Saturday, 15 August 2020

Hiya Shah, Short Story 2020 Longlist

Conspired Coincidence


Dressed in a shimmery black gown tucking along my waist lines. I slid my lightly painted toes, softly, into the cold black pencil heels that cost me a fortune at the downtown. I scrutinized my eyelashes in the mirror, although being artificial they felt so real.

My tympanic membrane encountered a slight knock on door and as I twirled to open it, I found him standing right there, his left hand, admirably, in his formal suit's pocket and the other, embracing a bunch of roses within his fingers.

He bowed down to lend it to me and I borrowed it with a swift smile and nudged my fingers around his arms and we walked, ensemble, towards his ultra-luxurious car standing right beside the gates.

Apres years of texting on Social Media he finally managed to ask me out, It probably was a date, it probably was a not one. He had always been a closest amie of mine, so sharing a tasse of coffee and a bundle of laughter during office hours would never seem so awkward but today it was just the deux of us at a fancy 'no label dinner', I choose to not summon it as a date as some emotions were yet unconveyed.

It all occurred a peu months ago, a little scrolling on social media and hours spent before the computer screen, struggling to find a medium to reconnect.


And, so I encountered an old close friend who luckily had his number stored in one of her slam books, if it would not be for my ego and anger leading to burning of a few pages, I would have possessed a lot more than just his number.

I remember nudging my best friend to tidy up her entire armoire to dig a single archaic diary and introspecting every single page of the ones found just to come across a few inches of his handwriting.


Ankush Sanghavi, the page at left hand side proclaimed, a few words scribbled by him next to a photo of his, young yet charmant.


With a deep breath, I typed the digits on my keypad, 98...... The ring resounded in my ear ossicles, yet no voice on the other side. I sat across the arm chair, my phone placed aside as I closed my eyes, and my desk vibrated, it was his number, blinking on my Iphone's screen.


I stood up with an urge, and clasped my hands on the phone cover.


"Hello," Said a deep voice, I felt it closely associated yet miles afar.

"Allo, Could I speak to, An... ankita? Elle est la directrice du firm.... I am currently working in, I got this number from our ......team leader," I blurted out.

"Desolee, I guess you dialled it faux (incorrectly),"

"Oops, So sorry,"

And I hung the line, sorrowfully.

And my phone rang again, I brushed my eyes to read the caller Id and subsequently slide it excitedly.

"Allo Kaira...Koko, la est tu(is it you)," My name on his lips took me through a memory tale, which I long lost track of, the phase of my life I spent admiring the world through a rose tinted glass.

Each syllable of his words was tickling in my ears, and swiftly sliding me through a memory lane, I once abided by. Minute tears of ecstasy swooshed in my eyelids.

"Oui, elle est(Yes),"

"Je m'appelle Ankush"...and he took a pause

"Ohh...Ankush, d'ecole(from school), Ankush Sanghavi,"

"Yupp, So how's life KoKo,"

My lips stretched out into a wide sourire, as I felt my nickname on his breath, it threw me on a path entangled with nostalgia.

"Tedious yet thrilling. What are you pursuing,"

"I am a Software engineer, and currently residing in the IT capital of India,"

"Bengaluru, exotic,"

"Miss.Kashyap, how is your life tuning,"

"I am pursuing Software Engineering dans une IT firm in South Bombae,"

And so the talk was stretched to a time span longer in comparison to what I had anticipated it to be.


So, this simple phone call, which he fathomed to be a coincidence, rather it was a trick conspired by me, led us to sharing social media handles. It all commenced with hours of texting, under the warm blanket of night, dispensing the sunlight of the day to hours being thoughtfully wasted on phone calls.

It did go really smooth, just like the hot piping coffee, we would often share during office hours, and one day he poured in a surprise by summoning that he would be coming down to Mumbai and he was inclined towards meeting me in a casual cafe.


First, I burst with excitement but subsequently, the realization slowly yet steadily drooped onto me. What if he was eager about persuading towards a step beyond, what we currently are and probably complicating everything all over again. It wasn't that I didn't like him, but I was in the phase of my life where I didn't want to add the ingredient of a serious relationship in an already messed up salade du vie(salad of life).


Mais, we did meet, at a Cafe alongside Andheri. And as I encountered him, a protocol graved in my nervous system, which I, like an as**ole, toujours suit(always follow), interrupted in and I became nervous and awkward all over again, blurting out rubbish and abashing him.


