New to my Blog??

New to my Blog??

Click on the below links to read my previous stories..

Bus#126W       My Family and I       Games we play       All Roads Lead Home       As Good As It Gets       Whodunit?      

The Reunion       A Dog's World      My Sister's Daughter

Saturday, July 31, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 24

From that moment on, we knew we were going to be together. Not one word was said, we just slipped into our roles easily and perfectly as though we had trained for it our entire lives.
One day, after our regular coffee and books, we walked around aimlessly talking about this and that when Vikram’s voice took a sudden serious tone.
“I have to tell you something.” He stopped in the middle of the footpath and turned to me.
“What, what is it?” I asked, dreading what was coming.
“I think I’ve decided what I want to do.” He said.
“That’s great! What is it?”  Relief flooded through me. This had been a bone of contention between us. I could never ask him directly but his lack of interest in pursuing a career was something that bothered me a lot. As a friend I had been infinitely patient, but now that we were more than just friends, I wanted to make sure he didn’t lose any opportunities.
“Not now, I’ll know by tomorrow. Is it okay if I tell you tomorrow?” I wondered why he was being so secretive about it.
I clutch his hand tight and gave him my best smile. “You’ll be great at whatever you decide to do..” Probably before saying it, I had just wanted to say something that would make him feel good about himself, but now, as I said it, I realized that it was true, Vikram was the type of guy who gave his hundred percent each and every time. Anything he decided to put his mind to, he could do and do well.
“You think so?” He asked. I could tell he was apprehensive about his decision.
“Yes.” I said simply, squeezing his hand.
A smile lit his face and he whispered in my ear, “Thank you..”
“For what?” I asked, confused.
“For not pestering me to tell you what it is. I know how difficult that must be for you.” He gave me a quick hug and turned back to leave.
“Wait!” I struggled with myself. I really really really wanted to ask him what it was that he could tell me tomorrow and not today. I swallowed my impatience and gave him a peck, “All the best, for whatever it is you have to do tomorrow.”
 He smiled, nodded gently and walked off. I spent the rest of the day wondering what Vikram was up to. I resisted the temptation to ask the others. Chances were, if I didn’t know, they didn’t either.
The next day, I got a very strange call from Vikram.
“I don’t think I can make it today. Okay if I take a raincheck?” He didn’t sound too good.
“What’s wrong Vikram?” I was immediately concerned.
“Nothing, just feeling under the weather, I’ll be okay tomorrow. I’ll see you then.” With that he hung up.

I stared at the phone for a couple of seconds and then made for the door. If he wasn’t going to come meet me, I was going to his place.
I was a favorite with his mum. She used to dote on me. She smiled as she opened the door.
“He’s in his room, very upset. Do you know why?” She asked me. I shook my head.
“But I’ll find out.” I said, as I knocked on Vikram’s door. When I didn’t get a response, I turned the door knob. It was unlocked. I peeped inside. He was sitting on front of his laptop, with his headphones on. I walked up to him and ran a hand through his hair.
He turned around, surprised at the gesture. His face relaxed into a smile when he saw me.
“Hey..” He said, pulling off his headphones. “What are you doing here?”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing..” He tried to change the topic. “Do you want to try this game? It’s pretty good.” He pointed towards his laptop.
“Vikram!” I said sternly. He looked at me, surprised, “What’s going on. What did you want to tell me yesterday?” I asked.
Vikram sighed and handed me a CD.
“What is this?” I asked, examining the CD, nothing was written on it. “I told you, I don’t want to play that game.”
“Go home, listen to it and tell me what you think.” He instructed.
“But I..” I started to protest.
“Talk to me, after you have listened to it.” I waited for a moment and then when I realized he was serious, I rushed back home and put the CD on.
It was his music. I had no idea he was so talented. I was blown away. By the time the CD got over, I was already in love with all the tracks on it.
I called Vikram immediately, “That was mind blowing!! I never knew..!” I exclaimed.
“So is this what you want to do?”
“Yeah.. But I tried making some recording firms listen to it. They didn’t like it.”
“They didn’t?” I was shocked! How could anyone not like it!
“Yeah, so now I’m thinking of other areas to explore.” He sounded so dejected.
“Vikram, I thought it was brilliant. And if I thought it was brilliant there must be hundreds of people who will too. You just have to keep trying.” I was trying to pep him up.
“I don’t know. I was pretty crushed by their criticism.” He said half heartedly.
“Nobody’ going to hand you success on a plate Vikram, you have to rough it out sometimes.”
“Okay. I’ll think about it.” With that he abruptly hung up.

Vikram took up music full time after that conversation.
 One year later, when he got his first album deal, he proposed and I accepted.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 23

I wander the streets of my fair city alone. I pulled out my phone a number of times only to put it back. If time was what he wanted, I would give him that.

