FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE – IV

Can I speak to Sanika?” Atul asked in a stilted tone. He did not want to acknowledge how much the presence of Pranay in Sanika’s room was affecting him. “I know you are worried about Sanika Mr Trihan. I could not wake her up so I called the hotel Doctor to check on her. I am handing over the phone to Dr. Ellie Johnson, you please speak to her.

Hello Doctor how’s my wife? What’s happened to her?” Atul asked. “Mr. Trihan she seems to have taken a high amount of alcohol. She will sleep for at least 10 hours and then have a terrible hangover once she wakes up. Otherwise she is fine. I will advice the hotel staff to give her medicine for the headache.” The doctor assured Atul. Post this talk both Pranay and the doctor left the room.

It was a strange night. Sanika was fast asleep oblivious to the storm of emotions she had unleashed. And sleep was far away from the eyes of both Atul and Pranay as they were both tormented by their own thoughts.

Atul was lying in his bed very worried and confused. What had happened today? Sanika was never such a heavy drinker. Why the hell was she drinking so much in a foreign country.. alone.. Where did she meet Pranay? Why was he in her hotel room? Was there more to it and than what meets the eye. “No!! I must not doubt Sani.. I should wait to speak to her first. She will have some rational explanation for the whole episode.” His head was swarming with questions. He knew he would have to wait for Sanika to be awake to answer them.

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Atul had been through a roller coaster of emotions from worry to anger to relief to jealousy. He did not know what to think anymore now. All he could feel was a growing sense of unease. Like something is gonna change in his life. He wasn’t sure whether he would like the change or not.

On the other end of the world Pranay was lost in his own thoughts. Couple of days ago he had met Sanika in a conference. He was the guest speaker and was on his way to the dias to give his presentation. As soon as he looked towards the  audience he saw her sitting in the front row. The shock was clearly visible on her face. Though Sanika had seen Pranay in  the market the day before, she had brushed it off as an illusion. After all, why and how on earth would Pranay be there – the world is a big place ! But, seeing Pranay walk upto the dais, made her heart stop.

Pranay made supreme effort to control his emotions.. He somehow managed to pull on his professional mask and make the presentation. Thanks to the endless prep he had done for it he could manage the presentation brilliantly.  There was a huge round of applause. He thanked the audience and looked towards Sanika to judge her reaction but she was not there on the seat. Later he looked around for her but she was nowhere to be seen. Through the organizers he came to know the company Sanika was working for and the hotel she was staying in. For the next few days he had been trying to muster courage to go and meet her. But he just couldn’t face her..

Pranay’s thoughts turned towards this evening’s incident. When after office he had headed to the pub for a drink he never expected to see Sanika there. As a matter of fact after the way he had dumped Sanika he never expected to see her at all in his whole life!! He was sitting at the far end of the bar nursing a drink and lost in his own thoughts and problems, when out of nowhere Sanika appeared before him and collapsed near his feet. He was stunned. At first he thought that he must be hallucinating.. Maybe he had too much to drink. But the commotion around him made him realise it was real. Like a automaton he took charge. He told the bartender that he knew her, thanks to the little sleuthing he had done earlier he knew her hotel and company. Then things were easy. The difficult part was talking to Atul. Pranay could well imagine the kind to thoughts that must be coming to Atul’s mind. Thank God he had the presence of mind to call for a doctor. At least Atul would believe the doctor more than him.

Pranay’s mind was battling with another set of questions.. ‘But why, Oh God Why? Why has Sanika appeared in my life now? What sort of a weird turn of fate it is? Is it a sign from God? Has he actually lead Sanika to me? Why am I bumping into her again and again? At this juncture in my life when my divorce from Tanu is almost final? Is God giving me a second chance to right the wrong that I did earlier? Is she also unhappy in her married life?

Meanwhile Sanika was fast asleep.

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A WARM HEART THAT I WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND

Last year when I turned forty I thought and felt old and wise. But then life took such a huge turn in the last one year. Now that I am nearing my forty first birthday I have come to realize that there is a lot that the universe still has to teach me. So then what is the legacy I want to leave behind? I am still learning. I don’t think I have  reached a point where I would be able to inspire others. 

At times I am so unsure about myself. I don’t know what I am doing is right or not. I am not sure whether I have been able to identify the true purpose of my life or not. So again back to the question what will be my legacy. Am I equipped to answer this question?😯

But on second thoughts I realized that the stage will never come when I will feel that now I have accomplished everything in my life and I have a solid legacy to leave behind…. I am sure many successful people will agree with me.

