Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Escape

The wind cut on her face untraceable patterns as she walked a well-walked road. She paused for a breath on the sight of a familiar tree, then smiling to herself walked till she reached the house directly facing it. She raised her head and cupped her hands around her mouth to shout out a familiar name.

But no sound came out.

She tried again and again but only empty air passed through her fingers. The comfort of the words she was so well versed with, didn’t reach her ears. She stared at the house with almost a feverish longing, trying to place what had gone awry, why were things so different.

It was then that she saw her hands; a startled gasp escaped her lips on seeing the fingers that seemed so strange and yet felt like her own. They were longer, the palm attached to it wider and strewn with more lines than she remembered having. Her forearm was fleshier, as if someone had taken a few cotton puffs and stuffed it under her skin. On closer introspection, her hands seemed different altogether! As she raised her other arm to look more closely, she found an unfamiliar black object clinging to her palm.

A phone, her mind registered slowly. Similar to the ones she had seen on her parents. But what was she doing holding one? Then with a jolt, she realized, it was her phone. But since when did she start owning phones! Who owned phones in class 8!

Despite her bafflement, curiosity made her press a random few buttons on the object her mind suddenly claimed as ‘her’ phone. The contact list popped open. With growing horror, she scrolled down the names in ‘her’ contact list. Who were these people? How did she know them? How were they a part of her life?

Her fingers of their own accord opened the message section next. She felt a terrible sense of foreboding as she read the texts in her inbox and the replies ‘she’ had sent back. What was she saying? Why was she writing in a language she didn’t know properly? Hindi, Hindi was what she talked to her friends in wasn’t it? Then why was she conversing in something else?

A million questions rang in her mind in dull cacophony. She looked around her scared as all of them started coming towards her- the new names, the new language, and her hands that weren’t her hands anymore. She heard laughter then; a hollow, cynical laughter as if mocking over her current plight. She looked in all directions to spot the source of the laughter but there was no one in her vicinity.

It was disembodied. Just like her thoughts that had suddenly grown identities of their own and sprung up to haunt her.

The laughter increased and she heard new voices in it. They called her name but who did the voices belong to? She couldn’t recognize any!

Or, could she?

Terrified now, she started shuffling towards the one familiar house as all the new disembodied beings crawled towards her. 
She looked up again to the balcony of the one room she had loved so much; she could almost hear the rocking chair creak inside, almost see a chest full of amazing things waiting to be marveled, almost hear the dull static of a radio perched on the window sill, almost feel the soft ink-stained fabric of the sheets. 

Her eyes took her to the place inside that held all the wonder of the world, all the sunshine, two people whose head bent along with hers waiting for the laugh that was sure to come soon. She opened her mouth again to call out the familiar name but no sound came out. 

Tears leaked from her eyes.

She saw her new being running towards her with determination bringing its scattered battalion along that seemed to cry in unison- “You are ours now. You are ours.” But she didn’t want to be theirs, she couldn’t be theirs.

She ran.

She put in whatever force her new, unfamiliar body had, put in whatever strength it took to urge her new mind to run away. But what was she running from? How could you leave yourself behind?

She skidded to a stop in front of the potholes on the road ahead her. Cursing the drainage system and looking anxiously over her shoulder, she tried to find a way ahead.

As she searched frantically for a way out, her eyes fell on her reflection in the muddy puddle. She touched her face twice to believe it really belonged to her. It did look like her but yet, was so different! Everything about her seemed different. Her hair was swept back into single plait instead of her standard two ribboned ones; her brow was arched gracefully and her eyes were hidden behind glasses that she couldn’t remember possessing. Her arms and legs were longer and she herself seemed to be a bit taller. She was always whining about being short wasn’t she? Then why didn’t her taller being fill her with terror than elation?

And then, the mystery behind the entire thing dawned on her. All the complicacy had arisen from such a simple thing really. And the thing was that she had grown. She had grown in the inevitable way time demanded living creatures to grow.

And that is how everything had changed.

* * *
This one is for you Sushmita. And for you Arpita. 

