Category Archives: Emotions

Infrired

July 10, 2017

It was a perfectly normal afternoon on a normal day and it also happened to be my birthday. A co-incidence? I would like to think so, yes. The sun was shining, when it should have been raining. But that was what was normal. On such a day, which could have been a better day, if not for what follows, she stares into space with a faraway look and almost whispers. It could have been a booming loud voice, but my memory chose to remember it as whisper.

She: Mom, I am going to stay in a live in relationship.

Milli seconds later there was just a sound of silence. My mind went into an analytical mode and knew this was payback time for all the times I may have troubled my parents. Did I miss my chance for atonement? Right here right now, in this birth you pay. My ears started hearing dramatic background scores from horror movies with glass crashing to the floor. I held tightly on to the steel bottle in my hand, least I dropped that.
She: Mom, I am going to stay in a live in relationship.
Me: (attempting to be funny)What? Here? In this house?
She exasperated: Not now Ma! When I grow up.
Me: Wait! Are you saying you are not grownup? (Forgetting the actual issue and caught on the only word that made sense now) As a grownup…
She: Do you want me to have a relationship now?
Me: No. But since you yourself  said you are grownup…which means you should be thinking about being responsible…
She: (quickly cutting short my weekly special “talk”) I meant when I grow up even more than what I am now.
Me: (Awww my little baby…) So why did you bring up this whim now?
She: See this friend of mine in this photo? Got married secretly yesterday and none of us were aware. Their parents gave in and got them married officially. She will continue with her studies.
Me: (beads of sweat forming on forehead) Okaayyyy… That’s the right thing to do though. What do you think?
She: Nothing. It’s cool
Me: (Damn right its cool!) So then what has this got to do with you in a live in?
She: Do you want me to surprise you then? I thought it is better to let you know what I am thinking.
Me: Oh thank you for considering! I would like to tell you what I am thinking, and that is (smiling sweetly) NO!
She: Why not?
Me: Because today is not the time to discuss a live in relationship?
She: So then I can have a relationship but not a live in?
Me: (quick, my senses, tell me what the right answer is) I will do a background check on the guy and then give my approval.
She: (Laughing) it doesn’t work that way Mom. It’s not marriage we are talking about here.
Me: (finding a safe exit point) End of the conversation girl. And No to live in relationship for you!
I know it doesn’t work that way. But I am still a parent a friend most of the times, who can’t help but be protective, which is when the “society pressure tool “ is brought out, in spite of not wanting to do so.

If ever there were a universal manual with FAQ’s for parents of all kinds, on how to answer the most difficult questions or statements from your “grownup” children, like a pro, that manual would need a new edition every 2 years from the look of it.

Words

There are some words, just thrown out in the universe for anyone to pick. You are probably the only witness to the exact minute they are out and they coincide with what you had been struggling to come to terms in all those hours that went by. Those words punch into your solar plexus, leaving you gasping for breath. You want more air, more strength to withstand the impact, while you shiver with anticipation needing an end to the misery, if at all there is a cure. A feeble thought comes to your mind, they were meant for you and just you, always you. That feeling surpasses everything that held your composure, its so strong that for a minute you are ready to throw all caution to the wind, only just to own the words.

Except that time helps you pass through this feeling while your mind wins the battle with your heart with the first light of dawn. They are after all just words, it says.

A decade and more

10 years 7 months.

This is the longest I have stayed with anyone in my entire life! Go figure! (Feel free to read meaning into it).

Couple of days ago, I bid adieu to my colleagues and my day job. I carried home all fond memories which included all the exe’s and current. Getting footloose at annual parties, binge drinking with fellow partners in crime on sea-shore, realisation of the fact that I will not field in any cricket match ever, gossip-chat-discussion-laughter friends, indulging in short sweet tooth craving outings, travel dumb charades buddies, exhilaration after trekking 1440 ft height fort (leaves me gasping for breath even now), the  brainstorming during presales projects, faith of my junior team members, opportunities bestowed by the now global HR, friends from IT who were an SOS call away, humbling CSR activities, fulfilling creative pursuit workshops.

This last one though had the rest of the organisation going green with envy. Just a few of us folks were the chosen ones for this workshop. We got 3 weekends to destinations far from the city, clicking photographs, dancing around campfire, star gazing on dark nights, with all expenses paid. Well, but this was the general slightly exaggerated impression and we all let them believe. In reality, it was a lot of hard work for long hours, multiple assignments and introspection not for the faint hearted!

Now that I am not billable for some time, I returned to my half read book. Below is a quote from it-Mirza Ghalib A biographical scenario.

Hazaron khwahishen aesi , ke har khwahishen pe dam nikle

Bhut nikle mere arman, lekin phir bhi kam nikle.

