Love, Sex Aur Dhoka

It was the year of the millennium. Everybody had their plans for the big evening. The person she loved was not a party animal & she was sure he wouldn’t ask her out. They were still just good friends, she was still hoping he loved her back the way she did. So when a casual conversation with another friend resulted in a date for New years, she didn’t think twice before saying yes. She knew he was just a friend and had planned to spend the evening together as two single people with no better plans. It was a fun night and after several drinks, she talked to him about the man she loved and desired to spend her life with.

Sixteen years later they were still in touch. In these years, both had settled respectively into marriage & family & had moved to different cities for their career. He called her occasionally to talk to her. And they met not more than 6 times over the years. They didn’t need to be constantly in touch & instantly connected from where they left the previous time. It was a friendship they shared at a different level. As soon as he got to know about the problems her marriage, he flew down to her city to meet her. That was the last time they met. Six months later, today she got a message, ‘in your city for work, call when free’. She liked meeting him, it always ended up in them doing something very different, something that they would always remember & talk about. He believed in creating such special moments. They never had a photo together, but each time they met was etched in their memories forever.

She looked forward to meeting him today. It was the first time they would meet for dinner. Another first as always. They met up early for a drink, at the five star room where he was put up & were to leave for a popular club later for dinner. Conversations flowed freely with the drinks. The laughter & chatting continued through the evening as they caught up on the six months gone by.

He always made her feel special & subtly flirted with her. But she was too preoccupied to ever notice what she meant to him. Today, for the first time she had heard him out as he spoke about his feelings for her & was really moved. He had never touched her in these years, but tonight when he kissed her, it seemed like the most natural thing to do. He held her close & kissed her gently. She had been too strong for too long & was really exhausted with life. And here was a guy whom she had known so well and been such good friends with, who longed for her. She was too numb to think about right or wrong & just wanted to be held close the way he did. Sixteen years of waiting poured out in the most passionate way for him. And for the first time she felt what it was to be loved. He kissed her on her lips, caressed her neck and nibbled on her ear while talking to her. He held her close and then kissed her over & over again, never crossing the line or making her uncomfortable. She didn’t know whether it was the loneliness or the feeling of silent revenge (towards the stranger she had married) or a latent desire in her that she never even knew existed or just plain acceptance of this platonic relationship. But she enjoyed herself like never before. She was high but not drunk. Everything seemed right & she just wanted to live & enjoy the moment as it unfolded upon her. As always, another memory had been created with him tonight.

Later that night when she went back home & quietly slipped into bed right next to the stranger she had married, she knew her life had changed, yet again!

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You’ve got a mail!

So, it was another ordinary day. She was busy with insignificant thoughts like what to wear, what to cook, whether to move out or continue to live with the stranger she married… While the former two were simple, the third one got her confused as always. Bored of the train of thoughts that took her nowhere, she decided to seek escape in social media. A platform that often bored her for being fake. But today would be different. She had a new message. It was from someone unknown, never heard the name before. It said , ‘Hi! Do you plan to run the Goa Marathon next month?’ It was normal for people to connect to her on running related issues. She had another life, that as a runner. She could’ve assumed, this was someone who needed help with some logistics; travel, stay, collection of the running bib or any other matter. But it couldn’t be. She had two accounts on the social media & this one, she never used for any running related  coordination. She had managed to carefully partition her life. She maintained a different account for that part of her life where she was a helpful, well connected runner & motivator. This part was where she was the really happy, confident, beautiful & carefree mother , friend & a family person. Cautiously, she replied with just, ‘yes’. She was ready to close and move on to something else, when suddenly this name turned online & she received her next message. Something that would change a lot for her in the time to come. ‘ok, see you there then. But promise, no hugs this time’

Seriously! Who was this? He didn’t need any help & then what about hugs? Not a person to forget things too soon, curiosity got the better of her. She clicked on the unknown name & a photo suddenly looked back at her. Here was a face she had seen on the running tracks before. A few cordial hellos had been exchanged earlier. He was from another city she knew. But what about hugs?? So the next message got sent. ‘what is this about hugs? What am I missing?’ An awkward silence followed, then a lengthy message. ‘ last year I was so excited after my good run, I hugged you at the finish. Felt stupid doing that as we don’t even know each other. Had been looking for you ever since, to apologise. So here is my sincere sorry for reacting that way.’ So here was a guy, who spent a year trying to find out her name & track her down for an incident so insignificant that she didn’t even remember! Sweaty hugs after a good run are not that uncommon. She was not the one to give or get them usually, but it surely wasn’t something she would make a big deal of. This guy was either a stalker or a really sincere & honest person. She decided to go with the latter & responded. ‘Apologies accepted. Touched that you took the trouble to track me down just to get things cleared. Funny that I had forgotten the whole incident until just now. Thanks to this, I will remember it for a long time to come 😀 cheers!’