It had begun to rain a little. The light drizzle didn’t bother me. I smiled as I saw people rushing to get some shelter. I put out my hand, enjoying the feel of the cool droplets on my hand. Somehow, I felt that the rain was going to wash away all my sorrows.
One hour later, when I had had enough of the rain, I stepped inside a warm little coffee shop. I looked around in surprise.. Somehow, I had wandered into my old hangout. Everything was exactly the same.
For the millionth time I wondered where he was. He would have been so thrilled to be back here.  

I ran a hand through my wet hair, most of the tables were occupied by couples. I stepped right back out. I didn’t have the strength to see people parading their happiness in front of me.
As I walked in the familiar yet forgotten street, I knew there was one place I just had to visit. I stood outside the bookstore, shivering in the rain, debating whether to go in or to walk away while I still could when someone from the inside beckoned to me.
Surprised, I walked in. It was the old shop keeper.
“Why are you standing in the rain. You can come inside..” He invited me inside. I smiled politely and stepped inside. I was just rubbing my arm trying to make myself warm when his assistant got us a cup of tea.
“Thank you so much!” I said, I was touched by his concern for me. I saw him looking at me carefully and after a moment he exclaimed, “You stopped coming to my shop!”
I hadn’t really expected him to recognize me. It had been a couple of years since we had stopped coming here. We had discovered the joys of ordering books online.
“You remember me?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes, yes.. you’re the girl who used to buy all those classics!” He said, proud as a punch that he had got it right.
Those classics.. Which Vikram used to make me buy. An involuntary smile touched my face.
“Yeah.. That’s right.” I said with a bright smile.
“Finish up fast, and then you can go meet your friend..” He pointed at the cup of tea in my hand.
“My friend?” I asked, confused.
“Yes.. He’s on the 2nd floor. I was so happy to see him too..” He smiled broadly and then his smile began to droop as he saw the expression on my face.
“You know your friend is here don’t you?” He asked.
“Which friend?” I asked, my voice barely a whisper now.
“The friend you used to come in with.” He said, puzzled, that I was asking this question.
“He’s here?!” I didn’t wait for his answer. I ran two floors up and walked through the narrow alleys trying to locate the familiar face.
And I found him. In the classics section. He was holding a copy of “Animal Farm.”
There he was, my husband, in the all too familiar checked shirt and bulky glasses.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 22

Slowly, I learnt to live without Aditya haunting me. First it was a couple of hours, then a couple of days started passing by without his thought entering my head. I took it as a good sign and plunged into life. I threw myself into all kinds of activities, dance classes, foreign language classes, volunteering at an animal shelter. Anything I could do to keep my mind occupied.
College got over and everyone started going their different ways. I kept in touch with my girls, but I really didn’t care about the rest of the college crowd. I was far too affected by what they thought of me to want to keep in touch.
My regular trips to the bookstore never ended. Every Sunday, I would find myself in the same bookstore but slowly, it became more about Vikram than about the books. I never realized when it happened. When Vikram and I started hanging out beyond the book store, beyond the coffee.

In fact, it was Aditya who made me realize the importance of my new relationship, which I didn’t know existed.
We both got through the same company when college ended.
Vikram didn’t participate in any of the placements.. He wanted to do his own thing and I used to marvel at his guts to rebel against everything we had ever been taught and make his own stand. Must study-Get good grades-Get placed- Earn good moolah.
Aditya saw me sitting across the room waiting for the offer letters to be distributed. He walked over to me awkwardly.
“Still mad?” He smiled. I had to smile back. He still had a great smile.
“Congrats!” I said. We both had a job now.
“Right back at you..” He said. I nodded and looked down at the bunch of papers I held in my hands.
“So we are going to be colleagues. Exciting huh?” I looked up, wondering why he was starting a conversation with me. I smiled politely.
“Maybe we should catch up sometime?” Aditya asked.
“Why?” The question was out before I could stop myself.
He looked taken aback at the vehemence with which I asked him why he wanted to catch up.
“Lets just say I’ve been thinking about you lately.”
I stared at him. Who did he think he was?!
“Anagha!” his voice snapped me back to the moment. “Say something..” He smiled again. And this time, his smile didn’t male make me smile.
Suddenly conscious of my silence he asked “Are you seeing someone?”
I was about to shake my head negatively when I saw Vikram.
 It was late, and he had come to accompany me back home safely.
“I’m with him.” I said softly, and I found myself wishing that I was seeing him.

That night as Vikram walked me home, something had changed. I knew my perception of him had changed. Maybe he understood that and morphed with it. The only outward sign of the change in our relationship was his hand holding mine gently and protectively. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 21

There was nothing left for me to do. After picking up after my husband and the mess he had made throwing things around yesterday, I stepped out to meet my girls. Even on my worst days, they could make me feel good. And after the treatment that was doled out to me today morning, I needed a pick me up.
But before that, I had an important thing to take care of.

