She Would Fight To Return To Naivety

He destroyed in her the knowing, doubting, sophisticated Ella, and again and again he put her intelligence to sleep, and with her willing connivance, so that she floated darkly on her love for him, on her naivety, which is another word for a spontaneous creative faith. And when his own distrust of himself destroyed this woman-in-love, so that she began thinking, she would fight to return to naivety.”

― Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Young Love Sweet Love

20121009-124256.jpg

” 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

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 Parallel Life

20120928-114023.jpg

Ashok stared for a very long time at his computer. He hesitated before clicking an e-mail coming from someone whose name he thought he will never come across again.

A bright smile eclipsing the sun tickled his memory. From another time, from another universe, a parallel life he long buried in his subconscious.

20120928-114206.jpg

Her sweet laughter echoed inside his head. A bright summer day at the beach. The gentle lapping of the waves on the shore. A deal was made. Insane, surreal but a pact that colored his many days and made his otherwise humdrum life livable.

“ Ashok?” his wife called out from the kitchen pulling him back to the present. He rapidly closed his computer.

“I’m coming. Was just browsing through some e-mail.”

Ayesha laid down his dinner in front of him in the dining table.

“ what’s wrong with you? “ Nothing escapes Ayesha’s vigilant gaze.

“ Oh, kuch nahi, just thinking about some problems in the office.” Ashok stuffed the rotis in his mouth absentmindedly.

“ Office, office. When are you taking me to ma and papa’s house for a vacation? It’s been a very long time.”

“ You know we can’t afford that now.”

“ We can’t afford anything. I wished you had at least taken me on one of your trips abroad. I am so bored here.” Ayesha complained. A new twist to her litany of grudges on the same subject.

Ashok sighed. “ Maybe in the next trip if my boss will be more lenient. I can’t mix business trip with a holiday tour.” But oh he did. So many, many times. He smiled at the memory.

That night Ashok found it hard to sleep. He turned his back from his snoring wife. The lid on his memories he kept carefully sealed had been uncorked.

20120928-115240.jpg

That smile…those eyes…how long has it been since he last saw her? That he last kissed those lips?

©JMKhapra

* ‘A Parallel Life’ is a mini series composed of non linear mini stories about the life of Ashok, his wife and his lover. I trust you my readers to be intelligent and imaginative. I will leave you to decide the beginning, the ending and what story comes after the other. In literature and in films the continuity of stories have been manipulated in many different ways to enhance the effect of emotions the narrator is trying to evoke. We can do the same here.

You can find all the stories I’ve written of this mini series under ‘ A Parallel Life’ in categories.

Apple And Abigail: Online Romance

20120928-111407.jpg

Apple blushed unexpectedly. “ Well, I met someone.”

“ Really? “ Abigail’s eye widening in excitement her current distress momentarily forgotten.

“ Where ? Who is he?”

“ Online. “

“Oh.” She leaned back, looking skeptic.” People still chat? “

“ Well he’s nice. I like him. He’s from India.” Apple answered defensively. Lowering her eyes and blushing again.

“ India? Bombay? ” Abigail snickered.

“ Don’t be stupid, they are called Indians not Bombay. Bombay is a city. “

Abigail wrinkled her nose as if smelling something pungent.

“ I’m not fond of Indian food.” Abigail said as if she meant to say something else. She looked at Apple as if she was laughing at her.

“ Who’s talking about food. Well I was reading about this book by an Indian author, Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s an amazing book. I totally fell in love with the characters. The ending made me cry so much. It’s about the partition in India–“

“ Where do you find the time to read.” Abigail interrupted. She was not all interested about anything Indian.

“ Anyways, I am really curious about India and their culture.” Apple continued, slightly annoyed at being interrupted.

“ Does he speaks English? “ Abigail teased.

“ Don’t be stupid he speaks perfect English. Plus he sounded nice. “

Abigail raised her eyebrows. “You spoke to him on the phone? “

Apple blushed even more. “ He calls me sometimes.”

“ What does he do? “

“ He’s an artist.”

“ Hmmm…Anyway, do you think I should call Oliver? “

Apple knew that Abigail’s interest in her life had ended there.

“ Oh shoot! I don’t have any money!” Abigail said after rummaging through her purse. Apple shrugged and said she’ll take care of it.

“ I hope your car tank is filled? ”

“ I didn’t check.” Abigail bit her lower lips and looked wide-eyed.

Apple pretended to be annoyed but can’t help but smile. She can’t resist Abigail when she put on the charm.

