Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Reunion, Said My Stars!

By Sunaina Patnaik at Saturday, October 25, 2014 6 comments

“Reunion reveals friendship potential that haven't yet been emerged in the past.” 

― Toba Beta

I am not a firm believer of Astrology, or for that matter, Tarot cards and all that. But sometimes, when I am utterly bored, I read useless things which include astrology. OKAY, so major creepy stuff happened. Good stuff, but still creepy!

My astrology for the month predicted that my month would end on a low note with some surprises thrown in here and there. It also predicted that I would hear from a long lost person. I did, I did. It also predicted that I might, I just might reunite with some old friends. That happened too.

Call it a weird coincidence or give due credits to the stars, my astrology for the month hit bull's eye. This stuff actually works, duuuuuuude!

So, I met these friends after eight long months and much to my chagrin, things did not change at all. You know, I imagined we'd get awkward and all that, but we didn't. We picked where we left, we had conversations that were as stupid as they were once. We ate at the places we always have, we made merry the way we always have.

We laughed over all the loony things we did a year ago, and rubbed our differences aside. We also made plans and mused over how things have changed now. The last time we met, we were actually pretty jobless. Not literally! Look where we got now? We just got busier with the work we love now.

Astonishingly, it is pretty ludicrous when you can totally pick where you left with some friends. It is okay to fight. It is okay to get into cat fights. It is okay to have differences. And it is totally okay to go on for longer periods of time without making grand conversations. You get very few friends who can retain normalcy after being mute for an eternity.

All your indifferences will fit together.

P.S. If you have a friend who screwed up your sanity, pick up that phone and give a damned call. A friend who screws your sanity deserves to stay in your life. Do not give up on being that idiot's maid of honour five years (or just whenever) down the line. She counts on you, you fairy angel! 

(That fairy angel would be me.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Understanding The Real ME!

By Sunaina Patnaik at Friday, October 24, 2014 1 comments

“The real question is, can you love the real me? Not the perfect person you want me to be, not that image you had of me, but who I really am.” 
― Christine Feehan

Over the past few days, I have been trying to come to terms with the real me—the trouble-seeking woman with a flair at weaving stories (Maybe?!), and an antisocial creature who has an entirely different online persona. People assume I am just the way the online persona but the real me is probably a little more subtle but I am also known to bite heads off even at the slightest provocation!

During one of the classes with my professor, I was told, or rather reprimanded for being too nice. Since when did being nice become a problem?

You are a writer, you are meant to write, you have no time for emotions or moping around,” he said to me. 

Actually, fair enough!

Ever since that incident, I have been trying to come to terms with that as well. Do I have a dual personality? Or should I just hold on to the emotionless reclusive personality, like in school? But the real question here is, can my loved ones actually handle the real me? You know the recluse who doesn't want to make any human conversations and can go on for longer periods of time without craving any company!

With just a few exceptions!

While I am coming to terms with the real me, I have also realized that I really do not have time for emotions. I already feel worse admitting to it, so yes, you get the drift. As much as I try to act like a cold, ice-queen (which I am sometimes), I falter to be so. 

The real me wants to create something beautiful—something that could be remembered for ages; the real me does not want to write books under the pretext of calling them literature. Pretentious pieces of literature we find these days, I tell you! The real me wants to write something so remarkable that it has to be nominated for Man Booker Prize, sure it does not have to win it. (My dreams are too far-fetching, eh? While I am at it, I might as well aim for the stars. Feel free to roll your eyes at my expense.)

The real me just wants to engulf herself with words and solitude and timely cups of coffee. 

Now, the question is—would the real me actually find time for emotions? Or would the real me just break herself from her reverie of grand thoughts and step into the world far apart from literature and face utter disappointment with the reality?

P.S. The real me does not believe in serendipity. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Diwali!

By Sunaina Patnaik at Thursday, October 23, 2014 2 comments

Festivals offer you an excuse of stuffing yourself with sweets. 

