In my apartment in Kolkata, there are inanimate objects in every room but the story in my bedroom is completely different and extremely personal. An item that can best be described as a piece of my heart royally occupies the area near the left corner of my queen sized bed. It is always the first item that I wake up to every morning and is again the last thing I see before I calling it a day. Every person in my family has an emotional attachment to it but for me, it is the source and reason of my existence.
Despite spending so much time with it, there’s always a range of emotions that arise within me every time I lay my eyes on it. Sometimes it’s nostalgia, at times it brings about a feeling of pain but more often than not it is that of utter helplessness. The colors of my childhood and the happiness of my adult years have been kept guarded in this single item. It is all that remains of a by-gone era for me and my family.
My 69-year-old father used to be an avid footballer in his youth. Despite circumstantial constraints, he managed to make it to the District team before recurring asthma attacks forced him to quit the game forever. Ever since my toddler started preschool three months back, he has developed an extreme fondness for the game of football. On observing this, my father has started taking a renewed interest in playing this game with my son. I realize that this playtime is one of the strongest bonds between a grandfather and his grandson where the older generation passes on his experience, love, and learnings of the game to the future generation.
Hidden behind the bushes, she kept an eye on the house with green window panes. It had taken her three years to discover his recent address after he escaped from the previous city. She had stalked him endlessly for the last two months to understand the pattern of his schedule.
Years ago, he had made her pay a heavy price for rejecting his marriage proposal. The police had failed to trace him while she fought for her life in the hospital. The attack had destroyed her physically but her indomitable spirit sought revenge.
As she touched the burnt skin on her face under the veil, she felt anger rising within her. The deserted lanes were an indication that her wait would come to an end today. As she heard a soft sound of the designated house door opening, her grip on the bottle of acid in her bag tightened. She had chosen the same modus operandi as her target. To see him suffer had been the sole reason for her survival.
The first time that I laid my eyes on you, my heart nearly skipped a beat. It was love at first sight and I was sure that we were meant to be together. The year was 2002 and I had moved to Delhi for my first post-graduation. Amidst adjusting to a new phase of life and struggling with emotional turbulence, you were the reason I stayed connected and never felt lonely. You were privy to the most private conversations yet I felt comfortable in your presence. The fact that you came into my life with my parents’ approval made it easy for me to take care of our joint finances.
Two years later, I moved to Bangalore and you chose to come along. Initially, you had little reception issues but you coped up quickly. As I joined the corporate world, you became my go-to medium to stay connected with the world. I accept that I had random thoughts about approaching some better prospects as my affordability increased but eventually I shunned them away. I could never think of replacing you.
I tried various options to keep you updated with the latest trends in fashion and technology but you were simply not interested. Many a time, I bore the brunt of sarcastic jibes because of my attachment to you. Then suddenly you started showing signs of mood swings by intermittently blocking all modes of communication. I grew exasperated.
We were both trying to decode each other and the future of this relationship as I started a new journey as a B-school student. You completely refused to co-operate then and I had no option but to seek a new relationship with a good-looking, sophisticated and updated support system.
Mihika was irked to see the dreaded mail in her inbox. This was the third assignment and her boss, the Regional manager Arya Chawla had yet again sent it on a Friday evening with forty-eight hours deadline. This meant a working weekend once again. Arya would chill out with his friends while she had to prepare the quarterly review slides and projections. She had been considering finding a new job but didn’t want to leave this organization without teaching this manipulative man a lesson.
As she started collating the figures, she assessed the way her corporate dreams had taken a beating. She had been one of the brightest students in her management college. Thus it wasn’t a surprise when FinGo, a leading Financial advisory firm in Bangalore recruited her from the campus. Her aspirations of becoming a top Financial advisor had been eventually crushed under Arya’s ambitions. He rarely gave Mihika her due credit for the research, analysis and presentations.
As she rushed back home after mailing the final version of the power-point presentation to Arya, she received a call from her younger brother Manav, a second-year M.B.B.S. student in Mumbai. Despite the four-year age gap between them, the siblings had always been best friends.
“Did I disturb you amidst a crazy Sunday night party?” Manav asked cheerfully.
Trilok rantowards the assembly hall at the sound of the school bell. He had been playing football and barely noticed the playground becoming vacant. The class monitor was sure to reprimand him for coming late again. He could never convince anyone that his motivation for the school came from its playground.
After reaching his class, he was surprised to see a new girl sitting on the same bench that was designated for him and his friend Tushar. Tushar had moved to the bench in the next row. Their class teacher Nalini announced, “Class 7B, this is Trisha Sen. Her father has recently been transferred here from Delhi. Please extend your co-operation in helping her settle down.”
Trilok gave her an annoyed look. Their school had seating arrangements according to their names in the alphabetical order. That’s how Trisha had replaced Tushar. He decided to ignore her.
For Trisha, this was the fourth city and third school change. She was tired of adjusting to a new environment every few years. She was an outstanding student and very soon became a favorite with the teachers. However, that became a deterrent to fostering new friendships. Her bench mate Trilok had become quite vocal about his dislike for her. For the past one month, the jovial and friendly Trisha had started withdrawing into a shell.
Disha was packing the lunch box as her father Aravind Rao rushed inside the kitchen. She knew her father was a stickler for punctuality, “Appa, I’ve made puliograhe (tamarind rice) for lunch today.” Aravind smiled, “So I get to eat my favorite food on my last working day.”
Fifty-five-year-old Aravind worked as a postmaster in the only post office in his town. Disha had always been her father’s pet but it was the pain and grief of losing her mother that had strengthened their bond. Disha had just turned fourteen a month before her mother passed away due to cardiac arrest.
Despite not so favorable circumstances, Disha had been a meritorious student. Aravind had always been supportive of Disha pursuing a career although his friends and relatives had pestered him to get her married after she turned eighteen. Disha not secured admission in the only Engineering college in town but was also chosen for the scholarship.
In her final year, Disha was the first student to be recruited from the campus by India’s top IT company. Her job location demanded a daily commute of two hours from her native as she was unwilling to move away from her father. Once Disha settled down in her profile, she started convincing Aravind for voluntary retirement. Her father had struggled the whole life for her betterment. Now she wanted to let him relax.