Radha waited for nearly about 15 minutes before the curtains of her eyelids were drawn without her consent and she slipped into the cluster of dreams.
As the alarm buzzed in the morning Radha woke up and instantly she gazed at the laptop screen that she left unattended last night and it read “Your Session Has Expired, Try Again“. In no mood to start the login exercise again and in a hurry to kick start the day she closed the flap and got busy with her chores.
She got ready and Pragya was still on bed tossing and reluctant to get up. Radha “Ms.Lazy aren’t you getting late for the office? Get up” pulling the blanket playfully and irritating Pragya.
“Rads! What’s your problem? I know you are jealous of me because I get that “Extra” moments of bliss and you don’t have any work from home options too. Poor you! This is called living life queen size. I will be at home today, will talk to you in the evening. For now BRB” and then she pulled the blanket and covered her face while her hand stuck out and waved bye to Radha.
Radha smiled and shook her head and said “lucky lazy girl, bye see you in the evening ” and left for the office.
When she reached office, an important meeting was awaiting her. Management of the company planned a year long project and people from different departments were grouped together to work on the same. Radha and Vansh were grouped together along with few other colleagues. As Radha was busy with her work on workstation Vansh came, pulled a chair and sat next to her.
“Hi Radha” he greeted, and she responded cordially.
“So are you ready to walk hand in hand?” Vansh asked in a deep voice gazing at her face. She was startled and fumbled “wh…What?“
“What what? Madam we are in a team now. Finance and Marketing needs to go hand in hand for the success of this project. So I just wanted to be sure if you are all set to embark on this journey or have any second thoughts” Vansh clarified.
Radha clearing her throat and nodding her head in affirmation ” yes of course I am ready“.
“Great then, let’s begin from tomorrow ” Vansh said in a pumped up tone and left.
Radha sighed and rebuked herself “concentrate on work Radha. Don’t read too much between the lines“.
As she was caught up with her work Pragya texted her “let’s dine out today” and soon program was fixed.
But unfortunately it didn’t materialise as planned and the girls settled for a pizza and Netflix.
As Pragya was totally invested in her pizza and Netflix watch, Radha was lost in checking the comment section for her last blog and obviously for that one comment which today just read “Why Not…..” leaving her more confused.
She was restless, could feel butterflies in her stomach thinking about that comment. “What does that mean”, ” what inference shall I draw” and many more What’s and Why’s paraded in her mind before she finally broke her silence and ripped her heart to Pragya.
Pragya responded, “relax girl, must be a internet glitch that the other person couldn’t type beyond Why Not” and they had a Laugh Out Loud moment.
But those bursts of laughter from Radha were just a camouflage her oscillating restless mind.
Vansh was driving his car when suddenly a lady riding a scooty overtook his car. In spite of the heavy traffic, she seemed to be modestly juggling her scooty through the crowd. In order to save his favorite car from getting a scratch, Vansh immediately applied the brakes. The car screeched and came to a sudden halt. However, this sudden jerk, helped Radha make her way back to the real word. Vansh gave a sigh of relief, as he succeeded in saving his car. Vansh gave a quick glance at Radha, to make sure she is fine and he immediately got down from his car.
“Hello Madam,” Vansh shouted sharply. He wanted to show his anger, but since he noticed a lady rider, he kept his cool.
The lady had already turned her scooty in opposite direction. “Sorry, I have to rush, she managed to say urgently.
“Yes, only you have work, as if I spend the entire day playing tic tac toe!” Vansh yelled, literally fuming inside.
“Vansh leave it, we are getting late, let’s go”, Radha said through the window.
Unwillingly, Vansh turned towards his car, and at the same moment, the lady halted and turned. “I’m really sorry”, she said.
Vansh angrily scoffed, “Keep it to yourself!”
“Pragyaaa” screamed Radha from inside the car. But before anyone could speak a word, they had to hurry because of the deafening honking.
“You know her?” asked Vansh sharply.
Radha could still sense anger in his tone. “She is my bff!” Radha replied cheerfully.
“BFF, like seriously”, said Vansh sarcastically.
“Yes, what’s your problem? By the way, what angered you the most that she was about to dash with your favorite car or she got saved from your lecture?” giggled Radha.
Vansh gave her a disgusted look and Radha burst into laughter. Radha managed to cheer up Vansh and finally they reached their office.
Radha was well known for her efficiency. But that day, she could hardly focus on her work. “Pragya is back in town! How come she didn’t inform me? Is everything alright?” her mind was flooded with thoughts. Just as she was settling down on her chair, few notifications caught her attention. “Rads, I had planned to surprise you, but it got spoiled so unexpectedly. Please don’t get mad at me. See ya after office”, Radha smiled as she read the message. “Prags is back! My goodness, what a surprise! Well, I’m glad she is back, I needed her badly as I’m in a vulnerable state now,” Radha murmured to herself.
After office, Radha went straight to her apartment. Just as she was about to open the door, “booooo” shouted Pragya and popped up from behind the door.
“Aaaiiioooo” Radha screamed… “Prags, you literally scared me! You and your pranks ufff! But I’m glad you are back. Prags, I missed you.”
“I missed you too Rads.” Pragya said as they quickly embraced each other in a tight hug.
Radha and Pragya were best buddies. They were meeting after two months. Pragya had been on an official tour and returned that evening. Their friendship is genuine and they adore each other’s company. Radha is an orphan and Pragya has no sibling, so they are basically sisters from different mothers! Radha was more composed as compared to Pragya. Pragya was always the fun-loving person. No matter what the situation was, she always managed to cheer up Radha. Radha was a nerd and on the other hand Pragya was tech-savy. Nevertheless, their friendship was seasoned with their best and their worst phases of life.
Later that evening they ordered their favorite dinner, and they sat down to watch their favorite daily soap. After sometime they retired to their respective beds. Pragya and Radha were room-mates during their college days. And they are still room-mates even though they have different jobs and different work schedules.
“So what did I miss?” asked Pragya.
“Not much. By the way, why were you riding so recklessly today morning? Every time you create a scene! Radha replied grumpily. And all these while Pragya was busy giving humorous facial expressions as a sign for Radha to stop her lecture. “Anyways, how was your day?” Radha asked casually.
“Well should be asking you the same question,” replied Pragya, narrowing her eyes.
“He is my colleague. But works in a different department. I had already told you”, replied Radha.
“Okay, so are you both..?” chuckled Pragya, “Whattt?? Prags stop it!” snipped in Radha. “Okay okay, just kidding” said Pragya.
“Prags, listen I have to tell you something”. Radha became bit serious as she prepared to say something.
“Go on babe, I’m listening”, Pragya said looking at her friend.
Radha narrated the entire “Happygolucky” episode to Pragya. “Hmm, I see. Rads do have any clue if that person is for real or not? And what if he is not a guy, what if it’s a girl who is portraying as a guy?” Pragya said in a worried tone. “Yeah even I was thinking the same. But then see the comments. I was in two minds after reading them” replied Radha. “Rads are you sure you want to get into this again! I mean are you sure you want to invade those territories again, which hurt you the most”, Pragya asked in a serious tone. “I don’t know Prags. I’m not sure. I don’t know what to do about it? Should I confront him?”, Pragya could clearly sense Radha’s dilemma. “Prags I think more mature and emotionally strong this time. But then, part of me feels the feeling is genuine and part of me wants me to stay away from the mess” said Radha in a convincing tone. Just then the doorbell rang. “Ah the old man”, sighed Pragya.
Radha got up and opened the door and there he was the old man. But this time he asked for ice as well as some balm because he had a bad headache. Radha hurried with old man and wished him good night. She immediately hurried inside, but as usual, Pragya had already slept. Radha smiled to herself. Pragya always had this habit of dozing off in between conversations. But she felt relaxed, seeing Pragya back.
She quietly snuggled into her own bed. She was about to switch off her bed lamp that she realized she hasn’t yet checked the comments on her recent post. She immediately grabbed her phone and tried accessing her blog but it didn’t open. She then got up and tried accessing from her laptop. She managed accessing her blog page, but the particular post and comments were still not loading. “Arrgghhh, this network glitch. Its nearly 12am, what can I do now?”, Radha murmured to herself and kept staring at the revolving cursor….
“I slept late last night and accidentally snoozed my morning alarm”, she replied. She recollected herself and said, “I am sorry to just barge in to your car. Thankfully if you wouldn’t have been here, I would have been really late for the office.”
“That’s perfectly fine! Good that I saw you hurrying across your apartment gate.” Vansh said.
“Oh! By the way, how come you are here? And how did you know that I live here?” Radha demanded.
“My cousin lives in the adjacent apartment; I have told this to you earlier also. Don’t you remember when we were discussing about the traffic nuisance in your area because of that upcoming mall?” Vansh asked.
“Oh! Yes. Yes, I remember now,” Radha replied.
“So”, said Vansh, “yesterday, it was my cousin’s birthday and we had a get together at his place. Instead of going back to my home, I preferred to spend the night here only and head for office directly.”
“Great! And I got saved from reaching office late!” Radha said smiling as she tied up her loose tresses into a ponytail which she couldn’t in all this hurry.
She had a beautiful smile. Her colleagues had often complimented her.
Vansh glanced upon her and said, “Thank God you tied your hair, else I would have been cleaning my car for the rest of the day, with all those hairs falling here and there!”
“Excuse me”, Radha couldn’t control her laughter, “I don’t suffer from hair fall.”
Vansh chuckled and increased the volume of the FM Radio and started singing along one of the famous Hindi songs:
Jis raah pe, hai ghar tera
(The street on which your house is there) Aksar wahan se, haan main hoon guzra
(I’ve often passed through that street) Shayad yahin dil mein raha
(Probably this was there in my heart) Tu mujh ko mil jaye, Kya pata…
(That maybe I’ll attain you, who knows) Kya hai yeh silsala
(What is this story) Janu naa, Main janu naa
(I have no clue about that) Dil sambhal ja zara
(O heart, be steady… restrain) Phir mohabbatkarne chala hai tu
(You’re going to fall in love once again)
“Is he hinting on something or am I just thinking too much”, Radha told herself, she couldn’t look into his face while he was singing, so she preferred to gaze outside the window and watch the bustling traffic and the concrete jungle. But her mind was fixed on those lines of the song-‘fir mohabbat karne chala hai tu’. Should she speak up to happygolucky directly or should she just go with the flow or better just forget about falling in love again. She was again lost in the web of her thoughts when suddenly she felt a jerk.
13 years ago, I was in love. I adored him. But, he broke my my heart. No, he didn’t cheat on me. He deceived me. Well, more than a decade has gone by. And, I’m no longer as hurt as I was then. Perhaps I was too naive to read beyond the face!
Of late someone has made me realise that its worth to turn over a new leaf. That someone for whom my heart skips a beat is always in my thoughts. I’m afraid . . . I guess I’m falling for him! But, wait . . . once bitten twice shy. Should I give wings to my feelings? Or should I just nip them off? Ummm . . . unable to decide . . .
Tempted to let my guard loose. But, holding myself back. Too many ‘what ifs’ echoing in my ears. Should I give love a second chance in my life? Should I unchain my chained heart? Or should I tighten the shackles not to let myself break free?
Is it love that’s beckoning me? Or a mere illusion that I’m falling prey to? I fail to comprehend. All I know is that my heart is on him. Something within, tells me I won’t be disappointed this time.
‘To be or not to be’, wrote Shakespeare. The same I sigh today!”
This had been Radha’s short blog of the evening. As soon as she hit the Publish button, she felt a bit foolish. After all, how and why did she make her feelings and dilemma public? Did she expect the thousands of strangers who were merely followers of her blogs to influence her life’s decision? Was that what she wanted?
Not exactly . . .
She wanted that one reply – that one voice to influence her decision. How and when she had allowed this person to have a say in her life, she herself didn’t know. Just that she longed for either a nod of approval or a nay of disapproval from him.
Radha woke up to the repeated blaring rings of her door bell. One glance at the cuckoo clock on the wall and she leaped from her bed, a squeal escaping her throat. It was 8 A.M.!!! She ran to open the door to her maid who was understandably irritable as she had come twice already at 6 A.M. and again at 6:45 A.M. – her usual timings on Radha’s working days and holidays respectively. And now, she rang the door bell on her way back from her second work, to just check if all was well. Else, she was determined to call on the police.
“Thanks, Ambika . . . thank you”, said Radha and banged the door on her maid’s face as she rushed to the bathroom to freshen up.
Out there, Ambika twitched her face voluntarily and stomped away muttering to herself.
Radha reported for work at 9:30 A.M. every day without fail. She was the first to enter the office building as the work hour started only at 10 A.M. Nobody knew Radha to be late for work ever. And today, her records were going to be broken. There was no way in which she would reach before 10 A.M. that day! The Mumbai traffic was not expected to have mercy on her.
As she scurried down the stairs of her apartment at 8:30 that morning, having skipped her breakfast and leaving her bed unmade, no thoughts of the previous night made their foray into her mind. Not even when she found Vansh waiting in his car near her apartment, to give her a ride to office that morning. “This would save you from the overcrowded local trains”, he had said. She found no words coming from her mouth, save her hand opening the car door to let herself in. All she could think was to reach office on time at least, if not before. Vansh was Radha’s colleague from another department in the same office. Both knew each other only by the exchange of pleasantries on occasional official meetings or if they happened to pass by each other in the corridor, save for one discussion that they had had along with a group of other colleagues when Radha was animatedly talking about an upcoming mall near her apartment.
“Relax”, said Vansh. “I’m the one driving. Your tension cannot make you reach office in a jiffy. You have to rely on me as I wade through the traffic. So, just sit back and rest your mind and body.”
“Ah! Well . . . I woke up so very late today and that messed up everything”, whispered Radha calming her breaths while breaking into a faint pleading smile as if she was expected to explain herself.
Suddenly, she realized how unthinkably she had jumped into Vansh’s car a few minutes back. By the way, what was Vansh doing near her apartment? Surely, he couldn’t be passing that way! She very well knew that he lived in the other end of Mumbai. So, what exactly was he doing near her apartment at that time?
Intending to enquire of his detour, she started, “Vansh, what . . .”
“Didn’t sleep well last night?”, her words were drowned by his deep husky voice.
“Yes . . . ummm . . .” and soon the events of the previous evening came flooding into her mind.
Radha hurried with the old man by giving him a bowl full of ice cubes and sent him off wishing Good Night. She jumped onto her bed in a flash and clicked on the notification to let the comment of happygolucky, the blogger who had always made her heartbeats skip thousand times per second, appear on the screen.Radha read the comment for the 19th time exactly.
‘So the man who has made my heart so palpable for the last one month or so, says I can allow myself to fall in love again!!!‘ Radha repeated this statement in her mind again and again as she kept looking at the screen, at the name of the blogger, the user icon and the comment. It had been 13 years since she was heartbroken at the age of 22, when she was just an immature young adult. And now, at the age of 35, her heart felt the same emotions captivating her whole-being…making everything look so beautiful and colorful around her. She could smell only the aroma of rose buds even when there were no thorny rose plants near her.
But, there was something that was stopping her to express herself to the person more openly. Her reasoning mind kept pulling her heart backward telling, ‘when things pertaining to love could not work out in person, how could then the same be possible virtually! Of course, there are many such examples of virtual love but for her… Is it possible?‘
She closed the lid of her laptop and slid her body down on the bed from a sitting position to lying down comfortably closing her eyes as her mind went back 13 years past, when she met Sanjay, her heartthrob then…
Sanjay was a 28-year old man then, who was her immediate boss in her first working place. He had a charming demeanour about himself that had always allured the females working with or under him, including his female superiors. But he gave his heart only to one girl in the whole world and she was Radha. Radha was a mere 22 year old then, who could not resist herself even a bit from falling in love with a person like Sanjay when he proposed her. She was an orphaned child who was brought up by her only family member, her granny. She had craved for love from her very childhood and the seed of love which Sanjay sowed in her soaking heart sprouted within no time. The females at Radha’s work place were envious of her but she… she was flying in the mid air as her wing, her love, Sanjay made her feel so loved within such a short time.
