Men will be Boys

Men

Class 2nd . Division B.

“Don’t worry. Chetan cannot do a thing. I’m with you” He assured me.

“But Swati…I think he doesn’t want me to be friends with her. And he is too big. I can’t fight him alone.” I said and looked at my best friend for support.

We had just entered class 2 and he was only 3 months elder to me. But at that time, it made a lot of difference.

He thought for a while and then said,

“But Neil, you are a fast runner. Think about it. He can never catch you.”

“Hmm…you are right. I can run really fast. I can jump over the school gate like no one from our class can. You are right, Vedang. Thanks. This is why you’re my best friend.”

Vedang was right. He knew me well. I continued to be friends with Swati. I ran really fast every time I saw Chetan. I knew how to outpace him. I was a fast runner. But eventually time outpaced most of us.

From class 2 to corporate jobs. Time had played its trick. Chetan was lost somewhere in the sands of time. Swati, I do not remember when I saw her the last time. Somebody told me that she got married last summer and had shifted to Delhi. I had to accept my defeat. Time was a better runner.

But Vedang knew me well. He somehow did not get lost in the whirlwind of growing up. We did not keep in touch simply because we were supposed to. I do not know if I can still call him my best friend. But then, he knew how to find his way to reach me, when I needed a friend.

“Don’t worry. Your boss cannot do a thing. I’m with you” He assured me.

“But this work-pressure. It’s killing me, Vedang.”

“I know Neil, you look so stressed. You know what, leave it. Leave this job. I mean it. Run so fast that you boss can never keep you chained like this. Run and chase your dreams brother. You are not meant to do this kind of a job.”

“Hmm. You are right. I should leave it.” I said and took a deep breath.

“Vedang, do you realise that you always tell me to run. Like I know I’m a good runner. But, hahaha why am I running all the time?”

“Hahaha!” he laughed as he heard that and spoke, “Well, it has worked quiet well so far. Don’t you agree? I mean see how far you have come. Think about it, you could’ve still been with Swati. And she isn’t that good right?”

“She isn’t? I mean she wasn’t? So why did you not tell me back then?” 28 year old me asked like a school kid.

“Because I was a kid back then, Neil. We both were. And we just had to deal with immediate problems. Like Chetan. We did. And we were happy, right?”

“True that. Immediate problems. I think that’s the key to happiness. Like…umm, right now it’s 7.45 pm and we just have 15 minutes left to order more beer in Happy hours.” I spoke with confidence.

“Now, we’re talking!” He high fived and we placed our order.

“Oh shit!” I exclaimed.

“What?” Vedang asked.

“Akansha. Your ex. Do not. Do not turn behind. She is looking in this direction only” I said.

“What do I do? What do I do? Help me Neil” He said.

“You know what? Run. Like real fast. Now!”

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Clipped wings

3_Libras___Fallen_Angel_by_Velouria_Designs

She dreamed of flying, when others were simply learning to walk, learning to cross the street. She was just nine, when she had made white clouds her home and felt wind was waiting to carry her along.

Twenty one and she had made it up there. Flying along with one of the finest airlines, smiling her perfect smile at 200 new faces every day. From one city to another, from another to the next one…she only halted for a while. She wished she didn’t have to at all. But life had some other plans.

And tonight she sang at Eleventh east street cafe, her new job it was since past one year. A favourite hangout place for the young ones in town. And they loved her at what she did – singing their choice of songs with an occasional melody of her own. For Him, it was his first time at the restaurant.

He had taken a small round table close to the fountain overflowing with water, which failed to drown her voice. She had conquered his thoughts, as she put her dark wavy hair on one side and the battle was already half won…by her. She sang American pie and he couldn’t help but hum it along. Feeling stupid, every time her eyes caught his.
He listened intently to her voice and wondered what her story was.  After all nothing entices an artist’s mind more than pieces of a broken heart. He knew she was much more than a singing lady tonight or any other night. Maybe a little late to go back, a too early to leap ahead. Tonight was hers though. This moment sang her song. Her dreams whispered into his ears in hushed tone as he held onto the words.

They had clipped her wings down.  But nothing could kill the magic in her voice.  If you listen closely enough, you could still hear the flutter of her wings…waiting for the cage door to be swung open. Her heart was jailed and tonight he melted his into a key. She sang all night, while he sat there scribbling on his notepad. Occasionally the glass of wine made it to his lips. But his eyes, they only held one vision in that crimson moonlight – of hers in the white dress, singing with closed eyes.

He knew he had to get past the lyrics somehow and she kept hoping her walls to be never brought down, by another man.  Having reached bottom of the glass several times, he felt more confident. He felt he knew her now, probably more than she did herself. He was sure of having unlocked the draft folders in her heart. And he penned down what he thought had been hiding behind those walls, waiting for the peek-a-boo to be played with the right heart.

Her voice resonated in the four walls that night and his words did the dance to the tune of it over the notepad. Dipped in the ink of feelings, they now left a trail of romance behind. The music stopped and he fervently tried to grasp the notes flying around. She sat back and relaxed, sipping onto the drink she had bought.

“You, you sing well” he said and she shook her shoulders in reply.

“I guess I do fine.” She said and he saw she wasn’t as pretty looking as she seemed while she sang. And yet at the same time very pretty somehow.

“You got the tale you were looking for?” She said with the straw flirting with her lips.

“What do you mean?” He smiled wondering if he had completely got her wrong.

“Your story I’m talking about, the one you were scribbling while pretending to sing American pie. I’m sure you had thousand thoughts in your head, with those characters doing a dialogue with your inner voices.” She smiled and offered him a chair next to hers.

He sat nervously feeling a bit stripped down and let her take the charge.

“I am Nadia. And what’s your name, writer boy?”

“Why don’t you read it yourself?” He smiled and handed over the notebook in her hands.

“I hope the ending is good, as I dreamed it to be” she said watching him read her eyes like ‘he’ used to.

“There isn’t one. She learns how to fly. He helps her do that.” He replied.

“And she leaves him behind? Yet again?” she asked.

“He was never hers to take along. She wasn’t his. They met. Like two kites accidently brushing hands in the sky. They were meant to carry on” said the writer boy.

“Well, she is happy that she met him after all” she smiled her perfect smile. After a long time.

 

Serious fall of a Humpty Dumpty heart

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This is a story of a little bird; I like to call my heart. It stays in the rib-cage inside my chest and locks itself out at the slightest smell of love. No, I have not cut down its wings. It soars high and falls worse than a Humpty Dumpty off a wall. I mean seriously. It keeps falling every now and then.

Just like it fell the other day, when I was taking my regular jog at Rock garden. I was jogging round and round…taking a deep breath while moving on upward slopes & trying to control my speed while running over the downward ones. My lungs bloated big & shrunk back for oxygen as I came to a halt near my favorite spot. I touched my chest with the right hand & could feel heartbeat racing high. Giving out a sigh, I sat at the edge of one of the benches and Hippy came running towards me. It stood near my feet gazing at me awkwardly and I smiled at it. It replied by jumping up in my lap and within few seconds it started making a purring sound. It definitely was the most innocent happiness I had ever come across.

And then I spotted her. Sitting at the far corner of garden with her big round spectacles sitting firmly over her sharp nose. I smiled and heard a knock on the door of rib cage simultaneously.

“Are you serious? We don’t even know her yet’’ I asked my curious heart man.

‘’And we would probably never do if you do not take me to her’’ came a quick reply.

“Well, what if she says no? What if she already has someone in her life?’’ I tried to keep him calm and locked inside.

But little heart man had already made up his mind and was ready to try his luck.

One of us took the other to the bench at far corner of the garden.

“Well, not many come here to do serious reading. I mean at least that’s what I used to think” I said to her after rehearsing and rephrasing it thrice in my mind.

‘’Depends on what you call serious reading’’ she said without lifting her head and I still caught the smile conquering her reddish cheeks.

“Yes. I guess, reading a novel as thick as the one in your hand. I mean most people just come here with a newspaper to read.’’ I said and checked on my heart, luckily still sitting inside my chest.

She turned towards me as I said that and put her dark brown hair behind her ears.

“You are right. But honestly speaking, this is my first time here. ‘Rock garden’. I really liked the name and I just decided to spend some time with it. You come here often?” she asked me and I spotted the little heart man in black suit crawling towards her sneakily.

“Get back you. You Humpty Dumpty. Don’t you do that again’’ I warned him and she waited for my reply.

“Yes I come here quite often. In fact everyday you can say. I like this place. I mean it’s so calm. All of us who come here are like friends of Rock garden, you can say. It’s so serene…”

“And yet kind of an escape’’ she completed my sentence.

“What do you mean, an escape?” I was puzzled and at the same time worried about the little heart man – now sitting on her lap and looking at her. He was going to hurt himself again. I knew it.

She folded the book in her hand and answered, ‘’Yes. An escape. An escape from reality. A much needed break for everyone you see around us. Be it kids playing football just for the summers or those middle aged women walking backwards over the green carpet to fight diabetes or simply youngsters using it as a platform to keep their bodies fit & toned. We are just travelers to this place. We would be waving goodbye to the Rock Garden as soon as our motives are fulfilled.’’

“I guess. But Rock garden does have true friends as well’’ I said. I loved the way our conversation was going. Well to be honest, little heart man had gotten me engrossed in interesting conversations earlier as well. And then I ended up putting a bandage on his wounds from the fall later on.

Nevertheless I continued to fall for this girl and said to her ‘’Yes Rock garden does have friends as well. Real friends. Like you see old Mishra uncle sitting over there?” I pointed at a man sitting on a bench across ours with his hands rested on a walking stick. “Or the brown kitten sitting near him? That kitten has made this place its home even before it learnt to jump over the bench. I call it Hippy. Love the way it looks deep into your eyes and then jumps up on your lap’’ I realized I had gotten carried away a bit with the kitten part, when I saw little heart man now sitting in her left palm.

She laughed a bit and asked me ‘’A cat-person, I see?’’

“Well if it qualifies as a pick up line, yes I am’’ I said scratching my hair with one hand.

“Haha, normally it does not. Anyway I never asked your name. I’m Ayesha. And you are?’’

‘’I’m Piyush. I’m a Lawyer. And you?’’

“I’m studying Literature. At DU.” She said.

“Oh I should have guessed. That’s why books and all.’’ I said as I searched for him. Little heart man had escaped yet again.

That did get me worried. I thought of the previous times it had flown away. And fallen for the ones who never cared for him. Little heart man would later come home to its rib cage with his head tilted and feeling all sad with teary eyes. I would then sit and console him for days.

‘’He had fallen once again probably. She did not even notice him sitting on her palm’’ I thought while she got up to leave.

“I guess I’m going to try and be friends too…’’ Ayesha put the book in her bag and said,

“You know with Rock garden. I guess I’ll finish up this novel here only someday’’.

I was still sulking over the empty space in my chest as she said that. I was going to miss the little heart man.

She zipped her bag up and gently put the other hand in the pocket of her blue jeans.

“Well to come to think of it, I’m thinking I’m also going to be friends with…” she took a pause to see me looking deep into her eyes and continued…”I’m thinking I’m going to be friends with Hippy too’’ she raised her eyebrows and waved me goodbye.

“There I go again. Return of Humpty Dumpty it is. Falling off the wall of love’’ I thought to myself.

“I love cats’’ she said as she turned around and I saw little heart man sitting comfortably on her shoulder winking his eye.

Before I could think anything, I felt something breaking into my mind…tiptoeing down into my chest and yes its beat rhymed perfectly with the tune of little heart man. A tiny red heart wearing a pink top and blue jeans was winking back.