Monday, June 05, 2006

Kaavya, Not a Love Story: Episode II


Rishi walked in. The hilarity that filled the room few minutes ago disappeared quickly, like light fades away in the dying moment of the evening. Like the sulky silence that night brings in, the silence that puts all living things into a state of fear and calm, Rishi’s presence was heavy and overbearing. Kaavya was now like a radiant moon, who seems to take no notice of night, and must shimmer guiltless, with all its faults, in all its phases. Our eyes gravitated towards her reaction. She was still enwrapped in the delights of the evening, and Rishi seemed strange, uncouth, disturbing to her. She bought herself time by making tea for all of us.

Rishi must have waited all evening for Kaavya to come back. He knew she had gone out with Videshi, and wasn’t able to reason why. He had asked her not to go, saying it could be unsafe and saying it wasn’t proper to go with someone she had seen only once. She reminded Rishi how she hadn’t refused his offer of buying coffee for her, on what Rishi called the August afternoon when he was enchanted and reborn. Rishi wanted to impress upon her that he was different from these other people, who he called albatrosses about his neck, he had read Coleridge you see, and he was fell short of telling her how angry her flirtations made him. At present, his face was puckered in honest agony, his eyes were full of angry tears, but with a valiant effort, he settled down on a couch, and asked Ruchi if her advisor was behaving any better. She announced, “It didn’t matter, for she was leaving with a MS at the end of the year.” I was stumped, for till that instant I had no inkling that she was leaving that very year.

The tea came. An awkward silence now gripped everyone. My hilarity of just half an hour ago had vanished with one sentence from Ruchi. Suddenly Rishi turned into a brother in agony, and I was in ferment myself. Yet I tried to tell myself to calm down, struck a cigarette and excused myself for few minutes. The smoke cleared up my thoughts a bit, and I reasoned that maybe Ruchi had decided only today that she will leave at the end of the year and had no time to inform me. Like many girls are wont to do, maybe it was when she said that she would be leaving in December, that she realized that this is what she was going to do. I could hear a conversation inside, and feeling full of heavy fog, I returned to the room.

Rishi was pursuing a Masters degree in Literature and hence always found interesting facts about books and authors. It was fascinating for me to see Kaavya becoming an object of his affection, for he had no taste for architecture and she had no patience with his literature talk. But today, Rishi was making a conscious effort to talk about the importance of using right lighting for making parts of house glow to say bring light on the face of the one who sat at the head of table and keep others in a little dark to illuminate their faces in order of their importance. Kaavya talked excitedly about her childhood obsession with colors of the curtains and their role in the play of light and shade. Since her heart was still overflowing with the excitement of the evening, her sentences threw references to Videshi again and again. The color of curtains at the restaurant was mentioned, his choice of purple shirt had caught her fancy and she was talking about how he had described to her the sunset over Himalayas in his peculiar accent. Rishi flinched at every mention of Videshi, and I could see all his labor in reading about importance of lighting in architecture was eating into him. With the tremor in my heart unsettled, I tried to look at Ruchi and try to understand what secrets brewed in her heart.

After washing my cup of tea, I asked Ruchi if we could go and talk in her room. From the corner of my eye, I could see that Rishi approved of my proposal, as he wanted to speak alone to Kaavya. Ruchi smelt trouble in my words, and insisted that she had to talk to her mom that day and basically influenced me to leave the house rightaway. I walked back to my room, thinking about how six months ago, I had met Ruchi at a friend’s birthday. She had approached me to obtain the lighter for bringing birthday candles to flame, and after taking the lighter, failed to light it up. A short conversation followed, and she whispered that she had an impossible Heat Transfer assignment due the next day, so had to leave soon. I surmised that she must be a Mechanical Engineer, and asked her if she thought a Mathematician could work up some magic with her differential equations. She looked with wide open eyes at me, a finger fell and rose on her cheek, and after shaking her head for a few suspended seconds, said, “Hmm! Maybe you’d be useful.” Since then I had realized that engineering was an approximate art form, where my abstract knowledge required a translation far beyond our capabilities, and we still hung out together, sharing lunches and dinners at cheap neighborhood restaurants and cafes. Crosswords brought us together, movies took us to our so called dates and nowadays we spent so much time with each other that everyone including me thought of us as a couple. Ruchi’s sudden pronouncement about graduating in December now forced the question of what this relationship really meant, into my face.

