The Journey So Far – An inspirational tale of hope,love and life

Excerpt: I met her. I wanted to assure myself that I really loved her and that whatever I felt for her earlier wasn’t just a momentary desire. (Reads: 725)

 

Harsh situations, tough challenges in the past thrown towards you can end up being Blessings for the present only if you have the composure, focus, will power and attitude to get inspired and move on in life no matter what. Every storm is temporary. Learn from the Past to build a blessed present.

The Prologue

 I never aspired to be a full time writer nor do I wish to. I always wanted to write that ONE story. The stories were always there right around me; some of them were finished tales while some other with an unfinished touch.

Not Everyone has the courage to rewrite their past no matter how painful it was. Not everyone can regather, learn from their past and with focus, can build a blessed present.

Here I am, writing what I can ever write in my life time. It’s not a fiction, it’s not a reel of an upcoming movie, it may be not supreme but each story is from real-life experience, each character is someone you may know from your life.

Each of my tale is to touch your heart, for you to learn something from, for you to fall in love with the characters.  I want you to connect with these characters, cherish your own childhood as you read through the stories.

I want you to find yourself in these journeys-the days of happiness, days of struggle, world of love, world of fear and the mistakes made and then the inspirations which kept you going. I want you to find yourself, in each character and someday to tell your close ones about “Your Journey So Far”.

It’s in fact the journey of self and few of my friends with whom somehow I lost touch after schooling but then the characters have started to meet each other by the time I turned 36 and it seems we are connected well to each other in an unbounded pattern.

For now, it’s about…..The Journey So Far!


PART 1

‘3rd Dec, 2016’.

“Air India announces, rescheduling of its flight AI-549 from Chennai to Port Blair due to technical reason and the new departure time is 09:30am”.

Having reached the Chennai Domestic Terminal at around 3AM, this delay of exactly 4hours and 45minutes meant it was going to be dull day for me. I don’t like these flight delays at all, especially when I am on a business trip, I never like it. However nothing was in my control except the fact that I could control expressing my anger to some staff of Air India.

My colleague Ipshita looked rouge after this announcement. ‘This is disgusting-she said, getting irritated by the delay’.

‘Take a seat and relax, Ipshita’- I replied trying to calm her.

‘Let’s have a cup of coffee and burger’-Ipshita replied.

So, we two went to the coffee shop near the Gate 3 inside the terminal. The weather was quite pleasant outside but the inside buzzed with lots of travelers waiting for their boarding.

“Hey SK! do you see that guy standing at the ‘Coffee Day’, doesn’t he look familiar?”-Ipshita asked me pointing towards the man, dressed in Black-n-Checks, sipping his coffee while he conversed with couple of staffs from the Indigo Airline.

‘Oh yes, you are right. He looks very familiar’-I replied to her and took out my cell phone and searched through the friend list of facebook account. ‘Shubham, my childhood classmate and now FB friend as I recall his facebook profile that has all the photos from our young school days’- I told Ipshita.

“Yes there he is….Shubham!, in my FB list. Let’s go and meet him”- I urged Ipshita.

While we had our shares of burger, I told Ipshita, “You know dear, when I look up to Shubham I feel that he deserves everything he has now on the professional front. He is one of the well known and respected faces in the airline industry. Neither is he a business tycoon nor some egoistic rude top management boss. He is one of his rarest prototype, admired by everyone he has met in his life so far and inspiration to many of us during our days of struggle for getting a job and career, very helping he was and a guy to share our secrets. But whatever he has achieved in the present wasn’t a cake walk for him. He has overcome so many hardships in the past to become what he is today”.

Is it so, SK? Then you must tell me his story someday- Ipshita felt anxious to know more about Shubham.

I have an idea, SK!- Ipshita said.

What idea?

“Why don’t you write about Shubham’s journey in your novel?”

‘Wow Ipshita! That would be great’. –I thanked and assured her that she will learn about his inspirational journey to success soon. But I hardly knew anything about him in detail. This was a chance I didn’t want to let go waste.

We finished eating in next ten minutes and started to walk towards Shubham who was then sitting on the chair near to Gate 7. He was tapping his mobile every now & then, looked quite unusual to me. As far as I remember he disliked being glued to cell phones.

