This story is inspired by the lives of three of my friends. Subtly spiced up for #MahindraXUV500 contest.
17th March 2012 – MM School auditorium, Pune.
Wifey, seated on the adjacent chair, said, “Why are you crying?”
The amount of tears that rolled down my cheeks in those last five minutes of the performance would have quenched the thirst of all the 400 parents sitting in the auditorium. Of course, after de-salination.
My three-year-old-doll finished her dancing performance on stage and I was enveloped with a feeling of love, life and contentment. I guess this is what is nirvana.
My phone vibrated, the screen displayed Prakash calling.
This bugger, I thought, always calls in at the wrong moment.
Like he did a decade back.
26th March 2002 – Inside a local train in Mumbai .
It was my birthday. I had taken the day off. Few friends and colleagues called in to wish me “Happy Birthday”. Talking about happiness, it was as close to me, as the Moon is from my house.
It was 3pm and the train was about to reach my final destination – the Mumbra river. Yes, it was about to cross the bridge over Mumbra river and I had made up my mind to wind up this edition of my life by jumping off the moving train in to the river.
Nothing was right in my life. Even after completing my engineering, I was working for a chindi-chor boss. My younger sister’s marriage had been called off at the last moment. My elder sister just suffered a miscarriage. My father couldn’t take it all and suffered a stroke which paralyzed the left part of his face.
The moment I saw my train approaching Mumbra river, I took a deep breath and was ready to meet my creator (or destroyer). Then the phone vibrated, it flashed Prakash Calling. I did speak to everyone for the last time that day, this bugger, my best friend was missed out. I had to choose between jumping off and attending his call. I chose to talk to him, which meant i had to take the next train back and complete the assignment.
I picked up the call, he said, “Where have you been? I have been trying to reach you for the last one hour.”
I said, “In a train now, going towards Dadar.”
He said, “Why Dadar at this time? Anyways, a very very Happy Birthday.”
I said, “Thank you.”
“Going to Dadar – for that same foolish reason – that you will still feel her presence?”
I said, “Leave it Prakash, we have discussed this before.”
“Grow up, you brooding ass hole, it’s time you moved on. Break ups happen. You’ve had a good time till it lasted. Things didn’t work out. You have to let it go.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Neither does living. Does that mean you’ll die?”
He was quiet for sometime may be he realized his mistake of suggesting that i should die.
He said, “Look hero, do me a favor?”
“Get down at Thane, take any train going towards South India and get down at Pune. I’ll meet you there.”
There was a silence. I didn’t know how to react.
He said, “Look I know what you’re going through. Will you please, for once, listen to me?”
“How will it help?”
He said, “Just come over, we’ll talk.”
I was silent.
“What are you thinking? Just come over.”
“Ok,” I said.
“Good, when you reach Lonavala station. Give me a call. I will pick you up from the station.”
I got down at Thane station. Took a train ticket for Pune. Boarded the sleeper class of a train going to Bangalore, paid the TT Rs. 20 and got a place to sleep till Pune Station. I lay awake, thinking of the last couple of years, how beautiful they were, when my love was around. I realized that very moment, that neither did my sister’s nor did my father’s condition drive me to this point only the fact that, she left me.
It was 8:30 pm Prakash was right in front of the door when the train stopped.
“Brother you look like you’ve just been released after 5 years in jail. Come give me a hug.”
He looked sharp and fit.
I said, “You look positively glowing since i last saw you in Mumbai.”
“Yeh hai Pune, mere bhai”
We were soon standing in front of his new wheels a red hot Mahindra Scorpio.
“Wow! Good job,” I said, “Have you left the software industry and joined some underworld operations?”
He laughed off, “Thank you.”
He cranked the engine and we zoomed off. I was bowled over by the comfortable seating and leather upholstery. We stopped, right in front of his apartment. His wife opened the door.
“Welcome, welcome. Good to see you finally, Prakash keeps talking about you.”
I entered his flat, a nice apartment tastefully done up.
I said, “Chetana, you have done up your house nicely”
“Sorry, I couldn’t come to your wedding.”
“It’s ok. Prakash told me that you were going through a rough patch. Hence you couldn’t make it to the wedding.”
I managed a smile.
I was given a guest room. After dinner, Chetana said, “I am sleepy. Have to wake up early. I am sure you guys have lots to catch up.”
We started with Vodka. Prakash said, “Look brother, its high time you get your act together.”
“What do you mean?”
“This rona dhona is good for some time. Besides you have your parents and sisters to take care off. By the way, why did she leave you?”
