29.2.12 | Post by Suvanjana
Pradip was supposed to reach Hyderabad today. He must have reached by now. A flight from Delhi is not supposed to take more than two hours, three at the max. Then what is keeping him from calling me? He should have reached well over two hours by now…mused Aradhana. Pradip was gone on an official trip with strict instructions for her not to call him suddenly. He would take time out and call her. But that was no excuse for making her worry so much. Aradhana picked up the phone a few times then kept it back. She feared making him angry. Maybe he was actually busy and not getting time. She would wait… what other option did she have?
Aradhana was sipping her tea and stared hard at the scenery outside the staff room window. A Biology teacher at a reputed school, she hardly got time for luxuries like this on weekdays. Her weekends were also packed to the full, both her children were appearing for the Board exams this year; Aarti was in Class X while Arun was in class XII. In order to keep them in a tight schedule, she herself had to adhere to a strict routine and constantly keep track of their studies. But today, no matter how much she tried her thoughts kept meandering away from work and took her back to her past and her memories. Tired at last, she kept the glasses down from her eyes and started staring outside the window to welcome the unabashed flow of memories.
It was sometime in their college days, Pradip and Aradhana were the most-talked-about couple in campus. They complimented each other like a ship and its anchor. They were the favorite students of their professors too. The college fests seemed colorless in the absence of Aradhana and Pradip’s duet songs; they were talented in the true sense. Enjoying each other’s company and competing for grades they reached their final year. Love between them was evident and they had taken that fact for granted. A week after their final exams they sat at the college grounds sitting back to back with each other, so that neither could see the face of the other.
‘Now that I can’t see you…you don’t need to be shy with me….tell me something… what are your plans for us?’ questioned Aradhana playfully. ‘What plans? There are no plans…. Let’s see who bags a job first’ replied Pradip’
‘That and all are fine….but what about marriage and plans about us in the future? You do have some plans…right?’ This question jolted Pradip from behind her, and he sat straight facing her with surprise in his eyes. ‘Wait…wait…you are going too fast…what marriage? When did I ever tell you any such thing?’
Aradhana was clearly embarrassed at the question, she somehow managed: ‘You never said any such thing… but isn’t it evident? I mean after we get jobs you do want to marry me…Right?’ asked Aradhana with a lot of doubt clouding her eyes. Pradip was caught off guard. He swallowed hard and said: ‘Look…. I love you a lot but I am not ready for marriage….. I have to look after my parents and family…. Get a job…buy a Flat then a car maybe….I don’t know what exactly…but marriage is certainly not there for at least five or six years’ Aradhana looked defeated…it was, as if, someone had hit her hard.
‘All that is fine with me… if you tell me so…. I will wait for you…. But you don’t want to marry me…..right? And there is no concrete reason for that…..isn’t it so?’ she replied with tears choking her voice. All her friends had warned her that she should clarify their relationship status before proceeding but she had always thought that their relationship was way ahead of all these things. She too had an ambition; she also looked ahead to a secure future but with Pradip. Without him, all her dreams were incomplete. She looked at Pradip and saw how helpless he was looking, trying to conjure up a reason why he couldn’t marry her. There was actually no reason behind it. In that one moment, she realized how wrongly she had interpreted all his actions and their relationship. She realized that as a guy he was a little immature and felt sorry for him. She tried to ease the tension: ‘It’s ok….you don’t need to look so guilty…. Stay normal please….. I understand….’ she assured holding his hand in hers.
That was then and this is now. Life had taken so many unexpected turns. Now she was married to one of the most wonderful and understanding persons and had two lovely children. She was even successful in her career. What more could a person want? She had found friendship in her marriage like she had never thought before. She could not ask for more, her husband was actually her friend. They shared all things small or big, good or bad in life.
She had never felt the need to hide her relation with Pradip from him. Although they led separate lives they could not let go off each other. Aradhana had reconciled her fate of living without Pradip as her husband but they had never lost touch with each other. Abhay, her husband now, came into her life through a marriage arranged purely by relatives and family. On the first day itself, when he had come to see the prospective bride, Aradhana had told him about Pradip and how she cannot bear to severe her friendship with him. Although certain, that this confession would scare away Abhay, like all his preceding suitors, Aradhana was stunned when he did not object to any of it and rather agreed to marry her happily. That was perhaps, the best thing that could happen in Aradhana’s life.