‘Hi Shubham’… How are you?

“O hi! Nice surprise, SK. It’s so nice to see you here. After a long time, finally we meet out of facebook pages ha!”…Although we had us, on each other’s facebook friend list, we never had any chats in past two years.

‘The clock ticks so fast, doesn’t it?’

‘Shubham!’ Meet Ipshita, my colleague.

‘Hi Ipshita!’-he greeted.

‘Great to see you Shubham sir. I have heard about you from SK’.-Ipshita replied.

“So? How come you have been in Chennai, Shubham? And you still travel a lot?”-I asked.

Pointing to the lady who was sitting next to him, he said, “SK, meet Avni-my wife and Nirvaan- my son. This time I was here for a minor surgery for Avni”.

Namaste! – His wife stood up and greeted me and Ipshita.

Namaste Bhabi ! Hi Nirvaan !

“What about you, SK?” -Shubham asked.

“I? For my usual industry training plus I am planning to venture into book-publishing-printing business. So I was here to meet some of the publishing houses. We both got a week leave and our company has sponsored a leisure-trip to the Islands”-I replied.

I and Shubham did our young schooling days together for few years and now we belong to the Airline Industry in India. It’s been almost ten years I know him but not enough. He was my mentor at the RedHat Academy during the RedHat Training Program in 2005. He has been inspirational for me and I always believed that there is an untold story behind this inspirational man.

“Well Shubham, I must tell you -you look the same person as you were then in school. You never changed for friends. You did great to keep up friendship with everyone. You are the only string who kept all friends tied together”- I thanked Shubham! He is still in touch with most of the ex-classmates.

“Thanks SK! “-he said.

“By the way, which flight are you boarding?”

Well, the delayed Air India -he said.

‘Oh great, we too.’-I replied.

SK, would you like to give me a company to the book shop? I have to buy some books.

Sure, Shubham. I will.

While Ipshita and Avni took their seats and started chatting, I and Shubham took a walk towards the book shop near Gate 10.

As we marched slowly, I asked Shubham, “So you have become Mr. Traveler, you interact with so many people, don’t you?”

Yeah, sort of.-he nodded in approval.

I was keen to write about him in ‘The Journey So Far’ and this was my chance to get everything extracted from him. But if I asked him directly about his past life, he would have felt awkward.

‘It seems you are fond of Chennai, isn’t it true Shubham? Quite amazing, instead of a Bong Connection, you have a Chennai connection’.

Shubham laughed and said, “I never had a Bong connection and Chennai is like a second home for me. Lots of friends from different fields of work, lotsof young schooldays friends and I have a special bonding to this place”.

I learnt, that Shubham loves to explore. Explore the people rather than places, loves to interact with people from different walks of life, from different parts of state, country and religion. He loves to explore about their thinking process, their experiences in life.

When he traveled for a business trip, airport lounges became his favorite place to explore-the air travelers. Loads of people, some tied to their smartphones as if they are the most techie guys in this world, some glued to the beauties out there, some talking the long walk with their children, some with their eyes stuck at the flight schedules, some wishing their flight was on time, some rushing from the washrooms as there has been announcements for them that their flight was about to leave and some like Shubham, who never wanted to leave the terminal and wished the flights were just delayed and delayed.

We had still three hours to board the flight. We started discussing about things related to our work as he searched some latest Novels in the book shop.

I asked Shubham-“I don’t understand one thing; you were far batter student in school. You could have completed your engineering and got a highly paid job. But you chose the other way. Why? Is Avni, the same girl-your childhood friend? Actually I don’t remember that girl’s name. Which company are you working right now?”

On hearing all this, Shubham took a deep breathe and said that he was working with two of the leading Airline Companies in India, has his own Firm which works as PSA to those airlines. But at the same time he starts to avoid replying for my remaining questions….he kept his silence.

Then he said, “SK, Avni is not that girl, not my childhood friend. I got married to her five years back.”

‘He has married someone else and not that girl with whom he fell in love during the college days? I was shocked at his revelations later.’ When he later revealed his story, I learnt if anyone was to be his better-half, Avni was the perfect one. Avni is his blessed present.

