Wednesday 30 April 2014

A to Z Random Post # 26 Z - Zeal , for him !

I couldn’t locate him in the large crowd.

I knew he was there ; probably I wasn’t looking properly.

I patiently scanned every face, trying to identify each of them.

Yet , he eluded me.

The crowd didn’t seem to mind me ; I might be one in the many , to them.

"Zumba classes with our handsome instructor, and  Zatar Manakish for dinner would be better than this," I thought , frustrated , though I kept looking.

Ah ! There he was !!

My zeal was limitless now !

Quickly ,I zoomed my telescope at the tiny white light that was Jupiter . Zenography wasn’t easy ; but interesting , definitely !!
Images : Google

Zumba : A form of Dance -cum- Aerobics, that's fun as an exercise.
Zatar Manakish : A kind of Lebanese Pizza, made of dough baked with a topping of oregano, thyme, sesame , salt etc.
Zenography : The study of Jupiter

Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.

A to Z Series Post # 26 - the Zenith of Love !!

The paper shook in my hands.

I’m surprised at her, angry with her for being foolish,  but I know her , She’s a gem ! , the title read.

She told me today, a lot many things.
She loves babies.
But she can’t have them.
They can’t , in fact.

Because Vinod suffers from congenital pituitary deficiencies.  That’s the term she used when she told me.He has a problem with fertility.
And it is not curable, she knows it is not, in his case.

And worse, she knows it, he doesn’t .

I froze for a moment. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
Someone had wrenched my heart out.
I had been the incompetent one, all these years.

Tears invaded my eyes as I continued reading.

I was shocked. I asked her how and why she had kept this hidden.
She said, she was the one handling their medical reports. It was easy for her to take up the blame and steer the conversation off the topic.
I told her she ought to have told him long back.
She said she had known it when she married him.
It seems his Dadima knew of this. His Dadaji also, presumably.
And his Dadima had made her promise that she’d never let him know.
And she cried again.

I got angry with her. Dadima was wrong in hiding it from him. Good that she’d told Kamini about it , but what was the justification she had for asking her to stop Vinod from knowing it ? That Vinod will not be able to accept it ? Isn’t it her mistake that she expected Kamini to accept it and then marry him and then hide it from him, driving her to take up the blame ?

I poured out these questions to Kamini, but she wouldn’t hear anything against Dadima. “ It had been my choice, too,” she said, “ I loved Vinod and I didn’t want to hurt him.”
I told her she was hurting him more by hiding it.
Which, she said, she had realized very late, just recently, when Dadima confessed to her on her death bed, that she’d been wrong in asking her to keep it hidden.

Weird, how human mind works. I’ve been wronged in one way, and Kamini has been wronged in another. I can understand her pain. She’s taking up a blame for something that’s not her fault at all.
But I think I can understand her thoughts.
She loves Vinod, much much more than she can ever say. She doesn’t want to hurt him, even if that means getting hurt in the process.
Some sort of self sacrifice, but her motives aren’t selfish.

I told her to speak to Vinod at least now. Softly, without hurting him. She must know how to do it.
She says she needs some time. She’s been silent at home now, observing Vinod and his reactions to situations. She wants to do it with full confidence.

I think I understand the love.
She’s a gem, that woman, Kamini. 
Just a little confused now, that's all. I wish she speaks to Vinod soon. I wish they get back the lost love.  
One of these days I’ll tell Vinod flat on his face that  ignoring his wife is going to cost him his life.
And that he’s confused in love. What he has for me isn't love ; it is supreme kinship.

Vinod is a nice guy, I like him. He ought to know the truth, even if it is bitter.

I don’t know for how many hours I sat looking at the page, but I cried, and let the tears flow.

I had no idea of any of this. While I could still blame Kamini for keeping it hidden, the sheer sincerity and honesty reflected by Mahita’s words made me see things from a different perspective.

For the first time in many days, I felt a clear understanding of my feelings for Kamini.