Life they say is unpredictable. Death is never going to give us enough time to prepare a legacy. So our everyday work should be inspiring enough for people to remember us after we are gone.

I would like to think that I would be remembered for being a friend in need. I have strived to help whenever someone has approached me for help. Even If at times it has meant going out of my way. I have been admonished by my close ones many a times because of this habit of mine. They say why do you have to take so much trouble for others especially when a lot of backbiting happens after the help. But this is my nature.  If someone asks I will try to help…

Second thing I think I would want my legacy to be is that I have been a good listener. Many a friends have have shared their problems with me.  Many people have told me that it is easy to share their secrets or stories or issues with me. I guess I inspire some kind of confidence in them that they can share their deep dark secrets with me. And be rest assured they remain only with me.

I think our words, our relationships, memories of the time spent with our family, friends and others, these are what we leave behind us when we die for other to cherish.And I hope, I would be remembered as a shoulder to lean on during times of trouble and a patient listener.

RAISED FROM THE PIT – VI

Arunima and Arnav both were lying on their respective side of the bed pretending to be asleep but actually lost in their own thoughts. Both were re-living their past and planning how to tell the other about it. These were such old bittersweet memories buried so deep inside their hearts that they had not shared it with their spouses also. Bringing them up had caused a huge upheaval in their minds. Arnav wanted to settle his mind first before being in a position to talk to Arunima and face the argument which he was sure was going to follow.

Arunima on the other hand was also thinking with those similar thoughts in her mind. She wanted to tell Arnav all about how her life changed when she was just 4 years old. But now she was a bit wary of Arnav, from last couple of days she was seeing a totally different side of Arnav, one she did not even know existed. It seemed that he was filled up with hatred on the sight of Binoy. There was a certain look on Arnav’s face when he was around Binoy which she did not understand. She felt that she did not know her husband as thoroughly as she thought she did.

Anyways it was time to go to sleep, the way things are tomorrow also would be a long weary day” thought Arnav.

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In the adjacent guest bedroom there was another person who was having difficulty sleeping. Binoy was standing at the window looking at the stars. During his life on the street also watching the stars was very soothing for him. He used to lie on the footpath and gaze at the stars. He knew it was a silly kiddish thought but he always felt his mother was there somewhere in the stars watching him. He felt connected with her under the star lit sky.

Today again he wanted to reach out to his mother. Just a couple of days back when Aru Di had brought him to this house he was ecstatic. This house was such a heavenly place. The bed he was sleeping in was so comfortable. This room was full of books which he always wanted to read. The almirah had so many clothes in it for him. He had never in his life owned so many pairs of trousers.  Aru Di had made sure he had everything he required and more. He had a full meal after ages. He had actually forgotten what the feeling of a full stomach was. He had so much to be thankful for.

But still I can never call this place my own.” thought Binoy. He remembered the conversation between that man Arnav and his sweet Aru Di. “He doesn’t like me. He won’t let me stay here. Why is it that such a sweet Aru Di has such a hard hearted husband” thought Binoy, “Why does he hate me? I have not done anything wrong to him.” All these thoughts were racing in his mind. But so many years on the street had taught him that people did not need a reason to hate street children. “They just did. People always believed the worst about us. Just because we are living on the street and begging or selling things at the traffic signal doesn’t mean we are thieves or cheats. We are also children we too need love!

All three went to sleep fighting the demons within them. Next day was Sunday morning. A lazy morning. But Binoy was up early and he went out for a walk he wanted to clear his head. He had to make some tough decisions. He did not want the only person on this earth who had shown unconditional love to him to suffer. Aru Di should not suffer because of him.

While walking he didn’t realise how he reached the same streets where he used to sell flowers. It was quiet early in the morning the street was deserted. Suddenly a big grubby hand hit him on his back. “Oh! Look who is here! Our Binoy has become a total gentleman.” This was Bablu he knew even before he turned around. The two boys hugged each other. One in a smart jeans and T shirt and the other in dirty grubby clothes. But it didn’t matter to them.

Bablu was his buddy. They had slept on the streets together and talked about their dreams, they had shared their meals and on many days went to sleep empty stomachs. Bablu was the street smart guy. He behaved like a big brother to the naïve Binoy and kept him out of trouble on the street. But Bablu himself was always involved in some or the other street brawl.

