Bruises

She looked into my eyes and said,
What never before had anyone,
“You’ll suffer one day for what,
 You’ve done to me for your fun”.
The words and the moment in my mind,
Are fresh as today’s morning dew,
The thorns she sew on my path are there,
And bruised I am in places few.
I remember that night as a moment splendid,
One of happiness, joy and laughter,
Though she never came to know,
Why I did what I did after.
The steps we took together in that hour,
Her right foot, my right foot, her left, my left,
Are the marks which still lie inside my heart,
Though she had long ago it to rot left.
I remember the moment when I held her hand,
A rush inside my nerve,
Time however spilled like a fist of sand,
And I didn’t see her beyond the curve.
She comes in my dreams sometimes and says,
What I did was wrong, I accept that in fact,
And I pray to God to take me back in time,
Only so I could keep a few things in tact.
The day she left me was the day I died,
And a million times have I died since then,
As from a high branch of some forlorn tree,
Falls the nest of a silent wren.

Shaena – Chapter 5

[5]

A morning of January. Cold, dry and silent. It had been eight months now. Nothing much had happened in this interval. Shaena and I had not been talking since that night, and except for the moment each day when we crossed each other while entering the class, she didn’t look at me, and neither did I. I had assumed that it was destined to be so. Only if it was!

The computer lab gave us a chance to come on talking terms again. It was there that we said ‘Hi’ again, and pretended as if nothing had ever happened. She probably must have felt that it was the appropriate thing to do. I tried to behave as normal as possible. “So which book are you reading now?” I asked. “The Namesake”, she said. “Oh, you know what, the boy at length realizes that it doesn’t matter what his name was. Moreover, he starts reading the book of Nikolai Gogol his dad gave him on his birthday.” “You weren’t supposed to tell me that,” she said. Deja vu.

Things turned normal in a few days. We talked as and when needed, not more, not less. “The rains will come and they will go. But you can’t afford to get wet in it every time, can you?” she said one day. And for the first time, I understood what she said.

As our class had a small strength, talks of Shaena and I getting back on talking terms spread. People hardly knew why we had stopped talking, yet they seemed happy when they got to know that we were talking. We never talked of that evening. Shaena had left the coaching classes six months back, so there was no chance of such a repetition. Things went pretty normal for some four months. The day’s brightest before dusk, they say. Something similar was to come.

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Shaena – Chapter 4

[4]

There were reasons why my friends said that I liked Shaena, though I never gave much attention to them. For example, when they asked why her name in my contacts had double quotes enclosing her name, I had no answer for them. And surprisingly, I had no answer for myself. “Go and tell her, how long will you continue this way?” they used to say. “Tell her what?” used to be my regular reply. They stared at me and went away.

We had our board examinations, after which we were promoted to the eleventh standard. Whilst most of my friends had left the school for other schools, I decided to carry on in the same. Coincidentally, Shaena had decided the same, though we had never talked about it. I went on a leave from school for a week, to attend a marriage. Her regular calls convinced my cousins that there was something fishy. How much ever I tried to explain, they wouldn’t understand. Whilst we were returning, something happened. It was nothing great, nothing momentous. I was moving from one platform to another. Since the path was a long way to go, I decided to get down on the track, and cross the width. Whilst I was on the track, (no, no train came and hit me), she called up. I could have crossed the tracks, moved to the platform and received her call. Instead I received it then and there. When I reached the platform, my cousins stared at me. “So you say you don’t have anything to do with her?” they said. I realised almost instantaneously that I had been lying to them, and to myself, for a long long time.

The twenty-third of April of 2008 will remain in my mind for almost the whole of my life. It was the day that changed everything. Shaena and I went to the same coaching class. Topics for the IIT syllabus were covered there, of whose I didn’t understand a word. While returning, Shaena and I chatted all the way. Suddenly she asked me, “Who’s your girlfriend?” I was startled by the question, not because I never got such questions, but because I hadn’t expected it at the moment. I said, “No one”. “There must be someone who you love, right?” I was in a fix. I couldn’t tell her that it was she, for I feared losing her friendship. I couldn’t afford to lie, because it would be very apparent. Plus, I didn’t have much time to decide. “Tell me,” she insisted.

After two minutes of silence, I spoke up. “I’ll tell you on one condition. When that girl gets to know this, she shouldn’t stop talking to me. Nothing should get bad between us.” She promptly said yes, though I knew this promise was not meant to be kept. I said softly, “I love you,” so that no one else would hear. Okay, I had done it. I had said those three words for the first time, and I had no idea what was to come next. She took it rather calmly, or pretended to be calm until we departed. She asked “Are you serious?” for about ten times within a minute. And when she realised I was serious, she said nothing. Her house came, she bid goodbye and left. And I waited for the night to end, not knowing what the morning had in store for me.

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Shaena – Chapter 3

[3]

“There lies the garden, full of flowers and grass. You can see it and please your heart. But at the same time, you might as well pluck the flower and keep it with you, because today or tomorrow it has to die, be it with you, or be it on the plant. And similarly, you need to cut the grass and keep it at your feet, for otherwise you won’t realize what is underneath.” A pause. I tried to grasp in the words she said; I had already told her umpteen times that I was poor at English, and had asked her several times to speak straight, but no, she reveled in her speech, in her flowery language, and had succeeded in confusing me for the thousandth time. I said plainly, “No, I don’t understand,” and she replied in return, “Only if you would!”

