Gulf of love

I don’t ask for much;
I never do.

But there’s a thing I’d like to ask from you.

Will you look something up for me?

I need you to first know the thing;

I want you to see.

Open Google.

Type ‘Gulf of Alaska’ and just look.

Look how two oceans meet,

But they don’t mix.

Look how they become one,

Yet their originalities aren’t lost in their kiss.

I want our love to be just like this.

I fell in love with you because of who you were.

You fell in love with me because of who I was.

And losing ourselves for each other doesn’t sound fair.

So, let’s meet.

But let’s not mix.

Let’s become one.

But let’s not lose our originalities in our kiss.

Let’s love each other.

But let it not be our own selves whom we’d later miss.

Friend Request

“Why is he sending a Friend Request to me again? Doesn’t he get that I don’t want to add him?” she sighed with frustration.

“Well, add him then. What’s the problem?” asked her friend.

“No way! I have pictures of me and my boyfriend on my wall. I can’t just add anybody as a friend on Facebook. Does a thing called privacy even exist?” she said and fumed.

“Fine. Then let his request rot in the list of your pending Friend Requests then. Nevertheless, your follower count will increase,” her friend said.

“Good idea,” she said as she shut her laptop.

——–

“So, first I have to click on this picture, and then this blue button and it’s done. See?” the fourteen-year-old told him

The fourteen-year-old stayed at a neighbour’s house.

“Yes, okay,” he said as his trembling fingers hovered over the mouse.

“Go on, Grandpa,” the kid said.

“Let me try. I’ll send a friend request to my grand-daughter. She is twenty, you know. She studies in a college in Delhi,” he explains to the fourteen-year-old.

The kid smiles sadly. He has been teaching the old man how to use Facebook since the last three months. 

The old man has Alzheimer’s. The kid teaches him how to use Facebook over and over again. And every single time, the old man sends a Friend Request to his only grand-daughter and his grand-daughter rejects it.

Little does the old man know that his requests are being rejected. Instead, he claps with child-like glee after having successfully sent a Friend Request.

A Single Try

I believed them when they told me that I couldn’t fly.

They would mock me and I would cry.

I would stretch my wings and look at them after my tears would dry.

But one day, I fell off a branch;

And I almost thought I’d die.

But then my wings flapped in tandem with my heartbeat,

And I soared up high;

Higher than all the others.

I looked down and realised

That in the end, all it took for me to fly was a single try.

Dining Table

* Dining Table *

It’s lunchtime. I know it when I see the people walking out of the building, when I hear the sound of their footsteps and when I hear the persistent beeps of the ID Card Swipe machines.

I go to my spot. I take my mop and bucket along. My job is to make the floors look squeaky clean.

I go to the place where I have my lunch everyday. It’s under the staircase; pretty secluded to give me some privacy and save me and my lunchbox from the sympathetic glances of the people with ID cards who work in this place.

I sit on the floor and untie the towel tied around my tiffinbox. I look at the lunch that my wife has packed for me. Today, I’ve got four chapattis and dal. I eat my lunch in solitude and doze off for an hour under the staircase.

I wake up, mop some more floors and walk back to my home at 10pm. My son opens the door for me. I smile at him. He runs ahead of me, singing, “Pa’s here, Pa’s here.”

I won’t deny that I feel special. At the building where I mop the floors, I am just a shadow whom everyone deliberately ignores. At my home, I am no longer a shadow; I am a crucial member of the family, I am special.

I walk in and see that my son has assembled some bricks and laid one of my wife’s saree neatly over them.

“What is that for?” I ask my wife.

“Today, he had gone with me to the houses where I work. He saw dining tables in each one of them. He came home and made this for us,” my wife says with a smile.

My wife works as a maid in the locality closer to my home. My son goes with her sometimes.

My wife serves dinner for us. We sit crosslegged at the dining table made of bricks. I pull my son on my lap and feed him from my plate.

“You know, this table is way better than the one I eat at during my work,” I tell him.

He smiles.

Fifty vs. Seven

* Fifty vs. Seven *

I have been sitting on my bed, sulking since hours. My hair is a mess and my stomach rumbles; both a grim reminder of my anger directed at him.

The person I am angry at is my boyfriend. Ours is a long-distance relationship and he has come to my city after a good four months. He has come for just three days, though.

