Category: Short Stories

The Unknown Possibility over a Meal!

The Unknown Possibility over a Meal!

Ashankit was on a door to door campaign in Salt Lake to collect old news papers, with his friends. Their NGO – ‘The Art of Living’ had planned to raise funds for the victims of a recent flood that had broken out in the rural parts of West Bengal. The funds raised from selling old newspapers would be utilized in sending relief materials to the villages.

They had just completed collecting papers from 10 houses. Midway into the collection he could feel his phone vibrating. He took out his cellphone and saw the name displayed on screen – “Papa.” His dad called up Ashankit, to inform him that in the evening they would be going for dinner with Mehta Uncle and his family! “I was looking forward to this!” exclaimed Ashankit to himself after keeping the phone.

It was at around 6.30 pm when Ashankit was heading back home. They were able to collect around 500 kgs of newspaper and magazines from Salt Lake and another residential complex in Lake Town, all in a matter of few hours. Having weighed and handed over the newspapers to the dropping point he was heading back home after an adventurous day.

After reaching home, he did his meditation and got ready. Meditation had become a must in Ashankit’s daily routine. No matter how busy his schedule would be, he would always take out time to meditate! There was a time when his life had taken a topsy-turvy but it was only through regular meditation that he was able to gain back his balance.

Ashankit had two siblings, an elder sister Gia and a younger brother Kirat. Both of them were very awestruck with the idea of going for a dinner, as it was not a usual thing. However, Ashankit was excited to meet new, yet a little sort of known people! All of them got ready and left for JW Mariott Hotel, their mom was also accompanying them.

On the way to the hotel Ashankit’s dad received a call from Mehta Uncle. Ashankit’s dad told his wife that Mehta Uncle and his family had already reached and they were waiting for us. Ashankit was the one on the wheel and his other two siblings were busy on their phones.

Upon reaching the grand JW Marriott hotel, they walked into the dining area and Ashankit saw his dad walk up to Mehta Uncle and greet him. He had never met Mehta Uncle, his dad’s recent yet a very close friend. Hearing them speak so often over the phone made him feel like he had to meet him!

Ashankit went straight up to Mehta Uncle and his wife, Shraddha and touched their feet to take their blessings. Dia and Kirat followed suit. This was a sight to wonder at for Mehta Uncle’s two daughters – Sambhavna and Vinuja. They were just awestruck to see him bow down. All they could do was gather themselves from their confusion and exchange greetings with Ashankit’s parents.

All the five, bright and young adults exchanged greetings with each other. There was obviously a sign of awkwardness for they were new faces around them. However, one was at extreme comfort and ease. It could only be Ashankit! There was only one question that was lingering on his mind –

‘Where was the third sibling?’

He was sure that dad had told him that Mehta Uncle had 3 siblings. However, he brushed aside this thought for the while.

They requested the waiter to walk them to a table that could seat nine. The first option offered seemed less satisfying. Mehta Uncle was a man of perfection and choices. He preferred things in a particular way but he certainly was not of the adamant kind or was he? Rather he was very sweet, caring and really childlike possessive about his things. They finally managed to get a table. A little away from the center dining area, it was perfect for the conversations that were going to unfold.

The long rectangular table perfectly seated the nine charming diners at the hotel. The four elders sat on one side of the table whereas the five young ones on the other. Kirat chose to sit at the corner while Ashankit sat next to Vinuja and damn opposite to Sambhavna. This was really great as it would help him converse with both.

Vinuja wore a purple netted top with a light beige colour jeans. Her small built and fair complexion made her look sweet. Ashankit expected her to be in her school years, only to be proven wrong later! Sambhavna had worn a dark grey top with black pants. She was wearing heels of a decent height which made her look tall, elegant and mature. He would soon realise that the last characteristic should always be given a miss for Sambhavna.

They had opted for a buffet dinner at the restaurant. One by one everyone got up to grab a few quick bites. They all helped themselves with the snacks of their own choice. It was only when everyone was seated that conversations started taking pace. Everyone among the kids started exchanging information about what they were doing. Sounds boring and monotonous but that was it. One would certainly not expect individuals to exchange count of their relationships or kid stories, right in their first meeting!

