Death & Funeral dignities

The last full stop to a passage marks the conclusion to what was merely a motley of sentences till then; demarcating thus a context to the flow of the same. What the full stop does by facilitating the end is that it adds a dimension of unilateral meaning, putting to end any further accruing assumption to the narrative’s course.
Whether it is a happy read or a sad one after the last full stop summarizes the quality of the passage.
Death likewise is this impending last full stop to an individual’s course of life. Whether the world around him is bereaved or relieved, talks about the kind of life lead.

Death is the most intimidating phenomenon among nature’s quadruplet that also includes birth, disease and old age.
Birth brings, disease weakens, old age softens and Death dissolves.
Man over the years has learnt to tame birth, cure diseases and even cover up aging to significant extent. But what unsettles him is the enigma of death and its intimidating absoluteness. His only insurmountable peak, that hasn’t gone under his scissors of regulation or the comfort of understanding.
So what embarrasses at every step towards its mastery can only be embraced. Which exactly what constitutes the hallow around funerals and the rituals that come along. For they mark an individual’s defeat to this unconquerable force called death, yet another time.

There are different nostalgias attached to different individuals post their death, depending on the impact they’ve left.
Most people have rudimentary or say epidermal level impacts after their times like he was cherubic, fat, thin, had silver grey hair, was bearded. They’re simple men whose recollection doesn’t percolate beyond the bodily remembrance.
Then we have people, who we remember for the traits they exhibited primarily like being short-tempered, humorous, sensible etc. People in this category manage to penetrate beyond the physical level, but stop just after.
Some are recalled by their accomplishments which could either be the position held, the qualification possessed and organization that they had been. These men were purposeful beings, who left an impact in our heads  beyond the personality level, but fell short of the heart; courtesy the materialistic nature of pursuit.
Last are the rare men who’ve left an indelible mark on our lives by their ideologies and school of thoughts. They generally are people we looked up to as being motivators, mentors, philosophers and guides.   We miss them the most because they occupied an eternal spot in the middle ground between our intellectual and emotional realms.

There was my dad’s uncle, a patriarch who was among the most forward thinking octogenarians that I know of; not that I know of a lot of octogenarians. He was a wonderful human, holistically loving without a trace of bias or an affiliation to preserve.
He had built a tap outside his house, built on the roads of an extremely humid temple town called Kanchipuram, primarily for travelers and nurtured a lot of stray animals with  fondness reserved to grandchildren.
He had single handedly championed a lot of causes, like planting several sapling across the town, founding a trust to oversee education and foster abandoned elders among many things. He had a liberal outlook about everything under the Sun despite being a deeply rooted practitioner of a faith.
So he had passed away one day. We men are these intriguing creatures strung fascinatingly to each other by the undercurrent of telepathy. That morning when dad’s phone rang with his cousin’s number; I knew he was no more even before my dad picked up.
But to my shock I wasn’t a wee bit sad and was letting the entire news seep in an unfettered manner.  Here was someone I had really looked up to, whose ideals I revered and wanted to imbibe and yet I was unmoved.
I just didn’t feel like attending his funeral to see his mortal remains one last time. In my heart I knew what he meant.  There were things he stood for and propagated, which were pretty much the same things I had started taking baby steps towards.  He was a virtuous man who had left a legacy behind. Legacy that needed to be preserved in the actions of similar minded people who revered him. I didn’t want to relegate my relation with him to the familiar rigmarole of funeral mourning and emotional outbursts.

To me, he was a wonderful man, who lead an illustrious life and died when his body was about to invite quotations from prospective ailments.

As aware as I felt I was, I later tried smearing myself with guilt about not attending his funeral. Was it a blasphemy I had committed in the name of falling in line with a seemingly contrived ideology; for what is life but a generic iteration of cliches formed on conversations, alter egos, relationships and the accompanying trappings?
It appeared to me after some serious musing that it was important to respect a person for what he stood for, than the functionalities of a funeral. For funerals are designed as religious merchandise to tug at your heart strings with notes of nostalgia. It is only when a deceased person’s line of thought is towed fondly by close ones, do they continue to live on in our actions. It is up to us to either eulogize comfortably over a dead person’s body or take the longer route to act upon preserving their legacy  later. Meanwhile, I continue to not feel guilty about missing the funeral. Maybe on a less high handed moment someday, I would.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tale of two men

He was often perceived as the proverbial rotten apple among his friends since school days by the teaching faculty. Parents named him Vijay(victory), naively hoping the name would be a harbinger of conventional victory. So his red flag status at the school’s staff room wasn’t exactly the thing, the family elder who named him told would be the fond after effect of the proper noun.

