“… hence Aniketha defeated the demons and saved his kingdom not just with his inhuman talents and intelligence but also by the unconditional love of his wife Lavanya. Her love and devotion for Aniketha were the reason of his victory. Their love story remains in the memory of thousands who witnessed the war between good and evil and ever since have been passed down to children like you…” that’s how granny would end the story-the same story she had told me more than a hundred times.
My interaction with granny was not too often. I would meet her for few days. But she had been my childhood best friend. She was someone I always looked forward to meet.
“Granny, how could he fly without wings?” the little me would wonder.
She would smile thinking how well to answer me. Now when I think of her smile, I feel there was much more behind it than she showed.
“Well, but haven’t you heard the phrase –“until you believe in magic, you cannot see it”
The little me would nod with so much curiosity in those small eyes.
“So, can I also fly?”
“Why not? You can do much more than you think you can” granny would reply followed by “now you better go to sleep. If you want to come to clinic tomorrow you should sleep well.”
My granny was a doctor in a far off village. I remember, my mother always hesitated to send me to granny’s, she felt anxious and worried whenever I spoke of going to granny’s.
“I want you to be with granny always. Don’t move around on your own. Don’t go here and there. Don’t eat anything without granny’s knowledge.”- She would say a long list of do’s and do not’s.
Then my father would come in between, smiling at my anxious mother, “you know, your mother is much stronger than you believe. There is no reasons to be worried” he would pat her shoulders.
The lost memories of people who were once my happy family crosses my mind sometimes like now. I closed the book I held letting the memories rewind.
“Mamma loves you”, my mother had said hugging me before getting into the car. I waved at her not realising that was the very last time I could see her.
Then everything was just brief and blur. I saw my father in despair. He seemed very sick. I was sent to our estate bungalow. Then I was shifted to some other place. I was told granny and mother were dead in an accident and dad wants some time to recover from the loss. I did not know how to feel or react. I cried and cried till I forgot the actual intensity of missing my family.
The routine remained same thereafter. I ate and went to school. Maids would prepare food and driver would drive me to school. Tuition teacher was sent to home to help me with studies. I was taken care and looked after but none of them made me feel at home. The big room designed for me haunted at nights with its loneliness combined with mine. I suffocated in the middle of the nights with the memories running back and the dreams that pulled into the world of horrors.
I missed my father. I hoped he missed me too. But he kept his distance from me. Now when I think of it, I understand why he must have done it. I guess I just remind him of my mother. Me and father meet rarely. In fact very rarely. It’s been almost three years since I met him last time in Kolkata. Our conversation was brief and formal. To be honest I did not have much to say to him other than asking how he was doing. It was kind of awkward. There was a time when I eagerly waited to meet father and would call him begging to meet me. That was almost 12 years ago. Now I know, both of us have lost that precious connection of father and daughter.
I don’t know if my father is remarried and have another family or what business he does or where he is settled .But he is my only family to hold on to. It must have been hard on him too- losing his love of life, I understand, but he should not have abandoned me this way.
Back in those days there was only one thing that gave me hope and courage- the story of Aniketha and Lavanya. The story comforted me in many ways. I don’t know if that’s because it brought me the memories of my good old days or because it said everything will be fine in the end.
Ever since fate separated me from my family, books have been the only source I find life in. Reading is my only escape from reality. I forget rest everything. I have tried all sorts of books starting with fairy tales at age 6 and covered all the genres- science, maths, history, fiction, comics, horror, adventure, non-fictions, auto biography, self-help, tour and travel guide, religion, spirituality, mystery, romance, health, dramas, journals, poetry, fantasy, trilogies and series. Out of all the things what fascinates me more is the fairy tales and fantasy.
My choice of reading fairy tales really bothers my only best friend, Sahana. She thinks I am nuts to read such childish things. She sometimes jokes around asking me to go through an IQ test and confirm I own at least an IQ of my age. Actually I too feel it’s kind of out of style to read them but I can’t help liking them.
I have tried writing the story of Aniketha and Lavanya with a different ending like “Lavanya and Aniketha lives happily ever after” than loosing Lavanya to death. I strangely connect its sad ending to my parents love story. I do not want their child to be like me, away from Aniketha, after Lavanyas death.
I have no worries other than my personal life. My father takes care of everything indirectly. I could have been a complete spoilt child if not for my reading habits. I have chosen to stay in the hostel since high school for not having to sleep alone in nights. I did not want to be the princess of a rich castle where I was not loved.
Staying in hostel was one of the good choice I made. I met some of the children like me – children who lost their loved ones, children whose parents divorced, some had been looked after by uncle and aunts and many more. I think everyone have their share of sorrows in life. Hostel life showed me people with poor financial background struggling to complete their education, people pressurized to score very good scores, people who came just to enjoy college life. Looking at them all I feel my life is not so bad other than the agony of missing my family.
“Are you reading or simply staring at the lines?” Sahana came drying her hair with a towel.
“Hmm, kind of doing both” I replied turning the pages to read where I had stopped. Actually I was not ready yet to start with another book. I was still in the world of fantasy novel I finished the day before. Its influence was stagnant on my mind.
“What happened to that vampire in the end, you were reading yesterday? Did he marry her?” she asked picking up the electric drier from her closet.
“Yes, and they even have a baby” I said with a flash of satisfied smile.
