Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hidden Love

She was looking down at the sea swirling beneath her, swishing waters to every side of the ship. Aisha wanted to listen to the waters and understand what exactly such a grand ocean must be hiding in its bosom. Just like the one thing she had been hiding for all these years... her love for Lisa.

She had left her home after her husband’s death to work at this brewery on the ship and used to travel the world while serving liqours and listening to Lisa’s jokes. Lisa… Ah! Such a sweet name with such a wonderful personality. Aisha loved her the first time she saw her but kept it to herself. She knew that on some level Lisa also knows how much she loved her and perhaps that is why she never openly proclaimed her love for her.

Now that she knew that Lisa was marrying a naval officer, whom she met on this ship, made Aisha a bit uncomfortable. How could she live without Lisa’s laugh, her warmth, her caring nature? She has got so used to her. But Lisa had promised her to visit Aisha every now and then which had made Aisha smile unbelievingly. She knew there won't be any more warm nights where she used to lay beside Lisa, counting the stars in the sky and tell each other magical stories that they wish could be true.

Now looking at the sea from above the dock she could understand that a heart of a woman can be unfathomable and the love she has could be indescribable. She turned back to go inside the brewery when she saw Lisa standing holding hands with her newlywed husband. Her twinkling eyes smiling at her made Aisha more than happy. Lisa ran towards her and hugged her tight. She quietly whispered into Aisha’s ears, “I will always love you, Mom.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

There’s no Forever

She was sitting near the window seat in the train listening to the songs in her I-pod when she heard some people laughing. She turned her head and saw two friends sitting and guffawing at their funny tales. Some old ladies were looking at the friends in disgust as in our society it’s morally bad for a girl to befriend a boy but here a boy and girl were doing hi-fives and laughing with each other in public.

She smiled at herself closed her eyes and tried to get back to what her I-pod was playing. Unfortunately she could not do that now. Instead her mind wandered through a whole lot of memories and she went back almost 15 years in her life.

Jia was sitting on her bed reading a book when she saw Dev standing by her door with tears in his eyes.

“She broke up with me, Jia,” he spoke and fell down on the bed beside her.

Jia closed her book and gave her full attention to Dev. “What happened?” she asked softly.

“I don’t know. She just said we shouldn’t be together anymore.”

Jia looked at him with scepticism. “I swear I don’t know. And this time I’m sure I haven’t done anything stupid either.”

“Oh c’mon Dev. Misha is such a mature girl. She won’t just ask to end everything without any reason.”

Dev laid down on Jia’s lap and said with a melancholic voice, “Please talk to her and find out what’s the matter. Please.” Jia sighed and picked up her phone.

Jia’s sister Neha entered the room and seeing Dev in such a state asked, “Oh my! What happened to you?”

“Nothing,” Jia said, “His girlfriend broke up with him.”

“Oh that’s sad. You should console her instead of talking to someone else on the phone,” Neha said to console Dev.

“Shush!” Jia said as soon as she heard Misha answering the phone. “Misha? Hi, it’s me Jia. I need to talk to you about Dev.”

Dev kept listening to what Jia was talking but after a while he sat upright on the bed and winked at Neha who was still standing there waiting to listen to the whole story.

After a few minutes of I knows, I will talk to him about that, and you are right, Jia finally disconnected the phone with a cheerful ‘bye’.

She smiled at Dev and said, “You can call her at night and be extra nice. Everything’s gonna be fine.”

Dev jumped out of bed with a new found energy and grabbed his phone. “What if I call her now?”

“Control your emotions, Dev. She will be fine by the night. Let her cool down first.”

Dev was too happy, “Oh I love you, Jia. What would I do without you?”

“Nothing,” replied Neha and everyone laughed.

The train stopped abruptly and Jia came back to her senses. There was a commotion going on at the railway tracks. Some kind of a political propaganda, Jia thought. Why do politicians waste other peoples’ time and money? What do they get out of endangering innocent people’s lives? There are some questions Jia could never get the answer for. Like, what had happened to Dev at his wedding? Why wasn’t he like his old self?

