Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Freakishly Faithful - Chapter 7 : Fire and Ice

This is a first! Two parts of the same Chapter posted on the same day! hehe... don't skip part 1 before this

Part 2

It wasn’t over. I couldn’t believe it. Over 4 years since I left school, and only a few months after I’d broken up with Maya, I realized that I was still capable of being vulnerable to a fault. That if my feelings for Maya when we were together were paramount, their effects were also temporary, and were relegated to irrelevance after I discovered that even after all this time, I was attracted to Ruksana.

Anzarle set the ball rolling. When she jokingly asked me to “think of that girl you liked in school” in order to finish writing ‘Aap na rahe’, I went ahead and thought. And then the thinking wouldn’t stop.

One evening Nishita, Seema, Ruksana and I were hanging around at Ruksana’s place. Meeting up had become a regular practice post-Anzarle. Amidst the chit-chat, Ruksana recalled an argument she had had with me (Vegetarianism vs. Non-Vegetarianism) while we had been petting a little calf in a stable in Anzarle (the crux of her argument was, how could I treat the calf so tenderly, and then eat meat). With her usual playfulness (and, I’m tempted to believe, total lack of consideration) she said, “Bikram, what if things work out and we get married, will you become a vegetarian for me?” The lovesick fool that I was, I said that I would. The girls, rightly, laughed it off. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

Ruksana had probably begun to feel like she could confide in me. Talk to me about anything. I didn’t discourage her. At times that was to my peril. On that very evening, she showed me a letter that she had sent to the ‘Chicken Soup’ book publishers. It was her story, about her feelings for Aminesh. I remember feeling strange, remember looking at the computer screen with nothing registering, except the fact that the woman I was crazy about was making me read about another guy.
The thought consumed me. My feelings for Ruksana, the ones I had thought were dead and buried, were flooding back into me. It made me curse myself often, but those feelings took me into their swirl with inevitable finality. And I felt helpless once again, for if today there was no Aminesh to stand in my way, there was still his memory in Ruksana’s mind, and the fear of the pain he caused her in her heart.

A couple of nights later, under the mild influence of a glass of beer, I penned down the disconnected blizzard of thoughts in my head. I was to leave for Bangalore the next day, to participate in the NLSIU Parliamentary Debate 2005. Hours before I left, I called Karan and asked if I could see him. He met me near Akruti’s place, where he had been staying of late, and I showed him a print of what I’d written.

I’ve been unable to write anything of the sort since. It went like this:

“More sleepless nights. More day-dreams. The familiar feeling of emptiness within. You haven’t left me. And you were never with me. You were always somewhere, tantalisingly close, yet always out of reach. Is it because I never tried to reach you? Is it because I was beaten to it? Is it because I was too scared of what you would say? But what is it now? Why have you come back into my head? Why do you torment me? Why can’t you leave me in peace? Why can’t I say that I love you?

Love is a feeling. I’m in love with the feeling. I’m not in love with you. I’m in love with the feeling. Just the elation of seeing the one who inspires those feelings. Just the lightness of my limbs, the energy, the smiles, the rosiness of the world, just the feeling. Not you, just the feeling. But why do you keep giving me the feeling?

Leave me alone. I don’t want to be with you. I can’t be with you. I won’t be with you. I love you…

I don’t see your face as easily as I used to in my imagination. Again, it’s the feeling. You just happen to be around, again. She left me, left a void. I thought I was over it. I thought it didn’t matter. I can’t be so vulnerable again. But why did you come back? Are you my weakness? Will you be my strength? Can you feel for me the way I feel for you?

What did you mean? “…if everything works out, and if we get married, will you give up eating meat for me?” What did you mean? Was it just a joke? You don’t know what you do to me, do you? Or do you?

Dreams. Dreams of spending mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights, dawns, everything with you. Forever. Eternity. A bond till death. May I die first. May your spirit forever live. “…and if we get married…” What did you mean?

Don’t smile. I melt at the sight. I hate you. I can’t win with you. I don’t want to win with you. I won’t win with you. I don’t hate you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Shut up!! Get out of my head. I love you.

Chicken soup. Your first love. How could you? A test? A bloody test? Did you not know what you were doing? How could you? Intimate details of your thoughts on another man? And of all men, that bastard? How could you? Why? Why show it to me? Do you like to see me crumble? Do you want to see me break? I am broken. I am torn. I am empty. Fill me. Complete me. Save me. No!!! I am not weak. I can live without you. I have, I will. If animal existence is life, I will live. Leave me alone.

