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The Atticus Diaries
Bibliophile - atheist - reader of religious texts - B-School Grad - math-hater - part-time poet - wannabe bodybuilder - couch-potato - animal lover - non-vegetarian - software engineer - technophobe - day-dreamer - basketballer that never was - cruciverbalist - Indian - SriLankan - neither - marketing grad - financial analyst - another confused clueless speck living it up on good ol' earth!!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Strangers in the Night

This is where he is supposed to meet her on this rainy Saturday evening – at this nondescript crossing under the bridge in Mahim. He tries her phone - no response. He shakes his head with an indulgent smile - again. He moves instinctively towards a small road leading towards a dark gray sea – she had to be there! He knows her well enough! He has known her for a while – this big little girl of seaside, sunshine, laughter, compassion and grit… Known and loved her as a friend and a little sister – keeper of secrets, a shoulder to cry on… Among the very few people with whom he could both laugh and grieve with comfort… There she is in her bright blue shirt like a small piece of much needed clear sky on this rainy evening. They hug and he shudders at the cruel word "perfunctory" looming up from the dark recesses of his confused subconscious. They choose a seaside shanty over Barista for tea and vada. Tea with her – a ritual! And rituals are supposed to ease things back to normal – to reassure one that everything is still the way it ought to be. But, not today! Not anymore… Something has snapped somewhere…

  Tea, rain and sea… Oh, how they would listen intently to each others dreams on an evening like this… An evening where magic dripped in chilly drops from a mysterious sky and flowed in golden streams on the headlight lit asphalt… Today he mumbles something about the sea being scary and she cracks a weak joke… And, he is almost relieved when they start talking about taxes! They find the restaurant they were looking for – a tastefully decorated place with amateur guitarists singing at tables and an interesting menu-card! She's excited – reading out excerpts, pointing to pictures and quirky little curios in the Kerala-style interior. But he is too preoccupied. She asks him about his work and he tells her he's enjoying it. He manages to sound casual and aloof. Another day, he'd have confided that the uncertainty is killing him. And he wants to be angry – to tell her what she's done and draw that apology of hers draped in honesty, dignity and a smile. But today his guard is up! The left arm raises the shield in preparation – the right is kept nimble and ready to strike with sharp weapon or word… Something within wants to hurt because it has been hurt… Something animal and primordial…Strike at an unsuspecting friend because you were struck at! Revenge! Sweet heaven! What has he been reduced to contemplating? This has to end now. Pretence held on to any further will only destroy much more on a later day!

  But he knows he can't hurt her… This girl with these angel eyes and wet hair tumbling into the edges of her face paler than usual due to the rain – looking vulnerable and confident as only she can! That's what had drawn him to her first – this girl who gingerly carries her own little utopia with her, a little microcosm that the bigger world is always threatening to destroy. Yet, within her queendom, life is lived on her terms! And over the next ten months, they'd be there for each other at all times… There was never a subject they didn't discuss… There was no inhibition, no compulsion to be a certain person from the past. They found in each other that incredible wonder of human society – a stranger who understands, empathizes and cares. He has seen her lost and lonely, looking for love. He has seen her find that love through the murky darkness of doubt. He has let her fight her own battles just hearing her out, patting her back and being there, proud to be part of the noblest of human struggles – the struggle for love. Over a cup of rose-petal tea or under a sunset, they have spoken at length of their future and believed in the power of each others dreams. They have shared secrets that symbolized an acceptance into the most private of personal circles. And between it all they have laughed like school-children out on a picnic! And now, he averts his eyes and keeps a polite conversation going as they wait for her friend to join them…

