The Smell of Rain.

“Aah! Love the smell of the first rains…It’s so simple yet feels so warm like the earth is hugging you…”Laila said entering the room. She tried hard to close the old umbrella but failed. She threw it behind the door. “How long have you been waiting?”

“You haven’t changed…” Said Kunal, “You still get joy in little things. I hate the smell…I ”

“Yeah.. I remember you feel as if someone put soil in your mouth…” Laila laughed.

“Times like these are so strange…They often take you on a trip to memory lane.” Kunal sipped the hot brewing coffee and looked out of the window. The droplets touching his face and wetting the papers on the table didn’t bother him.

Laila went closer to Kunal and stood beside him. “The wind feels so refreshing and wild at the same time. It messes with my hair but the moment it stops I start missing it.”

“You don’t miss him?” Kunal looked straight in Laila’s wide eyes which were looking at the dancing trees. The smile on Laila’s lips was about to fade. Her eyes were about to give up the thin tear forming but then she smiled even brighter. Her eyes glistened as she took a deep breath and looked at Kunal.

“I sometimes wish that time should stop in some beautiful moments. The moments where I feel truely alive. Moments were I forget about the world.” She went close to the window glass and wrote on the fogged glass with her finger…Vijay.

“But the times you wished did the time actually stop?” Kunal turned his back towards Laila to hide his tears. He cleared his throat. “We wished many things…But…”

“We cannot get everything! Life is a story of getting and not getting.” Laila still smiled. “Why do you hide your tears? It’s okay to cry Kunal.”

“It’s been like six years Laila…Six years since the three of us haven’t played as a band. Why is it so hard even after so many years?”

“You remember last time we played…You almost fought with Vijay for the lyrics!”

“Yeah…” Kunal finally looked at Laila and smiled, “and you slapped both of us. He stormed out of this room and went in the rain…”

“We dreamed of becoming the biggest band…” Laila absentmindedly interrupted, “If vijay was here in this reunion, the girls would have still gone crazy for him.”

“He was a show-off. That brat. He was so arrogant… Ill-behaved… mannerless. But still I miss him. Why did he take his bike that day Laila? Why didn’t we stop him? Why did I fight with him? I feel guilty Laila…It’s like a stone on my chest. It grows bigger and heavier each day.”

“The stone…I too was burdened with the stone. It got smaller and smaller once I forgave myself. It was nobody’s fault Kunal. What could have happened! We could have not faught that day. We could have not rehearsed that day. He is gone. But look! he is still with us…You asked whether the time stopped or not…It did for me Kunal. Can’t you hear us singing, fighting, laughing…Rainy days like this, our guitars, the hot tea from the canteen and this music room…”

“And the smell of the rain…”, Kunal closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Time stopped indeed”.

The Tumble

“You seem tensed son…What is that paper you are holding?” Viraj’s mother asked with concern. She couldn’t walk properly and crippled as she walked pass the door.

“Mom!”, Viraj stood up from his seat and held her mother, “Why are you still up? It’s already two…I told you to sleep early. Did you take your medicines?” He quickly folded the paper and put it into his pocket.

“I saw the lights were on…So…I am worried about you son!” She couldn’t hold back her tears any longer.

“Mom, come have a seat”, he made her sit on the sofa. He sat beside her and held her hand.

“You are my strength Mom and if you break down like this I ….” He reached to his pocket and took out the paper. He unfolded it and kept it on the table.

“Divorce?! Is she really doing this?”

“Mom don’t..You know this was coming,” Viraj sighed, “Please..I… Let’s get you to bed…We will talk about this in the morning… Okay?”
Viraj took his mother to her room. Made her take the pills and put her to bed. He sat beside her brushing her hairs until she was soundly asleep. He turned the lights off, took out a cigarette from his pocket, grabbed the keys and went to the terrace. He went to a corner and tried to light the cigarette. The terrace was dark. The bulb fused about a year ago but nobody in the building cared to replace it. The wind made it difficult for Viraj to light the cigarette. His fingers were not cooperating either. He had anxiety issues and his fingers trembled in stress. Finally he succeeded in the fourth try.