‘You were of a great help during RedHat India Exams. It’s because of you I managed to get the job I desperately needed that time. But I feel really happy for you when top brasses from our fraternity talk and praise about you.’- I appreciated his dedication he puts in his work.

My anxiousness to know about him was making him feel bit uneasy and inexpressible for unknown reasons rather known reason that I mentioned “that girl”. He could sense, whom I was asking about.

To make the mood lighter for him, I said, “No issues if you don’t want to share the rest…just relax.”

‘You like reading novels?’ – I asked Shubham

‘Well, I am not a big fan of Novels but sometimes it’s good to get some inspiration from them.’ – He said.

‘Interesting!’ Would you read, if I write one? Actually I am writing one and thought it would be best if I write down the real stories which can inspire others.

To be true and frank, an hour ago, Ipshita suggested me to start with your story. Would you like to share if you feel comfortable with it? Tell me about your journey so far, dear.”

Shubham didn’t respond immediately. He kept searching the racks for novels. He picked one and said, “Do you know this author, SK?”

‘Which author?’

‘Savi Sharma’.

‘I have heard about her. She is the new sensation in literary world.’ – I replied.

‘Oh I see!’ This novel, it says “Everyone has a story”, looks quite interesting. I must read it.-Shubham replied.

I don’t know what he was thinking while he purchased the novel and read the first chapter. Turning to me he said, “I too was thinking to write a story but I am not a good writer. In that case, you get the story”-Shubham replied ultimately giving a nod.

‘You will feel comfortable sharing your past and the journey till now?’

For seconds he thought and then nodded in approval.

“That’s great! Well in that case, tell me everything in detail. I want to start with your story”.—I appreciated his gesture. Not many have the courage to relive and rewrite their past.

Here was a man, who had gone through so many storms in his past and still so composed,

focused and down to earth.

“Sure I will, once we reach the islands”- an optimistic Shubham replied. But right now let’s enjoy the Airport environment.

‘Ok done!’ –he said and we continued discussing lots of issues prevailing in the Travel Industry and about the islands.

I requested the cabin crew for a seat change so that I can talk to Shubham. Ipshita luckily got the seat next to Avni. Our flight took off on time after the delay. 2 hours journey felt like two days as my other side was eager to know and write about Shubham. Impatiently, I asked him, ‘what all had you done after XII std?’

‘Well, nothing much-dropped out of college, did a joke of correspondence course but anyhow managed to perform well, worked in few IT companies and then became an Entrepreneur’-he said.

“Shubham-The Entrepreneur, the Poet, the RedHat Guru and what not?”

You have got so many skills.

‘You remember any special moments from any of you air travel?’-I asked Shubham. I was trying to mould him into the story telling mode. To my luck, he started to open up and he already sensed it that I was actually wanting him to disclose his stories. He said, “you don’t have to set me up SK. Let’s begin and you better get these noted.”

And that is how I came to know that, by the time Shubham turned 25 & later 36 this year, he had seen lots of highs and lows in his life- both in personal and professional part. Those who left him by letting him down came back in his life at a point of no-return for him.

 Time can change many things in one’s life drastically. I realized as I read through every story of his journey later.

 

PART 2

The Air travel, 2009”

There was rush at the Chennai International airport. Counters were getting filled in like the flood water. I was dressed in black & light-blue formals, rolling my vision around the lounge and then my eyes scanned on a lady dressed in Pink top and blue Levis jeans- impatient to move towards the baggage screening.

I kept my eyes on her for an unexplained reason for a minute or two…then turned back towards the long queue for my turn to snatch the boarding pass.

A moment later, suddenly someone hits me from the back. When noticed, I found the lady whom I was giving stares a moment back. I understood that she ran to the check-in counter and in the process slipped onto me standing in the line with a backpack that looked packed with treasures of my belongings.

‘Careful Mam!’-Sighting her discomfort, I advised politely and gripped her hand to lift her up.

She stared at me for a minute as if she knew me in the past.

‘Shubham was recollecting; Is she the same traveler whom I helped to board her first ever air journey four years back?’

As I approached to ask her name, her eyes had already noticed the ID card I was clipping on to my front pocket of the shirt, which read my name.

