Midnight Fairy Tales – Part 2 (Reader’s story)

Guest post by Bakhtawar

I checked the tank, it had sufficient to take me home but not more. I said I’m sorry. I asked her where she was headed, she replied home and was scared
being alone at this time of the night. The city didn’t have a good reputation for safety of women. I enquired that her home was around 35kms from the
dhaba, the cellphone battery had been long empty .It was impossible for her to go home from there. I didn’t want to leave her on the mercy of a taxi. I
offered my apartment as a bivouac for the night and asked her to leave early in the morning when the petrol pumps would open up. Initially she was
reluctant, but later succumbed to my mot juste insistence after a heated debate with the stall owner about the possibility of reprobates with amatory
desires coming to the dhaba at night. I put on the helmet while she sat on my ride. Bakhtawar was at its best that night, it knew this would go a long way.

GRRUM GRRUM, Bakhtawar now carrying both of us sailed through. Bakhtawar’s resplendent black body, the shining steel rims sparkling in the moonlight and
the grumps, It was a ride to remember forever.

I reached home, parked my ride and went inside the frowsy room first to put everything on the table and the bed hastily into the cupboard. I called her and
in she came. She looked around for sometime and then took a chair besides the study table.

“So, what would you have”, I asked

“Nothing, thank you.”

“What about a coffee?”

“No, I don’t feel like having anything…”

“Okay, I’ll make some coffee for both of us, drink it whenever you want. :) ”

“Okay… :) ”

By the time I came back, she was reading a book. She was reading Gogol. I said”He’s one writer who had real wits. You don’t get to see that kind of humor
these days”. She smiled and said she’d never read him before. That made me flaunt all my literary pursuits,

“Have you read Pushkin?”


“Umm…Khaled Hosseini?”

“Yeah…that one…about the doctor right?”

“Yes yes, did you like it?”

“It was good, it made me cry as well”


I wanted to keep the conversation going, wanted to talk to her.

Praise the Lord for those 3 cups of coffee each, we talked all night. From books, music, films to school, college, love and sex. She had the cute female
perspective on everything while I had the crude, boyish one. By morning we had established a bond between us, like we had known each other for years before
this. Time went on, and it was time for her to leave. After refueling her car, I asked “when are you planning your next trip here with an empty tank?”

“Haha, you want me to get stuck and scared again??” replied Nazneen.

“Well, I don’t mind if it turns out exactly like last night.”

“I’ll be seeing you”, she kissed me on the cheeks (my guerdon), and then left. I kept looking at her car till she disappeared after the next crossing.

“Holy….Cow”, I forgot to take her number and give her mine. I felt so disappointed and restless at such a big loss. The only option I have now is to wait
for Nazneen to arrive at my doorstep one day and so I’m waiting. It’s been two days now and she’s made a writer out of me already. Phew!

Midnight Fairy Tales – Part 1 (Reader’s story)

Guest post by Bakhtawar

Two nights ago, after having a drink or two at a soiree at my friends place, I and Bakhtawar were returning home. It must have been around 1 in the night when I decided to explore the city in the silence of the night. The road I was moving on had been so irritating some hours back, now it was calling for lone riders to talk to it.

Grrrrrrr, the soft, polite and yet strong cadence of Bakhtawar sailing through the chilly winter night breeze made me feel like a king. It was as if each road was waiting to greet me, calling me to be on it. The roads on which millions travelled each day with their happiness, sorrows, ambitions, curse, pride and despair were indeed the garbage dumps of anger and frustration. Engrossed in these thoughts, I kept sailing past high rise apartments and buildings, restaurants, taverns, schools, offices, markets, each telling me a new story until I was stopped for verification at a police check post. “kahan se aa rahe ho?” was what I was asked.

I replied “ghar se, bike par yuhin dilli raat ko dekhne nikla hun”.

Tell me your storyPhoto by driver Photographer

“Chalo, license aur gaari ke kagaz nikalo”.

I lied where I had come from considering the fact that telling him that I had returned from my friends place would inevitably let them conclude that I had drinks.

