Hello

The Human Heart. It beats about 100,000 times a day. It provides blood to 75 trillion cells. It pumps 1.5 billion barrels of blood in a lifetime. But all it takes is one stupid person at a time to wreck it.

This isn’t a blog. It’s an epitaph to souls. My name is Dr Loreen Shannon. I have been a sociologist for the past 40 years. My colleagues and I have delved into the most unconventional human experiences and epiphanies. Today, I present it to you.

As I said earlier, this is an epitaph-not to human souls, but to something much more. When two people meet, they create something. When they bear apart, it dies. You don’t see it or prove it, but you will always live under it. And nothing causes more deaths, than the Human Heart.

I present to you the stories of these unsung souls.

You Are What You Love. Not What Loves You

– Adaptation.

Hello

A Lonely Heart

‘I am done’

He tosses the phone on the bed. A frantic scrolling of text windows and repeatedly checking every chat has been a tiring exercise. He hasn’t had a message from anyone in the past one week. He wants to talk to so many of them but he has nothing to say. He wants to be left alone. But he also wants someone to protest this isolation.

A walk might help. He leaves the phone behind.

The park two lanes away is the natural choice for most residents. But he isn’t like most people. The streets with their noise and chaos were the parks he loved. He missed his headphones but the thoughtlessness which accompanies walking is rewarding enough.

The edge of the street is crowded around a stall. The man behind the counter makes delectable rolls which sell out everyday. The deliciousness of the dish is proportional to the unhealthy ingredients used; a fact all the patrons are aware of but seldom care.

I should have this. I have earned this.

He hasn’t. But a tasty meal is the prescribed cure for a foul mood if a stiff drink isn’t available.

The rolls are cooked in a matter of minutes and served on a paper plate. The rising steam bewitches his hands which rise up to collect the plate, his elbow violently brushing against a shoulder.

‘Sorry’

An authentic apology is offered to a pair of annoyed eyes which turn back. He goes back to his food as there’s nothing more he can do to embellish the apology. The first bite offers a sensational relief which doesn’t mitigate the pain, but covers it in a cloud of denial.

He extends a pair of notes to pay for the food as he chugs the empty plate into the bin. He turns back to see the pair of annoyed eyes staring into his face.

‘Umm hi’

He surveys the proprietor of those irritated beads. A string of untied hair keeps brushing against her face which is clear and bright. She is wearing a sky blue jacket over a black t-shirt with dark blue jeans. She is holding a half eaten roll in one hand with a phone in the other and chipped sports shoes.

‘Do you want to go and get some ice cream?’

Am I being pranked?

‘Yeah sure’

He decides to take the risk.

He follows her as she throws her bad roll into the bin. She seems to walk with a sense of urgency which requires him to make quick jumps to catch up with her.

This is crazy. You’re going to be killed.

He looks at the back of her tied hair with a pensive look.

Atleast it will be a pretty murderer.

An absurd consolation which makes him frown as she stops and turns.

‘I am Shagufta by the way’

‘Rishi’

They shook hands and started walking in tandem.

‘Do you do this often?’

‘What?’

‘Take random strangers for ice cream’

‘Everyday. I need to harvest the blood of young males everyday.’

‘Yeah? What for?’

‘A ritual sacrifice for timeless beauty ofcourse. I also collect penises as souvenirs.’

‘You must really suck at the ritual then. Because I can already see some wrinkles forming on your face.’

‘Oh but today is the most crucial one. A full moon sacrifice is needed to complete the spell.’

‘I normally protest human sacrifice but seeing as how badly you need this, I will be happy to partake with my life.’

Faint smiles slowly burst into laughter.

The ice cream shop is empty and the staff is on shutting shop at the earliest. Naturally, their arrival is not welcomed.

‘I will have butterscotch. You?’

‘Chocolate.’

‘Ugh. Such a cliche.’

He squints his eyes to fake irritation.

‘By the way, even I believe the government should be privatised.’

