Well, another three years she changed three managers from Maria, Nama, and then a man of her community who declared in the very beginning that they were not friends. Well, friends they were not and never could be, Shrum knew well. She had worked with him for six years and definitely did not see a friend in him.
It simply meant not to ask favours based on their community.
If any of us believed in community we would have not migrated, migratory birds do not believe in boundaries and walls.
One day New Kumar had told her, “you are above the well and we stay within it.”
She tried being polite that she too was.
Now, New was not a man who could ever come, we told her.
The doctor she saw might at all not be willing to marry her, instead could be a detour to the long route.
You marry anyone, then suffer since it was never your choice, never your way. There is no return from it. You are a prisoner forever. She did not want to do that.
A woman cannot choose as per her wish. She is not forcing people to choose her either.
Nama commented about her and called her “silk Smitha.” The lady who had a tragic death and lived a very different life in the southern film industry.
Was Shrum’s anger not justified? I often wondered.
Respect was a fun word. Respect was only a weapon in these places and was only given to those who had more money than the rest, more gun power, political influence or some tangible power than the rest.
We had learnt a different definition.
For us, we respected our husbands, our parents, our children, our friends, people who served us in any which ways.
Respect meant valuing a human’s work and effort to help you live, thrive or survive.
Maria was aware of her capabilities yet she was not comfortable giving her work from home, during a few of these, Shrum had to attend to her personal needs which included tending to her mother or sister.
The previous manager Supi, to whom she got allotted, as a change in shift changed the manager. She made her quality review certified again and Sucheta was the quality reviewer.
Even Sucheta raised a doubt in certifying her, all this after she was the subject matter expert and all other sort of roles available to healthcare pharmacovigilance workers. She remained quiet and did not object.
People mocked her for serving so long at peanuts.
Her earlier manager, Pure was very cross when someone asked Shrum to join for the audit. He said, “Do you even know anything of all this?” Screaming at her on top of his voice again as mostly he did.
Once Durjoy John and Pure gave her 200 tasks to be done over the weekend. She did 150 and during which she fought with her mother, trying to rationalise her odd 24/7 works.
Recently they went on a trip after long. Shrum had resigned and was finally moving around freely. She really wanted to thank the driver of the car who drove them to the tip of India, gulf of Mannar.
Sadiq she said reminded her of New Kumar. The same brown eyes, the same gap in teeth, the same height, the same voice, the similar smell, the same smile, the same looks. Probably she wanted to talk to New Kumar before leaving the place and since she left them forever she might have felt that, given the men had similar presence.
But, then though New Kumar is capable of innovative ways, and thoughts which can be termed as rebellious or anti in some way; though not in Shrum’s eyes, yet Shrum did not come to any justification as to why he would do that, since he never appeared in person except in hoardings. He did not love her, and she was probably arrested to not think beyond. It was not his face, as she says but definitely the person she liked and if he liked her she could have said yes for a permanent bond.
She believed in not associating for shorter times with anybody. Her friends are friends since she lives or will remain with her or her memories till she lives, it’s like that.
The doctor did not turn up either.
Now, the man from her community made her assistant manager while he left his job for another. He had a wife and a child. He also offered her to visit the US site for two weeks but it was at such a short notice that not much could be arranged from Shrum’s end and I had come to get my degree. Meanwhile I was connecting to my sister during that point of time. So, I couldn’t do much. Besides, I had told her several times to remain prepared but she never bothered much, given she was struggling here so much.
Managerial position, she did not know if they would give, since their treatment towards her was not at all amenable. It was also not sure they would have allowed her to go, given she had all the arrangements. It might have been a formality.
She was a straight stick. She did not believe in any way wrong work. She was not confident of the position, since she saw the behaviour other managers had put towards her. If that is what she was supposed to do, she was not sure, if she could stop herself from landing up in a rehab some day.
But, then Suma took over as a manager.
Suma’s entire clan, she avenged and also gave Shrum two praise awards. Her mouth was sharp as a sword and she avenged without understanding the gravity. She was helped by a woman, who was again a prime candidate for managerial position and the tassel was opened up. She ate it up but this time Shrum did not even look at the bait.
Shrum never spoke ill about her, except facts. She was rather sad since at some points Suma pretended to gel well with her before all this, before Shrum got promoted six months ahead of Suma. Suma being a senior took offence in many such small things. But, Shrum never shouted back on any manager, never. There is no record where she has screamed at anyone. Sometimes when Pure lost control, she tried raising her voice to tackle the situation.
