A Travellerspoint blog

Conversations and Confessions

Jab we sat … (& talked).... (when we sat and talked)

I broke a promise.
It’s as simple as that.
I broke not only a promise but also broke someone’s trust and heart all at once.
Bad bad me…

I don’t know from where to begin… its one long story. And this is one story I would not like to muddle and mess or edit my lines. If you get an eye sore by the time you reach the last line, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!

I knew I did something which would not be easily forgiven. But I had a plan. I wanted to make a confession and come out clean and assure that this would never happen again in the future.

But my plans did not see the light of the day. It died prematurely.

“Why are you in touch with that bastard again?” he asked me.
I didn’t have to ask who was being referred to. I knew this was coming. But never for once did I foresee the hatred which still remained undamaged. I thought with time opinions had altered. But no! I was so damn wrong.

He waited patiently for an answer looking into my eyes fixedly. Those few seconds seemed infinite while I managed to gather my voice and grit to answer that one simple question.

As I nodded my head in affirmation, I felt the soft, pendulous lower part of my external ear getting warmer and changed its hue to a shade of crimson (if only I could have seen my reflection). At the same time I also felt my eyes tearing unstoppably.

Posted by incommunicado 09:34 Comments (0)

Man... I love to hate you

sunny

Ajmal – I love to hate that man for reasons I really don’t know. A tall and dark fellow whose shrewdness oozes out from his gaze and smile; his side-burns and moustache with his jet black well oiled locks matches his personality as much as his olive like eyes which forever looks red and swollen.
The way I have described him might sound eerie and maddening. But he is exactly this; wait till you see him one fine day if luck is by your side and you will thank me for telling you this well in advance!
And if his looks were not enough to characterize his persona, you will go bonkers when he opens his mouth. He possesses perhaps the ugliest set of teeth, stained almost in a shade of something seemingly yellowish and grayish layer of plaque with crimson lining on the edges for his mouth is eternally busy chewing tobacco. I wonder if he has ever brushed his teeth!
I’ve been seeing this man in our locality for a long time now. Not only does he despise me but even the hounds (the self-proclaimed kingpins) that wander about in the lanes are not too fond of him either. The very sight of him and they bark unstoppably.
I don’t remember the first conversation we had but I very well remember the last one we had a few days ago.
For the past few months Ajmal and I were not in talking terms. If his looks were not good enough reasons for me to hate him, he had the guts to actually siphon money from me in broad daylight! That was it. I asked him to “leave” immediately and never to step in our compound ever again. He tried his best to plead, persuade and assure me that it was “just a mistake” but I had no energy left to buy all the things he said in a bid to defend himself.
I hate stacking things. I firmly believe that if I don’t use a thing for a year; be it clothes or other stuff, I am sure I shall not be using this again in the near future. And hence I dispose off clutter. Old clothes, shoes, curtains etc mostly sees their way to Clothes bank a local N.G.O but what do I do with old newspapers, beer bottles, cans etc?
That was precisely the moment when Ajmal stepped into my life as a big rescue.
Ajmal is a measly scrap and junk collector. Thus he made my life a whole lot easier and clutter free. I am a kind of someone who doesn’t remember faces too well, maybe it’s the Aquarius in me – the “out of sight out of mind” syndrome. But his face is one thing I could never miss for sure, even if that meant seeing him while going to the nearby market to buy vegetables. Years passed on and he knew his timings well. He would come gather all the junk and there have been times when I’d offer him tea and snacks. In a bid to return that favour he’d also tidy up the compound sometimes, brush off dried leaves from the lawn and also mow the lawn if he had time. And I was happy with this arrangement no matter how disgusting he looked.
But with time passing his behavior seemed had changed. He was no longer dedicated towards his work. He was disinterested in his chores. He would still say “yes” when I’d ask him if he’d like to have a cup of tea but he no longer would mow the lawn or brush up the dried leaves. I had no time to ponder into these trivial issues then. I was too busy mending my own life.
And one fine day Nirav casually tapped me on my shoulders and said, “Do you realize that this man is deceiving you?” He further said, “Have you ever crossed checked whether he weighs the newspapers correctly?”
All I had as an answer was a simple, “No”.
The next best thing Nirav did was to ask Ajmal weigh the entire heap of newspapers yet one more time. I wasn’t too happy about it, especially on a hot and humid afternoon. Ajmal could see the wrath in Nirav’s eyes for sure and he heeded with much fuss. Nirav made sure his scales were accurate and on the second count I realized that I was actually being duped by about five kilos of newspaper! And I wondered in the last nine years how many kilos of junk he had deceived me.
And that was it. I asked him to “leave” and keep the entire bundle of papers and other junk where it was and never to show his face or dare talk to me again.
For the last couple of months I’ve been throwing away all the junk in the garbage bin. But the pile of newspapers was getting larger and larger. I didn’t know what to do. There were other scarp collectors too, passing by our home and many a times I’ve had this desperate urge to call one of them and clear the mess. But then I thought of Ajmal and said to myself, “they are all the same”, and I let the heap get larger.
Day before yesterday, I was in the balcony watering my plants and Nirav was in the porch washing car. And from the corner of my eye I could sense someone was near the gate. As I looked down I saw Ajmal. As I looked into him, he sheepishly smiled at me. I did not respond. I looked away and kept watering my plants. I looked towards the gate again and saw him still standing there hoping I’d let him in. I came inside, got busy with preparing breakfast and about fifteen minutes later as I went to the balcony to call Nirav for breakfast I saw Ajmal still waiting. Nirav by then had finished his washing and was coming upstairs. As he stepped in I asked him, “Should I ask him to come and take away the newspapers?”
Nirav nodded his head and reminded me of what had happened about eight months ago.
I assured him, “I’ll be careful this time around”. And as walked towards the balcony to call Ajmal i could see a sheer excitement in this face, that shrewdness oozing out from his gaze and smile yet one more time…
As he weighed the newspapers he asked me if “dada” was around just in case he wanted to “check the scales” …
Maybe Ajmal again duped me. I am not sure. He assured me he did not. And I trust him. Not because he means much but because he helps me in tidying up my home.