Abigail was always running out of cash and constantly borrowing from her. She had a fondness for expensive clothes and bags and can’t seem to control herself when they go out shopping. Apple in contrast was very frugal and sometimes Abigail found it frustrating that Apple takes forever to decide in buying one item of clothing. “ What is there to think about? It’s only 500 pesos.” Abigail would say in exasperation .

“ Well, I don’t really know if I need it. And it doesn’t match with any of my clothes.”

“ Arrgh. We wasted time for nothing! ” Abigail would exclaim, irritated.

At the end of the day Abigail would have tons of shopping bag in her hands while Apple would end having a new book instead.

Apple glanced around the café. The place was packed. Young professional like them were yapping away while drinking their cappuccinos. Some just got off from work. Some engrossed with their laptops.

“ Oh I’m so bored. I wish he’d call me and apologize for what he said. How can he think I’m so needy? “ Abigail exclaimed, still thinking of her ex-boyfriend.

“ Forget about him. You’ll find someone new. Look, that cute guy over there is checking you out.” Apple said teasing her, subtlety pointing with her lips at the guy sitting on the table on their right. The guy had been constantly looking in their direction all evening. He smiled when they caught him looking at them. He has nice dimpled smile. Abigail giggled.

“ You’re crazy.” Abigail said shyly. “ I can’t think about other guys right now. I am heartbroken.” But she was blushing and stole a glance at the guy.

Apple laughed and shook her head. “ I’ll just check my mails.” She opened her laptop and logged on to her yahoo messenger.

“ He’s online”

“ Who?”

“The guy I was telling you about.”

“What’s his name?”

Suraj.”

“Suraj? ” Abigail laughed. “What kind of name is that? Show me his photo.”

Apple searched for a downloaded photo of Suraj in her computer.

She showed her a close up photo of a man with a charming smile. Abigail looked at the photo and looked at her with both eyebrows raised. “Hmm. He’s not bad looking.” The guy was slightly tan with prominent well shape nose and forehead. He has deep set eyes curtained by long curly lashes. Expression in his eyes gentle and easy. Jaws evenly shaped and masculine with strong slightly pointed chin. His smile created a nice dimpled line on his cheeks. His hair was slightly wavy just tucked behind ears curling around the lobe.

“ He doesn’t look Indian “. Abigail remarked.

“ Yeah I know.” Apple replied, smiling.

“ He looks more like Italian or something. “ She added.

“ Is he tall?” Abigail asked, interest growing in her eyes.

“ 5’10 or 5’11 I think. He’s very smart too.” Apple said, feeling proud now.

“Are you sure he’s not a psycho. I heard horror stories about guys in the internet. He could be a con artist or something. “ Abigail looked at Apple, trying not to sound impressed..

“ No I don’t think so. I am very good judge of character. I’ll know if he was lying to me. He is just a regular guy. “ Apple felt defensive again. She wondered why does she always seeks Abigail’s approval on her choices of men. She can’t help feeling inferior to Abigail in this aspect. She hates to admit that she actually cares what Abigail thinks about Suraj.

“ Still, you should be careful. If he’s all that great why is his spending so much time on the internet?” Abigail said leaning back on her chair.

Well, I am there too and for sure I am not a psycho. Meeting people online gives you a chance to know more the person’s mind first and appearance comes secondary as opposed to when you meet someone in person. They judge you with how you look first before they become interested in you. “ Apple replied almost crossly and blushed profusely afterwards. She knew she sounded desperate to justify her friendship with Suraj. She didn’t need to.

Abigail nodded. “ Well, that’s true. That’s what happens to me all the time I guess. I get fooled by someone’s appearance. Sometimes they can appear to be intelligent even when they’re not. Sometimes it’s too late in the conversation before you notice how idiotic they were.”

“ I want you to meet him. Let’s have a conference online.” Apple felt grateful that Abigail finally saw the sense in what she was doing. It assuaged her fears that she was doing something silly.

“Okay.”

Abigail reached for her bag and took out her pink Apple Macbook pro.

“ Do you have an YM ID?” Apple asked.

“ I think so. Let me check if it’s still working.” Abigail double clicked her yahoo messenger application.

Apple sent Suraj a message.

BookWormIsh85: Hi there.

005Nightcafe83: Hey, how are you?

BookWormIsh85: I’m good. I’m with a friend. She wants to meet you.

005Nightcafe83: Oh okay. What’s her name?

