Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Dream...

A Winter Evening.... 2015.... or sometime then...

Akash hated weddings.....He had never understood the concept. It happened only in this part of the world...or at least on such a mammoth scale. The bride was inconvenienced....a heavy lehenga, sticky make up, heavy jewellery and the plastic smile. The Groom was no better. Lakhs of Rupees spent on the decorations, the costumes, the gifts, the food, the whole show.....

He had never understood the concept.

Today he had consented to be a part of the show. It was his bosses wedding (the second one) and he had had no choice but to attend. He parked his car and made his way in through the grandly decorated entrance. He had passed the barat on his way in, but he was not interested in the dancing and the band. He had already decided to head for the bar, have a few quick drinks in succession, wish the couple, mark his attendance and leave.

He passed his friend and his wife as he headed for the bar and side stepped to avoid colliding with them.They exchanged smiles and Akash promptly looked away. He had no desire to strike a conversation and exchange pleasantries. He continued looking away and he saw her.....

Her back was to him. A red silk Saree......a sleeveless red blouse with silver embroidery.....nearly backless....her cascading hair covered most of her back....her left hand was holding a coke, and her right hand was gesturing. That right wrist was adorned with a diamond bracelet and that delicate ring finger had a diamond sitting on it. He could not see her face. He could not hear her voice. he could not breathe in her fragrance.......

He knew it was her....

It had been 15 years, since that fateful day when they had parted,but he recognised her silhouette. For the five years they had been together he had seen it countless number of times. He had seen it when she was standing reading her mark sheet in college and he had sneaked up behind her and given her a hug. He had seen it when she was angry with him and turned away. He had seen it when she stopped midway to talk to a friend and he waited behind her. Yes this was Mona.

Sometime in 1995....

Akash was then a young man. All of 18 years old. And as all teenagers are, he was just out of a relation. He was studying in college in Bombay and he was now visiting his parents in Delhi during his end semester vacations.

Mona was then a young lady. All of 18 years old. And as all teenagers are, she was just out of a relation. She was studying in college in Delhi. Akash and she had been class mates....long back in school. They had been friendly then, but that was just about it.

Those were years when there was no email, no cell phone, no orkut and no facebook. So Akash and Mona were destined to meet when they both were on a rebound, when they both needed support.

Akash through some common friends came to know that Mona was in college in Delhi and as he had nothing much to do in Delhi apart from spend time with his parents, he decided to visit Mona's college and try and see if he could connect with her.

Mona was ecstatic at seeing Akash. They immediately broke ice and bonded like old school friends. They caught a bus to India Gate and there they exchanged stories of their heart breaks. Both felt good after pouring their hearts out. They caught up on old times and filled in each other on the years gone by. Time flew and by the time they had exchanged stories and had three orange bars each, more than a few hours had passed. Akash dropped Mona to college and went back home.

A few days later...

Akash was due to leave back for college soon. Both of them had spent a lot of time together and easily gelled into each others personality. The signs were more than evident...

Akash wanted to eat....Mona knew what and where....
Mona wanted to shop...Akash knew exactly where to take her
Akash started to speak...Mona completed his sentence
Mona was sad....Akash knew how to cheer her up

Mona had also started going over to Akash's house and spending time there. She was well liked by his parents and in fact occasionally spent the night also at his house.

On one of those nights Akash and Mona was sitting in the living room and chatting....the usual friendly non was the same as it had been on earlier nights when Mona had stayed over and they had talked late into the night. On this night however, Akash was prepared and Mona was unaware.....
Suddenly.....just as Akash had cracked a joke and Mona was in splits Akash pulled out a rose from under his T shirt, got down on his knees and looked into Mona's eyes "Will you marry me?". Her mouth still open, in a T shirt and pyjamas, her hair tied behind her, the coffee mug still in her hands Mona did not understand...."Akash, this is serious stuff, not like the joke we just laughed on"

"I know, and that is why I am following the officially prescribed procedure, with a rose and down on my knees!"

"I like you a lot, and could feel this coming Akash. But have you thought it over? I don't want it to end like the last relation for both of us."

"It will not Mona. I love you. I can promise you tomorrow, but I cant buy back yesterday... I will be there for you till the end of time"

"Can i kiss you sweetheart?"

"Yes" said Mona and moved her lips forward. She had nice pink full lips, but Akash was looking elsewhere. He lifted her feet in his hands and kissed each one of them. You are mine today and forever...

Mona pulled him by his t shirt and hugged him close....she had tears in her eyes.

That was how it started.

The next morning Akash dropped Mona back to college in his Dad's old fiat. Just as Mona got out Akash asked her again "Hope you did not change your mind after sleeping on it through the night baby?"

