Thursday, September 3, 2009

Death is never final part II

Days passed, just the way they do. There was work, there was the usual inter office chit chat, and the evenings in the studio. Everything was the same apart from the incessant tug at her heartstrings for reasons Priya was not willing to accept. Since that day, Arun had not returned to her office, and yet every time the door opened, her gaze wandered from her files, every time she saw a well dressed man of around 6 ft walking on the streets, her pulse quickened. She was surprised that the realistic and practical capricorn in her had taken flight to a realm of fantasy that was totally unknown territory. She did not know her path, she did not have a clue as to how she could possibly deal with her feelings for a guy she had seen only for a few minutes. This was unreal, and yet she enjoyed her fantasies of him walking in once again, repeating the lunch offer..

Life has its own set of rules, the rules we cannot decipher, but looking back the dots can be connected to form a perfectly clear picture. The days of summer were merging into unexpected drizzles, The Gulmohars had given way to the greens of freshly washed leaves, of small puddles on the streets, of little children in raincoats, of hot teas and pakodas. On one such day, Priya saw Arun again. She could never miss that face, the face she had etched in her mind since that breezy summer day. She was elated to see him, and yet her nature did not allow her to take any initiative. She decided to walk to where he was standing alone at a kiosk drinking tea from a kulhad, Linens she noticed, white, so impractical for the season and yet the most beautiful apparition. Casually leaning on his parked bike, Arun in his white linens made her heart flutter like the paper boats in the puddles. Trying very hard to control the upsurge, Priya walked past Arun. "Hey there!" he said. She made a mental note to add his tenor to her list as she turned to face him. Trying to deny recognition and failing miserably, she managed a smile. "How about some tea?" was the question asked, Throwing caution to the wind, probably for the first time in her life, Priya replied,"How about a ride on your bike?"

The days that followed were a collage of unbridled hues. Validating the connection Arun had felt on the first day and Priya acknowledged now. The colours of their romance matching the oils in her mother's studio - vibrant, delicious and out of the world. There was not a place in town that did not witness the growing love between these two. They met each others parents. Arun and Priya's mom bonded from the day they met each other. They were both kindled spirits, souls that were barely attached to a physical presence almost bursting at the seams. Arun's parents welcomed Priya into their lives. They were happy that Arun had chosen such a bright and goal oriented girl for a partner. Things were blissful. There were moments when priya was enveloped in her dread of relationships, when a part of her could not trust Arun, when she felt she was headed towards disaster. These moments though far apart did emerge and the only solace was also provided by Arun. Talking to him at odd hours of the night calmed her, renewed her new born faith in men. Knowing that he was available for her 24*7, to meet her moods and assuage her fears strengthened Priya as nothing had ever done before. She emerged a stronger person, a calmer spirit. She said 'thank you' with a smile when an unknown person complimented her looks. She was changing before her own eyes.

Priya's mom's health had been failing slowly. the doctors did not come up with a diagnosis, but they were not giving much hope. The lady of course was undaunted. She carried on with a vigour that was getting harder to harness. Priya asked her one evening if she would be pleased to see Priya married. Not a woman to impose her desires on her daughter, she said marriage did not count, she knew that Priya was safe with Arun and that was all that mattered to her. Priya wanted her mother's active participation in her marriage. She wanted to treasure the moments in snaps and videos. She just had her mother for family. She spoke to Arun about this. they both knew that every passing day was taking a bit away from the woman Priya loved the most in this world. They decided on a date in the early winter months for the wedding.

The wedding date just a few months away, everyone got busy with the preparations. the days were getting shorter and Priya's mother's health was taking a serious down turn. Yet she shopped for her daughter's finery with the enthusiasm of a child. Priya had blind faith in her mother's choice, so she left her at it and followed her with a camera clicking away the emotions so clearly marked on that vibrant, fading face. The practical side of Priya knew that time was short, very soon she would have to say goodbye to the lady who had given her life. She found her strength in Arun to cope with this lurking tragedy. She hid her tears behind her camera as she shot the smiles of her mother.

Life prepares you for some tragedies and swirls the others on your face when you least expect it. It was an ordinary evening. Priya was reading a book to her mother, when the call came. The call was from a Bangalore hospital. They were asking for Priya. Arun was in Bangalore on an official trip. But the call was not making any sense. there was a lot of static on the line, and they kept repeating the word ICU so many times that Priya slammed the phone down with all her might. The call came again, immediately, the ring like impending doom rattled her nerves. She felt a wave of nausea take over. Unable to understand what was going on, Priya's mother took the call. After a few minutes on the phone She took Priya in her arms and quietly held her, as her daughter shook and retched uncontrollably. There was a bell ringing somewhere. Arun's parents were shown in by the maid. They had come to share the grief of losing their son with the two people who loved him equally. This was a loss no one was prepared for. The young man, so full of life, to be married shortly, the shoulder whom Priya had banked on to shed tears for the impending loss of her mother was suddenly unavailable, just like that, like a harsh stroke of black on the oils of her mother, destiny had played its wand again.