“What the… how can they? I mean you told he is not alive like normal people, that he is undead and he has no blood and tears… well he must be really very manly” she said, shock replaced by humor at the end of her sentence.
“You never know, magic always happens” I said winking an eye at her.
“I don’t know how you even feel like reading such things that makes no sense at all.”
“Well, you try reading them once, they actually make sense” I kept the book mark inside and closed the book in my hand.
“Do you actually believe in the existence of such people?” she asked seriously this time.
She rarely shows any interest in novels and stories I read, and I really don’t want to miss giving an impressive reply.
“My granny used to say- ‘until one believes in magic, he never finds it’, I believe something beyond our knowledge exist on this earth just how normally we are existing.”
“Hmmm…”She said moving the drier all over her head and that seemed funny.
“You going anywhere?”
“Yeah going out”.
“Okay, come soon” I said heading towards the hostel garden where I usually go for a Sunday walk.
“Are you giving a seminar today?” I asked Advaith. That was a simply a reason to speak to him. It’s not that I get to speak to him every time.
“It looks like I should” he said. His answers are always brief. I wish he can say more and I can get something to continue the conversation without being obvious that I am interested in him.
I understand, he is just tired of all the attention he gets from the opposite gender. It’s been 2 and half years in Degree College with he being my classmate, I’m still not able to make a move more than the status of ‘just friends’.
At first, all the girls in the campus had an eye on him, in fact even now they do. He has an appealing personality, adding to it were the fame of a rich heir followed by the influence his father had on the college authority. I hated the entire combination in the beginning. In most of the stories I read, it was the recipe of disasters.
But you know opinions changes with time. I fell for him when he alone fought the group of guys who were teasing a girl in the bus stand on the central market road while people stood watching without coming for help. I had gone to buy the books, I don’t know what he was doing in a place like that where rich people do not even of think of coming to.
I thought he was my first human crush (as I had several fictional character as my crush before) and crushes are not meant to stay longer. But this stayed for more than a few months and the intensity of likeness increased day by day.
“I am asking you something” Advaith called out smiling widely.
“Ah? Yeas, what’s it?” shit, he said something and how did I miss it ….
“Why were you staring at me?” He asked. Did I? I’m so embarrassed. God, why am I always not able to make a good decent impression on him? My ears become hot and head empty to reply him.
I looked at him in the eyes and he was already looking in mine probably waiting for a valid reply, but I was busy enjoying the depth of his eyes, the brown colour of iris, my own reflection in them and the immense desire to dive into the ocean of his dreams behind those eyes that I shamelessly forgot to answer him.
He slowly touched my shoulders and I was brought back to the present condition of where I was, I scratched my head, covering my full tossed embarrassment. And that touch of his was flame on the ghee. I don’t know if that’s how everyone else in love must feel. I felt like I was melting away.
“It’s mmm… I was thinking something” I blurted out. He looked at me like I am crazy and then gave a wide smile followed by soft laugh. Oh! That smile… so adorable. Am I supposed to feel so? May be its all the effect of enormous reading from romantic novels.
“You are unbelievable” he said smiling.
The lecture was on designing a buttress wall, I had to concentrate for the sake of internal which is three days away. But the memory of the morning incident was rewinding & replaying in my head.
I was ashamed of my fickle mind. That was very foolish of me to behave. What he might think of me? That I am a crazy, out of mind girl hopelessly trying to flirt with him? No… no, that was not I was doing but it may be how it looked.
Sahana elbowed me softly, I looked at her to ask why she was signalling but before I realised, I had become the centre of attraction of the entire class. Everyone was looking at my direction, I had no idea what I did to attract them in the middle of a boring class. And this lecturer obviously was waiting for anything to screw me up with and this was one of his chance.
“Yes Ms Megha, you were saying something, could you tell that loudly so that we all can hear your insight on the subject?”
Oh god, why should it be me always in this lecturer’s class…?
“I dint speak to anyone, sir” I said politely.
“In that case, were you speaking to yourself, I saw you speaking” and the whole class felt it funny.
“You did not even hear when I called you 3-4 times, which world are you in?”
“Okay, how about you giving a seminar next week on next chapter?”
Was I actually talking to myself? I don’t remember, but I have the habit of speaking on my own unknowingly. I must really be crazy. I nodded to him and the class continued.
“What were you thinking in S.K’s class?” Sahana asked in the leisure time.
“I don’t remember” I said sipping the lime juice.
“Really? You were staring at Advaith and saying something.”
“Ha? Did Advaith see that?” I was shocked.
“Guess no, but I and S.K caught you glaring at the hero” she laughed remembering how I looked.
“Please stop Saha” I said trying to ignore the blush that heated up on my cheeks.
“That smile you give whenever we speak of Advaith is so obvious, I cannot understand why he is not able to get that smile of yours”
“what are you talking about…?” I tried to stay cool, that’s how you pretend with your best friend.
“Stop acting Megha, I know you well. But be careful in S.K’s class. He is revenging because you rejected him.”
I let out a sigh, “that crazy lecturer, what he saw in me to propose? He is young and handsome. He will get a beautiful bride, then why me?”
“Because you are beautiful” said a male voice from behind. It was definitely Advaith’s voice. I turned back in utter surprise but he was too far to hear our conversation or to be heard from there. I smiled at myself. I have started to imagine things already.
TO BE CONTINUE….