Friday, May 23, 2008

The Separation - Short Story Part I

She had never cried. In spite of what had happened to her. He would not like to see her crying. So she hadn't cried. But she was angry with him - very angry. How dare he do this to her? Hadn’t she loved him with all her heart? He had been her life. She had never for once also thought that they would be separated. They had been together for the most part of the past 15 years of their life. Two kids in a span of 3 years about 2 years after their marriage 13 years ago. 2 years of courtship before the wedding. All these seemed just numbers now –just statistics; which had no meaning to her and her children; no meaning to their future.

When had she first met him? She tried to remember. Well, that was a day neither of them would ever forget. So she needn’t try to remember anyway, the date was etched in her memory. It was the day of fresher’s party hosted by her colleagues and he also had been a newcomer, though not a fresher, he was her senior by 2 years. He was introduced as her colleague’s friend and in a new city/new office and new work culture looking out for friends and weekend getaways. She had taken to like him almost immediately. There was nothing professional about their relationship, right from the first day. They were ‘friends’, from the minute they had met and not ‘colleagues’. The next few months saw them going for outing with each other’s friends, colleagues. New people, new place, new friends. Absolutely no worries! Life had been blissful.

When she realised that he had left her, forever and never come back, she had been brave - very brave in going about the formalities; never once showing her real feelings to anyone outside. The usually emotional ‘she’ was missing, gone with him. All that her parents and friends saw was the hardened ‘she’. They were getting worried if she would do anything drastic. But they knew better, she may be an emotional person but not foolish. They knew she would cope with everything that she faces.

Their friendship slowly developed. They were so much ‘like’ each other and so much ‘unlike’ each other. Like every relationship theirs too had its own share of petty quarrels and petty reconciliations. They had never realised when they had fallen in love. It was just that they had so much got used to each other. And then came his travel. He was travelling abroad for 3 months. It was a world of IM’s and e-mails. They would be in touch. He would tell her the places he visited, he would send her pictures, she would keep him updated on his latest crush back in office, she would come online to chat with him everyday – so that was the deal! But, a week into his stay abroad and they both started missing each other. IM’s and e-mails, pictures and updates could not stop the unavoidable. They had both not known it, rather not acknowledged it. But it was coming. They were in love. It was just one month since he’d left her; but that’s when they decided they wanted to spend the ‘rest’ of their lives with each other.

Even when she had seen signs that he might leave her, some instinct had kept her going. ‘He cannot leave me. He will not leave me.’ She had been going about the daily chores with the same ease but taking extra care of him. He was after all her life! He was her everything! If he overslept one day or didn’t have appetite for his favourite puri channa or if he coughed a bit too much or anything slightly out of the ordinary, she got panicky. Was this some sort of an indication for the impending grief? She didn't know. Back then she did not want to know! But now, she realised that she had been too na├»ve not to foresee what was imminent.

When they told about their marriage plans to their parents, they had only been more than happy. As friends, their parents had known them. They approved of their children’s choices and the wedding was fixed. But there was one thing that was troubling her. When she realised that she loved him with all her self, she also realised that she can’t tell him to change. How could she tell him to stop something which he says he likes? When he realised that he loved her with all his self, he too realised that he didn't want to change. After all, he too liked it. He could pretend having stopped his habit, but he could never lie, at least to the one person he loved! And she knew it was his addiction and she firmly believed that she would change him, for his own good but right now there was no point forcing him. She believed that her love would change him – slowly, steadily but inevitably.

Why had this happened? Something had been missing in her love; otherwise he would not have left her just like that. Where had she gone wrong? She looked at her boy, the elder of the two, he had taken after his dad; every one said that he was a replica of his dad during his childhood. Everything in the house reminded her of him. Relatives, friends who had come to console her had all gone. Her younger sister and her parents were with her. It had been hardly 2 days since he’d gone and she had already started missing him. She wanted to tell him how efficiently she had handled his departure. She wanted to tell him how tactfully she had broken the news to the kids that their father is no more with them. She wanted to flaunt to him in her own childish way how well she had managed this adversity. But now there was no ‘he’ to share her thoughts! Her world had become hollow - slowly, steadily but inevitably!