Posted by incommunicado 08:27 Archived in India Comments (0)

Heartbreak Warfare…

Every time I hear this particular word certain events burst across my eyes like a blitzkrieg. I thought there were just two major instances in my life when I cried my heart out and I had no one who’d listen to me without laughing. I guess even now I feel that way or else I wouldn’t be writing these lines in the very first place.

Okay… now being “almost” on the wrong side of thirty when I recall my past days I always thought there were just two major incidents and baby… I was wrong … the third stuck like an arrow when I thought nothing could move me…and to comfort my ego I tell myself off and on that there’s still a child in me which is alive and kicking!

And now I wonder before telling these three tales should I really name them or keep them the way I address them still? The later now seems to suit my sensibilities and here they are:

Tragedy one:
This happened around twenty years ago. Like any teenager even I had butterflies in my stomach every time I saw him! And I really don’t know for what reasons why I was so attracted to him. He was just an ordinary guy head banging to all the heavy metal stuff I could think of and every meeting and his head banging would make me rush to get the dispirins. But I liked it that way. He belonged to the tall, dark & “not so” handsome types and still I was happy. Things however changed when I told this to my closest friend. Women can never keep secrets… I nod in agreement to it hundred and one percent! I don’t know whether I should appreciate her hard work or hate her guts but the day she went and told him about me, from that instance our relationship s soured. And I was miffed. Suddenly I could feel the distance. I wanted to set things straight but as clumsy as I am luck abandoned me too. To add to my miseries my tall, dark & not so handsome fella, out of the blue met a cousin of mine and all hell broke lose. They set the stage on fire! And he asked my help! Can anybody beat that? I wish I had the nerve to tell him “Slap me damnit!” But in reality I did something more silly & stupid. I cried my heart out. And no… mind you, not in front of him. I felt so lonely. I cried & wept & cried & wept more all alone. I spent many sleepless nights. I’ve felt my heart ache and heaviness that pained me to bits. Though I was amidst a crowd yet I’d be the only lonely one and it took a long time for me to heal my wounds. And I don’t know where he got lost amidst that crowd.