Sambhavna and Vinuja had heard a lot of Ashankit from their father. They had an image of a person who would be drenched in an ocean of traditions and moralities. However, they had no idea how good he was at breaking prejudices and judgments. Also, little did either knew that they would find a very dear and loving friend in him.

A good forty-five minutes had passed away, since they had met and now they were slowly getting to know each other. Sambhavna was the dynamic individual who looked at life from a wider and an adventurous perspective while Vinuja was the serious and ‘playing it safe’ type. Gia was the cute little girl, who was often finding it difficult to grasp the pace at which the conversations were going. Kirat was definitely irritated and unable to fathom the present atmosphere, something which is totally usual for him.

The two Mehta daughters never left a chance to pull each others feet. One would laugh about the other’s late night coming home scenes while the other would shoot back with the immaturity displayed by the other while on a partying spree. Ashankit was the one to enjoy every teeny-tiny bit of it.

“You are the perfect child every parent would want,” said Sambhavna.

Ashankit replied, “There is perfection in everybody.”

“How is that possible.”

“It is! You just need to have a vision to see it.”

Sambhavna was amazed to see the positive and charismatic attitude this guy possessed. No complaints, no negative vibes and the most shocking – not even a pinch of laziness after a hard days work. He seemed to be a specie from a different planet! But Ashankit’s stories about his adventurous and crazy past episodes always gave a confirmation of him being a native of this planet.

Vinuja was finding it really amazing how Ashankit was getting along with everyone. At the first instance when her father had told him about the plan, she thought it would be boring and mundane. Though they were not doing anything more than just sit and talk, she was amazed to see how interesting it was turning out to be.

Ashankit had left no crazy adventurous of his past still folded. From his
27 game Beer pong streak in USA, his past love for whiskey, to his fun days in college, he proved to be a real entertainer and liver!. However, there was just one precious thing about his life that he preferred not to share!

Kirat was the one who spoke the least. He was thankful that his elder brother, Ashankit was not talking about devotion and divinity. Nevertheless, Kirat tried to prove that he was a little cool among his three siblings but ended up being greeted by –

“You are like a child,” by Vinuja.

He did not care much to speak later.

Mehta Uncle got up to grab a plate. He could see how the children were getting along so well, something that he desired so much in his heart. Ashankit had excused himself and walked up to Mehta Unlce to have a conversation with him. Mehta Uncle had remarked that he was happy to see all of them get along so well.

“You should try and exert a positive influence on them,” he said.

“The work has already started uncle!” remarked Ashankit.

This made Mehta Uncle really happy. The reply just came out with a pinch of spontaneity. He could well understand what Mehta Uncle was talking about but he was not working at anything. All that Ashankit knew was that he was not the kind who would take sides. The only side that he would take off, was spreading love and joy.

He could sense the airy atmosphere that was prevailing because of the complex equations existing between individuals in their family. Nevertheless, he had already made up his mind that this equation would be a thing soon forgotten and that there would soon be a blossoming of love.

No wonder time had just flied. It was almost 11 pm when they got up to leave. All they could see was empty chairs and tables all around. Their long conversations had not even made them realise that there were very few guests left. On their way to the lobby of the hotel Ashankit and Vinuja spoke about how interesting the dinner had turned out to be.

“I have not gone out with Dad’s friends since a long time but this was really nice. Did not expect it to be this good,” said Vinuja.

Ashankit said, ” Same here with me.”

So much more good was in store!

All of them were waiting at the lobby gate for their cars to come. Though they had got up to leave, the two groups – the elders and the children stayed intact. Mehta Uncle walked up to the children and gave a ear to what they were talking about.

He was all praises for Ashankit, “I can see how mature and vibrant you are. There is a lot of positivity in you and I would just wish for my children to learn this from you.”

“It will gradually come in them Uncle.”

“See how mature he is. You must learn from this guy,” Mehta uncle said to Sambhavna.

“Everyone is not the same papa.”

“Yes, but you can definitely try to be.”

