April 08, 2011

that one day!!

june 5th 2009:
Ajay was coming to india after 8 years now.and yet it seemed like decades.
The United States of America had almost succeeded in detaching him from his very own country..the country which was home and yet dint feel like it.
The only reason for his visit to india was now reduced to his mom, who despite of much convincing refused to come to the US with him............................and her!

"oyeee phirrrrrrrannnng..." he could still hear her voice booming in his ears.he looked around, his eyes still searching for her hoping she'd emerge somewhere from the crowd, like she always did.
but today, there was no one at the airport..or rather there was no one who mattered.
signaling to the man in the white uniform with the placard bearing his name on it, he got into the coolcab.
"shivaji park" he mumbled to the cab driver as his mind raced back to how she used to always bargain with the cabbie everytime, how she would think that all they wanted was to loot them of their money after they got to know that he was 'foreign return' and how they would almost always end up having the better part of the deal with the cab guy agreeing to every word she said outta sheer frustration.
he smiled to himself--she had always been great at arguments. she always won the ones with him, leaving him speechless most of the times.
sometimes he won, but that was only because she was in the mood to let him.

the driver noticed him smiling and asked "kisi ki yaad aa rahi hain saabji?"
he had always been amazed by the casual frankness taxi drivers seemed to show..he was a man of a few words--someone who would come across to many as 'arrogant'..and yet!
he mumbled something which seemed like a "aage dekhkar chalao" and the driver who seemed to get a hint that he might just lose his tip if he tries and get friendly, shut up for the rest of the drive.

"any news from her, ma?" was the first question he asked when he reached home.
it had almost been customary now..that was the first question he had been asking his mom since the last 8 years now, every single time, be it on phone or email.
the answer was always the same---"nothing"

"beta, isnt it time that you settled down in life.even i have dreams of playing with my grandchildren and you know that anjali...." her voice trailed off as she realised that anuj was still not ready to give marriage a thought.
"mom, i know....i promise to speak to anjali when she calls.you know her dont u? she is just angry.please all im asking is for a little patience from your side."

anjali never broke promises.She had said she would return.she had told him not to give up on her.and he had promised her he would not.
may 17th 2001:
"i have to go anju"
"but you know i cant live without you..cant i come?? cant you think of some way, phirang..please"
"i wish you could.but its your visa issues that need to be sorted first.but dont worry.once that is done, we are just one plane ride away"
"couldn't we have gotten married? that way i could come with you now isn't it?"
"yes dear.but you know this was so short a notice.and marriage is a lifetime commitment.dont you want us to celebrate our commitment in style rather than make it a reason for some petty visa issue?"
she knew he was right.but she couldn't help wishing she could go with him right then.
"cmon anju.this will just take a few days and before you know it you will be there with me..cmon arnt you going to give your phirang a smile now?"
and she would smile.he always made her smile when he said that-more because she knew how much he hated her calling him that.
it was true that ajay always wanted to go settle in the US but calling him a 'phirang' was unacceptable..his loyalties still lied with his motherland, afterall.
In fact that was one major reason he wanted to get married when in india..although they had been engaged for 8 months now, he never was an ardent follower of traditions anyway.

"ok happy journey and see you soon, phirang" she managed a misty eyed grin as he got up from his seat and headed towards the security checking.
"that's the spirit, my crazy girl" he said hugging her tight as they bid each other goodbye.

6th september 2001:
my dear phirang,
im reaching on the 12th 5.00pm US timing.i tried to contact you on your cell.but you dint answer.i guess it is because you are angry that i cant make it on time for our engagement anniversary.
but im reaching just three days late sweetheart.we can celebrate it when i reach there..i promise to make it up to you.
had it not been for the urgent meeting, i would reach there right on time.
neverthless i am still trying.but boss man seems in no mood to celebrate any engagement anniversaries nor let anyone celebrate them.

May his hair wig fall off at the next board meeting..hmpf!!

your and only yours,

P.S: you have not been answering my calls since the last 2 days now.and i am very very sad because i cant hear my phirang's sexy voice :(

8th sept 2001

my dear phirang,

Is everything alright?? are you so angry with me that you wont even answer my call?
i tried around a zillion times..
First you did not answer and now your cell phone is switched off.Rohit told me you are busy in a 3 day long meeting.
please find the time & call me.
My tickets are confirmed..at last!!
I cant wait to be in your arms..miss you terribly :(

I visited mom today..she told me to take your favorite jam along.
sorry i ate half already..heehee

just two more days and im THERE!!

love you,
yours & only yours

10th sept 2001

Mr murphy loves me..i missed out on your call.was talking to your mom.somehow the half eaten jam bottle was discovered and i was trying hard to come up with a good excuse.
You might feel happy to know that i am a laughing stock of your family now..officially!! :-|

please do check the voice messags i have left for you..leaving for the airport.
perhaps some strong power up there wants us to meet straight in Manhattan.the sweet pain of separation is overrated i tell you..anything but sweet.

i cant wait to smother you with kisses.
love you my dear phirang

yours & only yours,

That had been her last email to him..
11th sept 2001..no news from anju.
instead all that reached was the news of the 9/11 attack--an airplane had crashed into the world trade center and toppled over the twin towers killing thousands of innocent people.
The plane had reduced into flames and news reports said that there were no survivors.

Ajay kept listening to the voice on his answering machine over and over again
"u haven't called me, phirang..itne busy ho ki apni anju ke liye time nahi?
I have emailed you a hundred times."
"am in the plane now.18 hours and reachinggggggg.i love you, phirang"

He kept replaying the messages over and over again, hoping there would be some clue that her flight had been delayed..perhaps she had reached the airport late & had missed that flight..perhaps she had felt bad for some passenger losing his ticket & had exchanged hers for a later flight..perhaps she had lost her boarding pass while in the restroom & had missed the flight.

perhaps....perhaps....afterall that did happen in movies didn't it?

he hoped against hope for any of the above possibilities to have happened..he kept trying to reach her cell phone & every time he heard the 'switched off' message, his heart sank a little more.

Just then his phone rang.

it was her mom.she was crying hysterically.
& then it was all a blur...

"aunty, i need to hang up..anju will be calling any minute now..and this time she wont spare me if i don't answer" he hurriedly clicked off the call..

since then, he had been waiting...

since then, he had never failed to answer any call, no matter how caught up he was...

since then, he had buried a deep part of his life in his work, memories with anju...
anju who still lived with him...anju who was just angry for he hadn't answered his calls...anju who would never leave his side...
anju who he would meet someday soon...
anju who never broke promises...

His mom left the room, brushing off a tear from her cheek.

ajay closed his eyes and played the recorded voice message once again.

"i love you, phirang" her soothing voice swept him into a distant land of dreams, just like always.

...and life continued...


The Xeno said...

wow! i loved the way you presented it... as always!
i also liked the last line "swept him into a distant land of dreams, just like always..."

Anonymous said...

a haunting love story..beautifully written!!

triloki nagpal said...

Beautifully written - sounds a bit sad though. Is it a true story (or just fiction)?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Awwwwwww :(
Very well written! Very different from the 9/11 sagas which we are familiar with.
This one is sadly beautiful!

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Nostalgic yet again. :)
Beautifully crafted story, mixed with real facts that brought more emotion to it that was communicated to me, nostalgia.

Blasphemous Aesthete

Gunjan said...

I had shivers by the end of this story.. what more to say..


Abhi said...

b'ful..reminded me the movie "remember me"

IncorrigibleV said...

this made me cry yaar... beautifully written...
as always!

wildflower said...

The last line is the worst part..moving story.

Pri said...

@ the xeno
thankyou :)
sometimes, dreams are the only way some stories can complete themseles.

Pri said...

@ anonymous

Pri said...

@ tn
i hope noone has to undergo the pain of such a reality.
at the same time, im quite aware that the 9/11 terror (and its likes) has left behind more pain than one can ever encapsulate in fiction..

we can only pray that we live to see safer times!!

Pri said...

@ akanksha
thanks..this was written in memory of all those who lost their loved ones in the 9/11 attack
something someone said to me, a couple of days ago, triggered off memories of that dreadful event and found its way through this writeup.

Pri said...

@ Blasphemous Aesthete
thankyou..im glad you think i did justice to the post :)

Pri said...

@ gunjan
thankyou and apologies for the bitter end to the story..
decided to keep things real..the 9/11 attack really shook the world & come what may, just cannot be thought independant of pain, even in fiction

Pri said...

@ abhi
thanks..is the movie about the 9/11 attack too??

Pri said...

@ vandita
thanks dear...long time :)

Pri said...

@ wildflower
nice to see u around here :)

Renu said...

what a beautiful love story..I wish you could bring Anju to life..