A moment of confusion is quickly overcome by an amused smile. He feels genuinely happy for an entire minute.

He hasn’t felt it in a long time.

‘Thank you. Most people don’t get what the T-shirt says.’

‘Most people also don’t take you for ice cream when they first meet you.’

He insists on paying but she wouldn’t have it.

‘ So… Fear, Love, Hate…tell me what comes to mind for each of these words.’

‘Uhhhh… Fear Ambition, Love Wisdom, Hate Cruelty.’

‘Wow! I didn’t know you were preparing for Miss Universe. Real answers please!’

He looked blankly at her face. Does she really want me to be honest?

‘Fine. I am scared of myself. I love music. I hate bigots, especially the ones I am related to.’

‘Good answers.’

‘Your turn.’

‘I am scared of being fearless. I fear nothing. Not even once. I fear that means I don’t care about anything as much. I love nachos. I hate liars.’

‘You’ve never been scared?’

‘Well, as a kid sure. But since my teenage, I have never feared anything. I have sky-dived and found it mildly amusing. I swam near sharks, bungee-jumped, and trekked alone in South America. People call me brave but I don’t understand it. It’s just all been brisk for me. I have changed my courses three times and been in a few relationships. But neither of those things scared me in their possession or loss.’

She fascinates him beyond his favourite book. He has flipped through some of the most intimate pages of her life. He couldn’t state with certainty, what his best friend of seven years loved or feared but he knows so much about a girl he saw just 15 minutes back.

‘I don’t think you don’t care about anything. I think you are just scared of admitting what you love. If you do that, it becomes something real. Real things can be lost. Real things hurt.’

‘Hmmm. Maybe.’

The ice creams are patiently eaten as they reminisce about their school and college lives. She steals bites out of his cup which he never strongly protests. He does the same even though he doesn’t like butterscotch.

She has a younger brother who is studying abroad. She is close to her parents but often ends up fighting and arguing with them. She is constantly worried about her father’s health and offers to help him in his business, only to have her concerns dismissed by him. She almost got engaged to the last guy she was dating but things didn’t work out as she doesn’t want to give birth to kids and he couldn’t picture life without a child of his own.

He tells her about his inability to hold down a job, constantly changing fields and profiles as he pleased. He had a band in college and believed they would catch a break professionally but that never came to be. He is perhaps still not over it and hovers around independent musicians as much as he can. She is the first to hear his epiphany that this nostalgia has held him back in all these years. He enjoys a cordial relationship with his parents since he moved out two years ago. He hasn’t dated anyone in three years though he fell in love twice in the same period.

They stop near a grey building.

‘This is me. Tomorrow same time? We will go to the new waffles place.’

‘Yes. Should we exchange numbers?’

‘I don’t think we should. That way, you remain a real thing and not just some chat window I get bored of in a month.’

He smiles and nods. She shakes his hand before turning towards the gate. They are cold and soft.

The walk from her building to his house is a short one but vast enough for his racing thoughts. He imagined her waiting for him tomorrow. The stories they will share. What he will talk about and more importantly, what not to say. He wonders if in a couple of weeks they will go out on dates. Will she say yes?

Stop it. You’re doing the same thing again.

He remembered her smile.

You always paint these wonderful musings. Don’t you know the curse?

She had a mole on her right hand.

The good things you dream never come true.

He wondered how she would look naked.

Stop!

‘Breathe. Breathe.’

He dismissed these thoughts. He is getting carried away and ruining a good thing in the bud.

But the truth is, he isn’t.

While a part of him painted the rosiest of pictures, his other half had all already concluded why it wouldn’t work out.

Why will she say yes? Why ask and ruin a blossoming friendship? She doesn’t like men like you. She is out of your league. If she does start dating you, how long before she realises how much of a loser you are? Do you just want to date her to test a novel way of screwing something nice up? Or have you forgotten how you become in relationships?

