A Number on a Piece of Paper

The lucidity of the sky in the night would give an impression that the moon had made a formation of stars to descend on the roof of the earth and embrace its beauty forever. Even animals and insects would show their respect to the serenity of the night.  At the crack of the dawn, the smoke emitted from the chimneys of the houses would rise in the sky, mingle with the mist, form different shapes, and then disappear with the cold wind taking them away to a different destination. As the sunrays would titillate during the day, the glistening skin would smile as if it has just received a new lease of life.
Hidden behind the hazy sky, the moon would arrogantly walk in the sky, feeling proud of its tranquillity, while the gunshots pierced the silence of the night on the roof of the earth. The thick smoke, emitted out of a houses slowly turning into ashes, would overshadow the mist, fight with the wind, and make a layer in the sky. The body would shiver with fear and the spine would hurt with continuous alertness for survival.
Ananda had experienced both, while the memories of the former slowly faded away; the latter remained as a nightmare. He was not expecting that a seventy-two year old mind would remember everything, but he was saddened as to why only those memories that at times brought smile on his face slowly evaporated. He had been stuck on a particular page of the book called life. In the quest of life, when the things at times becomes meaningless, everybody hopes that one day the page will turn and the life will throw something new. But for Ananda, life had been harsh. Deracinated long back, he had stopped counting the years now, but it must have been around fifty years since he last breathed the unpolluted air that blessed him after being filtered through the mountains, floating above the uncontaminated water of the lakes, and finally brushing the edelweiss grown in his backyard. 
In 1959, while the winter was still resistant and the summer was yet to cement its foot, Ananda received the much awaited knock at his door at the crack of the dawn. The twenty-three year old agile body of Ananda swung up from bed and moved firmly towards the door. The unsettled waves of thought hurtling inside his mind for the past few days finally matured and started nurturing a dream, a dream to see Free Tibet. 

He opened the door and two men with their head covered by the woollen shawl entered. One man closed the door behind his back and stood there while the other one walked a little ahead but stopped at the site of a packed travel beg lying alongside the bed.

‘Oh! You are ready!’ He said with a big smile on his face. ‘I had thought that you will need some more time. We are proud of your decision. Welcome.’ He stepped forward and hugged Ananda. The firmness in Ananda's embrace exhibited the power and determination he had garnered in last few days.

A few days back Ananda had attended a congregation having religious pretext where the discussion mainly revolved around the freedom struggle. Ananda was a silent spectator. After the congregation was over, two people approached him.

‘Can we talk something important?’ One of them asked with a straight face. Ananda was surprised, he couldn’t recognise them, but before he could have reacted, one of them pulled him inside a room. The room was very small with just a bed and a large metal trunk. Just above the bed, a flag having two swords with yellow background decorated the wall. Ananda knew the significance of the flag. The flag belonged to the Chushi Gangdruk Defend Tibet Volunteer Force, which had only one objective, to throw the Chinese out of Tibet. "Chushi Gangdruk" is a Tibetan phrase which means "land of four rivers and six ranges" referring mainly to Amdo and Kham region of Tibet.

‘I don’t think we need to introduce ourselves anymore.’ One of the men said. ‘We need people. You look strong. You can be trained to the highest level; we want you to join the group.’

Ananda was speechless and confused. He had never thought he would be directly involved in the freedom struggle. He always believed that a few Tibetans couldn’t drive out the ruthless Chinese, who outnumbered them.

The men watching him carefully could read his face. One of them came and patted on his shoulder and asked him to sit on the bed. With hesitation, Ananda followed him. The other man opened the trunk, took out a book, and handed it over to Ananda.

‘We are leaving you hear for a few hours, with a hope that you will also be able to see the same dream... The dream we are living with ... day and night.’ One of them said and they left the room.

Alone in the room Ananda kept watching towards the door for some time. He weighed the idea to walk away from there. He didn’t belong to this place. He was just a labourer, working for last four years, in the large field illicitly acquired by a Chinese after 1951. He was the sole bread earner of the family of four including him. His father was partially paralysed after he slipped on the mountains on a rainy day. His mother contributed marginally by growing vegetables in the backyard. And his sister younger than him, confined within the walls of the house, spent the life under the continuous fear of Chinese. No, his situation didn’t warrant him to jump into the freedom struggle risking the future of his family.

