“Hi, I'm Arjun.”
“Hey, you can call me Panda.”
“Yeah, white and black colored, bear like animals…..”
“Yeah. Yeah..I know pandas.. Nice to meet you Panda.”
[This was how our conversation started. We met each other online through some random chatting app and then it was magical, not magical in a way that you might think that it’s a love story, but this isn’t. This is about myself This is my story.]
Panda: “Hi, Arjun! I’m impressed by the way you talk to me. You give respect and space to me. I’d like to talk more with you if you wish so too.”
Arjun: “Hey Panda, definitely man. I’m glad that you liked talking to me.”
Panda: “You’re so nice buddy. Okay, I wasn’t named Panda. I’m Sneha.”
Arjun: “Nice to meet you Sneha, nice name. Sneham means love/friendship, i’m sure you’d be a very good friend to anyone.”
Sneha: “I might be become a good friend to someone but I don’t have any good friends, not anymore. I hate people nowadays.
“Look Arjun, I’ll tell you only if you wish to listen to it completely.”
Arjun: “I promise I will listen to it completely without judging you. You can be open and assured with me.”
Sneha: “It’s been quite sometime, since I’ve been suffering all this and the first time I thought of telling it to someone, it was one of my closest friends, “ I am a not so desirable person. I’m not so fair and I’m definitely not slim. People just can’t stop body shaming me wherever I go. Once or twice it’s fine. But it’s not okay to comment on someone when they’re not taking it in the funny sense that you’re trying to ridicule them” I was laughed at by my own friend who heard the whole story and started calling names and making even more fun along with the others, in fact more than the rest. I hated myself for telling that to him, but can’t help it na.
Sneha: “I go to a place near my house wherein I carry a book and a couple of cigarettes. They serve nice chilled beer, best vegetarian starters and i enjoy my company the most, because no one’s ever heard me.”
Arjun: “Is it Sneha Verma? Your name?”
Sneha: “Come-on dude, here I am telling you my life story and you ask me my surname… Not cool and yeah, it’s not Verma.”
Arjun: “Okay, I’ll guess it and yeah, I’m all ears to everything you say. I understand that body shaming is so prominent in our culture that no one ever cares to talk about it. Even talking about people’s color is so in the trend that we call everyone with names based on their size, shape and colors. Sad but that’s the truth. Can’t help but bring it to more people’s notice.”
Sneha: “Yeah, true. An year later, i was just moving on with everything life has thrown at me. I was being forced to look good for my marriage and I needed to be in shape to my own people to even consider me for my marriage. I started gymming, running, playing some sports and tried whatever I could do to reduce my weight. I consulted my cousin who was elder to me thinking that she would at least help me out of the this little depression and my relatives’ excessive obsession that weddings are only for perfectly shaped chicks and not for the others out here.
I went up to her ”Yaar, i can’t do this anymore. I’m not able to do anything. Its not working and I am not ready for marriage yet. Why’s everyone forcing this on me about my weight and my shape? Don’t you know about my PCOS issue. It’s something that i wish would go away, But God doesn’t want me to solve already piled up problems.. He gives these chronic disorders too”
Sneha: You know what she said Arjun?
“Come on Sneha, people should look at you na? In the wedding hall. You can’t come this way. You have to stop eating rice and stuff, work in the gym for an extra 2 hours it will help you. You know? Sapna ji’s daughter she was 57 a few months before her marriage.. She reduced her weight to 48 because she wanted to be slim and moreover 3 was her lucky number. You have to get inspired by them. PCOS should not be an excuse ma.”
Sneha: “What bullshit man? What is she talking? Is she really in her senses? I do everything to get out of it man. But unfortunately nothings working.”
Arjun: “Sneha Mishra? Is that correct?”
Sneha: “Oh! Seriously man? You’re so immature Arjun. It’s not Mishra too. It starts with ‘A’. Try your best.”
Arjun: “You’ll know how intelligent I am when i guess it correct.”
Sneha: “Every single day after that Arjun, I cried myself to sleep. I don’t have friends who understand me nor the family that understands me. They don’t care about what i want. All they want is their daughter to look slim and sexy to all the random unknown guests when they get me married to some random 10L package IT guy. This is what they expect. They want me to be the Alia Bhatt for the Big Fat North Indian Wedding that they arrange to boast themselves in front of their contemporaries. Duck this shit man.”
Arjun: “It’s quite obvious na, nowadays, the marriages are not for the kids, it’s for the parents to show off how much they have and what all they can do. Total crap with drones, sangeets, hundreds of sweets, a grand set, live streaming. I feel like all these preparations are pretty similar to an IPL match arrangement. The spyder cams, cheergirls, food and drinks, a big ground, live streaming on Hotstar and Sony Six. Woww.. superb. Is it Sneha Arora?”
Sneha: “NO. Not Arora. This is too much. Are you even listening?”
“But i’ve been doing things man. I started working out a lot. Play badminton, do Zumba dance, walking while on the phone, running while not on the phone. Cut out my food cravings, prepared a diet. I want to prove this to every person who ever questioned me and my figure. I want to give tight slipper-slap to all these people with my transformation. I'm doing this for myself even though they want it too, but this is for me and I'm not marrying anyone yet”
Arjun: “Yes, I’m just taking time to process things and don't know what else to reply to you. But whatever you’re doing, I wish you the best in that. Hope things better soon. Is it Ahuja?”
Sneha: “No man. Not Ahuja. It’s not your thing dude, leave it.”
“Thank you for hearing me out Arjun. I never thought someone could care this much. You haven’t talked much about the issues nor try to ridicule me while listening. I now feel better, because it’s been quite sometimes since I’ve told this to someone.”
Arjun: “Nevermind buddy. Anytime for you. In fact, i loved talking to you. Can we meet at the Chitrangada Cafe tomorrow? I’ll tell your surname there.”
Sneha: “Haha, that’s my favorite place, I don’t want you to come there and ruin that feeling for me. And ha, let’s see what you’ve got.”
Arjun: “It’s not for coffee. Are you fine with that?”
Sneha: “Who drinks coffee with friends anyway? Always up for a pint of beer bro. Hifi.”
Arjun: “Hifi. See you tomorrow then.”
[Arjun, I saw him for the first time, he was looking cute, a normally built guy was sitting inside the cafe reading the book “The Girl I’ve met on the App” by Rajiv Nair.]
Just before me walking in to the cafe, he looks at me, comes up to the door and opens it for me, Sneha: “ Quite chivalrous, you are man, Arjun”
Arjun: “I know Ms. Sneha Aishwarya. That’s what we do. We pack in the best possible way and transport it to you in the best possible way.”
“AISWARYA PACKERS AND MOVERS” ( Doing a publicity gig for my DAD’s business)
Sneha: “ HAHA!!! That’s not my name bugger. You’re so crazy. Crazier than I thought”.
Arjun: “I know that’s not your name, but I just wanted you to feel for a split second that I couldn’t find it out. But you’re wrong buddy”
“Your name is Sneha Acharya and I know I am 95% right. Am i not?
Sneha: “What? How the hell did you do that?” Yes I am Snehaa Acharyaa. With an extra ‘A’ at the end of the two names. Interesting.
Arjun: “Because you said vegetarian starters. Who the hell eats vegetarian with Beer? And you said Big Fat North Indian Wedding. I clubbed them both and did some permutations and combinations and then found this. Just kidding, I found your profile using gmail id on Linkedin.
Sneha: “Man, Arjun!!! You’re an impossible retard”
Arjun: “ Yeah.. i know”
[And that’s how I found someone who could listen to my problems and laugh at it when I cry about them.]
Arjun: “Hey, cheers mate Sneha, Can i ask you something? I always wanted to ask.”
Sneha: “Yeah, cheers to you too. Go on and ask.”
Arjun: “What’s your weight dude?”
Sneha: “Piss off Arjun. I’m not talking to you anymore.”
Part I: Crux of Love
Arjun moved out from the AC cabin in the train and stood near the door. Fog formed on his aviator framed eye glasses due to the sudden change in temperature of the surroundings. He was smiling deeply engrossed in his thoughts that he didn't even notice the physical transition happening right in front of his very eyes.
The train was rushing at the rate of knots. The plastic covers thrown out from the trains, that passed by for decades, were trying to catch up with the train. Trees were left behind… People looked like ants and Arjun felt like, he was impersonating Flash.
Just then a familiar face standing beside winked at him. He responded with a smile and nothing else. She was the girl who sat in the opposite berth to his. Three years back, he would have at least tried to impress her but now his mind was just confined to occasional glances and smiles.
The girl started, "Hi... Hii.. I'm Diya. Who are you smiling at?”
“It's nothing. You won't understand it unless you experience love.”
“Oh! Come on... I've been there thrice...” She retorted.
Arjun smiled again and exclaimed, “I can understand the way you were in love and, to be frank, it isn't what you call love.”
She furiously asked, “Okay Mr, how long has it been since you've been in love?”
“Three years to be precise,” Arjun answered.
“OMG! That's like decades! How did you manage? My guy, the second one couldn't breathe for three days and broke up with me as I wasn't available to him during my college trip.”
“Wow! To be frank it is not tough to figure out how you've failed with the other two boys” Arjun retorted sarcastically.
His thoughts time travelled back to the day he met Her.
Her as in....
“What's your name?”, asked Arjun to a cute looking girl in blue dress fitting her in the best possible way.
“It's Aditya sir”, the girl replied in fear.
“What? Aditya? Interesting... Which branch are you in?”
“M.E. sir… and I'm in the same branch as you are in. I've seen you many times within the campus roaming.”
“Aha... so you've been following me keenly... Is that true?” Arjun asked.
“No girl would be foolish enough to accept that sir.”
“So.. Should I take it as a yes or.... ?”
“I leave it up to you sir... By the way sir, I'm running late to class. Can we do this later?” requested Aditya.
“Sure, Adi. That would be fine. Don't forget to send me a friend request.” Said Arjun.
“So, how many women have you been sleeping with? Ever since you left your girl in your hometown?” asked Diya.
“What? Oh! Come on... This thing called love isn't something for fun like a pleasure that people are currently enjoying. It's a promise and once promised we stay united for eternity.” Explained Arjun.
“Ahaa. Is it? What if your beloved girlfriend cheats on you?”, asked Diya sarcastically.
“It's not just a promise. It's trust upon your partner. You stay connected to them no matter what happens and you always stay faithful to the girl even if she cheats on you, which usually doesn't happen”
“Hey, What's your name? You're enlightening me with all your knowledge on romance and relationships.”
“Sir, your name please? It's the fifth meeting and you still haven't given me a chance to interact with you more”, a pleading Aditya was behind Arjun again.
“Don’t you think I am interacting with you in person? What else do you want?”, Arjun was still persistent to make her wait for him.
“I'll be sending you the friend request as you asked sir and we are gonna chat for hours just like everybody out there” Aditya assured.
“It's Arjun, I work in Pune and I am physically and mentally committed to Aditya who is not a guy as the name suggests”, puts his hand forward to symbolise the start of a new friendship.
“Seriously, your girl is soo lucky to have someone who's so cute, handsome, witty and intelligent.”, praised Diya.
“Oh! Come on. You're flattering me. It's just that I respect the feeling and I don't want to spoil the goodwill it has acquired over the years from what life has taught me.”
“That's so sweet of you. Okay then, it's time I leave... My dad's gonna search for me and if he doesn't find me in the berth below his...”, she giggles.
The emptiness of the whole situation creeps back to Arjun’s mind.
“Are you sure you want to do this Arjun?”, questioned Aditya.
“Of course, I'm sure. I know you love me too. It's just a matter of commitment that we would stay together no matter what happens.”
“But I am not so good looking. I may or may not meet you as frequently as we do now. It's all gonna become a burden to you. Why do you want to waste your time with someone like me?”, asked Aditya.
“Look, Adi, external beauty is not my concern and frankly you have a beautiful mind and generous heart. You are more than what I deserve and other issues doesn't matter as long as you are with me. Is it written anywhere that a relationship only will last when two people are together in the same city and meet every day? The onus is upon us to keep our relation strong and running wherever we are. I hope you understand.”
“What if one of your previous crushes returns to you? What happens to me then? As a girl, I only want your commitment to be with me till the end. Other than this, I don't really find a reason to turn down your proposal.”, Aditya finally expressed her concern.
“I wouldn't have come to you if I was still gloating with the thoughts of my previous crushes. Anything I say now would become an exaggerated promise about the future which is never promised, all I can say is that I am damn serious about you and will never ever think of leaving or hurting you”, Arjun assured her.
Part II: Value of Commitment
The cool breeze paved its way through his hairs as the train rushed. His man bun was shattered and his hair was all over his face. The joy you get when your hair's dancing to the wind's tune around your face is never understood by the typical Indian parents who force their children to get their heads almost tonsured every time they see a strand of hair falling onto the forehead. It does really pain high when you have to get a haircut once in every two fortnights.
He recalled to the times when Adi used to play with his hair which was way shorter and trimmed back then, and the smile was back on his face as he was finally going to meet his love after two long years.
He moved back to his seat where Diya was sitting along with her dad. She shot a smile at him. He smiled back and received a stern angry look from her dad.
“Please speak in English only so that my dad won’t get to know what we are speaking and he can also feel proud of his daughter for speaking in English even with strangers.”
“Hahaha... definitely we'll talk in English then… So I want to tell you something. I don't know if I'm close enough to say all this but make sure you select the right person whom you feel you're worthy of and mesmerise him to such an extent that he must lose himself when he's with you. There's no point in you jumping into relations, just hang in there and wait for the magic to happen”, advised Arjun.
“Yes, sir. That's so nice of you and personally I envy your girl. I love you. Not as someone to share the rest of your life but as someone whom I can look up and turn towards when I am in need. Arjun, you made my trip worth. Thank you and my station arrived so goodbye. My number is Nine two zero nine zero nine zero nine two zero. Wish you happiness and success in your life and stay in touch with me.”
“Thank you... I'll be in touch with you for sure. If at all there's anything that bothers you in your life... You can always count on me”, Arjun bid her goodbye and smiled at her dad.
The send off again blasted his thoughts back to....
“I don't want you to leave me here. Why can't you just stay back, Arjun?”, pleaded Aditya.
“How is that possible honey? It's not just the two of us. There are two families with whom we are associated to. Spare a thought about them too. And moreover, no father would want to give his daughter's hand to someone who's unemployed. It's just a matter of two years and I'll be relocating to my own city.”
“I'll miss you, baby. Take care of yourself. Don't forget me, I won't give you a chance to either. Love you loads baby”, hugs him and starts crying.
Arjun wipes her tears and says “Miss you too and I love you more than anyone. I won't forget you. Goodbye... honey”
The feeling of missing her for three years has now overcome with the bliss of meeting her. Two years of loneliness even though he was among many all the time, his heart was nowhere in the vicinity. People loved his company, many girls had a shot at him but he politely refused them. He became a good friend to many colleagues and his decision was often respected and adhered to. Arjun was slowly getting his senses back. The train came to a halt.
He stood on the platform and enjoyed the fresh air. He waited for some more time to see whether there's someone who's gonna receive him at the station.
His phone beeped and the screen blinked with the notification “1 Message from Adi <3”
Arjun immediately unlocked his phone and read the message
All Set ... With Enigma.... Hav A Very Elaborate ...Attributes of Love Respect Experiences Affection Discipline Yearning. ... Don't Engage in Code It's Dead End.. Don't ... Over Note ... What's Here Entails Reason & Execution... We're Ending up to Meet Elephant Eagle Tiger When Horse Egg Nursed.... You Open Up to Return Exile Tragic Untold Rather Not Heroic Opus of My Exuberance. Give your brain some work. I love you... as hell.... please help me baby....”
Arjun was shell-shocked upon seeing the message. He did not even understand a single sentence. He thought “Is she in some kind of problem?”
Arjun was losing control over himself. He was here for her after two long years and here there's something new for him to unravel to reach her. Was it something with the words? Is she trying to say something through the message?
His mind was running out of thoughts. His heart was pounding faster than ever. He did not understand what to do. He was a hell of a confusion and couldn't figure out the meaning of the message. It was like... being asked to write a test after you get your results.
Arjun was in a pretty bad shape and was getting vexed up. He bought a drink and gulped it till the bottle was transparent all over. He had no one else who could understand his problem. All his friends were out of town working.
He picked up the phone, gave her a call and was responded with the message “The subscriber number you're trying to call is currently switched off” and so he pinged her on WhatsApp, nudged her on Hike, messaged her on Hangouts but nothing helped...
Was this some kind of a prank or an intelligence test to him. He was perplexed. He thought maybe he should read the message over again. Not even a bit went into his head. He went through it again, but couldn't find success.
He was pretty good at solving puzzles. He thought of deducing something out from the message. He tried everything with the words and their meanings. Just then it struck him that there were capital letters for every word in the message. So he thought writing them on a piece of paper and then he was smiling finally after struggling for 45 mins.
AS … WE HAVE... ALREADY DECIDED.... ON ....WHERE… WE … MEET .... WHEN … YOU RETURN.... HOME.
was what it meant.
He hired a cab and reached the destination within no time. He was no alien to the serene atmosphere, it was their combined favourite meet up spot. It was a café, that provides customizable customer friendly space for every visiting member to the café, which was run by a group of fat and pompous, crazy about love guys, who are the only heirs to their also fat politician daddy's’ immense wealth.
The wonderful ambience and the services offered by the café were exquisite and are second to none. Both Arjun and Aditya have had some very good times and some bitter times too at the same place, so they have decided to meet up there.
The moment Arjun entered into their own private space in the café. He dashed Aditya who was on the way for a hug.
There were tears in her eyes but that doesn't mean that she was sad. Arjun patted her, rubbed her back, took her face in his hands looked into her deep eyes, removed his glasses while still looking into her eyes, got closer to her face. Aditya closed her eyes waiting for something to happen, clutched the hem of her top in anticipation… she sighed a relief and released the pressure of her hands on the hem of the top when Arjun planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, the church hall door creaks open. A man with shabby clothes and piercings all over the body walks down the aisle towards the confessional. The church father who has already seen the person entering, moves over to the other side of the confessional and occupies his seat.
"Father, I have a confession to make.”
"Yes please, my son. That's the reason I'm here, to wash away all of your sins in the name of the Lord." Having said that, Father did his usual thing.
"I want to kill somebody who has done a great deal of wrong things.”
"Why do you want to take the extreme measure son? Everybody will be eventually punished by the Almighty himself. Anyways tell me, whom do you want to kill?", quizzed the father.
"It's you father. You are the one whom I want to kill.”
"What! me? Why are you gonna kill me, my son?" asked the Father.
"I won't give you a reason, but I have the habit of telling people a story each time I do this."
"So, I'm not the only person who's a victim to your craziness. Okay, tell me. I have other works to complete, please be quick.”
"Yes, Father. It will be finished in no time, the moment my story ends the task is completed and you may do your works", he said it smiling wickedly at the Father.
"Once there lived a small family in a rural area of the state. Almost all the families in that neighbourhood were daily labourers working for a construction company nearby. This small family consisted of a father, a mother and their only son.
The story goes like this, every day after his day's work the husband used to get back to his home fully drunk and late in the night. The action starts when the wife questions him why he is wasting the money on drinking. He gets agitated by her questions, pulls her by the hair and dashes her face against the wall. He takes out his belt and keeps on attacking her with the belt until he gets tired. The torture levels kept increasing day by day and after sometime all these incidents even kept happening in front of their son. He was not bothered by the presence of the kid and kept on hurting his wife without any mercy.
This had to end somehow. The mother kept chalking out a plan to end this horrible torture and the day had finally come. She caught hold of his hand which was pulling her hair, overpowered him with all her might. It was an easy task as he was drunk and low on his senses. She got over him, took out his belt started going frantic over him whip-lashing him with fury. She unfortunately kills him in the heat of the moment and doesn't even feel guilty about the incident.
The only thing that bothers her is her son who happens to watch the whole murder sequence where his mother gets her reward after all the sufferings over the years. That kid now became a 15 year old and is no more a kid. She didn't want the kid to be publicising about the murder of his father to the villagers. She quickly went over to him, tied his hands at the back with the belt and smashes his head with an iron rod to make him unconscious.
She clears off her husband’s body by throwing it into the nearby lake and returns home without getting noticed by anyone. She then takes her revenge on her husband by torturing her son as he was the scion of the brutal animal who abused her all life long. Slapping was just a start and he was her sandbag.
With the death of her husband, she created a scene to the villagers that he had gone to his mother's place and would be coming in short period of time. She found work easily and earned her food and money. She scarcely used to feed her son and assumed her husband every single time she saw the weak and pale body that had been tied to the pillar of the house and tortured him in the every possible way she could.
The son's life became a mess and two years later she started smoking and drinking and the torture after that was her entertainment and it happened almost every other day. He couldn’t take it any longer, his will to live was almost dying. He was pierced all over his body, eyes would be drooling due to lack of food and sleep. He was 23 at the same time his mother's health worsened due to the excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. She freed him finally and his revenge started.
He started out with bruises all over his body went to a hospital got himself cleaned up. His mind was soaring with the repeated torture and he had just a single thing in his mind. He wanted to kill all those husbands who took to domestic violence against their wives. From that day onwards, his only aim in life is to eradicate the brutal husbands.
By now you would have understood why I've come to you, my Father...." he started laughing.