With each puff he realized how useless and futile his living had become. His fingers trembled badly. He couldn’t grip the cigarette properly.He let himself cry finally. He met Aditi his wife in medical college. They were good friends and till the last year were a couple. They married the way they wanted…It was grand. Life was going well…The perfect family…Perfect marriage… Their practice seemed good…But then it happened. The accident. The accident that ruined the perfect life. While coming back home from the hospital, Viraj’s car came in front of a lorry. It happened in a fraction of second. The driver lost his life then and there. Viraj was critical for about a week. The accident gave Viraj the anxiety to live with but took away his chance to become a father ever. The practice eventually came down. Aditi was not able to handle the stress and their marriage was not perfect anymore. These thoughts kept coming back and forth in Viraj’s mind until the cigarette burnt his fingers.
Suddenly he heard a sound. It was definitely coming from the terrace but from the other side. He rushed to inspect. He could only see a shadow in the darkness. He got closer. It seemed someone was standing near the edge of the wall leaning down. Suddenly it appeared to Viraj that someone was trying to jump off from the roof. He wasted no time and grabbed the person with all his strength and pulled towards the center.

“Hey! Dude…What’s wrong with you?” It was a deep but annoyed voice.

“What were you trying to do? Suicide is an offense and never an option!”

“What? Seriously…What?”

“Weren’t you? Okay but…”

Both of them panted and probably were hurt.

“God! My phone and keys fell on the lintel of the window while I was looking down. I tried to reach it. That’s it.”

“Hey…I am really sorry. You live in this building?”

“Yeah…Its been about two three months I guess.”

“Umm…I am sorry mate. But it really wasn’t a good idea. It could be dangerous. You could wait till the morning. The guard will fetch it. Don’t worry.”

“Yeah I know. It wasn’t a great idea,” he paused, “would it be alright if I crash at your place…You know the keys are..”

“Sure man… Absolutely!”

Viraj took the man to his apartment. The man seemed younger than Viraj. He was dressed up in a very casual manner. The hairs all curly and a long beard.
“So this is my home. Be comfortable. Mom is in the next room so try not to be loud.”

“Hey what’s this?” He casually picked up the divorce papers.

“Hey!” Viraj snatched the paper. “We have just…You are a stranger…Behave like one!” Viraj was furious. “So what’s your name?”

“Shantanu and you are?”

“Viraj…Dr. Viraj…”

“Oh.. so doc do you have something to eat…Actually anything would do. I am starving.”

“Yeah and you are bleeding too.” Viraj pointed towards his bleeding elbow.
Viraj brought him some leftovers and first aid. Shantanu was a very talkative person and just blabbered till dawn until they both were dead sleep. Shantanu told Viraj that he was an aspiring writer. He was all alone in the city and his parents didn’t support him. Shantanu was working as an intern in an online channel after getting rejected from many firms.

When Viraj woke up the next morning Shantanu was not in the room. Viraj went to his mother’s room only to find Shantanu and his mother laughing loud and munching on the fries. Viraj was happy seeing her mother laugh. It had been a while since her mother laughed so carefree. Suddenly the door bell rang. Viraj opened the door. The watchman stood holding a phone and a bunch of keys.
“Sir, Shantanu sir?”

“Yeah I’ll give it to him. Thank you”.

“Hey you got the keys! Thank you man.” Shantanu came from behind. “Hey Doctor! Good morning.”

“Good morning Shantanu. How are you feeling?” Asked Viraj.

“Good and well fed for a change”, he chuckled. “Your mother is a sweetheart. Now I think I should leave. It was great meeting you…Thanks for having me!”

“Yeah, same here. Actually Shantanu…umm…Feel free anytime to come here. Mom would enjoy your company very much.”

“Thanks dude. Bye”.

Viraj and Shantanu gradually became good friends. The divorce finally took place. Viraj and his mother were getting over the change quite well. And Shantanu did eventually get a publisher for his first novel. The novel was a hit. Shantanu threw a success party at his apartment. He invited all his novelist friends. The company people. Some people from the apartment and Viraj.

“Hey the party was fire dude.” Viraj went up to Shantanu after the party was over. All the people had left. Shantanu requested Viraj to help with cleaning.

“Yeah. You enjoyed yourself?” Asked Shantanu clearing the empty beer bottles from the table.

“Hmm…After a very long time I should say.” Viraj sat on the sofa smiling to Shantanu.