The gloom he had hoped to escape has now returned stronger than ever. Loneliness has crept into the depths of his heart and embraced him tighter than any human flesh he has ever been wrapped in. He isn’t going to be at the rolls stall tomorrow. There are some who are destined to love and never be loved back. He might be one of those. It is time to accept it.

He checked his phone. There were no calls or messages.

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A Lonely Heart

Guest Series: The End

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Make sure you have read  Part 1 and Part 2 before starting this.

By Neha Mahendra

Friday nights at bar were no longer fun for him. He preferred a quite celebration at home, but his friends had insisted on otherwise. As he sat across the table with them he began to think of the next step he had chosen to take. Given the recent successes at work, it now seemed only fitting to propose marriage and settle down. He convinced himself that his girlfriend would make a beautiful bride.  She on the other hand had finally grown into enjoying Friday nights at the bar. The liquor was always good and the music always engaging. However, tonight her favorite drink wasn’t available at the bar. Perplexed, she was now wondering whether to ditch the bar all together or just find an alternative for the night.

Realizing he could use another drink he made his way inside the bar. As he got closer to the counter he caught a glimpse of her and stopped. Almost instantly he moved his hand away from the little blue box inside his pocket, fearing she might see it. Maybe a celebration at the bar wasn’t such a bad idea after all, he thought to himself. Upon reaching, he called out to her. Although it had been years since they had last met she recognized his voice almost instantly and turned to greet him with a smile. It was for reasons like this that she had always enjoyed the bar on a Friday night.

They greeted each other the same way they always did, with hugs and kisses and a familiar restraint. During the course of their conversation there was a momentary lull. They looked at each other and smiled, saying absolutely nothing. He wondered if her being here was a sign. She wondered if he had indeed changed. Just then the bartender interrupted their thoughts and asked for their order. This caused them to jump a little in their shoes and fumble. She thought for a few moments and decided to do away with all things old. “ A Tom Collins for me”, she said. He watched her place her order with slight bewilderment; he had always known her to be a bourbon drinker.

A sort of sadness started to fill inside of him as he realized that there was nothing holding him back anymore. She was never meant to stay. He kissed her lightly and bid her farewell. Slightly confused by his abrupt departure, she wondered what went wrong. Then in the distance she saw him walk up to his girlfriend and pull her into an embrace. They kissed and turned to join their friends. Realizing that he might have finally found happiness she smiled, downed her Tom Collins and turned away. Maybe in another life they both thought as they made their way back, him to his perfectly predictable life and she to her exaggerated happy ending.

Guest Series: The End

The Insane Heart

ATH

In 1992, the eighth grade students of St John’s School were asked to write a graded essay. The topic was -“Life Goal-What do you want to do when you grow up?”. The students scored  a grade ranging from A+ to B-, save for one, who was given a F. The teacher remarked that the submission was laughable and extremely poor.

The essay simply had two words in it- ‘To Love’.

“Goodnight,Madam.” saluted an old watchman as she made her way out of the office. Today was just another day for Raveena. A 14-hour work day with no room for proper meals in between. Rachit isn’t going to be pleased about this. But when was he pleased lately? Never.

She gets in her car for the drive home. The exhaustion of the day was still below consciousness and all her mind could think was Rachit. The young man she had met at that former friend’s party, awkward and nervous but still charming in a way. The eyes which would firmly look at her, making her nervous at first and then settling in a sense of familiarity. All he had to do was ask her, anything and she would say yes. He asked her for a meeting to better understand the legalities of some opportunities his firm had received. Those business dealings never went through, but three years of dating did.

She used to be in such awe of him and his mind. The passion which would make his eyes shine, the knowledge which would always come to your aid but most importantly, the humility which made him always willing to listen and learn from others. These feelings seem so alien and distant now, when compared to the daily numbness she feels on seeing him. Where did it all go wrong? She was certain it was the meltdown.

Raveena parks the car outside the building. The new neighbours had again taken the spot meant for her but she had no strength to fight with them today. She enters the house with the relief of remembering her bed and the dread of seeing her husband.