Meanwhile Kaavya was enraged at Rishi for not appreciating how exciting her evening had been and spoiling it by his unwarranted comments. She had walked out of the living room, stamping her feet like a hurt child and had shut her door. Ruchi talked to Rishi about the recent changes in Indian cricket team. He left after waiting for Kaavya to calm down. As soon as he left, Kaavya came out of the room, and said to Ruchi, “Rishi is so silly. He thinks I am a child and any man will fool me into unmentionable disasters. At least, Varun thinks of me as a girl with a balanced head.”

Kaavya did not imagine that at that very instant, Varun was cursing himself for hiding his anxiety at the amount of time Rishi, Gandharav and Pathan spent with Kaavya. He was extremely agonized by her going dancing with Gandharav, who he knew from his high school days. Gandharav, they said even in high school, had no respect for women, and could single-handedly turn a whole town into city of bastards. He used to joke about his name coming from “Gandharava Vivah”, which was the name given to secret marriages committed in ancient times, and he said, that it was just a fancy name for one night stands. He reasoned that Bharat, after whom India was called Bhaarat, was a result of Gandharava Vivah between Shakuntala and the King Dushyant. Even Shakuntala herself was born from a Gandharava Vivah between the apsara, the courtesan from heaven, Menaka, and the most intelligent saint of his times, Vishwamitra. He boasted about how he had hoisted his flag into the female of every race. When he talked in the company of men, he appeared like a serpent, who slowly crawls towards his victim, and quietly wounds himself around his prey, and then reveals the poison in his fangs and kills what he desires. We despised his lack of respect of women, and yet were fascinated by his skill with women, for they worshipped his ability to bedazzle them with his dancing ability, repertoire of jokes and excellent choice of clothes.

Varun knew him for eight years now, and cursed his destiny which made Gandharav his roommate in every city he had walked into in last eight years. Till a few months back, he hadn’t minded Gandharav all that much, but after Kaavya entered his imagination, Varun was ill at ease. He had burned with rage when a week back, Gandharav, in his characteristic fashion, described to Varun, that during dancing he perceived how supple Kaavya’s curves were, how warm she felt in his embrace, how she blamed her own being a beginner in salsa for making mistakes that allowed his hands to be misplaced on her body, and how much he wanted her to turn from a bud into a flower in his expert care. Gandharav had been greeted by a grand slap from Varun, a slap that he never anticipated coming, and after this slap, he had just laughed saying, “My friend, you should have told me.” In his heart, he had decided that Varun deserved to learn a lesson. Gandharav had never failed to lay his hands on whatever appealed to his fancy, and was going out with Kaavya the next day for another dance. He was of the kind of people who by their very nature value nothing and no one so much as to be either in want or be aggrieved an absence. I shared the apartment with Varun and Gandharav, and this new found tension between them made our apartment a gloomy place. When I entered the house around midnight, I met Varun who was going out. I asked him, “Where to?” He responded, “To Kaavya’s house. Gandharav’s secrets need to be spilled.”

It was one thirty at night. Kaavya called, and all I heard were sobs. I rushed to her house in my pajamas.


Vivek said...

By Fizo on Wed, 2006-06-07 20:00

Sharm ji,

the first episode was very neatly done…I expected more on those lines but somehow felt there was a change of tracks here with too many characters thrown in….

and just a ques…are the long paras without any breaks whatsoever intentional?

all in all a very interesting series in the making looks like..I will be reading it with aplomb!
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By Vivek on Thu, 2006-06-08 15:32

Comment from her highness, the Queen!Smiling:)Smiling
O dear Fizo-ji, Where have you been? !! !! !!

DSS (apology to all others) was like a dead barn without you
There is no fun, no depth in creating a yarn without you
(Give me a few days, I will come up with a better poem)
Two words from you, and my broadest smile is now showing:)

On a serious note: I am having some diffuculty in proceeding with my novel, for I have written a very few stories. So this series is like an exercise to figure what pitfalls I fall into while telling a tale. Two I have found already, the long paras:), and unexpected shift from light first episode to dark second episode.

Be as critical as you can be. I still swear by your extremely well-written series, and would love to learn more of the craft:)
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By Fizo on Thu, 2006-06-08 20:08

I give you a few days..come up with that better poem…you know how I poems..esp odes to ME that is Eye-wink

ok now to the serious note : it doesn’t at all seem like you are having any difficulty..but throwing too many characters so early in the series could be like biting off more than one could chew…!
but hey any series is good as long as the reader is waiting for the next part and you know I am Smiling
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Vivek said...

From Sulekha:

denice _menace comments:
on Jun 7 2006 7:24PM

Err I read just the last line about Pyjamas..


Vivek Sharma comments:
on Jun 8 2006 10:14AM
Thanks Denice, :) I hope to keep the melodrama flowing, and oscillate between funny episodes and dark ones!