When I was a child, my favourite festival for theoretical (Read 'Your favourite festival' essay) purposes was Holi, though I never really liked playing Holi. But in real world, Diwali has always been my favourite festival. With my grandparents coming all the way from Calcutta and grandmother's homemade food, Diwali was always a grand event at my place. I cannot think of a single child who would not like Diwali. Bursting crackers and meeting all the family members happens just once a year right? 

As I sit down to write this, with the fairy lights hanging up in my room and some soothing music, I recollect all the Diwalis I have spent--Diwalis spent with the cousins I no longer correspond with, Diwalis spent awaiting evenings to burst crackers, Diwalis spent eating ladoos made by my grandmother, Diwalis spent mourning over my grandmother and her special ladoos, the Diwalis spent studying and practicing math, and the Diwalis spent going through one of the terrible phases of my life.

This Diwali was a little different. I might not be happy at this point of time, but this Diwali was entirely different. For starters, I burst some crackers, which I generally do not. We could be eco-friendly but we do not have to stop having fun in the entirety. A little fun hurts no one as long we maintain some limitations. And of course, no sound pollution too. I have zero tolerance levels for high decibels of sound. So, yes, I burst crackers after nine whole years.

Not bad, eh? The things you do to keep your head off few things.

I went ahead and wished a few of my local vendors a happy Diwali. It didn't just make them happy, it made me happy too.

I helped my mother with cooking, which happens a few times, but never on festivals. We lit the diyas together and I turned my balcony into a light house. (Well, almost)

I watched movies with my family, and we all dined together.

Later in the evening, my sister and I went to fetch some food from a stall in our colony. There, I noticed a family with two children--a three year old boy, and a seven year old boy. While the older one was staying away from bursting crackers, the younger one was fearless enough to light up all the flower pots, and he cringed at the fact that his older brother was shying away from all the fun. He did his share, and much to my surprise, did his older brother's share too. 

It almost drifted me back to my childhood, where my cousin brother was always the shy one, and I would burst all his crackers. 

Today was a lot better than I imagined and I am utterly glad that it made me nostalgic and all that. And maybe, just maybe, growing older does not mean you need to stop having fun. You can, but I guess I still did not earn the license of bursting crackers without adult supervision.

Daddy, I am 23. :|

Sunday, October 19, 2014

No Internet. Just a Getaway.

By Sunaina Patnaik at Sunday, October 19, 2014 3 comments

“We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phone, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are.” 
― Jefferson Bethke

What happens over the weekend stays with the weekend.

I've always wanted to say lines like these when I was a teenager, but even as a teenager, I was a pretty normal (Actually, boring) person who really chose books over anything.

This weekend, I've tried doing things a little differently. For starters, I traveled to a place I love a lot. And I've survived two whole days without my phone and laptop. 

I would not call the experience overwhelming. But it was a much coveted break from my otherwise monotonic weekend.

I read, ate, consumed copious amounts of coffee, watched TV (Actual TV. I do not know when was the last time I actually enjoyed watching TV), played Scrabble on board all by myself. I did all these things without taking pictures for Instagram, or tweeting lame stuff like, "Coffee time!"

Of course, things like eating ice-cream go unsaid. Because I just cannot do without it.

I watched the sunrise and the sunset without any filter. I scribbled a lot of things in my notebook, and read a magazine without any interruption from WhatsApp. 

I made real time conversations with people. I have decided, no more WhatsApp for me. If I want to make conversations with people, it has to be in person. If people want to make conversations with me, it has to be in person or over a call.

Perhaps a year ago, I met this man who suggested me to try not using WhatsApp, but I mocked him in his face, and I still remember he was a laughing stock for my group of friends and me for at least a week. He did not have a Facebook profile or WhatsApp account.

Looks like he wasn't entirely wrong!

Ever since its inception, Internet has been killing our imagination. All I do on the internet is read some good articles (which is a great thing), watch movies or sitcoms, but I waste most of my time on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

And I think, I will stick to enjoying the aroma of coffee rather than posting it on Instagram! (Not all the time, of course.)