But you will never leave, will you? You haven’t left my mind. Not for four years when my eyes never saw you. You were always there. You would turn up anywhere. The attached pouch on the side upper berth of the AC sleeper. The hoarding. The ad in the paper. Goddammit!! Everywhere. Why can’t you just go away?

I love you. There, I said it! Did you hear it? Can you see it in my eyes. Can you look beyond the sardonic smile? Can you see the desperate disguise, the hopeless cover up? Am I doing a good job at hiding it? Can you see that I love you?

Too many questions. Too many questions. Silver lining. Wake up. Is this a dream? Are you real. Is it my imagination. Is it just the feeling. Do I love you? Can I love you? Fill me. Complete me.

Love me.

Damn it all!!!”

Freakishly Faithful - Chapter 7 : Fire and Ice

Part 1

A day in life that gives no cause for reminiscence is one without colour. Then again, it may perhaps be too optimistic to expect a memory a day. It seems easier to accrue a set of days and spread a memory over them at times. These writings seek to crystallize those memories, some fond, some not so, but all important, that shaped the course of several of our lives for the days that were and the days to come.

The day that Kannika walked up to me and finally introduced herself was indeed a memorable one. It marked the culmination of some 23 days from the day I noticed her looking my way (and Mayukhda concurred) till the time she finally spoke to me (Mayukhda did the math). That is not to say that her relative positioning on campus vis-à-vis me changed much, if anything it seemed to become more apparent. But now that the introduction was done, a cursory ‘Hi’ while walking by was unavoidable. In retrospect, although I was slightly nervous about her turning up very often in the portico to the law college staircase (forcing me to use the only alternative exit route, the Arts and Commerce portico) and otherwise at nearly every place on campus from whence I was likely to emerge, I must admit that this sudden, unsolicited, unexplained fascination from this unknown girl had a charm of its own. So, after spending quite a bit of time avoiding her, I decided to just run the gauntlet and asked her if she’d like to join me for coffee in the food court one afternoon. Of our conversation that day I remember nothing. I simply remember that I stopped referring to her as ‘the Stalker’ thereafter.

On one occasion, Sagar decided to treat me to beer at Apache for no apparent reason. Mayukhda was around, so the three of us wound up at Apache at 4 in the afternoon, and spent the next 2 hours downing round after round of beer. After 3 mugs I was buzzing happily, and we decided to call it an evening. I was carrying Sagar’s beautiful rosewood guitar (in an equally impressive guitar cover) at the time. Before leaving Apache, I went to the loo, and when I came out, a gentleman in an intermediate state of inebriation, who was waiting to use the loo, noticed the guitar and repeatedly requested that I hang around and play a song or two for him and his friends. After some initial hesitation, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to entertain the public present, so I took out the guitar and played a song, in all likelihood a Euphoria number. Of course, one song wasn’t enough for them, and while in the middle of the second song, I noticed that a mug of beer had been placed in front of me. I also felt my cell phone vibrating in my pocket, but as a rule I don’t stop mid-song to attend calls. After the song, I was informed that the beer was for me, for my singing, and that I was to down it in a single gulp. I downed half the mug in one gulp, which was as far as I could go at the time, and checked my cell to see a missed call from Kannika. On calling her, I discovered that she was bunking her French classes at Allianz Francais that evening to meet me, and that she and her sister were waiting for me down the road at Barista. I agreed to play ‘one last song’, and ended up with singing several more songs, many messages from Kannika asking how long would I take, and two more mugs of beer (that makes 6 in total… so far). When I walked out of Apache, I felt like I was floating towards Barista.

Poor Kannika and her sister (whose name I didn’t really know at the time)! I don’t know what they were expecting when they called me. I do know what they got; a very drunk, barely standing, red-eyed, guitar-slinging, heavily slurring, idiotically smiling buffoon, most definitely not the most charming company in a coffee shop, although unfortunately, the most visible! The shot of espresso in a tiny cup didn’t seem to make any difference, and the girls eventually walked out, probably more embarrassed than anything else, all the while saying that it’s ok, while I kept apologizing for my drunkenness.

I guess I was too drunk to be really embarrassed, and even now as I think of it, it seems more funny than anything else. I’m certain I was quite content in playing the fool that evening. After all, when I stepped out of Barista, I met a group of students who’d been at Apache earlier, and who had enjoyed my singing so much that they took me back to Apache for another round!

Kannika (and sister), a cup of espresso, a solo jam session with Sagar’s exquisite guitar, and 7 mugs of draught beer…

A red letter day, wouldn’t you say?