Monday, November 06, 2006

So long...maybe not.

They'd been friends in college; an occasional chat here and there at the canteen, but that was about it. She was seeing the student union's president at the time and was looked on with grudging respect. He'd seen her campaign enthusiastically during the elections. The only reason he could even snatch a few moments with her was because they shared the same passion for music and were members of the college cultural club. Wasn't something that people noticed, but he'd rarely shown his admiration for her even otherwise.

*****

Raj climbed the stairs apprehensively. Would she recognize him? 15 years was a long time. He'd gotten her address from a common friend who just happened to know her address. It was pure luck. A lot had happened in between. A million questions in his head.

*****

He rang the door-bell and waited, checking his breath. He'd cut down to a half-pack and on his way to quitting it altogether. But he didn't want to spoil the first impression after so many years. Why was he here at all, he wondered.

A head peeped out. It was dark inside.

"Yes?"

"Uh, Mrs. Sandeepa?"

The old man, her father perhaps, opened the door wide and squinted his thick-glassed eyes to study Raj.

"Who are you?"

"Uh..sir, I'm an old friend, college mate? I was in town and I learned..."

"Come in, come in."

Was this really Sandeepa's house? It looked like a stable. There was an unidentifiable stench coming from the far end of the house. Raj squirmed and slowly sat down on the tattered couch.

"Am sorry..this.." the old man looked around.

"Uh, it's ok...sir."

"Sandeepa has gone out. She'll be back soon..uh would you..?"

"No, sir, it's ok."

They sat, neither speaking, for a while. The stench now vanished. Maybe his nose had gotten used to it now. The old clock on the wall tick-tocked the boredom away. He looked around. Sparse, minimalistic furniture. He had a mind to leave. It wasn't worth it maybe. But then, the prospect of meeting Sandeepa after so many years kept him glued.

The door-bell rang. The old man left to answer it. Raj's pulse quickened. He heard them talking. The female voice sounded surprised. Then she walked in.

"Raj?"

"Uh..hello..Sandeepa." He rose to greet her.

*******

The sound of traffic below was strangely comforting. They sat sipping tea in the tiny sitout. The lunch was simple, but adequate. He looked at her. Still the same. A few wrinkles perhaps, but the same. She looked at him and smiled.

"You don't believe what I just said, don't you?"

"Hmm? Oh no..no, not at all, I do believe it. I.." Actually he did find it hard to believe it. But as far as he knew her, she wasn't someone to just make something up, not after 15 years at least.

"So...Neha."

He nodded.

She was dreamy now. "Yes, I met her a few months back and we exchanged addresses. How's she? And how her children have grown, na? Imagine..naughty Neha, with her own naughty ones." They laughed, going back to the college canteen for a few seconds.

He smiled. He wondered if she had any children of her own. This wasn't the time to ask.

He rose.

"Keep in touch, Raj." Was there a tear in the corner of her eye? Guess not...

"I will. thanks. You too..And take care."

They shook hands. He held her hand for a fleeting second more. She didn't seem to mind.

He nodded gently at her father and started down the wooden stairs. She was leaning on the railing.

*******

He started the car and lit up a cigarette. Then he shook his head, smiled and threw it out.

26 comments:

Apun Ka Desh said...

Interesting Blog Title - Malignant Humour in my head !! hehe .. good one. So will you be completing this story? Or.. is this all there is to it... let readers provide you next set of clues.

phatichar said...

apun: That's it, so far as I'm concerned, but why not, am game? Got any ideas?? :) And welcome, btw...

Prerona said...

Hmmmm. Ye kaisa hain ... I think I just didnt get it. Lemme read it again

Full2 Faltu said...

I did not get it. Kuch beech main rah gaya ya its one of the stories where reader make thier own interpretion. Just like the movie "Shining" or "2001 a space oddesy". Stanley Kubrick eh?

-Punds

Ash said...

Ya, I'm a bit confused too.

dharmu said...

then what happened??????

half your stories leave me wondering, er,, like "yun hota to kya hota???"

Harsha said...

arre...ur readers are all confused again :)

I recently met a classmate of mine recently after 6 yrs. Know that feeling meeting someone after a long time. The story has a romantic angle to it. Thats what makes it different than mine :)

Kinda got confused with him calling her Sandeepa.....He should have said Neha when he rose to greet her :)

Nice one.... :)
Maybe its time for another murder story now ;)

Harsha said...

Totally loved the cigarette para. Nice and subtle. :)

phatichar said...

All: Ahem...looks like I did it again. But this time round, I meant this story to be like this - a bit unsolved, a bit mysterious. Something like those 'Art' movies we watched on DD, hmm? :) Just for a change...just a simple episode of a guy meeting his college crush after a long time. All the other things don't really matter.

Pre: I guess I was inspired by Rituparno...I like his style of movie-making :)

punds: yeah, you got it pal..

Ash; 'ts ok, happens.

dharmu; that's the angle of this story, there is no 'then what happened'..I guess some stories are best left to the reader's interpretation. :)

Harsha: I know! :) Well, Neha was the girl who gave him the address. Read that part carefully again :)

Vin said...

oops!! i got lost... will re-read it ....

prasil said...

I got it. I got it! :)

Tafosi said...

Love you stories, but this one has me stumped. I thought I had it but after reading your response to Harsha, I've lost it again. Come on what is it.

d4u said...

I have not got it...it has left me clueless!!!

Full2 Faltu said...

The way I see it, Sandeepa was Raj's crush in college. Although attracted to each other, they could not come closer due to circumstances in spite of both desiring the same.

Now years later Raj gets Sandeepa's address through Neha, a common friend.

Now if you look at the end, depending on if you are optimisitic or pessimistic you can draw you conclusion.

If you want a good ending, then Raj smiles at the end because He is hopeful on meeting Sandeeepa again and then renew thier friendship and maybe fall in love all over again. As she was living with her father, she was not married anymore and there are chances of renewing of thier bond.

If you don't believe in happy ending then Raj smiles at the end because he realizes that years have changed a lot in both of them. Had he showed more appreciation in thier college days, the relation would have been different. He smiles at the end when he realizes the cruel fate of destiny.

I see it this way. Any other conclusion is welcome!

-Punds

phatichar said...

Vin: nothing to lose, girl...is it that complicated? Come on, it's a simple 'admirer-meets-old-crush' routine, tha's all :)

prasil: welcome. Pray, what did you get? :)

Tafosi: thanx friend..there's nothing to it really...just plain ol' story-telling. Guess my regular crime numbers keep my readers 'guessing' about every story I write. :)

d4u: Like I said..nothing to be got, and there are no clues.. :)

Punds: Man, you're ready to take me on! That's the closest interpretation of what I might've had in mind, were I to pen a more complete version of the same story here. 100 marks to you, pal. :)

All: See? That's the point. It isn't a whodunnit, it isn't about any twist - just a plain ol' story, interpret any which way you want. But glad all of you involved so much...very gratifying, really. Thanks..

SilenceKilled said...

Meeting Old Flame........
I never got a chance to meet mine ;)

phatichar said...

silence: maybe you will, someday..hang in there. :)

kay said...

hey, new here, read ur recent blog..will certainly read the rest of it....nice style of writing.Fragmented.precise.

kay said...

ohh...it was short story in itself...??well i thought it to be an excerpt of a longer version.

phatichar said...

kay: welcome :). thanks..yeah, most of my stories are short capsules, not excerpts of longer versions, tho' I've been toying with the idea of a novel/novella based on a couple of stories here...let's see.

Ashish said...

This one had a twist in the end, there was no twist and no end :-).
U keep on waiting for something to happen, maybe for the stench to be something malignant, but this time I did get surprised. Read the story again.

phatichar said...

ashish: :)

Neers said...

this is more like...lemme see...i had snippets in my head... could/could not be connected... write them down... tie them somehow... i would say, good take!

submit to: http://www.pitwit.com

phatichar said...

neers: heheh..yeah, that's the basic idea anyways...

Nirav said...

Hi,

Umm... sorry to be sounding dumb, but...

"You don't believe what I just said, don't you?"

Is it about her confessing her feelings for him during college days?

Yes, I too feel what people have said - quite a different one from your usual stories.

Regards,
Nirav

phatichar said...

nirav: not at all, that was a very valid question, one that even I asked after I read my own story ;). You see, that's something which I just left for the readers to imagine, that she recounted something about her life, which seemed absurd..and maybe she felt he didn't believe it. But what exactly that was, we dont' know. And I simply didn't have the patience to pen it all down there. Like I said, this was a fragmented piece, very unlike me I agree...just a...what can I say, 'literary liberty' that I took? So, don't read too much into it. :)