Young Love Sweet Love

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” I don’t understand how can you let yourself get so tightly ensnared in the grip of this hopeless romance.” Rahul shook his head while titling a bottle of beer to his mouth.

” I am recapturing my fading youth through my memories of her and escaping from the dullness of my present mechanical existence.” No sooner than this statement escaped from Ashok’s mouth did he realized it to be true.

” Ah my friend.” Rahul exclaimed with satisfaction. ” I am glad to know you can still see things for what they truly are. I thought I had totally lost my friend to this sentimental sap sitting before me.”

Ashok drank his beer silently.

” My college days were awesome. Best times of my life. Man. Who does not what to experience all that again. And the girls. ” Rahul laughed throatily. He was half drunk already.

Several empty bottles of beer littered the floor near their feet. Rahul’ s wife and daughter were already fast asleep. Alone in the balcony both men felt free at last to talk about things they kept hidden in their hearts during day as they fulfill the roles of loving husband, father and hardworking CEOs.

“I had one or two affairs after marriage.” Rahul whispered. ” Nothing as passionate as yours of course. Just with some young girls at the office. You know how it is. Those naive wide eyes eager to please.”

Ashok smiled dryly. ” The youth of the young is truly contagious. Some of the vigor do rubs on you for sure.”

” Ah, yes. Nothing like a beautiful tight ass to get my motor running. They are just so full of unsoiled dream–”

” So you make sure they don’t remain unsoiled for long.” Ashok interrupted and both burst out in boisterous laughter.

” It was kind of sweet really,” Ashok said, his voice more somber now. Rahul looked at him with sympathy this time sobering a little himself.

” How did you meet her anyway? I don’t remember you telling me the whole story. You came back here after four years of college so flustered with love and then that whole business with your parents and you getting married all of a sudden. I don’t remember us really talking in detail about what happened between the two of you.”

Ashok smiled remembering. ” She was a little crazy even then I think. Can you imagine me approaching a girl just like that and from that foreign country.”

Rahul laughed. ” I was wondering about that. You were never the type to chase after girls. So serious and brooding all the time. I was not even sure if you like girls. Ha haha. But of course you had that girlfriend in school.”

” Oh Mina, she was the one who courted me. ” Ashok laughed remembering the young awkward girl who followed him around everywhere all the time leaving everybody assuming they were going out together. She was a nice girl. He remembered liking her eventually and falling in love with her.

” It was the same with her. Do you remember how much I complained being lonely abroad and not having any friends? ” Rahul nodded. Smoke coming out from his mouth swirled around his head.

” Well on my first year over there it was like that. I was having a hard time adjusting. They made fun of my accent, of my clothes and my hairy arms. After my shift at the burger place I worked for to augment my allowance I usually skulk off to the nearby beach during the evening to blow off steam. She was there too almost every evening. Walking by herself. Listening to her iPod, plugs in both ears lost in thoughts. She was also a part time barista in one of the cafe’s around there.

Rahul remained quiet, listening to him while looking dreamily up the dark star studded sky, smoking a cigarette and drinking beer alternately.

” It went on for about a month just like that. I, sitting on the rock facing the sea, she, walking along the shore by herself. I was somewhat interested but never had the courage to say hello. There were days when she did not come. Then it caught me by surprise when suddenly I realized I was missing her silent presence there.” Ashok paused to put the bottle of beer on his lips. After gulping a fair amount of alcohol he took a puff from his cigarette and continued.

” Then one day out of the blue she walked towards where I was sitting and sat by my side. She started talking to me as if picking up from a middle of a conversation we had before. She said, ‘ So I told dad I am going with a couple of friends to Mexico and we will go backpacking for sometime. Like for a month of two. Of course he went ballistic.’

I was caught off guard with this information which was suddenly unloaded upon me. But I found myself responding, ‘Well I can understand your father. Who are you going with anyway? You might get into trouble you know. It might not be safe to go without an experience guide with you.’

