Chapter Nine - My Little Writing Project
To refresh your memory about previous chapters, or to know about My Little Writing Project, click here.
How far would you go to fulfill your dreams? How much is too much?
11th June 2012
Next morning when Mukti woke up, she found two notes by her mattress on the floor. Priya and Sonali both had left for their respective offices and asked her to call them. Mukti’s head was spinning. She vowed never to have another drink. She made some breakfast, took a shower and sat in front of her laptop with a mug full of hot coffee. She opened three windows simultaneously . . . Her mail, her Facebook profile and her blog. First, she checked her mail.
I ching. Delete.
Anu_mukh@gmail.com. Hmm . . . hello, there. I had completely forgotten about you.
She opened the email.
Hi. No, we don’t know each other. In fact I think there has been some misunderstanding. I was pinging a friend whose name is also Mukti. Her email id is email@example.com and yours is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see how that could have happened, right? I pinged you by mistake. I am very sorry to have bothered you. Take care.
Hmm . . . by mistake. No cheesy explanation, no attempt to take the conversation forward, no interest in knowing me whatsoever. In-ter-esting.
Mukti started typing – It’s alright. It happens. But take care in future. I don’t want to be bombarded with pathetic forward mails that you were planning to send this other Mukti of yours.
She continued checking her mails.
Hmm . . .
She saw who had sent her the latest mail.
Huh! In-Ter-esting. So, he is online.
She clicked on the mail to see what he had written this time.
Don’t you worry, I don’t believe in forward mails or messages. I think they are the refuge of the pathetic. I believe in sending personal mails as well as messages. They make you feel connected. Anyway, sorry to bother you again. It’s just that I believe in fate and destiny and all that jazz and I just can’t help but think that it was destiny that I ended up pinging you instead of, as you have put it, my ‘other Mukti’. Well, won’t bore you anymore. I am sure you have better things to get back to than talking to me about destiny. I should also get back to work and figure out how to make this presentation for work. When I did my MBA, I thought I’ll be above and beyond all these mundane tasks but I guess even being a consultant can’t make you your own boss! Sorry for taking your time. Take care.
Mukti read and re-read the mail. She looked up.
MBA. Consultant. Fate. Destiny! Oh My God! You finally listened. Thank you.
She started typing frantically.
I also believe in fate and destiny. I think that there are no co-incidences, everything happens for a reason. You don’t see that right away but in retrospect you are bound to realize that whatever happened was the best thing to have happened in that scenario. Have you seen ‘Serendipity’? I am not as crazy as the actress/character in the movie, but I do believe that people meet for a reason. I have written an article on it too. I am a writer actually. If you want I can give you the link, you can read it and tell me how you feel, what do you think, etc?
So, you are a MBA huh? From where? I have a friend; she has done her MBA from Symbiosis.
I am just asking for his opinion on my writing. No biggie.
Sonali on the other hand was busy in her own world. She had just come back from a flight from Chennai and was unpacking when her phone rang. Hoping it might be Kshitij, she rushed falling over her suitcase to pick up the phone. As she got up from the floor, she looked back and saw that in place of her suitcase was a huge crocodile slowly inching towards her with its jaws wide open. She could smell its stinky breath, count its pointed teeth, and see the greed of consuming human flesh written across its dark beady eyes. She fell back down again, deathly calm. She thought she ought to scream but realized she was too tired to even whimper. Sonali gave up and kept lying on the floor awaiting, almost welcoming, her imminent end.
This chaotic lifestyle is finally going to finish once and for all.
The ringtone of her phone was gaining boisterous proportion which ultimately shook her out of her daydream. She glanced languidly at the crocodile which had transformed back again to her open suitcase smelling of her dirty clothes and uniform. The realization that she was willing to be eaten up by an imaginary crocodile to escape her current lifestyle worried her thoroughly. She suddenly felt sharp shooting pains in her toes where she had bumped against the suitcase. She got up slowly to pick up her phone eager to hear Kshitij’s voice and revert to some semblance of normalcy.