She was a gem.
A gem that I had received for loving and safe keeping; the one  that had kept me safe for so long.

When I entered the hospital room the next morning, Mahita was propped up on a pillow, and Kamini was giving her something to drink, her back turned to the door.

“ Mammaa , are you fine?”, Sanju ran to Mahita.

Kamini looked startled when she turned to the door to face me, as I was earlier than expected. She blushed red, and lowered her eyes, fidgeting with something on the table. I walked up to Mahita’s bed.

She looked at me and smiled. “ Thank you, for taking care of Sanju”, she said.

“I should be the one thanking you, Mahita,” I said, my voice masking my emotions well.

“What for?”, she asked, perplexed.

“ For this,” I said, as I held up her journal.

She looked at the journal for a moment, then at me with a faint smile, and turned to look at Kamini.

“ The game is up, dear. He knows it now. Relax,” she told her , the faint smile growing.

Kamini looked at me, her eyes widening in strange surprise. I nodded. And instantly her eyes welled up with tears.

The next moment, she was in my arms, hugging me, her head resting on my chest, sobbing uncontrollably, as I held her and let her tears soak me wet.

Here was the woman who had given me her life with all the love , and I hadn’t been able to realize that. I had lived in my own land, nurtured my own dreams, never ever trying to find out if she had a different view of life.

I gently stroked her hair and whispered in her ears, “ Sorry, Kamini. Sorry. I love you, as always. Will, always.”

Sanju planted a kiss on Mahita’s cheek and said, “ Vinod aunty ko Prince mil gaya”, and we laughed out loud.

Mahita was discharged the next day, and once she went home, she sent her letter of resignation to the HR Team of our company.

Dr. Rajat Nair wanted help with the ‘ Home for the Aged’ that  he was running at Bangalore, and Mahita had volunteered to help. She wanted to move soon. Sanju’s academic year would end in a month, and they would relocate to India.

Soon, the day of their departure arrived.

“I’ll write to you both, you’re so special to me, “ she told me and Kamini when we went to see them off at the airport.

“ But we’ll miss you and Sanju , and your special smiles. You’ve given me so much , Mahita. I don’t know if I will ever be grateful enough for that,” Kamini said.

“ Mahita, you have all our love and prayers. We still need you in our lives,” I said.

She smiled and waved a goodbye, as Sanju pranced forward in the queue for Immigration.

I took Kamini’s hands in mine as we returned to our car.

Oh! I still loved Mahita ; she was still the Zenith of love for me.

Just that, this was an altogether different form of love, undefinable, inexplicable.

And just that, Kamini loved her more than I did.

We kept in touch over the past fourteen  years, twice or thrice we met them both when we went on vacations and we knew Saarthak, our Sanju, had grown into a handsome young man and had left for the US for higher studies.

One fine day, I received a parcel at my office.

It was Mahita’s. From Bangalore.

It contained a letter.

Hi Vinod and Kamini,

I know this comes in as a surprise, but this is one favour I’m seeking from you.

Sanju doesn’t yet know the story of his birth. And I don’t want him to know it from me when I’m alive.
I’m enclosing a diary herewith. My Pink Journal.
I’ve written down everything here.
Please hand it over to him once I’m gone.
And I’ll be gone soon, anyway. You know my clock has been ticking for a long time now !
( I don’t even know whether I’ll be able to see the Ganges when I’m still alive ! That's one of my very few wishes in life ! )

You’re the best to do this for him.
Because while I’ve loved and lost, you both have rediscovered love . In your own sweet way. 

Sanju still loves Kamini's Lalla Lalla Lori, by the way.


That was one month ago.

I’d resigned and we had relocated to Mumbai just two weeks back. I hadn’t spoken to Mahita yet, as we were just getting settled. We hadn’t informed her, intending it to be a surprise for her.

I regretted it now, looking at the newspaper on my lap, that carried her obituary.

