I know

smile

 

I love you da, I said.

She paused for a tiny second and replied, I know. She smiled.

I instantly felt happy.

****************************************************

I was eight. I was naughty as naughty could be. I remember my red T-shirt and sky blue shorts. Red was my favorite color growing up. Speaking of growing up, Dhriti was my favorite person in the whole wide world. She moved in a few years ago. We were the best of friends. Sumedha and Dhriti, the name always echoed in the neighborhood. We were two naughty kids made for mischief. We were always together. We went to the same school. We both would usually walk to our school. It wasn’t either far away from where we lived or littered with traffic to make things unsafe for us. There was always either my mom or hers accompanying us. I bet our mothers loved the arrangement. One of them could breathe a sigh of relief from the hectic routines of the morning.

We were in the same class too, Dhriti and I. But of course, we never sat together. It was pretty uncool to sit with a girl at school. They all sat on the left half of the classroom. The benches were partitioned into two sections within each classroom. The left, usually meant for the girls and the right, where we boys sat. She was never really far away. We’d look at each other from time to time and giggle.We were always up to something even when we were pretending to study in our classroom.

That day, I was wearing my usual favorite. Red and blue. It was the first time i told her that. We were playing hide and seek. Bhanu was the seeker. We all went our ways into hiding. Dhriti was hiding with me. I don’t exactly know why I said it or what made me say it. I said it anyways.

I looked at her and casually blurted the magic words. Dhriti, I love you da.

She smiled and said I know.

Back in the day, I thought when people liked each other to a great degree, they obliged by saying those words in that order. I had seen quite a few many movies. Every movie had an uncle conveying the same to his friend, the aunty. I thought that was the way of the world.

I instantly felt happy telling her that.

****************************************

Nothing had changed. Red was still the color of my choice. I moved away from blue to black. Black jeans were cool. I was always seen sporting one. Dhriti was still the same. All the boys in our class had a crush on her. I couldn’t blame them. Dhriti was beautiful. It was a crucial year for us. The dreaded 12th Standard. Our entire lives depended on this critical year, or so I was told. Neither she nor I had the time for romance. We never distracted ourselves away from our status quo. We were always together, we were always nearly one. My love for her never changed. Hers for mine never changed. I still remember the day. The results were out. We both had fared reasonably well. Dhriti’s dad got her enrolled into a college in Delhi. I was to pursue my education here in Chennai. She was to leave in a week’s time.

That evening we both went out for our usual walk by the beach. It was a windy day. The skies had darkened. The skies were kind that evening. They decided to open up and a gentle shower smothered us with delicate drops. We both walked back home. We both were holding our hands together. It wasn’t gripped tight. I had her hand in my hand. I knew nothing was ever going to take that away from me.

Dhriti, I love you da. I said.

She smiled and said, I know.

I instantly felt happy.

We hugged. It was time for her to head back home.

I cried that night. In love yes, a fool no. She hadn’t said me too. She hadn’t said I love you either. She hadn’t changed the status quo. Sadness gripped me. That sadness didn’t last long. In time she flew off to Delhi. My classes had also started. Soon, all was forgotten. Well, almost.

**************************************************

The music was loud indeed. The evening was fun. So many people around. I found myself enjoying the event. I was busy flirting with a few of her friends. Harmless casual flirting. It didn’t mean anything. It didn’t have to either. I liked the moment. I had their attention span for a while and they had mine in return too. I excused myself to pick a glass of orange juice that was served ice cold. Delhi was a hot place. Summer was unforgiving. Even though the sun had gone down, the heat that it left behind remained.

I snaked my way through the young dancing crowd. I knocked at Dhriti’s door. Hey, Its me. I announced. She let me in a few minutes later. She looked gorgeous. She was dressed in Red. I smiled at the irony of the evening. She was dressed in my favorite color and I was dressed in hers. Yellow.

Big day huh, I asked.

Yup, she let out a nervous smile.

Hey, its gonna be alright, I comforted her.

She hugged me tight and I could feel the anxiety and fears and possibly a million other emotions that were running rampant in her heart.

Dhriti, I love you da, I said.

She didn’t lift her head that was resting on my shoulder. I reckon she smiled. I know da, she said.

I instantly felt happy.

She hugged me tight.

Theek hai, theek hai, i declared. Its almost time. Your groom awaits you darling, I teased her. Get ready soon. And dont worry, everything is going to be alright.

******************************************

Life happened. Dhriti moved to the United States. I roamed about in Europe. Like a nomad, I wandered from one city to another. I wandered from one country to another. My mom got fed up of my recluse life. She got me married off to Hridaya. She was sweet. I remember our wedding. Folks kept talking about us being the perfect pair. I was Krishna’s namesake and she was Radha’s.

I’d like to believe that we lead a happy life together. I’m sure she’d list a million things that she hates about me. I used to drive her nuts. She never grew tired of my tantrums. This one time, the four of us met for the new years in London. Dhriti, Amit , Hri and I. Was a nice vacation.

Hri knew our history. She saw us for what we were. Unconditional lovers, is what she called us. Of course, not in public. There were days when I’d drive her absolutely nuts and her anger would erupt like a volcano. Those were the days she used the term. You should have married your unconditional love. I’m sure I’d have been happier with someone else. She can gladly keep you and the childishness that you are. My stupid fate, she’d tease me.

We had a wonderful decade together. Life happened. She exit the stage.

**************************************************

I rested comfortable. My tired eyes couldn’t keep themselves open. I enjoyed my peaceful sleep. Age had taken its toll. I’d like to believe that I lived a full life. I lived for Hridaya, I lived for myself. We didn’t have kids. One thing less to worry about, I’d comfort her on days when someone managed to hurt her feelings. She was a child to me. I was always her child , her naughty mischievous child. I was lost in thoughts about Hri when a familiar voice shook me away from my memories.

I opened my eyes feebly. It was Dhriti. She had flown in. I guess someone would have called her. She stayed in Mumbai the last few years.

She looked at me with like how she had always looked at me. With awe and love. There was a tinge of sadness in her eyes today.

I struggled to remove the ventilator that covered my face. I tried speaking through them but my voice felt very raspy. Dhriti helped me with it.

She still looked beautiful. She almost looked like the way she did when we first met. Same eyes. Same smile.

