On the other hand

The Unsaid

On the other hand, because there are two sides to a story

The Unsaid

Through time love has had a lot of enemies. Religion, caste, social strata, money, familial enmity, these I can count at the tips of my fingers, I am certain there are more. Yet there is one that is more potent than all these, one that is much underrated and, if truth be told, the most dreaded in times today.

That enemy of love is the Unsaid. Nothing has torn lovers apart more than this much feared fiend.

You may wonder, what I mean by the Unsaid. Allow me to tell you a story.

He and She, were very much in love. They were young, brash and given to many a violent tiff. One of these tiffs turned terribly serious. He and She did not speak to each other for almost a week. Yet, they missed each other and craved to see each other. They decided to meet to sort their differences out.

The meeting, at first, did not go well. They hollered at each other, blamed the other for the poor state of their love and even went as far as to say that perhaps they should not be together. The phrase that made all lovers shudder hung over them in the silence; it was called “break-up”. They sat in the room, looking away from each other, waiting for the other to say something. None of the them said a word. The meeting was getting worse.

Then He stood up, ready to leave. “Wait!” She said. He waited. Then after a silent moment he asked, “What?”. She paused, the seconds ticked by, “Nothing!” She said in response. “Fine!” he countered as he shrugged away their life and left.

They did not meet each other for years. The love story was done with.

But then they did meet. Years had passed and time had turned both He and She into a much mellow version of themselves. Embroiled in other relationships now, they decided to catch up for old time sake. Over a drink, they spoke, and laughed and reminisced. He remembered their last meeting quiet clearly, so did She. “When I was about to leave, you asked me to wait, but then did not say what you wanted to, do you remember?” He inquired with a smile. ‘Yes,” She said softly. “What was it that you wanted to say?” he probed gently. She sighed a little sigh, “I wanted to say that I love you very much and that we should not break up.”
Even after all those years it hit him hard. “Why did you not say it then?”
“You did not say it either…” She let the words hang there, not wanting to really blame him for what had happened. They sat there in silence, years later, wondering what life could have been had they said what they had wanted. It was not what they had said to each other that had driven them apart, it was the Unsaid. When we have it, we think it can happen again and again, but it is only for the lucky few that love happens again. For the rest, you are left with the thought that usually starts with the words, “If only…”

I can say, I have reached a place in my life where I am happy and that is mainly because I have etched the dictum of the Unsaid on my heart and mind. That dictum is really an easy one to remember, “Say it! Just say it when you feel it. Don’t lose the opportunity! There will never be another again.”

Don’t keep looking at the phone, waiting for it to ring. Don’t write the status on Facebook for him and her to get the ‘hint’. Don’t secretly see whether the object of your affection is online on whatsapp. Don’t post those fake happy pictures on Instagram like it does not matter. Because it does matter. And it matters most to you!

There is a window that love gives you. It is a really short window of opportunity, before it become too late. And then the chance is gone. Your false sense of pride will snap your love in two. And believe me, you will live to regret it.

Say it if it hurts, say it if you care, say it if you are angry, say it if you are sorry, but for God’s sake say it! Even if you expect your lover to understand it, just say it. At worst you might sound like you are stating the obvious. It is better to state the obvious than to be a victim to the Unsaid.

The most common reason I have found for the Unsaid is, for the dejected lover to think that the other does not just care enough and there is no point in saying anything. Even if that may be true, say it because you care.

We are living in a time where the usual suspects that came in the way of lovers have ceased to matter and what has become the greatest enemy of love is the lovers themselves. So the next time you see him/her walking away don’t pray secretly that he/she turns to give you that one last look over the shoulder. Shout out and scream, “Stop!”

The folly of youth is to think that love comes again and again. The regret of adulthood is the knowledge that it does not.

-Arsee.

Poems

Should I believe?

Should I believe?

Should I believe everything happens for a reason?

Should I believe in Destiny?

Should I believe you are here for a reason?

Should I believe you sigh when you hear from me?

Should I believe when you close your eyes you see me?

Should I believe you think, if only?

Should I believe you are so many unsaid thoughts?

Should I believe you are so many feelings?

Should I believe you smile to yourself?

Should I believe you have a secret?
Should I believe I could be your secret?

Should I believe I make a difference?

Should I believe you hear music?
Should I believe I could be your music?

Should I believe you have dreams?
Should I believe I could be your dream?

Should I believe that silences have meanings?
Should I believe I could be your silence?

Should I believe there is no beginning?
Should I believe there is no end?

Should I believe it is right for me to believe?

Should I believe that love is what I believe?

-Arsee.

Poems

Breathless in the mind

Breathless in the mind
Running,
chasing,
What I want
An arms length away,
There, I see it,
I run to it
I am breathless in the mind

A pause
Gasping and doubled over
Eyes rise from a spinning ground,
There, I see it
Just an arms length away
Standing there breathless in my mind

Another run will make it
Another pause will have it
Happiness, I see it
Shimmering in the yellow horizon
One more burst
One more thrust
Lunging forward
Breathless in my mind

Runs and pauses
Reach where I saw it
It was there I saw it
Barren and scorched
By my wants and needs
Happiness has moved
A little more to the east
Under the yellow horizon
There it lies
One more chance to find
I begin over
Breathless in the mind

-Arsee.

Little stories · Short stories

Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 17 My Father, a Polyp and I

It was the Monday after the news of Sreedevi’s passing. The nation waited with bated breath to learn the exact details of what might have taken the life of one of India’s brightest stars. I waited with bated breath as well, but for my father’s CT scan report. My little tragedy in the glare of a much bigger tragedy was slowly emerging from the scans of the Radiologist’s computer.

It was seven in the evening and I made it a point to get home earlier than usual, waiting for the scans. When the report finally came I plucked it out of the big heavy envelope and tried to make sense of the medical terms. Polyp said the report. I had no idea what that meant. In the colon said the report, I had a fair idea where that was. Adenoma or Adenocarcinoma with a question mark said the report in conclusion. My heart was beating so fast that I could hear it above the din of the children playing in the garden downstairs.

I called the Radiologist, Dr Shetty. He said, “Riddhi the news is not great. It is a tumor but it looks like it is early and I would suggest you see a gastroenterologist.” He was dear enough to make an appointment for me.

My father got back from the gym and he done his own sleuthing and knew what the report said. There was no keeping the truth from him. I began to make my calls. I called Boss. He gave me a few numbers and told me to hang in there. One day at a time is how things went on planet polyp.

Dr Parikh met us as quickly as he could and explained to us in detail what was wrong with my father. He said that the polyp could be cancerous or not, it really depended on the findings of the colonoscopy that we needed to do. We decided to get on with it and do the test.

Early in the morning at the hospital, the colonoscopy did not take long but the Doctor told us that we would have to wait for the results of the biopsy. That took really long. Not in terms of the time that it took but in terms of the wait. It seemed like the longest two days of my life.

Saturday evening, I called the Doctor and he said, “Riddhi, it is cancerous says the biopsy. We need to meet and discuss the way forward.” I hung up on the Doctor and for what seemed like a long while I stared at a sheet of white paper which had some numbers on it that I may have written down in a more emotionally coherent time. I had no idea what those numbers were. It was more like blue ink scribbles. My father had cancer; it came to me slowly and crowded my senses till it became an unbearable drumbeat in my mind. Boss told me that I was having the usual reaction to the dreaded C word. I should be patient and strong. Yes, I had to be patient and strong.

My father’s friend Dr Rai, his gym mate, was guiding us at every step of the way. He was also of the opinion that Dr Parikh was, that surgery was probably the way to get this growth out. He was also pretty certain that we would get all of it.

Dr. Sanjay Sharma put us at ease almost instantly. Affable with effervescent positivity; he promised us that he would get the adenocarcinoma out!

My father and I walked into the hospital early in the morning and I had him settle in his room. The surgery was scheduled for the next day. I stayed with him all day. We spoke about everything but not about the surgery that was about to happen. It was the elephant in the room that we chose not to look at lest it make us weak and break us.

It was going to be a four-hour surgery. The Doctor would remove a portion of the colon along with the polyp and stitch the rest up. Sounds simple when you think of it on paper but when you deliberate and understand that it is going to happen in the human body and your Father’s body at that, it can get very unnerving.

He was wheeled in and I waited in his hospital room. I did not want to think of the surgery and tried reading but the pages felt like they had nothing written on them. I stared at the paper and my mind was filled with memories of my father and me through the years. I fought the tears and they would retreat only to come back again.

I did not turn the light on as the evening slowly turned into night. My father’s cell phone beeped and I walked to it to check if it was important. It was not. I chanced on his whatsapp. On a whim I went to his profile and saw a picture of him laughing and the tears came back when I read his status. It said, “spreading smiles’. It was his whatsapp group where they sent each other jokes and laughed all day. I wiped my tears instantly.

Doctor Sharma called me half an hour before the operation was due to be completed. I sat in his office waiting for him. Hoping and praying that everything was all right. He came in with an assistant wheeling in the tumour. He smiled and said, “We got it. We got all of it!” I wanted to collapse on his desk and thank him, thank God, thank everyone, so much gratitude burst through my heart.

28 May, 2018; As I write this, my Father gets better everyday. The Doctors have asked him to walk around and though that helps him immensely, it does cause him a lot of pain and discomfort. Last evening he prayed for some good sleep and no walking in the morning. He was tired and wanted to rest. I asked the Doctor to excuse him for one session and the Doctor agreed with a smile.

This morning I found him walking when I got to the Hospital. He never stops surprising me! “You did not want to walk?” I exclaimed. He smiled, “Must walk. This is no way to live life,” he added. My eyes filled up with tears again but this time I knew why. They were telling me that my father had not stopped teaching me. Even this morning he was giving me a lesson in life. If there is an art to living, this is it.

As for me, I have taken on from where my father left off on the day of the surgery. I put funny videos on my Instagram everyday. We have to spread them smiles you see!

-Arsee.

Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 43 A letter from a father to his daughter

A letter from the man that taught me –
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
Our normalcy is in our madness.
Time gave us a little bit of a run, but there’s nothing some swimming can’t fix.
I love you Papa, the most special man in my world x

Thinking Chitalia

My story today is a special one. Here’s the most precious gift I could have asked for! In a way it is the sum of my father’s various experiences or in other words, the essence of his life’s stories put together so it can be of some use.

24th April 2018
Dear Riddhi,

It is a very special day today. At the stroke of midnight you turn twenty-one. Which is a remarkable feat considering the klutz you are! I am also overjoyed by the fact that you can finally cross the road and make difficult calculations in regard to velocity and acceleration of moving objects, we call cars, and negotiate a crossing by adjusting your own speed. Belive me, that’s very advanced calculas.

Jokes apart, I am happy you are now in adult land and boring adult things will be expected out of you. You have fought so many battles…

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On the other hand

Vote for! What for?

On the other hand, because there are two sides to every story

Vote for! What for?

The Congress released its manifesto a few days ago while the BJP is yet to release its manifesto. It could be happening today; I am given to understand by reading in the media. To all who do not get what this tumult about a manifesto is, allow me to explain. A manifesto is a written statement from a political party outlining the programs and measures it intends to take for the furtherance of the country. In other words, a manifesto tells us why we should elect a party that is standing for government.

Ironically the campaigning is in full swing, corruption cases are tumbling out of the closet and abuses are being hurled at the slightest or sometimes no provocation. But we the people of India are yet to be fully informed of the blue print of governance that every party has in mind. Well, does not matter, I suppose. The election is here and we get the leaders we get and vote we must, so in the absence of a firm guideline what are the issues that should be important to us?

I thought about this for a long time. What is the greatest problem that plagues our country? Is it corruption? Poverty? Religion? Administration? Terrorism? Economy? Security? Whenever I thought any one was important the other tipped the scale. I remained confused.

Then like a catalyst came this brilliant show on Netflix called Delhi Crime. Inspired from the horror of the Nirbhaya rape, this show with a stellar performance from actor Shefali Shah, had an inexplicable effect on me. I have no idea what it was about the show that made me weep and weep and then weep some more. It was like something or someone had grabbed my heart and jabbed it with an ice pick, over and over again.

It has been more than six years and yet the memory of those Nirbhaya days remain fresh in the minds and hearts of every Indian.

And then it came to me, an insight like lightening that breaks through a dark grey sky.

There is only one issue that plagues us; the value of a single human life. Let me correct that. The value of a single Indian life.

I was shooting for Neel’s short film Vision of the Future in Switzerland and I remember with pristine clarity the accident that happened on the Swiss alps, right in front of our eyes. A biker had fallen off and injured himself rather severely. All the lanes of the freeway were immediately closed and a helicopter swooped down in ten minutes to whisk the rider to the hospital. It is a developed country, yes. The population far less than India, yes, but that is not my contention. What got me was the simple dictum; when it came to a human life all else must become secondary.

Let’s all be very honest with ourselves here and with that searing honesty can we say that the value of a single human life is high in the eyes of any leadership of India? And why just the leadership, in our eyes as well? I for one, don’t think so.

When we look around and observe closely we realize that every malaise we suffer stems from this value of human life. From a pothole that refuses to be filled up to the police constable who only has a wooden staff to protect himself, to the state of our government hospitals, to our fight against terror; everything is about human life and the value for it. Feel free to think of an issue that really matters to you and you will find, and the chances are, that it is about the value of a single Indian life.

We are blunted by the news that we read every day. So many dead here and that many dead there. Some in an accident, some in an attack, more in a footbridge collapse and few by Naxalites; the list is endless. Pick up any newspaper and you will count more dead bodies than you can imagine. Lives have become numbers for us. We have become numb!

Nothing will work for us till those numbers don’t leap at our conscience and suffocate us till we don’t allow those numbers to turn back into lives again.

When a government and with that government when we as citizens learn to put one Indian life over everything else, I believe we shall see a new dawn.
The issue cannot be how a government can make my life better. The issue is how much my life really does matter?

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 16 The Third Person

Bob was a star. No one had an idea of how big a star he would be one day before his film released. On the day after his film released he was a sensation. In a matter of two days he went from nobody to the heartthrob of the country. Such was the Goddess of glamour; she took you dizzying heights if she fell in love with you. In Bob’s case she was clearly head over heels.

Me? I was just a writer. I had written the film that had catapulted Bob to the top of the heap. The success of the film did not change my destiny like it did his but I was happy for Bob, he had been my friend through our infinite struggles and I knew he deserved his place in the sun.

It wasn’t easy anymore; doing things we did when he was a nobody. Now, everywhere we went he was surrounded by people and inundated with attention. No more quiet beers and long walks with Depeche Mode on the stereo, those days were over. Yet, I was excited for him and his new life.

It was late one afternoon when Bob drove up to my house in his new swanky car and asked me to accompany him to the opening of an art exhibition. He had no desire to go but he was committed. And it wasn’t like I was doing anything much in any case so I hopped into the comfort of the zero to eighty-in-three seconds-kind of sports car.

“I need a cigarette, real bad,” he whispered into my ear in the middle of all the attention the paparazzi and the invitees to the exhibition were showering on him.
“Sure,” I was going to fish out one from my pocket when he stopped me and said it had to be in the room, where no one could see him smoke. I put the cigarette back into my pocket and planned a room smoking opportunity for him.
“Why the secret cigarette rendezvous?” I asked when we were alone in the room. He looked at me like I was his village cousin. “I am star now Amy,” he explained, taking pains to speak slower. “I must have an image. I want people to see me as this role model, as this good guy. I want all mothers to ask their kids to be like me, I want to be a role-model.”
“Why not just be yourself and let the mothers figure out what they want for their children?” I asked him with all earnestness. He laughed and shook his head like I would not understand. Perhaps, I did not.

Years went by, Bob and I lost touch. I did write some more successful films but never really hit anything out of the park. Bob in the meanwhile just grew from strength to strength. He did become Mr. Nice guy like he had planned for himself. I don’t really know if the mothers were talking to their kids to be like him but if they were I wouldn’t be surprised.

And one day a creaky cupboard opened up somewhere and a skeleton came tumbling out. Bob’s female assistant filed a police complaint against him for repeated sexual harassment. The media went berserk. Mr. Nice guy a molester? The news was too good to be true!

Once the creaky cupboard opens there is really no stopping it. Stories of other women came out accusing Bob of similar behavior began to crop up all over the place. Then the reports of some rehabilitation program for drug addiction, drunken driving; it was just like a free for all.

Late one night I got a call from him, “I need to see you Amy. I need a friend.” He surely needed one. I drove up to his place.
I found Bob sprawled drunk on the expensive marble floor of his extravagant house. He smiled at me and asked me to come and sprawl next to him. I did.
“I have figured something about life Amy, I want to share it with you,” he said slurring his way through the words. I nodded, all ears.
“Remember the cigarette in the room? The day I began my Mr. Nice guy journey?” I nodded remembering it only too well. “You know what happened that day? Another me was born.” I nodded again. Then he tried to stand up and failed. Fell back on the marble and with some effort begun to talk again.
“When I gave birth to a new me, I really gave birth to another me. The older me never really went away. He was always around mocking at the new one. I was being this but I really wanted to be that. And you know what happens when you are two people Amy? Somewhere the two people meet and conspire to become a third person. That third person does everything that the first guy always did but the second guy; the nice guy makes the third guy do all this things deviously. When what you always were meets what you are pretending to be a third guy is born Amy, and this third guy takes all your innocent wants and turns them into perverse and devious actions. He is very dangerous, this third guy…. Very very dangerous.”

Half an hour later, Bob was dead. I had no idea that he had stuffed himself on a drug cocktail.

Three days later when they lowered him into his grave I thought back to what he said, “When what you always were meets what you are pretending to be a third guy is born Amy…” He was right. I had to get home. I had to write again. I had to tell the world what Bob had found out about life. About this third guy.

-Arsee.