Twin Tales of Love – by Riti Chakraborty

The girl in a yellow kurti

I think I talked to you for the first time in an abandoned staircase I had begun calling my ‘home’. You had stumbled across from the other part of the building. And I knew because I would see you every day; wearing the same black jeans paired with either a white or yellow kurti, your brown eyes reminding me of how gold shone against the sun, scanning each nook of the society we lived in, maybe in hopes of finding someone as solemn and as meek as you. Maybe you didn’t. I didn’t think I would fall head over heels for a girl wearing bindis in a world full of hoop earrings. And I certainly didn’t think she would, for me, too.

I distinctly remember our first conversation. You had followed a pair of pigeons in hopes of finding their babies. I was smoking at the other end of the staircase. You had no idea. Your first question to me was if I knew I would die if I smoked too many cigarettes. I had smiled coyly. It wasn’t a cigarette. I could see your jaws tense and cheeks go pink. You had realized you didn’t know who I was, and maybe felt as if you came on too strong, giving such opinions on matters that you ought not meddle in. You almost turned away to go, but I stopped you. Weren’t you going to look at the babies you had come for? 

You looked at me, as if you were looking right through my soul. “Maybe the babies were an excuse. Maybe I knew you come here at 7:00 pm everyday after all the kids go home.” 

I don’t think I had ever found someone that appealing. Maybe I had taken you to be shy, but in that moment, we stared at each other as if everything else around us had stopped, and the only thing we felt were the watches on our wrist ticking and the heartbeat in our chests pounding. It lasted for a split 5 minutes before I realized you were gone. Vanished off into thin air. I never saw you after that. 

Love in times of corona virus

Have you ever wandered what it would be like having a relationship with a person who you’ve never met? Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

How can you love someone, when you don’t even know what their touch feels like?

You keep wandering if they smell like damp Earth on a fresh rainy evening, or like Daffodils in full bloom on a warm Spring day.

And before you know it, you start imaging how it will be when you first meet; will you shy away and shake hands and say hello, like formal lovers, or straight away run and melt in their arms, arms of a person you’ve wanted to sleep in after a long time.

Arms, face, eyes, only reminding you of the same person you talked to till 5 in the morning, when you couldn’t stay awake no more, and yet there was something that just kept, happening; talking about things you would rather not with anyone else.

So how do you go and fall in love with a person, a person who you’ve never met, a person emotionally so familiar yet physically so strange? 

When you hear other people talking about the love of their lives, holding hands while they walk, you cannot help but think about it for a split moment before you blurt ‘but we’ve had so many virtual movie dates, does that count?’ 

And you’re well aware of how it sounds like, but while for others love simply means bear hugs, french kisses and food in bed after sex, for you it means having shared playlists, random movie dates, and sending gifts through E-Commerce platforms, constantly playing IDK you Yet, by Alexander 23 because believe it or not, it’s actually been months you haven’t met, but trust me when I say you already know your first date won’t be an end.

Love Potion

A magical concoction that is meticulously brewed with rare ingredients to make your cherished one fall hopelessly in love with you. I once read so many stories and fairy tales where a fairy or a witch or some other magical creature would grant that love potion, after much persuasion, to the desperate lover boy or the lovelorn lass, so they can win over the one that they so desire.

Image courtesy vectorstock.com

The idea of love potion has always intrigued me. Fictional it may be, stuff that fairy tales are made off, but is it possible to make someone fall love with you – just a spoon of love potion to be mixed in the drink and the one you love will be yours forever. And if magical potions make love possible, it that ‘love’ really worth the effort? These questions bothered me even as a girl. ‘Mythological bullshit it is,’ I told myself dismissively, but the idea stayed with me and the many questions.

One reason could be my love for fairy tales – fairy godmothers, magic wands, fairy dust, one swish of wand making everything possible. Cinderella turns into a princess and finds her prince charming, the magic fades though and the prince knows her no more. It takes determination of the prince who had fallen in love with Cinderella and a little bit of magic, the magical slipper, to bring them together. I could live with a little magic when heart is in the right place. Often wished for a fairy godmother, or a Gennie to take me to a wonderland or even help me with daily chores. I know that’s not possible, but no harm dreaming. A few strokes of fantasy to add intriguing hues to otherwise humdrum life!

But love potions? Doesn’t that go against the rules of magic – for magic cannot make anyone fall in love with you, it says. Magic also cannot bring back the dead or change the past. Thank god love potions are just fantastical, or who knows in one of those weak moments when I was helplessly in love, I may have been tempted to try some such magical potion on the person I so desired then. For love does make you do crazy things at times!

But then, imagine my surprise, when I learnt that for many love potions are for real. There are even recipes available online that are supposedly ‘safe, simple and powerful.’ Do people really try those recipes? I hope not. I can live with food or fruits that are aphrodisiacs, but love potion goes against the very idea of love. After having loved and lost and loved again, the only thing I know for sure is that no magic or miracle or love potion will work when it comes to making someone fall in love with you or making love work. The very idea that I would need love potion to win someone’s love is kind of humiliating.  Love is magical only when it’s voluntary, for it takes a lot of effort to keep that magic alive!

The only love potion that works is the one that’s brewed within, the nervousness that we feel in the pit of our stomach in those early days of love, or the calm contentment of mature love, that can turn even a cup of coffee into love potion. Sometimes magic fades, the potion loses its power, it’s best to let go then, rather than desperately concoct some magical tonic to hold on to love that may have run its course!

Love and its old world charm

Love! We can talk endlessly about love. So much has been written about love. We have dedicated poems and songs to love. We are never tired of making movies on love and romance. From Pakeezah to Dilwale Duhlania Le Jayenge to Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Pretty Woman to Titanic to Brokeback Mountain, a good love story has always won our heart.

Of course, love has changed with time. Expressions have changed, mediums have changed. Sometimes I feel love has become more complicated, or we have complicated it by incessantly swiping right and left. The digital platforms and the mobile apps that that have brought young people from across the world closer, may have also added to the confusion. The restlessness, the uncertainty, the indecisiveness, sometimes reluctance to commit. Though these emotions have always existed alongside love, the more articulate younger generation may have only brought them to the surface. They may have also given love a bold new expression.

Many of us though still miss the older times, we nostalgically look back to our simple college love stories. Anupriya Agarwal beautifully pens down the old world charm of love that she so misses.

Anupriya with Vibhor: when they just met

The charm of older times – falling in awe of someone over a cup of tea, or a glass of water is all gone. I remember in college, during college fests – admiring someone for his pink shirt – sheepishly discussing his smile with friends and then making a big deal if he came and said Hi, we will be in touch!

Your post, ‘Love me, love me not’ reminds me of good old times – the boy who only called out the colours that I was wearing during a tip tipi top game in school, or another one that I liked to go to the water cooler with for period breaks in school.

Image courtesy food.ndtv.com

This charm of falling in love over a little smile, a small conversation, a discussion with friends is forgotten these days! All we do is digitally bombard our thoughts, likes and dislikes. Love, in those days, wasn’t even anything to do with having relationships, but to just enjoy that moment of appreciation, when someone came said I love you and ran away never to meet again. It was a glass of water and a capsule that made two friends meet, a cup of chai was all that it took for two people to get married and rest well is history!

Thank you for taking me back to these lovely memories. Words will always swipe my heart away.

When love came calling

A lyrical prose

When love came calling the young girl peeped out of her bedroom window and saw the tall high school boy pass by on his bicycle. She didn’t know his name, but she knew she loved him. “One day he will look at me, one day he will know how much I love him, and we will be together forever and forever,” she dreamt.

But one day soon the boy left the little town, never knowing the girl or her love for him. The girl would look out of the window for hours and sigh when her dream lover would never show up. For he may never know, but he was her first love and it saddened her little heart to know not where he was. Then one day the world beckoned, the young girl left her little town for a new city, for new friends, college and lure of unknown.

