Get out of that dreaded zone

If someone in the future wrote a biography on me, then I’d say today would be one of the remarkable chapters in my life.

I have never done this, nor did I think that I’d ever do this.

And this has been the most awkward moment of my life. I looked at the mirror one last time, before I could take my plunge of faith. I was decked up in a beautiful fuchsia lehenga all decked up with jewelry and make-up. What a waste, I feel!

I take a look and without thinking twice, I made my move.

It was hard and it was unexpected. Whims and fancies have never been my best friends, but then they cannot be worse enemies.

My life has never been so histrionic before. At least before now. That is all that I can say, at least. I took out my strongest quilts and entangled them forming into a formidable foe that helped me through my quest.

Before it could get any late, I made my jump like I was in the arms of Spiderman, and before anyone could notice I was swept away in the wailing hours of dawn.

I walked past the footpath, as I had suspicious eyes checking me out. I don’t blame them. I would have been there in their shoes and done the same.

I took large steps, running and panting, taking breaths every now and then until I reached the Purple Box.

I lifted my lehenga a bit from my foot so that I could walk in piece. My heels were hurting me more than I could imagine. Removing my heels, I took them in my right hand, and my wallet in my left hand. I’m lucky that I at least managed to grab my wallet.

The café staff were staring at me in awe, not awestruck but with an awful look – the obvious did she elope from her marriage look. I also saw them looking at the door waiting for someone to come behind me. Well, how predictable!! That’s how the world thinks, If she eloped, who did she elope with. Duh!!! I can run away alone. DO NOT NEED A COMPANY for that.

I yelled at him “Mind taking my order?”

“Mam, did you run….?” He tried his hand at being a moral police, at least he sounded like that.

“You know what, go to a news channel and make this as breaking news.” I was clearly frustrated. Not angry with them. But then he was just adding the fuel to the burning fire.

He apologised “I’m sorry ma’am. Can I please have your order?”

“One Cappuccino,  One french fries with extra cheese and Mayo, and a Mushroom Sandwich.  Also, add a lemonade to it, and a basil and tomato soup.” I blabbered.

I didn’t even know if I needed all these things. I was clearly frustrated and hungry. And trust me it is a terrible combination.

The café began to fill up with a few people here and there – mostly college students who were just trying to make their own story with my attire. God !!! I should have left my wedding attire before running away. I don’t even have a set of normal clothes and I don’t have my cell phone. Now what? Deal with it.

As my order arrives, I ignore the obviously suspicious stares and focus on the problem. Like he said “ When in problem, forget everything and focus on food. It solves the problem.”

If not solving the problem, it at least takes your mind off it and distracts you for a bit.

Just while I was engrossed in my thoughts, I felt a hand on my head.  Accumulating all the wrath within me, I look back to find a familiar face staring at me. I expect an angry face, but it was calm. Which meant a hurricane is whirling to attack me anytime soon now.

I keep a poker face not saying anything focussing on my blue lemonade. It cools me in the moments of stress.

“You couldn’t have gotten more irresponsible.” He mocked at me.

“Then why are you here?”

“Well, when you make mistakes somebody has to correct.” He further added “I’m terribly upset, Arianna!”

“Look, I’m sorry…” before I could complete he begins “I don’t need your apology.” He had this stern look on his face, which always meant that I’m in for some serious trouble.

“Dush, just listen. I..”

He cuts me again. “Why did you have to do this?”

“I don’t know.” I hung my head down not facing him. Because deep down my guilt was stronger than anything else. I kind of spoiled his life, my parents reputation and my life probably.

“Why, Arie?”

“I don’t know, Dush. I’m just not sure about it. Mom and dad were too excited about it, and I didn’t want to let them down. And you!!! I don’t even know where to start it from? I just felt this was the right choice.”

He rubbed his eye brows, and snatched my lemonade from hand and places  it on the table “You did what you felt was easy. Running away. That was the easiest part. Not having to deal with anything, isn’t that right?”

“That’s not how it is.” I justified. But I know there is no justification for this act of cowardice.

He gave me a completely apathetical look and I continued “Okay fine. That’s how it is. I ran away because it is convenient. It suited me. I did not have the incessant need to confront anyone. I don’t even know why. But it is a strong gut feeling that this is not right. And I just did what felt right?”

He stared at me for a really long time, or at least it did feel so “You never wanted this, did you?”

“To be honest, yes. Never.” I confessed.

“So why not come up with this, before. You could have saved us all some time.” He seemed to mock at me.

But he continued “Look Arie, I have known you since we were kids. I thought I understood you. And this disappoints me!” I look at the crowd staring at two people who were supposed to be at a wedding. But both of them have eloped for different reasons and are meeting at a coffee shop. It might look like we are having a date. But we clearly are far from what it is. Not a date!

I just felt like closing my eyes, wishing that all this was just a bad dream and I would wake up and things got normal. Or that I was playing a game at which I was losing, and I would restart the system and everything would fall back and the game would go the way I want.

Alas!!! This is nothing like that. I close my eyes for a while, and then I open them. The same me, the same him and nothing has changed. Both of us in our wedding attire, in a coffee shop with a bunch of idiots staring at us. Typically bourgeoisie. And predictable. Like it was some clichéd movie!

I can’t believe that our lives had taken a sudden twist making our lives so convoluted.

He waits patiently for my answer “What happened, Arianna?”

“What disappoints you?” I countered his question.

“This!! Why did you do this?”

Well it is a long story, indeed. What could I tell him?

I have known him for the past 14 years, which is a long time. But not long for us to get married. I have never known him that way. Nor did I feel for him that way. He has always been a great friend, and a guardian angel. He has always been there when I was in trouble. Helping my with my homework, protecting me when my parents were about to whack me. It was perfect. But I never did feel that way about him. Nor, did he feel that way about me. And we were happy. We were best friends. He moved to Germany, and I moved on with my life. Never knew this serpentine twist would engulf our lives.

One day our parents decided to get us married. And I said Yes. Okay. Not a problem. I don’t realise when was the last time that my life had been so fucked up. I do not realise when was the last time, that I was stupid enough to turn my life into a complete turmoil .

We were great as friends. But when our parents decided that we should get married, neither of us rejected it. I mean, why? Oh god, why??

I was in relationship with him for over one year before this. And I was happy. He made me happy. But it was awkward and weird. And it was just a long distance relationship. Talking over Skype and WhatsApp. In this one year he just came here once, and that was when we were getting engaged. Just like my friends, I was supposed to be in love with this man that I have to get married, thinking about what I will upload on my FaceBook Page, what my candid wedding photos would look like. How many likes would I get. How many people would wish me. How awesome my honeymoon would be! Where would we go?? Greece or Mauritius?

And here I am eloping from my own wedding, sitting in front of a guy that I was supposed to be taking oaths. But here we are here. Sitting in front of each other. Confronting on the fact that I eloped from my own wedding – the wedding for which my consent had been taken.

Dushyanth had asked me if I was happy with it. For a thousand times, and over. And I said yes. All the time. Yet I eloped. Why?

“I’m sorry Dush. I have no words, but sorry. I spoiled your life. And you have every right to hate with all your might. You can even abuse me. I am sorry, that’s all I have.”

“And I do not need your sorry. You can’t fix this with I’m-so-sorry. You’re not going to have an easy escape out of this, Arianna !”

“Fine, what do you want me to do?”

“I want to punish you. Make you suffer. Like how you put me through pain.”

“So, what are you going to do?” I  questioned.

“Tell me why did you do this?”

“As I told you, I wasn’t ready.”

“Then why did you not tell me?”

“Because, I was scared. And you were happy. Everyone was happy, and I did not want to spoil it.”

“Sometimes, we have to do what’s right for us, Arie. You have always been doing what makes everyone happy. You can’t keep doing it. At some point of time in your life, you are going to upset someone.”

“SO, you are not mad at me for doing this?” I was astonished.

He yelled at me. This was my chance to be yelled at” Of course, I am mad at you. I am mad at you for not including you in this rendezvous. I am mad at you, that in spite of being best friends you did not consider talking to me once. Of course, I am mad at you from the bottom of my heart.”

