Bitter Tears Shattered Hearts

 

20120928-185507.jpg

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.

20120928-190252.jpg

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

Apple And Abigail: Sunset At The Beach

20120928-111224.jpg

Mandy was already drunk when Abigail and Apple joined her and Sheila on the beach. Mandy was flirting hideously with two male foreigners. The taller one had his arms around Mandy tightly. Sheila appeared uninterested and a little annoyed.

“The day is just starting for us but you are already wasted.” Abigail remarked acidly.

“ This is the life! Wohooo!” Mandy shouted and laughed. The guy who was holding her lifted her up and then ran towards the water. He dumped Mandy on the shallow part of the sea and laughed at her. Mandy struggled, startled.

“ Hey! You assholes!” She shouted angrily.

The other man, younger and more brazen leaned close to Abigail. “ So…”

Abigail gave him a withering look. “ Not interested. Please go away.”

He was taken aback. “ Bitches ! C’mon man let’s go.” He snarled. He stood up and both men walked away.

Abigail gave them a cold stare but did not reply.

“ Mandy attracts the worse of them.” Abigail said looking at Mandy contemptuously. Mandy was still in the water struggling with the top of her bikini. It got untied.

Sheila stood up and walked towards Mandy. She helped tie Mandy’s bikini top.

“ I told you not to encourage those guys. They were over staying opportunistic foreigners looking for an easy lay. You acted like a prostitute.” Sheila scolded Mandy.

“ Shut up! I was bored. Don’t be a kill joy like your friend Abigail.”

“ Abigail is paying for your vacation, idiot. You begged me to let you come and you promised to
behave if I take you along. Now I regret it.” Sheila snapped.

Apple could hear them very audibly. Abigail didn’t seem to hear them at all.

Sheila sat down beside Abigail. “ Sorry about that, Abigail. This stupid idiot is a slut.”

“ I don’t deny it. I am dying to get laid. “ Mandy said and laughed. She told them about how long she had been without a boyfriend. She started telling them about lewd, but very funny experiences she had with men that after sometime they were all laughing, grudges forgotten.

“ I was like, f–k he’s been bragging how amazing he is in bed and that he bedded dozens of women but he doesn’t even know where to put it in. He kept saying, “Where is it? Where is it?” “What, you need a f–king map down there? I said. I just started laughing and laughing. I end up not having sex with him. He was a f–king virgin. I felt short changed.” Mandy said acting the scene with exaggeration.

“ That’s terrible.” Abigail was laughing the hardest. They ordered their fourth round of margaritas and now they were all drunk.

Apple blushed the whole time Mandy was speaking. She has not been with a man yet. It’s not that she was a prude but she wanted her first experience with a man who is worth it. She was not in a rush.

The sun was setting so the waiter lit up a candle on their table. The bamboo torches along the shores were also lit. Reflected in the water’s surface were golden sparkles of the light coming from the torches. There was a pleasant rustling of coconut tree leaves as the breeze pass through it, fanning the drunken ladies below.

“I think it’s sweet. “ Sheila said, dreamily. “You were almost his first.”

“Not for me.” Abigail said haughtily.” I want my man powerful, confident and experienced. We’re too young to be cougars.”

They all laughed.

Soon the sun had set and all the four girls were heavily drunk even Apple who has a low tolerance for alcohol. They laughed and giggled at the silliest things. When they got bored sitting at the beach they decided to go to a bar. They walked to a famous drinking bar where young single professionals hang out. As soon as they entered a lot of young men, locals and foreigners, turned their heads to look at Abigail. Apple saw Abigail smiling at one of them. A group of young men obviously from the city asked them to join their table. They consented as the place was packed and they could not find any vacant space. Soon Mandy was already sitting on the lap of one the guys.

Abigail was engaged in an animated conversation with a guy she was smiling at earlier. Sheila had left their table when she saw an acquaintance from another table. Apple was left with the quietest guy in the group. They both smiled awkwardly at each other. A band was playing in the bar and soon all of them hit the dance floor.. They dance crazily for hours. Hooting and shouting like maniacs at every song the band played.