  He wonders if he has read it all wrong! He wonders if he should just tell her how he feels and like a curtain, the fog of worry will lift away. But what will he tell her? How will he explain how, of late, he has started feeling like an intruder in her life? Finding himself a stranger who has walked too far too fast into her world and now doesn't know where to turn… How will he tell her this isn't the first time that he has felt uninvited and how this is unlikely to be the last time? He has tried to cut her slack… Give her space… Stay clear unless called upon… Step in only when she really needs him…! But somehow, it didn't work. He had expectations he couldn't wish away. Does she know this is happening? Did she know when she abruptly hung up after a long complaining call that he had to stay back till 12am to reschedule office telecons? Does she know that this could be the last time in years that they are meeting – if he heads to Montreal and she to London? That unfair knowledge – that's his weapon. He nurses it like an icy dagger – ready to be thrust into a warm, loving heart. A sharp blade of hurt emotion that'll now hurt another even more… Is she taking him for granted? Is being taken for granted a privilege accorded or insult thrown? If this is how she is with friends, who is he to demand otherwise? Slowly and firmly, the dagger's sheathed again. He can't deliver the blow – not to her. And once the third friend joins them, meandering mundane conversation clears away the heaviness of an unfought duel!

  He laughs emptily and speaks in complete carefully chosen sentences about food and other things comfortably neutral. A guitarist comes to their table and strums and sings with a lot of heart and élan. One of the numbers is "You've got a friend" by some obscure artist… Music makes her smile and the idea of a funnily dressed man singing beautifully at unhearing tables tugs at his heart. Lightened by the music, he tries one last time to shift to a deeper conversation and then to crack a joke. Both attempts fail. When they are about to leave, he wants to slip a hundred to the guitarist. And to his surprise, he is worried about what she will think! That is the last straw - when you fear your friend will judge you, you know it's over! Something's choking in his throat - something full of last times and good-byes. He wants to run away suddenly. He says he'll take a cab! She insists they go to Dadar and they take trains to go their separate ways! He prevails! Why? I want a dark corner – private sorrow, a proud idiot's refuge! He doesn't tell her that. She admonishes him and tells him never to complain about cash-crunches again. He is angry and wants to snap back saying he never will! Never ever again! Much to his own relief, he just smiles sheepishly.

  The other friend shakes hands warmly and wishes him luck. A nice guy! He feels a bit guilty that in all his preoccupation he ignored this guy. Then, they say their good-bye. He wants to hug her, wish her well, forget this evening and never see her again. That way there won't be any misgivings – they'll just be special friends who just drifted away … geographically first and then in all ways! But she's angry – her little temper tantrums which will hold till their next meeting. The next meeting…? He suddenly wants to take the goddamn train but he knows he doesn't have it in him. He's done play acting for the day. He feels disappointed – with her, with himself and his playacting and his inability to shed his ego one more time and let it pass! She has walked ahead of him. She waves half turning. Bye! He gives a thumbs-up with his eyes already away.

  And as he rides home on a night when the sky can't stop weeping, there's magic spilt on the asphalt lit by car lights!

September 14, 2006   05:02 PM PDT

Glad you liked it...

You are right... We continue to make life hard for ourselves :) Thankfully, in this particular case, everything turned out fine for me...
September 13, 2006   06:01 AM PDT
this was such an engaging read. So many questions and emotions kept in check. Life does not any easier, does it ?
Having just said bye to a very dear friend,
I could really feel this post.
August 28, 2006   07:47 PM PDT

Guess you are right... Drifting away is more cruel and permanent
August 28, 2006   02:51 PM PDT
Snapping never works...and u can never snap for long..with someone close to you..try snapping a close buddy and u will only find out u hv become more closer..

Drifting hurts a lot..but it works..painfully though
August 24, 2006   01:18 PM PDT

Thanx buddy :)
August 24, 2006   11:40 AM PDT
You're a poet writing prose... there's so much beauty in feelings and atmosphere that the movement of the plot is relegated to the backseat. Will read more and write more.

Prasad V.

PS: Chandrashekhar RS introduced me to this blog.
August 18, 2006   06:34 PM PDT

Thanks Shishir... And you put it perfectly - drifting away is what hurts... Snapping off would be much better!
Shishir Saxena
August 18, 2006   05:03 PM PDT
As I read this page, I walked through a time I thought I had left behind, and the people in it.

