Spicy Rasam

Not a cooking or food blog! I just share what's cooking in my mind.

This is the nineteenth part of a long story.

Eighteenth part of the story: Long Story 18

man and woman

Vishva; India; 2001

“Are you coming?” Vishva asked with irritation-laden voice. “Yes! can’t you wait a little? Why are you this impatient?” Devyani whined. Vishva sighed heavily and went to stand in the balcony. He asked her to be ready by 3:00 pm. She wanted to go shopping in T Nagar. He was to go for a cousin’s wedding in Anna Nagar. She knew that yet insisted that she go today. Sometimes he felt like a sugar daddy. The girl met him exclusively for shopping. He got to know every women’s shopping center in Chennai. He sat down on the floor. She was not like this in the beginning. She used to behave like a puppy, who lived for him. He started to feel it was all an act. He was tired. His semesters were coming up and he had to prepare for them. He did not have time for dating now.

“Shall we go?” Devyani said, as she walked past Vishva and started to pick out a slipper. Vishva went out the door not bothering to wait for her and went straight to his car. Devyani loudly sat down in the passenger seat near Vishva. “Do you hate coming out with me?” she asked with palpable anger.

Vishva sighed. “I am tired. That’s all. I have a lot of work to do and have this wedding to attend.”

“Fine!” Devyani said, “Just take me to Naidu Hall in T Nagar. You can go after that. I can come home.”

Vishva gritter his teeth, “If you can come back on your own can’t you go on your own too? Why do you have to call me to take you everyplace you to go?” he shouted.

Devyani’s eyes clouded with tears. “I can’t ask my boyfriend to come and take me to places?” she said and cried.

Vishva rested his head in his right hand. “Look! I am your boyfriend, not your chauffer. Learn to go about yourself. I cannot be your beck and call,” he said and started his car.

As he drove towards T Nagar, Devyani was now crying. “Great! Now my eye makeup is ruined.” She said. “Look! I just want you to be a little independent. Is that too much to ask?” he said, feeling sorry now that he’s made her cry. “I do not see anything wrong with asking my boyfriend to pick me up.” Devyani said as she tried to adjust her makeup; she was looking into a small mirror. Vishva sighed. This inturn increased her anger. “Stop it!!” Devyani said. “What?” startled Vishva. “Stop sighing. Look! I am not Prabha. Stop comparing me with her all the time.” she said and turned to her mirror.

Vishva distracted himself and denied the fact that he knew was true. Then he saw Prabha. She was in the traffic signal on her Scooty. Deepika was sitting on the backseat. Deepika was saying something and Prabha was nodding. The signal turned green. Prabha started her Scooty and Vishva followed her. Prabha stopped in a signal. She showed a hand sign to the drivers behind her to stop. Deepika was laughing and probably Prabha was too, inside her helmet. It has been 3 months since both of them broke up. He’d told her that she was too strong for him. That he was not ready to settle with a woman who was not woman-like. He wanted to remove the steering wheel and hit himself on his head. “Can we play some music?” Devyani asked, diverting his attention. He turned to look at her. He’d forgotten about her for few minutes. This always happened when he looked at Prabha. He wondered if this habit will pass.

Vishva; India; 2019

Prabha was explaining about the delivery process to Max and Alejo. She was standing and explaining with pictorials and drawings. Vishva was listening, but not absorbing what she was saying. He was mesmerized by the way her hair moved as she turned her face. The way her lips moved as she talked. She was wearing a long metal earrings. It danced on her shoulders. She was wearing a red kurta and blue leggings. It was perfect. She was perfect. “….. Vishva can handle,” finished Alejo and everyone looked at Vishva. Vishva felt like he was pushed out of his dreams. “Huh!?” he asked. Mitch rubbed his face; he looked tired. “Alejo said it was nothing you could not handle. He said the process though is new and will need time,” Shalini filled in. Mitch looked at Shalini appreciatively. Mitch was coming to like the XMR manager.

“Yeah!” Vishva said. No problem. I will handle it. He turned to smile at Prabha who had an “pull yourself together” expression. Vishva sat straight and said, “Alejo! We’d already discussed this. The process will involve Mitch and I on the vendor side for 2 months. We can handle it. No problem.”

Alejo nodded. Satisfied to find that his fellow BA is still wide awake. “So! when the development of the features in phase 2 start, you two go to Mumbai. Alright! Prabha… send the request for one more resource in Development. I will pass it over to the higher-ups,” Max said and got up to leave. “See you guys! Good work,” Alejo said and joined Max.

“Chai?” asked Shalini to Prabha, as they were packing their stuff. Prabha nodded. Shalini and Prabha went out of the meeting room. Vishva kept sneaking a peek at Prabha. Mitch hit him with a folder on the back of his head. “Awwwwww…” Vishva cried and lifted his hand to hit Mitch, which startled him and he moved back. “Dude! You are practically drooling when you look at Prabha. What the hell man!!” said Mitch.

“I AM NOT!” shouted Vishva, took his laptop and walked out the room.

“You are too.” Mitch said in a much lesser volume as he followed him.