She stood up suddenly. Irritated. ‘You sound like my father! That’s exactly what he said.’ Then she laughed and walked away from me without saying another word. I told you. I thought she was nuts. I thought are women from this country like this? Of course that was not true. She was quite, ” Ashok paused looking for an appropriate word. ” unique. Nuts but unique. Well I was intrigued after that. I could not stop thinking about her. I reviewed that little incident a million times over in my head. Putting different meanings on those statements she made. My heart was beating with anticipation the next evening I walked down the beach. I waited for her but she did not come nor the next day after that. When it stretched into a month I concluded she must have gone to take that trip after all. How I agonized over her return! But two months passed I stopped going to the beach and made new friends. I also started dating another girl and I have forgotten about her for while.”

Rahul sighed. ” Ah young love. Sweet indeed. I find myself envying you my friend.”

A Parallel Life

©JMKhapra

She Tried She Failed

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I feel good. So much better than I did a few months ago. Lileth and dad visited me. I am happy to see my sister growing up to be a fine young woman. I am proud of her. She looks up to me. I am sad about that. I wish I can be a better role model for her unlike the mess I turned out to be.

I have to tuck away my cynicism when I’m with her. I did not want to spoil the beautiful dreamy world she lives in. It makes me smile listening to her cheerful chatter. I remember my own naivety at that age. She was beaming with hope for the future. Such a refreshing sight.

After lunch dad left. He had to meet some associates of his. It was good to see him. He is a representation of everything stable and reliable. His strength and confidence gave me an assurance that everything is going to be okay. I have not told him about Ashok. I don’t want dad to hate him. Dad respects him but If I tell him what really happened between us he might just hunt Ashok and kill him. Dad is very protective, overly so. I don’t want to make him even more paranoid. Lileth will suffer for that.

Ashok remembered her dad. He liked the man. A warm hearted but principled man. A retired soldier who had seen the worse and had wanted to shield his two daughters from it. Shame and guilt filled his heart. He, Ashok was the monster her father was afraid of. Unknowingly he welcomed evil with open arms into his home. Ashok had never met her sister though. He remember the email Lileth sent him. It was filled with hate. He could not even imagine what her father would be feeling. He swallowed hard just thinking about it. Ashok continued reading.

Lileth and I had a nice time last evening. After dad left we went shopping for clothes and shoes then we went to a salon for some pampering. I didn’t know I was missing doing this girl stuff . It was nice to just giggle and gossip about inane things. I was in such a gloomy state for so long before this. As if a dark haze surrounds my being turning everything bleak every where I go. Now I can see the sun shining again. Everything is warm and golden around me.

Ashok frowned. So she was recovering. Moving on. If only he had known. Why oh why did he have to ruin that again? Ashok turned the pages of the diary hurriedly looking for a specific date. He stopped when he found it. Shame burned his face red.

Ashok has come back. Looking so repentant and tormented in front of my door. I stared at him for a very long time not really believing he was there. I thought it was just a manifestation of my insane wishful thinking.

I treated him coldly. I asked him what he wanted. How is your new wife? I sneered. Is she pregnant already ? He knew I was mocking him. He gave me a weak smile, pain in his eyes. He looked so miserable. His long curls unkept. Beard unshaven. I felt a tug in my heart. I dismissed it. I did not invite him inside the apartment. I know what will happen once he touch me. He will weaken my resolve.

We walked down towards the nearest cafe. My knees trembled but I pretended to be unaffected.

What are you doing here Ashok? I asked him.

My company sent me. I have to check and purchase some supplies from here. I struggled with myself If I should see you or not. I cant help myself. I am sorry.

He reached out for my hands but I withdrew it. No. Not again.

I missed you so much. He groaned. He really looked all torn up. I can see his eyes watering. Turning red. Damn you Ashok. It is so unfair.

It was your choice. You chose this. Remember. I said. Looking away from him. I could not bear to look at him.