It was not difficult for them to convince Radha’s granny for their relationship and ultimately marriage as she also loved Sanjay as a fitting candidate for her grand daughter, who could look after her and love her after she passed away.
She will never forget that day, 28th September 2006. She was waiting for Sanjay to come and plan the final list of invitees for their wedding reception. Time passed by but there was no sign of him. They were supposed to meet at her place. Her granny was also worried seeing her baby Radhika in tension. She patted her back and asked her to calm down and wait for Sanjay who might be busy in something very important. Radha had dialed his number 10 times by then but there was no response from him.
At around 8 PM in the evening her best friend Sukanya called her up and asked Radha to switch on the TV right away and watch the news on so and so channel. It was not a news that was broadcasting that day, but a nuclear bomb that blasted and devastated both the granny and her grand daughter leaving them dead emotionally and mentally.
It was unbelievable for those two poor souls to acknowledge that Sanjay was a trafficker who was arrested that day being caught red handed. His secret dynasty was busted by a group of secret police squad formed only to find the culprits of absconding girls and women recently.
Radha’s heart shivered in pain and agony as all those thoughts of her past came so alive in front of her after so many months again. She clasped her head tightly with her both palms as she felt an excruciating pain encompassing her heart and mind both. She felt extremely lonely that moment, which she felt the day when her granny passed away leaving her in tears. And now she was all alone to decide her heart’s matter by herself…
“Radha ji, it has always been a delight to read your heart and mind through your stories and articles. And this piece also made me think for a while but I think, it is very natural to fall in love again and again till we find that true love and settle with it by committing to it.
Love itself is so vast that it can let everyone drown in it. I think you should go ahead and allow your heart and mind to break free to experience love again.”
She repeated his words in her mind as she shook her head, reconfirming herself once more, ‘No… Never again… I might feel attracted to his intelligence by reading his comments and the wisdom he imparts as a person which reflects through his own blog posts but I can’t feel that same love again, even his feedback on my post seems very convincing about it.‘
She shook her head and again allowed her mind to take control over her heart as she went into a deep slumber without a second thought.
Radha’s fingers were trembling before clicking the “Publish” button on her blogging site. She was a leading blogger and wrote mostly about love and life which naturally drew lot of followers to her blog. Her blogs were often short, simple and oozing with emotions. Her followers would wait for a post from her and today was no different. She took a deep breath and hit “Publish”.
BOOM… went the post live.
Can Love Happen Twice?
I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 22 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time.
Should I or shouldn’t I?
It was 4 pm – the time when most of her posts would go live. Then she would unwind by plopping herself on a bean bag in her balcony with a cup of masala chai to sip from. She would normally spend an hour in the balcony watching kids return from school, senior citizens stepping out for a walk and looking at the mellowing sun. Not a word said, not a word thought!
After an hour she would freshen up, dress up in a crisp cotton saree, take her small purse and jute bag and would go out for some fresh groceries. She would always buy some candies on her way back and give it to children playing the society’s garden. All children adored Radha.
In a way, Radha had no family, but in a way, there were so many people who loved her. 10,000+ followers to her blogs, children from her society and their parents as well! She was a friend, guide and philosopher to many but girlfriend, wife, sister, mother to no one. Such was her life!
She would quickly fix the dinner for herself after she returned from grocery shopping and catch up on some saas-bahu sagas on TV. How all ladies love those typical serials and Radha was no exception. Somewhere around 10.30 pm when she is done with all the chores for the day, she would go back and check her post. This was a ritual. Like we say good night to our partner or family before going to bed, she would read the comments to her blog from her followers. It was some kind of assurance that someone in this world is there for her.
However, today she was hesitating a bit. After all, she had posted something very personal on her blog and she was not sure if she will be looked down upon for it. She was curious to know the reaction of her blogger friends and readers to her question but at the same time she felt very vulnerable, she had never opened herself to anyone, never after her heart was broken at 22!
Radha couldn’t reason as to why she had such feelings for someone, but there was very little that she could do, her feelings were honest and deep. She wanted to let the person know what she feels for him but she feared rejection. Not the rejection from that person – but the rejection from the society. After all, her love story was a bit odd indeed. It’s not every time that one falls in love with a person who comments and likes each post that you publish.