Drifting away is the most hurting way to part ways. I know that from experience. The worst part is the "slow death" that happens. Day by day and event by event. You know its happening but the diagonosis is too tough to declare. Till one day you ask, "Whats the point?"

One more have a gift of writing. It just flows.


August 18, 2006   01:42 PM PDT

Hmmm... My humble take is that no story is about how it ends...

But anyways, that's exactly how it ended - with him talking to the girl and making up :)
whts in the name...
August 18, 2006   01:00 AM PDT
Why u want it to end this story(I assume that this is figment of ur imagination) this way.........can't this guy jus tell how he feels.....n then end the things.......
August 17, 2006   07:35 PM PDT

Hmmm.... Now I know :| Blame it on an afternoon of Excel-ing :((
August 17, 2006   06:37 PM PDT
Clues to read other people I personally know I meant..:) As for people and their blogs,few people I know are like their blog.So you stand validated.
August 17, 2006   01:47 PM PDT

Ah, the plot thickens! Clues and all that jazz.... But I guess even if you knew me, you wouldn't know me the way I am on this blog... Very few people in real life know me that way and all of them know about my blog :)
August 17, 2006   01:45 PM PDT
@"Name" :

Hahahaha.... No human being is painted in just one hue, right?
August 17, 2006   01:44 PM PDT

Said this there as well:

Thanks for a discerning comment Meera... I have been thinking on the same lines of late... The problem is - for the last two years, my life has been dominated by these very emotions - nostalgia, love and a yearning for a mooring conflicting with a longing to break-free... But you are right! I should experiment more... And will!
August 16, 2006   02:36 PM PDT
You remind me uncannily of someone I know.In behaviour,thought,impulse,and constant shifting from worries of fading love to moments of unshakeable confidence.And the words...the beautiful words.I loved this piece for purely selfish reasons.It gives me clues you see.
August 15, 2006   03:25 AM PDT
hmm, touching as always. each post of your is so touching that i sometimes have adiffernet picture of you.

ut hten, i remind myself that u r not the same guy with whom i laughed for hours. u confuse me.
August 15, 2006   02:16 AM PDT
This was my comment to one of the earlier posts in this page but I was not sure if it was posted. Hence posting it again, here.
Hi. I perchanced upon some of your earlier writings. You are a brilliant writer. Of nostalgia, memories and sentiments. Where is the rest of you?
Forgive me if I sound impertinent. I merely wish for a different choreography of word-dance, one that you are more than capable of creating.
Thanks for reading me out.
August 10, 2006   05:36 PM PDT
Orbiter Dictum:

This is one post I have read and reread… I no longer recognize the Atticus who wrote it just a day back! And if only it wasn’t all so scary, I would have had the temerity to brand it silly! I can’t believe how close I had come to throwing away a beautiful relationship built on wonderful bonds and shared values. I am shocked to find this horrible creature inside me that pounces up unawares from behind me and hurts the ones I love. I have done it before and I am afraid I’ll do it again! And then I’ll sit through lonely nights with remorse burning like an avenging fire as I play the tears shed or the voices choking over and over again in my head. They all love me enough to forgive! But I think I have a long way to go… I believe you haven’t learnt to love if you haven’t learnt not to hurt! Hopefully one day, I will!!
August 10, 2006   12:14 PM PDT

?? Ennadhu edhu da?
August 10, 2006   12:13 PM PDT

Kids, eh? KIDS, eh? X( :)
August 10, 2006   10:37 AM PDT
Thala! innadhidhu...ayyayo...[:(]
August 9, 2006   02:05 PM PDT

You know sweets, You would be one among those men who would have a very good shot at learning not to hurt those whom you love...Trust me.... :):)You have it in you da...:):)

If only if we learn to let go.. :):)

Now...I like this new writing style;)
I know you know what I mean...:D:D:D

Post reminds me of KG kids.. loads of them whom I know and love:D:D
Just kidding...



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