Take care, she said as she assured me by patting on my hand.

Dhriti, I love you da, I said.

It had been decades since I told her that. The thought had never occurred to me before. We were two people separated by life. Somewhere down the line, It didn’t feel right to tell her that anymore. Somewhere down the line, I didn’t feel the need to tell her that anymore. I knew that. She knew that. I knew what she’d say anyways. Somewhere down the line, it felt redundant. Words felt redundant.

It had been decades since I told her that. The second time in my life, I didn’t know how she’d respond to that. I found the irony of the predicament funny. The first time, I was young and full of life. I thought i the whole of eternity ahead of me. Today, I knew i wasn’t that young lad anymore. I knew there wasn’t an eternity ahead.

The silence was killing me.

I know da. She said and smiled.

I instantly felt happy.

I closed my eyes and smiled.

Katz

A conversation of 2 words 

He watched the sky lose its colour. The world he witnessed stopped being vivid. His mind refused to process anything apart from black and white. He decided to walk home. He found himself in no condition to drive anywhere. It was either that or he felt the claustrophobic experience of sitting within four doors of his car overwhelming. Air had seemed to drain out of his lungs. He struggled to breathe. He felt choked. There were no arms forcing his neck. If one could fathom a guess, it would probably be all in his mind.




As he walked, he viewed a world of joy around him in anguish. A band of little girls giggling cheerfully as they jumped ropes and singing away happy simple songs did not matter to him. The sight did not scream of colours to his heart. He saw them all in shades of decaying black. Up ahead in a distance, there was a mother feeding her little one. She pointed at the birds to shove a spoonful into the kid’s mouth. The distracted kid obliged. He took in an enormous portion and gleefully munched away. He paused to watch the strenuous exercise. He halted his steps. He looked skywards. A gentle breeze washed away freshly formed tears in his eyes.


It was a sound of a screeching motorcycle that yanked him away from his moment from god. Angry words spewed, the crowd quickly dispersed. The world sounded different today. He had always heard the world’s chaos as music. There had always been a harmony to the confusion. Today , all of it sounded cluttered and incoherent. It was all a static noise. There was no music in the world. The noise lacked form or structure. It was neither pleasant or disturbing. It was just noise. Meaningless, pointless noise. A noise void of any meaning.


Gripped with grief, he carried on walking. There was no place to head that would bring him peace. Peace and promises of a colourful future had to be left behind a few hours ago. Home felt like a place as good as any other. He chose to walk home. The walls that which once offered him comforts would today accept him as their prisoner. His sentence had been pronounced. The time remained to be served. His exile would soon follow. His recluse took shape very quickly. He was drained of colours. He couldn’t see them anymore. He was drained of music, he couldn’t hear it’s soothing sounds anymore. He was drained of thoughts, all his thoughts carried a static noise. 

His motor functions worked. A lifeless soulless body , that which was all that was left of him, managed to walk home. He inanimately rang the bell. He had announced his arrival. 

A few seconds later his mom opened the door.

Mother. Mother is a person whose sight transcends the boundaries of vision. Mother sees it all. She does not see time as a single linear line. To her, the past , the present and the future , they all both simultaneously converge and fork out in different directions. Mother is a person who sees the truth beyond the lies, reads the words when there are none, feels the crush of emotions when one can barely stomach it’s overwhelming icy grip. His mother saw it all. She saw her son for what he was. He was not the boy she had brought into this world. Her baby’s heart was filled with hopes, dreams and love. Her baby’s face was smile ridden. Her baby only cried because it was too jealous to share its mother’s attention with anybody else in the world. 

This was not the baby that she had brought into the world. Here stood a shell. A mere dark reflection of what once used to be nice.

The minute he saw his mother, he could no longer contain his devastating grief. It tore him from deep within. His sorrow exploded. The violent outburst peacefully expressed itself as tears in his eyes.

‘Ma….’, he called out to her. His voice trembled. Even simple sounds felt hard to produce.

‘Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……..’, the mother responded. Words were redundant. She hugged him tight. Her shoulder felt the warm tears of her son.


Katz

Of dreams and curses 

“May you never find success” , the wish left the kingdom shaken.


*******************************************************


It was sixteen years ago when the kingdom sprang back to rejuvenating life. A princess was born and her smile brightened all the faces in the kingdom. The king and his queen were very happy. Their prayers had been answered that day. The land celebrated. The land welcomed its princess in joy. 


Akansha, yes that’s what she was named. It represented dreams. She was a blessed child. Beautiful in every way possible. Beauty rested in her glowing face, it resided warm in her heart. Soft, polite , kind and talented she was. She made the royalty proud. Her gentle voice, when it sang, it was a pleasure to the ears of the kingdom. Her words reflected courage and served as an inspiration to those who read. At a very young age, she was on the right road to mastering the skills that she picked up along her way. She was getting better and better with each day passing. 


The story of my life is incomplete without the story of hers. If the tale calls her the beauty, I was the one destined to bring balance to it. For I was a beast. Hideous the way I was. I never inspired anyone. The goodness of my heart always welcomed the fear in people’s hearts. There were days when I’d lock myself in a lonely deserted tower and wonder if the ugliness lived in me or within the eyes of the world around me. All my thoughts , they just remained thoughts. There was no changing the world. I stood imprisoned by my helplessness in changing myself as well. 


It was only a matter of time when I was expelled from my land. I was the perfect imperfection that sullied the purity of my people. I brought them ill-luck, yes, that’s how I was branded. The harbinger of bad omens. They put up with me for as long as they could. Their intolerant hearts could not stay masked forever. A quick gathering by the town hall later, the people had spoken. I was exiled. 


I don’t remember the years I spent living alone in the forest. It was a place of peace. Animals, both nature’s intended and the bipeds that I had left behind, did not bother me much. They let me be. This was a strange kind of an acceptance. It didn’t bring me peace. It neither brought me misery. In time, I learnt to enjoy the status quo.


On fateful day, the solitude that surrounded me was disrupted by the sound of roaring drums and blaring trumpets. Curiosity got the better of me. Hidden behind my black tattered blanket, I walked towards the fete. My curiosity did not go in vain. It was a spectacle to behold. The whole place was covered in festoons and music flowed through every crevice of the land. I soon learnt that their princess had turned sixteen. The celebration were in her honour.