He did change, at last! For her; for his own good! It was a habit which he had contracted during his teens. But he still did quit. He stopped smoking. Not suddenly, though. From 7-10 cigarettes a day, it was down to 5 in the first 2 years, then 3, and then 1 cigarette in the last year and none for the past 3 years. He had to fight the temptations, but their mutual love kept him going. He had a family to tend to. Now that she had quit her high-profile, well-earning job and took up the job as a teacher in a school nearby (a job which she had always wanted to do!), he knew his responsibilities had increased. Not that they were in financial crisis, but they would still save on the money he was spending on the cigarettes, she had joked. So when he completely stopped smoking, she had thought it was just a matter of time before the damage caused due to his habit could be undone. He will be hers fully and not lose 5 minutes of his life for every tobacco roll he smoked. But she didn't know that the irreparable damage had already been done, the oncogens had started their play. He would no longer be hers fully; their future would never be the same again!

As she sat alone in their room, now it was just ‘her’ room, there was no ‘he’ to share it, she saw the good times they had had together. When she had confirmed her first pregnancy to him, the excitement in his eyes that he was going to be a proud father; when they had decorated their room in anticipation of their first child, his child-like enthusiasm, it was a time when he had become a kid and she was his mother; when they had both fallen asleep on the couch tired looking after the kid, she had woken up a couple of hours later to find the child lying awake quietly in its cradle; when she had announced her second pregnancy to him, he had wanted a girl child now ‘just like her’; the girl child had arrived and her family had been complete. The weekend getaways to the nearest sea-shore places, the birthday parties and anniversaries; the holidays in hill stations; the list could go on; his smiling face looking at her from the picture frames hanging in this room bore the testimonial of their happy past! He seemed to be calling her, talking to her, smiling at her, ready to give the reassuring hug that so much used to soothe her.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Naanum En Velinattu Anubhavangalum!!

Caution: A transliterated post! Ideally either the script should have been in Tamil or the language should have been English! But I have retained the script as 'English' and language as 'Tamil' to facilitate reading by my Tamil friends who do not understand the Tamil script. So others who do not even understand 'Tamil' kindly forgive me!

Vanakkam makkale,

Edho katchi koottathuku pesa arambikkara madhiri irukkule? (en friend kooda sonnan, idha velai enakku othu varalaina naan pesame katchile sendhuralaamnu.. nalla idea dhaan!! Pappom!!) seri vidunga, enakku vera eppadiyum pesa theriyadhu! Ada! Arasiyal le idhellam sadharanamappa!!

En velaiye, rendu maasathuku oru vatti, edhavadhu oru veli naattule poyi legiyam vikkanum.. I mean ‘Conference’ attend pannanum!! (ennoda frens ennoda veli nattu trips ai legiyam vikkara trip ah dhaan consider panranga) ovvoru oorukkum 10 naal dhaan poven, adhuvum official trip. So naan velaiya thavara vera edhuvum pesa koodadhu, yosikka koodadhu… irundhalum, Indialiye adhuvum Tamizh naatuleye porandhu valandha enakku sila vishayangal naan pora ella oorleyum romba thamashave irukku.
5 London le nadandhadhu
6 Beijing le nadandhadhu
1-4 Ella oorleyum nadandhadhoda oru thoguppu!

1) Mudhalla inga meeting nadakkara edathula lunch arrange paninrundhanga. Lunch appo ‘all tables were set’ – appadinna oru periya vatta mejai, vellai velernu table cloth adhu mela, suthi 6-7 chairs, ovvoru chair kum nera oru fork, knife, glass, tissue. Ada set up elam bandhava thaan irukku, soru eppadi irukkunu pappomnu ‘buffet’ table kittey poyi patha, edho vechirundhanga (adhai pathi ellam ippo pesa vendaam! Apparam enakku pasikka aramchurum) – vegadha arisi pottu oru fried rice, aragoraya vendha oru vegetable salad, uppu chappu illadha oru ‘sauce’ (namba ooru rasam kooda indha oorukku oru ‘type of sauce’ dhaan!). seri andavan inniku namba thalaile idhaan ezhudhirukkan nu oru table le vandhu ukkandhen.

2) Patha knife, fork dhaaney sonnen – spoon eh illaiye (oru nimisham feelings kattamey kaiyale kozhappi adikkalamnu thonichu, apparam serinu oru ‘dejenjy’ karudhi venamnu vitten) konjam suthi muthi pathen… illai.. pakathula irukkaravan enna panran nu pathen… patha avan fork aaleye fried ‘rice’ ai saapadran… ‘Dey engendhu da pidichanga ungalai? sothai poyi fork aale eppadi da saapadreenga? Theramai dhaan’. ‘Namba kooda dhaan sendhamizh naattu thamizhachi, evlo thermaisaali’ adhaan style ah nanum fork aale rice saapda aramchen (edho romba pazhakka patta madhiri… anaal naanum ethanai neram dhaan decent ah irukkara madhiriye nadikka!!)

3) Ippadi fork kum kathikum sandai nadanthutrukkumbodhu oru vella kaara annan vandhu enakku pakathu seat kaaliya, avaru ukkaralamnu kettaru. Naanum seri nu sonnen. Udane ‘Oh I don’t have the tools here’ nu kelambi poyittaru. ‘Dey tools ah??? Nee kolaiya panna porey illai doctor ah operation panna poriya??’ nu kekkanumnu thonichu. Apparam dhaan pathen pakathu chair ku nera iundha ‘fork and knife’ appo illai… adhai dhaan tools nu solliruakru!! ‘Ada padharugala, oru nimishathula nee carpenter ah illai engineer ah illai kolai garana nu sandhega pattutene.. neengalaam puriyara madhiriye pesa mateengala?

4) Innoru Vishayam! Socialisation ngra perula oru naal oru restaurant ku dinner ku kootittu ponanunga, naan sonnen ‘ayya naan varalai… ennaya vitrunganu’. Ketangyala? Technical discussion over dinner nu sonnanunga. Ulley pona, ellarum oru periya mug le beer order panni kudichanga. Namakku dhaan andha pazhakkam illaiye, serinu kaile apple juice oda ukkandhen. Oru round mudichanga, aparam dinner (dinner le enna saapten nu kekkadheenga – avanungalaam turkey, pork, chicken saapda naan vallaara keerai kashayam madhiri irundha oru soup avlo dhaan). Seri kelambirunvomnu nambikkaiyoda irundhen patha next round drinks nu ellarum marupadiyum order pannanga, enakku apple juice sethu. Seri 2nd round mudichachu, vitruvanunganu patha 3rd round drinks order poanranunga ‘dey idhuku mela naan apple juice kudichenna, ini jenmathukum apple ai kooda saapda mudiyame poyirum da’. Ketangyala??? 4 round drinks ku apparam dhaan kelaminanunga!! Anaal naan nalla velai 2nd round aple juice odaye 4 rounds aiyum samalichutten :) :)

5) Ada idhellam kooda parava illai. Annaiku London bridge paakka poyirundhappo, indha kulur le Thames nadhi kari orama neraya peru verum sports jerkin pottuttu oditrundhanga (ada kaalaile illenga, sayangalam 7:00 manikku). Edhukuda ippadi kashta padadum, paavam jerkin edhachum potukalam le? (Fur vecha leather jacket, gloves, kulla, thermals, woollen socks, shoes – ivlo pottum nan nadingitrundhen!! – anaal adhai pathi ippo pesa vendaam! :) :) ) Naan kooda jerkin eduthuttu vara marandhuttanga, nadandhu veettuku porthukulley verachirum adhanaley orey ottama veettukku odaranunganu nenachen. Apparam dhaan enoda friend sonnaru ‘idhu peru jogging aam’ adhai yen da veraiakkara kulura night le panreenga??? Oruthanai pidichu ‘ada varumaikku porandhavaney edhai munnadi panradhu edhai pinnadi panradhunu oru kanakku venaam’ nu kekkalamnu thonichu… Namakku edhuku ooru pollaappu nu freeya vitten!!

6) Annaikku ippadi dhaanga Beijing le oru meeting – so marupadiyum ange oru socialization nu ponom (enna panna! Namba pozhappu appadi! Ooru oora poyi meeting attend pannanumnu!). Chinese speciality restaurant adhanale nalla 'authentic Chinese Non-Veg'. En kooda vandha ennoda Korean colleagues chumma try pannalamnu ponanunga (ennai yen da koopadreenganna yevanum kekkalai!), ivanunga solranunga, 'Chinese are weird ppl. They eat frogs!' appadinnu... Udane thonichu badhiluku sollalamannu, 'Dei!!! Unga oor le nee Octopus thinniye da!! Adhai naan ennanu solla!!!' . Ivanungala ellam thirutha mudiyadhu da saami!!

Ippadi poyiturkku namba kadhai ovoru oorleyum! Ovvoru vattiyum eppoda Chennai ku thirumbi vandhu nalla, thattu le ivlo soru pottu kolambai oothi kaiyale kolappi adikka poreno nu thonudhu!!;-) ;-)