“I’m sorry, Dush.”

“What do you want now, Arie?”

“I don’t understand.”

“You eloped. You are sitting in a coffee shop with me. What do you want to do?” he asked.

“Suggest.”

“Who eloped.”

“Even you eloped.” I pointed.

“I came here to find you. Your mom was worried.”

“They all know.”

“The entire area knows by now, perhaps!” he giggled.

“You’re not being funny.”

“It’s funny how you have turned a serious event into a funny one. “ He had this sly smirk on his face that drove me wild with guilt. I was on the wrong side. Couldn’t do anything much.

“Look, I am in love with you. But that is not an enough reason to get married to you. And if you are not happy with it, I cannot be happy either. The idea was we would spend our rest of lives together. But..”

I stopped him “It’s not like I don’t. But we do not know each other, and I did not want to make more mistakes. “ I hope he understands. But I do not know.

“You need to figure out a lot of things.”

“As in ???”

“Arie, you are a cornucopia of confusions right now. Go home. Take a warm bath and go to sleep. Get up, have a hot cup of coffee and think. You will have a lot of questions. And you need your answers. Seek them. Seek your answers. They’re waiting for you.

“I don’t know, Dush. It feels so stagnant in life. Everything seems to have come to a stand still.” I confessed.

“Why do you feel so?”

“I live the same life every day. Go to the work at the same place, come back to the same home, live the same monotonous life. It’s gotten far too insipid.” I said.

“Do you know why you feel that way?”

I nodded a no.

“That’s because you have not tried something new in your life. You do the same old things, and if you think that you are going to feel different each day. You won’t. You bloody won’t. You have to get out there. Get out of that dreaded comfort zone. You’ve gotten too comfortable with that zoning of yours. You are happy. And you can’t move on in your life if you live like that. Occasionally in life, you got to go out and meet people. People who hate you. People you hate. Try understanding things that you always shy away from. Do things that freak you out. Like the stint you performed this morning. It was out of your comfort zone, Arie. You did something, because there was a force that pushed you. You can’t always have that. You have a force within you. Keep that spirit. Keep pushing yourself.”

He suddenly made a lot of sense, and I suddenly remembered what was coming to me.

“I can’t go back..”

“They’re your family. Waiting for you.” He raised his voice “ Don’t be ridiculous. Go home.” He held his hand and took my in his. “Let’s go.”

“We haven’t paid the bill.” I said.

“Then pay it.” He commanded.

“How can you make a girl pay while you are here?” I teased him.

“Well, we are not on a date. So suck it up!!” he grinned.

I paid the bills and held his hands. I was sweating with the fear in me. I did not know what to do. I was scared of facing my parents, after today’s adventure.

He held my hand throughout giving me hopes of a happy future.

We reached home after what seemed a very long time.

The house was deserted with just my parents waiting for us. I was devastated to see them like that. I never wanted to hurt them, but I made a choice that resulted in that state.

“I’m sorry, mom.” She just walked away. Her tears said more than anything. Dad came to me, separated my hands from his and said “ I don’t understand what your generation does. We both love you, and want you to be happy, always. Just trust us.”

“I am sorry, dad. I should have spoken to you.”

“Arie, we make mistakes in life. They all help us grow. Sometimes, we make mistakes that result in collateral damage. We end up losing people. And we go beyond what we thought. Just be strong with your instincts, and I am glad that you just did that.”

I looked at him, and knew that damage was already done. But I could still undo that.

FLYING TIMES

I still remember the first day at school.
Wearing a blue and white uniform , neatly ironed
With a water bottle hanging around the neck,
With the socks that stretched till the knees ,
With the shoes , that was so well polished that I could see my face in the shoe .

It was with so much of enthusiasm that I went to school. With new books neatly wrapped with orange wrappers, that I was so fond of. With a whole new set of pencils and an eraser and a sharpener. It was such a happy experience. I loved the first days of the re opening. You meet your friends after such a long time. You have so many stories to tell. You have so many stories to listen. With no cellphones , still we managed to keep in touch with our best pals. The best part was that we used to write letters. Ah!!! How I miss the letters. I used to be really excited when I used to see the postman and I used to be even more excited when those letters were for me. It means something .

