Monday, May 27, 2013

Best friend

Laying in her bed, under the covers, she fights a losing battle with the yellow street light that enters her small room from the gap between the deep purple curtains. She continues to stare at the yellow light as snatches of memories come and invade her mindspace even as she reminds herself repeatedly that she has work tomorrow and she must sleep. The clock strikes two. She can only clock in a measly four hours of sleep before she has to wake up to complete the daily chores. Predictably, she does not doze off. Instead, she remembers the incident that  had occurred a few days back, in her office.

She was talking to this lady who had recently joined the department and was still finding her footing. They were sharing stories. The new one was being funny, throwing insults, sexual remarks and making innuendoes at anyone and everyone in a bid to prove that she had an I-couldn't-care-less attitude.

The old one, to the department not the world, was smiling while she decided how much to let this stranger inside her world. The new (older) one was talking about her daughters fondly. The old-to-the-department-newer-to-the-world went through something that instant. She decided to talk about the person most important to her. As a preamble she joked about cancer. Then she choked while saying, 'She is my best friend, you know.'

The older of the two women did not know how to handle this old-to-the-department-newer-to-the-world girl, who was enjoying the last few days of her 20s. She decided to wear her nonchalance like a prized heirloom--the rightful owner never misses a chance to wear it but never displays it too obviously to the world. She gathered the empty plate, on which fruits had been cut only a few minutes ago. Took a second longer than necessary to balance the blue knife on the white, gold-rimmed plate and headed to the office kitchen muttering to the 20-something girl, 'Ya, ya, I get it. Your mom's your best friend.'

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The latest anthem by Lady Gaga was playing in the background, while men and women were talking to each other, some in polite, smile infused tones and others putting the loud colours of the d├ęcor to shame by their roaring laughter. She, she realised belatedly, was already a part of the group of women who were in the mood to party. The sophisticated women had decided to play a game of innuendoes earlier than usual this evening. She synched her laughter with the group as she did not want anyone to ask her, “How are you? What happened?”

The ploy was working fine. She was laughing right on cue. She was looking good and she seemed like she belonged. One of the boisterous ones was busy building up a story, which everyone standing with her in sort of a group huddle predictably knew would end up grossing them out enough to break the group. When none of the women in the group were looking, she stole a moment to scan the room to see where she could be safe from questions once this unholy gathering broke up.

Maybe it was destiny, maybe serendipity or just a stupid accident. He found himself, once again, as the centre of attention in the group of sports enthusiasts at the party. They did not discuss the latest betting and spot-fixing scam that had taken the country by storm. They were the true blood cricket nerds. If the cricketing scene in the country was drowning in murky waters, they would turn their eyes on the test match happening in another continent between countries that were thousands of miles away from their tri-coloured waving country. Their high was the scores, catches, style of bowling and batting techniques. Winning and losing was just a minor part of the game for them. Today, they wanted to relive the Indian victory of World Cup 83. They all picked his brains, albeit in a very orderly manner, like true gentlemen.

He knew what he was talking about. He recreated the magic the stadium had witnessed that day with his words. It did not bother his audience much that he was not even a month old when the game had been played and the honour won. They hung to his every word. He generally enjoyed recreating matches, with details like, Sunny’s right collar had a patch of dirt after that dive at the boundary or the sweat on Kapil’s temple glistened like a jewel, much like the cup he was to pick later that day.  He was saying the words, like a rehearsed script, but today his heart was not in it. He felt unsettled. Why, he had no idea.

The two saw each other at the same instant. Both knew they needed to talk to each other. Both felt an uncharacteristic hesitation. The women’s group broke with a chaotic chorus of “Ewww!”  “Yuk!” “Ufff!” Across the room, the sports geeks were laughing, back-slapping each other as if they had just won a match themselves. Meanwhile, they took deep breaths, made a resolve and walked towards each other. She smiling the confident corporate smile she had mastered over the last five years of working in the various media roles and he grinned his boyish grin which came to him effortlessly.