Around three in the morning Apple realized they didn’t have anything to eat for dinner. Her head started to ache badly. She said goodbye to the guy she was dancing with and went looking for Abigail. She wanted to ask her if they could go. But she saw Abigail kissing the guy she had been dancing all night with. She could not find neither Sheila nor Mandy. She decided to return to their hotel by herself. She slumped into her bed without changing her clothes and slept soundly.

It was already mid noon when Abigail returned to their room. She was positively glowing despite the obvious lack of sleep. Apple groaned. Abigail was in love again.

“He‘s very nice. His parents are friends with my dad.” Abigail said. Abigail recounted their whole conversations of the night. She was besotted. After a while Abigail fell asleep.

Apple opened her laptop and checked her YM, Suraj had left a few offline messages.

005Nightcafe83: Hey party girl, what’s up

005Nightcafe83: You seem to enjoying your vacation you have forgotten about me

005Nightcafe83: Buzz me as soon as you get online. Have fun.

Apple checked her mobile phone and saw several miss calls from Suraj.

Apple smiled. Her heart skipped a bit but decided not to answer Suraj’s messages.

Apple closed her computer and took a shower.

When Apple went outside the bathroom after taking a bath Abigail was already awake and typing on her laptop.

“ Oh, you are done. I ‘ll take a bath too.”

Apple glanced at Abigail’s computer and was surprised to find Suraj’s webcam video opened on her computer screen .

Abigail was chatting with Suraj! Apple frowned, a little alarmed. She liked Suraj a lot and didn’t really feel like sharing him with Abigail.

“ I didn’t know you started chatting with Suraj. Apple said when Abigail came out of the shower.
“ Oh, he added me and one time I went online he was there so we started chatting.” Abigail looked at her.
“ You don’t mind, do you?”

“ No, not really.” She lied.

Don’t worry I’m not into him, he’s just fun to talk too. He has a lot of intelligent things to say. Besides I really like Randy. I think he’s just awesome. He invited us to a party tonight with his friends.”

Sheila and Mandy came into the room.

“So Mandy, your problem been taken care of?” Abigail teased.

Mandy giggled delightfully. “Very much! Woohoo! Oh so much. My legs are still shaking. Woohoo! ”

“ And Shiela did you hook up with anybody? You vanished as soon as went inside the bar.” Abigail slipped into a yellow slip dress.

Shiela shrugged. “Nobody interesting.”

” I couldn’t find the two of you yesterday. ” Apple raised her eyebrows teasingly.

“Oh we went to this guy’s cottage and hit some bong.”

“Yeah Woohoo tripping!”

“Yeah it was fun but now I am famished. We haven’t had anything to eat since last night. I can eat a whole octopus.”

“Let’s surprise Randy. And invite him for lunch.” Abigail said.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea Abigail. They might still be sleeping.” Apple said suddenly. Alarmed that Abigail was falling into her old pattern.

But Abigail was unstoppable. “I really want you to meet him guys. I miss him already! C’mon.”

Abigail dragged them towards station 2. It was atleast about fifteen minutes walk from their hotel.

“You didn’t tell us we have to walk this far!” Mandy complained.

” Abigail couldn’t we have something to eat first. I’m dying of hunger.” Shiela groaned.

They stopped in front of a Mediterranean looking hotel.

“ There he is. Hey Randy!” Abigail walked up to a group of young men coming out of the hotel.

“We’re going for lunch. Wanna come.” Abigail took Randy’s hand.

“Actually we’re planning to ride a jet ski.” Randy hesitated.

“Oh.” Abigail looked disappointed. Randy kissed her forehead.

“But I’ll join you for lunch. Guys I’ll catch up with you later.”

His friends hooted and walk towards the beach.

Apple stopped herself from rolling her eyes. She found it awkward to watch Abigail act that way.

Whenever she was in love she became like a little girl. Giggly and happy.

“Oh these are my friends. Shiela, Mandy and Apple.”

Shiela smiled at Randy, obviously impressed.

“ Hi ” Mandy said coquettishly.

Apple waved hi. She felt relieved. Suraj was safe from Abigail’s clutches for now.

Abigail and Randy walked in front of them hand and hand.