Sixty hours, to be precise. Yes, I’d counted.

We have met a couple of times after he has come here and the meetings have been brief. He had promised that we would spend a good fifty-something hours together. I had a well prepared to-do list for that.

But then, he had to meet others too. That had taken up most of his time.

“I won’t even talk to him,” I mutter to myself.

“Let him call. I won’t even answer,” I say again.

“Even if he texts, I won’t reply,” I add.

My phone beeps and hour later. It’s a text from him.

“Sorry,” it reads.

I bite my lip to supress my anger.

“No problem. Just tell me if I should wait up for you or if I should have my dinner and go to bed,” I reply.

“We’ll eat together. I will be there soon. Wait up for me, please?” he texts me back.

“Fine,” I reply.

I can never not yield to a ‘Sorry’ or a ‘Please’ from him. Nevertheless, I remind myself that I am angry.

An hour later, he shows up to meet me.

“When is your flight tomorrow?” I ask.

“At eight in the morning,” he says.

“You’ll have to leave for the airport at six, then,” I say.

I do a mental math and realise that we only have seven more hours together. I almost tear up.

In those three and half years of our relationship, I have never been able to not cry while seeing him off. My anger dies somewhere inside me.

I reach out and take his hand in mine.

“I am sorry. I lost my temper,” I said.

“I am sorry I couldn’t spend more time with you,” he said as I hugged him.

And in the comparison between fifty-something-hours and seven hours, it was the lesser number of hours that turned out to be more precious.

Google Maps

“Bhaiya, you have to drop me off first,” were the first words which fell on my ears as I got into the Uber which I had booked to return home that monsoon evening.

I looked at the girl sitting beside me, barking orders at the Uber driver.

I looked at the Uber driver. He was a man of about my father’s age. He was struggling to get used to Google Maps app.

The girl sighed, mumbled something and said, “Left. Then right.”

I sat back and watched it all.

The girl seemed way too frustrated with the cab driver. The driver, in turn, was way too nervous.

Despite my drop location being en route to the girl’s drop location, I sat quietly. She had insisted on being dropped off sooner.

She got down at her location. The driver looked at her and said, “Sorry, Ma’am.”

“Learn to use Google Maps. What good are you as a driver otherwise?” she said and walked away.

The driver wiped the corner of his eye with his finger, smiled and asked me, “Where do I drop you off, Ma’am?”

I guided him to my location.

“Thank you,” I said and walked away.

I found my phone and dialled my father’s number.

Two rings later, I heard a “Hello, beta!” on the other end.

“Papa, I’ll teach you how to use Google Maps. I’ll teach you how to use any other app which you are unable to use, too. You don’t have to worry. You’ll be way better at it than I am. I love you, Papa,” I said in a single go.

“Haha, sure, beta. First tell me, who had a problem with Google Maps today?” he said.

I smiled.

Google Maps would show that he is approximately a thousand kilometers away from where I am.

My heart says that he is somewhere much closer to me always.

Envelope

“Hello? How are you?” I ask.

“Fine, Dad,” he replies.

“We are fine, too. How are things at home? The network here is really poor. The roof was leaking last night. But I have managed to find a solution for it. Your mother misses you. When will you come?” I ask him.

“One question at a time, Dad. I even forgot what you’d asked earlier. We will come the next time I avail a holiday. This time we are going to Singapore,” he says.

“Okay. Have fun. Let me know in case I can help with anything,” I say to him like I have been saying all along.

“Yeah, yeah. Like you could,” he says and scoffs.

“Did you say anything, son?” I ask, pretending not to be able to hear his words.

“Nothing, Dad. Goodnight,” he says and disconnects the call.

I hobble back to the room where my wife is adjusting her hearing-aid. She asks if I had a chat with my son. I nod. She asks about his well-being. I tell her that he is fine.

I read her eyes which wait for me to tell her when he’d be coming. I know that she reads in my eyes that it wouldn’t be anytime soon.

And somehow like this, we have shared twenty years together.

The next afternoon, a postman with an envelope appears on my doorstep. I adjust my spectacles as I read the address it is from. It’s from my son.

I tear it open and find money. I don’t even bother to count it.

‘For the leaking roof,’ a note reads.

I smile.

The roof in my house is just fine. Little did my son realise that I needed no envelope. All I needed was his presence.