Fortune’s fool….

Sanjay sat on the mattress on the floor mechanically packing his Sony Viao laptop while staring at a tear on the green bed sheet. He said nothing. They had a quiet dinner soon afterwards. He watched a little bit of Reservoir dogs as she washed the dishes. Then he stood up to leave. Raaga dried her hands in the yellow kitchen towel and walked up to the front door and stood with her back against it. As if in protest. Sanjay suddenly grabbed her face, leaned towards her but again held himself back and instead led her back to the mattress with the green sheet with the tear in it. Then, he whispered into her right ear, “I have to go. It’s getting late. The train must’ve arrived” She turned her face away and closed her eyes. In denial. Weak because she thought she would be incomplete without him. Strong because she could keep that thought to herself. By the time she opened her eyes, he was gone.

Somewhere in the neighbourhood, someone was playing , “Yunhi pehloo mein baithe raho…Aaj jaane ki zid na karo”. Life has a way of mocking you. Especially when you least expect it to.

Raaga lay still and gazed blankly at the ceiling. She had it coming didn’t she? After all, it was she who had plunged herself into this. And, Sanjay had resisted her. First with resolve. Then with irritation. Then with anger. Then with patience. And then, with fondness. Till he was in, which he later explained himself, a state of blur.

Unlike herself, Raaga hadn’t stormed into his life. She had tiptoed in.

Thoughts from the last two years in FMS flooded her mind……

It all began with intrigue. Doesn’t it always? Raaga first saw Sanjay in a Kolkata IMS GD/PI workshop. The students present were divided into two groups. Raaga was in the group that watched while Sanjay was in the one that discussed WTO – what with IIFT GD/PIs around the corner! With a deep baritone voice, Sanjay seemed to emerge the natural leader. It was a delight to watch him speak; he seemed to have an opinion on everything. He called the Doha rounds a sham and he convinced his peers that GATT wasn’t all that toothless after all. By the time the session ended, Raaga’s curiosity was piqued.  She followed him, went where he went, aimless, until at the Karunamoyee bus stop in Salt Lake Sector 5, he boarded a shared auto and left. Wow, Raaga told herself and smiled foolishly. She dialled her best friend – Meher’s number to tell her about the “he’s diferent!” guy.

A s luck would have it, she saw him again a few months later. Sitting with her, in class! Not IIFT but FMS. Almost immediately, she messaged Meher ‘ He’s here! He’s here! In my class! In my class! That WTO chap!’

Pat came the reply, ‘Get him!’

Raaga never got around to ‘getting him’. In fact, she was convinced herself that she wasn’t out to ‘get him’. What a coarse way of looking at it! What she felt for him was a hedonic mix of respect and intrigue. And fear. She was scared of him at some level. And it only added to the halo effect. She would observe him for hours in class. She had done it for so long that now, without even looking up once, she could sense when he entered the classroom. When he stood up to make a presentation. When he raised his hand in dissent. When he fiddled with his newly bought smart phone. When he nudged his friend sitting beside him. When he nodded his head in agreement. When he frowned at front benchers. When he smirked at seniors. When he dozed off in class.

It amused her that Sanjay didn’t even know of her existence, let alone her name. He was still trying to reconcile himself to the fact that he had given up his well paying job to join a college where, in a matter of one mock interview, he was made to crop his hair short and forego of his favourite slippers. Complaining to his mentor backfired; his mentor turned out to be a loyalist of the campus legacy. Not one to wallow in self pity, he found his solace in taking pot shots at all the conformists of the system.

Sanjay was much kind to the mavericks. Which is why he noticed Raaga finally. An economics graduate from Bhubaneswar, she was the anti thesis of public diplomacy and known to speak her mind. Shortly after noticing her and strangely enough for an individualist, something about Raaga made Sanjay very angry; he was not very sure himself what it was – it could have been her guts. It didn’t take him long to discover that he got a lot of attention from her. Not knowing how to deal with it, he got irritated with himself and with her. Sadly for him, this only made her resolve steelier.

For Raaga, Sanjay was a living breathing case study in flesh and blood. When he was writing notes, she was observing him. When he was leaning against the teacher’s table in the tea break and talking on the phone, she was observing him. When he was buttoning his cuffs, she was observing him. In some uncanny way, he sensed it. He wasn’t sure if it made him swell with pride or angry at being monitored.