Ananda eyes fell on the cover of the book, a Chinese was holding a gun on the head of a Tibetan monk. The patriot in him made him turn the cover, and as he turned more pages, the persistent anger fuelled by the contents of the book, which depicted, with words and pictures, the Chinese massacre, and attack on the monasteries in their motherland, heated the blood inside his body. A tightly clenched fist landed on the bed, this was the only way he could have vented his anger at that moment. Within a few seconds, the two men entered the room. The heat emitting from Ananda’s red eyes, hinted the success of their mission.
‘Keep your energy saved for the Chinese.’ One of them said. ‘You are an asset for us.’
‘I have a family to manage.’ Ananda finally spoke.
‘The whole Tibet is our family. Can’t you see the suffering of our brother and sisters?’
‘Dont worry, we have people here who will take care of the basic needs while you will be on the training.’
‘Yes, Training. We cannot fight against the Chinese like this. We are carefully selecting people to send them to USA, you will be trained by their CIA. I have heard that the training facility at Camp Hale in Colorado is really good... They take good care of our people.’
‘I don’t want to go outside my homeland. I have never stayed away from my family.’
‘Everybody among us has made some sacrifices. We don’t have option, Do we?... Do you want our future generation to live like this?’ The firmness in the man’s voice had increased. Ananda couldn’t find a word to reply.
‘Give me some time.’ Ananda said before leaving the room.
Within one month in Camp Hale, Ananda received the news that the Chinese had attacked Dalai Lama and his Government had been dissolved. The Dalai Lama had to take refuge in India, and he was running a Government in exile.

Ananda was getting restless. The rigorous training procedures and the continuous feeding of Anti-Chinese tirades were slowly turning him inhumane. He was seeking blood; blood of the Chinese splattered on the ground and purify the soil of his motherland.

After six months when Ananda was air dropped by a parachute inside Tibet along with nine other guerrillas, he saw increase of Chinese dominance in Tibet. He was not allowed to visit his family. The guerrilla warfare continued for a few days and Ananda could realise his dream of seeing Chinese blood on the soil, but the satisfaction was short lived. Chinese overpowered them in no time and eight people from his group were brutally killed. Unknown of the whereabouts of the other survivor Ananda spent three days hiding inside a large stack of timber, infringed by termites slowly eating away the wood, in an abandoned timber yard. For those three days, he could keep himself away from engaging in direct combat with the Chinese, but he could not surpass the internal conflict rising with every passing moment. He was right when he had thought that a few Tibetans could never pose a threat to the Chinese. He had not seen his family for many months now. The last he had heard was that during the combing operation of the Chinese in search of guerrilla fighters, many houses in his small village were burned. He was not sure if his family was still alive and waiting for him. As far as he knew, he was the only person selected as a guerrilla fighter from his village. Was he responsible for the devastation of the entire village? Physically he was on the verge of a collapse and mentally he had already surrendered. But somewhere a small thought was still protesting inside his mind. Was his life worst than a termite? Hidden inside the cavities, the termites were eating the wood much larger than their own existence, and within a few days, the wood would be untraceable.

The Chinese Army had already marginalised an earlier attempt of the Chushi Gangdruk volunteers, and they already had information about this second batch. The fourth morning, Ananda woke up with the screaming of Chinese. Holding a gun in one hand and fire torch in other, they were setting the yard on fire. Suffocated by the smoke, Ananda had to come out to face the Chinese, who were waiting for him with the dead body of the other survivor smudged in blood and soil.

Profoundly fed yet the thirsty guns targeted towards him were waiting for a small command from the sinful yet remorseless hands of the Chinese. The end was evident but the survival instinct coupled with his understanding of the debility of the half-burnt timber stack that lay unattended for many days, pushed him to search for an opportunity.  He took a large log in his hands, swung it with enormous pace hitting it hard on a stack. The stack trembled and large logs, still burning, started rolling towards the Chinese. Their guns started growling. Ananda took cover of the stacks and ran towards the far corner of the yard. He climbed on the last stack still unburned and jumped outside the yard into the forest downhill. The dejected Chinese guns were still firing towards him and he was rolling amidst the bushes and trees until his fall was broken by a rock. He was out of the range of the Chinese. He opened his eyes to the piercing sunrays. His head was about the burst with unbearable pain. He lost his consciousness.
For almost fifty years now, Ananda, the monk, was serving the temple in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, the first Tibetan refugee settlement in India. He was miles away from his root. Ananda faintly remembered that after dodging the Chinese when he opened his eyes, he was a part of a migrating troop, who had already crossed the border. He was in pain, a metal piece was knocking strongly at the corridors of his brain, and the sword of separation from his family and his motherland was piercing through his heart.