One fine evening, their superstition around names died along with the sun light.

His intelligence was never under scrutiny. What was under the scanner was its application and the orderliness, the way he defied or toyed with it in the process. He would generate conversations with the kid next to him when three tables was taught in class much to the teacher’s dismay. But would exactly make ten columns of three kids out of his class of thirty odd pupils, to assist his class teacher during excursion nonchalantly.

Sometimes, he would question the relevance of history involving conquests and fallen emperors to his day to day life in the city and place the story of a regional movie from previous day’s 9.30 slot over Merchant of Venice the other times.

In short, he was the  ersatz labour pain to the teaching faculty, independent of their pregnancy.

Abishek was an antithesis to Vijay. Same school, same age, same height; yet so  diametrically different from him. Chalk & cheese kind of doppelgangers they were. Teachers appreciated his uncontested obedience to the school rules & syllabus, through good scores and cherry picked nepotism. He was a model student or the student modeled whimsically from the staff room to be a flagship face of the school.

This phase and the inferences attached got indelibly imprinted onto his conscience. Adherence to a rule, faithful acknowledgement of a functional system and the fruits that came along blurred the thin line between goodness and obedience, intelligence and knowledge.

School came to an end with the prodigall board exams. Vijay came out an educated mind; a wild horse unleashed into the woods with endless freedom. Abishek was an academic dart that seldom missed the bull’s eye of results & rewards; the extent of which confined his scope of ambition.

College days were an encore of School days; with both Vijay & Abishek continuing to be outstanding students. Just that in the former’s case alone it was literal.

 

*****************

Vijay couldn’t contract to the inflexible jurisdictions of his nine to five jobs; as rewarding as they came and kept jumping from organisation to another like a drunken monkey in pursuit of peanuts on a banana plantation. Frustration had the better of the monkey and it started looking for peanuts in another place. Writing challenged him, kept his spirit of adventure vigil and most importantly; made him feel alive.

Abishek was enamored by the nine to five cliche and the template fitted his aspirations to a T. He turned out to be a wonderful resource and why wouldn’t he. For he was still the popular school kid at heart; proficient with the art of subservience to flow of authority. His individuality was a flimsy excuse; that would  dissolve diligently at the warmth of his organisational needs. His ambitions were merrily dovetailed to that of his organisation; like the frog’s soul to its well.

Vijay fell in love with someone outside of him, a girl who turned out to be a soothing fuel to the fire within.  Abishek got committed to the idea of love and fitted his fiancee into this template. Vijay moved in with her and Abishek married her.

 

*******************

 

Vijay loved to write, she was an animal activist and together they inspired each other in their parallel pursuits. They were so dissimilar, yet so palpably compatible. For instance,she was a firm believer in the concept of God, he was a person who worshiped the bandwidth of goodness and narcissism around; declaring himself as an agnost proudly. But he would accompany her to religious places to only sarcastically point out the faux pas in everything animate or inanimate there; which she sportingly would whisk off. His sarcasm never meant malice and her belief system wasn’t a touch-me-not either.

Over the span of their relationship they fought a lot, loved a lot more till a point was reached. The point where he became increasingly becoming dependent on her at a cerebral and visceral level; much to his dismay. This relation was making him absolve the very nucleus of his being,self love. He dispassionately pulled the plug off it; deaf to her endless reasoning.

She was left broken heart; but little did she know that he had left his behind with her.

Abishek’s relationship err..marriage was everything commercials were made of; candle light dinners, treks to exotic locations, treasure hunts involving expensive jewelry, exclusive couple picnics etc. These were layers of deceit laid out systematically between them to compensate the vacuum in their compatibility. They were content binging on extramural  ways of constructing  togetherness; like family dinners and lousy trips with mutual friends whenever they felt restless all by themselves.

Often their arguments ended with assumptions, their fondness was a collage of conveniently overlooked differences and their mutual respect was formed out of overbearing fondness to the institution of matrimony; than personal virtues.

A couple of years into the wedding; they begot a love child; without being sure about their birthdays.

*****************

There are some places that bring the lurking beast out of even the most meditated of monks. One such place is the Anna Salai stretch in Chennai from 10-11 on a weekday’s morning, notorious for its frenzied traffic. The pandemonium just got better with the snail-paced metro project occupying half the width of this stretch; which already seemed like it was about to burst due to over capacity.