Up until her marriage, she did not feel how much she needed to be loved and cared for. Abhay was all that Pradip was not. Over the years her relationship with Pradip took a more maternal turn, her love for him changed from that of a lover to a good friend, who cared for him like a parent or an elderly relative. On the other hand, Abhay slowly seeped into the cracks and crevices of her life and held her strongly like the roots of a Banyan tree on a dilapidated wall of some old house. Pradip never married, but he did remain a part of Aradhana’s life, Abhay welcomed him as a friend into his life too. With time, Aradhana became a happy wife to Abhay and a loving mother to his children.
Her phone beeped. She picked it up to receive a mono-syllabic text from Pradip saying ‘Reached’! She was about to reply to his text when the phone rang again. It was Aarti calling, she picked up without delay and her daughter’s voice hurried on:
‘Ma, where are you? I’m waiting for you in front of the school? Have you left?’ Caught off guard, she hurriedly replied: ‘I’m on my way…. I was caught up in some work. Don’t go anywhere…I will be there in a minute!’
29.2.12 | Post by Liz
As the love month draws to a close, I finally mustered my courage to write a post on something so intimate and personal, that is, something that matters much to my heart.
Many people were still asking if it was He who left or was it I who abandoned Him.
I began my reflections for the day and I saw this posted on my wall:
The truth is I am emptying myself because I wanted to accomodate more people into my life. I wish to forgive others. I wish to forgive myself. I knew that I could give myself totally if nothing holds me back. And it was pure grace that I felt it coming now...
In the afternoon while having a lunch break, my colleague spoke of a commentary she heard over the radio. As she was recounting the story between two friends who benefited from their relationship, my mind flashed back on all the times I clung to pain just so I could feel that He's still part of me. Just so, I could feel because most parts of me have already become numb.
I wish to remember my past with love not pain...
We wrote the lovestory together. His friends called it a fairytale ~ except that, we lived happily ever after apart from each other...
He left the last chapter unfinished and I felt like throwing the book away. But today, I took it again and decided to conclude the chapter...
He went away never to come back...
But He gave the princess so much love in her heart. It didn't diminish with His absence. Instead, it grew accordingly because she nourished it.
She felt His Spirit in everything she does... she wove magic with her hands. And the people around her felt Him. They didn't understand with their mind but they felt it with their heart.
Ahhh, that is the way it has to be...
He is alive!
He is forever alive in her heart.
I reread the whole book, Memoirs of a Young Traveler, and I felt that He gave me authority to finish it the way He wishes it to be...
With a sequel perhaps...beginning another chapter with...
20.2.12 | Post by Suvanjana
‘Hari Om…. Hari Om!’ chanted the sadhu seated in the opposite berth of the train. Rimi was a little apprehensive of their overnight journey, when she saw that they were supposed to share the train compartment with two sadhus and an attendant of theirs. Although they were supposed to be men of God, Rimi has always been scared and apprehensive of them. This was, by far, the closest she had gotten to them. It was not a feeling shared by Rimi alone, fear is the first reaction we are taught from our childhood for anything uncertain. She was getting scared of her thoughts, from being burgled in the middle of the night by them till being God-knows-what, she had thought about all the possibilities and exactly how she would tackle it.
Rimi and Neel had been allotted the side lower berth and the lower berth of the same coupe. From the time she saw the sadhus sitting opposite to them, she could think of nothing else but them. ‘We will finish our dinner soon and retire for the night early, ok?’ she asked Neel. Neel was a little surprised to see Rimi’s eagerness to go to sleep so soon. Originally, it had been planned that since they had not got much time before the trip they would plan their itinerary in the train itself. But suddenly, Rimi was behaving strangely. As if she wanted the night to get over as soon as possible. It was, in fact, true. She did want that to happen. Neel finally agreed and said, ‘Okay… As you wish…. You were only eager to plan things in the train itself.’ Rimi shot him big eyes and gestured him to keep quiet.
Mentally she started making the sleeping arrangements; she would certainly take the side lower berth because she was certain that the sadhus were looking for any opportunity to pounce on her. Neel can take the lower berth by their side. She confided her arrangement to Neel, who agreed without argument. It seemed well enough. For some time the compartment felt silent, punctuated only by swallowing and munching noises emanated from people taking in their packed dinners, supplied either by the train-pantry or bought in a hurry from the station. The sadhus sat with an elaborate spread in front of them with Puris, sabji, sweets and some lassi-type liquid. Rimi was certain the latter was bhang, a heady concoction of toxic leaves along with sweetened milk. In their intoxicated state they would certainly hatch a dangerous plan, she was certain of that. She kept staring at them with panic written all over her face!