In Bylakuppe, people looked at him with respect and amusement, a person, a freedom fighter, surviving for so many years with a bullet still stuck inside his head was more than a miracle.

From freedom fighter to a monk was not an easy transformation for Ananda, but the disturbing reference of a freedom fighter killed a bit of his heart every time. The thought of the termite was already eating his brain slowly. Ananda had to take asylum at the doorstep of God.

As the years progressed, the hurt of separation subsided. The continuing Tibetan struggle reached him at regular intervals. The thought of going back to his root crossed his mind many a times, but something unknown, not fear, perhaps guilt, restrained him every time. He never set his foot outside the monastery.

In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, when the large-scale Tibetan uprising erupted, which also captured the interest of monks residing outside Tibet, Ananda could not hold onto his emotions. A march by foot was planned by monks from India to Tibet, as a protest against the Chinese. The thought of going back to his motherland sent zesty waves inside his body. He was skeptical,  but perhaps he might find reminiscent of his family. His tired old brain started weaving many dreams, very unrealistic considering the prevalent scenario, but that didn’t deter him.

Ananda started his journey with an enthusiasm and a determination that his dead body should receive sky burial in Tibet rather than being cremated in India where he was a just a refugee, where the life was recorded as a number on a piece of paper called registration certificate that needed to be renewed every year.

Just before he could have joined the group to start the march, he collapsed on the ground. Drenched in sweat and holding his head tightly with his hands, he unsuccessfully fought his last battle. The loyal Chinese bullet finally woke up and did its job, years after it was actually destined to. A life, which made unfulfilled promises to his family and then to his motherland, was lived as a mere number far away from his beautiful roots and when the end approached even his motherland refused to accept him.


