LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART VII

Samarth and Disha were absolutely quiet in the car as he drove her to drop at her place. He knows very well how she behaves when she is confused, annoyed, and upset. So, he allowed that space where she can stay calm for some time before finding herself again and solve her own problem, walking out of her dilemma. He grew up with her and there’s no one apart from him who knows her so well. And it was so beautiful that they came back in touch with each other once again after they were detached for a few years.

Good Night, Dish…And take care…” He said as he stopped the car at her apartment gate.

Uhmm” She nodded, looking at him once with a grumpy face, and waved her hand with a wry smile on her face before disappearing through the gate of the apartment.

Samarth sighed as he drove back to his hotel. He really doesn’t want to return back to his own city, leaving his bestie all alone by herself especially in this state but he can’t help it. He came here for a week to visit her after they got in touch through the dating app. He was one year younger than her and was also unmarried. His parents had already found a match and he had given a green signal to proceed. He is a very different kind of person. He doesn’t believe in being so choosy in regards to judge the character of another human being and accept her in life. He knows that no one is perfect in this world and everyone can strive for perfection if they wish to by God’s strength. It doesn’t mean that he takes marriage lightly. He definitely wants to talk to the girl at a length before diving into an ocean from which he can’t come back afterward.

He was feeling bad that he could not share about himself much with his bestie, Disha, as she was so troubled. She was the priority this time, maybe next time when he visits her again, he will have enough to share about his life with her.

Before ordering his dinner, he messaged Disha, “Sweetheart, I will be leaving tomorrow in the afternoon. I would love it if you see me off at the airport.” He waited for some time before falling asleep after his dinner, but there was no reply from her. It didn’t surprise him as he was aware of her so very well.

There were numerous thoughts that literally choked Disha as she sat there on her couch wondering about things. When she is upset or in dilemma, she pulls herself into a closet where she never allows anyone inside it for some time, but it lasts only for a day maximum. Unfortunately, the timing was not right for her to be in her closet when she was supposed to make use of most of her time spending with her bestie, Samarth while he was about to leave the city.

She didn’t care about her dinner or phone but simply kept thinking about all those little conversations she had with Akash, her prospective life partner, and with Sam, who was the one who knows her inside out for years together. She had no sleep in her eyes that night but all those words of both the persons kept ringing in her ears, making her restless.

What a beautiful soul this guy has!” Samarth remarked as soon as she explained what Akash shared. ‘What made her bestie feel so good about Akash?’ She wondered.

…he TOLD you the truth, much before your marriage…Try to see and understand things from his perspective Disha.Samarth had tried to make her understand, she recalled.

I retreated into a shell. It took me more than 5 years to rebuild my confidence in myself. I felt rejected. I could never trust anyone anymore. That is the reason I didn’t tell you before. I was scared that you might not trust me… Or you may leave me.” Disha remembered how Akash was trying to express his worries, his emotions when he opened up revealing about the traumatic incident that he had to go through. Akash’s worried face flashed in front of Disha’s eyes. ‘He was scared that I may leave him? Poor thing.’ She felt pity for his condition for the first time.

She also remembered what he said last night over the phone when she insisted him to speak out, “I would have if I could have. This is something which I prefer to be shared with you in your physical presence…”. A smile appeared on her face as she thought, ‘so he had the guts to tell the truth, sitting in front of me. He was truthful and definitely has a clear conscience.

One of the factors that shatters marriages is that the partners know quite a bit ‘about’ each other . . . but don’t know each other well.” Disha murmured again to herself when she remembered these words of her darling bestie, Sam. How blessed she is to have him in her life… She thought. ‘He was right, I was worried knowing about Akash and about his past, but I was blind to know and understand the person he is… Sam understood so quickly even without meeting him.’ She thought again and for the first time, she felt a bit calm in her heart.

She tried to close her eyes again, praying in her heart, “Lord, counsel me tonight. Have a little conversation with me in my sleep, so that I can make the right decision about Akash. Amen!

Disha fell asleep really late that night, but she was at peace. All the little conversations that she had for the last two days will definitely help her to take the decision. She will definitely see a ray of hope when she will be awakened in the morning.

Will she go to the airport and share her decision with her bestie, Sam, hugging him tight? Will she try to call or meet Akash tomorrow and try to know him more in a better way and accept him to be united with him?

Well, no one knows about it except Disha herself…

THE END

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART VI

Sam saw a disoriented look on Disha’s face. He let out a sigh and called the waiter, “Hey buddy would you mind if we help in increasing CCD’s business a bit more?” Sam tried to be funny, to lighten the dense atmosphere at that table.

The waiter was confused, “pardon sir! Didn’t get you“.

Can you get us two cold coffees with vanilla ice cream please?  And yes take your own sweet time. So we are not only buying cold coffee but time too. That shall be all for now, thank you.” Sam placed his order which was of course an excuse to sit there longer without being kicked out for table occupancy instead of ordering anything.

Look Disha we need to talk” Sam turned his attention towards his sweet, confused, fuming friend.

But Disha was not in a mood to listen as she found the entire scenario difficult and to worsen things, in her mind of course Sam had said a word upon hers. “Sam if it’s about Akash then excuse me, I don’t want to listen to anything, at least right now. I need time,” gruntled Disha.

Sam chuckled a bit, nudged his head, and continued, “Forget Akash for a minute. It’s about Chetan“.

What about Chetan” puzzled Disha asked.

Oh, that means you remember him, even to this day I feel you shouldn’t have done to him what you have done. He loved you ardently. Not only that you reciprocated, but got him in a legal soup. I feel for him.” Sam just ruffled pages from the past.

Chetan was one of the school friends, who with the passing time nursed feelings for Disha. They were just friends, that’s what Disha thought. As time passed he was obsessed with her. When finally one day he poured out his heart and consequently turned down by Disha he simply couldn’t take it. In the want of being accepted, persuasion followed by stalking happened. A sweet friend now turned into a psychopath scared Disha enormously. She informed her parents and the cops entered the scene to solve the issue.

Disha was furious now, “how on earth you can hold me responsible for that maniac? Suddenly you are sounding like my distant aunts who pinpointed my character and nature for his insanity. Where this is coming from? Tell me what’s my FAULT?” Her face was like amber on fire.

The silent Sam was now in action with his usual calm demeanor, “you spoke it yourself. First of all, I am sorry for my regressive remark. You are no where at fault when it’s about Chetan. And my point is so is Akash. Both the incidents are different when we look at the scenarios but the results are the sameyou and Akash are at the receiving ends, receiving flak and trauma for no Fault of yours. And I want you to think from that perspective. I could have easily said how does one’s past matters but we all know it does in some or other way. But in his case, I don’t even think that an accidental marriage or say charade even qualifies for the tag of Past. Still, he decided to let you know about it, he scored there for me. Now you have to think if he is worthy enough of your admiration or not. Just think“.

The matured Samarth left infuriated Disha lost in deep thoughts…

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART V

It’s ok Disha. Take your time.” Akash comforted her. “My parents also asked me to hide this truth from you as they felt there was no need, but I feel that you must know everything about me if we are going to start our journey together.” 

But you should have told me this before.” Disha mustered her senses and said.

There’s still time for our marriage Disha. I am not afraid to face the consequence now. Whatever will be your decision, will be my luck. Thank you for coming.” Akash stood up to leave.

You want me to drop you? He asked.

No, thanks! I am going to meet a friend of mine from here. I will go on my own.” Disha replied bluntly.

Very well, bye then. I will wait for your reply.” Akash said and left the place.

Disha just nodded and sat there alone for some time. She ordered another coffee and dialed Sam from her mobile.

Hey Dish! What’s cooking?” Sam asked teasingly.

