On a Sunday afternoon in scorching heat Dev was hitting the ball fiercely to the fence as he played cricket with the boys in the Government Colony. His eyes constantly were searching for that face which had kept him awake all night. But there was no trace of her anywhere.
Another Day was over and he had been unable to reunite with the sole purpose of his life.
He felt the vacuum and without her he felt incomplete.
Disheartened at not finding her, he stood at the bus stop opposite the government colony.
A Bus stopped with a screeching sound. Heavens broke loose and he rubbed his eyes in astonishment when he saw her on the window seat of that bus lost in her own thoughts. Before he could react, the bus moved ahead .He ran as fast as he could parallel to the moving bus, gesturing to her, waving hands but she continued to be adrift in her dream world and suddenly the bus took a steep turn in the opposite direction making him lose his balance.
He fell flat on his face into a huge muddy puddle of water and coal tar on a road construction site which blackened his face completely. Overjoyed by seeing her, He sat in the puddle and recollected the images of his dream girl . She had looked gorgeous lost in her own world, the most attractive thing he recollected was her lips which wore a peculiar pink lipstick and her hanging ear rings which made her look more impeccably attractive .He started laughing like an insane man and with tremendous energy started splashing the puddle with his hands. Soon he recovered from his pleasant shock of seeing her and realized that people had been looking suspiciously at him. Extremely embarrassed he walked back to the Bus stop,
He rang the door bell of his Paying guest accommodation where he lived with his best friend Ajay.
Ajay failed to recognize him and banged the door on his face. Incidentally, ajay had just seen a horror movie where a black faced chudial knocks the door and then digs her claws into people’s stomachs. It was a popular low budget horror film ably titled ” Pyaase Nakhoon “( Thirsty Finger Nails) . Ajay looked again through the peep hole of the door and all he could see was a Man with a blackened face who looked agonizingly scary.
Petrified that the horror film was coming true at his doorstep, Ajay stuffed his ears with cotton and covered himself with a blanket and went off to sleep.
Poor Dev had to jump into the balcony of his flat through a neighbour’s window.
As soon as he got in, Ajay’s natural ability to stand straight was made impossible for a few days by a visibly upset dev who trashed him black and blue.
Venturing again near the government colony on a Saturday morning, he saw her dressed in a flowery print formal black shirt and trousers. This time he ran up to her and blocked her path.
She laughed and said “Why are you following me?” Before he could stammer n blabber a few words.
She said “you are very attractive, please go away. I cannot afford to be distracted” and looked at him seductively.
He muttered ” But ”
She made her eyes big, held him by his shoulder and walked closer to him, animatedly blinked her eyes and said ” Senior Prabhakar will never agree, Junior Prabhakar will break your bones and Paglu Prabhakar “. She paused and her big eyes grew wider and her lips pouted ” he might kill you in angst ” she said and knocked twice on his head ” Think before you follow me again, its risky” she whispered.
Puzzled and shocked dev froze in that moment with his mouth wide open
“Had she complimented on him being attractive ?”
“Was it a green signal or a red signal?”
“Why are women so complicated?” , Were some questions that ran in his head.
She was warning him about the consequences but her playfulness and humorous style of saying these things were extremely positive and inviting.
He was again shamelessly bending over to keep seeing her as she walked away. She turned around suddenly burst into laughter looking at a nervous dev and said ” Shreya Prabhakar 2nd floor, Block B” and winked at him.
He had understood that probably girls are like that, they never directly say what they want, they play a game of guesses, hits and misses. They play a game of gestures, understandings and misunderstandings.
He analyzed all night if she wanted to see him or not. Lost in echoes of her laughter he remembered how beautiful she had looked when she widened her eyes and then blinked them animatedly on purpose and the way she turned around suddenly and laughed at him, angrily he kicked a snoring Ajay who interrupted the mystic dreamy romance in his imaginations.
At 9.00 am on a sunday morning Shreya’s mom woke her up and said ” A boy has come, he says he is your friend ” Shreya rushed out from her room to see Dev sipping tea sitting with Senior Prabhakar, her dad.
Shreya walked up to them and Mr.Abhijeet Prabhakar asked in a stern voice “Who is he”.
“I met him when I was stuck in the floods” she immediately responded with low confidence flaring her nose as a smiling dev raised the cup of tea he was holding gesturing cheers to her.
“I saved his life” she said continuing the cute expression with the flared nose.
“So ” said Senior Prabhakar angrily
A moment of pin-drop silence followed and finding her short of answers ” I came to say Thank you ” retorted Dev in style
“Say “Said Senior Prabhakar continuing with his monosyllables.
Dev looked at his beautiful inspiration and said “Thank you”
She smiled at him and their gaze was stuck at each other for a while.
It may have been stuck till eternity had Senior prabhakar not intervened
Senior Prabhakar then growled with a sentence this time “Gulp down your tea and leave”
Dev looked surpised with the sudden extreme rudeness and he responded by gulping down the entire half cup of tea remaining in one shot.
Senior prabhakar continued “Do not be seen near the radius of this colony, it’s a warning, ”
A dreadfully broken-hearted dev walked down two floors like a warrior who had lost his battle and looked up at the balcony of her house,
A Smiling Shreya stood there staring at him and she blew at him a flying kiss.
Maybe it works that way, he thought .You test the person by the ability to take the maximum risks to be with you. Dev was the first one who had attempted to come and sit with Senior prabhakar and have tea. Things looked promising and he felt that she was impressed by his bravery.
On Monday morning he stood outside her office gate eating cherries with the gate keeper
Surprised to see him She Said “I am impressed, Now you are really behind me”
Going down on his knees, holding a rose he said ” I Love you”.
It stopped many bystanders, she stood silent for a few seconds and said cheerfully “I cannot help it, if you are hell-bent to spoil your happy life ” and took the rose smelled it and walked away merrily.
It led to a beautiful relationship and they were inseparable, they spoke to each other almost throughout the day. Dev picked her up in the morning and dropped her to her office, in the evenings he went all the way to drop her home even though he lived in a completely opposite direction. Their mornings started with each other’s thought smiling to glory and they spent sleepless nights struggling to distract themselves from each other’s memories.
On Sunday’s he would be seen only in the government colony. He made a new friend Paglu Prabhakar. He was Shreya’s autistic younger brother. Shreya and her mom lovingly called the members of their house as Senior Prabhakar, Junior Prabhakar and Paglu Prabhakar.
Paglu played carrom with small kids aged between 8 to 10 yrs old, His Physical age was 20 but his mental age was in sync with those children. Dev spent lots of time with Paglu, he taught him to play chess. Paglu played chess by his rules. The King, Queen, the knights, the bishops, the rooks and the pawns worked their way anywhere on the chess board as per his mood and usually Paglu played the maximum moves with his king.
For Dev It was the apt time to interrogate paglu and get to know more about shreya when he was lost in planning his next move very seriously. Dev even hooked him to some picture books, Paglu was devoloping positively under his wing. He started reading the news paper and he would discuss the current affairs with his newly found friend Dev.
Dev and Shreya had shed all inhibitions, they used to hold hands and even hug in public. They were passionately in love with each other.
Ajay was kicked out of the paying guest accommodation and sent to watch horror movies whenever they needed some privacy. Dev actually stood in queues to buy the tickets of a films like ” Saraktey Guttar Mein Khisakti Laash” ( A Sliding dead body in a Flowing Gutter) to forced ajay to be away for as long as he could.
On One Such Day, At Dev’s Residence as they looked into each other’s eyes passionately
Shreya asked “What was it that made you fall for me?”
Dev replied innocently “i really do not know, it just happened”
Shreya asked flirtatiously “What do you find the most attractive about me?”
A Tempted Dev found this coquette behavior irresistible. He replied nervously ” May be, Your Lips”
That was an intense moment, time froze. Shreya felt Goose bumps; even Dev felt butterflies in his stomach
Dev’s vigorous stare had magnetic appeal. Shreya was blushing red and anticipating dev to kiss her.
As they moved closer, their breaths grew heavier .They were totally in a different world lost in each other’s enthusiastic embrace and the door bell rang
Dev shouted “Can they not make longer horror movies?”
Shreya’s mother was the first one to become aware of the new obsession in her life. She even sent home-cooked food for these two bachelors sometimes, considering the fact that they were living away from their families and must be craving for home – made food. She liked dev, but feared senior prabhakar’s reaction every time shreya mentioned him.
Dev was a trainee in a company which provided solutions in Computer Software technology and Shreya was an intern preparing to become a Chartered Accountant.
At this stage, they had big dreams of building their respective careers and a blissful life around it.
Junior Prabhakar, (Jaideep Prabhakar ) was shreya’s elder brother. He had been expelled from school considering his violent nature.He wore a handkerchief around his neck, his shirt was always almost unbuttoned and had his mouth stuffed with Gutka.He was always picking up street fights and he had discovered his natural talent with pick-pocketing and robbery.
Dev had been struggling to strike a friendship with Junior prabhakar, He was hated by Junior Prabhakar and his goons, and in their presence if he entered the colony, it always ensued a fight and dev usually left trying to keep things peaceful.
Two years into the relationship On a sunny sunday afternoon Dev and shreya sat in a park, she was leaning on his shoulders and he held her tight. She got up with tears in her eyes and said in a extremely depressed tone ” it will not work out, Senior Prabhakar is retiring in a few days, This Government house will be gone, Junior Prabhakar is good for nothing and at the rate with which his gundaism is going, he may soon be behind bars, i need to take care of my father, mother and most importantly paglu . They cannot survive without me”
After listening patiently to her erratic and hurtful sentences Dev said patiently
“And where do i stand? ”
She said “You are in my soul, but i have responsibilities, they are my priority at the moment ”
Dev felt hurt and expressed some anger by grinding his teeth and looking at her in anger.
She continued “we need to be practical dev, life is not a bed of roses”
” i cannot continue this relationship at this moment ” Bye for now”, she said and left,
This time she did not turn back and he kept shamelessly rubbernecking in that direction for a few hours in stunned silence. She stopped answering his calls and every attempt to meet her was futile. She would just ignore him and walk away when he would stand blocking her way. Even the gate keeper at office was instructed not to entertain him even when he brought his favorite cherries. The teary eyed gate keeper ushered him away.
He looked like a vagabond, a fakir who had stopped living and who just merely existing .he had stopped eating, sleeping and even taking care of his appearance.
The Prabhakar’s were leaving the government colony and moving to another city.
A Terribly drunk dev came there and desperately attempted to stop shreya from going.
Furious at him, Junior Prabhakar and his goons who immediately started wielding hockey sticks at him, A Powerless Dev fell and just could not retaliate, An striking blow on his head and blood oozed out from his forehead, seeing this junior prabhakar and gang ran away.
An unconscious Dev was rushed to the hospital by shreya and her parents.
Dev was bed ridden with multiple fractures and a head injury and he gained consciousness after some time. As he woke up shreya sat there holding his hand and sobbed,and Ajay stood there waving his hand.
She said ” i told you, they are all insane” ,”Why don’t you move on ?”
Seeing her dev responded, ” There is a lot of love in letting go, but there is more love in holding on after letting go , i read this somewhere recently ”
Shreya laughed and said ” Even with your Leg in a Cast, you will not leave your filmy dialouges right ”
She came to the hospital everyday, till he was out of danger but then one day she was behaving strangely.She looked at him with an unending sad stare, kissed him on his cheek and left.
Dev looked at her expecting her to turn, but she did not .She wiped her tears and kept walking. He Understood that she was gone, and now she will not be coming to the hospital anymore.
Dev took Six months to fully recover and the most horrifying thing was that shreya had not come to see him after that day, her phone had been unreachable. It seemed that the prabhakars had left the city.
Upon getting discharged the first thing he did was visiting the government colony, He rang the doorbell and a middle aged housewife opened the door, She inquired if he was Dev and handed over a letter to him
It was wrapped in a beautiful golden envolope and it read
Hey Soul mate,
I feel totally incomplete
But i guess that is how i need to live forever. Senior Prabhakar had retired, we had to immediately leave the government house.They were not willing to extend even a single day.
The fact that you did not make a police complaint changed junior prabhakar drastically.Faced with guilt he started doing a respectable job in a travel agency here. Paglu also works as a office boy here in my office.I will live with the hope someday somewhere we will meet again”
The sedulous girl had picked her responsibilities above her desires. Dev decided to wait till eternity.
whenever monsoon arrived in mumbai, he was struck with those beautiful memories.He revisited the places where they used to meet and usually sat down with his eyes closed lost in her thoughts.
Until on 26th July 2013, coincidentally exactly 8 years after they had first met. He was stuck in a mall in mumbai on a stormy night and while walking down a stopped escalator. Thunderstorms erupted in his mind when he saw her.She looked like a fairy completely drenched in a red dress desperately trying to soak her clothes. She looked much more beautiful and alluring then she had ever looked, Her eyelashes were shining with the water droplets on them and as their eyes met, her glare had the same passion and love. She smiled at him and the infectious smile made him smile too, although he was very skeptical and scared to meet her. He had gone through hell every day in trying to forget her and move on with his life. She started climbing the stopped escalator with her eyes glued on him.
With a mischievous grin she asked “Have we met before?”i cannot recollect your name”
He said “What’s in a name ? “ “Ram , Shyam, Akbar or Anthony , Pick the one you like” and they laughed and hugged each other tight. Never to let go off this eternal love ever again.
Life rarely gives a second chance, and if it gives that emphasizes that their souls were always connected and they were always encompassed by each other.Even when they were not physically meeting each other, they were in each other’s thoughts and their Imaginarium of desires.
Paglu wiped his tears as walked out of the mall. His plan had worked. His sister who had ensured to give them all a fantastic life, had been living a soul less life. Paglu had played the major trick of making them bump into each other. They deserved to be together forever