A new friendship had blossomed at the most unlikely situation.

Somewhere in her real world, outside the beautifully painted social media account in which life looked perfect, things began to look different. A hope started to emerge. Maybe there was a life waiting for her outside these four walls, away from the stranger whom she lived with. Maybe she needed to give herself another chance!

 

The Maniac Runner

My day started when the alarm blared to a horrendous tone (even the sweetest music can sound bad if that’s the one waking you up from your Sunday morning sleep). Cursing myself for pursuing running as a hobby, I went on to make some fresh coffee to actually wake me up. (I was moving around like a zombie until then). The thought of a pleasant rainy day, picturesque surroundings & awesome company is what really made me get out of bed.

My strong cuppa followed by a sandwich infused some energy into me & off I went to join the rest of the group. We reached the location chosen for our run that day at about 6 AM. The weather was just perfect with strong cool breeze blowing & the sun nowhere in sight. Each of us started our own respective runs. I did’nt go with any plan, but let my body & my mood do the talking. Ended up doing a very Forrest Gump-ish run. I had no idea about the distance, pace or time I intended to run. I had no reason for running. I just ran because I felt like and at the pace that my feet agreed to carry me forward. I kept running till I thought I had enough, then, I turned back to go the start. (where the group had assembled)

Run 3
Endlessly long roads inviting for a run

I was on foot for more than one and a half hours when suddenly the winds grew stronger, the clouds grew darker. With just open land in all four directions, I could see the rains fast approaching. I kept running & the rains caught on with me within a minute or so, completely soaking me in its cool showers. The drops hits hard on my skin & it felt better than what any Jacuzzi could offer. The pure water was so sweet. I was now running with my arms stretched out looking upward to the sky & keeping my mouth slightly open, trying to take in as much rain as possible. Few villagers wearing plastic ponchos & running to find shelter in an otherwise open place, stopped to look at me with bewilderment. This was the best cool down I have ever experienced after a run.

A run in heaven
A run in heaven

I love Mumbai, I love Monsoon & I love running. Managed to cover a distance of about 14.5 kms (about 9 mi) in 1 hour 50 mins including a warm up & cool down walk of about 1.6 kms (1 mi). Happy week ahead!

Inside out

When was the last time you looked at the mirror & said, ‘Oh you look awesome!’? When was the last time you patted yourself on your back for a job well done? Learn to appreciate yourself. Don’t always depend on others to do it for you. The chances are that it might never happen. Yet all of us deserve to be reminded every once in a while about how beautiful we are, both from inside & out.

Talk people talk..

What is wrong with the world today? Text messages & emails have taken over our lives. Why don’t we just walk across & tell the other person what we want? The smile & facial expressions are absent in our communication. The anger is hidden behind & never expressed. All conversations are now reduced to only words, without any feelings. Are emoticons real replacement for expressions and emotions?

There was a time when people visited each other socially. They ate together & chatted with each other, while their children played (or fought?). Where are the guests now? No one comes unless formally invited or we just choose to meet out. My new drapes cry aloud, look at me. The other upholstery sing along. Cleaning the house has become just another routine. Where are the people, where is the conversation? Are they just voices / texts in the phones that we hold so close?

Just walk across and talk. Share a hug and a smile. Bring back the warmth. Talk people talk. Just meet & talk.

Then it happened

Three years of training & hard work came to an end. Results of confirmation were awaited. What started as ‘understood silence’ between them, translated into spoken words. They were few, but conversations happened. She knew through him about his family. His father had a failed business & mom a small job that kept their kitchen running. The only son of his parents, at an early age, he realised his responsibilities. Everything banked on this job confirmation. There was no fun in the process for him.

Opening up to him was easy for her. There wasn’t much of a story there. A regular family, siblings’, fun, vacations etc. This job was just a career for her & her life didn’t depend on it.

He called her sometimes. The calls though, were few & far in between. But there was closeness in the space. He lived in the far end of the town in the very big city. She lived in the suburbs on the other side of the city. Meetings were rare. But they never missed a chance if they got one. Sometimes to exchange notes & other times for reference books.

She was pretty & guys asking her out was common. She liked that he wasn’t pushy. He never flattered her with compliments. He sounded real. She knew this job confirmation meant everything to him. He had worked very hard. She hadn’t done as much. In fact she could wait to get her chance, she wanted to see him move ahead. Finally, it was the day of results. Both were nervous. Both for him. But he didn’t know it yet. Internet was still not used widely & people had to go personally to find their results. They decided to meet & check it together. Scanning the various lists put up, they finally found his name. She was so eager that he get through, she had forgotten all about herself. She jumped & hugged him. Their first. She could’ve kissed him too. That’s how happy she was. Then he stopped the mini celebration to check her name, she did not make it. This however made no difference to her celebratory mood. So they went on for a small celebration. A treat at a local juice stall, as this is all they could afford.

