Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Questions of Love

Strange is thy love with thy words so pure,
You say you love me, I ask are you sure?
In they heart of hearts I know, though you maybe true,
Yet I don’t want to be insincere to you.
I love you so much, even I don’t know it’s depth,
But I do know the nights for you I wept.
Darling, I know I have suffered in your love, maybe so have you,
But let not this suffering continue, grow and worsen too.
Let’s reach some conclusion, you know we can’t hang like this for eternity,
Our love should stand for practicality, for freedom and responsibility.
Dear, we think we love each other, true, but then what next?
I mean, does it mean we’re ready to vow our lives for each other by the text?
If not, then why do we play with each other this game?
We both know, without each other our life wont be the same.
Then why do we hesitate to take this step, this oath of faith, this pledge,
Why do we feel in spite of our love, we’re on a precipice, on an edge?
We say we’ve committed our life for each other in holy dedication,
But still we irk at the thought of losing our individuality in this devotion!
Let’s not feign, not pretend we don’t value our peace of mind,
We both know love is accompanied with hassles of every kind.
When we say we’re in love, are we ready to share in the pain as well as joy?
Or is it we’re just looking for a sense of belonging, irrespective from a human or a toy?
Do we respect each other to an extent of compromise and utter sacrifice of self?
Or is it each of us expect the other to be flexible to the needs of the other self?
Tell me one thing, if love’s so complicated, are we game to take that challenge?
Or do we back off when we see obstacle, or on betrayal we turn to revenge?
These are questions we both have to answer, for ourselves if not for each other,
That are we so in love to be able to lose oneself, souls merge into one another?

He'll come

He will come one day, may that day be soon,
He will take me there, to the stars, by the moon……

He will come my way, we will smile first sight,
He will ask my name, in the summer twilight…….

He shall slowly learn, who I am, what I do,
He will gradually realize I’m nice, I’m true……..

He will then reveal, he’ll tell me about him,
He will open up his heart, his truths, his whim…….

He will show he’s honest, and simple, and good,
He will teach me few things too, make sure I understood……

He will show me the value of friendship and care,
He will shower his admiration, he will love me, he’ll dare……..

He will ask me out some nights, movies or dinner,
He will wisely talk me into it, my hero, he’s a winner…….

He will make sure I’m comfortable, on our every date,
He will even drop me home, before it gets too late……..

He will take me on long drives, we’ll laugh and sing songs,
He wont force me into anything, he’ll know what’s right, and the wrongs……

He will prove his love is pure, when I’m away I’ll be missed,
He will tell me so with feeling, the night I’ll first be kissed…….

He will one day bring up settling, going steady forever,
He will take care of the obstacles, but leave me?, no never…….

He will call me every night, we’ll plan our future bright,
He will help confront my folks about it, we’ll do it all just right…….

He will convince me he’s worthy, he will firmly take resolve,
He will mean it when he tells me, around me his world does revolve…….

He will make me feel so special, his offer how can I deny,
He will gift me a ring that blessed day, I’ll be first to cry……

He will make me part of his heart, home and soul,
He and me will together strive to attain our goal…….

He will make love to me, as no one else could,
He will be so adoring, just as protective as he should……

He will be my guardian, lover, partner, and best friend,
He will be my soul-mate, we wont depart till the end……..

He is there somewhere, in this world, just for me,
He too is dreaming, searching, and hoping like me……..

He too is wondering, and waiting for some clue,
He, like me, is praying for this miracle, happening just to few…….

He will make it, so will I, till that day we wont calmly rest,
He will tackle every test, he’ll be victorious, he’ll be the best……

He will come whistling sweetly, my very favorite tune,
He will walk into my existence, and my life will be a boon……

He will come one day, may that day be soon,
He will take me there, to the stars, by the moon……
Oh innocent heart of mine,
Rivers of blood, tears of wine,
What do you know what is desire?,
When a spark ignites a raging fire…….

Tell me oh heart, whom do you love?,
I so feel…restless, like a caged dove,
Whom do I wait for?, what do I long?,
For whom do I sing this bittersweet song?…….

Oh heart….the pain, the lonely sighs,
The never ending doubts, the what’s and why’s,
If only the joys would last for good,
If just you’d know, tell you if I could……

Who stalks my dreams, none other but you,
One mind we share, be our bodies two,
If just you’d know how special you are,
How special I feel, when you’re near, or far……..

But I know you’ll never see the love in my eyes,
You’ll never see through those silences, and lies,
We will never meet, our lives never share,
Now we laugh together, tomorrow will we be there?……

Oh heart……in your spaces vast,
Who is it whose shadow is cast?,
Who lurks in there?, whose breath is your wind?,
Tell me……if I take your name, have I sinned??…….

The earth stops to spin, the air is still,
With soothing calm my heart does fill,
When your smile emerges in my mind so clear,
Please don’t fade away, and leave behind a tear…….

You will never be mine, but I’m forever yours,
Let the heavens mourn, as the dark sky pours,
Let the ground split wide open, and swallow this tale,
Our incomplete love story…….is buried…..with this wail……

Oh heart, you’re so innocent, why do you beat?,
When your sun has set……then how this heat?,
For now, it’s just twilight, a dusk of gloom,
It’ll be worse, an agonizing night soon…….

Maybe someday one star shining far away,
Will rise on my horizon, a new sun, a new day,
Till then oh heart, I’ll look after you,
I’ll nurse you together, I’ll heal you new……

But heart of mine, don’t take it so hard,
Take it easy, and be on your guard,
See the sun has set, but countless stars glow in the night,
Oh my heart, fly up there…..high…..in that bright light……..

Dear dear heart, how foolish can you be?.
Why ask for the moon, when you have me?,
You innocent gem, in this dream don’t dwell,
This may not be your paradise, but don’t make it a hell!……

Oh heart, it’s alright, spring shall return,
In fact, spring doesn’t have to go, if you just churn,
Don’t wait for the weather, let your garden bloom,
Let it flower, and blossom……hum a little tune……

Hum the tune of harmony, contentment in each form,
Joy in the fragrance of flowers, in the prick of each thorn,
Just water your soil fertile, with the seed of love within,
One day it’ll germinate…….that day you’ll win!!……..

For the sun rises and sets with each day,
But let not this garden wither, I devotedly pray,
Keep away the weeds of ignorance and hate,
I’m sure this garden will prosper into something great!……

Oh heart, trust me, I’ll help you recover,
We’ll slowly succeed, you’ll finally discover,
A sun does nourish a garden with care,
But without a seed, and the soil, we’d be nowhere!……

Oh heart, so innocent, keep tending your soil,
Keep watering your seed, slow but steady in your toil,
So when the sun does rise, you can bask in it’s ray,
And believe it or not, your paradise will be here to stay!……

So, oh innocent heart of mine,
No more rivers of blood, or tears of wine,
You may or may not know what is desire,
But just aspire for the best…..grow, never tire!…….

Guiding Star

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Whenever alone I get that pang,
Emptiness through the night,
I recall the songs for you I sang,
And the darkness fades into light.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Fears creep and tears flow,
My heart just wails, I just weep,
But there’s a hope that dwells,
I know,And a faith that grows so deep.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Silent nights gnawing at the door,
Not a breeze, it’s eerie still,
A floating whisper reaches my core,
And my being with calm does fill.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Life is strange, a vicious round,
In the center, a void so huge,
Serenity within my depths I found,
As I unfold in your refuge.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Tender desires trickle through,
Ripples thoughts, the pond my mind,
A love I treasure, pure and true,
Comforting me, so gentle and kind.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Dreamy eyes rise heavenwards,
Sleep stalks me, steady and sure,
Soon I’ll soar, higher than the birds,
And I’ll glow, so bright, evermore.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

I know quite soon, a matter of hours,
I’ll be up there, watching from above,
I too shall be one of those billion stars,
And a pair of eyes will look at me, for love.

Somewhere in that glittering sky,
There’s a star that shines for me,
Don’t know when it’ll come shooting by,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me……

Oh yes, up there, it’s plain to see,
Sparkling star, as grand as can be,
But still it’s there, it’s guiding me.

Greatest Lesson

(Preface- During the discovery phase of one’s sexual orientation, ‘denial’ is an observed phenomenon, in some cases of homosexuality. Sometimes, guys, on realizing their gay tendencies, tend to go into a relative phase of self-denial, thereby regressing from their sexual identity. There can be many reasons for this, doubt, fear of family and friends, and stringent infrastructure of values in the society. During this period of denial, guys try to immerse themselves wholly in their work, or on the other hand, withdraw from activity and socializing. They lose faith in the emotion called love, and refuse to acknowledge it’s importance. They take loneliness for granted and continue depriving themselves, leaving them dissatisfied. This not only affects one’s social behavior outside home, but also the relationships within the family. This story is about such a youth, who denies himself love, and how he learns the greatest lesson and truth life has to offer. That truth being……Love, and self-acceptance.)