Anyways it was the first day I saw him. The first words of him was ” Hi . I’m Armaan. I’m new to this school. “.
I saw him . He can be someone who would be completely defined as a “good boy”.I mean it. With the neatly oiled and partitioned hair , with wearing the uniform on the very first day and he looked so neat. Like really neat.”

“Hi, I’m Ahana , nice to meet you 🙂 Which school are you from? Why did you change your old school?How do you like this school?”
Oh!!! Yes . I did ask a lot of questions even then .
He smiled, may be he understood the fact that we girls are like this, yes there’s nothing wrong with asking questions , right??
“I’m from Pune. My dad’s job is such that its subject to transfers frequently. As a result of which , we have to change our cities often.”

That was it. After that day , we became the best of friends. We used to talk. Like talk a lot. Yes , we used to talk about anything and everything. I used to tell him about how caring my dad is , he used to tell me how his mom used to love him so much , I used to speak of the amazing food that my mom prepares, he spoke about the amazing toys his dad used to buy him. I spoke to him about my cat, he used to tell me about his dog. We spoke about how irritating some of our classmates were, we spoke about our friends. Basically we spoke about anything and everything. And any time we found ourselves free , we used to talk. When the school ended, it was a sad time, because that meant we would not be able to talk to each other.

Mondays were the days we looked forward all the time. Saturdays were depressing because that meant that we would not be able to talk to each other. Oh yes, we used to be so close. We were the best of friends . All the time.

Years passed away.

It was in 9th grade, that he fell in love with a girl whom he met in his tuition. He used to tell me about her like a lot. He loved the way she used to talk, her long hair , her pink lips, her wheatish skin , her cuteness , her smile. And honestly speaking I used to get tired listening about her. She was such a Bitch. I hated her. Like really. He always gave an exaggerated version of her. She was not all that beautiful.May be she was for him. He loved her after all. But I never really did like her.

Slowly things started changing between us. I found guy and started spending more time with him.

Days passed like anything. Now we rarely spoke to each other. We didn’t even have the time to smile at each other. I neglected the person who used to be my best friend. I neglected somebody who was my world to me.

Things changed. Times changed. I changed. He changed . We changed.

After 12th , he moved out of the city. Even I went to Mumbai , to pursue my further studies.

Even though I had his number I never really did contact him “Why , the hell should I contact him?? He left speaking for apparently no reason.If he wants , let him contact first”

Years passed .
One fine day, I found his profile on facebook. I thought of sending him a friend request, but then a question popped in ” Would he accept my friend request?Does he still remember me? What if he rejects? What if he doesn’t even remember me ? What’s the point?” . With this, I used to refrain myself from contacting him.

It was 27th May 2012, when I receive a call in the middle of the night.

“Hello, who’s this??”

I heard a familiar voice”Hi, This is Arundathi(Arundathi was my school mate), Did you hear about Armaan ??? He passed away last night ?? ”

I couldn’t believe it, my phone slipped from my hands and banged on the floor. No, this can’t be happening. There is surely some mistake. How can it happen. He is so young. Just 23 .I decided to check his facebook timeline. I logged on immediately, but to my shock , all I see is the ” rest in peace ” messages from his friends and loved ones.

I call him up. There’s no response. No feeling could ever explain what I am going through. Have I lost him forever. Will I never get him back. I should have spoken to him. One last chance is all that I need. I decide I should go to his place. Yes, in the middle of the night. But all I know was his place in Bangalore. I didn’t know where to go. I call up Arundathi and ask his address. I got to know , even he’s staying in Mumbai. He came back to India , 6 months ago.

In the middle of the night , all I know is I can’t see anything happening to him. I drive like crazy to his place, and then running and panting I ring his door bell. There’s no response. I bang the door as if I want to break it, and finally someone opens the door.