"Akash, there's a lot you have to know about me....but let me help you with one fact about me. Once I say something I stick to it and with regard to your current question, I will love you with everything I have....till the day, if ever you break my heart.....and from that day I will never come back into your life...but all the broken pieces of my heart will still love you."

And so with his heart full of love, a spring in his step and a smile on his face Akash left back for college.

She wrote to him every single day. Sometimes twice. And Akash replied to every letter. Slowly his seniors in college caught on and hijacked his letters. He had to earn every single letter from them. Sometimes they made him do push ups, sometimes they made him run around the hostel, sometimes he bought them cream rolls. She called him on every Sunday evening at 5 PM sharp on his hostel phone. He used to start waiting from 4 PM and make sure that the phone was free at 5.

This went on for six months and then Akash went back to Delhi for his holidays. He reached home from the station and was pleasantly surprised to find Mona already waiting for him at home. He quickly whisked her onto the first floor and gave her a tight long hug...."I missed you luv...."

They spent nearly every single moment together. Shopping, eating, talking, holding hands.

"Mona, don't take me wrong, but would you consider coming with me to Bombay and spending a few days with me there?"

"hmmm naughty boy....whats on your mind" replied Mona

"Nahi, seriously...I just wanna spend all my time with you and don't worry even though the thought is very inviting, but I will not make love to you before we get don't worry"

So Mona ended up with him on the train to Mumbai. They had a lovely time in Mumbai. Akash drove her around the city on his bike and walked hand in hand with her at Marine Drive. They even drove to Khandala on his bike. On the way back, it was late in the night and raining and chilly. Akash was shivering as he drove. Mona promptly took off her jacket and gave it to him. She then hugged him tight as she sat behind and asked "Sweety ko ab thand toh nahi lag rahi?"

Mona was scheduled to go back by train, but Akash wanted to spend some time with her, so he dug into the money Dad had given him for the semester and bought an air ticket for her. He got a few extra hours with her and in lieu he would go out lesser number of times that semester he reasoned.

Months turned into years and their love only grew. One day inside one of Mona's regular letters Akash found ash. She wrote "Akash, I have failed to make you understand that smoking is bad for you and you need to stop. As I don't see the point of living without you, I have also started smoking so that we can both die together."

May 2000

Akash's parents had come to know about their relation and were dead against it. Akash never understood why. His father was not keeping too well and had told him in no uncertain terms that he would have to choose between his parents or Mona.

Mona had also got the feel that everything was not right. On numerous occasions she had tried probing Akash to tell her what was wrong. She had been to Bombay to spend time with him a few more times over the years and now saw nothing beyond him.

"Nothings wrong baby, we will talk when I come to Delhi" Akash always told her

When Akash finally landed up in Delhi, the dreaded showdown between his parents and him happened. They told him that he had to stop his thing with Mona or else.....

Akash had to choose between his parents or Mona. He chose his parents. He went to meet Mona at her college and asked her to sit beside him in his Dad's fiat. "Mona, I know what I am doing is wrong. I love you, but I cannot see my parents like this. After I leave now, I will never ever see you again. Don't try calling me or writing. I will not respond."

Mona just looked at him....then she understood and then she realised he meant what he just said. She could not stop her tears, they just came cascading out. She didn't say a word. She opened the car door and got out. She walked a few steps then turned and came back. She put her head through the window and held his hand. She was crying hysterically. She kissed his hand. Her tears fell on his hand. he was helpless, there was nothing he could do. She looked into his eyes, the pain evident. She slowly extricated herself from her awkward position through the car window, turned and walked away.

She never looked back.

At the marriage in 2015

A child came running up to her and tugged her pallu. "Moooooommmy.......I am feeling cold". Mona promptly bent over and gave him a tight hug.

"Sweety ko ab thand toh nahi lag rahi?"

Akash was transported back in time. Who else could this be. Thank God, she was married and had least one. He was relieved. He had spend many a lonely night drunk and rueing that fateful evening he had dumped Mona so unceremoniously. She had never contacted him after that and in fact had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.

Akash had tried tracing her out on so many occasions over the years. But he never found her. Not on facebook , not on orkut, not using google. None of the common friends knew where she was either. Either that or they had been instructed not to tell.

Either ways, Akash had no clue what became of Mona. How she dealt with the break up. Had she moved on, had she got married? Had she forgiven him. That was till today......Now he knew....

Suddenly Akash started feeling cold himself......he was nearly shivering.........

Sometime in 2009

He was still feeling cold......he was shivering and he was crying. He woke up with a start. His blanket had fallen off and the AC was at full blast. He sat up in bed crying and sweating.......

He still had no clue about Mona. He was still not relieved of the guilt......He would have to live with it till he lived....or atleast till his dream came true.

He deserved it.