It took them a while to decide where to eat. A smorgasbord of succulent seafoods were on display in front of most the restaurants along the beach. Apple liked seafoods a lot especially crabs. It made her mouth water looking at those delicacies. There were grilled giant squid, boiled crabs, grilled fish of all variety and prawns cooked in coconut milk. There were also side dishes of green mango and shrimp paste fried eggplant and chopped tomatoes mixed with salty eggs.

After finally choosing an outdoor restaurant they all had a generous serving of grilled squids, steamed crabs, steamed rice and a side dish of green mango salad with shrimp paste. They washed down the delicious meal with beer. Before long they were all drunk again. Randy was sitting in between Abigail and Sheila. Sheila kept hitting Randy on the thigh every time she laughed with what Randy was saying. Abigail did not appear to notice. Mandy was talking on her mobile phone and giggling uncontrollably. Apple tried to join the trio but found their conversation a little shallow and dull. She just observed the people passing by instead. Mostly they were Asian foreigners, probably Koreans or Japanese.

The party that they went to later that evening was held in a private house owned by Randy’s friends. Mandy did not come with them but instead went out on a date with a guy she met the night before. It was a loud party and the air was thick with smoke. A mixture of cigarette and hashish. Apple felt lost and out of place every time Abigail dragged her in this kind of parties. She feels like being inside a surrealistic dream where she was the only one awake. She had always preferred gatherings where guest can somehow talk to each other. Not sprawled out in sofas, passed out or making out.

Apple saw groups of youngsters hanging out slumped on carpets or bean bags all over the house with dazed expressions on their faces, passing joints to each other or taking hit from a bong made of soft drink bottle or a long wooden pipe. Apple didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. She pretended to browse the collection of CDs on a shelf while sipping a glass of wine. Once in a while she would attempt to start a conversation with anyone who would be looking in her direction but it was in vain. Most of then are either too high or too drunk to make any sense. She gave up eventually and sat on a dimly lit corner by herself.

It was getting very late in the night when Abigail burst out from one of the rooms crying. She took Apple’s hand and dragged her running away from there.

“ What happened?” Apple asked bewildered.

“That bitch Sheila! I can’t believe it!” Abigail wailed.” She went after Randy. “That ungrateful bitch! I saw them doing it in there.”

“I thought you were with Randy the whole time.”

” I was. Sheila was hanging around us like an idiot. She wouldn’t leave us alone. I was alarmed at first but didn’t think much about it but then Randy introduced me to a group of friends. And we started snorting coke, I got so high, I didn’t even notice they were not there anymore. I was going to pee and I went into the room and there they were cavorting like rabbits.”

“You are doing coke?”

“Don’t look at me like that. I don’t need that now. But for your peace of mind, it was my first time. I did it because Randy asked me too. That bastard! Oh why, why do I always attract losers!”

Apple helped Abigail out of her clothes and into a hot shower. After she tucked Abigail into bed she peeked at Sheila and Mandy’s room.

Sheila was there angrily putting her clothes in her suitcase. She saw Apple and started ranting against Abigail.

” She’s so self righteous as if she had not stolen one of my boyfriends before. Why should she always have to get the best guys?”

“Where are you going?”

“Randy invited me to stay with him. He liked me better. He said Abigail is too clingy. Tell her I’m paying for my room, so don’t worry about it. Mandy will stay with Leo. We might stay here longer.

Then Sheila looked at her coldly and said, ” I’m sure you’re happy now that you have Abigail all to yourself. Ever since she met you, she started hanging out with me less anyway. ”

Apple was taken aback. She had no idea that Sheila was jealous of her.

The next day Abigail and Apple flew back to the city. Abigail was doubly depressed. She had not even recovered from her break up with an ex boyfriend yet, the primary reason why they took the vacation and losing one best friend over a one night stand was more devastating.

“ I guess she was always been envious of me since college. I was always more popular than her. But what can I do? I can be insensitive at times, I know. But I will not knowingly betray a friend.” Abigail lamented.

Apple frowned thinking about Suraj. She know that was a lie. She wondered what kind of friendship the four them had fallen into. Sighing, she wondered why relationships with girls her age are so complicated.