‘Live like you’ll die tomorrow,Learn like you’ll live forever!’
That was his motto. His existence centered on his learning, his education. He was a research analyst at Pharma Labs., a chemical laboratory which was a pioneer in the field of research in modern day medicine. His name, Siddharth meant ‘the successful one’……and his achievements in the 24 years of his life spelled nothing but success & security. He was an intelligent intellectual with an infectious smile. Though he wasn’t self-conscious about looks, he claimed the poise and profile of a good-looking individual. With a little polishing he could have stormed the ramp & modeling circuits. However, in spite of insistent remarks and compliments from friends and colleagues, he wasn’t interested to venture into that. He was much too absorbed in his work, to spare a thought to his attire……or even his moods. Siddharth, better known at home as Sid, and by close buddies as ‘Sid the Sloth!’, was an ambitious, amiable……and outwardly pleasing personality. He had no qualms in life……no regrets…..perhaps even no desires…..or dreams. Maybe that was coz he’d never given a thought to it before……or probably, avoided thinking about it……
‘Siddharth, dinner’s ready, you can come out of your den now!’, his mom bellowed…..Sid slided into his favorite seat at the table, armed with his pen, papers, and perfectionist attitude…..‘ Sid, you’re not to bring your research stuff here, haven’t we warned you before’, his mom voiced indignantly……evidently irritated……‘ Oh mamma, I’ve to submit this file next week, gimme a break, I’m working over-time, please bear with me’‘ Sid, listen to your mom for once, you don’t have to work while eating, eat in peace & let us eat in peace too’, his dad announced, a note of finalty in his voice.‘ Dad, you know how it is……I thought at-least you’d understand!’‘ Sid…’, his mom began again, but was cut-short by the ringing of the phone…..‘ I’ll get it’, Sid jumped up n rushed to the hall….‘ Hello…..Oh hi Parth, yeah about that article, maybe we should just conceptualize on the side effects of…….Oh, hold on a sec’…….placing his hand over the receiver…..’Mamma, you both can begin, don’t wait for me, I’ll join you when I’m done’……returning to the phone…..’Yeah Parth, as I was saying…’, Sid’s speech droned into silence as he entered his bedroom and shut the door……
Shaking her head in exasperation, Sid’s mom sank into her chair & complained aloud…..‘ I don’t recall the last time the 3 of us have dined together peacefully since this boy’s begun this job of his……it’s been like this since his college…..either it’s the phone, or his paper-work, I wonder if he even realizes what’s entering his mouth these days! Suno ji, I’m getting worried about our Sid, he’s too consumed in his work, he doesn’t care about us anymore…..and after we wedded Shilpa off, well I’m beginning to feel a bit lonely at home, it’s as if we didn’t have Sid at all, we have to do something, that job of his is ruling his life!’Sid’s dad replied calmly,’ Sudha, don’t get tensed up at dinner-time, you know Sid’s working hard to settle down well in life……I admit he’s not able to give us quality-time, but that’s accounted for, obviously he’ll want to earn, and settle down firm before he begins on his own. Don’t raise the topic of marriage again, he’ll scoff it off as usual. Be easy on him Sudha, as parents we should understand his limitations, and respect his privacy, don’t worry so much about him. Infact, his perseverance amazes me at times….I’m proud of our boy’……‘ I miss Shilpa…..I miss our Sid, the one we knew earlier…..the one who used to watch TV with us, dine with us, do my grocery shopping for me, make us laugh…..you remember the time we got so mad at Shilpa for staying out late one date, how Sid patched it all up……he was always the good lil brother, the obedient loving son, Shilpa was the stubborn one……I miss those days…..I miss that Sid’…..‘ Sudha, stop it, we’ll discuss this after dinner, I don’t want to miss the news at 9, I’ll talk to Sid ok, relax’‘ If you don’t, I will, we have to say something now, I want my Sid back!’‘ Mamma, I’m here…where did I go?! Why haven’t you guys begun, I’d told you I’d join you…..what were you talking about me?’‘ Not now, dinner first & Sid beta, no more calls till we’ve finished ok’‘ Aye aye captain’Sid’s mom grinned as she served the plates. Dinner-talk was a matter of insignificant ‘muhallah’ gossip, bills, repairing jobs at home, Shilpa’s news…..and Sid’s work. Once the table was cleared & the bulletin at 9 over, before Sid had a chance to clam up in his oyster, his mom n dad had a serious talk with him. Mom’s will remain mom’s, Sid’s mom laid her case, underlining she wanted some changes at home…and in Sid. Dad was the more composed judge presiding over the hearing, however he had his say too…..‘ Sid dekho, we know how important this job is for you, but at the rate your going, you’ll go mad, or we’ll go mad looking at you! We’re not saying it’s bad, but at office there are certain priorities, at home there are certain priorities……and in your personal life you may have some priorities. Priorities change with surroundings……Your mom gets worked up about you working too hard, you should be a hard worker, but not 24 hours a day, not every day of the week…..why don’t you join a club or gym or something……you so rarely socialize with friends. Don’t immerse yourself in work to the extent you forget to live ok?’Sid eyed his parents worrisome faces, and listened on…..his mom spoke next….‘ Beta, we love you, you know that, you’ve already achieved much more than what we’d dreamt for you……when you were younger, you pursued sports, drama…and drawing too. You were so social then, of-course you have a right to pursue what you want, or don’t want…..but….but how is joining a hobby class distracting you from your work?’
It was a grueling discussion, at the end of which, Sid’s folks were much relieved……and Sid was okay too. He’d let his parents talk him into taking up a hobby class, or a health club, so his routine would provide more variety, and he’d get some time off from his study too. Not that a hobby class was necessary, but then having a productive, purposeful excuse was better than just an excuse……and maybe after all, a hobby had the relaxing atmosphere to lure Sid away from his academic world. Anyway, Sid agreed, not too enthusiastically, but readily enough to take up his previous talent with charcoal and colors……a sketching & painting course, at a renowned institute in the city. Yes, the gym was equally attractive an alternative……but Sid was a little shy about the idea of body-exposure there……and well, he had ample physical exercise in his daily morning jogging, & at office too, he was almost always on his toes. Moreover, drawing would allow Sid’s creative juices, which had momentarily frozen in the fast-paced race for career accomplishments, to flow freely again……and who knows, maybe having friends outside your field of expertise may help……For the first time since he’d been offered his research post a year back, Sid began contemplating and entertaining new & fresh ideas. A new window opened……
‘Hi! Prashant here, are you new?’‘ Yes, I’m Siddharth, just enrolled today, I heard it’s a popular course for amateur artists’‘ It is. Mr. Singhal is a marvelous teacher & it’s more than just a hobby class. Presently a workshop is being conducted here for an international crowd…….acclaimed artists, grooming talent, different themes and reviews, it’s all here, a thorough learning experience. So, are you good with the brush n palette Siddharth?’‘ Better with charcoal, though I’ve lost touch. I’m working you know, don’t usually get time for such pleasures.’‘ That’s okay. I’m a Fine Arts student myself. But I have to admit I’ve picked up more tips here than from my professors at college. Mr. Singhal is the best, the teaching here is state-of-the art…..literally!’‘ You’re from Delhi itself?’‘ Originally yes, but doing my bachelor in Fine Arts at a University in UK now. Though an Indian by birth, I’ve lived in London since I was 10.’‘ Oh, so you shifted to UK when you were young?’‘ Yes…..yes……I did……had to.’‘ Coz your folks shifted base?’‘ No….not that…hey what about you, tell me about yourself too Siddharth?’‘ Call me Sid……everyone does!’
And Sid talked…….about his family, his sister, now married and settled in Canada, his childhood, schools, college, his distinction in chemical engineering, his current occupation…….and his interest in sketching, unfortunately for which he’d no time in his hectic schedule………but how his folks coaxed him into pursuing his talent in this forte. Prashant was much impressed by the cascading tirade of acquirements in Sid’s life. Moreover, he found Sid to be a warm, energetic, and friendly guy……..and being an ‘outsider’ in the city for a limited duration, making new friends was not on the ‘to-do’ list for him. In Sid’s case however , this was an exception…….
That first day Sid was unable to collect much information about Prashant, except that he was 19 years of age, from UK, in town for one of Singhal’s international art workshops, and currently staying with his aunt in Delhi. It was soon known that Prashant was quite a genius at human figure portraits. Art was Prashant’s whole n soul passion. It was what he lived for, it was what he’d die doing……
As days passed by, their friendship strengthened amidst the strokes and shades, contours and curves, theory and practical sessions, interactive lectures and recesses. Sid slowly got apprised of Prashant’s past…..the tragic loss of his parents in an automobile collision when he was just 9, how his aunt looked after him for a year before his admission to a prestigious boarding school in England, for which he had to leave his homeland…….How he wasn’t so scholarly when it came to algebra and sciences, but how he discovered he was gifted with the pastels n canvas…….and hence, how he’d decided to focus on art as his goal, his dream.…..and his destiny……
In Prashant, Sid found a friend totally unlike his other friends. He didn’t categorize under those brainy, extrovert, humorous characters who formed Sid’s limited friend-circle. Prashant was more reserved, mature for his young age, a cheerful disposition and a fresh unassuming nature. He had that untouched innocence that is rare to find. His eagerness to learn, and his elation at gaining knowledge were his likeable traits. He wasn’t one of those know-it-all bloated egos that stalked the world of professionalism. Prashant was different, an altruistic shade, a spiritual countenance, and yet, a unique sense of style. He was very perceptive, and positively pure at heart. To Sid’s mind, Prashant resembled a blooming bud waiting patiently to flower into fragrant beauty. To have him as a friend was very rewarding, for not only did Prashant guide Sid during drawing classes, but also regarding general aspects of life…….Sid was able to learn a lot about life, through Prashant’s masterpiece sketches, and his few but wise words……Prashant was truly gifted. He saw people, he drew people, he could connect with other hearts through his eyes, he perceived emotions, understood feelings. His compositions spoke about life & expression in the mould of the human form. A brilliant artist, and a beautiful person. And for Sid, a very special friend……One day, after class dispersed,
‘Prashant, you told me you stayed with your aunt here, so how do you travel to n fro?’‘ Bus, of-course.’‘ Not today, I’m dropping you home, that is if you don’t mind my company during the drive, though, I’m sure my car will ensure a more comfortable ride…….as compared to those tin-box buses on the roads! Come along, we’re travelling in style today!’Saying so Sid caught hold of Prashant’s arm, to lead him towards the car-parking area…….however, he was met by resistance….‘ What’s the matter, forgotten something inside?’‘ No.’‘ Then come on, you don’t want me to drop you?’‘ Well, I’m sorry, but yes, I’m turning down the kind invitation.’‘ Why? You don’t like me do you?’Prashant laughed politely.‘ Nothing like that Sid.’‘ Then what pray may I ask is the reason for your reluctance?’ Sid asked, a tinge of humor in his tone.‘ For that, you’ll have to travel with me by bus one day.’‘ Fine, let’s go now.’‘ You’re ready?’‘ Sure, why not?…..You forget, I belong here, still I’m unsure as to what the novelty of a mere bus ride is, in front of a posh Ford vehicle, that too, considering you hail from UK. Let’s check out what’s so good about the bus.’‘ Haven’t you ever traveled by bus here?’‘ Not for a while….why?’‘ Okay, come then…..you’ll see why.’Once aboard, crammed into seats in the congested bus, their conversation resumed….‘ You chose this to my car?! Prashant, you gotto be kidding!’‘ Don’t you see Sid, I’m used to journeying in luxury everyday, so this discomfort is a welcome experience to me, and enjoyable too! But on a more important note, it’s here you get to observe people, their life unfolding, you blend into their laughter, their chit-chatter, their tears……You learn about life through these people, you learn about yourself through them. You become one of them, you are one of them! You’re inspired for a new artwork here. It’s true, life teaches us it’s lessons in the most unusual places, undoubtedly one of them is the bus. Nothing so special about an air-conditioned car, but sitting with different people everyday in a rickety, rusty bus teaches you things about life you’ll otherwise fail to notice. We cant learn about life unless we open up to it, just like we cant see unless we look around, keeping one’s eyes open isn’t enough! Life’s like a puzzle and the puzzle’s incomplete without those missing pieces…….n those missing links are hidden in the most inconspicuous places, one of them being……the…..?’Sid was dumb-struck, in no condition to promptly fill in that blank……he couldn’t find his voice, it was lost somewhere in his sudden enlightenment……‘ Hello, where are you?’ Prashant whispered to the unblinking face before him…..‘ Uh, I’m here……I was only…. thinking…….sorry, what were you saying?’‘ Never mind!’‘ Yes, you were telling me about the benefits of a bus-ride……I must confess, I never saw it from this point of view.’‘ Everything in life can have more than one angle to it. We usually relate the situation to the perspective that suits our thinking the most. However, each of those perspectives has something good and bad about it, they aren’t completely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by themselves.’‘ Wow! You’re quite a philosopher, and this is all from observation?’‘ Yes, that and the willingness to let life within you, the willingness to open up to life’s secrets…..’‘ What you said about angles…..and the good n bad of each, do they apply to everything?’‘ As in?’‘ As in relationships or so?’‘ Sure they do, every relationship can have more than one angle to it, each with it’s own plus n minus points.’‘ How so?’‘ Sid, consider a friendship, one angle to that is the ‘friendly, benevolent’ component, another angle is the ‘loving, passionate’ component, yet another angle could be the ‘envy, evil, hatred’ factor. All are different shades of a single relation, all extremely varied, yet they can’t be separated from it. And they each have positive and negative points to their credit. Friends can be lovers, friends can be just friends, and friends can be enemies too, each a different color in the same palette and each color gives a definite depth and value to the painting, same way each angle of a relationship gives the relation a new meaning.’‘ So you say a relationship can have many angles?’‘ Yes, and we choose the one which suits our mentality best, like we do color combinations at art class.’‘ So what about us?’‘ Well, what about us?’‘ We’re friends?’‘ Don’t you think so?’‘ Are we?’‘ Of course.’‘ But as you said, that’s just one angle of it.’‘ Are there more angles to it?’‘ Sure- I can hate you for being a better artist than me, that makes us enemies……I can love you for the person you are, that would make us…….something more than friends…….’‘ Like what?’‘ Like….lovers!’Prashant looked into Sid’s black eyes, eyes that were gazing right back at his own….eyes fired with a new spirit……‘ So what are you saying- do you love me or hate me?!’‘ If I say I love you, what would your reaction be?’‘ I’d laugh!’‘ You’d laugh at love?’‘ I’d laugh at your love!’‘ Why?’‘ It’s preposterous!’‘ Coz we’re both guys?’‘ Initially, yes!’‘ But you can reason it out yourself cant you?’‘ About what?’‘ About two guys who may say they love each other!’‘ Please explain, I’m still at sea.’‘ As you said, each situation or relation can have more than one angle to it, we can apply the same rule to sexuality…..’‘ Are you saying…..?’‘ Yes, I’m saying……homosexuality is one angle, hetrosexuality is one, bisexuality is another, each chooses one which suits his mentality the most……and each have their plus and minus points!’‘ So……you’re….?’‘ If I say I’m one of those angles, and that I love you, can you put two n two together?’‘ Sid, this is inconceivable!’‘ Nothing in life is impossible!’‘ So what do you want from me?’‘ Nothing.’‘ Oh!…?’‘ Prashant, I’ve just given you something to think about, applying your principles to it, that’s all.’‘ Is that the end of it?!’‘ You could give me an answer…..’‘ Meaning you want me to tell you I love you back?!’‘ No, I didn’t say that….’‘ But that’s what you want to hear isn’t it?’‘ Maybe.’‘ You’re not sure?’‘ About?’‘ About what you want to hear….?’‘ Doesn’t that depend on what you feel Prashant?’‘ No, Sid…..It depends on what you feel….and how much you feel…..and how much you give…..’‘ I don’t get you….’‘ Our stop…..let’s get down’, they alighted at the bus-stop……‘ Sid, come over, the house is a 10 minute walk from here, come meet my aunt, have tea with us, she’ll like you……’‘ I will…..on one condition.’‘ Which is?’‘ Which is that tomorrow after class, you will come with me to my place, and meet my folks, okay?’‘ Done! And we’ll go by your car too okay?’‘ Not okay!’‘ Oh, why?’‘ Coz tomorrow onwards, I’m coming n going from class……by bus!’Prashant’s face lit up with an engaging smile. Prashant was 2 inches shorter to Sid’s 5’11” frame. While Sid was athletic & toned, Prashant was slim, with the gait of a wood-nymph. Sid was dark-haired and dark-eyed with a fair complexion, Prashant was lightly tanned with gray eyes, eyes that spoke volumes of wisdom……and truth…..for the truth was plainly visible to Sid, Prashant too, like him, was gay….and loved him too!……Sid didn’t need the words to confirm this, Prashant’s heart was an open book…….They walked in silence…….
Prashant’s aunt was a motherly character. Widowed recently, she lived alone, and though she’d not borne any kids of her own, Prashant was like her own child. She’d wanted the best for him, so had somehow beaten the odds to arrange for his schooling in Britain. She accepted his decision to specialize in Art, since she was aware he was more inclined to being artistic from the time he was a kid. Tea was a homely affair, they chatted like family…….Two hours later, suddenly realizing how late it had become, as Sid was taking his leave, he courteously requested Prashant’s aunt to grant him the weekend’s stay at Sid’s home. Prashant’s aunt was only too happy to agree. Prashant was ecstatic……..
Next evening Prashant was introduced to Sid’s folks. They warmed up to him instantly. Later, Prashant even offered to help out in the kitchen, claiming that cooking was another one of his interests. After dinner, for the first time in ages, the TV remained off, and surprisingly, Sid didn’t retire to his den, they all shared a few rounds of card games, intercepted by many a jokes and funny narratives. The living room came alive with loud laughter this night……..In between, Sid’s mom glanced once or twice in her husband’s direction, with incredulous eyes. She was full of astonishment, what she couldn’t do in a year, Prashant had done in one night!……..
Over the weekend, Prashant really mixed n mingled with the household in a way, he became everyone’s favorite. And Sid paid heed to the beckoning pleas of his juvenile heart, he made a startling discovery……it dawned on him, he was in love with Prashant…… but as he’d already confessed of his this feeling to him, now if anyone had to make a move, it had to be Prashant……..
Monday morning arrived and everyone wanted Prashant to stay longer, but he refused out of genuine concern for his aunt, who was home alone. Sid offered to drop him back, while Sid’s folks invited Prashant to come over again soon, as this home was his own now……During the drive,‘ Prashant, I’ve to talk to you…..’‘ Sid, you have the best parents in the world! Wow! That weekend was awesome fun, thanks so much, I’ve some wonderful memories to carry back with me now……’‘ What…?!’‘ What happened?’‘ You……you’re….leaving?!’‘ In another week……yes…..why are you so flabbergasted, I thought you knew I’m studying abroad?’‘ I did……but…..you’re here for a course right?’‘ Yes……for a workshop spanning 4 weeks, it’ll get over next week, then I’ll have to return. I’d been chosen by my batch to represent my University at the workshop, I’ve done that…..and I had a chance to meet my aunt….that’s all I wanted….’, Prashant diverted his gaze to the scene outside the car window, as he furiously tried to blink back tears…….‘ Stop it, Prashant…..you’ll hurt yourself.’‘ What…?!’‘ I know you love me!’‘ I…….no……I don’t…….whatever gave you that idea?!’‘ You didn’t tell me……..I just realized I already knew!’‘ Sid……I …….No…..’‘ Prashant, listen, I know you’ve to go back, I know you’ll return, and I can and shall wait for you, till you do……’‘ No……..Sid………you cant.’‘ Why not?’‘ Because my duty is over….’‘ Duty?! What are you talking about?’‘ Do you remember when we first met?’‘ Yes…..I do…..Why?’‘ You recall you told me about yourself?’‘ Uh-huh…..what’s this leading to?’‘ Sid, you told me your motto- ‘to Live like you’ll die tomorrow, to Learn like you’ll live forever’, however you’d concentrated solely on learning, so much that you didn’t much savor living anymore, I could see that. I just wanted to show you there’s a lot to learn about life beyond your technical books and that the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is to love someone and to be loved back in return…..’Sid took a moment to let these insightful words sink in……..then still reflective, he said,‘ Prashant……..but I love you.’‘ Sid, I’ll not be back for another 2 years……’‘ I can wait…..for you….’‘ No, I will not permit that, I…..I forbid it.’‘ Why, don’t you love me too?’‘ We’re…..we’re here…..wont you come upstairs Sid?’‘ Prashant, answer me…….’‘ Sid……I……well……love isn’t about what you expect to get, it’s what you’re expected to give- and that is everything……Love is the only thing you get more of by giving it away……’‘ True……but you haven’t answered the question yet…..?’‘ I………..’‘ Do you love me or no Prashant?’‘ I…………….’‘ Prashant, please be truthful to yourself, if not for me….’‘ Oh God!….Siddharth, I Do Love You!….but I didn’t want you to love me for that, I just wanted to show you….what love means, how it can change a life……’‘ You already have….dear.’‘ Would you like to come up?’‘ No, I’m rushing for work, I’ll meet you at class in the afternoon…..’‘ I’ll be there….’‘ See you soon….love’, he bent over to kiss Prashant’s cheeks. Prashant gently caressed Sid’s face with a tender touch of his soft palms……..smiling serenely, he bid farewell……..
As Sid was driving towards his work-place, slithering through Monday morn traffic, inwardly he was rejoicing, about how he’d been blessed with love, how it had changed his life, how love had taught him to live….once again!……It’s a fact, the small things in life, which Sid took for granted and never really bothered about, he gradually learnt what a difference they can make to a human being, how these priceless pleasure giving moments make our each struggle worthwhile, make our each breath treasured. Like, for instance, the wrinkles depicting age-old wisdom in an elderly’s face, a glint of mischievous excitement in the eyes of a kid, a bundle of joy to cradle a baby to sleep in your arms, dew-drops on a rose, the moist aroma of the earth when the first rains quench it’s thirst, the silence of the slumbering city in the darkest hours of dawn, and the first signs of stirring as the world welcomes a rising sun……..to feel the boundless love and protection of falling asleep in your mother’s lap, the unshakeable trust in your father’s sound advice……the companionship of friends, the power of music and movement, and the devotion of a beloved…….the simple ticking of a clock, the sweetness of ripe fruits, the steady steep rise to success, the voice of a dear friend when he calls after ages, the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window-sill, and the sheer enjoyment of flying a kite, or dancing n getting drenched in a downpour……..such things……small surprises nature bestows on us, the little things in life we tend never to give a second thought to……but all the same, which make us feel special and warm within, these lay forgotten in the mundane, monotonous existence of Sid’s workaholic life. But the love of a special soul had changed all that……..Churning on these thoughts, the lyrics of a soulful Celine Dion song, drifting from the radio, caught Sid’s ear……he listened with rapt attention……The words went…….
‘There was a boy,A very strange enchanted boy,They say he wandered very far, very far,Over land and sea.A little shy & sad of eye,But very wise was he.
And then one day,One magic day he passed my way,And while we spoke of many things,Fools and Kings,This he said to me,The greatest thing you’ll ever learn,Is just to love and to be loved in return.’
‘Yes, I’ve learnt this lesson…….and I found such a boy….Prashant……& he loves me too! I shall wait for him to return, and we’ll be happy ever after, he and me!…..’, Sid exultantly anticipated. Yes, convincing his folks still remained a hindrance, but Sid was confident his folks would understand, and this hurdle they could together overcome. After all, his parents knew him now, and liked him too!……’And maybe I can go settle in UK, so that we can be together, Oh yes, things are going to work out for us’ he thought……Sid was jubilant, he’d found true happiness……he’d found love!……
In front of love, Sid’s accomplishments, success, education and office, all of it appeared so small, so trivial, as if whatever he’d earned in his life till now, none of it was as special, and as valuable, as what he’d earned now…..love!…..Funny, he was driving to the office, but his office never felt less important to him than now!……Sid was in the seventh heaven………
CRASH….BANG, Bang!!……..
‘SID, you’re getting late for office, wake up!’, his mom screeched……Sid stumbled out of bed in a daze and unlocked the bedroom door……his mom entered,‘ Sid beta, what’s wrong, aren’t you well?’‘ Kuch nahi Mamma, I’m okay, what day is it today?’‘ It’s……it’s a Friday….Why?’‘ Oh……oh nothing…….I thought it was Monday…..that’s all………….’‘ Sid, are you feeling alright?’‘ Yes….Why Ma?’‘ Oh nothing…..just that last night, when we discussed about you taking up some hobby, I wondered if your dad and me weren’t too hard on you…..we’re sorry beta, it’s just that…….well anyway, we’ve decided you don’t have to do it for us, do only what pleases you, okay dear?’‘ Mamma…….I…….’‘ Hey, get up, or you’ll get late for your office, you’ve never been late before!’‘ Mamma wait, let me say this……I am going to pursue that drawing course you suggested, because I do feel like it, what’s more, I don’t care if I’m a little late for office today, but I’m having breakfast with you and dad before I leave…….I…….I really love you!’‘ Oh…….Sid……..’, but the rest of the words were lost as mother and son embraced…….
Sid was never a bathroom singer, today though the bathroom walls witnessed a new spectacle, Sid humming a melodious tune in the shower!……the tune of a Celine Dion number……..
‘There was a boy,A very strange enchanted boy……
And this he said to me,The greatest thing you’ll ever learn,Is just to love & to be loved in return.’
Sid had learnt his lesson. He’d learnt that self-acceptance and love for the self are the keys to a happy n love-filled life, that we must be grateful for all that we’re blessed with, and be humble enough to respect what we’ve got, and noble enough to share it with others, that we must open up to life, and live life to the fullest, only then will love flow back to us!…….Last but not least, Sid learnt to never lose hope, to keep up the faith, keep believing in your dreams, and in yourself first. And never to stop believing that you are special, and that the world is a more special place coz you’re in it!…….Sid’s motto still centers around life and learning, but it includes ‘love’ now…….Now Sid’s motto is,