A casual Hi greets her from the living room as she enters. She returns the civility as she places the bags on the table. Rachit sees the transparent lunchbox completely full.

“Again, Raveena.”

“Please,Rachit, I am not in the mood. I have had a really long day.”

“You have had many long days. Which is why it is very important to eat and make sure you last these days. I was going to text you a reminder. Then remembered that you find it annoying.”

“I am an adult. I will take care of myself. It is not your prerogative.”

Rachit gets up from the sofa and goes near the table as Raveena sits. He is livid.

“Not my prerogative. Oh yeah, I am nothing but just the husband.”

“Again, don’t make this about yourself!”

“How is this…”

“Enough Rachit!” yelled Raveena. “I just want some peace and space. The past few months have been nothing but fights and constant whining from you. “You forgot your mom’s birthday”, “You are becoming work-obsessed”, “What is with the absent-mindedness about everything?” and the scores of other complaints you have. Just let me be how I am!”

Rachit just stares at her in silence for a while. She stares back and then breaks down in tears. Rachit sits next to her, asking her to stop.

“This isn’t what we planned Rachit. The increased bitterness and ugliness of our silence is getting to me. Ever since the meltdown, it has all gone downhill. I know you hated being in Finance and would always tell me how passionate you were about your music. It wasn’t surprising to me when that day after work you told me that you are quitting this job and want to do something else. But you didn’t. It’s been three years that we moved to Delhi and you haven’t even tried to do anything else. Why?”

“Raveena, let’s not talk about it.”

“We have avoided it enough. We will talk about it and you will make me understand it.Otherwise you will not have a wife from tomorrow.”

“Raveena, please.”

She places a hand on Rachit’s face and caresses it. She gets up and is about to go to her room when his hand stops her.

“Ok, fine. I will tell you. Please just be patient to listen till the very end.”

“I will.”

“To answer your question, I don’t know. I have no inclination or ambition to do anything – in music or in corporate. I met few guys here and they liked my projects and were even willing to produce an album. But I just couldn’t keep up with the deadlines. I don’t have any push or ambition left in me to ensure I finish it. But that doesn’t bother me. I am happy doing what I am doing right now- taking care of you.”

“But how can you? It is all sweet and fairytales to be so selfless and romantic but there is always something one wants to accomplish- a dream of their own. We are all selfish for it.”

“I am not.”

“That cannot be true! Are you some saint? A martyr of love?Or are you just trying to be the great Lover as always, stuck with this selfish bitch.”

“Raveena, stop.”

“How can I? Do you even hear yourself? No ambition? Says the university topper? The youngest Business Unit Head of a Multinational?”

“I… never wanted.. to say this. But I guess I should. I didn’t quit the job only. I refused a promotion.”

“What?”

“That night, when I came home, Mr Sethi had offered me the position of Vice-President, Finance for India in the morning. I came near our room and heard you talking to your mother. You were telling her about how you were being offered a partnership at a prestigious law firm in Delhi. You were thrilled about the offer but didn’t want me to disrupt my life over it. You were worried our marriage would not handle the long hours and the long distance. At that moment, something struck me.”

“I was split about what to do with Mr Sethi’s offer. Lately, as you knew, I had increased feelings of dissatisfaction with my life and the job. I could not make up my mind as to what I want. The passion for music wasn’t burning as strong anymore and corporate wasn’t enough obviously. I was going to discuss the offer with you to get a practical aspect of things. Then when I heard that conversation, I only asked myself one question- What do you want? I answered to ensure Raveena is happy and the best she can be. The years of conditioned ambition from parents, teachers and accolades just dispersed. The thrill of having the finer things in life and the lifestyle of a corporate life didn’t excite me anymore. Only you did.”

“I knew you were meant for something great ever since the party. They all talked about you, in rumors about this young lawyer who is being hailed by her seniors. When we were dating, I could see the sparkle in your eyes when you would win a case or get something which goes in your favour. You were meant for this. And I said, if she wants Delhi, Delhi it is.”

