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Alleged Lovers – Part II

March 3, 2012 5 comments
If you haven't already, read Part I before you proceed.
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They were sitting on the banks of the holy river and she read out aloud from a book,

‘…The effect of cessation (ending) of breathing on the central nervous system is of considerable interest…The patient may lie in the chamber for hours without moving his head or changing position. The desire to smoke disappears when voluntary respiration stops, even in patients who have been accustomed to smoke two packets of cigarettes a day. In many instances the relaxation is of such a nature that the patient does not require amusement…’

“So that means he won’t need her for amusement if he stops smoking. But he can’t leave her, you know!” he smiled.

“And that is why he doesn’t stop smoking, for if he does, he won’t need his alleged lover” she replied.

“Look he can’t stop smoking just because someone somewhere experienced something and did not feel like smoking anymore, okay? He cannot stop smoking until he stops feeling the need, understood madam?”

“But you aren’t trying. And stop with the third person nonsense, will you? Or you don’t want to do that either!”

“That’s what he is saying; He doesn’t feel the need to stop smoking, so why does she want to force him?”

She closed the book and her retort remained unspoken.

How could she not force him when she felt it was the right thing to do? She wondered whether all their heated discussions were worth this much only. Just when they seemed to be getting head and tail of each other’s perspective in any matter, the topic was closed. The discussion was over. And there was nothing more to say. Or it just fizzled out with a joke or the awkward silence that was now enveloping her.

The overwhelming silence came and passed as the Sun shimmered on the Gangesand wind was only to be sensed by the wavy river surface. They had begun walking up the stairs that curled up towards the bustling Laxman Jhoola and their fingers entwined on the way.

“You know this German Bakery’s original name is Devraj Coffee House…He thinks it was Socrates who said what’s in a name? Socrates was right.” he said, wiping the sweat of his brow.

“Ha Ha, very funny! It was”, she yawned, “Shakespeare.”

“Well, as he said, what’s in a name.” He lit up a cigarette and continued,

“They should adapt it to the psyche of their traditions and change it to what’s in a surname!”

He made a ring out of his fore finger and the thumb and exhaled the mouthful of smoke through it.

“You know I don’t like you smoking” she tried to say it with a skeptical indifference of a cringe.

“Oh ho ho!” he puffed out, “So she doesn’t like him smoking but have no problems with others who smoke!”

“I don’t know them!” she said.

“What difference does that make?” he asked.

“It doesn’t matter, I feel I don’t know you too!” and with that she ended the conversation as they took the first empty table of German Bakery.

As she looked over his shoulder to the Ganges flowing by, his eyes wandered over hers and he slightly tilted his head to the right to see if anyone was to be bothered by their love talk yet unspoken. He saw a foreign national in saffron robes, asking the waiter to get a lighter. He smiled in knowing. Now she wouldn’t have a problem with even him smoking, he thought.

Then getting back to his lover and realizing that he had upset her, he said, “Look here…look here na, the inter-caste thing is not really a problem in my family, I mean yes, my extended family will be a little surprised when they get to know about this but nothing beyond that!”

“Oh my God, I don’t care if they do, you know”, she said, “but you seem to care about that so much! Is that what is the issue here? Do we have any less problems of our own that you make more issues as you go along?”

He wondered if she really thought about it not being an issue in these socially unequal times.  Then getting a little grip on himself, he re-entered the conversation to make his case again.

“Why don’t you understand, what can I do about your father now? I can’t talk to him right away…what would I tell them I do for a living?” He took a hurried drag and continued, “ How am I going to take care of your daughter, you ask old man, I will make food in the bakery and feed her of course!”

She remained silent like other times in the past but it weighed on her mind to ask him the question that had long been overdue.

“What are you doing about your Oh-So-Great business plan then?” she had repeated the question in her mind before asking it out loud and even with much restraint that she was trying to show, she couldn’t avoid the sarcasm.

His momentum of words brewing in his mind stalled after her remark and he looked away visibly agitated.

He saw the same foreigner, who wanted a lighter was now chatting away blissfully with the woman besides him, also in saffron clothing. He wasn’t smoking a cigarette though; he had lit an agarbatti instead and fixed it in the ash tray!

A little shocked at the things not going his way either at his table or hippies-in-saffron table, he called out to no one in particular,

Ek chai laana!”

When none of his co – waiters acknowledged his order for tea, he shouted as some of the patrons of Devraj Coffee House shouted at him when he was on duty.

“How will you get customer the tea unless you listen to the customer? I pay for it; am I asking it for free?”

The mood of the morning was just as peaceful as it was everyday. The reverberating sounds of the chimes carried by the wind from the opposite bank of theGangesengulfed the moods of the people at their end – except the two alleged lovers. His mind wandered on these lines and he lit up another cigarette.

ξ

Click Part III to read the concluding part of the story.
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Alleged Lovers – Part I

March 1, 2012 6 comments

“What’s with these people opposing Valentine’s Day?” he asked, looking up from the television which beamed, what passed off as big news in the sleepy, small town of Rishikesh.

“What about them?” she asked, a little depressed with what she saw in the TV.

“They say its not part of  Bharthiya Culture to celebrate this day!”

“Is it part of Bharthiya Culture to beat up and harass  innocent couples who are just having a nice time?” she countered.

“No. But tell me, is it sinful in the same vein to oppose Valentine’s Day intellectually too?”

“Why would you want to oppose something that does no harm to you in particular? Do you feel more Bharathiya when there is something to oppose?”

“[Laughs] Trust you to make an extremist out of me! Do you know that there is a V-day equivalent in our culture too? It just isn’t popular enough”, with that he asked the man at the counter of the adjacent book-shop to hand him the booklet he was holding, “Listen to this:

…The world’s balance soon crumbled in his (Shiva’s) absence and Sati took rebirth as Goddess Parvati to try and win Lord Shiva’s heart and wake him up from his trance. She tried all ways to get the attention of Shiva. When she had exhausted all her feminine ways, she invoked the help of Kamadeva, the Indian cupid-god, who agreed to help her in the cause of the world despite the risks involved. He shot his love-arrow on Shiva’s heart. Disturbed in his trance, Lord Shiva opened his third eye that fired anger and instantly incinerated Kamadeva. It is said that it was on the day of Holi that Kamadeva had sacrificed himself for the good of all beings. Later, when Lord Shiva realized his mistake, he granted Kamadeva immortality in invisible form. To this day, people offer sandalwood paste to Kamadeva to relieve from his stinging burns and mango blossoms that he loved on Holi.”

“See”, he said, “ain’t that awesome? Our own V-day or better known as Vasant Utsav!”

“Yes it is”, she said, “but what booklet is this?”

“How does that matter? We aren’t so intellectually bankrupt as to judge a book by its cover, hi-jack a thought and judge it on the basis of from where it is coming from!”

“So what you are saying is that these people who are physically opposing the idea of V-day should instead give it competition in the free-market of celebrating festivals?” she gasped.

“Ya kinda, that would be so much better, don’t you think? May the better festival win or better still may both festivals acquire an equal mind-space of the youth which needs a reason to celebrate at every drop of the hat!”

With that, the now mellowing exchange of words was cut short with the screechy ringtone of his mobile phone.

“Yes I am on my way!” he said to his presumably waiting mother on the phone.

Earnest in his tone, he took his forefinger to his lips to tell the waiting girl by his side to hush with the giggling. The gentle breeze of the Ganga blew across the girl’s face, making her prominent features smile a little more as she looked at him.

“Why did you not tell her that you are with me in this beautiful moon lit evening and that you would be late my dear Valentine?” she mocked and was shy in her voice while doing so. The arti on the opposite bank was carried to them by the breeze and it brought with it the chime of the holy bells. He closed his eyes and touched them with her soft fingers and breathed in, thus avoiding the answer to her query.

They used to meet at the German Bakery by the Laxman Jhoola every evening, for it was filled with tourists more often than not – most of them foreigners, so the chances of someone known catching them were miniscule.

“I think that you don’t love me. Don’t you trust me?!” he tried to reply in her voice’s imitation.

“Don’t bring this mischief in your eye as if you are two timing me!” she stopped his teasing by pinching his arm.

“Okay, okay…” he said, pulling his arm away.

And in the hurting seriousness he said, “I have to handle the situation in such a way darling, that even if they refuse when I tell them about you, I would be able to support us financially.”

“What would we do every evening after we get married?” she resumed the playfulness.

“We could meet daily you know”, he winked, “Also we would meet here in the midst of these same people and then if someone calls from home, I wouldn’t even have to lie!”

Their hands touched. She had a funny feeling in her stomach and he sensed her twitch a little.

“I showed my hand to that babaji”, she said pointing at the entrance of the Jhoola, “and he asked me if I had someone in my life and I said yes.”

“What!”

She divulged further “I told him your name and date of birth and he told me that we can’t get married and I told him that I may die but I can marry you only – only you.”

She inhaled and huffed a little in breathlessness.

An overwhelming moment came to pass whenever she thought about her future with him and looking in his eyes it seemed possible. He held her chin by the thumb and forefinger. She could hardly look at him lest the tears would fall, but she wanted to be kissed to seal the future of their love to come.

Click Part II to read the next part of this story.
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