Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Rendezvous At Ramchandi

Satish was an avid lover of college picnics and excursions. He had therefore spent the last night tossing and turning on his bed, crumpling the bed sheet to one corner and sleeping mostly in direct contact with the cushion. He was expecting insomnia from the previous night and the night before that, since losing sleep over college picnic was nothing new for him. Hued flashes of an exciting jaunt, singing, dancing, all the fooling around and of course hopes of taking romantic intimacies to the next level, crowded his head.  Like long shots of black coffee, these thoughts had made him lay awake gazing at his ceiling. This was the last college picnic he would ever be a part of. How on earth could he sleep ?

The dawn came too slowly for Satish. He quickly got ready and started for the college. He reached there even before the gates had been opened. He had to shout  "Bahadur" at the top of his voice, who responded not before he had called him at least six times. The neighbourhood dogs came wagging their tails and clustered near him, expecting charity of a bread loaf or a few bites of biscuits. Bahadur came and opened the gates giving a wonder struck glance at him. "What ? ..Don't you know about the picnic ?" Satish shot back at him ignoring the fact that he was two hours early. He got rid of his backpack full of all kind of stuffs handpicked by him for this excursion and sat down on the steps under the lone Bakul tree in their campus. He went over several things in his mind. But most importantly he thought over and over again about how he would convey to Lata, his long repressed feelings for her. He dreaded that this could be a do or die chance for accomplishing that task. The final semester was soon to follow and he feared that he would not get another shot at expressing himself. He hoped that amidst all the fun and frolic he would be able to carve out an appropriate moment for telling her how strongly he was drawn to her and that how all these days he had guarded his sentiments from finding their way to his tongue.

Halfway through his thoughts, Satish saw the first of his co - excursionists enter through the college gate, all tucked in flashy jeans and jackets. Soon others followed and in no time the campus was bustling with cries of "Hip Hip Hurray" .  The bus hired for the trip also arrived and all the essentials were hurriedly stacked inside it. Names were called and the boys and girls were marshaled onto their respective seats. The bus driver put the keys into the ignition slot and the engine belched to life with a thunderous noise. Satish and his friends broke into an ecstatic howling that could have easily caused the deaf to plug their ears. The girls seated in the civilized front rows along with the professors looked at each other and nodded in disapproval of such immature display of excitement by their male peers. The bus rolled through the sparse Sunday traffic and each time it crossed any gathering of fellow humans, the boys were caught by an inexplicable reflex and hooted in chorus. They euphorically conveyed their pride on being a part of a college trip, as if it were some  rare achievement not accorded to anyone else ever, except the chosen few in that vehicle. The professors seemed to have given up on the hopes of any gentleman like behaviour from their overjoyed students. They kept looking at their city's streets and places, out of the bus windows like tourists, as if they held no memory of those places. Satish and his friends danced, screamed, howled and mocked Bollywood songs straining their croaky vocal chords. The bus sounded like one headed straight for the psychiatric ward of the city hospital.

Sanity and normalcy fortunately returned to the bus after about an hour. The tenor of Hulla had receded and  everyone seemed confined to their seats apparently engulfed in thoughtful conversations with their partners. Satish was exasperated, struggling with ideas to approach Lata. But she sat cordoned within the inviolable circle of her  friends and it seemed impossible for Satish to interact with her without causing raised eyebrows. Satish was too shy for this. "I'll definitely steal her at Ramchandi", he thought to himself as he watched Julie, Sneha and others giggling around Lata. He walked up to the driver's seat and enquired  "How far are we ?". " "It would take us about forty five minutes" came the driver's reply. Satish started back for his set. As he turned, he saw Lata, and their eyes met unexpectedly. She was the first to turn away. Failing to notice any sign of interest for him in her eyes, he was discouragingly reminded of numerous similar encounters with her in the last four years.  He strolled back to the last rows and sunk into his berth. He felt a pang of hopelessness wound his heart. Perhaps he and Lata were never meant to be together, he thought. He entertained second thoughts about his elaborate plans regarding her. He plugged his ears with the headphones connected to his mobile phone and with his eyes shut, drowned himself in one of his favourite sad songs of the yester-years.