After around 5 minutes of frisking and checking legal documents I was allowed to go by the short fat middle aged man. The funny thing about the man was the small rectangular belt buckle he wore. It faced the floor perfectly courtesy the mammoth load it had to bear around the man’s gigantic tummy. I said “shukriya” as I left

Going past a prominent college in the city I recalled preparing to get into it, it was a dream, not because of the moolah I would earn after passing out but because of the ‘chicks’ and parties that were synonymous with the college. I remembered my college days, those parties which lasted forever sans girls! Out in the distance I saw a small food stall (dhaba), realizing my strong urge for a hot cup of tea in the chilly night I parked my ride, lit a navy cut and ordered tea.

Echoes of old Hindi songs played in the background from the radio in the stall, the stall owner hymned along making my tea while I smoked, looking around the place full of trees and flowers. Tea was served and it was wonderful having something hot in the chill. As there was no one else in the dhaba, I started a conversation with the stall owner asking about the place and the reason he had kept his stall open till then. He replied that he had been a taxi driver for 5 years and realizing the necessity of tea stalls for tired taxi drivers to beat the chill at night, had started this stall 2 years back. The conversation went on for around 10 more minutes until a white car stopped at the dhaba. To my great surprise a woman came out of it.

The stall owner looked in awe, she was well dressed. She wore a beautiful grey long jacket, had put on light make up. She had long hair. I could make out she was scared. She came to the stall owner and said “bhaiya, meri gaadi ka petrol khatam ho gaya hai, aapke paas thoda petrol pada hai”, “saare petrol pump band ho gaye hain”. The stall owner replied “nahin madam, aap inse (pointing towards me) pooch lijiye”. She turned to me, I hushed “eee mmm I’m not sure, umm.. I’ll check”.

Boy was she beautiful.

(to be continued)

The Tale of Four Hearts (Part 2)

[Continued from here.]

Sheetal had never been a very close friend of mine. We had each other’s phone numbers – just in case – and our communication was limited to forwarded SMSs, a few times a month perhaps. So I was taken aback when one of these difficult days Sheetal messaged me asking me to remove all her photos and other traces from Rahul’s computer. “It’s over,” She ended.

“But …what the….???” I was immediately on the phone with her, desperately looking for explanations in my stupid, blundering, bundle-of-nerves way.

“That’s none of your business. Who are you to this relationship? No one! What do you know about what I have been through over the last three years? To you he’s your “best buddy”, your “saviour”, the embodiment of virtue, isn’t he?” Sheetal was on a frenzied roll. The truth that was tumbling out of her was what I’d suspected it to be all of these years.

Rahul was an emotional abuser. Hours of mental torture, extreme possessiveness to the point of not letting her talk to other boys, name-calling her parents – Sheetal had seen it all. In fact, Sulagna, when I read your article on emotional abuse, it was pure déjà vu. Manipulation, lies, presenting a charming face to the outside world and to top it all – when push came to shove, blaming it all on the victim. I saw it, you see. I witnessed it, right in front of my eyes. But Rahul was…Rahul. My best buddy. My saviour. The embodiment of virtue. I had tried to look past it every time I found myself face to face with it. Now I felt responsible. I had failed Sheetal.

Love storyPhoto by *Lie … off for a while … !

“Don’t do anything. We’re OK.J J ;) ;) ” That’s the next message I see from Sheetal, as I scroll down my inbox archives today. I know. Women!!

In spite of being ineffective in splitting up the couple, which I knew – and still know – is what Sheetal needed, this hiccup in their relationship holds a huge significance to me. This was the genesis of a deep friendship between me and Sheetal. My depression wasn’t getting any better. I was desperate to trust someone, to open up to someone, to have someone croon me a few words of sympathy. I held on to Sheetal like a drowning man to a straw. She didn’t hold back. We became the best of friends, sharing everything about Ranja and a tiny little bit about Rahul. (Sheetal is a Bharatiya Nari, remember? ;))

Months passed by. Our exams ended. Rahul travelled to another university in a different city for his internship. And then one day I received a call from him.

It fills me with anger, pain and shock as I relive that call even today.

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you? You think I don’t know anything about what’s going on? I’ve checked out all of the messages that were exchanged between you and my girlfriend you son of a b***h! You see, I had plenty of time when you were deep in sleep, probably dreaming of her naked body. I can’t stoop to the level of “battling this out with you,” so to speak. So let me tell you this once and for all – you’re free to get as close to my soon-to-be-ex girlfriend as you want, but do not contact me ever in this life again. For you, I never existed.”

I sat on my bed, shaking, with tears running down my cheeks even long after he’d hung up. I had no idea what had just happened. I had never, ever thought of Sheetal as anything other than an understanding, trusted friend. How could I? Ranja – and the pain of losing her – occupied every square millimetre of my heart. More than the pain of losing my best friend of three years – the pain of feeling wronged overwhelmed me. I wailed and wailed for what felt like hours but was in reality 15 minutes. And then I popped two Avomine tablets and slept the whole day.

“Tujh se naraaz nahi zindagi, hayraan hoon main…”

Yeah life is ironic sometimes. That’s the painful tune which woke me up next morning as I peered at the screen, barely recognizing Sheetal’s name through my groggy-eyed haze.

One more deluge of tears. Rahul had used up his entire dictionary of teenage slangs in an hours long call he had had with her the previous day, Sheetal informed.

“I almost hate myself now. Even though it never crossed my mind that you could be anything but a very close, very dear friend to me, maybe he’s right. May be it’s impossible for a male and a female to be just friends. I’m sorry for everything Rana … ” The trauma had left her out of her senses.

We talked. For hours. Sharing our sorrows. Our pain. The hurt we felt for being misunderstood by someone closest to each of us. And in the end we agreed he was beyond us. He had something in him that was tearing him apart. And honestly, neither of us had the capability to handle it. From this point, we started avoiding him.

Love storyPhoto by jacobblack_luver

“Missing you…” That’s the next SMS from Sheetal currently showing up on my phone.

“Rana you understand me so well…I feel I’ve known you for many lives…” Reads the next.

I smiled. To my utter surprise I started feeling the first few puffs of that sharp, heady, intoxicating thing inside myself again. It all fell in place. Sheetal?? But of course! We were both survivors. We both wanted the same things in a partner – truly-deeply-madly real love, a pure heart and absolute honesty. And hey – we could share anything and everything with each other, even our deepest fears, pains and stupid hopes. I did it again.

Sulagna, you know, sometimes such tiny things affect our lives in such immeasurable ways? Like you couldn’t find your wallet in the morning, so left for work 5 minutes later than usual and when you arrived at the station you found out all trains were running an hour late because your usual train – which you missed because of the delay – has just met with a terrible accident?

Sometimes, it’s the reverse. Something huge happens and shakes up your tiny, mundane life in ways you never expected. Or deserved.

Rahul’s dad died in his office of a sudden heart attack just a few weeks after we fell out. Long story short – Sheetal went back to Rahul. “I’m sorry, but I can never forgive myself for what happened. I feel guilty. The least I can do is be by his side now…” She sobbed into the phone.

I pretended to smile.

What could I do? I know the world is not fair. Good things happen to bad people.

But still I stay awake at night. I haven’t been able to make peace with myself. Not yet. What should I tell myself? Any suggestions? What can I tell myself to make sense of what happened to me? Am I being oversensitive? Like most people should I pretend emotions don’t exist and the cruder aspects of life are its only real aspects?

I don’t know. 

The Tale of Four Hearts (Part 1)

[I won’t waste any more of your time by apologizing for the hideously long break in posting, than I already have by taking it. So just help yourselves to this instalment of a freshly-baked teenage romance.]

They say love at first sight is not real. May be it isn’t. But boy it’s heady.

Have you ever been on LSD for months, or years?

Forget it. That was a joke. And anyway, you wouldn’t know what love at first sight is even if you had.

That’s what Ranjini was to me – a psychedelic disorienting taste of first love.

