Tag Archives: short story

Longing to love.

He checked the box for the bracelet the umpteenth time. Another twelve hours and she would be back, by what his mother knew. Some urgent work had cropped up and they had gone over to her mother’s hometown. Again what his mother knew.

As he cleared his bed, to retire for the night, he coaxed himself aloud for not having apologised to her earlier. It had been a week since they had last spoken. He knew she wanted him to take the first step. After all he was the one who insulted her, disappointed her. He hadn’t meant to do it, obviously, but nevertheless he did do it.

“Ego. That is what your problem is, Hiten. You knew you were wrong. Yet, you couldn’t be bothered enough to say a simple sorry! You took it all out on her instead. Moron! Of course, she wouldn’t talk to you,” he chided himself, rolling up his clothes in a ball and dumping them on the chair. Removing his laptop and its charger tangled with the endless earphones, “Make sure you don’t hurt her again. It’s her birthday the day after. Make it her best. You know you love her. She needs to know it too. Enough with your… Ahh! Finally!” he exhaled jubilantly on untangling the wiry mess.

He fell off to sleep thinking about her.

Having snoozed his alarm twice, Hiten woke up only when his mother came to remind him he would be late for office. He told her he was taking the Saturday off. Only when he finally got out of bed, did he realize he had only an hour left before Deepti’s train arrived.

Barely had he awoken, when his mother came in blabbering excitedly, “I just spoke to Gauri bhabhi (referring to Deepti’s mother and their neighbour)

Continue reading Longing to love.

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The Night of the Wedding.

The Pensive Bride

“That is a beautiful wedding dress you’re wearing! Do you need any help?” Sweta came in, asking cheerfully.

“No, you’ve done so much already. Thank you so much! Your entire hotel staff has been very helpful,” gushed the bride, Payal.

“That’s the job, you know,” pat came the reply, knowing fully well that she always gave in more than required for wedding events.

“Oh and thank you for complimenting the saree. I designed it,” Payal said modestly. Softly, she added, looking into the mirror, “Probably one of my last.”

“Why?” Sweta asked, shocked! “It really is none of my business. I am sorry!” she added hastily.

“No, it’s nothing that personal. His parents aren’t really comfortable with my degree in fashion designing, being orthodox and all. So I am not pursuing professionally anymore. But it’s okay. I think I have made peace with it.”

“Payal, I don’t have any right to say this to you. And certainly not on your wedding day, but had I not spoken up during my wedding, I wouldn’t actually be here managing your wedding. I was to get married last year but my would be in-laws weren’t comfortable with a working daughter-in-law. I had nearly agreed to their demand too, but as the wedding came closer I was more and more unsure of the whole compromise. I spoke to my fiance, but unfortunately he didn’t have enough spine to stand up for me. So I took my own stand and here I am. And I can tell you I am not repenting the decision! In fact, my life’s happier today.”

“What do you mean, Sweta? What are you suggesting?!” the bride asked, aghast.

“Simply that you talk to your guy once and if he really loves you and deserves you, he’ll be there to stand by you. Otherwise, you seem to have already made peace with it. Almost. Have you spoken to him about it?”

“Actually, not that seriously, though I have thought about it a lot,” she confessed.

“I think you should talk to him. But only if you want to.”

She immediately picked up the phone and texted her fiance to come over to the bridal room.

“I have called him over. He’s coming in 2 minutes! Can you please stay?” Payal requested.

“Are you sure you want me to?” Sweta asked, going and holding the bride’s hand, and sitting beside her.

The bride simply nodded in return, breathing deeply.

“Everything alright, Payal? Oh hi, Sweta! Your decorations are turning out to be fantastic! I love what your team is doing.” Gaurav smiled, looking at both the ladies.

“I need to talk to you, Gaurav. And Sweta will stay.”

“Okay. Should I be afraid? What is it, Ma’am that seems to be making you so nervous?” Gaurav  asked, perplexed.

“Gaurav, I love you. A lot. And you love me too. I know that. But there is something I want from you before our wedding. I know I am being really silly picking this up now, but it’s important. I have been thinking about it for the past few days.”

