Lit Corner

short story

She sat up in the bed with a sad smile. the unshed tears reflected the sunlight that streamed through the one window in nandans room.she had to get dressed. she just wanted t o lie down and and watch the world go by.but she didn want to to sleep here…she couldnt afford the luxury of such support.she looked over at nandan.he was asleep.she touched his cheek and got up to dress.she washed her face ,brushed her hair and applied kajal.she picked up her bag and her wind breaker giving the room a last glance to frame the scene in her mind….cos she knew wat she would predictabily impulsively do next– keep him at a distance.she walked back to college with a blank,cold face betraying no emotions…yet a smile played hide and seek…..
what had made her do this,she wondered.she held the cigarette with her forefinger and thumb and looked out of the window.she looked at the clouds trying hard to repress the desire to touch the clouds….to fall into the sky.
she remembered the way he looked at her…..and the way she looked at him…what a cute couple.she watched them from across the room.she watched them and remembered what they had individually told her,bout each other….about how he made her life easier,how he was patient with her and how hw made her smile when she was feelin low.he told her about how he loved the way she spoke,her smile and how when push came to shove she was there with him,for him…helping him out.
But why did this make her smile and cry at the same time?because she knew that tomorrow if she died on a road somewhere nobody would even know about it.she smiled cos she was happy for the couple in love,but she wanted to cry because of the inner conflict in her had taken control.the conflict between her two contradictary natures– the need to be independent,yet the need to belong.
After she left the happy couple she left college in a hurry.She walked up to nandans apartment and knocked on his door.Nandan was home because he had just returned from his tour of new york,san francisco and chicago.
Nandan cursed loudly,as he woken up from deep sleep.he just wanted to cover his ears and aleep but he decided to get up and check who was at the door.he was surprised to see lakshmi standing there…what was more surprising were the emotions projected on her face…they were like shadows under your bed.they stared at each other.she looked up at him and said a cursory hi that was swallowed wit the tears that were welling up.she then did the most surprisingly expected thing- she stepped forward,stood on her toes,held him by his shirt collar and kissed him…..

Short Story 2

‘where are you?you were supposed to be here ten mins back’…..and then she cudnt wait for him to reply she said- ‘i broke up wit him….it wont work.we are too insecure.cant take the jealousy….’she cud hear the indecisiom on a suitable reply.she ended the call.
She waited for him in class.she kept turning around and checkin to see wether hed come.
when he finally did she did not notice as she was busy with doodling to take her mind off things….
‘hey beautiful’he msgd.she smiled and turned around.she spotted him and gave him a look of mock disbelief that said – beautiful?really?

‘hey ther handsome :)’ she replied

‘how u doin’ was his next msg

‘not too good’ she replied

the next msg was a much needed surprise….
‘Hold on little girl
Show me what he’s done to you
Stand up little girl
A broken heart can’t be that bad’

she smiled….her phone vibrated again…another msg….
When it’s through, it’s through
Fate will twist the both of you
So come on baby come on over
Let me be the one to show you’

and then another msg….
‘I’m the one who wants to be with you
Deep inside I hope you feel it too
Waited on a line of greens and blues
Just to be the next to be with you’

and jus as she was bout to reply…..
‘Why be alone when we can be together baby
You can make my life worthwhile
And I can make you start to smile….’

She turned around and gave him a huge smile….of gratefulness…of sudden happiness…of bein able to smile wen ther seemed no reason to…wen she was so close to tears…

They sat at the rec room…she was sittin next to him and told him wat had happened…she stopped…she looked at him…they jus sat ther….he was consoling her….
and he rubbed her neck cos it hurt so bad…the physical pain intensifying the emotional pain…or vice-versa…she felt good…and then he asked her…what hed waited to ask her…wait she waited to hear…wat she needed to hear….

they sat that way for half an hour…hugging each other…she felt content…she felt happy…she didn think of anything more..she didn want to….