This is from where Abishek was honking incessantly from the cozy confines of his hatchback that was in the front of the group of vehicles counting down the last few seconds to green. He was visibly late to his workplace. Vijay was at the same signal; a little behind Abishek. He was late again to yet another book reading of his and the retaliation of the peeved publisher could be felt as vibrations ; courtesy his mobile phone.

A bike that couldn’t go past this signal from the diagonally opposite signal in the last few seconds had trickled down to the line of attack of incoming traffic from this end. This clumsy endeavor was manned by a fragile man in his late fifties. Being the first incoming vehicle towards the man, Abishek could’ve briefly halted for this man to tiptoe to the other end of the road and others behind would’ve waited; but bending a rule just was out of question.
He vroomed past him without an iota of guilt, inspiring the other commuters to follow suit.  Did I say guilt? In his head he was a model citizen who paid his taxes duly and obeyed every single rule laid out by the system. He didn’t owe any courtesy to a person who had failed a signal.

When Vijay came near this man, he had already lost his balance and was about to fall from his bike. Pink faced and limbs shivering ; he was a motley of shame, helplessness and intimidation. Vijay stopped his car, got down and signaled towards the approaching vehicles to go around them .The aggression in the approaching vehicles paved way for empathy, for they went around them.He helped the man with his bike and weaved a way for him to the other end. He was late to yet another place, but had gone out of his comfort zone another time to stand for something that he believed in.
Compassion is often a discounted virtue that doesn’t derive its luster from a charter, like a rule or a regulation does. He was a firm practitioner of the same and was construed to be a willful violator, more often than not.

Schools are the primary influencers of the human mind. But most of them seem content in slaying down a child’s individuality by attaching metrics and yardsticks to success and morals in order to make a functional, homogeneous resource who would effortlessly fit in as a well lubricated cog in the wheel of the society.
 If only they were pampered to be curious,taught virtues before grammar, morals before multiplication, discretion before laying out of prescriptions and the difference between obedience and goodness, Abishek would’ve probably stopped.
Evolution of one’s individuality is his path to self discovery; the course of which shouldn’t be altered inorganically in lieu of conventional acceptance .

 

 

 

Charlie- our lurking alter ego

I had to be told by the visibly baffled ushers that the movie was over, all of it including the last syllable of the end credit. It’s been a while since a movie has had this kind of an effect, that the blank screen seemed alive, long after the moving images seemed to have breached its contour. The movie in point being “Charlie”.

The way it started in an abstract manner made me think it was only a matter of time before things would go above the audience’s heads, alienating them in the process.

It’s always about the initial few minutes as far as a movie goes. You’ve got to pique the viewer’s interest and allow him take the trip you’ve in offer, dovetailing his imagination with your narrative in these precious initial minutes. Otherwise, predisposition sets on them as they decline to get on board and resort to next important things like checking the reclining extent of their seats or getting up to add some butter to the popcorn tub.

 

So as I was saying, it started abstractly, but with every passing moment the sense of intrigue enveloped me. Soon there I was, moving in tandem in my head with the stroke of the artist’s brush on his canvass till the last stroke that led to the incredible painting, the movie was.

Charlie is a celebration of the spirit of wanderlust, eponymously named after its protagonist. It talks about his constant travelling, warming us up to his psyche through the perspective of people on whose lives he’s left an indelible impact; enriching one albeit.

So we embark on this journey to find Charlie along with Tessa, who’s intrigued by one of his creations with the brush; yup; he’s an exemplary artist who makes sketch trophies of people, the only footprint of his available to her at all. As fate would have it, she comes across men, one after the other from the sketches. With every first person anecdote endorsing Charlie, a dot gets connected in her mind that’s attempting the big picture.

He’s like one of these exotic birds, which doesn’t confine itself to one sanctuary. It belongs to the sky and the sky to it, flying mockingly above frontiers. He loves touching upon a myriad lives in his journey, oh so nonchalantly. But never lets to be touched back, in his characteristic inoffensive way.

A zephyr, that bristles its way through the hair strands cozily to leave without a trace.

From the account of the burglar who came to burgle, who he hitched along to burgle with after a drink to the cutting of a marinated fish(ersatz cake) on mid sea; commemorating the birthday of an unlucky hooker who breaks down to only be held by him to be told-“The sea’s got enough salt and can do without your tears”, we travel along with Charlie .

Here’s this bohemian spirit in all its prowess, stopping a suicide victim with great difficulty to only negotiate a postponement to kicking the bucket. He sells the experience of magic mushrooms and the sight of a cloud crowned peak, to justify the postponement .