I don't know if it is just me who feels like running away back to the past sometimes. I don't know if the irrational feeling of being suffocated by the people around is something only I seem to have. You will your eyes to stay shut sometimes but when they open, you are blinded by that flash of sudden light. 

These sudden flashes of painful light did not exist in the times when we were kids. And together.When 4 o'clock used to be the favorite time of our day and Tatasteel our favorite place in the world. When Arpelo running away from his leash was the only worry on our minds and books and Disney was all we could think about.

Uncomplicated lives. And such warm, amazing friends. 

Whatever triggered this, I am thankful things worked this way. Sometimes, some things that pain you very much bring into light the people who never fail to make you happy.

You are two such people. I can't be grateful enough for having you in my life. 

My childhood was awesome thanks to you. And my life would never fail to be awesome with friends like you. Having said all this, I still wish we could go back in time. 

As I sit on my bed strewn with all the cards you people have so lovingly made for me over the years, I can't help but wishing for those times to come back. I want those times back. Why can't we have them back?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Crisis Situation and How My Hair Still Shone Like Jaime Lannister In His Armor-II

Read the previous part here

"You!" I said, a bit louder than necessary.

He raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Shouldn't I be the one showing that reaction?" he asked, a faint smile quirking his lips.

"Yeah whatever." I mumbled as I took my seat and shoved my suitcase inside. I sighed sadly and was just getting ready to call my sister and tell her the news that would certainly make her go crazy with anger when I noticed the guy staring at me.

I stared back at him quite defensively when I saw that same muted smile that was starting to feel pretty annoying on his lips.

"Look, if you are expecting me to fall all over you thanking you for saving my life or something, then you better stop right there. You are not getting any of it" I said. I regretted the very moment I opened my mouth. I sounded like such a mean bitch.

"Okay, wait. I didn't mean that. I meant, thank you for saving my life and all but there is no need to smirk over me like you had nothing better to do than saving girls having bad hair days who is probably going to get whacked by her sister the next day, not to forget the shouting she is gonna get from her mother for nearly missing her train, getting almost killed TWICE and also, talking to a random stranger she doesn't know, well stranger MEANS a person you don't know, and making no sense either. And that is where I should probably shut up" I let out in one breath and fell silent.

The guy who was watching with his eyebrows shooting further and further into his forehead as I made my speech, burst out laughing.

"Shhh...." I whispered, as the person sleeping on the berth above his rolled in his sleep.

"And you don't have to laugh" I told him whispers, "Everyone has bad hair days. Even you..." My eyes strayed over to his head where an impressive crop of jet black hair, silky and slightly ruffled sat which seemed to look upon my hair in the same amused manner he was looking at me.

"Or maybe not..." I finished my sentence.

I forced myself shut again and told myself to do the task of telling my sister instead of rambling like a crazy person when I saw him staring at me again, with the same weird smile on his face.

Okay, now it is very hard not to be conscious when someone is staring at you especially if that someone, I quickly checked him out, was pretty good-looking. And feeling conscious in my present situation of Ms.Tail-bird's-nest-instead-of-hair, was like a suicide mission.

"What?" I said defensively, sounding less fierce than I intended to be. Great. Mr.Good Looking Stranger  had begun to take over my reaction mechanism already.

"I was just wondering what made you almost miss your train and almost lose your life. It couldn't possibly be a clip that had to go with the suit you are wearing tomorrow" he said, with the same smile playing in his eyes.

Grudgingly, I allowed a smile too. It was just so hard to stay pissed off around witty guys.

"You wouldn't be interested. And anyway, it is a long story" I said in reply.

"I bet your long story would be interesting because your short whatever-you-had-said just now, was pretty much so" he answered.

Open flirting huh? Two could play that game beta, I thought mentally before launching into my story. I needed a sympathetic ear anyway and well, he had asked for it.

He was a pretty good listener; as I rambled on about my pathetic state that day, he held a very sympathetic look. I took a deep breath after I finished, asking if I could drink water from his bottle as mine was left in the hurry of climbing down the previous train.

"Hmmmm. So no time to make up your hair tomorrow. When are the Ladke-wale coming?" he asked.

"6:05" I said.

"So you won't be able to go home?"

