Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017 Longlist Vani Manchanda


"Face me. Make me
listen to the truth,
even if it breaks me.
You cannot Judge me.
Love me.
If you're hating me,
Do it Honestly."
-- Kelly B. Clarkson 

And there she is, standing all alone today. She is all dressed in white, beautiful as always, but today the charm is missing from her face. All one could see are tears of her eyes. Tears, because she didn't do what she could have done. Tears, because she didn't do what she should have done. And I am truly helpless. At this moment when she needed someone, I possibly couldn't support her. I told her many a times to not to cry when this moment came, but I think all of it is in vain. Though, I've heard a lots about how crying out lightens your heart and how it helps loosen your worries, still I feel that crying is never a solution, and that too when you know that you cannot deal with some specific problems. 

I always try to get this into people's mind that problems should not be treated as boulders on the way, rather they are the teachers, which make us learn how to get rid of boulders that might await. According to the theory of Darwin who proposed that it is the fittest who survives, the one who can tackle the problems on his way, survives in this cold world. Problems will come, changes will occur, but we have to remember that nature changes, that change is nature, and that the only thing that is in our hands is we ourselves and nothing else. So, we have to just keep learning what our lives want us to learn. Because, sometimes it's not all about just living... 
And there Lavanya  is standing all alone today.


It all started four years back, when I used to study in eighth standard. It might look astonishing that I am writing about such a topic at such a young age, but as I have always mentioned that this life is full of surprises and I really have faced many of them. Moreover love has no age. Yes, it's about love. She was my classmate. She was my soul mate too. She was almost five feet five inches at that time, taller than me. She was a little dark in color with a large forehead which ended in bright and deep eyes. I could have stared into them all my life. She had her perfect gait. And we both were in a relationship; the only tragedy was that we were not in a relationship with each other. She being with her guy for more than a year then, and mine was just a fleeting one.

I don't even remember when and how I fell for her. It was just like I knew her from class sixth. Those were the days when we had a pretty strict class teacher, and we used to obey everything she wanted us to obey. One of the rules were to be seated as per she wished. A boy with a girl. And again it wasn't me whom she used to sit with, it was my best friend, Kunal. They both used to sit on the desk behind mine. While Kunal and me were pretty good friends from the day we met, it was not very often that I talked to Lavanya. I just so clearly remember the first time that we talked. 

It was a science period. It has always been the science period which has commenced new chapters in my life. Our class teacher, Ms. Gupta was on a leave due to some surgery. As usual I was without a book and so was my desk mate, Ananya. While Kunal and Lavanya, both were having one. So, Kunal came to my place and I  went and sat with Lavanya. The moment was magical. She was just trying to concentrate on what was going on in the class and in doing so, she left my concentration broken, forever. Her eyes were just gleaming pieces of gemstone. It was like I was on a tour of heavens. It was like every part of my body danced in joy. It was like some kind of current was being induced by her. It was like love, pure love. 

I was able to utter only three words, often considered to be magical, "I Love You". 

According to a great writer, love is the purest form of energy that exists in this world. It's only that we misjudge it and underestimate the true potential of what lies in the depth of love. And that day, it was the first time that I was able to feel it's real power. The energy was traversing all through my body. "I Love You". I don't even know where the words came from. Moreover, I don't know where the guts to say those words came from. 

"Sorry?" Yeah, this was the word which brought me back from my world of fairies. For once I changed the topic. I wish I wouldn't have, I wish I would have gathered some more guts and told her what I was feeling. But, as it is said, that some things do not happen, because the time hasn't arrived yet. And I am a true believer in signs, that this life provides you with. 
I didn't talk to her on the topic for the next few days. But slowly and steadily, somewhere our bond was building. I was feeling it. Then one day, I confessed. It was early October, less of a usual day. It was raining cats and dogs, which doesn't really happen at that time of year. She was standing by the window of our classroom. Nobody else was there. I slowly walked to her and said,"I am in love with you". My heart beat must be echoing in the empty class. She uttered,"I know."

Some kind of excitement ran through my body. But I wish I would have heard her completely before getting too much excited. She continued," I know you love me by the way you stare me, by the way you talk to me, but sorry for you, I am already in a relationship. And I love my guy too much". That was exactly when I came to know that she was in a relationship and that too since a year. Hopes shattered. And then the usual, that happens. First the sadness came in, total emotional break down, and then it faded away by the feel that I can still be getting her. After all, who knows what life has in store for us. But somewhere inside my head, I knew, that nothing is going to work out now. Still what harm could I have faced in trying. Moreover, the girl was worth a try. Ah! Today I wish I hadn't decided so. 

We were normal friends once again. I didn't thought it would be that easy. But she was really a cool girl. I mean, she even used to respond to my random flirting. I remember it was her birthday in October. Out of surprise, I bought no gift. I belong to a family which merely earns four square meals a day. Any other purchases would have generated stress on the monthly budget. 

But, somehow, I handled the situation pretty well. I offered myself as a birthday present. "Take me, as I am, take all I have. Take my heart, make my life your own. I wanna live with you, I wanna live for you." She just smiled on this. The smile which was worth millions for me. The day was special, at least, for me, it was. One more month passed. It was like time was flying when I was with her. Our friendship grew stronger. I made a girlfriend. Her name was Tina. There was nothing serious with her. We both wanted to have a little fun in our lives. So, we decided to date each other. I used to tell Lavanya about my life. She used to tell me about hers. And with all this going on, we always managed to have some sweet romance. She still wasn't even considering me as an option.

The rumor about a boy and a girl hanging out together spreads like fire in the forest. We started getting asked if we our dating. The answer was of course a "no". But, in all of this mess, I sensed that she was starting to get attracted towards me. What else could have I dreamed of!

It was December, December 2010. The month which is the most significant in our little history. Fifth of the month was the date of her relationship anniversary. But, that fact isn't that much significant as the twenty third of that month. Our winter holidays were going to get started. Our science period was going on, when she told me. What she told me, was a little hard to digest. I was left dumbstruck at that moment. She had got a break up from her guy!! She wanted to get mingled with me. I wasn't able to believe it at once. It was like dream come true. Twenty third December, the day when it all changed, forever. Our "under the table leg chases" became more romantic. Our eye catches became longer. Our sweet talks went sweeter. Everything was just golden.

But, the golden era didn't last long. Happiness is something that the Gods missed while writing my destiny. 

All of it ended. All of it crashed. Exactly after three weeks of such a beautiful time, on thirteenth of January, it all happened. It was a science period, it had to be, she told me that she hadn't got any breakup. That, it was all just a farce. That, she was just playing with me. She was playing with my heart. I think I must have cried for hours before I gained back my senses. And then, the obvious happened. I stopped talking to her. For almost ten days, we just looked at each other, neither she said anything, nor did I. She wasn't even bothered, I think. I hope, I would have understood this at that time. But as it is said, some things are just ought to happen. 

Moreover, it was the first time, anyone ever made me feel what friendship means and how it feels when you enjoy your life. It was the first time that I fell in love. So, I got back to her and that too in only ten days. I started calling her my sister. It took all the pain in the ass to do that. We started talking again. This time, I didn't flirt. This time, I didn't want to get her, because I knew I've already got her, not as a partner, but as a friend. This time, I was more of myself. 

She fell in love with me. Though she didn't choose to confess at that time. After all she was having a guy. Having a relationship, makes your life more of a jail. And that's what forced us to move away. Probably his boy friend wasn't too comfortable with our friendship. 
We parted, this time slowly and viciously. There wasn't much pain. By march, we were already on our own ways. As we advanced in class ninth, there wasn't much of talking. That's exactly when I became sure that we are not going to be comfortable with each other again, not then, not some time later, never. Still, to serve the thoughts within me, I waited, I waited for almost three  years in the hope that she'll come back. She did come back. Yes, she did, just today.

And, there Lavanya is standing all alone today. She is all dressed in white, beautiful as always, but today the charm is missing from her face. All one could see are tears of her eyes. Tears, because she didn't do what she could have done. Tears, because she didn't do what she should have done. And I am truly helpless. At this moment when she needed someone, I possibly couldn't support her. 

And there she is, standing all alone today, in my funeral ceremony.

 My mother always says that we come to know the true worth of things and people only when they are gone. I wanted to test it myself. She is right. Mothers are always right, you know. And as a great writer has once written, it's not like today I face all this because of what happened in past, it's because I chose to redeem what happened in the past, by making the full use of my present. Even if it leaves me with no future.

They say that the hour of death can't be predicted. Death can come to you any moment. But when they say this, they think that this hour of death is locked somewhere in distant future. It never occurs to us that it can hit us any day, even today. 
But after all this, her tears tell me, that she'll never let me die, I'll always stay alive in her heart. I'll breathe through her love. I'll feast on the memories that are left behind. 
Love makes you immortal.

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