Once she likes the new habitat he gets her acquainted to, he barely tries to check on her in a fiduciary way. In fact he tells her how she could just roll down from the mountain top on her Enfield, to an assured end if this wasn’t working. But that’s him, this unobtrusive person who lets people be.

There’s this beautiful scene in the movie, where a lovelorn septuagenarian is overwhelmed after being introduced to the lost love of his life-a nun now, by Charlie. This man locks himself up and asks to be let alone  curtly, when Charlie goes in search of him. Charlie just smiles in an empathetic, un-offended manner. That moment, you understand his reverence to space and privacy- A cornerstone to his nomadic life pursuits.

In another uncanny episode, Charlie advertises his demise on a leading daily’s obituary column to check the turnout for his funeral and the extent of emotion at display. He later tries to reason out with his baffled wellwishers on his hoax of a funeral over drinks, sufi music and wisecracks.

For a fluid entity like him, intimidated by the very thought of settling down; knowledge of another female constantly on his toes is an unsettling feeling with the fear of permanence it brings about. So he indulges in a cat and mouse game with Tessa; notwithstanding her earnest efforts at catching up to him.

And it doesn’t help that he doesn’t have a permanent residence,uses mobiles, laptops and constantly hitches a lift to commute from place to another; leaving behind no digital traces for her.

The movie ends with Tessa and Charlie coming together in a festival over a glass of lime juice finally, courtesy his tip to her about his whereabouts. The union happens in an unhurried, mischievous manner without much adieu, like the epiphanies that happen to us over the course of the movie.

This is that kind of a holistic movie where nothing stands out like a sore thumb screaming for individual attention despite their superlative contribution to the film- be it the blemish less performance of the two leads, Gopi Sundar’s ethereal score or the auteur’s  skilful narration of the convoluted plot in an endearing manner. Every element functions as a cog in the wheel.

Overall, Charlie is the personification of our organic self. That part of us that comes alive at the prospect of constant adventure, travel and bonhomie without the need for any form of societal validation. An alter ego that endorses leading a life without an ambition; making life an ambition in itself.

An alter ego that doesn’t delve on the consequences of an act or the accruals of a deed, but lives every moment till its last drop. One that is so preoccupied with living an experience and monkeying to the next one, to take stock of petty things like success and failure. A good Samaritan who touches upon lives of people he bumps into; not because it’s good; but because it is cool.

Foot notes

It’s beautifully enigmatic as to which among the two is an encompassing entity, the water or the pear shaped vessel that it’s poured into.One is the rigid, impermeable vessel that’s shape giving

Other is the flexible, skilfully deceptive water, that’s shape taking. It’s in the head as much as in the perceived emotion attached to one’s object of musing.Beauty indeed is in the eye of the beholder.

The other day I was at my pet temple, part of a daily ritual. The lord’s deity’s has pretty much remain unchanged since the first time I’d gone; embellished with ornaments to value higher than the GDP of a third world nation on some days or modestly dressed up to look like a working class demigod on some; depending on the whims & fancies of seasonal festivities. Basically over the years, I’ve got acquainted with the deity and its opulence well enough. Well enough to not be awestruck and familiar enough to overlook some facets. Contempt or not, familiarity definitely does breed indifference, even to the most amazing of manifestations.

This day was special than generic, courtesy the epiphany it entailed. My eyes directly went for the lord’s feet, his lotus feet actually. That’s when I realised its nonchalant prowess and the sway it would have on a soul at a designated time. It was ironic that the most beautiful and divine part of the deity, should be the lord’s naked feet made of black stone, the only un-embellished part. It made me realise my insignificance in the larger scheme of things, a feeling usually reserved to stargazing.

I was overwhelmed by a stream of emotions that rolled down the cheeks as tears; a moment I realised anxiety and peace could co-exist. Anxious by the guilt of taking this piece of infinite energy for granted. Guilty by the gratuitous reverence of featuring it alongside daily routines like brushing and bathing. Peaceful that my soul had found its beckoning, a higher authority to surrender my ego without much adieu. A supreme personality whose awareness made obeisance such an organic process, The lord’s feet that day taught me a lot more about spirituality as a concept in a matter of minutes, than my post puberty life had in a whole decade.

When I was bastardly enough to round off the Lord to generic significance, you could imagine the reverence I would’ve attached to my parents. Familiarity definitely has bred copious amounts of contempt in this case, all the more given the fact that my workplace ain’t different from my home. My parents have become a daily feature in my life, not that it’s such an outlandish thing for other people. Just that it doesn’t help that I’m a pesky private person, who could buy privacy on e-bay if traded.