Tragedy two:
I was just out of school and all ready to attend college. You know how it is to be in a Convent school for twelve odd years. The very thought of going to a co-ed college was superb! And I just waited for that day. But something else happened before that. Between the time after school and joining college I befriended my neighbour. He was my batch, but studied in an all boy’s school. We soon realized that we shared a lot of common friends and interests as well. One thing led to the other and soon we were the unofficial couple in our gang of friends. There was nothing between the two of us yet some amount of attraction was there for sure. Soon college started and though we were in different colleges yet we would make it a point to hang out together. One afternoon when I returned home I saw a chit on my study table. As I unfolded it, it wasn’t too neat actually to be termed as a “love letter”. As I opened the chit I realized it was from him and he scribbled a few lines defining his love for me! And boy! I thanked my lucky stars. All my friends had boyfriends and it would get utterly boring when they went out on dates. I was left alone. So now that I had him as a boyfriend I thought I was in the league of my friends too. A few days later when I visited him I was feeling quite giddy inside. I have been such a tomboy all my life that to behave like a teeny-weeny love struck girl was quite a task. As I walked into his room I saw a lot of friends and he didn’t even pay that “special” and “extra” attention to me. Rather I could sense that he was more than eager to prove his manliness to a skimpily clad girl. I knew something was wrong. So the one chance I think God granted me I called him aside and asked him “what was wrong?” His jaw dropped almost touching the floor. He didn’t have a clue why I was behaving like a nagging wife. So I called him to my place the next day and showed him the chit. As he read that I thought he would bury himself deep underground. He said it was not him who wrote those lovey-dovey lines. And I was equally shocked as him. We had a big argument and he left, leaving me in absolute tears. I felt my heart breaking yet one more time. That pain… that loneliness again crept in me and I buried myself in my shell. The next morning as I walked into my classroom I knew everyone was giving me strange looks… I had huge puffy and swollen eyes. I had cried the whole night. A few days later I solved this puzzle. A cousin of mine who weighed a ton and thousand, smelled like a pig and cribbed always played this crude and dirty game on me and I gave her my piece of mind. But by then my friend had already left hometown and got admitted to a different university and we lost touch.

Tragedy three:
I met this friend of mine in flesh and blood after a long long time. But the situation in which we met was different. We connect. We communicate even when no words are spoken. And just to see him I was happy. It was a very emotional moment for me. There has been no “attraction”, “crush”, “infatuation” between us, but I think what binds us together is the sheer madness. Our meeting was just for minutes and when he said he’d call me the next day I let go that sentence. I never thought he would actually.
And the next afternoon while having lunch as my phone buzzed I could not believe my eye when I saw his name flashing on the screen and the phone buzzing. Speaking to him has been a pleasure always. We decided to meet the next day. And as he asked I called him to check whether he’d be able to make it. He said he’ll let me know and the whole evening I kept waiting for this one call. And it never came. And again I was hurt, deep down somewhere. I was in a situation where I could not show it openly that I was hurt. I was weeping deep within and the heaviness I felt was as same as I felt when my first ever crush didn’t notice me and wanted me to help him getting fixed with my cousin!

Heartbreak warfare! Sure it was…and at this stage?????

The three men don’t have a clue to all this anyways. But now after all these years I feel so tempted to speak my heart out!

Would that do good? I don’t know nor do I care. Butthey have made me cry big time and they should better be aware of it….

