My Lovely Readers,
Your act of following me is my strength. A writer can write without caring whether he is read or not. But he/she can’t continue without being read. Your support and your feedbacks mean a lot me and have become my driving force.
On the eve of my birthday, presenting you for the first time, one of my fictional work as a part of June 1-30 Challenge. A short story. Hope you will like it.
Write a story with eight legs (octopus, two cats, four people, etc).
Or turn the eight sideways and use “infinity” as your prompt.
Channel of Love
Vedant was sitting in the balcony of his shared apartment. He had just landed in Baroda from Houston a week ago. He was an art history graduate. After passing out, he wanted to go into writing about cultural art. And thus he started from India. The art journal ‘Lalitya’ was the perfect start for him.
He was whatsapping with his cousin and best friend Aakash. Their mothers were sisters. In their childhood, they had spent a lot of time together and bonded well with each other. It continued later on, becoming stronger as the years passed. Though they lived on different continents, the distance never mattered to them.
Aakash: So, how’r things?
Vedant: Hey bro! Whats up? Things? Everything’s so strange here!
Aakash: It has to be. That’s wht u r here for.
Vedant: What do you mean?
Aakash: India is always strange for NRIs! And you are here to get trained.
Vedant: Huh… I’m fed up of dis all.
Aakash: You’ll settle down. Don’t worry.
Vedant: Let’s hope…
A few days later…
Vedant: Hey bro!
Vedant: We are going to some kind of fun fair!
Aakash: A fun fair? Lol
Vedant: I’m serious! It’s my first assignment!
Aakash: Where exactly it is?
Vedant: Some charnetarr…
Aakash: Oh Taranetar
Vedant: yeah that one.
Aakash: it’s a folk festival. You’ll see amazing things.
Vedant: So said my colleagues. I’m all excited about it.
Aakash: Finally it seems that you are enjoying it.
Vedant: Yeah. May be.
Another few days passed…
Aakash: So, How’s ‘Tarnetar no Melo’ going?
Vedant: No words. Catch u later.
And few more days…
Vedant: Hey Bro!
Vedant: Man…it was amazing. Haven’t seen anything like this!
Aakash: How could you? You got to come out of your place it for seeing such amazing things.
Vedant: Just working upon the captions…
Aakash: Carry on. C u later.
Some more days…
Aakash: How did your assignment come out?
Vedant: Almost well. There are three of us whose photos are selected. They’re in the press.
Aakash: Why don’t you seem to be happy about it?
Vedant: I don’t know.
Aakash: Has anything happened? Or did someone not behaved well with you?
Vedant: Not exactly like that.
Vedant: All said it was very well done but one.
Vedant: Our editor.
Aakash: Take it easy dude! Happens. You can’t please everyone.
After almost ten days…
Aakash: Hmm…remembered me after a while yeah?
Vedant: Was busy.
Aakash: Okay.. So, what’s it?
Vedant: Tell me straightaway, why women are so strange?
Aakash: If only I knew the answer..
Vedant: But still..
Aakash: What happened?
Vedant: My editor.
Aakash: Again? What did she do now?
Vedant: Oh, she doesn’t do anything. That’s the problem.
Aakash: What do you mean?
Vedant: Oh! She’s like a machine.
Aakash: Your editor? A machine? No wonder. Some working women are like that.
Vedant: I think she is not even a human. She’s just a machine.
Vedant: well..at times I have to go and talk with her about the editing of my work, which she handles. She talks without any emotion. I mean some are strict, some are polite, some are friendly. But she is none. Her voice is always flat. She doesn’t greet when we meet. Keeps the talk restricted to work. If she thinks something is good for the journal, she’ll say it will do and if she thinks otherwise, she’ll say it will not. Nothing more. And her face? It’s always expressionless.
Vedant: gtg. Ttu l8r.
Aakash: Hey bro! Saw your article! We are all so proud of u!
Aakash: So? When’s the celebration?
Vedant: Will come to your place tonight. Then we’ll decide.
The two of them finally sat in Aakash’ room at midnight. It was a mini celebration with family. Aakash was observing Vedant for a long time. After a while he finally asked what bothered him.
‘Ved, I think something is worrying you.’
‘Please don’t keep it to yourself. You know you can share it with me. Don’t you?’
‘Of course I know.’
‘Oh then speak it out!’
‘It’s the same person.’
‘Now what’s up with her?’
‘She is a mystery.’
Aakash only raised his brows.
‘You know what?’ Vedant waited for a while and continued. ‘She is not what I thought her to be. I thought that she is a hard hearted person. But the day before yesterday I saw her teaching clay modelling to under privileged children. And she was so kind with them. She was speaking so lovingly, so softly with them. She was almost playing with them, making them smile and giggle.’
‘Wow.’ Aakash could say no more.
‘But she’s the same cold person with us.’
After a while they drifted to sleep.
Vedant’s curiosity took better of him and he continued his search for the mysteries behind his editor. He looked into the archives of ‘Lalitya’ and read all the articles written by her. The time she was a trainee, then a freelance writer and a full-time journalist. In each of them, he found a new aspect of her. She had narrated each of the event, artifact or subject not only aesthetically but also emotionally. It was as if she had put more than words into them. Without a doubt the picture of her from her writings was far different from how she actually seemed at present. Vedant started becoming quieter when he was with her. Whenever she’d be reviewing the writings, Vedant would see her getting engrossed into it. After while when she’d turn and look at him, he’d still be inanimate. It was then that she asked him, ‘I hope you are alright. You seem to be very silent these days.’
It was just a sentence, but it touched him deeply. And unknowingly it planted the seed of love inside him. It grew day by day as he’d see her, listen to her and try to understand her. She was the same indifferent person. Keeping her talk to two statements, ‘it would do’ and ‘it would not.’ Her voice and her eyes had the same coldness with which she’s deal with everyone and yet he started searching something soft that was beyond it.
One fine day, when Vedant could restrict himself no more, he did what was in his mind since days. They were supervising preparations of an upcoming event. The entrance was being decorated by Rangoli artists. Breeze was pleasing. They were standing in a corner. And it all eased Vedant so much that he gathered all the courage he had and asked her, ‘can we be friends?’
She looked at him as indifferently as she had when they had met for the first time. And spoke, ‘such rubbish will not do.’
Aakash was trying to contact Vedant for almost a week. But neither did Vedant pick up the phone nor did he respond any of the text messages. So finally Aakash decided to catch Ved at his office.
Aakash had parked his car and was walking towards the building when he saw Richa. His steps froze. He was seeing her after years. She was looking as charming as before. Even more beautiful, as if her beauty had matured with time. She hadn’t seen him yet. She was reading something that was in her hands while walking towards the parking.
Aakash could still not move. For those moments he became a person who was seeing Richa for the last time after ending their relation. He felt helpless at that time. Having a huge load of ambitions and nothing at hand to support them. He wanted to be free to peruse his aims. He did not want to be bound with anything or anyone.
Richa pleaded in vain. She promised that she’d never ask him to support her, never force him to do anything and so on. The only thing she wanted was his presence in her life. But it made no sense to him. He was determined to end it. And he did. For the last time Richa looked into his eyes. Her eyes were wet. Her expressions were so innocent that it became all the harder for him to see her. Her eyes were asking him question of which he had no answer. She looked at him as if he’d still change his mind. But he did not. He never contacted her. Never answered her calls or messages. He disappeared from her world.
And here she was, so confidently walking as if she had conquered the world. The expressions on her face were firm. Only thing that he found missing was the smile that lingered on her face all the time. As Richa came closer to the row of cars, she stopped and looked up. There he was standing. She looked at him and then looked away. She went on, opened her car, sat down and drove away.
It was no doubt shocking for him. But what could he expect after ending it all so bitterly. However he had more important things to deal with. He went inside the main building and asked for Vedant. Ved came to the foyer to meet him. Aakash relaxed seeing him alright physically. It was something deeper. But being men, none of them regarded those feelings.
‘You are coming with me right now.’ Aakash ordered Ved.
Vedant could not argue this time. He had no energy left for it. Probably this was something he needed. He went to his table, collected his things and returned to join Aakash in few minutes. Aakash drove him to highway. He parked his car in a lonely spot and both the brothers came out. Aakash stepped near Ved and asked, ‘what is it?’
Ved hugged him like a falling man.
Aakash patted him for some time.
‘I’m in love with her, bro.’
Ved didn’t answer.
Silence continued. But Ved nodded this time.
‘Oh man! Who the hell is she?’
‘Richa.’ Came a mellowed voice from Ved.
Two brothers were once again sitting in Aakash’ balcony. Ved was blabbering like a drunken man. And Aakash was listening to him quietly. The day had brought too many things to him to digest at once.
‘Dude… I have seen many girls…many….but none like her. She…oh…she….’ Ved was crying like a child.
Aakash didn’t stop him.
‘And she doesn’t care a bit. She’s heartless….heartless…. I loved her…. And she? She says that its rubbish….rubbish? Do you think love could be rubbish?’
Aakash had no answer.
‘Oh man….i’m going to die…. Do u hear me? I…am….going…to die…. And tell her that i died for her… But I doubt if that will make any difference to her. She’ll say, this will not do. Ha ha ha….’ And then again Ved cried.
It was hurting Aakash beyond anything. He could not see his dear brother in such a state. And he knew that though the initial shock will wane tomorrow the pain will last longer in his heart. And he could not do anything for him. He thought of himself in the control of a lot of things. He ran a successful business. 2000 people worked under him. They acted on his orders day and night. And yet he was helpless.
Aakash was interviewing candidates for his public relation manager for western countries. He was looking for someone who had visited many places and knew people and their customs well.
Stacy seemed to be a perfect fit for it. She had visited 20 countries in past 10 years, spoke 8-9 languages and knew the people well.
‘So what took you to take such intense travelling?’ Aakash was curious.
‘Travelling is my passion, Mr Aakash’ Stacy was bold and confident.
‘But didn’t you ever feel like coming home?’
‘I don’t have a home.’
‘I don’t understand it.’
‘I grew up an as orphan. My mother died when I was two. As there seemed no other family, I was taken to an orphanage where I spent my childhood. Ever since I turned sixteen, I started signing up for exchange programs and thus my travelling began.’
Aakash found Stacy’s story very interesting. He wanted to hear more of it. He told her to tell him about her visits to different countries. And she continued.
After all the formalities, the job was given to Stacy. That night Aaksha wondered what brought her to India.
After a few weeks, Aakash got that chance of asking her the question that was nudging him for days. They were sitting on the sitting area of his office and having a strong cup of coffee.
‘What brought you to India?’
‘Because this is the country of someone I love.’ When she spoke this, her voice was almost a whisper.
‘I see. So, you’ve come with him?’
To this question, Stacy laughed. ‘I had met him three years ago. We didn’t meet again after that.’
This seemed unusual.
‘So? Where is he?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘And still you are here?’
‘I still love him.’
‘Did he know that?’
‘Obviously yes. I had told him so.’
Stacy laughed again. But this laughter had something hidden behind it.
‘Oh sorry. I’m asking personal questions. I should not.’
‘Nothing is personal now, Mr Aakash. He said that there is no place in his life for love.’
Aaksha was seeing something of past replaying for the second time.
‘And yet you love him?’
‘I can’t help it.’
‘Yes, even today.’
‘Because it’s my choice. Not being loved was his choice. But loving him is my choice. And i’ll keep loving him, until I’ll channelize all my love for him to this world’
‘Wait..he turned you down. And yet you don’t hate him. And more so, you are looking forward to love the world? The world?’
‘Mr Aakash, you’ll never understand the hunger of love of an orphan. I’m hungry to love and be loved. Because I’ve got no one.’
‘You gotta feel this man! You gotta feel this.’ Stacy poured herself another cup of coffee from the kettle and made herself more comfortable on the couch.
‘My dad left my mom when she was pregnant with me. My mom left me when I was two. She did not want to survive. Not even for her two year old baby. And I did have a grandfather when my mom died, but he too left me at the orphanage. At orphanage, you know how it is. So, all my life people have kept on abandoning me. I belong to nowhere.’
Aakash felt that he’ll choke from the emotions he was suppressing.
‘But on one Christmas, I was invited by a kind lady I had meet at a park to be her guest for a month. In a month, I felt love of an entire lifetime. I realised what it is to be wanted. She would feed me good meals, force me to eat more, tell me stories of her life, watch TV with me, allowed me to try dresses of her younger days, listened to my stories of the visits I had just started making. In her, I got everything. For all her life she had invited orphans to her place and had spent time helping people in need. I was just one of those people. When it was time to leave, I clung to her and cried. She told me to pass on the love we shared for each other.’ Stacy’s voice was so soft. She was lost in her memories. ‘That Christmas changed my life Mr Aakash. It gave me a purpose of life.’
‘But what has this to do with the person you love?’
‘It has everything to do with my life and he is a part of my life now.’
‘I accompanied him on his trip to Latin American countries. He wanted to document the culture there. And since I knew it well, I was hired by him. I was mesmerised with his ways. His manly charm, his dedication and his sensitivity that reflected in his every deed. While we were at the end of our trip, I expressed my feelings. I was so heartbroken by his reply that I did not return to the US with him. I wandered for days on the streets, in the woods and in the darker corners of those towns. Nobody was waiting for me. Nobody cared if I was dead or alive. So why worry?’
Aakash never knew that a refusal can break people this badly.
‘What happened then?’
‘And then came Christmas. I had lost the track of time. But the city was lighted and I realised that it was Christmas, the time I remembered my beloved old lady whom I fondly call granny. She had passed away by then. But I remembered what she had told me. Now, it was up to me to decide which chain to continue. The chain of love or the chain of hatred and refusal. And I chose love.’
Aakash was numb.
‘I could have chosen to be heartless like the person whom i loved or I could choose to love people selflessly like my granny. I chose the latter. And spent that Christmas in an old age home in Argentina. I returned to the US as a changed person in the new year and carried on with my life. But with a purpose.’ With that, she put down her cup and looked at Aakash.
‘Is that person still hard hearted?’
‘I don’t have any idea about him.’
‘What was his name?’
Stacy remained quiet for a while. Then she looked beyond the glass wall, closed her eyes, took a deep breath and like remembering something sacred, she whispered,