“Hello?” she said breathlessly massaging her toe.
“Sonali? Why are you breathless?”
“Mukti?!” She said with a hint of disappointment quite visible in her voice.
“Oh don’t be so excited,” Mukti said sarcastically.
“No, I am actually glad you called. It is lovely to hear a familiar voice,” she added.
“Okay, nice save. Anyway, how have you been? It’s been ages since we talked. How is everything?”
“Everything is fine. I just got back from Chennai. Was just unpacking, again. Sometimes I feel like leaving all this air-hostess business altogether. I am tired of this continuous, never-ending cycle of packing and unpacking . . . this lack of any kind of routine or schedule. Basically, I am fed up of living out of a suitcase.”
Sonali’s tirade was something Mukti was not expecting to hear.
“I thought you loved your job? I mean if I had your height, I’d be doing the same thing. It’s so exciting . . . travelling the world, meeting new people—“
“It’s not as fun as it seems, it’s quite exhausting actually. Travelling almost every day takes a toll on your health. And serving all these high profile guests is no piece of cake either. You should hear the way some of them speak to me. I feel like slapping them back.”
“Really? But I thought you only serve first class passengers? They are bound to be decent.”
“Some of them are, most of them are not. You know, this job . . . it has certainly given me wings to fly all over the world when in reality all I ever craved was for someone who could give me a solid ground beneath my feet. Life is so ironical.”
“I thought I am supposed to the writer of the group?” Mukti tried to lighten the mood, “And you have found that someone who will give you your concrete ground, your The One – Kshitij.”
“I guess.” Sonali said half-heartedly, “ anyway, you tell me . . . what’s up with you? Hey, when is your next date with Prakash?”
“Appointment, not a date, appointment. My next appointment with Prakash is this Monday. Three days later. I was just working on the book. So, how is Mr. IIML?”
“Mr. IIML is fine,” Sonali was saying when she heard a beep on the phone. She checked it was Kshitij. A big smile came on her face and she said to Mukti, “in fact he is calling right now. I will talk to you later, bye.” And she hung up.
. . . and here it starts again! I hope this one lasts.
Mukti went back to browsing the internet. After a while she got bored and tired, and logged off. She decided to write in her diary and started rummaging in her dresser drawer for a pen. While fumbling in the drawer, she found an old scrap of yellowed paper. She was about to throw it away when she stared at it and she suddenly realised what she was holding.
She gripped the dresser for support and her breathing became shallow and a cold disconcerting sensation settled in the pit of her stomach. The bright sunshine streaming in was at odds with the chilling nervous commotion Mukti was experiencing. She closed her eyes, bogged down and wearied by it all.
What the hell was I thinking even writing about it . . . if someone else had found this, her life would have been over . . .
Mukti’s mind, shocked at the sudden exposure of an incident best forgotten, went into denial and eager to forget about it herself, she shoved it back into the drawer. She paced her tiny apartment and drank a whole bottle of cold water to feel normal again. Still, all she could think about was the yellowed piece of paper, torn from her diary some years before and shoved inside the dresser never to be looked upon by anyone, not even herself, again.
As long as I know it’s there I will not be able to concentrate on anything else.
She went towards the dresser and poked around to catch hold of the errant scrap of paper again that contained a terrible secret. After some shuffling, she extracted it out and without sparing it a second glance shredded it into even tinier pieces. She went inside her washroom and flushed them down. As she saw them swirling around and sinking below, she visualized Priya, the day she had told her . . . sans any make-up she looked different, almost like a child. Sweat was dripping from her face, she was shifting her weight from one leg to another as if she couldn’t stand still. She seemed restless, her hands were fumbling with a loose thread from her dupatta but her eyes seemed to have turned into stone, staring at nothing in particular. With cracked and dried up lips, Priya had narrated the entire incident . . . Of what had she done. Mukti had listened patiently without asking any questions, without passing any judgement. She knew Priya had not come to ask for advice. She had come to vent out, she had come to seek validation that what she had done was right and that’s what Mukti had given her. Mukti had hugged her tightly and told her that she had been in the right all along. However, Priya had made her promise that she wouldn’t tell anyone ever and Mukti meant to keep her word.
I have done the right thing. It is not my secret to share, it’s Priya’s. I need to protect her. And as it is she is very defensive about her personal life. Always shielding it from view, never opening up. It is almost as if she has created a wall around herself which is very hard to break.
She still remembered their worst fight . . . It had happened because Priya had told Mukti something in secret and Mukti, not meaning to harm Priya, had shared it with the world through her blog.
The world needed to know that there are still such assholes amongst us. Priya should have done what I did. I was defending her pride only.
Mukti recalled how they had fought, all because of a mail. Some six years before, when Priya was an engineering student, she had told Mukti about one of their schoolmates, Z who was in love with Priya. Priya, at that time, was ignorant of Z’s feelings and thought of him as a good friend. One day Z saw a picture of Priya on Facebook where she was at a party, holding a glass of beer and dancing with a group of guys. Z was heartbroken. He deleted Priya from his friend’s list and stopped interacting with her completely. Priya didn’t even notice because she was not very close to Z as it is. Couple of months later, Priya received a mail from Z that informed her that how much he had loved her and how disappointed he had been when he saw that photograph. He went on to chastise her for drinking and mingling with opposite sex freely. He even reprimanded her about her lack of Indian values. He mentioned that he wanted to marry her but since she has embraced ‘western’ values so liberally, he doesn’t think either his parents would be willing to accept her as their bahu or he can be with her anymore and that is why he is breaking all ties with her. He blamed her philandering ways for his attempted suicide and admonished her further by insinuating that no one will ever accept her the way she is. Priya, after receiving the mail, was initially dumbfounded with all the allegations. She was enraged with Z for formulating his own theories about her life without knowing the truth. But, the more she read the mail, the more depressed she became. In the end, she started feeling guilty for driving Z to suicide. Priya had shown Mukti the mail as well. Mukti, as expected, was outraged.
How dare he?
She couldn’t believe an educated, young and supposedly-intelligent man could harbour such primeval thoughts. But what angered her more was Priya’s depression. She remembered talking some sense into her.
It was not your fault. If he was in love with you, he should have told you and talked with you before taking such drastic steps. If he would have done that, he might have saved himself a lot of heartache.
Priya, however, didn’t listen and slumped into gloomy melancholy. It was then that Mukti decided to write a post about this whole episode on her blog as an example. The post was about men and how they want their wives to be coy and demure, how many men still haven’t accepted the fact that a woman can be more successful than them, that she can drink and smoke, that she can have a career etc. Mukti recollected that she had got an overwhelming response. Most of them agreed with Mukti’s point of view except Priya. After reading the post, Priya fought with Mukti for using her life as an example to get more traffic for her blog.
I thought when Priya would read that people think that she was in no way at fault, she would recover but . . .
The post had an adverse effect on Priya. Not only did she get upset with Mukti. She apologized to Z for causing him so much pain, not understanding his feelings but also on behalf of Mukti for writing the post. For the next many months, Priya kept insisting that Mukti should delete the post to which Mukti vehemently refused.
I had not even used any names. Nobody knew it was about her.
But, Priya thought people knew that she was the girl in the post. Mukti tried to explain that first, nobody made that connection and second, even if they did it was Z who was in the wrong. So nobody was pointing fingers at her but she didn’t listen.
We didn’t speak for almost three months! Finally she let go of the issue when people stopped commenting on it. She acts so idiotic sometimes. She has to please everyone! Anyway, this happened long time back. No point digging up old graves.
She sat down and continued browsing through her blog, sometimes laughing at the entries and sometimes cringing at the obvious grammatical and spelling errors. She also saw a short story that she had written about her own life. It was based on some incident that had happened to her when she was little. She had even won a creative writing competition for the same entry in her college.