Probably, Sanju might have mailed me the news of her death to my official e-mail ID .It might have bounced back as the ID no longer existed.

“Vinod, don’t you think we ought to go ? I can’t think of not going,” Kamini was crying now, standing next to me, clutching something in her hands.

I looked at her, my tears finding their way to my lap.

“ Also, we owe her a duty,” she said, handing over Mahita’s journal to me.

I looked at her, and the journal in my hand.

Yes, we had to go.

Saarthak needed us, now, more than ever. 
Kamini would sing Lalla Lalla Lori for him again.

I got up, to call my travel agent to book us the tickets.

Mahita, you’ll always be with us, We’ll always love you. You taught us a new way to live. You gave us a new zest for a meaningful life.
We’ll miss you ;Your memories shall live on, I whispered to the winds brushing my skin.

As I turned to go inside, I felt that two big, deep brown eyes, lined with kohl, laced with a mischievous smile, were looking at me intently from somewhere in the heavens.

The End....
Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

A to Z Random Post # 25 Y - Yahoo, they did it !

She wanted to do it.

But there were distractions.

Someone or the other always turned to look at her.

Their  teacher was mixing colour pigments with egg yolk for the tempera painting they were supposed to learn.

She looked at her teacher’s eyes, visible through the small opening in  her yashmak.
She knew she wouldn’t be caught.

She looked at her friend, with longing in her eyes.

He looked ready too.

Her whole body ached, from trying to control the urge.

No, they knew they couldn’t hold it any longer !

They did it.


How long could they stifle their yawns ?? !!

Images : Google
Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.

A to Z Series Post # 25 Yes, she knew her....

I took Sanju to the Subway Outlet on our way. While he ate, I called the hospital from there and informed Kamini that we were on the way.

I wanted to see her, that was the truth. To confront her, to ask her what this was all about.

“ Vinod, it is already late, and visitors aren’t allowed in the evenings here, you know na. Why don’t you go home instead ? Take the kid there, and you can come here in the morning,” she said.

That appeared logical. If Sanju couldn’t meet Mahita, there was no point in going to the hospital in the evening.

But I decided to play.

“ In that case, I think it’s better to take him to his home. I will stay with him there tonight and bring him to the hospital in the morning,” I said.

“ Oh ! That’s perfect, then. But you need the keys , right ?,” she asked.

  I hadn’t expected this. I had thought she would protest.  Clever.

“ Hmm..keys..yeah, that’s true,” I said, and turned to look at Sanju. He was holding a bunch of keys in his hand. He mouthed ,” mere pass hai”, when I looked at him.

“ Hey Kamini, I think Sanju has the keys, let me see. If so, I’ll go to her home and call you for updates,” I said and hung up.

“ Hey, that’s your home keys?”, I asked him.

“ Yes Uncle. Mamma comes late from office. So I have a spare key with me. I go home in the evening, have milk and then go to play. Security uncle helps me lock the door, then.  Mamma tells me every day to take care of the key and not lose it,” he said proudly.

“ Chalo, let us go then,to your home. Kal Subah we’ll go to the hospital , Ok ? ”, I said and  he nodded. We walked to my car and drove to their place.

It took hardly ten minutes for Sanju to settle down at home , and he enthusiastically switched on the computer. His perfect knowledge amazed me, and he said he learnt it at school.

“ What’s there to see in the computer now?”, I asked.

“ Vinod aunty dikhaaoonga,” he smiled and opened a folder.

I stood surprised as he screened one photo after another. Not just one or two, at least fifty of them.

Kamini with him. Kamini with Mahita. The three of them together.

I didn’t let recognition show on my face.  But my excitement had reached a greater height now. I wanted to know more about this play that was happening behind my back.

Tension, anger, frustration swept into me. I opened the Yahoo page mindlessly and kept browsing, while Sanju did his homework. I slyly opened some other folders too, hoping for a clue about the connection. But there were none.

I wanted to call Kamini, but decided to wait till Sanju slept. She would reach home, by then.

