Tag Archives: love

Forging new relationships off the crumbs of that are no more

Both my father and mother grew up in large families. My father had seven siblings, my mother had three. Of the two, my father was the one who liked socializing the most. He was someone who would try to connect with a random stranger, ask them where they were from and try to find a common acquaintance in the most absurd of ways.

Now that my father is gone, we have been getting so many phone calls from so many different people who have been touched by him in some ways at some points in their lives. There have been relatives with whom we had fallen out of touch, few who we have never spoken to before, several with whom we sort of stopped contact because of differences. In spite of my mother’s frustration, my father kept up with them all. He never would explain why it was important for him to stay in touch with people. He fought with my mom when she got upset about him calling people who didn’t speak to us.

Now that he is no more, those people are calling us and treating us with so much kindness. When our hearts are so broken, their voices and the way they speak about my father are helping us cope. It reminds me how powerful keeping in touch is.

We have all taken our lives for granted, our relationships for granted. We do not forgive easily, we hold onto hurt and anger. Yet in times like this, every morning when I wake up and feel fine physically, I feel gratitude. Even when I console my grieving mother, I tell her that while we have lost something, we still have so much to hold onto.

I try now to spend a bit more time speaking to friends and relatives over the phone, trying to get to know them, learnings bits and pieces of their lives. Maybe this is how I am subconsciously channeling my father’s spirits.

It’s true what they say: the people we love may not be physically present with us, but they are always with us in spirit. It’s true because when you’re faced with a loss so deep, you learn to base your decisions not just by your worldview, but by those of the ones that you lost. In that way, our dead are never dead. They live in us as long as we live. Or as long as we keep them alive in our memories.

Longing

If there was a chance, I’d linger.

But we have been walking

On vastly different paths

And each day, so far

Even though we are

Who we are,

Smile as we speak,

Speak as we think;

In each other, we exist,

There are growing microchasms

Unseen to the naked eye.

Little molecules,

Lost in the vortex of the Universe,

We are in a centrifugal storm.

Each day, the parts of Us

That existed

In each other, cease to be.

We smile, knowing that the paths

Will suddenly take an abrupt turn,

And there can be only moving on;

There can be no pause.

No moment to look into your eyes

And talk about the deep longing in my heart

No moment to let you know

That if there was a chance,

If only you’d let me,

I’d linger

For a journey we can walk together.

And meet at a secret spot

Many years later

When everyone has stopped to look.

If only you’d let me

Know that I’d linger.

Know that I’d wait

As we both

Separately, wait for a conjoined Fate.

© 2020 Arpita Pramanick

Some nights speak to you in poetry…

Some nights speak to you. It sits with you, as you hug yourself and tell yourselves lullabies.

Some nights watch you like a predator, a big cat in the night. Shiny eyes sparkling through a tiny gap in the bush.

Some nights writhe in pain, and ask you questions. Why? Why? Why? The sound of your heartbeats. Dum-dum-dum-dum-da-dum-dum.

Some nights listen to you as you tell the stories.

Some nights break into a million tears, and vermilion paints the sky red.

Some nights the moon is oddly absent, and big cities do not see the soul of an owl.

Some nights gasps for breath, as you await the final word.

Some nights, after all is said and done, and goodbyes float, some nights, they lull you to peace.

 

Date: 23rd March, 2019

Written within half an hour of watching Masaan. Inspired.

Why would you make actors act if you don’t point the camera at them? Sometimes, it is good.

Hello, December!

Dear reader,

A warm Hello to you. Where are you as you read this? Curled up in a warm blanket, with a coffee in your hand? Or are you in a bus or a subway, commuting to office and peacefully reading a slice of other people’s lives, as passengers move in and out at each stop? Or are you in your garden, with a hose in your hand, watching over the big roses that you planted few weeks back? Or are you looking out a grey window, watching over buildings from a glass house, wondering about the purpose of your life?

I am on my bed, my blue blanket snuggled under my legs. My back is against the wall. On my left, from the window daylight shines like in a cloudy day. A motorbike just passed by, wheezing out noise. A carpenter is knocking repetitively on a plank of wood somewhere. Other than that, the sound of my typing into this blank screen adds to the audio spectrum. There is a feeble wind outside as I can see the leaves of a big, nameless tree fluttering. It is about 11.00 AM in the morning.

I have a busy workday ahead of me. At work, we are currently trying to understand how cloud platforms work. My mind is also filled with a bunch of creative ideas, still in their nascent stage, in want of fleshing out. I just finished writing a small piece which will go as a voice-over in one of my videos.

December is here. And to tell you the truth, the cold ain’t so bad yet. I am seeing folks updating pictures of snow on Facebook and WhatsApp statuses, but I don’t feel the chill yet. In a few days, Christmas will be here. The malls, the churches will light up in fairy lights and Christmas trees. It would be a spectacle to behold. We will exchange Secret Santa gifts at work. Maybe, we will go out on 24th night, me and my teammates, and we will sit in front of a church as the night turns into 25th. The air will be chilly, and people would be in colorful sweaters. We will eat cake after the service is over, wish each other merry Christmas, and return home to our comfortable beds.

December is that month when we take stock of the year. The memories that were made. The profits and losses. The balance sheets of life. Did we accomplish our 2018 resolutions? Did we lose that stubborn belly fat? Did we travel more, write more, and make new friends? Did we get over our heartbreaks? Did we lose a loved one? How do we summarize the year, put a final sum in the balance sheet and decide what to prioritize in the coming year?

The coming year. A new blank slate where no child has drawn a unsteady line with the white chalk. A new blank slate,before the duster has been rubbed. A new blank slate with the promise of incredible things happening. A year full of promise. To ourselves, and to others.

As I write this, a fraction of sunlight comes through my window – as if the sun understands the palpable glee in my heart as I write this. In this moment, I am peaceful. In this moment, I am full of hope. In this moment, I do not care how today will turn out and if we will meet the client’s expectations. In this moment, I feel confident that I will do well, today and in the times to come. In this moment, I am truly myself.

Are you?

Love,

Arpita

A Magical Day

There are days when you just feel good about life. Everything seems to fit perfectly into the grand scheme of life.

On these days, maybe someone tells you about how you add value to their lives, or help them out in tough situations.

Maybe an old friend walks up to you and you go for a cup of coffee or tea together.

Maybe you walk amongst the busy city streets, passing snail-like traffic and tree-lined avenues, the wind blowing your hair.

Maybe you pour your heart out in your writing.

Maybe you decide on a change in life.

Maybe you see a smile on someone else’s face, and you feel happy in their happiness.

These are days when it feels good to be on the face of Earth, even as the industries and cars blow smoke into the air, people die and hearts break. These are days that are just perfect.

Today was one such day.

What is true love?

What is true love? It is loving the same person, the same place all the time? Can two people, who are growing everyday, becoming fuller and truer versions of themselves, always stay in sync of each other’s changes and stay right for each other? Is it unlikely that we outgrow the people that we love, not because they are bad people, but our growth makes us need different things at different points in our lives?

Somewhere, all of us crave for change. We want to do different things, learn different things, eat different things, live differently. However, often, when are standing at the cusp of a change, we draw back. We look hard into ourselves and wonder, is the change even required? We talk ourselves into the thousand things that are going well for us. We think about the people who are in our lives, the memories we have made with them. We think about the things that we are so used to using. We remember the usual roads that we take, the convenience of the neighborhood that we live in.

Interestingly, when we are far away from change, we nitpick and find faults with our current existence: we complain about how the apartment we are living in is not cool enough, how we have to deal with too much traffic in the cities that we live in, how the people around us are difficult. But standing at the cusp of change, those same things feel wonderful, comfortable, and loving.

For almost three years now, I have been living in the same apartment, working in the same job. I had always told myself that I wanted to travel, live in another country. Now, when the situation is finally presenting itself to me (not the foreign travel, just yet), I am feeling a sense of lethargy. I just want to lie with my face hidden in my soft pillow and wish things could go on in the same manner for the remainder of my life. I wish I was still working with the people I first met when I joined my workplace – so very few of them are now left in the workplace.

But that’s the thing – even if we wished for things to stay the same, they won’t. There was a time when people lived the same lifestyle their entire lives, didn’t move around much, didn’t change jobs, lived in the same neighborhood all their lives, became an extended family to the neighbors – cried in their sad times, were happy for their happiness – but the times have changed. People who we want to hold on to leave all the time, and we have to just sit back and accept it. Partly because, today there are so many opportunities. Partly because, today, even as young employees, we can afford so much. People delay their marriages all the time these days, so nobody is tied down by family needs. We all have invisible wings now – we all can fly away and grow roots in a town very different from the ones we grew up in, speak other languages, sing different songs, eat different cuisine.

Yet, standing in this 21st century, my heart does ache from time to time for a time when things were not-so-dynamic – when you could fall in love with one person and could just die happily being married to them, having built a family around them.

Once upon a time, I looked down upon our generation for moving from one relationship to the other, as if relationships really do not have an expiry date. However, having lived a few more years on this Earth, having known a bunch of more people, I realized all relationships have an expiry date. Sometimes, we do outgrow the people we love, sometimes, we grow to dislike the same people who we once loved. It is natural and it is not a bad thing. Change gives us an opportunity to start with a new slate, fix the things that we earlier could not.

But in all this, if we do find those people, those places, who we want to come back to again and again, even after we have ended our relationships, because even if in the short period they do not match our needs, but in the long term we realize the importance of their presence in our lives, I guess, we have found true love.

Love, unrequited

There is something beautiful in getting to know a person. To spend solitary moments with him/her in the wee hours of a morning, sitting in the balcony of a high-rise, watching the stars watch over the Earth and her inhabitants, fast asleep. There is something beautiful in munching on the past, a past that possibly has no bearing to the upcoming future, or perhaps, has everything to do with it.

There is something beautiful in sharing simple moments, without the expensiveness of food or extravagance of a well-arranged party. There is something beautiful in just discussing the past, looking at digital copies of a faded past – a past that is sepia in our memories, but still as colorful in their digital versions.

There is something beautiful in well-balanced silence. Silence that comes in between conversations, naturally, not because all that could be said has been exhausted, but because they add subtext to what has been told – in deep understanding and acceptance.

There is a lot of pain in hopes that will possibly never be fulfilled. I wish I could say there was something beautiful in love that is unrequited, something beautiful in the pain, something beautiful in the missing. But what is possibly beautiful in a flower that’s nipped in the bud? A promise of a beautiful future, a future that will never be.

Give me a solid promise. Give me a solid future. For once, give me something that I can hold onto, something as solid as the comfort of a hug in a restless night, something that calms me to sleep after weeks of insomnia.

Love, unrequited.

‘Us’ does not exist

I have seen them in the traffic jam, in the lines of waiting crowd, when she sat back on his bike and caressed the dog peering outside the window of the car next to them.

I have seen them in front of the museum; him holding the kid in his arms, her trying to find something desperately from the cheap green faux leather bag. Perhaps, she was fishing for the blue handkerchief to rub the snot below the baby’s nostrils, or the bubble gum to keep it silent.

I have seen them in shopping malls, sitting together with big cups of coffees on small white table, flanked by matching white chairs. She had a brown leather sling bag and long leather boots. He looked chic in a pair of blue jeans and white shirt.

I have seen them in buses, in the metro, in the pool cab that I take to save money that needs to be paid towards the bills.

I have seen the love, the care that flows between a man and a woman. The care that one finds in little day-to-day things. The way the girl on the bike holds onto her boyfriend in black leather jacket in one hand and in the way she caresses the dog with the other. I have seen the attraction in the eyes which reflects the coffee table. New love is always fire.

The married couple in the front of the museum can be just about anyone, with a kid early in their marriage because he did not believe in planning and she had no choice.

Perhaps, they had fought on the way to the museum. Her bickering about the nagging kid, him tired of her tantrums. Perhaps, the boy on the bike is going to drop the girl off for good and ride his own separate direction. Maybe, the couple on the coffee date will no longer meet for the next one, because she speaks a little too much and he turns out to be a snob.

But, in the moment that I see them, in the moment my heart skips a beat at the sight of people doing ‘couple’ things, I miss you.

I miss you on my way to work, when a random stranger walks by wearing the same perfume that you wear. I miss you when I re-record songs in a broken voice and send to all the people who do not matter, but stop before sending to you, because I no longer can.

I miss you in them. I miss us in them.

Us does not exist.

You and I do.

In separate cities, in separate worlds evolving around us.