So having to interface with dad in an informal space and in an official capacity sort of screws the head in terms of demarcating mind spaces for familial fondness and hierarchy stiffness; that too under the same roof.

Reverence here is a very thin line to tread in terms of parents; given the fact that its exercise happens in an informal set up and isn’t as extramural as paying obeisance to the lord, in terms of spontaneity. After growing up, parents become your friends and directing gratitude and reverence to people you have inconsequential tete-a-tetes with; is a strange…rather evolving concept that happens in a subtle evolutionary manner in sync with one’s emotional maturity as an underlying thread.

The habit of touching elder’s feet was imparted at an impressionable age to me as a part of a doctrine directed at preserving an elderly culture aged multiple centuries. As I grew up; I tweaked the habit to fall in line with my moral code. So I stopped touching the feet of all and sundry based on the underlying rationale that age doesn’t lead necessarily to nobility. Rather I fell at the feet of people I looked up to in terms of virtue or as an act of expressing gratitude. So touching my parent’s feet became a regular ritual. A purposeful act of expressing gratitude in the process of receiving their blessings. Deep inside I figured out that; this was a process of preserving my ego by knowing to surrender it at one place. Contradictory?      Well, not exactly.

Ego if founded well is a virtue than a vice. A luxury only the honest can afford. Like other resources it is expendable. This act of knowing where to let it go, who to surrender it before is a wonderful process of discretion which lets one to preserve it, in the process allowing him to expend it manifold times by the leverage attained.

In short the places we surrender our ego, charge it for use at other places.

Who better than my parents to feel humble before. Letting go off my ego at their familiar, yet congenial feet is a therapeutic process that makes me a more thankful individual with every iteration, reassuring them of my reverence and love. In short, it’s an humbling experience that lets me be proud.

Touching your soul mate’s feet is altogether  a different experience. The firmness in your hold shows her the extent of your devotion. The manner you run your fingers on her feet, caressing them radiates passion. The process by itself lets her know in an un-fussy manner,the vantage point you’ve given her in your life.

At a surface level, they are the ones we have regular exchanges with- verbal and non-verbal, latter flattered popularly as “making love“. So to intersperse a superfluous reverential act into this kind of a peer-to-peer ecosystem earmarked for beings, celestial and elders is a rather cerebral concept.

This barter for solace at a loved one’s feet is a subjective process, endorsement to which depends completely on how romantic a person one is.

If obeisance to Lord’s feet marks surrender to his inundating authority and the parent’s feet exudes reverence and gratitude. The beloved’s feet in the romantic syntax, represents reassurance and security. There is no overwhelming sense of the divine authority, a visible generation gap, a spiritual pursuit nor a affiliating bloodline; which makes the act of touching the feet of one’s beloved all the more special by the sheer exercise of autonomy sans conventional endorsements.

A pure, unadulterated display of love.

It took me a while to figure out the myriad emotions involved in the contour of the feet that I was tempted to put my epiphanies down. Probably in all likeliness these are mental escapades of an abstract person, who takes pride in ensconcing in the cozy confines of his over indulgence. Or probably not. In which case, there is a layman sanctity attached to the process of bringing down one’s upstream faculties like the head and the hands in contact with a downstream faculty like the feet of another person as a mark of reverence.

It’s a beautiful process of bowing down by an evolved entity, a wonderful creation in himself in an endeavour to enshrine his reverence for another magnificent entity who managed to tug at his soul strings.

To me, feet of an important person is a sanctum sanctorum of sorts-to tame my ego, direct my gratitude and cultivate congeniality. To others, it might just mean a shoe size or a pending session of pedicure.

To Mumbai with Love

He was at the Chhatrapati shivaji airport, Mumbai after a tumultuous flight, a little shy of two hours from Chennai, thanks to the inundating monsoon. If it were tails instead, Trivandrum Airport, Kerala would’ve beckoned him. Heads it turned out. Mumbai it was.

He hopped into an Ola cab that took him to his hotel in Santa Cruz, after much dilly-dallying, notwithstanding the native driver’s hold over the city’s expanse. But Mumbai is every bit its moniker- mayanagari(mystic city),  with its characteristic enigma punctuating across every route, making cab drivers as naive as their commuters, getting them lost almost everytime from Pt A to Pt B, in Pt A, in Pt B and from Pt B to   Pt A. In short, getting lost is a famous way of commuting in this seemingly “GPS proof” coastal manifestation.

His room was right out of a Wes Anderson flick-cosily laid out, picturesque with dim-sepia lighting and an abstract mural occupying a good amount of the wall. This was a perfect place to ensconce in denial of productivity, which exactly was his trip’s objective-“To unwind”.

