Love In Those Salad Days

(Here’s another fiction. Me as Mr.V’, a Software Professional traveling back to his home town after nearly ten years to meet all his relatives, childhood friends and eventually his (ex)girlfriend. )

My car’s speedo read 120 kms/hr. Cricket commentary running on my car radio. Heaviest rainfall of the season lashing and literally beating down. I was driving back to my hometown after a gap of 10 years.

“India, batting first are yet to lose a wicket with 2 runs on the board after the completion of 1 over.” the commentator announced.

Well, it has been ten years since I last visited my town, ten years since I visited my relatives, ten years since I watched a movie in one of those movie tents and ten long years since I met my girlfriend. She is married now but I can’t somehow muster to say ‘ex-girlfriend’. But wait, none of us could express it to one another , so it was more a kind of vandalism(on my part atleast). Every time I made up my mind to express my love I would put it off with the fear of losing her even as a friend, which eventually landed me into a mess in my life. What foolish people we were……!! Nowadays I get paranoid about her with questions such as -if she had ever loved me or if she ever had such feelings for me. I had always had this assumption that she loved me as much as I did. It definitely appeared so.

“India score 60 for the loss of 2 wickets after 10 overs.” The rain was incessantly pouring down. My car’s wipers were wiping in full swing. Still zooming away I was……………

I still can’t forget the day of her marriage. I sort of repent attending the wedding. It was such a painful thing to be there. How could she not realize my love. I just couldn’t accept that it was a mistake on my part not to convey my love. But why didn’t she do the same??. Anyways, I never visited nor talked to her after that. I realized that my worst fears had come true. Amidst all this I also had this filmi feeling that she should stay happy wherever she was and I should never tell her about my feelings that were towards her.

“India score 140 after the completion of 25 overs with the loss of 3 wickets.” Not bad, I thought. Still raining………….

All the fun we had together, all the wonderful sweets she used to prepare for me, all the never-ending conversations we had, all secret meetings during festivals and all the stares we exchanged during classes, oh how can I forget all those feelings of inchoate love. She had an unforgettable winsome smile. What’s heartening is that there was this innocence in our relationship. I realize that now after I witnessed so many break ups in my present place, a city. Life’s different in a city. And I’m not spared too in the change of lifestyles. SIMPLE and COMPLICATED are two words to describe life in a village/town and a city respectively.
Anyway, I was ambivalent if I have to meet her after a long gap or not. And moreover the main difference of now she being married. I was on tenterhooks. I actually wasn’t really looking forward to it.

“India score 270 for 8 after their quota of 50 overs. Target set is 271.” The score’s ‘okey-dokey’ I said to myself. The rain reduced to a drizzle now…….

I now entered my town, came across my primary school building, which hadn’t changed an iota since my school days. With the dilemma of whether to meet her or not and after more than 2 hours of ‘mind contemplation’ I concluded that I would pass by the street where she stays and if I find her I would talk to her or else ‘forget it’. It was hard cheese for me. I entered the street and proceeded dead slow, recognized her home and had a glance over it and even passed it after finding no one. Just when I thought she wasn’t there, I heard a loud female voice calling me by name. I looked back, it was her hurrying towards me from her small garden. I stopped and got down my car. She came running, she looked so excited to see me after almost a decade, she almost hugged me when she suddenly came back to senses and enquired- “ How are you? Where had you been all these days? I’m so happy to see you today….”
With few more of such enquiries and not so realistic replies from both sides, I decided I must move on. I get quite sensitive and emotional during such circumstances.
I had a nettlesome feel in me which I experienced for the first time in my life. A feel of pain and happiness at the same time. Pain that she wasn’t mine and happiness for she was settled happily.
I said – “I have to leave now. I’ll see you some other time.” rather bluntly and got back into my car.

“India lose the match convincingly. Life becomes very difficult for them after this disastrous series. ” said the commentator. How is my life different , I thought…

Just as I brought the car to ignition, she came close to me and asked rather softly – “On the day of my marriage I observed you being so dull and depressed. And when I came to talk to you, your face and body totally drenched in the rain, why did you just go away? ”

My answer was simple- “It wasn’t only the rain which had drenched my face that day…”

The Poor or Beggars.....??

The traffic signal falls to RED. I switched off my car only to look around the ‘not so interesting’ place. I wouldn’t look to my left as I didn’t want a ‘mouth watering’ session to happen as it usually happens when I see Mc.Donalds. So that meant I was empty enough to emanate a stare at two pretty girls passing by. Who said it’s a ‘not so interesting’ place.! Next, I would contemplate the side on my right and that is when I almost got lurched when I encountered the sudden sight of this woman begging, knocking on my window shield. She had a baby with her as well. She appeared awful& battered. It certainly appeared it wasn’t easy for the destitute woman & the child to fend for themselves and survive.

Her eyes had a story to tell, obviously ‘Poverty’ written all over it. I assume the eyes said – ‘ Look at me struggle in this heat. Homeless I am. I make a day with no more than what u spend on a single meal. And look at the pathetic state of my baby. Please donate something’.
Almost oblivious of her presence , staring at her, I was lost in another world of thoughts altogether. Assuming my silent stare to be supercilious ignorance her face began to wear a different look now. The story of her eyes was seeing twists now. I assume those eyes now said- ‘What is that stare all about? You rich, parsimonious people think about donating a negligible little amount so much.! How does it matter to you people anyway? What fulsomely atrocious people you are.! Curses to you’.

Well, if it was a month ago, I would have made a generous donation and felt ecstatic for having done a great deed. It was an article in a newspaper which ignited a thought on my perception towards beggars. I had read – Woman rent months’ old babies for begging to attract sympathy, which they hope materializes to ‘money’. How depressing.! That was when I took umbrage on beggars. Just a bunch of lazy brats is how I can describe them best now. Maybe the old are exceptions. I realize helping ‘beggars’ is different to helping the ‘poor’. I also realize that my past ‘apparent good deeds’ now reads as ‘Encouraging Beggary’.

Anyway back to the present, the woman still agonizingly staring, not willing to budge but yet hopeful. I downed the window shield hyping her hopes. But all I had in store was this innocent, irritating smile, the smile that I employ when I ask my dad for pocket money, the smile that pisses off one and all. If her eyes said stories, so did my smile. Done with the smile, unable to prevent a glance at the Mc.Donalds, with no more pretty girls to stare at, I drove off…..

Now tell me what should I do the next time a beggar approaches me...