Monday, October 29, 2007

Tere Bina

He sat alone in the middle of a crowded dim-lit dhabha – the dhabha to which Rajeev and Sanjana usually sneaked out from home. He felt lonely in spite of the presence of so many people. Sometimes, life seems all about a few people, the absence of whom makes us feel as if the whole world were depopulated.

A waiter placed the menu card on Rajeev’s table and stood by his side. Without much interest, he flipped through the booklet sized menu card. He saw all their favourite dishes listed one after another – the ones she monotonously ordered whenever he took her out to a hotel. He missed her even more.

Finally, he realized that the waiter was becoming impatient. Probably he was thinking that his customer was an illiterate. If Rajeev took another minute to place his order, the waiter might probably start listing out all that’s there in the menu card like a nursery kid enthusiastically singing her newly learnt rhymes as if she were the only one who could recite those lines with such perfection.

“One masala dosai and one filter coffee.” He said at last.

The waiter vanished even before Rajeev opened his mouth to ask for a glass of water. Had she been there, it would have been a Chola poori or Kotthu parota or Kaima idli with Masala tea. The cleaner would have a tough time cleaning up their table that would be laden with atleast half a dozen plates. He didn’t feel like having any of these without the poor girl who was skimming through each of her meals as if it were her duty. She was merely surviving on a diet that most often consisted of a calorie-conscious vegetarian burger and a big mug of fat-free milk. He sighed.

After having had his rather mediocre meal, he stood in the queue to make his payment. There was a small rectangular slate precariously leaning on what seemed like a flower vase. On the slate was written – “Today’s special – Chola Poori”

His lips curled into a sarcastic smile. Rajeev felt happy that he had sacrificed it for his sister. Eating that Chola poori wouldn’t have given him half that happiness.

P.S. 1: Mild ice puttings for my cousins. Dun’t mind oki. :D

P.S. 2: Save some crackers for me boys. :D

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To where I belong

She lay curled on the bed, her eyes half open. She could smell the amritanjan on her forehead still lingering around her. It was quite early in the morning, a time even before dawn itself was awake. The window curtains were drawn apart and the beautiful white crescent shone on the dark black blanket of sky. A few stars twinkled, trying to outshine one another.

Her throat was parched. Looking for the flask of warm water kept by her bedside, she made an attempt to raise herself from bed. Her knees and elbows let out a crackle powerful enough for anyone to expect her entire skeleton to collapse. She pulled her eyelids tight together and twitched her face in pain. Slowly turning to one side, she lifted herself with both hands on the bed – a mighty effort on her part. The nerves running along her neck became more prominent as she gulped down the warm water in thirst.

She took the bead chain that lay beside her pillow and began to run them one-by-one between her index finger and thumb. Mumbling something as she did so, she kept staring at the sky as if expecting one of the stars to drop right beside her. Maybe not the star that was twinkling so far up in the sky, but the star of her life – Sanjeev.

It was now a little more than 2 years since he was gone – flown across oceans to complete a master’s degree that would earn him more reputation than it would if he had done the same course in his home country. He might never come back again she thought, or at least that’s what her neighbour’s gossiped. They said that he would settle there, earn in dollars, get married and raise kids who would speak their own mother tongue with an accent. It was all too hard to digest.

He had called her up a week ago only to whine about her how much he missed her during his graduation ceremony. Not having received any more calls since that one, she was puzzled. She comforted herself to the fact that he was probably busy and began to recollect the lovely moments she had had with him. Bedtime epic stories. Granny’s fast math techniques. Forced mridangam class. A bowl full of curd rice with homemade mango pickle. Chill sweet water from mud pot. Street games with pebbles. Plucking flowers from the garden for everyday puja.

Memory seemed like a funny thing, especially when it reflected a timeline of events in as short as few minutes, giving her the feeling that her 60-year old life had just whizzed past. She opened her eyes and looked out of the window once again. An aeroplane hovering in sight disturbed her silent journey of her own past. Cursing the loud noise, she got back to chanting.

Little did she know who was waiting to jump out of that flight and surprise her.

P.S.1: Miss paati, especially during a festive time such as Navrathri. Can't believe this is my third year sans celebrating navrathri, ganesh puja and diwali! Damn! :(

P.S.2: Missing amma's sundal is another :P