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One Sky - Chapter 4 : Counting Stars

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  • ridgeet roy
    Counting Stars “So what do think?” “There are more things in heaven and earth, Sajan, than are dreamt of in your philosophies.” “First of all I am
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2005

      Counting Stars


      “So what do think?”


      “There are more things in heaven and earth, Sajan, than are dreamt of in your philosophies.”


      “First of all I am not sure whether that’s the exact quote from Hamlet; and secondly, what’s that supposed to mean?”


      “Means its good enough for an episode on X-Files.”


      “Cut the crap.”


      Ronnie chuckled at my obvious frustration. We were sitting in our balcony overlooking the road in our apartment at the National Games Village. The crimson sky has already begun to put on shades of grey. Dusk has always been my favorite.


      I had just narrated my experience to my 26 year old roommate, one of my best friends from college, and one of the few straight friends who know about my orientation. Ronnie has been juggling a career between a leading BPO and an online news editorial team. Of course he has been doing it pretty well, and he always manages to find time out for dates, like he has managed one for this Saturday evening.


      “So what does Mr. Jai Dashing Prakash have to say about all this?”


      “At first he was not in favor of it, but all of a sudden he softened up and encouraged me to go ahead with it.”


      “How come?”


      “God knows. All I know is that this is gonna be tough.”


      “It sure will be. But you can’t help it. And many people nowadays are openly discussing about mid-life crisis. I don’t understand what the big deal is.”


      “Jai is of the opinion …”


      “Never mind. So what’s your plan for tonight?”


      “Well! After quite some time I will be spending some quality time alone at Landmark.”




      “That’s ok! I need to catch up on my reading.”


      “And ogle guys.”


      “Shut up! When have you seen me doing that?”


      “Just the other day when my friend Krish came to drop some papers.”


      “Well I was just checking out his three-quarters.”


      “Yeah Right!”


      Ronnie has always been very flexible in discussing these things. Only a couple of my female friends and Mir from school have been so open about discussing my gay lifestyle. Sometimes I feel glad to have them in my life.


      “I wanted to ask you something, if you don’t mind.”




      “Have you ever heard from Parth in these three years?”


      Nature can be quite dramatic at times. As if just on cue a gust of cool breeze sent shivers right up my very marrows. As if the name had not done enough.




      On an average a wound clots within 3 minutes. But then some wounds fail to do so even after 3 years.


      “Sorry! Didn’t mean to bring that up. Just, you know, you had always been so sure of him. You two were so great. In college, we were sure that …”


      Flashes of a buried (or was it) past came back. I would be lying if I said that I had not thought about him in these three years. I had, many times. Somehow I had learnt to control the tears, get over the emptiness I felt in my stomache, and the pain in my heart. I knew I had moved on. Sometimes I give myself credit for that. But then sometimes I know I would give up everything  I had to get back everything I had lost.




      Sometimes I find it difficult to choose between Landmark and Crosswords. Both the bookstores are huge and have the best collection. Of course Crosswords has a lot of place to sit and read, while in Landmark you have to stand and read. But then again its near to me.


      As I picked up a book titled “Can you keep a secret” from the romance section, I thought of the many secrets I had to keep in my life. When I was assisting Dr. Rehan at his counseling clinic in Calcutta, I had often come across tormented minds because of the secrets they had to keep from everyone around them. Dr. Rehan had a unique exercise for them. For some who seemed to be just sad because of some mistakes they had done, he would just ask them to narrate it to him or to me, if they were comfortable with it; or write it out on a piece of paper and then tear it out. We had tried a support group but it had failed. Somehow a one to one disclosure was a more opted choice. But gradually I understood that it came after a lot of inner conflicts, questions of trust and most importantly – at the height of desperation. Dr. Rehan always told me that Shrinks were like sponges that absorb the dirt from others to cleanse them; if we don’t cleanse ourselves in time, the burden could be huge and fatal. Dr Rehan used to play the violin after every three or four session. He said it helped him. I had chosen to go to some bookstore for some time alone to read. That’s when I had met Parth.




      “Excuse me! Would you by any chance be able to explain to this gentleman that I need a book on learning the local lingo here? Very embarrassingly I have forgotten what it’s called. Actually I can’t even seem to pronounce it either.”


      A strong accent and even stronger musk hit me all of a sudden. As I looked up I saw a pair of crytal-clear blue eyes. He must have been nearly six and a half feet, with strong jaws and tight musculed … I don’t even have words to describe it.


      “Yes. It’s called Kannada.” I replied, trying to smile at the obviously confused gentleman, who was certainly not from India.


      The man smiled back. I turned to the Store Assistant and asked him to take the gentleman to the language and dictionary section, and help him look for “Kannada to English” books.


      Was I mistaken, or the look he gave me while leaving meant something else. Nah! As I tried to find out what secrets my book asked me to keep, I couldn’t help but wonder what secrets would that guy might have. Everyone keeps some secret in life.




      “Excuse Me! Its time for us to close.”


      I was so engulfed in the book that I lost the track of time. I kept the book back at its place and nodded to the assistant who was standing next to me. I walked towards the elevator and glanced back at the language section. No sign of the foreign hunk anywhere.


      Choosing between Transit, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut seemed very difficult. It’s difficult to find a place to sit and grab a bite in these places on a Saturday Night. Apparently people rarely come to buy at the Forum Mall. The prices are … well quite honestly … not for everyone. So it’s either movies at PVR (that also Ouch on the weekends), or food at these three places. So one can guess the rush.


      “Hello there! Thanks for your help that time.”


      I turned at the direction of musk and blue. Obviously I had not done something great, but then the smile on that face seemed to make me feel special. What a despo I have become, I thought.


      “You are welcome.”


      “Am Ronin. Visiting India for some work. Just wanted to pick up some local jargon so decided to look for a book. But I couldn’t recall the name of the official language of the state. Plus there were so many to choose from.”


      I tried not to show my ugly teeth to this Adonis of a man. Secretly I had always wanted to marry a foreigner. Dunno why. So I tried to make an impression, hoping he would overlook my ugly looks and unkept hair.


      “Well I was wondering if you would be kind enough to suggest a good place to eat. All these places are so crowded.”




      “Well if you want something nearby, there is a nice small restaurant just across the road, called the Hungry Buddha. It’s not so great, but I think you will get a place.” I smiled.




      “Thank you once again. Lemme tell my wife. She is waiting at the Pizza Hut.”




      I watched Ronin and his wife Bianca move down the elevator with their two year old son Rex. I had to turn down his offer to join them for dinner. I didn’t think it was appropriate.






      I quickly tried to wipe of the mayonnaise that dripped from my burger on to my shirt. I was sitting in my balcony trying to manage a McDonald meal. It was a starless night. Apparently the clouds have decided not to give me any chance to enjoy the rest of the evening. So I just sat there, in the dark, not having anything else to do.


      There was no one on the road. Everyone is either in bed, or in some place. And here I am. Does that make me a loser? No. I just need some time. I am sure I will find someone, someday. I had often tried to counsel myself by reasoning this.


      After all, life has just begun.


      As I looked up I saw one little speck of light in the eastern end of the sky. And then as if on cue another one peeped nearby. As I tried to get a glimpse of it I saw a third, and then a fourth. The clouds began to change places. And I just stood there, a mute audience to the hide and seek of the stars. Simply watching and waiting, for this night to pass, for this emptiness to end.







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