This was a trip he was saving up since the last few months. He was this classic loner, who felt lost amidst friends and therapeutic behind the door of seclusion. He really didn’t have an itinerary in mind like most people visiting cities for the first time did.
He was this creature who got his bouts of high from impulsive decisions and instinctive indulgences irrespective of the consequences they impregnated his experience with. Visiting famous places, memorials, landmarks and celebrity houses were passé to his sensibility. For someone who tossed a semi-oxidised five rupee coin for a talisman, when faced with a need for decision-making, the haphazard nature of the trip was not surprising.

Once done with the sumptuous breakfast, he went on Tinder, his new found obsession- a dating application that essentially connected promiscuous individuals on the strength of their pictures. He had met with good amount of success, courtesy his Adonis looks and his alluring ways with words. Mumbai was no exceptions to his ways, he had matched with a girl within a matter of few minutes on Tinder. They had exchanged numbers and decided to catch up at an uptown cafe at Andheri. She had offered to pick him up from his hotel and he was never shy of taking advantage.

He wanted to wear his favourite black muscle fit-mandarin collared shirt, but was a little conscious around his love handles. So, he indulged in a chain of workouts that included push-ups, crunches, burpees and suryanamaskars in the ploughed space between the bed and the study table. While having a shower, he was contemplating the set of topics, metaphors and facial expressions he could dole out on the date.

**********************

Mansi, a Juhu-based psychiatrist, his first acquaintance of the trip had arrived at his hotel, half an hour past their agreed time, thankfully so, since punctuality wasn’t his forte exactly.

‘Hi. Had issues with finding the hotel? You look lovely by the way.’, He chuckled as he got in.

‘Thank you. It was fairly easy to come here. Just got stuck in traffic. Seems like you’re beyond the photogenic looks too’, she blushed.

‘I’m going to take that as a compliment’
‘Was meant to be’
She had a nonchalant-one handed driving style which he found to be amusing, given the fact that he didn’t know to drive a car. They were stuck in traffic regularly.
‘Chewing gum’, He offered
“I was expecting on the lines of chocolates”, She giggled as she took a couple of pellets.
‘I’m surprised that you were able to find my place without getting lost. My cabbie was circumventing around for a good time before we got lucky.’, he said’
I would’ve too, had I not lived a street away.’, she confessed
‘We could’ve had our rendezvous on your terrace’
‘And what exactly Am I going to introduce you as to my dad?, she asked,’ The Kamal Hasan doppelganger from Chennai I’ve acquainted from Tinder.’
‘I wouldn’t mind that. But he might.’

They both burst out laughing. The cacophony of FM had paved way for small talk. They were a good two kilometres away from the cafe, but were already smitten enough to walk hand in hand to the rhythm of their heartbeat.
After an hour long drive and endless flirtation the cafe arrived. He got out first and opened the door for her. ‘A jaw line to kill for and chivalrous too’, she flirted as they walked in.

Biscotti was a connoisseur’s delight, every square metre. The tastefully built, sensually lit and smelt of fresh pastries and brewing beverages.

‘ This is such an ethereal place. Thanks for bringing me here.Mansi.’, he said settling next to her in a couch built to propagate lackadaisicalness as a way of life.
‘Pleasure Man. Glad you liked it’

She ordered two cold coffees with a copious amount of whipped cream, good enough to nullify the effect of the push-ups and burpees. She was this petite little gorgeous creature-almond complexioned with thick eye brows and a pout that resembled a small fish articulating well constructed analogies. Together with those librarian glasses, she could pass off as an intellectual, on the red herring of her persona alone.

Under the yellow lights of the cafe, he for the first time since they met; actually took stock of her flawless face and realised the magnitude of his luck.
‘ How gorgeous do you look! I could hope for endless depression to just be on your couch.’
‘Wow. So you could actually flirt. I thought you were one of those attractive men who were completely impotent with regards to flirting. Don’t even wish for a rendezvous with a shrink.’
‘Given your height, should we call you “Shrunk”?’, he giggled ’Or how about “Minion”?’
‘Shut up. It’s not like you’re a six footer’, she blushed with her nose tip turning pink.
‘That is a cute name. I’m going to call you “Shrunk” here on.’