“Hey how is your practice going? I mean..”

“Quite well actually. I mean the anxiety returns sometimes but it’s fine. I am fine.”

“Good…I am glad.”

“What now? New story? You thought any plot?” Viraj stood up to clean the balcony.

Shantanu also went to the balcony to help him.
“Yeah…Its about a writer who…” He cleared his throat, “who fell in love with a doctor!”

Viraj froze at once. He looked at Shantanu with astonishment. Shantanu went close to Viraj held him and kissed him passionately.
“Shantanu behave…I am not…” Viraj took his foot back and pushed Shantanu.

“You are not like that. I get it. I wanted to just confess my love. And I have one more thing to confess…”

“What?” Viraj asked softly.

“That night I was actually about to jump from the terrace. I was broken to the core. Nobody was ready to publish my novel…My parents were embarrassed of me and…”

“Shantanu I am sorry but I cannot.”

Viraj came close to Shantanu. He held his hand and hugged him tight.

“Hey you need not to be sorry. You saved me. You gave me a new reason to live. I cannot ask for more. I am leaving for New York tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know what I actually feel about you.”

“When will you return?”

“I am not sure. It could be a month or a year or more than a year.” He sighed. “I think you should leave Viraj. Its late…I haven’t packed yet.”

“Yeah right…Bye..” Viraj took his coat and headed towards the door.

“Viraj…” Shantanu called from behind. Viraj looked back. “Good luck dude”.

“Good luck to you too.” Viraj smiled. “And don’t tumble off any terrace or roof top!”

“Yeah, your advice my command Doctor!” Shantanu chuckled. “And…I’ll be fine …Don’t worry.”

The Pain.

‘Sir, your name?’

‘John…John Thomas.’

‘What year Sir?’

‘2018.’

‘Thank you Sir, you may proceed.’

John walked past the entrance with a heavy heart but a smile on his face. The place was beautifully maintained by the keepers. The lush green bushes, the smell of the seasonal flowers, the chirp of the birds, the cool breeze…Everything was peaceful. He walked through the cobble stone road to reach the grave. He held the flowers he brought in his hand and smiled at the grave.
He remembered how 8 years ago he decided to end his life. John was going through a very difficult time at that point. His job was at stake, his savings were down with the crashing stock market and his love of life was being married to someone else. He only had his father with him who was mostly ill. The other support he had was his 2 year old dog, Pom.

He remembered the night when he took all his pills which were prescribed for his depression. He remembered losing himself with each passing second. He remembered the faint visuals and the faint barks. He remembered waking up the next day in the hospital bed. His father sitting beside his bed and crying.
‘What have you done my son!’

‘Father…I was…’

‘Pom saved you….And saved me.’

The neighbours had heard Pom barking aggressively. They had rushed John to the nearest hospital.

‘You don’t know John…I could not have lived without you. You cannot imagine the pain. The most unfortunate thing for a parent is to live with the fact that their child is no more! Thank God you are alright!’

He remembered how his father kissed his forehead and prayed for his long life. John’s father died that very year due to the chronic illness.
But still John was glad that his father was able to witness his prosperity. That year John had started his own startup which was a huge success.
He now wept as he looked at the stone on the grave.

‘I now know father…The pain you were talking about…You were right! Its unbearable but still I have to bear it everyday till I die.’
He kept the flowers on the grave and left wiping his tears.
The stone read…
‘ POM (2008-2018).
Boy.. You’ll always remain in my heart.
Love Dad.’

Fifteen years of pure joy.

‘It’s just a dog!’, some people would say.
‘He is my brother…Tuffy Chakrabarty.’ I would shout at them.