“Long distance relationship. She’s also well off, her parents are doctors. Her mom didn’t like me.”
“Why? You are an engineer, working in a software firm. Soon, going to be rich.”
“That’s the point. She asked me to buy a flat in Malad, but I couldn’t because of huge down payment.”
He wanted to smoke. We came out again in his Scorpio.
He drove it to a pan shop.
I asked, “Does Chetana know that you smoke?”
“She knows that I quit smoking a year back,” he winked puffing away.
We were quiet for some time. I was looking at his Scorpio.
Reading my mind he said, “You remember, when we were in Mumbai. All we could think of were train timings. This 8:20 train will leave, then the next train is at 8:40. What if that also leaves. It sucked big time.”
I said, “It has become worse with more than 1000 people trying to squeeze in every single train.”
“That’s what I am saying. Leave the city for some time. It has grabbed a lot of space in your mind. The trains, the traffic and on top of it the boss – Jatin bhai, the slave -driver.”
We worked in the same company. He left just after 6 months of joining. I stayed on.
“and do what?”
“Start applying in Pune or any other city, there are tons of good companies. They pay really well and the work load is not as high as in Mumbai. Lastly, once you have your own space, you will love it.”
We were back again in his Scorpio. We parked just in front of his company.
“You see this, it’s my work place. It’s just 10 minutes drive from my home.” He said, “How long does it take these days for you to reach office?”
“One hour and 15 minutes on a good day.”
He showed me the entire city by night. Gave me ten thousand reasons why this city was better than Mumbai. By the time we reached his home back, it was 4 am in the morning.
The next day, he woke me up at 11 am and said, “Dude, I am going to office. In the mean time, I want you to meet Vipin. Here’s his address. I will pick you up from his office at 6pm.”
I got ready and by 2pm, I was in the reception area of GE . I told the receptionist, “I am here to meet Vipin.”
I was seated, not sure what to expect, waiting for him to turn up. I was very happy the way Prakash has shaped his life. Within five years of his working life, he had elevated himself from a Worli chawl to a decent apartment in Pune. Not to mention riding an Scorpio.
“Hi I am Vipin,” he said.
I looked at him. He was on a wheel chair, a sophisticated one. He was in his formals with a tie. He was clean shaven with a big smile on his face. He looked like he was in his late twenties or early thirties.
“Hi,” I managed.
For the next three hours, we chatted in the Cafeteria of GE. He told me that his legs are paralyzed by cerebral palsy. He was working in the administration department. Looking after the new joiners and making travel arrangements of the employees flying in and out for business purposes. He cracked jokes. He talked about his immense faith in God and he told me his dream is to direct a movie. I asked him why?
He said, “A director is like a God. He can control how he wants his characters to behave. Everything is done as per his fantasy – aka – story, till the time he is making the movie.”
I was so impressed with the fact that a person, who moves in a wheel chair has such big dreams. Then there was me an able bodied man on the verge of ending his life.
By the time we finished the conversation Prakash came to pick me up.
He asked on the way back, “How did you like Vipin?”
“He’s a fantastic fellow.”
We picked up Chetana on the way and decided to dine out.
Chetana, while waiting for her Bloody Mary to arrive, said, “Prakash shares everything with me. From what I know of you, I think you need to take some timeout for yourself. Leave Mumbai and explore other cities like Pune, Bangalore or Hyderabad and yes, make sure you get in to a company where there are plenty of pretty single girls.”
I nodded with smile. I felt so homely in front of the couple. I thanked God for giving me friends like these.
They dropped me at the station at 11pm in the night.
I said, “Thank you guys. You gave me the best birthday gift. Love you guys.”
I looked at their smiling faces for the one last time in their red hot Scorpio, before they drove off. That picture remained in my memory.
While on the way back, I made the plan. For the next seven days, I prepared for interviews. Within the next one month I was in Pune, a better company with abetter salary, better working conditions and most importantly 5 hours a day to myself.
Coming back to the present day, 17th March 2012 – MM School auditorium, Pune.
His called went in to the missed call.
I married a sweet girl, who gave me another sweet girl. My father’s face became normal with physiotherapy. My younger sister married a decent boy. My elder sister was blessed with twin boys and they already started going to school.
After the event, we three started towards our car. I started the engine. And again the phone flashed Prakash Calling
I answered the call, “Brother you always call at the wrong time. I was just thinking about you and my trip to Pune. By the way, have you seen my facebook status? Last week, I’ve bought Mahindra XUV 500 and that too red.”
~ * ~
Here’s the link to the XUV in question – http://www.mahindraxuv500.com/
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