My brain was messy, to recollect her name as I comfort her to stand and move towards the counter to collect my boarding and approach the departure gate.

By the time, she might have thought to speak further to me, I had moved on to security area and was quite nervous, this time to catch this lady as if my senses were telling me, “you know her who she is”.

I hardly noticed her anywhere in the crowded hall thereafter. My heart wished, she boarded the same flight which I was about to travel. Soon the bus arrived as if to take all souls to a heavenly journey.

Greeted by the cabin crew, I searched for my seat that read 13A on the boarding pass; 13A again? Everytime I board a flight that’s the seat by default for me”. But this time, it turned lucky. After adjusting my cabin bag, as I conquered my seat to put the seat belt on, I turned to my right to surprise myself.

“Hey Purnima? -as I recollected her name and spoke greeted her. So here you are again”.

“Sorry! Do I know you sir”- she asked with a gentle tone.

“Well, you don’t remember me it seems”. I am Shubham, the air-traveler.–I reintroduced myself.

“Oh yes yes, I vaguely recognize. You had helped me on my first air travel four years back at this airport”–with her memories intact, Purnima greets me.

And then she talks endless; I am so sorry, don’t mind about me not recognizing you at once. So, how are you doing? And what’s the purpose this time, Mr. air-traveler? — -she asked as we exchanged smiles!

As far as I remember- last time you were travelling after a tragic incident, in 2005, which you had narrated to me then, during our 2hrs encounter. You were feeling very low and I could feel the guilt you had that time within yourself. I know you said, “I won’t be the same person again, my life will change hereafter. Anyways, I hope you have overcome it.

If there was any devil side of mine, it would have shut her mouth up for digging the past. But I wondered how well she remembered about our first meeting and more amusing, about the incident I told her.

On my return trip from Chennai after the RedHat Exams in 2005, I had met Purnima- a typical South Indian girl-5feet 2inches tall-fair enough-extrovert, travelling for the first time by flight. She wasn’t aware of the boarding procedures. I knew her parents but not Purnima in person. She then became my very good friend and we were in touch for one year only.

Purnima inquired — Shubham, what was her name…aa….aaaa….Piyali right?

Yes, Purni–Piyali it was, I replied taking a deep breath as I felt tears were about to flood me again and…. she went silent for a moment noticing me.

Tell me then Shubham, about your Journey So Far-Purnima asked as if she was travelling for the purpose of only listening to me.

“It has been sort of ups n downs since then. But the best part is going to be my marriage in a year or two”-I reverted, with a feel of ease in my thoughts.

“That’s great news dear! I would like to know, what happened all these years after 2005”-Purnima asks as if to quench a thirst inside her.

“No no, leave all this. Tell, about your journey dear”- I replied frantically.

“Well I got married a year back, work as a software developer, husband too in the IT company and we are now settled in Madurai. I was here to meet my parents. So far it has been good.” –Purnima replied.

20mins disappeared within seconds and I was feeling real hungry as the cabin crew announced to serve refreshments!

“What would you like to have Purni?”

“A sandwich n a cup of coffee dear”; she urged.

Oh great, me too!

As the airhostess approached us to serve, “Purnima gave a nasty sweet look and ordered me, “can you please answer my question I raised?”.

Taking a deep breathe and hiding every pain he carried, Shubham said-“yes sure” and he briefed Purnima about his journey so far.

Purni, two years after Piyali left, I got a full time Technical trainer job in an IT firm. Then switched to another company this for few months however I had some health concerns and then resigned.

I have started working with a Travel Company recently and trying to establish myself in a better way. At the start of this year I met this girl; Avni. We like each other’s company. She is working in government office in the city. At first instance of our meeting or call it a date, I dared to ask her for marriage. By 2011 we have decided to get married.

Oh great Shubham! However I am a bit confused about your marriage part…oh yes..You liked someone else I guess?-Purnima asked.

“Shubham looks out of the window in the clouds and a bit lost in his own thoughts as Purnima continues to enjoy her in-flight refreshments.”

Shubham was hiding a lot more than he briefed Purnima. He would not open up to everybody so easily.

