Band-Aid Covers the Bullet Hole..

Excerpts of dialogues between friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends…

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[Guy talk]

“Friends with benefits should be a legitimate option in India.. Look at us- we’re 26 and still are not used to the cruel ways of love. Yahan ke logon ko heartbreak ki aadat ho jaati hai by the time they are in their twenties. That is the healthy way of living life..

“Oh please, do you want to give girls more avenues to use the “let’s just be friends” dialogue?! No ways! No friends, only benefits..”

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[Girl talk]

“I think sex is over-rated”

“What? How can you say that?”

“No, seriously. I think it’s not as big a deal as people make of it”

“I’m sure it’s not but you haven’t even done it yet- so you never know!”

“Exactly! I haven’t even done it yet but I still know I’m going to get bored of it in a few months..”

Turning to friend’s fiance : “I feel sorry for you man, really sorry!”

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[Mush]

“I think love is like friendship with two shots of espresso topped with two scoops of chocolate syrup!”

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[When Harry met Sally..]

“I think we should just be friends for now..”

“Isn’t that supposed to be a girls-only dialogue? You cannot infiltrate our territory like that!”

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[Ex-files]

“My ex-boyfriend just sent me his wedding invitation card.”

“Oh? Sooo…you’re going?”

“Going? Seriously?! What do you want me to do – go on stage, congratulate him and his wife, shake his hand, pose for an awkward, corny picture with them, and act all dignified while the whole time I am imagining myself dunking him in sulfuric acid?! NO! I’m not going !!”

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[How to Scare Your Mother]

“Do you know there’s a vaccine for cervical cancer now? I was speaking to Dr. Bhidaye and he said you are a good candidate for the vaccine. You should take it when you come to India.”

“Why am I a good candidate?”

“Coz the vaccine is most effective if you take it when you are unmarried..”

“Unmarried? You mean if you are a virgin right?”

“Huh?!”

“I’m sure marriage has nothing to do with it. I guess you have to be a virgin to be able to take it?”

“Usually, the assumption is that the two are inter-dependent… But the world is changing, so…”

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[Arranged Marriage 101]

“Dude, however cool he may be, the fact is that no Indian guy is going to marry an Indian girl who voluntarily has a tattoo!”

“Are you trying to scare me?”

“No, but I’m just telling you to be prepared.. You signed on for a very difficult life..”

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[Good girls finish last]

“You are too nice”

“Awww… Thanks ya, that’s sweet..”

“No, no. Listen to me- you’re too nice”

“And….that’s not good?”

“No – guys don’t like nice girls! You need to grow some horns!”

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[True Story]

“I know this may seem like a rip-off from the Jerry Maguire dialogue but the fact is that you had me at ‘Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam..‘ Seriously..”

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[Teen-ache]

“Yaar, I am in trouble. I try to be mad at him, I want to be mad at him. I get mad at him too- like really, really, really mad- the maddest I can be! But it all goes away when his stupid, smiley face flashes on my cellphone when he calls..”

“You need a new face; or honestly, you need a new life.. Join a dance class or something!”

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4 AM Miracle – Not !! :P

2:42 AM : Wake up – realize I slept off in the middle of a movie again, with the lights on and my visa documents sprawled across the bed under me – Dammit – not again!

2:44 AM : Tinge of guilt – people like me are responsible for the coal reserves depleting.. Ufff…

2:45 AM : Might as well check on the visa dates while I’m awake

2:47 AM : Yayyy !!! Showing 16th – finally! Let’s do this..

2:50 AM : Fill out details and hit Next – wait, where did Mumbai go?! Mumbai is not showing in the list of VFS centers !! Where did it go?!

2:51 AM : Re-enter info and now Mumbai showing but only 20th Dec available – what about the earlier dates!? – Kya ho raha hai yaar !!

2:55 AM : I should call the VFS people..

3:00 AM : On line with Mrs. Chattopadhyay on the VFS Hotline – No, I don’t know if her name is Mrs. Chattopadhyay, but she sounds Bonglo-bhashi.. 😛 Oh what the hell.. I like giving nicknames to people.. You know Eddy right- No? That’s my name for Edward Cullen – I think Eddy suits him better than Edward in any case.. 😛

[Random Thought 1]

Whenever I am speaking to like a customer care person in India, I never know whether to converse in Hindi or English.. I mean, there is a moment when the person says “Hello?” and I am actually thinking – do I reply with a “Hello” in the English-English accent or the Hindi-English accent?! I know they know English, but it’s this weird mentality that speaking Hindi might develop a feeling of comradeship with me and hence, maybe help me get my work done sooner! Weird, huh!

3:01 AM : I say “Hello!” with the Hindi-English accent finally.. Mrs. Chattopadhyay answers my questions, but that does not help a lot! Check VFS dates in front of her and now they show 15th open too- but no 16th and 19th! How did that happen?!

3:07 AM : Hang up the phone. Maybe I should write something.. Stare at blank screen for 10 minutes..

[Random Thought 2]

I wish I could concoct up random stories in the middle of the night- get inspiration from the rustling trees and the gushing winds and eerie moonlight and the soulful silences and allow my thoughts to flow miraculously through space and time and then, there’s one magical moment where everything comes together and a story is born.. – 4 AM miracle or whatever – but nope, doesn’t seem to be happening with me..

3:22 AM : Call up mom instead.. Crib about the stupid online system and how I should have chosen to go to Delhi instead !

[Random Thought 3]

I want to visit Delhi man – and hopefully see uncle-jis in monkey caps at weddings! 😛 

3:32 AM : Check VFS – Now showing 15th, 19th and 20th, but no 16th – Seriously! 

3:35 AM : Stare at screen again – Okay, I’m going to give this a shot – the night is beautiful and I should write.. 

So a guy in a train – mid 30’s, hot (of course!), staring out of the window, looks like the type of person who knows his destination but just for today, does not want to do the expected.. Towns swooshing by – Mellow Valley, Hicksville, Cripple Creek.. Train pulls into Reddick finally and slows down – guy contemplates getting down at the station..

[Random Thought 4]

I love the phrase “Delicious Ambiguity” – read it somewhere.. But has such a nice feel to it.. I should use that in my writing sometime..

3:45 AM : Nope, no thoughts after Reddick.. In any case, this is not a screenplay- I’m getting lost in the details! Forget it, this is not the night..

[Random Thought 5]

Remembered a conversation from a day ago where a friend told me that I was a serious person – Seriously?! I just called Edward, Eddy, – how can I be serious?! Just because I write about tanhayee and life and dreams and love and loss? That is the deep side of me, but I am fun-loving and random and crazy too..

3:52 AM : Need to be at work in 4 hours – going to be a long day – hopefully the bogie workload should level itself out with constant production, but does that make sense if we are storing sets instead? Do I need to add girder manpower to this? Should find out tomorrow..

3:56 AM : Christmas presents! I haven’t bought those yet !! So much work to do in five days..

3:55 AM : Hungry, yaar! Feel like white choc mocha.. 😦

3:56 AM : Dudeee, sleep !!

3:57 AM : Last try with VFS- anyway the center will close now, so no point trying until tomorrow!

3:58 AM : Nope, no 16th yet! Forget it, worst case- I’ll take an appointment for the 22nd, after Gau’s shaadi..

4:00 AM : Do I even post this crap I’ve been typing? Contemplate for a minute..

4:01 AM : Oh, what the hell – this could be my 4 AM non-miracle.. At least it shows I’m not serious all the time..

[Random Thought 5.1]

I am not a serious person! 😛

4:07 AM : Edit and format – (I like my articles! 😛) – and post!

4:10 AM : Laptop shut down, gudnite!

Main aur meri tanhayee, aksar yeh baatein kartein hain..

It’s the same scene again- the green shrubs lined in a single file for miles on end- each row had a signboard with a name on it – Barbera, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Muscadet… Almost looked like an assembly line in school. There was that little wooden house in the middle of all that lushness – propped up on stilts with a tiny ladder to reach the doorway. The house looked like it could be blown away by a strong gust of wind, but its appearance defied its strength.. And there she was, standing at the door of the house holding one of those cowbells in her hand- she had just bought it from the gift shop as a souvenir. She was a memories-person and this trip was definitely memory-worthy.. She looked happy, really happy. Maybe it was the wine.. She posed for a picture and then reached her hand out to him to get down. And….

Her eyes opened. This was where it always ended. She knew what happened next- it had been real, after all. But it was as if someone had snipped off the tape from this point on in her mind and so she could never replay the next scenes again.. What was worse was that she was wide awake now. She checked the time on her cellphone- 4:15 AM- oh crap, looks like even dreams follow clockwork.. Why does it always have to be two hours before her alarm rang?! She had to go back to sleep- this routine was starting to frustrate her now..

She closed her eyes shut and tried to clear her mind- pictured all thoughts floating away into nothingness- a very ethereal image- but nope, no sleep. She tried imagining a curtain of the blackest black ever. Didn’t work. Counting stars and sheep had never been useful in any case. Finally she gave up trying- just kept her eyes shut in the hope that fatigue will take over at some point. It was at this point that she heard his voice –

“Ten nights in a row and you still haven’t learned eh.. Same story all the time.”, he said
“Why are you here, yet again?! I thought I had made it clear that I don’t want you in my life anymore.”, she replied, opening her eyes finally. She knew now, that sleep was not going to return.
“If only it worked that way, my dear. You forgot to teach me obedience when I was little. So now, I come and go as I please. You should know that..”, he replied wryly. His voice was careless, dry, pompous to an extent- he knew he was in control.
“Okay, have it your way then. I’m awake. What do you want?”, she asked, resigning to him finally.
“That has never been the question. You know I wouldn’t come if you didn’t want me to. So, the real question is- what do you want?!”
“For the hundredth time- If I knew, I’d do something about it, right. I seriously don’t know !!”
“Think about it, Aaliya. Really think.. I’ll give you some time while I take a short nap..”
“Seriously?! Seriously?! You want me to think while you nap? Dude, I work ten to eleven hours everyday, and am dead tired and still I get no more than five hours of sleep every night because you come and disturb me at the break of dawn; and you want me to sit and think while you nap?! I would punch you so hard if you were real…”. She was angry now, really angry.
“Ahhh stop yelling, woman! It’s such a beautiful night. Are you thinking of the past again?”
“No! I’m not. And that is the problem- the past is such a blur- I cannot remember anything even if I want to. Where did all those memories go?”
“Ahhh.. Well, blurs can be artistic. Or alcoholic too, actually. Did you drink too much? Maybe that explains the vineyards…”. He was mocking her, and was not even ashamed of it.
“No, I don’t drink that much and you know it. And yes, I remember the vineyards, but even that is a half-baked memory. The rest of it has just dissipated mysteriously. There are scenes and snippets here and there- tiny 20 second clips. A few months ago, these were a full-blown movie.”
“But that is a good thing, right. That movie made you sad every time you saw it. It’s going away. That is what is supposed to happen. Why do you want to hold on?”
“I don’t. I don’t want to hold on. But at the same time, I did not expect them to just go away. Those memories, those people were a part of the fabric of my life at one point. How can they just not be there all of a sudden?”
“The people haven’t stayed, so why do you expect the memories to?”
“No, it’s not that. I knew they would go away after a while. It’s just that I always thought that reminiscing about those days would at least evoke some emotion in me- sadness, remorse, disappointment- something. But now?! It’s just nothingness- isn’t that weird? It’s almost as if moving on was so easy..”
“Okay, now it’s my turn to say it- seriously !! I’ve been listening to you whine about wanting to let go for nearly a year now. You moved across the country because you thought that would make you move on.. And now that it has happened, you say it was too easy?! I think in some perverted way, you like the sadness..”
“Maybe we do- human nature. I think being dark and twisty feels more natural than bright and shiny. It’s comfortable. It helps you justify eating the whole tub of ice-cream or laying in bed watching soppy movies the whole day. There are too many expectations from optimistic people! It’s way too much pressure..”
“And the Gods wonder why the human civilization is doomed! You act like you have all these lives to live and your bones cannot take the burden anymore… Wake up and smell the coffee !!”
“Look- I know the speech- I am young, I have a brilliant job, I am financially independent, I have friends in my life, and interests that keep me happy.. On the face of it, there is nothing to complain about. I know I’m supposed to be happy.. But still, the picture is not complete…”
“The picture, again! My artist friend, the picture is not complete because you have decided that it is not. You draw your own painting, you decide its boundaries, you decide what you want in it, you decide the colors, you decide the theme.. It’s you, not anyone else. Ever remember the importance of white space in your art class? Too many things at one time and what you get is a mess- nothing stands out, or everything stands out. Besides, life is not one picture, it is an exhibition of all your creations- however shoddy they may be. And even an exhibition takes time to build- you do it one frame at a time.You cannot do it all, and you cannot have it all.”
“Easier said than done.. It’s like I’m driving on a freeway at a speed of eighty-five miles per hour without a GPS- and you know how terrible my sense of direction is! What if I missed my exit? What if I missed on the wonderful experiences that could have been mine, had I just slowed down or just looked at a map beforehand?”
“Fine- then take a damn exit, just for the sake of it- but before you do, be forewarned that the interesting story you are looking for might just turn out to be an interminable nightmare – are you ready for that? And enough with the metaphors, already! You’re confusing me, now!”
“All I’m saying is- how do I know that I’m choosing the right path.. It’s just frustrating thinking about all that could have been…”
“I hate to break it to you, Aaliya, but if you wanted life to be simple, then you should have signed under the “Bugs” column when God was filling out the Choices form. And even they don’t have it easy nowadays..”
“…and wait, people- they’re complicated! They love to hurt you. One day, they are your best friends, they make you part of their life, they love you and care for you and make you get used to them. And the next minute, you’re out- replaced by work or other friends or lovers.. Whatever happened to commitment?”
“You need to breathe… And stop analyzing. What could have been- no such thing. If it didn’t happen, then it could never have been. And couldn’t have been because it wasn’t good for you. And people- for every person who left, there are two who stayed and unfortunately, you only know to focus on the wrong ones..”
“So, what do I do? Be thankful for the life I have, learn to count my blessings, think about the journey and not the destination, appreciate the stars and the roses along the way…?!”
“Nothing- you just try to sleep- five hours a day is not enough.. When you wake up, it is another day. It may not be a new start, but at least it would be a new opportunity to make things right again..”
“I should sleep.. These thoughts, they just don’t go away.. But I should sleep.. Are you going to come back again tomorrow?”. There was anticipation in her voice- but whether good or bad, no one could tell.
He smiled and said, “Only if you want me to, Aaliya. I’ll come only if you want me to, remember?”