Friday, July 26, 2013

Flirting with friendship: The Beautiful Aftermath

Chapter 4: The Beautiful Aftermath

While I was driving on my way back home, I was still under the so called “Depression” of what I experienced back at Vikram’s place. I couldn’t fathom the fact that Anusha was really so much into action and Vikram was still trying to recover from his family loss. During all the arguments and discussions I had with Anusha in those gruesome ten minutes, I’d kind of developed a soft corner for her. I reached home and had a sound sleep, courtesy Anusha and her discerning dinner. I had one week to recollect myself and get back to my senses before I could meet the couple once again.
In the meanwhile next morning, I had a very pleasant day waking up with a glass of steaming hot Boost, and homemade Upma, my favourite. My mother was asking me to bring Sakshi home this weekend. Yes! The mission of my life, the reason I came to Bangalore and the only girl with whom I’ll be spending the rest of my life.
“Amma. I think so Sakshi won’t be able to come.” I yelled from my room while she was busy in her kitchen. There was a moment of silence. My mom turned off the gas stove and barged in my room.
“Did you guys fight again?” her voice was completely interrogative like an FBI agent.
“No mom, not at all. She’s suffering from cold and flu.” I replied with my eyes half open, with my voice half concerned.
“And here you are. Royally sleeping in your own world.” She said, “Go and get her home now.”
Sakshi and I met in a very traditional fashion just three months ago. And by traditional, I mean DAMN traditional. I was with my family in Udupi on a tour. Yearly we plan out a tour with one family or the other, from our friends circle or relatives whoever is free during that time. This time, we’d been with my sister Divya and her family. She has a seven year old son Amogh and a clichéd software engineer, Nitin as her husband.
We all started our journey from Bangalore and while we were going towards Udupi, we halted at Agumbe Ghats for some time. Every traveller who passes by this place tends to stay and admire the landscapes that play hide and seek with the clouds. Agumbe receives the highest rainfall in the entire Western ghat region and is known as “Cherrapunji of South.” The lush greenery and the sound of trickling waterfalls from distant invisible mountains always please our senses and brought a magical smile on our faces. Even now, the picturesque Ghats of Malnad have that effect. As children when we used to see this place most of the times I used to stand behind the grills and my father used to take pictures from his primitive Yashica camera which had film rolls. We used to count on every click because we had limited 35-36 pictures to click with one film roll. As days and years passed, we lost count with the advent of digital cameras.
While we were offering prayers in the temple, it was a traditional protocol that man had to shed their upper clothing and wear a panche which is like a nine meter long silk towel which you just have to roll over your waist and manage to hold tight and not let it fall down. A seal of sandalwood paste would be applied on our foreheads and all the men were supposed to be in the same attire until the meal offered by the Holy Temple was lavishly completed. I always had one question as a kid. Why only men had to shed their upper clothing and not women? This is absolute discrimination by God.
Wait. Did I just say that aloud? I wondered while I saw a girl giggling at me. There she was, my girl from the dreams (kind of) and the one who I fell in love (by God’s Grace, literally) in the Holy Temple. She also wore a traditional silk skirt which shone with a golden border on the beige long skirt. Her purple blouse didn’t add much elegance to her looks, but a similar seal of sandalwood paste on her forehead made her look like an Apsara (Hindu Angel, to be more clear). Her shoulder length hair was soft and smooth, and was left open, which sensually bordered her bright wheatish complexion. Her hands were joined to pray, her thick Angelina Jolie lips were smiling at me while I was battling with my panche, and her big brown eyes were glittering with accentuated eye-liner. I pulled my mom’s extended end of saree and pointed my finger at that girl like a kid, as if it was a toy I wanted and only my mom can get that for me.
“Shut up, and pray. We’ll be going out soon.” My mom murmured, slapped the back of my head and continued to pray. I looked forward and backward whoever I could find to talk to, but all were busy praying. In the winter season, sitting inside a stone-built temple in silk towel, without a shirt, I had goosebumps on every part of my body. Adding to the insult, there was a gorgeous girl who was ceaselessly staring at me and I was shivering like a cat.
“Mom! I need to pee.” I insisted again.
“Okay. Get up and go, but be quick.” She whispered. “Wash your hands and come.” She announced while I was leaving.
MOMS! I wonder how I could ever live without a mother.
“Sure mom.” I said and disappeared from the scene.
Outside the temple, the clouds were gracefully descending from the skies and embracing the mountains in their own romantic way.
“Beautiful. Isn’t it?” a thin voice spoke from behind.
“Yes.” I said and looked back. It was her. The girl I fell in love with. I tried to act as if I am not interested in her, but interested more in admiring the nature. I again turned my gaze away from her and kept watching the skies. This time I closed my eyes and was praying hard that she’d speak something more, something else.
“The prayer is done.” She said. And I looked back at her with a jerk. She wasn’t there behind me. When I looked forward, she was standing right in front of me smiling politely. I stumbled as my silk towel had begun to slip and I lost my focus.
“I’ll see you soon Abhi.” She said and left. I stood like a statue, wondering what just happened. I went in the temple and my mom called me out from the crowd.
“Abhi. This way...” I moved in the direction of her voice and we reunited for meals. No words spoken.
“Her name is Sakshi and she’s also from Bangalore.” My mom began to explain about the girl I wanted to be with for my whole life.
“I met her mom and discussed everything.” She was excited while she explained Sakshi’s background. “If you really want me to go forward and match the horoscopes then I’ll meet them next week.” Mom said. I wasn’t in a condition to hug my mom for what she did, but I waited for the moment till I got rid of the panche and then I happily kissed my mom on the way back home.
Coming back to the present day, Sakshi was sick and I had to pick her up from her place. I got all dressed up and was about to leave,
“Don’t go by bus. Bring her on your bike.” Mom instructed me to take my commutation gears while I left. Sakshi was most of the times alone in her house as her mom always went to some family functions to one place or another, and her father was no more. She has a brother called Madhu, who doesn’t care about her quite that much and her best friend Shrushti stays nearby, but always busy talking with her boyfriend over the phone.
“I’ll come home straight away.” I said and left. When I entered Sakshi’s house, she was watching TV, her favourite dance reality shows. I’d almost forgotten watching TV in the past 4 years. The only thing I used to see was cricket matches, that too if I had time. I hugged Sakshi and placed my hand over her forehead to check if she had fever too.
Normal. No temperature yet.
Drama Queen!” I said, pinching her chubby pink cheeks, now red in my presence.
“I still have cough and cold.” She said in a faint voice.
“Don’t worry. I’ll massage your throat, press and squeeze it nicely.” I winked and tried to make her smile on my sarcastic jokes.
“Very funny.” She mocked at me.
“Do you need something to eat or drink?” she asked while she was getting ready.
“I’ll take Sakshi, for starters.” I said with a smile and she mildly punched my chest.
“And for the main course?” she added.
“Let’s decide that on the way.” I grabbed her by her waist, pulling her close to me. Her hands locked in mine, her eyes locked on mine and the time seemed frozen.
“Give me the keys.” I whispered in her ears.
“Not now. Only after marriage.” She replied in a shy manner.
“I said, give me the KEYS!” I shouted again, this time clearly.
Sakshi had nowhere to hide, and I could see the gleam in her eyes.
“You are a sick naughty girl.” I said and brought her to my home. Again; there were no words spoken on the way home.

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