A maple leaf was flaunting its beauty while carelessly floating above the barren land as if the air was blowing only for her. Soon a gust of wind defied her delusion and took her miles away. Deb was standing in the middle of a barren land. He looked towards the sky, the piercing sun-rays almost blinded him; he closed his eyes and looked down. Rats were coming out of the cracks in the ground. He was scared; beads of sweat started glistening on his forehead.  Numerous rats were popping out and were moving as if on cue in the same direction. He started running towards that direction. At a distance, Tisca was pegged to the ground. With loud squeak, the rats were wildly running towards her. She was shouting. She was crying. She was unsuccessfully trying to free herself. A few meters away from her, the rats stopped and made a circle around her. The squeaking died. Cracks started to appear in the ground around her. The earth started to cave in taking her inside. He was just a few yards away from her but he fell on the ground. His face was smudged with sweat, sand, and blood. He stretched his hands to grab her but earth had swallowed her entirely. He shouted.
Completely drenched in sweat, Deb woke up. This wasn’t the first time and definitely not the last, he woke up to such a nightmare. He pressed his eyes with his palm and then looked towards the side table. Tisca’s picture was missing. He jumped out of the bed and strode towards the door. He held the doorknob but stopped. He turned back and leaned against the door. Covering his face with his palms, he sat on the floor with his back rubbing with the door leaving sweat marks on it. He understood his mother’s intention; she wanted to reduce his pain.
Two hours later, he was standing in front of Tisca’s house. He lifted the latch of the iron gate of the compound wall.
‘Fatto, don’t make so much of sound.’
His eyes searched for her, but she was not there, her voice was echoing inside his brain.
He trudged towards the main door.
‘Can you just walk a bit faster?’
This time he didn’t try to look around. He knew; she was gone.
He hesitantly lifted his shaking hand to press the calling bell. He was not sure if he should have come to her house on this specific day. He had debated it for a long time. She would be disappointed, but he was helpless. An invisible string was continuously pulling him.
“Deb! How are you?” Her mother opened the door and asked, though she knew how he was. He didn’t reply. He entered the house like a stranger - nervous. “Would you like to have something to drink?”
“Water.” He said. His throat was already dry.
“You sit here ...”
“No I will be sitting in her room.” He interrupted her and started walking towards Tisca’s room.
Will he be able to tolerate the emptiness inside the room? He paused before opening the door and took a deep breath. The clack of the doorknob echoed inside his ear.  
Except for the smell escaping from the room, everything else had her imprint. The three teddy bears, her buddies, were sleeping on the bed. Perhaps they shared more secrets with her then he did. They must be missing her as well.
Her mother entered with a glass of water; even she looked around as if she had entered the room after a long time.
“When are you going back to Bhubaneswar?... You have to start afresh.” She said while handing over the glass. Her eyes started brimming. “This atmosphere won’t help you.” She turned back hiding her tears and left the room.
He kept the glass on the side table and looked around the room once again. His eyes stopped on Tisca’s Picture hanging from the wall. He started caressing the picture. His hands moved from her forehead till the prominently visible dimples on her cheek. He kept his hand on the picture and confoundedly stared at her innocent smile for a few seconds then his eyes fell on the sandalwood garland hanging from the picture. He started shivering, unleashing the barrage of his eyes.
Deb, fat extra-infused and calmness redefined, fathomed the world as one large family where love can conquer anything. Tisca, an ambitious and self-conscious beauty, believed that love is a madness that spoils relationships. Irrespective of their startling differences, they were names synonymous to each other among the people who knew them. They were friends as far as the memory could go back in the past. Everybody believed that they were a couple made for each other and a romantic angle would be a natural progression of their relationship. This belief was partly fuelled by Deb’s own acceptance on many occasions but her stubborn attitude towards romance was a hindrance; after all, she was brought up by a single mother.
Her attitude never affected him; his love for her grew with every passing day. Though he never made his feelings evident, his eyes at times defied him in front of her. But, she had confined herself within a shield where she was not allowing the ray of love skim through. She was a big fan of Shahrukh Khan, but she skipped watching Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, every time it was aired on TV, because it showed friendship culminating into a romantic relationship.  She also knew that, of late, Deb didn’t like her calling him Fatto, somewhere even she disliked, but a change of reference would have revealed her soft core. But, for how many days could she be able to pretend to be so strong against the change?
Fatto, there is a story behind this name as well. Tisca never called Deb by his name. Initially, she used to call him just ‘F’. When they grew up and  became aware of the most famous ‘F Word’, she was ashamed but non-apologetic,  she started searching for the name replacement and among ‘Fatty’ and ‘Fatto’, she chose ‘Fatto’, the last letter ‘O’ symbolising his round shape.
Like many middle-class teenagers, Deb was burdened with his father’s dream to become an engineer. He never complained but his only wish was to get an eligible rank in the entrance exam to get admission into NIT Rourkela, because she being the sole support system of her mother, Tisca would never leave Rourkela.
But, destiny had other plans, Deb couldn’t get admission into NIT, Rourkela and even though he vehemently opposed he was forced by everybody including her to join CET, Bhubaneswar. Tisca got admission into NIFD, Rourkela.
“Will you miss me?” Deb asked. It was the penultimate day before Deb would leave Rourkela. They were sitting in Tisca’s room.
“Hey, Fatto, don’t be so senti now.” Tisca replied without looking into his eyes. Perhaps, she was more disturbed.
When her father left her mother for another woman, Tisca was just twelve years old. Her mother could never come out of that shock; she could never provide the mental support a girl of that age needs. The society, instead of supporting them, raised numerous questions. People having questionable intentions would raise concern about the survival of the family without a man. It was during that time, standing at the gate of adolescence, Deb had said with maturity and firmness, “I am the man in your family.” Tisca never forgot those words.  Perhaps, she was in love with him since then, but her mother’s face, expressionless yet the courses of tears cutting across her face reflecting her broken interior, on the morning when her father left, remained adrift in Tisca’s eyes for a long time. She had lost faith on relationships.
At the age when the mind weaves fantasies, Tisca was facing the cruel reality of the apathetic world. She could find support only from Deb and he gradually became a habit. Now, he was going away. Amidst the fear of losing the balance in her life, she was still projecting a strong face in front of him. So, when he stood in front of her with his arms stretched apart for a hug, she ignored him. It wasn’t the first time they would have hugged, but she was worried that a hug would have disturbed the balance even more.
Even though Deb was insisting not to attend the cricket match of the Sector Tournament, she forced him to join, only to avoid longer interaction with him. Though he agreed when she promised that she would watch the match, he wasn’t happy.
“Fatto, can you really run?” She teased to lighten the situation, just before the match was about to start.
“What’s the need to run when you can hit sixes?” He replied with swallowed chest.
“Oh, really. Dont try to impress me with hollow talk.”
“Hollow talk? You have seen me play earlier as well.”
“But, those were against the kid of our own Sector. Look at these guys.” She said pointing toward the bowlers of opposite team practicing near the boundary.
“Okay then, you sit... there.” He said pointing towards the longest boundary. “I assure you, six balls would give salami to you by landing near your feet.” She smiled and started moving towards that direction. “But, what will I get in return?” Her smile widened but she continued walking. Deb instructed one of his teammate to sit near her as a protection in case a ball comes directly towards her.
Eighth ball that he faced landed on the right of Tisca. After that, at regular intervals, he hit four more sixes with such a precision that his friend didn’t move a inch. The balls landed at safe distance including the sixth one but the sixth ball hit a pebble and changed its direction, even his friend wasn’t expecting it. He unsuccessfully tried but the ball hit her on her temple. She fell unconsciously on the ground and remained unconscious until Deb arrived, rested her head on his lap, and sprinkled water on her face.
“You won.” She said after opening her eyes. Deb nodded. “I had never thought that you would vent your anger like this.” She continued with a smile. He was scared with the swelling of her temple. He took her to Hospital. The doctor gave some medicine with strict instruction that in case of nausea or loss of vision, she should immediately visit a doctor. Deb cancelled his ticket, stayed in Rourkela for three more days, and then left for Bhubaneswar only after the swelling vanished and Tisca affirmed that she was perfectly all right. The love and care in his eyes during those three days initiated the corrosion of the shield around her.
The initial days of separation didn’t hurt much. They were busy in their early settlement issues. Both had to pass through the ragging procedure, but the severity and the complexity were completely different. On one side, Deb had to go through a lot of physical torture; Tisca was getting a lot of attention in the institute. Seniors were turning up in batches only to talk to her. Soon, the realisation that they haven’t seen each other for more than 3 months crept in. The desperation to meet each other was becoming unbearable. Unlike him, she never expressed her feeling, but the shield around her had evaporated; a bit of its reminiscence that might have still existed would vanish during the Durga Puja holidays, when Deb would be in Rourkela for a few days.
Deb had initially planned to surprise Tisca by knocking at her door early morning, but his big tummy couldn’t hold the excitement of meeting her after so many days. He called her from the railway station before boarding the train. She was thrilled, but she didn’t let her voice to give away her feeling. He was surprised and a bit sad with such a cold response.
Deb had a typical habit. In every railway station, he would check his weight. Perhaps, he always believed that one day he would find a correct machine that would show his correct weight, otherwise, all those machines currently installed at various stations were faulty, showing his weight on the higher side. Before boarding the train in Bhubaneswar, he had checked his weight but when he saw a weighing machine in Rourkela station, he couldn’t control himself. He stepped onto the machine and inserted a one-rupee coin.
“Fatso, have some mercy on that machine, it’s for humans, not dinosaurs.” Even before the shining multi-colour circles would have stopped and a ticket would have popped out, her voice sent ripples under his skin. He turned back and jumped off the machine. He forgot that he was in the crowded railway station; he took two steps forward and hugged her. Words ceased to exist, the past shrunk and the memories extraneous to their togetherness evaporated. Those few seconds compensated for the hiatus of the last three month. Even she was holding him tightly for a few seconds before realising the sensitivity of the place.
“Deb, let’s go out from here.” She said. He broke the embrace, looked into her eyes and smiled.
“Deb?” He murmured. He tilted his head and winked. She reciprocated with a smile before lowering her gaze. This was, perhaps, the first time she had taken his name.
“Do you know why M comes after L.” Tisca said. Tisca had gone to Bhubaneswar for a seminar. Deb forced her to skip the evening session and took her to Puri on his bike. Both of them were sitting on the sand in Puri beach.
After their embrace in the railway station, they didn’t talk to each other for two days, and then he went to her house, a bit scarred, a bit shy, even he couldn’t understand why it was so different that day to enter the same house he had visited thousands of time in the past. Even she fluttered with words. Confused but a bit satisfied, Deb left Rourkela three days later. Even after many lengthy phone calls during the four months that followed, they were yet to tell the magical three words to each other, yet their relationship had grown beyond such verbal expression.
“Have you gone mad? What kind of question is that?”
“That is exactly what I am saying. See when you are in love, Madness naturally follows it, which is why M comes after L.” She said in a childlike tone. Deb smiled. This was the first time the word love was mentioned in any of their discussion. He looked at her, tilted his head, and winked.
“You know the world is same. Nothing has changed around us. Nothing at all. Wind, clouds, rains, land...  Isn’t it?” She entwined her hand, and rested her head against his shoulder and said. “But now-a-days, everything’s so different; the wind whistles your name in my ear, I can see the clouds making your face in the sky, the rains... I used to hate rains you remember, but now I enjoy, I like going out and feel the drops falling on my skin, I... I feel like you are touching me.” She tightened her grip around his arm. “The drops falling on the land play a melodious chorus, as if they are celebrating our love.”  She paused for some time, then raised her head and looked inside his eyes and said, “Has the world really changed?”
“How can I see anything else?” Deb replied with a husky voice. “You are always there in front of my eyes.” A few strands of hair came out of her ponytail and started swaying across her face. He pushed the hair behind her ear and pulled her face towards him. She showed token resistance. Just before their breaths entangled, she closed her eyes. What followed next was a passionate kiss, their first kiss.
While Tisca was boarding the bus to return to Rourkela, Deb gave her a few sweet and sour, black candies, her favorite. She put one candy in her mouth and started chewing. Suddenly as if some kind of realization dawned upon her, she paused and said “Life is like this candy. It is sweet at this moment, it will be sour some other time.”
“You are thinking too much. It will remain sweet... always.” Deb said and kissed her on her forehead.
While they were kissing on the beach that day, they didn’t have the slightest of the hint that they would be sitting on the same beach after six months but the situation would be drastically different.
A pertinacious sea wave was approaching the shore, this time it would beat its earlier attempt and reach to the unexplored territory of the shore. It knew that it couldn’t revolt; it would have to recede and dissolve in the ocean. It just wanted to spend some extra time with the shore. Even though it was seduced and exploited by the waves earlier, the shore was waiting once again, its arms stretched apart with the expectation that this time the wave would not betray. They met, they moaned, the surf glazed, bubbles popped out of the shore in celebration. But, once again the wave receded and disappeared. The bubbles died and the amaranthine wait of the shore continued. 
Sitting on the sand, under the temporary shed made of coconut leaves, Tisca was watching the waves and shore with her unblinking pale eyes. Deb was sitting alongside, holding her hand.
“Can we go back to our friendship days?” She said, irritated, without looking at Deb. “I don’t like the way our relationship changed.” Ever since the news was out, he was expecting this. Yes, the news that changed every equation of their relationship, the news that was kept a secret from him for months and was revealed accidently after she collapsed during one of their phone conversation. He could still feel the shivering of her mother’s voice on the phone when she told that Tisca was suffering from an incurable disease. Deb reached Rourkela next day. She was admitted in the hospital. “Finally mom told you. She must have exaggerated.” She had said, but her pale eyes were silently supporting her mother’s version. Deb could relate that her visit to Delhi a month back with her mother was actually to AIIMS, which she had claimed to be a Seminar of her Institute. Deb tried to find out the details about the disease, but he was ignored by everybody. He was still a kid in the block. For next two months, Deb made frequent visits to Rourkela and saw her condition deteriorating. It was during his last visit, she insisted to visit Puri. Her mother protested initially but gave up expecting some godly intervention, Puri being a holy place.
‘See those ships there; they are fighting with such a large ocean to remain afloat.’ Deb said after a moment of silence. ‘The waves are threatening, but they can never break the determination of the ship.’
“A Tsunami will not respect these ships.” Tisca looked towards the ships for a moment, then looked at Deb and said. Her eyes started brimming. She clasped a handful of sand in her right palm and raised her hand towards Deb. The sand was coming out of her palm, she tightened the grip, and the sand started coming out faster. ‘I am loosing it... I ... I don’t want...’ She stopped looking at her empty hands, and then closed her eyes. A few drops of tears trickled down her cheeks. He hugged her tightly. All his efforts to control his emotions failed a bit when a lonely teardrop rolled down. The sun was lost amidst the metal and concrete of the Puri Town. Slowly abysmal darkness would engulf the sea. The chanting of mantras emanating from the Swargadwara Crematorium echoed inside his ears and the sound rose decibel by decibel until he broke down completely and started crying.
Can somebody plan his own death? No, unless he is attempting suicide. But, for Tisca, it appeared as if everything was planned. The news of her illness came to Deb a month after his second semester exam. Surpassing all her pains, she fought with death for almost five months and when she died, Deb was sitting in the exam hall and writing his last paper. She had ensured that even though her illness had crumbled him, he didn’t lose a semester, but she couldn’t hold her breath for a day more, her last wish couldn’t be fulfilled, she wanted to die with her head resting on his lap.
Deb wasn’t informed about her death until he reached Rourkela the next day morning.  He was frozen for a minute after he saw her body, then he collapsed. He was admitted into the hospital, he would open his eyes in between, indifferent to the hustling of doctors, nurses and his family around him, he would search for her face and then he would close his eyes as if he had rejected the meaning of his own life. On the third day when he opened his eyes, he was handed over a letter, her last letter for him.
“For F” The top of envelop carried only this. He kept looking at this for a long time, then he opened the envelop.
“Hey Fatto, how’s your exam? I know this is worst question I should have asked at this time. Anyway, in a few days, Valentine’s Day is coming and the whole world would be coloured Pink. You remember I hate that Colour. So, I have just one wish, my last wish. Don’t remember me on that day. I am sure you won’t disappoint me.
And remember, first Sunday of August is reserved for me. Wherever you will be, I will always be there alongside you on that day.
Deb cried for the first time after her death. What she missed understanding was that she wasn’t his lover or friend anymore, she was his life.
Twelve days after her death, he was standing in front of her picture. It was Valentine’s Day.
As they say, time heals all wounds, Deb moved on in the life, yet at every step he looked back longingly as if he was expecting some miracle, which never happened.
After completing his engineering, he joined an IT company in Bangalore and only six months later, he got his project abroad. Before leaving the country for two years, or perhaps forever, he visited Rourkela. Even though he had spoken to her mother many times over phone, he never visited her house after that Valentine’s day. But before leaving the country he wanted to live some moments with her memories.
He spent hours inside her room staring at her picture, and then he opened the cupboard and searched for her blue dress having half sleeve and a bow just above its chest. It heart achingly revealed her curves. He always protested whenever she wore that dress, because he wasn’t the only person watching her. He spread the dress on the bed and then he opened the dresser for a perfume bottle. He took out the bottle having red cap with a female face carved on it; he had made dimples on the face by scratching it with a pin. She never discarded that cap. He sprinkled the perfume on the dress. Lying alongside the dress, he caressed it for a long time, and then he held the dress tightly between his arms and cried.
Her mother knocked at the door, she must have heard him crying. He composed himself, neatly folded the dress, kissed it, and kept it back in the cupboard. Just before he was closing the cupboard, his eyes fell on a file hidden beneath clothes. It was her medical report. So many medical terms, which were difficult for him to understand, yet he kept on reading. His hands started to tremble when he reached the bottom of the second page. His eyes stopped on one line. A head injury, something as innocent and deceptive as a head injury was what led to Tisca’s death. Wandering in their past, he could correlate only one incident to the injury. He started to sweat profusely, and then he collapsed on the floor of her room. Within the confines of the picture frame, Tisca was still smiling. 