Posting some pics with us all, the people who matter to me from this past decade long journey. Even if you are not in the pics, you are fondly remembered. Please know that!

1

Party-We celebrate and how! 

2

Honoured- Only pic sharing same frame with The global HR

3

We indulge- Food, desserts…weight! whose watching?

4

CPW Workshops-In pursuit of happiness?!

5

Trek-Climb every mountain, ford every stream…

6

The morning after-Still fresh, coz we didn’t sleep

7

Popcorn time-In support of regional movies and a dear friend

8

We won-The only match I played in

I am me

I was not prepared.
when he raised his voice to silence mine
I was not prepared
when he wanted to own and strip me of my being, but not walk with me
I was not prepared
when he fantasied me in his world but changed his path before the bend ahead and walked into her world
I was not prepared
when he showed up naked, but wanted me to be nude
I was not prepared
when I was told I am safe here but then he touched as if he just could
I was not prepared
when he unknowingly sucked out my spark, simply wishing I would somewhere ignite his art
I was not prepared
when my beliefs crumbled, but I showed strength to keep his identity safe.

He asks me why…
why I don’t have faith
why I don’t have trust
why I don’t respect him
why I don’t tell my story
why I don’t cry as such
why I don’t laugh as much
why I don’t meet him that much
why I am alone

I tell him, I am who I am
I am prepared now
I am prepared to walk alone
I am prepared to trust my own
I am prepared to smile and laugh
I am prepared to invite that little tear which is now a dew drop
I am prepared now, which is why I am not who you think I am.

I am me. Now free.

Ira and Irfan

Ira tried to find her way on the crowded footpath. The men were in tight embrace greeting each other, children ran amok. The little boys in crochet topi’s and little girls in their colorful sequined shalwar qameez looked adorable.
Ira wrapped around her flyaway saree pallu by her left hand. The right hand was free to find her way out to the main street and stop the crowd from dashing against her as she rushed past everyone busy in celebrations. There were a lot of random thoughts going through her head. What was she thinking by agreeing for this meeting on a holiday? And that too at Mahim on Eid!…Hope the hair bun stays till the meeting gets over… Is the pallu too long?…Thank god it’s not raining today, else the tussar silk would have clung as second skin. Well and that would have been a sight! The buds in the tight gajra on the loose hair bun will bloom fully by dusk. It was a last minute addition. The smile was back on her face.

He saw her briskly but gracefully walking, deep in thought, but aware of the surroundings. A slight smile curved the corners of her delicately colored lips. Her light kajalled eyes looked straight into his. Without losing her gaze he walked closer towards her. Recognition and surprise lit her eyes more and she smiled brightly, which skipped a beat in his heart. He felt he was short of breath.

Ira stopped in her step, as though she had seen a vision in white. He looked absolutely stunning in crisp pressed white kurta. He stood in front of her and she forgot where she was. She blurted out. “What a pleasant surprise to see you. Eid Mubarak Irfan!” She stretched out her hand to wish him and he clasped hers in both his hands. “Thank you Ira” he smiled at her.” And what are you doing here?” ” Visiting a client’s place” she said. He was totally surprised,” Today? It’s a holiday Ira. Don’t you ever rest?” “I hardly have a choice. But I love what I do, so here I am. And I got to meet and wish you too” she smiled.

Before Irfan could say anything, Ira’s face was against his chest, clutching his shoulder with another hand. She gave out a loud painful cry. Few youngsters carrying a large table over their head, had pushed against her hitting her shoulder blade and back. The impact was such that she fell right into his arms. Irfan looked into her upturned face and saw the pain in her eyes.

The next instance he held her back and started moving towards those guys. “No Irfan! Please don’t! It was an accident. Let it go.” He looked at her. Her eyes were glistening with tears. She looked visibly shaken and scared. Irfan controlled his emotions and moved two steps near her. Her hand was still tightly holding on to his arm. Her left hand was clutching his kurta where a crease had now formed. There was now a slight pink color, where her lips had brushed against his tunic. He never thought Ira would be hassled ever or scared of anything in her life. During all the times they met for their business meetings, she always carried a devil may care attitude and a poise of great courage for a woman. But this Ira standing before him, was almost like a vulnerable young girl. Irfan realized he had overreacted, and tried to calm himself and her. He put his protective hand around her shoulder and led her away from the center of the crowd.

“Are you okay now? Did you get hurt? Do you want to sit down before you go for your meeting?” She relaxed. How is it possible that the same person can invoke a feeling of fear, and calm down your nerves in a span of few minutes?

“Yes I am better now. Thank you. I don’t know how I could have managed without your help. I did not anticipate so many men out on the streets celebrating.” She turned her head up and smiled at him. He smiled back tentatively. After a pause he asked her, “What time will your meeting get over? She said, ” In an hour”.