‘I’m curious with your profile description on tinder which reads,” Here for Genuine friends. No hook-ups”. Like really? ‘, he asked sarcastically.
‘I just joined yesterday. My friend made me. Been single for a while now since my break-up last year. I’m a little naive in this domain. So yeah. Looks like you’re a Tinder veteran.’
‘I’m no veteran here. Its just simple logic. First look at the tacky logo of a red flame for the App. If that is not suggestive enough, your profile picture farts out in red concentric circles every time you try to match with some one. But still you wanted genuine friends from here. Mansi, my gorgeous shrunk?’, he fell on the floor laughing.

‘Agreed. White Flag. Please stop it man. If not for me, atleast for the hazelnut cold coffee I bought you’, she sheepishly begged.

They left Biscotti and got into her car parked at the isolated parking lot. She pulled him towards her and planted a wet kiss on his lips, the duration of which was interrupted by his gentle retraction to his seat.
‘I’m sorry. I really find you adorable. Have been wanting to do this since the time you  clumsily went about excavating the whipped cream. I’m sorry’, she apologised.
‘Mansi. Did you notice the beat cop who just went past us? Well, I did’, He continued ’ Every cell of mine has been wanting to do the same since the time I saw your face under the yellow light.’ Saying this he pulled her towards him and ate her lips passionately, with the fervency of a marooned survivor devouring through wild berries.

‘That was serene. We didn’t even go downhill. Yet felt like we made love.’, he said.
‘Mutual. It was less carnal and more romantic. Given the fact that we exactly know each other for a little less than six hours, that was intense.’,she said holding his hand firmly with her head cradled on his shoulder blade.
‘Could you drop me at Andheri Metro station. I’ve never tried the metro’, he asked.

‘Sure. But do you really want to go?’
‘Looks like.’
They had reached the bridge overlooking the metro. After a long hug, he got down and walked into the metro. This was getting really heavy for his nomadic spirit that got intimidated by the very thought of settling down. Since his bitter break-up a couple of years ago, he was content with philandering around. There was a point beyond which he let no one in. But this girl was looking right through him like a psychic. His head was dichotomised between letting go and going after. He conservatively picked the former.

‘One ticket for Santacruz’, he told the guy at the ticket counter.
‘Make that two Bhaiyya’
‘Mansi!’, he couldn’t hold his excitement on seeing her. He broke down to tears.
She got the tickets and the wallet he had left at the counter. Took him away from the counter before he could create a bigger scene.

‘So, someone really wanted me?’
‘I’m sorry Shrunk.’, he cried incessantly and hugged her tight.
‘Look at your size man. Stop sobbing like a kid please. I’m not leaving you even if you want.Have your wallet.’, she said trying to lighten the mood up.
He wiped his tears and clenched her hand tight. ‘What happened to your car?’
‘Its safe man. I knew you would be happy on seeing me. But this was beyond my imagination. Your such a sweetheart. Your facial hair and sarcasm are so misleading.’
They got into a train. It was scarcely crowded given the hour of the day. She was glued to him and could actually hear his heart pounding heavily.
‘This is late.Why are you in Mumbai? Business or Pleasure?’
‘Latter’
‘How many girlfriends do you have?’
‘Had one. Have a lot of ongoing flings. But looks like I’ve found one.’, he gave away
‘Oi Kamal Hasan doppleganger, are you proposing to me’
‘Looks like’
‘This was a day and a half long-weekend trip and the least I expected was to fall for someone.
Its severely unreal!’,he observed
‘I know. Hail Tinder’
They got off at Santa Cruz station to only return back to Andheri station to get her car, that was parked on the road.

‘Would you come to drop me off to the airport tomorrow’, he asked caressing her feet with his hands. This was a habit from his previous relationship, where he touched the girl’s feet when disturbed.
‘I’ll consider. What do I get in return?’, she asked playfully
He removed his bracelet from his right forearm and slipped it onto her arms.
‘That thing meant a lot to me.Good enough?’
She smiled ear to ear and hugged him yet again. Hugs were the most traded commodity between them since evening. But neither of them was complaining.


Love You , read a SMS from her after reaching his hotel that night. He kissed his phone’s display and didn’t respond.

She had picked him up from his hotel the next day. They had an early dinner at a restaurant enroute airport. They had reached the airport an hour before his flight’s departure time.

‘I know this is crazy fast. But last time I took close to a hundred days before deciding to get into a relation. Well, It didn’t last. So hours spent on getting to know a person and the longevity aren’t so linearly proportionate after all. So I’m going to take this leap of faith.’, she said holding his hands,’I love you.’

‘I really don’t know what to say. You know I’m crazy about you. I’m getting late. I’m going to go back and give you a call unless you want an encore of yesterday.’
‘Goodbye love’, she said planting a kiss on his lips.
‘How do you decide to indulge in heavy duty PDA everytime the cops are around?’, he smiled pointing towards the airport security personnel.’Bye Mansi. Mumbai would never be the same again. So would Chennai.’
She waited till he got into the airport and left bemused.

