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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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - The end

Apologies for the really long delay.. Hope the post makes up for it.. 

She stayed that night. I need to figure things out, she explained to his parents. They had nodded sympathetically and graciously accommodated her in their house. Sometime between midnight and morning, she found her restless self resurfacing. She got up with a start and felt herself shiver a little. It wasn’t cold but she felt a draft which made her shudder. She wrapped a shawl around herself and tiptoed down to his room.
The door was slightly ajar, she pushed it open. It made a slow creaking noise which sounded incredibly loud in the dead of the night. She froze, half expecting his parents to come running. After a couple of minutes, she mustered her courage and went in. She stood close to the door, just watching him breathe. He seemed so.. So normal. While he slept, she could see him as she remembered him. She smiled a little as she saw the all too familiar expression fleet across his face, the slight crinkling of him nose and the brows coming together. How many times had she watched that expression, half asleep, lying in his arms.
She found herself moving towards him. He must have heard her because he woke up and unlike his earlier self, he looked up at her calmly.
“Are you awake?” She whispered as she inched in closer. He stared at her intently, wide awake now. In a child like gesture he cocked his head to a side and looked at her, confusion apparent on his face.
“Hushhh, relax, it’s just me.” She put up her hands as she moved closer.
The confusion was slowly turning into fear and he started to move his hands abruptly. She had to pacify him before he started screaming. She did the only thing she could think of. She hummed to him as she used to hum for her niece when she was an infant. His arms dropped to his sides and he closed his eyes. She wasn’t humming anything in particular, just some random piece of music she had heard on the television, but it seemed to be working. Somehow the music was soothing him or was it the sound of her voice?
She placed her hand on his forehead and gently moved her hands though his hair. Like a mother would do to a child. Soon, his breathing turned deeper and she knew he had fallen asleep. Sitting by his side, hearing his deep breathing, she didn’t realize when she had drifted off into the dream world.
When she got up, it was nice and bright but neither had he stirred nor had anyone bothered to disturb them. She rubbed her eyes gently, hoping it was all a bad dream, like she did always. But hope dissipated when she saw the form lying in front of her.  She smiled as she saw his hand holding her finger in a child like gesture.  
“Morning..” She whispered into his ear smiling softly.
He opened his eyes slowly, and a look of confusion came on his face. Confusion soon gave way to horror as he started screaming, looking straight at her.
She tried to pacify him, holding his hand, speaking softly to him but shook her off.
Within no time, his mom was besides him, holding him against her, rocking his head gently.
“He’s just going to take time to get used to you.” His mum tried to make her feel better.
“But he was fine yesterday!” She asked, her brows scrunched together in worry. She tried going closer to him but somehow, today, her presence was disturbing to him.
“Don’t worry, he has his good days and his bad days. Maybe you shouldn’t come in here today.” His mum offered.
“Maybe if I’m just around for a while, I’ll sit right over there.” She moved to the far corner of the room and watch him carefully.
He kept his eye on her, getting agitated by the minute. All attempts to calm him down were futile.
“Maybe you should just leave!” His mum finally said what had been on her mind all along.
She nodded softly. She didn’t want to make things difficult. He had started screaming now, making a hoarse, inhuman sound. She tried to walk slowly, but something in her wanted to escape. She ran the final few steps to the door and shut the door behind her, but she couldn’t shut out the screaming.
She leaned against the door in resignation.
After a while, someone tapped her on the shoulder. “Your cab is here ma’am”
She opened her eyes abruptly, stunned. What the heck was happening? As she tried to gauge her bearing, she realized she wasn’t at his place. Where was she?
She peered at the guy in front of her. Who was he? Ah yes, the porter. The porter at the airport. The airport in his city.
Reality hit her and she realized that she hadn’t even gone home. Or was it home anymore? If the dream was so nightmarish, how would reality be? Was she dreaming now? She pinched herself to make sure. Ouch! Definitely back in the real world.
“Ma’am, this way?” The porter indicated with his hand towards the exit.
With unsteady steps, she made her way outside. She hesitated as she opened the cab door. What if the reality was worse than the dream? Was she strong enough to handle it? What was she trying to achieve anyway. She had almost moved on! This was like taking a step back.
She felt herself move back involuntarily.
“If you’re not taking that cab, I will!” An irate passenger behind her, commented.
She gulped and looked down at her hands. Steady as a rock. Disappointment washed over over, as she knew what she was going to do. Maybe regret it for the rest of her life. But in that moment, she couldn’t see herself going back to him. As much as she loved him. As much as she would always love him. Some things were easier said than done and she was just realizing that saying goodbye was one of them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - 5

She felt \peace. She had found her purpose. All this while, working like a crazed maniac, she had tried to find some solace. But something had always been missing. After endlessly searching for it in meaningless relationships, she had found it, the missing piece of her heart. It had always been him.
She ran her fingers through his hair as she smiled down at him. And he laughed with her. As though he understood. As though he was happy to have her around.
She cast a triumphant glance towards his father, expecting him to be beaming from ear to ear but he just shook his head sadly and walked out. Confused, she turned towards his mum who stood rooted.
“Did I do something wrong?” She asked, refusing to leave his side.
His mother relented. She sighed deeply, “No bacche, I’m sorry. This has just been so difficult for me, I forget that it was equally hard for you.” While you stayed.  His mother left those unsaid words  hanging in the air.
“I’m not going anywhere again. I’m going to stay here, near him.” She said in her most convincing voice.
A tired smile appeared on his mother’s face, “I know what you’re going through. There is nothing you can do for him. There’s nothing you can achieve by staying here. Don’t throw away your life. I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted that.”
Her confusion grew, “All this while you’ve been making me feel horrible about leaving and now that I want to stay you’re asking me to go?”
His mum pursed her lips and came closer to her. She placed a warm hand on her shoulder. “I was.. ” She hesitated, “I guess I was just mad, that nothing happened to you.” His mom touched her face gently, “Mad that both of you had the accident and you came out without a scratch.” She wiped an unshed tear, “And my son, who would have been 30 this year, is..” she swallowed deeply. “Who knows what great things he could have done.” She said, a half smile appearing on her face.
She stared at her mother, a little in disbelief mixed with a little sympathy. She had often wondered, why she hadn’t come to any harm. They both had been together that day. Both of them wearing a seatbelt, not going too fast, no alcohol in their system. It was just that, an accident. And she had come out of it unscathed, a few scars and bruises. The bruises didn’t even last a week. Nothing to show what a large part of her had died in that accident.
Him on the other hand, almost immediately, they had known that he would never be okay. She had hated herself for not protecting him. How she could have done that was anybody’s guess. But she couldn’t really fault his mother for harbouring those feelings. She had often prayed that she could go back in time and chose to drive that fateful day. Then what would have he done? Left her? Been with her?
“But I’m here now, I can’t. I can’t leave him again.” She shudder at the thought.
His mum separated her hand from him, “Please, don’t make this harder on us than it already is.”
“I don’t understand. Why can’t I stay?” She asked, slight anger creeping into her voice.
His mom took her hand into hers. “Come, visit anytime. But don’t do this. He would hate to see you waste your life. I know he would. He wanted to see you happy.”
She turned back to him. He had drifted off to sleep. Maybe his mother was right. Yes, she had found peace here. But that didn’t mean she had to stay here. Would he even know that she was around?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - 4

She walked back unflinchingly towards the bed, where he had quite forgotten about her and was playing enthusiastically with his hands. She touched his face lightly expecting him to turn towards her.
He didn’t.  She rested her palm on his cheek and traced his jaw line gently hoping to elicit a reaction.
“He can’t see from that eye.” His father reminded her silently.
Of course, she remembered that. She took his hand in hers as she moved towards the other side. Somehow, she had captivated his attention. She looked into his unwavering gaze, seeing a little bit of his old self. Very little, but he was there.
She kissed his palms, wetting them with her tears.
“Goodbye.” She whispered into his ear as she pecked his cheek and then his forehead.
She waited till some strength returned in her legs and she could move away from him. She tried to wriggle her slender wrists from his hands but he refused to let go. She turned them sideways and looked up at him. She thought she saw his eyes glisten. His mom assured her it happened regularly.
“What? What is it?” She said after unsuccessfully trying to get away from him. “What does he want?” She asked his father.
“Stop struggling. Give him a chance.” His father hadn’t tried to judge her, or why she came. In a way, she was grateful for his unconditional acceptance. He smiled encouragingly at her, “Don’t worry, I’m right here.” He reassured her.
As she turned from father to son, she let her body loose and her apprehensions disappear. She felt him tug her hand lightly.  She let him guide her. She felt him place his hand over hers. His warm hands. Just the way she remembered them. Some things hadn’t changed a bit. The thought brought a smile to her face and when she looked up, he was smiling a little too. Or was it just her imagination?
She felt his thumb graze over her skin. Was he trying to write something? The movements were shaky and uncertain but she was sure he was trying to etch something on her skin. What was that? Her initials? His initials? She couldn’t tell.
She tried explaining this to his parents, but his mother was convinced that he was just randomly moving his thumb. She should have believed his mother, but her heart believed otherwise. He wanted to communicate with her and she wasn’t getting it. Maybe if she hadn’t left him at all, she would have understood him now.
He wasn’t distracted now. She could tell he had to focus, like really focus to keep his eye on her. Impulsively, she squeezed his hand and declared, “I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere. I want to be here with you.” As she said it, she realized she had said what she had wanted to say for 7 years. It was fine and dandy for others to say move on but honestly, what did they know? Had they lost someone so tragically ever? Seen them deteriorate in front of their eyes? She had run out on him when he had needed her the most. Not again. Never again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - 3

“I think I’ve seen enough.” She told his mother, tears glistening in her eyes. “I should leave.”
She had barely lasted 30 minutes. Her gut told her to stick around, but her mind was telling her to cut her losses and run.
 “Okay.” His mother nodded. She had gotten used to people walking in and out, unable to deal with what she had faced for ten years, for even an hour. She was no better. His mother had known she wouldn’t last an hour.
“He doesn’t remember me.” She explained. No one  asked for one but she felt obliged to tell them why she was leaving.
“Muh! Muh!” He said. He was more animated now. But maybe it was because he wanted more food.
“Just stay.” His father spoke from a corner. “Let him get used to your presence.”
She shook her head, sniffling loudly, “I can’t.” She said helplessly.
His father placed his hand on her shoulders, “It’s okay, we understand.” He tried to smile at her but it didn’t come out right. Feeling more guilty than ever she stepped away from him and his father.

She paused as she reached the door.
“I’m leaving now.” She announced slowly. Silence. She turned around, sobbing a little by now. “What else can I do?” She shut her eyes tightly, wiping her face with the back of her palm.
His mother looked away from her, she probably had more important things to worry about than a strange unfamiliar girl crying at her doorstep. There was a time when this family was like her own. Not anymore. She had severed all ties with them, in fact they had encouraged it.
“He’s not going to recover sweetheart, don’t wait for him.” She had been advised. And after waiting around for three years, she had given up. Three years of hopelessly sitting around his bed side, trying to be positive around his family and crying herself to sleep every night.
His mother had no right to make her feel like shit. She had waited. She had done all she could. She had wanted to keep in touch but they had told her to start a new life, to move on.
With great difficulty she had done exactly that. Taken each day as it came, forcing herself to be normal, to ignore the void that she felt everyday. She knew it would never be completely filled, but she had hoped that after ten years, it would have healed a little.
Seven years after her sabbatical, they had called her. To share news that he could understand them. Communicate even. She had left everything, just dropped everything and rushed back on the first flight.
For what? What had she expected? A happy reunion?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - 2

She played her part beautifully, quietly listening to the mother joke about his recent doings.
“You don’t know how much fun he makes of me. Whenever I say I am going to try dieting, he starts laughing.”
True to his word, he started laughing. Hope touched her. Maybe if understood his mother, he would understand her.
He laughed easily and naturally. It was the only thing he could do to express himself.  

“Here, stand next to the bed while I get a refill.” His mother told her. “He gets agitated if he’s alone.” His mother explained.
She nodded and stood next to him. Almost immediately, he turned his head to look at her.
“Muh! Muh! Muh!” He tried to say something to her.
“What? I can’t understand!” she told him as she inched closer. His hand found hers, and he clutched it tightly, almost making her wince in pain. His strength surprised her and she squeezed back.
“Muh!” he insisted, his eye never straying from her face. She stood there quietly holding his hand, aware of his father standing behind her.
“Talk to him.” His father said.
“What should I say?” She asked. She had never been at a loss for words before.
“Anything. Tell him about your day, he’ll like that.” His father suggested.
Obediently, she started, “I reached a couple of hours back and came straight to meet you.” No reaction. “I got some stuff for your folks.” She paused. No reaction. She felt like she was talking to a wall. She felt like an idiot, he probably couldn’t even understand what she was saying.
From the corner of her eye, she watched his father leave and then whispered gently into his ear, “I feel silly, I need a reaction, please say something!” To her surprise he started laughing.
 Loud, uncontrolled laughter. His mouth was wide open and his eyes fluttered quickly. His hands moved and his fists started clenching. He seemed to have quite forgotten that he was holding her hand. For a second, she felt scared. He was supposed to be unpredictable now, wasn’t he?
In a jiffy, he released the hold on her hand and his head fell back to the pillow. “Muh.” He said.
Desperation clawed at her and she held his hand once again, “Tell me you remember me! Tell me!” She cried, her voice half muffled with emotions.
“Mmmmmmmh!” he said again. 

She rubbed her eyes lightly. What had she expected anyway? When she had decided to visit, his parents had told her in no unclear terms that he was nowhere being normal. That she shouldn't, if she was hoping to see some of the old him. That if she was looking for closure, she wasn't going to find any.
But still, despite all odds, she had hoped against hope. Allowed herself to revisit old emotions and now it seemed like there was no escaping it, she could feel the wet trail of tears dripping down her chin as she resigned herself to the immense sadness she felt. 
Regret for the loss of years of happiness that she had spent with him. The fond memories, filled her with sadness. 
The man she had once loved had been reduced to this.. this figure.. in front of her..

Monday, October 17, 2011

Once Upon A Dream - 1

“Are you ready?” His mother asked.
She wringed her hands, she wasn’t ready. “Yes.” She nodded.
“Don’t be nervous.” His father instructed. How had he known? Maybe, his father was as intuitive as he had been.
She nodded again, her speech abandoning her temporarily.
She pushed the door open and there he was, sitting on the bed. Physically, he looked well but she knew what was hidden under the smiles and the normalcy.
 “Hi!” she said, forcing a cheerfulness that she didn’t feel. It was hard not to look away from him. She was afraid her face would betray pity. Carefully hiding her face from his parents, she said again, “Hi!”
She could hear some sound come from him, slow and painful. “Muhh..” he said, struggling to look at her, trying to turn his face so that his good eye could look at her.
“Remember me?” She asked, feeling a hopelessness that welled her eyes with tears.
She wished he would shout out “I remember you!”, but all he could say was “Muh!”
He could see her moving away from him, almost recoiling with sympathy.
“Mmmmh!!!” he struggled more vehemently.
She turned away, after ten years, all he could manage was “Mhhh!” She couldn’t understand what he meant.
“Don’t you remember her?” his mom asked, looking at her son with utmost tenderness.  She held his face lightly so that he could focus.
“Muh!” he repeated.
“He remembers you..” His mother reassured her but how could his mother know for sure? Maybe it was just something he said all the time. It didn’t have to mean anything.
She feigned politeness and sat in front of him as his mother fed him slowly. Breaking pieces of chappatis into small bits so he didn’t have to chew too much.
Maybe I shouldn’t have come, she thought, I don’t have the strength to face this.
She admired his parents for the brave face they put on, but honestly, they were doing such a good job of it. The laughter, the smiles, the easy flowing jokes, it was all genuine. Some people were just blessed with the strength of a thousand elephants. His family was one of them.
She had heard that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Never imagined that she would get to see it. She kept her distance from him, just looking at him was upsetting her. She could only imagine how his parents dealt with it every day. Maybe with time, the hurt and the disbelief had diminished.