Raveena stands up and backs up against the wall.

“You are lying. This can’t be true. This..this..is too huge.Do you understand the guilt that puts on me? The burden?”

“Guilt? None of this was done out of guilt. It was done out of love. Everything in our twelve years of marriage has been done out of love. This is what you don’t understand.”

“Love? The fights, the constant complaints and comparisons to the past you have. That is love? Can’t you see that you are frustrated and that is threatening our marriage? You blame me and rightly so.”

Rachit takes a deep breathe.

“Okay. Yes I say many things to you. But it all has something at the end of it. It has a period. That period is I Love You.”

“You are becoming absent minded. I love you. You are letting your work consume you. I love you. That was a very selfish thing to do. I love you. You are being rude to your parents. I love you. You have changed. I love you. You hurt me that day. I love you. Where has that kind woman gone? I love you.”

“For every complain and whine I give out, it still ends with I Love You. You have changed and you will change more but I will still love you. That is what those three words mean- they are greater than any trivialities I can say. I see you and I love you.”

Rachit comes closer to Raveena and looks at her.

“This scares me Rachit. So much love…I can never give it back. The sacrifices, the taunts which you tolerate from friends and family about depending on your wife. Doesn’t it bother you?”

“It does. But your smile after a good day at work makes it worth it. And there is nothing to give back or match. I know you love me and that’s enough.”

“Don’t you ever want to leave anything of your own behind?”

“I am. Whatever you achieve, will be my achievement too. I know that’s presumptuous and cocky, but hey, it’s mine. Whatever Raveena Lakshman achieves is my achievement.”

Raveena smiles at Rachit. This is the first time in months that she didn’t have to force it. They embrace each other, holding on for a few minutes longer than usual. An embrace of two friends who have seen each other after decades.

Rachit looks at her and says-” Now let’s see some gourmet recipes and burn some food!” They both laugh.

The Sane will laugh and dismiss this story. The Insane will smile and agree with it.

Author’s Note Based on Feedback: You know what’s really insane? The fact that I had to choose this as the title to make the post seem plausible. Centuries of conditioned ambition,success and misplaced goals has made us think that simply being there for someone and loving them isn’t enough. Our quick judgments and conventions which tell us that the love you give in a life isn’t enough of a legacy. That is insane.

The Insane Heart

Guest Series: The Middle

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Note: This is the 2nd Part of a series. please read Part 1- The Beginning before you start this story.

By- Neha Mahendra

It had been months since they had met, history couldn’t explain what they had. Something electric, yet something not quite it. He watched her walk into the room; one hand playing with her hair and the other holding a cigarette. She walked towards the corner table, placed her bag down and settled into the chair. He couldn’t remember the last time they spoke, and now he wondered why it hadn’t been sooner than today. The voices of his companions turned into a low hum as he started to reminisce.

Her smile was something like he’d never seen before. It was imperfectly perfect. She wasn’t the kind that dreams were made of but there was something about her that made him keep coming back for more. Through all the years and women, there was, not so often, that unusual moment where he’d find himself thinking of her and what it would be like if it were her with him and not his girlfriend for the moment. As thoughts drifted through his mind, his beautiful date for the night walked in. Now she was everything dreams were made of, she knew just the right the things to say and his friends loved her. Soon thoughts of her were long forgotten as he comfortably rested in his date’s arms. He didn’t even notice when her date arrived and she walked away. It would be a while before he’d see her again.

A few years later, on a warm November evening he walked outside to get some air. As he turned to light his cigarette he noticed her standing in the distance. Her sundress gave away more than it was intended to, as she stood there lost in the chaos of her mind. As she brought her cigarette to her mouth she looked at him, there was no turning back now he thought. As he walked up to her she smiled and waved. She asked him how he was and he didn’t lie, life had been going good. After having traveled for a few months she’d found her life ambition and a boy in the bargain. She seemed content and happy, the same way he said he felt at the moment. After a few moments there was nothing but the strange feeling of something left undone between them. Realizing it was their cue to say good-bye they hugged and kissed and bid farewell. He promised to keep in touch, knowing very well that it was something he wouldn’t do.