Vishva; India; 2002

“Hi!” Vishva said to Prabha. They were attending their friend Natraj’s sister’s wedding. He had invited more than half of the college, much to the dismay of his parents. “Food is good!” Vishva said to Prabha. She nodded. She was busy checking her phone. Aircel has announced that 1000 SMSs were free every month. Prabha and Kavita were typing away happily. Vishva angrily pulled the phone form Prabha’s hand and instantly regretted it. “Sorry!” he said and gave it back to her. Prabha and Kavita were looking at him with a shocked expression now. “Dude! You alright?” asked Kavita. Vishva got up to leave. Prabha got up to follow him. “Vishva! Vishva!” she called after him. He was walking fast. And Prabha was running after him. Vishva weirdly felt happy that Prabha was following him. He smiled to himself. She still cares. Vishva turned towards the entrance and bumped into Neeraja, his girlfriend. The present Neeraja was holding fell to the ground. Vishva bent down to take it; so did Neeraja. “Vishva!!!” Prabha called again. They were behind the reception bunk and Prabha was not able to see them. “Prabha!!! Prabha!!!” Vishva heard Natraj’s voice. “Hey! Come! my parent want to meet you.” Natraj said. Vishva got up suddenly and bumped Neeraja’s head as he did. “OMG! Sorry dear,” he said. He immediately turned to look at Prabha and Natraj. They were walking towards the bride and groom. Natraj’s parents were standing by the groom’s side.

Why the hell is Natraj introducing her to his parents? Thought Vishva. He became furious in a second. What? Now that she does not have a boyfriend, he thinks she is potential girlfriend material? How childish! Vishva turned to walk towards them, when Neeraja caught his hand. “Vishva! You told me to come here. I do not know anyone here. You did not even call to check if I reach here properly,” she said. Neeraja was Vishva’s sister’s friend. She was a doctor in making. Vishva’s head was overflowing with useless thoughts. Why is Prabha going with Natraj? Why did she come after me? Now she is leaving! I hate this. He had gone to Prabha’s home the other day to give back her Madhavan pencil box. Her mother was very friendly. She gave him her trademark filter coffee. He wanted to go to Prabha’s room. He wanted to ask about Prabha. She hardly talked to him nowadays. But he just left after drinking the coffee.

He changed his place in college and was sitting with Dharma nowadays; so, he could see her. It has been a year since their breakup. Why is he behaving like this? He wanted to get out of this state. “Are you even listening?” Neeraja asked. Vishva turned with a guilty expression towards her. “I am sorry Neeru. I am really sorry.” Neeraja put the present she had bought on Vishva’s hands. “I am sorry too,” she said, turned on her heels and walked. Vishva just stood there and saw her walk away. Someone else was pulling him in another direction. He turned to look at Natraj and Prabha. He saw Prabha laughing. Natraj holding her hand and leading her away from the stage. His hold tightened on the present. Vishva wanted to punch Natraj. He knew his anger was irrational. He knew he had no right being angry now. He knew all of this. Yet! He felt angry. The fact that Prabha moved on and did not pine for him was eating him alive. Because he was pining for her. In his own weird way, he was. He turned to the only medicine for this horrible love sickness. Vishva turned to follow Neeraja.

poem 1.jpg

If you really go, go, go….

I did not know, know, know…

That you will sow, sow, sow…

Oh so many roots in my heart…

You broke my heart apart…

 

You were like a sun in my darkness..

You were like a tree in my dessert…

You poured down like my rain…

Erased all my pain…

All in vain…

All in vain…

 

I was just passing by… You stopped me

I was just living on.. you enriched me…

And then you were gone…

What did we do wrong…

 

But it’s OK, I lived on…

It’s OK, I became happy,

It’s OK, I am OK now..

I’ll keep lying… I’ll keep lying…

 

I know I’m broken…

I know I’m not right..

It is not an illusion…

I know I’m not alright..

But,

You were like a sun in my darkness..

You were like a tree in my dessert…

You poured down like my rain…

Erased all my pain…

All in vain…

All in vain…

Oh! sweet Man…

My Man… My Man…

Thanks for meeting me…

Thanks for your love…

I cherish it.. It’s in a cave..

I am flourishing…

‘Cause I am quite brave…

This is the eighteenth part of a long story.

Seventeenth part of the story: Long Story 17

holding hands

Radhakrishnan; Canada

Radha was leisurely sipping his coffee when he saw the number on his phone. It was Arun. Radha smiled easily. He picked up and said “Hello!! What is this? Is it going to be sunny in Toronto? YOU are calling me?”

Arun smiled, “hmmmm… so how is Canada? Met your parents? Told them? When are you coming back?” he asked

Radha kept his coffee on the table, got up and walked near the French window in the hotel. “They are in London. I told you. They are visiting my aunt. I am coming back in a week. What are you up to? How is Charan?” he asked as he put his left hand inside his pant pocket and rested his hips on the wall. He attracted the eyes of a few female guests in the hotel.

“I am fine. Charan is fine. He misses his mother. Actually, my mom is here and I am being well taken care of,” laughed Arun.

“Told her?” Radha asked in an anxious voice.

Arun was silent for some seconds. “No! I am planning to tell her after Prabha comes back. I hope my mom will OK with it. I am worried”

Radha was deep in thought. He was remembering when he came out of the closet. He was in high school. His parents were very understanding. He hoped Arun goes through the process with as much ease. The thought that Arun will suffer when he tells people made him angry. He wanted to pack him away to a safe heaven. Soon! He promised himself.

“OK! Your news. Your pace,” said Radha, “I am going to shop this weekend. What do you want?”