I reached before the scheduled time. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny so unlike what I was feeling. I felt the warm sunbeam on me and it dissipated some of the darkness and gloom inside me. I ordered some hot chocolate for myself and pulled out a book.
I was midway when I heard a familiar voice.
“Hey.. I’m so glad you called.” I looked up from my book and smiled.
Anurag settled in the chair in front of me.
“Thank you for coming.” I said.
Anurag gave me a puzzled look and pulled out the book from my hands. “What’s with all the formality?”
An awkward silence descended on the table as the waiter came with our orders.
“So..” Anurag cleared his throat, “You still at Ann’s place?”
I shook my head, “No.”
“Oh.” The disappointment was apparent on his face, “Then why’d you call me?”
The smile was gone, replaced by a frown.
“There’s something I need to talk to you about.” I said slowly.
“About what?” He put down the coffee mug that he was holding.
“This is not easy for me, so don’t interrupt okay?” I asked, my eyes searching his.
“Hey” He said, his voice full of concern, “What’s wrong?”
“Us.” I said simply.
“Us?” he looked confused. “There is no us.”
“Exactly.” I put my hand on his arm. “I want you to understand that there is no us,  there never was an us,  and there never will be an us.
“What are you talking about?” He pulled his hand away. I knew I had offended him.
“Look, Anurag.” I began, “I don’t know what you expect out of.. ” he hushed me into silence.
“I don’t expect anything from you. We are just friends.” he said gravely. “And I’m okay if we stay that way.”
I sighed. It felt as though a great responsibility had been lifted off my shoulders.
“So you’re still going to be around?” I asked softly.
“Of course silly.” He laughed. He got up and ruffled my hair, “Okay, I have to get going. My flight leaves in some time. Call me.” With one last hug, he left. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was the last time I would be meeting him.

I let him go, even though I knew his flight wasn’t for another five hours.

Monday, July 26, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 20

Aditya moved on easily without me. I wish I could say it was the same with me, but it wasn’t. I craved for his attention even though I knew it wasn’t going to come my way. I lapped up the sympathy that my friends offered me. Darshan, being the nice guy that he was started dropping by every evening to cheer me up.
Of course, I wasn’t upset all the time, but left on my own, I used to turn broody and gloomy.
A couple of weeks into my new relationship with Darshan, I became aware of his feelings for me. I knew I had to put a stop to it then and there. I knew I wasn’t ready to be with any one. I wasn’t even sure whether I would ever be ready to be with anyone. But Darshan was there for me to salvage my broken pride and my broken heart and I played along.
I played my part perfectly. The batting of eyelashes, the shy smiles, the seemingly innocent text messages.
Suchitra and Meghna weren’t happy with the way things were progressing.
“Why are you doing this Anagha?” They asked me. Only Ann understood. I was hurting so bad inside, that I had to pass it on to someone else. It wasn’t selfish as far as I was concerned. If someone could use me and then cast me aside, why was I expected to bother about some one else’s feelings?. I wasn’t proud of the way I thought but it was all about self preservation. In this game, someone had to get hurt and I was going to make sure that it wasn’t going to be me. I had built a wall around my heart, so thick that even I couldn’t pierce through it.
Vikram watched quietly from the sidelines. Every weekend without fail, we would meet at the bookshop which was followed by coffee. Never did he once, offer his opinion on my relationship status. And I was grateful for that. I was already been judged by a million people in my college.
Each time they would see Aditya walk by with his new girlfriend  in tow, heads would turn and look at me to capture my reaction. Our little romance wasn’t such a secret after all.

Darshan and I didn’t last very long as expected. There was one thing I absolutely hated about him, he wasn’t Aditya. I picked on him constantly, stood him up regularly, never called when I promised I would. Initially, being horrid to him gave me a sense of relief. I was in control of this relationship. I called the shots.
Darshan, patiently bore it all.
But soon, Darshan’s feelings started getting to me. I could no longer avoid the fact that I was hurting a friend.
The next day, I told Darshan I couldn’t be with him anymore. I will never forget the look on his face as he heard me blabber an explanation for my erratic and often terrible behavior.
“But Anagha, I’m prepared to look past all that. Can’t we start afresh?” Couldn’t we? I couldn’t. I knew that for sure. I knew I didn’t want to be with Aditya, but I also know that I couldn’t be with anyone other than Aditya.
The hurt, disbelief and anger on his face mirrored what I had felt when Aditya had backed away from me. I knew then, that I had lost a friend and nothing was going to make it alright. Ever.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 19

I heard him slam the doors as he made his way to the guest bedroom. I slumped on the bed and reached for the phone. What had Anurag sent that had upset my husband so much?
The message was still unread. He had gotten angry about the fact that Anurag was texting me this late. Despite the gravity of the situation, I felt a smile making its way on to my face. I felt like I was back in high school. Our oh-so serious had been reduced to this. Some other boy texting me.
I quickly changed into my pajamas and made my way to the guest room.
The lights were switched off and the figure on the bed didn’t move but I knew he was awake. I crept under the blanket and snuggled up against him.
“Go away Anagha.” He muttered.
He was sulking! I snuggled in a little closer and after a while, he gave up and put his arm around me. And after a long time, I slept peacefully without the demons of my relationship harassing me. In that moment, I thought all my problems had dissolved.

The next morning, when I woke up, his arm was still around me and as the sun streamed into the room, I thought of how close I had come to losing my perfect relationship. To make up for my behavior yesterday, I decided to make a special breakfast for him.
To put it mildly, I’m a klutz in the kitchen. Rarely does anything that I make come out palatable, but today I was determined to make it work. It was 7 AM on a Sunday morning, but I didn’t think twice about calling Suchitra. If I was going to do it right, I was going to need a LOT of help.
“Oh my God Anagha, it’s 7 in the morning. Go back to sleep.” Suchitra, clearly was sleeping through the beautiful morning.
“No no no! Don’t hang up! I need help.” I said quickly. I heard her yawn over the phone.
“What’s up?” She asked sleepily.
“Okay.. I have to make a super breakfast and I need your help and it has to be really really good and easy to make, if possible.” I tried to be as clear and concise as possible.
“You? Are going to cook?? Wow, this is serious. What happened?”
“Later later. Just tell me what to make and how to make it!”
Suchitra was a fabulous cook and had been ever since I had known her. Some day she planned to open a restaurant and I had never quite figured out what she was waiting for.

Under her expert guidance, I tried to make a lavish spread. Of course, not everything was perfect. The pancakes too hard, the syrup too runny, the toasts a little burnt but all in all, I thought I had done a pretty good job. As good as could be expected from a noob like me.
I went downstairs and brought some fresh flowers and placed them on the table. I pulled out our best plates and put the coffee for brewing. Everything was ready and perfect.

I made my way to the guest bedroom. He wasn’t there. I walked from room to room looking for him. He was in the shower.
I knocked on the door and hollered in a cheerful voice. “Breakfast’s served!”

I sat at the table and waited for him.
He didn’t come out for a good half an hour. I looked around in dismay at the spread on the table. Everything had become cold.
When he did come, he took one look at the table and turned towards me, “You think that’s going to make up for yesterday?”
I walked towards him. “Oh come on, I apologized for yesterday. Come, I’ll just heat up something.” I gave him my best smile and slipped my hand in his and tried to drag him to the table.
He pulled his hand away roughly. “You should have asked me before you made all this. I’m out for breakfast.” There was no hint of a smile on his face. His eyes were cold and bitter. I shied away, hurt.
“Well, can’t you cancel? I cooked all this for you.” I said. I forced a smile on my face. Maybe when he heard that I had cooked, he would change his mind. He knew if given a choice, I would never enter the kitchen.
“Sorry..” He said and walked out.
“Hey!” I felt sudden flashes of anger run through me. I ran behind him. “Where do you think you are going? I cooked all this for you and you’d better eat it.” I put my hand on his chest and glared at him.
He moved my hand off him and held it for a moment.
“Yesterday, you asked me for time, and I gave you that time. Today, I’m asking for some time.” He said simply.
“Time for what?” I asked in a small voice, the anger all but disappeared.
“To think over what happened. Just because you are normal today, doesn’t mean, I’m okay too. It’s high time you realized that there are two people involved in this marriage.” It was like a slap on my face. I had always considered myself to be those model considerate wives, I guess I was wrong. I stepped back quietly and watched him leave.
For the second time in a row, breakfast in my house reached the trash can.

Friday, July 23, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 18

I don’t know why, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate him. The more I tried to hate him, the more he occupied my thoughts. I wasn’t healing, each time I would see him, I felt bruised. Of course, through it all Aditya wanted to stay friend. And initially, I thought that I was capable of that.
We went out a couple of times. Then one day, we decided to visit an exhibition in one of the uptown resorts. The exhibition was boring and crowded, so we decided to take a walk around the resort. The conversation was casual and light hearted and just as I was thinking that things were going to be alright between us, we came across the pool.
The sun was setting and the effect that the orange sun and the blue water were creating was intoxicating. We stood there silently, each of us immensely aware of the almost magnetic  power the other had. I turned to face him.
He sighed and put his arm around me.
“Remind me again why we are just friends?” He asked softly.
I shrugged off his arm. Something about his touch was disturbing.
“Don’t Aditya.” I pleaded.
“Why should we Anagha?” He put out one hand.
“This is very difficult for me Aditya. Please. Don’t do this.” I said, as his hand covered mine. It was like nothing had changed. I had to stop it, end it and end it in such a way that we both knew it was over and there was nothing left to salvage.
“Don’t you think about me?” He asked.
I steeled myself. “No.” I pushed him away.
“We can’t be friends anymore Aditya. If you were in fact a friend, you would have understood how difficult this is for me. But you don’t. All you see is what you want. And that’s not going to work for me. This is it. End of the line for us. Please don’t try to call me anymore.”
And that was it. Aditya and I ended just like that. He never tried to approach me after that. Neither did I. of course, I missed him like crazy and took a long long time to get over him, I never called or texted him again.
He had changed something within me. I became cynical and bitter. people around me began to feel the change and started withdrawing from me. During the getting over period, I chased guys. Anything to get my mind off Aditya. Of course no one ever matched Aditya. After getting my heart broken, I broke some hearts. And one of them happened to belong to my now good friend Darshan.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 17

I drove like a maniac. Thankfully the streets were empty. I reached home and sent out a text message to Ann to let her know I had reached safely.
I made my way up the stairs slowly. What was I going to say to him? I fumbled with my keys at the entrance. There was still time, I could still turn around and go back to Ann’s.
I gritted my teeth and stepped inside. The house was in a disarray. He had come back in and thrown some things around. He had quite a temper at times. I stepped over some things as I looked around for my husband. He was nowhere to be seen. I crept into the bedroom and saw him lying wide awake, staring at the ceiling.
“Hey you..” I said softly. He turned to look at me in surprise. I made my way over to him and placed my hands in his.
“I’m sorry.” I apologized.
“You’re back.” He said simply.
I nodded. “I am sorry behaved like an idiot. I don’t know what came over me.”
He relaxed and pulled me closer.
“I had no idea you felt that way.”  I leaned back into his arms and put my head on his shoulder.
“Forget it. I don’t know what I was saying.” I didn’t think it was a good idea to bring up all that again. Some day, when he was in a good mood I would explain it to him gently.
He caressed my hair for sometime. “Clearly its important for you Anagha. What is it? What is it that you think Anurag can provide you that I can’t?” The question was asked causally, but I felt the underlying barbs.
I turned to face him, “Nothing happened between Anurag and me. Nothing.” I said seriously.
He pushed me away slightly. “How can I be okay with that Anagha? That you got another guy to be your date tonight.  Would you have forgiven me easily if the tables had tunred turned?” He asked.
No, I wouldn’t have. In fact, I would have done something drastic by now if I was in his place.
“Listen to me,” I pleaded. “That was a bad decision. That’s it!”
In the darkness, the light glowing on my phone looked unnatural. Some one had sent me a text.
Awkward silence filled the room.
“So who sends you messages so late?”
“Even if its him, it doesn’t mean anything. Why won’t you believe me?” I was desperate for him believe me.
He got up, flipped my phone open and made a disgusted face. He tossed the phone at me. Anurag.
“I’m going to the guest room tonight.” With that he closed the door behind him leaving me alone with my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 16 - The Break Up

Aditya and I started hanging out regularly. Of course, in college, we still pretended like we didn’t know each other. But when that clock struck eight, he was there, outside my door, with a great smile and flowers at times.
We were dating, weren’t we? I opened up my heart and my mind to him. He possessed me. I couldn’t think of anything other than him. Everything revolved around me. I could feel myself alienating my friends, but its was like something drew me towards him. Some unseen force used to drag me towards him. I couldn’t get him out of my mind.

On his part, I think he was downplaying his feelings. Trying to be cool by not showing it. By not showing how much I meant to him. I knew the feelings were there, could feel them brimming under the surface.
But something bothered me. It bothered me that he didn’t acknowledge me in college. It bothered me that I was not supposed to talk to him in college. I mean, he never told me directly but I could tell by the way he behaved that he didn’t want anyone to know that we were seeing each other.
Was he embarrassed to be seen with me? The thought plagued me. I was too ashamed to tell my girlfriends about it. I had them thinking Aditya and I were in an ideal relationship whereas in reality, he hadn’t even asked me out. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t even admitted to me that he liked me. Was it all in my head?

It was during our everyday bus ride back home when I decide to break the news to them that Aditya and I were not “officially” dating each other. The others were gossiping about some girl who dressed terribly everyday.
“Did you see her today? Wait I have a picture!!” Meghan pulled out her phone and showed the picture to all of us.  Suchitra and Ann were in splits.
“What’s with you! Didn’t you find it funny?” Suchitra nudged me.
I took a deep breath, it was now or never. “Aditya and I are not really dating. He never asked me out. I just assume that we are.”
There was a stunned silence.
“Why would you make us believe that you are?” A visibly confused Ann asked.
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to accept that my romance was less than perfect.” I sighed. “I know, pathetic isn’t it?” I looked up at Suchitra.
“Come one Anagha, what’s the big deal? If he’s not asked you out, you ask him out!” She smiled at me. “Not like you guys are not already dating. I mean, all you want more is an official tag really.”
Yeah. Yeah. All I wanted was him to acknowledge the fact that we were together. Through out it all, Meghna had stayed silent.
“What do you think Meghna?” I asked her.
“Anagha, I don’t want to be the one telling you this.. But.. ” She paused, “Some one has to tell you. Aditya is not the kind of guy who you should be dating. I mean, no offense, I think he’s a great guy. Its just his reputation in college sucks.. And I would hate to see you hurt.” She clutched my hand.
I smiled. She didn’t know anything about Aditya. His so-called reputation didn’t bother me. I knew he felt something with me. How many times had he whispered in my ears that I was different.
“I think he really likes me.” I said.. I don’t know if I was reassuring Meghna or myself.

That evening, when Aditya and I went on our walk, I pondered over how I could bring the topic up without being too obvious.
“You’re awfully quiet today. Everything okay?” He tugged at my hand.
This was my chance. I shook my head slowly.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. His voice full of concern.
“Aditya.. Where are we?” I asked.
“What do you mean, we’re in your neighbourhood.” He smiled.
“I mean, where are we? What are we?” I pointed at him and then at me.
He stopped abruptly.
“What? You want us to start dating?” the way he said it, that tone of voice. It was something like, “really? You think it will ever work out?”
I looked down to hide the hurt, which I am sure was apparent on my face.
“Don’t you want to?” I asked softly.
“You know Anagha, we hang out in different groups, will you ever be able to adjust with my friends? My kind of crowd? I go clubbing every weekend, I’m sure folks won’t be okay with that. I need a girlfriend who has that kind of freedom. I really like you, but all this is important to me too.”
I didn’t react to what he was saying. All I could understand from all that BS that he was feeding me was that he didn’t want me.
“You understand right Anagha? I mean, its too early to get into all this anyway. Let’s just keep things as it is and see where it goes.”

Slowly, I stepped away from Aditya.
“Where are you going?” he stepped closer. “Anagha don’t be a child. Come here.”
I put my hand up to stop him.
“I got my answer.” I looked him straight in the eye.
“All I’m saying is that I don’t think you can adjust with my lifestyle.” He justified.
I allowed myself a smile. “Anything other than a yes is a no Aditya. Goodnight.”
I turned around, with my head held high, glad that the darkness covered the tears that flowed down my cheeks and made my way back home.
Not once, did Aditya try to stop me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 15 - Home Sweet Home

I lay awake in Ann’s guest room long after midnight. I knew Ann thought I was making a big mistake. But to me, it felt right. Suddenly the shackles of responsibilities started falling off my shoulders. I didn’t have to answer to anyone or expect anything from anyone anymore.
I was free.
 I turned to my side, and felt my phone vibrate.
Anurag was calling. I squinted my eyes and checked the time on my watch. It was fifteen minutes past two.
I debated whether I should answer his call or not. And then I thought, what the heck, I was bored and unable to sleep.
“Hey Anurag, what’s up, everything okay?” I forced some cheer in my voice.
“Wow, that was fake.” Came back the prompt reply.
I smiled despite myself.
“So why are you calling me this late?” I asked.
“To see if you’d answer. And since you answered, I’m guessing he’s not around. So what’s going on?” He was remarkably astute.
“Oh nothing much, I stayed over at Ann’s.”  I tried to downplay it.
Did not work.
“You what? Did you guys fight? I hope it wasn’t because of me.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” I jested.
We both laughed half heartedly. Despite the humorous tone of our conversation, we were both aware of the unsaid things.
“Anagha..” He said kindly.
I couldn’t bear it, “I don’t think I love him anymore..”
There was silence at the other end.
“I am sick of waiting for his attention. Just sick of living for those moments which never come. We’re like strangers who live together. I don’t even know what  he does the whole day. I doubt he cares what I do! Is it wrong? To ask for a little affection? It shouldn’t be this difficult should it? I have put aside everything for him. Everything. And he can’t give me a little bit of his time? That’s pathetic.”
Still no response.
“Hello?” I said tentatively.
“I’m here. Wow Anagha, you sound so selfish.”
I stopped, shocked. Selfish? Me?
“What are you saying? How does this make me selfish?” I was offended and I needed an explanation.
He sighed deeply over the phone. “Can’t believe, of all the people in this world, I have to tell you this. But honestly Anagha, the guy dotes on you. And have you ever told him you need more time with him? Have you ever bothered to find out what he does the whole day? Have you ever spoken about it? He can’t read your mind.”
I was stunned. “YOU are telling me that? Stop taking his side. Be a friend. Be supportive.”
“Sorry Anagha, I can’t. I feel bad for the poor guy. The way you are treating him.”
“He didn’t even stop me from going to Ann’s.” As I said it, I realized, even though he hadn’t said anything, I could tell I had hurt him. I stopped mid-sentence. I closed my eyes and the whole scene replayed in front of my eyes.
“Anagha?” Anurag interrupted my thoughts “I’m not judging you.. You did what you..”
“Anurag.” I said. “I’ve to go.”
“Wait, where are you.. ?”
That’s all I heard. I had to do this before my ego kicked in and made me change my mind.

I tiptoed to Ann’s room and shook her gently.
“Ann, wake up, I need your car.”
“Anagha!!” she said groggily. “What time is it?”  She squinted her eyes.
“It’s three. Now can I have your car?” I asked impatiently.
“Should I even bother asking why?” Ann eyed me suspiciously.
“No. Where are the keys?”