Sanju kept telling me something about his school, and I listened to him for some time, entertaining him. An hour later, the chatter stopped, and I turned to look at Sanju.

He had fallen asleep on his books.

Ah ! my moment had come.

Taking care not to disturb his sleep, I took him in my arms, carefully, to his bed and tucked him warm with his blanket. I turned to go towards the phone, when I noticed the small book lying on the bed.

It was a small journal, with a light pink cover.

Overcome by curiosity, I opened it.

The first page was signed - Mahita , a personal journal.

I couldn’t help turning the pages, to check if she had written something about what I was itching to know, despite knowing that it wasn’t ethically correct for me to do so.

And then it caught my eye.

The day she came home first. A curious title.

I read on. 

Dear Diary,
I had just returned from Sanju’s school. Annual Day Functions. And she knocked at the door immediately after I entered.
She smiled when I opened and asked her who she was. She said, she had seen Sanju’s performance at school that afternoon, and she wanted to congratulate him. She’d seen us take the cab, so she’d followed us home.
 I invited her in. And we talked more. She seemed a genuine person, so warm, pretty and soft spoken.
She said she was a nurse, and worked at Sanju’s school as a volunteer with their Social Causes Wing, on her off days. I asked what her name was . “Kamini”, she replied.
I was surprised. I decided to surprise her. “ Kamini, as in, Kamini Vinod Mehra?”, I asked her. And she was surprised, indeed. “Do you know my husband ?”, she asked.
And I told her  I knew him , he was my friend and colleague.
She smiled to this, and we talked some more roz ka kissa. She said she’d like to meet Sanju often. I was happy.
But before she left, she told me one more thing.
That she had followed us not just to meet Sanju. That she’d seen my photograph in one of the books Vinod had, and had kept quiet about it. And she had seen me at school today, so she thought she ought to find out more about me.
She apologized and told me not to take it in a wrong way.
What’s wrong in what she did ! I said, its fine.
And it’s not my picture she has seen, anyway. I’m sure of that.
And she said Vinod didn’t know about her volunteering, so it would be better if I don’t mention the meeting to him.
She’s glad that she came.
I’m glad too. I have found a new friend. So has Sanju.

So that was how the connection began.

I turned the pages again.

She’s more than just a friend now. The next title.

Kamini comes often, and we talk a lot. She plays with Sanju. One would find it difficult to believe that she’s not a mother. She’s so motherly.
We share a lot of thoughts  with each other. She’s a delightful companion.

Once she asked me where my husband was. Coincidence, that it was his death anniversary that day.
I don’t know whether it was that, or the overwhelming grief that sometimes threatens to eat me whole, but something made me tell  her.
And I felt warm with a little peace .

She was sorry she asked me, but I told her I was thankful to her, for being a patient listener.

Now, she knows me as much as I know myself.
But, Vinod doesn’t know anything. Nothing about me, nothing about us.
Something tells me I should wait before telling him that his wife is one of my best friends now.

I turned the pages again, not regretting anymore.

I am upset with her , the next one read.

Kamini spoke a lot about Vinod today.
She remembered the nice early days of marriage. It seems Vinod married her because his Dadaji told him to. Her dad was Dadaji’s colleague and friend, that’s how the relation worked out.
They were happy during the initial years but she says the equation is changed now. They’ve been married for a decade.
She loves Vinod. She is sure Vinod loves her too.
But he’s been cranky for some years now. She even narrated the incident of his spoiling her wedding saree.

All mainly because they don’t have kids.

I asked her why she didn’t want babies, given her motherly traits and deep love for Sanju.
She just cried.
Hugged me and cried.
And left.
I’m upset now.

Why ? Why did Kamini cry ? I turned the pages frantically now.

She says I’ve to help her. Another title.

She told me today that I must help her overcome the dilemma she’s facing.
She’s not able to speak out the truth to him.
She says I must tell him about myself. My story.
About love, about happiness, about finding the true meaning in one’s life.
She believes that will help him embrace the truth when he comes to know it.
I don’t think my life and that are related much, but she insists.