Thankfully Mark finally arrived rescuing me. We became good friends eventually. Both men looked at each other with mistrust, hate and jealousy. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be as far away from Ashok as possible.

He is probably still here in the city. He broke my new found serenity. I feel any moment he’ll come knocking at my door and I might let him in. I hate him. I love him still. It was good to see him..should I call him?

Ashok felt disgusted with himself. He had been so selfish. Thinking only of his pain. His needs. In the end he became the kind of man he detested. Despite all the knowledge he knew, all the philosophies he discussed and argued about, when it comes to really living his own life, he was no better than any stupid man. Once he returned home he regressed back into that boy who wanted to please his parents turning his back from all the modern revolutionary ideas he arrogantly paraded in front of the noses of his peers.

He was finding it hard to live with himself day by day the more he kept on reading her diary. But he could not stop. He accepted the curse she placed on his life willingly. Unlike before, he started living a parallel life filled with pain and misery.

It is still so much better than the other life I am living now. He thought.

©JMKhapra

A Parallel Life

From Her Diary Boy Meets Girl

 

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Oh the dreariness of middle class life
the mediocrity of it
I know I should be grateful
but the path is too straight

I must be twisted to be longing
for something crooked
A road with numerous bends
That lead to passion, adventures
And yes even sadness

Alien emotions assuaging
my robotic existence

I am wallowing in too shallow waters
And in my inane concerns
My Siren feet keep pulling me down the deep end

Oh but what am I saying? I must be stupid or something.

I saw him again today as I was walking down the beach at sunset. I wanted to speak to him. Ask him why he always looks so morose in such a peaceful setting. What could that young man be thinking. It seemed as fathomless as the ocean in front of him.

I like his silly little curls neatly tucked behind both ears. He doesn’t look like his from around here. He looked exotic. Somewhat middle eastern? I can’t be sure. I am kind of stupid about this thing. Which reminds me I wanted to do some traveling in an exotic place like perhaps in Morocco? Daddy will be pissed. He’ll never let me. He will be too scared to let me go.

If I see that boy again tomorrow and he is still looking surly I will throw a stone at him to start a fight. It will be good fun. He could be good looking if he would just stop frowning….

*****

Ashok closed the diary. Closing his eyes he pressed his temples and drew a very long sigh. It was bittersweet to remember that day. Of course he had been noticing her since he started going to the beach every evening. That solitary girl walking along the shore completely lost in her own thoughts. But he was too shy to even looked at her then much less to speak to her.

That was when he was in his first year in that foreign country. He was friendless and lonely and mad at his parents for sending him abroad. His parents thought finishing a degree in a more advanced country would give him more chances to succeed financially in life. He could not see any merits on whatever they were planning for his future then. At that time he was only thinking about how he missed his friends back home and of course of his childhood sweetheart. And how some students in his college were too cruel to him.

But one good thing did happen to him while studying abroad and much to the chagrin of his parents. He met her. Have fallen in love with her. Got immersed in the beauty of her world. Discovered feelings he never knew existed.

Ashok opened his eyes and smiled.

A Parallel Life

©JMKhapra

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A Summon From Beyond The Grave

Ashok reached her apartment in one hour after he left the airport. He opened the door with his spare key.

For a moment he stood in the middle of the room holding the unopened package feeling dislocated. The room was empty. Their memories scrubbed and washed away hidden under the newly installed carpet. The walls that stood witness to their passion regained its innocence in the purity of fresh white paint.

He sat in the middle of the floor crying silently. Only there could he unleash his sorrow. His remorse. He bottled it inside of him and kept the pain at bay until now. He let his tears fall calling out her name.

He undid the bow that tied the package. He caressed the worn out leather covering the diary, wiped it every time his tears fall on it. A slim silky ribbon attached to it parted the notebook in the middle. He opened it to where it was marked. A letter fell from between the pages. He picked it up. His hands trembled while he read it.

Suicide is an act of revenge. We discussed this a few times. And agreed on this. It is meant to punish the one you felt had wronged you by burdening their conscience forever.

