Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kaavya: Episode III


I was almost about to reach Kaavya’s house when a car coming towards me swerved dangerously and I caught a glimpse of Gandharava showing his irritating grin to me. The car seemed to be full of people. I caught seemingly familiar laughter from the inside. I increased the pace of my steps, nearly ran towards Kaavya’s house. I knew that Varun had come to tell Kaavya about Gandharava only an hour or so back, and I figured something was amiss. Gandharava seemed to be coming back from their house. So in the same evening, so many things were happening. Kaavya first went out with Videshi and then Rishi was at her house on her return. Later Varun had gone to meet her to disclose the reality about the vile Gandharava. Of course, in my own case, I was trying to understand why Ruchi was graduating in December and why she never dropped a hint to me. My laughter from the evening now seemed coming from memories of days ago.

As I had walked to Kaavya’s house, I had gone through a whole range of emotions. I retraced the story of all the possible permutations involving Kaavya as I knew them. I mentally made a list which looked as follows:


Known fighters: 1) Varun, 2) Rishi, 3) Gandharava, and 4) new addition Videshi

Unknown to most, but suspected by Varun and me: 1) The macho, pot-smoker Mahadev, 2) the anemic Kulkarni, 3) her distant cousin Vikrant, who had a Honda Civic and a job already and 4) somehow I realized my own name was in the list too. In fact, it was rumored that I was the one who she talked more easily than she talked to her own best friends, all girls, from the school days and her parents.

But of course, I was knee deep with Ruchi, which prompted a frown on my face and I made a list involving Ruchi and her suitors.


Rumored to be mine (Vivek) It struck me, the word rumor, was what came to my head.

Suspected: Mahadev: he was in Mechanical Engineering with her, and sat with her in all classes, helped her in all theoretical and experimental assignments and was known to be close to her. Well, I guess I suspected it, though no one else ever suggested it.

I always loved lists. I was too forgetful as a kid, and my mother would place a list of items to be brought from the market, then I had a list of topics to be studied when I was in high school, preparing for Engineering entrance examination. In undergraduate, my lists were notorious: I had a wish list of books I had to read, places I wanted to visit and later a wordlist carried me through GRE. For the first time in my life, a list I had tormented me. I felt so listless, so hopeless. Why was Ruchi leaving in December? What was Kaavya crying? Lost in these thoughts, I found myself on threshold of their house. I called Kaavya’s cellphone, and was promptly ushered in by the teary Kaavya

As soon as she bolted the door, she started sobbing very loudly. The crying was accompanied by a deep, long wail that I had never witnessed in people, except when they were crying over the dead. For a few seconds, I just stood spell bound, unable to decide what I could do to immediately comfort her. I did not even know why she was crying, so I mumbled, “Let me call Ruchi from her room.” She kept sobbing and wailing, her face was hidden in her two hands, and on hearing my words, one hand motioned that Ruchi had gone out. Kaavya’s face was swollen and I understood that she had already had a long session with tears. I finally realized I was there not to just watch her cry but to find out why she was crying and soothe her.

Ruchi wasn’t home bothered me, but soon Kaavya’s wails and sobs put all my thoughts into a kind of amnesia. I put my arm around her, and walked her to the couch, bade her to sit down, and rushed to the refrigerator to bring some cold water for her. I made her drink the cold water, and said a lot of sweet nothings, like “hey, don’t worry; everythings goona be alright; I’m here child; hey, hey, stop crying, and tell me whats wrong; for if you don’t tell me kid, I won’t be able to help you; tell me Kaavya, did someone say anything to you.” By now her sobs had become softer, though her hot tears now fell over my shoulder, and I could see those drops leave trails on her cheek. Somehow, in that state, she looked purer and prettier than ever before.

I remembered how three months back, at Ruchi’s request, I had gone to the airport to pick her up. Varun had accompanied us, for plan was to pick her up and catch a quick dinner at the Indian restaurant. Varun had been a quintessential good boy all his life. He had done his homework regularly. He always said namasteji to elders with folded hands and a bowed head. He obeyed his parents in everything and had the tidiest room among all of us. My friendship with him had originated in our shared love for tea, and he was always happy to walk out with me when I strayed out of the building for a smoke. His knowledge of history was immaculate and my interest in political dramas was now directed by his astute knowledge of religional and regional issues. He composed these gallant poems in style of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar that gave me goose bumps. I made raajmah chawal (kidney beans and rice dish, Panjabi style) that he said, could win us the votes of entire country and he declared that he would want even on his deathbed. We both knew so many Amitabh’s dialogues that we could converse for hours just by using them, and many a times did so. I had figured that he was a little uncomfortable around woman, and called him girl shy. This would crack us all up, especially when he blushed in presence of the girls who joined us in teasing him.

I knew he was excited by the prospect of meeting Kaavya. He had tried to show no interest when Ruchi showed us the picture. But one glance and his dimple gleamed in a soft blushing smile. My sharpshooter, Ruchi, noticed the passing emotion on his face and raising both her eyebrows, asked with a all knowing smile, ”Varun miyan, one glance and ditchkyun!” She fired an imaginary shot her two fingers curled up, index and largest finger stretched out like a pistol and she followed it up by blowing breath over her outstretched thumb to clear off the imaginary smoke. He just beamed, and later he beamed even brighter as soon as we located Kaavya, lost and confused, just off the plane at the airport. Even with her hair falling off disheveled, and after thirty hour journey, Kaavya looked stunning. I nudged Ruchi and said, “Who would want to look at you anymore?” She whistled and said, “Very funny. Take your these ideas and smartass comments and march off. My one wink, and a dozen would appear before you can even snap your fingers.” I sniggered, “What happened babe? Jealous eh! You know, how I adore you.”

Meanwhile, our friend, Varun, was putting quite a show. Not only he was pulling her big baggage and carrying her enormous purse, he seemed to have discovered a sudden voice that served these amazing one-liners that Jerry Seinfeld would have been proud of. Kaavya and rest of us just laughed throughout the evening. My MasterCard moment came, when we were in Restroom and in the restaurant and he asked me, “Am I behaving alright with her, yaar?” I, the man known for his composure while talking to woman, the man known for his ready wit and charm, especially around ladies, slapped him on his back and confessed, “Dude, never seen anyone do better.” Truly, if I was asked who one should want to be when one meets the love of his life, I would pick Varun from that day. Needless to say that since then, our man, Varun ceased to be girl shy. Also since then, Varun ceased to be a Dinkar clone, and became a romantic poet. He had found his muse.

After about twenty minutes of crying, the intensity and pitch of Kaavya’s wails damped from that initial, scary moaning to eventual soundless vibrations of her body. Presently she began to speak. Her voice was still carrying the remnants of her sobs, and her words fell like sentences served on a cellphone from a place that has a leaky signal. “KNOOOWbody loves me. Each one of them is only concerned about himself. How can Varun say something like that about Gandharava? Then Rishi doesn’t understand that there is nothing wrong with my being friend’s with Videshi or Varun or Gandharava. Why does he object to everyone? I did not ask for their attention, and I don’t want it. I don’t want to be what their dreams or thoughts tell them as Kaavya ought to be. All I want is have cool life, all I ask is opportunity for some fun, but everything has to be so complicated. This is even worse than it was in Chandigarh. Oh Vivek! Why is everything so messed up!” She was still shaking, when I said, “I’d be right back” and as I was leaving her, her hand held mine for a moment too long. I rushed to the kitchen and got some paper napkins. As she wiped the flow that was hanging from her nose, a smile flew on her face, but then disappeared into her heavy breathing. I was only beginning to understand what had happened there. When she went over the details, it surpassed my wildest speculations.


Vivek said...

From Sulekha:

UnEngaged comments:
on Jun 9 2006 2:50AM
I read all of the episodes so far....Didn't think I could actually keep all the characters straight in my head, but your writing made it easy. Waiting to know what happened next...Although I have this uneasy feeling of listening to gossip which is not what I like to. These are just stories, as in fiction, right?

Vivek Sharma comments:
on Jun 9 2006 9:05AM
Thanks for your comment and following the story. I am searching for meaningful criticism and feedback here:), though of late, sulekha has become duller on that account.
Reality is more bizarre than fiction:)
This is experimental fiction, story is self-evolving mass of words, which I assemble to master art of dialogue and the art of making characters look real. Of course, it is meant to sound like gossip, tale is meant to be simple and ordinary, and it is full of cliches.:) But I hope to keep you interested (maybe for another four or five episodes) and throw in some surprises and laughs.

Vivek said...


June 9, 2006
10:28 AM


great going so far...:)

to borrow beady's (dr. bhaskar dasgupta's) punch line take the following with a grain of salt:

--name the episodes
--shorter paragraphs
--allow time to develop characters
--go easy on facts - allow time for absorption
--introduce breaks or use some other device for flashbacks

and keep writing

Vivek Sharma
June 9, 2006
12:01 PM

Temporal: Thanks much for advice.

My craft will be as good as criticism from the readers:) Beady's advice imprinted into my head:)