©JMKhapra

*image from google

Heart Away From Home

 

In the silence of the night next to the even rhythm of my husband’s breathing I lay awake with a pain clamped heavily around my heart. Eyes closed but mind alert riddled with thoughts darting to and pro in different directions. From the mundane to a constant anxiety I was unaware how it led to the image of my aging parents. Just the two of them, living away from all their children.

How could it happen when childhood attachments a precious cord too painful to sever bound the family so tightly? How could sons and daughters fled so far away from them? Could it be that too much love and closeness hinder independence? A suffocation from parental influence?

Flight for freedom away from the homely bubble sent us traipsing around the globe. Never did they complain nor prevented us from doing what we wanted. Which is worse because an argument would have ease the unspoken guilt. A chance to justify this selfish need to gratify the itching feet.

Remorse aggravated the pinch in my heart. It was so sudden it brought tears brimming in my eyes. I stifled a sob. I felt a hand touched my hair gently, sending the tears falling freely. I found myself enveloped in a warm embrace and felt a kiss on my forehead. My husband inquired if I was alright. And in between hiccups I murmured on his chest what’s ailing me. He is always very understanding and tender whenever homesickness hits me. He would be quiet and listening. Squeezing my arms every now and then. Until the storm within me wanes.

With his sleep laden voice he cracked a joke. I laughed heartily, tears all spent, heart unburdened. I snuggled close. Comforted in his arms. Sleepiness overtaking me.

” Honey, call them first thing in the morning.” I heard him whispered in my ears as I was just entering the gates of dreams.

©JMKhapra

Nani

20120914-215304.jpg

She was there when I was born more excited than anyone. As I was growing up she’s my number one fan and my most trusted confidant.

First time I broke my heart over a boy, she did not laugh at me. She hugged me and whispered , ” I know it hurts now but I am very sure you are going to get over him sooner than you think. You will even find all this funny someday.” Drying my tears, she handed me a glass of warm milk and tucked me in bed like a little girl.

Most of the useful things I know I learned from her. She taught me how to bake. She taught me how to dance. She taught me how to care for my potted plants.

I sneaked out of the house once before high school graduation, caught by my father as I was returning home, she saved my hide from my father’s wrath saying, ” The girl is young only once let her have some harmless fun.”

Smiling as I reminisce, my grandmother’s unconditional love, I miss most of all now that I have a family of my own.

©JMKhapra

The Confining Walls Of Our Beliefs

20120912-221358.jpg

” I think you should not marry him,” Bonnie said emphatically. I looked at her sadly. She was my last hope. Her opinion being the final sign from which my decision would be based upon. Yes, in days of confusion and indecisions, I too fell in the trap of ” looking for signs ” while contemplating a pertinent problem in want of a solution. Needless to say, these signs only led to more confusion and further indecisions.

Bonnie sighed, her face contorted with remembered pain. ” Marriage had not been easy for a Christian woman like me marrying into a family with a different religion.”

We were sitting in her spacious bedroom at that moment, but when first I came to her house and was introduced to her in-laws, I did not sense any tension between them at all. I wondered what she was talking about.

” My father-in-law had beaten my husband black and blue when he insisted on marrying me.” she continued. My eyes widened.

It was unfathomable for me how a grown man can be beaten by his father. But apparently, in that country, it is quite common.

I met Bonnie when I went for a Sunday mass in a Christian Church in the city. Praying in an empty church has always been my one solace every time my life is caught in a whirlwind. At that time, I was in the middle of a milder thunderstorm, and like a guardian angel, she sat by my side. My face must have been as gloomy as the church interior for she asked, ” What’s bothering you, child?” My answer was a quivering sigh. Tears held at bay, brimming at the eyelids where one kind word would send them cascading down my cheeks. She patted my hands and whispered to me that I should meet her after service.

Salty water burst forth like in a broken dam from my eyes when finally I related to her the whole story, sitting in a room at the second floor of the church where she taught Sunday school for children. With a motherly sympathy, she told me she will pray for me and my troubles. And she will ponder over the situation and would call me if she has an answer for me. She called after a few days. So there I sat in front of her while she dashed my hopes and dreams over coffee.

