Crowning Glory: Life’s Game

Chapter 17

Read the previous chapter here

Jennifer’s mind was on overdrive. She had just been privy to some information that had caused butterflies in her tummy and wouldn’t give her a minute’s rest, until she found answers.
When you are in need of some direction in your life, you turn to people whom you trust.
To Jennifer, it was Cyrus. So naturally, the first thing that she did was to call up Cyrus and asked him to meet. A meeting was arranged where Cyrus was stationed for his trip and soon Jenny was on her way.
There was palpable apprehensiveness, nervousness and fear in the air. Jennifer was about to open up to this man. And no man in her life had stayed after she had done so.
“But maybe this man is different”, she thought to herself. “But weren’t all of them different?”, thoughts and counter thoughts created a fantastic medley leading to Jennifer giving up on thinking, lest she be too stressed out.  She shrugged off these thoughts.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”, she thought, steeling her resolve to get to the bottom of this mystery. This was her destiny, and if her past had to dug up in the process, so be it.
The taxi whizzed to a halt. Her destination, Cyrus’s hotel of choosing, was there.
Jenny waited almost too impatiently as Cyrus, who by now had made a habit out of being fashionably late, arrived at long last. Jenny literally leapt at him, this to Cyrus’s, and a dozen other people’s surprise.

Cyrus: “Whoa! What happened? And why do you look so frazzled?”

Jennifer: “Long story. Can we get some privacy? Let’s go up to your room.”

Cyrus(chuckling): “A bit early in the night, but sure.”

Jennifer: “Oh stop kidding!”

Back in Cyrus’s room, they sat down and one could feel the imminent sense of outburst, as Jennifer’s face was a canvas of emotions, ready to spurt out in vivid colors.

“Just be quiet and listen.”, Jennifer ordered, to which Cyrus readily obeyed.

“Past is what defines us. It is who we were and it decides who we are. And mine is like a big scar on my personality. My past, is ME. It makes me special, it makes me ordinary, it plays a huge part in me being a good human being, and also defines how bad of a person I am. This my story.”
“Long ago, when I was too young to tell my age, I was kidnapped from the orphanage where I lived with many other children. I was kidnapped and then given a punishment harsher than death. You see this tattoo, well in flesh trade circles, this would have raised a few eyebrows.”
Cyrus stared, dumbfounded and had a lot of questions, as Jennifer continued, “I was now a part of this prostitution ring in Kolkata. Bibiji ,as they called her took care of us, dozen or so girls we were. At least in that location. And as soon as I was the “right age”, the nightmare started. I fought it at first, as vehemently as I could, bit a few people.But what was I to do?  The fight in me subsided in the first month. With every man I reluctantly bedded, my protests turned to sobs and my sobs turned to nonchalance, until it was nothing but business.”,  Jennifer choked, upon seeing which, Cyrus offered a warm hug.
A glass of water later, she continued, “But one thing you must know about me Cyrus. I never give up. For one and half years, I did offer my body to unknown men, but I was never their toy.I treated myself with dignity and asked the same from them.A bite or two was up it they did not oblige. Within me, burned a fire, and that is what saved me in the end.”

“It was a frosty night and I was sent out to do something that is restricted to an exclusive unfortunate. The pretty ones.”
“I was to meet with a client in a hotel. It was supposed to be someone famous. And I think it was as lucky a day for him as it turned out to be for me.” “As soon as I entered the place, few men blindfolded me and took me to a room. I was supposed to wait for this person there. I looked out of the window and there they were. The men who had accompanied me to this hotel. Escape was not an option. But then, something important happened.”
A fire! The most magnificent of fires broke out from nowhere. And this was my chance. And Cyrus, I ran. I ran till I could not feel my legs. I ran till what I thought I was at the edge of the universe.”

Cyrus’s face was a sight to behold. This was information that would stump many. And he was no exception.

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Crowning Glory : Life’s Game


Read the previous post here

Chapter 10

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them. “

If people were the epitome of what their names suggest, Tara wasn’t doing a good of it. She looked tired, weary and badly in need of some shut eye. But as it is with most high profile jobs, peace, quiet and rest remain as elusive as ever. The numero uno of Lucky One Media was pacing up and down the whole length of her spacious office, crunching numbers, making decisions all the way.

 In the midst this sea of statistics, came a voice that ripped through the fabric of her thought.
 “Ma’am? Ma’am?”, It was her secretary’s voice, shaky with the anticipation of a backlash for breaking Tara’s train of thought.

 Tara: “What is it?”

 Secretary: “I have a message from Jennifer Joseph, you know, the photo journalist from Marie Claire. She wants another appointment for a photo session at your place.”

 “Ufff, not this again….”, Tara murmured to herself.

 Tara: “Okay, I’ll let you know. You may leave now.”

 A clearly intimidated young woman dashed out, and Tara and her thoughts had the room to themselves once again.
 “Why? Why again!?”, Tara gazed towards the heavens and shot out an array of questions.
She did hope in all earnestness that Jennifer did not notice her awkward behavior that day. But then, she did gawk at the tattoo for quite a while back then.
“I’m a total crud!”, she reprimanded herself.
 It is said that a mind that ponders too much is only better than a mind that ponders too much and is all alone. Tara was in a bad place. She had worries of her own: A past that just wouldn’t give up, no one to talk to and to top it off, a big firm to run.
Grave thoughts came to her like mice to cheese, and almost immediately, she imagined the worst. Her world, which she had so painfully pieced together, and to which she was so frantically trying to hold onto, was shattering to pieces. And all because of a few wrong decisions she had taken when she was too young to take any. What sort of a cruel quid pro quo of life was that?

 Questions and more questions with more profound thoughts concocted a cocktail of despair in her mind, and soon enough Tara looked only but a shadow of her confident self that the world knew so well. Depressed and distressed , she slumped to her chair, as thoughts engulfed her…

                                                                           ********

Shekhar: “Look at all these bundles of joy!”

Tara: “You fit right in…”

Shekhar: “Oh don’t be such a snob, this is a big decision, a big HAPPY decision.”

Tara: “Which I have agreed to.”

Shekhar: “After a great deal of nagging and persuasion that is. Never mind, take a look at this cheeky little so and so! Tugging on my pants!”

Shekhar picked up the little devil that had been shadowing him the minute they had entered the room and put her right on Tara’s face.

Shekhar: “Isn’t she the cutest thing ever!?”

And it was done. Tara was in a hurry to finish up the paperwork for the adoption. Meeting and whole lot of appointments awaited her at work, and this couldn’t  take more time than it already had.
She stood completing the formalities when she saw her husband teaching their would-be daughter how to do the chicken dance.
And at long last, the stiff, grim face eased, and let loose a smile. “Maybe, this is the answer. Maybe, this is my family….”, she thought.

Roohi, they called her here at the orphanage.

                                                                          ********

 Buzzzzzz!

A cacophony of notifications brought Tara back out of her thoughts. She brought herself back to earth, and steeled her resolve. “No. Not this easily. Not after coming all this way.” She decided to allow Jennifer one more appointment, although she had earlier impulsively decided to shun the request, but changed her mind, for that could have led to questions in Jennifer’s mind.
Hesitantly, she pressed the intercom and before her resolve could go away, told her secretary, “Give her an appointment for next week .But only for an hour. An hour and no more.”

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Crowning Glory : Life’s Game

For the previous chapter see here

Chapter 6:
Shekhar had taken refuge on the sofa in the drawing room. There wasn’t any reason. He just felt stuffy inside that room. Watching his wife as she battled to get something as simple as a good night’s sleep was too much for him. And the fact that he could not help was even worse.  With these train of thoughts, Shekhar dozed off…
A dashing young 23 year old blazes into a group of students.
“Shekhar! Buddy! You did it!”, and he hugged his dear friend.
“What happened? What did she say?” inquired Shekhar.
“Yes, yes and a thousand times yes. And I have you to thank for it. Your words are magic! The note that you gave me worked wonders. I memorized every bit of it and she was mesmerized!”
“Congrats bro, now learn a bit of poetry yourself. I won’t do this for you again.” Shekhar quipped with a wink.
And all friends had a laugh.
And that sums up Shekhar. At the peak of his writing prowess and able to weave magic with his words. His future was bright and his present was perfect.
He was the editor of the college newsletter, a popular choice amongst his friends and touted to be a good, if not great writer by one and all who read his work.
This was the time when he met Tara, at a friend’s marriage. Swept off his feet by the sari and this firebrand of a girl, he knew in heart that this is the person he wants to spend my life with.
And unlike some stories, Shekhar did get the girl. Everything was fine and life couldn’t be better. For a brief period of time, Tara was happy. Shekhar’s laid back charm and simple ways of life helped her to see the good things in life. To stop and smell the roses is what she learned.  She was happy and in love.
It was after this that things took a turn for the worse. But you can only run from your past, you can’t hide from it. And Tara’s past was a devil in its own .Love between the couple was lost and with that all their happiness. While their turmoil steeled Tara and gave her a single minded objective to win in life, the simpleton and easy going Shekhar was lost in this chaos.
The simple little things lost their meaning. Waking up to the sight of your loved one was just, waking up. Having a conversation over food was just eating food in front of a TV now. The magic was gone, and so was Shekhar’s will to live.
He still loved Tara to bits, and was ready to support her in her endeavor. But how he wished that Tara, only once a while, would stop and smile. Just once a while, she would live, laugh and love.
All this took a toll on his career, or whatever was left of it. Three publication disasters and a failed book had brought him down to his knees. What had life come to?  
“Thud!”
Shekhar woke up with a start and looked in the direction of the sound. Morning light had flooded the house. It was Roohi, trying to get hold of the fridge magnets again, and knocking down a few things in her exploits. The little minion looked at her dad, gave a squeal of laughter and ran off.
“I’ll be late today. Don’t wait up for dinner.”, Tara emerged out of the bedroom, all proper and ready.
Shekhar acknowledged this with a very indifferent nod  and resumed doting over Roohi.  He smiled. She was the only reason to live, he thought. He felt bad for her too, deprived of a mother’s attention and love, what life is that for a child?
He did not want Tara’s attention. If only she could give some of it to Roohi. Not that Tara didn’t love her. In fact she very much did, and Shekhar knew that. But only if she had the time to express the same.  She was deep into her career. And so single-minded was her devotion, so firm was her resolve that not even her child was significant enough to warrant a few moments of her life. There was nothing Shekhar could do.
Tara had built walls around herself. And no one was allowed inside.

                                                                 ***

“Should we go straight to office or should I stop at a Restaurant Ma’am?” ,  asked the Driver.
“No, just office.” ,Tara replied as she browsed through her mails. And that was when she saw Jenny’s mail. It read:
“Hi Ma’am,
I’m Jennifer from Marie Claire. If you remember, we talked the other day in your office.
Just wanted to know if coming Sunday is good enough me to visit your place. For the photo-shoot.
Please confirm the same.
Regards,
Jennifer
Photo Journalist
Marie Claire.”
Tara took a deep breath, and replied. “YES. SUNDAY IS FINE.”

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The Linear Approach

Point (A) Blog starts here. Or does it? Let me give you an example:

I draw a line segment and name it AB.Now most of us immediately imagine “A” as the point were the line segment starts and “B” a the point where it ends. That pretty much sums it up.

Our perspectives are vaguely limited. Like , very few people will question the whether A and B are singular points on a plane containing a line segment or are they merely two points on an endless line/ Or is this the only line? Or are we talking about a magnified circle.

Before you (rightly) take me to be crazy, I would like to explain. What I meant was: Human beings have a tremendous quality and capacity to question things. The fact that we can question our existence signifies our evolved psyche. Questioning things has brought us where we are, not only in terms of  exploration or science, but also as a society (read all freedom movements.).
But how much of this capability do you really use? We don’t triumphantly high five each other after we walk five paces, do we? Why not? Because we are capable of it. It’s no big deal. So why is questioning our existence, or finding a deeper meaning so revered?
The fact that we can do it and so many of us do do it suggests that something like this comes naturally to us. The bigger question is : Are we knocking on the right doors?
Most of our theories regarding things that we don’t quite understand are, well, brilliant. The genesis of universe, our concept of time are amazingly sensible and detailed. But that’s what they are: concepts. What amuses me is our notion of “start and end”.Everything we encounter must start and end. We are so obsessed with the idea of genesis and demise of objects that we tend to see things through that very scope. Things that may not essentially follow this rule. Things that perpetually go on, which do not start or end. What we do know is that this universe is a living, breathing entity. It’s a dynamic explosion of chain reactions and a mind boggling cocktail of cause and effects. It’s just that we are not looking at it correctly.

All I’m trying to say here is that time, the universe and other stuff (well, I don’t know everything) could just not be a simple line segment. It could be layers of sheets, universes co-existing and continuing in amazing harmony, with time ebbing and flowing around this beautiful arrangement. For start and end are terms that are merely human. For all we know, our existence is one big, dynamic perpetuality. Confusing? Let me clear this up with an example, go to Point (A)

Baba

My bond with my dad, well, I can’t really say that it is the most special , unique relationship, because it is a normal one.
 He knows that I love him and it is the same other way round. It’s just hard for us to really show it. But there is this one incident that really signifies what a father-son bond stands for.
I broke my hand, bad, back when I was 13. After one failed manipulation attempt,surgery was imminent.
I remember going into the surgery, a friendly nurse smiling at me, people in scrubs, huge light above me. And once the vial of anesthetic was injected, I remember nothing. I remember nothing except waking up all groggy.
It was a few days after the surgery that the stories of my anesthetic laced frenzy started to surface.People said I woke up crying and was calling out for someone.
I thought I would’ve called out for mother. To my surprise, I had called out for Baba.
Also, what surprised me more, was the fact that my dad cried before I went into the OT. Dad never cries. Never.
That, to me was a symbol of how deeply emotional our bond was.A father son duo is really not one to show emotions on the surface, and hence can be mistaken to be a brittle one.But what people can’t see is that these are two people who carry the weight of responsibilities, and have far too less time to invest in emotions.But the relationship to them is one of understanding. It is a bond stronger than any other, in wonderfully many ways.
And the fact that we don’t show emotions too much is indicative of the pillar of the family. One that has been doing it for years, and one who is going to. Sentimental, yet strong and firm. I want be like my Baba. Without a shadow of a doubt.

I am writing about #MyRoleModel as a part of the activity by Gillette India in association with BlogAdda.com.

Experiences

The first kiss, the first walk in the rain. How much do you really remember of it?
They do define you? For a while, yes. But after a while, the mark a certain life event has left on you, goes.

So the thing is…Wait, why not make this blog an experience too! So what I was saying is,

A life, that’s metamorphosed into this cluster of memories that forms a definitive being that is you.

A Mother Too.

She taught me everything I know and scared dad away whenever he was angry with me.

She worried about what I ate, she kept nagging about it and made me look like fool if I retorted back.

She cuddled me at night, when I was afraid of all the noises the bugs made.

She was killed by those gun people, and taken away, when I was only a cub.

I miss her warmth, her care,her fur; I miss my mother.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.