Hi. If you're reading my blog for the first time, or haven't read the last post, I'd request you to read this first and then read the story that follows. It'll help you understand the little experiment by my friend Ujjwal and I.
Thank you :)
I always considered myself to be a very reserved person. A person who’s thoughts changed with every second ticking by. I never gave away my feelings and emotions easily. Only people who made a considerable effort to try and get into my complex network of thoughts would probably catch a glimpse of me on occasion. It helped keep the company I kept like my tastes and beliefs. Select, and genuine, and of a certain standard.
In short, I was picky.
But there was one medium of expression in that I lost myself in. My music. Especially the piano. As my fingers touched the keys, a new found energy released found itself running my veins…an adrenaline rush of sorts….almost as if the piano formed an invisible connection with each and every nerve in my body through my fingers. It’s a done to death cliché that I am forced to use- I could feel every note I played.
People loved my music for what is was. But she was one of the fewest of the few who understood it. She understood more of me than I perhaps understood myself.
Of course she never gave it away. But I knew. I always knew.
It’s funny how life plays games with you. Throws in and takes people away from what you like to believe is your destined path to tread on.
Who would’ve thought, that a visit to Kuwait, to understand my grandfather better, to understand why he chose to be buried here out of all places, would lead me to meet her.
I first remember seeing her on stage with a troupe performing on stage at one of those cultural events meant to strengthen cultural ties between two countries. My friend was heading audio production, and knowing my love and knack for anything to do with music and technology he couldn’t help but invite me.
I never really understood dance through and through. I didn’t understand how people could ‘see’ the movements in their head. Could I dance? Yes I could. Could I think dance? Most definitely not.
There was something about her that caught my eye. As the end to her final piece with the lead choreographer(who was nothing short of a celebrity back home) came to an end, I got a buzz from my friend behind the mixing desks to join him as the musicians were about to come on stage.
Much to my dismay I could never see the final pose and ending of he piece which became the face of sorts for the event and got her where she was today. I only saw recorded versions through various multiple angles and of course the pictures that made a kind of history.
I hurried out of the hall, searching for my friend who was sipping his mocha. I wondered if I should tell him that he had a bit of foam on his mustache but decided not to.
Then followed all the technical and musicological details that would make illiterate people’s eyes turn over in their sockets.
The show ended and resulted in me being offered a job back home for a similar event. I was happy. But it somehow felt incomplete. The thought of getting to know her better was nagging me. And I didn’t know where to start. I told myself to get over it and went for a drink with my fellow audio freaks.
I continued on my holiday in that country. Moving around, taking photographs, chatting up with people, trying to blend in and soak their culture.
I landed up at an art gallery with my uncle who was a painter. He had done some beautiful interpretations of God’s and Goddesses on canvas. Ones that would make a person like me who had never stepped into a temple alone,go down on my knees….But he had issues with certain political parties back home who called his work blasphemous and so he decided to move here for a while.
I chanced upon a very surreal photograph. It showed a man and a woman , naked, embracing each other, standing on a rock. And the sky around them was a deep shade of navy blue with stars, and the moon looking larger than it's usual. Certain people would call it disgusting. Certain people would fall in love with it. I was confused. My tendency to psychoanalyze art work took over me. It was my belief that music, art and dance spoke more about the person than of the subject it was based upon.
Looking at this painting, all the women I had been with flashed through my head. Some were still good friends, others.. I had no clue about. I thought about my high school sweetheart. She was still the one I cared for the most amongst them. Maybe its’ a first love thing. Then I had a vision of her in that pose…..my logical mind pushed her out almost immediately, as if repulsed and disgusted.
My mood changed, and I walked out. I think I had a bit too much of those free drinks at the gallery.
Later on I learnt she was there too. If only I had looked behind me.
I found a café and decided to go sit down. The football world cup was on, and I decided to join in. I started a chat with the person next to me. It’s funny how in any part of the world , football can make friends out of strangers.
It was a hot day. But football worked better than the air conditioner that was struggling to work.
I tried to look around for the pretty waitress who was arguing about player’s performances after the second goal. Instead, almost as if by some strange twist of fate, I saw her. I wondered what to do. She had a different effect on me. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time, all my confidence had somehow been sucked away.
I decided I’d regret it forever, so I walked out and thought I’d start a conversation with her.
“You seem to be very comfortable outside here, while the rest of the people are fearing getting fried” I was going to say.
My mind had other ideas.
"Hi, I'm amartya"
How lame I told myself. What the hell was wrong with me? I had half a mind to run away.
"Mind if I sit down? I was hoping to talk to you since last night's performance."