She watched him walk out of her life with the same restraint she knew she would have greet him with they next time they met. As long forgotten thoughts started to float back into her mind she found herself running into the man of her dreams. Soon she would forget all about him she told herself, and think only momentarily of the time they had once shared. She walked away from him that day, full of hope and a slight sense of uneasiness. As he walked away he turned back to look at her one last time. She gave him the same smile she always did, the one that made him forget why she wasn’t the one. Once back to his half drunken date and crowded table he thought about the time they had been together, those few fleeting moments. He thought of what could have been. However, he was soon interrupted by the sound of his present and thoughts of her floated away like a distant dream. Until next time, they both thought.

Guest Series: The Middle

Guest Series: The Beginning

Guest Post

It had been a fairly predictable week. She was now stuck at a party that was filled with music but short on soul. A friend’s friend had accidentally had too much to drink and so needed attention. As a result she was sitting by herself in the corner nursing a now warm beer. Social gatherings always made her queasy. She smiled at her peers, secretly admiring their ability to so effortlessly fake normalcy. Realizing her contribution wasn’t required anymore; she ditched her beer for a shot of bourbon and walked out for some fresh air.

Atop the balcony, she watched her city dazzle with the light of a million ordinary souls. She lit her cigarette and took a deep breath in. A few moments later she was interrupted by the noise of someone asking her for a light. She turned to see him standing in front; one hand in his pocket and the other held up, almost like he knew she would oblige. She recognized him from the parties before and from the expression on his face so did he. He smiled acknowledging their previous meetings and asked her how she had been. She said she was well. He asked her what she did for a living and what she did for fun. She told him about her job and her recent interest in knitting. He told her of his trip to the East and his disdain for office politics. She watched him admirably as he juggled his beer and cigarette while trying to tell his story. As the night progressed they went on to speak about art, films and politics. They argued about the ideals of capitalism and discussed their love for black and white films.

By the end of the night it seemed almost obvious that they would meet again. Satisfied with the way the night had progressed she was now wondering what next. On reaching the exit, he offered to walk her home. By the time they reached her apartment they were both certain that he was coming up. She woke early next morning and smiled to herself; success is multidimensional, she thought. While in the shower she tried hard to picture the conversation they would have once he woke, but she kept drawing a blank. She had a flight to catch and he had a life to get back to. The only rational thing to do was to do nothing at all she told herself. When she came out, he was awake and getting dressed. She offered to make coffee and he obliged which lead to a mildly awkward conversation across the breakfast table. She told him about her plans of traveling for the next few months and he told her about his very important meeting later that day. Coffee was over; they hugged and kissed and bid farewell. She left her city that day happy, satisfied and slightly unnerved.

As he made his way to his very important meeting he thought of the repercussions of the previous night. He found it hard to shrug off the perfectly tainted memory of this wildly beguiling girl. Later that night, he was welcomed home with open arms by his loving girlfriend. Intoxicated with the forgiving love he was now receiving, he equated his unsettling feelings to a bad hangover and went on to discard thoughts of the previous night and her like one would do with stale supper.

By Neha Mahendra

Guest Series: The Beginning

The Ignorant Heart

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” Vodka, neat please.” Sheril instructed the bartender. She needed something to calm her down. The fingers were tapping the bar and her teeth seethed as per the loathed habit developed over the years. This was rage, pure and simple.

How much more to give? Was it a mistake all along?

The deep deliberation was interrupted by a whisper on the right.

“Sheril?”

“Umm yeah”

“I guess you don’t remember me. Ashok from college.”

“Oh my God! Ashok! Sorry, it’s been so long!” she lied as she hugged him and her memory jogged to the forgotten days of the youth. It came back empty for an Ashok.

