Friday, June 28, 2013

What Goes Around.....

Sanjay paced up and down, his face grim and his brain working overtime. How did I get myself into this mess? What should I do now? Thoughts such as these flew in and out of his mind. The 'mess' that he is alluding to, is something that would normally be a cause for celebration. And yet, the very thought of it filled him with dread. The thought, that he was going to get married in three days.

It had been just like any other love story. Sanjay had met Anita in college. He was then in his first year, a time when you are considered 'cool' if you are dating someone.Several factors, including peer pressure, led them into a relationship.

 They started with the night-call phone tariff plans and cheap early morning movie tickets. Gradually, they moved on to fancy restaurants and picnic trips. They enjoyed every minute of each others company. Anita seemed to be smitten and went head over heels for him. Sanjay, however, remained at level one. His feelings for Anita hadn't grown a bit, and he still saw the whole thing as a college-only gig.

Time flew by and their college life came to a close. Anita was seriously in love with him, and Sanjay was searching for ways to break it off with her. But, he could not muster up enough courage to confront her. Things went from bad to worse, when they got job placements in the same city. Anita was thrilled to bits, Sanjay simply cursed his luck.

A couple of years went by. Sanjay was hoping she will get the hint eventually. To his horror, she asked him to marry her. Tongue-tied and stunned, he could barely utter a word. Anita seemed to take this as a 'yes' and jumped with joy. Thus started the wedding preparations and Sanjay's misery.

And now, with just three days to go, he could not stand it any longer. He had to do something about it. Marriage is serious business. He would not only be ruining his own life, but Anita's life as well. No, enough is enough, he had to get to get his life on track. 'I will call her right away, meet her some place, and tell her the truth', he thought fiercely.

Just as he was about to convert his thoughts into action, his phone rang. It was Anita's father:


'Hello, Sanjay! Anita is missing, and I can't find her anywhere!'

'What?! Where did she go?'

'She went out with her friends to do some last minute shopping. It has been over five hours now. Her phone is switched off, and I cannot reach any of her friends! Oh, I don't know what to do!'

'Uncle, relax. I know where she goes for shopping. I will go out and look for her. I will keep you updated.'

Sanjay disconnected the call and rushed out with his car keys. He tried to call Anita and her friends, but their phones were switched off. Panic gripped him as he drove towards Anita's favorite shopping mall. He rushed inside and searched the entire place. She was nowhere to be seen. Neither were any of her friends. He then drove to a few other locations where she might be. No luck.

Unrestrained fear coursed through his veins. Where could she be? What had happened to her? His mind went blank. Bad thoughts kept flowing in. Delhi has a notorious history of being unsafe for women. He could not help but fear the worst.

And then it hit him. Guilt. He was about to marry a girl who loved him and cared about him a lot, and all he had thought about was how he was going to break it off with her. How stupid can one person be? How could he not realize that she had always be the one? What if something bad had happened to her, and he would never see her again? He could not bear the thought. He realized that his feelings for her had always been genuine. He had been a blind fool all his life. A coward.

He rushed home and prayed to God: 'Oh God, please let her be safe. I know I do not deserve someone like her. I have been a complete idiot and could not see the obvious. I promise to marry her, love her and take care of her, always. Please let her be safe, God!'

His prayers were disturbed by his mother calling out his name. He went down and saw his mother holding a piece of paper in her hand.

'This is for you, Sanjay. Some guy came to give it to you. He left before I could invite him inside.'

Sanjay took the piece of paper from her mother and went back to his room. It was a letter. His eyes widened in surprise when he recognized the handwriting. It was Anita's. He started to read:

Dear Sanjay,

I am writing this letter to you out of desperation. I am at my wit's end and don't know what to do. But you deserve to know the truth. So here goes...

I never loved you, Sanjay. Believe me, I tried a lot. I just couldn't. After a while, I gave up trying to love you, and started trying to break off with you. I am basically a coward. I could not tell you face to face. I knew men are afraid of commitment. So, I pretended to get closer, pretended to be serious about us, and pretended to be smitten by you. I honestly thought this would scare you and drive you away. But, you didn't flinch. That is when I realized that you were actually in love with me.

I panicked. Things got worse for me when we got placed in the same city. But I still kept up my act, pretended to be overjoyed. I really thought you would get the hint. But you never did.  Out of sheer desperation, I asked you to marry me. I was sure this would frighten the living daylights out of you and you would run away. But you said yes! I knew then that I was doomed. Oh, why did you love me so much? 

As the D-day grew closer, I thought of ways to get out of this mess. My parents were involved now and I didn't have the courage to tell them that this was all a big lie. See, how much of a coward I am. I am not brave and honest like you.

So today, I decided to run away from home. I know all of you would be worried to death, but I was desperate. Maybe I will come back soon, but right now, I need some time to gather myself. You can tell my parents not to worry about me.

I have ruined your life, and my family's. I know I may never be forgiven, but you had to know the truth. I am sorry I could not love you back. Thank you for always loving me and caring for me.