I could swear she added something under her breath.
"So. I presume you're Bengali?"
"Yes. Oshmita Sengupta. You?"
"Amartya Bhattacharya. Doesn't the name suggest I'm Bengali?"
My sense of humour had been binge drinking it seemed.
"Uh,not quite. Anyhow. You were saying you wanted to have a talk? Please go ahead"
"Franky,I just wanted to congratulate you."
That’s all I can come up with? What the fuck seriously. I added to myself.
"Oh. Thank you”
I saw a Professor Shonku book sticking out of her bag. Somehow that made me feel a whole lot comfortable.
"A fan of Satyajit Ray,I see?"
"A huge one. So what brings you to Kuwait?"
"That was quite elaborate! Thank you" I smiled. I wondered if she would understand why I was here. The reason didn’t go well with people back home. Frankly they thought I had lost it.
"You see.. I came here because I wanted to see this place. My grandfather died here when I was a kid. I wanted to see the great deal he spoke off. I wanted to understand why he thought dying here was better than dying in Lahore"
"Lahore?" She seemed interested.
"He was in the army."
"I like army"
"Anybody from your family in it?"
"No. I wanted to be in it."
I tried not to burst out laughing. For a brief second I actually thought she was being serious. For a brief second I thought she was being funny. I tried not to react. It worked. Or so I thought.
"What was the smile at?"
I asked to make further conversation.
"At the shock which mocked your face."
"Your adjectives need to be brushed."
"It was never shock. It was awe"
"In that case, your face has major expression issues."
"About that...You bet!"
It was too good to be true. I convinced myself I wasn’t falling in love.This was just a big crush of sorts. The kinds you have when you’re in middle school. Period.
Friendship bloomed.Or so she thought. We took a flight back home
I tried my best to conceal my feelings for her. She was too good to lose. Too good to be just one of them. But somehow somewhere at the back of my head, I knew that she had an inkling of what was going on. Or maybe it was false hope.
We saw other people yes. For her it was the usual ‘in search for the perfect one’. For me every new girl was a potential chance to get over her.
My emotions reflected in the music I composed. I’d play at night on a real piano to satisfy my creative drives. The whole day was mostly spent in front of computer screens and plastic keyboards. Somewhere in the middle I’d stop and see she’d fallen asleep. I didn’t dare wake her. I would just look at her until my eyes refused to stay open. And that’s when I’d make her comfortable before retiring to my den.
I met Nandita at my studio a few days later. She was perfect for me. Similar tastes in almost everything. Like me she to was a reserved person, she was a creative genius. I convinced myself she was the one. I convinced myself she was the one I was in love with
I told Oshmita about her. In my confusion, she actually helped me out. I felt like shooting myself.
At the end of it all, she planted a kiss on my forehead and asked me to sleep. My tongue was restless and caged behind my lips that were aching to make contact with her’s. She was right there a few centimeters in front of me. Yet we were worlds apart.
She helped me to my room. I hated myself for being high in front of her.
"Osh.. What would I do without you?"
"I love you."
"I know that ass! You've always been so slow when it came down to the heart."
I smiled at the irony.
She winked, shut the door and walked out. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or my feelings that drove me to walk out the door, plant a kiss on her forehead and say goodnight. But I did.
I ended up sleeping with Nandita a few days later.
My coworkers thought I was the luckiest person on the planet. To them, any guy who could land a hot girl who played bass and mixed electronic music was the luckiest person on the planet.
We saw each other for about half a year or so.
But Nandita could tell there was something amiss.
“You’re not in love with me” she said.
I didn’t know how to react.
“what do you mean?” I asked.
“Look at us, we’re not in love, we both know that. You’re a great person, but I’m not up for it, it feels incomplete.”
“I know, its just you’re perfect for me, I just …….thought for a moment I had it..you know…guess it was too good to be true” I said,
“ I know, I thought that too, but it’s not it . I mean I have tones of fun with you, and the sex is great, I mean duh its us, but there’s something missing” She said.
She understood. Strangely I wasn’t feeling broken.
We then did something that was unbelievable. We both went out for drinks. To go out for drinks after you’ve broken up with someone you were about to marry, is natural. But to do it with that person, now that’s something isn’t it?
That was us. She still remains a very close friend till today.
Our coworkers as usual thought we had lost it.
I went to tell Oshmita about it. She was the last person I wanted to see these days, but I had to go. For her sake.
"Yeap we're off."
Curiously I felt relieved when I said those words.
"I can see that in your shoulders.. Want to tell me more?"