She knew what it was, on two occasions earlier she took it considering she was shaving herself. But no, she saw through us, she was not saving herself but being a bait.
Why can’t it be that things can be straight. As they seem they be. Why is it that the story is never what it seems to the eyes.
Finally 2019 January she completed her tenure with the organisation.
The lands had to be changed. I was two years here, from 2016 end.
When she came to this city nine years back, she had thought like an ordinary woman.
She had thought of love, marriage, a home, a job and children. Happiness comes in all forms. She had thought anyone she is able to match herself with, she would go with, she had very less conditions.
But, even with these less conditions she found none who showed any interest in her in the way of marriage.
How does the southerners believe, how does the northerners believe?
There was a lot of confusion. There was a lot of chaos. People who were moving around were either having a cushion bag to support their existence and survival. Everyone was preferring to marry people who came with this cushion pack. Those who had it already, wanted a bigger cushion pack.
It was subtle, it was quite indefinite. But, it was there. Is it so difficult to find such a human seeing whom you feel you can match up. At the same time, she had so many troubles to handle.
The day I understood this world, I knew all this meant nothing. There was no one who was practising love, tolerance and anything good. So, the hope of finding a mate had long vanished. We were a group of virgin women who were canoodling people. We four and now Shrum’s sister joined in, Lizzy had made great stories on how she lost her virginity and so did Romcom. Shrum was innocent and her sister and I were the troop blasters. Though her sister was yet not aware of us and our presence, she was ordinarily strong in her thoughts. She may never know us, she may never know we existed.
Now, in 2015 after facing all the facets of New Kumar, she finally felt she may never see that face, and New Kumar would never come down. She decided to find her way. She decided to go back to the monastery where we both had once been friends, though the monastery had changed it’s address. My parent were barbers in cities, they could not afford me so I was send off. I was the second child of their family and my mother was a Lehi. She had her parents struggling to know if life even existed for them. She was sent to spent some days in peace with a little money in our kitty.
Finally, she joined our bandwagon. She decided it was late to even search for one. She is now thirty five years old, too old to find a husband, too old to begin a family, too old to begin a life, too old to have children. As per modern standards, a woman can get pregnant to forty one or forty two, a myth or reality we had stopped caring.
I meanwhile was 38 and now stand at forty one, along with Lizzy and Romcom.
Our lives had taken a different stream and nothing was like before. We desire to find survival, sustenance if possible. Meanwhile she found the face in a doctor. But, then everywhere New Kumar’s name was coming up. New Kumar was being chanted in office by her managers, by her colleagues, in the hospital where she met the doctor, behind autos, in buses, people surrounding her often had that name, the place repeated, the one where he came from, she sat in mute observation. It’s a common name I understand but not so common to appear everywhere.
Was she being indicated to lose her virginity with him and then marry off anyone who came forth? It was for sure he would not marry her. Or, preserving something which was her original state required some external cushion….her mother and father are biggies so she must be allowed to retain her original state….or she is born a goddess so she would be the one to retain the original state as long as she wished, as long as she did not find the man she would like to go with….
It was important to note that there is no harm in doing anything….the choice must rest with the human.
My sister had thought the guy would marry him. Her last boyfriend was from the southern of our country. But, then one day she was picked up in a truck, deported and since she had turned out to be a virgin, having not slept even with three of her boyfriends she was sent to this man, who traded her with sheikhs and biggies.
My sister never kept a penny except things she needed.
She was often treated gruesomely and her torn and tattered skin was always sewn together, cosmetically corrected. The only favour her master did was not sending her to diseased people and not sleeping with her personally.
Was she being indicated to follow the life of my sister? The conversations which we overheard indicated this point very well. The world needed another shit hole, another woman spiralling down, another woman ready to sell her flesh- how?
By being perturbed by the world around her, by being pained by the world around her, by being through sufferings around her, by being revengeful for the world around her, by being innocently naive to be dragged into this world, by beckoning her into this path using a bait.
We often wanted to know if this region never wed off woman in virgin states. Do they want us to lose virginity, then stray around, then marry any fin-min-dickory who would show interest in our dwindling wealth. Fin-min-dickory could be our choice or their choice whom we liked but definitely not an alternative for a woman
This is not
No pain no gain state.
I am sure any level headed human knows the difference between self respect and pride.
So much to keep a simple self respect, no longer simple in this world.