I told her in a jovial mood that he thinks he loves me. But she knows him better.
She says it’s just plain confusion for him, she’s sure he can’t love anyone else the way he loves her.
I’m sure of that too.

What was the truth that Kamini was speaking of ? I turned back the pages, sure that I had missed something in between.

And out fell a piece of paper,  torn from the same journal and folded , as if she’d wanted to discard it, but had decided against it.

I picked it up and opened it, my hands shaking in tension and excitement.

To be contd…


Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.

Monday 28 April 2014

A to Z Random Post # 24 - X - EXactitude !!

His master had taught him to use the xiphoid weapon for the kill.

"You must hold it like this for the best effect, taking care of your grip",  he had said , demonstrating with the knife.

And now, he had done it exactly that way.

There was no one in the vicinity.

There wasn’t even a muffled scream, when the knife pierced through the life ; just the agony ,that oozed out lifelessly.

He moved towards his isolated room, his strides confident.

Carefully, he adjusted the slice of the wood under the microscope, to study the xylem tissue for his botany practicals.
Images : Google

Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.

A to Z Series Post # 24 : X - Rays, and eXcitement later.....

Arun was already there at the hospital when I reached an hour later . Christina, Mahita’s colleague from the IT dept. was also there.

Mahita was in the ICU . I and Arun went to meet the doctor who was treating her,  Dr Shravan Patel, the Head-in-charge of the  Cardiology Dept.

I knew Dr Shravan before, as he was Kamini’s boss before she specialized and moved to the Women’s Health Department. I told him I was Kamini’s husband, and he instantly warmed up.

“ Kamini, yeah, I know her. She’s with the Gyneacs, now, isn’t she ? Blessed woman, a real angel among the nurses,” he said. I smiled.

I introduced Arun also, and told him we were  Mahita’s colleagues.

“What’s with Mahita, Doctor ? We would like to know because we have to help her with the Insurance procedures, “ Arun said.

“ She’s alone here, so….”, I added.

“Yes,I understand. She’s fine now. Just fatigue, probably lack of sleep. She’s currently under mild sedatives. We just thought of getting her Chest X-Rays, and  ECG done, you see. Just a precaution,” he said.

I was relieved. But why ECG ?

“ She already has a weak heart. She shouldn’t have stayed awake late into the night. That affects her easily,” he continued.

A weak heart ? I looked at Arun, he was looking at me in confusion.

“ I know you don’t know that. But I must tell you this at least now, that she’s not a very healthy person. Her heart is very weak, and she can’t take a lot of tensions.  There’s no specific reason why this should happen. This is her biological condition. ” he said, trying to tone down the unpleasantness of it. “She’s had this for almost five years now. And I’ve been treating her ever since she’s been here , in  the UAE,” he added.  

We looked at him in silence.

“But as long as she takes her medicines correctly, and as long as she maintains her diet and light exercise, and sleeps well, she will be fine. Just an extra care is needed, “ he said, helpfully.

We nodded in understanding.

“ We’ll just keep her here for two days, and she can then go home, after our usual rounds of check-up,” Dr Shravan offered.

We thanked him and walked out of the room.

Arun, along with Christina, went back to the office, so that he could take up Mahita’s Medical Insurance issues with the HR, and I stayed back and rang up Kamini’s department from the common telephone in the nurses’ room. They informed me she was in the operation theatre, assisting with some C-Section.

In ten minutes, she called back, surprised that I was there at the hospital. "Are you ok, Vinod ? Are you sick or something?" she asked.

I informed her that a colleague had been admitted there, and I had come to visit her.

“What’s the name of the patient?”, she asked. Typical Nurse, she is, I thought. 

“Mahita. Mahita Varma,” I said.

She remained silent for a moment. Then she said, “ I’m free for the next couple of hours. Shall I come over ? I will get permission, if I ask”.