Shut up and just come here,” Disha ordered.

What? Where? What happened?” Sam asked.

How can he do this?” Disha was full of anger.

Dish, just send me your location, I am coming right away,” Samarth said as he grabbed his car keys and dashed outside his house.

Sam was clueless about what had happened. Akash seemed a nice guy, he thought, but who knows what’s going inside one’s mind. Following the GPS directions, Samarth reached CCD in half an hour. He spotted Disha from a distance, who looked worried and was fidgeting with her coffee straw.

As he went to her table, Disha jumped out of her chair and hugged Sam. 

Will you tell me now?” Sam said, holding her hands.

They sat down and Disha narrated everything to Sam.

What a beautiful soul this guy has!” Sam said smiling.

Are you kidding me? He hid such a big thing from me all this while and now just opening up prior a few months before marriage, do you think this is right?” Disha slammed.

At least he TOLD you the truth, much before your marriage. Cards haven’t been published yet; the world doesn’t know that you are getting married.” Sam tried to explain. “He could have never told this to you, but he opened up, against his parents’ wish. Try to see and understand things from his perspective Disha. Put yourself in his shoes and then take a call.”

Disha didn’t expect this reaction from Sam, as mostly he would agree to whatever she used to say. But this time it was different and she was not liking it.

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART IV

No No No… Disha you are not allowed to do that. Don’t start this guessing game. I have really gathered a lot of courage to come face to face to you and share a very painful incident of my past” Said Akash with a grave face.

Disha was really worried. She wanted her little conversations with Akash to start but the look on Akash’s face told her that this was not the direction she was expecting the talks to move in… Anyways she kept silent and gave time to Akash to gather his thoughts.

I have been married before..” blurted out Akash.

What??” Disha started to speak… “Wait let me complete… then I will answer all your questions.” Akash stopped her mid-sentence. She kept mum but there were a lot of questions in her eyes. In our 36 months of relationship, he did not tell me such a big thing about himself.. 

Akash continued…

6 years ago, like any Indian household where the children are of marriageable age, my parents were also looking out for a match for me. Since I didn’t have any girlfriend, I was ok with the way things were moving. After meeting a few prospective matches, I finally met Archana. She was a simple docile girl from a traditional family. There was no reason to say no to her. She seemed like a girl who would fit in our house and my life. My family was going gaga over her. The family background was good and she was qualified. So this seemed like a perfect match.”

Within a month our marriage date was set. I met Archana a few times but always there were her siblings around. We actually didn’t talk much. Most of the time went in the teasing and fun that goes with a grand Indian wedding.”

After a whirlwind of shopping and multiple functions we finally got married. Archana was welcomed into our house with  an open heart. But she was a changed woman the moment she set step into our house.” 

On our first night together she told me that she was in love with another man from a different religion and she had been forced to marry me. She got into this marriage only to get away from her family.” 

She laughed on my face saying that she didn’t understand how I could be such a simpleton and not recognise the red flags during our marriage. Her bags were packed and she left to be with her boyfriend who was waiting for her. And I was left behind flabbergasted. To face my family and the world. I was completely broken after this. The marriage between us got annulled. But I was not the same again. More than my heart my trust was broken. And the world can be very cruel with their taunts.”

Akash continued “I retreated into a shell. It took me more than 5 years to rebuild my confidence in myself. I felt rejected. I could never trust anyone anymore. That is the reason I didn’t tell you before.  I was scared that you might not trust me.. Or you may leave me.” 

Akash was looking at Disha with so many emotions on his face. Disha opened her mouth to say something but the words didn’t come out…

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART III

“Hi Akash, how are you? Was just thinking about you. Tell me, I am all ears” said Disha in a tone that indicated her willingness to dive into her (their) little conversations as suggested by Samarth and agreed by her.

Akash cleared his throat and continued “I am good, thank you. I was thinking if we can meet and talk this weekend” and before he could finish Disha interrupted.