Arun was sitting on the balcony clearance. He thought as he rested his chin on his fisted hands. What does he want? He smiled. He was always considered to be the one to give people presents. Prabha did ask him and he stuck to the “man” template and said he needed nothing. But he liked getting presents. Especially from a person he loved. “Hmmmmm… use your imagination. Your wish,” said Arun and smiled to himself.

Radha smiled too. “OK! Sir! I will use my imagination,” he said naughtily.

Arun turned red. “Dude! Please,” begged Arun.

Radha laughed. “Fine, Fine!! I will NOT use my imagination,” he teased again. Arun was still getting used to this ‘being a couple’ thing. Radha understood. “Look! I have to get to a meeting now. Call me daily?” he asked hopefully.

“You bet!” said Arun and hover-kissed the phone’s mic. Radha did the same and cut the phone. Arun had a warm, fuzzy feeling. He looked at the garden below his home and looked at the blue sky. He felt happy. He got up to eat breakfast, as he whistled “I am a sucker for you…”.

Vishva; USA

Vishva got home and went straight to his room. He has been sleeping in the guest bedroom for the past few days. He kept his bag down and fell on the bed. He could hear Rohit and Jaya talking. What’s he doing up still? He thought. He went down and to the Kitchen. Jaya and Rohit were making a firefighter uniform from Rohit’s clothes. Jaya was sticking his shirts with some yellow cello tape. Rohit saw Vishva and said, “Hi dad! Welcome home.” Vishva raised his eyebrows, smiled, hugged and kissed Rohit, which made Rohit laugh with joy. “There is some play tomorrow?” asked Vishva.

“Yes!” replied Jaya, “Community helpers play. Rohit is going to be a fire fighter.” She kept her eyes glued to the project. Vishva raised his eyebrows again. Odd! He thought. She was acting all guilty and apologetic for the past few days. What happened now? Vishva went to the fridge and got a drink for him. He went near the pool side and on his way turned the music on. hilla dhe hilla dhe… started to play.

Vishva sat on a lounge chair and sipped his drink. He felt at peace, weirdly. He should still be shocked and upset. Why was he feeling at peace? He did not know. He tried to clear his mind and looked up the sky. The sky was filled with stars. Neeyum Naanum from Sindhubath started to play. The song was about a guy’s long-lost love. Vishva kept staring at the stars. He closed his eyes. He saw Prabha. She was tying her scarf as she stood near her Scooty. She was laughing at something Natraj had said. Prabha and Kavita were playing in the sea shore. Prabha smiling. Prabha’s eyes. Prabha and Mitch talking. Prabha talking with Charan on the phone. Prabha telling him that she was getting married. He then turned and walked away to his car. He asked Neeraja, his then girlfriend, to get into the car. He saw Prabha through his rear-view mirror, before he adjusted it and she disappeared. He wanted to stop the car and run towards her, to beg her to take him back, but he kept driving. “Is that Prabha?” Neeraja was asking. He wanted to stop the car. He kept hitting the brake. Nothing happened. It was like he was caught inside himself. “Vishva….” Jaya called. Jaya? He did not understand what Jaya was doing here. Suddenly someone shook him. “Vishva!!!!” Jaya shouted. He opened his eyes. He was near his pool. Despacito was playing in his JBL speaker. He turned and looked at Jaya. She looked worried. He saw that Rohit was dancing in the kitchen to the song Despacito. “What happened?” Vishva asked. Jaya stood up straight. “You were having a nightmare. Are you alright?” asked Jaya.

Vishva touched his face and felt that he had sweated. “I am sorry if I scared you.” He said to Jaya and got up to leave. Jaya held his hand and stopped him from leaving. “We need to talk. Now!” she said with conviction. “Jaya! I’m very tired. Can we please do this later. I am not lying. I am really…..”

“Is Prabha here?” interrupted Jaya.

“…. Tired,” finished Vishva, “What?”

“Prabha! Is she here?” asked Jaya. She stood with her hands folded and with a stern expression.

“Ahhmmmm… Prabha… How? Wait! You met Parvy? Didn’t you? He told you didn’t he?” asked Vishva.

Jaya did not bat an eye lash. She looked at him with the same stern expression. “Why is she here?” she asked. “For work! I swear I had no idea she was going to come here,” said Vishva. Jaya was inwardly enjoying this shift of roles. “Do you want me to believe that Vishu?” asked Jaya.

Vishva sat down on the chair. “Jaya! I did not know she was coming here. Don’t imagine things. She is married. I am married….”

“You still have the wood-chip key chain.” Jaya interrupted.

“   she is…” Vishva stopped mid-sentence. He was stumped. How did she know? She had asked him to throw that away after their wedding. He had promised her that he would. But he could not throw it away. He could not express the felling. It was not that he was still harboring feeling for Prabha. He was just not ready to throw it away. He did not want  Jaya to know about it. He knew this will hurt her. “Who told you?” asked Vishva not bothering to lie about it.

“Why? Why do you never let her go? She is another man’s wife. She lives in India. Why do you always have her near your heart Vishva. I am your wife. I am not that ignorant about how you feel.” Jaya said.

Vishva looked at Jaya with shame and anger. He was shameful because he was still harboring feelings for a married woman. He was angry, well, for the same reason.

“I want a divorce!” Jaya stated. Vishva startled. “We’ll meet a lawyer soon.” With that she walked away towards Rohit. She led Rohit to his room.

Vishva sat there with his head pounding. First, a ridiculous dream which seems so surreal. Now! this. He cradled his head in his hands and sat on the chair. He was going to divorce Jaya. He was shocked and tired. He looked at he pool, the garden, the house. This was his life for past few years. Jaya was his life. Jaya and Rohit. He hated himself for being so weak. Why can’t he just stop thinking about Prabha? What the hell does he see in her? He kicked the juice can. It thudded towards the barbeque set. He lay again on the lounge chair and nursed his headache. What a mess!

Nineteenth part of the story: Long Story 19

This is the seventeenth part of a long story.

First part of the story: Long Story 1

Second part of the story: Long Story 2

Third part of the story: Long Story 3

Fourth part of the story: Long Story 4

Fifth part of the story: Long Story 5

Sixth part of the story: Long Story 6

Seventh part of the story: Long Story 7

Eighth part of the story: Long Story 8

Ninth part of the story: Long Story 9

Tenth part of the story: Long Story 10

Eleventh part of the story: Long Story 11

Twelfth part of the story: Long Story 12

Thirteenth part of the story: Long Story 13

Fourteenth part of the story: Long Story 14

Fifteenth part of the story: Long Story 15

Sixteenth part of the story: Long Story 16

man and woman

Ranjit; USA

Ranjit landed in California’s Shelton Royale and was too jet lagged to call Mr. Radhakrishnan. I’ll message him now and call him later, he thought. He quickly sent a message as he stood near the reception to get the door card. “Here you go sir!” the receptionist handed him the door card. Ranjit got it from her, took his laptop bag, held his suitcase and started to walk towards the lift.

Prabha; USA

Prabha walked towards the lift in Shelton Royale as she checked her phone for messages from Charan. He’d been sending her recorded messages and video messages from his father’s and grandmother’s phone. She was addicted to them now. Prabha, Shalini, Mitch, and Vishva had worked non-stop for the past 2 days. Max and Alejo were very satisfied with the project plan but they wanted the estimations to be tweaked a little. Shalini was working on that. It meant less billing and she was not happy about that. Prabha sighed. No messages form Charan.

Vishva and Prabha had decided to keep their discussions and feelings on hold for now. It was not easy, but they tried their best. Mitch had suddenly developed a taste for Indian food. And Shalini was more than happy to introduce Indian food to him. They’d been ordering Indian food to office these 2 days. Vishva, as usual, had a salad or sandwich. Prabha smiled to herself. He’d always been that way. His sister called him Vellakaran, meaning white man.

She was so tired. Maybe she should just sleep. She just wanted to have some spicyrasam rice and sleep. Prabha walked straight towards the lift. She kept checking her phone habitually. She missed Charan badly. She noticed someone getting into the lift and ran towards the lift. She was in. She sighed and rested her hip on the railing. “Which floor Prabha?” asked a male voice.

“4th..” she said without looking up as she checked her phone. After about 6 seconds, “Hey!!” she said and turned to look at who was it that knew her name. And broke into a big smile. He was smiling. Mr. Angel was smiling.

“Guess we have a thing about lifts.” Ranjit said, “I am on 4th floor too. Which room?”

“Huh… ummm.. God I am shocked. What are you doing here?”

“Hahaha! Business trip. I am here for another week. What about you?”

“Same! Another 3 days. I reached 2 days ago,” said Prabha. They could not stop smiling at each other. The lift reached 4th floor and they walked out.

“I am in 404,” Prabha said. Ranjit showed his door-card to her. The number 405 was written in gold on black. Prabha smiled. “Well! I assume you just reached,” She said looking at his suitcase, “Get some sleep. I leave to office at 9 in the morning? You?”

“Same time. The client is in the Pacific building in the IT sector.”

“GET OUT!” Prabha said, overtly excited. Ranjit was laughing too. After about half a minute, they went back to smiling like batman joker. A cleaning lady was coming out of the room 403 and pushed her cart between the two. Both were still smiling and looking at each other. Theresa, the cleaning lady sighed. The weirdos she comes across in her line of work!!

“Bye then!” Prabha said and proceeded to open the door. “Bye” said Ranjit and waited for her to go in.

Prabha went inside the room and went straight to the washroom. She whisper-screamed her heart out. OMG!!! She thought. What are the odds. She jumped, danced, and sang. After 5 mins into her excited frenzy, she realized she was tired, again. So, Prabha dropped onto her bed and fell asleep instantly.

Ranjit: USA

Ranjit lay on the bed and looked at the decorated ceiling. It was a design of a chandelier. A huge one with gold lighting and brown borders. He was still smiling. Damn! I did not bring the ceramic doll. But, how am I supposed to know that Prabha will be here. He wanted to sleep, but he was too excited to sleep. The thought that she was just a wall away was thrilling. He felt like a teenager again. He laughed to himself. He wanted to jump on the bed but was afraid will break it. He turned on his playlist on his phone, charged the phone, turned the lights off and closed his eyes. The song “Pularadha kalai thanilae…. kissed his ears and lulled him to sleep. He dreamt of Prabha. He dreamt of Prabha and him. He dreamt that she was his wife and he, her husband. Sweet dreams.

Parvy and Jaya; USA

Jaya was getting into the car after buying vegetables form the Indian store. “Hi!” she first heard him. She continued to keep all the vegetables in the car’s trunk and turned to look at him leisurely. “Hi!” she said to Parvinder. “So! For how long are we not going to talk? Not going to meet? I can’t do this.” Parvy said with a sincerity that shook her.

She was still not sure what she wanted. She has a child to think about. She has her parent, her father, who was a heart patient to think about. She was scared to leave the life she’d known for 10 years. And here was Parvy. Ready to throw everything away for her. Even his friendship. She never thought she had to pick between Parvy and Vishva. She felt like she loved them both. And felt dirty. She sighed.

“Parvy! I do not know what I want yet. Please wait. I have to talk to Vishva. I have to talk to Rohit. I am confused.”

Parvy sighed. “Fine! Take your time. I tried to talk to Vishva. Ended badly.”

Jaya startled, “You talked to Vishva? What did he say?” asked Jaya. Vishva had avoided “the talk” with Jaya for the past few days. Every time she tried to get close to him, he left the room. Jaya felt like a failure that she was not able to achieve, whilst staying in the same house, which Parvy did.

Parvy sighed. “He was angry. Did not want to talk to me. I tricked Mitch into bringing him to meet me. That did not sit well with him.”

Jaya looked at Parvy with a ‘are you kidding me’ expression.

“I know! Bad move. I was desperate Jaya. I can’t talk to you. I can’t talk to him. Jassi left. She’s in India. God! Why do I have to fall in love with you? There are literally so many women out there. Why you?” Parvy said and sat on the sidewalk dejected. He rested his head in his hands and exhaled his tension out.

Jaya could not help but sit beside him and console him. “I am sorry too Parvy! I am very sorry. I wish I had not ruined your friendship with Vishva. I feel guilty every day. I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Parvy lifted his head up and looked at her. “Do you love me Jaya?” he asked.

“Parvy…” Jaya started to speak.

“I can’t live without you. You know that. And you know that I love Rohit. You know that I will treat you like a queen. I love you,” interrupted Parvy.

“I don’t know if I don’t love Vishva. I don’t know if divorce is the best option. We’ve been a family for 10 years now. I can’t just leave him. You have to…” Jaya said and Parvy wanted to burst her bubble of ‘a family’. He wanted her to see him as a potential life partner. So! he said it.

“….. Prabha is here.” Parvy interrupted.

“….understand that… what?” Jaya asked mid-sentence.

“She is here for work. I met her outside Vishva’s building. Vishva was extremely angry to see me. And his mood just transformed with just one conversation with her; to a good one. She’s here Jaya. And I swear I saw such adoration in Vishva’s eyes for her.” Parvy said.

“Prabha is married. And I can’t assume something without concrete proof,” said Jaya; but she knew she was a little jealous. She knew Prabha had that effect on her husband. She’d seen it during her wedding. She also knew that she was not a person who lived in the past and that her husband was a very loyal man. Unlike her.

Parvy sighed. He hated the fact that she had such high opinions of Vishva. He wanted to shake her and make her see how much he loves her. He wanted her to pick him. Choose him. Marry him. He can’t do any of that because he can’t influence her. He was growing desperate day-by day. Screw friendship. Screw loyalty. I deserve to have the woman I love, love me back. He fisted his palms. “Jaya! Vishva still has the keychain Prabha gave him. He still has it. He uses it in his office.”

Jaya and Parvy sat there is utter silence for half a minute. Tears started to flow down Jaya’s cheeks. She had always felt insecure when it came to Prabha. Vishva never talked about any of his other ex-girlfriends. But he always, always, found a way to talk about Prabha. They had gone to Switzerland last summer. Rohit and Vishva were playing with snow. And Vishva had said, ‘When Prabha had gone to Simla, she said she only got to see black snow in Rotang Pass. She would love this.’ And Jaya hated him for that. Natraj, his college friend always looked at Jaya like an intruder. She could see it in his eyes. Now she was here? “Wanna have sex?” Jaya asked Parvy with tear-filled eyes. Parvy smiled. He touched the back of her head pulled her towards him and kissed her forehead. “No!” he said, “Marry me! I’ll show you how it is to have a man treat you like you’re the crux of his life. No making love before that!” Jaya smiled through her tears. She hugged Parvy. And cried more.

Eighteenth part of the story: Long Story 18

sometimes I cry.jpg

Sometimes I cry,

Sometimes I laugh,

Sometimes I’m shy,

Sometimes I am not.

Sometimes I am happy,

Other times, sappy.

I am complex…

Am just a human…

 

Confusion continues,

I am constricted and condemned,

They say I am free…

Why don’t I feel that?

I want to break free…

What are these shackles?

That I don’t see…

Why do I never feel like I belong?

Why do I always search for a door to be gone?

They say, I am s till young!

That I need to sing a happy song!

I pass,

I may seem crass,

But… No… No…

Sometimes I cry,

Sometimes I laugh,

Sometimes I’m shy,

Sometimes I am not.

Sometimes I am happy,

Other times, sappy.

I am complex…

Am just a human…

This is the sixteenth part of a long story.

