Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Night of Thousand Stars - II

“Saying Happy Diwali to random people - The auto wallah, the bus conductor, the air hostesses, the baggage porter, the bhaji walah, and folks on the street, brings out unexpected happiness and warm response which are totally unmatched by any programed response of glee. Go ahead.. spread the joy.. to all whom I know and to all those whom I don't, Here's wishing you a sparkling Diwali!” – A status message from a very close friend of mine – Thank you Ashu for this thought.

It is Diwali time once again and the third time that I am away from home that too in a row. Not that Diwali at home was any glorious or anything but I was where I was born. I was where I grew up, I was in the city with a glorious past, where people spent millions on showing off their wealth impressing neighbours, inlaws and friends. Where no matter which religion you have faith in, your house does have a made in china lighting on Diwali day. Anyways folks as I rewind my memory cells to the glorious years of the past, I sit down once again to bring you another story. A story about Diwali; a story about happiness and joy. A story about the night of a thousand stars.

It is the night before Diwali and I felt that life has completed one full circle.Sitting at the airport lounge I remembered how great last Diwali was. It was a Saturday and her scent post bath was enchanting. She stood there in wet hair folding her hands in front of the little mandir in my room. Dressed in an impeccable white salwar kurta she looked nothing short of an angel. Her earrings sparkled against the flouroscent lights of my room. She murmured vedic chants as I watched her. Life is going to be so wonderful with her, I thought.
“lets go my lazy boy, its time you take a bath.”, she said. “Do I have to, it’s a holiday for god’s sake.”, I replied. Well my name is Akhil and she is Isha, my love interest. We have been together for the last two years and are supposed to marry next year. Anyways this is the first time we are celebrating Diwali together as I have flown down to home and would be spending some precious moments with her. Life has been a rollercoaster for the last two years with me shifting to Kolkata while Isha still working at Delhi. Long distance is never easy but still we did try our best to make it work.
We were to go around the city in the car Isha bought recently finishing our last minute shopping before we hit back to our places for the Puja. It was 11 already and Isha was shouting at her peak to make me get out of my bed. Soon after my bath and a meager breakfast I was forcefully dumped into the car and driven away to the busiest shopping arcade in central Delhi. After that it was three hours of “Ooh, do you like this?”, “Do I look fat in this ?”, “Is this better or the one that is there?”. We finally made through and ended up in the Mcdonalds just outside a British era cinema hall chomping on our burgers and sipping our colas.
“I am so happy that you are here this Diwali. I so wanted to spend time with you.”, Isha murmured as our eyes crossed. “I know that baby, I wanted this too. Its been so long that I am away. Even mom wants me to shift back soon and I have been trying really hard to do something about it.”, I replied. “You know, I was thinking if you could shift to Kolkata, this could be pretty easy for us. No parental pressure, no time restrictions and all the time to ourselves.”, I added. “I know but you know my problems. I cant just move like this. My grandmother needs me.”, She replied. “OK, let’s forget it, I just want to spend these four days in the best way.”I replied as I gathered all the bags and stood up to leave. It was already three and I wanted to show Isha the gift I got for her before we went to our places for the puja. As we drove to south Delhi’s greens I asked Isha to take a detour. It was fun being the navigator for a change and driving her mad. We drove into a posh apartment complex and I asked her to park and wait in the car as I walked to the elevator. I asked her to bring a box kept on the backseat in the car after she gets my call to flat 2125. She agrees and waits while she puts her Ipod on and listens to the Eagles.
The bell inside the flat rang and I opened the door to find her all hush hush standing to surprise someone inside but instead she got the biggest surprise of her life. She reads the inscription on the brass name plate “Isha & Akhil Pandey”. “Akku what is this about?”, she walks in and sees the drawing room filled with balloons and decorations and a big banner saying WELCOME HOME ISHA. She was awestruck as she saw each room. I had bought that flat recently on installment post my promotion and it was all a surprise for her. “Akku, how the hell did you manage this? This must have costed you a fortune.” “Shush, leave those things to me” as I closed her eyes guiding her to the master bedroom. As I let her open her eyes she found a bed covered with rose petals and teddy bears. I could see a tear rolling down her eye as she hugged me hard and whispered “I love you Akku”. It was to be my most wonderful Diwali ever as she pulled me on to her and her lips enclosed mine. I could feel our sweat roll into each other and rose petals sticking to our naked bodies as we rolled over the bed. After some serious love making , she just held my hand and kissed it over and over again. I pulled her close to me and kissed her back and said,“Happy Diwali Ishu”. It was already 7 in the evening and we were so late. I locked the flat in haste and rolled down the stairs as we held hands. “So, what are your plans for tomorrow?”, she winked as she started the engine. In the next three days, we spent almost all our time together making love, kissing each other, talking and making plans for our future. They were the most wonderful three days of my 27 years of existence.
Life changed so fast after I resumed back at office, the work schedules became hectic as the year end approached and we got less and less time to talk to each other. Meanwhile I was sent over on deputation to Singapore and the time difference started taking the fizz out of our love. She was busy writing certification exams and I did not wish to disturb her most of the time. My family was also having certain problems due to old family feuds which were putting extra stress onto me to change jobs and shift back to home. Isha used to text me now and then and say sweet nothings over the phone as I kept working bursting my keyboard keys. I seldom was able to reciprocate as by the time I used to finish I had nothing in my mind besides a hot shower and a soft bed.
By the time, the new year came I was nothing short of being screwed. My firm was losing money big time and I was on the line to be fired as my team was supposedly made the sacrificial goat. I told this to Isha and somehow in the midst of other issues certain things got to her father. He all of a sudden became very rigid in matters of marriage and announced that Isha will marry me only if I maintain my job and status. In all other cases he will find a suitable groom for her and marry her off before Diwali.
I was in utter shock when Isha gave me the news. I was in a quagmire, no job, no girlfriend, family feuds. “What is happening to me?”, I thought to myself. By the time January was to end I was sent back to India and made to work like a dog. I had no option but to keep quiet and perform otherwise I would be sacked by my firm which had already sacked four of my team members. As I lost sleep, I became more and more irritated and annoyed, Isha used to complain to me about my short temper now and most of the time with her peaking stress levels due to her certification examinations we were fighting almost everyday.
It was 235 AM on a Friday night and I was just preparing to mail my boss, as the phone rang. It was 14th February and I had no idea regarding the date. “Please call me after fifteen minutes”, I shouted. “I have called to tell you that this would be my last call to you”, the voice was rude and harsh. “As you do not wish to talk right now, I would like to tell you that its better that we break up today right now”, she said. “I hope you find peace now Akku.”, she slammed the phone with those words. I never heard her voice again for another five months. I tried calling her several times but she never picked up. I SMSed her to find no replies ever. I called her mom and brother but they never gave me clear replies. During my visit to Delhi, I dropped at her house but to find that she was not there and her father asked me not to come back again.
It was 12th July and a very special day for me. It was her birthday and I thought even as an ex-boyfriend it was my duty to call her and wish her. So I picked up my phone and gave her a ring, to my surprise, she picked up my call. “Happy birthday Ishu. How are you these days?”, I asked. “Thank you very much Akhil, I am doing good. How are you?”she replied. After a three minute conversation, there was an awkward silence and so I bid adieu to Isha and kept the phone down. Meanwhile I got to know from a common friend of ours that she was engaged to be married to a local businessman. I was in utter shock as I tried to revisit the past. So many sweet memories just started to turn sour. I always thought that after a while Isha would come back to me. No longer was my job under threat, no longer was I under the same amount of stress but all of a sudden the news made me realize that she would never be with me again. It was finally over. The year was not going well for me anymore.
Slowly months passed by and I tried to gather myself into my work and my life. I tried dating again but despite everything I did not feel the spark I had with Isha. My mom was getting worried about me and she had started looking for girls for my marriage as I had finally agreed to the fact that I will not fall in love again and am ready for an arranged marriage. I had to fulfill my parents expectations too despite whatever I felt for someone. I was asked to come back home on Diwali as my mom called me up that she had a couple of girls lined up for me to see. I was least interested in them though I wanted to go back home. So here it was, I was standing in the queue to the aircraft on the night before Diwali and within the next 16 hours I was to meet a gal who might be my lawfully wedded wife for a lifetime.
I reached home very tired and went on to the bed straight post my meeting rituals with my parents. I woke up at 9 and saw the whole house was looking brand new with my mom trying to make last minute adjustments. The maybe would be in-laws were to arrive in two hours. I was made to clean up my act and asked to dress up as they were to arrive any moment now. Anyways I was told by my parents that the girl’s parents wanted us to meet first and did not want pictures to be exchanged before that. I had weird thoughts about such a request and imagined that the girl may be a squint or something.
We were to meet at our house and then move to our farmhouse a mile away from our place for a lunch my mom was hosting on Diwali day.
It was a weird feeling for me, I know that I would never love this girl who I was about to see. I was already in love and it didn’t matter if she didn’t love me and she was engaged to be married to someone else. I gave my heart and soul to her long back and I would always love her in my heart, but now I had to meet my parents’ expectations. I sat down on my table carelessly browsing through old pictures of us together as the doorbell rang. I stood up and straightened my Kurta to see who came in and moved to the living room. I was in utter shock to see Isha’s parents sitting down with a pundit along with my parents as Isha sat in the corner shying away her eyes from everyone. She never looked prettier in a suit, not even on the last Diwali when we were together. I wasn’t able to gather my strength to talk to her there so asked mom to come in to my room and explain the situation.
It was a destined to be as the businessman who was to marry Isha turned out to be in love with some other gal and refused to marry Isha (well good for them and for us). Isha was already devastated by her father’s decision who was finally convinced by her mom to try and take the matter up with my parents. My parents agreed readily and felt that it would be best for both of us if we get married. Supposedly our horoscopes also matched and we were to get engaged on 25th October 2010 (which was today). All my friends and relatives were to be present at the ceremony and personal invites went from my parents though I was never told of the ceremony. As I gathered up so many things in mind, all of a sudden the would be wife moved in and pinched me. “So, do you wanna get married to me handsome?”, she asked. “Yes, I certainly do.”, I replied.

Prologue
Isha & Akhil got engaged on Diwali day in a small ceremony at their farmhouse. Both of them looked very happy throughout the ceremony but by the time it was five in the evening both love birds were no where to be seen. Later a neighbor at Akhil’s new flat saw the name plate which was removed a while ago back on the door and the car was seen to be parked in the allotted parking. Looks like they had a Diwali to celebrate together. Happy Diwali

5 comments:

Ritika Gupta said...

:) Destiny!! Awesome read..

Anonymous said...

a silhouette of luv... ultimate!!!

Rajat said...

Lucky Ones

Anonymous said...

Hope every1 could be as lucky as this.. for most of us life doesn't come so easy !!

Abhishek/ Ethan/ Luke/empror001 said...

@ritika: thanks a lot...more to come

@rajat & anonymous: yes dey r lucky. i knw a lot of ppl who werent so lucky. anyways i am an optimist, i try to but can never write sad endings.

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