They sat down near the lamp post and talked for a long time. After hearing Binoy’s story Bablu suddenly said something that took Binoy by surprise.

They are all the same. Don’t ever trust them. They take us away from the street trying to show how noble they are and how they will love us and make us a part of their family.” Spat out Bablu. “But you know what the truth is? They can never accept us as their own. Look at that guy Arnav. He will convince his wife. Your Aru Di. She will listen to him. After all he is her husband, and throw you out one day” “No this is not true” cried out Binoy. But Bablu kept on speaking “Even if they keep you then you will be a glorified servant in their house. You will end up doing all the house work and they will not even pay you for it.” “Believe me it’s true I have been on the streets for more years than you. I have seen it happen.

If I were you I would go back to the house and at night pick up all the valuables and run away. Make a life for myself. Why shouldn’t we think like this if they are going to treat us like servants anyway?

Binoy was aghast. He got up and started running away from there. Didn’t stop even when Bablu called out to him. “No this wasn’t true. Bablu is mad. He doesn’t know.

And suddenly he stopped in his tracks “What if Bablu is right??

THE INVISIBLE LEASE

Why on earth is his phone switched off?‘ there was panic in my voice. ‘He must be in a meeting.’ said my sister. ‘No he always keeps it on silent mode during meetings doesn’t switch it off.. ‘.’OK then the battery must be dead‘ she came up with another reason and I was quick to shoot it down. ‘It was fully charged in the morning. It’s not possible that it drains off so quickly‘ by now my mind was in a tizzy. I called his secretary who said sir had already left for the day. Now my heart was beating loudly and all sorts of bad thoughts were coming in my mind. This whole episode lasted only 15 minutes and here came my dear hubby smilingly into the house. ‘Why was your phone switched off?’ was my greeting to him. He was taken aback. Actually his phone had fallen down and battery and cover had come off since he was so near to the house he decided to assemble it at home. I realized how our need to be connected all the time is so high we can’t imagine what to do if for some time that connection is lost. 

I don’t know how many times this has happened with you but I am notorious for it. I sent a message to my friend on WhatsApp. And then checked, one tick – ‘Oh OK not delivered yet’. After 10 Mins – double tick, ‘OK great now she will see it’. I double checked her last seen also to understand how much time has lapsed since she was away from her phone. Another 15 minutes pass now when I checked it showed blue ticks. ‘Oh great now she has seen it. But wait she has seen the message then why has she not replied?’ Another 5 minutes pass away and now my thoughts are ‘Why is she ignoring me? After reading the message also she doesn’t have the time to answer me. My God, this lady has become very snobbish these days.‘ Later on I come to know that the phone was in the hands of her 3 year old daughter who was playing some game on the phone and happily clicking on all the notifications also. 

How many times has it happened that when you send a message on the WhatsApp group and after some time check on the info button to see who all have read it. And wonder why they didn’t respond. 

Actually the more we are getting connected the more we are becoming addicted or enslaved by this connectivity. We can’t seem to function without it or exist without it.

Summer vacations are on. And our kids go to their friend’s house to play. Ya! what’s new in this even we used to spend the whole afternoons at each other’s house playing board games. Well the difference is here they all carry their cell phones, the host swtiches on the hotspot to give everyone access to wifi , they log in to an online multi-player game and sit together everyone’s head buried in their respective mobiles playing against each other. Looking at them I wondered whether they were actually more connected by technology or more disconnected. 

But then this is how our life is. I wonder how we as kids managed in the times of landlines and how our parents used to keep a track of us. Nowadays it’s mandatory to give even small children mobile phones to keep a track of them when they go out to play or go to the tuitions etc. Feels like an invisible leash on them. 

I am not trying to portray only the negative part. I love being on WhatsApp. The best part for me is the group chats. When we can talk to family members or friends together. It’s like sitting in one place and chatting. With our busy schedules this becomes a boon.  My sisters and I talk mostly via our WhatsApp group. There is no Compulsion of immediate answer. A topic starts in the morning and each one keeps replying as and when they have time. We end up discussing the same topic till evening. It’s very comfortable for us. We can have long chats also and it doesn’t intrude into our daily routine. The down side to it is if I get a call from her I get worried that it must be some emergency or else she would have just messaged me. 

Facebook is another such frenemy (friend and enemy). I am connected to so many people on fb. Some of whom I haven’t met for 20-25 years. Even though catching up is fun at times I wonder do I really need to be connected with so many people many of them just acquaintances? And most importantly does everyone need to know so many details of my life. 