‘Love thy self, love thy life,
Love to learn, and learn to love!’

Crush Rush

February 14th, Valentine’s Day!!……’Oh boy, what joy, when will anyone love moi?!’, Neil grumbled, propping himself up on his bed, yawning precariously……’Well, might as well go to college, no point brooding in here all day.….who knows, my crush just might smile back, or maybe even gift me a card or something?!!!’, he perked up. ‘Oh, it’s no use, I know it’ll never turn out the way I want it to, first of all, Henry hasn’t an inkling that I adore him, secondly, he doesn’t even know I’m gay, and I have grave doubts he’s one either, last but not the least, why the hell will he wish me when he has all those gals swooning over him?!’, conflicting thoughts fleeting through his mind, Neil forced himself out of bed and went over to the mirror…….he didn’t quite relish what he saw, a reflection of tousled hair, groggy eyes still heavy with slumber, a few slight scars from early adolescent acne, but a still evenly featured, and cute face…….’Neil O’Brian, you don’t look bad, especially when you’re groomed, just don’t be such a sadist, perceive a winning image for yourself, and the world will perceive you in that image, so buck up, get ready, and go show Henry what you are!.….if the worst comes to worst, the only drawback is that the whole campus will run amok with the sensation that their star choir vocalist is a gay!!….but who cares?!!……I don’t, at-least, not much!…..I just want Henry to know I care for him like hell, I cant bottle it up any more, it’s getting me unnerved!!’, Neil recalled how he’d gone all wobbly when he’d seen Henry’s handsome face looking straight into him during music rehearsals the past week……at-least they shared one common interest, music….while Neil was a good singer, Henry Kluger, 2 years his senior at college, was an aspiring guitarist……Neil couldn’t forget the first time he’d seen Henry at music class, a 6’ athletic muscular frame, his toned muscles clearly outlined through his black turtleneck, his body hugging faded denims, and Nike sneakers…….a jaw and mouth that could have been carved by a sculptor, steely blue eyes, and an aquiline nose, a tanned flawless skin, his almost perfect face framed by his dark wavy hair……and his smile, warm, genuine, a perfect set of white teeth, and the rest was history…….Neil, wondered what this hunk of a guy was doing in a music class?…..he would have been the stage-idol had he pursued theatre, or even more popular as a football star!……but what luck!, he was a guitarist, and Neil could steal glances at his ‘crush’ almost everyday…….and he realized, he seemed to want Henry more with each day!!…….But, Neil was also quick to note, Henry Kluger held an irresistible charm not just for him, but many of the other guys, and all the girls at their university!…...as to whom Henry liked, that was an unsolved mystery, although he was seen to date some of the lasses, he wasn’t rumored to be in a steady relationship with anyone…….’God, even if he is a gay, he would never come to like me, forget losing his marbles for me!!’…….Neil once again glanced at his reflection…….5’10”, lean and average built, fair and fit, large hazel eyes, a cute, impish face topped with hay-blonde close-cropped hair…….’Not bad, not bad at all, now all I need is a hot shower, shave, some stunning outfit and a red rose, and I’d be ready for him!’, Neil giggled self-amused………as he headed for the bathroom he sighed…….’If only, my thoughts could reach him now, and he notices me…….sigh……oh well, lets see what the girls surprise him with, bet he’ll get a million roses today!…….hope he accepts mine?!!’………
Neil was right, Henry was floundered with flowers……cards, little gifts-‘tokens of love for our gorgeous-greek-god-guitarist’ the girls had chorused!……Seeing Henry smile sublimely as he received end number of such delights, not to mention chocolates, Neil tried to gear up and approach the guy who had intimidated him for the past 10 months……..in the beginning, Neil was drawn towards Henry’s drop-dead looks, then it was his talent at music, and lately, Henry’s inner charm, absolutely oozing with bonhomie. Today, Henry looked particularly attractive in black slacks, leather boots, a red v-neck sweater, which being a size smaller, accentuated his V-shaped torso, and shapely biceps……freshly shaved, he was fragrant with musk cologne, while his damp hair freshly smelled of shampoo…….’He’s too sexy, he’s looking divine today!’, were the whispers that were ushered, not just by the students, but even the professors and teachers at campus!!…….Neil had considered…….the only time he would be able to disclose his heart’s feelings to Henry would be right after music period, he thought, for it was too risky to do it after school timings, when everyone would be practically buzzing around the charismatic youth. Neil hoped his brown suede trousers, and cream polo-necked sweater, complete with designer shoes, and the new after shave lotion he’d tried that day was appealing, he didn’t want to look too bad at the act……..he had cancelled the idea of a rose, ’It’d seem too preposterous to do that on such impulse’, Neil pondered…….’I’ll just wish him…….a smile will do, if he gets any vibes, then all and good, otherwise, whatevva?!!’…….