I am sure any level headed human knows the difference between self respect and pride.
So much to keep a simple self respect, no longer simple in this world.
It is not meaningful of course for this mass, since meaningless are those who award Nobel prize to woman stricken by this system, then?
Meaningless are those who are standing up against a system.
Meaningless are those who are detecting the folly.
Twisting her dreams in front of the world is no courage.
Standing to her dreams and fulfilling it would save another daughter of this world.
But then Shrum felt like the world was trying to treat her like a cheap rut.
Now, it was her Northerners friends.
They were North Indians. They worked here, including her manager Pure. His name was only Pure, nothing else was in him. Yes, some of his behaviours were rightfully good.
But, not everything. They made more fun and the fun team at one point comprised of people who were only making fun of her, literally bullying her.
The manager had been another person, who complicated it further. His reason was very simple. It was very honest. He was the most intelligent man. We tapped his phone too, and literally into all his friends. We heard them, mocked them for their stupidities and idiotic assumptions.
They laughed in glee often, connived, contrived cunning techniques of bullying further.
They gave her ghosts trying to show the world she was happy with them. Reality was as if not her forte. As if she was herself a ghost. It was stupid how the North Indian community behaved around her.
“We no more would give you what gives you happiness.”
“Shree Punjab is the best.”
“You can’t do it.”
Hoardings after hoardings crept out of the cars, autos and buses.
“Written big for you to see.” That was one hoardings in a bus. The bus conductor smiles at her and indicated her to read it. She was in the auto.
The laughters have always been pressing, idiotic.
Her neighbourhood had people who would scuffle and screeching laughters when she felt anxious and troubled created more harassment.
One day Pure told her,
“What Shrum you took a home, why don’t you arrange parties for us?”
“Bring us in, bring us some nice food, man what are you doing?”
One day, while she was out on a team lunch, she sat on the same table with Pure.
He said to us, “There was a friend of mine, who was a nerd, who was bookish, wore a specs of high power like Shrum. In my previous organisation he worked with us. He showed he was an epitome of perfection. He did not drink, did not smoke, Wow! So, one day we coaxed him for a party and poured liquor on him till he dropped unconscious. After a few days he himself came begging to us for a bottle, for a smoke. We did such things, he could never come up.” He was telling this to a guy, who had been the only person in her office, who had been really able to understand her. He helped her get Shrum’s sister into a project for a month. He did not ask anything for return.
Now, he always had been very kind but sometimes Shrum would discuss with her mother about these men. He had brought a bottle of wine or beer for someone, and sun’s rays threw him out with other reasons. He tried calling Shrum several times, and Shrum did not pick up. It was not her fault. She had spoken about it to her mother. No one asked them to barge into private conversations inside a home which very much belonged to Shrum. Another time she became the scapegoat.
That is illegal still and can only be used by authentic sources after informing the concerned person. Well, she asked him to stop calling. She did not want him harmed in any way, on her name. Reason, she spoke about him on two matters which were not too legal.
“Can you bring beer to office for someone in India?” She asked her mother one day. Now, why was she being considered. She had not spoken to anyone else.
Next her manager one day requested in 2015 for a bottle of wine. Someone within the group delivered it. It was done aloud, a mimicry of the previous process.
It could have just been taken as an ignorance. It can be done, it’s not wrong to gift a bottle and she was happy. Why did they twist it so bad?
Her mother is more simpler and she never approved drinking in the Indian climate. Now, that did not mean she would not approve others doing it, even if she criticised it a bit. We have democracy, free speech in India. Look around, how people speak, I wanted to say. But, then I was a ghost for them.
There were also other times when she faced the wrath in different ways and since we heard the chaos, we knew where it emerged from, it was utter disbelief with which I witnessed it all.
Drinking is never a crime, nor is anything. Criticisms is not also a crime. An entire critic team exists in every profession. People ignore critics when they don’t like the criticism. They don’t take revenge. It’s silly, tremendously impolite, irrevocably hideous.
Enmity can be slight, perhaps. Every small tiny wee bit of actions is regulated immensely. Political correctness is seemed, massive damage is caused.
Could someone be so silly.
Was it politically controlled?
Was it religiously controlled?
Was it caste controlled?
Was it ego controlled?
Well, it’s up to you to decide. We know it for our good.
Are there any differences, or are they simple exhibitions of differences to fool simple people.
The ports are different, but we cannot forget the sea is the same.