Purnima knuckles him up on his forehead, “What happened Shubham, is everything fine?”. You don’t seem happy answering me.

Very slowly with his head down, he whispered, “I don’t want to tell anything more right now. May be next time, may be never”

‘As the flight took a sharp right turn, it went turbulent and his memories were shaken up flashing by bits and pieces and ran through his heart, crushing and bruising.’

What was it that Shubham was unwilling to speak out?

As I later came to know from his past, that he had lost his Mom & Piyali in his life forever.  Was it a grudge in him or was his life so emotionally twisted by their untimely death or was it something else?

By August 2005, Shubham moved to Chennai for completing his major IT training. By Dec,2005 he returned to his hometown. He joined a small IT training company to work as a trainer. In the meantime his search for someone had begun in despair.

“Not many of us knew about the Piyali incident in his life. Shubham never told anybody not even to his best friend except Dev and Jeet, who were his close friends and strange enough to Purnima too. His best friend Sekher was on-job training for one year then. I came to know that incident during the days of writing this book.”

We touched down at the VeerSavarkar International Airport at 11.45am. As we were waiting to collect our baggage, I requested Shubham to meet me at the Hotel Sinclairs; we were supposed to check-in so that I can learn about the rest of his story. I and Ipshita left for the Hotel and Shubham with family to his home.

We finished our city tour the same day.

By evening I and Ipshita were enjoying the raindrops as slight drizzle had started to pour in. As we relaxed in the lobby of the hotel, Ipshita said, “So SK, you got your story?”

Yes, just began to write. Ipshita read through the first part quickly and urged me to call Shubham for the lunch next day. The plan was to get more out of him. There were so many questions tormenting my mind.

The next day; the weather was stormy but Shubham managed to reach our Hotel well ahead of the lunch.

We made ourselves comfortable at the restaurant for the round table conference-the hotel had one. The Lunch was served.

What’s the story about you and Piyali? – I asked Shubham sympathetically hoping that he won’t get hurt.

That’s another chapter in my life. First Mom left us when I was fifteen and then Piyali, the friend who changed my vision towards life-an everlasting symbol of friendship, love and sacrifice was she. Sometimes we don’t value the worth of someone until they become memories. Her absence added value to my life more than her presence.

I will take your leave now, SK & Ipshita. I have some pending queries from my clients. Rest of the story-I shall send you in email. Keep me informed once you are back from the Havelock tour. Don’t forget to enjoy the adventure sports there.-guiding us about reaching Havelock, he then left for his office.

Four days to go, lot of stuffs to finish-my mind aced against time as I relaxed for the morning tea at the Havelock Beach Island Resort. They have provided a free Wi-Fi so I could go through the important emails quickly. As I scrolled through the emails and found the one from Shubham. Shubham finally started to email me mentioning in detail about his past and present, about his journey so far.


PART 3

“Piyali-the untold affair”

It was in April 2004. He was getting ready for the morning batch at Tata-InfoTech; the students at the training center were eagerly waiting for the first ever seminar. He sipped through his coffee, while turning the pages of his technical guide. He was anxious, his heart started beating furiously.

A ring on his cell-phone diverts his attention towards the unknown caller. Reluctant to pick he disconnects. He reached his training centre, the seminar went well, there were applauds in the room. The seminar was a grand success. This was Shubham’s first attempt for an interview for a part timer job in the field of Information Technology.

By 5pm, he turns his attention on the messages on his cell phone, and there it was, the morning caller had left a message, “If you remember

Piyali, your schoolmate, then please rush as soon as you receive this message.”Piyali ! Her vitals are very serious. You must go and see her family once”. While he reads this the success of the seminar didn’t mean anything to him anymore. Shubham has no idea, who was the messenger and what was happening suddenly but he is not a guy who forgets his friends easily. He knew Piyali and her family however he was not in touch with them for the past three years.

Without wasting any time he heads for Piyali’s home with great deal of fear- the caller had text him the address too. On the way, his cell phone rang again, this time to be told by Piyali’s younger sister Pihu, what actually was the chaos about.

“With a chocked voice and crying profusely, Pihu informed; Shubham da, Piya di had met a major accident at the airport in Chennai. She was taken to hospital. Maa spoke to one of the doctor over call and it did not sound good at all”..

