“Hello who is this?” questioned Nakul.
“Am glad, at least you haven’t changed your number.” –a voice on the other side beamed.
“Sorry am bad in memory… may I know who this is?” Nakul replied irritated.
“I still remember the days you stood near my place wearing the only blue shirt you had...” stated the voice.
“It’s a girl alright, one of my crushes… vanitha? Deepika? Saakshi? Nah... They are all college crushes… hmm… She must be from my school days…” As Nakul was squeezing his tiny brain, the familiar voice broke the silence by chucklingly saying “Is your hair still facing the sky?” “Oh… it’s you… so how are you shylaja?” queried Nakul with a straight voice as usual, without expressing any element of surprise. “Yah am fine.” Shylaja replied and continued “Actually am back in Chennai now, so thought will catch up with all you people. Unfortunately only you haven’t changed your number…” “Unfortunately, as in?” -intervened Nakul. “Nothing. So if you are free why don’t we meet up by eve?” –suggested Shylaja. Nakul looked through his imaginary scheduler and thought of saying he is busy today, but decided against it. “Yah am game.” He heeded to her request.
Years together he was under her charm. Such was her aura that he failed to look deep into her heart. So blind was he in love with her, without knowing what really is love that he hoped she will reciprocate, for he was sure that his kind heart and his never ending love can win over her. But the last few days had opened his eyes that she may not after all understand him. Blame it on the glam world and the sweetness & romance that a Rahul or a Raj brings alive on the silver screen; she was determined to fall for them alone. Yet he couldn’t come over of her. So he decided to express his love; after all what is love without expressing it.
It was the summer that ensued the public exams, the last time they would meet. He decided now or never. Neither did he have a rose, nor a sugary letter; only three blurred out words. That said it all- he meant it all, hoping she might understand what it really means. He expected anger, fiery anger as she had rejected the most handsome guy of the class earlier. But what came was something more than that.
“What do you think of yourself? A romantic hero? Just like that you will come and propose and I have to accept? Who do you think I am!!”
She clamored like hell without giving any chance for Nakul to express himself. The summer, that dawned to dry off the lands, has dried the smile off this face forever. Dejected he started moving away from her. “Hey look… look I am sorry ok?”- Shylaja spoke “I was kinda not in the right sense of mind…”- trying to bring back normalcy. “Let’s not move on like this. Friends always?” saying this she gave her hand for friendship. Shaking hands, she smiled and said “Fine … bye.”
She never knew why she called him for a coffee. She was prepared for spending the evening alone, but he came- as normal as always. With a faint appearance of what could be termed a smile he greeted her. Taking the seat he straight away poured into the menu and asked, “So what shall we order?”
“I would like a cappuccino… what about you?”- She asked in turn.
“Can you make that two?”- He told the attender and as he walked away taking the order she gave a smile of approval and asked, “So how are you? Do you have contact with the rest?”
“Well…sort off. I have their numbers … but to tell you frankly not in close contact as such” –he stated.
“Oh… fine … we should all meet up once.”- Shylaja asserted.
“Yah sure…” -Nakul replied sure that, that wont happen. He then asked, “So tell me … what’s your story after school?”
“Well … I did my computer engg. and during the course fell in love with my classmate. So after completing MS I married him.” After a pause she continued, “Initially I was working, but after we got settled I left the job.”
“Nice … must be a hell lot of money offering job I guess” Nakul commented.
“Yah… so what about you?”- Shylaja prompted.
“I did my civil engg. and now working as designer. My work basically deals with designing the offices and high profile homes for the elite. Very tedious yet engaging job for the challenge it offers.” Nakul beamed.
“Then you must have racked up fortune by now”-Shylaja commented.
“Not exactly … I charge less when compared with my competitors. I take up only select projects which are not run of the mill, as I get bored easily even though I could multiply my customers and revenue with those projects.” And he added, “After all life is always not about money you know. It’s satisfaction that matters the most. Only that propels one further and not overflowing account.”
“What about your personal life?” seeing his bewildered look she corrected, “I mean, are you married or into any relationships?”
He replied, “Neither …” “… but why?” As she asked this, their eyes met and he immediately looked down and answered, “No one after … well leave it.” He ended. Both were in moments of silence recounting the past. The buzz sound of the phone brought them back.
“Excuse me; I have a call” – said Shylaja and answered the call, “Hello” “Hi honey, having a nice time with your friends?” without waiting for any reply from her he continued with his usual buttery style, “Anyways you know you ought to be at home by 6 right? Mama and Papa will not like it if you reach later. I am running late for the meeting, so …bye.” He hung up.
“Sorry… it was my husband”-Shylaja apologized while looking down in pretendence of keeping the phone back into her bag. While doing so, she removed a tissue paper and bent down to adjust her sandal, but instead touched her face with the tissue and then finally spoke.
“Yah … so are not into relationship… but you would have certain ideas about how your girl should be right?”
“Every guy has a dream and so do I. She must be someone who is independent in thinking...” All this while she was looking down, but when he mentioned ‘independent’ she immediately looked up. Nakul meanwhile in his own thoughts continued, “… you know I always like brave girls. And as for as matching is concerned, if she falls in love with me, everything else will follow suite.”
“But what about marriage?” – Shylaja asked, getting more interested by each passing second.
“See marriage I feel is an institution which can be run smoothly only if the couple sternly believe in the concept of better half. You may be a conservative introvert, but when it comes too your spouse, even if you cant say things as and when, you do have to share things ultimately at some point of time. Silence can retain love, but can’t sustain marriage.”
She intervened and asked, “Then do you think woman should go for work while her husband lends her support in every way possible?” She was very apprehensive about what he would reply.
“Obviously! With all due respect to you, I dono how you educated girls leave all your dreams and aspirations for marriage…”- he said.
Shylaja was watching his eyes the whole time seeing fiery passion in them all the while, combined with a smile at times like a passing shower bringing pleasantness to the atmosphere. “… as for as help is concerned, it should be mutual and equally shared: both mentally and physically. That’s where the romance between the couple lies. Which girl wouldn’t like a dream date where her husband in a Sunday morning cooks her favorite dish and then dine in a beautiful lonely garden, romancing.”
She prompted him question after question like a teacher examining a student trying to understand the person in front of her. Each question made her ask another and then another for which all he answered dutifully.
“See it all depends on…” “I know this is a boring job no matter how much I try to reinvent it. But it pays well and it promises more too…” “… how well you care for each other…” “Why are you worrying much about what I do? All you have to do is lay back in the house and enjoy everything I give you my dear” “… consoling, sharing …” “When am there to support you for life why do you need to work honey?” “… independent …” “a long holiday, all day at home and a wife to grant all my wish” “ … helping each other, mutual understanding …” “Hi honey, having a nice time with your friends? Anyways you know you ought to be at home by 6 right? Mama and Papa will not like it if you reach later. I am running late for the meeting, so …bye.”
“Sorry what were you saying?” – Shylaja asked coming back to her senses.
Nakul replied, “I was saying husband and wife should be like the sea waves and sand, the sea can roll over the sand how much ever it wants, draw the sand in and the beach looks beautiful until … until the sand mixes with the sea and spoils the beach.”
She looked at him and said, “Did you realize we have never spoken this much before?” and before he could think she asked, “What do you notice at the girl over there? That couple only”
Nakul gave a good glance at her and said, “Well… she looks young … from her dress, hair style, lip gloss and all, I could see she is trendy too…” glancing at the bag near her he continued, “she has a drafter too…. Could be an engineering student, may be even a first year… cell phone … look they are actually holding hands… settled now itself … Hmmm”
Shylaja said, “Do you know what I see?” and continued, “I see a girl with long hair- no coloring, dressed in traditional clothes, yet has everything that can be defined trendy … wealthy lifestyle … homemaker, cut off from the world of knowledge and knows only doing chores for the people she loves.” Saying this she stood up and walked past the gates her hair dancing to the tunes of her swaying sari end.
Unable to comprehend what just happened, Nakul pays the bill and stood up. A msg beeps in his mobile.
“I wish I could go back in time when you said those three words.”
CREDITS: Hum Tum, Bachna e hasino, An article titled "the new tamil cinema"