Sometimes she would miss New Kumar after he left. He was not given a single applaud in this whole span. She was angry on him, so they tried showing solidarity with her by punishing him. She tried to talk to him several times about it, but then Aquarius minds can’t be told anything.
They were born on the same day in different months, so did he say once.
She wanted to tell him, she was not the cause. She wanted to wield a friendship but they divided them and build castles on their graves. She found him quite friendly who could not dare. She wanted to tell him that what he was being told, whatever he was hearing was all staged, a drama, a show.
But, then even his behaviour towards her was not rational. He should not have participated even if it meant being just a carrier of their propaganda. Enemies are built very fast in multi nationals based on everything, every small thing.
The benefit of such enmities were immense. People showed him that Shrum was reaping the benefits while he suffered and felt tortured. People of his clan were now another group angry on Shrum. So, the karma wheel turned when such people neglected her, played with her, gave her no recognition or dubiously took it from her, or wanted to make her feel like she was a disposable material.
She felt nothing since deep within we four knew the whole truth. She was a horse in the game of chess being played by the bosses to dismantle one person from a team compulsorily, that was to be done. She was shown a different battle, she fought a different one, people fought another and against her.
So, Mr. New Kumar became a pimp in their hands, losing her respect. Why?
One simple reason, a heart to heart talk could have solved it all. But, then she was not her clan, did not accept his initial flirting, the mildest of all, confronted him, called an Aquarian wrong and wanted to tell him the truth. It worked against him. It worked against her. She one day shouted, on the phone when I told her that New Kumar was talking about you to that girl and it was this, this, this.
“I would see New Kumar, what does he think of himself?” She was angry, she was bruised, she was hurt so long. She shared with no one. Now, she burst open on the man she thought could be her friend all this while. His immaturity and his lack of trust hurt her. She had always been angry on her own people. His heart was not bad she knew, he worked without any accolades all these years. When he had resigned, he had been awarded once and the last time. He stood in the crowd, hid behind one guy, yet did not go ahead and collect it.
She saw through his pain, we all did. But since he never communicated in depth to Shrum like he did with many other, we remained mum.
She saw him slowly fade away and then one day he left.
She left almost four years after he left.
Struggles were there for both after they quit the job.
Shrum’s mother suffered for a prank, we considered it a weapon to scare her.
Her sister did not do well in her exams. She could not study for her finals. It was tough on the family. One small action killed so many. One shot and many died.
New Kumar would sometimes talk on her behalf for free cautiously though that no one should think he liked her or so, since they had already proved him she was not liking him nor going to entertain him in any which ways. He had also taken it.
Now, from 2015 life changed again.
There were many others who had joined in, whom Durjoy John did not know. He was not aware that when we try to hunt an animal or create a prey out of a creature which was previously not considered to be a prey, many hunters want the same animal, some find it exotic, some find it mouth splashing.
Hindus were violent, Muslims were violent, Christ’s children too were violent.
It was a massacre. There were all in one or one in all.
Many hunters hide in pure sight to hunt and such was Shrum’s case.
She was not beautiful but she was meek, believed easily, loving and understanding, sweet Shrum is how she had defined herself to Dr. John during her training.
Indeed she wished to harness good within her. But the lacunae of darkness was so huge around her, a black hole that no matter what, she had to move away from it or succumb to it to save herself. Darkness from a distance is darkness but within it lies the pure nascent light, only if you know to traverse the way through it.
Light again exists beyond the bounds of the black hole, away from it. So in order to be in the light, you have to journey, either away from the black hole or dive straight into it, strong enough to avoid, ignore and tolerate the gnashing dark wounds to travel to the bottom.
Interstellar showed it beautifully.
Well, now she was a little peaceful. She was not nagging when she heard claws digging the walls, scratching it at night, and then human footsteps running away.
Some days it was even the dog hiding it’s food.
When one day, a pig’s belly with it’s poo rested on her door. As she returned from office, she would have stepped into it, slipped and fell. A huge mass it was, she would have broken her leg.
But, God had not informed others that there was a torch in the hind of her phone and she would light it everyday making her way to the door.
She saw it.
Her father and mother cleaned it. Six months later her mother suffered from a cyst in her only breast.
We were scared, we ran to the only heaven in the world.
Tapeworm they said, it was removed. Biopsy confirmed. The neck one and the shoulder one stayed.
We could not help it, we did not tell her, since chances were that the pork won’t be infested. But unfortunately they chose one to play a prank. A prank was it? Fear it generated, but prank was it?
Furthermore, we did not know it since it was not planned entirely on phones we tapped.
She underwent a therapy for ninety days.
Karma it was, hers or theirs?
Was she a dump Yard? Manipulated conveniently to bear the karma of others.
It is here we introduced revolt in her life. It cowered down a few hyenas, but yet they did not leave her.
Meanwhile she was promoted twice, a nice compensation from the city, from the crowd to a woman who was taking the jolt of other’s karma with elan.
Suma called her a fool, Chitrangada called her a joker whom they could easily try to scare.
One day, the glasses of her office were washed clean, and the man hung from a rope beside her.
“We are trying to scare you.” Chitrangada said.
Chitrangada was unhappy to the core, she had to be the subject matter expert. After all, she was the dentist, who was Shrum basically, a masters in physiology amidst doctors made no sense.
All the years, Shrum worked as an SME, Chitrangada did not speak to her much, except slanted looks, a marriage invitation trying to defeat Shrum who was a spinster still, a child was a mockery to the woman’s distress, they thought. No one found out if Shrum would at all be impacted by these. She was not jealous to our benefit, and these attempts went in vain, flowing with the waters in the drains.
“How would someone’s child or someone’s marriage impact me?” She would say.
“I would be happy for them and not sad, not jealous, don’t they see?” We heard voices and saw faces which so much wanted her to feel jealous, so much. The faces felt defeated.
More hoardings followed, “Hell is back.”
“Boss is the boss.”
I thanked Buddha, he might have really been by her all this while. She was so calm, so unaffected by the battle behind her. She was at peace, innocently enjoying days, hurt by human behavioural pattern as a whole.
She read Paulo Coelho. In one of his books, he describes how an experiment on humans showed the pleasure with which a group of jailers enjoyed the pain inflicted on the prisoners. They were both experimental groups and were healthy adults before the experiment began, mentally healthy, practising general forgiveness, Christian, Islamic, Hindu brethren faith. They changed while they were given a chance. Humans enjoyed being in pain and also believed in inflicting pain, subconsciously, was a proven fact. Probably the only reason behind all this drama, and songs throughout the ages.
One day, the wind blew fiercely. I was no longer able to meet Shrum. We three sat in our room, the wind and rain lashing the balcony, waters weeping through the closed door.
“This chance we should pass.” Lizzy wanted to, so did I.
Meanwhile, my sister’s boss send her on a three month holiday so that I could arrange an exit. A woman, neglected for her mental prowess, sat in a dingy office, working through human egos splattering on table tops, vanishing into crooked canoodling gases and laughter with loads of so many took us to the brink of a splat, that was who I was right then. Far away from my dreams to be a woman.
“Why can’t we take a trip? We must meet someone who can bring peace.”
“Let’s listen to the Dalai Lama, McLeodgunj.”
We packed our bags and left for a week, a month later.
“What about Shrum?” Lizzy was busy scratching the pizza bread crumbs from her shirt.
“I am thinking of tapping Durjoy John.”
“Yup, in fact I did. A psychiatric doctor but equally feisty. I tapped him one day. I think I know how this has to be tackled and what must be going on.”
“You are telling me, you have a resolution.” Peg stated. Peg was her pet name, as Lizzy sat staring blank.
“Yes.” I nodded.
“Just follow his plan. Each day, we have to let Shrum know the plan. We have to make her act exactly as they anticipate she might. At the same time, she has to keep crevices through which she can escape when time comes. She has to think answers to all those questions that they plan to put forth on the table.” I continued.
“Do you think it will work?” Lizzy’s eyes sparkled.
“It will buy her time, till she leaves.” I scratched the cheese from the plywood top of the table.
“Great, let’s do it.”
One day, Durjoy John came forth, asking her that he knew the woman she had pasted on her desktop. It was her principal who actually, truly gave her a chance.
He would take a place beside her for photos clicked in cafeteria, she noted twice.
He would look at her in a way we did not appreciate. They were not dry looks, nor compassionate ones, nor understanding ones.
He would locate the way she placed the black stoll on her head, protecting herself from the cold. He would note her when she would be lost in corridors, initially we thought it was genuine humanity but then we noted it did not seem so. We were not interested in him in any which ways except that his plans were to be followed wholly. We had to get out of it, mild human trafficking or mental trafficking as helps millions form armies they believe would save the world.
