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Teasing you back to life

 

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Ever dared to wonder if you could change the tides of loss and time?

Just by moving a few pieces around the board, right under his nose, as he tends to the world like a distracted games master.

If I changed the dates on that god fearing calendar, will you come back to mark your tidy expenses in the large while margins?

If I rearranged the spice boxes in the wrong order, could I irritate you long enough to conjure your ire?

If I bury my face in your essence, will you return, only to peel it from my fingers and throw it for a well earned wash?

If I leave all the lights on, will I see you in the morning when I need them no more and I need you no less?

Come back won’t you? There are no games without your rules. No salt without your spice. There is no tenable proof of life.

And here is my last offer to you. Take it or leave it.

If I stare at the door long enough, will I live to see you resurrect and walk back in? To never leave again.

When Vada Pav saved Valentine’s day

HeartSameeksha woke up with a smile on her face. While slaving away on her laptop the previous night, her only solace had been that she had a big bright spot to look forward to
The following day. The last few months had taken a toll on her. Between Sujit and her hectic travel, Anaaya’s school , the home madness, somewhere along the way, the phonecalls had reduced in frequency, the intimacy was at an all time low and it seemed as if they were familiar friends passing each other every day instead of the head over heels in love struck couple they had traded places with. Nothing was wrong as such, she often chided herself, but deep inside it didn’t feel right either. But today, everything would change. Valentines day would fix everything. She would take a half day, go to the salon, finish everything in time for her romantic date with Sujit and they would sip champagne into the night, just like old times and all would be right with the world again.

But what they say about the best laid plans often hitting dirt rang true for Sameeksha on the worst day possible.
‘What the hell is wrong with you!? How can you not run this by me before going to the client?’ A few hours into work and she had already lost her cool a few times. Nevously glancing at her watch didn’t make the day go any faster. Sujit called just before lunch to check on her and she ended up being testy with the person she was trying to desperately get through the day for.
‘I’m sorry Sujit’ she apologised. ‘Its just been a harrowing day. One crisis after another, I’m surrounded by fools who can’t fix anything. The maid keeps calling because theres no water at home, Anaaya’s
School teacher called because she got into a fight with some boy and.. and.. look at the time! I need to get to the parlour. We have a reservation at 8:30 pm.’
‘Darling, its okay if we don’t go for dinner. Really..its..’
‘What do you mean! It took me forever to get a table at the best restaurant in town. And I’ve told all our friends about it. We are going for dinner. I don’t care how!’ she almost shouted with frustration.
‘Ok Ok. Don’t get stressed. We will go’ Sujit tried to soothe her frazzled nerves. ‘See you soon love.’

Just when she was leaving office, 2 hours after her salon appointment, the car decided to break down. Leaving instructions with the security guard, she ran to get a taxi. With every passing second, looking at the hands ticking away, she felt like the day was slipping out of her hands. The final nail in the coffin was a traffic jam. At 7:30, she was still about half an hour away from the salon and realised then that her carefully laid plans would crumble to dust. Thankfully her mother was also at home to keep an eye on Anaaya but she knew going directly to the restaurant was not an option either.
She would never make it. She called Sujit with tears streaming down her face, broken and exhausted and told him she wouldn’t be able to make it.
‘Just go home Sujit. I’ll see you there.’
‘Baby, its alright.’
‘Just go home Sujit. I don’t want to talk.’ She hung up, wanting to sulk alone in her smelly cab.

About half an hour later, still stuck at the same spot due to a truck overturning on the bridge ahead, she looked straight ahead while taking a sip of water and almost spat it out in surprise. Through the
haze of cars and fumes, she saw Sujit walking towards her with a smile on his face. She couldn’t help but respond with a reluctant smile of her own. When he reached the cab, she bombarded him with questions.
‘Holy cow it took me forever to find you!’ Sujit panted, getting in beside her.’
‘But.. how on earth did you find me! Here, in the middle of traffic?’
‘I tracked your cab’ he shrugged. ‘You sent me the link yourself while getting in as always but I think you forgot’ he laughed.
Sameeksha whacked her head. ‘Ofcourse!’ But why are you here? I was coming home anyway.’
‘Why? Because I wanted to celebrate the evening with my Valentine.’
‘In this smelly cab, eating fumes?!’ She laughed.
‘No, eating Vada Pav.’ He said, pulling out two parcels from the bag he was carrying.’
Her face lit up. It had been one of her favourite foods at one point but she hadn’t had one in years. ‘And where is my beverage for the evening? Do you have a bottle of wine stashed in there as well?’
‘Nope’ he smiled impishly like a little boy. ‘Chaas! That’s all I could find on the way.’
They both laughed. ‘I don’t think that fancy restaurant will approve of our degustation menu tonight but who cares!?
She reached for his hand. ‘I’m sorry things have been so hectic the last few months. I thought I’d fix everything today. Its a beautiful place you know…’
‘You’re sorry?’ He asked incredulously. ‘For what? For being an amazing professional while being the best mother on earth? For juggling priorities and a million tasks on your list casually like you were chomping peanuts? For finding the time to massage Amma’s aching feet before turning in for the night. For always leaving extra potatoes for me in every dish , just as I like it, even when we can’t eat together?
For always finding time to tuck Anaaya in with a wonderful story that she can dream about? And for always remembering to throw away my underwear when the holes get too large and I embarrass myself infront of the maid?’
Sameeksha was laughing but she had tears rolling down her cheeks again. This time around, warm ones, washing away her anxieties, expectations and plans for the night that had thickened like a noose
around her neck. He wiped her tears gently and looked into her eyes. ‘ I know its a lot of pressure darling, but don’t do this to yourself. You’re doing enough, and more. Everything doesn’t have to be prefect.
All that matters is that we are together and we make time for each other, something I am going to work on myself. I’m going to cut down on my travel so I can do more on the home front and spend more time with you and Anaaya.’
Her heart lifted with joy. ‘I am going to do the same.’ She decided and said out loud. ‘But what about our fancy Valentines day?’ She pouted, looking around at the still stubborn traffic.
‘We saved ourselves a hefty bill at that restaurant, some salon money and money I would have spent on a large bouquet. This is the cheapest and best Valentines day ever!’
‘Stingy guy!’ she laughed.
As they sat around laughing, bitting into the delicious Vada Pav and providing free entertainment to the cab driver, she realised that even though big gestures and grand plans were great, sometimes the small moments are the big ones and the worst plans can bring on the brightest smiles.

An itch to remember

EE

 

Word count: 597

I have never prescribed to the popular theory of the ‘onset of weariness’ with respect to your spouse as the years go by. All the jokes about the ‘7 year itch’ and ‘Shaadi ka laddoo’ etc elicited a few appropriate and perfunctory titters at best, but their meaning was pretty much lost on me. Why? Because when you fall in love with your best friend, your soul mate, your brother from another mother, your 4 am friend, your gossipy girlfriend, all rolled into one and marry them, it leaves very little space for complaints about spending too many years with them. There, I’ve placed a cliche of my own before you now, possibly as soggy as the Parle- G biscuit you dunked into your tea this morning but I really am being sincere. No matter how much we fight over the most inane things, call each other names like children despite being parents and drive each other up the wall, that love, that oozey gooey brownie kind of love that sticks to the roof of your mouth always lingers.

Of-course being so in love with your hubby doesn’t solve many other worldly issues such as gifts. Yes they are a token, yes, you keep giving each other things through the year so how does one day matter etc but who doesn’t love finding the perfect gift. Seeing a flicker of surprise, happiness and appreciation is something every gifter craves innit?! I was one of this tribe, sitting on the eve of our 7th year of marriage (yes, the ironical significance of this ‘itchy’ year is not lost on me) wondering what on earth I could buy my husband that would make his day truly special. There was a romantic dinner planned but what else could I buy to bombard him with my love?!

Like a possessed Juliet, I made some time and ran to the mall and a few stand alone stores, sifting through everything from practical to romantic gifts, from chaddis, to perfumes to watches to desperate measures like spa vouchers. It was all done and dusted (well, except the spa vouchers of course) nothing appealed to me and after 4 hours of driving myself nuts I was sitting dejected, at a coffee shop, lost and licking my wounds of defeat.

My mind was wandering but my anxious social media seeking fingers went from one post to another till I landed up staring at a poem. ‘I carry your heart’ by E E Cummings. I sat at that coffee shop for a long time, savouring every word, feeling happy and nostalgic and melancholy and grateful, all at once. That poem took me through my own journey, making me remember how we had we met, how we fought to be with each other, how we had made so many precious memories together and how we would make so many more in the years to come. On that eve of our anniversary, I sat in that coffee shop and had a pre-celebration all of my own. Of-course, once I pulled myself out of my trance, I rushed to a late night service where I printed this poem out and gifted it to my husband over our special anniversary dinner. That is the thing about words. They made the stoic, warrior-hearted husband’s eyes moisten up and reach for my hand and he held on to it through dinner. That poem and that evening are still emblazoned in my memory. The day I found those words. Rather, the day that they found me.

THIS POST IS WRITTEN FOR NOVEMBERSCHILD IN ASSOCIATION WITH KALAMPEDIA – QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE”

silver hair Valentines

The biggest and most genuine love stories can sometimes be found in one’s own backyard. I have found one tucked away in a corner of my home and heart. No, I have no salacious details or a scandalous story. This simple heartwarming tale is about a 75 year old man and a 70 year old woman, who could not be separated by distance, grief, needles, pain, suffering or wrinkles. Their bond, much like the heavily advertised Fevicol one on TV, has stood the test of time and troubles to emerge unbreakable.

For as long as I can remember, they have been inseparable. There were many ‘typicals’ in their past. A typical arranged marriage, a typical dramatic and torturous mother in law, a typical life full of four children. But while growing up, we never felt like we had an average life, nothing typical about it. We always felt special and well taken care of, primarily because we saw the love and bonding between our parents which cemented our foundations with comfort, confidence and trust. And mind you, this was never the expressive or overtly evident kind of love. there was no hugging or kissing or hand holding or date nights, which the current generation views as obvious hallmarks of a healthy marriage or relationship. But it was clear to all of us. Everytime their eyes were searching for each other when troubles came knocking, the way our mother used to hang off the balcony every evening at 6:30 pm, waiting for him to appear around the corner, how she carefully ironed all his handkerchiefs and rolled up all he would need the next morning, the way they stayed up nights, together, for years, trying to ease away our pain and suffering, remembering how lost they looked whenever either one was traveling alone, how she would wake up at 4am to pack fresh parathas when he was leaving for a tour. It might seem that she was busy making all the valuable contributions while he was just wafting around. But despite being in a full time and very important government job, our father managed to fulfill all his duties and shower us with all the love we needed.

Years have passed. We all are married and grown up with our own children. But in the last few years, I have seen a more evident and feverish sort of love emerge between our very own Romeo and Juliet, bordering on reverential. And the tables have turned. After years of silently working and slogging away as the core of this family, my mother’s wheels are now a bit rusted, her pace has slackened and she has almost come to a standstill by the side of the road, literally run over by an onslaught of diseases. And the unsuspecting, unassuming Romeo has emerged as the hero. The setting of this love story has changed as well. Even the props are different. There are multicolored medicine boxes, tubes, wires, injections, walkers, sticks and everything that could unhinge the strongest hearts. But his trembling hands are firm when she needs to hold on. His false teeth are always ready to widen into a cheery smile everytime her tears start flowing. There are cobwebs in both their minds but he fights much harder so he can be clear and steer her through her everyday challenges. This humbling and debilitating ‘new normal’ rips our hearts out on days when we are feeling weak in our resolve but every other time, it makes us proud and melancholy. For we secretly pray for a similar love story in our own lives. Hoping that when the world chugs on around us and we slow down, there will always be one set of feet, slowing down with us, with a silent promise that we will never walk alone.

Release me..


I could always tell when you were unwell, even when I was in another city.

I always knew when your heart was broken, you didn’t say much but I heard the tiny cracking sound it made.

I felt your nervousness, every time you were preparing for an exam, whether inside the classroom or outside.

Every time you stumbled, every time you picked yourself up, I danced with delight.

Will you forsake me now, only because you can’t see me?

Can you not feel my misery every time you push that plate of food away?

Don’t you feel my tears mixing with yours as you cry into the night?

Haven’t you heard my silent scream every time you say you cannot go on?

Can’t you hear me struggling to breathe when you shut the world out?

What pains me more than my empty lap is seeing you fight life everyday.

I am gone, but why do want to join me now, is there no other way?

Live my dreams, live my life, live my happiness and sorrows.

If you can’t find happiness inside, learn to steal, learn to borrow.

They say I can’t feel much but I die a thousand deaths seeing you suffer.

Release me my little one, tomorrow is a new day, and then there will be another..

Hand in hand


It should make me jealous but it fills my heart with joy.

It really should make me jealous but when I see you two together I just can’t stop smiling.

I see how those tiny hands find their way to you in the darkness, when my unyielding and fatigued body has tuned out her plaintive cries.

Those big brown eyes darting nervously to the door every few minutes, when the sun starts to set.

She will follow your footprints in the sand for miles till the tide finally consumes them.

She never tires of stroking your head when you surrender it to that almost invisible and tiny lap.

I’ve seen her hugging your t-shirts to fill her nostrils with you when you’re away.

That desperate moaning wail that stumbles and follows you to the door when you can’t stay.

Drifting in and out of sleep, so often she calls for you, a determined , demanding voice that I cannot tame.

That happy dance she’s choreographed just for you, the first man in her heart’s hall of fame.

I made her heart inside me, and I know for eternity I can stake my claim.

But that same heart has a beautiful, colourful, throbbing piece, with only her daddy’s name.

Stop

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It starts with a churn.
As if the insides of my stomach were a blender.
Knots are tied, tighter and tighter,
Butterflies crowd together flitting nervously.
And my heard thuds, listlessly. Like it’s run out of fuel and stranded on a lonely road
I’ve seen this enough haven’t I?
I’ve been here often enough haven’t I?
But why does watching you leave every time, feel like the first time, hurt as much as the first time. Maybe I don’t even remember the first time but I have a feeling it wasn’t pleasant.
I’ve often wished that dusty old suitcase, as you pull it down, would part with a handle.
Or that rusty zip would finally finally stop in its tracks.
Maybe the soul of that departing shoe could meet its maker.
Or even that sputtering engine of the shaky old taxi downstairs could decide to take an afternoon siesta?
But the world now knows not to indulge my silly fantasies.
Alas.
That handle will stand firm.
That zip will run its course.
The shoe will purposefully stride away.
That engine will be waiting for you, warm and ready.
You will plant a kiss on my cheek, hug me till my core feels warm,
And then say a casual ‘see you soon’ with a smile that hasn’t seen a day’s worth of gloom.
How I wish I could be that way.
Why must I be so sad about a phenomenon that is recurring yet has no true permanence?
To the cadence of your departing feet, I shut the door, clear the coffee mugs, send the butterflies home, telling them not to return till you return, and leave again.
Foolish, hopeless heart of mine.

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