Piyali was his batch mate from XI std. A 5 feet 4 inch tall-milky white face-golden black eyes-brownish long hair till waist-simple-beautiful girl with a positive aura, who talked very little. She was shy talking to boys. Her smile would render life of fresh air to many in the school but her heart was never invaded by anyone, except the 5feet 7inches-tall-dusky-thin n lean boy who was studious, hard working, humorous and emotional at times, trustworthy, diligent, and moreover he never stared a girl, the other way.

He held himself to high standards for the way he spoke and behaved. He always had high moral values.

On the other side, Piyali was very sober and authentic girl. She was true to her rare friends and never used them for selfish reasons.

‘And then to his surprise, the younger sister Pihu begs him not to visit their home. Shubham’s brain could not work out the reason behind this.

In a very dejected state, he wandered for an hour around his training center and the park nearer to college.’


A day later…

“A call from the same unknown number woke up Shubham at around 5 AM.”

“Shubham picks up as soon as he heard it ringing”.

“Hi Shubham! Extremely sorry to disturb you at this time.”

Who is it?-he asked!

I am Diya, Piyali’s friend and roommate from the hostel!

‘Diya was Piyali’s only roommate. Diya was doing her internship in Paramedics while Piyali was into PG Media & Mass Communication. They shared same room as paying guest’

Shubham wakes up from the den, he slept uneasy the whole night.

Ok, hi! – Is she stable now? What are the surgeons saying, Diya?”-he goes on querying…

Suddenly, Diya fires at Shubham like anything with piercing questions—-“why are you so bothered now Shubham?” You were never bothered about her feelings. Am I right or wrong?”

Shubham was getting annoyed inside with the fumed tone of Diya. He could only resist a bit but not for long.

What are you talking about Ms. Diya? I have no idea.—he fired back.

Didn’t you realize, she liked you from day one, you too were friends? Were you not aware she was too a shy and conservative girl to be anybody’s friend accept you. How could you not understand all this, Shubham?-Diya speaks out in frustration, that Shubham, then started to feel it was obvious.

“Ah Diya, but I never eyed her with such a feeling. In fact if she knew me, I was not at all talkative or that frank with any girl in schooldays. My values never let me indulge in looking a girl in that way. I believed that school was such a pious institution to involve in affairs with anybody.”

So you were that much busy in studies, you had your eyes closed about Piyali, huh? And by the by, you don’t know that she fell in love with you straight after schooling?–Diya freaks out at Shubham.

“Diya, it’s today, that I came to know from you. You believe me or not, it’s a truth!”–as Shubham replies, he sunk into the sea of regrets. It appeared as a crime he had done in past and was now getting the bitter punishment.

Diya continued; I am not here to scold you Shubham, but Piyali always liked and loved you and only you. It’s very hard to believe that a beautiful and soft spoken girl like her will never have a friend or a boyfriend for that matter. Ironically it’s true.

You were her only friend, the best may be. She would always speak good things about you when we got a leisure time at room. Not a single day has passed for Piyali without talking about you. She was madly in love with you dear and I could see that she was broken too. She knew you will never come up first to accept, had she told you in school. She was waiting for the right time but the right time never came through. A month back, when her sister informed, that you were very sick of the heart ailment and had been to Chennai twice for treatment, she then decided to go and see you. She bought the flight tickets a week back and was about to travel yesterday but she met this tragic incident.

Hold on for a second Diya!-how did her family managed to get my contact details and specifically about my ailment?

Is it hard to get anybody’s whereabouts in the city back there in the islands? It’s a small place by the way, I know. And those who really care for us, they find every means to get to us…isn’t it?

You are not more than a silent killer Shubham, you will repent on this. You………….!- Diya Menon yelled louder as she cried and hung up the call !


Three Days after the Accident…

The Funeral-18Apr2014

 Situation turned ugly for Shubham the day when Piyali’s coffin was brought to her home in the Islands.

Pihu-the younger sister of Piyali, had text him to be at their home by 11.15. The message read-“Shubham da, be at our home by 11.15, Piya di has come”.