You can’t imagine my shock when I see the person who opened the door. It was him. I don’t know what happened to me that instant. I burst out in his arms. I hug him like I have never hugged before. I never wanted to let go. Armaan was definitely shocked and surprised by this gesture of mine.

I pull myself back, “I’m so sorry. I got a call saying that you’re no more. I checked your timeline, everyone were like “RIP”. What on earth was that. You killed me almost. I thought I had lost you like forever. I thought I could never see you again .”

He was there , smiling. “so, you came here because you thought I was dead ,why did u ignore me all these years. You know you always meant the world to me. Seeing you smile , made my day. I’ve always been in love with you. But after a point of time , u changed. You started ignoring me. You no longer loved speaking to me or even seeing me. I don’t know what was my mistake.I thought I had lost you. I wanted to go away from you. That was the reason I moved abroad.But I could never forget you. You have always been my first love. I might have been in a couple of relationships, but you never left my mind. What if I had been dead? Would you grieve for me even then? Why did my death matter to you. Do I matter to you?”

I didn’t know what to say, may be I wasn’t all that late. God after all gave me a second chance.This time I never wanted to let go of him.”I love you. I always did, but when you started telling me about your girlfriend, that was when I realised that I’m just a friend to you, whom you will forget after sometime. I thought its high time , that we part our ways.That was the reason I stayed away from you. I still love you ”

Before I knew , what was happening, he just hugged me , so tightly and so endearing .This was the best feelings ever. Being in arms of the man, you’ve always wanted to spend the rest of your life with.

We tend to ignore the people , when they are with us . Don’t assume things. Go , speak your heart out. Its better to regret with the things you’ve done rather than regretting about stuffs you wish you had done. Life rarely gives you second chances. I was very lucky. Not everyone is so lucky

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You never know when is the last good bye

It was the first day of my school. I saw him for the first time . And the instant I saw him I decided ” I so hate him “. I don’t know if this was intuitive or prejudistic , but I knew that I would not be able to tolerate him . He was someone I hated with all my heart , with all my soul. He was my arch rival , my enemy. I don’t know why I despised him so much. In fact, I hated most of the men during those days. At some corner of my heart , there was a feeling that all men are heartless creatures.

But the point was that I had to bear him for the rest of 3 my school life. The only impression I had about him was that he was a Casanova.He was someone who irritated me for the rest of three years of my life. Who knew this person would be someone who I’d remember for the rest of my life.

Years rolled by.Finally came the day where I had to clear the board exams and came the day where I would be leaving the school and join a junior college. To be frank enough I was really happy. There was a kind of desperate need in me to get out of the school as soon as possible.

But things changed drastically as soon as I left my college. I became friends with him. I started to know him better. And I was filled with regrets for having hated him earlier. I realized not all the men are heartless. There are some men who could be your friends as well. I was happy. Life was perfect. We started hanging out together. Lots of laughter, giggles and coffees . And like all good things even this had to come to an end.

I decided to take up management studies in my undergraduate level. It was there I met Ananya for the first time. We became the best of buddies since the first day. After a week I introduced Ananya to Dhruv. I observed Dhruv was completely smitten by her. She was pretty . I could make out that he was checking her out. I don’t know why I never fell in love with him. I never felt any such feelings for him . But I just thought that these could make a wonderful couple.

Anyways after that day , I could observe that Dhruv had become more than busy. Everytime I called him , he was held up with one work or the other. Then came a day, which changed everything . I could make out that he was avoiding me for Ananya , this hurt me more than anything and everything. He started keeping secrets from me. He started avoiding me. Things changed badly. I was never so helpless before. One day while I was with Ananya , we were discussing about him , when I saw the need to call him and clear all the differences. But as soon as he picked up the call all I could hear was “Hey ,I’m sorry .There’s a fest at college and since I’m the co-ordinator I’m little held up. I’ll catch up later .Bye.” He didn’t even allow me to speak. Just after a minute of this, he calls Ananya,and there he is talking to her for more than an hour. I was so stunned. How could he do this to me.

This was it. I decided I’m never going to talk to him ever again in my life. After 3 days of this incident , Ananya calls me up “Hey babe , Guess what?? I’m in relationship with Dhruv. I feel so lucky.” 