Radha had tried to reason with herself innumerable times. She had tried explaining herself that what is the guarantee that the person she has fallen for is a good person? Will he be same age as hers? What if he is goon? Who knows if he has a family of his own and many such thoughts but it was all in vain. She often tried not to think about him for wait for his comments but that never really happened. Radha felt a strong connection. Was it love really? And even if it was, how was it going to materialize?
Radha was scrolling through the comments hastily to find that one comment from that special person. There were many comments like…,
“Go for it Mam”
“Next part of the story please”
“All the best, listen to your heart”
And many more but Radha’s eyes were looking for the one comment from someone special. As the comments were approaching the end, she was a little disheartened that perhaps that special person has not read her blog yet. But wait, that never happens, he is the one who normally comments right in the first hour after the blog goes live.
Just then, a notification popped up. “You have received a new comment from “happygolucky”. Radha’s eyes lit up, a smile adorned her fact and just when she was going to click on the notification…..
Ding Dong, rang the shrill doorbell the moment Radha had gathered enough courage to check her today’s post.
“Arrrrgh….!!! This old man!” spoke Radha to herself. She knew it was none other than the old man who stayed in the apartment on the next floor. Radha would get annoyed with his daily requests for ice at 11 pm but never denied because she pitied him really. He was all alone, old – must be around 65 yrs. His wife had died 25 years ago and his son had left him alone after he moved to the US for higher studies. He never looked back, never! Did not even invite his dad for his wedding. The only help he offered some years ago was to put his dad in the old age home where he can be taken care of. This had completely shattered the old man but because he was the man of mettle, he chose to live on his own. He didn’t mingle much with other society members but he would often seek help from Radha in the form of some ice for his daily drink.
While I am largely happy and content about my life there is one thing that I wish was different.
How I wish my father-in-law (fil) was still alive. We lost him when we were least prepared. His demise shook us to the core.
I got to spend only about 2.5 years with him. Its a very small time but we had bonded so well. Needless to say, he was the fatherly figure for me. Very calm, poised and full of cultural values. His energy and enthusiasm at the age of 73 would put youth like me to shame.
I have a sweet tooth but the family I got married in to prefers savoury food except my fil. We were the partners in finishing all the sweets and desserts at home. Even if only one piece was left we would always eat it half half. I love eating chapati with shikran (banana roughly mashed in milk and a dash of sugar). Almost every night we would share shikran and on the days when the veggie was not my preferred choice he would silently go get a banana and keep it in my plate without claiming his half portion. He used to often say that ever since I got married he got easy access to sweets because of me 😊.
There are many fond memories about him in my heart. No words can really describe them. It was destiny’s tough call to take him away from us and only if we could have done something to stop this wrath of fate. There was so much to learn from him but unfortunately I got very little time with him. I would cherish foreever those 2.5 years spent under his wings with lot of love and care showered on me.
I and my husband were quite young then. We were just settling down in our careers and married life. Unfortunately all that my fil saw was our struggle. Struggle to climb the corporate ladder, struggle to have our own baby, struggle to raise savings. How I wish he was still there when we over came all these struggles. How I wish he was still there when we bought our first car. How I wish he was still there to congratulate us when we finally started getting promoted at work. How I wish he was still there when Aarnav was born, his happiness would have known no bounds. Sometimes I wonder how he must have felt to see me transform from a carefree naive girl to a matured women who eventually learnt to care for everyone and everything around her.
Its been more than 7 years that he left for the heavenly abode but there is never a single day that we dont miss him. I remember few months after he was gone, I was supposed to join a new organization. On the first day, the auto that I was travelling in passed by the hospital where he breath his last. Tears welled up in my eyes and how I wished he was still there with us to bless us every time we started with a new venture.
How I wish he was still with us when we had be able to tell him to relax and let us take over all the responsibilities. But only of it was in my hands!
Even though he is not with us in a physical form he will continue to be in our hearts forever. I am sure that he is watching on us from up above. And I know he is proud of us.