They walked towards Oscar Heights. Ira again wished him, they said their goodbyes and she went into the building. Irfan waited till she reached inside and then turned to leave.

The meeting was postponed by 30 mins. Mr Mirchandani, himself had gone to Crawford market to collect some samples.

An hour and a half later, when the meeting was over, she walked out happy and loaded with bags of samples. Her team will be thrilled on Monday, when she displays them her day’s work. They had very less time to complete the concept. This was a big jackpot. If she plans well, the entire project will win her company crores. The sun was peeking from behind the clouds. Ira brushed her strand of hair behind her ear and shielded her eyes. And then she saw him. Irfan was leaning against a car and had changed into a formal white shirt and slate grey trousers.

“Hi again! What are you doing here?” She was pleasantly surprised. “I came to invite you to our home. I stay nearby, and I insist you visit us on this occasion” he said. “Oh! I would love to really. But some other time perhaps. I have a lot of stuff to carry back and don’t want to be late”.

“I will take care of the stuff”, saying that he took the bags from her, opened the car door and put them on the back seat. “There! All done. Now if you please,” he guided her, holding her elbow, towards the passenger door and opened it for her, ” come and grace my home with your presence, I will be obliged”. She laughed while getting into the car, the sun shining in her eyes, making them even brighter. Was she always this beautiful, Irfan thought closing the door behind her.

“Amma, this is Ira, she is working with my partner on one of our projects. I happened to meet her after the namaaz, so I invited her over.”

Ira bowed respectfully, “Salaam! Eid Mubarak!” Irfan’s ammi, held Ira to her bosom, “Walekum as salaam beta! Eid Mubarak! And what tehzeeb. Ayra! Mashallah! What a lovely name. Were you at the masjid to offer Salat?” Before she could fire away more questions, Irfan cut in. He turned her around and walked with her towards the kitchen , ” Ammi jaan its Ira not Ayra. And she is a Hindu. She came here to meet a client and not for the salat. Now would you offer her some sweet please?And I am terribly famished as well. The aroma is making me all the more hungry.” “Oh yes yes…of course beta. I was just lost in some thought. Please sit dear Ira and welcome”. Ammi hastened inside and got a tray full with Biryani, kebabs and phirni.

By the time the dawaat got over and guests started leaving, it was 5 in the evening.The lift stopped on the 3rd floor. Irfan moved towards the door and looked at Ira. ” I have to pick up something from my flat. That”, gesturing upwards ” was my parents house”. He opened the door and welcomed Ira. She was hesitant. Today was a day full of emotional turmoil. Irfan disappeared in the inside room and minutes later called out to Ira. She went in the bedroom. It was spick and span. He asked her to look into the mirror on the dressing table. He held another mirror behind her back so she could look at the reflection. On her back, she saw a bluish black bruising on her skin at the edge of her blouse. She reached behind to touch the spot and suddenly remembered the incident. This was where the table must have hit her hard. No wonder she was in pain then. Irfan quietly kept the mirror and picked up an ointment. Without saying another word, started applying the cream on her bruise in light circular motion. Ira could feel the heat from his body very close to her. His mint fresh breath was teasing the loose strands of hair on the nape of her neck. He inhaled deeply,” The flowers in your gajra. What are these?” ” Chameli” she replied. ” Do you like it?” After another long breath, he said, “Yes”.

Her face looked flushed. Ira turned around and hugged Irfan tightly burying her face in his shirt, saying a silent thank you. He held on to her. Then very slowly Irfan moved his hand to her chin and turned her face towards him. He held her face looking at her for a long time, then lowered his head and kissed her on her forehead. Ira opened her mouth to say something, but words lost her. Irfan cupped her cheek, looked at her for some more time, turned and left the room. He picked up her bags and then dropped her at the nearest taxi stand. He took down the taxi number and instructed the driver with some rules, which she did not follow, ensuring her safety.

Irfan came back home very restless. He could not explain what he felt for her and why. The day’s events left him deep in thought. He went straight to his bedroom to lie down. A quick nap should straighten his mind. Suddenly he sensed Ira was still around. He could smell the heady, musky, sweet fragrance from flowers. On his dressing table, Ira had left the chameli gajra. She left a little of herself for him.

Mumbai Meri Jaan

An impromptu plan. She agreed, which was a pleasant surprise for him. Early that day he said,” Meet me at the junction, I am taking you away. Today you will see Mumbai through my eyes”.
“You mean explore the unexplored bylanes?”
“No dear, to see the union of waves with the shore, to feel it”.
” You very well know what I am fond of, just wondering, if experiencing this union will make me forget the present.”
” You may very well drift from the conscious, but nowadays I am rooted to the ground. I have the horizon in my view. You have nothing to worry.”