“Meet? Weekend? How? Are you in the city or going to come?” There was a plethora of questions just shot by Disha.

“Hmmm” sighed Akash “yes I am in your city, so thought of meeting you. There’s something really important that I want to share with you and I wouldn’t have got any better chance than this. So would you mind meeting me this Saturday which is just two days away?

Disha tried to persuade him a bit to get a hint of what it could be. “Akash, I can meet you on Saturday but we can talk now as well, I’m good with it. What it is about, you can share with me” exclaimed a little bit intrigued Disha.

“I would have if I could have. This is something which I prefer to be shared with you in your physical presence and since I have the opportunity too I insist to maintain my silence for now, I request no more questions. Thank you for agreeing to meet me. Looking forward for our meeting” said an unfazed Akash.

“Ok, if you say so. See you on Saturday. Good night” Disha signed off after receiving a reciprocation .

For the next two days her mind was occupied by one question – what it could be with multiple answers though playing at the back of her mind. And when mind is in chaos heart yearns for the trusted ally and in Disha’s case it was Sam. She spoke to him at great length, basically listing out what her mind has been proposing to her – family, career – his or mine?, responsibilities – I must tell him that I am a pathetic cook so that his expectations don’t soar high, health – hmmm.. we will sort it out, PAST – and sought his opinion about “what it could be”. A calm Sam though suggested just one thing “let him open up, don’t try to pierce in. Take it as it comes”.

“Would you like to join me on Saturday? His call had made me all the more nervous” Disha asked Sam as she anyways wanted him to meet Akash.

Samarth declined to oblige. “You two are not even a party yet so the third me will not only be a crowd but nuisance. Don’t try to punctuate the conversation without even starting it. It’s not about my judgement of him but your confidence, rather I would say mutual confidence. Let it build. Don’t panic. Go ahead” Sam explained and calmed down somewhat nervous Disha.

Saturday finally here!!! Disha and Akash met at CCD. They exchanged pleasantries. Akash pulled the chair for Disha and acted very gentlemanly. Be it the way he addressed the waiter, or the way he sat, spoke to her without letting his gaze wander, enquired about her family – that was a perfect amalgamation of good ethics and confidence. Order was placed. So as they were waiting for their order to arrive Akash decided to answer the very much awaited question of Disha “what it could be”.

Seems Disha’s intuition was not completely wrong, it is his PAST!!!

“Disha, since we are on the verge of beginning our lives together I want you to know about me in and out” Akash commenced his conversation and was soon interrupted by curious Disha.

Drawing her eyes closer, she spoke out her guess “relationship?”

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART II

Raising his hands off the steering to a few inches high and then bringing them down again, Sam nodded his head with a smile of wordless acknowledgement.

This is precisely what made their friendship special – silent understandings. In fact, it was for this very reason that they could so easily bounce back to the same level of friendship where time and distance had cut them out from each other’s lives years before. No grudges. No complaints. They simply eased themselves into each other’s lives once again and caught up where they had left. Unalloyed friendship!

Taking a sharp but smooth swerve round the corner, Sam brought the car to a halt.

“Remember this place?”, he pointed towards the window on the passenger’s side looking outside, bringing Disha back to the present from her world of jostling thoughts.

“You bet, I do”, said Disha glancing to her left. With gleaming eyes, she opened her side of the door and stepped out.

Turning off the ignition of the engine that was still running, Sam got out too and followed Disha’s trail. She had already started walking towards the familiar spot that she hadn’t visited in years.

“Staying away from one’s homeland is a blessing in disguise. When you return, you value many things more than you did before”, remarked Disha.

“ . . . many things and many people too”, whispered Sam as they both smiled and sauntered down the track.

The light boughs of the thick clusters of casuarina trees swayed gently in the autumn breeze signalling the soon approaching winter. They had left the sweltering heat of the cities behind and were in the outskirts, enveloped by a more favourable weather.