I survived the day with a few curious onlookers who struggled to place me in their memory. All the judging eyes of the world couldn’t bother me that day. I let myself enjoy the colours that surrounded me. Towards the evening , the party reached its crescendo. We gathered at the palace garden and the princess was to make a public appearance . 


And so she came, dressed in glittering blue. The rumours were true. She was so beautiful that it made me feel terribly ugly. I stood and watched her in awe and admiration. She thanked the humble citizens for making her day a special one. With her address complete, she gracefully walked back and stood by the queen. Lovely, I thought.


The king took the centre stage next. This is a very special day , he announced. A day so special, I’d call upon anyone here to wish my daughter something so special that it had not been wished upon by anyone ever before. The announcement made the crowd buzz. Hesitation grew. The folks stood caught in a daze. What would be so special a blessing that it has never been uttered before, they wondered. Each thought got dismissed faster than the thought germinating itself in their heads. 

I raised my hand. I was confident that I’d never get picked. I wouldn’t blame them. I wanted to give myself a fair chance to life. As luck turned out, the king generously welcomed me.


I walked up to the stage. I had never really pondered about the way I walked. With the entire kingdom’s undivided attention upon me, the weight of a million gazes was bearing down on me. I never did really recognize the awkward graceless way I walked. I was everything that the princess was not. While I remained happy that I got to bless the princess, I also subconsciously started lamenting my own cursed existence.


“My you never find success”, I said. 

The world around me gasped. Simple words heard by simpler minds left the kingdom shaken.

I was arrested and imprisoned. I had exchanged one prison for another. I quietly accepted my fate.


Strange things happened from that day on. The princess lost her zest for life. She felt cursed. The thought of being cursed , cursed her life. She soon lost interest in all her passion. Poetry stopped. Music died. Age had caught on and soon proved itself to be cruel to her. Gone was her grace and beauty. She endured it and fought it for a whole two years. When all failed, she gave up and slipped into a sleep from which there was no waking her up.

The land tried. Tried real hard. Knights after knights came to rescue her. All their gallant efforts went in vain. The kingdom, once that only knew joy and the goodness of the world, was now left grief stricken. Then one day, the eldest of the eldest dared her breath. A prince is in order, she said. Only a prince’s kiss can awaken our sleeping beauty she claimed. Not just any prince. The one with the purest heart. A heart which beats of love for the sleeping princess , she stated. 


And so a search was on. A search that failed. There weren’t many noble men left in the land of nobilities. There wasn’t a love untainted by greed or desire. They scanned and scanned. Not one rose who could fit the bill.


And finally dejected, their desperation had drawn them to me. I now saw a broken father. The aura of his kingship had vanished. He stood frail as a the father of a sleeping daughter. Please dear prince, he said. Please spare us this curse. Awaken the princess of this land, he begged.

Yes, I was the last prince left standing. A prince shunned by his kingdom. A prince, so vile that bred no love in the hearts of his kinsmen. A prince so hideous that the world took comforts to denying his rightful claim. I was no more a prince to the world. I was its hunchback , a crippled beast.


They took me to the princess. All eyes rested on me once again. This time, I had nothing left to lose. I cleared my throat. 

I didn’t protest when you served me my sentence. Not an ounce of effort was spent in understanding my words. You marked me guilty , you judged me by the ugliness of the way I look. I only wished that you had spared a glimpse into the beauty of my heart.

I did love her. I loved her at the very first sight. An angel she looked, the angel in blue. I wished upon her a greatness that the world had never seen. I didn’t want her to feel the pampered comforts that success brings. I wanted her to never stop in her quest for expressing herself through her words and art. A gift so precious, yet so callously thrown.

I stand before you today. I’m no longer a beast. I see the beauty in me. The beast rests in a sleep invoked from its insecurities. Good luck with your beast. My heart does not desire such a broken heart. Off with my head. My lips are not for the beast that lies.


Karthik

The interview 

no gyaan, no insights. no big philosophies this time around. a simple interview that i had to sit through. 🙂


so, she said.. where are you currently working? TCS, i said. It was a particularly tiring day at work. I dint have the energy left to beam with pride. Flat , plain, TCS it was. So, TCS, you know. Tatas. thats where i work, i said.

Hmmm.. tata huh. what do you do?

This was a bloody bouncer of a question. My boss, his manager and most of my customers could not answer that question straight. They knew i was involved and represented calls. Not one had actually bothered to jot down the boundaries of my work, or define the role as they saw fit. When my bosses and customers gave up on that notion, i was never going to prepare a straight answer either!. Its complicated, i said. This time, i was beaming with pride. The things that i take pride on. God Lord!

What?, hows that complicated. Care to explain was her retort.

See, i went on to explain the list of things that i would do between 9 am to 10 am on a typical monday morning. That went on for a good solid fifteen minutes. Not that i cared if the answer impressed her or satisfied her curiosity. I had had enough of the question and a long droning nag of an answer was my best bet to skip the area of discussion. Come to think of it, i guess it worked. Rest of the evening, i dint have to talk about the nature of my work any more 🙂

Hmm. ooooooooook, she stretched. Evil woman. I knew what that meant. She had already formulated the next question in her mind. One more question to survive, i thought.

So, what platform?

excuse me?, whats what platform, i enquired. In my mind i started to panic. Did this woman really understand and figure out what i did? If she did, why would she ask me about platforms????

You know, she said sheepishly. Platform, like Java, oracle. that platform.

Ya. I think there is Java. Definitely have heard people say Java. Oracle is also the backend. I remembered sitting through lenghtly discussion on different versions of Oracle and how limited/flexible their support was. Oracle, i said, backend. Pakka. Lock kiya jaaye!! Then throw in some JMS, MQ. you know, the usual stuff.


Ah. JMS and all huh. Good good, said she. JMS must have been the magic word. She was happy that i was doing something related to JMS. On better circumstances, i would have asked her to walk me through why she thought it was a good thing. Maybe there was something about it that i was missing. Hey, it could go onto my resume. Why say no to a few more Lacs on the negotiation table. But i decided against it. This was not the time. This was not the call for it.