As he gets to her home, the huge gathering surrounding her home makes his discomfort. His senses were telling him that he was about to hear something very tragic, his heart and mind pretending that his instincts were wrong-that the race against life has come to an end for Piyali.

As he enters closer to main door, he starts to fall apart, his feet resists to move an inch and his mind cluttered with series of queries.

His mind racing and him thinking, “It was only four nights back, we spoke. You were almost reaching there, you were supposed to take the subway, you told me that you were alright, then how did it happen, how?”

With queries unanswered, He approached her body that was wrapped in white, rested, calm as ever, the face glowing in the sunshine as if a beautiful piece of art has been painted fresh depicting a deathbed.

He held her hand, wanting to feel her one last time. The unexplainable grief is so strong, he wonders why is he losing his loved ones one by one. He closes his eyes as he feels the complete darkness, the uneasiness; he struggles to breathe in his sorrow.

Piyali’s sister utters out of pain, “life isn’t going to be the same for him from here on.”

As the relatives, lifted Piyali’s body for the funeral rituals, her mother and sister burst heavily in tears.

A mother lost her most beloved belonging. No words can explain the pain she went through that moment. And there was Shubham-he could only watch the funeral procession receding, with tears in his eyes his soul felt an immense emptiness.

He could not gather the courage to see her body being consumed by the fire. He stayed there until the sunset when Pihu went to him in anger and said, “Leave, we don’t want to see you again in our life….you are a murderer.” His heart sunk, his feet trembled as he took his exit.

Time travels, people change, life takes drastic turns sometimes for good sometimes for worse but for everything which has happened in this time there ought to be a reason and there ought to be a lesson.

He knew straightaway, he had mistaken Piyali’s love as a casual friendship during schooldays.  The dearth he felt was more than the depth of an ocean. Indeed it was an untold affair. Piyali had never given him a single hint of her feelings to

Shubham. But why didn’t she express her love for Shubham, ever?

Nobody, including Shubham could ever know how silently and deep she liked and loved him. It was only when Diya revealed that Piyali would always talk about his health status and the things happening in his life more than she discussed about the subjects she studied in college lectures. She never had any boyfriend in college, nor did she ever interact with anyone else that frankly as she did with Shubham in the entire school. Once she finished her Senior Secondary schooling she disappeared in a blind hope without letting Shubham know about her feelings, only hoping that someday he would understand and bring her back.

“How could he understand Piyali?” Shubham was impatiently searching for his first love then which wasn’t her.

For all these years, Shubham held himself responsible for Piyali’s tragic incident. His tears would gulp inside throat as he swallowed every blame he could take.

He just kept sinking with only one question in mind, “Why to Piyali? How could this?”


PART 4

The Accident–13April, 2004

So how did this tragic accident happen?-I desperately needed the answer and I knew Shubham will break his core if he revealed that part.

It was only left to one person then-Purnima had the answer. So I dropped a message on her facebook messenger on the last day of my stay in the islands and after three days of wait Purnima replied with whatever she could iterate from the year April, 2005 when Shubham met Purnima for the first time and told this which Diya Menon had narrated, a day after Piyali’s Funeral.

“On hearing from her sister that Shubham was going through a long illness due to his mitral valve ailment, Piyali could not resist herself planning to meet Shubham who was back in the islands. She called up Shubham at around 7.40 pm, on that fateful night“.

Hello! Is that you Shubham?

Yes Mam-he replied as dull as he was very tired after having taken three consecutive training batches.

You recognize me, my voice? – Piyali wished he would guess it right.

Sadly, it turned negative.

Nope! Sorry I didn’t.-Shubham replied.

Oh …you forgot me na? – This must had been demoralizing for Piyali and to make it worse, Shubham hung up the call.

Few minutes later, she called again…”hey you! I am Piyali”.

Ok but I don’t recognize you mam…..Shubham was so tired, he wished this could be last headache he wanted that day to end off.

“Listen Piyali mam, can you please tell me who exactly are you and who gave you, my number?”…an angry Shubham finally blasted her off.

Piyali was shattered a bit…she was silent for a minute, as Shubham held the line waiting for a reply.