She caught up where she had left a few minutes back.

“When you meet Aakash, I want you to observe every bit about him that I might have ignored. I mean, I have decided to get married to him, but I don’t want to close my eyes to things that might prove to be disastrous later. So, you give me a man’s perspective”, she said thoughtfully.

“Okay buddy, shall we sit by the groves for a while and have you speak out the rest of what is still throttling you from inside? Let me have the honours of uncaging a flummoxed mynah, at least that’s what I see right now”, voiced out Sam with a wink and a grin.

They eased themselves on a sandy turf that had once been familiar to their teeny-tiny feet until they had grown to leave firm impressions and then faded away slowly over time. But remember, the conversation was not about ‘them’. It was about ‘her’.

They sat in absolute silence for some time. There weren’t many people around that day. So, their silent musings spoke aloud to each other.

Disha broke the silence.

“To remain single was a conscious decision I had taken long back. Not that there weren’t any suitors, but just that I didn’t want to consider any. Love – I never was eager to jump into an ocean of romantic love for the sake of it. You know what, many of my college mates thought this to be weird. Had we been in touch during those times, I would have eaten into your time every day with many funny stories. But then here’s my point – I changed my decision! Not because I met Aakash, but because I wanted to give love a chance. And now that I have, I am unsure whether this decision would make me rejoice or regret later in life”, sighed Disha after unburdening her heart.

“Have you shared your thoughts with Aakash?”, asked Sam.

“Nope. We haven’t spoken much about our thoughts. We just keep talking about our future together or sharing brief episodes about our past or discussing present events“, replied Disha.

“Then you should. Since you are in a free choice relationship, you need to voice your thoughts. One of the factors that shatters marriages is that the partners know quite a bit ‘about’ each other . . . but don’t know each other well. I hope you are getting my point. Aakash needs to know who Disha is as a person, what she feels about certain things, what ideologies and principles she holds dear, what she can compromise with and what she wouldn’t at any cost – and so do you need to know about him. Whether you both can put up with each other despite being yourselves, is a decision you can take only after that. It is easy to be drawn into the fluttering feeling of love within one’s heart without getting into the deeper dynamics of life and living together”, said Sam.

“You are so right! I will start having such little conversations with Aakash before I get you to meet him”, said Disha with a sparkle in her eyes as she sprang back to her feet and effortlessly tucked her jet-black hair behind her ears.

This brought an end to their little conversation, the few words which carried deep connotations.

Sam drove Disha to her apartment and bade her good bye before zooming away to a world of his own.

“Hey Disha, there’s something that I want to talk to you about”, came Aakash’s husky voice over the phone that night.

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART I

“Hi, I need to talk,” she said… on the phone.

She needed to talk she said. You know how if a girl says she needs to talk, the guy suddenly goes into instant flashback mode to find out where he might have screwed up. But wait! She said “I need to talk” and not “we need to talk” so this is surely not about him (while all this going on in the background of his mind). 

He smiled and confidently said “sure, I’m here for you anytime”.

Disha and Samarth were close friends, they shared a lot of things that either of them wouldn’t dare to share with their own siblings. If anyone saw them together, they could be easily mistaken for a couple, but only that they weren’t. This isn’t your typical love story. They were friends, good friends, close friends – without benefits. Disha and Sam practically grew up in the same neighborhood but drifted away by time and distance to different states, only to be re-connected on a mutual dating app they both apparently had registered for.

“I’m getting married”, she said, looking straight into Sam’s eyes. Not known to be the best when it came to sudden reactions, he took a sip from the glass of water kept on the table –

“Congratulations.. this is fantastic news….. (seeing her face fall)  no???”

“I’ve been single all my life, the unknown future looms before me, what am I gonna do? It’s not like I never thought of this day but 30 years of being single and now…”

“The fear of the unknown?”

