Monday, April 23, 2007

A Walk to Remember

Ram sat staring at the specimen under the microscope and the values projected in his computer. The results were slightly different from his previous attempts. They were infact strikingly interesting. However, he realized that these new set of numbers and microscopic figures only raised more difficulties rather than what they managed to solve. It had the unbelievable ability to make him doubt himself. But that's the way it had to be. Research was challenging and that's exactly why he was upto it. His only motive in life was to spend it for something that could possibly outlast life itself.

It was Ram's 24th birthday when his father took him to an old age home for the first time. Unlike guys of his age, Ram did not get to spend much time with his grandparents. When he was in primary school, he would envy his friends who used to be accompanied home by their grandfather, while he would be picked up by their house maid. That birthday made a huge impact in his life. He realized how pathetic certain people's life turned out to be. The totally antagonistic attitude of these people was quite surprising to this young man. While some of them looked hopeless, others were hoping against hope that they would have a better life, as if they had just begun their! Ironic!

There was one particularly interesting old man who impressed him the most. He had the strange feeling that their lives had touched with a purpose. It was his meeting with this person that gave him the motivation to pursue his research. All that was required of him was patience and hard work. While on his research, he made it a point to visit this old man every week. Every time Ram went to meet him; he would take with him a gift that the old man had asked Ram in his previous visit. But the old man would wonder why Ram came to him with gifts. Gradually, work took over Ram's weekends too and he was unable to visit the old age home as frequently as he did. But that made no difference with the old man. He was as puzzled to see Ram then, as he had been when they met for the first time. Ram could however completely understand why the old man felt that way.

It was Ram's 25th birthday and he made sure that amidst all the birthday plans and treats that his friends had been nagging him for, he had the time to visit the old man. It was now nearly a month since he had last been to the old age home and exactly a year since he had first been to this place. Early that morning, Ram washed his car and drove to the old age home. He entered the brightly lit room by the corner of the corridor. The old man was seated in his study desk by the window. He didn't notice Ram walk into the room. Ram's eyes caught a yellow sheet of paper that was peeping out of a book lying on the bed. The ends of the paper were torn and Ram could bet that they were at least 2 years old. He could only read the first few lines on the paper and they said – Things to do before I die. 1) Make a cup of coffee for Ranjini. 2) Get Akash the toy car he asked for on his 5th birthday. Ram immediately recognized that Ranjini was the old man's wife who passed away 6 months ago and Akash, his 15 year old grandson in America. Ram wondered if that list made any sense to the old man now. He encountered a sinking feeling in his heart.

For a moment, the microscopic figures and the numbers that he had encountered in his lab the previous night flashed in his mind. The worst thing that Ram ever wanted to feel was to wake up one morning, thinking that if he had known everything, he might have done something different. Bringing himself back to the present, Ram gently rested a hand on the old man's stooped shoulders and stood there with a warm smile. The old man however continued to read the book in his hand. Ram had seen him read this book every time he paid a visit and more so, he never seemed to finish the book. On certain days, Ram even found him on page 14, while the previous week he would have been on page 48. But again, Ram knew that he hadn't completed the book even once and he could understand why.

After a short while, the old man closed the book and placed it on the table. Ram managed to catch a glimpse of the title of the book. It said – 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' By Milch Albom. The old man looked up at Ram and gave him the same perplexed look. Ram introduced himself as he always did and offered the box of sweets in his hand. After a short conversation, Ram felt a new renewed vigour. Ram realised that his research on Alzheimer's had to be given a boost. He wasn't going to wait for success, he had to move ahead without it. Just before leaving, Ram took the old man's trembling hands into his and they walked into the nearby garden. Far across a rainbow appeared and it looked more beautiful than ever before.

p.s. 1: Am halfway through that book. Very impressive. Try to read it if you get a chance.

p.s 2: My blog's 1st year completion. I was wondering if its in the same state as Ram's research! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Million Little Things

She sat by the corner of her window, wrapping up the last lines in her letter –

"….and remember? Not once have u tried to console me when I was low. I loved the way you teased me, laughed at my ponytail, trying to cheer me up at those times. I guess this is all as much true today as it was that day. Those seemed like fleeting moments of eternal happiness. They came like a shooting star and vanished as quickly. How I wish time froze then. I miss you tons! Take care. Good luck for your exams and keep in touch!

p.s. You better not reply in 2 lines like last time. Or else, when we meet during semester vacation, you won't go back to college in the same shape. Like you always say, 'Dangerous girl!'"

She read through her letter once more and then sealed it with glue. She walked to the nearby post office and posted the letter. While on her way back home, she lost herself in memory of the days they spent together in school, 10 years back. The first time they met was in class 5 and their class teacher made this naughty boy sit next to her. It was the worst day of her life, or atleast she thought. They spoke little. Not even a part of their text book or a speck of eraser dust would be allowed to fall on the other's desk. And then, one day it happened. He came to class with a sling supporting his hand. She was instructed by the teacher to help him take down notes and so, she reluctantly obliged.

That day, over lunch, she softly asked him, "How did u manage to get that fracture?"

He smirked at her and said, "I thought this would be a cool excuse to make you take down notes for me!"

The next moment, he found himself holding his tooth in his palm and said, "Thath thooth haz bin shakin for a wik now. Dhanks for gettin itt off!" While one half of her insisted that he deserved it, the other half was shocked and guilty with the turnover of events. While she apologized to him, he winked at her and said, "Dangerous girl!" It was the first time they looked into each other's eyes and smiled.

They slowly grew into the thickest of friends. While she would teach him how to factorize polynomials, he would teach her his '20-best-excuses' for walking in late to class. She would draw diagrams for him in his biology record, while he would play book cricket. She was surprised how he managed to remember every member of the cricket team in the order of their batting line up, while she struggled to memorize the first row of the periodic table of elements.

That aside, the best part of their day was the lunch break. She loved the curd rice that his mom packed for him, while he loved the rotis that her mom sent. He would help her finish off her box of slimy ladies finger curry, and in turn, she had to drink up his bottle of chilled milk. But life's norms dictate that one better not get engrossed in the rosy side for too long. In their 9th class, his father decided to shift him to another school closer to their home. That day she sat in one corner of the class, her face buried beneath her skinny arms.

He came up to her that day and said, "OMG! Look at your cheeks!! So damn red! Were you preparing to act as a clown in the circus?" She glared back at him and he continued, "Now come on. Stop this. Else I am going to start on how your pony is beginning to curl behind your back. See I can even hang my school bang in it!!" He pulled her pony and well anticipating her reaction, prepared for a dash. Her cheeks turned red with anger. She sprinted behind him along the corridors and down the staircase, until they finally reached the football ground and she could run no further. He stood jogging at a safe distance from her, laughing.

She sat in the middle of the ground, panting for breath and hot with anger. Finally, trying to control his laughter, he came up to her and offered his hand. She held his hand and lifted herself up. Once she was up, she gave him a tight fist on his tummy and he burst out laughing again. They walked across the ground to the canteen, and he got her an icecream. So easy it was to cool her down. Before they parted ways that day, he kissed her on her forehead and cycled towards his home.

She stood there watching him go. It was then that she realized how his entry represented a whole new world to her, a world possibly not born until he arrived.