When we named stars…(short story 5)

She was my sister. Yes, she was.That doesn’t mean she isn’t anymore…but it means…that the title is not held by anybody.
She was wild, rebellious, fiercely independent, fun and sometimes responsible. She taught me to have fun and always pulled me back from the lines that I had strayed close to and that weren’t to be crossed. She also taught me to love myself. She took her older sister duties very seriously, but I could tell her anything. Sometimes she would work things behind the scenes – bringing about disciplinary actions, where the directives came from my parents but were suggested by my sister in private. She had a dry wit and a quirky sense of humour. She was always laughing and smiling…and was very effervescent. She never felt the need to go with rest of the flock and loved to be different…but she did have a dark side…
she was sometimes insecure,moody & morbid … often thinkin about death…wondering about the ‘after life’.
I remember the day she told me….there were no tears in her eyes…I assumed this was because she was shocked by the news. But some part of me told me that she was never meant to be here…she knew it too…life was a bit too serious for her…
The last few days were spent in the hospital. I remember the penultimate day clearly…her friends had come over and she was joking about life & death…and I couldn’t hold my tears back. I couldn’t imagine a life without her. A life without her silly jokes, her insightful yet ironic remarks bout life, her hugs when I was sick, our gossip sessions…how would I ever live without her? Yet she was acting like a silly teenager, cracking jokes about something so large and so destructive, that it seemed like a train coming at you from the opposite direction.
When she saw me crying she asked her friends to leave us alone for sometime. She called me bunny…nobody but my sister called me bunny..that was her gift for my second birthday – a pink stuffed bunny, which I had taken a fascination to, at a toy store. I loved it so much that she started calling me a button-nose bunny.
I walked up to her bed with my head in my hands. She patted the bed, signalling I sit next to her. I did….and jumped right into her arms. She asked me what the matter was….and I accused her of being infantile…immature…of being unable to see how serious the matter was…all my frustrations and fears of the last eight months were etched in the language I used and the manner in which I spoke…
And she said in a half-consolatory manner, hey bunny….” then she paused and said “I’m more scared than you’d ever know…I’m scared of what lies beyond…about where I’m going next….even more scary is wether there is anything next…anything beyond…but im sure you’ll do fine without me. I’m sure you’ll think of me…remember me…whenever something happens…you know..when you get married, in the typical movie style…’ll think of the funny quotes on marriage I used to message to you and laugh….or when you have kids you’ll think of our childhood..or when you have too many chocolates and I feel very jealous I’ll come and haunt you..maybe like in “ghost”..i’ll communicate with coins…and probably throw some coins at a guy, if he’s the wrong kind of guy for you..but im telling you right now,im not possessing whoopi …” she declared, “she’s too cranky for me…”she ended.
For the first time, ever since she was diagnosed with leukemia I laughed…at her silly joke. I hugged her tight and said, “I love u, jiju”…and for the first time ever since her diagnosis, I saw two tears roll down her cheeks…as she said, “I love you bunns”.
The next one hour was the most special one in my life.We spoke about how she was one of the first few people to see me as soon as I was pink & small I looked…and how happy she was to have a baby sister to play with as soon as she came home from school…how lucky she was to have a sister like me…and other memories came flooding back – how she dressed me up in teddy’s clothes, how when I was two and she was five she tied me up to our cockerspaniel, scampy and let him loose in the house..which he did, dragging me…how I used to hide her books behind the cupboard so that she would get into trouble…
We stopped reminiscing when her friends came back in to say goodbye. Little did I know she would breathe her last the next night…and I wasn’t there with her. I got the news at ten in the night. I didn’t go to the hospital because I was not to travel in the night, the roads being unsafe.Besides I had to make the arrangements to receive the body.
I went to the terrace…our favourite place…where we sometimes had our impromptu midnight picnics during the summer holidays…with lemon juice & potato chips…we sometimes named the stars…but invariably forgot the location of the stars we had named and would start naming them all over again…
But that night I got down on my knees & cried…I cried till I was numb…till I felt hollow inside. I felt I couldn’t face seeing her body the next day.. I just couldn’t…but I did. Because the very next morning I got the letter she had written addressed to me… she seemed to give me courage from beyond…and the humour made me smile…when I thought I would never smile again. She was always the emotional & sensitive kind.
Santosh is back.. I better give him somethin to eat. Besides I don’t want to frighten him.. I always see fear writ on his face,when he sees me this moody. He’s scared itll affect the baby. I hope this one too is a girl child. I’m sure sudiptha and the baby would have as much as fun as we did. I would love to name her bunny but I know what Sanjana would say- “that is positively traumatic for the child…being named after an animal that is associated with ugly huge teeth and carrot breath….!”