************************

 

She willed herself to not check her phone to see if he had replied. It had been about three days now. She hated that she was constantly checking his ‘last seen at’ status and yes, he had logged in just five minutes ago. Yet she couldn’t stop herself. This sinking feeling to find absolutely no communication from him was becoming unbearable, almost torturous.

And then, just as she sat down in her chair, her phone vibrated. With her heart thudding in her ear, she unlocked her phone and stared at the screen. Finally! It was his message.

But when she opened it and read it, she nearly stopped breathing. She didn’t know if he was joking or not.

The message read,


 Shrunk, found an organisation to put up with my shenanigans for a fat CTC in Mumbai. You’re teaching me to drive.

PS: I Love you.

Of Break-ups & Gods

She loved her family deity. Was enamoured by his virtues & prowess from her bedtime nostalgia. This made the church visits an integral part of her daily routine. When she could only see the magnified manifestation of minor good in men, God in his altar was kept at a dizzying height in her mind.

Tall, dark and dove eyed; she was this disturbing influence on the men population around; who were as fascinated as intimidated by the effect she had on their spiked testosterone levels.

The relentless pursuit and passes of hordes of men around, had become a predictable feature like the bout of spasms around her neck. Both were pains in the neck though, one figurative and the other, literal.

She finally cherry-picked a guy out of the herd; charmed by his novel proposal and calm demeanor. There’s something about ghost rumors and committed women, both alienate men population. As the word of her being taken went around, the flux of frustrating men reduced.

She took him to her pet church regularly and tried to get acquainted to his temple with equal fervour.

Their initial period was spent in the same un-refreshing manner as every other couple around. Together they added to the active income stream of every coffee shop and movie hall in their neighbourhood. And the time came, where words lost utility in conversations. When the taciturn made words impotent, bodily unison made up for lost frequency at his behest. Her naivety below the belt was compensated by his zealous expertise in the region.

Till then, she was the person who took the initiatives as far as the functional aspects of the relation went; from conjuring to expending on a plan-while he was the laid back partner who sleep walked as if bestowing a favor upon her.

But once they got physical; he started devouring through her with the passion of a cat raised by a vegetarian household, at its first encounter with meat. He had exhibited relatively lesser excitement on the day she agreed.

The following phase in their relationship made her a guinea pig to his carnal experiments in the name of extrapolating love. She was treading through this hitherto foreign path with guilt and intimidation, while he was a sweet toothed kid in an unregulated candy store. It’s astonishing to note how an Indian girl’s position in a relationship becomes vulnerable after getting physical.

The regular visits to each other’s places of worship slowly receded to insignificance. Wall corners in theatres and empty houses became regular features; relegating coffee shop conversations and late night tete-a-tetes to a distant past. She started to feel the distance between; the crevices beneath and the void around.

Like the mobile phone that tried to own the conversations that happened through it. She was always his means, never the end.


After a lot of musing & bitterness, she pulled the plug off the relation. His reasoning fell on deaf ears. His desperate attempts were met with newfound coldness of indifference, a recently acquired trait. She had moved on from him completely, laying to rest her relation besides her former self.

The following phase involved a lot of unanswered questions and unrequited emotions. The halo around her God had disappeared. She had brought him down from the dizzying heights of his altar, to an accessible vantage of debate; after he failed to have her back when she fell off from her failed relation. He was a fallacy built on collective story telling routine of septuagenarians.

She was this adult, who had outgrown the emotional connect to her toy friend from her childhood. His traits and prowess were a joke she would belittle as childish. Belief and hope had paved way for cynicism and awareness.


She had turned into this formidable predator;that embraced the wild with its intrinsic dangers and saw deer in other predators and warnings in opportunties. All it took was a mild aroma of goodness, even if it was true, for her to suspiciously deconstruct in disbelief. She was hopelessly bearish about the goodness in men, that it made her myopic to their underlying goodness.

‘Ex’pression

She was puny;

He called her petite.

She was childish;

He called her cute

She wasn’t really alluring;

H called her unconventional.

She wasn’t really honest;

H called her diplomatic.

She was getting familiar;

He called her compatible.

At loss of words, they copulated;

Made love, He manipulated

With his euphemism running out;

Taciturns became deafening silences

From missing each other;

They had gone to missing from each other

The day had finally dawned upon;

He decided to end their story.

To only be left behind by her;

To end it’s epilogue.