The bell went off, and the students at music class dispersed slowly, filing out of the hall……it was a particularly spontaneous session today, their professor had asked some of the students to perform their favorite love tunes for all to share……Henry’s rendition of ‘Edlewiess’ and ‘Something Good’, from ‘Sound of Music’ was enthusiastically cheered…….When it was Neil’s turn, he had racked his brain hard, finally singing a Whitney Huston number, ‘The Greatest Love of All’……he remembered stealing a glance at Henry while singing…..Henry was seated casually on the corner stool, his arms embracing the guitar, as he played the chords in exact pitch to Neil’s melodious tones…….the class erupted into applause, though Neil wondered if it was Henry who ought to get credit, he’d stand no chance singing in stark silence, especially with Henry around!!...…his voice would have failed him in that case!!, but Henry had rushed to the rescue, and complimented the song with his guitar skills……Now that the class was over, Neil braced himself, he was about to do what he’d never dreamt of doing before……to tell his ‘crush’ Henry, that he was a fantastic performer, a wonderful guy…….and that he, Neil O’Brian, was madly in love with him!!……

‘Err, excuse me…..Henry…..Hii!…..I just wanted to tell you, that was a mighty good performance you gave in there, and thanks a lot for backing me up…..I was kinda jittery, but it seemed ok in aide of the music don’t you think?’, Neil inquired, trying to move Henry a bit to the side of the corridor they were passing, but in vain, for Henry was already swamped with his ‘music-fans’……still, Henry detached from the chattering crowd……and slowed down to meet Neil’s eyes……..

As Henry’s eyes penetrated into his own, Neil again felt that familiar sensation of ‘rubber-knees’……yet he held firm…..and boldly repeated, ‘So Henry, what did you think, did I do alright in there?’……Neil’s eyes searching into the blue depths of Henry’s for some sign…..
‘You were beautiful O’Brian……and you chose a good number too, though Neil, try concentrating on the higher pitches, you’re voice wavered a bit there, but otherwise, a most splendid performance, I wanted to personally compliment you for it, thanks for giving me that chance…..Neil’, Neil felt as if he was losing himself in that deep voice……he quickly regained…..
‘It’s Valentine’s today isn’t it?…..I saw you were being showered with every possible gift and card, you’re seat has become a local shrine today…..it’s flooded!’, Neil managed to mumble, as Henry’s look sent those shivers down to his core……Henry smiled, and most humbly replied, ‘Well, I’m flattered by their love, all I can do is perhaps give them my heart felt thanks, and best wishes, that’s all I have’…….Neil at once grasped the words…..Henry said warm wishes, he didn’t say he ‘loved’ all his admirers!…..that means, Henry is particular about who he ‘loves’, even if that is behind a mask of superficiality……Henry does love someone……..

‘Well, I just wanted to wish you all the best on this day Henry’, Neil voiced, smiling warmly at his ‘dream-guy’…….and in his mind he was praying, ‘Oh Lord, just let him know I care for him, and love him truly, I don’t want him, I can love him from a distance, but just let him know’……
Henry once again stared into Neil’s light hazel eyes…….eyes that twinkled with some sparkling serenity……as Henry looked into that cute face, a striking resemblance struck him……when he was younger, Henry had tried to visualize what a love-cupid would have looked like!…..now as he saw the smiling angelic face before him……Henry thought……’If there were really cupids out there, I’d title Neil as one, he looks lovable!’…….

Neil didn’t notice the hand Henry had struck out, gesturing a hand shake, Neil’s trance was broken only when he felt Henry’s firm but gentle hand on his shoulder……suddenly he was back…….mustering one last smile at ‘his love’, Neil abruptly turned and walked away……A somewhat surprised Henry was rooted to the spot…….the magic of that sweet smile hadn’t worn off him yet….and he didn’t realize, Neil’s sudden departure was just coz Neil had wanted to hide that lone tear that trickled down his cheek as he retreated…….Neil had decided…….he had tried to convey his love through his thoughts……if they didn’t work, then his words would be useless……..

Neil didn’t know……..his thoughts….had reached Henry……..The final bell was announced, the day at college was over…….Neil was the last student to amble out of his classroom……the corridors were deserted……the head-peon was busy barricading the administrative offices with security locks……while the sweeper was doing his last rounds on the grounds…….the campus appeared strangely lifeless……or was it that Neil felt like that??…….as he passed the music hall, the doors now locked, he recollected the scene that occurred on that spot earlier that day……Henry’s hand on his shoulder…..and the sudden rush of emotion he’d felt welling up within, and his hasty return, just an excuse to shield his single tear……..He envisioned Henry…….the answer to every women’s dream……and if he was gay, or even a bisexual, he’d be the answer to every other gay man’s fantasies!…….he pictured all those 10 months of seeing him during the day, and thinking about him during the night……..he’d dreamt of sharing, with Henry, wild passionate nights, romantic evenings, endless conversations, silent walks on the beaches, trekking expeditions, star gazing, scooba-diving, ice-skating, live-duet-performances…….and so many more special moments…….but now they all seemed distant……and hazy…….Neil remembered, that morning, when he’d awoken, he’d crossed his fingers and hoped that Henry was a gay, that all those smiles and dates he was putting on for the girls was all just to play along……..Neil had dreamt last night……that Henry would present him with a red rose that Valentine’s, as a token, to represent the respect, the admiration, the appreciation, and the affection and awe they treasured for each other……’Ha Ha!, yeah right, why would he ever give me a red rose?!….what am I to him in front of those always jabbering, giggling, gossiping, flirting, chirping birdies hovering around him?!…..somehow till now, I felt….well……that they weren’t his type……that he’d be different…..but what does that matter now?…..I guess I was wrong, maybe I did have a crush on a straight guy?…..it’s alright, we all are allowed mistakes once in a lifetime……but he seemed so……..well…..good, any ways, maybe in our next lifetime eh Henry?!’, Neil was talking to himself…….as he neared the gates of the campus……after strolling over the empty grounds……he was met with a totally unexpected sight…..Henry……dear Henry…..same red sweater, black pants, black shoes, same smart, sexy guy……but with a somewhat different smile….and a somehow different twinkle to his alluring blue eyes…….a flash at those perfect set of teeth as Henry opened his mouth to slowly say, ‘Hello Neil, what kept you?, I’ve been waiting here!…….I had something to tell you too……but first……’Henry’s right hand came abreast from behind him…….he held it up……in his hand was nestled…….a lovely red rose…….which he wanted to gift to his ‘crush’ since the last 10 months…….Neil!!……. And so their search ends here….and a journey begins…….’And boy, what a journey!……Oh boy! What joy! I have you to love moi!!’……..

Christmas Gift

All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air,
With one enormous chair, Aww, wouldn’t it be lovely!
Lots of chocolates for me to eat,
Lots of cow’s milk and lots of treat,
Warm face, warm hands, warm feet, Aww, wouldn’t it be lovely!……’