only you…. short story 6 part 1

When did it happen? How did it happen?
I think it was when we met at the wedding. I think I knew we would be together always…It was the most awkward time in my life. I was just 18 and so unsure of myself….
and you…you were so confident…
How many hearts did you break with that smile? You were introduced to me by a friend but you had your group of friends…and left me to eating my dinner with my family.
And then when we met for the second time….We spoke. We had so much in common yet we were so different. You didn’t kno anything about Oscar Wilde or how Tess of the D’urbervilles was such a blean and haunting novel. I was impressed that you had read some of the contemprory works of literature. You did know that I liked Bon Jovi and we discussed classic rock when we went to pick up hot jalebis with ice cream…rather you brought me a plate of jalebis wit ice cream. I always smile when I think about how u walked back, with two plates that did no justice to the amount of food it contained, fighting the random crowds. Hey you were supposed to mail me the links with Bon Jovi’s lyrics…what a way to ask for a woman’s e-mail address….
So Pradeep Nair do u still love me after twenty years of marriage? Did you still love me when our marriage was just five years old? Did you know that I have in me a guilty secret that wud turn our mundane yet stable world upside down…
We barely knew each other for 8 months before you propsed to me. I was 23 and I really liked you…did I ever love you? Yes I did. More than I’d loved anyone. I still do. But would you ever want me back?our wedding took place in a temple in kerala. I was so nervous on the day I changed from Shwetha Menon to Shwetha Nair. But setting up a new home in our flat in Bangalore was more challenging…so was getting used to a routine.
Why did u love me Pradeep? You are a software engineer, I’m a PR manager. You are so stable, caring, patient, romantic only in your deeds and not your gestures. You could always cook a dinner when I’m feeling tired or take my tantrums when I was down, or stressed out …..yet not once except when we were going out did you buy me a bouquet of flowers. But does it matter..i know now it does not. I did my part too. I listened to all what happened at the office every evening. I helped you make decisions. I woke up at three in the morning when u couldn’t sleep the night before your job interview with another company, just to give you a cup of hot milk and cover you in a warm blanket….and sleep on the cramped sofa in your arms..the hug that lasted all night.

only you…. short story 6 part 2

With you I was always safe. I was never scared of anything when u hugged me. You gave me security that I was looking for,for so long. But then there was this adventurous part of me that wanted a change. That wanted excitement. Was it really the fact that I was bored that drove me to this? I was happy with you, with our routine, with our Sunday sleep-ins. We had our fights. They were occassional. But it was only when our egos clashed that the arguments took a turn for the worse.
You were always be better than him. You always are. Because I blame him for tempting me. Because he should have waited or..he should have done things the right way. He was a spoilt kid who wanted what he desired. I didn’t think I’d be attracted to him. But he is the man every woman is looking for- tall,smart,suave,a faint stubble that didn’t look odd on him,a voice that was slightly gruff, and seemed to suit his personality, a faint dimple that danced on his cheek everytime he smiled, and maybe, just maybe some part of my cheating heart wished he was my husband.
I was attracted to him. I was. I admit now that I was attracted to him. He was the finance manager of Marian Creative Solutions where I was the PR manager. He had just been transferred from Mumbhai. I was excited that he seemed interested in me, but I thought he would stop paying attention to me if he knew I was happily married.
Was I happily married?
Yes I was.
I loved my husband of two years. I have in these 15 years wondered wether we were ever in love. I’m still not sure.
That night I was working late with my team. It was just five years after our marriage. Did you ever hate me for not having kids sooner? I had just finished the meeting and was returning from the ladies room when I met dhruv. He smiled at me and his eyes danced when he saw me…it seemed to have a special sparkle just for me. We discussed various things- the company’s future, the horrible food served in the cafeteria…and we slowly moved on to books, music, movies.,etc. when we finally ended the conversation it was very late. He offered to drop me home and I told him I would call for a call-taxi from my office. He said he would wait till my taxi came and I had to invite him to my office. I told him bout you and he said he’d love to meet you. I waved goodbye, as I got into the taxi. Just then you called to check if I was ok.