We laughed at tragic lovers. We promised never to fall into melodrama. Who knew. I never thought I’ll get waylaid by an emotion like this.

You broke a promise. This is my way of getting even. I will do this out of spite not love. I will not be generous. I will not wish you well. I wish you emptiness, I wish your life will be haunted by my grief.

You shook your head at those who take the easy way out. To those who put a period on their life story by a noose on the ceiling fan. You thought they were weak. But you are weak. I will do this to mock you.

If there is hell will you rescue my soul and follow me? Will you be brave this time? In our next life will you search for me? Will you choose me then?

I will wait for you Ashok.


A Parallel Life

©JMKhapra

A Package A Suicide

Ashok received the package with a thundering heart. He signed the form, thank the courier man and hurriedly went inside his home office.

He recognized the stamp coming from her country but the return address was not familiar to him. He placed the brown package on his desk and opened his laptop.

Until now he haven’t had the courage to open the e-mail she sent him. He had been postponing it for weeks afraid to find a summon from her. Afraid that if she ask him to come he would not be able to stop himself from running to her and throwing his mediocre life away to be with her forever. Not a day went by that he did not long for her. Long to be with her.

With trembling hands he clicked the e-mail she sent him. He read it slowly not comprehending for a brief moment. Then when the meaning of the message finally dawned on him the shock that went through his being almost stopped his heart from beating.

She’s dead. We found her lifeless in her apartment. She killed herself. In the letter she left for me she asked that I send her diary to you. I am her sister and I so loathe you. I hope you suffer as much as she did.

Ashok stared at the package lying on the desk, unable to move.

” What did you get? I saw the courier guy leaving. ” His wife Ayesha came into the room wiping her hands with a towel. Her gaze fell upon the package.

” Oh, who is it from? ” Ayesha reached out to touch the package but Ashok snatched it away before she could. Without answering her he opened his small metallic safe and locked away the package there.

Ashok took his car keys from the desk. ” I’m going out. Don’t wait for me.” He tried to control his voice from breaking walking fast almost half ran towards the garage.

Ayesha followed him until the gate, frowning.

A Parallel Life

© JMKhapra

Bitter Tears Shattered Hearts

 

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She stared at Ashok, unblinking. He repeated what he said thinking he did not understand her.

” I am getting married next month.”

Shots of pain in her eyes this time. Ashok flinched. He felt a tight squeeze in his heart.

She finally blinked and a couple of tears slid down her cheeks.

” Why? Is there nothing you can do?” her voice breaking.

Ashok looked down. ” You know how it is. You’ve met them. They would never change their minds. My mother has not been eating for weeks. I have to give in or she might die.”

She stood up slowly from the bed as if in a dream.

Ashok started when she let out scream. Sobbing, she turned to him. ” I hate you! I hate you. You are so weak!” she slapped him repeatedly. Ashok let her. Finding penance in her rage.

” Why did you even let me hope. I built a dream of a life with you. I was willing to live a life less than what I deserved! Damn you! You promised you will not marry anybody if we cannot be together!”

” I tried. You know I tried. I hold it off as long as I could.”

Tears flowing ceaselessly she shouted, ” That is not enough!”

Ashok held her hands tightly close to his chest silencing her. ” I know.”

Both of them sobbed in each other’s arms when their passionate grief subsided.

“It is you I love. You know that.” he whispered raining down kisses on her wet face.

“Your love is useless if you can’t fight for it. Be a man damn it!”

“I’m sorry…”

She pushed him away and turned her back on him. He felt the finality of goodbye when she left his arms. Heaviness settled in his heart as he stared at her unforgiving back. Arms around herself. Her body twisted in grief.

Silently he walked out of her apartment closing the door softly. Taking a deep breath he walked on without knowing where he was going unmindful of the rain pouring down on him. Gloom swallowed his being. Dark days. Only dark days ahead. He thought.

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A Parallel Life

© JMKhapra