First part of the story: Long Story 1

Second part of the story: Long Story 2

Third part of the story: Long Story 3

Fourth part of the story: Long Story 4

Fifth part of the story: Long Story 5

Sixth part of the story: Long Story 6

Seventh part of the story: Long Story 7

Eighth part of the story: Long Story 8

Ninth part of the story: Long Story 9

Tenth part of the story: Long Story 10

Eleventh part of the story: Long Story 11

Twelfth part of the story: Long Story 12

Thirteenth part of the story: Long Story 13

Fourteenth part of the story: Long Story 14

Fifteenth part of the story: Long Story 15

holding hands

Mitch, the thali and the Exes; USA

They were half way through their lunch when Prabha got up to attend a phone call. “Wanna share?” Shalini asked a very eager Mitch. Shalini had ordered a thali. It was full course meal and Mitch had ordered butter chicken and Nan bread; because that was the only Indian dish he was familiar with. Mitch kept looking at the thali with fascination. So, immediately after Shalini’s offer to share, Mitch moved in and got to work. He got up and went to sit beside her for ease of access to the delicacies. “Here! Try this” Shalini passed a gulab jamun to Mitch. “ummmm… goodh..” he said with food in his mouth. Then he tried the Khadi with rice. He loved it. Shalini loved this ‘introducing Indian food to the white man’ game. “Here! This is khadai paneer. Try it with naan.” She passed it towards Mitch. He tried it and again, loved it. Prabha came back from the phone call and saw that Mitch was sitting in her place. She smiled at the way Mitch was enjoying the food and sat near Vishva. “So! You like the thali huh?” asked Prabha. “Very!” said Mitch and got the jelabis from Shalini’s plate. Prabha laughed and moved her pulau near her. She started to finish what was left in her plate. Vishva said, “So! You still have the earring?” in a whisper.

Prabha stopped dead mid-way of feeding herself. “hmmm?” she asked, trying to buy some time to think of something. How does he remember the earrings? His memory skills suck.

“My memory has improved,” stated Vishva and Prabha dropped the spoon on the plate. What was he a mind reader now? Shalini and Mitch were too far gone into the food enjoyment to notice anything else, thankfully. “What?” asked Prabha looking straight at Vishva.

“It is the same earring I got for your 21st birthday. The one you hated,” said Vishva.

Prabha was still thinking and her mind was processing.

“You still have it! Why? I thought you hated it,” asked Vishva.

Prabha looked at Vishva wishing she could go back in time and remove the earrings.

“Why? Why do you still have the earring that I gave you?”

“Because I like them. I started to like them. Don’t know. Just did. They go with all clothes. Easy to wear. Gold. So, yeah. I kept them. So, what? Why do you care?” asked Prabha in a squeaky voice.

Vishva was quite taken aback by this. “Nothing! Aaammm… just asked,” he said and went back to eating his burger. Prabha exhaled and visibly relaxed. She threw her hair in front to cover her earrings. ‘Damn it’, she thought. How does he remember after all these years?

“So…. You do not still have it because you miss me right?” asked Vishva.

“Huh? Ummm aaaaaa no, not because of that.”

“Well! I still have the key chain you gave me…”

Prabha choked on a paneer in the pulau. She frantically took a glass of water to drink.

“The key chain you got from Simla. I still have it,” finished Vishva.

Prabha chugged the water down and kept the glass down. “Vishva!! Why are we having this conversation,” asked Prabha, “Both of us are married. We should not be having this talk now. Fine! You have my key chain and I have your earrings. Let us just have them and let go of the past. Ok?” asked Prabha oblivious to the fact that Mitch and Shalini were done with their food enjoyment and were keenly listening to Prabha. Mitch looked like he was enjoying himself. He was eating a cup of spicyrasam rice and had a smile on his lips. Shalini looked petrified. “You two are Exes?” she asked.

Prabha nodded and took her glass to drink more water. “OMG!!! What is going to happen to the project,” cried Shalini and Mitch laughed heartily. “I’ve been worried from morning. Join the gang,” he said looking at Shalini.

“I can’t let go,” Vishva said, dramatically placing his spoon that he never used on the table.

“Why not?” asked Prabha between sips.

“Because his wife slept with his best friend and he needs a let-out too. Maybe he just wants to flirt with you,” said Mitch as he wiped the butter chicken cup with a piece of Naan bread. Shalini turned pale. She has never worked with such screwed-up people or at least know that they were screwed up while working with them.

Vishva was sure Mitch was on a food high. He sighed. Great!! Now Prabha knows.

“It is common here!” continued Mitch, “I got divorced because I cheated. But not with my wife’s best friend or anything.”

“Mitch!!!” Vishva said, “Dude! Stop talking.”

Mitch just nodded and sat back. “I am so full. I do not know if I can work now.”

“Can we get the bill please?” Shalini gestured to the waiter. “I need fresh air. Some one pay, I’ll give my share to them,” she said and got up to leave.

“I am coming with you. Pay Vishva,” said Mitch and followed Shalini.

Vishva took his wallet out and searched for his amex card. “Vishu!”called Prabha and Vishva froze.

“Vishu! Is that true?” she asked.

She called me Vishu. Vishva smiled. “Yes! what Mitch said was true.”

“How can you smile? How did you deal with this? OMG!!! Was that Parvy? The best friend?” asked Prabha.

Vishva sighed. He did not want to talk about this now. He did not want Prabha to look at him in a pathetic light. He wanted to remain Vishva, the gym trotting, handsome hunk.

“God! You haven’t changed a bit Vishva,” Prabha said. “You are still the clueless, pathetic rich boy youo were during college.”

Vishva looked up startled. What the hell! I was pathetic? Clueless? “Prabha! I am not clueless….”

“Vishu! Even then you could not see that the D witch was such a gold digger. Jaya had to propose to you. It took you 2 years to notice her. Schp… schp… sdchp…” Prabha sighed.

Vishva looked at her with both anger and adoration. She remembers what happened in his life. But she thinks of him as a clueless, pathetic guy.

“How am I supposed to know my wife is sleeping with my best friend? Is it something I can guess? God! Even now I can’t believe it,” said Vishva.

The waiter had brought the card reader and Vishva proceeded to pay the bill.

Prabha felt sorry for him. He was a good guy. A guy she once fell in love with. Poor thing. “Look! Talk to Jaya. Maybe she did what she did because she was feeling lonely. It might not mean anything.”

“Hmmmmm… I will. Come let’s go.” Vishva said and got up to leave. Vishva and Prabha walked out into the waiting area with Vishva’s hand on Prabha’s small-of-her-back. They stood near the parking area and Vishva lightly touched Prabha’s earrings.

Mitch and Shalini were looking at these two from the exit gate. “You know! I was hoping this project will a bridge between both our companies. I really hoped that,” said Shalini, “I never anticipated such a weird hurdle.”

“I was hoping that this project will get me the much-awaited promotion to Principle Manager. The odds don’t look that good,” said Mitch, as he tried to book an uber. Both Shalini and Mitch sighed heavily.

Seventeenth part of the story: Long Story 17

 

This is the Fifteenth part of a long story.

First part of the story: Long Story 1

Second part of the story: Long Story 2

Third part of the story: Long Story 3

Fourth part of the story: Long Story 4

Fifth part of the story: Long Story 5

Sixth part of the story: Long Story 6

Seventh part of the story: Long Story 7

Eighth part of the story: Long Story 8

Ninth part of the story: Long Story 9

Tenth part of the story: Long Story 10

Eleventh part of the story: Long Story 11

Twelfth part of the story: Long Story 12

Thirteenth part of the story: Long Story 13

Fourteenth part of the story: Long Story 14

man and woman

Prabha; India; year 2001

Prabha was shopping with her friend Kavita in Connections. It was a variety shop that sold everything from school supplies to toys; you’d even get imported chocolates there. It was her friend, Kavita’s, favorite shop. “Look at this!” Kavita said. She was holding a notebook which was embellished and had a beautiful design. “It would be perfect for my diary.” Kavita said.

Prabha looked at her excited friend with confusion, “Kavi! I wrote your paper presentation on VOIP. You can’t even write basic explanations in Instrumentation.” Kavita threw an angry stare at Prabha, “I could!” she said, “If I had a book like this, I will write.” Kavita promptly placed the notebook in her carry bag along with few other things. Prabha smiled to herself. Her friend was a brainy, rich, spoiled, traditional, homely, non-caring combination of sorts. They’d met through Deepika during the dumb-charades auditions and became instant friends. Kavita loved to shop in the locality where Prabha stayed. So, she was a constant visitor; not that Prabha complained. “I am getting you this!” Kavita said, waving a multi-folder file in the color of pink. “You can use it for storing your writing.”

Prabha smiled. She left her friend with her happy shopping and started to browse the pens section. She took a pen and wrote a sentence on the try-it-out notepad. She suddenly heard someone say, “Which do you like? I’ll pick that.” The voice sounded familiar and her eyes instinctively followed in that direction. “Hahaha! Pick what you like. You are going to be using it,” said a very familiar male voice. Prabha suddenly felt joyful and went searching for the owner of the voice.

“I like the yellow one! Please anna, you tell me. Is the yellow one good?” Devyani was asking Vishva. She was holding an umbrella. It was a yellow umbrella with big purple circles.

“Devi! Come on. Pick what you like.” Vishva said as he smiled at Devyani.

“You are paying for it. You should like it too. Tell me! Yellow? Or the blue one?” The blue umbrella was dark blue with small clouds. Prabha liked it better. Vishva sighed and said, “Pick the blue one. It looks better.” Prabha smiled to herself.

“Hello guys!” Prabha said, that startled both Devyani and Vishva. Both stared at Prabha like she was the principal and had walked in on them when they were doing something mischievous. Prabha was puzzled. Why are they looking at her like that? She thought.

“I like the blue one too Devyani. You should pick that.” Prabha said, as she joined the two.

“I… we… I broke my umbrella. That’s all. He was just buying me a new umbrella.” Devyani said.

“ummm… yeah Prabha. She had finished off all her money for this month. I offered to buy.” Vishva said.

Prabha felt very uncomfortable. Why did she feel like an unwelcomed guest? Why was these two explaining things to her. It is obvious that they are buying an umbrella. Prabha stood there both confused and worried, for some reason.

“No problem!” Prabha said, “I came with Kavita. She is picking stuff to buy.” I’ll leave you two to buy. Carry on!” Prabha walked away to join Kavita.

Vishva stood there in utter shock. He was scared when Prabha walked towards them; like he was doing something wrong. Why is Prabha not getting angry? He, for some reason, wanted her to get angry. Tell him that he had no business buying stuff for other girls. But she just walked away. Why? He was also happy that she was cool and collected and did not react in a bad way. He appreciated her for that.

“How is this?” Kavita asked holding a case of glitter pens. “Nice!” Prabha said.