I was going home.

Monday, July 19, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 14 - The First Kiss

Aditya had promised to take me some place nice, so I dressed carefully. Nothing over the top, but nice enough. I stepped out gingerly and raised my eyes slowly to meet Aditya’s.
“Wow..” was all he said. That was all I needed to hear. I could tell, even before the evening had started, that I was going to have a great time. 

I can’t remember what I ate or how it tasted. I was mesmerized by him, his mind, his mannerism. I could observe him for hours and I did. Time passed quickly and before we knew it, it was time for me to go back home.

“Do you have to go now?” He asked as he dropped me back.
I nodded reluctantly.
“Come on, just ten more minutes.” He pleaded.
I knew it would get me into trouble but I found myself smiling. “Okay, but just ten minutes.”
“Want to take a walk?” He casually held my hand and pulled me gently.
“Aditya, I can’t..  I have to be home in ten minutes.” I protested half heartedly.
“I’ll have you back in ten minutes. Trust me.”
We walked around like that, hand in hand. At the back of my mind, I could hear some warning bells ringing. My mum had friends in the neighbourhood. What if one of them saw us. I chose to ignore them. I was so aware of Aditya’s touch, that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

I had roamed these streets a million times before, but never had I seen them looking as beautiful as they had that night.

True to his words, Aditya walked me home well before the ten minutes were over. He followed me to the door. We stood there for a long time not saying anything. After the longest pause ever, Aditya turned my face gently towards him with his fingers and kissed me.

 “You can open your eyes now Anagha.” His voice shook me out of my trance.
He had stepped back. A sheepish smile on his face told me that he too had been affected deeply.

I stepped towards him.
“Aditya.. I..” I began.
“You’re getting late Anagha.” 
I didn’t want the evening to end. I didn’t want to part with Aditya. For the millionth time, I cursed the fact that I stayed with my parents.
“Goodnight Aditya..” I half whispered.
“Goodnight Anagha, sweet dreams..” I almost laughed out aloud. There would be no sleep for me today.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 13 - Uncertain Times

I walked fast, unsure of where I was heading, blinded by the tears that were streaking down my face. I heard him call out after me. I didn’t stop.
A car pulled up beside me.
“Get in the car Anagha.” He ordered.
“No..” I shook my head slowly “ I told you, I’m not coming home with you.”
“I don’t care, but if you think I’m going to let you wander around in the middle of the night, you’re out of your mind. Now get in the car!”
Meekly, I got in the car.
“So where should I drop you?” He asked once I was in.
I looked up, surprised. I had assumed he would drop me home and go stay with his friends.
“Oh no.” He had understood what my look had meant. “You’re the one who wants this. You stay somewhere else.”  He looked me straight in the eye.
“Fine. Drop me at Ann’s” I knew Ann was home alone for a couple of weeks.
“Does she know you’re coming?”  
I stayed silent.
“Call her. She might have other plans.”
I wish he’d stop being so nice. It made me feel like such a bitch.
“She’ll be free.” I said stubbornly.
He stopped the car. “Call her, otherwise we are not moving another inch. God Anagha! Why do you have to be so childish at times?” He sounded exasperated.
I glared at him, I knew he was right. But I just didn’t want to listen to him. I needed reasons not to like him, he wasn’t giving me too many and I hated him for that. Instead of being angry about what I had said and creating a scene, he was being all nice and caring. I was having trouble remembering why I had fought with him in the first place. Was it about his disinterest in me or my frustration with the monotony of our lives or about Anurag?

Reluctantly I called Ann, she was free and very concerned. I didn’t give her any details over the phone.
He drove in silence. I did not dare to disturb him. I didn’t want to make him lose his temper again. I rubbed my arm gently, where he had grabbed me.
I heard my husband sigh and touch my elbow gently and inspected my arm, He grimaced when he saw the angry red welts.
“God, I’m sorry Anagha. Did I hurt you?” he asked in an apologetic tone.
I shook my head. I had been hurting on the inside for over a year and he hadn’t noticed.

Ann opened the door for me. I stepped in, shoulders straight, head held high. As I heard the car drive away, all the toughness disappeared and I collapsed in Ann’s arms, sobbing hard.
“Shhh.. What happened Anagha? One hour back you guys were fine.” She wiped my tears and let me inside her house.
“I don’t know what to do Ann. Do you think I’m making a mistake?” I looked up at her. One word from her, and I would go back home  And she knew it.
She came around and put her arms around me. “I am sorry Anagha, but that’s a decision that you have to take on your own.”
She was right as always.
“I know, I am just so confused. Why did I bring it up today? He was being so nice today. But something in me was just screaming out. That something was just not right! I mean, today he was showering me with love and affection, but tomorrow, tomorrow it’ll all be over. He’ll get involved with something, I’ll get busy with something and I don’t want to do that. I married him for a reason and it’s almost as though that reason has ceased to exist. ” I fiddled with the glass of water Ann had placed in my hand.
“Anagha.. Don’t take a decision today, you’re upset. Tomorrow morning, ask yourself the same question. If the answer’s the same, then that’s what you want. Then you have to decide whether you want to do something about it. Don’t be hasty.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Do you still love him?” She asked suddenly.
I looked away. I didn’t know anymore.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

