Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Beginning, A Reason For Living

Dark clouds had been ruling the sky all day, looking unrelenting as ever even as the night approached. Sameer rang the doorbell, brushing the glistening drops of rain off his black jacket, standing outside his home.

He shook his head as he recalled that his sister, Shruti, wouldn't be home that night, not till the wee hours at least. Fumbling within his bag, he managed to retrieve a bunch of keys.

The door clicked open softly as he slipped in the key and turned the knob, letting himself inside, quickly shutting the door behind him. The hallway was dimly lit. He shivered a little as a draft of warm air hit his handsome face. The radiator had been left on. He rolled his eyes, inwardly blaming Shruti.

A strong whiff of baking caught him by surprise. Sniffing appreciatively, he made his way to the kitchen, taking off his damp jacket.

“You said you’d not be home before 8! What are you doing here at 7?” hearing Aaina’s voice, he turned around so fast that he nearly gave himself a crick in the neck.

“I was supposed to pick you up for dinner from your home. What are you doing here at all?” he asked, amazed, as she walked up to him.

Standing on her toes, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. He kissed her back, slowly and gently, but intensely, tightly embracing her. She pulled away several seconds later to take a good look at him.

“The meeting ended earlier than we had anticipated. So, here I am.” Sameer answered her earlier question, his eyes roving over her face, gauging how she was, without actually asking the question.

Aaina was in a knee-length, velvet midnight-blue dress that shimmered with the slightest movement she made, accentuating her dark eyes and creamy skin.

“You love home-cooked meals. So, I took the day off. Shruti had plans with her friends, and gave me the keys willingly. So, here I am.” she smiled, looking into his gorgeous chocolate-brown eyes, stroking his jet-black hair.

He leaned in and kissed her again as she wiped off a stray water droplet on his neck.

“I missed you, too.” she breathed against his lips, replying to his unspoken feeling.

He smiled and nodded. It had been two weeks since they had last met.

“Why aren’t you wearing any shoes?” Sameer questioned, incredulous, as he noticed her walk barefoot into the kitchen.

“I was getting ready when I heard you waltz in. So, I thought ‘fuck the shoes’ and came out to meet you. Besides, the central heating is on.” she chuckled, pointing toward one of the vents.

Sameer laughed as he followed her.

“Go freshen up. Don’t follow me around like a lost puppy.” she chided him playfully.

“But, I love to watch you cook.” he complained, following her nevertheless.

“I’ve done all the cooking, and the baking. I just need to frost the cake.” she told him, maneuvering her way around him to and from the fridge.

Completely engrossed in decorating her precious cake, she looked extra charming. When he was assured that she wouldn’t need anything else, he snaked his arms around her waist, resting his chin at the base of her neck. Her soft brown hair had a lingering sweet scent to it.

She felt him plant a chaste kiss on her hair. She smiled and smeared a blob of buttercream icing on his nose.

“I don’t care.” he chuckled, snuggling closer.

“Noooooooo!” she squealed, getting away just in time before he could transfer the frosting from his nose onto her neck and hair.

“Go, get cleaned.” she said, pushing him out of the kitchen.

“And, you get some footwear on.” he said, grabbing her hand, dragging her along.

She pecked on his cheek before almost pushing him into the bathroom.

“Hey! Don’t change into your pajamas!” she yelled from outside after wearing her white fuzzy bunny slippers.

“What? Why?” he asked, poking his head out as he half opened the door.

“I don’t want my dinner date to be in his PJs.” she rolled her eyes and glided out of his room.

It was nearly 8 pm when Sameer turned up at the dining table where Aaina was setting the table for dinner. He was in a jet black tuxedo, tailored to perfection.

“Finally. I thought you had fainted in there, or something.” she joked.

“Haha.” he said, sarcastic.

“I know, right?” she laughed, anyway, “You look delectable, by the way.” she said, pulling him by his neck-tie.

“Wow! Now that’s a compliment you don’t get every day.” he laughed, kissing her.

“How was your day?” she asked, getting back to laying the table.

“The usual. Mad clients, stupid colleagues, ignorant boss.” he answered, helping her.

“And, sane, sensible, know-it-all you.” she snorted.

“Of course.” he chuckled, “How was yours?”

“Oh, I slept till noon knowing I had to toil away in the evening,” she snickered, “then I came here.”

“So when you were chatting with me at lunch, it was from here?”

“Guilty as charged.” she grinned, displaying a set of perfect white teeth.

“You’re amazing, you know.” he said, as they both sat down for dinner.

“I know. Thanks, anyway.” she laughed, again.

He gazed at her cheerful face. She was the one who had brought fun, laughter, happiness, and life back to his life.

“Look, your favorite.” she said, taking off the lid of a small white casserole, revealing baked bell peppers and tomatoes.

He looked at her face,
“You really do hate me, right?”

“What happened, sweetie? Something wrong?” she looked radiant, and extremely serious.

“You deserve an Oscar.” he said rolling his eyes, snatching the lid from her hands, and re-placing it on the bowl.

Sameer, in fact, hated bell peppers and tomatoes to the core. Aaina knew this, and she wasn’t someone who’d pass an opportunity to play a prank.

Aaina cracked up at his comment, laughing uncontrollably. He watched her for a while before joining in.

“Oh, God! Your expression was worth it, Sameer!” she said, in between laughs, dabbing the tears at the corner of her eyes with the table napkin.

"Yeah, yeah." he muttered.

“Everything else is your favorite, I promise.” she smiled, air-kissing him.

“And, what about your favorite?”

You. Delectable, remember?” she retorted, as she began loading up his plate with food.

                                                    * * * * *

“Are you sure you wanna watch this? You don’t even like this movie.” Sameer asked as they settled on the couch before his giant LED tv.

After a long dinner of inconsequential talks and sumptuous food, they had gone out for a stroll after changing into more comfortable clothing. It was 10:30 pm when they had finally returned.

“I don’t wanna watch, actually. I just wanna snuggle.” she told him, cuddling closer to his seated form, as he draped a blanket over both of them.

Just thirty minutes into the movie, he felt Aaina’s breathing slow down and even out. She inched closer still, as she went deeper into blissful slumber.

Sameer kissed the top of her head, lowered the volume, and watched on for a while, sighing happily. A little later, he too felt drowsiness overpowering him. Carefully scooping up his sleeping girlfriend in his arms so as to not wake her up, he went to his bedroom. Ever so gently, he laid her down on the bed, covered her with the duvet, and slipping in beside her, he hugged her close to himself. Soon he was fast asleep.

He felt her stir after what seemed only moments to him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked groggily.

Aaina had woken up as if on cue. Hundreds and thousands of fireworks echoed, one after the other, each one momentarily lighting up the midnight sky.

“Oh, look!" she said, signaling toward his spherical LED alarm clock.

It displayed 12:00 in a soft cyan color.

"Happy 2014, sleepyhead!” she wrapped her arms around him, giving him a warm and tender kiss.

“To you, too, love.” he whispered, huskily.

            * * * * *

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Pari's laughter rang through the beauty parlor as she got ready for her wedding. She was excited, scared, happy, and sad, all at the same time. The dreams of her new future were coupled with an increasingly stronger realization about how it would change her reality.

"Ma'am, someone is here to see you." Pari was informed by an attendant.

"Who is it?" she turned around, curious.

What happened next was something nobody in their wildest dreams had imagined. A seemingly well-to-do guy entered the scene, smiled at Pari, and doused her with an immeasurable amount of toxic acid; all in a quick succession.

The parlor now rang with her shrieks and screams of others around her. Nobody dared to catch the culprit; perhaps, they were frozen with shock. She cried, and writhed in pain as the ambulance and police were called.

* * * * *

A newsflash revealed that the cops had found a letter left behind by the accused. According to the letter, Pari had been in a relation with the him, and had broken up with him to marry someone else. Heartbroken and infuriated, he had decided this deed would be the best revenge.

This revelation set tongues wagging.

"Children these days have no values, no culture. Making boyfriends and girlfriends and indulging in whatnot. Tsk-tsk. What is our dear country coming to!"

"If my daughter had done this, I would have poured acid on her myself. And, then on that guy, too."

"She has brought shame to her family, and deserves this."

"Her family members can't show their faces to anyone; now she can't, either. Justice has been served."

Another news update a mere day later brought something else to light.

The accused was not Pari's former boyfriend; rather, he was the accomplice of the ex-wife of the elder brother of Pari's husband-to-be. She had already made two attempts before to harm her ex-husband's family, but they had been foiled. By what logic she had targeted Pari was unfathomable.

Pari was shifted from the local hospital to a super-speciality hospital in a metro city. She was in extreme pain. Although she was stable, she was also critical. She had expressed her wish to talk to her fiance. He had, however, along with his family, shirked off all responsibility, and severed all ties with the her and her family.

She, now, was not only gravely physically hurt, but also emotionally wounded. She could not decide which suffereing was greater. She lost consciousness several days later, finally succumbing to the injuries after twenty days of the ordeal.

"We were ready for her bidaayi, but not of this sort. We had been preparing for her wedding, and now we are preparing for her funeral."

In loving memory of Harpreet, the acid-attack victim from Ludhiana, who passed away on 27 December, 2013. Rest in peace.