“Yes”

The fear was evident on her face and yet she had only under 10 months to be prepared for it all.

It was time for Sam to pull out his vast knowledge of.. well… mainly internet researched and magazine read articles to be put to good use. He knew it would come in handy someday. He probably imagined himself as some kind of advice-giving expert on some column of some daily newspaper someday, but here he was… he felt he could help – the damsel in distress.

“Let’s go for a drive, I’ll drive” he suggested. He felt that way she could open up more and he’d get a better insight of what was actually going on. So it was decided, Saturday, the day after would be ideal.

There’s something about flying hair through the open car window, even if the temperature is at a high of 35 degrees of heat outside – driving on the expressway between Mumbai and Pune. He wondered if he would be able to concentrate as much. He didn’t need to ask questions or anything, that’s the thing with girls-they just start . . .

“Aakash and I met 36 months ago….” as she narrated her story, it reminded me of a Netflix series he had recently watched, not sure what the name was though… He smiled in between, taking his eyes off the road once every minute, to indicate that he was paying attention to her as well until she said… 

I am not sure if I really love.. love him.. like you know… or I love the idea of him

He smiled. She looked at me. Oops! He realized it was the wrong reaction. He nodded his head and she took that as a signal to carry on.. and went to list on a few more reasons why she thought that she wasn’t quite ready for the next step of her life.

Boy! Could she really talk! It was as if she had come prepared.. ..only this time, she actually HAD come prepared.

If ever there was a time he could use his newly acquired vocabulary and well-articulated language along with the keen sense of understanding, this would be the opportune time to display them.

He was already preparing in his head what to say when she stopped talking, which wasn’t far off, since she was almost out of breath, and sentences were now coming out more in the form of scattered words

“Aakash seems like a wonderful person”, he said… after all its someone who you’ve chosen to be your life partner and that has to count as special right? that said, you aren’t getting married to a stranger but a friend for life, besides if you look at it in the broad sense, it really isn’t about the marriage per se, but being worthy enough to hold your partner’s love for the long term, now that doesn’t sound too difficult? does it? 

She didn’t reply to that, and it wasn’t supposed to be a rhetorical question either. He does like the interaction of some form from time to time. 

She kept staring at the road ahead. She was silent, but it did seem like she was listening… he hoped that she was, because he was in the midst of the best talk he could ever give. He thought he’d throw in a couple of big words in-order to catch her attention, if she might have not been listening…

Expectations, Accountability, Navigation, & Uncertainties… (pausing a couple of seconds after every word) she looked at him and smiled. Okay, so she was listening after all. He wasn’t sure where he was going with that.. but decided to go with the flow anyway.

The expectation from ourselves and others around us, Accountability to a partner 24/7, Navigating closeness, intimacy and intensity, and Uncertainties – of the road ahead together is to be looked at with optimism.

He felt proud, he had come up with something as brilliant as that at the drop of a hat, he decided to drive home the advantage – He continued with a renewed confidence:

As much as we think we’re not good at making the right choice, we are voluntarily or involuntarily being better versions of ourselves, and someone out there is falling in love with us more every single day, in something only they can see in us, that we’d never understand. We’re moving from a solo act to a duet one, and we all know how much more a duet works better when in perfect harmony.

She interrupted “You know… Aakash said the same thing”A duet works better when in perfect harmony.

“What can I say? Brilliant minds do think alike” she playfully punched me…

And out of nowhere, just like in the movies..the radio broke out into our favorite song – a song we had danced to on our annual day at college. It was as if that one song acted as a time capsule, cutting down all the years when were apart and had lost touch – we got right back to being the goofy selves we were back then.

“I want you to meet Aakash, Sam” her face now radiant… or maybe it was just the sun shining through the glass, he tends to dramatize a bit sometimes, but he’ll admit he has never seen her so happy as she was at that particular moment.

“..and thank you”

“Why
thank you?”

“..for all that you were trying to say”