With so many controversies over the data theft or other privacy issues in news these days we really need to rethink how much of ourselves do we want to share with the world. And how much should we stay connected. It’s OK for the Wi-Fi connection to be lost at times who knows you might just discover some new hobby or something new about our family members. Like we all recently did. My kids were playing a game on the computer, my husband was busy with his laptop and I was admiring the recent vacation pics posted by my friends on Facebook. When Suddenly due to some fault the Wi-Fi stopped working. After a lot fretting and fuming and calling up the internet guys we came to know that we won’t get a connection till evening. Wonder of wonders we survived and actually enjoyed ourselves. Our family of four really connected over a game of Uno. 

COMING OF AGE – V

You did what??” shrieked Aditi. “Are you out of your mind, girl?” Aditi’s eyes were full of incredulous anger. She couldn’t fathom how her best friend who shared everything with her could go out on a blind date all alone that too 30 kilometres away from the city.  “Why didn’t you tell me? I could have come with you. Dumbo don’t you read the newspapers.. molestation, rape cases are like a dime a dozen these days in Delhi. Just the other day there was an eve teasing case in our colony. And you took the car. You don’t even know how to drive properly. What were you thinking girl……

Tanya closed her eyes. She could feel the beginning of a headache. Aditi was talking nonstop. Aditi was the closest she had to a best friend. She had this habit of speaking very fast and nonstop without waiting for an answer when she was angry or excited. And today Aditi seemed very upset.

Well I have given her a big enough reason to get upset” she thought.

Tanya closed her eyes and yesterday’s whole episode flashed in front of her eyes. Just the thought of Sameer made her feel physically ill. How her world of dreams had come crashing down around her.

Here I was thinking I would meet my prince charming or knight in shining armour and look voila whom did I meet the weird Sameer“.

Why oh God why did this happen to me only. Look at all the other girls having such classy boyfriends. And look at my luck, who fell for me? The peon of the college with paan-stained teeth… Eeek…

Are you even listening to me?” asked Aditi.

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This was the second time since yesterday that someone has asked me this question. This whole blind date episode is making me go mad“, thought Tanya.

I said sorry na baba, please stop scolding me you sound exactly like my mother. I know what I did was foolish. But what am I supposed to do with this now?“, Tanya showed her the letter.

Earlier this morning she had come to college very reluctantly. She had no intention to come face to face with Sameer again in her life. From the moment she got down from her father’s car in the parking lot she had this weird feeling that someone was watching her. As though Sameer was lurking around the corner keeping an eye on her. She thought that he must have spied on her every day since she started exchanging the letters with him probably even before that!

The thought sent shivers down her spine.

I will have to be extra careful.” She ensured she was always in a group of friends or classmates lest he sees her alone and tries to talk to her.

She could hardly concentrate on her classes. All the time there was a debate on in her mind. On one hand she thought bravely that the way she had slapped him and shown him that she was not interested in him, he won’t dare to contact her again.

On the other hand all sort of bad thoughts crossed her mind. What if plans to take revenge. Like all the villains in the Bollywood movies do.

God what do I do now!

Anyways by the time the day was coming to an end she had slowly regained her confidence. There was no sign of Sameer anywhere. Maybe she was making too much out of a small episode.

But after the last class when she looked around, all false bravado left her when she saw the dreaded white envelope on the last bench.  Before anyone could see it she picked it up and ran from the class.

She really needed to talk to someone now. This was getting too much to handle. That’s when she called Aditi and poured out yesterday’s events to her.

Even though Aditi was a good friend she had not told her about the white envelopes earlier. Like a fool she thought that talking about it would jinx it.

Coming back to the present, Aditi and Tanya were both looking at the letter.

Tear it, burn it.. Don’t read it” said Aditi.

Yes that’s what I will do.”  She tore it into small bits and threw it into the bin.  Image of the paan-stained smile of Sameer flashed through her mind. She shuddered and prayed that this was the last letter from him.

But this was not to be.

Every day without fail a white envelope would turn up on the last bench. And every day she and Aditi would tear it up unopened and throw it in the bin.

Will this ever end? Tanya thought. Maybe it’s high time she should do something about it.

IDENTIFY THE DRAINS IN YOUR LIFE

Identify the drains in your life

Emotionally: I am done!

Mentally: I am drained!

Spiritually:  I am dead!

Physically: I smile!