I never felt so stabbed in my life ever. Two of my best friends had stabbed me on my back. All I could do, was just cry my heart out. Cry,Cry and Cry!!!

I knew I had to take both of them off my life. I stopped speaking both to Dhruv and Ananya. I started avoiding Ananya badly. I made new friends, started hanging out with them more often.

Ananya started whatsapping me ” Not talking to me ?”

“What’s wrong”

“What’s happening?Atleast tell me my fault? Why are behaving like this.This is totally childish.Don’t you think you should be more clear with what’s wrong?”

Finally one day she encountered me at the canteen.”What’s the problem? Why on earth are you not talking to me? I now see what it is. Since the day , I told you I’m in relationship with him, you stopped talking to me. Isn’t it ? He warned me not to tell you anything. You’re so jealous. You’re so possessive. You couldn’t bear to see me with him. That’s why you’re moving away right? Wow!! So clever, Bitch!!.All your life, you did nothing but used him for your selfish purposes. He should have left you long back.You could never ever be happy for your friends. You’re such a sulking bitch.”

I was stunned to listen to these words, my best friend thought about me.”I was a sulking bitch, like really?”

I could not control “Oh! really .I’m a sulking bitch, then why don’t you get the hell out of my sight. I don’t even wanna see your face ever again in my life again. You get it ? You better get it. I so hate you, Ananya. You know why? You’re the reason why I and Dhruv are no longer friends.You spoiled everything between us. And you’re saying I used him . Get the hell out of my life.”

After this incident I completely cut her off my life. She tried to apologise. She was sorry for whatever she said that day. But how could I ever forgive her. I had never learnt forgiving anybody.Two years after this episode, Dhruv came to my college , but this time not to meet Ananya, but to meet me. I was in parking lot, taking out my vehicle , when “Hi , Akriti .How are you.??”

I turned back to see Dhruv, standing behind me ” Ananya is in the canteen. You can go and meet her.”

Dhruv was hurt by my words for sure “What’s wrong Akriti? I came to meet you.You’re my best friend. I cannot afford to lose you. You mean the most to me . I know , you’re hurt by some of my actions. Ananya feels so bad without you. She misses you so much. Talk to her once. Sort out things with her please. I cannot see her crying like this. I love her , damn it for God’s sake. She means my world to me and I cannot afford my world to be sad.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. He was here for her and not for me” All you care about is her and not me ? How could you be so selfish? You know me from the past 8 years and she from past 1 year. Does she matter to you so much , that you are ready to forsake your friendship with me. Just go away. Let me be .Go away.”

This was the last time I ever spoke to both of them. I moved out of the country for my further studies. London was a better city , a better place by all means. But I could never forget them. For still I missed both of them so much. 

Years rolled by . I got married. Life was happy, until Siddhart told me ” You see their photos everyday. Go to India , meet them.Talk to them Akriti. ” I understood I had to forget the past. 

I knew that both of them had gotten married and lived in Pune now. I packed my bags , booked my ticket to Pune. I thought it will be a good time. We’ll forget everything. I’m going to set everything right. But not really. As soon as I went to their place, all that greeted me was silence. After waiting for about 10 minutes, an old lady dressed in a white chudidar opened the door. 

“Hi, I’m Akriti. I’m Dhruv and Ananya’s friend. I’ve come from London.” The lady burst into tears, “Come inside”

After having a cup of coffee, I asked” Where’s Ananya?? Office”

I could sense something is wrong “I’m Dhruv’s mother. Ananya and Dhruv got married 5 years ago. 2 years ago, the same day when they were travelling from Delhi to Pune , their plane got crashedImage.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Like dead ? Seriously? How could this happen? They were so young still. They had an entire life to live.Why is life so uncertain? I had lost the two most important people in my life. All these years all I wanted was to talk to them. Make everything alright.But my ego was too strong to let something like this happen.

“All I have now is the memories. I just wish I was not so rude to them.All I wanted to tell that, I still cared about them. I still loved them.”