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Writers Corner: Books, Stories & Poems
Writers Corner: Books, Stories & Poems

Story: The Gift

Wanderbug IF-Dazzler
Wanderbug
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Joined: 21 September 2010
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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 2:54pm | IP Logged

 The Gift

He looked up straining his neck above the edge of the cubicle, as the new guy in the PLM team gave his small speech to welcome the new members in the team and invited everyone for a bite signaling at the snacks. Hridaan's stomach rumbled reminding him that he had again forgotten his breakfast and then skipped lunch. Three cups of coffee had made up his caffeine and sugar quotient of the day but body needed some carbs and proteins, too. He was about to push back his chair and get up when his Prime Manager from onsite pinged him for urgent chat about the hot patch Code he had delivered last night.

 By the time he typed 'bye' and hit enter most of the delivery center had had their share of snacks. His teammate Suraj came to him, "oye Hridaan! Go dude! At least get one of the wraps. They are too good to be missed."

Hridaan grinned and made his way to the refreshment table. Picking up a plate he took some wafer chips and walked towards the wraps. There was only one left. He smiled inside as his stomach rumbled again and was about reach for it when another delicate hand reached for it at the same time. He looked up to find a girl looking very uncomfortable and fidgeting with a chip looking up at him apologetically. He smiled and directed her to go ahead and picked up a glass of pepsi and a chunk of the leftover cake icing. He thought of getting something to eat at canteen but he needed to go over the code review of the new trainee developer. So he made do with chips and cream and pepsi.

 

And that was just another day in the life of Hridaan Roy, project manager for Jaguar motors engine project in Excelx IT solutions also called EIS. He was not a workaholic by choice but he had his work which overpowered every other aspect of his life. He had joined the EIS when it had handful of employees and had strove with his colleagues to bring is up to its one of the top positions now. He had seen two recessions by now and had welded one of the top grossing projects to keep the company afloat. He lived alone in Pune while his parents lived a retired life in Kolkata. Many times his parents would pressurize him to get a transfer to Kolkata and for him to get married. But he would demure and avoid the topic. He was 37 and felt too old to marry now. And when he had wanted to marry, then the person he had felt he loved had thought they were not ready.

 

Nandini was his college mate and a few years his senior but he had never thought that it was a problem. He loved her and respected her. But in those days he was just starting out on his career that too with a small paycheck in a small company. Nandini on the other hand was working for the big sharks and was doing much better. When he had proposed she had freaked. After avoiding his calls for a week she had come to him crying that she didn't want to lose him but she felt that neither of them was ready for marriage as she was being offered a support lead position onsite in Detroit. But she had thought it through and come up with better idea. They can move in together. It was no big deal. This way they get to have a closer look at things with none of the disadvantages of the marriage. He had agreed because he still believed that she was the one. His mother had been horrified and dad had stopped talking to him for months. And her parents! For her parents he was lower than the sewer scum as they thought he had defiled their daughter and was using her. She had gone onsite in few months, saying it was just for few days and it would get them quite a nest egg. Months stretched to year and then somehow in spite of staying in touch by various virtual sources they had drifted apart. He had sensed her unease and coldness first and offered the way out and she had grabbed it. Only thing he had asked of her had been that she gives up her share of deposit on the flat they had rented. After many arguments she had agreed on a loan till he could pay her back. That was around a decade ago. Now Nandini was married with a kid settled in Maryland and still in touch through Facebook and Gtalk.

 

His life had been the same for many years. The whole glamour of IT life and high paying job- The partying, boozing, late night movies and outings had burned its course in few years and now. Now days, he didn't feel like going out once he reached his flat after work. But then at home he had nothing to do. His maid cooked and cleaned and he was not that fond of television. So he stayed back late in office and worked. Not because he wanted to but because there was nothing else.

 

His life was just his small 8*8 cubicle, his PC and blackberry. He always had two packed suitcases. Always ready to fly off to wriggle a project for the company. One set goes for dry cleaning and other is picked up.

His only passion was the movies. He watched any movie with a good review, language never being the issue with subtitles. More than the movie the technique of filming intrigued him. Hridaan had long ago stopped feeling that anything was missing from his life. People called him 'The Monk'.

*****************************************************************************

Vishwesh, the group leader for general motors and jaguar engines was skeptical. Vishwesh-Hridaan, you really think it will be a good idea to give fresher a chance for this module. It's the basic code designing. If she made a mistake we will be in a huge fix. I mean she is barely a trainee.

Hridaan pushed his spectacles further up his nose and smiled looking at his laptop-I really don't know. But cost of hiring and training a lateral would be more. The client is not billing enough. I talked to her lead. He has good reviews for her. I think she can manage with offshore support and a bit onsite help. Aporva is there. He will guide her.

Vishwesh-whats her name again? Hridaan hesitated a second and picked up the resume again- Ritika Tiwari, B.E.Computer science, COEP.

Vishwesh-fine! Inform her lead to start the visa process. Are you off to Germany tomorrow? Hridaan squinted at the screen and typed his comments on the sheet he was working on- Hmm..no..on Saturday. Vishu, I think I have the document ready for your review. Here goes….

********************************************************************************

One year later.

Hridaan was sitting in his new cabin going through the mails sorting them by sender names and deleting old mails. A frown creased his face as he saw a name on an unopened mail. He tried to place the name to a face but came up blank. Perplexed he opened.

 

Sir,

Thank you for giving me an opportunity of lifetime. I will never let you down. I promise.

Regards,

Ritika

 

Hridaan typed in the name to get the profile of the sender and stared at the picture. Nope couldn't place her. Then he saw the projects lined in her CV and remembered. She was the trainee he had recommended. Actually the planner software had recommended. He had just typed in the basic requirements in the candidate and her resume had been shortlisted. He had made general queries and found her capable. He had done it before in his last ten years many times but none had bothered to thank him for it. IT world never thanked you for anything least of all for the opportunities. Here what you get you claim it as your due. But this girl had thanked him. He reread that email again. An innocence was evident, a rookie's confidence about rosy going, a fresher's fresh view of the world. He smiled. One year must have been enough to bring down the scales from her eyes. The thought made him sad. Something about those three lines tugged at him.

 

He sat there looking at the picture on the profile. It was passport size shot with her looking at the camera unsmiling. A fair face with dark eyes under thin brow with a wide nose and full lower lip. She had a plumpness about her that was evident on her cheeks. A wholesome quality, he thought.

 

During a lunch he meet Subodh. They had handled many projects together. Hridaan remembered that subodh had also been ritika's mentor and project lead then. Hridaan- err, subodh..do you remember that girl you trained. Ritu something..yeah,ritika? What's the news on her? You in touch?

Subodh looked up surprised- didn't you hear? Hridaan asked forking up his pasta- what? She resigned a few weeks ago. Hridaan stopped with the fork midway to his mouth- she swapped? Where to? Subodh shook his head- no, she left job 'cause of the rehabilitation. Hridaan looked at him confused- I don't understand. What rehabilitation?

 

Subodh looked at him in wonder- where have you been, dude? Don't you read papers or surf the news? Forget that don't you hear what's going around you except about the deal? Hridaan- I don't pay attention to office..err..talks during breakout areas.

Subodh sighed- it's a sad thing. She came back from onsite three months ago to get engaged to the guy her parents had found. The week after the engagement the couple was driving back from movie and they were hit by another car running on the wrong lane. It was one way and this merc just drove in high speed and crashed into them. It was a doctor's daughter who went overboard with her birthday present apparently. This girl had hit a rickshaw puller and two cycles and had lost control and taken a wrong turn and was in between the one way from other side. She hit Ritika's car on the passenger side. And needless to say who the passenger was. The girl was unharmed due to the excellent accident proo tech of merc, so was the fianc. But ritika…she wasn't so lucky. Went through the glass and…

 

Hridaaan had a catch in his throat- and? Subodh- the  left leg was shattered. Poor thing, barely twenty-four.

 

**************************************************************************************

He hesitated at the reception and gripped the white lilies tightly. He debated again about taking this step. It was not necessary and she probably wouldn't remember him. It was too out of the blue. The receptionist looked up at him, her fingers poised over the keyboard to type his name in visitors' records- Sir? Your name please?

 

Hridaan- actually! It's not necessary. Can you please make sure she gets these? Tell her an old colleague droped them by. She nodded and took the bouquet signaling a ward-boy to take them. Hridaan followed the man with his eyes. He turned to leave and stopped hesitating a moment. He pushed the spectacles up the bridge of his nose- can you please tell me how she is? I mean, I..I don't know..is she rehabilitating well?

The receptionist gave him a glare- sorry sir, we are not at the liberty to divulge any patients' personal details. A policy. Hope you understand. Hridaan nodded and left.

 

Next day, at the same time in the evening the ward boy was dispatched with another bouquet of daisies. And then the day after that. And the day after that one!

***************************************************************************************

"She said she liked mogra. They smell nice. " the receptionist told him before he could leave. He stopped on the tracks. "And she is doing better now. Moving around a bit! Her psychiatrist said she had progressed to the second chapter of the book in one month. It's good news. It means she is concentrating on other things now."

Hridaan was surprised but looked away when he caught the tender understanding smile on the receptionists face. He nodded and left.

 

As he drove back to his empty flat in Baner, he thought about what the woman had said. This had gone far enough he told himself. A month now! A whole month, thirty days! It was absurd beyond belief that he got out of the office just the extra bit before six and rushed to make it before the visiting hours got over at the center. He would buy the flowers he was allergic too and hand them over at the counter. Why he bought those damn flowers he couldn't explain! Every time he would by those daisies and when he got home his nose will get red and twitchy. And it turned out she didn't even like daisies. 'Just tells you how little you know of her, doesn't it?' he reprimanded himself, 'Enough of the craziness! What are you, a stalker or something?' He pressed a frustrated hand to his lips as he stopped at the signal waiting for green, "I need a shrink!" He said out loud.

 

A kid was moving between the cars like eel in waves holding a wicker basket filled with ropes of mogra holding the garlands up for perusal. Hridaan told himself he just wanted to ask the going price of the thing. Maybe buy a strand for the picture of his mother in his hall. Dad would like that. He called over the kid and found himself asking him if they would stay fresh till next evening in a cold place.

*************************************************************************************

 

Hridaan handed over the steaming cup to Subodh-  So how is the lateral for the Cadilac bank project working up? That guy you hired, is he doing good? Subodh made a frustrated sound, "damn his eye, man! These bums I tell you. The experience is only on papers and not here." He pointed at his head. "Any day give me a fresher and I can train them, look at Om, Sanjana and even ritika. I am so missing her right now! She would have been perfect for this project, you know! She had a flair at client handling too. What a waste!" Hridaan had been wanting such an opening for days now and jumped right in,"Oh yeah! Ritika. So what's the news there? She doing good now?" Subodh shook his head," I don't know. Not heard from her or her family since last month."

Hridaan nodded,"who all are there in her family?" Subodh face creased in thoughts,"I think her parents and two..no…yeah…two elder sisters. Married, I think." Hridaan sipped his coffee,"and that fianc. I understand from our last chat that he was not injured much, right?" Subodh grimaced,"that lucky dog got off with just few superficial cuts and all. Even the girl in other car was not badly hurt. Only victim was our ritika, poor kid! You know, Hridaan, our society and government and law and everything is complete F**ked up. That girl just got off scot free. And that jerk broke off the engagement too. Talk about rotten luck and love lost."

 Hridaan was startled,"That Son of a!" He stopped when he saw the incredulous look on his friend's face. Hridaan controlled himself,"I mean, I feel bad for her. He broke off? Left her at a time like this?" Subodh nodded,"right after she opened her eyes after the accident. I heard from shweta. They were close. I mean shweta and ritika. Shweta said that she was so much in shock she barely registered when he gave her the news in front of everyone. She just told Shweta later that she was sorry she let down someone at the office as she won't be able to see the project to its completion anymore. Silly girl,huh?"

 

Hridaan  took off his spectacles and pressed his eyes shaking his head,"Silly girl."

****************************************************************************************

Hridaan handed over the long strand of mogra  and turned to leave when he was stopped with a call.

"Sir?" The receptionist gave him a sunny smile."She wants to meet you sir. She specially requested. Please, sir." Hridaan clutched his laptop bag strap tightly,"errr..no..I mean, I can't I have to go."

She insited again,"please sir, just few minutes. Actually she had been planning and arranging it for a week now. She had not been this enthusiastic about anything till now. It's a huge step. If you disappoint her now, it can be a major setback in her progress. Please!"

 Hridaan hesitated,"actually, I don't think it would be a good idea. She doesn't really know me. I mean maybe she is expecting someone else. And you know..it's not a good idea!"

The receptionist smiled,"as a matter of fact she does know you, I think! She did say you might not agree. So gave me this message. She said to tell you to not let her down like she did you."

 

Hridaan looked at her with shocked eyes,"She..she said that? She told you that exact words." The receptionist nodded,"verbatim! Sir, please!"

**************************************************************************************

He walked behind the ward boy across the long corridor. It looked like a old hostel building with doors with numbers on both sides. Some  of them where left open and he could see the hollow eyed look in the eyes of the people inside. 'She was here!' he asked himself,'Why? Why couldn't her parents keep her with them? She shouldn't be alone amongst strangers. She should not have been here. She should have not been in that car that day.'

 "saab, ye walla door hai." the boy nodded at the door. Room 236. Hridaan stopped at the closed door and looked at the wooden panel like it held some divine answers. His hands fisted in nervousness, his hold tightening on the bag. The boy looked at him curiously,"Main knock kar doon,Saab?"

 

  Hridaan pushed the spectacle over the bridge of his nose and shook his head. He breathed in deeply and knocked on the door.

"Please come in!" A soft velvety voice called to him.

He breathed deeply and pushed the door stepping inside with a fast beating heart and clammy hands. He looked at the girl sitting with her face turned a little away to a side looking out at the window. She looked at him with sideways.  Hridaan cleared his throat,"I am Hridaan Roy. I work as GL in EIS.. I just.. " She smiled"How are you sir? I know you. please have a seat,na?"

Hridaan approached the chair she indicated and looked intently at the changes in her face. It had shrunken a little with her plumpness gone but her high cheekbones now gave her an elegant Grecian air. She noticed him watching her and turned her face to reveal an angry scar that ran across her left eyebrow cutting it vertically and reaching down her cheeks.

"Quite piratical ,huh?" she pointed at it with a thin finger.

Hridaan smiled,"Your kidding you look like war hero. Very neat as we boys used to say." She smiled,"doctors said it can be taken care of by some cosmetic surgery. But I feel I have had enough surgeries to last me in this life."

He tilted his head to a side and narrowed his eyes,"You know, it just needs some more time to heal. Once that sutures are dry properly. It'll be ok. I think your skin is a little too tender and takes long time to fix up." She grimaced,"Tell me about it! Even a prick of needle during blood donation camps used to leave a ugly hole on my skin. This will take ages. But then at least it will heal unlike certain other injuries!"

 

He felt like touching her hand but held himself back. He looked at the bowl of water where she had placed the strands of mogras. He looked them as he spoke,"you know, your taste in flowers is very good. Daisies where a pain to bring! They give me tickly nose."

 

She laughed,"you know, when you do that you eyes go small and you have deep crow feet in their corners?" He raised his eyes, "That's because I am old. And when I do what?" She shook her head, "that thing you do about pushing your specs in place! And you are not that old, just to worked out." She went quite for a moment a blush coloring her cheeks. He found it hard to take his eyes off her. She said haltingly after a moment to break the uneasy silence,"Why did you bring the daisies if it gave you those tickly nose? Why did you suffer that discomfort?"

 He smiled looking down at his bag and looked up again,"I don't know. Somehow daisies..well, I don't know. Somehow I felt that daisies suited you. Pure, honest, innocent, kind! So you!"

 

She looked at him startled and blinked away. He could feel the pooling of water in her eyes and felt dismayed. Hurriedly he groped for a topic to turn away the conversation. He asked the one question that he had wanted to ask her," you had known it was me?" She nodded.

 "When did you guess it was me?" he asked. She smiled that mysterious smile,"The first day you sent flowers."

"How?"

"Somehow! I can't say how. It was something that just ticked my mind..but…but I was too preoccupied to notice at first. I thought it was just one day thing. But you kept coming. Flowers kept coming."

"I….couldn't help it. I couldn't stop myself from turning towards this place in the evening."

"At least it made the monk come out of office before six everyday!"

"It's too high a price to make me come out of office. Why did you call me up today? That receptionist said you were arranging and planning this meeting for a week."

She smiled,"well, ever since we met or were associated, you have been giving me something or the other. The last wrap in the office party, the opportunity to see a new place and work in new exciting project. The flowers, the hope. "

 

Hridaan looked at her astonished,"Last wrap! You?" He had a flash of her little delicate hands reaching for that wrap and he could remember her face now. She nodded and smiled tremulously,"I thought I should give you something in return. So I made some arrangements." She pushed herself up from the chair reaching for the crutches leaning across the chair. He got up to support her but she shook her head. He stood near just in case she needed him but folded his hands behind. She reached the side table and fidgeted for a minute. Then he heard a match being struck and she moved aside waving him over.

He walked over and stared at the thing on the table to stunned and overwhelmed to speak. Even he had forgotten what day it was. It had been long since anyone had bothered to remember this day anyways.

She handed him a plastic knife," I thought I could at least treat you with a cake and wish you happy birthday. "

 

He blew the candle making a silent wish as a lone teardrop fell on his name on the icing.

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kiran255 IF-Dazzler
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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 3:05pm | IP Logged
Oh Shilpita !

This is beautiful !
so real , so pure and so heart wrenching !
I have tears in my eyes and i dont know why i have them !

Because of not the pain they go through but what is their life abt 
and how one day , one email change a man;s life and he after that change girls life !

I love the title , The gift ,
tuhfa and they are actually gifts to eachother ,
gift from fate ,
one helped her to get to where she is and give her the hope ,
make her to wait adn look for every day , 
whats coming next !

OH Shilpi 
the way u sometimes makes us stand in front of reality is so harsh 
though u see from Hridan pov , he was living a life ,(n their are alot of man like Hridhaan we see and comment , k lagta hai sare umar kamata he rahe ga , never we try to get in , see whats in thier heart )
he thinks he is ok with the life he is living
but one email changes all, he thinks whatever he does some one somewhere valued it !

and here girl who writes an email 
how much time would have taken 2 mins 3 max 5 
her one email has given her the thing she never hoped of 

IF those flowers didnt come , im sure she wouldnt be out of trauma so easliy !
but the flowers makes all the differnce

This is beautiful SHilpi !
somewhere i find u in it 
but i pray sincerely pray !
U get all what ever u wish for , u get to the highest position , but never u forget u have ur own life 
n their are alot of ppl who love u !

Silpi its an eye opener !

Shilpi i dont know how u come up with these stories but u know how to make ur reader dumbfold !
im just shocked , how at such a young age , u can see things which are unseen !
you are gem ,
your writing is  magic ,

I wish adn pray that Inshallah very soon , i will  have a book in my hands written BY SHilpita R :D

and i can tell that to all my family and friends,

i know this writer , im in the fortunate ones who read whatever she writes !
Beautiful shilpi beautiful !

and yeah one thing first  was looking for D in the story :but then realized u wrote on ur own and believe me shilpi 
ek character we know is easy to set in eys but the way u write 
i got no problem in visualizing !

Great work !




Edited by kiran255 - 07 May 2011 at 3:34pm

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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 3:12pm | IP Logged
ResSmile
 
Edited :
Beautiful ,simple yet pure story.Thumbs Up
I have no idea how the IT sector functions,but whatever u described is enough for me to understand how difficult it must be for people working in such cut-throat world & sitting for more than 10hrs. everyday in small cubicles.Ouch
 
 
I felt for him especially what happened between him & Nandini.Till date in india ,people cann't accept a girl elder than a boy.I do have a cousin bhabhi who is 3 yrs. elder than my bro. but,they are happily married for more than 15yrs. Smile,but,i still remember how initially both of their families reacted.Ouch
 
 
Hridaan's life was so monotonius,& to certain extent boring .but just that one e-mail changed everything.
They both are so different from each other & yet just one e-mail connected them.The best part was he had not even recommanded her own his own,but rather thru some software.
There are very few people like Ritika who never forget the person helping them in their intial stage of career & here i am not talking about just IT sector,but in every field.People always tend to forget once they grow big or gain higher position in their profession.
 
He felt angry towards her fiance,without even knowing her properly.He also took daisies for her everyday without even realising why he is doing all this.
May be Ritika's e-mail just awaken the Hridaan who once was full of life ,who had dreams of his happy life.
 
The best was despite his allergies,he continued his routine.Even the receptionist finally changed her attitude towards him.
 
Their talk was so innocent & yet it never felt as if they had never spoken with each other earlier.
The surprise for me was she always knew that it was him.Its like her heart sensed his persence thru those flowers.She planned for his birthday.That single drop of tear just made me emotionalCry.
Hridaan in his life always craved for such small happiness & finally he found it in the form of Ritika.
They both were indeed GIFT for each other.
 
This story touched my heart.This story really makes u think hard that is it really necessary to run after achieving goals,reaching higher position in career,making money at the cost of ur small dreams & happiness.
Actually something like this might have happened with many career oriented people.
 
 
Thanks a lot for such a wonderful story.Clap


Edited by preety_219 - 10 May 2011 at 7:40am

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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 4:19pm | IP Logged
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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 4:30pm | IP Logged
OMG.. very honest, sincere, refreshing, fresh like a dew drop! extraordinary!
 
he was so caught up in work as he had nothing else to look forward to and she had everything in life, but still never forgot the way she came up! such a beautiful story..it did not feel like a story at all for me...it was like a few days out of someone's diary..
 
he never realised what he was giving her with that opportunity.. it was just another cv.. anotehr day at work for him and he gave her tht opportunity which changed her life.. but she never forgot and wanted to make him proud..its wonderful when young people dont forget the way they have come up in life..just that one mail brought him a smile.. as no one remembers to look back let alone thank you esp in IT!
 
he is so upset when he hears about the accident..i absolutely hate it how even this day even though things are changing, in India we can still get away with murder if u have money and power.. tht is just sorely unjust..poor girl's entire life was changed in a second and she is left all alone.. so glad he finally got out of that rut of a life he was living almost like a zombie and started getting her the flowers.. I love daisies too for same reasons u mentioned..bless him in spite if his terrible allergy, he still got them.. it's heart warming how even the receptionist's attitude changed within a few days as she realised he was just a great positive inflence on the patient,.
 
But what really touched me was the way she always knew froim day one that it was 'him'.. even though in the initial days with all her pain and sadness she did not want to acknowledge it as she was in too much pain.. slowly his persistence pays off and she comes out of that shell.. beautiful.. how without a word, without a glance, he brings a smile to her face and gets her back on track.. and wow, she had a cake ready for him.. truly marvelous. two lost souls becoming one!
i thoroughly enjoyed it Shilpi.. Great work.. and the name is awesome too!!

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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 11:22pm | IP Logged
This is amazing piece of work Shipita.

You know it made me remember the first big break I got at work, yeah same IT tech stuff. I was nothing and in 3 month I was something killing even seniors with my reviews. That one thing that someone do for you makes you feel out of this world specially when you never expected it coming your way. The person, my manager who gave me the break made me a self learner, not relying on others.

People in 8 x 8 usually forget to live when they hit it hard, and when you sit in a corner to think where you are, what you have earned and what you've lost at times you want to go back and repaint it.

There are less people who can feel such gifts in this fast paced life. We judge everyone with their obvious and hardly gives the average Joe a chance to amaze you.

Yaar, it was touchy and you painted it well for average readers like me.

Thanks for the PM

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Posted: 07 May 2011 at 11:29pm | IP Logged

@ Shilpi

 
I have no words , speechless . U brought tears to my eyes , But I love u for that .
Becoz u gave us this beautiful story .
 
Some time ago , a chain mail  caught my attention .
A chain email of a young girl disfigured in an accident by a druken teen .
Though living a life of woman without  a face , I think love has kept her alive .
 
In your story I think its love , faith and hope , that kept Ritika Alife
She did not want to let down the faith someone had in her and While someone infused hope in her ...
 
Love an unspoken feeling bonded them , without a name to the relationship .
But such relationship do not need name ... They just do not
 
I have IT friends ... and know what u mean by " MONK " ... Wink  I agree with u on that
 
Thx once again
 
Love
priya


Edited by scorpio10 - 08 May 2011 at 7:12am

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Posted: 08 May 2011 at 12:25am | IP Logged
Hi Shilpi - i'm loving this story already.  You have described each and every emotion so well.  I was looking forward to the characters of Dutta and Naku again - but the new names are fresh.  Although i still associate these names to their faces.
 
Looking forward to the next update - don't let us wait too long!!!

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