, and he lose his cool for a while at least.

“Yes.” He wasn’t interested in generating any other response. He didn’t consider it necessary.

“Like really? How could you just let her go? I know her ex came back from USA to see her again and all, but still? Why didn’t you put up a fight, you moron?” Unknowingly, she was on her feet now, thumping the table in front of her, creating ripples in his coffee, and mind.

“Because she looked happy and it felt like the perfect ending of a perfect love story. Just not my story.” He had just quoted Ted Mosby, and he knew she’d get the reference. After all, they were best friends for a decade now.

“Stop it. Life’s not a series. If you keep giving these easy endings to the people who you love, what will happen to your story then?” She was just too frustrated with him tonight.

“My story? Ohh, I guess she’s just sipping her own coffee, while her best friend is yelling at her for letting her perfect ending slip through her own hands. Or maybe, its she yelling on her best friend instead?”

The silence was awkward, as she sat down, and started sipping her coffee as well.

Magic!

“I don’t think I can continue writing as good as I do, after I leave this city.”

“Why?”

“Because this place is magical; no other place can make me write so good.”

(Stern look) —

“I don’t think I can date him anymore.”

“Why?”

“He’s really a good guy, but he’s not so compatible with me – you know, like a soulmate. I don’t see the magic.”

(Stern look number two.)—

“I don’t think I can live in this room.”

“Why?”

“Because, you know, it’s not magical.”

(Stern look number 3)—

Magic – such a ‘magical’ word it is, isn’t it?

Or, just a cute, little lie? An excuse to not do the real work? A reason to stay away from things we that require some efforts? (Calling me a Muggle, already?)

I recently watched a Friends episode (more like, re-watched for the nth time), where Monica says something really nice to Chandler – “I don’t believe in the concept of soulmates. I don’t think you and me are destined to end up together – we just fell in love, and then we worked hard on our relationship. Some days, we worked really hard (and that’s why we are where we are!)”

I agree that Ross and Rachel were nice too – but I always liked Mr. and Mrs. ‘Bing’ (you just heard that in Chandler’s voice, didn’t you?) – two completely different people, got into a relationship out of desperation (or was it magic?), and then stuck together forever – caring and loving each other, getting angry at each other, cursing and cuddling at the same time – making every moment count! Isn’t this what it should always be? Is this what they call ‘the magic’?

Sure, a city can be more beautiful than the others – but writing is something in you darling – you have to work on it, daily, to make it as beautiful as the city you love!

Sure, he’s not your soulmate and all, but why don’t you give it a try and put a little effort in that a-little-boring-a-little-dormant relationship? Who knows, he might turn out to be a Chandler to your Monica?

Yes – this place sucks – it is not as awesome or magical as your last one was. So does your new job. And new colleagues. And new gym. And everything else.

But can you not give it a try?

A little renovation can make your new place cool?

A little extra involvement can make your work a little interesting?

A Chai-sutta-gossip can make your colleagues more fun? Or maybe, just a warm, inviting smile everyday?

Magic – is not a cute, little lie – it’s about the small, small gestures and a little more hard work you put in your work, your relationships, your hobbies – your life!

Magic is not in you – you are the magic!!!

Deepest Fears!

He got out of their car and looked ahead. The weather was stormy, drizzle was a constant and the night had started stepping in the horizon; yet he could see the vastness and depths of Baoli step wells slowly unfolding in front of him. His mesmerized expressions matched with the friends accompanying him, as they slowly approached this man-made wonder.

He took his first step towards that depth. The stairs were indeed not in their best shape – broken, dusty and slippery, just like the steps of life he has been taking in the past few years.

He moved a couple of steps down and realized, that the way down is very narrow, and is surrounded by open veranda’s and closed chambers, all surrounded by a thick mud wall – a classic chess black-and-white board of beautiful memories filled by suffocating emotions.

Could this place be as haunted as his dreams were? Could he expect a sudden scream and a shivering revolt in his body here as well?

He was almost half-way down now – or that’s what he’d thought at least. The goblet of bottomless depth in front of him was filled till the rim with a weird combination of darkness – half of which came from the depth itself, and the other half poured by the crawling night.

Though light was leaving in his company, but the sound was in for a very weird game. Every step he took with his hard-bottomed shoes would create a faint echo, keeping his already goose-bumped body alert and resonating with his heavy breathing – which was not a sign of the fatigue, but something more tiring.

He was just scared, of what he could see clearly in the darkness ahead depicted – it had a humane form now – his deepest fears were extending a hand towards him, with a visible smug on their faces.

He wondered, if everyone could see their deepest fear in the darkness ahead too. The silence of all the souls walking with him were affirming his hypothesis. And they were all as afraid as he was – nobody wanted to embrace their deepest fears too.

What if I lose my job? Should I take that leap of faith? How can I survive the death of my close ones? What will happen to my loved ones when I die? Or simply, can I get through the day? His fears were much simpler, but he could only imagine what others were thinking about.

And that put a sudden smile on his face – he was afraid, but he wasn’t the only one with this fear.

The entire world was standing with him. Looking at their own worst fears. In their own humane forms – extended arms and faint smug.

He turned around and started climbing back. “Not today!” He kept saying to himself. Today is not the day he embraces his deepest fears. He still has a long way to go. He’s not ready yet.

But when the time will be right, he knows what he needs to do – just climb down, till the last step, and embrace that extended arm – and ensure, that he has a smug on his face too!!!

Lost and Found

“Welcome to the lost and found section. How may I assist you?”

“I think I’ve lost something.”

“And what it would be?”

“My life.”

“That is indeed a serious problem then. When did you lose it?”

“I woke up today, and realized that I don’t have it anymore. I don’t even know when did I lose it even.”

“You lost it in the moment you realized you need to find it. You’ll find it in the moment you won’t care about losing it!”

%d bloggers like this: