the long search

When you have nowhere to go, go back to yourself.

Growing Up With James Bond

Blogging has never been more enjoyable if it weren't for the likes of him.

Sib had this intriguing display name that attracted me every time I went to comment on one of Agnes's posts. 'Talk to my Soul'; that was something I wanted to do myself. A couple of visits on his page and I was still unsure whether I should introduce myself and make an entry to his page. His tag line seemed to speak to me: 'When you have nowhere to go, go back to yourself'. Yes, I had nowhere to go back then.

Thus started my friendship with this guy whose comments never failed to bring a smile to me. His display picture, I must say, was rather handsome. In the long list of comments that I used to get, I would search for his name and read his comment first.

Do I need to tell you what amazing friend he is? I don't think so. But yes there are some I would want to share. Through all these months, through the countless times I was up all night and couldn't sleep, Sib was right there with me. When I seemed to be battling my demons, he was right there, may be not beside me, but always behind me to keep me from falling. I don't have those sleepless nights anymore, but I know that anytime I do, I just have to look for him and he'd be right there.

I've laughed with him on his silly jokes, I've cried while he held on to me. My silly childish problems, my immature reasons, my weak logic, and he always seemed to bring out the best in them. I've grown up with him in the last one year with him changing me into someone who's think logically than from the heart; I am so grateful for that.

Sib, it's your birthday and I wish I could have had a bite of your birthday cake or played a nasty prank on you on your day! May be I won't be around much longer, I don't know how life unravels. So I just wanted to write here, the place that's home to you, to tell you and the world how very special a person you are. You're a fierce friend, you're kind at heart, you're someone I can always and always depend on; and yes, you're Bond, James Bond.

*wipes tears from her eyes*
(Sorry guys I got a little emotional writing this post.)

Hope you remember your promise to meet me some day in Pakistan in a park under the sun and see me all grown up. I'd recognize you from anywhere, dear friend.

Happy birthday :)
Many many happy returns of the day, with joys of every thing you'll ever ask for!



Much love,
Mehreen.

To Life....




“Are you getting my articles? Long time no see. I am sending you two of my new articles and a new poem. Hope you like them. Hope to see one of them published soon.”



Ankita never wrote long mails. She never wasted time nor did she waste space.



“Send them directly to me. I will try my best,” I wrote back.



I did not promise her anything but she never gave up. I could not get her articles published since the weekend pull-out for students had long been withdrawn from of the newspaper I work for. It was sometimes in June.



The first time I met her, Ankita was a bundle of energy; almost erupting in excitement in her chair. Her mother showed me around, showed me Ankita’s paintings, terracotta crafts and all the poems she ever wrote. That was four years back. She was 14 back then. And that was the only time I met her.



Back then, Ankita was the story I was writing for my newspaper; story of a 14 year old’s fight against a discriminatory system which refused her the right to study in a normal environment. She was the story of the indomitable human spirit. But yes, the first time, I met her she was just a story for me.



Born with scoliosis, a condition of the spine which had rendered her incapable of walking because of lower limb paralysis, Ankita always wanted to do what others of her age did and she more than excelled in everything she did.



“I want to meet President APJ Abdul Kalam. I have seen him on TV and read a lot about him. I also wrote to him,” she once wrote.



Ankita made it a point to send me each of her journals, poems and articles. Every New Year Day and each Diwali ever since I came to know her, I always found a mail from her in my inbox. And I always replied.



She once wrote how scared she was inside the operation threatre where she was waiting for her turn when a little girl, an accident victim, was rushed in. The experience has made me stronger, she said. By the time she was 14, she had undergone at least 16 surgeries for her condition.



It was mid-July this year when I received a mail from her. “This is my first dance video. Do send me your comments. Bye.” Like always, she did not waste any time nor any space.



I was then setting off for a week-long travel which promised to be hectic as well as chaotic. I decided to reply upon my return.



It was a Saturday and I was back to work.



When I reached office, my colleague asked me, “Do you remember Ankita?”



“Of course, I do. I have to reply her mail. It has been more than a week,” I said.



“She passed away two days ago. It was a cardiac arrest. I am carrying an obituary,” she said.




*******




A moment is a lifetime…but only for a moment….By the way, I was born on this day.




(Image: www.zastavki.com)


The Sleeper Class

The overhead light was in its full glory, showering golden illumination on a crowded platform where she stood with an army of family members and friends, chatting with them incessantly unaware of any attention that she drew.



She looked pretty excited. She was very fair, beautiful and appeared pampered to me at the first look. Guess what! She was traveling with her parents. Duh! She was married. Newly married! Damn! I came across a familiar face in the group who turned out to be her father-in-law. Oh! I knew him darn well. Jeez!



My idea of a clichéd nice journey suddenly appeared screwed up. I was taking a mini-break from work and on my way to attend an old boys’ meet.



My biggest problem was something else - the timing of travel. The train departs at 9.35 pm from my City which meant I would have to sleep as soon as I got on board. Not that many – why many, not any – co-passengers would have disagreed to such a proposition. But every time, I took this train, I was annoyed to see 70 percent of my co-travellers asleep. How could they?



For record’s sake, I am a near insomniac. By the time, I hit the sack, half the world, at least those in my neighborhood, is awake.



I got into the train. So did they, after an elongated session of farewell embraces and blessing dispensation.



Berth no 16!!! What the @##@??? Was that not the uppermost seat? I hated that place up there since it meant unusually cold air from the AC blower caressing me all night and every time, I got up my head would hit the cold roof of the coach. God!



“You are on 16? We have 13, 14 and 15,” said the elderly man. He appeared a nice person, pretty talkative. There he was with his wife and daughter, our Lady in Maroon.




The luggage was soon tucked away below the seats, above the head. Water bottles placed on the side grids. They had made themselves comfortable by the time the train moved away from the station. She shared the seat with her mother and I, with the father.



At least four hours earlier, when I was beginning to pack my bag, I received a text message from my friend M who was on his way for the meet. It said: On board. I have the side lower berth and a beautiful woman for company. As we sit face to face now, our legs come in contact sometimes. AHEM...



“You guys are headed for Chennai?” I shot the first volley of the conversation though I am not much of a talker.



“Yes. Her husband works there. She was home for her exams and we thought we will drop her back,” the father replied. Cool.



“What about you? You work there too?” His turn now. “Ah! No. I am meeting some old friends after a long gap. Plan to relive some good ol’ days.” I said.



I looked sideways. Most of them were merrily asleep. It was just 10 in the night, maaan!!!



“These guys sleep so early.” I looked up hearing the Lady in Maroon saying her first words. God! I finally have company, I told myself. I won’t have to pat myself to sleep now.



A mobile phone rang. I heard the “Hi.” The Hi was pretty whisperingly soft. Must have been the husband at the other end. I never understood how people managed to whispertalk over the cell phone. I almost shout.



I brought out Burnt Shadows, Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie’s latest novel and tried to get back to the page where I had left. The train had settled into a nice speed, moving in a serpentine motion through the cloudy dense night outside.



Fifteen minutes later, I could sense the urgency. The sleep-iness was apparently getting contagious. My co-passengers were beginning to catch the virus.



I picked up my book, my head phone and climbed to the uneasy seat. I had a cold, now the AC and the cold ceiling so threateningly close. And I had to sleep since the lights are going to be off soon. Huh!



The father took the upper berth opposite me, the women took the lower ones. The Lady in Maroon right below.



I tried to read a little but it was getting difficult under the conditions. I pulled out the blanket and decided to get myself some sleep, some early night sleep. And I slept like a dog.





It was 6. I sneaked out of my bed, headed for the toilet. While traveling in trains, I always got up early to brush and refresh. That’s mostly because no one knocked the toilet doors. That also meant the toilets were mostly clean during early hours.



I returned. Everyone was still asleep. I went back to my seat. I'd lie for an hour by which time, everyone would be up, I told myself.



7.20 am. No change in scenario. I wanted tea. I wanted to spread my legs. I wanted to look what the morning looked like. But.....I pulled the blanket again.



8.30 am. The attendant came calling for tea. Finally. No one else was awake to be interested. I think the father was up but still lying on his berth. The women, still in slumber.



9.30 am. I was hungry. “Idli or bread and omelet?” I heard the attendant a few feet away. Sitting like a student in his dorm, I ate my breakfast. Still no one cared to wake up. No, I guess, the father was downstairs. And the mother was up. Lady in Maroon still in bed.



10 am. She lazed out of her seat. “What time is it?” the first salvo of the morning. Lunch time, I wanted to yell.



The cell phone rang. “Gooooood morning,” the husband again and the whispertalk started. I finally got to come downstairs and sit. Dammm, my legs were aching..



The family had breakfast and I read a little more of Burnt Shadows. "I slept a little late, did not I?" she asked her mother. I wanted to answer that question but I read on. I, at least, acted like reading and they talked on. The sequence was sometimes broken by phone calls and whispertalks.



Lunch time and we, finally, were doing something together. Fifteen minutes, and I saw people hitting the sack again and the bug did bite my immediate co-passengers too. Will sleep again? That means I will have to sleep again? Gawwd!!! But I did. I had to. The next three hours were siesta time again but when the mother shared the lower berth seat with her daughter, I got to sit with the father and read on.



At 5.30 pm when the train finally reached Chennai, I was happy the sleep-traveling had ended.



As the friends reached one after another and we began to leave for the City, one of them announced: “This re-union is happening after a decade. So no one will sleep for the next five days. This is final.” And no one was actually allowed to.




(If you think the post is very long, you are right. My apologies.)

About this blog

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed