Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Short Story - "The Diary"

The Diary
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Huhh….. After exhausting journey of about 25 hours, finally you have reached Chennai, Mahek and now you are trying to read - pronounce - the address of the hotel you are provided as your company accommodation. It is spelled as “Nungambakkam” and you are finding it really hard to memorize this word. Just a few days back you got the offer letter from this - one of the most respected software companies of India and now you are sent to Chennai by this company. It’s 1.00pm in your watch. You have experienced ‘extreme’ heat of Ahmedabad for years but this city is making you lookup your vocabulary for a word which can justify the extremity of the heat more appropriately than ‘extreme’ does. Stepping into the air conditioned hotel room is making you feel as if suddenly you have been released from a Heat Chamber. The heat here was not a surprise for you as you had already heard about it. One more thing you have heard about this city is, its beautiful beaches; and now you are longing to visit the beaches.

In dinner, you had first proper meal of last two days. May be, this dinner or the cozy comfort of the hotel is making you lazy. But still you have to go on with unpacking your baggage. And during unpacking, yet again, this diary caught your attention. Even today, you consider this diary as the best gift I have given you. You don’t know how many times you have already read it but yet again you are going to start reading it.

*************************
As usual, you will directly go to the page of 7th Jan where the diary starts talking about ‘us’. I started writing this diary on 1st of Jan as a New Year resolution. As far as my New Year resolutions are concerned, this diary is one of my rare successful resolutions and undoubtedly, the credit goes to you. In first 6 days only, before formally meeting you, I had missed writing it for two days; but after that I never missed it for a single day. I always had something to write about us; may be, because this diary was destined to be an important part of ‘our life’ (….and not ‘our lives’!!!).

After that day, 7th of Jan, I never forgot Aashi’s birthday as that was the day we formally met each other for the first time; in Aashi’s birthday party. Before this, we had seen each other in college campus several times but you being an Instrumentation student and me being Computer Science student, we never got to meet each other personally. That was just start of our 6th semester and at that time we were not having any indication that we will be coming so close to each other in next 3 semesters.

At the end of the party, only we two, being Aashi’s closest friends, were there at Aashi’s home. As such I was always used to tease Aashi by putting all her ideas into anserine ideas’ category, but that day I accepted her suggestion in first go. May be, because that suggestion was going to keep me close to you for at least next 3 weeks. Even I had been thinking of making a project for our college’s annual technical competition and was searching for partners to team up with. Aashi’s suggestion of 3 of us aggrouping for the competition converted that thought into an action….. which was a rare event for me.

The next day, I was there in college with a couple of wacky ideas for the project and surprisingly you and Aashi found one of those ideas to be meaningful. We registered for the competition on the last date of registration with one of my ideas and we decided to meet at your home in the evening for project. As usual, I was late by almost 2 hrs and that day witnessed first of the innumerous episodes of me being torpedoed by your anger.

We could not win the competition but those three weeks made both of us very good friends. Just before three weeks we were almost strangers for each other and now we were best buddies. During these three weeks, I developed a good habit of writing this diary regularly and you developed a bad habit of reading my diary. I still remember how you turned down my objection against your indecent act of reading my diary. When you started reading my diary for the first time, I protested with a shout, ‘MAHEK…. It’s a BAD habit to read someone’s personal diary.” You simply whispered in reply to my scream, “Dumbo, You really think you can stop me from reading it?” followed by the roaring, “I WILL READ IT”. I understood that anymore protest would be a kamikaxe so I simply turned the conversation saying, “Ok ok, you can read it but only on one condition. You won’t write anything in the diary. Especially on the last page of the diary, the way you write on all your books.” You replied arrogantly, “Ok ok.” You had this habit of making the last page dirty by writing all crap things on last page and I always liked to keep last page neat and clean. You were almost as regular in reading my diary as I was in writing it.

It became our normal routine - arguing on almost anything. Two semesters passed by just like that and now we were in our last semester. That week when you went to Mumbai to attend your cousin’s marriage, for the first time, I realized your importance in my life. I was missing you, for the first time I asked myself, “Do I love Mahek?” I kept mulling over this thought for hours that day. I was thinking about all the days I had spent with you. Starting from the first day…… how we met, how our friendship developed. After that week when you came back Mahek, there was a change in my behavior. I was trying to keep it normal, was trying to behave in same manner as I was doing before but could not completely hide my emotions.

Even you noticed this change in my behavior. I still remember the discussion we had that day, in our college corridor…..
“Hey Dumbo, what’s the problem? You have been behaving strangely for last couple of days.”
I gave you one strange look. I felt as if you were trying to read my face, trying to figure out exactly what the matter was.
I said “Nothing.”
You asked again, “Then why you are giving this Devdas(sad) look?”
You waited for my reply for some time. I wanted to tell you the truth, wanted to tell you what I was thinking about but I don’t know what was stopping me…. May be the fear of loosing friendship!!!! I thought of not making things more serious, so I rep-lied, “Nothing….. Was just thinking about my GRE stuff.“
You replied, “Huhh…. It’s hard for me to believe that all this seriousness is just for GRE, I haven’t seen you this much serious about studies!!!! Anyways…..”

Again things got back to normal between both of us. But the fact remained….. You were more than a friend for me now. I could never write about my feelings in my diary as you were regularly reading it. I was looking for a ‘right time’ to tell you how I felt for you.

It was our last day in college. Your dad was transferred to Surat just three months back so you were going to leave Ahmedabad the next day. We met that evening, you were the one who did most of the talking that day and in the end you asked for this diary. You said,”Can you give me your diary? As a souvenir of our friendship?” I think for first time you were requesting me for something and not ordering me. There was no way I could say ‘No’ to you.

We reached railway station before half an hour of the departure time. I gave you my diary. For about 5 minutes, not a single word was spoken.
Then you asked, “So Dumbo!!! Everything confirmed? Next month you are leaving for US, right?”
“Yes, I will be leaving next month”, I replied.
Again, there was silence. Whole platform was noisy. People were shouting here and there. But for both of us, time had frozen. The announcement of train’s departure brought us out of that trance. We got into the train, placed your luggage on your seat. Train was about to leave, you were standing at the door of your coach. “I will miss you”, were your last words that day. And just when the train started, I saw tears rolling down your cheeks.

For a second, your last look gave me a feeling as if you had same feelings for me. It reminded me of the sher of ‘Mariz’…….

(Gujarati)
badho aadhaar cHHe ana jati veLa na jova par,
milan ma thi nathi maLtaa mahobat na puravaa.
[Everything depends on her last look before parting
For that tells more about her feelings, not the meeting.]


But No, I think, For you, you were parting from your best buddy. For me, I was parting from the only girl I loved. May be, it was just my male-ego that kept me from crying out loud that day but I could not control tears forming in my eyes.

In train, you wrote down that day in the diary, the first and last thing you wrote in the diary.

*****************************

And now you are in this hotel room of Chennai. Your eyes have stopped wandering over the pages of the diary but your mind is still wandering around those college days, around our friendship. “Friendship”, is the definition this diary gives to our relationship. But for you, this relationship is your first love……. something, I don’t know even today.

You again started thinking about that week of our last semester when you went to Mumbai. During that week you realized what our friendship meant to you. Yes, that one week made you realize that this relationship was something beyond friendship. When you came back, you successfully hid your emotions behind your impishness. You always thought that, I considered you as my best friend only because if I would have been having any feelings for you I would have told you straight away. We never had such formalities between us that I can’t express my feelings to you. You thought, I would have told you, at least before leaving for US.

What you thought was correct Mahek. I should have told you about my feelings before leaving for US. But even today you are not aware that I had written everything on the last page of my diary before giving it to you. You, being aware of my habit of not writing anything on the last pages, have never opened that page. The day I was leaving for US, I called you and I still remember what you told me that day, “In last one month, I don’t know how many times I have read this diary. I just want to tell you that we will always remain friends.” My interpretation of your lines was “I read the diary and I know how you feel about me but I have always seen you as my best friend and we will always be friends.”

Today, when you are in your late thirties, Mahek; you can be considered to be living a happy life if wealth has anything to do with happiness. Your husband, Shishir is a successful businessman in Mumbai. You own a bungalow in a posh area of Mumbai but you can’t remember when was the last time, you and Shishir ‘faced the sea’ together from that sea-facing balcony of your bungalow. You are working on an executive post for this highly respected company of India but your job is just an effort you are making to preserve your identity as Mahek. You don’t want Ms. Mahek to be curbed by Mrs. Shishir. You are sent to chennai for one week as a part of an assignment for your job.

Here, in US, I am living so called ‘happy’ life for more than one and a half decade now, with a wife, whose Indian-ness is alive only in her birth-certificate and a son, for whom, Indian culture is a ‘Foreign-Culture’.

The last page of my diary is still eagerly waiting for your eyes, Mahek; but now I wish, you never read that page…………………Never………………….
[Declaimer: All characters and incidents of this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to a living or dead person is simply coincidence. :)]
[Comment if you liked/if you didnt like it.....]
Written By,
Sarang Anajwala
saranganajwala@yahoo.com

9 comments:

Neel Arurkar said...

keep writing more :-)

Harshvardhan Joshi said...

Good one !! Keep writing.

Harshvardhan Joshi said...

thanks, i found you from gujarati community on orkut i think.

btw, i'm trying to make an online collection of gujarati poems and song lyrics. did you see the link on my blog? if not: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~hpjoshi/gujarati.html

Anonymous said...

A great piece of writing, very moving and emotional,

Anonymous said...

touching,sweet and adorable to all those who know what love means.........

Nayna said...

umm I have read this once b4 when we first became friends n to read it again jus reminded what a gr8 writer u are. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Great piece of writing!!!

Anonymous said...

Good story buddy!!!!

Deepti said...

Hey Sarang, we are planning a trip to switzerland & while googling abt some info, i bumped into ur blog...u've given good details! i was not too sure if Swiss pass allows 50% off on Jungfrau too...but now am sure after reading ur trip to heaven....i hope, our trip materializes.....Amen !



cya..Deepti