Her chariot was waiting at the corner as promised. A quick exchange of pleasantries as they drove off. Mumbai calling. Traffic, signals, people, crowd, all was a blur. He glanced sideways at her and  thought, she seemed radiant today. That was a sign signifying all will go well as planned. She took charge shuffling the radio channels and setting the mood for the evening. There was no sense of urgency to reach any place, neither did she quiz persistently on the plan. He could see the trust she placed on him. It brought a sense of relief and a huge pressure was lifted off his mind. The journey mattered.

In no time the Bandra Worli sealink was in view. The rain gods had decided to call it a day. The atmosphere as dusk started to set in was welcoming. Through the grey clouds, the washed away shades of crimson and orange peeped out. The sight was too inviting to ignore. She thought, this is it. Probably we will sit on one of the benches on the reclamation, and watch the seagulls. But he swilled the wheel  towards the toll booth. She watched him curiously, trying to gauge his thoughts. She was itching to ask about his plans for the evening, but decided otherwise. They drove on, sharing memories of the bygone, singing to the ghazals tuned in. Worli, Haji ali, Peddar road, Marine lines, Churchgate, Kala ghoda, then it dawned on her. Gateway of India. So this is where we are headed. Teasingly she asked” Are you taking me to the Taj?”
“Do you want to? We can have a quite dinner there.”
She smiled, ” No, you promised the ocean, I don’t want to sit confined in a place and watch the dark waters from enclosed premises.”

They circled the Taj Hotel for a couple of times, in hope to find a safe parking area. There was none and he was at a loss. It seemed the whole of Mumbai decided to visit the Gateway today. She asked him, ” Are we going to sit here? There is a huge crowd and too dark to even look at the sea and the waves.”
“I thought maybe you would like to see the Gateway.”
She giggled, “And do what?”

He smiled and a dejected look washed his face. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Disappointed they decided to drive towards Marine drive. By now hunger was gnawing her insides, they hadn’t stopped for a quick bite. The scene there was no different. The entire stretch was full of people and noisy vehicles.

They drove on till Haji Ali and zeroed in on Mainland China. If not the sea, the quite dinner can be a success he thought. Two glasses of Jacob Shiraz, some appetizers set the mood for what was to follow. And what a revelation it was! Once the conversation started, they realised, they had many things in common.  Their love for books, his knowledge of literature, music, art, poetry all weaved effortlessly into they talk as if they were composing music together. Their shower of praises for each other knew no boundaries.  She highlighted his strength in his work and he showed her a path to make her weaknesses, her power. Theirs was a perfect combination of give and take. Then and there they promised and made plans to work towards a mutual goal. A perfect end to a perfect evening they walked together outside, with unlimited hope in their hearts.

“Let’s take the expressway, we will reach faster” saying he drove on.  Little did he know, the universe had conspired this evening to last even longer and make their wishes come true for tonight. He missed the turn on a bylane and turned left. Suddenly they were in front of Worli seaface. She looked out at the sky, switched off the AC and rolled down the window, letting the natural cool breeze come into their space. By now he knew her too well to even ask, what she was doing. He slowed down and tentatively stuck to the left, when she blurted what he had already anticipated,” Shall we wait here for some time please?”. He smiled knowingly and parked at the side.
Few moments and she asked, ” Do you know what I am going to say next to you?” 
Within a 2 seconds he said, ” You want to step outside?”
She gushed,” Yes! He, the sea is calling me here! I can feel it. it seems only fair that we respect his request isn’t it?” and her face lit up like a child.
The minute they walked towards the broad cement barrier that separated the sea from the walkway, the breeze engulfed them. Without a moments hesitation, both ran like kids, swirled their feet over the barrier and sat facing the sea.
And then silence!
” Tell me what comes to your mind looking at the waves. Quick three words! Don’t think.” he said.
” expansive, silent, coming home”.
He looked at her expressions and her face showed many emotions, “Watch the waves break against the shore. They fall back as if the shore has pacified the passion in the wave. The wave goes back in and comes back with renewed strength. This is me, the shore. You are like the wave, fighting with vigour against all odds and crashing into me. I am here to be your strength and you go back to being yourself, at your peak. That is what you are meant to be. It explains all that we have spoken today and what we mean to each other.”

She looked at him with absolute adoration, mesmerised by his simplicity and understanding the depth of his words. He was right, this is what all this journey is all about. They went back to observing the waves, made poetry, creativity and inspiration was all around them. They were lost to the world and time stood still.

They lived the moments, like movies it felt like a dream, just too good to be true. In bargain rediscovered  themselves. Through many  wrong misses and turns, they still found their path in this one evening. Just like life, which  throws you at multiple crossroads till you find your own calling.

image

Credit to the picture, (actually I literally begged him to share the pic with me, which was so apt to this post): Thank you Vishal 🙂