I've made a resolution to keep the Internet (My phone and the laptop too) off every weekend; I do not care even if the world is falling apart, I will not waste my time on the Internet on Saturdays or Sundays.

I'd rather live them for the simplest pleasures of life!

P.S. It is Monday. I am on the Internet and I hate it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Piece of Cake

By Sunaina Patnaik at Thursday, October 16, 2014 5 comments

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” 

― Jane Austen

I am not interested in making conversations. 

I make conversations with very few people. 

I am known to be an absolute jerk at work. No, seriously! 

I have been told that I am outright arrogant with fellow workers. In my defence, I'd say that, I do not like making friends at work. I do not like talking with colleagues after I am home. 

If someone from work regards me as their friend, I leave no stone unturned in making it clear to them that there is a lot of difference between being friendly and being friends. I am here to work, and not to make friends.

I might have not done this in my first job, but then, I hardly made 3 friends at my first job too. 

In my new job, a month after I joined, two sane people quit. I turned into an even grumpier person with no one to keep my mood swings in check.


People are not that bad, you know? I could be grumpy and all that, but there are people who are actually fine with that. I should probably start behaving well, I reckon? 

Every time I am down, all I need to do is count the number of colleagues who ask me if I am doing well. To think of it, it baffles me that these are the very people who were snubbed by me for calling me their friend. Repeatedly. Every time they uttered the word 'friend.'

It is quite surprising how nice people are. No, not just our colleagues, family, or friends. Just everyone. People apologize to you for things they haven't done. Things will be okay, they say, even when they do not have the slightest clue about what the things are. You are great, good things happen to good people like you, they say, albeit goodness is a trait that I have far forgotten. People will love you, dote on you, get you chocolates when you ignore them. They call you, hover around you to make sure you eat. They'll join you when you unpack your shopping bags, and get you an ice-cream when they end up emptying a mug of coffee on your pants unintentionally. They will do everything, just to make their fellow human being grin like an imp.

This world is a beautiful place. All you need to do is, share your piece of cake with someone. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Because You Need To Break Free!

By Sunaina Patnaik at Wednesday, October 15, 2014 5 comments

"Check yourself before you wreck yourself."
-Grey's Anatomy

On a rather sunny afternoon, I walked into a bookstore in pursuit of buying "Fish in a Dwindling Lake" by Ambai. I could not find it and decided to order it online. But, I wandered around the book shelves like a lost child, smiling at the favourites, and grimacing occasionally at books that claimed to be Literature. I could be quite judgemental when it comes to Literature, you know? 

I was about to leave when I saw a child dressed in pink, walk into the bookstore with her mother in tow. She split ways with her mother, and headed towards the section full of glossy books by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Dr. Suess. She picked 2-3 books and sat down on a couch, skimming through the pages. Her big, brown eyes gave away how awed she was while looking at the pages full of colours and drawings; I am sure the graphics enticed her. She put all those books back in the shelf, and chose The Little Prince, and walked to the counter, and fished money out of her pocket. Yes, she was one of those children who spent their monthly allowance on books. She reminded me of my younger self and my childhood gigs, she reminded me of the days I've spent ladling myself with literature and words as a child.

On my drive back home, I could not stop thinking about the child. Would she grow old to be an artist? Would she turn into a teenager who would shun books to choose boys? Would she just give in to the terms and rules set by the society instead of breaking free?

I've realized the repercussions of being an adult, which is thinking. I mean, even that child would not be so concerned about her life, the way I was. That's the joy of being a child, I reckon. You are free from thinking about future!

Let us take this a level ahead. In pursuit of planning a future, we are all losing out on the present. Even in the slightest and the silliest issues, I end up thinking about the future. You ask me how? I buy a pair of shoes from Steve Madden calling them a future investment, but never wear them. I will wear them on a special occasion, I say to myself.

The special occasion never turns up. My future investment is rotting in that purple box with confetti all over it. (I get it, this is an utterly silly example, but you get the analogy, don't you?)

No, I am not asking you to stop planning about the brighter aspects of your future--education, career, family issues. Aye, all that is mandatory. 

For starters, let us stop trying to control our future. Let it stay unpredictable. Let it bring in some surprises. Just let it.

Let us stop worrying about things that hold no significance whatsoever. Let us stop worrying about getting our hearts broken--you always have ice-cream and red velvet cupcakes to heal you. Let us stop bickering, and for once, let us just stop moping around about decisions we might have to take 10 years down the line. They do not matter.

Let us write notes to ourselves. Let us write long letters to ourselves, no matter how inconsequential they are. Let us shoo away the residue of our past from our lives. (Only if it is horrid. Let those medals and accolades shine bright!)

Let us just stop controlling our lives and making grand plans of future which never work out. Let us just live our lives like a child who would refuse to plan her future and worry about the dire straits. 

Let us just look at our reflections in a mirror and realize how amazing we are, and how much more we could be if only we choose not to wreck ourselves.

Let us stop preventing ourselves from things that have failed us, let us stop getting affected by petty issues and tamper our days because you can find light even at the end of the tunnel. You just need to look for it.

Let us just make a pact of breaking free and smiling a little more today. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

That Summer Farewell: A Short Story

By Sunaina Patnaik at Sunday, October 05, 2014 8 comments
Picture Source: Kelly Redinger Photography
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

One summer, I decided to visit my grandparents' town as I was entering my third year of college, and I knew I would find no time to spend time with my dear ones for the next few years. I packed a few essentials, clothes, a walkman, and a gameboy, and reached the town after an overnight journey. It was those remarkable days where life beyond Facebook existed, when long letters were sent to friends during vacations, when pocket money was spent on buying music cassettes, and greeting cards from Archies Gallery; when life was simple yet beautiful.

A week passed and it almost felt like time was haunting me. Every minute was spent counting seconds. I had nothing to do, but gorge on the delicious meals and sweets my grandmother made-her culinary skills were exceptional, something my mother inherited, thankfully. One evening, I decided to walk around the streets and explore the town, I walked aimlessly, noticing every tiny detail. The bougainvillea trees, the stray puppies, people sitting in their courtyards, and children playing cricket in the streets. I followed this ordeal, every evening, for the next five days. But that evening, I decided to take a different route. 

It was just two streets away from my home when I came across a library. I wasn't much of a reader, nevertheless, I decided to go in and read some magazines as I had nothing useful to do. Unfortunately, the library too, was scarcely occupied with any magazines I read. However, I took a copy of India Today, and sat down in the corner.

Little did I know I was in for some surprises! 

I was skimming through the pages of India Today, reading various topics ranging from how Shiv Sena came to power in Maharashtra, and how Bombay became Mumbai to the reviews on Mani Ratnam's Bombay, that hit the screens. This place too didn't interest me and as I was ready to leave, I saw her--she sat right in front of me, she was immersed in a book that looked pretty huge, she smiled often-maybe the lines were funny, I assumed. She was dressed in white, and had spectacles that were a tad bit huge on her otherwise tiny face. She looked delicate with a tiny mole above her lips. She was in a different world, altogether, oblivious of her beauty, and the world around her. I knew I would not be leaving anytime soon. So, I sat there pretending to read the magazine, under the pretext of stealing glances at her. As she left, I took a library membership, for I knew where I would spend my evenings hereafter.

The next evening, I reached the library by 4 P.M, and noticed she had already reached. She occupied the same place; devouring her books like a hungry reader. I have never read books, really, and I could not fathom why anyone would read so much. I had no time for Fiction, I was on my way to become a man of medicine, and I always believed Fiction was for women. Such a stereotypical brat I was! But each time, I saw her laughing, or smiling while reading, or at moments, when her forehead creased, and she wiped her tears, secretly hoping no one noticed her, I wished I too read like her, to have been lost in the world where she was building her own. I craved to be a part of it. 

While I cannot give you the details of all the moments, I know for a reason that only God knew how many evenings I have spent that way, trying to initiate conversations, or pass her notes that I have written back home, hoping she would follow me to the end of the Earth. I was forlorn and lost in eternal damnation--love. I made long STD calls to my friends, explaining them every minute detail of the time spent in the library while they took playful jibes at me.

I was in love, and I let the world know it.

I've passed the entire May just staring at her. June arrived like a whirlwind, and I summed up all my courage to talk to her. With a week left for my return, I did not want to waste my time any longer. That day, I reached the library a little earlier than the usual, picked a magazine, and settled down. The vastness of the library, the fading paint, the lamp shades that looked quite ancient, boasted of the timelessness of the place. How many tales of love does this library hold, I mused to myself, when I saw her walk into the library. She went straight to the massive book shelves, and for a change, she picked a book that didn't belong to the Victorian era. She chose John Grisham's The Rainmaker--a bestseller according to my magazine, and settled down. She looked up, and smiled at me. 

I was overwhelmed with joy and wanted to take a quick backflip. Lost in unduly happiness and bliss, I forgot smiling back at her. I was an utter idiot. A wasted opportunity, I sighed. But, I was wise enough not to pass those notes to her. "You do not pass notes of gushing love to a stranger," my elder sister warned me over one of the phone calls. I sat dumbfounded, looking at her, with an unrestrained smile. Unsuccessful at my attempt of striking a conversation, I walked home rather morosely with a disheartened expression written large over my face.

That night, I paid no heed to my sister's warning, or my friends' baseless suggestions, I tore a sheet from my notepad, and wrote down:

"Summer love, lingering thoughts, anxious nights! Let the Monsoon hold a different charm, with your words.

Instead of sleeping in peace, I had an inanely restless night tossing and turning in bed, disturbing my grandfather's sleep, inviting snideful remarks from him. I counted minutes all through the day, and ran to the library in the evening, and saw her seated in the place. She wore a red skirt that reached her ankles, and a white top. Her hair was tied up high, and needless to mention, she was lost in her book. I sat across her than she looked up at me. This time, my smile didn't falter, I grinned like a fool, and she returned it back. I looked around just to make sure no one was around us. The library was barely populated, I sighed in relief, and looked at her, not wanting to drag any unwanted attention, I slid the note in the magazine, and passed it to her. 

"Page no. 17," I whispered, and looked at her intently. She looked at the note, and pursed her lips and looked straight at me. Oh no, the last thing I wanted was to get thrown out of this place. But, to my utter shock, she burst out laughing, attracting a lot of attraction. Obviously, the large bills with "silence" written all over them made no sense anymore.

She passed me back the magazine with the note that read, "Words have always been my forte!"

Let us just say that, my joy knew no bounds. I wasn't a man of adjectives. 

The next five days passed exchanging more notes--I've learned that she was studying Literature in a local university, she loved Ruskin Bond, and old Telugu movies; she laughed loud, and cried when her fictional heroes died. There was more to her than what she showed. The ritual of passing notes, having coffee at a roadside stall pretending to be two absolute strangers, walking behind her till she reached home every night happened every day. I spent my nights writing poems and love notes to her--which were totally senseless, but she loved all of them. I loved how she smiled warmly at me. Her letters were always better, and I felt a tinge of guilt to feed her my stupid ones. I preserved all her notes and letters in my bag, and read them time and again. My phone calls to my friends and sister ceased; I dedicated all my time just to her, and gave her flowers every day. Never in my life, I anticipated I'd fall in love. But I did, and it was such a steep fall that I knew there was no return back.

It was time; I had to return to my hostel already. You have no idea how badly I wished the moments to cease. I had no liberty to stretch my vacation. I was studying medicine; and it wasn't a joke, right?

On our last meeting, we sat across each other; silence engulfed us. We looked at each other, and smiled occasionally, but the image of staying away from her tore every fiber of my body. We know we would write to each other, and make those occasional phone calls, but we also knew the repercussions. 

I could vividly remember that meeting--still fresh in my head, the library, her gloomy face, the large wall clock, the books on the table, my sweaty palms, her kohl lined eyes.

To be continued....


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