When love came calling, she looked up from the book she was reading in the college library into the eyes of her class topper. They walked hand in hand in the beautiful rocky campus, spent hours under the quiet stars. He was the first man she kissed on a beautiful moonlit night. “He’s your one and only love,” she heard the stars whisper. College was over soon, they kissed goodbye with a promise to meet again.

They did meet in a new city, with newer dreams. But while she dreamt of love forever, he dreamt of freedom, of love without shackles and soon he tossed her heart away. It hurt, she cried and cried for many nights. “I can never love again,” she thought.

When love came calling, she walked up to a young man outside a movie theatre. They watched a film together, enjoyed a quite meal. She thought this was love, he thought he liked her, but love was too complicated. Though he told her so, she kept hoping and dreaming and loving with all her heart. “We are so good together, what more can he want?”

She gave him love; he didn’t want love. Gentle he was and very charming, one day he gently tossed her heart away. “What did I do wrong? Why do my love stories forever end in tragedies?”, she asked herself while she cried her heart out. “I am done! Love is a mirage; it can’t lure me anymore.”

When love came calling, he smiled upon her outside a coffee shop. They talked, they laughed, they shared so much and this time it did feel different. He would love her like she has never been loved before, he would be engrossed in his own world and block her out like an unwanted call. He would come back each time though stronger than ever. Win her back, calm her down, soothe her with his love.

There was heartache and there was happiness, there was loneliness and there was feeling loved. There was a feeling of isolation in which her heart would get engulfed. There was utter joy when her heart would sing like a little bird. There were butterflies in the stomach, there was music, there was a promise, or so she thought. There was pain, there were tears and there was silence, silence that would make her numb.

The cycle of love and feeling unloved, of uncertainty, of assurance, just going round and round in circles, exhilarating and nauseating, should she take a step back? But love came calling and her hapless heart knew not whether to open the door to poignant love or shut herself out from the music, from the butterflies, the occasional flutter and walk the path alone holding her head high, masking her pain with her pride.

Tug of War: Dream vs Reality

Caught between dreams & reality
 Little Rhea had many dreams
To go off to a far of land, surrounded by mountains with singing rivers and streams
To sit on the mountain top and ponder on the many marvels of the world
To sit by river and write beautiful poems to touch beautiful souls
To teach little children to read, write and dream of a life beautiful and full of wonder
 
Little Rhea had many dreams
To leave her small town for a big city
To travel to the far-off lands, to visit many countries and cities across the world
To sit on a tall tower in a position of power
With her power she would create a better world, she dreamt
 
“Oh, you must be someone of position and power”, she was told
She studied hard, worked harder, and slowly inched her way up the tower
Reaching the top is all that matters, it will give a new meaning to her life, she thought
Once on the top she was precariously perched, caged in lonely rods of futile power
She tried very hard to make a difference, but was torn between position and power
The material life and its glamour and glitter, kept her away from the dreamy mountains and singing rivers, from the little children who were waiting for her to teach them to dream
 
Many a night she would lay awake for hours, trying to figure what Rhea really wants
She has achieved so much – power, position, wealth, can she give up all up for a childhood dream
A gentle sigh would come out of her lips, “Someday I will. I will go to the quite mountains and singing rivers and write the unwritten poems and sing the unsung songs… Someday I will…”

Sometimes…

 Sometimes I say too much
Sometimes I say too less
Sometimes I am too verbose
Sometimes I am at a loss of words
I never know what’s the right way to tell you ‘I love you so much’
 
I love you so much, sometimes it scares me
Sometimes it gives me strength
Sometimes it fills me with unbridled passion and happiness
Sometimes it makes me miserable
 
Loving you, wanting you, the fear of losing you…
Sometimes I am convinced things will work out for the best
And we will walk hand in hand into the ‘happily ever after’, wherever that elusive land is…

When love swipes right!