Andrew hummed the tune to himself, a light hop in his walk, as he strolled the golden woods that autumn afternoon. The setting sun bathed the woods amber. Winter was fast approaching, and very soon the mellow foliage would be replaced with the silvery white coats of snow. Andrew would be able to witness as Mother Nature discards her gold attire, to attain her pure, delicate white adornment for the cold season. Andrew would soon be able to marvel this transition, for his daily walk back home from work, cut across a section of the lovely dark woods. He enjoyed these walks the most, for not only was he able to observe the bounty of nature, but also reflect on the beauty of his thoughts, his dreams, his aspirations. Andrew, also popularly called Andy by his colleagues at the fast-food outlet where he worked as a waiter, was a humble lad, mostly reserved, and much too mature for his 22 years. As Andy trotted on that familiar path that lazy October afternoon, he contemplated how satisfied he was with his small-time job, and tiny existence on the planet!…….if only there was something he longed for, something he wouldn’t mind being blessed with sooner or later…….was……love……
Andy lived alone in his mini-flat, which comprised of a modest sitting cum kitchenette cum dining room, and a study cum bedroom, and the compact bathing vestibule, which he considered quite too small to be called a ‘bathroom’!…….Living independently had it’s charm, it’s responsibility, and it’s headaches too, but Andy had pulled through, and managed to establish a comfortable routine. Being orphaned while still a baby, Andy’s tender nourishment was undertaken by his foster parents in Ottawa, Canada. At 18, his guardians gave his decision to stay separately, and work his way through college approval. Since then, Andy pursued his higher education through the correspondence courses, while being employed to earn his daily bread……It was fun though, for Andy was able to mingle with the teeny-boppers who thronged the fast-food diner where he worked. In a small but sure way, he was leading a rewarding life…….As he wandered in the warmth of the receding sun, a chill wind whipped his bare face, and he zipped up his jacket close to his neck, then rubbed the palms of his hands together……he was nearing the road crossing, the dense trees reduced to a scarce scattering of wild shrubs, as he sang to himself……
‘Aaahh, lovely it be if I could just only sleep,
I would never budge till spring, crept out of the window-sill,
Someone’s head resting on my knee,
Warm and tender as he can be,
Who takes good care of me, Aww, wouldn’t it be lovely……
……..lovely……..lovely…..lovely……wouldn’t it be…..lovely!……’
He smiled self- contended, as he began humming the song once again……’If only, something special like this does happen to me’, he thought, ‘ then, it would be paradise for me……’, too immersed in such thoughts to be aware of what’s around him, without the cautionary ‘look-before-you-cross’ practice, Andy carelessly headed to the opposite end of the two-lane……...He didn’t notice the speeding car, till it screeched to a sudden screaming halt just inches before him…….The driver was furious!…..
‘Hey, you blind?!, didn’t your mom ever teach you to look before you cross?!…..Listen kid, if you wanna get yourself killed, don’t dare assume I’d wanna help ya!…..now move it, slow-coach!!’…..
Andy sprinted off in the direction of his street…….He’d seen the contorted face of that young driver…..’Boy, I must’av made him mad!….funny, I thot I’d seen him somewhere before?!…..anyways, if I see him again, I better apologize, he looked like in a hurry……’, Andy considered, ‘ though, he wasn’t old, maybe early thirties, but that’s I face I wont forget…..I just hope I don’t see him again under the same circumstances…..he spared me once…next time he’ll flatten me!!’……..
Winter descended, and a fine layer of snow covered the landscape……’Like an icing on a cake!’, Andy watched mesmerized during his walk through the woods. He had arrived early at the restaurant that morning, and by mid-day was on his toes feverishly attending to the cheery christmasy customers that floated in and out of the place in dozens. It was then he encountered the driver again……although this time, in a much pleasant setting……
‘Hey, it’s you again!….well well, the slow coach works here eh?!…..though I must say, your practically buzzing like a steam machine here!!…...you remember me don’t you, young lad?…...had my reflexes been sluggish that day, you’d have been in a hospital now!!…….what’s your name lil one?’…..
‘Andrew, sir’
‘Hi, Andrew!…..I’m Chris!…..bit surprised to see you here!…..I reckoned you must be a college kid…..what’s this, a part-time thing??’, Chris inquired……
‘Yes, sir, it is…..I’m covering my higher ed externally, and working here, I earn my own living, sir’
‘Hey, Andrew, call me Chris…..I’m impressed, quite enterprising aren’t you?!…..good good…..’
‘Sure sir, if you wanna me to call you Chris, it’s ok…..but please, I’m better known as Andy’
‘Merry Christmas Andy, God bless ya, kid!’
‘Chris, if I may, I don’t intend to be shoved around being called a kid!, and you aren’t ancient yourself are you?!!’
‘Hehehe!….the lil one has a sense of humor too eh?!…..kid, I’m elder to you any ways, what are you, 21-22??, well I’m 29 so there, you still are a young one to me!’
‘Alright, sir if you insist, may I take down your order sir, I have to attend to the others too sir, the menu, sir…….why don’t you try our holiday-special sir?’
‘HEY, kid, I thot I told you to call me Chris!……Quit that sir stuff Andy…..it annoys me!’
‘Here’s the deal, you drop that ‘lil kid’ thing, and I’ll quit the ‘sir’ stuff….how about it?!’
‘Ok, deal…….my my, Andy has a wise bone too!…..wanna be friends Andy?…..
‘Sure Chris, I’d love to……but first, your order please sir…uhh, I mean Chris!!’, Andy giggled…..
And Chris chuckled as he placed his order……By the time Chris left, Andy knew sufficiently more about his ‘new’ friend, that he was an IT guy, worked at the IBM branch in town, stayed on the same street as he did, lived alone, was unmarried as of now, was very sports-minded, especially when it came to ice-hockey!……loved eating out, live-music shows, the movies, long drives….and of-course, his dog Tyson. All and all, Chris was a smart, well-to-do, working and settled, independent guy, with an amiable air about him……Andy was attracted to Chris’s friendly demeanor, and his sharp rugged features. Chris was of athletic frame, quite unlike the picture that arises when a person is attached to a desk-job!…..’That’s probably coz of his gym workouts and interest in sports’, Andy concluded. ‘ Hmm, tall and trim, healthy and handsome, dark-eyed, brown haired, strong featured charming person’, Andy judged during a rare moment of peace at the counter, ‘ wonder why he’s still single?….bet he’s dating a looker!…..I wonder if……’, his train of thought coming to an abrupt halt as a fresh wave of customers arrived…….
The next day again, Chris made an appearance at the fast-food outlet……in-fact, he came in almost every alternate day, invariably for ‘lunch’, and slowly Chris too was able to learn of Andy’s past, and present. When Chris learnt that Andy too shared in some of his pastimes, he offered to take Andy out for a drive that weekend, and maybe they could catch up with a movie some day later. Andy readily agreed, and so that Sunday saw them cruising down the scenic highway, Tyson in tow at the back-seat, western folk tunes rocking the vehicle, and 2 boisterous young ‘men’ talking animatedly about themselves, and the ‘leisure’s-of-a-lone-life’!!…….It didn’t come as a surprise to Andy when Chris invited him to his home, for dinner one night……by now, Andy had the strangest intuition that Chris too, like himself……was…..gay!…..He decided, on Friday night, during dinner at Chris’s spacious, modern and trendy house, Andy would put the question point blank at his host…..’Let’s see his reaction’, Andy analyzed, ‘if he is what I suppose he is, then by golly, this would be what I’m looking for, and he’s on the same street as me too!!’……
Friday night…….Andy punctually knocked at Chris’s door at 7 pm……He was received by an eagerly excited Tyson, and a warmly welcoming Chris. Andy, after many ‘yes-and-no’ arguments in front of his mirror, had picked out, to wear, a pale blue silk shirt, gray trousers, a charcoal-gray sweater, and matching boots. He felt the combination would highlight his toned body, his gray eyes, and his fair, almost translucent skin. He was right in his choice. As Chris helped Andy out of his over-coat, Andy could feel admiring eyes sweeping over him, and when Chris complimented what he saw, Andy smiled back graciously. Chris himself looked suave……and to Andy’s eyes, even sexy……in his checked slacks, maroon jersey, and the white collared shirt below it……Andy couldn’t help noticing, the subtle fragrance of after-shave, the soft-silky shine to Chris’s brown groomed hair, the shapely thighs…….very appealing!……After a round of light drinks, and crackers, a sumptuous meal of corn soup, steak with roasted potatoes in sauce, and apple pie with fresh cream and maple syrup was served. Andy was all praises for Chris’s culinary skills, the food was really scrumptious!……Over coffee on the couch, Andy was bold enough to approach the topic…….
‘It’s really odd, you so good looking and intelligent, how come your not taken yet?….I mean, well I just guessed…..what about it?…..you have a girl somewhere in the closet?!’, Andy joked……
Lowering his voice to a whisper, Chris leaned forward and said, ‘Sshhhhh!, no, she’s in the freezer, she’d gotten too hot on the bed last time, I had to cool her abit!!’, saying so, both burst out in guffaws……
‘No, seriously Chris, why aren’t you dating someone?…..I can tell, many will fall for your looks, wit and charm, haven’t tried seducing anyone yet?’……
‘Well, frankly, I am on a date now!……and boy, I’m trying my best, it’s you who isn’t succumbing to my fatale efforts at seduction!…I’m wondering when the drug in the coffee will take toll!!’, and again, they both erupted into howls…..
Andy aimed a friendly punch at Chris, who ducked sideways, and pinned Andy’s arm behind him in a lock-twist…..Chris started muzzling Andy’s neck with his nose…….Andy instinctively felt uncomfortable and tried to pull away……when he succeeded, it was Chris who broke the spell…..
‘Andy……I’ve been noticing you, ever since we met…..at the diner the first day…..you don’t hang around with girls much do you?……Tell me one thing, you ever heard about gays?!’…..
A stunned silence followed, broken by Chris again, ‘Of-course, it’s none of my business, but since I have started the topic, I want to let you know……I am a gay!!’……
Again a hush of quiet……their eyes were interlocked, searching for answers within their depths……Chris whispered again, ‘Andy, go on, tell me, have you ever considered about your sexual orientation?…..if you don’t wanna talk about it, it’s alright, some other time…..how about a walk down the street?’…..
Walking in the magnificent snow coated backdrop, with a clear, still moonlit sky, amongst the white clad trees, at the corner of those dense woods that were so special to Andy, Chris’s silent stares and slight smiles conveyed to Andy, an understanding, and a trust in kind……’He knows, he understands, he respects me…..he may like me too’, Andy churned…….there and then, he confessed about himself, and was relieved to see Chris’s beaming smile, and when Chris embraced him in a bear-hug, Andy felt warm and wonderful deep within……He felt, finally, his prayers were heard…….The Lord above had gifted him with the best Christmas gift he’d ever got……..on Christmas Eve, Andy had been blessed with the power….and gift…..of true love!……
The night that followed had been the happiest one for Andy……though initially apprehensive about sleeping with someone for the first time…..but Chris had been most reassuring, most gentle, and above all, most genuine…….On Christmas morning, Andy awoke to find himself staring into Chris’s most handsome face, brushing against his own…….Chris’s eyes slowly fluttered open, and his face broke into a benevolent smile…….As Chris came nearer and licked Andy’s ear, he murmured, ‘My wish came true this Christmas, I found you Andy, will you be my love, and let me be yours, and together we will stay happily ever after?’………uttering the words, Chris came nearer, Andy could feel his warm, moist breath on his own cheeks……As they culminated in a long, lingering passionate kiss, and made love all over again…….Andy realized, his dream had become reality…….that something special had happened…….It was love!…..and now his life was……..paradise!!!…….
‘Aaahh, lovely it be if I could just only sleep,
I would never budge till spring, crept out of the window sill,
Someone’s head resting on my knee,
Warm and tender as he can be,
Who takes good care of me, Aww, wouldn’t it be lovely……
………lovely….lovely…..lovely…….wouldn’t it be lovely!……’

Broken Dream

‘ What if I had never let you go?
Would you be the man I used to know?

If I stayed,
If you tried,
If we could only pass this tide,

But I guess we’ll never know,
But I guess…..we’ll never know……'
Every cracked mirror was once a work of art and genius, or so I’ve heard. But then I’ve also heard that mirrors are made to break……some day. I wonder, are hearts made to break in love too……..some day?……It’s a frightening thought, but a harsh reality……at-least, in my case it’s proved true…….People say falling in love is easy, and maintaining that love, and enabling it to bloom n grow is hard……yet, it’s nothing compared to the sheer dilemma, and devastation……of having to let go, of a beloved……..someone who you thought meant the world to you, leaves you……betrayed……alone…….sad, and even guilty for your love. It’s ironically relevant that love in today’s age is like the tossing of a coin, so unpredictable, unstable……and unreliable…….fluctuating…..and conditional. I thought love changed lives, to be honest, it does, but whether in a positive or negative way, only time….n fate can tell…….My love-story was pre-destined to end abruptly…….incomplete and exhausted, yet…….I can relate every phase, and detail of it, with utmost precision……..for me, it’s like it just happened yesterday…….that we ‘accidentally’ crossed each others paths……. Giri was the new sensation of FM. A radio-jockey, and a gifted one at that, he was nothing less of a prodigy when it came to hosting a celebrity talk show on-air. It was one of those shows, wherein the RJ interacts with the public through phone calls, that I first spoke to him. He was funny, witty, exuberant, exciting, naughty, nice, debonair, debating, respectful, reasoning, sexy and sensible all at the same time!…..And that was quite like pulling the rabbit out of the magician’s hat!……His voice was his best attribute, rich, warm, flowing, intoxicating, sensual, purring, deep, resonating……shy, timid, and sweet!……It was his golden voice that first caught my ears……I admit, he was so natural, I think I had a secret crush on him ever since I heard him on the 3 pm afternoon show. I turned a regular listener, and admirer of his obvious talent. Then I was a regular caller…….finally I struck gold, I won a gift-hamper on his show, for a very creative-freaky message to my best friend…..(he didn’t realize that message was meant for him only!)……It’s when I went to the branch office to collect my win, did I stray into his midst…….I was bewitched, he turned out to be a spectacular looker too!……I began to wonder if God hadn’t been a wee-bit too partial while in the process of his creation……coz Giri not just claimed the looks, he also graced the charm and magnetism which a few are truly blessed with……Initially this was quite a blow, for it was a sudden enlightening, I in no aspect matched his aura…..thus I should have given up dreaming about him….and us that very first day……but, you know how senseless the heart is……give it a dream and it’ll cling to it with the fervor of a prisoner longing for liberty…….Love is just the opposite, the heart clings for imprisonment……since it’s in adept to remain independent forever……To be honest, he had me trapped…….and well, I never wanted to escape……..and finally, neither could he!……

I guess we were simultaneous in our assessing each other, and rather spontaneous the way we revealed it to each other too. I suppose that is the first and last time I saw him tongue-tied, n lost for words on the defense……but he was, and is, always very diplomatic, always knew which trump to play when and in a way it pleases the opposite person……We came out to each other, and sitting back now, I reflect on the causes for his self-revelation………Was it that he really loved me, or was it he was desperate enough to need someone to want him?…….There’s a lot of difference in actually being in love, and wanting to be in it…….As for me, I tried being not so easy-to-get……….but then I was, for I loved him intensely……to the extent I’d do anything for him……and everything……

I recall our 4th night together, within a fortnight of our 3rd…….after an exotic sea-food dinner at a popular restaurant, on our drive back to his posh apartment, we were listening to the theme of ‘Titanic’…...I was immersed in the feeling of that moment……I couldn’t help avoiding the fact that I loved the guy who was driving the car, and with whom I’d spent nights before too…..meaning we were in a relationship, if you could call it that…….but my this love for him…..was in dire need of an ultimatum, if nothing else, at-least to give me a sense of security, that yes he knows I love him, n I’m assured he loves me back……I needed that……well, there was nothing else to it, I proposed to him there n then……..His reaction was that of mixed emotions……surprise, satisfaction, a slow smile lingering in his lips……and just for a split second, apprehension in those deep brown eyes……..overall he was pleased I guess, but……I suppose all the trouble began there…….for later I was to discover, his love for me was…….just for fun…….no possessiveness involved, no strings attached…….That night when I offered him my heart, he realized things were getting a bit too serious……..and he wasn’t game to take up that risk……coz for him, love was the biggest gamble……..and commitment, an impossible bet…….