Satish woke up to the magnificent view of the Ramchandi beach. Sarthak came and shook him out of his nap. Satish looked at him continuously for a few seconds wondering what had happened. He regained composure in a few seconds. But he also recalled the sequence of events that had eroded the excitement from his heart. He thanked Sarthak and threw his hand towards him lazily gesturing for a pull. After stretching his hands and legs and rubbing the residual sleep off his eyes, he walked out of the bus and went straight for the beach. He marveled at the splendour of nature and soaked it in. After a week long of brainstorming over the venue, it had been decided that there was not a better place to create lasting memories than Ramchandi beach. Its unique location at the merging point of the Kusabhadra river and the Bay of Bengal made it one of the most exotic tourist locations. 

He saw the distant ferry being guided in the serene waters by an anxious ferryman. The water was calm and it infused much required tranquility inside him. He could not take his eyes off the scenery. The more he kept watching it, the more he slipped under its spell. He felt a small puddle of joy grow within his heart. He saw his friends making merry at some distance but could not bring himself to go there. He was not even startled at his sudden detachment from a passion so long nurtured by him. All those sleepless nights and fantasies of adolescent delight had now lost their purpose before such magnificent display of nature's loveliness. 

While he was relishing nature, he heard a faint voice calling his name. He turned around and saw a girl. She wore an affable smile and her beauty had a vocal elegance about it. She was about his height and his best guess was that she belonged to his age group. She wore a purple skirt and a matching jacket which seemed to love her body. As she began walking towards him, he noticed her bare feet. They were petite and appeared to melt into the sands with each step she took. She kept putting in order the unruly strands of her hair, servile to the persistent breeze. She stressed her eye lids in an effort to minimize the sun on them and said "Hi". Satish returned her greeting with "Hello". Before he could begin to ask the most obvious question of that moment, she answered it in advance, as if she had read each word in his head. "I know your name from your friends" she exclaimed. A flurry of questions began circling in Satish's mind. Which friend ? How? Where?. She went ahead and added "I am in your class" . It began drizzling. Satish tried to swallow his shock and uttered "How come I have never seen you before ?" The girl smiled and said "Well..that's a question you should ask yourself. Its not like I have conspired to hide myself from anyone." Satish quickly accepted his defeat and apologized. She introduced herself as Meera and befriended him in a matter of minutes. They moved on to talks about life in college, their respective future plans and ultimately ended up admiring nature's beauty which seemed to be at its zenith, at the place where they stood. Satish was immensely fascinated by her. She had begun to penetrate the walls of his heart and threatened its exclusivity hitherto accorded to Lata. 

Satish found himself engrossed in her charm, pulled out of the pits of dejection. They started walking near the waves enjoying kisses of water on their feet. They walked for about a mile till they lost sense of time and space. To Satish's utter embarrassment, Meera raised the subject of his feelings for Lata. "Ok.!! So she knows this too !!" Satish mumbled to himself. Meera encouraged him to be honest and asked him not to hold back anything from her. Satish bared his soul before her. But he could not claim to have been completely honest as in that moment he felt no attraction for Lata. Silence took over their conversation for a few seconds. Meera broke the hush by declaring in no uncertain terms that she was in love with him. She immediately assured Satish that she did not expect her feelings to be returned by him. She also assured Satish of the fact that she had reconciled to the unchangeable reality where Satish wanted Lata and not her as his beloved. Satish felt frustrated over the revelation that all these years, Meera had concealed from him her feelings while he wasted his heart over Lata. He wished if only Meera had been vocal about her love for him earlier then he would have surely chosen to stay with her. She seemed to so perfectly complement him. Meera further explained to him that since she was sure that he would never return her love, she waited till the final days of college to express herself. In that way she would not have to face him everyday after he had turned her down.

Satish felt melancholy finding its way between them. He felt guilty for having let Meera lament over something that was not true. He took a couple of quick steps and stood infront of her. He told her about the futility of his hopes regarding Lata. He also confessed that he was completely touched by Meera and that to his astonishment, being with her had suddenly made him oblivious to the lure of Lata. Silence returned again and stayed a little longer this time. Doubtful whether he had gone overboard, Satish pleaded her to say something. She did not speak. Seconds turned into minutes but Meera did not shift her stare from the sea. But to his relief, Satish noticed a glittering smile revisit Meera's face and adorn it once again. Satish hugged her. He slowly tightened his arms around her, conscious not to spoil the delicate coziness of that moment. Meera responded inside his fold and everything became surreal. Satish discovered purpose to his life again. He could not wait to walk back to the bus with Meera. Meera suddenly ran playfully and teased him to chase her. Satish set off in her chase, pacing to catch up with her. Something buzzed inside the right pocket of his trousers reminding him of the cell phone which he was carrying. He fumbled inside his pocket as he ran and pulled it out. But he had to stop to glance at the name of the caller. It read "Lata Calling".