"Osh,some coffee please?" I never let anyone else make my coffee. I made it myself because no one could get the blend right. Not the way I liked it. No one except her.
As she walked away to the kitchen I looked at her. She was beautiful.
"She thought I was too closed in a nutshell. She said I didn't let her enter the private corners of my life"
"She had a problem."
"With you." Damn I was a good liar.
"God, I could talk to her? Amar, you want me to call her right now and tell her there's nothing up?!"
"But! But you can't let this go because of her suspicions! I thought she understood your silence! I thought she figured your feelings without you having to yell them at her!"
She was right. But.
"Everybody's not you,Osh."
I appreciated my perfect brew of lies and half truths.
A year or so passed away. I considered telling Oshmita everything. It had been 3 years. Yes I rather have her as a friend than not have her at all, but these days I rather have her as my first lady or not have her at all. I pondered over the consequences and possible outcomes. I decided I was up for it and waited for the right day, when I didn’t have much work to take care of. It was all going fine until the bombs fell.
She was getting married. Guys were lined up for her to chose. It seemed more like cattle being auctioned to me.
I decided enough was enough. I would tell her. I was angry. I drank a bit and decided to drive down.
She opened the door. Seeing her my anger seemed to cool down. I let myself in and placed myself on my favorite place in her living room. There were photos of the latest douche on the table.
"Yeah.. Nice guy." She smiled. And in doing so she shot a few more arrows through my heart. The ones tipped with poison. The ones that set your blood on fire and make you twitch before you die.
"So..it's on? The wedding?" I asked.
She looked at me to answer. Was it just me or did it seem like she wanted to me say something?
"Don't spend your life looking for the perfect guy,Osh. Give it a chance when life's being generous enough to lead you to what you've dreamt off."
I didn’t want her to go through what I was going through. Why ruin it for her?
The marriage was on.
There is no alcohol served at Hindu Weddings. Yes plenty at the reception but none at the wedding. And unlike Christian weddings, the priest does not ask if anyone objects to the wedding. And I couldn’t light up because people thought I’d given it up ages ago.
Needless to say I was going through hell.
And I had brought in upon myself.
When Oshmita’s father asked for help in organizing the wedding, I couldn’t say no. It was worse then digging your own grave. At least you know your going to die.
So on the final day, I was made to worry about waterproofing as well.
The evening set in, I went back home , the shower I remember I never wanted to end. I could not set foot in that place. But I had to. Out of respect to that family. I smoked a strong cigarette, and decided it was all going to be okay.
I greeted people at the entrance. Went around making sure everything was alright. Everything apart from me that is.
As I walked through, I over heard close relatives commenting saying how they thought it was going to be me. How I had bad taste to overlook a girl like her. Girl friends whispered the same. With an added “they never slept with each other”. Or an occasional “He’s as blind as a bat”. So did the boys.
In the end they all agreed, “Funny how things turn out.” The older generation in Bengali and Hindi .The younger one in English.
To me it was all the same.
I waved, smiled at faces that called my name out . At faces I had never seen before. I went about pretending it was all okay. And I was doing a very good job of it.
There were issues with the caterer. The steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf hadn’t arrived. There was a problem with the fans. A very very old relative needed a wheelchair. Someone lost their kid. I cleared them out one by one.
I saw the groom enter. He saw me and waved. We had chatted up before. I decided I had to get along with him. He was nice guy.
“You’re not planning anything stupid are you?” he asked and then burst out laughing.
“I’m going to run away with her before you can get that hat on.” I replied.
“Best of luck with that” he replied.
“Best of luck with tomorrow night. Lets see if you last more than 15 seconds.” I shot back.
The thought of him touching her was enough of an incentive to get arrested for attempted manslaughter and arson.
He had nothing to say to that.
I smiled politely.
He was nice guy yes. And he was fun yes. But right now, I could knock the wedding lights out of him.
The rest went on, I kept looking over trivial things and details that make a wedding the success they are. The work kept my mind off the obvious. Or so I thought.
The time had arrived. Her brothers carried her to the altar. Even though he eyes were covered, I could tell they were moist.
She was placed next to him. She looked at him, but he seemed more interested in what the priest had to say.
I smiled at the fact that the woman who had gotten me of smoking, was making me crave them right now.
Should I have done something? Should I have never backed down? Should I go up to her and tell her right now? It was too late. I couldn’t make her fall in love with me now.
She had always told me I was slow when it came down to the heart.
I looked up. We made eye contact. At that moment we both knew what she had realized,
and we both just looked at each other,as the rituals of the marriage continued.
-- Written by,
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