Ashankit stepped in to cool things – “There is always a time for things to be the way they are supposed to be.”

Though Ashankit was not taking sides, Sambhavna felt good that he was not being judgemental about her. It was nice not to hear any more negative things, for a change! He was not being analytical but he could make out the misery and sorrow hovering over the Mehta family. Messed up father-daughter equation which seemed difficult to fix but not impossible. It was not that one was culprit and the other a victim. Both were victims to the changing wheels and play of time.

Suddenly Ashankit could recall all those sleepless and painful nights that he had gone through, a couple of years back. It would feel like as if a needle would be continuously pricking his heart. Those nights would never pass without him crying, with his head tucked deep inside the pillow. He just shook his head and let those memories fade away. Ashankit just said to himself, ” I am not going to let anyone go through a similar pain that I had to go through.”

He just smiled and took a deep breath. Feeling optimistic and positive that things would change very soon! Though there was uncertainty in how and when, there was complete certainty about his intentions to make things right.

Sambhavna and Ashankit exchanged their numbers and Vinuja exchanged her number with Dia. Kirat was as always, least interested. He did not certainly like being called a child either.

Both the families went separate ways. One excited and the other with a ray of positivity and hope. Ashankit was determined to make the impossible, become possible.

And it did happen!

(To be Continued….)

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What Lies Within You.

What Lies Within You.

I met a septuagenarian man yesterday during an engagement for setting up the venue for a language course that was going to commence in a few days. He was very knowledgeable, talkative and impressive. I conversed with him for almost an hour and to my surprise wanted to never get over with the conversation we were having but had to because I was running late.

During our conversation he had expressed that he loved observing people around him. He wood take the metro to travel around the city and during the course would observe the people. So he said that a couple of days back when he was commuting in the subway he noticed that everyone present in the coach had one thing in common – none of them had a smile on their face. This, I was very well able to relate to because of the similar encounters I would have when I would look around at the faces of the people while commuting through public transport.People would be listening to songs on their headphones, reading newspapers,texting or playing on their smartphones or would doze off on their seat as well as while standing! But it was very difficult to spot a smile, a very sorry scene for a city called – ‘City of Joy.’ But he said that there was this one girl who was out of this world. She was listening attentive when her friends were speaking, conceptualising what they were saying and when she was speaking it was as if her whole body was expressing. She had an overwhelming smile on her face, radiating with a self inducted sustaining exuberance. Her expression changed rapidly,adapting to the situation and it was a bliss to see a pearl amongst the hardened stones.

When I left the two storey bungalow of the septuagenarian I was somewhat congregated in emotions of joy,wisdom and bliss. I realised I needed to take a bus at the earliest to reach my destination as I was already running half an hour late. I had to wait for around 15-20 minutes for the bus to come. But this neither frustrated me nor angered me as I was simply centred in my calm and contented state. I boarded the bus and as you may know it felt surreal to be in the over-crowded over joyous blue Volvo bus! After a few minutes I noticed that I had a smile on my face and this had been there all the while since the moment I had left the bungalow. And I wanted to keep on smiling and to observe, as the man had said he did. I kept on looking all around – a girl with a tattoo on her neck was listening to music on her phone, a couple was trying to stay put by holding what they could in the hyper moving bus,a man with a moustache was just holding on the rod just next to him. The continuous influx and outflow of people was another sight not to miss out on. I was smiling and trying to make an eye contact. But the success rate was very low and when the success came it was futile without any reciprocation of the same gentle gesture. But persistent in my nature I decided not to give up. Then suddenly the bus came to an unexpected halt – a frequent sight to pick up passengers standing and waving on the road. As the case would have been, I expected the man with the moustache in front of me to shout,curse and abuse the driver. But to my surprise he was smiling. It felt like the energy that I was radiating got absorbed and was reciprocated with an exponential zeal and innocence.This was not the usual scene that you would see in this city. The man looked at me in eye and we both smiled, we did not speak but it was as though we both had said what we wanted to. It was not over as he was looking out ahead on the road, waiting for the bus to stop and get a chance to smile again, all this with a bright smile across his face.

This made me realise that how innocence and humility that we had as child could brighten each one of us. The simple thought of smiling like a little child and being innocent was all it took to get me into that role, a role that I played with much perseverance. Words can’t express the joy and bliss I could capture from that moment. The experience in its entirety was the thing that brought benevolence to my nature.

Smile that persists.

Smile that persists.

They came across each other at the intersection opposite the Vardaan market,one of the most favoured shopping destinations in town. The market is spread across two floors and one can find clothing,accessories and everything else that one could think of while on a shopping spree. After a long shopping gala time the icing on the cake is the food stalls that adores the perimeter of the market. Two food stalls none can resist even while going through the area are of Agarwal’s Paw Bhajji & the authentic Vada Paw counter opposite the Himalaya Optics shop. The Chaat stalls are spread across on the footpath in front of the main entrance that leads to the market on the Camac Street. This place becomes the hot spot for the students of the St. Xavier’s College during the break in the evening to fill up their hungry stomachs. If one walks a little more down the Camac Street one would find 22 Camac Street which houses popular restaurants and lounge apart from Multi Retail shops.

He saw her with her friends smiling and looking as beautiful as ever before and laughing louder than ever before. He could see that she was happy and that was enough to get a broad smile on his face. Even though he had been broken since the day things had ended,he was smiling still. The only reason was that all that had mattered for him was her happiness,her safety and her well being. Though it had been months,he had not been able to get on with the fact that it was over because it was never meant to.The frequent meetings in the evening,the everyday late night conversations and the long soothing hugs were not to end ever but to persist forever. There were times when they had been through difficult situations but had always eventually emerged stronger and closer out of it together. It was not as if it was a casual thing for the either but rather something so strong that it couldn’t be expressed in words by either nor they could imagine it to be experienced by anyone. There was an air of divinity when they were together and a sense of apocalypse when not.

He wanted to talk to her,ask her how she was,how she had been doing,how was her college going,was she taking her medicines on time,was she taking care of herself. There were so many questions to ask but not one he could actually ask. She slipped passed him without noticing him. He dint cry but did indeed feel a bit hurt. But then he smiled again,smiled because for him acceptance was much greater than rejection. He had accepted that what they had was the best that life could give and what she will get will be even better. There’s no hate,remorse nor any grudge against her because he had loved her way too much to fall prey to these peculiarities. For him she was an angel-divine and complete. He worshipped her,admired her,loved her but more than everything cared for her-truly,madly deeply and immensely. Asking her questions, calling her up late at night when she was out to know that she was safe and how soon would reach home were something which he could not resist even though she would get angry by it because her safety was of imperial importance for him.

He turned back and stared at her,her hair falling on the face which she put behind her ears from her right index finger. All the memories came gushing back- the times when he held her soft hands, the hard times when he pulled her close and held her up tightly in his arms to tell her he was there and things would turn better.The frequent visits to new restaurants to explore and implore different kinds of cuisines,the sudden happy coffee dates and the long never ending drives that they would go on together,not to forgot the walks they went on even if their legs hurt badly.The longer he kept staring at her the farther the world around him kept going.

He was so deeply enthralled in love that reality escaped his mind. Lost in the serenity of the moment he failed to realise that a car was coming from the back which hit him hard and threw him 20 feet off the ground. Suddenly as realisation dawned he searched around for her but there was only a flash of white light. He was thrown face up and all that he could see was the bright sky above him. He saw her smiling face in the clouds-innocent,cute and divine as always. The image in the clouds seemed surreal, the moment seemed never ending and the feeling inexpressible.

He fell on the ground,broke his ribs and legs,blood coming out from the deep cut on his forehead but his lips were an incredible sight for a man dying. You could see him smiling even though there was blood spilled all around him. For some it may have been a relief from the pain and the hardship but he was a of different kind altogether.He was smiling and feeling happy because he had seen his prized possession,the love of his life, his only companion,his soul,his everything and he had seen her happy. That is all what he had wished for since the time she came into his life and that is what he got when he breathed his last.