"No because it would be easier to just pick them directly from the station itself. I was assigned the task in the first place because I would happen to be at the station at the same time. Hence all this fuss about being ready when I get down" I explained to him.

"Our train is running late by 20 minutes. Lets take 10 minutes as tolerance limit. So that makes it 30. If all goes well, you would be at VSKP station by 5:30. Even if you take 10 minutes to get to the waiting hall, you would still be left with 20 minutes..." he counted off.

"What am I supposed to do in mere 20 minutes? That will hardly be enough to change! What about my hair" I nearly cried in frustration.

He bent down and took out his roller bag, threw it open (I couldn't help peeking. It seemed to contain a large amount of wrapped boxes), and took out a gift wrapped box from it. He paused for a moment to look at it, then tore off a little card that was stuck on the front and gave it to me.

I took it nonplussed as he said "20 minutes will be plenty if you have THIS".

Realizing that he was giving me a gift he hand wrapped for someone else, (possibly his girlfriend. Good-looking, witty guy who are sympathetic listeners don't roam around single do they?) I backed off.

"No no no. I can't take this. I don't even know you. I mean, it was nice of you to listen to me ranting and all but you don't have to go to such limits." I started gibbering.

"Okay, let's just say that I met a girl in a fix who managed to make such an interesting story out of it and though that girl would probably hate to be a damsel-in-distress, I still would like to give her story a happy ending." He smiled. "My bag happens to be loaded with gifts anyway, one less would make no difference"

I couldn't deny then could I?

Okay, maybe I could, thinking about mysterious strangers passing bombs wrapped in gift paper and charming smiles but let's just say at that moment, I was so desperate with worry over my hair, that getting blown up was more welcome than anything.

Still, taking another tack, I said "Look, mere shampoo-ing wont help (I said guessing what could be inside). My hair, wildly curly and eternally frizzy except when it is under the strict coconut-oil and tight braid policy of my mother is unmanageable generally. The parlor girl nearly cried over the state of my hair. It took hours to get it going. All that's in vain though now. What I am saying is, I don't think it is gonna work." I said sadly.

"Trust me, it will" he said earnestly. "Better sleep now. Else you would be worrying about dark circles next" He smiled wickedly, his eyes glinting and shutting down my worries about sleep ruining my hair further, I slept.

When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. Left behind, on my bag though, was a note.

"As for the clip that was to go with the dress you would be wearing tomorrow, I don't think you will be needing it to stop your hair from cascading down anymore".

I couldn't help smiling.

I rushed to the waiting room as soon as I got down, as Mr Good-looking-I-am-a-bad-hair-day-saver had calculated, it was 5:30 by the time I reached there. Apprehensive, I ripped ope the package he gave and out fell Sunsilk shampoo and a conditioner. Not pausing to think, I washed my hair thoroughly, dressed as fast as I could and finding 10 more minutes to spare, blow dried it using the connection in the waiting hall. 

Still apprehensive, I went to the mirror to make out my appearance. To my surprise, my hair looked... nowhere close to the ugly and un-presentable I had imagined. It looked... recharged, brimming with energy. There was a bounce to my curls and it was with absolute pleasure that I combed through it. No tangles, no loose hair. And as the Mr.Mysterious Stranger said there was absolutely no need to restrain those curls from falling down my back.

Rejoiced and recharged, I skipped through the platforms and waited where their train was about to come. My father and few relatives joined me too, exclaiming on what they thought to be my 'new-look'. I bet they all were just relieved to see my hair... well, not look like how my hair usually does.

The train came and out gushed what seemed to be horde of my sister's would be in-laws. I piped in to greet my Jiju when I saw someone peep in from behind his shoulder. My jaw dropped, (for the third time in this story) and I am sure my eyes popped out. I even missed out the introductions in my shock.

I just stopped myself from shouting a "You!" again as I saw him, (you must have guessed by now) Mr Good-looking stranger-who-happened-to-be-my-sister's-in-law smile the same wicked smile at me. 

As the long procession of the ladke-wale started to move finally, he ambled behind like me and said a casual "Hello" as if we were meeting for the first time. The amusement in his eyes though, was unrestrained. 