There were no words, no thoughts, no hope of saying anything any more. Leaving her mother and Arun's parents in the hall, Priya went up to her room. walking in a daze, calling his cell time and again only to hear 'cloud9' playing. She hallucinated that any moment the song would be cut short by the familiar tenor of Arun saying,"Hey Love, everything alright?" She felt her knees buckling under her, she felt that wave of nausea again and she fell in a heap on the floor of her room. She woke up with a splitting headache and sense of weightlessness. In a state of confusion and delirium, walking on the threshold of insanity, she found herself slitting her veins and the pool of blood that formed on the floor helped her focus on her present loss. As she saw the pool widen, her mind cleared. The house was quiet and dark, everything seemed unreasonably normal. She could feel the soft breath of the sleeping house, and in that moment of calm she could see Arun. Arun was her calm, the man she trusted, the man she loved beyond her own limits. Arun was there sitting at the edge of her bed as she lay in her own pool of blood. She wanted to reach him, she wanted him to take her in his arms and say its a bad dream, but none happened, there was a chasm between them that could not be bridged, and yet he was there just a hands length away. She was too tired to talk to him, to ask him what happened? to ask him if he was scared when his time came so unexpectedly for him. There were so many questions on her mind and she was so drained. She just kept focusing on that face, on that figure sitting on the edge of her bed. it was then that Arun spoke, or she thought he did. "I love you Priya, always focus on that. Never doubt it. This is not a breach of trust, I did not plan on leaving you. You must believe. I will meet you again on this side of the chasm when its time. Till then.. I will be in your smiles, though difficult they will come through. You have me Priya in life as well as in death."

There was an eerie calm in the light blue room. The monitors beeping at regular intervals, the crisp sheets that tucked her in on a high bed. She looked around to see a few nurses and her mother. She blinked and she heard her mother saying something faintly. She could not get the words, she could not make sense of anything, she drifted back to sleep. the next time she awoke, things were clearer. Arun's parents were by her bed. His father stroking her head, saying how glad he was that she is ok, that he couldn't bear to lose everything at his age. It struck her again, the finality of Arun's death, it was not a nightmare after all, it was real. She felt the stab of the pain as she looked at her wrist and saw the bandage, and then she remembered Arun as he was sitting on the edge of her bed. She remembered his words, she looked at his parents, who had aged considerably in the last couple of days, they looked frail and yet their concern was Priya. In those few minutes, she decided to live. To live till it was time to meet Arun again.

The recovery was smooth and in a couple of days Priya was back home. The recent string of incidents had taken their toll on her mother and she was in a stupor most of the time. The times when she seemed focused, Priya talked to her about life after death. She told her about how happy and at peace Arun looked. She held her mother's hands and told her how pain free and illuminated life is when the soul is free. Her mother knew all of this, and yet she listened in awe to her practical, distraught daughter. She tried to make sense of what she saw in her stupor, she saw Arun too, she saw his hand reaching out for her, and then again she saw Priya preparing her for the journey.

It was on a cold morning in January that Priya's mother breathed her last. Priya and Arun's parents were with her throughout. There were tears, but Priya was not inconsolable. She knew, she had to live till it was time for Arun to reach out for her again. The coming months saw her shift to Arun's parent's flat. She lived with them and it was a very natural progression for her. Seasons changed, and slowly Priya found her foothold. She adopted a baby girl and her canvas was coloured again by the pastels of a child's smile.

The End


Aparna said...

I am a bit depressed after reading this story. Although the end has hope. I think I will come back again and comment later when I am in a happier mood.

Meira said...

the story was gripping. and i liked Priya and the strength she derived to carry on.

Hopeless Romantic said...

aww....this is so touching....i like it.....i wrote a story with a similar feel recently....but this one takes the cake, cherries n pastries in the shop :)

nice read!

अनिल कान्त : said...

I like the story and this is touching....nice job

ZB said...

beautifully told. Really nice narration. Lovely job.

PURN!MA said...

I am speechless, you know? you have weaved the story in such a way that one cannot help but feel the emotions ebbing n surging. I guess the only phrase that'll do justice to it is "I loved it so much that I hate it now".

Kavi said...

Sometimes stories tell tales that connect somewhere. And force thought. This was one..

Gripping one !

Gayathri said...

sujataaa...know what,i feel like hugging you out of awe!!! that was truly toooo toooo good :)the emotions are all portrayed excellently..even trivial things have been highlighted..but know what,i feel like,it's more than a short story..more like a series..
i'm still rankling in J!!! :D..

Imagination said...

HI sujata quite an intriguing story..really liked it..infact I was very curious to read the second part..

eye-in-sty-in said...

Story felt like a modern take on "Ek Kahani".

Loved it! Your story connected with the readers emotions very well - excellent narration!

It was good that you put the protagonist in a trance-like state to hide the fact that she acted loony and selfish...

Do you have more for ur readers??

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I read through this and the previous part. You have a flair for creating atmosphere, and of the sudden understatement. enjoyed!

Priya said...

Sujata, you create magic when it comes to setting the mood..not only the story, but your way of describing the minutest detail holds the reader to endlessly admire your forte in creating the mise-en-scene...

Enjoyed thoroughly.

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

“Life has its own set of rules, the rules we cannot decipher, but looking back the dots can be connected to form a perfectly clear picture.”

That’s pure gem.

I was just wondering what happened to you as there wasn’t any updates for more than a week. (For some one who updates almost daily even that’s quite a long period, right? Even yesterday when I checked your blog the last post shown was the ‘tag post’. No idea what’s happening.) But I never knew this was what’s in the offing. Please do keep it coming. This is really good. You must be a very good reader; the way you told the story is the proof. I knew that Arun would be killed, may be in a road accident, but still it was really a pleasure reading it.

bluebird said...

Hi there!

It being Onam and all I wasn't around when u posted the first part, but now I get to read the whole story in one sitting. I should say, ma'm, that it was a truly engrossing read. For the love of God, I am sure I wont be able to write anything like it for a long long time. I think your writing is much more vivid and the language richer now than it was in your earlier blog-posts of fiction writing that i have read.
However, I think you could have used more of actual dialogues between the characters. Rather than mentioning in third language the intimacy between the characters, this should enable the readers to realize for themselves the depth and complexity of the relationship. That would allow us to relate to the characters at a more personal level. We know the hero and heroine are in deep love, and we wish them good. But I wish we could feel a little bit more of ourselves in them, that the narrative evolves through their little mischiefs, fights and private moments that we have been made privy to. Then we would love them as real people, rather than characters in a story, and then we would feel more completely the grief of the heroine at her tragic loss. Because then it would be our own loss as well.

bluebird said...

One common device would be to let the dialogues stand apart as seperate from the rest of the narrative. Like for eg, the scene when she walks up to him and asks for the ride has been beautifully picturised, and the conversation, I feel, has the strength to stand on its own without help of the flowing narrative.

Regards. I know playing the critic is the easy part. Hey but what are friends for?

sujata said...

@Aparna I will be waiting..

@Meira thanks

@Hopeless Romantic thanks dear, I loved writing this story, esp building up the detail

@Anil Thanks

@ZB thanks mate

@Purnima you love it so much that you hate it now..hmm that makes me want to write some more..what about a story on the little adopted girl?

@Kavi I value your comments a lot..Am happy you connected to this

@Gayathri You made me laugh..I needed it.. dont be J the dip in the diaries..I could never have even thought of..

@Imagination thanks, hope you liked the second part as well

@Eye-in-sty-in thanks buddy. Do you want more..maybe someday when the adopted girl grows can be her life..

@Sucharita thanks

@Priya where had you been? hope you will post soon. Thanks for liking the story.

@Arun there are a few people whose comments mean a lot to me, you are one of them, even i was wondering what happened? but thought maybe only after the final part you will comment. Glad you dropped by.

@Bluebird Thanks for the appreciation, what happened to the ji?? hahahh, I will keep in mind what you said, about making it more conversational than 3rd party narration. Am still new in fiction and learning the ropes and comments from you and a few others are really taken seriously, its better than wow..that was good! kind of comments. You are a great friend to have.

Protege said...

What a plethora of feelings; anything from love, life, exhilaration and happiness to sadness, loss and death.

I love this story because it is a story of life.
Life is this way, it contains everything - both the good and the bad - and the only way we can really be happy is to embrace it completely and everything that it brings, while remaining hopeful.

Well written with great sentiments.;))

Thank you so much for commenting my anniversary, I appreciate it very much.;)) xo

BK Chowla said...

Very well put forward.A beautiful story and very touching.

kavita said...

Sorry Sujata...i stopped reading it half way,the way you narrate it comes out very is sad.... very sad...Meira comments about Priya's strength here,may be i 'll come back and finish the story at a later time...have a great weekend.

Nikki said...

Very touching and powerful!

bluebird said...

When an acquaintance ripens into friendship, then you should expect the Ps, Qs and the 'ji's to get the sack, sujathaJI. Did u see my response to your last comment on mine?

Bhavya.B said...

Really a touching one be frank ,your story spoiled the happiness of my evening....I always get disturbed by the mere mention of lose...
Nice work....

Rajesh said...

This story touches every emotional chord. I am speechless

R. Ramesh said...

thanks my dear friend..

sm said...

can not say more words
as can not think
this is a reality of life

gaelikaa said...

I love stories which carry hope in them. Hope and faith are prerequisites to a happy life - without them there is nothing! Some of the experiences Priya had in the aftermath of her bereavement happened to me when I lost my father many years ago - the idea that I'd seen him in the street, things like that!

Destiny's child... said...

I am depressed.Why did Arun have to die?
You have written it well...but...i have a thing for happy endings! ;)

Nazish Rahman said...

Very well was really very touching Sujata!!

Babli said...

I liked the story very much as it is very touching. You have narrated very beautifully.

The abstract scientist said...

That was really fitting at the end. I have been following the story from ZB's blog and what a fstival of fiction it has been. Cheers to all the participants.
Coming to your story, I really liked the way you described the events, bringing in the mood and the ambience wonderfully woven with the flow. Brilliant. I am following you now.
Thanks for dropping by my blog. Please come again for the continuam.

sujata said...

Thanks @Protege I am glad you liked the story.

@BK CHowla thanks Sir

@Kavita ohh do come back and read please

@Nikki Thanks

@Bluebird I will definitely visit Kerala, I have many friends there, in Cochin, in KAnnur..You are there as well..

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Anonymous said...

No pain like love lost. No healing balm like a well loved child! You had to know I would love this!

Anonymous said...

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Tomz said...

a very long post

Anonymous said...

Beautiful...The emotions that you have managed to potray are amazing. Great Job!

Deeps said...

a story thats beautiful poignant yet positive.I would have to say Arun's death was unexpected,but the resurrection of Priya after that was quite heart warming.
Quite an apt title,Sujata!So full of hope.

toshali said...

very very long story make it shorter in someway
i did not quite understand it but if u delete this u will get less comments and if u don't u will get more
bye bye

deeps said...

the rules set by life keeps it vivd from the dreamy, illusary format of life that we alwyas look up to ...

this is quite wonderfully narrated if a piece ripped out from life itself... and i wonder if i m right ....

sujata said...

@Bhavya am sorry to have spoiled your evening..but life is at times sad

@Rajesh thanks

@Ramesh did you like the story??

@SM welcome on this page. Thanks for leaving your view. Hope to see you again

@Gaelikaa You are welcome to my page. Am happy you could connect to this story, though fictional the emotions are universal, I am happy I could bring them out in all honesty. Do visit again.

@destiny's child you are not the only one dissapointed, there are lots on the list..will write another story with a happy ending soon, Till then smile!!

@NR thanks mate!

@Babli thanks dear

@The abstract scientist welcome to this page, good to know scientists are fond of emotional story telling.. I have been to your blog and am impressed by your story..will hop on soon for the second part.

sujata said...

@Info thanks a lot for dropping by, will surely visit the site mentioned and be happy to contribute.

@The things we carried, yes indeed, i knew you would resonate.

@Future mantra I am happy to see you here, but I am not associated with management, will hop over to your page and see in detail what you are talking about here, thanks.

@Tomz sure it was..hope you managed to finish

@Jyothi Thanks, new profile pic..I was almost about to say welcome to my page..hahah then took a closer look and got you!!

@Deeps thanks deeps, am so happy you read it. where are sakshi and SJ am missing the twins a lot

@toshali arghhhhhh why did you even try to read this..its way out of syllabus for you!!

@Deeps this is 100% fiction, but then the emotions are universal, I am happy you liked it.

Kishore Choudhary said...

सुजाता जी,
कहानी को पढा है, अभी एक बार कम से कम और पढ़ना बाकी है. वैसे अपर्णा जी जैसी ही है मेरी भी हालात. वैसे आप में एक बड़ी लेखिका छुपी बैठी है.

The Holy Lama said...

Great Post. I draw a parallel here. I have a relative who has had a similiar accident. The only daughter, she lost her love in a car accident. The mother is working and the father pased away some time ago. The boy's parents are not too concerned for her. Many of us like her to pick her life afresh. but she is not giving in. Maybe time will heal. Let's pray

Pesto Sauce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pesto Sauce said...

So much pain but so much strength of character displayed

Sumandebray said...

Great to see that you are writing stories. I will have to come back and read. But I won't be able to do that if that is a sad story... I hate tears!

But keep it up... keep it coming!

R. Ramesh said...

suja....u journalists r such bandal masters yaar...u sure come to sharjah this wife is arriving on 18th for a u can join with over to u..come on think of excuse now....

sujata said...

@KIshore thank you very much, its such a joy to get a response from you

@The Holy Lama thank you for visisting my page and reading the story. Parallels can be drawn, and at times things can be even worse than what is being said in this story, i am with you in praying for your friend, time will surely heal some of her pain.

@Pesto Sauce thank you

@SumanDebRay sad or have to read both the parts and comment..where do you keep on disappearing?Busy with Pujo shopping?

Nona said...

I was saving the story for a later date because of two things.
1. ZB is brain behind the short story competition and all his short stories have melancholy as an underlying emotion.
2. Death in the title. (I'm a bit afraid of death. :) )

I read through Part 1 and Part 2. I'm leaving comments only on Part 2.

You have described it so beautifully. On many occasions, you have added words that extends the sentence and also make our experience better.

Wish Priya was stronger like her mother and had not opted for ending her life. But all is well that ends well. You have given us hope at the end as she moves forward in her life.

Anonymous said...

Hey...Congrats...An Award is waiting for you..check my blog....And its not for the story writing the way... :)

The profile pic was a challenge to see if I have the guts to upload that....

Rush said...

me not read it...uaanh ...uaaanh, just wait....will get back at ya!!

SG said...

Excellent description of emotions. I salute Priya's strength.

R. Ramesh said...

hey that's good what u wrote stay connected...sure u ll get paid this time..i ll pray for that..cheers

R. Ramesh said...

hahaha..i laughed so much reading yr comment su...thankssss..

Being Pramoda... said...


thanks for dropping by..:)its soo nice to see ur comments anf thank u..

i will come back here ..havent read the post..but will surely be here soon..:)

Have nice time..:)

Rush said... editor...Awesome.
but u know me, sees looong posts, puts me off imeediately!! but will take time and come back!
and we need to have a celebration post doing some cheers *glasses clink*

Aparna said...

Ok I came back as I said I would.( So stop nagging me on gtalk)

I was waiting to read all the stories and here is my honest opinion.

If there is a prize for lyrical writing, you would get it.Neha stuck to the exact plot. Gayatri's story was also good. Jyothi too did a very good job. I loved her ending, there was something there that touched me. I completely deviated from the plot,moreover my story takes place in one day. All of you gave the story a continual feel.
I think ZB has a difficult job ahead.

numerounity said...

Very Sensibly written... I could feel the pain of priya and esp her mother who has to leave her daughter in such distraught.

Life is difficult and sometime just too much.

Very well written with right words, creating right scenario! Wow!

Suraj said...

"Life prepares you for some tragedies and swirls the others on your face when you least expect it"

The above lines from your story really is a fact of life.The story was great and the emotions i could relate with and couldnt stop myself from admiring priyas strength.

sujata said...

@Nona finally got you to read, ZB had managed to put all my followers out here to desert me completely, had to beg everywhere for comments.

@Jyothi thanks a ton for the award and you look very good in this pic.

@Rush you not read it..why??? "the angry emoticon from your blog is used at this point" followed by me sobbing"the big tear drop icon is used here" please read it"begging icon is being used here"

@Aparna ZB did manage to get us sisters in the loop finally didnt he?? the amount of begging required for this post had we done for others we wud have hit many regulars just didnt comment at quite furious..want to tag ZB now

sujata said...

@Numerounity thanks for reading through, really appreciate it.

@Suraj finally the guy comes..I thought you would never appear here, glad you made the time life is a you know what dont you??

Zeba said...

Touchy. Sad. Nicely written.

deeps said...

ummm felt like going thru some lines again ...
life always prepares us one way or other .. umm

Creativecook said...

this was a really nice piece! First time here!

Sumandebray said...

Why did you do this to Priya..
She was such a nice and good person..
First you take away the persons she cared for and then you hand her over a child to look after alone .. bahut na insafi hai
A story well told!