Sai was clutching his tummy and almost rolling over the floor. Well, laughing. Anybody who didn’t see his face would easily assume that he was having a fit of spasms. His hehehes and hahahas reminded me of a monstrous but cute creature like Shrek, guffawing at a joke that may be only he found utterly amusing.
“Sai,” I called. He was too busy laughing to pay any attention to me.
“Saaaaaaaai,” I screamed, “Now what the hell is up?”
“Oh, here comes our Ms. Moody Memsaab,” he spurted out between giggles, “hehehe..hahahaa”
His whole body shook without any hassles, like ‘laugh laugh, no trouble buddy, am there with you to see through it all.” I stood there with my hands folded, waiting for the uproar to die down. As I did, the jumbo- bimbo’s laughter that spiked and slowed alternately, finally sloped down to a much desired silence.
“Now, could you for heaven’s sake share the joke?” I scorned.
Puffing and panting, Sai lifted his left hand and pointed at Ashok, who sat at his desk, facing his computer.
“Ashok,” he paused gulping down a piece of unavoidable laughter, “our dear handsome man seems to have had a great day.”
Sai shot a glance my way to see if I was responding. “Hmm“I nodded. “Whatever happened?”
“Arrey yaar Purnima, tu itna tube light be nahi ho sakthi hai!”
“Yeah right, you talk everything else other than what you are supposed to. “
“Aww..K, “he said and cleared his throat, as if on the verge of making a crucial announcement, “let me get serious,” he paused, “and not laugh, err and be precise..”
“Our romantic hunter went chasing his favourite bird with rosy dreams and the bird hopped away saying it already had a mate,” he grinned. “Our man proposed with all the romance of a love stricken heart and she told him, Can I ask my fiancé and let you know?” “hahaha, kya slap maara!!” and laughed again.
“Sai, that’s hardly funny!” I said sternly. “Why waste moments laughing?”
“Waste? Naah my dear lady,” he said, “it definitely made me feel better,”
“How unjust Sai,” I retorted, “you feel happy at someone’s expense!”
“That’s not the way you see it, Purnima,” he said meditatively. “I am just lightening up the heavy mood.”
I looked at him and sighed and moved to Ashok’s place.
“Hi Ashok,” I called out softly, “been a bad day, has it?”
“Well, yeah, didn’t expect things to turn out this way,” he spoke, words dribbling out like drops from a soaked sponge. Sadness oozed out from his voice, grief was smeared all over his face.
“Am not going to say it’s alright,” I spoke, “it takes time to get over but I know you will, someday.”
That assurance came readily from me until later when I wondered whatever made me say that. Can you get over something like that with time? Can I even make a claim to have been successful about it? Jesus, no! It’s tough and a struggle, and it hurts, hell of a lot.
“Thanks Purnima,” I heard Ashok say, “It felt good to hear that,”
“Now let me strike a blow to the gloom that’s settling in this work area,” Sai came announcing. “Let go guys, just learn to let things go.”
I smiled, hopelessly.
This man, Sai, Sairam was my immediate boss but to an outsider I suppose it would least seem that way. His heart was as big as he was. You could seek emotional refuge in him and be assured that your tears aren’t wasted. Feeling good? Go to Sai. Feeling utterly dismal? Speak to him. He always had the heart to listen, an unmatched ability to heal. I ought to be grateful to Sai. He tore open the cocoon of silence that I had spun around myself after what happened to me a year back. I suffered from what I may call a ‘loss of love.’
Do you know how it feels to be in love? I am not launching into one of those obsessed, heart wrenching, and utopian discourses on it. Love, I think, is plain, simple and beautiful. It fills one with awe, happiness and fulfillment. But, isn’t there always two sides to a coin? Haven’t we all heard of how love hurts? Few friends have told me that this perspective is farce. It depends on the way one sees it. Losing one’s love, however immature it may sound, hurts. It is like a thousand pins shooting down your heart leaving it bleed in agony.
When I met Shyam for the first time, I never knew love had come knocking. We met at a common friend’s party, started going around and things began to take shape. It reached the climax when he proposed to me on my birthday last year.
You know how it is when you have found the person of your life. You start weaving dreams, literally, thread by thread. And finally, one fine day, someone walks through the door and shreds your fabric to a million pieces and your heart lies shattered like shards of glass strewn devastatingly over the floor. That’s precisely what happened with me. As much easily as he breezed into my life, he slipped out, only that this time, he left a big emotional scar.
You can’t brush away the man just like that, can you? He left me because he couldn’t face familial pressures and finally yielded to it, married some other woman, leaving me alone.
I refused to show any signs of interest in marriage following that and much to the despair of my parents, moved away from Pune to Bangalore. Fussy I sound, don’t I? But I believed that change was a big healer.
The ad agency that I work with and the people around me sprinkled hope back into an emotionally deserted terrain, my heart. And suddenly, at some point in time, I felt I was standing like a fool, trying to leap from one cliff onto another, fully aware of a deadly chasm in between. Sounds cryptic? For all that seriousness in that statement, there is a dose of humour in it too. Laugh it off, horrors and horrors, I realized I was falling in love again -in love, with the man who had just then lost his love.
Ashok joined me over tea the next afternoon.
“Feeling better?” I asked.
“Hmm, just alright,” he said, flatly.
“Guess what Purnima,” he continued, “I truly felt like an idiot yesterday. I mean, it was bizarre. I actually felt burnt up, it that sounds any close to how I felt.”
I nodded, blandly.
Ashok looked into my eyes and I searched in those misery plagued ones, helplessly for love, for me.
Later that day, Sai walked into my cube to inform me of a client meeting.
“Sai, what would you do if you loved a girl like nobody’s business?” I asked him when he was turning to leave.
Shocked, dark silence, broken by a sheepish grin.
“I wouldn’t even tell her!”
“Come on Sai, stop kidding,” I screeched.
“Can we catch up on this during a late evening walk?” he requested. Suddenly, I felt like the boss. (Grin!)
Sai had grabbed a handful of popcorn from God knows where, when we left for a walk. After a string of useless talk, I desperately tried to drive him back to the point.
“Answer my question,” I said.
He nibbled away the single popcorn thoughtfully.
“Well, tell you what Purni, I would really tell her some day. When, I have no clue, I would do it just when it seems right!”
I smiled; Sai and his pretence of orderliness and problem-solution crystallization; Clever, quickwitted, funny and yet, thoughtful and immeasurably kind.
"But, I will tell you another thing," he continued, "I wouldn't care if she liked me or not and wouldn't sink even if she said a no!"
"To me, it's the feeling that matters, and it's just that! which is what I have always told you, ever since we met."
I kept quiet. What he said was true. This is a lesson he had always preached to me for months now.
"So," he startled me, "Let's come to the point. What's running in your head?"
For a moment, I felt like I had a transparent head; as if he could see through everything.
"Sai, I think I am pathetic."
"I think I am falling in love, all over again! With a man, whom you would least imagine."
"Ashok?" he asked me plainly while I looked on, dumbstruck!
"Sai, What the hell! How could you? I mean how did you..for heaven's sake, I tell you.." "Holy shit, you are too much!!" I spoke, broken sentences.
"Now tell me, how did you ever come to know?"
"Magic, magic.." he smiled and walked ahead.
I pulled him by his sleeve.
"Tell me Sai," I persisted.
"At the risk of sounding cliched, but definitely to tell you the truth, I could see it in your eyes."
And I thought I had cleverly avoided leaving any evidence.
"Do what your heart tells you to," he said and walked off.
Ashok. How was I going to tell him? Wouldn't he think I am a moron, who just advised him big time a few days before and now comes to him with a silly proposal? How stupid!
After two horrifying days and restless nights, I went up to him.
"Tea?" I proposed.
Over tea. The usual exchange.
"Ashok, I got to share something with you."
"Hmm..You like someone, don't you?"
"Mighty God, how did you know?"
"And I also know who it is.."
"Well?" I paused.
"Sai, isn't it?", "He loves you man, he told me that once!"
I just felt like a loose end, yet again.