Tanya got off the car and rushed towards the coffee shop. It was drizzling, winter rains, she was walking as fast as she could to avoid getting drenched. When she reached the covered porch she stopped, took a breath and tried to calm herself. “Maybe I should have cancelled this”, she thought. “It’ll take me ages to drive back in the rains, and all this for a Tinder date.” She ran her fingers through her hair and smoothed her jacket and started walking slowly towards the coffee shop.

love swipes

Confident, happy and single Tanya logged on to Tinder sometime back, maybe out of curiosity, maybe out of loneliness, maybe it was a bit of both. She has been in love before, has broken her heart, she still believes in love and could be hopelessly romantic at times. Though her romantic quests didn’t go the way she had hoped, Tanya was a positive and a happy woman, doing well in her job, popular with her friends. She had pushed back all thoughts of love for a while and seemed to be doing a good job of it. Then, one Sunday afternoon, while flipping through TV channels to kill time, she was suddenly gripped by loneliness and boredom. Her friends, most of whom are married, were caught up with their family or in some other errand. “Maybe I should try Tinder,” she thought, “who knows maybe there are interesting men out there.”

She downloaded Tinder on a whim and started swiping right and left. To her surprise, she matched with every man she fancied, and all of whom seemed eager to meet her and take things forward. The initial response was overwhelming and exhilarating, ‘maybe I will meet someone nice here,’ she thought. She was not unattractive she knew, but the men out there made her feel like a beauty queen. Her optimism, however, was short lived, when most of her tinder matches seemed to be only interested in sex or one-night stands. Some of them were married as well, looking for ‘a true friend.’  “I was really naïve,” she thought “to think dating still meant coffee, good conversations and sweet romance.  Holding hands and walking in the moonlit nights, like college times.”

As she was about to delete the Tinder app, the message notification blinked, “How about coffee on Monday?”  asked an almost forgotten Tinder match, Abir. “Well one coffee shouldn’t hurt,” thought Tanya. “Fine, let’s meet at 7,” she wrote.

When Tanya stepped out of office that Monday evening it was drizzling, and she had a good mind to call off her Tinder date. “It’s too late for that now, it would be rude,” she thought, as she drove to meet Abir on a rainy December night.

As Tanya, walked towards the coffee shop, she found Abir waiting for her outside, he came forward and shook her hands warmly. By the time they sat down they were already talking, like they have known each other for a while. They talked endlessly for hours, till Tanya realized it was late and she had to get back home. Traffic was crazy on the way back, but she didn’t mind. There was something about Abir that was so different from the all the men who cross her path, on Tinder or otherwise. He was sweet, charming, polite, a little shy and seemed genuinely interested in knowing her.

So, they kept meeting and talking and before they knew they were dating. “Watch out,” her friends warned, “not so fast. You met him on Tinder, at best he’s looking for a casual fling.” Tanya took a step back only to realize that they were both drawn to each other hopelessly and there was no looking back. Neither Tanya nor Abir had thought that they would find something so beautiful on Tinder, so they plunged right into it – into a journey of love, friendship and companionship!

A New Year Love Story

Tiya wades through traffic impatiently on New Year’s Eve. She’s headed to the club to meet her friends where they will usher new year and then go to a friends’ place and chat through the night over a few drinks. This has been their ritual for the last few years and she’s excited about Tarun joining them this year, she sincerely hopes he does. While the over-crowded roads, slow moving traffic and constant honking irritates her, she tries to keep her spirit up thinking about the evening ahead!

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Like every year she’s been planning this for long time. It’s not easy to get into a good place in Gurgaon on Dec 31st unless you pre-book, and of course you are over charged. While she was thinking about all the trouble she went through to get bookings for the new year’s extravaganza in this club, she suddenly remembered the quiet and simple new year celebrations of her childhood – mom would cook a nice dinner, bake a cake and they would all sit together before the black & white TV (Westin was it?) to watch the special shows. First, a look back at the year that was, a recap of the important happenings of the year passing by that was presented by the suave DD news readers. Meenu, Geetanjali Aiyer, Shammi Narang and their ilk had a class and a poise that is completely lost to news anchors of our times.