“You’re scaring me, baby.”

“Let me complete,” she said cutting him off. “I am passionate about designing. I know I haven’t been successful enough to shut people up yet, but you know if I take those last few steps I can make it through. Your parents do not want me to work, but frankly I cannot see myself sitting at home waiting for you to come back from work everyday. I do not want to disrespect your parents at all or make them feel I am turning their son against them, but this is what defines me, Gaurav. My art. That is why you fell in love with me! Remember? All I am saying is I don’t think I am ready to give up on my career yet. You know, Sweta, wouldn’t have been fulfilling my dream wedding here if she had gone ahead with her own wedding! I admire her. She’s an amazing person. And she’s so happy because she dared to keep up with her passion. I don’t want to give up on my passion, Gaurav. I want to be happy with you and I am afraid if I give up my work I might end up blaming myself for not having had the courage to talk to you about it. That’s it.”

“That’s it? Payal, I never supported my parents’ decision regarding you giving up your work. And I would have to spoken to them if you had told me earlier!  You seemed so okay with it that discussing this never crossed my mind. I would never want you to give up what you love. Come here,” he said, walking up to her to give her a quick hug.

“Thank you so much, Gaurav. Thank you!” she said, feeling so relieved in his arms!

“Umm, can we not ruin the bride’s make-up please?” Sweta said gently, easing her way out of the room.

“Sweta, wait!” Payal said, walking over to her quickly to give her a tight hug. “I cannot thank you enough for what you just did. Now, I can get married carefree! I owe this to you.”

“You don’t owe me anything, Payal. Just promise me you’re going to design my wedding saree!”

“I wouldn’t let you get it designed by anyone else!” Payal mocked shockingly, while the other two laughed heartily.

And today, Sweta, felt like she’d arranged more than just a wedding. She’d supported another woman the same way her mother had supported her. She knew her mother would be the happiest today, had she been around. And, truly, the Heavens did smile down at her.
 
Graciously Yours!

P.S. : I am back! And yes, that’s sketched by me.

The One Night (That) Stands! – Part 3.

Continued …

Gingerly placing her foot on the steps, she landed quietly on the floor. She faced to give him a quick smile but he was looking out into the blackness. “Fine,” is all she thought. She sat opposite to him on the other end of the berth and put her cell on charge. Waiting for it to boot, she started looking in his direction discreetly, choosing to stare at the space beyond him. She folded her legs and brought her knees close to her chest. She made herself comfortable, tilting her head and resting it near the window sill.

​He was reading, sometimes staring at the pitch black interspersed with white blobs. He wanted to speak with her, listen to her voice again, but was wondering how to begin. She was looking beyond him. Her hair tied loosely in plaits, falling on her right shoulder, her glasses on; lost in thoughts she looked adorable, sitting right in front of him. A while later, she started texting constantly. In between, she pulled the window up halfway. The cool breeze blew through those curls and sleep started fluttering in her eyes. He could make out she was tired.

She was tired of talking to her friends and coordinating between them both. In between while waiting for the network to catch up, she kept her phone aside and closed her eyes.

While sleep bewitched her, it eluded him. He realized after a while that she’d fallen asleep with her legs still pulled to her chest, hands crossing her knees and head still tilted. Closing his book, he chose to simply sit and gaze at the face that had captured his attention. Was he dying to get to know her or what?!

Afraid she might catch a cold; he picked her blanket from the upper berth and put it over her. Satisfied, she would be fine, he decided to give sleep a shot.

She yawned and opened her eyes. She was blankly staring at the man sleeping before her. It took her a while to realize what must have happened last night. She straightened her head while her neck muscles cried with searing pain. Blinking sleep out of her eyes, she picked up her cell. It showed 5:56 am. She’d slept through the night on his berth while he must have been awake or terribly uncomfortable while sleeping, at least. She then noticed her blanket draped on her. Pleasantly shocked, a small smile on her face, she admired what she saw. The rising sun never looked so beautiful.