She had no appetite left after seeing the sadhus slurping down all of the fare and finishing it off with the lassi-type liquid. She suddenly wanted to finish her dinner as soon as possible and lie down in her berth. In the meanwhile the sadhus and their attendant started doing huge calculations regarding the last Jyogya that they had attended and how much money was received in donation and how much got wasted. Their talks moved in the circle of lakhs of rupees. ‘Oh my God…. They would kill us for money and disappear from the train…’ Rimi whispered to Neel on the brink of paranoia.
‘What? Are you crazy? Rimi, stop reading those cheap crime thrillers I’m telling you, look at your thought process…. How can you think of such a thing?’ ‘Fine…. Give me my bed-sheet and I will go to my berth’ fumed Rimi while fumbling to take her bed-sheet and towel, supplied by the Railways in a brown paper packet.
Lying down quietly in her berth, she could still hear the sadhus calculate money expenses; she clutched on to her purse under her pillow for the millionth time and tried to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, she could hear voices, male voices….. Neel was saying something…. She woke up with a start to find the sadhus still awake. She peeped through the curtains to see Neel fast asleep on his berth and the sadhus discussing something. A new fear gripped her….. maybe they were not after her…. they were men-of-the-other-type and were after Neel. She had heard many stories regarding perverted sadhus…..What if they did some harm to him? The thought was paralyzing…..suddenly she got up and went towards Neel’s berth. The sadhus were a bit startled to see her awake still. The older one asked her: ‘Beti…. Not feeling sleepy?’ In her fear, she did not think it important to answer him and started shaking Neel out of his sleep.
Neel was full of sleep and felt disoriented to have been woken suddenly. Once awake, she literally pulled him out of the compartment towards the door and voiced her fears to him. Neel was furious. It was the middle of the night and Rimi was talking absolute nonsense. ‘Stop It!’ he said sternly, then turned and left towards his berth. Having no way left, even Rimi slowly returned to her berth and lay down. Sleep, however, was nowhere near. Sometime near dawn, she fell asleep.
In her sleep she heard mumbled voices and saw some faces too. She tried to get up and open her eyes when she heard the sadhus were calling out loud ‘Station is coming!’ she got up and saw Neel also getting up slowly in his berth. She breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, the night was over and they were safe!
After they freshened up and sat on their berths waiting for the train to stop at their station, the older sadhu looked directly at Rimi and held out his hand with something in it. He was holding her purse….. ‘While sleeping you must have dropped it sometime in the night …. I found it in the morning and kept it with myself, lest it got lost!’
‘What? I dropped it? Oh…Thank you’ she added sheepishly at a loss of words, taking the purse from his extended hand. From beside her she could feel Neel’s glaring sight in her direction, she avoided looking at him altogether!
16.2.12 | Post by Deborah McConnell
Love for our parents, siblings, and our relatives is a different kind of love. It's a shared love, a common love, when trust comes naturally. It's an expected love, we grow up just knowing they love us. It's a simple easy love. There is nothing like the love of family. Even when the world turns against you, your family will be there.
Then we grow up and learn a totally different kind of love. Let's refer to this love as Being in Love. I know this love can be painful, hurtful, and too much to bear at times.
But after you've gone through the various phases of being in love, it can be the most rewarding, gentle, carefree feeling. It's magical, peaceful, unconditional, it's just amazing. I know you're thinking "OK, Deborah stop feeding us this line of bologna" I think far to many have been hurt and scarred, which led them down the path of Love just doesn't exists. Then there are those that have had to many weird relationships, they have decided that other than love of their family, there is nothing else. I belonged to both groups, I had been hurt so badly that I didn't want love, didn't believe there was such a thing (even though I clearly felt it before) I didn't care to love anyone but my children, family and a few friends.
11.2.12 | Post by Suvanjana
What will Neeraj gift me today? Will he at all remember about today? Will he propose to me? Shall I agree and jump with joy? These and questions like these stormed through Meera’s mind from the moment she checked the calendar and it showed 14th February. It was the day of love or Valentine’s Day. Neeraj and Meera had become synonymous to each other, they were always together, be it in office or outside, they worked together, watched movies together and even spent their weekends mostly with each other. Meera hailed from a conservative family but constant reference to Neeraj in everything she did, had removed the fear from her mother’s mind that he meant some harm for her. Neeraj had become equivalent to a girl-friend of Meera’s and her mother was completely at ease with that. The same was the case with Neeraj’s family. Although conservative, Meera had become a household name for them, having heard so much about her for almost two whole years his parents had also included her name under ‘Family’ while making the guest-list for Neeraj’s elder brother’s upcoming wedding.