We met many times after that too, but he was careful never to invite me to his house after that night…..instead, he’d make awkward and uncomfortable advances on me in his car, during the drives back from dinner or so…….Well, I now was confused……if he didn’t love me, he wouldn’t make me those passes, but then he didn’t want to admit he loved me enough to commit…….for that matter even I didn’t want him to commit to this relationship, but at-least I would have liked to hear that he loved me, n that my love made a difference to him…….no such words were ever uttered……..In spite of being ‘in-love’, I felt incomplete……as if I was hanging in air without any support and I could see the ground way below me, and I know I’m gonna fall soon, n get badly hurt at that…….For a while, I felt he was using me, just for the sake that I was his friend, someone who would be always available to him……but I didn’t want to bother him with my fears and doubts, and especially, I didn’t want to question him about our ‘relationship’ again……that one night where my proposal was greeted with a cold silence was proof enough for me that he didn’t care to analyze and autopsy ‘our’ feelings for each other……and that was okay with me, I didn’t wanna push myself down his throat……I too was happy at at-least being able to spend time with him, n he was thoughtful enough to take out time for me, from his over flowing work schedule…….Anyway, I’d heard somewhere about this…..a quote which went, ‘Love is like quicksilver in your hand, leave your hand open and it’ll stay, try to close it, n the quicksilver will dart away from your grip’……..Fine, I agreed with that……I gave him all the freedom he wanted, let him have as much fun with me that he’d desire……but…..then what?……Simple, he got tired of me, n very conveniently got attracted to someone else…..this time a girl…….and then on, was very formal in his ‘friendship’ towards me……

Our last private conversation is vividly fresh in my mind…..and memories…….
We were in his car…….He’d offered to drop me back home from my college, which was stone’s throw from the studio where he worked…….He was in a hurry, as he had a date with Smita already planned for that evening…….Smita is a girl from my college, n was his present romantic interest……He was brief and devoid of sentimentality in his speech…..
‘Vivek……coll’s fine isn’t it?’
‘Uh-huh’
‘How are your folks doing?’
‘Fine’
‘Why aren’t u talking much?…..Usually your quite talkative, what’s up?……feeling okay?’
‘I’m okay……’
‘No, your not…….what is it, get it out, we’re supposed to be friends remember?’
‘Giri……I…..’
‘Vivek, is something upsetting you?’
‘I……Well……No……I don’t think so…….’
‘Open up yaar, you aren’t the Vivek I knew……before, kya baat hai…..Viv?’
‘Oh…..so you still remember the name you kept for me…….at one time……’
‘Meaning what?’
‘Don’t you think Giri……I’m not the one who has changed……you have……’
‘Are you trying to imply something here?’
‘You’ve changed haven’t you Giri?’
‘Don’t we all change sometime or the other, doesn’t the world run on change?’
‘If people kept changing colors, how would we know whom to trust, and whom to not, n who are dependable?’
‘Are you saying you don’t trust me anymore?’
‘I didn’t say that….’
‘Oh- then what are you saying?’
‘Just this…….I thought we were more than just….friends?’
‘Wait a minute, look I admit I do like you a lot……maybe I even love you……but then, hey we live in a society n we have to follow the norms……I don’t think I can commit to such a relationship…..Yes, we did have some swell times together, but that was pure fun…..n admit it you enjoyed it as much as I did……but that doesn’t mean I love you enough to be yours…..I never did indicate that did I?’
Silence…….a tense silence……I was gazing intently at him……on the guy I believed was worthy of my love……
He continued,
‘Viv, we’re pals…….n we can share everything, just like we have so far……n that wont change….not ever……see, I love you as a friend……but as a lover, I’m not sure…..besides, I don’t wanna risk falling in love now…...not when I’m making it big in the radio industry…..Life’s tough, but you have to choose wisely, I cant afford to make the wrong moves from my position…..Gimme a break, n see it from my point of view……Can you do that?’
‘Giri……love isn’t pre-planned……’
‘Viv, I’m not in the mood to be ethical n philosophically sound now……I’m a practical guy, I think rationally’
‘Always?……Humans are bound to make mistakes, right?’
‘Well……yes……but in this case, I’ve not erred……I never did commit……n I don’t want love as of now’
‘Giri…..you can save your breath…..I know about Smita….’
This time the silence was electrifyingly tense……..Giri was on checkmate…….but he was a shrewd player at this game……Love for him was nothing more than……a sport…..
‘Smita….?’
‘Yes, Smita is in the same coll I am, I thought you’d know that by now……n I also know you like her, n she’s probably already in love with you……so if you’re so against falling in love, why the courtship with a pretty girl?……from what I know of her, she’s not just pretty, she’s smart too…’
‘Okay, since your aware of everything……let me tell you, Yes, I do like her…..n we’ve been on a couple of dates together…….but…..that’s all……’
‘And I suppose this too is your idea of fun?’
‘Maybe……Hey, why are we discussing about a matter irrelevant here, this is about us…..as far as I’m concerned, I’ve always in the past considered you a great friend……..I’ll continue to do so in the future too…..’
‘Giri……for once, be honest to yourself……you cant escape love, it just happens……you cant pretend you don’t need it, coz you do……stop playing heart games…..or mind games…..or whatever…..I’m not saying love me……but be honest to those you do love……otherwise you’re just hurting others…..and yourself too….’
‘I’m not hurt’
‘But……I am….’
‘So you want me to apologize eh…..okay, I’m sorry Viv…..there, does that make you feel any better?’……His tone was sarcastic, he was annoyed…..
‘I don’t want you to apologize to me….’
‘Then what in heavens name do you want yaar…..why all this accusation then?’
‘Nothing…….I just don’t want someone else hurt……by you, and Giri, don’t run away from love, it’ll just keep chasing you then…….at-least be grateful to the love you’re getting…….not everyone is blessed with it…..’
‘Viv……chill…….we’re not in love……not that kind of love I mean…..’
‘Giri, I know just one kind of love, I’m a fool, I don’t know the diversification and classifications involved……Love to me is just love, pure, true……and good’
‘And we’re back to square one, you’re proposing to me again aren’t you Viv?’
‘No…….I’m not’
‘Then all this is about the weather is it?!’……now his tone was mocking……n I felt…….like I was beating against a dead wall……
‘Giri……I admit I loved you……I still do…..but if I’m capable of love, I ought to be capable of sacrifice too, if that is gonna make you happy…….as for my happiness……..well…’
‘Hey, now you’re talking like a saint…..’Sacrifice!’……by the way, whoever told you to love me, I didn’t!’
‘No, you didn’t…….my heart did…..’
‘So now your blaming me for what your heart did…….that’s dumb!’
‘I’m not blaming you……..I’m…..I…….I just don’t want you to repeat what you’ve done to me…to someone else…….it’s not ……a nice…….experience’
‘Viv……I have to say this…..Shut- Up!……Stop advising me about my affairs, I can handle them myself…..’
‘Yes…….you can…..I’m sure’
‘Good……Well then, pleasure having this fun chat on us, now if you don’t mind, we’re here, so kindly move your ass, I’ve to rush home myself…….’
‘What…….oh…..yeah……we’re home…..anyways, thanks for the lift Giri……see ya sometime……’
‘Sure dude…..I’ll call you up okay…..take care, n be good’…….chuckling, he winked in my direction……
‘You too…….bye’
‘Bye…….Viv darling’
I froze galvanized to the spot……..He laughed lightly, then was quick to add….
‘Just kidding stupid……don’t mind, your sweet……n surely a darling right’
‘Bye Giri’…….
He drove away……..I rushed upstairs……I couldn’t face mom then…..I went to the building terrace…….to cry to my heart’s content…..and I did just that……
About 3 weeks later, I heard Giri n Smita were a hot couple at the Gizmos……the very same restaurant I had accompanied him to, on many a dates……I crossed paths with Smita daily……we were ‘hi-bye’ friends……but somehow it reached her ears, that I and Giri were close friends……hence she opened up to me, more so I guess, as she wanted to know more about ‘her guy’……
One evening, after coll, it was pelting cats n dogs, and both of us had missed our buses, we decided to share an auto home……she’d continue after I’d get off, as my stop came first…….It was the first…..and last time, we were in close quarters n engrossed in a private talk……before we were always amongst common friends…….however, being alone…..her manner became confidential, that of a close friend…..
‘Since you know Giri very well, or so I’ve heard…..I have to confess I was absolutely bawled over by him…..I suppose I really do love him, what’s more, he reciprocates back, so guess he likes me too, do u think he’ll love me too?’
‘Smita, how can I say that, I’m his friend, not his mind’
‘Vivek, Love’s got to do with the heart, who cares about his mind……I was talking about his heart…’
‘Well…….even that I cant say……but yes, he does like you, don’t know how far that’ll take you both though…..’
‘Hmmm……but his liking can turn to love in the future right?’
‘Anything is possible Smita…..life doesn’t come with guarantees, otherwise it wouldn’t be called Life…..love is a part of life, so it’s just as tricky…..’
‘Are you saying something…….what do you mean?’
‘Just this, if we care to love, we ought to be able to survive the battles within it too……love isn’t easy, n it does take time……so be steady, careful, patient…..and have faith, rest is up to Him, for only He judges over every love-story, n gives it it’s verdict……’
Smita was surveying me awe-struck……..her gaze penetrating, her mind calculating……Thoughtfully she replied,
‘Yes, love is not a game, and the heart isn’t a play-thing, guilty are all those who think so, and also those who allow others to play with their hearts……I’m not stupid, I can take care of my heart, I’ve been doing it for so long, and this responsibility will be mine always…..giving my heart to someone doesn’t mean that person will get the reins over me…..but personally, that was a good insight Vivek…….you’ve given me something to think about…..’
And she had opened my eyes……..Unknowingly she’d pointed to why I’d failed in love…….I was weak-hearted n allowed him to rule my heart…..n body too……but love isn’t about ruling and being ruled……it’s about being responsible and respecting one another, and our own self first……that’s where I’d lost…….I never respected my feelings, I was never responsible for myself……By not saying anything, I was just running away from reality……n I kept running……till he lost sight of me……..I was guilty……coz I played by him, but was I guilty of loving him?……..
We arrived in my vicinity, I disembarked, bid Smita farewell, n headed home…….The rains were still lashing down, but this time……my eyes were dry……
Coincidentally, Giri spotted me n Smita together in the auto that day…….Anxious I’d have ruined his chances of winning her, he called me that night……Our conversation was short, he was furious, and I didn’t want to argue with him…..
‘Viv, I thought we were pals……and look what you’re doing, when you saw you couldn’t influence me with your charm, you go up to Smita…….I saw you both together this evening, I’ve not had an opportunity to call her today, but before I talk to her, I wanna know what you’ve told her about me?’…..he voiced, enraged….
I was quiet for a moment……weighing how to reply to him in his state of mind…..
‘Giri, please calm down, we shared an auto home since we missed our buses n as it was raining so hard…..She’s learnt we’re friends, so she asked me if I knew whether you loved her or no…….I didn’t reply to that, said I didn’t know, n that she should ask you herself……But, I know she’s an intelligent girl Giri……don’t play with her feelings, she’s not gonna stand for it’
‘I know you’ve talked her against me, she didn’t even call me up today……..’
‘No, I didn’t……infact….it was she who revealed to me the reason why I’ve lost in love……..but then I don’t wish to discuss this with you….you’ll be least bothered anyways……’
‘Viv, stay away from her, she’s my keeps……don’t dare go opening your mouth to her, or anyone else about us……there is nothing between us except a friendship…..which to me now….seems dangerous’
Then, I snapped….after all I’m human too…….yes, I maybe a bad lover……but I wasn’t a bad friend…..n I couldn’t stand him slandering me with insults…….I answered back forcefully,
‘Fine Giri!……if you don’t care about a friendship then let’s give it up, I don’t want to remain a source of tension n anxiety to you…….if you can only think how wicked n dangerous I am to you, then why the hell should we even be friends?!…..But lemme say this, with friends like you, who needs enemies!…..Goodbye Giri……have a great life, I wont ever create problems for you again…..one thing, Smita and I are in the same coll…..I’ll keep my distance, but if she comes up to me, I’m gonna be what I always was to her, a friend……n I wont harm your image in her eyes okay…….now……Bye!’
Saying this, I replaced the receiver with gusto…….I’d just lost a friend, to be frank…….this was more painful than letting go of one’s love……Friendship is the purest n most prized of all relations, for all relations begin with it…….One can get over losing a love, but losing a friend………is a different story……
After a while, I began to question myself……how good or bad a friend was I?……I knew I’d done wrong by raising my voice at Giri…….but, petty ego kept me from apologizing for that……but then, since we’d broken up even that relation between us, I was constantly consumed by the doubt, whether I should say sorry or no?…….My conscience took the better of me, compassion overcame anger…….hope n healing replaced helplessness……and I mailed him a short message asking for forgiveness, n extending the old hand of friendship again……I didn’t want my conscience to trouble me later, that I was a wrong-doer at the end…….anyways………my that mail has never been replied……
Giri has almost like vanished from the surface of my planet……as for Smita, I see her regularly, but we don’t talk much……after that confrontation in the auto that rainy day, she too has turned blind to me…….either Giri and she are together n he’s warned her against me, or they’ve broken up and she holds some grudge at me, thinking that maybe I hatched they’re break-up by planting suspicion in her mind……..I don’t know, but Smita has changed after that day……..
I wonder if I’ve changed too?…….Although, I know, my feelings towards love and life have undergone a catalytic conversion……Love is not the mushy, rosy, honey-sweet puppy love that strikes you and pulls you into it head, foot n sinker……Love is like the nectar divine which fills an empty soul with life, and a heart with youth……..However, when it comes to love, be cautious, many a times…….fate presents poison in disguise……posing as the nectar of love……and we learn of it’s identity after tasting it, when it’s too late!……And it’s said, any nectar, taken in excess, has a reverse effect, it can turn poisonous!…….Same way, love needs a balance, a discipline…….a guidance, or it gets out of hand…….Nectar or Poison, Love is worth tasting once in any case……..for it’s better to love n lose than to not love at all…….

In our case, I guess we just didn’t try hard enough…….I was weak, he was adamant……but I truly did care for him…..and…well……I sometimes wonder how I could have bettered myself then, so as not to lose Giri……as a love……as a friend…….as a person down memory lane, who made a difference to me…….Does he ever think of me, as I do of him…..guess I’ll never know…….

‘What if I had never let you go?, Would you be the man I used to know? What if I had never walked away?, What if I loved you night and every day? If I stayed, If you tried, If we could only pass this tide, But I guess we’ll never know, But I guess…….we’ll never know…….’