I said, “ Yes, please do, only if you can”.

She reached the Dept of Cardiology in five minutes, and in the next five, she’d met Dr Shravan and got the details.

“ Vinod, I can stay here for some time. I've made arrangements with my Dept. Could you please do something about her son ? He’s at school,” she said.

That was when I thought of Sanju. It was  3.15 PM, and Sanju’s school would be over by 4. We had to do something about him. It was a good one hour’s drive, considering the traffic and the signals.

But how did Kamini know about Mahita’s son ?  I looked at Kamini with the question.

“ Dr Shravan just now mentioned to me, “ she said, “He has actually spoken to the Principal of the school and told her to keep the child there, and not to send him in the school bus. It would be nice if you could pick him up”.

I appreciated Dr Shravan, in my mind.

“ Yes, I know his school. I’ll go pick him up,” I said.

It was close to 5 P.M when I finally reached the school, because I had to take a long route as some construction work was going on along the road that I'd initially planned to take . Sanju was sitting in the Principal’s room, reading a story book. He was happy to see me, and came with me without a question. I thanked the Principal, after answering her queries about Mahita, and drove back.

“ Uncle, Mamma in hospital?,” he asked on our way.

“ Yes,  Sanju. But she’ll be back tomorrow, don’t worry dear,” I said.

“It’s ok. I know. She’s very strong,” he said, flexing his muscles like a wrestler.

I laughed.

“ But I’m hungry. I want to eat something, I want to sleep, ” he said, his face drooping innocently.

Poor kid. He must be starving, I never thought of that , so stupid of me, I thought.

“ Arey, we’ll reach now na. We’ll have something and then go to see your mamma,” I said.

“ Thank you, Uncle. I want veg-cheese-grilled-sandwich,” he said, sat back and grinned wide.

I looked at his innocent face. I didn’t want to tell him anything that would spoil his mood.

“ Shhh, Uncle. It’s so boring, no songs in your car.  Play this na,” he said again, brandishing a CD in his right hand.

“ Hey, what’s this ? You’re taking all this to school?”, I asked in mock anger.

“ No, No…I didn’t take it. Yesterday I was cleaning the study table so this was there and my bag was near ,so I put it inside. I forgot to take it out in the morning before going to school,” he made a sweet sorry face.

“ Hmm…. That’s fine,” I said as I inserted the CD in the slot.

The song that filled the car was melodious, and I was sure I’d heard the tune before.

Lalla Lalla Lori, doodh ki katori. A song, from an old hindi movie, released somewhere in the late 1970’s. Lata Mangeshkar had sung the female version of the song in that movie, I remembered now.

But I’d heard that tune very recently. From somewhere around me.

It became clear to me an instant later and I felt a wave of surprise surge through me, throwing me into pure confusion.

It wasn’t Lata’s voice that was singing the song for us.

It was entirely different  ; as soothing and as pleasant as a cool breeze on a hot evening.

And no, I wasn’t wrong with my conclusion this time.

It was Kamini’s voice in all its purity, serenity and tranquility.

And this was the tune I'd heard her hum sometimes at home, while she did something in the kitchen.

I looked at Sanju, he was nodding his heads to the rhythm . He looked at me and smiled, and I smiled back.

“Yeh aapki mamma ne gaya hai?”, I asked him, casually, to see his reaction .

“Nahi nahi,  Vinod aunty ne,” he said.

“ Vinod aunty ? Who’s that?,” I tried to sound casual , but my voice was trembling in nervous excitement.

“ Off oh, Uncle, jaise aapka naam Vinod uncle hai, her name is Vinod aunty,” he said, keeping his hands dramatically on his head.

I was now deeper in my confusion.

What did he mean by that ? Did he know her or did he not ? And how did the connection happen ?

More importantly, what was the connection ?

To be contd....

Linking this to A toZ 2014 and the Ultimate Blogging Challenge.