We were neighbours in our sleepy town of Dhanbad. I used to watch her from my balcony as she made her way to the temple with her mother every Sunday. One day I smiled at her. She smiled back. Before I knew it we were scrapping each other away on Orkut (Facebook wasn’t around since beginning of time, remember?). That was back in my Higher Secondary days.

Good times don’t last forever. For us it ended as college life approached. It was time for me to go join my engineering course somewhere in the Southern part of the country, and for her to join hers in the East. I panicked. I proposed her.

Four HeartsPhoto by Our Enchanted Garden

As I look back today, everything that happened thereafter looks all normal, all too predictable. She was instantly the quintessential Indian good girl – “haven’t thought about that thing ever”, but would love to remain the best of friends. What choice does a hapless, smitten teenager have but to agree with the enthusiasm of a puppy at the first sight of its master after a month of separation?

I arrived in college. So did Rahul – the only other chap from good old Dhanbad – and was made to share his dorm room with three local students. He came running to me. He needed a quiet room for studying. Would I not help him out, coming from Dhanbad and all? If I didn’t let him share my room he’d have to go back to Dhanbad, and God knows whether he’d want live at all after that. I saw tears.

I melted. I went to great lengths to ensure he was allowed to shift to my room. Thereafter we became best friends.

Enter Sheetal – meek and shy, fresh out of a girls’ school and mortally afraid of boys. She just wouldn’t talk to a boy. What if he tried to make passes at her?? :D

Rahul fancied Sheetal inside his heart. But he knew she wouldn’t talk to him. So he came up with a cunning plan. He made her tie a Rakhi to him. (In most Indian cultures Rakhi is a symbol of sibling-hood.) For good measure, he also told her he was madly in love with some other girl from his school. I was aghast when I came to know what Rahul was up to. It was just wrong. He was just … fake. I felt I couldn’t take it.

When he finally proposed Sheetal confessing the whole story, she was as disgusted as I was. Rahul’s excuse – “You won’t talk to me unless I was your Rakhi brother. Or some sort of a brother. :D” When Sheetal turned her back on him he came up with a new plan.

When Sheetal was out with her friends in a local market, Rahul drove up to her in a motorbike – tears running down his cheeks – and literally begged her to come to a quiet place with him and talk things out. The entire locality was swelling with glee as they watched “real-life drama” unfold in front of them. It was too much for Sheetal. She hopped on to his motorbike without a word.

I would never forget that evening. When the door to my room burst open, I was playing Prince of Persia at my desk. Rahul’s terrified face was just about enough to jolt me back to reality. He and Sheetal had been to a park known as the “secret haven for lovers.” Soon a gang of local louts surrounded them, making rude remarks and threatening. Rahul somehow managed to send Sheetal back. Later the goons roughed him up and wouldn’t let him go until he gave them some money. While I felt sorry for him, I couldn’t but loathe him for leading Sheetal into this. Three weeks later Sheetal and Rahul were dating. Don’t ask me how or why.

Four heartsPhoto by oline221296

In the meantime I was happily chatting away with Ranja. Every phone/chat conversation with my girl would light up my day/night. But for Rahul it was the exact opposite. The more he’d talk to Sheetal the more negative, irritable, stressed he’d become. This puzzled me, but I let it go. Through Rahul I got to know Sheetal. We’d share funny texts. She’d tease me regarding Ranja. It was friendly and warm.

But good times don’t last forever. I started feeling ignored by Ranja. She almost stopped replying to my messages. I’ve never felt as hurt in my life as I did when she didn’t even open a beautiful slideshow of photos I’d created just for her. I lost control. I panicked. I proposed her on Valentine’s Day through a wall post on Facebook. I knew she might not have liked the gesture. I knew she might get angry for me taking it out in the open. But what I couldn’t anticipate in my blackest nightmare was to be ignored completely. A cold refusal to acknowledge the whole thing.

Something snapped. I did something which even today I don’t believe I’ve done. I called her up told her she had a black heart. I’ll never forgive myself for that moment of madness. Needless to say, we lost touch after this. There was no way Ranja was going to take c**p from me. In hindsight I feel she might have fallen for someone else at this point, but … anyway.

I entered the first phase of depression of my life. The numbness was a real thing. It really was. I’d open my eyes in the morning and find it impossible to leave my bed. Rahul would almost drag me out. He’d force me to eat. He’d coarse, cajole, scold me into attending classes. I’d never be able to repay him for what he did for me over this period. In spite of what happened thereafter.  

[To be continued…]

Orange Nights

“To laughter that can awake the dead.”

Afternoons seem unbearably long these days. As I proceeded to fill today’s with cajoling the living room bookshelf out of its antique torpor buried in a cosy quilt of dust, I chanced upon an equally antique, long-forgotten copy of The Second Sex . Mites have devoured the ‘w’ and both the ‘d’s, nibbling on a few ‘t’s and the ‘n’. The 1988 you beyond that faded scrawl on the first blank page is still remarkably clearly visible.

Or so I felt.

It was our third show of “Orange Nights” in the HDCM auditorium. When you met me backstage I was sipping a cup of hastily made tea – every cell in my body craving energy as my heart brimmed with the exhilaration of having delivered another successful show to the campus community.

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told you how thoroughly you bored me that evening with your hackneyed suggestions of how I should stop studying Statistics and become a professional scriptwriter or stage actress instead – until you pulled out that book, wrapped in matt-finished handmade brown paper with lyrical scribbles all over for garnish.

Since then I’ve lead my life as away as I could from this exquisite bunch of dangerous thoughts which you – in hindsight so ironically – planted in my heart. Never looking back, never regretting anything.

I ran into it though – a year and three months ago, to be precise.

I was somewhere in between half-real delirious dreams and consciousness as I lay in that alien white berth with metal railings reeking of delicately preserved hygiene. My jangled senses racked with bits and pieces of the world around me – whiff of disinfectants, the prick of needles, Sonu’s bawls, hushed whispers in known, unknown, half-known voices, “suicide”, “jumped off”, “crazy”, “God’s miracle” … and in the middle of all this were the unspectacled lanky ruffle-haired you of that faraway night – smiling at me holding a small oblong package wrapped in brown paper.

But poor Sonu had not seen that night – our first night. When my innocent little baby came sobbing to me, showing me those messages from your mobile you’d exchanged with that lady over the last two years, he hardly knew how selfishly I loved you.  

“I’m sorry Mona,” you’d pleaded. “You changed.”

“I’d fallen in love with a talented independent free-thinking unique woman. An embodiment of life whose laughter could awake the dead. Not a mentally middle-aged quintessential housewife who can’t think beyond her husband’s lunch and her son’s impending Board exams.”

Somewhere I’d got it all wrong.

I wanted to be the perfect wife for you. I’d loved you with my everything. I wanted you to think I was the best decision of your life.

Remember how you used to marvel at my stoic refusal to complain about your mum’s never-ending rant against me and my “uncouth” family, day after weary day?

“My love for you is not ordinary.  I vow not to force you to choose between the two most beloved people of your life,” the ideal wife had explained to you. Do you think the “independent free-thinking” me would’ve survived those days with her love for you intact?

I was a star performer in my company – as long as the family needed the money more than the time, before the priorities reversed and I didn’t bat an eyelid before kissing the job market goodbye. What do you think the “talented, unique” me would have done, Arnab?

As you spent your evenings slogging your way to becoming one of the most respected sales leaders of the industry, I put more of my focus into Sonu’s deadlines than I’ve ever put into my own.

No, I’m not the “independent free-thinking unique embodiment of life” anymore, Arnab, I’m the ordinary quintessential eternal foundation of life. I’ve made a sacrifice countless women all across history and geographies have made so that you could see this day.

So that my son could see this day.

The perfect mother and wife in me never bothered about the exquisite imperfect real woman that she’d so carefully put to sleep so long back.

Until she became a useless burden to you.

Until she greeted death face-to-face and came back.

Until today.

No, I have neither shame nor regret to have given my everything to the people I love.

What I do regret though is the fact that in the process I’ve forgotten to be myself, love myself, celebrate myself.

Almost. :)

No I don’t consider my life over.

I’m 45 years young. The adult years that lie ahead of me are as many in number as the ones that lie behind – only wiser and richer in experience.

You and Sonu remain as focal to my existence today as you were yesterday. Only one more character has been promoted from the sidelines to the lead in this final act – myself.

Let me once again remind you of what you’d told me that extraordinary night – I had it in me to be a writer. You know what? I’ve decided to take that seriously – twenty-six long years after you said it.  

What you’re reading is my first attempt at proving it.

Happy Anniversary.

An entry to the Indusladies 4th Annual International Women’s Day Blog Contest 2013.

Love Story 5

me: hii

5:30 PM Sonali: hii :)

so…back from the trip?

me: yeah

wat u doing miss?

Sonali: Facebooking, like alwz :D .. aur bataao…how ws the trip?


Love in IndiaPhoto by ericnvntr

me: ok ok

nothing interesting there

Sonali: :D

Put the pics on FB I’ll have a look… Waise what’s there to see in Lonavala?

me: didnt click any pics :(

Nothing much.

Sonali: oh now i understand.


me: wat u understand??

5:35 PM Sonali: matlab u said “i didnt click any pics” .. from that i understood ke “Nothing much to see”

me: ha ha

am not very shutter happy

Sonali: okk..

5:36 PM me: u shud go to lonavala during rains

and igatpuri …

they become beautiful in rains

lush green

Sonali: rains have not started yet in mumbai?

5:37 PM me: nah

2 weeks more i guess

Abhi toh .. its all hot n humid

5:39 PM so…

how was ur weekend?

Sonali: kind of boring…

me: hmmm

5:41 PM I’m so tired … wish i had a neck n back massge

5:42 PM Sonali: disadvantages of living alone in a foreign land.

Arre tell me naa, what all u saw…must’ve seen SOMETHING.

5:45 PM me: are

i have been to Lonavala many times

u wanna see Lonavala .. will take u smtime

so wht r u getting me from faridabad?

5:53 PM Sonali: wht do u want?

me: why wud i tell u

Sonali: ab…guess karna padhega? :D

5:54 PM mithai leke jayenge..aur kya? :P

me: ha ha

wanna make me fatter??

Love in IndiaPhoto by jenny downing

Sonali: lolzzzzz…

5:56 PM no..if u eat my future cooking then u’ll hate me…so trying to compensate wid the mithai.


me: aha

r u a bad cook?

5:57 PM Sonali: er…i have never cooked for anyone other than myself in the last 4 5 yrs. :D

me: but the very fact is that u wud cook for me … wud itself make it tasty miss


Sonali: :P.. ok what do u wanna eat?

me: come here first

and then we can decide

and cook together

so..when r u coming?

Sonali: arre yaar I don’t know that yet. They haven’t told anything.

me: ok

6:04 PM 5-7 i am going to hyd

so wont b thr that weekend

Sonali: okk..for work?

me: nah

friend’s wedding

so other than that week

i hav time hi time

6:06 PM Sonali: great :)

me: if u r free thats it

6:07 PM Sonali: I’ll be free of course

me: great

Sonali: But I’ll be homesick L

6:08 PM me: wud u b less homesick if u r with me?

Sonali: i certainly hope so. :D

me: and why u hope so?


Complete/continue the above story by commenting.


Love Story 4

Today is a really happy day in Smita’s life. Today she’s going out for a movie with Shantanu for the first time. It’s almost 5 pm. The movie starts at 6. Smita kept looking at her watch as she waited in a bus-stop for Shantanu.

Smita and Shantanu’s story was the quintessential love-at-first-sight fairytale. They both joined college in the first week of June, and by the end of the month they were ‘officially together’. Both happily fell in love head over heels and didn’t mind being teased out of their mind for getting together so quickly by friends.

Love storyPhoto by Celine.Q

“Hey! Here! Here!” Smita shouted as she saw Shantanu in the distance, getting off a bus. And then that smile! The smile that adorned both their faces is not born in this planet, it’s born in heaven.

But soon Smita conscientiously assumed the role of the typical more-disciplined-than-you female part of the family.
“Why are you so late? It’s past 5: 15!” She creased her brows like an angry school teacher.
“Sorry honey, I had to run an errand for my mother just as I was leaving home. You know, didn’t want to give her any suspicion by showing her that I was in a hurry. I told them I was meeting a friend.”

They took a cab to the movie theater, chitchatting all the way.

Smita was saying, “I hate holidays. Holidays mean no college and no meeting you. You know I missed you so much yesterday. And talking to you over the phone at night was the best thing that happened yesterday.”
Shantanu said, “But we met yesterday. We went to The Plaza in the evening, had panipuris, I told you a joke and you were laughing your head out…Don’t you remember?”

Smita suddenly felt like she couldn’t breathe. She’d never been to The Plaza in her life.

Complete/continue the above story by commenting.

Love story 3

Hemant’s mouth dried. He drank the water in front of him and wiped his mouth. Dr. Sen was one of the most well-known psychologists in the city. Besides what has happened was already embarrassing to him. Would he believe after all?

“So. Hemant. What do you want to tell me?” Dr. Sen smiled.

“Well, I’m originally from Faridabad. I’ve been working in Hyderabad for the last 2 years as a software engineer.” Hemant paused.


“Actually, something happened a few days ago. I’m, well, a bit worried.” Hemant’s jitters were obvious.

“Look Hemant, first of all congratulations for taking the bold step of consulting a professional about your concerns. Do you know how many people in your condition would’ve delayed this decision for years, often decades, till the time it wrought havoc on their lives? Don’t worry, Hemant. We’re here to solve your problems, and the first step is talking about it.”

“Yes doctor.” Hemant took a deep breath and started.

“I live in a rented room on the roof of my landlord’s home. A few days back I when I was sitting on a chair after dinner watching TV, something happened. I kind of went into a trance, as if I was not in control of myself anymore, it was like…” Hemant couldn’t find the words to describe.

“Soon I was somewhere else. It seemed like I was in Faridabad, somewhere near my home. I was on my way to college. Soon I reached college and I was attending classes. But it didn’t seem like the lectures were on the same subject which I had studied in college. It seemed more like literature or something similar.”

“I continued in this life for a few days. Going to college, attending classes, coming back home…business as usual-just like I was, when I was actually there. There was just one difference. There was Nisha. Actually Nisha was a classmate of mine in college. I was never close friends with her. But I had started to like her the moment I’d seen her. She had these thick black eyelashes…” Hemant’s cheeks reddened. He didn’t intend to start a discussion about Nisha’s eyelashes with Dr. Sen.

“Well this time, I mean in this trance that I mentioned, I was friends with Nisha. We used to study together, have fun together and all of that. And I felt that not only I was falling in love with Nisha, but perhaps also she was falling in love with me. Then one day after classes she smiled a shy smile and gave me a folded piece of paper. It was at this point that I came out of the trance into reality and found myself sitting in front of the TV like before. I looked at the clock on the wall and saw that only 10 minutes had passed.”

“But you know that there’s a very simple explanation to all this, don’t you?” Dr. Sen said.

“Yes, I know. The explanation is that I had fallen asleep and I was dreaming. But there’s just one problem with that.”

“And what’s that?”

“I had the piece of paper still in my hands when I woke up, ‘I love you’ clearly written on it, in Nisha’s hand.”

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Love story 2

Swati felt relieved. Finally, some freedom.
She’s fifteen after all, not five. What sense does it make for her mother to accompany her everywhere she goes, at this age? An argument between Swati and her mother regarding this is a routine affair in this household.
Today is that special day when for the first time Swati’s persistence brought her victory against her mother. She finally (grudgingly though) allowed Swati to go to her coaching centre alone. And she was washed over by a sense of relief. Who wouldn’t want to avoid being taunted by friends for once, for a change?
Swati was still relishing the taste of freedom from her seat in a bus, when she saw him. He was one of the not-so-lucky passengers, who had to stand with the support of overhead rods. As she watched him her eyes became roundish and a whisper escaped her lips, “Yuvvy!” He was tall, with a brawny built and yes, he did resemble Yuvraj Singh-someone Swati could die for. It was not until their eyes met that Swati was able to look away from him. And then it happened.
“Screeech!” And the bus avoided a deadly accident. Everyone in the bus fell on each other. (Swati didn’t fail to notice that Mr. Yuvvy almost fell on a girl beside him) The traffic police sprung into action and stopped the bus. Inside the bus a competition ensued among the passengers for reaching the nearest exit. Swati jumped off the bus, while she valiantly refused to admit to herself that the tiniest twinge of disappointment that she was feeling had anything to do with the young man on the bus.
The hint of a smile still curling her lips, Swati boarded the next bus. This one was very crowded. Swati was sweating as she stood jostling with the guy just beside her. The bus braked at a traffic signal and the guy almost fell on her. Swati turned to let out an angry rebuke and stopped. Mr. Yuvvy was right there, looking at her, smiling. Swati felt her cheeks redden (“Why on earth??”) as she quickly looked away.
Swati was running late for her coaching class. She almost started running as she hopped off the bus. So she only half-heard the first “Excuse me madam” and didn’t realized it was she who was being address. She slogged along until she heard it again, and this time she looked back. Yuvvy was there, smiling a tentative smile.

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Love story 1

“I am just so lucky,” Sheetal thought to herself as she sipped her coffee, cuddled up on a sofa one rainy June afternoon. A faint smile played on her tiny lips as dimples dug deep in her cheeks.

Life really had been too good to Sheetal. The only child of doting parents and the only girl child in the family in a century, Sheetal had been spoilt rotten by parents, grandparents, relatives …sometimes even friends! This was compounded by the impeccable academic record she’d maintained throughout school. Everyone was just proud of her.

It’s her stellar performance in 12th that won her a ticket to her dream college, one of the best in the country and certainly the best in her city. Today was the tenth day of Sheetal’s first year and her teenage heart was still excited and exhilarated by the amazing new world called “college”- where you could not only wear what you liked but also bunk classes sometimes, and get ragged (she secretly admitted she liked all that attention the senior guys were paying her)!

And then there was “chilling out”-something Sheetal dearly missed in school. Neha, Sheetal’s best friend since the age of three, had joined the same college in the same department (“God! How could I be so lucky?”). Sheetal, Neha and Rahul had already formed a gang and were inseparable from one another. Sheetal was amazed herself by the way the three of them had bonded so quickly and so deeply.

There was something else too. There was Rahul. Sheetal had secretly fallen in love with him the moment she laid her eyes on him. Fantasizing about that moment had become one of her favourite pastimes of late. There he was-in his most ordinary striped t-shirt, sea-blue jeans and rimless glasses. And Sheetal just totally lost herself. All she could manage was a faint smile and a tentative “hi!”… And they had become instant friends. Neha had naturally joined almost immediately.

Sheetal was reliving her first day in college for the thousandth time when she was forced back to reality by the sound of “Raat Kali Ek Khwaab Mein Aayi”. Neha was calling. Sheetal’s smile broadened as she picked up the phone.

“Hi! What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just checking up on my sweet little best friend.”

“Excellent idea…if it were true! But knowing you-it isn’t.”, Sheetal was laughing as she pulled Neha’s leg, “There’s surely something that you’re itching to tell me.”

“Cummon! Don’t be so mean! Can’t I call you just like that?”

“Chalo cut the bakhwaas and come to the point.” Growing up together does that to you-you can’t but know what’s there on the other person’s mind.

“Umm…well…in a way you’re right. There is something. Nothing important though. It’s a little secret of mine, and like always, I can’t keep secrets from you. You’re right-I was actually itching to tell someone, and that’s because I’m happy, and when you’re happy you want to share your happiness with others…” Neha was speaking too fast. Her obvious embarrassment dug another dimple in Sheetal’s cheek.

“It’s about Rahul,” Neha continued. “He is just amazing isn’t he? …You know what?” Neha seemed to be blushing, “I think I’m starting to like him.”

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