Kavita sensed discomfort in her friend, “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Nothing!” Prabha replied. Kavita did not buy it. Then she heard the giggling. She could identify the irritating giggling anywhere. It was Devyani. “Hold this!” Kavita gave the carry bag to Prabha and followed the giggling sound. Vishva was paying for an umbrella and the D-witch was standing beside him. “So that’s what made my friend upset?” Kavita said as she came to stand beside the two. “Hi!” She said to Vishva and pushed Devyani dramatically out of the way to reach for the umbrella. “Wow! This looks good. Is this for Prabha?” she asked actively ignoring Devyani. “It’s mine!” Devyani whined as she tried to get the umbrella back form Kavita who was holding it above her head.

Vishva smiled, “Hi Kavi! So, is your friend upset? She did not look that upset to me,” said Vishva.

“Yes! she is. She may not show it out. I know she is,” said Kavita with conviction. “Devyani! Seriously woman! Did you really have to travel 2 hours in rain, come to Vishva’s locality, and buy an umbrella? You know this guy has a girlfriend. You know you are no match for her. You know you are a complete moron. Why are you bothering this couple?”

Devyani stared at Kavita with fuming anger, “For your information! I came to practice the dance routine along with all of my dance team. Vishva is our choreographer. We met in his house,” said Devyani.

Kavita looked at Vishva. He nodded in response. Kavita gave the blue umbrella to Devyani and turned to Vishva. “You know Vishva, you should have a little bit more respect towards your girlfriend. The whole college knows what a slut…”

“….Hey” interrupted Devyani.

“….. this one is,” Kavita gestured towards Devyani, “You still go around helping this one.”

“You and everyone keep calling Prabha his girlfriend. But she does not care even a little about Vishva. How many times has she brought some snacks that she cooked for him? When was the last time she spent time in his house and helped his mom? She does not take care of him,” said Devyani with a worried voice that could have got her an Oscar.

Prabha had come near the billing counter then and had heard Devyani’s words. She stopped dead and looked at the three. After the billing was done, Vishva took notice of Prabha who was standing near the chocolates section. Prabha walked towards the three and said, “I thought you guys were shopping. I did not think anything of malice. But after hearing the way this girl talked, I am worried. What’s going on Vishva?”

Vishva had a stern expression. “You never come out when I call you, yet you have time to spend with your friend. You talk with my sister on the phone and ignore me. You never ask for my help. You never want to be vulnerable. That’s ok! But I like to be someone who is needed,” saying this he pulled Devyani towards him, “She needs me. I like it. I feel like a man with her. If you want to be my girlfriend, learn from her.” With that Vishva and Devyani walked out of the shop.

Prabha stood there petrified. Kavita said something to console her. Kavita held Prabha’s hand and pulled her towards the exit. Suddenly everything cleared and Prabha was back to reality. “Here! Have a kerchief.” Kavita said with a worried expression. That’s when Prabha realized she was crying. When was the last time she had cried? Prabha thought. It was when she fell down from her cycle into a puddle during her high school. She’d had a micro fracture in her left arm. That was the last time she cried. Prabha got the kerchief from Kavita and walked out the shop towards her Scooty.

Mitch, Shalini and the other two; USA; Now

Prabha was looking outside the window from the cab. Shalini and Mitch were discussing south Indian food. “Have you tried Paniyaram?” Shalini was asking Mitch. “Nope! What is that?” asked Mitch. “It is like dosa, but fluffy and everything.” Mitch thought about it a little. “Hmmm…” he pondered.

Prabha smiled at the empty banter between these two. She sensed eyes on her and looked at the rear-view mirror. Vishva was looking at her. Prabha smiled at him. He smiled back at her. Prabha diverted her attention to the beautifully green trees. California was beautiful.

Vishva could not take his eyes off her. He felt like he had to keep looking at her or she’ll disappear. She is here! She is in an Uber with him. She was going to have lunch with him. She was really here. Then, he started to look at her one feature at a time. Her eyes, her lips, her eyebrows, her nose, her lips, her cheeks, her neck, her lips. STOP IT! He ordered himself.

Prabha was obliviously looking at the passing scenery. Vishva had 2 girlfriends after Prabha. He was so sure when he broke up with her that it was the right decision. Now, he did not even understand why he broke up with her. Why he let her go? Just then Prabha looked at him in the rear-view mirror. She smiled and turned back to look at the scenery. Vishva sighed. He wanted to apologize to Prabha. He wanted to go back in time and beg her to take him back. He wanted to do a lot of things in that moment. “Sir! Would you like to have some water?” asked thee Uber driver. Vishva looked at him startled by the sudden care. “You look parched! Water?” he asked and gave Vishva a water bottle. Vishva absently took the bottle and drank to his heart’s content. “So, it is like cooking eggs. I had a Vietnamese friend. She used to cook eggs that way.” Mitch was saying. “Hmmmm… maybe. Yeah! You can cook eggs that way.” Shalini said with an expression of ‘deep thinking’.

God save me! Thought Vishva. Again! His eyes pulled him back to look at Prabha in the rear-view mirror. Prabha rearranged her hair behind her ears. Vishva’s gaze went to her ears, then to her earrings. First he was absently looking at them. Then he realized the familiarity of the earrings. Vishva held the water bottle a little too tightly and the plastic sound made the driver turn towards Vishva. She still has it? Vishva thought and rested his head on the head-rest. “Sir! Please close the bottle. You may spill water.” Said the driver.

Sixteenth part of the story: Long Story 16

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