"How come you got down before me if this was your stop too?" was the question I asked, instead of the thousand others that were springing in my mind then. 

"I got down in the previous station and waited for this train to come along. I guess I just wanted to see your face" he said impishly.

"You are crazy" I voiced.

"So are you!" He retorted grinning.

As we walked together to where the cars where standing to take us to the mandap, I asked him "Which poor relative of mine is going to go gift-less because of my hair disaster and your chivalry?" 

In response he reached to his shirt pocket and took out a card which he handed to me. It was the same that he had torn from the packet. 

Opening it, I saw my name written neatly.

The traitor.

"So you knew ALL ALONG?"  I asked him.

"Not initially. But bad hair day, marriage, sister... It wasn't hard to guess. Bhabhi is always telling your hair stories" He said somberly but his eyes glinted with the mischief I was started to find endearing.

"Oh God! My sister will be the death of me! Dishing out my embarrassing stuff to her in-laws already!" I groaned.

"We are now part of the same family aren't we? And anyway, good hair-day or bad hair-day, you are exactly how Bhabhi said you would be.."

"And that is?" I asked curiously.

He leant it and whispered in my ear "Beautiful and smart".

I swear I blushed then. But whatever Mr. I-am-a-master-at-flirting said, looking presentable even after a terribly eventful train journey to receive my sister's in-laws was a cool enough reason to recharge my hair which thanks to Sunsilk I did. And as for my life? Looking forward to a marriage that was definitely going to be interesting thanks to a Mr. Someone whose name I was yet to know, my life was recharged in delightful ways too!

This post is written for the Sunsilk Recharge your hair, Recharge your life contest on Indiblogger.
Visit their official website here:

A Crisis Situation and How My Hair Still Shone Like Jaime Lannister In His Armor-I

I grabbed my suitcase and rushed to the train door. I nearly tripped and fell as a loud 'oye' came from behind. It was Jagruti, my friend. "Your bag!" she shouted, waving a large floral print hand bag. I mentally cursed myself. As I started turn to fetch it back, the train lurched and started moving. Panicking, I started running in the direction I was initially going, shouted "Throw it from the window, I will catch it!" in a general direction hoping Jagruti would hear it and just as the train was picking up speed, cast my eyes to the heavens above, muttered a quick prayer and jumped, case and all.

I fell out of the train in a most un-filmy way as possible, landing rather hardly on my behind. But instead of checking for broken bones, I urged my hands to go way up and check my hair. Now that should remain perfect. I patted it anxiously and finding no lasting harm was just congratulating myself on such a splendid last-moment train jumping when a large spongy thing came out of nowhere and hit me on my head. Hard.

I was about to show the power of my vocal cords to whoever was responsible for ruining my hairdo when Jagruti peeped out of the moving train and grinning cheekily, waved. I grumbled to myself as I picked my bag that I had left behind and which my friend had so gently returned back to me.

Just when I was about to do another check on my hair, my eyes fell on the huge digital clock with the annoying red digits that seemed to infest every railway station. My jaw dropped on seeing the time.

It was 9:58 PM.

I mentally cursed myself once again and also the person behind the railway ticket booking counter who had convinced me on taking a break journey to Vishakapatnam.
"The trains are pretty regular ma'am. Plus you have one and half hour waiting time in Khurda road till your connecting train comes. Absolutely nothing to worry." had been his exact words.

"But I am going for a marriage see? The train will take me to VSKP at exactly 5 in the morning (if by any good luck it is not late). And apart from being a NON morning person, I have to go and receive the groom's side so it is a pretty tight schedule this way and I am not sure if this would be a good option..." I had trailed off anxiously. But the man, with his unwavering belief in the Indian Railway System convinced me nevertheless to take the chance.

I did and there I was- stranded in the middle of Khurda Road station from a train that was TWO hours late with absolutely no idea about the connecting train whose arrival time was 9:38. For all I knew, it had already come and left. I was ready to slump in some bench and weep about missing my sister's wedding when the loud-speaker blared and announced the arrival of the very train I was so sure I had missed. The woman's voice announcing regretted for the inconvenience caused by the twenty minute delay of the train but I had never rejoiced more on a train being late!