Then came the much-awaited year-ender presented by a Bollywood star, with lot of nanch, gaana, smart one-liners and jokes and Bollywood numbers. In fact, all the different shows on different Bollywood award nights that we see now are basically a modern and glitzy take on the old DD format. The grand finale would come at 12 with a big star presenting a special number welcoming the new year. Tiya vaguely remembered Hungama 85 or 89 was it? After that they would cut the cake wish each other new year and go to bed.

Stuck in traffic that is barely moving now she suddenly missed those simple new year festivities, they didn’t do much but there was so much warmth. When she invited Tarun for the new year’s party he did suggest that she could come over and he could cook her a nice meal and they could watch a movie together or listen to music. But Tiya wanted to impress Tarun with the glitzy club and introduce him to her friends. Tarun however wasn’t too excited about the club, though he promised Tiya that he would try to join.

They have been dating for a while now but Tarun is yet to meet her friends. Each time she tried organizing a lunch or an evening do with her friends, there was always some last moment work emergency due to which he couldn’t attend. So, when Tarun suggested a quiet dinner at home instead of a party with her friends for New Year’s Eve, Tiya felt he was avoiding meeting her friends and that made her uncomfortable. May be Tarun sensed that and agreed to come.

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Tiya wondered whether she could even make it to the club. Most of her friends were already there and she still has an hour to go according to GPS. What if Tarun reaches before her, he doesn’t really know anybody. Soon enough the phone rang, it was Tarun he left very early so he could be in the club on time, and now that she’s yet to reach he will wait for her at lobby. Tiya felt terrible, the unending traffic and chaos frustrated her. Somehow, she manoeuvred her way to the club and found Tarun patiently waiting for her at the lobby. He’s been waiting for almost an hour with a bouquet of flower and an old fashion New Year’s greeting card. Tiya was touched, nobody has given her a greeting card in years. As Tarun smiled shyly, she opened the card, ‘It has been wonderful meeting you’, the card read. ‘Are you sure you want to go to this crowed club?’ Tarun asked, ‘we could still go to my place and have a quite dinner.’ ‘Let’s just go to your place, cook together and watch some TV,’ Tiya said, she’s had enough noise for one night. ‘But what about your friends?’ asked Tarun. ‘I will message them, we are very late anyway,’ said Tiya.

They celebrated new year over Tarun’s home cooked meal and few glasses of beer (Tuborg strong was their favourite drink). And they talked through the cold winter night into the new day!

Princess strides into a New Year!

It’s almost Christmas and new year is just around the corner! Like everybody else, our princess, let’s call her Maya, is waiting in anticipation for the festive season to ring in surprises and cheer. May be her prince will surprise her with a beautiful gift and they will walk into the new year hand in hand with renewed hope!

Princess Maya

‘What’s new in a new year?’, she has heard cynics say, ‘it’s just another day…’. But what’s wrong in hoping? Turning a new leaf? Isn’t that what makes life beautiful, wonders Maya. Now with Vayu, her Prince Charming, the festive season would be more exciting she thinks. Though her other admirers have been wanting in the wings, Vayu is all our princess wants!

Prince Vayu

But Vayu has been busy in other pursuits. Though he’s fond of Maya, she’s not the one who dominates his thoughts. ‘She likes me too much, she will wait’, Vayu thinks as he busies himself in work or just hanging out with friends. ‘The poor chap is working too hard’, feels Maya and goes all out to accommodate him and his ways. She leaves office early or moves her meetings around just to spend a few hours with Vayu, for he’s a busy man you see. Vayu comes and goes as he pleases, calls her when he feels like, dodges her calls when he wants. At times Maya feels bad, but things will change she hopes, for Vayu genuinely cares for her or that’s what he says.