And how flexible is your work timings she went on. Pretty jam packed i said. Sometimes i dont even come home. Ofcourse i was lying through my teeth. And yeah, she dint have to know that. It sounded cool. Sounded correct and above all, it sounded like the right thing to say given the context.

So how come you are not in the USA and in the UK she enquired. 
What, i said. in utter disbelief. My customers are in the UK. I’d love to work from las vegas, but i think my customers will not fund me for that trip. I did have sarcastic answers all running in my head. I dint have the heart to exercise my freedom to use sarcasm. I remided myself. This call was not the right place for it. I had to be polite, appear polite and sounding polite was the order of the day. So sans sarcasm, i said my customers operate from the UK. Makes sense that i work from here too.

So, You will never go to USA is it? she followed on.

Yeah… obama and i had a mutual disagreement. We exchanged vows. He’d never set foot on Besant Nagar Beach, chennai- India. And in return, I’d never set foot in the US soil. Good lord, i did miss my sense of sarcasm and my freedom to exhibit it. I could see my dad screaming at me. I told you, BE IN UR BEST BEHAVIOUR karthik!!!!!. After naming me when i was 15 odd days old, the only time my dad used my name was when he was unhappy with something that i did. In all honesty, i lost count after dad touched 1 million. I was doing my 5th grade back then. So, Karthik is a name he’s used a lot. I know better than giving him another opportunity to use it.

So me, being polite, not wanting to sound like Mr Smarty pants, i said that depends. Global recession, economic conditions and above all else, the Tatas. Tatas which employs managers who manage me, must release me. then i should get into a USA based project and then usa deputation. So in a nutshell, ya, might happen in the future, but i’d not hold my breath till that happens.

I had answered all her questions to the best of my ability. I was also mostly truthful about it. Now, it was her turn to be gracious. Do you have any questions for me Karthik, she asked in her most polite voice. I could imagine my head meeting a power chain saw. damn, life’s simple choices and i dint bother buying a power saw!!!! 

Nope, none i said. with okays and byes the conversation ended.

I rushed off and called my dad. 

So how did it go, he asked.

Not well and all dad. I DONT THINK I WANT TO MARRY HER!!!!!!! i cut the call before my dad could bless me with a piece of his mind. 

And that my friends, is a TCSer’s experience on bride hunting!!!!!!

Next time, i think i will buy a book of the infamous E. BALAGURUSAMY(if you dont know who this is, i bet you had an awesome college life) before i take such calls.

– Katz

A beautiful mind


Tell me that story again Chintu, she said looking at me with her pretty pretty eyes. How could I say no to that! Sure, I smiled. And so the tale began.
********************


My name is Chintu. Chakarapani , but I don’t like that name. Everybody calls me Chintu. Even my teachers. I’m 10 years old. My daddy’s name is Shekar. My amma, her name is Shoba. Amma hates it when I call her mommy. J I do that sometimes just to irritate her. She smiles it off and pretends to be angry. We live in London. This is my first visit here to Chennai, tatha(grand pa) I concluded.
Oh, that’s wonderful Chintu.

Tatha, its February you know. What did you get Paati(grand ma) for valentines ?, I innocently asked.

Valentines, hmmm, he paused. Back in those days, it was not a big thing here like its these days. She was the love of my life. I fell in love with her at an age where I did not understand what it meant to be in love. I collected enough coins to buy her chocolates. She loved it. I think I was a few years older than what you are today, when I first gave her those chocolates. 

Every year from then on, I’d make it a point to give her chocolates. It was the only time of the year when I’d get her chocolates. I later found out that she dint really like chocolates. She was a strange one. Chocolates dint interest her. Nothing that I bought for her interested her. 
When we turned 18, that year I proposed to her. Only this time, I dint give her chocolates. I still remember. I gave her this small figurine of Radha krishn. I told her that she was my radha, and forever I’d remain her Krishn. She smiled. It was the most beautiful smile that one could ever see. It was so graceful and warm that it could melt your heart away. I was mesmerized by it. I stood dazed. I was surprised at my courage of coping with the truth of the moment. Those days, everything was hush hush. It was a mountain of a challenge to even tell people how we felt about them.

I half expected her to scream. Half my heart wished she’d say yes. I was also prepared to get slapped by her. It was ok. She was totally worth getting slapped. I looked her in her eyes and asked her hand for marriage. I don’t know how long I had to wait to hear her response. It felt like a lifetime.
That’s right. She was my radha. I was her krishn.

He paused. I saw his eyes tear up a little. I was too young to realize the magnitude of emotions that were at play back then. 
I miss her chintu. Sharada. I miss her, he concluded.

Aiyyo, Tatha, I interrupted. Paati’s name is vasantha. Not Sharadha. I laughed at him, teased him a little. You are telling me lies. I laughed and ran away.
That evening I asked my daddy about tatha’s valentine gifts. Daddy told me that Tatha was sick. He had trouble remembering. He could not recollect his past.
So Tatha lied? I questioned. I was young. My questions were simple and direct back then. I was yet to meet life and understand the complications of such simplicity.
Its not lies kanna, my dad comforted me. Tatha does not know the difference. Someday when you grow old, you’ll understand. 
Ok pa, I smiled.


The next day, Tatha fell very ill. They had to rush him to the hospital. They put him in this special room. I SEE You or something. Made sense. It was a glass room of sorts. Everybody could see the bed surrounded by curtains. No wonder they called it the I see you. I was still angry with my tatha for telling me lies. Amma had always told me that it was wrong to lie. She would be angry with tatha too. Lying is bad. Even if its tatha. Especially if its tatha. Old people should not lie, I reasoned out.


Hi little one came a voice. It was some old uncle. He was as old as my tatha. I looked up to see his face. He was bald. Whatever little hair he had, they were white. 
Hi , I replied.
And you are? He asked me.
I’m chintu. I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Amma will be angry if she finds me talking to you.
That’s ok. I’m Gupta uncle. I’m a friend of Guna, your grandfather. We have always been friends. I guess, we became friends when we were as old as what you are today. I’ve known him all my life.
Oh, really? I asked.
Yup. 
So did tatha always lie? He lied to me you know.
Hmm.. He told you lies did he? Let him come out. I shall scold him.


Oooookay, I smiled. Uncle, I asked him about valentines day and he said he got my grand ma chocolates. He even called her Sharada. My paati’s name is Vasanta. That’s how I know he lied.Its not good to lie. Lying is bad. God will punish if we lie.
Ah, He said Sharada did he now, Gupta smiled.

Chintu, your grandfather is a lot of things. But he is not a liar. Sharada is , rather was supposed to be your grandmother. A week before their marriage, she … god called her. Guna has never been the same ever since. I’m surprised. With his Alzheimer’s, I’m very surprised that he still remembers her.
What is Al Jai ,,, I struggled.
Alzheimer’s? It’s like a fever. When we have it, we can’t remember much. You are too young to understand what I just told you kiddo, but trust me, your grandfather is not a liar. You should be proud of him.

I felt immediately guilty. I grew restless. I wanted to apologize for calling him a liar. Amma always did tell that when we make mistakes, we should ask sorry. With tatha in the I see you, they wouldn’t let me go see him. I was miserable and deeply upset when I saw my dad walk towards me. He looked sad. He looked like he was crying. He carried me and said, Your tatha … God called him kanna.
*******************************

That was decades ago. I still remember the incident like it all happened yesterday. I dint understand much of it back then. I do today. That’s exactly why I knew you were the one when you told me that your name was Sharada. My family, Sharada is something that we cherish a lot sweetheart.


Katz

HEY YOU


“Thank you” , I said. We both looked into each other’s eyes and smiled. 



*************


The evening was young. There was nothing special about it. The city was the same. The Starbucks was the same. Even the playlist was the same. Rajesh was still around. Our usual friendly barista. He’d hook us up with extra goodies each time we ordered. Be it the overflowing cream or that luscious lavish spray of dark chocolate syrup. He was the man. 


The table was the same too. I took my usual chair. The one towards the left. I loved facing the door. It was a good way to see folks come and go. I’ve lost track of the million thoughts I pondered upon with each new face walking in through the door. People always made a great way to pass time and subtly observe. Some announced their arrival loud. Some would be meek. Kids would run ahead and jump around the counter. Their excitement could not be concealed. Some would walk in tired. Some would just walk in. Blank and expressionless.


I enjoyed my chair. It gave me a peek into the work of us, humans. 

She joined me a few minutes later. We had a routine of sorts. She loved to take a whiff of the generously laid out coffee beans. I never bothered to ask why. It was just the way it was. I didn’t protest it. It seemed to have a great effect on her. She’d always walk back smiling after this near religious ritual of hers. I couldn’t really complain. 

They are playing your song, I softly whispered. 

Totally, I KNOW, she replied. The pleasure of listening to an excited voice. I smiled happy.

Rajesh was back with our ‘Usuals’. Her cup of hot coffee and my cup of cold. He enjoyed pampering his loyal customers. He had outdone himself that day. One could comfortably vulgarly covet the heap of a mountain of crème resting smug on the hot cup! Enjoy your day folks, he said and quickly vanished.

I loved that about Rajesh. He could always make his presence felt. He’s swoop in and charm us with his smile. And just like that, he’d quickly disappear behind his counter. He got the balance right. He was friendly and also respected our privacy. He was an excellent brand ambassador to the coffee shop. I sure liked him more than the coffee.

After a few minutes of practiced stirring of the coffee and strategically placing them at a comfortable distance across the table, we both got back to the agenda of the day.

So, I broke the silence.

Nothing. Same old. She said.

What about tomorrow? I enquired.

Don’t know. It’s way too early to start planning things out da. I’m yet to give it a thought. What about you? What do you have in mind?

Me? , I shot a fake surprised double take. Of course it had to be me. Who else was there to take the question. It was not like we both were surrounded by a mob. 

I don’t know. Haven’t really given much thought about it. I mean, had it be bau, probably bug you a little early during the day. Then head out and make some music. Head back home and TV. Now the day looks wide open. I am sitting on a million possibilities of things I can do but am way to lazy to do anyways.

The joke had served the purposed. She giggled. I could never really call her bluff over that. I never knew when I genuinely cracked her up and when she was throwing pity laughs at me. She was too kind to remind me of how sober and mellow my jokes could be at times.


We both let a little silence usher itself in. We capitalized on that break. We took a sip from our respective cups. 

Meanwhile the track changed. It was now playing savage garden. I liked the song. It had been nearly two decades since I had heard that song. I felt happy instantly.

Aint it something, I again interrupted.

What is it? she replied in her casual tone.

The whole way the world works, I started. I mean strangers one day. Friends the other. Walk a few miles. Organic evolution. Life runs its course. I paused to take another sip.

She exhaled heavy. I guess there was no escaping it.

Oh , before I forget. I got you a little something, I said to cheer up the gloomy moment. 

I reached out to my bag. I pulled out a yellow bunny rabbit. 

She stared at it for a while and then shot me a disapproving look. You know right, how pointless these stuffed toys are. I hate em. Why would you even bother getting me one!!! I really don’t understand the way that stupid mind of your works!!!

Chill, I said. It symbolizes easter. Easter, the festival of hopes and dreams. Wanted you to remember that. We all have the power to bring our hopes and dreams alive. I want you to know that. Always, I mean Always , spread that sunshine.

She obviously ran short of words. She gently picked the bunny and placed it on her lap. She rested it like she’d rest an infant. The looked straight into my eyes.
Thanks da.. was all that she said.

Naah.. Thank you. Thanks for the last 8 years of being together. You completed me in ways that I didn’t even realize I was incomplete. You gave me hope. You gave wings to my dreams. You stood beside me, supporting me, motivating me, inspiring me. You put up with my madness. Nothing I do, nothing that I could ever do would be ample to match your kindness.

You always had a way with your words. Its funny, even when we are not on the same page, you still manage to give life to my thoughts through your words. 


“Thank you” , I said. We both looked into each other’s eyes and smiled.

With my coffee done, i got up to leave. She rested her half empty coffee mug on the table. We embraced one last time. Its going to be ok, i gently whispered into her ears. You take care too, she whispered back. Neither had the heart the break away from that hug. World seemed lost to us. 

For what seemed like an eternity in passing, with a heavy heart I disengaged from the hug. We shook our hands. We smiled once more. Possibly the last smile that we both would ever share face to face, separated by mere inches. 

I walked towards the door. I turned back. I saw her turned away from her chair, she was intently watching me leave. 

HEYYYYYYYY, i called out. I waved bye.

Hey, she mouthed a silent response. She waved right back. 


And that was it.
********************************************


Dear diary, If my life was a movie and Shahrukh played me, this is probably how that scene would look like. I can image the tiny nuances of our emotions so skilfully scripted and converted scene by scene, second by second , into a visual emotional fest. Unfortunately, this life of mine aint a movie. I aint a hero and there are no cameras and writers churning out perfect words and lines that kindle emotions.

Reality is so underratd. And today we fought again. Screamed at each other. The last time i remember her saying was FINE, in a really nasty loud tone. I screamed WHAT THE HELL EVER , right back at her. I slammed the door on her face and walked out. Moments later, my phone buzzed and ‘Go to hell, i never want to see your face again’, read the message. 

A few minutes later i was digitally dead to her. I guess I had been emotionally dead to her a lot earlier. 

Ah well, at least you get to know how i wanted things to be. to end. And so once more, in you I confide my deepest warmest wishes. And once more, you chronicle the life that I wanted, but could never have. 

At least you last for ever!

A story that wasn’t meant to be


Amidst rains and blackouts where the most precious commodity was the charge on the phone, the battery conserve mode enabled phone suddenly sprang to life.


Hey! floods in madras. Are you fine?
I smiled. 
********************************
Intuition is a funny business. I still remember the Nokia symbian days. 3315, limited chat window. A simpler time when mobile internet was still rampant in the most expensive offering of Hollywood, nokia had a feature of a SMS chat. Thank god for bundled packages and CUGs, sms was affordable at a mere 100 bucks. Simpler times indeed. It was during this simple time when intuition was felt to be a funny business. HI, would read the screen. I’d in a way sense the state of mind. I’d gear up for laughs and giggles or brace myself and prepare my ears to hear a heart’s woe out. Hi, is all it took. 

Like many tales from the land where magic and miracles are limited to the television, this too starts with a once upon a time. 

So once upon a time, in a land where magic and miracles were limited to the television, there lived a sweet princess in blue. One sunny day, she looked at her knight charming and said, We’ll have three names ok!

The knight smiled. Three? Why do we need three?

One for school, one for calling at home, and one, just like that. 

Hmm,, ok….

Yeah, so they should not be connected da. they should be random. Like how my name is chintu, it makes no bloody sense right. Like that. 

Seri da. Sure. No problem. We’ll think of something.

No no no no.. Let me do the thinking. Karthik, people are being nice to you da. Trust me. You are not a funny guy. Dont bother thinking of ‘Cool’ names. I’ll name our kid. And yes, Katz sucks.

And I thought I was the funny one, I replied. 

*************************************
Hey! floods in madras. Are you fine? , the phone read. With no electricity around, I was curious about the phone buzzing. I read the message. 
I smiled.

*************************************

So the land where magic and miracles, you know the drill right.. well that land had one teeny tiny problem. There were no dragons left to slay. The land lacked proper villains. Every tale deserves a proper villain. Villains add the much needed drama to a tale. Life intervened, life decided to even the odds. Time played its part. The test of time, the test failed. Roads separated.

Intuition still remained to be a funny business only now it joined hands with hope. Hope was a funnier deal in comparison. Hoping against hope was in fashion and quite frankly, demented delusional phrase if you ask me. Wil-e-coyote accelerating towards a brick wall, BHAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM and splat was the only inevitable conclusion left. Hoping against hope, hoped to alter that very inevitable outcome!

Fortunately, Time played its part once again. Open wounds sealed. Scars remained for a while and then scars healed. Hope lingered on for a while. Like a candle light fluttering in a stormy night. Soon, it faded too. 

************************************

Hey! floods in madras. Are you fine? I smiled.
************************************

For the longest time i wished i could turn back time. Ask a few questions. Find a few answers. Say my goodbyes. Smile. Hand shake and bid a farewell. Hug. See, at least from a very far very safe distance. I dint have the luxury to afford any of these back then. I wished to turn back time. I wanted to do it the proper way. I know, I’m being a liar here. The proper way would have led for the tale to end with the wonderful last line of ‘and so they lived happily ever after ‘ . The honest truth, wish i could meet her one last time. 

I had a million things to convey, I thought i had the right words. It wouldn’t matter. That image might last a lifetime. All i wanted was that one last audience. That dint come. And in course of time, after spiraling down that hell hole of resentment and guilt, i rose stronger. I rose a new man. A whole new life of possibilities and new dreams and new memories waiting to be made. One chapter closed with a nice neat little full stop, the title’s number incremented by another number. I had braced and braved myself to open a lot many more chapters in the book of life.

Hey!, floods in madras, Are you fine? read the message.

It was her. I knew the number. Through the floods, through the turmoil, somewhere between driving over water bodies and soaking in the rain, I had made a conscious effort to remember the 10 digits of the person I once knew. I once was madly in love with. I had remembered the number. Her birthday now past us, Thanks to the rains, the mind was occupied and I had one less battle to fight. THANK GOD. enjoy this moment dear lady, I usually dont thank you enough girl. I should.. but I dont. I wont either..I aint changing. 🙂


Memory is a funny business. It remembers the things we try to forget. I havent used that very sequence of 10 digits in years , and I still managed to recollect it with a little effort. I reach out to my smart phone for my account number to settle the bills every month. My mind has lousy priorities. It picked the wrong set of 10 digits to recollect!

I saw the number. I knew the moment had arrived. My mind spaced out for a moment. I was overwhlemed with emotions. I dint know where to start. How are you, where are you? what are you doing? Are you married? kids yet? Did you name them Karthik!!!!(i know , I’m pushing my luck here!!!! Like hell she’s ever gonna do that!!!)

So many questions, so many thoughts. Only two thumbs and one brain to decide what would be the apt response. 

I felt a sudden chill in my room. It could have been the fever. I knew it wasn’t that. 

Hey! floods in madras. Are you fine?
I smiled.
 

Intuition is a funny business. I read the message. It did sound like a mass forward message of sorts. No hi, no howz you. World’s most coldest disjoint disconnected yet heart wrenching words of concern.

I smiled. Gone was that knight. Gone was that pretty princess in blue. Gone was that simpler time. Gone was everything that mattered the most to me. gone, was that world. All that remained now was the obligatory decency and courtesy at play. The most i could, i chose to appreciate was the gesture.

Safe, sound and dry. Hope your family is fine too. Thanks for checking up, I replied. 

Instinctively, I deleted the thread. The phone buzzed again. Familiar number. I deleted it without reading.

What I miss is my interpretation of us, my memory of us and her. Reality does not cope up. Reality can not compete. I let reality have its word. I smiled and switched off my phone. I had a fever to deal with. 

It is true what they say. And so there are stories, that are not meant to be.

Katz

Of wolves and men


It has been a long long while since I huffed and puffed. Folks used to call me the big bad wolf. Truth be told, I was a little hairy. I was never big. Bad, yeah, I’ll give that to you. The name stuck on. The reputation stuck on. I enjoyed it. I’ve had a lot of fun with that association. I really dint do much with the piggies. They were a frightened bunch. They kept spinning yarn about how evil I was. They helped me build this reputation. I let them be. That’s all the thank you I’m ever going to offer them.



I gave up my terrorizing days ever since the Red incident. I couldn’t bring myself to being bad anymore. I guess I wanted to do something better with my life. It all started that one summer’s day. I was chilling the heat in the enchanted forest when I saw this sweet beautiful girl in red prancing about in the vicinity. I bumped into her and found out that her name was Little Red Riding hood. Young , Innocent and above all, Naive. She dint hold herself back when she was telling me the details of her life. She stayed with her mom. A single mom, working double hard. They had a hard life. Red’s granny lived in the forest. Old lady. Red was out to drop her supplies for the week.

I decided to have some fun with the women. Surprise them, scare them a little. Laugh at their terrified faces. This was going to be good for my image as THE big bad wolf. This would probably set me up as the baddest meanest villain of all time! I’d not have to worry about pesky village folks to bother me anymore. Yup, I was going to scare the hell out of them for a while and then let them be. They’d pass on the tales and everything was going to be perfect. 

I bid farewell to Red as she marched ahead to her granny’s house. I stealthily followed her to the place. I waited a whole 2 hours before making my grand entrance. Ha ha ha ha..I was going to be terrifying. I was excited and fiendishly happy. A little harmless fun would never hurt anyone 🙂

Everything went according to plan for a while. The ladies kept screaming and screaming. They were in tears. I put the fear of the mighty lord into their tiny fragile hearts. He he he… Its epic good to be bad. And thats when things started going wrong. Some idiot heard their screams and decided to play hero!!! Stupid guy, walked in with his shiny axe. He kept swinging it around like a mad bull. My survival instinct kicked in and I did the best that I always managed to do. I survived. I made my way out of that house with a few bruises. Ah well, I’d still be the terror the village would talk about. I guess they would praise their hero. Stupid human!!!

I dint care much for the incident for a while. It dint make any bloody difference to me. The objective was reached. The villagers dint bother thereafter. Life was good. I loitered and lazed in the enchanted forest without a worry in the world. One fine winter’s morning, everything changed. Everything so drastically changed.

I saw Red again. Only this time, I dint see her pretty smile. The sweet happy child that I remembered was no more the same. Her face was covered with bruises. There was this sadness in her that was visibly apparent. I couldn’t help but worry about the child. I risked being noticed and hunted. I stopped her. Hey, It’s me , Wolf.. are you alright ??


It was very understandable. She was frightened at first. She wouldn’t talk to me. I maintained a safe distance to assure her that I was not going to hurt her. I called my friends, the colorful angry birds to sing her a song. Angry birds!!!! he he he he,, they are massively misunderstood too. They are a sweet bunch. They sang their heart for little Red. The birds did their thing. Red was a lot more relaxed. 

I dont know what overcame her. She talked. You know Mr Wolf she started. When she had finished, I was left in tears. I hugged her and promised her that everything was going to be alright. I bid her farewell and was lost in thoughts.

It was not fate that summer’s day that had intervened Red’s life. Red’s savior, Mr Shiny axe, the bumbling idiot who kept swinging his axe like a mad crazy fool. Well Red was very grateful about his brave deed that she offered to marry him when he asked for her hand. Red thought how bad was it going to be. This was the hero who saved my life. Poor child. Mr Axe happens to be an abusive alcoholic. He’d walk in drunk as a skunk and beat her up every night. He was lazy as hell. He dint appreciate her at all. Red’s life was destined to be miserable ever after. I felt shattered.

It was not fate that summer’s day which changed Red’s life forever. It was I. While I pretended to be a bad guy for kicks and smiles, there were real wolves out there. Wolves were pretending to be heroes. I felt devastated that I played a role in bringing them together. Was it not my folly that decided her fate. 

I was the BAD wolf after all. I decided to set things right. That evening I paid Red a visit. I waited for Mr Shiny axe to head back home. I PUT THE FEAR OF THE LORD into his heart. You lay a finger on her, I’ll rip your damn heart out, I screamed at him. I was doing the right thing. I was emotionally committed to the cause. I would rip his heart out for whatever he had done so far. That wouldn’t bring peace to Red. She deserved better.


That was a few years ago. Red’s happy. I check in on her every once a while. She’s back to smiles and giggles. They have a beautiful daughter. Snow white, is what they call her. Awwww, she’s a pretty little bundle of joy. I’m her furry scary uncle wolfie. Snow is not scared of me. She loves me. I’m happy i did something meaningful with my life. My terrorizing days are now over. I spend my time watching over the village. 

You know what’s the funny thing about life. The world calls ME a big bad wolf!!!!! ha ha ha ha ha.. yeah, aint that what the wise call irony!


Oh oh oh oh , there is this paranoid sack of stupid whom i call the village idiot. Once a while he keeps screaming the wolf is here, the wolf is here. The villagers troll him plenty. I have no intentions of making him an hero.. The world does not need another fool to pretend to be a hero. 

Yeah, Its good to be good, but EPIC good to be bad 🙂

Tete-a-tete with the maker

What’s wrong with you? I asked!!!!!!!!!!


It was a direct question. There was no beating around the bush or songs and dances around the trees. The maker had come face to face with the toughest question there was which needed to be answered. No gentle ice breakers today. Today was all about business. 


Excuse me! , the maker exclaimed. He couldn’t believe the tone of the question. That very instant, he felt unappreciated. His work, his creation had decided to parade against him. He didn’t feel amused by the conspiracy.

Oh come on, I said. Don’t act so surprised. I mean What happened to you? Who are you these days? You are not the maker that I once knew. You were light hearted. I remember the early days. It was all about fun and laughter. You made me smile. I was happy.

I paused. I was visibly overwhelmed at the simple reality of what I had stated and confronted my maker with. He threw a poker face and said nothing.

And now, I continued. Gone are those innocuous smiles. Its not the same man!!!! I protested.

The maker mulled over what I said for a while. He nodded his head. Maybe he was also caught in a conflict of thoughts.

See, He started. If life can be compared to a novel, there are phases to it. There is the introduction phase, where one gets to introduce the characters, the backdrop  on which the story is based on. And slowly , one introduces challenges, then comes THE journey. Some tales conclude, some don’t. Just because we fall in love with one phase of it, we cant stop the tale now can we? How else would the plot move forward?


That’s lame dude, I exclaimed. Don’t give me that stuff. Life aint a novel. This is life we are talking about. MY life. If you wanted challenges, you go deal with them. Why force it down my throat ?


The maker smiled.

Don’t you see the big picture ? he politely asked me. Don’t you see how far you have come?

I shot him a puzzled look!

You smiled. Your’s was a life of funny goofy deeds done cheap. Some taught you lessons and some, were pleasant experiences. Then you branched out .You contemplated about purposes to life, you spoke of being self driven and motivating yourself through odds. You contemplated death. You contemplated about what comes next. Why cant you appreciate all the things that you could be? You were that, because I made you go through all of that!!


Yeah right!!!!!! , I shot back. The many times I stood with my heart broken. The many times I faced death. The many times when I was left in tears and stood numb and dumb to the reasons behind it!! Was it all because you could paint a few challenges???? that’s unfair.

I had a point. I could see it in the maker’s eyes. 

What would you have me do now? Pray tell me then!

I didn’t have an answerThe truth was even more chilling than the other odds that I had to face. I was given a choice and I didn’t know what to take. I thought of all those moments when I laughed blissfully. Yes, they were great. I loved the pain of being heart broken. It was not a masochistic pain. I loved the pain because I could associate myself to the wonderful turn of events which eventually led to the pain. I was hurt by it and at the same time, I knew I wasn’t complete without those experiences. 

Yes, far too many times I’ve fallen short. I’ve lost more than I could ever keep track of. But all of it has not been grim. 

I don’t know, I confessed.

The maker smiled again and pat me on my back. He left me to ponder. So I stood lost in my thoughts. Once again. 


*****************************

This is a conversation between all the characters that I’ve written about so far and me. My words have given them a life. I put them through hell and heaven. I cursed them with tears and blessed them with smiles. 

And now I look to the skies. I’m tempted to have the same conversation with my maker! Would that be any different?


Karthik

Time in a bottle


“But there never seems to be enough time, To do the things you want to do. Once you find them ” – Jim Croce : Time in a bottle



The biggest irony of life is when you can sense the irony at play – Katz


Time in a bottle. My heart goes to this song. The simple lines. The soothing melody. The song is a sure way to cruise down nostalgia road. Everybody wishes they had a shot at their past for just one time. A single moment in time, if changed, we believe that our course of life could have been altered for the better. I’ve had my wishes in the past. I still do relive some of them. I don’t wish to change them now. I’ve made my peace with the things that happened.


Much as I’ve left one foot deep into the past, my other foot is grounded firm far into the future. The future. It holds the magic and miracles of things to come. It houses the gate to a paradise waiting to be found. Some times I feel that the future is overrated. We hop obliviously from once cycle to another. If I could write down the pattern of things I’ve experienced before, I’m a little certain that the patterns of the future would not be drastically different from the ones I’ve already seen.

I mean, its not that difficult a notion to digest. The past, the present and the future, they all have a meaning as long as we continue to exit in them. If there is something that even shows a gradual change, it’s only us. That being the premise, is it too much of a stretch to assume that our future will more or less resemble the dirt and details of our present. Our present is again a reflection of what we were yesterday. 


When it comes to the question of change, I think the biggest argument is that everything changes and that change is the only universal constant. That’s true. We also have had some wise bloke state that more the things change, more they remain the same. Contrasting views. But there is some sense to that madness. most cases, or what I’ve come to believe is that, we all continue to remain more or less the same. Our understanding of things that surrounds us evolves. And that evolution has an effect on the choices we make and the repercussions that we deal with. This definitely is not a change that is endorsed by the best special effects division of Hollywood that money can buy. The changes are but subtle. 

The biggest irony of life is when you can sense the irony of play. True that. I’ve come a long way from where I once started. From the depths of being shallow to the shallow waters of cosmic depths, I see the irony now. It’s all been a pointless test. Not meaningless, just pointless. Life in its various iterations has introduced me to the same set of variables. The parameters have been constantly changing. The variables here are along the lines of specifics of the things that I’ve experienced. The parameters are along the lines of people and places that have played a contributing role to the scene playing itself out.

The irony, irrespective of the distance, the change in thoughts, the sway of maturity, the toning down of anger, the opening of the mind, the acceptance of the entire wide universe, the irony, the IRONY is that the song remains the same. The scene remains the same. The choices remain the same. 

I cant help but smile. Oh what a beautiful cycle again. The change comes back to save the day. The difference, at least I see it for what it is. I’m no longer pained by it, I’m no longer elated by the charming success. I’m no longer vexed by the crushing defeat. Its bound to repeat itself. The stage remains the same, the supporting cast would change, but the fabric of characters would still be the same.


On a side note : Ever wondered, the vast many people that you hold close in your life, if you could boil their characters to traits and behaviours, don’t we all seek out to a specific combination of traits. The diverse people around us, if you remove the faces, their personality traits would be shockingly similar to the rest of the people you’ve either had or continue to have in your life. 


This brings the blog to a circle. If I could save time in a bottle, could it BE any more different 😉

Katz