I jumped up, recharged over the news and rushed to the said platform. Only to realize that the train was already speeding in on the tracks that were two over bridges and 4 platforms away. I stared in horror as it came to a stop. I would never make it if I went for the over bridge route. The stairs itself seemed a mile away.

Then, I did something that my 21 year old self would never have dreamt of in normal situations. But then, it wasn't exactly a normal situation was it?

I jumped off the platform and onto the tracks.

Surprised by my own action, I proceeded to carefully but speedily make way to my train that was standing a few tracks away. Praying to the almighty and trying not think about painful deaths and statistics of people who died in India while crossing tracks and forcing my literary side shut from writing a eulogy that I would like to be written for my death, I was just a couple of tracks from my destination when an engine started coming in my direction.

I heard loud yells from people on both sides and it would have been very romantic if I just closed my eyes till a Knight in his shining armor came and protected me in his arms but since that was not the case and I was very much single, thank you, I hopped away just in time, allowing the engine to honk past me and billow an absolute avalanche of dust and soot over me.


Dust and soot. Oh no.

My horror over the ruins my hair was probably going to make me miss my train when I reminded myself of the more pressing matter on hand and proceeded towards my destination.

"Yes, yes I am coming" I said to no one in particular as the train honked. I flung my bag inside a random AC compartment which was empty at the door except for a young man standing, was just about to heave my suitcase up when the clutcher that was holding the last remains of my hair together fell. I watched it fall in slow motion like they show on the television and an audible gasp escaped my lips as it disappeared into oblivion of the dirty railway tracks.

"Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" I shouted dramatically and forgetting my suitcase that was hanging precariously from the doorway and started to hunt for my clutcher.

It was the clip to go with the suit I have to wear tomorrow, It was the clip to go with my suit... I chanted, looking up for a moment to the see guy shout something at me. See, because I only saw his lip movement that was obviously directed at me. 

"Huh" I said, looking obviously very stupid when he suddenly bent, took my hand and yanked me up.

"Have you gone mad?" He shouted at me, pulling me inside the train as it started to move gently.

"It was the clip... IT WAS THE CLIP THAT GOES WITH THE SUIT I WEAR TOMORROW DAMN IT!" I shouted back at him, feeling and acting (I am sure) quite crazy.

The guy stared at me for a while in disbelief, then shaking his head, left. Instead of feeling happy that I managed to catch my train, I was feeling quite sad over the loss of my clutcher. What will I wear with my dress tomorrow? Thinking of hair and clips, I rushed to the small mirror Indian Railway provided over the basins and looked at my reflection. My jaw dropped again for the second time in running that day.

Forget about my face, that was manageable with a few minutes of scrubbing with soap but my hair. My HAIR.

I groaned as I looked at it. It looked like a bird's nest. Coming away in tangles, filled with dust and what not, it looked an absolute mess. All the hours spent at the parlor to fix it, all the trouble to make it perfect for my sister's wedding down the drain.

I guess that was that then. I had already admitted defeat. There was absolutely no time for me to attend to my hair the next day. Reason why Jagruti had dragged me with her to the parlor to set it up so that just brushing it and touching up on the style would be enough.
My sister had entrusted me with the ONE task of receiving her in-laws and I had failed her utterly. The sister of the bride-to-be couldn't just walk in looking like an alien in frizzy hair to get her Jija-ji! I was blanching mentally thinking about the class I had coming from her. I had already been a trial to her by deciding to come on the VERY day of her marriage instead of a week earlier.

Sighing and lamenting on my situation, I had already given up on my story if it hadn't been for the one person who was going to be my co-traveller that night.

As I lifted the curtains of the berth I was assigned, I was surprised to see one person occupying the seat opposite to mine. It was the very guy who had (possibly) saved me from getting becoming a mince meat...

(To be continued...)

What happens next? Will our heroine be able to fix her hair in time? Read on the second part here

This post is written for the Sunsilk Recharge your hair, Recharge your life contest on Indiblogger.
Visit their official website here.