Bookwormish85: Abigail.

When Abigail went online, Apple invited the two for a conference.

005Nightcafe83: Hi Abigail, nice to meet you.

Decadent_Diva0022:Hi Suraj, what’s up?

005Nightcafe83: Nothing much. Just drinking beer and chatting.

Decadent_Diva0022: Cool. What do you do Suraj?

005Nightcafe83: I paint occasionally. Most of the time I’m on bike, traveling.

Abigail laughed.

Decadent_Diva0022: Do you carry an umbrella?

Apple pinched Abigail

005Nightcafe83: Huh?

Shut up Abigail.

Abigail could not stop laughing.

BookWormIsh85: I am sorry Suraj. Abigail is teasing you. Most of the Indian who lives in Philippines rides a motorcycle and carry umbrellas.

005Nightcafe83: Oh.

Decadent_Diva0022: And they have this business. 5-6.

005Nightcafe83: What is that?

BookWormIsh85: It’s like this. Supposed they lend you money for five thousand and you return it to them as six thousand. They come to your house everyday and you have to pay 1 peso a day until you fully paid it

005Nightcafe83: Lol, really.

Abigail was still laughing.

“Abigail, stop it”. But Apple can’t help but laugh too.

005Nightcafe83: I know that some Indian went to Philippines when they fought for the British army during World War 1. They were called Sepoys.

Decadent_Diva0022: Oh. We didn’t know that.

BookWormIsh85: Well, I kind of heard about that. In history class I think.

Decadent_Diva0022: I also paint. Sometimes. I’m a graphic designer. Who’s your fav artist.

005Nightcafe83: Van Gogh.

Decadent_Diva0022: Mine is Gauguin.

005Nightcafe83: Hmm. I like Gauguin too. He was friends with Van Gogh. I like his palette.

Decadent_Diva0022: And I really hate Picasso and Dali.

005Nightcafe83: Why do you hate Picasso? I hate Dali too. I think his works are bullshit.

Decadent_Diva0022: Picasso and Diego Rivera were both blatant womanizers. Ugh.

BookWormIsh85: I like Frida Kahlo’s work. She’s a strong woman and it shows in her work.

005Nightcafe83: Yeah Frida Kahlo is cool.

Decadent_Diva0022: Anyway, do you have sample of your work?

005Nightcafe83: Hold on.

After a few minutes Suraj started photo sharing his work. It was a caricature study of his face.

Decadent_Diva0022: Wow these are good.

“I told you he is good.” Apple whispered.

Time flew and they found themselves still chatting after a few hours past midnight. Common interests were shared. Suraj mentioned he liked beaches and the two girls exclaimed that their country was surrounded by it. Suraj in turn told them about his bike trips to the Himalayas.

BookWormIsh85: On a bike? In the snow? Isn’t it dangerous?

005Nightcafe83: Not really, one has to be slightly careful. There’s nothing like it. It’s exhilarating. The landscape changes after every few kilometers from green meadows to desert to snowy mountains.

BookWormIsh85: Oh wow. Let me Google some photos of that.

Decadent_Diva0022: I would really want to see Taj Mahal. I think it is just amazing. I am really fond of Mughal architectures.

005Nightcafe83: If you are really interested, you should both come here. I would be glad to show you around.

Apple and Abigail looked at each other. Go to India?

“We’ll think about it.” They both typed at the same time and laughed.

A bit of light was already creeping in the horizon when they finally stopped chatting. But the café was still full.

“That chat made me crave for the beach. I’m thinking we should go to Boracay. “ Abigail said, dreamily.

“ Aren’t you looking for a job? “ Apple looked at her frowning.

“ Not to worry about that. Sooner or later I’ll join my father’s company. For now I just want to take it easy. And you can do your job anywhere. “

Apple already joined a pool of writers for a local tv station after their internship. She will start writing for a daily soap opera very soon.

“ It’s the rainy season now, not exactly the best time for the beach.” It was already middle of June and the rainy season had begun.

“I like rainy season on the beach more than summers. The annoying Manila crowed would no longer be there. Besides it is off season now. Everything will be cheap.” Abigail said looking at her with half smile. She knew Apple’s weakness for discounts.

“ I guess I can take a week off before they started shooting the soaps and we are also done with the brain storming, anyway. I’m doing the episodes for the third week though. I suppose it would be nice to write my stories there.”

Abigail looked at her. “As if I will let you write in peace.” She chuckled naughtily.

20120928-111321.jpg