Fidgeting under indecisiveness, whether to take the call or not he looked up at Meera who was now at least a good fifteen to twenty yards ahead. She said something and the contours of her face underwent a stark change. When he glanced back at his phone he had missed Lata's call. He heard frantic shouts of "Stop Stop" emanating from his far right. He raised his head and saw two men dressed like fishermen waving their hands at him and simultaneously running straight in his direction. Something urged him to turn back and when he did, he saw no one. His picnic party, his friends taking dips in shorts and even strangers on the beach had all vanished. His heart skipped a beat. The tanned fishermen found their breath and blurted "Are you crazy ? Where do you think you are going ?" Satish could not make out any sense in the man's words. The other one added "Brother, this part of the beach is full of quicksands. Do not be a fool of an adventurer and risk your life. It isn't worth it." The word adventure somehow brought back the thought of Meera and he looked straight where he had last seen her running. He found only sand and the waves. Alarmed to his guts, he tried to move forward fearing something might have happened to her, but was pulled back with full force by the two strangers. "Are you deaf ?" screamed one of them. Satish nervously explained to them the events that had occurred in the last half hour of his life. The two men after listening to him, exchanged familiar glances with each other. Deciding to not let go of Satish, each held one of his hands and walked with him to his camp as Satish kept looking back intermittently.

On reaching their camp, the two fishermen did not waste a second in narrating the horrifying legend of Meera who died some years ago in a quicksand around the same area from where they rescued Satish. They also told everyone that there have been incidents when for no reason people have walked to their death, into those quicksands. "Now we know from your friend, Why!!" they exclaimed in chorus. An eeriness swept across the gathering. Jayant tucked two hundred rupee notes into the hands of the fishermen and they took their leave. Nobody spoke. Satish held his secret. He felt his heartbeat return to a familiar note, as if it had just broken free from a spell. Everyone had their lunch. Dusk was punctual, as it normally is in winters. Satish was the first to get inside the bus. He was in his seat and pleaded  with his mates to be left alone. The bus roared to life and the wheels came into motion. It was dark before anyone could notice. Inattentive to all the discussion around him, Satish went over the incidents at the beach. It didn't take him long to arrive at the most riveting thought of all. 

He wondered as to how out of all his friends, well wishers and peers, it had to be Lata who called him at the exact moment when he stood at the threshold of the path of no return. The same Lata whom he easily traded in the chase of a mirage. He did not know what to believe any more. The bus rode over a speed breaker and it jostled him out of his thoughts. He looked up and saw Lata standing and staring at him. Satish downplayed her presence in his mind, even though he was fringing on contrary hopes, by telling himself that she had probably come to collect details of his horrific experience and carry those to her friends for a steamy gossip. She sat down close to him without asking for his permission. The lights inside the bus had been dimmed. Nobody was looking at them. In just the right moment Lata spoke, never taking for a moment, her eyes away from those of Satish 

"I've waited the whole day to tell you something...something, which has to be conveyed before opportunities fail me.

"Go on. " whispered a clueless Satish.

Pausing for a second to delve deep into Satish's eyes, Lata confessed  ' I love you !! '



  1. was this Jayant in your story a Taurean? Coz Taurean normally pay a cost at once... :) and so do I !!!! good love story... :) long enough that I had a lunch in between!!! :) :)

    1. Sorry for the inchoate characterization of Jayant.
      He's got to be a Taurean, considering your information.

      Thanx for ur appreciation.

      Sorry, my post took a while of your day.

  2. Whoa!! Nice read!! And I did not expect that twist! Was expecting something but not of this kind! Nice story! :)

  3. Amazing story of a writer who will go a long way..

  4. Inscrutable timing of lata's call--some things are inexplicable.

    1. Precisely Indu. Thanx for reading my story.

  5. Well.. I must a say it's a good fiction amidst twists. Title is attractive too.. made me click from the bunch. :-)

  6. loved it !! .. nice story .. but the best part was the emotions of meera .. how she kept looking at sea and awaited a response.. and he not wanting to overdo and spoil the delicacy.. nice choice of words !

    1. Thanks Aman for your kind appreciation. I'm delighted by your response.

  7. I read it in one breath. Breathtaking beautiful. You will go a long way. You write beautiful.

    1. Thank you Mousumi for your generous appreciation. And welcome to Reflections.