Once Upon A Dream - Introduction

Sometimes, the briefest of encounters can leave you with the greatest of lessons. Some lessons teach you patience, some kindness and some just make you understand that there's more to life than materialistic goods and superficial joys.
This one is going to be incredibly short and even as I write it, I know I have not done justice to it and the incident behind it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 27 - The End

I know there are many who like to skip the drama and just get on with it. But honestly, what’s life without a big dollop of drama thrown in to add that little hint of zest. So I thoroughly enjoyed the chaos that followed. Parents frantically trying to reason with Sona. Samrat’s folks coming down having a serious chat with my folks while Sona and Samrat sat near the sidelines watching the whole show, glee written all over their faces. Truth be told, they were least bothered with what conclusion the parents would arrive at. In that moment, I think they were so involved with each other that they didn’t even care.
 I played my part, the chirpy kid who everybody thinks is too young to understand what’s going on. So I also managed to get a chunk of the gossip before Sona and Samrat. The parents were mighty concerned that this was a phase and they wanted to take things slow.
“They’re so young!” Samrat’s dad had said, echoing my dad’s thoughts. The mothers had nodded in agreement. Of course, there were other serious discussions about the hows, whats and whens but I didn’t need the details. The summary was that there was going to be a long wait before anything happened. At least I would have time to get used to this new person who was hanging around in my room as if it was his.
I eyed him suspiciously as he rummaged through my books.
“Ummm, I would rather you didn’t.” I said primly.
Samrat turned a little, “Sona mentioned you were possessive about them.”
“She did?” I asked, despite myself. Sona spoke about me? Suddenly I wanted to know more. What did Sona really think about me?
Samrat smiled at me, “Oh yeah, she talks about you all the time.”
“She does??” I was stunned. I mean, I know I used to talk about Sona all the time. But that was only because I thought(despite repeated attempted not to) that she was incredible. I wanted to be more like her. Hearing that Sona spoke a lot about me implied that either I annoyed her to no end or that the feeling was reciprocated. And I was really hoping it was the latter.
“Why are you so surprised?” He asked, placing the book he held in his hands, back into the shelf.
“Something I never knew.” I said honestly, “She’s pretty great isn’t she?” I asked Samrat, smiling to myself having recently discovered that my sister didn’t hate me.
“Yes she is.” He said smiling at me. In that split second, I knew I had found someone who shared some of the awe that I felt for Sona.
“What’s going on here?” Sona entered the room, probably realizing that we were talking about something serious.
“Nothing!” I said immediately. Samrat winked at me and repeated after me, “Nothing.”
“That was definitely not nothing!!!” Sona protested. She snapped her fingers at me, “I’ll deal with you later. Samrat, we need you in there.” She pointed at the room where all the “adults” were sitting.
“Okay, let’s go. I’m ready.” He ruffled my hair as he walked past. “Good talking to you kiddo.”
I smiled back at him and then again as he casually took Sona’s hand into hers and guided her into the living room.

I wish I could look into the future and see how it all turned out. But life’s like that right? You take what you get, one day at a time and see how things go. The door shut behind Sona and Samrat and I was left to speculate about the discussions.
Even as all the grownups sat around trying to make sense of what was happening with their kids, I mentally prepared myself to add one more to my family. You know, moved the cousins around a bit, erased some bad feelings and voila I had some space for Samrat. I had a feeling he was going to be around and it didn’t hurt to be prepared. Breaking someone new into the family is an uphill task and I felt bad for the poor boy that he had to deal with my family!
So that was all the jargon up till now, the door has been locked for eternity! I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why I started off a whole rant about my family encompassing firmly around my sister. Maybe the people who matter the most are the ones you take for granted. I think we’re all a little guilty of that. I sat around for a long time wondering how this change would impact “the family” and heck! It wasn’t even me getting hitched! I mean, we were as close knit as possibly could be without being creepy. No wonder Sona had decided to come clean. It was important that we all got along.

As the door opened a little and everybody started stepping out, I found myself praying a little. A little that everything turned out well. A little that we could be one happy team, My family and I and hopefully +1

Friday, October 7, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 26

Once dinner was over, I rushed to the room and threw the sheets on to Sona’s bed and landed on the bed just as Sona walked in. She made a face at me as she started folding the sheet, avoiding my eye.
For a moment, I stayed silent, willing her to say something. She was a hard nut to crack! Finally, I tried some desperate tactics.
“Sona,” I said softly, half nestled under the blanket, “I heard from Samrat. And I think it’s great.” I watched her carefully.
She acted very cool I must say, “Oh yeah, what did he say?”
It was my turn to go on the back foot, “You know” I said ominously.
“He told you?” She asked giving me the suspicious eye.
“Uh huh..Didn’t you see us talking??” I said, trying to sound convincing.
“I did. Really, how fake can you get Pinku?” She had a crooked smile on her face.
Desperate to salvage my sinking situation I tried to feign innocence ,“What? I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
She laughed at my predicament, “Just as well, you’re too young to get into such things anyway.”
“Hey! No fair! As if you’re one old maid! Whatever you can talk about, I can talk about it too!” I protested vehemently.
This being the younger had its advantages and disadvantages. I kept fluctuating whether I wanted to be referred to as the youngest one or to be treated as a grown up. I mean being the youngest got me out of trouble most of the time and I was pampered and given the first preference whenever Sona and mum went shopping to pick out stuff.. But on the other hand, I was also coddled, expected to stay out of grown-up stuff, explain to my parents all the time that I was no longer a kid.
Triumphant Sona was walking out, her secret still a secret when I made a last ditch attempt.
“You’re my sister and I don’t know what’s happening in your life.” I said in a soft sad voice and turned over on the bed. When all fails, go in for emotional blackmail.
I closed my eyes but kept a keen ear on Sona’s movements in the room. For the longest time I thought she wasn’t bothered. I was just about to give up when I felt her settle down next to me and tap my leg.
“You are my sister.” She said reluctantly. “And you’re right, you should know what’s up. So.” She paused.
I sat up on the bed, I had never expected emotional blackmail to work on her. Mum maybe. Dad was a sucker for emotional stuff. A few drops of tears and a emotional “Daddy!” was enough to melt my dad. They say that daughters wrap their fathers around their little fingers. Whoever said that, was a very wise daughter.
“So Samrat and I.” Sona started clearing her throat, looking pointedly at her palm.
“Yes? What about you guys!” I asked impatiently. My mum used to say that when God was distributing patience, I was probably hiding behind the barn door.
“Wait! Don’t rush me!” Sona glared at me.
“Sorry,” I apologized meekly. I somehow resisted the urge to shake her hard to make her talk faster.
“So, we’re in love. We want to get married.” She declared calmly and then glanced at me to see my reaction.
I raised one brow, “Really? After one date? What’s wrong with you?” I asked cynically.
“I told you, you are too young to understand! Besides, Samrat and I dated before you joined college you know. We split after 3 years and now..” She sighed wistfully.
I could see why my parents were so freaked. Their daughter, the smart, pretty, intelligent, ambitious daughter was talking about settling down before she even finished graduating.
I wasn’t too impressed with her confession. I had hoped it was something more dramatic than this. “So what did mum and dad say?” I asked, trying to show little interest.
“Flipped a lid.” She said as a matter of fact.
I had to laugh, “Did you expect anything else?”
She smiled back at me, “Actually, mum and dad are much cooler than Samrat’s folks. They blew a gasket.”
“Oh! You’re really serious about this?”
“Are you even listening to what I’m saying? You’re useless!” Sona turned away from me exasperated.
“Sona. You’re way too young!” I spoke putting on my grown up act.
“Legally, I’m old enough.” She said.
“You’re crazy! What’s wrong with you!” I couldn’t believe my sister didn’t have any ambitions or dreams she wanted to fulfill before getting tied down.
She smiled at me, “We’re in love, what can I do?”
I rolled my eyes, “Cut the drama. Mom will shoot you.”
“Yeah, you have a point there. But!!” she said, getting all hyper, “Not like I want to get married tomorrow! I was just declaring my intent.”
“Oh!” I settled back down. Now I was confused. What was all the fuss about then? Not like Sona was planning to do something drastic.
“Yeah, you’d think they’d be happy that I am telling them such things!” Sona exclaimed indignantly.
I suppressed a laugh, “Maybe you just caught them off guard.”
“Hope so. The way they are reacting, it’s almost as though I’m getting married tomorrow. Really, I have some dreams and ambitions of my own!” She shook her head a little as she turned off the lights.
I offered her some advice before sleep claimed me,“This too shall pass dear sister.” 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 25

I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want to assume anything, but let me tell you, my mind was racing like crazy! I tried extracting the information from dad, but I think he was on to me now. After failed attempts of trying to distract me, dad picked up his briefcase and walked out of the house.
“I think I’ll just go to office and spend an extra hour there.” He said as he walked out. I could tell he was really desperate to avoid me. I didn’t have the guts to ask my mum. She would just accuse me of nosing around. But was I ready to ask Sona directly? Actually it depended on her mood. As I thought, an idea started formulating in my head.
Maybe, I could get her to volunteer stuff to me. I just needed to be a little careful and smart. If she caught on to my act, she would probably crucify me. But hey! What’s life without a few little risks.
I decided to put my plan into action after college hours. I was going to take advantage of Sona’s curious nature and supreme ego.
I got ready and pushed to college without arousing any suspicions. My room door remained shut.  
A niggling doubt entered my head. What if Sona had decided to stay back at home? All my plans would go down the drain. I prayed feverishly that Sona would come.  Lunch hour came and went and I didn’t spot Sona.
As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one looking for Sona. Samrat caught my eye in the crowd and called me over.
“So..” He asked nonchalantly, “Where is your sister?”
“I don’t know.” I replied honestly.
“And did she,” he hesitated a little, “Did she say anything?”
“No.” I said shortly. “She just swooned and collapsed on the bed.”
I looked up to see Samrat’s face but he wasn’t looking at me anymore. I turned around to see what he was looking at and a diabolical smile appeared on my face. Sona!
Time to put my plan into action.

I made a surprised face and turned towards Sona. As though Samrat had told me something shocking. Eyes wide open and mouth O shaped, I grabbed Samrat’s arm and said “Really???”
I was loud enough, ensuring Sona could hear me.
Samrat glanced down at me, a confused expression on his face. “What are you doing?”
I threw my head back and laughed, “That’s brilliant! Wow!”
I saw Sona from the corner of my eye and noticed the line appearing on her forehead like it did when she was confused about something. Plan seemed to be working.
Samrat probably just thought I was mad, but it really didn’t matter.
“Thanks!” I said chirpily and walked away, flashing a brilliant smile at Sona who smiled back hesitantly.

Now there was always a risk that Sona would ask Samrat what all that was about. But knowing Sona, I knew her ego wouldn’t permit her to. And even if she did, I doubted she would believe poor Samrat when he said he had no idea what the conversation with me was about.
Of course Neeta thought I was being an idiot and I should just keep at my dad and eventually he would break. But honestly, there was no challenge in that. Besides, this seemed like fun.

I kept that idiotic smile on my face every time I spotted Sona. I knew she was definitely getting suspicious. Once home, my smile became a little subtle, but by that time Sona was so conscious that she refused to look at me.
Dinner was a quiet affair. Nobody spoke, which was quite unnatural for my family. And to think I was the only one who didn’t know!! The disadvantages of being the youngest!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 24

I stayed up that night, waiting for Sona to come home. I didn’t have to, she had the keys but I just had to know how it had turned out. Of course sleep beckoned and I tried to sleep, getting up every ten minutes to see if Sona was back.
At around 11:30, Sona entered the room. She stumbled around in the darkness trying to touch and feel her way to her cupboard.
“Why don’t you just switch on the lights?” I asked curiously as her leg hit the bed for the umteeth time.
“Oh God! Pinku! You scared me! Why are you awake?”  She switched on the lights making me cringe my eyes.
When I opened my eyes, Sona was in the middle of a swooning twirl. She landed on the bed  and sighed deeply.
“That good huh?” I asked propping myself on my elbows.
She looked at me lazily, “You have nooooooooooooo idea!”
She refused to elaborate further. And I didn’t prod her for details either. I didn’t really see the need to know what all happened. It was enough for me that she had a good time. Anymore information would probably be reserved for her friends where they would dissect and over analyse Samrat’s everyword and come to the same conclusion that I had after one sentence.
Only time would tell.

Sona kept tossing and turning the entire night. I know she was excited, but I really wished  she had taken her excitement to the couch outside! The next morning, both of us were grumpy and red-eyed due to lack of slep.
“What happened to the two of you?” My mum asked as she struggled to wake us up the next morning.
I grumbled and glared at my sister, “She didn’t let me sleep!”
“Pinku make your bed!” My mum ordered me around as she hovered around my sister eyeing her carefully. “So, what happened?” She asked Sona, shooing me out of the room. Very nice, I was being kicked out of my own room.
“At least let me take my stuff.” I protested.
Sona and mum sat around in silence till I picked up my stuff and walked out of the room. Sheesh! Families I tell you!
The door slammed shut once I had walked out. My dad, who was sitting at the dining table reading the paper looked up as I walked by.
“Well don’t you look glamorous today.” he said commenting on my disheveled hair and dark circles.
“Leave me alone, I’ve hardly slept.” I snapped at him, half yawning my way through the sentence.
He laughed a little, “So, do you know this Samrat fellow?”
I picked up my toothbrush and glanced at him suspiciously, “A little. Why do you ask?”
My dad put down his newspaper, “Don’t tell me you don’t know!”
“Don’t know what?” I settled down in front of him, trying to focus.
My dad had this incredulous look of disbelief on his face, “I’m not the last one to know?? This is great!”
“What! What’s going on!! Nobody tells me anything! I’m always the last one!” I vented.
“No, no, I can’t tell you.. ” My dad put up his newspaper to cover his face.
“Dad!!” I pulled it away and observed him critically. Now my dad is terrible with secrets. He can’t keep stuff to himself. At least not with us. The very fact that he was trying to hide it from me, told me it was something serious.
“Is it about Sona?” I asked tentatively. My dad glanced at me with a “I’m never going to tell you” look.
“Is it about Sona and Samrat?” I took his silence as a sign that I was closer to the truth.
“No, no! I’m not saying anything!” My dad got up and started walking away.
“At least tell me whether she’s in trouble?!” I called out after him.
No response.

Sona-Samrat-Parents freaked.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 23

I reached the door and swung it open slowly. Samrat was there, right on time. I gave him a thumbs up sign for his punctuality and for his dressing sense. He was wearing a sober shirt with trousers and some neat looking shoes. He absolutely looked like the kind of guy who parents want to see their daughters with.
He smiled at me nervously. “So? Is she ready?”
I offered him a sympathetic smile, “So is my family.”  I invited him in and laughed as he hesitantly stepped inside.
My mum was all smiles when she saw him, why wouldn’t she. He looked great, he spoke well, seemed well mannered, not to mention well off.
My dad on the other hand, scowled at him. My mum nudged him a little and finally my dad relented. 
He put out his hand formally, “Samrat?”
The visual change in Samrat’s posture was actually quite comical. He sucked in his stomach, straightened his shoulders and wiped his hands against his trousers before shaking hands with my father, “Yes sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you sir.”
Well, clearly he was nervous.
My dad shook his hand and gave him a long hard look as though trying to scare him away. My mum interrupted them, “Hello Samrat, it’s very nice to finally meet you.” She smiled at him warmly, instantly putting him at ease.
“Is Sonam ready?” Despite my mum’s warm smile, it was obvious that Samrat was ready to leave.
“I’m ready, I’m ready!”  Sona came out running, almost tripping in her heels. In that moment, I thought Sona looked just incredible. Her cheeks were stained pink, her eyes bright and luminous, her smile so genuine and heartfelt.
She grabbed Samrat’s hand and raced out of the house before my dad could quiz them further.
“11!! I want you home by 11!!” My dad called out behind them. “And Sona?”
She stopped by the door and glanced at him, wide eyed. “Yes dad?”
He sighed reluctantly, “Have a good time.”
Sona rushed to my dad and gave him a little peck on his cheek and then ran towards the door.

We stood around the room till the door slammed shut. I looked around the room, my mum seemed happy, she was singing this little tune as she made her way into the kitchen. My dad stood there, a sad little expression on his face.
“What’s wrong daddy?” I asked, putting on my cutesy voice which was only reserved for my dad.
He ruffled my hair gently and smiled a little, “Don’t you be in a hurry to grow up!”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 22

I stood outside the room, pacing impatiently as Sona got dressed. This was the thing, no matter whether we respected each other’s fashion sense, we always always needed the other person’s approval.
“So? How do I look?” Sona stepped out of the room and did a little twirl for me. I considered her carefully, “The shoes don’t go?” I suggested.
She glanced at her feet, “Really? Of course they do! You don’t know anything!” She said going back into the room. I shrugged indifferently and settled down on couch, my feet curled under me.
She came out after a little while, with her hair and make up done. She had changed her shoes. I tried to hide the smile on my face as she appeared.
“Not a word.” She threatened but the twinkle in her eye told me she wasn’t serious.
“So, I have one doubt.” I interjected as Sona admired herself in the mirror.
She looked at me with a questioning look and then turned towards the mirror. I took it as my cue, “What are you going to tell ma?” I asked the question which had been plaguing me.
She smiled at me, “The truth of course.”
“Which is?!?!?”
“That Samrat asked me out..” She said casually, as though it was no big deal.
I stared at her blankly, “So you hate him indiscriminately for the longest time ever and then suddenly you are dating?”
She laughed, “Oh well, can’t argue with that.” She smiled at my confused expression, “Don’t worry your little head with such things.”
Before I could argue about the size of my brain and such, dad walked in. He eyed Sona carefully, “Going somewhere?”
I heard Sona breathe in deeply as she turned around to face my dad.
“Ma! Samrat and I are going out!” She declared passionately.
My dad, I must hand it to him, appeared very calm, “Out where?”
“What?” A little confusion was apparent on Sona’s face.
“Where are you going?” my dad asked slowly.
It dawned on me, that maybe dad wasn’t familiar with the lingo “going out.” I tried to butt in, but Sona admonished me with a strict glance.
“Dad, Samrat and I are going out “going out”. Get it?” Sona asked, stressing on the last two words.
“Dad, they’re kind of dating.” I interrupted.
“Oh. Why?” My dad had turned towards my sister.
“Why?” Sona asked visibly confused. “Because we like each other..” Sona said, in an oh-isn’t-it-obvious tone.
My dad made a pained face, “No, I get that, I mean why now? You’re so young! Does your mother know you’re going out with boys?”
Sona burst into peals of laughter, “You’re so cute daddy!”
My dad raised one eyebrow to indicate he wasn’t amused. My mum walked out of the room, “What’s all the commotion?” She asked.
“Did you know your daughter is “going out”?” Dad asked mum, stressing on the going out bit.
“Of course, you look very nice Sona.” She said, brushing a stray strand off Sona’s face which Sona had so deliberately styled.
“No no, she’s not going out. She’s going out get it?” He explained to my mum.
My mum gave my dad the evil eye, “I KNOW!”
“You know?!!?! And you’re letting her? But she’s so young!” My dad stuttered a little.
I watched the whole scene in amazement. I would have thought that mum would blow a gasket and dad would be calming her down. But there she was, my mum patted my dad’s affectionately saying, “She’s 20, an adult. I think she can take care of herself.”
I couldn’t resist, “I’m 17, I can take care of myself too!!”
Odd, I didn’t get the positive reaction I was hoping. In fact, I think I ended up freaking my mum out. “Why? Is there someone?” My asked, forcing a smile on her face but I could tell she was really hoping otherwise.
“Not yet, but you never know. Why does she get to go and I don’t!” I argued.
“You’re younger! 3 more years!” My mum answered. It was her fixed answer for all such queries of mine.
“But you should move with the times!” I said, thinking I was making a very good point.
“What?” Sona had stopped dressing, hair brush in the air and all, “No, not fair! She should wait till she’s twenty too! It’s not fair! She always gets everything that I have to wait for!”
I glared at Sona. “This isn’t about you! Stay out of it!”
“Stop it! Both of you!” My mum physically intervened. “Pinku, we’ll see about you when you have a boy in your life. Sona, get going, I want you home before 11. Okay?”

The doorbell rang, one glance at Sona’s face told me Samrat had arrived.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 21

The sad thing about rumors in college was that you had no idea where it originated and how fast it was spreading. I had assumed, a little nobody like me wouldn’t generate much buzz but I was surprised by the number of heads turning as I walked around the campus.
Of course, I had found it incredibly funny at first. Who could be stupid enough to believe something liked that?
Neeta turned out to be one of them. Her face was flushed with excitement as she came and sat next to me, “You bitch!” she exclaimed, punching me lightly.
“Ouch!” I said, rubbing the affected region with exaggeration, “What was that for?!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked indignantly.
I stared at her, confused. “Tell you what?”
“About Samrat!?!” Neeta threw up her hands, exasperated.
“Oh, what’s the big deal? He just wanted to know how to woo Sona.” I scoffed a little as I remembered his earnest expression.
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Neeta lowered her arms and glanced at me suspiciously, “Aren’t you and Samrat together?”
“What?! What rubbish is that!” I rolled my eyes exasperated, “Really Neeta, why would say that?”
“Ummm, because everybody is talking about it??” She explained.
“Everybody is not stupid like you!” I shook my head. Neeta would believe anything.
She laughed at my reaction, “Oh you na├»ve little thing.” She commented as I picked up my bag and followed her. It was then I saw the heads turning. Consciously I touched my face and hair, was something out of place?
“Now do believe me?” Neeta laughed as she saw my shell shocked expression.
“Do you think Sona believes it too??” I asked Neeta incredulously. Surely, Sona would know it was all some horrible misunderstanding.
Neeta raised a brow thoughtfully. “For your sake, I hope she doesn’t.”
I shut my eyes tightly. What a mess!

Back at home, Sona had reached before me and was sitting at the table with a novel in her arms. I stood a safe distance away from her, wondering whether I should bring up the topic. I cleared my throat trying to attract her attention. She glanced at me with a bored expression on her face and then looked back at her book.
 “Sona?” I asked hesitantly.
“What?” She asked flipping a page.
“Did you hear something today?” I asked casually as I sat down on the chair next to her.
She moved the book a couple inches lower and stared at me with a bemused expression on her face. “What about?”
“Oh nothing!” I said a little too quickly. If she hadn’t heard about it, I didn’t think it would be smart on my part to bring it up. I got up and started walking towards my, oops, our room when Sona stopped me.
“You mean about Samrat?” There was a little twinkle in her eyes and I knew instantly she wasn’t mad at me.
“You’re not mad?” I asked, relief apparent on my face.
 She ruffled my hair fondly, something she hadn’t done in ages. “You’re my little sister, I have to accept you’ll do stupid thing and forgive you.”
I laughed and for a brief moment, contemplated giving her a hug. We weren’t regular sisters who were close to each other, hugging was something we didn’t do very often. Finally, I gave up and put an awkward arm around her. For the longest time, I thought she had frozen still and then I felt her body relax and her hand around my shoulder.

“Oh! My! God!” my mum, who had just walked in, exclaimed. Sona and I separated pretty quickly. My mum however was all touched by the sisterly bonding she had just witnessed. “I should have thought about the room thing years earlier.”

I smirked a little. Sona and I knew it had nothing to do with the room. Maybe we had just grown up a little?

Monday, September 26, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 20

The next day, mum did seem a little surprised by our behavior. She eyed us carefully as we went about our merry ways, laughing. I suspect that she thought we were trying to trick her into letting us move back into separate rooms. Honestly, I won’t deny that the idea hadn’t occurred to us, but for once, Sona and I were content to be civil, even friendly with each other.
For mum and dad, it must have seemed like the lull before the storm. They watched astounded, as I gleefully picked out Sona’s new t-shirt and cut off the price tag.
Sona wasn’t particularly delighted, but hey, I was going to let her cut my DRESS. I was just cutting the price tag.
To tell you the truth, I was slightly worried about what Sona had been talking to mum about. Had she really told mum that she was going on a date? Was my mom really that cool? Or was all that lecture-baazi only reserved for me. I contemplated asking Sona or even mum about it. But then I thought I’ll save that argument till I actually had a boy around.

Neeta and I had settled into our little routine by now. And she wasn’t half bad actually. Once I got past the whole, ooh she’s so pretty phase, I found her to be ridiculously funny, genuinely nice and abnormally normal.
I wouldn’t say we were best of friends yet, but we were certainly getting there.
College was abuzz with activity when we reached. You could tell that whatever music the seniors had to face for the fresher’s party had passed. They were all over the campus, high-fiving each other and laughing loudly.
I spotted Sona in midst of the crowd, her face scrunched up in concentration as she flipped through the book she held in her lap. I had to smile, she looked blissfully unaware of all the mayhem around her. But then, Sona was like that. Give her a book, and she could lose herself in a crowd. After a while, I saw Sona crinkle her nose and glance sideways. I followed her gaze. What I saw made me smile. Samrat.
This whole little act that my sister had put up was for Samrat. I know nobody else could tell, but that distinctive nose-crinkling act had been a dead giveaway. I had seen Sona do it a million times before whenever she was craving attention. Samrat on his part, was gazing at my sister subtly. Anyone not observing him would have missed him turning ever so lightly to smile at her. My sister, responded with a cheeky smile and then hid her face behind the book.
I nudged Neeta, was I the only one who witnessed that? I Sona get up slowly and walk towards Samrat slowly. She was surrounded by her friends and she tried hard to keep her eyes aimed at her feet as she crossed him. But she did brush a hand through her hair, pushing it back, a indecipherable smile on her face. If I was taken in by her, you can only imagine poor Samrat, who seemed mesmerized.
I saw him shake his head and grin widely.
It suddenly struck me that most probably; I was responsible for this display of affection. Had I not tried to save my skin back then, Sona and Samrat would still be at loggerheads. So you see, my selfish act turned out to be not too selfish after all.
Feeling quite pleased with myself I nodded at Samrat who had spotted me in the crowd. Oddly enough, the smile disappeared from his face as he made his way towards me. I shrank away from him and tried to mix with the crowd milling around the stairs, trying to get to class.
I would have assumed that Samrat would be pleased with what had happened, even if I had tried to play a trick on him. The end result was all that matter didn’t it?
“Going somewhere?” Samrat was standing right in front of me.
I glanced around, hoping that he was addressing someone else. No such luck. I looked up at him reluctantly, “Class. I have class.”
“You still have five minutes.” He stood imposingly between me and the stairs. “You can go though.” He told Neeta who glanced at me fleetingly before she made her escape. She was most definitely going off my best friends forever list!!
Samrat waited till the crowd had thinned before he led me by the elbow to a corner.
“So you thought it was pretty funny huh?” He asked, keeping both eyes fixed on me.
“What? No! I don’t know what you’re saying! Sona lied!” I sensed that the words pouring out of my mouth weren’t making much sense, but I was in no position to use my grey cells.
Relief flooded through me as Samrat started laughing at my senseless banter. “Relax, I’m not mad at you.”
“Oh!” I shut up instantly, “Then what’s with the ‘let’s scare the little girl’ act?” I asked indignantly.
“Did I scare you? I’m sorry. I just wanted to ask you something.” He said leaning casually against the wall. I saw some people stare at us as they walked by. I could almost imagine what they were thinking. Either I was being ragged or being hit on.
“Like what?” I eyed him suspiciously. I was wondering why my sister had hated Samrat for so long. He seemed perfectly nice to me. What had he done to piss her off so much?
Samrat lowered his voice and leaned in a little closer as though he was about t o tell me a secret.“I was just wondering if there was any particular cuisine Sona likes. We’re just going out for dinner this weekend and I was just.. you know..” he stopped abruptly as I burst out laughing and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Just make it a little up market and you’ll be fine.” I said, remembering what Sona was planning to wear.
I walked passed him when I remembered another critical point, “And don’t be late!” I advised as I turned around the corner.
“I won’t.” He flashed me a smile and I responded in kind feeling very pleased with my cupid act.

Sadly for me, all my good intentions went down the drain as rumors started doing rounds that I was dating Samrat!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 19

I had a big smile plastered on my face when Sona walked in. Sona didn’t disappoint. She glanced around the room, saw the goodnight  and the sheets folded and turned towards me disbelief written all over her face.
“What do you want Pinkoo?” She asked suspiciously.
“Nothing!” I denied vehemently while my mind calculated furiously whether there was something that I wanted from her.
She peered at my face, “Are you sure?”
I nodded, “Uh huh.”
“That’s too bad, I was feeling a little generous.” She remarked off-handedly as she started getting into bed.
Generous? Golden opportunity! I glanced at her wardrobe, Sona always had some nice stuff in it. Maybe I could borrow something for tomorrow? I just couldn’t get myself to pass on the offer!
“Ummm, there was one thing..” I said hesitantly.
Sona sat up in her bed, “Which is?”
“Something to wear tomorrow?” I shrugged.
I saw her frown a little, “What’s tomorrow?” She asked.
“Nothing.” I declared unceremoniously.
“Then?” she asked curiously.
“You’re feeling generous. I need to take advantage of that.” I smiled at her.
Despite herself she laughed, “Fine, lets put it on the tab okay? Next time you want something, you can use today’s generous feeling.”
Now it was my turn to be suspicious, “Why are you being so nice?”
“I’m just returning the favor.” She said gesturing towards the goodnight and sheets.
“Hmmm..” I considered that as I got into bed. All this niceness in the air was kind of alien for me. I shut my eyes tightly. Hopefully, tomorrow we would be back to normal.
“Pinkoo..” Sona shook me a little. I opened one eye and looked at her. “What?”
“You remember that pink color dress you have?” She asked casually.
I racked my brains, which one was she talking about now?
“The one with the white belt. Remember?” She continued to poke me.
I sighed deeply, “What about it?”
She cleared her throat,“Is it okay if I borrow it?”
So that was it! I took my own sweet time. For the first time EVER, Sona wanted something of mine! Did that mean my tastes in clothing had improved?? Was I really, becoming cool???
“Okay.” I said reluctantly. I kept taking stuff from her, it was only fair that she could take some of mine.
“I want to cut off some part of it too..” I heard Sona say.
I got up in a flash. “What! Why? No way! I love that dress!”
“B..but.. but.. the belt looks so tacky!” Sona said making a puppy face.
“What?!  It looks hot! You have terrible taste!” Cut my dress! No way! I mean! It wasn’t like she was cutting my dress, it was just the belt. But still! Hmmm, was there something in it for me?
“Please Pinkoo!” She pleaded.
I thought about it for a while, “Can I borrow your new clothes?” this was the acid test. Sona never let me touch her new things. Especially the ones she hadn’t even worn once.
“What?! No way! What’s wrong with you?”  She turned away in a huff.
“Oh,” I said mildly disappointed, “You are going to CUT my dress.” I said, emphasising on the “cut”, hoping to make her feel guilty.
She turned around. “Fine. Just this once.”

I have to say, I was kind of taken aback with this sudden desperation to agree to my terms and conditions. I had to ask.
“What’s the dress for?” I said switching off the lights.
Even though there was darkness all around us and Sona had her back to me, I could tell she had a small smile on her face as she said ,“I have a date with Samrat.” 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 18

As you can imagine, I wasn’t too excited about sharing a room with Sona, especially with her in such a mood. But there was no work around, mum just wouldn’t budge.
“It’s either this room or the balcony, take your pick!” She had told me when I had tried to discuss the serious implications of leaving me in Sona’s room for the night.
Dinner was a quiet affair, nobody spoke much. The unsaid tension between Sona and I was killing all the attempts my poor dad was making to liven up the conversation.
Finally he gave up, “I’m going to watch TV.” He declared as he picked up his plate and marched into the living room. I followed silently. I never really understood why we had the “no-tv-while-eating” rule.
Sona and mum stayed put. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have stayed back and eavesdropped. If Sona told mum what had actually happened, I would get double the punishment doled out for lying.
I gobbled up my food quickly. Not only would I interrupt Sona and mum’s conversation, I would also have an opportunity to implement the Goodnight-sheet-folding law.
You see, this was not the first time Sona and I had to share a room. Everytime a relative came over, I was unceremoniously kicked out of my room into Sona’s and for a couple of days, we managed. We formed a number of little rules which helped us to live together without killing each other in the constricted space. One of them involved etching our names on the furniture so that we didn’t confuse which side of the bed was whose. Of course, mum wasn’t too happy about it.
Another one was the goodnight-sheet-folding law. As per the rules, the first person who came in to the room at night, only had to put on the goodnight and toss the bedsheet onto the other person’s bed and the other person had to do the actual job of folding the extra long bed sheet. Don’t ask me why the rule existed, it just did and both Sona and I followed it religiously and it was a BIG deal!
I dashed into the dining room and found Sona and mum deep in conversation. Mum glanced at me and even though she didn’t look like she was angry, she waved with her hand, a little shoo,go away kinds.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t about me. And honestly, Sona did look a little sad. Boy! I hoped it wasn’t because of me. I just wanted to fool around a little and I had gone and got her into trouble. I made my way to the room and hid behind the curtains trying to listen in on the conversation but I couldn’t hear much just some bits and pieces,
Sona: “Just horrid..”
Mum: “Don’t worry.. I’m..nothing.. happens..”
Sona:”Everytime.. Samrat.. Glass..”
 As soon as I heard “glass”I realised it was time for a confession! I snuck out of my hiding place and walked over to the table, my head hanging in shame.
“Ma, Sona didn’t throw the glass thing at me, it was an accident. ” I blurted out quickly before Sona could finish her version and make my confession seem like stale news.
“What????” My mum turned towards me, shocked.
It took a while for the tubelight in my head to go on,“You guys weren’t talking about that were you?”
A small smile had touched Sona’s face as she realised I had just committed a foot-in-the-mouth blunder. “No,” She said slowly, smirking at my misery.
“Pinkoo!” My mom admonsihed, “ You should be ashamed of yourself! Letting your sister take the blame!” I gulped, the impending lecture was bound to end in a punishment. I stole a pleading glance at Sona.
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. Ok fine!  She said in a weird eye contact language that I guess siblings tend to make over the years.
 “Let her be ma, she’s an idiot.” She said to my mum.
My mum considered that, “Yes,” She said slowly, “That she is.”
I turned towards my mum, surprised. Hey! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being called an idiot, if there’s something in it from me.

I felt my sister push me a little, “Now scram before she changes her mind.” She whispered.
I didn’t have to be told twice. I made my escape quietly and swiftly feeling quite happy. My big sister had saved me from getting into trouble. I felt like doing something nice for her.
You guessed right. The little angel I was, I put on the goodnight AND folded the sheets!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 17

I tiptoed inside. Sona was sitting on the bed, with her back towards me.
“Let’s get one thing straight.” She started, “This here is my side of the bed and room. I don’t want any of your stuff in my territory. Get it??” She drew an imaginary line with her hand straight down the middle of the room.
I nodded, half a room was much better than what I had expected.
“Now get out..” she ordered.
“What?! Why?” I protested.
“I need to practice, I can’t do that with someone watching. Out!” She said plugging her guitar into the amplifier.
I didn’t think it would be wise of me to fight for staying there. Sona was good with the guitar, but after a few minutes my head started spinning with all the heavy metal guitaring she used to churn out.
I started to walk out of the room when Sona spoke to me again. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten what you did.” She warned me.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Maybe I could set it right, like, right now.
“Ummm Sona?” I stepped towards her side of the room gingerly.
She saw me moving towards her but made no attempt to take off her headphones, but as my foot crossed over the imaginary divider, she exclaimed, “Hey! What do you think you are doing?”
“Sorry..” I muttered, scrunching up my face.
She took off her headphones and regarded me for the longest time, “Go on..”
I cleared my throat, “I’m sorry about the whole Samrat episode.”
She put aside her guitar and glared at me, “Okay, so what were you trying to do there?”
I ran a nervous hand through my hair, “I don’t know, I was just trying to get out of a tricky situation.”
Sona stood up suddenly, forcing me to back into a corner. “How dare you! Do you know what you did? I should kill you for this!”
“Sona I’m sorry!” I said raising my arm while leaning backwards on the table behind me, anticipating a physical fight.
Unfortunately for me, I lost my balance and went crashing down, grabbing whatever I could to stop my fall. Of all the ruddy things I could grab, my hand hit a glass painting Sona had made. For a moment, I was afraid that it would fall on me. But after seeing the look on Sona’s face after the crash, I found myself wishing that it had!
“Mom!!!” Sona screamed loudly, “She’s already breaking my stuff!” She turned to face me, “I want you out of here, get it?”
Big tears rolled down my eyes as my mum walked in and inspected the sight. She saw me lying on the floor with the glass shattered around me and completely misinterpreted the situation.
“Sona!” My mom exclaimed, aghast. “Are you crazy! She could have been hurt!” My mum rushed to my side. “Are you alright Pinku?”
“Ma, this is all her fault!” Sona stood at the door, refusing to help me.
“That’s it Sona! You’re grounded for a month! No phone calls, no outings. Get it?” My mum said furiously.
“But I didn’t even touch her!” Sona protested.
“I don’t care. I don’t care what happened here, but this is not acceptable. Throwing things at each other? That too glass? U-N-A-C-C-E-P-T-A-B-L-E!!” My mum helped me out of the room.
I know I should have said something, but I wasn’t in the mood to be nice to Sona. She had been particularly nasty to me today. As though it was my fault that we had to share a room! I mean, I knew it was, but it wasn’t intentional.
 In fact, if I may admit it, it felt rather good getting her into trouble. Of course, I wasn’t going to let her be punished for a month, I’m not that evil. Maybe just for a week or two.
“Tell her!” Sona screamed at me as my mum lead me out.
“Sona! Stop harassing your sister! In fact I want you to apologize to her!” My mum pushed me in front of Sona and stood behind us, her arms crossed.
Okay, now mum was overdoing it! I saw the murderous look in Sona’s eyes and retreated immediately, “It wasn’t her fault ma!”
My mum shook her head, “You could learn something from Pinku Sona, she’s still trying to protect you!”
That was the worst thing my mom could have ever said!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 16

Sona kind of erupted into a violent stream of abuses, most of them directed at me. How I had ruined her life and such other stuff. Her wrath soon turned towards my mum, but that didn’t last too long. One glance at my mom’s disapproving face and her angry charge changed into a desperate plea.
“You can’t be serious!”  She said throwing my stuff out.
“Hey!” I protested mildly. I could see this was going to blow up sky high, and I didn’t want to be in the line of fire. I made my voice heard and started picking up my things quietly.
“Ma! Come on! Anything but this!” Sona protested, hurling my clothes at me.
My mum watched in amusement as I scampered around grabbing my clothes.          
“The more you protest, the longer the punishment lasts.” My mum said, effectively stopping Sona in her tracks.
I could see Sona mentally compute the pros and cons of sustaining the fight.
“For how long?” Sona asked suspiciously, temporarily suspending her chucking activities.
My mum shrugged, “A month, two maybe. I haven’t really decided. But, it’s going to last till both of you start behaving like sisters.”
“What!?” I exclaimed despite myself. “That’s never going to happen!” I could see my future college life go down the drain. No sleepovers, no late night phone conversations, no late night texting! And I think I could safely cross out sneaking out at nights.
“Well, then you’re going to share a room forever.” My mum said simply.
“This isn’t fair! Dad!!!!” My sister stormed into my parent’s room.  I shook my head, that road was going to lead nowhere.
And I was right. Five minutes later, Sona walked out, shoulders slumped. “I hate you!” She screamed at me as she walked into what was now going to be our room and slammed the door shut.
“I hate you too!!” I yelled back.
I saw my mum cross her arms and shake her head negatively. Most probably our little stunt here had just convinced my mum that the punishment that she had doled out for us was justified.
To salvage a rapidly crumbling situation I screamed out, “But you’re still my sister so I love you!” I turned around and but on my best fake smile.
My mum smiled back, “Not enough sweetie,” She said ruffling my hair, “Not nearly enough.”

I sighed deeply and picked up my meager belongings which had been unceremoniously dumped outside. I gulped, opened the door and walked inside.
I had just entered the lion’s den.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 15

Sona and I were on our best behavior the next day. We got up on time, for once we did not fight over who got the bathroom first and cleared up our respective rooms before we stepped out of the house. In our heads, one night of misbehavior could be cancelled out with one morning of a good one. But I was starting to believe it wasn’t the same for mum.
Speaking of mum, she was oddly indifferent to the change in our demeanor which only helped in freaking us out more. Sona and I made an unspoken pact. Until this matter brew over, we would look out for each other. That’s what sisters did right? Save each from their mother’s wrath.
This was actually quite tricky for me this time. Because I knew Sona was mad at me. And she wasn’t above playing tricks on me, despite our desperate situation. Who knew, under the pretext of saving me, she’d make me do something stupid. The last time Sona and I made such a pact, somehow I had got conned into doing all her chores.
Needless to say, I was on my guard.
Back in college, Neeta and I were greeted by some rather good news. Apparently, some other freshers had also come up with the master plan of sneaking out of their houses without informing their parents. But unlike my folks, some parents had picked up the phone and called one of his relatives who was a big shot police officer. Within an hour, cops broke up the party and sent everybody home. All the seniors too got in a whole lot of trouble. I guess the college authority thought there was some kind of mass ragging session happening.
Anyway, I was just glad that Sona had turned up and forced us to leave.  I’m sure we missed a bucket load of trouble.
For a change the seniors vs freshers ratio on the ground was better than the usual 10:1. So, all in all, college was relatively quiet. The anticipation of what was going to happen to me once I was back home, however was just too much to bear.
I reached home before Sona. I couldn’t bear the suspense anymore. Whatever it was that mom was scheming, I’d rather get it over with.. Soon!
My mum just smiled at me as I walked inside. Maybe she had decided to forgive us? After all, we were young and stupid and obviously, obviously we were going to do silly things. She could let this one go by, right?
A little hope surfaced. My mum’s demeanor was way too calm for it to be normal, I should have picked that up. But hope is a cruel emotion, it blinds all rationality. I dropped my guard and smiled back at her.
“College was sooo uneventful today.” I commented, breaking the ice.
“Uh huh..” mum acknowledged as she continued with her chores.
So, how was your day?” I asked, encouraged by the lack of interest my mum was showing.
“Uneventful.. ” my mum commented indifferently.

I shrugged and made my way to my room. I opened the door and instantly a scream escaped my lips.
“Maaaa! Where is my stuff!!! I’ve been robbed.” I scampered out of the room, panic striken. From another corner of my house, I heard Sona scream, “What is all this junk doing in my room!!! Get it out!!! Pinku!! Get your trash out of my room!”

Oh no! she couldn’t have! She wouldn’t have! She shouldn’t have!
I stepped out slowly and faced my mom. The smirk on my mum’s face said it all.. That was our punishment. Sharing a room.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My family and I - Chapter 14

Sona had come on her bike.
“Ummm.. Sona, there are three of us.” I pointed out intelligently.
She ignored me as she put on her helmet. Behind me, Neeta cleared her throat and voiced my concerns, “Ummm, how are we going to go back?”
Sona glared at both of us, “Sit!” She ordered.
“Both of us???” I asked incredulously.
“I don’t have time for this.” Sona started her bike and started to ride away. I didn’t react, I knew Sona wouldn’t leave me and go. Unfortunately, Neeta did not share my confidence. She ran after Sona.. “Stop! Stop! I’m coming too!”
“Neeta!” I didn’t have the guts to disobey Sona alone. After much hesitation I cried, “I’m coming too.”
I tried to make our exit as inconspicuous as possible. I hadn’t dressed up classily to travel “tripps” on a bike. Thinking quick on my feet, I decided to let Neeta sit in the middle, so that I could have some distance from Sona. Of couse, after a while I began to question the smartness of my decision.
Sona made sure that she went over every pothole and every speed breaker. I was beginning to lose sensation in most of my body parts, maybe death would be less painful.
Even after we dropped off Neeta, I preferred to sit scrunched up at the far end of the bike. All I had to do was run back upstairs when Sona stopped and lock myself in my room. I would be safe until morning. Then mom would be around to save my ass. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan.

I prepared myself to jump off the bike as soon as Sona reached the basement. I took a deep breath as we approached the parking area and at the most opportune moment, jumped of the bike. It sort of felt like I had twisted my ankle, but I couldn’t stop now. Sona was already hurling abuses at me. I ran, as fast as my little legs could carry me. I turned around as I reached the house door and made a victory sign with my fingers. It was all over.. At least till tomorrow.
I pushed the door open and all my bravado went down the drain. Mum and dad were waiting in the living room and mum! Boy oh boy! She looked positively livid.
I stopped dead in my tracks. Sona came in behind me, almost crashing into me.
“You!” She started to scream at me when she realized we both weren’t the only ones in the room. She turned around slowly and gasped as she saw mum and dad, “Oh boy!” she muttered.

As it turned out, Sona too had sneaked out of the house. Dad had woken up in the middle of the night and found the main door opened and both his daughters missing. Panic had followed and dad had been close to calling the cops when mum had remembered the fresher’s party.
Sona and I got a lecture spanning two hours from how we had crossed all boundaries this time to how ungrateful we were to how we both were doing miserably in our academics. One thing I had learnt in my 17 years of life was that a mother’s lecture, knew no bounds. It could span any incident, any topic at any time.

After some time Sona and I stopped listening, while my mum kept screaming. My dad, just happy to see both daughters home safely had gone back to bed.
Sona interrupted my mum’s non stop barrage, “Can I just say something? This is all her fault!” Sona pointed at me accusingly..
“Me?!” I put on my innocent face, complete with the big eyes.
“You lied! About going! About some stupid message! How dare you?!” Sona had turned towards me and was spewing anger.
“I wouldn’t have to if you were even a little bit normal!” I retorted.
“Stop it! Stop it! I’ll do the screaming around here!” my mum interjected. “What kind of sisters are you? You are supposed to lookout for each other! Shame on you both!”
I scowled and looked away. I just wanted this night to get over.
Suddenly, a little smile appeared on my mum’s room. I really didn’t like the look of it. it was sinister in a way. I think it meant that she had thought of a punishment.
“Go to your room.” She ordered calmly, still smiling to herself. “Don’t think this discussion is over. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Sona and I glanced at each other. The calm before the storm?