Then one day, when Vayu doesn’t show up as promised she gets upset and confronts him, for she feels belittled and humiliated. They have a big fight and Maya decides that’s it! But Vayu promises to make things better and wins her over with affectionate words. Maya gives in and things do get better for a while, but soon Vayu is back to his old ways again. He changes plans and often doesn’t respond to her calls. ‘Oh, I would have called you back (at some point)’ is the only response she gets. Maya has been waiting to make new year plans with Vayu, and now that it’s nearing, she wonders in despair if it would be yet another lonely New Year’s Eve!

But she need not be lonely, for new years are not all about ‘Prince Charming’! Our princess Maya is a popular girl and she has many friends, some who would want to be more than friends. In fact, she has been dodging her admirers carefully not to offend Prince Vayu’s sentiments. But ‘where is Vayu when I need him?’, ponders Maya. ‘Maybe I am getting it all wrong, walking into a new year and turning a new leaf is more about me and not him’, realizes Maya. ‘Vayu can do what he pleases, he will come when he comes, and I will see him when I see him’, decides Maya.

Soon Maya is lonely no more! She makes Christmas plans with her friend and her little daughter and gets busy browsing recipes of Christmas cake which she plans to bake for the little girl. She plans to meet her friends over a drink and maybe she will watch a movie on New Year’s Eve. For Maya realizes that finding Prince Charming is not the be all and end all of life; it’s just another option amongst so many others that make her happy and fulfilled. Our princess will stride into the new year with new dreams and hopes…with or without prince charming!

The Princess & Her Tinder Tales!

Little princess

Once there was a pretty little princess who grew up in her little kingdom where everything seemed perfect. Though loved and pampered by her family and friends, little princess was not a lazy girl. She worked hard and planned a perfect future in which she would conquer the world and live happily ever after with her prince charming!

The little princess grew up to be a fine young lady and one day met her prince charming, or she thought. Enamoured by the handsome and intelligent prince, the princess gave him her loving heart. But alas, he carelessly tossed her heart away! The princess was shattered for he was the one, her true love, she had believed. She cried for months and hoped he would come back, but her prince charming was gone for good. Finally, the princess wiped her tears and went on a journey to conquer the world. The journey was lonely at first, scary at times, there were times when she felt alone. At times she missed him and wept for her prince, but he was just a memory now.

Princess 1

As the princess moved on the journey became exciting, challenging and beautiful. She conquered many obstacles, touched many milestones and made many friends. She ruled her world, was loved by many and was not lonely anymore. But at times she would miss that ‘someone special’. Go find him, her friend whispered. So, she looked for him in the garden, on the road, in every city and town, but alas he was not be found. But did you create your Tinder account? her friend quizzed.

Though the princess didn’t know much about tinder, she lost no time in creating an account. Just swipe right and swipe left it’s that easy, or she thought, and she was wrong again. In no time our princess was matched with many a young and handsome men. Then sang her praises and wooed her their intelligence and charm. The princess was flattered and happy, sure of finding her special one among her many matches.

But her happiness was short lived, for some of her matches were already ‘happily’ married and looking a ‘good friend’ or looking to network. Some were looking for casual intimacy, some confused not knowing what to look for. Though our princess was no prude she was shocked by the direct overtures of one-night stands and no strings attached intimacy. No not for me she thought, I am happier on my own!

Then one day out of her nowhere, one of her forgotten tinder matches reached out to her. Let’s have coffee tomorrow he said. Not expecting much she agreed out of sheer politeness. On a rainy winter evening she walked up to him waiting outside a coffee shop. He was charming and polite and as they started talking it was as if they have known each other for a while. So, they kept meeting and talking and meeting again and felt very happy to have found each other.

Nothing’s perfect and there are no ‘happily ever afters’, the princess now knows, she’s not a cynic though! She will take each day as it comes and make beautiful stories’ as she goes along!