This was shaping up into a form of weird communication Sanjay couldn’t put a term to – he knew that she knew that he knew she was looking at him all the time.

He grew cranky; and, he grew crankier.

All things, good or bad, come to an end. After so much ado, all it took was a placement party to break the ice. It was Sanjay who spoke first. “I think the DJ has no idea how to mix music and which track to play when”, he told Raaga. That conversation ran into hours. By the time it was morning, they were sitting outside a mall, still discussing poetry and music and the fakeness of hurried presentations in class. It didn’t take them time to discover that they were so similar. The next two years were easily the most memorable days of their lives – they wrote, they read, they travelled, they ate, they debated, they laughed, they fought, they sulked.

They dreamed.

Raaga sat up on the mattress now battling to shut out the thoughts on her mind. “Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think”, she reprimanded herself. Somehow, telling herself the same things thrice always seemed to work for her. Like on the nights before her exams, she would tell herself, “Study! Study! Study!” She pulled herself together and then took an auto to Meher’s flat in Greater Kailash 1.  But she was thinking of Sanjay all the time.

Around the time she reached GK 1, Sanjay reached the New Delhi station.  Nivedita was anxiously waiting for him. Dressed in a pink salwar suit, she was easily the prettiest girl he had ever seen. There was a sort of naïveté about her that he had once found endearing – now he had to put up with it.  Her complete and absolute dependence on him that he had once treasured was now increasingly turning into a liability. Her incessant barrage of questions which he once found adorable now got on his nerves. She was everything Raaga wasn’t and would never want to be.  And yet, some things were never meant to be. An expert hand in veiling the emotional side to her, Raaga had borrowed from Miss Roy to explain the catch -22 situation they found themselves in. “We crossed into forbidden territory. We tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much”, she said to him feigning a yawn one night so that she could turn around and pretend to sleep.

Fir se late? Hamesha late. Baat nahin karungi tumse. Kya huwa? Kya soch rahe ho? Koi aur mil gayi hai kya?” said Nivedita in one breath even as she rushed into his arms.

Nahin yaar, kuch kaam aa gaya tha. Cab khadi hai,chalo”, he told her.

Nivedita fell asleep almost as soon as she got into the cab.

Sanjay sank into the seat.  And, thought of Raga’s piercing kohled eyes.

 In a form of weird communication Sanjay couldn’t put a term to – he knew that she knew that he knew she was thinking of him all the time.


5 Responses to “Fortune’s fool….”

  1. You are writing again 🙂
    Beautifully penned. I love the vivid pictures that you paint with your words; the little details that make your writing come alive. I re-read this post thrice; first with my morning coffee, then trying to learn how you write the way you write, and after an hour because the last line summed up a present predicament.
    Keep writing, Snata. I am someone who loves to write. But you are a writer. A delight to read. Tc.

  2. You egg me on Mayurakshi….Thanks a lot 🙂

  3. Wow, so beautifully written. I was an admirer of your writings and now I am an ardent fan.

    There are so many parts that I like out here that its difficult to point them out.

    The nostalgia and loneliness creeps through so well. U never use the words but its out there.

    Beautifully stated -‘ “Yunhi pehloo mein baithe raho…Aaj jaane ki zid na karo”. Life has a way of mocking you. Especially when you least expect it to. ‘

    The ghazal also states- tumhi sochi zara kyun na roke tumhe, jaan jaati hai jab uthke jaate ho tum. Thats what I was reminded of

    “It all began with intrigue. Doesn’t it always?”- These lines took my heart away with their elegance

    “And, thought of Raga’s piercing kohled eyes.”-possibly the saddest lines out there.

    “Sanjay was a living breathing case study in flesh and blood. “- Are not loves even if one sided always that 🙂

    I love the seperate lines out there.

    Finally the criticism- Nivedita coming into the picture after 2 years seemed a bit abrupt. If he was double timing for 2 years, the character has just lost my sympathy

    But all in all, a masterpiece.

  4. Waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai magar,
    Chand ghadiyaan yahi hai jo aazaad ho
    Inko khokar meri jaan-e-jaan,
    Umar bhar na tadapte raho

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