At 6:15 am, her alarm rang out, waking him out of his slumber. While he was still stirring out of his sleep, she sheepishly climbed up her berth again. Her station had almost arrived by the time she assembled everything and made herself presentable again. When she came down again, she noticed, he was ready to move out too.

The train chugged into the platform. They stood side by side, each hoping for the other to begin. Passengers were bustling around them. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. He was looking out at the platform. “I should at least thank him out of gratitude,” she thought. Unable to take it anymore, she closed her eyes, took a really deep breath, exhaled, and before her mind changed itself, she turned to speak to him. But he was rummaging for something, in his backpack, book in hand! As the train came to a halt, two men came up from behind to greet him. Friends, brothers, whatever. She wasn’t interested. She was disappointed. She looked away.

As they led him away, she picked up her suitcase and bag, not wanting to waste anymore time. There was a book lying on the berth. Hastily, she picked it up!

She thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of a smile in her direction, as she saw him out on the platform.

He thought he caught a fleeting glimpse of the book in her hand before he turned away.

On instinct, she opened the book. Scribbled across the first page, was a name and number. Indeed, he did make the first move! And she couldn’t wait to make the next!

THE BEGINNING.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : I cannot wait for criticism (hopefully, constructive!), love, humour and kindness to be showered on the piece. Please tell me if you like it. It’ll encourage me to pen some more of these 🙂

The One Night (That) Stands! – Part 2.

Continued …

“Yes, Ankita. I was having my dinner. I’ll call you back?” she said, staring at the now empty dinner tray lying on the compartment floor.

Puzzled, he sat thinking whether he had deduced her too early!

“Vivaan, hi!”

“All okay between you and Ankita? You again had a fight?”

“Oh! You’re still working? Okay I’ll call later.”

“Yes, I understand because I’m your friend.”

“She’s your girlfriend! You need to make sure she understands, not me!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll talk to her. But you owe me one for this, don’t forget!”

“Yeah right!” she laughed! “Ok bye!”

Heaving a deep sigh, she closed her eyes and laid her head back. She seemed to have dozed off, but she was basically buying time. He looked up at her directly, eyeing the thin lines on her forehead. She was thinking and it showed. She was pleasing to the eyes. He had been observing her. She was travelling alone. In the beginning, she was on alert, especially when she would notice a man or two pass by. The abrupt straightening of her back, eyes watchful, but staring ahead. Then she seemed to mellow down a little but did not drop her guard entirely. So many times, he wanted to go ahead and introduce himself, but he didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot, lest he scared her off. He knew she had seen him, but felt she hadn’t really noticed him.

As if on cue, she opened her eyes, her phone started vibrating and the mom of the kids switched off the light, signalling time to go to bed. As the light from the other compartment fell on her face, she looked even better.

She opened her eyes and they fell on him. The ruffled hair, those black eyes boring into her, as if, reading her thoughts and then hurriedly turning away… She found her fingers trembling to touch that curve set near his lips, when she pulled herself out of the reverie. She admonished herself for the thoughts she was having and stopped herself from talking to him. She didn’t want to look desperate. She waited for him to make the first move.

She answered her phone.

“I was just about to call you,” she said, getting up and swinging the bag on her upper berth. Beautiful, strong, independent, confident, serene…. Such were the words that seemed to cross his mind.

Keeping her call on hold, she placed her cell on the upper berth and climbed up with agility (and grace, he thought). Aware that a certain pair of eyes would follow her, she made sure she didn’t misstep. First the face, then neck, waist and legs vanished, while just the voice remained. That too in hushed tones. He got back to his book. It was a going to be a long night, he felt. Good thing there was a lot of the book left.

He would catch snippets of the conversation. She was trying to calm down some really agonized soul. “Was there no peace in the world?” they thought.

There would be patches of silence in between, where he would read his book and she would thank the inaccessible cell phone networks. In one such phase, he had dozed off, one arm under his head, the other holding the book over his torso, when he awoke to a desperate voice trying to put across the message, “Listen, my phone is really low on charge, it might switch” and the voice trailed off…..

He yawned and switched off his reading light, when his eyes fell on the charging point. Her battery had died. He flicked the light on. She peered down to see him going towards the washrooms. She heard him splash water on the face. “Maybe he has a night stop and doesn’t want to sleep,” she wondered. He came and sat cross legged on his seat taking up the book again. “For someone who had been reading all the while, he hasn’t made substantial progress,” she thought smiling at his reflection in the mirror opposite her, unaware of the slow, deep breaths she was taking.

She saw him look up from his book, in a puzzled manner, after a few moments. Satisfied, she wouldn’t be encroaching; she took her charger out of her sack.

To be continued…

Graciously Yours!

The one night (that) stands! – Part 1.

It’s romantic. It’s pleasant. It’s memorable. It’s about the ageless beauty of love through only the eyes. It’s… The one night (that) stands!

Sitting by the window, she looked out at the scores of green fields rushing by, some with specks of brown and white grazing on them, others ready to be harvested (or so she felt.) As far as her myopic vision allowed, she could see land and huts but no two-legged mortals around. It was hard to imagine the city scrapers and dust and grime were just a half hour away!

The strands of her hair seemed to have a life of her own, with the wind running havoc through it. Every few seconds she would push them down with her slender fingers.

“Uhh!” she muttered as something entered her eyes. She immediately looked away from the window blinking hard and fast! Just then her phone vibrated. Squinting one eye, she started feeling around on the seat to get hold of her cell. She retracted her cell phone from beneath the magazine lying under her rucksack.

Holding up her cell, she saw her friend Ankita’s number flashing.

“Damn,” she cursed. “Hold the line,” she spluttered, dropping the phone trying to get all her hair together, because it was flying in her face since she’d turned away from the train window. She caught a set of eyes staring at her, a bemused look on his face. Momentarily, their eyes locked before she turned hers away. She rolled her hair in a bun and once she was sure it was all secured, picked up her cell.

“Sorry, sorry Ankita. Say.”

“Yes, I got a reservation. Just whiling away my time. Tomorrow at 6:45 am.”

Slightly conscious of a lingering gaze, she looked towards the guy diagonally sitting across. She caught him looking away. She let her eyes wander while she still could.

The bright eyes, the sharp nose, the slight stubble on the chin, the broad shoulders, and the Jhumpa Lahiri in hand were granted more than a lingering gaze.

“Yeah, I’m listening,” she said, tearing her eyes away from her co-passenger.

“No, I don’t know what to say. It’s shocking, really.”

“Yes. Okay.”

“Tonight then.”

She disconnected the call, a relief on her face.

He got up and strode along the length of the corridor of the compartment.

“Lean, well-built, handsome and travelling alone,” she thought, her eyes following his stride.

Too old school to think beyond that, she got back to admiring the orange hues ebbing into the dusk sky, pushing out all other thoughts.

She felt his presence around. She looked away from the window and saw him standing near the other end of the berth. He took off his slippers, sat and started to make himself comfortable.

“What the hell!” she thought, before she realized it was his berth. She had the upper berth. Slightly embarrassed, she crossed her legs and gathered all of her belongings towards her body.

An empty packet of chips lay in the crevice of the seats, fluttering dangerously enough to fly in his face. She kept eyeing it before making a move. Following her gaze, he prised the packet out of the clutches of the folding berths, folded it and tucked it carefully beneath the seat.

He gave her a little smile but she had turned away before that. Or had she?

She picked up a magazine to read while he pored over ‘Lowland’. Every now and then she would steal a glance at him, all the while self imposed precautions airing in her head. She knew better.

Dinner was being served. “It was that late already?” she wondered, glancing at her watch to confirm. There was a family travelling in the same compartment. Watching them have dinner together, the kids bothering each other, the father helping out the mother with disposing the dinner ware away, reminded her of her family and their train journeys together!

Instinctively, a soft smile lingered across her lips.

She was beautiful in an unassuming way, he thought. She seemed to have no airs, and for no apparent reason, he wanted her to be sensible enough and oh so single!

To be continued…

Graciously Yours!