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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Love Actually….


‘Who asked you to take the car out on your own? Are you out of your mind?’ shrieked Joy looking at Sirin. 

Tears welled up in her eyes, she felt humiliated to say the least. How could Joy be so insensitive? Sirin had driven the car to Joy’s office to pick him up after work. She had thought that it would be a nice surprise on his Birthday. But his reaction left no doubt in her mind of exactly how surprised Joy was. Sirin was tired of Joy always telling her to do this and not to do that. She felt like an overgrown child with an adopted parent, who was over-protective of her. 

Where had they gone wrong? Was five years too long to stay with someone or was it too short a time to know each other? They were married for five years now. It was a love marriage certainly. Sirin had always felt that they were complete as a couple. Each completed the other. But down the line, something had gone wrong; their relationship had gone from a loving one to a suffocating one. Joy’s idea of caring had taken the turn of suffocating Sirin out of her life. Lost among her thoughts she could hear a faint voice. She slowly came back to the present. Joy was telling her something:

‘I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to shout at you. It’s just that I’m concerned that you may hurt yourself! Come sit in the car I will drive!’ Sirin did as instructed. She looked out of the window at the passing scenery. Maybe she was giving chance to a dead relationship. She certainly needed a break from all this. She could hear Joy say something. But she was not paying attention…. they had drifted apart and she didn’t need a qualified psychiatrist to tell her that. Just a few days back, she had rejected an offer from her office to go for an on-site project for a month. She did not even think about it for once because she could not bear to stay away for Joy for such a long time. But…now…. she felt that she needed to be alone. She needed to be herself again.

‘Let’s drive straight to home…..I don’t think it will be healthy for you and also for me to eat outside today. Remember we had gone out for dinner even last week….’ instructed Joy. Sirin was too tired and emotionally drained to answer. She just nodded in agreement. What was wrong…..why had Joy suddenly become so insensitive towards her. Was he seeing someone else? Was she thinking too much about it? Or was it just a passing phase? It was too much for her now. She needed a break. She prayed that her boss was still ready to consider her interest in the on-site opportunity. Returning home she mailed her boss stating her change of mind.


‘You don’t have to go on an onsite project…. You can’t do that to us?’ shouted Joy to a stubborn Sirin. ‘I don’t have to go but I want to go…’ was all Sirin said. ‘But why….if it is for the money, then….’ pleaded Joy. ‘No it’s not the money….’ added Sirin even before Joy had finished. ‘See… my work is important to me and I need to do it. There are others contesting for this opportunity but I was chosen…so I don’t think I should let go of this’ replied Sirin logically. ‘Fine…if that is all you want…but before that I will have to be in Hyderabad for a week starting day after tomorrow. Since you are not leaving before the end of this month I will be back well within time’. 

That’s it…. wouldn’t Joy fight any longer and plead with her; the discussion was over….?  What was the point in going away if Joy didn’t care at all….! In an attempt to punish Joy she was actually punishing herself. She felt stupid, to say the least. This was a new phenomenon in their relationship. They avoided fights because of lack of time or simply because of fatigue. It seemed that they had burdened each other with so many expectations that they were always tired of carrying the relationship around. Everything had become mechanical. Things were done because they had to be done. Gone were the days when they had spent hours trying to persuade the other person or apologizing for something silly. Likewise the topic of Sirin-leaving-for-an-onsite-project was dropped…dropped for the time being….dropped because they had become fed up of arguing with each other!

The irony of the matter was that, they fought with each other because of a peculiar reason. The main reason why they had got married was the reason why they fought with each other. The reason was that Joy felt, Sirin was a carefree, happy-go-lucky girl; while for Sirin, Joy was the responsible family-man. And now after five years of marriage, Sirin felt that Joy was too responsible and actually very boring, while Joy felt that Sirin was too casual and actually immature and childish. How can people change so soon? The very reason why they had fallen in love with each other had become non-existent. Both of them were aware of the fact that they had once liked these qualities in the other and now hated each other for these qualities itself. 

However, since Sirin always insisted on the rule that ‘Work is work’, she couldn’t ask Joy to stay back and not go to Hyderabad. In that case, he may also ask her to leave her onsite project and stay back. And then, the focus of the matter will shift and she will lose her point to him. She couldn’t let that happen; she would not let Joy steal the emotional limelight from her this time, not in any way. Although irritated, she reluctantly accepted his official trip to Hyderabad. 


What was that noise….Sirin was jolted out of her sleep by some noise. She sat up straight and tried to assess the situation. She was sweating…the fan had stopped…probably a power cut, and the clock in the hall had just struck 12…. And most importantly she was alone…Joy was in Hyderabad for a week. It was too boring…fighting with Joy was much better than this peace…. Whatever new happened in office she itched to tell Joy…but talking over the phone was never the same as talking in person…. She had even contemplated a divorce few days back…..she shuddered to think of that now. Her whole existence was filled with Joy’s presence. She hated herself for loving her adversary…for missing the person who was responsible for all her worries. She felt helpless and sad. Was Joy feeling the same? Maybe… but Sirin did miss him and that was the simple fact….irrespective of the fact whether he missed her or not…

She will have to make this marriage work….and what about her on-site project? She cannot even survive a week, how on Earth will she survive a month without Joy? She was worried as how to handle this. Her ego was too huge to tell Joy that she will not go because she will miss him. Miss Him? Was that at all possible after so many years of being married to each other….. It certainly was… that was what she was feeling at that moment. She realized foolishly that happiness, sadness, anger, confusion and every other thing had a meaning…only when she was with Joy. But she could never let him know that. Not in this life at least! With these thoughts clouding her mind, days became noons, noons became evenings and evenings ended in sleepless nights. The week finally got over leaving Sirin relieved to have Joy back from Hyderabad.


Routine life once again pushed behind all sorts of worries from both their minds: Commuting to work every day, meeting work targets and dealing with weird colleagues, planning the months’ budget while having quick lunches and quicker dinners, while almost never having breakfast became the routine of their lives again. The day when Sirin will have to leave for a month was drawing to a close; even Joy had become very busy with his work. Work had become demanding for both of them and rightly so, they wanted to be busy to avoid any unpleasant confrontation with each other. Joy never discussed the topic of her leaving. He never even pleaded with her to stay. Sirin was certain that he was no longer interested in her. There must be someone or something else that made him uncaring towards her. Time just flew past them and it was almost time for her to leave.

A week before her departure, she was busy packing her bags when Joy announced: ‘I had applied for a month’s sabbatical in office. A month is not possible but given the fact that I have been working so hard for the last month they have agreed to give me a leave for 15 days provided I report from our onsite location’s office after 7 days. So basically we can be together for 15 days and even enjoy a small vacation…..what say?’ It took some time for Sirin to digest the whole information. ‘What..?? Are you serious?’ exclaimed Sirin. With a smirk across his face, Joy just nodded in reply. Sirin jumped up and flanked her arms around him in a huge embrace. This was by far the best news that she had heard in days. There was no ego involved now… life seemed simple. She felt happy and content just holding him. So…that was it….he was trying to buy out his leaves….and that was the reason why he was working so hard….Sirin was relieved that her worries were baseless. Joy stroked her hair and kept her in his embrace.

It took them some time to return to normalcy after the emotional upheaval that had seen a culmination after almost a month. Once back to the present, Joy took note of his surroundings: Sirin’s half-packed bags were scattered all over their bed room.

Looking around, his first question was: ‘Have you checked all the papers? Let me see ….what you were packing…..’ saying so, he started going through her half packed suitcase. 

‘What is all this? Pack some important things instead of six pairs of shoes….’ scolded Joy. Joy was his usual self again, back in his role of her guardian! Sirin smiled at his rebuke and thanked God silently for having Joy in her life!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Life is perfect…


Riya closed her eyes and rested her head on Ryan’s shoulder. This feeling of safety was primal to Riya’s existence. She was unable to think that a day will come when she will not be able to enjoy such moments of solitude with Ryan. Over these few years, he had become an important part of her life: her friend, love and confidante. She could trust him with any secret of her life. He always had solutions to all her problems. No matter how tricky the situation was, Ryan found a way to bail out Riya from it. His suggestions in her work life as well as personal life were objective and practical. Even Ryan depended hugely on Riya. She was his pillar of strength. With each day their relationship had grown manifolds and found a new meaning.

She felt a slight jerk and looked up to see that Ryan was motioning her to keep her head off his shoulder. Lost in her own thoughts, Riya had almost forgotten that they were traveling in a crowded bus instead of Ryan’s car and both of them had huddled together to occupy the only empty seat in the bus. The journey to and from office was the most memorable part of Riya’s day. This was for the simple reason that she could be with Ryan and share all her happiness and worries with him. All her worries actually, turned to happiness when she was with him. Wherever they went she met a few envying gazes from women around them. Needless to say, she felt very proud to be with him.

‘By the way…why were you shouting at your team members today?’ inquired Ryan, breaking into her stream of thoughts. ‘When…? Oh..Yes…even you would have done the same had you been in my position’ defended Riya.
‘Why? What happened?’ questioned Ryan. ‘You know about that big client delivery that we have on the 20th….? Regarding that, my efficient team members had gone ahead and sought Subho Sir’s advice…even without telling me anything. Naturally….Subho Sir was irritated. He called me in his cabin and asked me to improve my relations with the team. Just imagine….. How big an insult that is to me?’ fumed Riya.

‘And…. you think…the solution to all this is shouting at your team? I don’t think it will help in any way. Just cool your temper for once…and think…. Do you actually give time in building communication within your team? Your team members may find you hard to approach…..maybe that is the reason why they went ahead to met Subho Sir! Why don’t you sit with them tomorrow first thing in the morning and ask them their issues…. What say?’ advised Ryan.

Ryan did have a point. Being busy with the client delivery she did neglect the issues plaguing her team members. Riya thought that maybe she was a little too hard on them. Actually she was stressed and angry at the same time for being called by Subho Sir. Thus, she conveniently vented her anger on her team.

‘Well…I think you are right! I don’t know what happens to me when I get angry…. I will talk to them tomorrow’ said Riya smiling. Saying it, made her feel relaxed. What would she do without Ryan….? She could not even think. He was just the radar of her life’s ship; the savior in her distress. Her thoughts were broken by the incessant ringing of Ryan’s phone. Ryan picked up the phone and cupped his hands over the speaker to avoid any disturbance. Riya looked out of the window to wait for his call to end.

‘So…what are you doing tomorrow? Can we go for shopping?’ asked Riya trying to change the serious atmosphere. ‘Shopping....? let’s see…You know that I cannot stay out of home for a long time after office. If you can manage to leave office a little early then maybe we can plan something..’ suggested Ryan. Riya beamed with joy, such rare moments were always to be cherished to the utmost. She entwined her fingers in his and whispered in his ears, ‘Thank you for being so understanding…..I love you so much’. Ryan smiled in agreement and added ‘I love you too….’ For Riya, the moment lasted for an eternity and everything else seemed to fade into oblivion! He slowly untangled his fingers from hers and motioned her to move and give way. His stop was coming next. She woke up from her reverie and smiled. As he approached the door she waved him goodbye. Riya’s stop was next. As soon as Ryan got off the bus, she also got up from her seat to walk towards the door. For as long as she could, she craned her neck to stare at Ryan’s fading silhouette in the darkness outside.

Ryan walked the ten minutes path leading to his home thinking about Riya and smiled to himself. He pressed the calling bell and waited patiently. The door opened and Sunaina flashed him a hearty smile. ‘Hey…how was your day?’ asked Sunaina enthusiastically. Entering, Ryan gave her a huge smile and added: ‘Just office…you know…you tell me what you did the whole day? And where is our little princess? Did she complete her homework?’
‘Oh…Yes…she has been a good girl all day. But she is fast asleep now’ replied Sunaina, obviously proud of her four year old.

Ryan went straight to his daughter’s room and carefully opened the door, conscious not to make any noise. He kissed the forehead of his sleeping child. She was in a sound sleep. He left the room silently to go back to his room. He then freshened up and sat down to dinner opposite his wife of 7 years. Dinner was the only time when he caught up with Sunaina, and talked about everything, especially, about their daughter. Their daughter was in school now and quite a bright child too. Life was just perfect for this family!


Riya walked herself home almost dragging to take every step; all the time thinking about Ryan and sometimes about her parents too. At times, she was worried about her parents, who were busy finding a groom for her. The way they were looking, it will not be long before they find someone appropriate. She was worried that this was also taking a toll on their health. They were always stressed about not finding the right guy. She smiled thinking about their concern for her and thought how lucky she was to have such wonderful parents. Her mother opened the door with a volley of questions.

‘How will I ever explain to the groom’s family that their would-be daughter-in-law has to return at midnight from office? I don’t know how will you manage when you get married? Not everyone will be as adjusting as Ma and Papa. Are you listening to me?’ shouted her mother. Riya flung her arms around her mother to stop her lecture. ‘Ma…enough…I’m tired already…give me something to eat please…’ pleaded Riya. Her mother softened instantly and set out to get the table ready for dinner. Riya freshened up and sat down to eat, all the time fidgeting with her phone.

‘Leave the phone alone and concentrate on your food!’ instructed her mother. Like a school girl, she grimaced at her mother mockingly, but obliged. Her father joined them on the dinner table.
‘How was your day, beta?’ asked her father. She smiled and replied with a nod, signifying that it was 'OK'. Mr. Awasthi was quite proud of his only child and discussing her office at dinner had become a routine for the past few years.

She was about to turn, to tell her father something about her office, when the screen of her phone lit up with the words: ‘Boss calling…’
Riya stopped to smile, picked up the phone and walked away from the dining table.

‘Hello…Ryan...? Calling so soon…..?? Is she asleep already…?’ she asked in a hushed tone.