Sunday Lovin’

It was like every other Sunday afternoon; Mr. Sharma in front of the television, kids holed up in their respective rooms and Mrs. Sharma in the kitchen, cleaning up after lunch. Mr. Sharma’s phone rang. He excused himself to the balcony.

“Are you crazy, calling on a Sunday afternoon like this?”

“Guess what?”

“Seriously?”

“You’re so cute when you’re angry.”

“Do not sweet talk your way out of this. Why have you called?”

“Husband had to leave for an emergency surgery. Come over!”

“Well guess what, my wife doesn’t do surgeries like your fancy ass husband so she’s still home.”

“Make some excuse.”

“You know I suck at it.”

“Just say you’ve got an urgent errand to run.”

“Urgent errand? Who really talks like that anymore.”

“Everyone. Just say it.”

“You know I can never say no to you. I’ll be there.”

Mrs. Sharma was used to her husband having to go out on a Sunday. Real estate was a demanding industry. The timing today was actually perfect. She could do a quick trip to the parlour.

The Golden Glow beauty salon was packed.  “Do you have an appointment, ma’m?” the receptionist asked when Mrs. Sharma showed up. “Umm actually I don’t. My husband had an urgent errand to run so I decided to come here.”

“I’m sorry ma’m , we don’t have any vacant…” the receptionist stopped as the phone rang. She picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Hello. I’m Malini. I have a 4 pm appointment?”

“Yes ma’m. It’s almost four.”

“Yea I’ll have to reschedule. I have an urgent errand to run.”

“Come again, ma’m?”

“I have an urgent errand to run.”

“O…ok ma’m. Let us know whenever you’d like to reschedule. Thank you.”

The receptionist turned to Mrs. Sharma, “A slot just opened up.”

“I guess it’s just my lucky day today, huh?” Mrs. Sharma said smilingly.

The receptionist didn’t really know whether to smile back or not. “You know what ma’m? I’d like to offer you a complimentary head massage.”

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When The Daylight Comes

“We do have something.” he said, holding her hands tightly in his.

“We do?” she asked. She couldn’t help but laugh. From nothing to something this quick; at this rate it would be three more drinks to ‘I love you’.

He held her close and looked into her eyes. She could smell his perfume mixed with a hint of whiskey. This was all the intoxication she would ever need.

“I like you. What we have is special.” he said again. In that moment, she wanted to say a thousand words. I like you too, more than I’ve ever liked anyone. I want to sing to you. I want to whisper my favorite poem in your ears. I want to hear all your secrets and I want to tell you all of mine. I never want to look away because your eyes shine brighter than any of the stars above us tonight.

But she kept quiet. She knew the eloquence would be wasted on him. All he would remember in the morning is a faint shadow of hundred such conversations he had last night. She let her head rest on his shoulder and closed her eyes. He held her like he’d never let go. They sat like that for a long time.

“Let’s get back to the party?”

“You go ahead, I’ll join you in a while.”

He kissed her on the forehead and left. It took all her self control to not pull him back and kiss him. Not tonight, not like this. It will have to be some other night, a night that she knew would never come. She looked at her watch. Only a couple of hours to go before the dawn break. Only a couple of hours for something to go back to nothing. Again, she couldn’t help but laugh.

The Bus Journey

It was when she reached the front of the queue that she realized she was short of cash. The ticket was 450. She had 400.

“Is there an ATM around?” she asked the guy manning the ticket counter. He looked at her with an impatient disdain that a girl usually reserves for her boyfriend who cheated on her.

“No, could you please step aside and let people, who do have money, buy the ticket.”

“Sure, but you could learn to be a little more poli…”

“I’ll pay for you.” she heard someone say from behind her. She turned around. It was a guy her age. Tall, fair and handsome.

“Umm… are you sure? I’m 50 bucks short.” she said.

“Yea it’s not a problem. Let me buy the ticket. The bus leaves in 20 minutes. You can look for an ATM till then.”

“Awesome. Thanks!” She stepped aside and let him buy the tickets. She asked around for an ATM but turned out the nearest one was not so nearby.

“It’s just 50 bucks. Chill.”

She couldn’t. It wasn’t an ideal situation to be in. Cashless and indebted to a stranger. She could already imagine her mother’s reaction if she ever told her. But she’d stopped caring about her mother’s reactions long time back.

“Hello, let’s head. The bus is gonna leave soon.” he snapped her back from her thoughts.

They settled down in their seats. She was still not completely assured. How could she be? All her childhood she had been warned not to accept favors from strangers, however exceptionally good looking they may be. She glanced sideways, she could see his profile; the curve of his nose, the slightly overgrown stubble, the mole on his neck right under his ear. He was looking out of the window and humming to himself.

“Hi, I’m Maya.” After what he’d done for her, least she could do is hold a decent conversation.

“So is everything else.” he replied. She smiled. It wasn’t the first time someone had cracked that line.

“I’m Zeus. And before you ask, yes it’s an unusual name especially for a Hindu, but my father is a Greek mythology enthusiast.”

“Well your mother must be really kind to have agreed,” she said. He laughed, a clear and confident laugh. She liked the sound of it.

They fell quiet. She took out her book and started reading.

“Couldn’t have pegged you as a bookworm.” he said.

“Really? Why so?”

“You’re way too pretty.”

“That’s a really awful assumption to make. Who said pretty girls don’t read, or girls who read are ugly.”

He shrugged. “It’s just logic. Pretty requires maintenance, time. Book lovers would rather just read.”

“Flawed logic.” she said.

“May be.” he said with a smile she found highly annoying and yet endearing at the same time.

“I’m dying of hunger. Hope the bus stops soon.” she said. “Oh look, you should have wished for something better.” he said as the bus slowed down near a small food joint.

She got down and made her way to the counter to place her order. For the second time tonight, she realized she had no money whatsoever and for the second time tonight Zeus said from behind her, “Let me pay for you.”

“No I’m good. I suddenly don’t feel like eating at all. It’s motion sickness I think.”

“Don’t be stupid. You just said you were dying of hunger.”

“I changed my mind, my stomach changed its mind actually.”

“Please, consider it my birthday treat.”

“It’s your birthday?”

“Yes.”

“Bullshit.”

He held out his driving license. It really was his birthday.

“What are you doing in a bus on your birthday?”

“Going home to visit dad. Since mom passed away when I was 10, I’m all he has.”

“Sorry about your mom. But, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Let’s eat.” she said as she thought about all the times she wished she didn’t have to spend her birthday with her family.

They boarded the bus again. She fell asleep eventually and woke up just as they were nearing her stop. She collected her stuff and started to walk to the front of the bus.

“Thanks for everything.”

“No problem. You were good company.”

Right before she was about to get down, she smiled as she asked him, “What’s your full name? I’ll look you up on Facebook. I need to return your money anyway.”

“Don’t want my number?”

“Nah, too mainstream.”

He smiled. “Zeus Shah.”

It was an easy name to remember and it was only his profile that popped up when she entered the name. Sitting on her bed, way past midnight, she was surprised to find herself excited as his profile loaded. The excitement drained out of her the second she read the first post on his wall.

The post was dated exactly a year back.

“RIP Zeus, still can’t believe you are no more with us.”

She scrolled down, her hands shaking.

“You deserved a long and happy life more than anyone else. We’ll take care of uncle for you.”

“You always loved the road. Accident on the highway that too on your birthday. I know you are laughing at the irony, wherever you are. RIP.”

As her breathing slowly returned to normal, she smiled. “He was indeed too good to be real.”

Mr. Grasshopper

I’d always believed grasshoppers to be lonely souls. The way they keep sitting at one spot for hours. Then I clicked this picture. Those crazy eyes are full of anything but loneliness. Those are the eyes of a genius, or a criminal mastermind. And I’m sure he has one hell of a story to tell about his missing antenna.

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I’ll Call It Life

Originally posted on Facebook on 14th November, 2014.

Give me a conversation, that is honest and unforced. Give me comfortable silences. Give me a good song, one that helps me escape to an unexplored dimension. Give me a book that let’s my imagination run free, and a quiet reading spot. Give me a good run that makes me value every breath I take. Give me a hard fought match of table tennis. Give me a good karaoke session that leaves my voice hoarse. Give me coffee, and pizza. Give me French fries, mashed potatoes, and hash browns. Give me pasta that’s slightly burnt and over-seasoned because I cooked it myself. Give me red velvet cupcakes, chocolates and strawberries. And if not all this, just give me a bowl of Maggi. Give me a long hot shower on a cold night. Give me the sound of waves crashing and birds chirping. Give me a smile, unrestricted laughter and occasional warm hugs. Give me sincere apologies. Give me healthy flirting. Give me a funny, double meaning joke. Give me a cheesy pick up line that is so bad that it’s good. Give me a heartfelt compliment, or a heartfelt insult. Give me a sense of achievement after a job well done. Give me a wet lick of a dog’s tongue on my face.  Give me a thoughtful gift. Give me goodbye letters that promise it’s not a goodbye. Give me nostalgia that makes me shed happy tears. Give me stargazing that makes me feel like an integral part of the universe while making me question my purpose of existence. Give me a good night’s sleep. Give me moments that are so special that I won’t find words to describe them here.

I’ll call it life and I’ll remember to be grateful for it.