Posted by incommunicado 08:03 Archived in India Comments (0)

Lost & Found

sunny

I don’t know when or how but slowly and slowly I have learnt to “let go”. I wasn’t sure if letting go would be as easy as it seemed when I read in number of books. And I waited to apply it practically… but things like “let go”, “live and let live” doesn’t happen in a particular day or a time… it happens gradually and its only when you have time for yourself to look back into the days gone by that you realize it. And it never did seem tough at all. I said to myself, “… its time… its age… its maturity… letting go things is easy… not that dangerous…” Dangerous would be an overstatement… but a little pep-talk to oneself do no harm? Does it?

An incident however did override my much “let go” philosophy … momentarily … if not for eternity.

It dates back to the year 2006. My job meant I had to travel extensively. And the two constant companions I had with me always were – 1) my portable music player & 2) my hip flask. Being assaulted by jaundice once I vowed to carry water from home only.

I am not at all a morning person. And as much as I loved my job I hated to wake up early to catch a flight or rush to the cab waiting outside my home in the morning with the same integrity.

It was the month of June and even at five in the morning it looked as if half the day had already passed. I was on my way to Tezpur for a training session. I reached the bus stop and waited for about thirty minutes. It was such a mad rush waking up and getting all my bearings in places that there was no time for a cup of tea. As I enquired I was told the bus would be late. So I walked down to a nearby tea stall and had a cup of tea. It rejuvenated me instantly. By the time I was done with my tea, the bus reached and I hopped on it and soon was on my way to work. I put my earphones, pressed the “play” button on my mp3 player and soon I went off to sleep. After covering a distance roughly 180 kms and two and half hours later we reached Nogaon. The busses usually halted here for about 20 minutes. I was still not fully awake but I knew this route, the stoppages and my bag so well that i really didn’t have to open my eyes to put my hands inside my bag and take out the hip flask. But alas! There was something wrong this time. I couldn’t find it. By now I was fully awoke and I looked inside my bag yet I couldn’t find it… I took out all the things, yet the flask was nowhere in sight. I felt lost. I felt alone. I knew it was just a flask, but this same flask had been a great companion to me and now when it went missing I was almost devastated. I couldn’t recall where I left it. And I had to “let go”. Wasn’t that easy? No… not really… because I was so attached to it. But then I thought maybe it had served its purpose and it was time to let go the flask.

Days passed by and like a love story gone sour and eventually tasteless; memories of the hip flask too faded away.

Almost a year later, I was in the same bus stand, but this time I wasn’t going anywhere. I was there to receive somebody and it was late in the evening. The waiting game is surely a tough one especially when you have mosquitoes swarming all over you and you are surrounded with strange faces mostly gazing blankly into their cell phones.

I am a big time caffeine addict if you permit me to say. So I walked down to the same tea stall and ordered a cup of coffee. I sipped my coffee as slowly as I could because once this activity would be over I didn’t have anything interesting to do except wait for someone’s arrival. As I finished the last drop of coffee and settled the bill, the guy over the counter looked into me for a while and then asked, “Madam, I remember you. You have come to my tea stall earlier also.” I felt so important that moment! At least somebody so unknown too recognized me! I said I did. As he was handing me the change he asked me to wait for a while. “Is this yours?”, he continued saying as he took out a hip flask that looked like my long lost and almost forgotten buddy. I couldn’t believe my eyes… and I didn’t have to examine it like a pathologist in a lab. I recognized it as much I’d recognize my new born baby amidst hundreds of new-borns in a nursery. I said, “Yes, this is mine!”

The shopkeeper took out a cloth and wiped it proper and handed over to me. He told me, “I wanted to call you back to hand you the flask but you already had boarded the bus. I kept waiting and thought one day you’d come and looking for it. But it’s been a year or so now. But still I thought I’ll keep this and hand it over to its rightful owner no matter how long I’d have to wait. But today when I saw you walking down towards my shop, I wasn’t sure whether it was you. You look different. But then something in me said this must be you…”

I could not thank him enough. He just made my day. It was like finding back one’s lost love. The happiness and joy at that moment was far more than what would I have felt if I were gifted diamonds.

As I thanked him I bowed my head down slightly, a small gesture to let him know how much this meant to me.

As I write down this I must tell you, I haven’t been to that tea stall again. There hasn’t been a reason. But yes, I’ll still recognize the nice guy who kept my flask with such care for so long.

And if you are wondering what happened to the flask… well… something more interesting will follow soon…

Posted by incommunicado 06:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

The Road Less Travelled

Part –I - Holiday begins

sunny 30 °C

We as a state celebrate our day of independence shutting ourselves at home. A whole generation has been conditioned this way. But this time I knew things would be different. I was so looking forward to breathe some fresh mountain air, get away from dust and grime and do away with the mugginess that swallows us every summer, especially post monsoons.

As planned we decided to start as early as possible. We knew we had to cover a long stretch of the National Highway which we mostly cross by other means of transport other than a car.

So on Friday the thirteenth exactly at 8.00 a.m we left home. A few stopovers and an hour later we reached the outer edges of the city. The route we initially decided during our rounds of “idea-ting while guzzling down gallons of beer” to Siliguri from Guwahati was via Goalpara – crossing the Naranarayan Setu – Bongaigaon – Srirampur and finally enter North Bengal.

But like they say “Man proposes & God disposes”; a major chunk of the route we wanted to traverse was reeling under the influence of “Assam Bandh”. A few phone calls here & there made us change our route. We would still be traveling via Goalpara, crossing the Naranarayan Setu and then take a different path through the sleepy town of Jogihopa, by pass Dhubri, tread through Boxirhat and then enter North Bengal.

The drive till Paikan (the junction from where you can go to Tura from one side of the highway & the other was the one we were traversing) was an amazing one. The highway was more was like a runway with dense teak plantations on both sides. Greenery makes everyone poetic, well maybe. The two men I was traveling with never sounded so poetically correct until now!

Somewhere around Dhubri we halted at a roadside shack for a quick lunch. The place look deserted. As we parked the car and got down around five men came to greet us. We looked at each other and thought maybe we took a wrong decision in opting to have lunch here. The place looked abandoned and maybe it was so devoid of customers that the entire army which consisted of the chef, the helper, the “manager” (most probably) and two more aides came out to give us a warm reception!

Post lunch as we nearing Boxirhat the roads started deteriorating. We thought a little stretch of the broken highway was okay… but I was wrong. Traveling on that rough patch for some uncountable kilometers had an anti gravitational effect on my system and as we halted for a tea break all I could do was throw up! Upon asking a truck driver how long would be this stretch of road he casually said “120 kms”!

As we accelerated again I put my eye pads on and tried chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, lest I throw up again!
By sundown we assumed we had covered at least half of the 120 kms “bad patch highway” and Nirav on the driver’s seat finally had reasons to release smile. We’d soon be on a better road where instead on traveling on the 2nd gear we’d be zooming on overdrive. But somehow the road did not look like a National Highway. There were no signs of any mile stones, no trucks or busses or lorries plying. We three guessed it but no one dared to speak it out loud & clear that we somehow took a wrong turn. So every crossing we reached we’d slow down and ask a passer by how long it would take us to reach Siliguri. And we got a bevy of replies. Sometimes it was “2 hours”; sometimes “20 kms” and sometimes a vague and blank stare as if the person was either possessed by an unseen spirit or maybe it was the effect of weed, smoked beyond the permissible limits!
We realized our folly when after about driving for 150 -200 odd kms we reached a crossing and saw some signs of civilization and a milestone too where it was written “Siliguri 120 kms”! Still??????
By the time we checked in at the hotel it was 10.00 p.m. A good shower and the most unappetizing food later we all crashed into a deep slumber.

Posted by incommunicado 06:07 Archived in India Comments (0)

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