As Good As It Gets - 12 - The Book Store And Then Some

The weekend after our first date, I had to control myself from texting Aditya. There were times I would switch off my phone just to avoid the temptation. Be mysterious, be unattainable I told myself. To kill time, I went to my favorite bookstore. They specialized in second hand books and I just loved the mess in that shop. I could lose myself for hours.
As I browsed through the books, I thought I saw a familiar face pass by. I looked over the book I held in my hand and a smile crept on my face.

It was Vikram. Gone was the wannabe spiked hair and the heavy metal t-shirt he wore to college.
He was wearing a sober checked shirt and a pair of thick glasses which made him look so studious.
“Well, well, well.. Look who’s here.” I said from behind him.
Vikram turned around, stunned to see me there.
“What are you doing here?!?”
“What are YOU doing here? That too like this?” I laughed, pointing at his glasses and his un-spiked hair.
He grinned. “This is the uncool me.” He adjusted his glasses. “Its so much better without the lenses. Hassle free.”
“So this is what you do when nobody’s watching. You transform into a geek.” I kidded.
“You caught me.. So how was your date?” He took the basket of books I held in my hand from me and started walking towards a shelf labeled “Classics.”
“Perfect..” I sighed.
“Oh my god God, that good?” He laughed.
“Better than that.” I smiled dreamily.
“Here.. Try this..” He pulled out a book from the shelf. It was a classic. As a rule, I stayed away from classic. I was more into reading junk trashy fiction which would not have an ever lasting impact on me.
“Really? You read this stuff?? I just find it so…” I struggled to find the right word.
“Boring?” Vikram offered helpfully.
I nodded. He pulled out a book I had put in my basket and made a face. “Shopaholic and Sister
“Why Anagha, why? Why would you read this?” he held the copy in front of me.
I pulled the book out of his hands and put it back in, “I’m a girl and I’m allowed to read a chick-lit once in a while.” I said defensively.
“Okay, okay.. But, let me buy some real books for you. Trust me, you’ll love them.” Without waiting for my answer. He pulled out three books. Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye and The old man and the sea. I rolled my eyes.
“Fine, I’ll try reading them.” I knew I wouldn’t. Even the names seemed boring.
“Coffee?”  Vikram asked after we billed the books.  I nodded, I didn’t have anything to do back home.

I had a great time with Vikram that evening. We laughed and joked around. It was great. I was glad to have a friend like him. As I made my way back home in the bus, I pulled out “Animal Farm”. If Vikram had liked it, there had to be something good about it.

The next morning, I dressed for college, excited because I was going to see Aditya again.
I reached quite early and sat alone in class. Couldn’t believe that I was the first one. I pulled out the Animal Farm and continued reading. The book captivated me. I was lost in a world where pigs ruled a farm. After a while, I paused, amazed at the brilliant concept behind the book.
Wow, I mouthed. Suddenly, I became aware of someone watching me. I looked up.
“You never realized when I came in, did you?” He asked.
“Of course I did!” I lied. I didn’t want him to think I was some geeky girl who gets lost while reading.
“Really? When did I come in?” He asked, stepping closer to my bench.
“2 mins back?” I asked doubtfully.
He shook his head while pulling out the book from my hands.
“5 mins back?” I asked, knowing it was a lost cause. I had no idea when he had walked in the class.
He laughed. “15 mins Anagha! I have been here for 15 minutes watching you read and you never realized I was here.”
“Guilty as charged.” I shrugged. “How was your weekend?” I asked, as he settled on a bench behind mine.
“Oh good.” He answered casually.
A couple of guys walked by our class.
“See that guy over there?” He pointed at one of them.
“Yeah, what about him?”
“He has no idea I took his girlfriend out yesterday night. Poor bugger.” He threw his head back and laughed.
How the heck was I supposed to react to THAT? We weren’t dating, so I couldn’t possibly ask him not to take anyone else out. But why had he not asked me? And after that glorious Friday evening, how could he take some one else out! He had pecked me, for god’s sake! Didn’t that mean anything anymore?
 Take a deep breath, I told myself. Maybe it was strictly platonic.
I smiled awlkwardly, “Yeah. Did you have a good time?” I didn’t want to portray myself as the jealous kinds. He could go out with whoever he wanted. Yeah. That seemed right. We could be one of those cool couples who hung out with our guys/girls without our better halves feeling jealous about it.
“Oh yeah.. She’s hot.”
Before I could react, some people started walking inside the class.
“See you tonight?” Aditya asked as he started slinking away.
Confused, I nodded, not too sure what I was getting myself into.