This is a final goodbye.


To say that Sanjay was stunned would be an understatement. His mind was in a twirl, and he realized the true meaning of the phrase 'what goes around, comes around.'

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Rajiv woke up with a start. It took him a few seconds to get his bearings right. Yes, he was in his bed, safely tucked in. He wiped the few beads of perspiration that hung on to his forehead.

'It was just a bad dream', he assured himself. He tried recalling what had woken him up, but it was only a blurring image of him falling down into an infinite, dark pit. 'I hate nightmares', he cursed.

Catching his breath, he looked outside his window. Early morning sun rays were streaming in,casting an aura of pale orange inside his small room. Realizing that sleep now was a distant possibility, Rajiv slowly got out of bed. He went up to the window and let the cool Nainital breeze calm him down.

'Why don't I wake up early more often?', he said to himself, cherishing the peace and quiet that enveloped him. Soon, hunger invaded his tranquility and he decided and go down and make himself a snack. He quickly got dressed and made his way down the stairs.

 Suddenly, sounds of wailing reached his ears. It seemed to be coming from the kitchen. Loud cries of anguish followed by incessant sobbing.Worried, Rajiv hastened down the stairs and ran to the kitchen. He saw his mother, bent over the counter, her head in her hands, crying loudly and shaking uncontrollably.

Rajiv stood there for a second, stunned. He tried to call out to her, but no sound came out from his mouth. Finally, he managed to get his speech back, and shouted, 'Maa! What happened?'

His mother continued to cry, almost choking on her tears. Rajiv called out to her again. Suddenly, his mother rushed from the kitchen and ran upstairs. Dumbfounded, Rajiv followed. She went up to her bedroom and slammed the door shut.

Rajiv banged on the door with all his might, begging his mother to let him in and tell him what the hell was going on. He could hear her cry inside, but she did not come out or let him in.  Rajiv felt his breath becoming labored, panic occupying each and every pore in his body. He tried to calm himself, forcing his mind to think logically. What could have happened to her? Why won't she tell me? Is it something I have done? Have I shamed her in some way? His mind was in a frenzy.

Out of all these confused thoughts, one stood out clearly. Dad! It was six in the morning. He had to be home. He went looking for him, calling out, screaming. No response. He searched the whole house. His father was not there. He felt real fear for the first time in his life. Where is Dad? Where could he have gone so early in the morning? Is he alright? Has something happened to him? Is that why Maa is crying?

He simply had no answers. He dashed out of his house, trying to think of the next step. The neighbors! He went over and rang the bell. Nobody came to answer the door. He tried again and again, but to no avail. He felt sick. Where is everybody?

Unsure of what to do next, he thought of calling the police. He went back home, and dialed 100. No one answered his phone! Where is the police when you need them! He could still hear his mother sobbing in the bedroom. He felt sure something really bad had happened to his father. But what? It was only yesterday that they had gone trekking, having a great time, laughing away to glory. All that seemed ages away now.

'I will call Sujit, he can help!', he said to himself. Sujit was his best friend. He surely won't mind if he called him so early. He picked up the landline and realized he could not remember Sujit's phone number. He frantically looked for his mobile phone, but could not find it. Where did it go? He searched all over, but it was nowhere to be seen. 'I lost my mobile?', the usually careful Rajiv was shell-shocked.

He ran out of his house and started running towards Sujit's place. It was across the Naini lake, so he had to go the entire way around the beautiful lake. Physically and mentally exhausted, he reached Sujit's house. To his horror and dismay, he found it locked! He felt as if the world was against him. His legs felt heavy and he sat down on the porch. His head was spinning, terrible thoughts clouding his brain.

'I better go home and check on Maa, only she can tell me what is happening'. He dragged himself home, feeling sicker every second. To his utter disbelief, he found the front door of his house open! He was sure he had closed it while going out. He rushed to his parent's bedroom, and was about to bang the door, when he heard voices inside.

'Please try to calm down, darling. You have to be strong!'

It was his Dad's voice. Relief came flooding into him and he felt himself drop to the floor, overcome and overburdened with emotions. His father was okay! He could still hear Maa crying. He heard his father's voice again.

'I went to the spot. There are no new updates. I am losing hope now. We should go ahead.'

Go ahead? Updates? What spot? Rajiv was confused. But, what he heard next stung like a thousand knives. It was his mother speaking now. She was shouting.

'Go ahead? How can we? You want us to have our own son's funeral without his body? I will not accept that! I will go there myself, where he fell! I will search for him myself! My God, why did you do this! He was right with us, laughing. Oh, he enjoyed trekking so much! And you took him away from us!'

And it all came crashing down for Rajiv. It all made sense now. His nightmare. Waking up. Images of him falling. Nobody acknowledging his presence. Yes, it all made sense now.

And with a sense of impeding doom, he realized what he had woken up from was not a nightmare. His nightmare had only just begun.