He was always the smartest in the pack. In the very first year, he had won the best trainee award. It was a prestigious one. More so, because it was also the 100th year of the Firm where they worked. She remembered the day it was announced, the entire office clapped for him. She glowed with pride as if she had made some personal contribution to that achievement. He always got the best clients & best work throughout. The firm would’ve been glad to absorb him with a fat raise & promotion too. She thought about all this while sipping her juice & jokingly told him, ‘maybe they will directly offer you partnership to the firm as you are the best they have ever had’. It was a happy moment. His difficult past was soon to be history. Jobs & a good pay would now come easy. His parents would be proud. He smiled for a moment, then looked her into the eye. She sensed something. He paused a bit, then smiled again & said, ‘I don’t know what the firm will offer, but if ever you offer me, I’m ready to be your partner for life’. It was a proposal, more of an offer. It happened slowly. It took its time of three years from glances, to silent walks to few conversations and then this. Just the way she liked it, slow and strong.  It was now official, they were in love.

Most stories would end here, with an end that said, ’and they lived happily ever after’. Would that be their end too?

Two much to be true

She trusted him crazy & wanted more of him. Four months were to end soon. He had been assigned his next job already. It involved a month long stay another city. A prestigious client & an important job. So this was it, they would part soon. Would he care to call? But they hardly spoke, why would he call her? Would he miss her too? She felt insecure & uncertain.

His last day at the clients office, good byes were told, he seemed happy. Happy to leave, happy to move on. He came up to her, looked her into the eye & formally held up his hand asking for a hand shake. ‘Bye’ he said with a smile that drew his lips to one straight line. Not sure if it was a smile or just an expression to hide every other feeling that was within. They shook hands, she forced a smile back at him & wished him well. That’s it, it was over. Was there some sadness she saw there? She couldn’t say. No more long walks, no more evening coffees, no more sun sets at the cabin. But she knew it all along. It was just an assignment & it was meant to get over. She felt empty & longed for more time with him.

He was to leave with his team the next day. She was still waiting to hear about her next assignment. Late that evening she got a call at her residence. It was from office. This happened only in cases of emergency. One member of the team to leave the next day had fallen ill. They needed urgent replacement & she was the closest fit. It was a request to travel for a month at such short notice. Her joy knew no bounds. Another assignment together, so soon. Being the most judged one & the last choice for any project, worked in her favour after all. She was overjoyed, but spoke casually. Hmmm, ok, if you insist, I’ll do that for you’ll she said.

That call was immediately followed by another. This time it was him. He found her number from the office records. Have you travelled this far by train ever? He asked her. The office will provide some advance, but don’t forget to carry some of your own cash for emergency. Click. Rrring. ‘It must be cold there unlike our city. Don’t forget to pack enough woollens’. Click. Rrring. ‘Do you know your way around the railway station? I’ll meet you outside near the display indicator, else you’ll get lost, it’s a huge station’

She was too excited to spend another month with him. His calm mind recollected that she had never travelled by a train ever & that too a day long journey. She smiled goofily. Three consecutive calls meant that he cared for her. Why would he do it otherwise? He thought through things & this was the kind of person she would want by her side forever.

She felt safe knowing he would be there & so she slept peacefully that night. Next day was a big one. Rushed to work to pick important files, documents, tickets etc. and then went back home to pick her luggage. She had packed her best office clothes & some casual wear too. The train was at midnight. She hailed a cab & went to the station.

Her smile was plastered on her face through the month. This was the best time of her life. Was she in love? Well, she still didn’t think like that yet. But she loved what was happening to her.

Was this all just coincidence or did destiny have its own plans for them both?

Destiny served on a platter

They were trainees in one of the best reputed Firms in the Country. Assignments were plenty with Clients spread all over the country. Teams were formed as need arose, with one or sometimes two trainees in a team along with Managers or other seniors. There were 20 freshers and another 15 senior trainees. What were the chances that they end up in the same team? One in 30 or maybe lesser. The most challenging assignment got the best team combination. He would be the first choice for any good assignment, as he was smart and intelligent. She was intelligent too, but was perceived to be easy & not so career focussed.

The client was new & so was the work. The job required a team of 4 junior trainees, who could impress. A first time for the Firm to show their capabilities in a different and new market. But yet it happened, they were picked for the same assignment. The intelligent & the vivacious. Most assignments lasted not more than a couple of weeks, but this was to go on for 4 months.

Hmmm, 4 months of him she thought. They had never spoken much. She was talkative & he seemed to like silence. The client department they were to report to, was large. But within few days she knew them all by their first names & a thing or two about their families too.  When they would gather around to celebrate small milestones like a birthday or anniversary, she fit in like one among them & did not stand out like an outsider.

