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Fortuitous happenings

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August 19th 2014  |  0  |  Category: Drama , Other , Romantic Love  |  Author: Mandira  |  1024 views

I
“So did I tell you about Uncle Chinoy? One day, he comes to my mother and says – Karuna, I think I met the one. So my Mom says – what do you mean – met ‘the one’. And he goes, Well I just feel, I have to spend time with her. She just er – seems right for me. And then – just like that – he divorces his wife. 15 years of togetherness, 3 children. And now – he’s married to the other one for more than 10 years now. Very happy man indeed.”, Jai said.

Jai has been a friend of many years. Was my best man at my wedding.

“So who knows where you might meet your ONE. Or WHEN. Life doesn’t come with a set of instructions does it?”, he adds.

“But what about infidelity”, I ask.

“What about it? Presume Uncle Chinoy had not divorced his wife – but still thought of the “ONE”, would his wife be really happy? More importantly – while he’s still thinking of her, is he really being faithful.”

Anyway – after much debate on what was right, what must be, and what could have been, we parted ways. I went around, touching many locations, all the time staying – somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Then I saw an arrow which said – The temple of Sophie. What the heck – why not. And so I walked down the narrow pathway and entered the temple.

II

Was a small room, marble floored, wooden walls and a thatched red-tiled roof. From the ceiling hung a mounted light fitting, with 5 lamps, all dimly lit. I was drawn to the pattern in the center of the room. A white and black collage of a lotus. I went and sat at the center of the lotus and closed my eyes. Visions flashed.

I see myself with my wife Megha. My companion of 10 years. I met her while at work. She was a rookie and looked up to me as if I was some kind of a hero. I loved the way she listened to me talk to her about poetry and love, philosophy and life. I didn’t realize that with time, chinks appear in the best of armors. Her dark brown eyes, that I found so beautiful and rapt with attention, now just seemed dull and vacuous.

Then there was Sume. My meeting with her was pure chance. Had it not been for an off at work, I wouldn’t have gone to the museum. Had the museum not had a show then on Picaso, I wouldn’t have spent that much time there. Had I not stood there in front of Pitcher and Bowls, I would not have run into her. She’d said, “scratch the surface, and its surreal”. Had she read my mind? I always wondered if she was psychic. Oh! The magic her words weaved – not that I understood all she said, but she’d got my attention alright. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, her words, her thoughts, how her brain worked.

Megha’s listlessness – did it have to be a cross for me to bear? Sume’s talent, – could that not intoxicate me forever?

It should be easy right? I mean – lets face it – I don’t seem to like anything about Megha. But these 10 years, you cant just undo them with one moment can you? Can you un-remember everything you experienced? I know the way she looks when she wakes up, the way she ties her hair, the way she croons Pritha to sleep. I cant just wish that all away. A day without her in the house, and I picture her by the window lazily looking at the flowers as she waters them. There is comfort in pathetic predictability!

I was immersed in these thoughts – saying I was torn asunder would be quite dramatic though. Yet, I don’t quite know when, I found myself lying down on the marble floor with a strange apparition looking down at me. She had punk violet hair – short bobbed, and was wearing a Tshirt – with Jeans. Her TShirt simply said – Sophie. Well – that was certainly not what I expected. Something more mellow.

“Yeah! I am not the image people usually expect as an apparition. But then I am no deity either” – she said. She seemed to have read my thoughts.

I didn’t quite know how to respond to her words, or to her appearance. All I said was – “Am I dreaming?”

“Maybe you are. Maybe you are not. Who’s to know? Anyway, does it matter?”, she said

“Well, when you hear the thoughts inside your own head, you wonder if you are crazy. And then you see something like you – you stop wondering. Well, it would certainly be preferable if it’s a dream”

“Always scared of things you don’t know – aren’t you?”, she seemed to be mocking.

“So why are you here?”, I asked. Eager to change topic. I didn’t want a bill arriving from Apparition Sophie for helping me fight the demons in my head!

“The question is why are you here”, Sophie countered.

“Cant you see? The quicksand I am in – the fork I am at? The world seems to be closing and no one understands. Well – Jai does. But what does he know – he’s divorced twice.”, I blurt.

What’s happening to me? I am not normally this incoherent.

“Well that’s because you don’t know what you want”, Sophie said. Did she just read my mind again? Well – so what if she did.

“And you seem to be slowly getting the hang of things”, Sophie was smiling.

“Hang of things? I let things hang out to dry and it rained. I let things just hang, and they simmer and burn. I let things hang, and the rope breaks.”

“Oh! Enough with your metaphors! They don’t even make sense”, Sophie said dismissively, gave her hand to pull me up, and walked to the far end of the room, gliding. Sensuous. She turned back quickly and said “Did you just check me out?”, she asked.

“Well, habit!”, I said and smiled.

“Hmm. Honest? I like that in people. Of course – not completely. You haven’t really told Sume how you feel about Megha and you haven’t told Megha how you feel about Sume.”. She tapped me sharply on my forehead and said “Are you playing both of them to feed your ego? One as a master, One as a dame?”

“One for the little boy who lives down the lane”, I added.

“So the little boy – is that you?” she asked.

“Well right now – I don’t quite know whats what. You are my fairy god mother – showing the little boy the way”

“Presumptuous too? Isnt it supposed to be the other way around? I should be a fairy god mother to Sume or Megha”

“Well equal opportunities and all that.”

“You do make a case. Most of my cases are females. Torn between love and life. You would say – why should life and love be contrary. Well it is – women seem to put their life on hold for what they think is love. And then there are women who are torn between spouse and child; Between their father and their man; Between their looks and their selves. Men are a lot rare. They would rather pick a bottle than pick me up.”

“But then a bottle is a good pick-me-up too”

Sophie chuckled. “Okay! I take your case. So this is how it works?”

III

Sophie looked straight into my eyes – kind of hypnotic – and said, “There is that ONE moment of intensity around which all our feelings revolve. We begin to get too attached to that one moment, giving it so much weight, that all our beliefs, our feelings, our responses are influenced by it. Even in your case – it is THAT one moment – in each case that defines how you feel right now. I will grant you the wish to de-intensify ONE of those moments and all feelings that surround it will change. So what will it be?”

“How do you mean that ONE moment? It is not a moment, it is a lifetime. And at times a no of things that get together”

Sophie smiled. I could hear indulgence in her voice. I didn’t for a moment like it. Used to as I was to be the one to show the kindness to the mortal beings who lacked the understanding.

“That moment when the world moves so slowly that you hear the wind, and where it goes. You can hear your bones move and your muscles flex. Your each thought gets chronicled into your mind for your lifetime. Just close your eyes and focus your mind.”

So I closed my eyes. Sume. Her friends were his friends. Her family seemed like family. Her voice, enticing, took him back to the moment when she had closed his eyes and taken him to her room. Her voice so sensual, had said his name “Prateek! Open your eyes”. And what stared at him, took his breath away. It seemed to bring back a purpose, love back into his life. It was like all the seasons, in all the years, and all the pain and suffering – the good, the bad, had led him to this one single moment. The moment that shone like a diamond!

“Yeah! Yeah! Enough with the metaphors now – get to the point. What is it you saw”, Sophie said impatiently.

“How can I focus, if you interrupt?”

So she lay down – as much as it was possible for an apparition to lie down – on her side, her hand resting her head wearing a bored expression.

“Continue… moments that ‘shone like diamond’. Though I must say, I am surprised at your use of this metaphor. Are you sure you don’t you mean stars?”

“Well stars are nothing but a mass of gases – burning.”

“Oh! So your moment is the hardest thing on this earth that was pressurised into something bright with time”, Sophie jeered. Sensing my annoyance at her wisecracks, she chortled and made a gesture of sealing her lips.

I closed my eyes again and am in Sume’s room. On top of the bookshelf lay that painting – the only painting I had sold about a decade back. On its right bottom corner was written PS. I looked at her quizzically. She had just passed college then, and she said the face had spoken to her. She had said, ‘I look across the room, I see it, and I know everything will be alright.’ She said it gave her hope. But that was not all. Below the painting, lay a book. Dog-eared. First print of my favourite author’s first published novel – The white peacock. For me, Sume was the embodiment of that one moment – the emotional snapshot of which I carried with me everywhere I went.

“Hmm! Interesting and fortuitous! You might as well roam around hunting for a yellow umbrella and the book of poems of Pablo Neruda”, Sophie remarked again.

Reference to popular culture and that too ‘How I met your mother’, did startle me. I smiled. “But what about all the things that are similar about us?”, all the time wondering which cable provider worked for people(?) like Sophie. Well thoughts for another day!

“Oh! So you want to be in a relationship with yourself? Two people that think like one, two minds that operate as one – sounds kinda boring”, Sophie said. “But hey! Your choice. Not Sophie’s choice. Not judging – just saying. Any other moments of intensity? What about Megha?”

I closed my eyes again. Her world was completely different from mine. If I liked impressionists, she liked fantasies. If I believed in all that I saw – she traveled to worlds beyond and said simple stories of magical beings. Her family was never mine. Her friends were not my friends. But she was comfort. Like the comfort of a 4 o clock siren in the neighbourhood, that disturbed your sleep, but makes you feel the world is right. That the world is the same. Predictable! But then there was this moment. It was like that sun around which everything seemed to revolve after that day.

“Oh! So now your moment is like a burning ball of gases”, Sophie remarked.

“Will you stop getting inside my head?”

Sophie laughed and made the gesture of zipping her lips once again.

I went to the dark place again – where the intensity of the moment blinded everything. That moment when all that I had felt for Megha to that day had come to a naught! There I stood opening my most vulnerable and most guarded self to her, and all I had got in response was Megha’s callousness. What I had expected was a spiritual connection from the exchange – but what I got was disconnect, a disengagement.

“Oh! So you wanted her to hold you in her arms, pat your back, and say – there! There!?”, Sophie said.

“Well! “, I was tongue tied. “I didn’t really expect her to say she was hungry and walk off”

“But you did say she was from a different world. Didn’t you? That she goes into the unworldly world and play with fantastical beings.”

“Well yeah…”

“So lets go back a little more – to the moment you really liked her”

I thought of how she pushed back her head and laughed; the simplicity of her story, of everyday life interwoven with a fantastic tale. The day they went out for the first time. Its like everything was in slow motion. The bells from the machine that churned the sugarcane juice, the blaring horns of the cars, the whirrs of the buses, the yelling of the roadside salesman, and her slipping her hand in mine. I had looked at her and smiled. She had simply said – When the world doesn’t conspire to make that perfect moment, you can make the world take notice, and the world stops. That moment as I looked into her lovely brown eyes, the world actually stopped. I couldn’t hear the bells, the horns, the whirrs, the yells! The beauty of her belief was – she believed it, and I believed it too. It brought a certain romance to the mundane. She saw beauty in things that were ordinary. She could make ordinary extraordinary.

But that was then. It was ages since she had been that way. Don’t quite remember when.

I could feel a warm glow over me. I opened my eyes to see Sophie hovering above me.

“What now?”, I snapped.

“Well – on one hand, its chance, on the other a decision. But lets go back to the dark moment of blinding light. What really happened?”

Before Megha, there was someone else. I had known her for 5 years, and was married to her for 2 months. Our marriage ended with her death. Suffering from depression, she had taken her own life. Closed in the suitcase, were those 5 years few months, in books, letters, photographs, clothes and some small leftovers – a ticket stub; a chocolate wrapper; a couple of train tickets; and a lot of such nick-nacks. Tears had come rolling down my eyes as a lifetime of memories enveloped me. And all she had said was – “I am hungry. You want to eat something?” I felt betrayed. The ultimate form of betrayal – that of not-caring, specially, from the person you love. From then on, all moments were shrouded by this one moment. Every time, she came close, I could only see her face making a grimace, saying she was hungry.

“Did it occur to you – it could be painful for her too, to look at the open suitcase? That it existed physically and spiritually shrouding that which was her world.”, Sophie interrupted. Again! “Sounds like you measure her response, with your expectations?”

“But with her, I have the sense of an ending”. I said.

“Well then end it. Why are you here?”, Sophie asks.

“I cant wish away the years and moments. What if I am wrong about my choice?”, I ask.

“Well you certainly could be. You wouldn’t know would you? Or you could adopt a sophist approach and say – ah well! What happened was for the best”, Sophie says.

“Three lives. Cant be decided by a whim.” I think aloud.

“Of course you can. You did go looking for the yellow umbrella and finding deeper meaning off of what was just a book of poems”, Sophie says. “If you cant wish away the years spent with Megha, neither can you wish away the feeling of deep disappointment you seem to have nurtured over the years”.

“Nurture?”, I said angrily.

“Yes. Of course. Nurture. You chose to nurture the moment of what you presume callousness, and buried the moment of oneness in spite of being yin and yan. You chose to nurture a moment of connect when you saw your painting on her wall, and ignored the fact that she knows you are married.”

I cant change the way I feel about her. I didn’t ask for this complication. It happened. And now I just find Megha wanting. Not intelligent enough. Not talented enough. I see myself judging again.

Sophie opened her mouth to speak – but as I looked at her and smiled, she smiled too.

And in that moment of extreme clarity I knew which moment I wanted to de-intensify.

 

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