Cheat codes of Happiness – Black coffee & Ilaichi chaai


7 am.
Alarm started to sing a song. ‘4th tune’ that Shahid had set as an alarm ever since he bought the clock. But it had not taken more than few weeks for him to think that the tune was depressing. Some people can never get used to waking up early. He was these ‘some’ people.

Chief Editor of Deccan Chronicle. Shahid’s business card sat proudly across the study desk next to his bed. After switching off the alarm, he turned around to watch Sana. Still sleeping. She was hardly bothered by the sound. He watched her for some more time. He moved hair off her face with his right hand and with a quick reflex to that, she cuddled up into his arms. Kissing her forehead, he whispered ‘Good morning’. With closed eyes, she smiled.

“Got to get up. Have a board meeting” he said gently putting her arm away from his.
“Hmm. Yeah, go take a shower. I’ll make something for you to eat”.
“Cool. Black coffee and bread toast” Shahid stretched his arms, getting off the bed.
“8 year since our marriage, Shahid. You think I don’t know?’ Sana was up too, tying her hair into a ponytail.
“Hmm. And you’re not late?’ Shahid asked.
‘Working from home today. And I’ll take kids to Mumma’s place later in the afternoon”.
“Oh yes, their summer vacations are on. Forgot” Shahid looked at both of his cheeks in the mirror in turns, until he was sure he didn’t need a shave.
“Now, Go. Get ready” Sana pushed him out.

7.30 am.
With his left arm resting over the bathroom wall, Shahid was inviting water droplets to dive on the back off his neck. “It helps relieve stress and calms your head” Priya’s voice spoke sweetly in the corners of his mind. He remembered her gently pressing his head and then resting it on her heart. Turning off the shower knob, he put the towel across shoulders and tried not to zone out.

Dressing up and shoving the matching tie inside his bag, he moved to the kitchen.
Sana was waiting for him. She knew 8 am was time for him to have his routine breakfast.
“So haphazard and clumsy my husband is otherwise. But it has always been surprising how timely you are every morning” Sana watched him takes sips of coffee out of a small mug.
Shahid just smiled in reply to her question and watched both the kids coming out their rooms, rubbing their half opened sleepy eyes.
With arms stretched, he hugged both of them at once.
“Go you little monsters. Go back to sleep. And don’t trouble mommy too much” he kissed them.
Putting the bag over shoulder, he let Sana come along till the door. Then turned around and kissed her gently onto lips.
Sana watched him all the way – the Merck strolling out of the parking lot and taking over the road.

8.30 am.
Shahid left the house for office.

The meeting was to start at 11 am.
Merck moved smoothly through early morning traffic.

In less than twenty minutes, he had parked the car outside her house.
She opened the door and said ‘hey’ like she always did. Shahid got in with a smile as big as his lips could have managed.
“So ready for the meeting?” She watched him sit back on the sofa, pulling the shoes off one by one.
“Yes. No. Both. Don’t know” he replied.
“Relax. What do you want to eat?”
“Is pancakes a possibility?” He asked with both his eyebrows raised.
“Yes it is!”
“Cool. I’ll make some Ilaichi chaai for us” Shahid spoke happily.
Priya and him moved towards the kitchen.
“You know, Avni is growing up fast. She is a clever kid. I would want her to meet you someday” Shahid looked at Priya for her reaction.
She took her own time.
“And do what, Shahid?”
“Just. I think she’ll understand”.
“She doesn’t need to. No one does. Apart of us. No one can”.
“Hmm” Shahid poured hot tea into glass mugs.
Sitting across dining table, Priya watched Shahid. She loved this part of the day. She loved the simplicity of this period of time.
Girlfriend and Boyfriend of past. Back in college time. Kept fighting till they got separated in 2 years. Shahid says, they actually fell in love post their break up. She felt love was a small word to describe them.
“Umm. This really kills my stress” Shahid said wiping his mouth.
“Me or Pancakes?” Priya made her eyes big.
“You know the answer”.
“Pancakes!” he said and they both laughed.
The laughter took a minute to transform into a smile.
Priya lifted his bag and removed a tie of it, like a bunny from the hat.
Putting it around his neck, she tried not to look into his eyes.
He held her hand into his.
“I think am ready for the meeting”.
“And you’re not going to office?” He asked her on his way towards the door.
“Working from home today” she answered and Shahid turned around with a surprised expression on his face.
“Nothing. Just” he said laughing a little.
“Go you weirdo. Go. Am sick of you. Move out” she nudged him gently.
“Bye” one of them said and the other one just smiled.

10.15 am.
Shahid left home for office.

Cheat codes of Happiness


“Six years, really?” Savio’s friend Ishaan and now a roommate had asked him when Savio talked about his relationship with Maya. Savio smiled his a proud smile and nodded yes.
“We are in fact getting married in February” he said.
“Wow! You don’t even need to. I mean six years is like a mini marriage already.”
“To you it is, Mr. Playboy. You change your girlfriend every month” Savio said and Ishaan had simply sipped on the leftover scotch in his glass with a naughty smile.

Today Savio was just getting free from his office. ‘7pm’ the Fossils watch said.
3 months it had been since Ishaan had shifted in. Maya and Ishaan were already good friends now. Savio noticed how she always wanted to know how Ishaan manages to charm so many women. And then also noticed how Ishaan would hold onto the secrets for some time and then let out the tricks in an impressive way.
“Bull shit, that works!” she would say with a smirk.

But Savio wasn’t stupid. He had seen it already. Them stealthily looking at each other. He knew it right from the beginning. He knew she was sharing lot more than sneaky looks with Ishaan. He knew her from six years. He knew her too well not to know it. It was the first time she was doing anything like this. She kept saying, she still loves him. But Savio was aware of it all. No, he was not mad at her. He just wanted her to stop on her own. He just wanted Ishaan to confess on his own.

Savio was getting free from office. He dialled Ishaan’s number and asked him if he would like him to get a few beers on the way back. He dialled Maya’s number. He asked her if she wanted to come to his place for three of them to hang out tonight. She let the whole ringtone play before answering the phone finally. Finally, before Ishaan had asked her to pick it up. She said ‘No’ the way Savio had heard her say in his head 1000 times already.
“You boys have fun” the routine sentence closed the conversation. She wouldn’t be able to lie so well, Savio knew. Not as smooth as Ishaan. Because she did love Savio. Still.

But she was taking off her coat now in Savio’s room, as Savio was catching the metro for Malviynagar. 40 minutes ride back home.

She must be opening her hair, with a clip between her lying lips. He must have cupped her from behind. Savio held onto the hand-rest in metro tighter than before. His fist turned round as he thought of Ishaan kissing her, where she’ll surrender herself to him.
Maya slid her hand inside Ishaan’s shirt now. She was biting gingerly on his shoulders to leave marks for later. ‘Marks’ Savio and Ishaan will laugh at the next morning, while Ishaan is narrating a story of his own with a girl he met online.
She was just lying on the bed now, as Savio utilized the last fifteen minutes they were left with. Maya’s breathing started to race fast as he moved her hair off her naked back and held her close and tight.
The metro slowed down at Green Park stop. Savio was playing the heavy metal track in his Sony experia headphones as if that would calm the venomous snake in his heart. It just kept blowing fire of envious thoughts.

Sitting at the corner of the bed, Maya was taking a drag off a dying cigarette. Ishaan came forward to kiss her on her cheeks. She silenced the cigarette in an ash tray and his attempt to cuddle her. Putting on her jacket, she asked him to wear clothes.

“He will be here in sometime” she said in a cold voice.
“Yeah” Ishaan replied.
“Am going. You boys have fun” the routine sentence closed the conversation.

Ishaan watched her go all the way and tried to remember her scent, the rush of her hair and her…till the next time. He was in love. For the first time.

Savio got down from the metro. He had decided to let it go for one more time.
“We all make mistakes” he told himself.
“Six years is lot bigger than this. Friendship is lot bigger than this” he murmured inside his head.

Two pints of beer met each other back home, as they said ‘cheers’, shared jokes, laughed and talked about old times. Ishaan didn’t confess. Neither did Savio ask.
You boys have fun” they both remembered her voice.