Look around you there are so many people going around with a smile plastered on their face but actually they are stuck in an emotionally draining situation. More often than not we don’t even realise that we are stuck in an emotionally draining situation. We just keep going through it till it’s too late.

Take for example the case of Ankita. She was a home maker living a happy life with her husband and two kids. She had a friend Suchita who was unable to have children. Ankita always thought that she was showing empathy to her friend and offering a shoulder to cry on but slowly she realised that Suchita was so full of bitterness, she had issues with her husband, mom-in-law, boss or society in general and after every interaction with her, Ankita herself was emotionally disturbed for a long time. And eventually she ended up fighting with her husband or shouting at her children. The whole atmosphere in her house turned negative. Eventually Ankita had to let go of this emotionally draining friendship. But it took a long time for her to identify the issue.

Sudhir was a manager in a big MNC. When he bagged this new job he thought he had finally made it to the big league. He put his heart and soul into the job and hoped for a good increment and promotions in the coming years. His new boss was a perfectionist. He himself was a workaholic and expected his team to be the same. Office work winding up past midnight. On slightest pretext making the whole team do the work all over again. Shouting, passing negative comments on all team members. All this had become the norm. Sudhir really worked hard to please the new boss with his work but it never happened. He was never satisfied. On the contrary Sudhir started losing confidence in himself. He slowly started believing that he was good for nothing. If he himself was not happy there was an emotional drain on his whole family too. With the help of his family he realised that this emotionally draining job was behind all the unhappiness in his life. Thankfully he left the job before he reached his breaking point.

This happens especially to people who are more sensitive to others emotions. 

The earlier we recognise that we are stuck in an emotionally draining situation like a relationship or a job or school, the easier it is to get out of it. 

So if you feel that suddenly you have 

A lack of zeal of life

A defeatist mental attitude

Bouts of fitful sleep

Creativity and imagination disappearing

Work that routinely excited you has suddenly become too dull to even contemplate

Then you are definitely dealing with emotional stress or emotional drain or emotional exhaustion.

How to get out of this situation? Look around you. 

Identify the cause and try to distance yourself from it. 

Try to put yourself first. You need to start thinking about yourself, find out what makes you happy and pursue your dreams.

You can’t change other people and how they think, but try to change how you react to them and how you communicate with people around you.

Find your strength. Try to break through your limitations.

Identify the drain in your life and try to distance yourself from it.

​THE BUCKET THAT OVERFLOWED…

I am sure I have many embarrassing moments in my life. But when I really got down to writing about them my brain froze. It must be one of those survival tactics of my brain which blocks out all unpleasant memories. Anyways I want to share an embarrassing occasion of my life which might not be very hilarious but it really made me look like a fool.
I was in class XI. And like any other teenager I had a huge stage fright. I had done many dance performances on stage but what really scared me was the mic. Addressing an audience was not my cup of tea.

A debate competition was being organised in our colony. Since the number of kids in my age group were less they we coaxing all of us to take part. I flatly refused. But don’t know why my Dad was keen that I take part. Maybe because he wanted to pull me out of my shell or maybe because he has been so good at these kind of things and he must be hoping that I would follow his footsteps.

Whatever the reason I found my name in the list of participants. I haughtily declared that I won’t put in any extra efforts. I told my Dad that since he has given my name as participant he will have to write the debate for me. My dear Papa helped me prepare. He almost wrote the whole debate for me with some very brilliant points in it. I should have cashed in on this splendid opportunity but I went around behaving like I was doing them a favour by participating.

To cut the long story short. I was finally on the stage. And I almost read through my speech in a monotone. And came back to my seat. “Phew it’s over and done with. Thank God.” And then they announced the question session or something like that where debaters can question or challenge the points raised by other debaters. “Oh My God! Now what is this? No one ever told me about this.” And to my horror one debater got up and challenged a point in my speech. I was supposed to get up and reply. But I didn’t have any clue. “I was not paying attention when I needed to and now I am in a soup.

I got up from my seat went up to the mic and did what any normal teenager does in such a situation. I burst into tears.  That’s what my system does to me. The buckets in my eyes overflow easily and at all the wrong times.

I was mortified, I rushed from the stage. And to add salt to my already wounded ego finally when the prizes were announced I was given the consolation prize.  It felt like they were pacifying a cry-baby. I feel sorry because I must have embarrassed my Dad also after so much hard work that he put in for me. Well! I guess we all have a few moments in our lives that we want either to erase or change. 

(PICTURE CREDIT: GOOGLE INC.)