She was always conscious of his presence around her. In a crowded room, she observed that he would look for her & choose to stand somewhere close to her. He seemed comfortable & at ease when he saw her within a certain radius around him. If she moved to another place, he would too, always keeping her in sight but never looking directly at her or making any attempt at conversation. Silence to her was usually awkward, but somehow she understood his silence.

They never spoke much. This silence let her observe a lot. She saw that he would adjust his lunch time in a way so that they could eat together or that he would silently get an additional cup of coffee from the pantry & leave it on her table sometimes. When she worked late, he would loiter around office even if he was done for the day. He would then get up to leave as soon as she would start to wind up for the day. That way they could take the same elevator down the nine floors of the office building. He would wait till she got a cab. It was rare to find one late evenings, so they would walk up to the station together to take a train to their respective destination. It was a good 20 minute of walk in silence. Initially she would work late just so that he wait up for her. Soon it became a routine, to leave together every evening, no matter what time it was. They stopped looking for cabs in a fear that they might find one. They enjoyed the long & silent walks. The weather in the city late evenings was always pleasant. Both didn’t know what the other was thinking. They would just walk, their arms occasionally brushing against each other. This made them smile softly.

The Client office space was in the best location of the city. It was a business district in the old part of town. At 9 Floors, this was easily one of the tallest structures around. The corner cabin that was temporarily given to the consulting team overlooked the sea. There was nothing beyond, but just sea water till the horizon. One evening both of them were reconciling some important data, they were lost in records for some hours. The rest of the four member team had left for the day. A lot of time had passed and when they were alone, he looked up & said, ‘beautiful’. She was taken aback as it didn’t sound like what she heard. And she was right, he was referring to the sun that was setting behind her at a distance. The scene was indeed beautiful like a painting. Two of them in a lone cabin at the far end of the city watching a beautiful sunset by the sea. At a time when there were no smart phones, this was one picture that got framed in her mind forever.

The silent friendship

It was a very rainy day in the city. Most offices closed early, because people had to travel far to reach home. Public transport could get affected due to the downpour. But these were young people, they loved to hang around. It wasn’t just another office day after all. The centenary celebration of the Firm they just joined was exactly 2 weeks away and preparations were on in full swing.

Much against her wishes, she was chosen to perform on stage in a play. A play to mark the big occasion. She was no actor, but the choice was obvious. Woman in the office were few & she was pretty. Prettiest amongst them atleast. She also had a personality to go with it. So when they wanted a female lead, it was her they chose. She was a fresher & it was her immediate Managers request that she couldn’t deny. The other seniors were quick to judge her. She is all drama, can never make it big as she is not focussed on her career, they said. Free spirited she was, so she took up the challenge & put her heart into it, just like she did in everything else.

Practise was on in full swing inside & the rains poured with full force outside. Soon it began to get silent as most offices closed for the day. All floors in the office building were now deserted. Just 10 young guys & girls practising in a room on the top floor for the upcoming event. When on a break, her mind drifted. She thought of him. It was obvious he wouldn’t take part in any of the performances. He just didn’t fit on stage. But she wished he would be here in the same room. She smiled at the thought. How silly of her. Why would he come here, he had no business after all. So late in the evening, on such a rainy day. Her mind kept going back, she wished he would come at least to see her. But it’s not like they were in love or even good friends. He seemed to be a practical person, why would he waste his time here.

Then all of a sudden, a gush of cool and heavy monsoon air filled the room. The sound of the raindrops got louder than before. Everyone turned to look at the door as it opened. So did she. He spotted her first. As their eyes met she smiled her best smile ever as it came straight from her heart. He turned to greet the rest & acted casual, as if he belonged there as a part of the group and at that odd hour. Why was he here? Had he heard her thoughts? Did he like her? She blushed. Was this love? For if it was, she didn’t know it yet.

The first time they met

All 20 of them were fresh recruits. They were all freshly out of college, young & enthusiastic, ready to give it their all & rise in their career. A young and chirpy crowd, but for one. He stood out from the rest. Not like a black sheep, but like a diamond among rocks.

She was independent & fun loving, talked easily & a favourite among all. Her eyes fell instantly on him. She was no attention seeker, but also was not used to being ignored. People liked her & spoke to her. But he seemed distant & not interested. He got more attention in being quiet than she did in all the conversations she made with people.

Something drew her towards him. She wanted to know him better, to be his friend. To stand by him, because it felt like he was alone. She kept glancing at him, wondering why he was the way he was. Maybe she was being intrusive, maybe he was happy being alone. Its then she noticed, his occasional glances towards her. Not with the turn of the head, just a glance with his eyes. That of approval & acceptance. A small curve in the lips that could be a smile or something that said, yes you are my friend. Now she was happy, she had not 19 but 20 new friends.