We ignored his personal calls, we were not interested in his love life, his family life, his business, family, friends, this business, this trade and we blocked such calls. We had found timings and people who spoke when and how, and avoided conversations which were not our purpose. Shrum hasn’t still heard him at all, we did not want to entangle her. We can vanish in thin air, she prefers not to, actually.
Over a period of time, we now knew the whole game, we were close to one of the key players and he was hitched by many glamorous objects in life. His catholic mindset came in between often, he was using his intellect in traversing the thin crevices himself protecting himself from the karma by hiding in shadows where karma could not see him. He was not a rebel, he was neither a fighter, he was never a devout, he was a creator of all these, as per needs and requirements.
Well, we asked Shrum to follow the trap, yet not be trapped.
During this time, we came across a very important point. They were placing hoardings, sayings and thoughts behind autos, tutuks, buses, and bikes. Wherever they found some space. Shrum was fond of reading even scraps and they tried it to see if she read them.
“No one is born for you, but you can make someone your own.”
“If you are bad, then I am your dad.”
“We are killers.”
“Next is your turn.”
“Who’s next?” With a hulk stamping the ground, a green hulk.
So on, and on. We asked her to keep reading whatever she found could indicate her.
They had said, “If she likes reading let her read our minds.” Howling laughters broke out over the phone, not to mention who spoke to whom about it.
Well, it was a chakra, a means of transport in Gujarat where no one knows who’s driving the vehicle unless each jumps out of it.
A serpent with thousand faces, a scorpion with many limbs.
We went off, the lama has been hurt so much over the years, and his Well was still not dry. Compassion oozed out everywhere, people took it, did not take it, did not matter. Such aloofness, I could marvel it. No I could not perhaps. It was not soothing in the beginning, but as we listened to his preachings, his calmness overpowered my disorderliness inside. No longer I ran to my own entropy. No longer I felt disordered. My face seemed youthful in these seven days.
The power of peace and compassion or agape was so huge, yet why was so much disorderliness still existing? I looked at others, mostly Buddhists, some foreign nationalities peeped in the crowd. I felt so relaxed I felt I could stay here forever.
“Could it be a lie?” Peg whispered through the cold breeze which blew into the room.
“Nope, this was not a lie. It’s tangible.” I told her.
“Is there no resentment, no ego in between these men, in this place?” Lizzy was tapping her lips.
“It can’t be. But there is something which controls it well within these men or probably tells them which attack will not bring disorder in such an extent that we often see around us.”
But, we had to come back. Our disorderliness was adding to our woes. We began to look forward to restore order. How we did it would count though. Dharamsala is a beauty and if you can really acknowledge beauty you can spend ages looking at those emailed mountains like the cats do to spend time in this region.
Small are its leaves, round, bright green.
Beige is my colour, rotund, golden wheat and cream.
Thin, fragile, the twigs run down the plant.
My bones strong enough for a kick climb down the shunt.
The brown twigs part several ways,
My brown, sun kissed limbs hang loose beside for days.
The roots go down, spread across the ground.
My roots are deep, deeper than the basil mound.
The air kisses the plant, keeps away from wrong.
Wrong thoughts, wrong minds, wrong tongs.
I smell that very air, cool, calm, I hear gongs.
The light mind, without thoughts seems light, sing song.
It’s odd when we consciously keep thoughts away.
It’s even when the mind cools down faraway.
The questions are gone.
The answers often mourn.
The women no longer exist around.
The men no longer surround.
The world wants to see her in cages, in pedestals.
Or, would it be happy seeing her amidst dirty rentals?
They try to tear her open, but she would wither,
Long gone much before they can plant her hither.
The conscious emblem of purity,
The unconscious realm of surety.
The subconscious realm of duality.
All gone in minutes away from reality.
The plant withers and so does she.
But both do not mourn it nor see
beyond their lives, their growth, their ruined tree.
Laughing softly the moon brushes the wind.
Swaying it like the waters in the meadows kind.
The brown withered plant still is holy basil.
The woman torn, tattered and dry is still the holy basil 🌿.
Antisocial behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists.
We were doing a wrong thing to wrong people. We were completely aware.
New Kumar had stopped even the basic communication with her. We knew about him enough to know that the love was oddly placed on his head. Primarily a tapping mechanism for the world, it was being used, a web, a sucking device, a carnivorous plant rather.
We no longer wanted Shrum to wait for him. We told her a few points about his life, his struggles, his worries, his insecurities. I told her to not believe all that, since if he really was not renting his love out for charity or service to others, why was he not coming to her, asking her for a date or two or maybe even expressing his love for her. If so be it, he could have asked Shrum for her hand, nose, ears, palms, feet etc.
She nodded when she heard about him. Basically we found him capable of becoming a revolutionary thinker, a freedom loving, struggling guy, messed up by various nets thrown on him to capture his skill sets, his working and hugely amenable qualities he could harness in others. But, his life like many others was not easy and the guy was trying to stick to things he considered true, he was trying to believe people, he was trying to live.
His many friends, yet his loneliness was very striking. So many girls spoke to him, we do not know in near future, did her get married. He might have, given he was fond of some, specially believed them. His three years brings him to 2017 or 2016, from 2013. Plus Dravidian culture had lavish gifts for marriages. A Kalyan Mandayam anywhere would cost a crore for three days, they had money. Lavish gifts were a part of the system, also the way they were photographed and the marriage hoardings which came up, was different from the northern cultures.
One day, New Kumar had told “the other guy” that probably poor girls like Shrum won’t be allowed within the territories of his world and life, and his place. He had four hundred acres, New Kumar told the other guy. The other guy indicated Shrum was probably trying to be close to new Kumar for his wealth and he nodded sideways declining he would ever allow her.
Her phone was on, and my headphones were latched to my ear holes, as I tapped my fingers on my keyboard facing a huge window with a blue wall.
She was a proud pauper, no one understood that, not even the revolutionary New Kumar.
I asked Shrum to not increase his troubles and struggles anymore. Since he was not able to believe her, he was not able to see that she had taken him as a friend, respected him, tried to understand him, his actions, she was somehow depending on him. Trust, dependant feeling, friendship was what she was seeing in him. Love was not a priority, but she would have honestly considered him had he given her the chance to do so. She might have even settled with him. We were now understanding him so well. Poor guy, he kept himself busy with his meshwork and nets. That is when she gifted him a Buddha statue. We don’t know what he did with it.
Brahmi was her current craze. She had learnt it and she engraved blessings in Brahmi on it.
He took it in presence of a woman, a localite he probably trusted.
Hopes on the other hand was trying to play with Shrum’s mind, she was introducing dimensions, faculties which Shrum was slightly thinking about, she was puking out her green messy fluid on Shrum at times, New Kumar was hanging around with her around the office, he believed her.
We did not keep a tap as to where they all went and what happened to the hanging friends in hanging trees. We chopped off Hopes from our tapping device after we heard her life.
We removed New Kumar from the list. We shut them and she never went ahead to speak to him. Her confusion had impacted him badly. He suffered more than Shrum when all eyes were on him. Little information is a dangerous thing, these guys would tap Shrum’s devices and work on partial information.
Personally they did not know whom to believe.
They jumped boats, managers, directors. We however did not have all numbers, and did not tap onto everyone. So, legally we restricted ourselves to our cause, Shrum’s well being.
My sister was not able to take it any longer. She was now wishing to cut off. But, she believed me and she waited for me.
I spoke to her boss one day, told him about her. He could be fair was not my expectation and he could understand was not at all my belief. He had a good wife it seems, and a son he treasured. The son was innocent even when he was ten, was an amazing story in itself.
I learnt one thing- to be right is a choice and the choice is never very far.
So we understood that New Kumar was desperately trying to keep his job. He tried shutting Shrum off, he loathed her presence after a point and blamed her for his confusions. He despised her and I told her to segregate.
She did, he left after two more years from there. The last day he spoke to her, did not show loathing anymore, loathing towards her. Contempt was in his heart all this while. But on the last day his eyes did not have anything except a very emotional freckle. His eyes had a strange attribute, he could shut off everything from appearing on his eyes. That is disturbing, often considered evil at times. He was notorious for many actions and was impish often. But, he was not the evil, not the satan rather a man capable of becoming something greater, beyond the stars.
Emotion in his eyes was a big thing, she had not seen it ever in that way as he saw it the last day. But, as they spoke to each other, Sucheta called him over.
He went off, wavering off again.
I told Shrum he would not come back, not for love, marriage proposals at least. She had liked him, knew him but yet love could not develop perhaps, which came much later with another face from her end.
She worshipped and her worships often showed her faces but what she felt seeing those faces was how she remembered them till she met them. She had seen New Kumar’s face. She had seen the man she fell in love with also and she remembers having felt good seeing the face of the man she fell in love later, also feeling good in a slightly different manner seeing this face. But then, she had to go. He no longer had anything called faith and we knew we cannot generate faith in anyone, specially in such sceptical people who feared her very existence just because they did not understand her. They probably saw us behind her, and yet did not see us, a halo around any object is seemingly fearsome or beautiful.
Fear simplifies things often. It provokes you to flee, untangling the rope at times. But, that fear has to be your own, the fear which can protect you.
The fear which others create in you often destroys you.
You have to know where the fear comes from, always, to know if it can protect you or destroy you.
We stopped using him in our conversations, removed his thoughts probably to protect New Kumar and to leave him in peace with his inner struggles.
Sun’s ray had one day called Shrum to a meeting room. He asked her about her performance, quality, an overtly manipulative parameter. Then suddenly said,
“Any plans for marriage?”
Shrum nodded that her parents were seeing.
These burgers had picked it up from the extendable ears, since she did not directly tell anyone, anything about this topic so evidently. No one should have asked her in the first place other than her colleagues, we felt.
If colleagues asked it could be fine, but a manager seemed an oddity, a major flaw. It could be an indication that there was still more than what met the eye.
“If you marry you might be poor, less money. Will that be fine?”
Shrum kept quiet and then nodded an “yes.” Naïveté idiot, she never asked where that question came from, why, how?
We found out more about the place where Shrum was staying.
The cigarette parlour was always overcrowded. The smoke and the air around the house was thick and smelled nicotine all the time.
The tea cups lay strewn after the morning hours. They found a college for her sister and put her in it. She came down. The night and the road did not match well. She decided to take a morning shift given one day her cab broke in the middle of the road, half empty and half filled with denizens of the dark.
Many of them left except a guy and Shrum. She called me up and it was almost sixteen kilometres from where I stood in my balcony.
But, then as I decided to call a few nearby friends, she dashed with her seat and next day she found her computer had broken down. There were a group of men who had already spotted Shrum and I asked her to lock herself up in the cab, not to get down, whoever brought whatever means of transport.
She fought with the driver, sat in the cab, refused to get down adamantly. The group, the guy and the driver rectified the bus. Shrum told this guy, she would not get down this cab.
Meanwhile I contacted a few friends of mine, they were all busy. They had all been working, then one of the girls agreed to walk down the road fifteen minutes from her home. She strolled down but thank Goodness, the cab was slowly moving on its wheels. She spotted Shrum inside and called me back. Shrum informed me about her distance and finally she reached home. I went back to bed.
It was the year 2013.
On the very first few days of January she had a peculiar situation in the office to handle.
When anything is pointing towards you, targeted towards you, you would definitely understand. Ignoring such symbolic and affirmative gut voice is never safe. I would say recede when your gut speaks, when it says yes, it is an Yes.
The whole ground was burning, the office bosses were around Shrum more than usual. People were scared to talk to her. I remember one such incident where when she had gone over to ask a doubt to one of her senior colleagues who winked at her in previous years showing his affirmation for her, or slight flirtatious outburst almost looked over like a ghost in front of him. He did not utter a word, he left the seat asking her to just go back to hers. Shrum saw he went and spoke to Durjoy John and as he came back to his seat smilingly, Durjoy John walked behind him equally smiling.
He pinged her over a blipping communicator telling her the answer.
Mr. New Kumar would accompany two women who were equally cranky. One had lost her boyfriend recently, a colleague of theirs, friends in office even to Shrum, Suhas.
She was sad and the girl, Hopes was equally friendly to Shrum except on days when Shrum conducted literature trainings. Hopes would sit in the corner and make a face which expressed jealousy, competition, yet an inability to act against a friend. She was one of those girls who acted from her conscience often, and Shrum quite liked her. Now, we began tapping them too.
She would have communications wherein we understood this job was so important to her, a dentist by education. Shrum worked amidst a lot of dentists and doctors. Some of the doctors were beautifully kind and good to her, their education reflected on their faces and actions. Even when the floor had stopped believing the girl calling her everything dark and moist, dim for a human to be in this world. None of the dentists were good to her.
The loss of a man she mourned was a very simple looking colleague who had given her Abbé zam zam when a few years back he went for a Haj. She had asked him for the waters since her home didn’t have any left from the stock. Shrum’s home was typically secular with preferences of course. Zam zam water, Ganges water and all sorts of water were abundantly present in her home. Strange family which believed and acted so simply and believed so naively, naïveté ran in her blood only to become a soft target in the arena.