Breaking Bonds

Mumbai, a land of dreams, the city that never slept, where people made it big, where things……just happened! Yes, if there was a city where Jay could realize, and live his dream to make it big in the world of media, it was undoubtedly, Mumbai. Jay hailed from the pink city, Jaipur. Jay was 21 years. Jay had left his engineering academies to pursue his dream. Jay had disobeyed his parents wishes……but Jay was still brimming with enthusiasm and hope. He staunchly believed, if he tried hard enough, and if luck favored him, he would accomplish what he’d set out to achieve. He just had to keep his vision clear for any opportunities, and grab them once spotted. Oh yes, he would show them all, he intended to show them, that slowly the struggle would pay off, and they’d find his name amongst other famous celebrities……then they’d all come back with bowed heads!…….All Jay needed was a break…..that’s what he’d come here for……a break that would catapult him to the stars, towards stardom. It would happen, so what it hadn’t yet, but it would any day now, he was sure of it…….

Jay had arranged through some contacts, to share a rented apartment at Versova. No, it was Viva Versova!……a haven for media men, models, artists, be it amateurs or top-shot professionals, they were all concentrated here……Studious, Institutes, agents, Acting-schools, training-classes, dance, music, theatre, modeling, personality development, you name it……it was all here, things clicked here, talent was sought here, genius was appreciated here, hard work was given credit here, dreams became reality here……yes, and soon it would happen to Jay too……Jay had taken the necessary steps, followed the natural procedure, portfolio, gym, theatre club, socializing stunts, interviews……Maybe Jay didn’t fit the requirements at some of the jobs, but Jay was good looking alright, of-course, he was working to improve it, but things looked bright……Heads turned at restaurants and clubs, girls giggled, guys looked envious…….still it could get better…..one day those girls would rush for autographs of his, and he would graciously attend to them too……Jay didn’t want to appear stand-offish to them, he wouldn’t reject anyone……after all, he would be popular coz of the support and love of all those fans and well wishers only, so appease them he would…..soon….someday……

It finally paid off, all that running around on an empty stomach at odd hours to catch the right people, Jay finally was signed on for 3 contracts, two of which were still-shoots, and one small role in a soap-opera. Jay was ecstatic, and eagerly took up his assignments in earnest. It wasn’t easy……mugging lines early into the dawn, jogging a good few miles each morning, health food, and the regular gym, and weekend parlor trips, for the facials and massages of-course!…….Well, the shoots went well, they were for some showbiz magazine, one was to advertise a new brand of premium quality shirts, and the other…….toothpaste!……Though, Jay wouldn’t deny advertising for underwear either, as long as it got him somewhere. The magazine editor was disinterested with Jay, while in contrast, the make-up expert a shade too patronizing. All in all, the photographer was the only sane acting person involved, at-least he didn’t act snobbish, in-fact his smile had been kindly, though his eyes were tired…..probably coz, like Jay, he too hadn’t had a good night’s rest for considerable time…….The acting was more challenging, rehearsals were well under way, and Jay found it a rewarding experience to be able to be a part of those glossy sets, and glamorous TV artists. Of-course, it didn’t add to much, as he was only playing an acquaintance to one of the characters involved in the family saga, and his screen-time didn’t account to more than a few minutes, in about 3 episodes, but still, it was a break…..and the Producer had been encouraging, though the Director was more…distant. But Jay was complimented by his co-stars, now that was a start!…….Eventually, once his part was over, and he’d been promised a recommendation to some other soaps too, Jay was back hunting. Jay followed the weekly serial on the small portable at his shared flat..…..his 3 other room-mates had rejoiced seeing him in that striking get-up, with that practiced dialogue in front of the camera, but for Jay, it was a slight disappointment, considering the editor had relentlessly scraped of many of his lines!……still, his winning smile had brought some newness to that dull melodrama at 8!……Fortunately, the Producer had kept his part of the promise, and luckily, Jay had received 2 more offers…….

Jay struggled the first few months. The modeling offers were precarious, but they paid. The publicity was noticeable, Jay couldn’t continue his weekend dinners at a favorite diner, he was too recognizable!……Jay kept track of all his small-time roles in the dailies that ruled the sitcom. It was undeniable, his acting skill had improved…a bit. And he also looked better, obviously, with all that dieting, and workouts, and beauty treatments. Jay found himself having more friends than before, ironically, he didn’t know half the people who called themselves ‘his friends’! But that was life in media, you had to smile for them all, even if they disgusted you! Jay’s name became known in the media world, and in the neighborhood he lived, and in the scandalous gossips that took up most the local newspapers! But that again was part and parcel of being in show business, people would definitely attempt to discourage you, but it was up to you to get discouraged or not! Jay knew all that, he was well prepared for the character slashing by the critics, he decided to ignore the accusations, not only the ones claiming affairs with ramp-models, but also the headline of him being linked to one of his Director’s wife!……’Small-fry’, Jay thought, it could get a lot worse than this!……..Still, Jay didn’t bother much, the sneers behind his back would die when another sensational gossip stalked the columns, so Jay did what anyone else in his place would do, just keep himself occupied in his work……

Jay eventually got the best offer he’d got till then. He’d been selected to play lead role in an upcoming project!……It was a pleasant surprise to him, he knew he deserved that role, but he’d no idea he’d been the unanimous choice, his prayers had been heard. To concentrate full time on this job, he took a small vacation from the ramp, and also turned down prospective offers from tinsel town. The planning was intricate, Jay had many personal meetings with the scriptwriter, in order to get a full understanding of his this character. It was a very unconventional subject, quite controversial, and it demanded the lime-light, and ensured a rocket ride to stardom for young Jay. It dealt with relationships, not just amongst the opposite sexes, but even, as unusual as it may sound, amongst people of the same sex!…..’Gay relationships’ was a relatively untouched topic for the screen, it was like trekking on thin ice!……Wavering decisions, lingering doubts took up most of the discussions the crew had every night……It just wouldn’t be openly accepted without an uproar, so to get it more acclimatized to the Indian scenario, the story revolved around a young group of office going people, mostly single, independent men and women, and their interweaving lives……passions, desires, fantasies, even obsessions, revelations, and climaxes……Jay happily engrossed himself in the extensive reading required. As Jay was to play the role of 24 year old ‘Piyush’, a clerk at the firm, and a friendly, shy guy, infatuated to one of his ‘male’ colleagues, ‘Rahul’……at the same time, a female receptionist at their office, ‘Sheena’ is madly obsessed with ‘Rahul’!……Somewhere down the line, the twist comes when ‘Piyush’ realizes another female co-worker ‘Trisha’ is secretly in love with him, while ‘Rahul’ likes ‘Trisha’!!……Quite a cocktail it was!……Only time would mould an outcome to this story, and judge the audiences reactions. There would be shock, but mingled with delight and suspense too. The person selected to play ‘Rahul’ was the successful model and TV anchor, Kush Tiwari. Both ‘Sheena’ and ‘Trisha’ were to be played by budding screen names. Shooting would begin in 3 weeks, now everyone in the technical circuit had nothing to do but be speculative. But the actors were a smart, fresh lot, and that cheered up the overwhelming apprehension of the crew, who were involved in this gamble……..

Kush was also anxious about the intricacy that the tale revolved around, and the initial response the conservative society would show towards it. Kush lived alone in his posh bungalow at Bandra, and since all the involved artists had decided to have personal practice sessions with the scripts, Kush’s place had been the voted venue. So began the after dinner rehearsals every night……with just the 2 girls, the 2 boys, the scriptwriter, and occasionally the Producer, while the Director was a regular. Later, when the meetings became impromptu, and timings squeezed in for detailed scene enactment’s, Kush suggested Jay stay over a couple of weeks. Not only would it save the unnecessary trips Jay had to make to and fro each day, but also a chance for the 2 actors to cherish a personal friendship. Jay was humbled by the kind offer, and readily agreed…….In just two nights, Jay and Kush became fast friends…….

If anything else, being involved in the same business, and as of now, the same project certainly advantaged them. That first day Jay stayed over at his colleague’s ultra-modern home, he’d been over excited. After all, he’d never experienced the sheer opulence of a celebrity lifestyle before. After their rehearsals for that night ended, and the crew trickled away towards their own cozy destinations, Kush, playing the perfect host, showed his guest around the house, and to the room allotted for Jay. That first night, they’d watched TV for a while, gradually, after a drink or so, they’d got engaged in exchanging nostalgic memories of their ‘growing up’ years. Jokes were cracked, pranks played during childhood were shared, and laughter brought the two youths closer, on the same wavelength. That first night, Kush had lead Jay to the spacious open terrace, out-lined with unpretentious pots, and a wide variety of fauna. Jay was surprised that gardening was one of Kush’s interests. Kush seemed a most exceptionally interesting young man. And…..he was….handsome…….Jay had to be on guard……

Next morning, Jay was even more bewildered to learn that Kush loved to cook by himself too. Not that Kush couldn’t afford a cook, with a bank balance as his, Kush could well appoint the chef at the Taj to be his personal cook! But no, Kush was deft with the chopping knife, and quite an expert when it came to fixing up a nutritious morning breakfast. Jay marveled Kush’s culinary skills, and said he’d better learn one or two things at the kitchen now that he was living with a master-chef!……Of-course, Kush admitted, sometimes when he’s dead tired, or not in the mood, he ordered packed meals from the caterers, but having a cook at home was very much a burden, too much fuss, and even pay hassles, best to be king of the jungle, and have it your own way, Kush had remarked. Now Jay didn’t know what to expect, he wondered if Kush cleaned the house himself, and did his own laundry!……Obviously, such was not the case……though Kush occasionally ironed his favorite suits himself…….Secretly, Jay’s admiration for his co-star increased every moment. He wondered how it was, that though he was in awe of Kush, yet Jay had never felt intimidated by his friend. Jay guessed it was coz of Kush’s genuine amiability, and modest nature. Slowly, as days passed, and deep conversations livened the nights, Jay and Kush talked…….not only about experiences…..memories…..but also reflections, embarrassing moments…..and dark secrets…..secrets that they felt compelled to share…….

It was during the second week of his stay at Kush’s house, practice was a regular affair, as was the daily jogging rounds the young men followed at dawn……Sometimes though, they’d excuse themselves from the jogs, especially if their chats had continued till the break of dawn, those days they’d complete their exercise routine at home, Kush had a home-workout kit. Jay would watch amazed as Kush would time his push-ups, dumb bells, and speed cycling regimen. It was hard for Jay to hide his stealthy glances……when Kush would flex his biceps……stretch his arms…..wipe the sweat of his drenched smooth flawless skin…….really, with Kush doing his exercises with just his shorts on, he was a major distraction!……Jay barely noticed, when Kush also made furtive stares in his direction, during their workouts……Jay too had a toned, defined body…….and luckily for Kush, Jay too exercised bare chested!……..At the kitchen too, Jay would watch mesmerized as Kush would garnish salads, stew curries, and toss around spices……which brewed up bewitching aromas……but for Jay, Kush in an apron was just as appealing as Kush half naked!……..Little did Jay know, he was quite a hindrance when Kush wanted to concentrate on some complicated recipe…….for unknowingly, Kush too was losing in the battle of attractions……..

Kush was equipped with a computer system in his bedroom. One night, after a delicious yet not too heavy meal, the boys withdrew to the bedroom…..while Jay, seated at the corner sofa, immersed himself in a book out of Kush’s lil library, Kush was busy online, surfing websites, swiftly tabbing the keyboard composing mails, clicking away at the mouse……while faint classical ragas floated in the dim vastness of the room…….Neither of the two realized the slight, silent peeks each was receiving from the other……Jay from behind his novel……Kush from the corner of his eye……..Kush could see Jay, stretched out on the couch, dressed in a loose T-shirt, and checked pajamas, while Kush himself was clad in his boxer shorts, and a vest. After much thought, Kush had reached the conclusion……..Jay was not only playing the character of a ‘gay’ man in the serial……but also…..Jay was ‘gay’ in reality…….and not everyone could have judged that…..only the trained eye…..of a ‘gay’ man could have……..Kush had to be sure before…….He toyed with an idea…….

