BACK TO OCTOBER THIS YEAR
Well, now if you are not as dim as the hundred watt bulb that struggles to light up my room for want of sufficient voltage, you must have gathered the reason behind my voyage.
My decision was spontaneous.
I had to go there as she was not coming here, because we had to meet.
It was that simple.
Those who have never been smitten by the love bug may find it a little difficult to comprehend the obviousness, but if they only lie coolly on a sofa and think about all the movies they have seen, and all the crazy things in them that lovers often do, the fog would begin to clear up.
After all, I am not building a palace in my lover's name, and cutting the hands of the artists thereafter or, for that matter, not even writing letters in blood, my own of course.
I am merely undertaking an expedition, harmless but risky all the same.
When you have not met for about six months the one who, as the sayings go, makes your heart beat faster and steals your sleep and peace, it becomes impossible to go on and you think you'd rather die than suffer this agony.
It is wise, therefore, to try and do anything that makes the union possible. Hence this journey.
The intellectuals will be quick tosspot that though it is all very merry to say "I'll go", the real thing lies in the doing.
Although fare from being an intellectual.
I am glad to tell you that this fact struck me too, and like a hammer.
When circumstances are as they were with me, you do say a lot of things to yourself in an enhanced state of mind and become aware of this boring world of really only a bit later.
Suddenly, you battle with such concepts as feasibility and practically and –– zoom –– you come crashing to the ground!
And so I was hit, indeed.
But then I must tell you that, although bereft of intellect, give my mind a task which cannot be done the straight way, and it starts to do better.
After talking to her, I finally got my act together and decided firmly that I had to go to Chennai.
I thought about all possible ways to go to Chennai in my winter vacations and short-listed some. I decided to call her.
Poor thing, she must have been crying.
I wanted to tell her that I would come and we'd meet.
"Hi!" I said, trying to gather as much happiness I could.
"What happened?" she said with her innate sweetness.
"Nothing, just wanted to apologize for hanging up like that. I am
sorry. Nut I couldn't talk then."
"It is okay. I understand."
"Now, at least tell me what happened, why are you not coming?"
"I told you I'll call you around eleven-thirty, Raj."
"Tell me something at least. Your dad said something about us?"
"Do I have to tell now?"
"Okay, Lakkhu bhaiya is getting married…"
I tried to place him among her numerous cousins,
"The one who used to carry you piggyback all day long?" I asked
and she chuckled.
"Yes, the same…"
"Where is he these days?"
"Where is the marriage? Pune?"
"No, here in Chennai. The dates and all are being decided. When mummy came to know about it, she asked papa if was could visit Delhi in November as we'll be struck her in December." She paused.
"Then? Go on and please don't cry!"
"Papa told her that she could go if she wanted to but that he
won't allow me. He said he was sure I'd lie again and meet you!"
she managed to say that.
"Don't worry, I'll come."
"You? How can you come? She asked, stunned.
"I'll explain all that when we talk at night. Bye, love you and don't
She called at eleven-forty. Late as usual. But I don't mind that.
In fact, I sort of like these habits that accompany a typical cute girl.
Coming late. Taking hours to dress up, irritating you and getting irritated at small-small things.
Yes, sometimes when mood is not receptive, these things do get on to you, but mostly you smile inwardly and marvel at the uniqueness and beauty of a girl. Charms unlimited!
It is so lovely to talk into the night with her. We lose all sense of time and surroundings, and become completely lost in each other when, suddenly one of us glances at the watch – it's been rather long, it's been two hour's!
A trifle if you take into account the other long twenty two hours of the day, but absurdly long when you realize it is an STD call.
It is so difficult to hang up.
We have so much to talk about and it seems we have just begun, when the demand watch proves us wrong.
How lovely things pass so quickly and boring things seem eternal, will always remain a puzzle.
So she told me as promised, in detail, about why she was not coming. There was her cousin's marriage and that, too, in Chennai.
These coincidences kill you. You wonder if it is a game going on. How, of all the zillion places, can her brother choose a girl in Chennai?
And just as we were discussing our eventful life, getting sentimental, I told her again, that it is fine, if that's the game, then we have to play it. I'd come to Chennai.
She replied lovingly and crying, "But how will you come?"
"Don't worry, I have many options. I told you about my Industrial tour in December. I can fake it at home and come to Chennai. Then we also have our Inter-IIT meet scheduled at IIT Madras this year. I can try my luck there. Or I can apply for training in some company in Chennai. Or maybe, I can come with my friends. You see, ma'am, for your genius lover there are options unlimited. No worries."
"Please don't lie at your home. If you are caught, there'll be more problems. Right now, only my parents know. What if your parents come to know as well?"
"See, that's a risk that we'll have to take. And, God willing, it'll all
"But, better if you don't have to lie. I don't see how you can
come!" She said, worried.
The more thought of going to Chennai and meeting her had dispelled every bit of droopiness in me.
I was already looking forward to my adventure. My tone was now brimming with exuberance and filmi spirit. I told her as Mr. Shah Rukh Khan,
himself, would tell his heroine: "Nainaa, tum mujhse milna chahti ho ya nahi??"
"Of course, I do. But Raj...tum kaise manage karoge? It is so risky. Agar kuch hogaya toh???"
I repeated, "You want to meet me or not? Sirf HAAN ya NA and nothing else."
"Then, stop crying and stop worrying. I will come, darling. And besides, what is life if it is normal and boring? It must have some adventure, otherwise all thrill and enjoyment will be lost," I said philosophically, "And you know how much I love movies and things that happen in them, so it'll be fun. And, if we pull this through, won't we have nice things to tell our grandchildren?"
"Yes..." she said in a low voice.
"So, when God is giving us such a good chance to lice a movie,
why should we despair?"
"But, how much more filmi can it get?"
"Don't know that, I hope it is normal sometimes too, but yes, right now it is a perfect script for a masala movie."
"Raj...tum...tum itni dur..yaha..chennai aaoge?? just for me?"
" TERE LIYE kuch bhi..janam...kuch bhi !! just anything!"
And we went on talking into the night.
About cute things, silly things, telling each other the love that we had for each other and how much we missed each other, over a million times.
And never once did it sounds stale; each time we felt the same joy hearing it, our souls so lost in each other's. tough times, however unwelcome they might be, how much we may curse them, do one god for sure; they bring us closer.
They remind us all how muchwe need each other and that we are incomplete without each other.
They test our love and it is so beautiful to sail together, hand in hand, enduring storms, and in this effort if we may perish too, our love will live on forever.
Said Naveen: "It is best that you apply for a month long training in some Chennai firm. They excuse you for the Industrial Tour, then. No suspicious."
The green lawns of IIT stretched out I delight. The trees smiled, the birds sang, the tall MS building shone and, our lectures over, we chirruped at the Holistic Food Centre, a cosy mess in IIT.
The month of October is ideal for plotting and planning.
The weather invigorates you thoroughly.
The mind is fresh and a smile adorns your face all day.
In the heart joys abound, and in the mind idea.
You don't have to worry about wiping the sweat off your brow, nor about crossing your arms to counter the winter chill.
You don't have to bother about anything, just lie dormant in the mellow sun, while the mind ponders and does the necessary planning.
The cool breeze brings with itself fresh ideas and the feeble sun is warm enough to ripen them. The breeze this year was sure an intelligent one.
All I had done for you the past two days was stretch out in the sun and let the mind wander and ponder. And now, I discussed the possibilities with two of my friends.
"No way, yaar," I said in response to Naveen, "My dad knows what a sloth I am. I wouldn't train for a day, he knows. One month and that too in Chennai! It will tell him all, 'Who's the gal, son?' he'll straightaway ask me."
Ankur, a sports freak like me, who was listening to it all quietly, suddenly erupted, "What about the Inter-IIT sports meet at Chennai in December? Perfect, man, perfect. No more discussion," he said rubbing his hands excitedly, as is his habit.
"You mean I should tell at home that I have been selected?" I
It pricked my conscience.
I bet some of you will laugh at this sudden discovery.
"Are you not betraying your parent's trust already?" you'd, no doubt, jibe and rub it in. but let me tell you that even the biggest knaves have some scruples.
They all draw a line somewhere innocent women and children.
And Raj Mittal would never hurt his father's pride in him and his achievements.
If I'd tell him that I was playing for the college, he'd hug me and say, "Well done, son."
And those very words would kill me. He has always been so supportive and encouraging. A perfect dad. And to lie to him, who has blind faith in me, pains me no end.
But you do understand, I hope, that meeting my love is not possible without keeping him in the dark. So I have no choice.
But I better lie in a proper manner. Lie morally, you can say.
It is not that bad to lie about what you did on a one-paisa tour; but to lie about winning gold in a marathon is too much. No, sir!
Naveen reiterated, "I still maintain, get a training there."
"I told you, I can't" I said peevishly.
"Fine, you wish," he gave in, irritated.
"See, you don't need to get into all that hassle. You don't want to lie about Inter-IIT, you can't train, then just fake the Industrial Tour," summed up Ankur.
"Yes, I'll bunk the Industrial Tour and instead go to Chennai. That's the best chance I have. Only the risks involved are high. If, by any chance, my parents come to know, I'll be dead," I said.
"But how, man? How? They won't doubt you. And if they don't see
anything fishy, they'll be normal,", Ankur spoke, excited.
He had a point. And I knew it well, too.
Over a life of lying and frauds one comes to know the importance of staying confident and calm.
You can sell a ton of brass as gold if you have the right look on your face.
"The main problem is that if my phone is not reachable and they
cal any one of you, I can be in trouble."
"That we'll manage, yaar. We'll tell him that you are not with us but busy in some factory where your cell is not reachable, and that we'll ask you to call them…"
I felt I was closer to my Naina already.
As Ankur and Naveen fought over my plans, as if it was they who were going, I sat back, withdrawing from the conference and was transported
two thousand kilometers across the country – blue sky, blue sea,
And there I could see Naina, with her hair blowing in the breeze, twenty paces from me in a white dress, angel like, adorned with the slightest of smiles, waiting for me to wrap her in my arms.
"Shhh," said Ankur suddenly, breaking my dream. "There comes
"So?" I asked.
"He is the tour in-charge."
"Who is in charge, brothers?" came a booming voice from behind.
It was Huda a.k.a TANKER– 'The Lord of IIT'. Take note, you all, two critical
characters have just made you acquaintance.
For now though, let us keep aside these men of importance.
The air is magical, the mood romantic, and all that comes to the mind
JANUARY, THIS YEAR
For a long time now, I had wanted to ask her the question.
Again. I had already asked once before. I had preparing myself for days now.
"I have to ask her again," a part of me said to myself, "I cannot let her play with my heart any longer."
But then another voice shouted from inside me, "You moron, it's been only
three months since you last asked the question. Don't be hasty again."
These conflicts are the worst. These voices, they fight like unruly street boxers ad in the end leave you at sea, for no one wins.
But then however much ambivalent you might be, you have to decide on something.
You've got to play the referee and, after twelve good rounds raise one voice's hand, forgive me for being abstract, and slip a garland around its neck.
I decided that I would ask her again. I was nervous as hell.
She messaged me at about one in the noon that she'd call me after she got back home from college, that is, at around three.
I visited the loo an absurd number of times.
That, my readers, elucidates best the kind of effect a girl produces on a boy.
And, in our case, a boy endowed with courage of no small measure.
You must have gathered as much from the facts of the previous chapters.
You must have silently appreciated my guts and said to yourself, "Boy! He is fearless," and now you must be let down by my attitude.
Well, all I can say is: have faith in my audacity. Even the bravest of souls totter sometimes. I bet that Hitler, himself, would have gone weak in his keens, faced with such a daunting task.
Bertram Wooster would have gulped in one of the famous Jeeves potions at a time as stressful as this.
But I had no Jeeves by my side and am not much of an ethanol consumer. Nut the occasion demanded some.
So I went to my refrigerator and took out a two- litre bottle of Coke.
I poured it into one of my father's beer mugs which I sometimes use for cold coffee.
I added some lime and drank my preparation just as Wooster drank Jeeves's to soothe his nerves before any enormous task.
Coke, I am told, has caffeine; so it is bound to calm you down.
It was the closest thing to vodka or rum that was available.
I glanced at the clock after each second. I walked up and down my room nervously, time and again felt a strange sensation in my stomach again and kept visiting the loo.
This went on till three.
I finished the entire bottle of Coke between these visits.
But it did no good.
All this while, memory of the last time kept coming back to me.
What if I get a "No!" again? I comforted myself by arguing that this time around things were better and surer.
But hadn't I thought the same the last time too? Boy! That had been a painful night.
I still remembered vividly the kind of effect it had on me.
It is worth recounting the story to you all.
And I will begin from the beginning this time.
It is high time I told you about myself more, about how my romance started.
JANUARY, THE YEAR BEFORE
January. What a lovely month! The month that brings with itself a fresh year.
The month in which are born new hopes, new joys, new ideas, new expectations, new resolutions, new everything.
The month which is as fresh as the early morning dew.
January. The month that brought her...