Dev was Jia’s friend when they were 8 years old and they grew up together being the best of friends. They shared their secrets with each other, they have told each other about their heart breaks, their crushes, and their ambitions. When was the time when they started to grow apart from each other? They each had their separate life partners with them and they were happy for each other then why did they decide to leave their friendship? Whatever happened to the ‘friends forever’ quote they often said?

Perhaps sometimes God has His own ways of taking up things. Maybe they were meant to be apart. But all those memories of togetherness and fun they had together could never get wiped off from Jia’s mind forever. She still thought about Dev whenever she saw friends talking and enjoying each other’s company. She could not forget how they used to chat all night long without fearing what the other would think about their weird imagination.

The train chugged and soon it gained momentum. Jia, feeling fidgety, stared out of the window into the fields and the unlimited sky and tried again to listen to the songs. Misha was a nice girl, why would she ask Dev not to talk to Jia? And if it wasn’t Misha why would Dev stop calling her on her birthdays without any reason?

They distanced from one another without knowing the real reason. Jia never asked and Dev never explained. But Jia always wanted to know if friendship could become so meaningless that people would stay apart for years and did not even once care to call the other person. She had called and tried to talk to Dev several times like the old days but he was a changed man now.

The train again slowed down but this time Jia saw that it was her destination. She picked up her bags and went towards the exit. Her mind was full of questions about friendship and loyalty. And she was not able to figure out anything right now. Everything was in a haze and she could not clearly see what was ahead of her.

The train finally stopped and she jumped out onto the platform. She started to walk towards the exit gates when she heard someone calling her from behind. She turned and saw Vivan, her husband, walking towards her. He was accompanied by their daughter and son on both sides. She could see those twinkling eyes full of love for her. She immediately knew there were no ‘forevers’ in life but there would always be true love and loyalty ahead of her waiting for her to get off the train and return to them.

The kids hugged their mother and kissed her again and again. “Oh, I missed you all so much,” Jia said kissing both the kids. She stood up and saw Vivan smiling at her.

“I missed you too,” Vivan said lovingly and hugged her. Jia did not let go of her husband for a few seconds. “Is everything alright, Jia?” Vivan asked worriedly.

“Of course,” replied Jia and began walking home with them. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Life As It Is

She was sitting in the corner of her room looking out the window. Spring was blooming all around the city. The flowers were smiling at her through the glass window panes. She could not feel the cool breeze that was continuously trying to come inside but instead was being shoed away by the hard-hearted windows. She saw a young girl playing with her brother. The girl looked inside and smiled at her. She wanted to smile back at the girl but the lips denied her order.

She thought about how she used to play outside in the sun with her friends and siblings. She thought about all the good things that had happened to her in all these years. How could she be in such a condition? What was wrong with her? How could this be happening to her?

It seemed only yesterday that Omar had proposed to her. She was so happy with the idea of getting married to the person she loved. Both the families were happily preparing for the wedding when it happened. Was it her fault that she had to cover a story in a strange city with coward people? No, it was not her fault. Then why was she suffering from all that pain?

She was a fast learner and soon caught the eye of her chief reporter and given more responsibilities. She now used to travel outside the city and sometimes even her country to gather news for her channel.

It was on that one assignment that she had to go to a metropolitan city with a team of five. She was found three days later in a hospital after her rapist had thrown her off a car onto the highway.

It took her three months to recover from her external bruises and wounds but it took the police not more than three weeks to arrest all the four goons including the rapist. She was thankful to her seniors who tried to pull all the strings they could in order to catch the culprits.

She had scars all over her body but she joined her office within six months. She was constantly visiting her therapist to overcome the trauma and it was difficult for her to do that because the moment she entered her workplace people started looking and pointing to her. She was the most vulnerable one in the whole building. She wanted to go outside on assignments but her seniors denied that on the pretext of her safety. She was fed up with this special treatment. She wanted to move on but the people around her were always reminding her of the brutal past she had been through.

These people were responsible for all those internal wounds to evolve and they were unable to heal. Her therapist advised her to take a holiday but she was not an escapist.