As Piyali gathers courage to reply….something struck in Shubham’s mind…and then Shubham almost yells out–“Oh o…I m sorry…its Piyali Das -11th RBV Arts, right? I am sorry dear…it’s you …how could I be such a fool, not recognizing your voice….don’t mind. I am so tired after a long training schedule”.

Never mind, dear…Piyali ignores his partial dementia but she felt happy.

“So, whats up Piyali? You disappeared like the extinct species”-Shubham asked as he felt happy to be talking to his ex-schooldays batchmate.

First tell me, how is your health? Are you taking your meds regularly for the mvps?- a much concerned Piyali inquires him.

“I am coming to the islands in a day or two…I want to meet you”.

Shubham was taken aback by the information Piyali had about his ailment and the health stats….and to know the answer he asked Piyali…

“Who told you, I am unwell and about the mvps”.

‘Although Shubham’s mpvs-a mild ailment of heart, wasn’t serious, but Piyali used to get scared by the thought of someone having a heart ailment has she lost her father due to similar ailment of the heart.

It’s not important, who told me…instead tell me, are you feeling well now? Listen, I am coming to meet my family and will see you too– Piyali never wanted to let him know her actual purpose, else Sbubham would have advised not to travel for a silly reason.

Piyali converse for next two minutes.”-I m starting from my room. Will reach by 11pm to thirusulam station, will get down and take the subway and check-in at the airport by 11.30pm probably.” —and then Piyali bids a goodnight

to Shubham for that moment.

On that fateful night, as Piyali reached the Thirusulam station-opposite to Chennai International Airport, by train. She found the subway closed for repairing work.

“Piyali had turned brave and bold enough to travel at night in Chennai.”

It was around 11.20 at night. The only option left for Piyali was to cross the highway in front of airport to get to the other side. Crossing that highway was too risky at night…vehicles were driven furiously at above 100kmph.

Piyali was waiting at the edge of road opposite to the Airport terminal, so that once the road cleared off trucks and busses, she would cross.

In few minutes, she found there were lesser heavy vehicles…one or two probably at around 200mts distance. So she decided to cross the broad highway..

But her trolley-bag got stuck in the sands alongside the road. She turned around and lifted the trolley and again turned right quickly, to cross the road.

Sadly, one of the mini-van loaded heavily with cargo had gained momentum by then and Piyali’s judgment for crossing the road without noticing it properly, went completely wrong.

….and then,

“Bang! The mini-van had hit her by the time it applied the brakes in full.”

The vehicles stopped, the witnesses there gathered her damaged trolley and the handbag she carried from a few meters from the spot and without waiting for any ambulance took her to the nearest hospital. Somebody was quick enough to find her cell phone that she had kept inside the trolley instead of the handbag. That person had called up the number that read “Friend for Emergency”.

It was Diya’s number. Diya who had fallen asleep by 11 pm, received the call on second time when her cell rang. She was shocked and in panic.

But she was a paramedic too. She advised the caller to press the bleeding spots hard with some cloth and guided them to the Traumacare hospital 8kms away from the airport.

Diya left her hostel in no time, leaving a message to her warden about the accident and to Piyali’s sister to call back.

At around 12:15 AM, Piyali was admitted to the Trauma center. She was in very bad shape. She looked disintegrated. The impact from the front meant she had succumbed to serious injuries on forehead and chest. Her right collar bone, the femur and her right arm were all fractured. She was bleeding profusely.

Diya reached the hospital at around 12.55AM. As she was a paramedic intern, she could sneak into the OT where surgeons were trying hard

for Piyali’s survival but the vitals were just not good enough then.

At around 08 AM, doctors have shifted her to the Surgical ICU. Piyali was wrapped in bandages everywhere as if a woman hasn’t lost her husband but was forced to wear the white saree forever.

Piyali was lying immovable and senseless in the ICU fighting with the cruel time that was never to be defeated.

Piyali would have never imagined in her worst dreams, that one day her anxiety, love and care for the person she loved the most will distant her away from him.

As Diya wiped her tears every now and then, doctors consoled her. They did whatever they could. The senior surgeon had mentioned Diya,”Call her family, she can anytime…leave us.” Diya broke down on the floor as she howled. At times, Time treats us like a butcher’s knife. ‘No Mercy at all’.

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