They came face to face. Her confidence faltered a bit after looking into his deep, dark eyes. She lowered her gaze. He picked on the nervous energy and decided to make her comfortable by sticking to the convention. He asked her, “How are you?” He regretted the question, just for an instant, when he saw her meeting his gaze and her eyes wide in astonishment. He realized she was deciding if he ‘really’ wanted to know the answer or was he being polite. He said, “I really want to know.” The sincerity in his voice convinced her. She made a feeble attempt at stifling a sob. Then she broke down, tears flowing from her expressive, fear-stricken yet ready to face the world eyes, before she answered him. He came forward, held her by her shoulders to give her some support. It took super human effort to control his urge to hug her, to physically protect her from all the sorrows that plagued her. After all, she had not even spoken to him before this day. She composed herself, sniffled a little and cleared her throat. She did not attempt to mask her vulnerability. With honesty that was clearly filled to the brim, she replied, “I’m broken.”

And they lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Parle and Rocky

There is this girl I know. She is so fair that one of her best friends teases her all the time saying, ‘You have a bloody lit tubelight inside of you.’ Only Parle manages to see the love in this statement that Pinka makes so often. They have been friends for more years than either of them would have thought possible, when they first met. Others around them also thought that though the friendship was unique it might not stand the test of time. Fortunately, the two could care less about what others thought. They were too busy overthinking the decisions they took in the past, might take in the future or maybe never at all. Pinka, sitting in the office amidst stacks of school books and CDs, had this epiphany that their friendship was based on their unhealthy obsession with overthinking and over analysing things that others generally overlooked.

Even as Pinka came to this conclusion, she knew that Parle’s knee jerk reaction would be to deny overthinking EVER. Pinka would take a deep breath and explain to Parle, at first patiently, ‘Don’t confuse overthinking with remembering. You overthink. You rarely remember what you were overthinking about and over analysing.’ After Pinka would lose her patience repeating the sentence for the seventh time, Parle would make this peculiar nasal sound of an extended, ‘Ahaaaaan!’ Then she would agree whole heartedly, ‘You know what, jaaneman. You are right!’

Pinka was thinking of Parle a lot today. For the first time in over 15 years of friendship, Pinka did not know what to say to Parle to make her feel better. They were best of friends. While Pinka could say that Parle was her best friend, she knew that Parle’s best friend was Rocky. Rocky had come into Parle’s life eight years ago. He had healed Parle. He had been Parle’s constant companion. Parle would talk to him and tell him things that she did not share with any other living soul. She shared her love, fear and food with Rocky. Their day began with a round in the park and ended with both of them cuddling in front of the TV or in Parle’s bed. Rocky would often interrupt the telephone conversations between Parle and her friends. Thankfully, all of Parle’s friends also loved Rocky. I know not of a living soul who was jealous of the bond those two shared. Her friends would snap at her if she was distracted during a conversation if work beckoned or her mother called her to make tea or she was worried about washing clothes (her favourite pastime). But if while discussing a major life crises like a break-up, boss being a jerk, the country going to dogs, mother being diagnosed with cancer etc. were interrupted by her cooing mid-conversation at Rocky, her friends understood.

Today, sitting in her office amidst stacks of school books and CDs, Pinka did not see how she could make the world a better place for Parle. She was desperate to be at her best friend’s side at this hour of loss. Rocky was no more. He had said his final goodbye on Saturday. It had been 5 days. Pinka had spoken a couple of time to Parle. They had even laughed a bit after Pinka had made some usual politically incorrect and highly inappropriate remarks about Parle’s doctor friend. Pinka wanted to go and hug Parle to ensure that she was not crying anymore and even if she was, to ensure that she was not alone. But they did not meet. Instead, I see her today, sitting in her office amidst stacks of school books and CDs, typing a blog post in honour of Rocky, Parle’s pet dog.