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 39; the thirty-ninth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "Break"

After coming back from the break (my last post was three months back), I found the topic of BAT is break. I had to break my head to find what to write on break that would break the literary benchmark I have set for myself. Then I realised that I am unable to break the temporary hibernation of my break from blogging. Somewhere I have to start again.

Should I write about current Indian political scenario? Isn’t the word Break is completely suited to this topic. Isn’t the entire country trapped under the debris of broken promises? Yes it is. But will my writing break the mindset of the people responsible for it? No, but surely it will increase the pain of those who are suffering, the common people.

Should I write about Bollywood? What is there to write though? They are trying to break the benchmark set by Hollywood by copying tollywood. Such a sorry state. Sometimes I search for a wall to break my head after watching such movies, but then the after effect such movies still remains in my head, what if the wall breaks.

Should I write about Indian Cricket? But now when I think about cricket, I find myself confused. Is it a game or just an event for entertainment? Sometime I feel it is neither. So what should I write?

So finally I have decided, I will not write about anything. I am just pasting a video here. Do watch it. I am sure, after watching the video, you will search me to break my limbs, but still I can guarantee that you cannot match with the style in this action scene. This scene is from an Old (Black and White) Tamil Movie, I am still searching for the name of the movie. If somebody knows, do tell me the name. Hey one more thing, there is no dialogue in the scene so don’t worry even if you don’t understand Tamil. Do watch this, its  a once in a lifetime experience. 

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 07

Sun's Shining Somewhere

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 36; the 36th edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "and then there were none"

It was a cold night, close to midnight. Far away from the cacophony of the buzzing city crowd, which might still be crawling on the streets, I was sitting in the balcony of my flat, alone, enjoying the tranquillity of the night. There was no sound except for the chirping of a cricket. It was not very far away from the place where I was sitting. The sky was shining with all its pearls glowing brighter than ever before. A star at a distance was flickering quite in harmony with the chirping of the cricket. The biggest pearl among then all, the moon was in its full form. Its craters appeared non-existent.

Suddenly from nowhere a herd of cloud approached. It started engulfing the sky. The moon protested against the cloud. It started moving away and the cloud mercilessly followed it.  In no time, the cloud overpowered everything and then there were none, no stars, no moon. During that part of the year cloud with such an intensity was unexpected.  The wind was blowing at a fast pace now and it added to the chillness of the night. Then it started raining. A little later, a lightning charred the sky and it was closely followed by the sound of the thunder. The intensity of the rain increased and kept on increasing, it appeared as if the cloud would burst any moment.  A tree at a distance surrendered in front of the atrocity of the air and water and compromised its long lasting attachment with the earth. It appeared as if the sunlight would never grace us again, the world would slowly but surely melt.

I couldn’t bear the freezing cold anymore, went inside, locked the door, rechecked the windows and went to bed. Very soon I forgot that the world was facing the wrath of the nature and I slept. When I woke up next day morning, I immediately went to the balcony. The sun was shining bright. The subsisting cloud was disappearing very fast. There was no threat to the world anymore.

Isn’t our life like this? Sometimes when it starts appearing that everything is set and life’s beautiful, unforeseen problems embrace us. We keep on wondering if the life would come back to the right track again. With every passing moment, our trust tastes a new downfall. Its During that time we only need to do one thing, keep the trust alive, trust on your own ability and trust on the almighty (if you believe in one). Yes, there is a sun shining somewhere, the light of which would certainly brace us one day.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 06

The Utmost Sacrifice

An innocent face with a moustache, curly hair on the top but completely trimmed on the sides, lips sprouting a coy smile reflecting the inner shyness. This picture remained adrift in my eyes for a long time. My world had changed after my father told me that I was getting married with you. I was happy in spite of the fact that I would be leaving my parents home. Those feelings titillate me even now. I wish I could relive that moment again.

How delicate I was when your first touch created ripples under my skin. How secured and protected I felt when you embraced me for the first time. How mesmerised I was when on the fourth day you softly held my hand and whispered in my ears, “I love you.” How contented I was with the utmost pleasure of womanhood when your reflection started taking shape inside my womb, but you were not there to share the pleasure with me. I wish you had been there with me.

I know you never lied, not when you said you love me, not when you said you love your country more. I know you never made false promises, not when you gifted me that expensive gold ring, not when you woke up in the night and travelled twenty kilometres by a bicycle to bring my parents because I had cried in the night remembering them. But what had happened to you when you left? Why did you lie? Why did you make a false promise? Oh, sorry, you didn’t lie, your promise was authentic. You had said you would return, you never said how. You returned on the shoulder of your colleagues, wrapped in tricolour. Yes! You never made false promises. Yes! You never did.

An innocent face, long curly hair, tiny lips making bubbles. I look at him for long hours. He is like you, very much like you. Whenever I touch him, I get a strange feeling of touching you. I wish, Yes, I wish I could touch you as well. I wish.

Saddened by the recent killing of soldiers at the front, this post is dedicated to all those families who have suffered losses. The nation salutes to your sacrifice.

"Happy Republic Day"

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