Shaena. There were things about her I would never have known, if not for our sole common friend, Khurram. That she had a boyfriend, that she was not at all the girl she tried to show in front of others, and that she intended to use friends for her advantage, were few of the various accusations that I had decided to dispose of the minute I heard of them. In fact, I hardly cared about who she was. I wasn’t intending to spend my life with her, nor was she, and the seven hours of school that we spent together would have had no effect on me, whosoever she was. So I decided to let everything go the way it was going.

By the end of the year, we were good friends. We did not care about what people said when they saw us walking together after school, it hardly mattered to us when they was a rumor of something going on between us, and we decided to forgive the boy who said she was my slut. Everything was going well. Only if were destined to be so!

“There’s a light which will shine on you every time you do something good. There’s another light which will shine on you every time you do something bad. It’s up to you to decide which is the light that shines, whenever you do something.” Another nonsensical blow from Shaena. When would she ever learn to speak straight! We were at the canteen waiting for our lunch to arrive. Whilst she sipped coke out of a glass bottle, I stared at her eyes which never stopped moving, they spoke so much. It was a tinge of brown in black, which suited her to the utmost. She was pretty, very pretty. And the next moment, I decided to go buy myself a drink lest I do anything extremely foolish sitting there.

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Shaena – Chapter 2

[2]

It took me a can of Coke to convince our class monitor to ask the teacher to shift me to the seat beside her. He got it done, and now I sat two benches behind. Things had changed a little since the first day. She did not sketch flowers on a sheet anymore; this time she was reading a book, probably a novel. She used to keep the book on her lap, and her head on the desk, and continue to read for the whole day. She didn’t care about what the Physics teacher said about thermodynamics, and she didn’t know that the Maths teacher had already started with trigonometry. The only time she raised her head was when the teacher called out her name, when she took attendance. Once I asked her to pay attention in class lest she’d probably might miss some important topics. She looked at me, said nothing, and returned to reading her book. And as she put her head down on the desk again, it was the first time I noticed her hair. It was auburn and black, and they were untied, with three clips cleanly placed at equal distances. And that was the first time I felt something, which I wiped off almost instantaneously.

There weren’t probably many reasons I could present for my urge to be friends with her. She had her set of friends, with whom she laughed and jabbered, and I had my set of friends, with whom I stayed for the majority of the school hours, and after school as well. She didn’t attend classes one day, and I assumed she was ill, and when she returned, she had a new book with her. When I asked her why she was absent from school, she smiled and said, “I woke up late,” after which she returned to her new book. That was the moment I realized what I had to do to be good friends with her.

The next day, she came in, took her seat. And she was pleased by what she saw. For I had a book in my hand, a novel. I had decided that the only way we could connect was to talk about fiction, and novels, and not studies. She seemed quite interested, and asked me which book I was reading. I said ‘The Alchemist’, and she said, “Oh, you know what, the boy finds the treasure under his own house.” I pretended to be angry and said, “You weren’t supposed to tell me that,” and she laughed. I looked at her face, forgot everything for a second, and then laughed along. This was just the beginning. We started talking. From books, we went to authors, and styles of writing. She would do most of the speaking, because I had no clue about that. She would speak of poetry, and how a ballad was different from a sonnet. She would compare O Henry with Wordsworth, and I would pretend to pay full attention to what she was saying. Meanwhile, the teacher finished with topics I had no clue of.

Two months and we were good friends. Our topics of discussion now changed. She would talk to me about how her yesterday was, and I would say the same. We exchanged numbers, just in case we ever needed them. And thus the foundation for our to-become-close-friends was laid.

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Shaena – Chapter 1

[1]

The dust on the ground raked up, and amidst the dust, I could only make out that she was coming towards our classroom. I was sitting on the first bench, because I considered that prestigious, until later I discovered what the back benches had in store for me. She came inside, and I saw her for the first time. It didn’t feel awesome, in fact, I felt nothing. She took the seat beside me, probably because she felt too lazy to walk through the class looking for other empty benches. She wore a hairband, and a thousand clips on her hair, which kept them intact for the rest of her life. If I’d start counting them, it’d take me an hour probably.

Classes started. And whilst I religiously listened to the teacher, took down notes, and chewed the end of my pen to eternity, my eyes continuously kept cornering towards her. She hadn’t her notebooks out as yet, all she had on her desk was a sheet of paper, on which she drew flowers, bigger flowers, and big loose petals. And then she put her signature on every possible inch left on the sheet. That was how I got to know her name. Shaena. But that was not a momentous occasion for me. I hardly cared who she was and how her friends called her. I did not care whether she sat beside me or not. In fact, I did not care who sat beside me, as long as both of us minded our own business. And she was quite likely to this fact. A brief smile when she sat down first, and then we got busy with our work, I taking down notes, and she, sketching on the sheet of paper. The bell rang for recess, and when we returned she was sitting two benches behind me.

Shaena. A soft-spoken girl, I hardly ever got to listen to her voice in the first few days. Seldom she would interact with other students. She came, she sat, she left. It was only in the Biology lab that we both shared the same desk. This time it was not coincidental, we were seated roll number wise, and ours were consecutive. I frequently asked her doubts, just to hear her speak. But all she said was ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and seldom ‘I don’t know’. And after a while, I stopped boring her with my unnecessary doubts, of which I had none.

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