Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Girl With The Rose

This story had begun thirteen months ago in Florida library.

Daniel finally laid his hands on ‘Gone With The Wind’, the novel which was in great demand and has been evading him ever since it caught the eye of public. As he opened the book he found dried rose petals, preserved carefully in the folds of the book, with initials ‘SM’ written in silver. The book couldn’t keep him engaged as something was disturbing him. Time and again he kept turning back the pages to look at the rose petals and the beautiful calligraphy on them. He felt an urge to meet the person and return the carefully preserved petals. The handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and an insightful mind. On the opening page of the book he found the name of its previous owner.

Miss Sarah Maynell.

With some effort he located her address from the library registers and then wrote a letter to her, introducing himself and explaining the reason why he was writing to her. “Isn’t the reason too frivolous?” he asked himself. But then, he thought there was no harm in trying.

Soon the World War broke out and Daniel had to join the services. For one year and a month they continued knowing each other through letters. Sarah continued to be his pen friend and a major support thorough out his stint at war front.

One day he requested her to send her photograph to which she rejected. Daniel was dejected and at the same time afraid that he might lose her as a friend as he thought he crossed the line. To his relief in her next letter she told him that she’d meet him directly in person as soon as he was back from the war.

When the day finally came for him to return from war, they scheduled their first meeting at Grand Central Station.

“You’ll recognize me by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel”, she wrote.

Grand Central Station was filled to the brim with families, friends and well wishers of the soldiers returning home. There was a lot of hoopla and people were brimming with excitement. The station was colourful and soulful, making the home coming for the soldiers very grand.

In the train, the boys bid adieu to each other, saying a silent prayer for the ones who’ve sacrificed for the country and thanking God for having kept them alive. They promised to stay in touch even after returning home.

The train pulled into the station and swarmed the already crowded station. Daniel stood up from the bench, straightened his army uniform and studied the crowd looking for the girl, whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't- the girl with a rose.

He then saw a young woman walking towards him. She was long and slim. Her blonde hair fell back in curls from her delicate ears, and had shiny blue eyes which perfectly complimented her pink cheeks. In her pale green suit she was like spring time come alive. Daniel walked towards her entirely oblivious of the fact that she was not wearing a rose. As he crossed her path a smile appeared on her lips and she murmured 'Excuse me’?

He took one step closer to her and then he saw Sarah Maynell, standing directly behind the young woman, well past her forties with greying hair tucked under a hat, pale and gentle looking with weary grey eyes and with a warm and kind smile.

The lady in green suit was walking away quickly. Daniel felt as though he split into two; so keen was his desire to follow her and yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly enchanted him.

He didn’t hesitate as he walked towards the old woman with his fingers gripping that small worn blue book that was to identify him to her. He knew that this wouldn’t be love, but something more precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship which he must be and is very grateful.

He squared his shoulders, saluted her and held out the book to her and said “Hey, I'm Lieutenant Daniel, and you must be Miss Maynell. I’m so glad that you could meet me. May I take you out for dinner?”

He then closed his eyes for a flash of second bearing the truth that he missed the girl in green suit forever.

The women's face broadened into a tolerant smile as she said, “'I don’t know what this is  about. The young lady in the green suit who just went by asked me to wear this rose on my coat and said that if you were to ask me out for dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the restaurant across the street.”

He gently smiled and that was the beginning of not just a love story but a saga…..


Original story by Purnima Gayathri

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clean Shave

Trolls say “A call from an unknown number is always exciting and shouldn’t be missed”.

Just when I was about to drop my phone into the deep tunnels of my kurta, it started vibrating. A call from a known number would have gone unanswered as I was in hurry, but the fact that it was a call from an unknown number set the decision making lobe of my brain into action. It had a strategic decision to make between racing against time and the excitement of answering a call from an unknown number. A series of situations were explored in the head in those few seconds as the thumb was oscillating between the red and the green buttons.

“What if it is an issue of national importance?”

“Did I suddenly become famous on twitter?”

“What if……………..”

Before my RAM batch processed the questions, fate took over as it was in a hurry to screw many other lives.

“Hello”, I paused.

“Rey Mama. Where are you?” said a familiar voice.

“Who’s this?” I asked, realizing that the call is of no use and I’m no hero.

“It’s me man. Listen, I need Rs.15,000 urgently. Can you arrange for it?”

Usually people would care to exchange some pleasantries if they were calling a person after a gap of 6 years. But this guy didn't.

“Dude, you are calling the wrong person. Don’t you know that I’m unemployed?”

“It’s urgent man. Dad’s on a ventilator and it is a critical situation. I could only think of you to call. Please do something”, he said in desperation.

That was a situation from which you wouldn’t know how to escape. And being the nice guy that I was, I didn't even think of an escape.

“I’ll have to think man. 15,000 is way out of my league. Also I’m out of town. Give me some time and I will get back to you."

Usually I would have got on with my joblessness by completely forgetting the call. But the fact that  someone’s father was in such a tender situation and that I could arrange for some help kept buzzing in my head. After some quick thinking I called up another friend and asked him to advance Rs.5,000 on my behalf as that was all I could afford from my savings.

Satisfied with my help; I patted myself and got busy. Just after three-quarters of an hour I got bombarded with series of messages and calls from the guy, who apparently couldn't derive help from other corners.

I was unable to convince him that there was nothing I could do to arrange the remaining amount. Just when I was about to give up, I called up another friend and explained the whole scenario to him, expecting him to either pitch in some money or arrange for some help. He remained silent after listening to everything I said.

“So what do you think you can do?” I asked him, with a sense of victory which a sales guy has after selling the Dictionary.

“Can I have his number first? Looks like I have his old contact number”

“Sure. And how are you going to arrange the money? Mind you, there is no compulsion. Just do what you can”.

“Well, I’m not giving him anything. I have to demand my money from him. He’s been evading me for a while”

“You want to ask him now?”

“Even you wouldn’t mind if you knew what happened”

“Please surprise me”

“Well, I gave him money after he told me that his father died.”

I stood frozen as his words pierced my head. It was my official entry into the cruel and unethical world with a slap across my face by reality.

After hanging up and realizing that my savings account was back to its original tally, I got a SMS from another friend to whom I have earlier passed on the message. It read:

He contacted you for money? Tread carefully man. Few weeks back when I wasn't home, he came and told my mum that he hurt his kidney in an accident. I only hope that this one is genuine.