Friday, August 8, 2008

Kurai Ondrum Illai....Part 5

Amit has been rechristened to Ashok in keeping with the 'Jambu' ness of the storyline

How does it feel to know that you have been manipulated? By someone whom you trust? It leaves a very bad taste. But then you realize that they are your soul after all. You forgive them. In fact looking back, you fid yourself to have acted in a very trivial manner. After all who doesn’t manipulate? It differs only in matters of degrees. Still, when the person does it for a reason, you can commiserate with them. But when they do it for fun, you are left with a gut wrenching knot in your stomach. It is then that a part of you dies a silent and agony filled death. You are never the same again. Where you would have given, you hold yourself back. The bitter taste of the past experience comes forth. It really takes a monumental effort to accept that you cant ground breakingly alter other’s behaviour. But at least don’t lose yourself dammit. This would mean being prepared to be ‘used’, ‘manipulated’, ‘scorned’ and ‘ridiculed’. But at least you are YOURSELF. That inviolate part of you stays firm. You know it is easy to be good when others are good and bad when others are bad. But to be good when you feel others are bad to you; that takes immense courage. While one of them had made the leap of faith (and had started staying firm or gullible), the other was still undergoing the turmoil. This is what both Anu and Ashok were discussing sitting in the terrace. Whenever there was a power cut, the siblings used to run up the staircase and sit atop the painted ladder. From there they could see the rooftop of their school, the trees in the horizon and the wonderful, delicious smell of the biscuits coming from the nearby Brittania factory.

It had been 5 years since Dhaya was found dead in the park. His neck was slit. His wallet was empty. Some petty thief, high on cocaine had murdered him. All for a few hundred bucks. There was a smile writ across Dhaya’s face. In his last moment, all he could think of was ‘No Regrets’. He was satisfied. His turned out to be as freaky and inconspicuous a death as anyone could have imagined. This pleased him at the time of his last breath. Not much tear was shed though, barring his family. In fact after the initial days of trauma, Dhaya’s family was happy that he was liberated from his self inflicted penance. If anyone missed him, it was the children in the locality. But God has blessed children with such impatience, inquisitiveness and a taste for life that very soon Dhaya turned into a ‘news from the past’ even for the children.

Ashok was now in his 12th and Anu had just joined the Rogers Flying School in Brisbane. She loved to fly. And she wanted to become a commercial pilot. Now. Now Ashok realized how much he missed her company. Those daily fights, laughter….everything. Now she had come home for her vacation. Everyone were fussing over her. And for once, Ashok didn’t mind it. in fact he found himself fussing over her too. He smiled thinking of this.

And now in the terrace, while they were yakking – Ashok could sense Anu was disturbed. ‘Okay spill it’ was all that he said. Both knew instantly what he meant. They never needed to beat around the bush. ‘Can I make the cut?’, asked Anu. ‘Well if you don’t think so, you can always come back here to do your BSc, Engg or anything else’, retorted Ashok. She fumed, ‘I am asking you for a boost in my confidence and you tell this?’. He calmly replied, ‘Everything is within you Anu. Getting confidence and all those bull shit are just a way of massaging your ego.’ ‘Thank you dear brother, THANK YOU’, she said and laughed. He laughed too and together they sang ‘Hum hain rahi pyaar ke’ title song at the top of their voice. They hadn’t skirted the issue. Both realized that they were born to be the best and that it was upto them to realize it.

The next day, Anu went to meet her childhood buddy Karthik. Both of them went ot the same school. He was the nerdy type and the jolly type put together. He went on to join IIT-M. he took up Mechanical Engineering. His father worked for a glass company as a line supervisor. His mother was a housewife. He was their only child and their pride. They chatted from morning through night interrupted only by the regular refreshments given by Karthik’s mother. Just like in the school days, even now they had a lot to discuss. He was interest to know how the aircraft functioned. She wanted updates on the hunks in IIT. They spoke of their teachers, their friends, and the latest development in tennis. They also had the time to develop a physical working model of the aircraft’s wheel mechanism. It had a ball joint and a retractable lever.

Any stranger watching them would have thought them to be sharing a romantic relation. Truth was, they never had time to think of any such things. They simply had too much to do, too much to speak. Karthik’s father dropper Anu home. The happiness Anu felt that day was indescribable. There was that wonderful void in her heart, which is common to those who have shared their everything – joy, sorrow, dreams, fear..everything. While Anu was having a ball with Karthik, Ashok was busy spending time with Ravi (his childhood pal). They went cycling along the red hills road. Ravi was sharing his problems with him. Ashok was the ‘Andrew Elliot’ of his friends. You could say he was their agony aunt. He was always ready to listen. He empathised with people. He could never come with any solutions. However the very fact that he listened to them made his friends feel relieved. His personal life (or you could call his romantic life) was a non starter. Girls found him to be too soft. Not that he cared. He is a good ‘friend’ material, not a ‘boyfriend’ material was the common refrain. Anu felt that Ashok was holding back. Not letting himself go. Ashok felt it would be demeaning to be making an effort to woo girls. Not only that, he felt probably his 12th was not the right to be getting into all these ‘stuff’. And yet Ashok fell for her. It wasn’t love. He had never spoken to her. Neither did he think of indulging her. He wanted it to be an one sided affair, because he knew the painful truth that even she would understand. What attracted him the most to her was her spontaneous jovialness. There was something of the unbridled spirit in her, oblivious to any worry in the world. And he didn’t want to be the cause of breaking that wonderful equilibrium in Shruti.

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