Bonnie is a beautiful tall woman from the North. She could easily be an actress or a model, in my opinion. She has those perfect cheekbones and soulful light eyes with a curtain of the thickest lashes I’ve ever seen. With her beauty complemented by her tender heart, it was easy to see why her husband fought tooth and nail to keep her. Their relationship endured countless attempts of separation from her husband’s family but without success. They even threatened to disown her husband. But nothing fazed them. Against all the odds they wed and are now blessed with three kids.

” I insisted we marry in a Christian church. Afterwards, I fought hard to remain Christian. I did not convert. My faith is all I had. It is my choice. The only thing left of my independence. I held on to it.” I could feel the passion she had for her faith very strongly. I wondered If they beat her up for that too. She did not hint on it throughout the conversation, but I thought it was more than probable.

” But then came the children.” Pain flitted in her eyes once more.

” Though my husband never asked me to convert, my in-laws, of course, would never allow my children to be Christians. This is one fight I could never win. I could never get them baptised. That tears at my heart. How will I save them from eternal damnation? I had to sneak them out of the house when they were babies just so I can take them to the church. To know the Lord.”

She looked intently into my eyes. ” You don’t want that to happen to you.”

I was speechless. I could not answer her. She was right. It will affect the children’s lives most of all. Which belief would the children cling to before they can choose one for themselves? I said goodbye to her with a heavy heart. Still undecided and all the more confused. I walked away, dazed with questions in my head. Plunged in deep reflection.

At the heights of love, everything seems so carefree, even childlike in its wantonness. So what was I doing in the middle of something so serious, an issue that keeps polarising nations apart? Whose God is the real God? Or if there is one? And which religion leads to everlasting life? And again if that is even possible? Why should we give up one for another? Why does it keep pulling people apart instead of together? It was all so complicated. Besides the culture barrier, there are religious barriers too. Why do people continually build walls to keep each other out? Is elitism such an inborn trait? If other religions do not want Christians in their flock, some Christians are not any better in accepting others too. My ardent Christian friends back home gave me stern advice against marrying outside the faith. Frowning at me, I felt the sting of their scorn for beliefs different from theirs. How ironic. Jesus himself right there written in the bible mingled with everybody. He was the coolest dude who does not possess on single elitist bone in his body.

Without an answer to my dilemma, I was only left with a conclusion that maybe people do feel safe if they belong to one “CLUB” or the other. And they fear that someone who does not clearly belong to one is dangerous and must be avoided.

©JMKhapra

A Man Such As He

2012090-130437.jpg

He looked so strong then, such a commanding presence. Sitting on the ground drinking tea with his peers. His deep sonorous voice resounding with wisdom. Though words were uttered softly, his companions listened intently. His strength is subtle, silent like an undercurrent. Pride swelled up in my heart. He is a man. My man.

Sweet Release

20120909-133004.jpg

“ I was in love with you for a long time.” She said quietly.

“ What?”

“ That’s why I broke up with Carlo. The three of us constantly in each other’s company was a torture.”

Stunned, he remained speechless.

“ I knew the moment I told you, you would lose interest in me. You made your self believe you loved me. You wanted to  be like Carlo. But you’re just fine the way you are. In the end I loved you more than I loved him.”

He could not speak. How could she read him so clearly?

She leaned forward. He felt her lips touched his.

“Forget me. She whispered.

Her breath was like a benediction,  releasing him from his self inflicted torture.

He closed his eyes. When he opened them again she was  already walking towards her new husband. He hugged and lifted her and before kissing her, he saw  her husband’s eyes  resonating the adoration he felt for her.

For the first time he was happy.  He was happy for her.  He was trapped in a dream for a long time. It was a bitter sweet dream and it was well worth the pain.

 He did knew it was the romance of wallowing in perpetual misery for loving a woman he could never have, that got him stuck in this phase. He thought it was poetic. But really it was just pathetic.

©JMKhapra

Self Righteous Rantings

My ears are smarting from your self righteous ranting. Your keyboard is thundering from your passionate pounding. Hurling criticism here and there. But your words fall flat. Resounding with jealousy and insecurity. Broadcasting your own narrow mind. I think you just better shut up.
“Self-righteousness is much like a spiritual egocentricity. It constitutes a secular type of love that thrives under conditionality, one in which is only existent after an individual meets the adopted standards of the condemner.”
― Criss JamiSalomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile