Saturday, March 1, 2014

Being Together

“You remember that day Shikha?”

“Which one Shekhar? You call all of the days by the word that, then how will I understand?”

“Why are you always right,” Shekhar mumbled to himself with scorn.

“What did you say Shekhar?”


“Mummy, I’ll tell you,” interjected Sameer with his trademark smile.

“You are not on daddy’s side, eh Sammy? Yeah, you and mum team up and dad will fight alone. Correct?”

“You are a strong man so you don’t need my help. Mum is a little weak, so…”

Sameer left his sentence midway as his mother lurched towards him playfully.

“Daddy daddy, tell me that story please. I want to hear. The one you were talking about right now, that one,” said Shanaya who was 2 years younger than the 8 year old Sameer.

Hoisting her up, he set her head on his stomach as she put her hand around him and looked at him attentively.

“Now that my angel’s very close to me, I’ll begin. You know what darling, I’ll start from the time daddy met mummy, and from there we’ll slowly come forward in time.”

“Yippee, daddy will tell me a story in the morning also. Sam, I’m more special, see,” Shanaya teased and stuck out her tongue.

“That’s because you’re a baby, stupid. I’m old enough to write my own stories to put on my own blog, just like dad. I want to become a writer like him, understood? Dad, you begin and narrate it very well, I will store it in my memory till my blog comes and then I will post it like you posted grandma’s and grandpa’s story.”

“Ha-ha Shekhar. Don’t spoil them from now. Sam, now sit here and let dad begin. I hope it gets over till 10 ‘cause then I have to make lunch as well.”

“It’s 8 now sweetheart. We had a superb love story and I’m not skipping any part of it, so you come and lay down here with me, you know,” Shekhar said with a wink and pouted his mouth in a kiss as the two children giggled, as Shikha glared.

Coming forward, she clasped his hand and set her head on his shoulder.

“Children, I will not stop your dad today as this is the day he has always dreamed of. He always wanted to tell his children about the story of his marriage with pride, and today that day has come. Now start Shekhu, I can’t wait to hear it from you.”

“You are saying as though we have never talked about it. I’ll begin though, what can I do as well…let’s go back in time to the 14th of June 1993.”

The man walked slowly on the road holding his son’s hand as he frolicked through the rain and teased the drops from inside the umbrella. At the huge gate, the man gave the boy the umbrella, and with a smile, he started walking back, getting drenched in the rain, as the young child waved back.

“I’m early again, oh God! And today even the gate’s locked.”

Standing near the cabin of the watchman, he closed his umbrella and silently watched the falling rain. As the clock ticked, a car approached from the distance, and knowing who the occupants of the car were, he groaned.

Dropping his bag to a dry patch in the ground, he stood back and looked on with a smirk as the driver got down and held open the door while holding an umbrella for the occupant to not get wet. The swish of hair made Shekhar look away and he cursed his luck as the girl came walking towards him.

“Hello, I’m Shikha, and I’m a new student, why is the school not open till now?”

“I know who you are, and so does the whole school. And if I knew the reason of the school not being open till now then I wouldn’t be standing here would I?”

“Why are guys so rude and badly behaved?”

“Don’t teach me manners when you have made this poor man stand in the rain to get wet while he holds an umbrella for you. Kaka, take this umbrella and hold it up for yourself,” Shekhar said, holding out his umbrella towards the old driver.

“No Sir, I can’t take this from you. I’m perfectly fine. Ma’am, why don’t you wait in the car till someone comes? Even young Sir can sit with you,” the driver suggested.

“What? Wait with him? No way! And there’s no need to get into the car and then get out again, we’ll wait right here.”

“Ahh, there comes Ramesh Kaka.”

“Who Ramesh Kaka? That’s the watchman, isn’t he?”

“Just can’t keep quiet can you? God, why didn’t you give her brains when you gave her father money? Good morning Kaka, why is the school closed till now?”

“Good morning Shekhar. Today the school is closed due to heavy rains. Didn’t anyone tell you? And yes, how may I help you?”

“I’m a new student, so please could you get some higher authority to talk with me,” said Shikha, her head held high.

“Oh my God! I’ll just go home. Have a good day Kaka …wish school opened today, I so wanted to meet my friends.”

“Don’t be sad Shekhar. And Ma’am, Shekhar is right; you can come back tomorrow if the rains stop, the whole building will be buzzing then.”

“Stupid people always do stupid things, snobby showoff,” Shekhar muttered and started walking into the rain, allowing the drops to consume him.

“People don’t stop acting over smart. Wants to show that he’s got style by walking in the rain, what will happen if he falls ill? Shekhar, get that umbrella over your head right now,” shouted Shikha as the shadow looked behind, and after pausing for a second, flicked open the umbrella and continued walking away.

“Well, that was how we met, and then our petty fights continued through the years until we finally got into different divisions, and then it all stopped. I didn’t see your mother till the first day of college,” said Shekhar to the kids as they listened intently.

“Daddy, don’t take breaks please, it’s spoiling the flashback,” said Sam with a dejected look.

“Okay future writer, glad you know that already, I learnt this the hard way after my editor blasted me for it,” Shekhar laughed as the three looked at him, one staring with anger, the other expectant to hear more of the story and the last looking proud of his achievement.


The young man walked down the road, humming a song, completely unaware of his surroundings. But his heart was beating fast, and his eyes had a tinge of nervousness and a hint of fear. Today was a new beginning, the start of a new journey: college.

“Wish there was someone I know with me. I wouldn’t be feeling this nervous then,” he murmured as a voice called out loudly to him.

“Hey Shekhar!”

“What…Shikha? Hell no! God, I didn’t ask for this!”

“Don’t act like that Shekhar, just hold my hand and do what I say. A couple of guys have been following me from sometime, and I want them to think that I have a friend who will fight them.”

“Woah! I don’t fight people!”

“Shut up and walk, and hold my hand tight,” Shikha hissed angrily as she slid her hand into his and he coyly grasped it.

His face blushing red, Shekhar kept on walking until they settled down on the same bench.

“Now are you going to leave my hand or will you take it home with you as well,” asked Shikha with a wink.

“Who wants your hand?! Now keep quiet and pay attention on studies.”

From that day onwards, the two started spending their whole day together in college, and the teenage rumors started spreading like fire. There was a rumor that Shekhar, the nerd, was dating the most beautiful girl of the college, Shikha. Together, the two roamed the college, and sat through all lectures, and enjoyed the breaks at the same table in the canteen.

One day, the two sat on the 3rd bench as the professor in front rambled on about forces between charges. Shekhar, for the first time was bored and his head kept falling down, sleepy as he was.

“Wake up Shekhar! Why don’t you sleep at night?”

“Uh, what?”

“Why don’t you sleep at night?!”

“Well, I write then, and sometimes I study as well, so I don’t get time to sleep.”

“From today you’re sleeping before 11, and only then will I sleep, get it?”

“What the…why are you telling me this?”

“No one else is going to tell you, that’s why. Take care of your health, why do you want to give me tension?”

“Why do you take tension then? See me, I’m perfectly all right!”

“It just comes, get it? And anyways I’m your best friend and I will be there always with you, so it is my right to take tension.”

“When was that decided, the best friend thing?”

“Right now,” Shikha said with a radiant smile and squeezed his hand hard.

Shekhar just turned carrot red and withdrew his hand.

“Daddy you are going so slow with the story, speed up please, I’m feeling sleepy now,” Shanaya slowly said.

“Okay dear, now let mom tell you about THE twist.”

Hearing this, Shikha continued.

Shekhar kept on writing in the nights, and Shikha started staying awake with him, only to nag him to sleep. But he did not listen and continued his creative activities. One day, after a lot of his work had piled up, Shikha got an idea, and she expressed it to him.

“You should start a website Shekhar. You write too well and you’re just storing your stuff in the hard drive.”

“No Shikha that is such a weird idea! I have so much more to learn and this stuff isn’t good. I can’t just go and put it up somewhere!”

“Fine, your wish, do as you want!”

“I’m sleeping now, you sleep as well. Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow at college.”

The next day in the canteen, as Shekhar and Shikha sat with their group, Pankti said, “Shekhar, I heard that you write, is it true?”

“Well, yes, it’s a hobby of mine. Shikha, show her that story I gave you today morning to read. I haven’t got anything else with me.”

As Pankti read the story, she said out loud, “You must get a website Shekhar! This is just like the stuff I read in novels!”

“Yeah okay, I’ll get something made till next month, and then you can read all you want.”

“Shekhar, I need to reach home early today, let’s go,” said Shikha in between.

“Oh! Yeah okay, let’s go. Pankti, I’ll send you some more stuff if you want by tonight. Bye, take care.”

As the two left the canteen and went towards the empty road, Shikha faced Shekhar.

“You couldn’t listen to me yesterday night, could you? And now Pankti tells you the same thing and you will work on it instantly?”

“What are you hinting at?”

“Fine! I won’t tell you anything? It was my mistake to even tell you this? Just because I love you and I care for you, I listen to you. And you do things like this. I don’t want to talk to you at all, just go please.”

Taking her hand, he led her to his home, a resolute expression on his face, as tears raced down her face. Switching on the computer, he opened a site and made her read it. As she went through it, she recognized the writings which were there, and bowed her head.

“I was going to surprise you with this soon. And why didn’t you tell me the love thing before?”

“I didn’t have the courage, and I didn’t want to lose you as a friend.”

“I loved you from the moment I saw you get down from the car. And that umbrella thing acted like glue to stick your picture on my heart.”

“I’m so sorry for today Shekhu. I love you so much.”

“It’s all right. I love you too. And seriously, Shekhu?”

“I will give Pankti Aunty my next ice cream because she is the reason you both met,” said Shanaya sweetly.

“She got a huge party at our wedding, and now it’s time for you to have your bath. Your brother is asleep, and I’ll wait till you come back,” Shekhar said as Shanaya raced to the bathroom.

“Why did you send her away when the climax was going to come,” Shikha asked.

“I wanted to savor this moment alone with you.”

“Go on then.”

Shifting Sameer to the pillow, Shikha curled up tightly against Shekhar, and with a beam on his face, he went on.

18th of February, 10 years ago, the moment came. It was Shikha’s birthday, and she knew there was something afoot. The whole morning had gone by but Shekhar had not called even once. Along with the anger, there was a feeling of dread to know if he was fine, but then she knew that he wouldn’t miss her birthday! As the clock ticked, the dread overtook the anger and she decided to visit him. It was 7:30 as she reached there, and the house was dark and silent. The door opened just at a touch, and with her heart held in her mouth, she went in.

All of a sudden, the lights came on, and the shadows came alive with all her friends, but no Shekhar. Silently coming from behind her, Shekhar covered her eyes with a ribbon and as the crowd quieted, he went down on his knees.

“Don’t take off that ribbon, or I will drown in your eyes, and these words will never come out of my mouth. Today is a special day for you, and I want to make it more special. I had no idea what to gift you today, so I decided to change the occasion to give you what I want.”

Signaling Pankti to remove the ribbon, he went on:

“I want to be with you till the clock keeps ticking,
“I want to be with you till the sun shines,
“I want to hold your hand till eternity,
“And I want to tell our children about our love.

“Will you permit me to do all the above with you?”

Shocked yet thrilled, Shikha just nodded as the gathering came alive with cheers.

“Daddy, you are a big cheater! You started the story without waiting for me,” shouted Shanaya from the door.

“Daddy will write a whole book on it, won’t he,” asked Shikha.

“Yes my angel. I’ll call it ‘Being Together- A Tale of Destiny’.”

“For the first time you’ve got a good title.”

Shanaya ran back to her room rejoicing, as the couple laughed, and their lips met.