“So how are you? Last I heard you were married to Ravi and working in the biggest consultancy in the country.”

“Yes, I can’t deny life has been gracious. So what are you upto?” The ease of familiarity with which he said made her curious. Do I Know Him?

“What I always told you I would do..” he replied, ” I have started my own artist management company while I support my painting.”

“Wow! That is fantastic!” she shrieked with a latent relief that he didn’t play the “guess what it was” game.

“I hope you still write the poems.” Ashok smiled as he called for a glass of beer.

Sheril gave a blank stare. Seriously, who is this?

“Umm you knew about it?”

“Yes. I had seen you writing one during Economics lecture. After that, you would slide me a few of them and ask me for my opinions on them.”

Sheril scrutinized every inch of his face and features thoroughly. A familiar acquaintance is one thing, but only her closest friends new about her poems.

He had a fair face with a small mark above the forehead.His hair was a bit disoriented and he wore thick glasses. He was dressed in plain clothes but gave a vibe of sophistication in his words. Ashok Ashok. Oh yeah, that guy.

Sheril remembered this awkward looking guy who used to sit next to her in the lectures. She used to talk to him a bit even if her group found him weird. She remembered how Ravi would make fun of him and she would laugh in agreement and still remember the stranger who was always sweet to her.

“No, I don’t write anymore. No time you see.”

“That’s a shame. You were very passionate about it and a wonderful poet. You would tell me how you wanted to write a book full of them.”

Soon the conversation steered to college and the significant and insignificant events which occurred in those years. Sheril was surprised to suddenly remember so many intimate memories with someone who was a stranger a few minutes back.

” We dated then and after college too. Broke up a couple of times but got together again and by 27 we were married.”

“Everyone was so sure that you both would make it.”

“What about you? Wife or girlfriend?”

“It’s complicated.” He smiled.

“Isn’t it always?”

He showed her the pictures of some of his paintings. One of them particularly held her attention. It was that of a woman drowning and yet smiling. The theme was similar to one of her poems. There was also a red scarf on her hand. She recognized it instantly- it was her favourite thing in the world. She would have it with her even if it didn’t match her outfit.

They talked a bit more-the dreams, the ideals and the compromises. Sheril felt as if she was talking to a long lost friend who knew everything she could say. She missed how it used to be Ravi who would make her feel this way.

“Do you remember the last day of college? College was almost empty.You were absolutely livid with Ravi about something and just stormed off outside the gate without looking at the bus ahead..”

Sheril’s demeanor suddenly changed. She had tried really hard to forget that day and even succeeded at times. It was the closest near death experience she had ever had.

“Yes.Thank god Ravi chased after me and pulled me away from the bus. I fell and had a concussion. Don’t remember much except the headlights of the bus. It was sheer luck he also didn’t get injured. Would have lost his foot.”

Ashok stared at her with disbelief and an uncomfortable silence followed.

” He was very sweet that night I heard. He got me to the doctor and dropped me home, as per what my parents told me. I just didn’t want to talk about it after that. Infact, today is the first time I have thought about it.”

Sheril now started feeling a sense of guilt. Despite all his flaws, he was the sweet and loving person who had saved her life. She got up to leave.

“It was very nice meeting you Ashok. But I have to go.Hope we can meet again someday.”

Ashok smiled as she was leaving and she smiled back.

A man came from the other end of the bar and tapped on Ashok’s shoulder-

“I thought you had forgotten I was here. Who was she?”

“One of those who got away” smiled Ashok.

“Really? Let’s have dinner and you tell me more about that.”

Ashok got up from the chair towards the dining section with his friend. As he limped, a tapping noise came from his left foot.

It’s become loose. I will need to use the washroom.

He could still smell Sheril’s perfume as he limped towards the washroom .He smiled the whole night.

We all have a silent guardian in our life who probably deserved our love, but didn’t get any.

To know more about The Silent Guardians, read Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and The Rose.

The Ignorant Heart