(c) 2017 Arpita Pramanick

Never let go

WordPress reminded me it is my 2 year anniversary today. To celebrate that, 8let me share with with you all a story I wrote today. After all, the primary reason for starting this blog was to become a better story-teller. Let me know what you think!


Never let go

Arpita Pramanick

It was the spring of 2009. The winter chill had not yet gone from the suburban air, but summer was slowly making its presence known. People had begun to turn on the ceiling fans.

For the past few days, thick dark clouds hovered over the small, independent houses as soon as the clocks ticked four. The air would suddenly stop moving. There would be a momentary hot phase. Then the cool winds would start rushing in. The trees would bend with its vigor and the clouds would look darker than ever. They seemed to be carrying deep, dark secrets. Only, the rains would not come as fierce.

In the newly painted Mukherjee house, Supriya was pacing in the balcony. She was frustrated with the clouds. Why couldn’t it rain and be done with? She desperately needed to make a move. Tomorrow, the boy’s family would come to bless her. Probably, the final plans of marriage would also be chalked out tomorrow. Ever since her uncle brought news of this probable match, her mother had been extra cautious with her. She would not let Supriya go anywhere alone. Even her phone calls were monitored, Supriya realized. They would not let her go to the roof even to pick up clothes in the afternoon.

“You are getting married in a month,” her mother said. “I don’t want to wear you out with all these chores now. Just rest and try to look perfect for your wedding.”

But no matter how hard Supriya tried, she could not get rid of the dark circles under her eyes. No matter how hard she tried, she could not close her eyes in the night.

Her mother would notice her restlessness and run her fingers through her hair.

“It is for good, this marriage,” she said. “The boy is an accountant. He can take care of you.”

Supriya tried to think about the boy. Arohan Banerjee. Tall, fair, well-mannered. His hair was neatly combed and he wore a distinctive perfume. He liked books, he had told her. Yes, if her heart was not someplace else, she could willingly marry Arohan Banerjee. She could probably fall in love with him too.

But every time she thought about Arohan, the simple eyes of a dark face would rake through her mind’s eye. Yagnik Roy. Her first love, her heartbeat.

They met in college. He was one of those rare people who was rowdy and polished at the same time. He fought with the guys in the football field when they called names. He answered every question the professors asked with deep thinking and always said something that no one else in the class seemed to come up with.

The beautiful Supriya Mukherjee was initially duly ignored by Yagnik Roy. But once they started talking, everything seemed pre-determined to Supriya.

But Yagnik was not the one who let his feelings be known first. It was just after the Durga Puja holidays in the second year. She had not seen him after the college closed for vacation. Unlike every year, Supriya did not enjoy one day of the glorious festival. Not seeing Yagnik bothered her more than she had thought.

After the college reopened, she had called him after class, held his hand urgently in her hand and told him to accept her. He seemed surprised at first at the urgency of her emotion. But then, the gentle pressure of his hand in hers told her his answer.

Yagnik was a passionate lover. Ever since he discovered love in Supriya, it seemed something in him changed. He became more polite outwardly, but would be very upset if Supriya did not turn up for college one day. It seemed that he wanted her every moment he could have with her. If he saw her talking to some other boy, he would grow tense and refuse to talk to her for days. The said boy would definitely get into some kind of trouble afterwards.

When Supriya finally confronted him one day about his behavior, he simply said, “You are my need. I need you completely or not at all. Your choice.”

As she paced up and down in the balcony, Supriya thought what Yagnik must be going through now. They had not spoken in ten days. He was appearing for job interviews. He had known Supriya’s parents were looking for her marriage and that bothered him.

The last time they had met in a tea shop near their college.

“Give me two months, Su. I will not disappoint you,” he had said. Her hands trembled in his. Had they been in a more private place, they would have kissed.

“I cannot live without you,” he said when they said their goodbyes. “You know I can’t. You have to wait for me.” Supriya almost had tears in her eyes.

Surpiya needed one chance to speak with him. She needed to tell him she was waiting. He  could take all the time in the world he needed, she would still wait for him.

The winds stopped blowing. The clouds vanished. The sky grew dark with evening. The womenfolk began to blow conch shells. The Mukherjee household was preparing to receive the would-be son-in-law and his family the next day.

***

Arohan Banerjee had loved Supriya the day he had set his eyes on her. She had looked absolutely stunning in the blue, checkered sari she had worn when they first came to see her two weeks ago.

Today, however, as she sat on the sofa in front of Arohan and his family, she looked tired.  She would not meet his eyes.

Nonetheless, it was a big day for Arohan. Besides his father, mother and younger brother, his grandmother had also come to see the would-be bride. Madhulika Banerjee put her thin, crumpled, trembling hands on Supriya’s chin and said, “Such a lovely girl. You will be loved more in our house than your are in this house. I, the groom’s grandma guarantee this.” She put her hands on Supriya’s head now. “Don’t look so sad, dear. You will not miss this home at all once you step foot in our house.” She gave Supriya a small golden coin. “My husband gave this to me on our wedding day. Small token from an old woman to the Banerjee family’s would-be daughter-in-law.” Then the old woman kissed Supriya on her cheek.

Supriya fought hard to resist her tears. Somehow, she felt a connection with the old woman. She felt like she could tell her all her troubles. Something Supriya did not even feel about her own mother.

Then the moment passed. The servants brought in food. The elders started discussing possible dates.

Arohan tried to speak to Supriya. But she could not answer any of his questions. His brother, Anuran, was a different case though. He had already started calling her Boudi, the name reserved for sister-in-law. He was still in school. He made her take him into the house, show him around. He looked at Supriya with interest and a happy smile. Clearly, she had been a huge hit with him.

“When you come to our house, I will eat only what you cook. Dada said the fish you cooked the other day was delicious. My mom makes horrible fish. You must cook for me.”

Supriya laughed at the young boy’s innocent demands. No wonder she would be deeply cared for in the Banerjee household. She saw herself in the evenings, watching TV serials with her future mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law while Anuran studied in his room. Arohan and his father would not have returned from work yet. Supriya would be cutting the vegetables as they watched the television drama. Suddenly, her mother-in-law would say, “Careful, Supriya! You would have just cut yourself.” And then she would take the knife and the vegetables and start chopping them herself. She would not listen to any of Supriya’s entreaties to let her continue.

“Just watch and learn. You will have to do this for many more years, silly girl! Enjoy while the old ladies can do the work for you,” her mother-in-law would say.

Four hours later, Arohan’s family left.  Supriya’s father beamed at the hospitality the guests had shown towards Supriya and her family. “Such lovely people! Supriya Ma, they will really take good care of you.”

***

After many days, Surpiya had a good sleep that night. Towards the morning, she was dreaming. In her dream Arohan’s grandmother was patting her head, giving her the gold guinea. Then she was in the bedroom. She was lying on the bed. Arohan came inside and shut the door behind him. It looked like they had been married for some time now. In her dream, Supriya was happy to see Arohan. She was smiling. He came to her and hugged her. His lips touched hers. After a brief moment, when he let her breathe, she looked into his eyes.

And then Supriya woke up with a start. She felt like the dark pair of eyes was still on her, looking at her with pain. Slowly, the pain became disgust. Supriya struggled to breathe. A deep sense of shame filled her entire body. She felt like she had cheated on Yagnik. She felt certain that he had known her deceitfulness and would never accept her again.

“Please. I love you and no one else,” she entreated. Beside her, her mother shifted in the bed, not quite awake yet.

That morning, it rained like it had never rained before. Supriya was completely drenched when she knocked furiously on the blue door Yagnik had shown her. She had never been inside his house.

“Coming, coming,” Yagnik’s voice came. “Don’t break the door please.”

Yagnik was surprised to see the drenched woman at the door. His lips curved upwards in a smile.

“About time,” he said, holding her hand and pulling her inside. “Let me get a towel. The Mukherjees don’t have umbrellas or what?”

“Wait,” Supriya held on to his hand, stopping him from getting that towel. “I ran from home.”

“You did what?” Yagnik cried.

Supriya looked into his deep, dark eyes searching for an answer. Was he angry? Would he make her go away? What would she do then?

For a moment, Yagnik looked into her wet eyes. Then Supriya felt the familiar pressure of his hand in hers. Her heartbeat relaxed. Her body felt limp as he pulled her into a hug. “Good thing is,” he said, “I have a job now.” His lips kissed her hair.

Copyright © 2017 Arpita Pramanick