only you…. short story 6 part 3

The next three months dhruv and I grew close. We had lunch together and most of the time it was with our other colleagues. He told me about his career and his life in mumbai. I told him about my life in Bangalore. But I invariably spoke to him about my past. About my college life and school life. We discussed literature and music. He could play the piano and had read Dante. He had a quick wit and could make me laugh and feel good about myself. He spoke about punjabi weddings and I spoke bout malayalee weddings. He never made a move on me for the first six months….till we became friendly.
Six months after I met Dhruv Kapoor, he made the first move.
We often stayed back after meetings and just spoke, like I did in college with my friends. Sometimes when we could go home at six, we would stay till eight, just chatting. We invited our colleagues to join us but invariably they could never understand us or what we spoke about.
That night, we were sitting at the office as late as eleven, with two boxes of pizzas and I was asking him for his opinion on how to handle a client. He was an intelligent and experienced man who could speak on anything. I went to throw the pizza boxes and when I returned he was standing at the table with his back towards me. I had dropped my barriers with him, even though I was aware that he had a special look in his eyes whenever I was with him.

“So we are done here, huh? I need to go home and get some sleep and attack the board on the new client. It’ll be a bull fight but I yam equipped”.
He turned around and smiled at my attempt at a spanish accent. I dumped the files into my leather case checking whether they were the right ones. I took the case in my hands and turned around and he was standing in front of me…close to me…closer than I was ever before with him. We looked at each other and I held my breathe because I knew he was going to say something. He touched my shoulder in a very nervous, awkward way. I was so stunned that he had touched me and that too in a way that was tender….that seemed to say that he was in love with me. I couldn’t react. His hand shifted to the back of my neck as he moved close to me…and then he looked down and kissed me. I am five feet and he is almost six feet. I still had my leather bag in my hand and I seemed frozen.A part of my mind wanted this….and then he stopped. I had never lost control this way before. My mind had gone blank. He seemed in control then.
He spoke first. “I’m sorry. Wait I’m not sorry. But I love you.”
“What?”, I said.
“I’m in love with you. I was…ever since I saw you at the cafeteria. Though at that time you didn’t notice that I was looking at you…you were busy chating with the other ladies.”
I sat down on the chair. He came and sat next to me.
“I know you are shocked” he said. I looked up at him.
“I am a married woman”, I said

only you…. short story 6 part 4

I was shaking.
“I know”, he said. “But…but do u know how many times I tried to not think of you. I went for my cousins marriage in Mumbai last month hoping that I would find someone…someone to replace you…in my mind. I can’t. I love you too much. Your laughter, the way you tease me, the way you understand me…”
“Wait”,I said. “This is too fast. I need to think. I will not cheat on my husband. I cannot. Im not that kind of a woman. Besides I was just being friendly with you.”
“Do you love him?”he asked.
“Are you sure?”
“Do not question my relationship with my husband!” I said getting angry. I stood up.
“I’m sorry this will not work out. I am a married woman”
“Why do you keep repeating that? Is that the only thing that stands between us?”
I turned around and walked away.

The next day I dragged myself to work. I had decided I would not run away, but I would slay the dragon if I had to. He had left to Mumbai to discuss with the Head office about the upward movement of the Bangalore branch.He returned a week later…we spoke as though everything was normal…but did not stay back anymore by mutual consent.
Three months later things got back to almost normal. I was still wary of him.
Around this time you were assigned a project in San Francisco for a month. You couldn’t get permission to take me. So I went to my mother’s place travelling between the office and my mother’s house. A week before you were to return, I returned home to clean the place. The day I got back home Dhruv called me.
“How did you know I was home?” I asked.
“ I didn’t. Just thought I’d call you and ask how you were doing…so what are you doing?”
“Cleaning” I said, as I went through the bills.
“Can I come over. Or is it still awkward ? I thought we had gotten over it.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Well…I haven’t forgotten it.”
“Then it’s alright. I don’t want you feeling uncomfortable.”
“Listen. I will be a little uncomfortable till I can forget it ever happened. It’ll take time.”
“Sure. I’ll wait.”

Only you….short story 6 part 5

ended the call. I then went to check my closet for the sari I had given for dry cleaning. The next day was our colleague’s daughters second birthday. A few of us from the office had decided on a car-pool route. I met Dhruv at the party. We spoke and we enjoyed the party. On the way back Dhruv replaced a colleague who was goin to her mother’s place instead.
It started raining heavily. According to the carpool plans Dhruv was to get off with me and take an auto back home. His apartment was on the other side of the flyover, while the rest of them had to go under it. When we reached my apartment we waved goodbye to them and waited outside the apartments for the rain reduce to a drizzle.
I finally invited him up. It was 9 in the night. I made a cup of coffee and as usual we spoke about the office. Finally at 9.30,he decided he’d rather try and catch an auto before the rain got worse. I offered to walk him to the entrance of the apartments and searched for the keys. When I finally found it the lights went out. I held my keys in my hands and went in search of a candle. I almost tripped over his legs when he caught me by my hand and took out his lighter.
“Couldn’t you do that earlier and save me the trouble of walking around helplessly?” I asked him in a light tone.
He chuckled.
“And what were you doing here? I thought I last saw you waitin at the door?” I continued
I had taken the lighter and was lighting the candles.
“Well,considering how clumsy you are, I knew you would take a long time, so I decided to make myself comfortable,” he said with a smile.
I picked up the cups and went to the kitchen to put them into the sink. He followed me.
He didn’t say a word. We didn’t need to. He just kissed me.

When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. I had just cheated on my husband. But then why was I happy. Why did I smile in the shower and think of Dhruv so often? Why did I feel complete….and more of a woman?
I was attracted to him and in love with him. I could tell him anything, I could be my worst. And nothing that I said surprised him. We were, rebels, not used to the beaten path that you were used to…and that’s why you love me…because I’m different,I dare to be different. He had helped me around the office and I had been through some tough times in the office, situations he understood and helped me through. He even stood up for me when our boss blamed me for something that wasn’t my fault…when everybody blamed me, he stood by me. Everybody thought he was being a good friend. He was being a good friend..a good friend in love.

only you…. short story 6 part 6

It was awkward in the office the next day and again we pretended that nothing had happened. I know now that if he were stronger he wouldn’t have made a move in me…and if I had been stronger I wouldn’t have let him. But it felt good to lose control for once…when in life all we did was plan…plan for the future…plan for accidents and mishaps…plan for our children…we forgot to plan for ourselves, plan the time we could spend with each other. Maybe I didn’t want to live the routine life anymore…maybe I wanted to break it.
Two days later you came back home. I didn’t tell you anything. I pretended nothing was wrong. I continued to meet Dhruv.
“…are u listening to me?”, you said during dinner one night a month later.
“Why do you have a silly grin and a far away look on ur face. You ok?”
“Yeah.yeah….sorry I drifted off.”
“Is there anything u want to tell me?”
It was then that it hit me..I realized that what I was doing…was wrong…that I was hurting you… I was doing what my father did…what made me hate him…the messy divorce, the tears…oh god ! I had to end this…before it swallowed me….and my life, completely.
I felt restless. I was sinking into this relationship.I was dreaming about him in front of my husband! I kept telling myself that I had to end it. However fun it seemed. I couldn’t hurt you. I loved you still.
I sat up the whole night thinking. I watched you sleep with your hand in mine…and that night I made a decision.
I knew you would be surprised when I told you that I was going to quit my job. I told you I had thought about it for the past few months and that I couldn’t take the strain. And it was true. I couldn’t take the strain…of not doing anything…despite knowing that what I was doing was wrong.
I spoke to Dhruv. I told him it was over. I told him I loved you…and if I had to choose, it would only be you. I told him we were planning have a baby. He cried. I did too. Becaused I loved him too. My heart broke to see him walk away from me. I went to my mother’s place to nurse this secret broken heart.
I took up painting and reading classics. I started looking for a job six months later. Thank you, for supporting me all those days. But I’m proud I could pick up the pieces and you never knew there was anything missing.

I do not know wat happened to Dhruv. I guess he found somebody else.
Today is our twentieth wedding anniversary. Our daughter is a beautiful fourteen year old.
There have been seveal times when I have felt I should tell you about Dhruv. I couldn’t do it. Today, I don’t want to. I am and was a woman caught between basing a relationship on honesty and not losing the man she loved . I chose the latter.
I could never tell you.I could never stand living without you. I could never hurt you. So I have decided to take this secret to my grave.


3 Responses to “Lit Corner”

  1. read them all at a stretch..not bad at all! 🙂 u shud write more..:)

  2. *Di
    Ha ha ha really?? i was goin thru a lot wen i wrote these…had taken a yr’s break…

  3. it shows thru.. 🙂

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