Days were passing on the whim of upcoming days; sunrises had been befriended under compulsion and sunsets missed Sharanya as much as she craved to see them, she thought sitting on her chair, inside her cubicle. Working hours strictly depended on the work load which never used to go down, by any means, for which leaving office was not possible before nine at night. By the time Sharanya reached her nest, the busy streets of Madhapur would begin to drown themselves in a mysterious cacophony of a very few vehicles that used to be seen only at night along with some cars. Trails of dust laden smoke, jostling through the humdrum of city life often stopped by the hazy thoroughfares of Sharanya’s mind, painting them crimson before curling up and fading into the unknown.
Walking under the starry sky with memories urging an innocent smile to slip away from the curves of her lips was never Sharanya’s cup of tea, for she had never reflected over a known stranger so deeply. All this was happening for real and the reason was Shekhar. Sounds of laughter lost in the lanes going down to Teesta Spur(Jalpaiguri) blended well into the untold melodies of her mind, making her look at the stars with hopeful eyes. Even their stupid fights over nothing seemed to make her go red, not knowing that she was deviating from the right choices of her life; Shekhar was never meant to be a part of her future but now, when it came to choosing between the right and the wrong, his face shone brighter than usual.
“There would have been many problems had you been my girlfriend.”, Shekhar had murmured this once in Sharanya’s presence, teasingly, and now, these words reverberated often in her mind, leading her to wash away the black and white stains of reality and swim through a pool of grey to enter into a colourful arena where roses were cliched and fuchsias were adored(she loved fuchsias more than roses); Shekhar was a part of this world now.
This walk, taking her through a rollercoaster of hidden emotions, lasted for not more than ten minutes and yet it had become the best part of her escape from mediocrity. Just before getting inside she used to look back everyday, in the hope of seeing Shekhar, wearing his half rim glasses, flaunting his maroon shirt, looking at her in the same way as he used to, defying the barricades of time.
It was around eight in the evening, one could accurately predict just by looking at the menacing state of traffic jam near Banjara Hills. A long wait for getting an auto had driven Sharanya into such a devastating zone of irritation that almost three kilometres of walking seemed legitimate to her, but her luck was compassionate enough not to let her return empty handed. An auto-journey that usually takes less than a quarter of an hour, took more than fifty minutes and nobody was to be blamed other than the packed roads. She walked down to her nest, like every other day; this was a very enjoyable part of her day. Office hours used to get extended often, her colleagues used to keep on brooding over the rules and regulations of the office, even she did not like working for such long hours, but she was ready to let go of every symbol of mundanity, just for one pocket of sunshine, her evening walk. Flashes of light: red, blue, green, yellow, or maybe a mixture of them all, overloaded with jerky movements of liveliness used to settle on her face, bringing out that smile, the one that she coveted at the end of each day.
She had this habit of eating food as soon as she returned from work following which came another favourite part of her daily routine: going to Shalini’s room. Shalini was a young lady of twenty six, who looked too serious to bear a deceptive appearance. Sharanya had gladly welcomed her peaceful nature and both of them used to get along very well.
“Shalini di?”, knocked Sharanya. “Come in.”
None of them would run out of topics and even if they did, their phones would come in between and solve the problem. Hilarious as it sounds, they used to keep scrolling photos in each other’s galleries and on that day, the same thing was happening until Shalini sighted upon a particular picture.
“Who’s this guy with you?” “A friend, college friend.”, stammered Sharanya. “Okay! I thought he’s your boyfriend, you guys look so cute together!”
Sharanya laughed the matter away but something had been eating her up from within. There were many questions playing on her mind.
November it was, back in 2014. In the early days of this month, the scorching rays of sun almost fight a battle against the chills of winter, knowing that failure is guaranteed, and it becomes difficult to put on a sweater in the day or switch on the the fan at night. However, in Jalpaiguri, with the onset of November, the atmosphere turns greyish, and chilly winds keep blowing off and on. Sharanya, who hated even the sunny winters of Kolkata, had found one more reason to hate Jalpaiguri. It had only been a few months that she had moved to this town for pursuing her career; Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College, also called “Jolu” by the students, was where she was studying. Sharanya had to make peace with almost every new thing that came her way including friendly interactions with seniors, which rarely transformed into heated arguments at the end(the case was different with most of the boys). Her ship was sailing well until one fine day, when something strange happened.
The teacher had called it a day and Sharanya had just left her classroom when something caught her attention. Next to her classroom was another one which was filled with boys, all of them were impatiently waiting for their teacher to arrive as was evident from loud noises emanating from that room. Amidst that chaos, she sighted upon a heart-shaped face, which she had not seen before. He wore half-rim glasses and there was an addictive seriousness on his face that was pulling her attention towards him. This stealthy staring game continued until she noticed a friend named Ishan coming out of that classroom, who had also noticed her. Sharanya had a weird habit of walking speedily, so much so that her footsteps could be heard distinctly, when someone used to catch her while doing something fishy. With books in her hand, she hurried down the stairs and poor Ishan thought that she was ignoring him as he watched her walk away.
Sharanya liked what she saw, the feeling was too innocent to be described in terms of love or lust, and yet it was beautiful and serene. After that day, she rarely used to go back to her accommodation with Raima(her room mate). She had found her pocket of sunshine, next to her classroom. There used to be days when she had to sight upon an empty classroom, but that did not weigh down heavily upon her; she was accustomed to living in her own dark space which used to get lighted up sporadically by his presence, and that was enough for her, she thought. On one such day, some senior students got hold of her.
“Hey you! First year, right?”
Her dress code spoke much more than what her mouth could ever dare to. They asked her a few questions and she answered each of them with utmost humility, more so because she was scared of them. They let her go as she seemed to look unwell( she had been acting like that to escape from their clutches).
This kept on happening for about a month after which it came to an end, not the liking that she had for him, but the wait. The exact reason behind this abrupt ending had become prey to forgetfulness and the pressure of semester examination. Strangely, a few months later, she met him at Jalpaiguri Road Station on a spring afternoon, where she found him sitting on a bench and fidgeting with his phone. On interaction, she came to know that his name was Shekhar and that he was from the Mechanical Department, which used to be referred to as the most notorious department in the entire college. She just could not help but look at him with all her sanity which was an act of insanity in itself, and his unusually usual smile was responsible for this.
“What’s the passcode of your phone?”, enquired Shalini.
Sharanya typed in some numbers and quietly moved close to the window. Shalini, realizing that she had been absent-minded all this while, decided not to bother her.
Was this feeling normal? Looking outside the window, she stared with an unblinking vision, at glaring multitudes of nothing!
Just then, Shalini handed over the vibrating phone to her. As she looked at the screen, a very familiar name caused one of her eyebrows to twitch.
The roads were submerging in the lilac of twilight as the sun was going down below the horizon, leaving it’s “goodbyes” alive in the dying rays. Sharanya always wanted to see the whole of her college campus, but on every occasion, she failed to seize the opportunity of fulfilling her wish. It was their last day of stay at Jalpaiguri and Gautam had wilfully taken the responsibility of getting this wish fulfilled, not because his adrenaline rush had begun to revolt against his sober outer covering, but because of one reason; he wanted to enjoy Sharanya’s presence, one last time before leaving that place. Both of them kept walking, as long as they could, like every other day. Sharanya waited patiently outside a local liquor store, Gautam went inside. He came out with a large bottle covered with newspapers.
“What is it?”, Sharanya’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “Whiskey it is!”, winked Gautam.
None of them had the energy or enthusiasm to walk on foot so they got inside a “Toto”. Toto is the simplest and cheapest mode of transport in that place, and enjoyable too.
In no time, they reached college; Gautam took out a joint from his pocket and both of them kept smoking, turn by turn. Weed had different effects on these two individuals, Sharanya used to get thoughtful and Gautam, who preferred mundanity to adventure, always used to doze off to sleep after taking a few whiffs of joint. Sharanya kept on talking, Gautam listened to her intently and drank from the bottle of whiskey. Ocassionally, he would pass the bottle to Sharanya and steal a glance at her expressions while she narrated an old story with smokey concentration. Joints after joints, pegs after pegs, the level of intoxication kept shooting up to an extent where Gautam could not afford to stand on his legs and with a thud, sat on the ground, near Maya road. Sharanya’s legs quickevered and the hand with which she was holding the bottle was in full swing.
Another desire, to break an empty bottle of alcohol. Gautam who was hardly capable of keeping his head straight, tried making feeble attempts at stopping Sharanya, but all in vain. At once, with one of her hands swinging to an imaginary insane tune, she flung that bottle in the air, before Gautam could restrain her and a cracking sound was heard. Gautam got up hurriedly to search for that broken bottle; the element of fear always used to dominate him, even in his state of intense delirium. Sharanya stopped him, with all the little strength that she had.
“Don’t look there! It’s done and the bottle has been shattered into hundreds of pieces. You’ve heard the sound, be happy with it.”, chuckled Sharanya.
Gautam, understanding that it was not possible for him to control her, sat down quietly, with his red eyes half closed.
Sharanya kept traversing miles in her mind that resulted in her moving round and round, about the same place; she had her head on the ground and feet in the sky! She danced in the glory of sunlight coming from orange vapour lamps and the night had given consent to the day to take it’s place, in her mind. With red eyes, she saw moving buildings, lamp posts and all the things that caught her attention, as if she was in a merry-go-round. The lights, trying to bring her back to senses would end up getting diffused by her eyelashes and this mischief went on until she noticed something at the farthest end of Maya road which was shrouded in black.
She stood there, in a perilous state of awe, it was a face that she saw, too known to be that of a stranger. In his dormitory, filled with darkness, he smiled, and that being infectious, reached upto Sharanya’s lips in no time. Silence prevailed in the surroundings for a long time it seemed, as the measure of time had been long forgotten. A lot of questions were crowding up on her mind, the answers to she knew, she would never be able to find. Very soon, fireflies came in between and the thread connecting her light to his darkness started loosening up, she could clearly see that there was no one and that, it was just another trick that weed was playing on her mind.
She turned back to see Shankar and Sandeep(also known by the name, “Drug Dealer”) trying to wake Gautam up from his deep sleep. On seeing Sharanya, Shankar greeted her with his usual hug and Sandeep, who was looking drunk, smiled at her.
“What are you doing here, Barbie di?”, questioned Sandeep (still smiling).
Sandeep, who was in the third year of engineering at that time, had coined this name, Barbie, for Sharanya, which she adored as well.
“I will never see you without any intoxicating material in your hand. See, I call you Drug Dealer for a reason.”, Sharanya laughed as she took away a bottle full of wine from Sandeep’s hand. Shankar laughed as well and Sandeep scratched his head out of a sense of frolicky embarrassment. The one who had been sleeping all this while had gained consiousness by then as he was seen rubbing his eyes vigorously. After this, a Toto came their way; one could easily call it “Mercedes Toto” as it had no roof. They got inside it and started gossiping again; Shankar handed her a present and when she was about to unwrap it, he requested her to do so on reaching home. Gautam, who liked dwelling in the restricted regions of his silence had taken to participating in their conversation, of late.
As they talked under the stars, indelible memories got created, memories that would not require dusting, memories that would connect them years after being separated from each other and just when this journey was about to draw to a calm end, all of them cried out in unison, “Jolu Zindabaad”. This will remain etched in their minds, forever.
P.S.: “Jolu” was the nickname given to their college, by it’s students.
A beautiful day it was, not because of anything else but just that it was a holiday, a day for us to take rest and engage ourselves in activities that we like doing. I was not in the least bothered about doing anything but sleeping the whole day away. However, my wishes were slaves in front of the work that was in store for me. I got up at nine in the morning, prepared a cup of coffee for myself and started working on my laptop. The clock had struck one in the afternoon, by the time I finished tying up loose ends.
The sunny morning sky had turned gray, all of a sudden. My mother, who had kept the clothes on the terrace to get dried up, was panicking since morning and ordered me to go upstairs to fetch them as a heavy rainfall was inevitable, she said. I dawdled up the stairs to the terrace where I saw the clothes hanging from a wire, all of them were swaying to and fro, to the instructions of the wind.
I looked around to see the atmosphere. The leaves of tall trees surrounding me were shaking and their movement, when viewed against the sky, created jagged patterns that left me mesmerized. The wind was strong enough to uproot weak plants from their base, I could feel it, cutting through my face and limbs. A beautiful feeling on a beautiful day! I felt as if time was slowing down and the background noises were losing their intensity gradually. I was left alone with the wind and the gray sky.
At times the wind whistled past my ears, teasing me in a tender way, just as secret admirers do and immediately after this, the rumbling of a thunderbolt would break this romance. The sky, although by the look of it seemed gray, had a mysterious purple undertone hiding behind the obvious and noticing that was just a matter of time and concentration put together. The more I observed, the more curious I became; this was a world in itself where there is stillness in motion, truth in a false notion.
I stood in front of the taut wire from which the clothes were hanging and kept on observing the numerous patterns made by the “undulating greenery”. It was only when I heard another crashing sound of thunder that I started putting the clothes safely inside the bucket that I had brought along and having finished this, I headed downstairs, leaving the terrace to witness a violent rainfall.
“Why did you take so long?”, my mother asked, almost in an anxious tone.
To this, I just smiled. She did not utter a word. I took out my diary from the shelf and started writing and having noticed that, she smiled (she knew that I had laid my eyes on something worth penning down) and quietly left the room.
Dear Lockdown, I was very annoyed at the thought of you coming into our lives. You resemble Aman from ‘Kal ho na ho’, who entered into the scene like an unwanted guest and went on to create magic, for real, by spreading love in the hearts of some people who were facing tough situations and were becoming devoid of care and affection towards each other. When I used to get up early in the morning and leave for work, I hardly got time to scrutinize my face in front of the mirror and now, when I stretch my arms comfortably and look at myself, I feel as if somebody whispers into my ears, ” Where have you been all this while, beautiful?”I hear your voice in the form of a sweet silence prevailing in my neighborhood. My hobbies had almost got covered with a thick layer of dust until you came in; you made me realize that capturing Life in “slow motion” is no less than living it in “fast forward” mode. You even taught me how to make “phuchkas” and I just can’t thank you enough for that. I could make time for my family, and yes, the credit goes to you. You made me revisit a very old version of myself. I discovered myself in a new light, in your light. How can I not fall in love with you?
I do realize, my love, that when this mayhem is over, you’ll leave me easily, reclaiming your sunshine, just as the sun kisses the horizon at daybreak. Weren’t you the one who praised my eccentricity and helped me love all that was me? I will miss you and I’ll remember the rediscovered me that you presented me with. It is difficult for me to go back again to the monotony called livelihood, leaving the vistas of my mind that you’ve helped me create. Yet, I understand that you are actually leaving the good part of yours alive in me. I thank you, my love. My whole world will heal, the Earth will heal. Your presence will be missed.
I am a broken vase, Not shattered by the wind. Thrown away by free will, That is my fate. The road is unclear, Smothered in dither. Yet, I choose my destination To wash away the cracks Of Destiny.
I am a broken vase, Trying to survive, To put my pieces together, Only for you. I know, beauty is long lost, My marks will stand out And humiliate me often. Yet, I will contain your flowers With utmost pride.
The face tells a beautiful story, A fantastical lie That reflections care to ignore. Fairytales decompose into cheap articles On trampled newspapers. Society screams, people shout, The mirror stands tall, Notices the unnoticeable, Predicts the unpredictable, Surmises hidden predicaments And chooses to put a check On reflections, Only for those Who are blinded by the sins Of their deed, The craving of their famished souls. Some choose to see The enthralling beauty And set aside the rasping truth. The rest become the mirror themselves With their faces made of glass And silver coating on their hearts, To make sure that The reflections never reach them.
The leaves rustled under the command Of a known stranger, The one who lashed the roads, And drove away a cloud of dust, Baring them to his harshness, And paid a tribute to the Night’s delineation Of an upheaval in tranquility.
The sores on the exterior vanished Before moisture could sympathize. The catastrophe building up inside, Far away from Sympathy, Sought help from Empathy, To which it’s access was denied. A storm broke out in no time, The dark Kohl lining agreed to succumb To the rush of brine.
Silence lost in the mystery of yesterday, Narrates a story; Surpassing the strict check of your armoured mind I whisper into your ears, Of dreamy mornings in the days of yore. I hope you never heard the sound of my stealthy steps. Not knowing who you were, I spent hours basking in the mirth of an unplanned misery. I hope you never felt the warmth of my palms, My touch lacked the capacity to stir emotions. My eyes never revealed anything without your permission, The shine talked about the mischief of dust. My lips never broke a promise Even when I was breaking into pieces, Dousing myself in the fire of agony, All by myself. I just hope that this is just a hope.
Hiding behind the kitchen wall, A chubby girl eats chocolates; She sings all day and plays with a Barbie doll, Her restless legs now refuse to crawl. Two shiny ponytails swing turn by turn As her head revolts against boredom And moves back and forth; She says annoyingly, “How long do I wait for March 24?”
The years, Unable to keep track of untold stories, Reflected on her face with utmost honesty. That smile now beguiled some of the shiniest stars in the sky, The teary eyes plagiarized twinkling happiness And died every moment in the fire of a new lie. Her restlessness has succumbed to contemplative rantings, Yet she has her childish ways of loving herself. A daring sweetheart with a heart of straw, She says, “I turn twenty four and I’m bold. Even by mistake, don’t call me old.”