Jay was startled when Kush called out to him in a coy voice, deliberately, he carefully adjusted the bookmark in place, before placing down the book, and gliding towards Kush. Reaching over, Jay rested his elbows on the back of Kush’s chair and bent down to study what Kush had invited him to see. Smiling mischievously, Kush maximized the window of a site he’d just opened to browse……a gay site!…….Jay was glued to the screen as Kush clicked on icons, and finally entered a porn library…….Kush enlarged the erotic picture of a nude man……he turned back to see the expression on Jay’s face…….he saw……glee mingled with embarrassment, delight mixed with shyness, Jay was a na├»ve youth, thought Kush, a 21 year old dreamer……who though not innocent, yet could act as innocent as a kitten!…….Kush clicked on a picture of two men love-making….by now both of them were suppressing awkward giggles……eyes bating from the screen to each other…….It was a strained control, Jay felt himself go hard…….he wondered if Kush felt the same……..When Kush abruptly got up and caught Jay’s arm, Jay didn’t know what to feel, or do, or say……watching all those sexy photos had disoriented him. Without a word, Kush dragged him to the bed, and pushed him onto it……..Kush jumped in too…….pinning down Jay’s legs and hands with his own, Kush mashed his lips on Jay’s……after a long, hard smooch, their mouth came apart gasping for breath…….in whispers Kush revealed that he knew now, that Jay was gay, so there was no point avoiding it, and that just as Jay had been attracted to Kush, Kush himself found it hard to fight back temptation…….saying so, Kush’s lips again met Jay’s….frenzied….yet warm……Jay could feel Kush’s body over his own…..rigid……firm……tense…….but then Jay lost all sense of feeling…..all perception…….Jay didn’t realize when their clothes slipped off, nor did he notice how long they’d been at it……..when Jay awoke with a start, he found himself below a naked Kush, asleep, tightly embracing him…….Jay struggled to free himself, picked up the clothes strewn on the floor…….switched off the blinking screen of the computer, and disconnected the system…….retracing his way out of the room, Jay pulled up the sheets over Kush’s stark sprawling figure and turned off the night lamp…….gently closing the door, Jay went over to the guest room where he ought to be. As Jay tumbled on his own bed, and tried to sleep, all he could recall was ……that frenzied love……that hot, erect body over his own…….that feverish pitch of release….and drowning into soft caress…..slumber……deep sleep……before Jay knew it, he was asleep recollecting the strange encounter he’d just had a few hours earlier……..deep down Jay knew it……..he loved Kush…….and Kush loved him back………
Jay’s eyes flickered open, when he felt a warm sensation over his neck……it was Kush, muzzling his nose down Jay’s nape……Jay looked into the strikingly fresh and sharp featured face before him……and smiled back……Kush leant over and kissed Jay softly, and murmured a goodmorning…….This time, Jay aroused Kush, and they made love again…..morning love…….but this time, it was tender and passionate, not awkward and hurried. When Kush rushed into the shower, and to get dressed for the day, Jay lazily got out of bed, contented……almost as if intoxicated……as if the magic….the mystic of last night hadn’t died down yet……As if in a trance, Jay ambled to the attached bathroom…….shuddering with self ecstasy…..wondering if it was all a dream……a dream he didn’t want to get up from……..

What occurred in the next week was like a whirlwind for Jay. The rehearsals in the day at the studio on the sets, in the evenings at Kush’s place, the lunches with staff, the dinners with Kush at lavish restaurants, or at home, the late drives around town, visits to the deserted beach at 2 am, the midnight snacks, the vigorous gymming, again the endless mugging up of dialogues, the secret sensual nights on the same bed, sex, pure sex……and bliss, and on top of everything, managing the ravaging emotions that come to haunt one, during an affair as such. Yes, for it was an affair, short lived……Jay knew that, but Jay didn’t want to lose it……he felt he’d found love….at last……

The actual shooting had been delayed by another week coz of some financial loopholes, but the anxiety was apparent as the sets became more electric, and the crew more serious. Secretly, Jay was glad he’d gotten the role, to play a ‘gay’ man…….Jay longed for the scene that would come several episodes later, when ‘Piyush’ confesses his love for his office executive, ’Rahul’……..Jay felt he didn’t have to act that scene…..it would come naturally…….he did love ‘Rahul’…….he did love Kush, more than anything else now…….but Jay didn’t like the story after that, when ‘Rahul’ is shocked by ‘Piyush’s’ predicament, and shuns him……ignores him…….even humiliates him in front of the office one day……..Kush isn’t like that, Jay thought, Kush would never hurt me……..I love him……moreover, Kush loves me…..he made the advance first……..he approached me……now we’ve stumbled in a relationship, which I pray doesn’t end up in the ditch…….no, Kush loves me……over and over, Jay tried to convince himself……but still his convictions weakened…….when Kush talked less to him with the crew around, when Kush spent hours on the phone at home……when Kush busied himself making meals and told Jay not to interfere in between……and when Kush went out for drives by himself sometimes….saying he wanted to pick up some clothes from the laundry, or get some video from the library…….but still, Kush hadn’t hinted about Jay leaving, nor did the lust and sex that ensued in the dark hours of the night slacken……..Jay mistook those love-making sessions…….for real love…….for Kush, it was just benefiting from opportunity……

Kush was the first to hear the decision, just days prior to shooting commenced, authority had decided to drop the project, fearing criticism and censorship. The producer wanted to personally apologize for the futile efforts by the artists, but proposed to include all of them in the next upcoming project which was another family melodrama!……but ofcourse, the next project had just one main love pair…….one hero, and heroine, surrounded by their families……so the question was……who would be selected to play the role……..Kush……or Jay?……..Nobody came to know of the private meeting between Kush and the Producer that evening…… not even Jay. Jay, under the impression that Kush had gone to visit an old friend, was listlessly viewing the television at Kush’s place……..waiting for Kush to return……..unaware that the whole contract had been terminated, and a new one was being framed now…….a contract that didn’t involve him……..anymore……..

That night at the dinner table, Kush appeared unnecessarily nervy, Jay felt the omen….as if something ill was going to strike at him….or them……Jay couldn’t gauge Kush’s grim expression, and those quick movements of his hands with the fork…….It was during the second helping of the Chinese fried noodles, and vegetable Manchurian, that Kush braced the subject…….with the same cool, composed manner……

‘Jay, you liked the food……didn’t you?’
Jay nodded……his words failing him as he tried to fathom what it is Kush was trying to convey…..
A brief silence….broken by the tinkle of glass……and the clatter of spoons and forks attacking the plate with gusto……
Kush continued…….without hesitation……
‘Jay, I believe the shooting isn’t going to begin soon, the Producer and technical team are still trying to cope up with the drawbacks……It seems, there might be further postponing in the plans, that’s what I heard from the Producer when we packed up today, you’d already left of-course, so he asked me to break the news to you……that there might not be a serial at all, that the entire project maybe dumped…..still, they’re trying….let’s see……’
Jay was trying to comprehend what he was hearing…….he failed to nod……he just stared at the unrevealing face in front of him……Kush went on….
‘Jay, since nothing is finalized as yet, I think it in the best interest that you move back to your apartment…….in Versova…..I mean, no use you staying here anymore, as the night rehearsals which have been conducted here till now have been ruled out…….any ways, better you leave, before someone starts getting suspicious about you……or me…….it was a temporary arrangement after all……best to let sleeping dogs lie isn’t it?……we must be careful, the profession we’re in…….you understand?’…….
Jay managed to nod……..though he felt something snapping within him……and it hurt…..very badly…..
‘So Jay, after dinner, I’ve been called at a friend’s place so I have to go……but I’ll help wind up your stuff……and drop you back…..at your…..home….ok?’……
‘Uhh….oh, no, no…don’t bother……I can catch a taxi…..I’m used to it……thanks any way….’, Jay mumbled.
Another silence…….it seemed like an eternity to Jay……finally he found the courage to muster….
‘Kush……why did you do this to me?…..I thought…….I don’t know…..I thought you liked me…..I know I’m mistaken, but you could have cleared it from the start, instead of playing along and saying ‘I love you’ each night to me……’
His eyes were met with a steely glance from Kush
‘Jay, I do like you….just as a friend, and that hasn’t changed anything, what do you think, just coz I have gay tendencies, that I should be head over heels in love with you now……what do you want me to do, propose to you?!’…….
‘I never said that Kush, but if you just wanted to play, you should have made it clear……first you make it irresistible for me to get attached to you so, and then you back off saying we ought to part ways…..I can handle that, if you’d just been clear about it’…….
‘Hey, Jay, I didn’t do anything, you were just as attracted as I was, and we are humans……things happen, even mistakes…..admit it, it was as much your mistake as mine….you craved for lust just as much as I did, and now you say I should have been clear about it!……so what were you looking for….a fairytale romance?!…..the prince brings the princess to the palace and they live happily ever after huh?!!…..look, your just as confused as I am…..about what we’re looking for….frankly, I’m looking for fun, plain fun with no strings attached, I don’t want anything to affect my career at this stage, not even love, so I’ve had it, as soon as I realized you feel so sacredly about all of this, I’m being point blank rude enough to tell you to get out of my place!!……and next time Jay, be sure of what your looking for, and write it all over your damn face!’……..Kush mouthed……with rising tempo……and indignation……
‘I know what I’m looking for…….I’m not craving for sex like you, you ….you……’, Jay paused, he didn’t want to start a brawl……he controlled himself before continuing, ‘I’m looking for love, decent, genuine, long lasting, and fulfilling……I faltered, I should have known better, I thought I came a step closer in realizing my dream…..but I see I made a wrong choice….the worst choice if I may say, never again….never again……..Good luck to you for everything, hope you achieve what you want in life…..I pray you realize what counts, what is valued……anyway I’m no one to say this, but I think you’re one selfish stuck up fool, otherwise you’re alright!’…….
‘Jay, dammit, what nerve insulting me in my house, just goes to show how principled and proper you are……go get your stuff now, we’re leaving as soon as I clear the table….I cant stand this one more minute……out!!’…..
Kush got to his feet……reached over for Jay……whether it was to hit him, or just gently nudge him, Jay never knew……for at that moment, the phone rang…….and Kush, cursing, rushed out to attend to it…….
By the time Kush returned to the dining table, Jay wasn’t there……in-fact, Jay wasn’t in the house anymore……Kush, relieved that it had gone better than he’d expected, fastened the doors before retreating to clear the table at ease……he didn’t have to visit any ‘friend’ now, that was just a tact to get Jay out…….Kush settled with a huge bowl of fruit cream dessert, in front of the TV……on instinct, he called up the Producer just in case, then retired to switching channels……..while relishing each bite of the cold sweet dish…….though….it wasn’t as cold as his heart…….

Jay had no assignments on hand, the one in which he was actively involved had been cancelled…….Kush had told him that……just to confirm……Jay had called up the Producer, and was told the same thing……the project in the pipeline was down the drain…….But the Producer was courteous enough to apologize before hanging up…….of-course, Jay was not to be told about any new project, that was part of the deal……a deal involving a handshake above the table, and a little glimmer of cash under it…….Jay was to be kept out…….

Jay returned to his Versova flat very late, he had returned after drawing out all his savings from the Bank……all that he had earned in pursuit of fame…….now that zeal had died, he wanted to go away……..even if it was for a while……..but far away……..He knew he would no longer be accepted at home, in Jaipur, even if his mom welcomed him, his dad would throw a fit......he had no other choice, he would go visit his sister’s place, her elder sister who had settled after marriage in Delhi, and from there he would try to go abroad somewhere………Jay even contemplated completing his higher academics abroad……He’d booked the next flight to Delhi. Jay finished packing all his belongings, the fact that his flat mates were out……maybe in some club boozing made it easier for Jay, he’d leave a note with an explanation for so sudden a departure…….Looking over the threshold of the compact apartment one last time, Jay heaved out all his luggage into the corridor…….and closed the door of the dark house……..
Jay didn’t read the gossip columns of the local media magazine a few weeks later……but then, it wouldn’t have altered his course of action……..Jay was off for USA……..

The column cutting…….
“Shah Brothers venture dies, out emerges from the ashes, a new entertainment drama for the family. The Producer, Mr. H. Shah, confessed their earlier script was dumped after plenty of reviews, as it dealt with a controversial topic, which wouldn’t have helped it’s TRP ratings as far as the middle class audience is concerned. Inside sources reveal the earlier project revolved around ‘gay-relationships’ in the Indian working society. It seems all the involved artists were quite enthusiastic in-spite of the risks, but because of profit doubts, and fear of critical backfire, the whole contract was terminated. Fortunately for the artists, who had spent hours on rehearsals with the previous script, all but one have been signed in for the next major release by the Shah’s Production home. Strange facts revolve around the disappearance of model and media-artiste Jay Malhotra from the Mumbai circuit, though his movements have been reported as of late, the aspiring actor’s sudden departure from the media world comes as a mild surprise, as such incidents have occurred before with others. Jay left for Delhi on the 12th inst. and is now reported to be on his way to USA. Though he has avoided publicity his last few days in the country, still we wonder if his this move is to complete his higher education abroad, as his sister revealed, or it’s a planned move to make it big on the international ramp, and ultimately, Hollywood!…..Our best wishes to this talented young gentleman from Jaipur, and also our heartiest wishes to all the artists and crew who are now amidst preparations to launch a new family soap entitled ‘Tootte Bandhan’………One of the most unexpected happenings, is why our charismatic Jay wasn’t offered a role in this serial?, or maybe he was offered one but turned it down?…….The Producer wishes to keep silent on that point, while current lead actor and media darling Kush Tiwari replies mockingly about letting sleeping dogs lie!!…..We wonder if he’s comparing himself to a dog!!……Hasn’t Kush heard that raving party tune…..’Who let the dogs out! Bow-Wow-Bow-Wow!!’……..