It has been almost three months now that he has left…left forever. He left us on 2nd Nov 2018.
I know I could not hold him back forever but I know that I would hold the memories till my last day. It’s really difficult to believe that I cannot touch him or feed him or pet him. It’s sometimes difficult to breathe. You feel so heavy that you have to sigh. The pain around your throat when someone’s around and you want to cry out loud but you can’t. It is indeed difficult.
‘That’s why I don’t have a pet…it’s painful when they leave…’ people say.
I agree it’s painful but the pain is far less then the joy I would say. I know I am crying writing this piece. But somewhere deep down I have kept safe the happy moments our family had with Tuffy. Tuffy was around two months old when we adopted him from the streets. Sunita Masi who used to work in our house brought him to us. It was 12 Nov 2003. I was in fifth grade and my elder sister in seventh. I remember when I first saw him ticks were running all across his face. Tuffy was so fat that time that we called him ‘fatty’ but then dad pointed that what if he looses the weight. Dad named him Tuffy after dad’s favourite bowler from New Zealand. Thus was named my fifteen years of pure joy.
Now you must be wondering that this seems fun. Well sometimes it wasn’t. We never wanted Tuffy to be in chains. He was Indian Street dog and they don’t want to be chained but his naughtiness complelled us to do so. He would enter our neighbours house and eat their food. He once ate and defaecated in a neighbour’s house and need I say how furious the person was. Eventually when he learnt what’s wrong we let him roam without the chains. He would run around the colony, fight with other dogs, play with some of them and when was tired would scratch our door to get in. We would vaccinate him time to time, bathe him frequently (which he didn’t like at all) and sometimes even dress his wounds. Tuffy liked fighting I guess.
During those mating months he would be gone for four- five days. I would be worried thinking what if he doesn’t come back home…what if something happened to him…I would cry for him so much and every time he would come back on the sixth day proving my all ‘what- ifs’ wrong. When we brought Tuffy there was no internet or cell phones and thus we knew very little about how to do anything. Tuffy ate human food (which is in many ways may be harmful for dogs) and when we came to know that our food is not safe for him and tried to give him boiled unseasoned food but he didn’t touch it. He always demanded what we had.
My boy was not so brave but naughty enough to hunt sparrows and rabbits. Pom his friend would join his naughtiness and often both of them would land in trouble. Tuffy would tear currency notes, run away with shoes, chew furniture and destroy cloths.
In his later years he was as energetic as a pup. He never stopped to pick up fights. My dad had a transferrable job and so we had to move to different places. Tuffy moved with us to all those places. He loved to travel…he loved to explore new places or I should say mark new places…and most of all he loved to make new enemies.
People often ask whether I would get another pet since Tuffy is gone. Tuffy was more like my baby. I fed him, I bathed him, I cried when he cried. In his last few days he was unable to stand properly. I would support him and make him walk. He wanted to walk badly but he himself could’nt. It broke my heart each time he fell. It broke my heart each time he cried to pick him up. He eventually gave up food. As adviced by the doctor we ran some blood tests and the results were extremely painful. His kidneys were not working. I called up his doctor in trembling voice about the reports. We discussed about the last resort which was dialysis. But the prognosis was poor and Tuffy was too weak to take up the hastle of long queues and painful procedures. We continued the fluids for few days. Then one evening when I was all alone in the house watching television and petting Tuffy I thought of auscultating his chest. I took out my stethoscope and heart his heart sound and breathing sounds. They were perfectly fine. I kept the stethoscope aside and continued brushing his fur with my fingers. After a minute or so Tuffy had a convulsion and suddenly everything was so silent. I palpated his heart and could feel the beats slowly disappear. All I could feel was my heart pumping hard. I still don’t know what I was feeling. He was gone and I knew that but I just kept crying and calling his name. He didn’t respond.
I often feel empty and often find myself crying. I sometimes want him so bad, I want to pet him…Touch him…Feel him. Its hard indeed after he left. Would I get another pet? Yes I might. My boy has a special place in my heart. He was my baby. None can ever take his place but Tuffy taught me many things. While growing with him I understood what trust, friendship and love is. And these are not just terms… they need to be felt and made…These words need a chance! And if I could give that love to someone again…Make someone trust in me again ….Make a lifetime friendship again, then why not.! Yes it will break my heart again…Yes I would be left empty again but what about the life I would give that someone. Tuffy enjoyed his life to the fullest. He visited places, ate good food, made new friends (and enemies) and made others happy. Why would I not give another soul the chance to be happy? I sure need sometime to recollect my broken pieces now and till I am not fully ready for the responsibility, I do need to wait.
So go ahead. If you are in a place to give a soul a happy life don’t let the chance go away. And I ensure you that the love and happiness you get in return in insane. Do your research…Know your responsibilities…Know your limitations and get ready for the journey.

And please adopt…Don’t shop!