Such was the scenario that inability to reach either of them prompted either family to call the other person and inquire where he or she was. It will be unfair to say that their families had never suspected the existence of romantic feelings between Meera and Neeraj. In the beginning of their acquaintance when both of them frequently mentioned the other to their family, their families had suspected something wrong. However, the suspicion was nipped in the bud when both Meera and Neeraj had shouted at their respective mothers for having called each other to inquire about the status of their relationship. They had become so angry at their mothers’ immature behavior that they had not talked to them for over a month. After much cajoling and pleading the episode was put to rest and things resumed it normal pace and reached the current scenario. Thus, no one ever mentioned anything about the same to any of them.
‘Remember your mom thought that we were in love. How weird of her to think that…’ voiced Neeraj. ‘Excuse me? My mom thought? What about your Mom? Even she thought the same…’ shot back Meera. ‘Yeah….I mean how stupid of them to think any such thing…You and me…it’s just not possible right?’ offered Neeraj. Ouch…. That was a stab at the heart, it was true that they were not in love but why was it not possible? Was she not pretty or nice enough? Why was she thinking any of these? Neeraj was right… it was impossible, thought Meera. ‘Yes… as always…. you are right!’ she quickly added lest Neeraj read any of her thoughts.
Today standing in the Ladies' washroom and checking herself in the mirror, Meera thought about this conversation that had taken place a week back. Why had Neeraj suddenly brought it up? Was he just judging the waters? Or was it just a casual remark? Since then Neeraj had been behaving weirdly with her. He was always busy when she called him or asked him to take tea break. She even had to cancel her movie plans on Saturday because Neeraj was not free. What was suddenly wrong with him? Anyways, there were others in the office, she thought, who does he think he is?
But the truth was that she was missing him, and badly so. Why were men so stupid? If he was in love with her then he should tell her so, and then they will find out a way to deal with it. Or, was this better? She was all too confused about her emotions and also about Neeraj’s weird behavior.
Leaving the washroom, she noticed Neeraj leaning against Ritu’s cubicle and laughing at something silly. She felt irritated to say the least. She felt like walking up to him and slapping him hard. What did he think of himself? She did walk up to him and said ‘I have something important to tell you…. Can you come with me?’ Startled by her sudden order, Neeraj’s smile vanished and he said, ‘I will be there in some time, I have some work with Ritu’ saying so he dismissed her completely. Standing there, Meera felt stupid. Without saying anything further she walked straight out of office and into the parking lot coffee zone. She sat there staring blankly at the wall… she was confused with her emotions…. She was feeling jealous and felt a lump form in her throat. What was happening to her?
‘Do I smell anything burning here?’ joked Neeraj. Lost in her thoughts, Meera had not noticed him walk in and take the seat beside her. The lightness in his voice made her eyes fill up with tears. ‘Hey… are you crying? Look I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to hurt you’ said Neeraj guiltily holding her face in his hands. This gesture broke down all her defenses and she pushed his hands away to rest her head on his shoulders. With tears streaming down her face she declared: ‘I think…. I…love you…’
‘I know that…. I love you too…. There is no need to say anything else. I know what you think and I also know what you feel. I wanted you to understand your feelings…… that is the reason why I moved away from you for the last week… and... before I forget Happy Valentine's Day Love’ saying so Neeraj held her in his warm embrace. A smile appeared on her tear-stained face and she snuggled close to him.
6.2.12 | Post by sulekkha
When you were sad, life was an unwelcome intrusion.
Sun rays couldn’t dispel the clouds of gloom.
Rain couldn’t wash away the grime of sorrow,
from my hurting heart’s window pane.
The birds didn’t sing or they chirped off tune.
The flowers wilted away, they forgot to bloom.
Nature mourned with me, Universe also cried,
Rainbows hid in the dark caverns of grey skies.
When you were sad, I was sad too.
3.2.12 | Post by wanderer
How about talking about love without bringing the lovebirds in the park into your hawking view finder? Lonesome winsome hearts don’t look forlorn at their long lingering shadows, because someone in the past had said- “yuck, ugly duck! Who the hell gonna dance with you- Ya wish me Valentine? Ya gotta wish your mama valentine! Haa haa haa!” Well she was right! Love is not a parcel to be delivered only during the shortest month of the year! The little heart home deliveries can be made all round the year. So if you are the snob knob like nosy son of your parents- dial up your home number and wish that First Lady in your life the very best things you can think about right at this moment. Okay! Ladies weep at emotional displays and only the ones bred under military regime have a control over their tear tanks- so, fikar not! For the prelude- tell her to keep the tissue pack near.
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