Omar began to treat her like a patient. He always met her on weekends within a time limit. He wanted her to take some days off and plan for the wedding to take her mind off the traumatic incident. She tried to take his advice and asked his sisters to accompany her for the shopping but no one agreed to accompany her. She was a huge responsibility for them now. What if someone tried to assault her again? What if she was taken by the evil men again? Nobody was treating her like a normal being again. She was the fragile one who was already broken from the inside.

It did not take her long to confront Omar and broke her wedding off. He never asked why and she never told. She was fed up with an artificial relationship where she would always remain the weaker sex.

She woke up one morning with a call from her colleague, “He offered to marry you if you take back the case.”

“What???” she was half asleep and did not know what was this all about.

“Your rapist,” her friend said, “He is sending a plea through his advocate to marry you.”

Now she was awake and knew what was happening. She did not know what to say. She just asked her friend to let her think and laid awake all night.

She did not go to work that day. She was thinking about the life she used to have and the plans she had for her future. What mattered now?

Hundreds of faces crossed her mind. Her Mom, her Dad, her elder brother, her younger sister, Omar, his parents, her friends, her boss, the rapist… What was her fault?

Life is not a bed of roses, as the famous cliché goes. The harsh realities and the ugly truths are faced by everyone once or twice in a lifetime. People have to make compromises to survive or die a painful death. It’s their choice. But why the compromises have to be made by the weaker person? Or is it that the person becomes weak because of the compromises made by him time and again? Why cannot life be simple with only butterflies hovering around the fragrant flowers and the spring breeze always flowing through the hair? Why is life the way it is?

There were many like her who were doing their jobs when it happened. People would always look at her as the victim and point her out in public. Why not blame others and stop treating her like an alien in a crowd? Her life could have been different if everyone just supported her and empathised with her. But people thought that sympathising and consoling was better. They were wrong. She was brave, they were all brave. She did not need a pillar to lean on. All she needed was people who thought of her to be one of them.

She was kind enough to forgive everyone but not ready to give her soul to the devil. She was not a weaker sex, she never was. People have been wrong the whole time. They needed to gain some perspective. Life has been this way for everyone. She was not the only one suffering. Many have made changes. She could be one of them. She would change the flow of the tide. This time, the favours would be on her side.

She opened the window and took the fresh spring air inside her lungs. She was alive. She was a survivor. She could breathe. She could smile. And she did. The girl outside playing with her brother was still looking at her and waved with a smile. She waved back, smiling.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Random Life

She did not know where she was going but still she kept walking in the unknown city where a thousand strangers were roaming around her. She was not afraid of those strangers, she was afraid of the people she already know. Though Shilz was a small hill station, still she knew that no one from her family would ever come to this corner of the country to search for her.
She was fed up of her life where the bickering of her elder brothers and father left her no other option than running away from home. She somehow knew that had her mother been alive today she would have been living a peaceful life. But even the thought of her mother would bring tears to her eyes because she herself was the reason her mother died. If she would have listened to her mother and would not have been near that lake she would never have slipped and her mother would never have rescued her only to drown herself. Her father always blamed her for killing his wife and her elder brothers were never supportive after their mother’s death. Though girls of her age used to boast about their brothers but she always kept quiet and never said anything about her two brothers who not only teased her in front of their father but also humiliated her in front of the school.
For the past fifteen years she was tolerating all this but now she could take it no longer. She knew running away from reality was no solution but she didn’t know what else she could do. She had heard about Shilz once from her mother when she was six years old and her mother had told her that she would like to build a house in the city which looked beautiful in winters and picturesque during spring. Now, she could see for herself what her mother meant by picturesque.
Suddenly she saw a blind girl who was playing guitar beside a bookstore and people were tossing coins in the tattered box kept next to her. She went near her and once the blind girl paused between playing she quickly asked her how she became blind. The blind girl replied smilingly, “I had an accident a few years back and my parents struggled for money but eventually one by one they both died of starvation as they kept stacking money for me and never let me know that they had stopped eating food for months. And now I’m blind and without any family. I envy people around me who walk with their kids or fathers or siblings. But I want to tell everyone that no matter how bad your family seems to you, they never would think anything bad about you. I’m sure you would be glad to have a family. Who all do you have in your family?”
But she got no answers because the girl quietly stood up and walked away promising herself never to speak to strangers, just as her mother had said.