Friday, 24 February 2012

Mere Saath Chalogi?

The living room was slightly dark. Things were visible in their outlines but for 56 year old Nancy, it was difficult to see her reflection in the mirror. There was nothing wrong in her eyesight; she just did not wish to recognize her face. With the passage of time, she turned her back on her previous self when she landed up in an old age home. During the last one year, everything had been wiped off almost like the way a line drawn with a white chalk is wiped off a slate. Similarly, Nancy too had scratched her old memories alive and forced upon her an awareness of her old identity. 

It was on a Monday afternoon, a year ago, when her son and her daughter-in-law Diana informed her that they would be moving to Canada in search of better employment opportunities. Her son Ryan had smartly calculated his moves and made his mother to sign the legal documents of the house. He asked her to live in an old age home till the time they are settled there. It was due to this assurance that Nancy agreed to live in an old age home.

Three weeks later after moving into the old age home, she missed sharing kitchen stories with her neighbours and when she went back to her house, she noticed a bar standing on the piece of land where she lived once. In disbelief followed by desperation, she asked pedestrians walking on the roads if they had seen a house with a white colour gate. The pedestrians replied that there had been a house with a white colour gate which belonged to a Christian lady and her son sold the property. Her son had sold the land to a liquor baron who erected a bar where liquor bottles flowed like a river. A realization dawned upon her that she was tricked into believing her son was genuinely interested in her well-being. Though she earnestly wished to reconcile with her son, a sense of numbness swept past her while she thought of the shamelessness of her son.

Nancy sat facing a window and stared vacantly at the patterns made by the raindrops on the glass. Tears oozed from the corners of her eyes and dribbled in rivulets over her cheeks. She could see the faint reflections of her image in the glass and the rains became tears and the tears became rains. It was as if heaven shared her grief. In the past 30 years, the longing for companionship had not diminished and now it was only a matter of time and she would die with her memories. For all these years, she had lived her life for others--for her parents, her sisters, her husband and her family. Her precious memories were her constant companions. Who would understand? She looked forward for death, waited for it daily and each day wept in secret seeking companionship. 

Two days later, when the sun sliced its way through the clouds and shafts of light illuminated a verdant landscape, she accidentally bumped into yesteryear film actor Anand and spilled hot tea on his white kurta. She offered to wash the kurta for him but he politely declined. The former superstar had appeared in nearly 90 films as a lead actor. Though he was a man of the masses, he wasn't fortunate enough to enjoy the same kind of overwhelming love from his family. Reality hit him hard when he realized that his life was not a movie and he was just another human being like anyone else when his daughter-in-law meted out ill-treatment to him. His son could not help him either. Letting practicality lead the way, he decided not to subject himself to any further emotional torment and decided to move to an old age home. 

Nancy was quite surprised to see a person of Anand's status roam around as an equal amidst her and her companions in the old age home. The unexpected rendezvous during the tea-spilling incident gave birth to more frequent meetings. After all, what else can one expect from people in an old age to do to pass their free time? They started having long chats over evening coffee. They went for walks in the local park. Their walks were mostly filled with interesting anecdotes of the film world and conversations and sometimes, prolonged silence which both of them valued. They would water the plants in the morning together and occasionally chatted with other inmates in the home. 

During an evening walk, Anand informed her that he was seeking companionship. He asked her whether if she would like to accompany him. However, he made it clear that he was not intending to get married to her since he loved his dead wife dearly. Soon enough, they realized that soul mates need not necessarily be in a marital relationship always. As age and life demonstrated it to them, the best of relationships were platonic in nature and they decided to keep it that way. Of course, the company was something they would cherish for the rest of their lives since it is not everyday when one bumps into a soul mate. 

2 comments:

Swarnali said...

Hmm..better than the last one I may say but still there is some charm missing..i mean it is not alluring enough to make anybody continue reading this till the end. try making the narrative stronger.

Neena Dayal said...

Hi Akshay, you have asked me to leave my feedback and so I am doing it. A story comprises of many things like - the plot, the captivating character etching, the narrative, the twists, and the running emotional chord. The story you have written seems to be lacking on all these points.

My idea is not to discourage you at all, and considering your age and corresponding maturity levels, I can even give it to you as a good attempt. But that would not do much good for improving your capabilities, which you obviously have.

I suggest, you must stick to topics that you have some idea about because otherwise the focus is mainly on the language and not on the emotions, which is so very evident from this piece of work.

A story is good when it does not sound like a very visual article. I think, this should give you an idea about what I am trying to tell you.