For a few minutes it was brutally awkward, with him staring at me and me eyeing a wall brimming with wooden frames, and memorising those quotes..."Who needs a boyfriend...when you have Wi-Fi and pizza." It felt true, whenever I read it but today it didn't


"Is it really this awkward," And he finally broke the ice.

"Umm," I minced.

"C’mon KoKo, we know each other quite well. Okay...do you remember the school days, when we used to tease you with...." He began.

"Yes, even I recall a lot.... associated with golden twigs, I guess you liked golden hair girls a lot, “I grinned

"Finally, Glad at least we did have an exchange, I didn't wish to return displeased," He gobbled.

"Yes...Ankush, you were keen to unravel something?" I enquired.

"Yes, I....,"

My heartbeat paused, and my bouche stood wide open, my fingers crossed, me muttering the line 'Please don't make this complicated,'

"Don't look at me as if I am going to say, I love or something, “He disclosed.

I smiled with a nerve freeze.

"I am moving down to Mumbai,".

My lips froze for a split second, but managed a smile and congratulated him.

"You won't believe how difficult it was pour moi to keep it a secret from you, since the second I found about it,"

"Where are moving in exactly,"

"Actually, I am placed dans your company's team of senior managers,"

"Oh...Wow, toute du luck," I grinned avec a naughty smile.

"So, we will be working ensemble in a few semaines, how does that sound,"

"Intriguing," I replied. "That means I'll have to handle all your mood swings for eight hours in a row that mounts to forty-two in a week,"

"It won't be that bad, I’ll be bearing your inner sloth bear as well, or probably a Koala, you do resemble one,"

"It's not a cup of coffee being in my shoes, I adore my sleep way too much and a normal man requires 9hours of sleep daily for a proper metabolism,"

"Yes, and a sloth bear requires fourteen, no wonder you are one," And we collapsed into a laughter.

And that's how we spent the entire evening sharing all that we had been through in the past five years and laughing our hearts out. This single meet led us to where we are today.


*****************************************


The restaurant was a romantic heap at the sands of Mumbai, expensive yet a sublime one, the entire garden arena seemed to be reserved and hence occupied by only the two of us and a whole lot of red balloons which made the breeze slightly more abashing?


I recall the school days when we used to be the best of friends (We still are, but today it seems to be slightly beyond friendship) and share our tiffin, infinite memories contained in a span of vingt(twenty) minutes, who knew we would share the same salle too.


I recall the jour he confessed himself to a friend of mine, and I was found weeping for hours within the porte de salle de bains(washroom doors), with just my besties around, I couldn't summon the downfall nor could I prevent it. It was just bubbling out of all emotions that kept venting in my heart.


I knew today would be the day, he would make the move or probably negotiate saying he loved someone else and I would occupy my hours with tinder dates. As expected he did direct a teeny tiny box towards me, a ecstatic grin spread over my facial muscles as I opened and my heart broke all over again.


It didn't contain a ring instead a few random friendship bands, Why the heck? Did he really love someone else and just wanted to bury the emotions emerging from our hearts?


He perhaps read the thoughts battling in my brain and pulled himself closer to me, with a grimace.

He translocated a twig of my cheveux (hair) behind my ears, and clasped his fingers on my shoulders, gently yet firm. I felt his breath against my ears, cold yet fragrant as he whispered a few words in the hollow of my ears

"These may seem ordinary, but they are treasures I possessed and preserved all these years. For you they may be a few random friendship bands collected, but for me they are the only memories of you, that clung to my bosom all these years,"

He pulled out the violet one, and a lips stretched out, wide, on my face.

"Remember, you once inquired whom was this bracelet pulled along for, today I am revealing, who does it belong" He said it so silently, forcing me to interpret the mots his lips carved. With an acute pause he continued breathing out the words "It belongs to you."

"Every year, I would bring a friendship band for you, believe me, I would always store the best one. But unfortunately, I could never bid enough courage to tie them on your narrow wrists. And so since the age of twelve till twenty-two. I kept collecting them. With the hope of perhaps meeting you once and sharing these deadly preserved secrets with you. We didn't ever meet after 12th, yet I decided to follow this trend year by year."

I didn't utter a word, but crept an inch closer. I could feel his breath on my temples, as I rose on my toes bursting into a bubble of laughter.

The chaotic laughter may be noise for those around, but it was rhythm grooving in heaven for his ears like a sound from heaven but it slowly drowned to silence, as he bent his knees and trans-located his lips on mine.


He took a step behind and held me by hips mumbling a few words within my ears.

"Did the director of your firm,' Ankita', ever exist,"

"She was the fairy who conspired our tale,"

"And, fairies do not exist,"

"They do, pour moi,"

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