14 January 2014

Dear Friend...

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This is an imaginary story about a girl who was and still is in love with a boy. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. 









Everyday after coming back from school, Noyonika used to wait for Rahul's phone calls. She used to sit on the sofa beside her landline phone and read story books from the school library, and magazines, both english and bengali. She was a voracious reader. But even when her mind was fully engrossed inside the universe consisting only of words, her heart secretly wished every second for the silent phone to start calling her. She was in eleventh standard in a reputed girl's school in south Calcutta. Her exams were approaching, but she was more concerned about her approaching eighteenth birthday. And more than anything else, she was concerned about Rahul with whom she had fallen in love at first sight in a school fest a few weeks back. Initially Rahul had no plans to go to that fest. But he went there only because Mimi had asked him to go there with her. Another mutual friend had introduced Noyonika to Rahul and they had exchanged their landline numbers. She thought that he would call her first, but he never did. Still she kept on looking forward to his call. Before she had met him, she used to chat with her female friends all throughout the afternoon, but after meeting him, she never wanted to keep the phone engaged any more with any one else. She was love-sick and her feverishly beating heart persuaded her that Rahul might just give her a ring any moment. There was no Facebook in those days, otherwise she would have stalked him online and would have saved all his pictures in a special hidden folder in her computer. Around that time Silk Route's Pehchaan had released and the song Sapnay had touched her heart deeply. Whenever she used to listen to this song, she would miss Rahul even more. Her head used to float in romantic clouds and she had willingly surrendered her heart to Rahul. Around that time, another song which she used to love a lot was by the now-forgotten Sansara's Yeh Dil Soon Raha Hai and she also loved the music video too.  










Sometimes she would just pick up the phone, hear the dial-tone for a few seconds and then put it back. Sometimes she would put her book or magazine down and stare at the blank wall in front of her. Sometimes she would pray desperately to all the available Gods and Goddesses residing on the Indian Subcontinent to make Rahul call her immediately. She hoped against hope for his call. Other times she would curse those very Gods and Goddesses for not granting her wish. She was a sweet, smart, jovial, carefree girl and falling in love had indeed brought a new spring in her steps. She relished every moment of it. It was like a new mind-altering psychedelic drug to her and she was hooked onto it like an addict. 












The afternoon time was the best time to talk to Rahul. She was alone in the flat. Her parents would return from office only in the evening. She was free to do anything. She was free to talk to anyone over the phone. No need for any kind of censorship. She usually felt uncomfortable when she had to talk to any friend when her father or mother was in the same room. Thus the afternoon time was the best time for her to talk to anyone. Sometimes she would switch on the TV and watch Nikhil Chinappa hosting the show 'MTV Select'. She liked Nikhil's boy-next-door look and admired his coolness. And she liked it whenever Nikhil played the now-forgotten-one-hit-wonder Jennifer Paige's song 'Crush'. 











Sometimes, especially during summer afternoons, she would lie down on the sofa only in her birthday-suit. Not because the weather was too hot or whether she was too horny, but just simply because she could. With no one in the flat, a strange kind of freedom gave her a strange kind of happiness. Paradoxically being alone also gave her a strange kind of sadness. And the fact that Rahul was not calling her sometimes made her even more gloomy and then dark clouds could be seen engulfing her mind, body and soul. 










She wished with all her heart that Rahul would call her every afternoon and ask her about her day in school. There was so much to tell him. She wanted to tell him about classroom politics, about the latest scoops from the official school gossip girl, about that presumed nymphomaniac from the other section, and also wanted to bitch about that blabber-mouthed slut in her class who couldn't stop boasting about the details of how she made-out with her boyfriend and how he exactly knew to press all the right buttons for the ground beneath her feet to move and shake. Noyonika was secretly jealous of all her friends who had boyfriends, and wished she had one too. Being single was simply unbearable because of peer-pressure building up all around. 










Was Noyonika actually in love with Rahul? Or was she just infatuated with him? Her teenage hormones were already ravaging her from inside. She could not focus on things most of the time. Rahul was always on her mind. His very thought always brought a sweet smile on her lips. The very mention of his name soothed her aching soul. She found comfort losing herself in his thoughts all the time. She loved listening to Gautam Chattopadhyay's Telephone and loved the fact that this song has been written from a female perspective. Romantic thoughts about Rahul always gave her peace, tranquillity and a sense of belonging to someone special.  










Sometimes she could not take it any more. Then she would dial Rahul's number. Now if his line was engaged then she would immediately put the phone down and then would not call him again for the remaining of that week. She used to get very angry if she found his line to be engaged. She used to imagine that he must be talking to some other girl. This very thought depressed her tremendously and made her extremely sad from inside. 











And sometimes the line was not engaged. Then they would talk for atleast an hour. She never wanted to hang-up in those moments. Talking to him made her happy. While talking she could feel a strange kind of ecstasy building up deep inside her. They would talk about everything under the Sun from politics to playboys (not the magazine), from literature to Lacto Calamine, from the art of making-out to Mercurochrome, from inter-school rivalries to inter-school courtships, from carnal desires (not the film) to Bakery Carnival at Calcutta Club, from Hrithik Roshan's meteoric rise to rising body heat...











They would also discuss about the latest episode of FRIENDS. We all have our favourite FRIENDS characters. Rachel Green was hers. She could identify with Rachel. Also in those days Ally Mcbeal was her another favourite show in Star World. And ofcourse there was Baywatch. Noyonika had a earth-shattering crush on George Clooney who could be seen in ER back then. Rahul had a similar crush on Lucy Lawless from Xena, and this fact amused Noyonika a lot. She found it funny that he had a crush on a fictional Warrior Princess. She thought that psychologically this fact revealed his desire for strong and independent women. 












Rahul was a smooth talker and she was a good listener. However she could never tell him about her feelings. She could never tell him how much she loved him. She could never confess that she was truly, madly, deeply, hopelessly and helplessly in love with him. The thought of proposing to him crossed her mind several times but the fear of refusal terrorized her like anything. Rahul always gave her mixed signals. She knew that he saw her only as a very good friend with whom he could share his secrets. 













Sometimes she would casually place a few hints about her true feelings here and there along their conversation path, but Rahul always failed to pick up those hints. Another school of thought states that because of experience and natural talent, Rahul could easily visualize what she was trying to do, but chose to remain ignorant and chose to simply overlook her pointers. He didn't want to jeopardize their sweet friendship. The matters of their hearts were delicate and needed to be handled with care. 













Noyonika loved to watch english films on Star Movies. Once she saw HOPE FLOATS starring Sandra Bullock and really loved it. The actress stole her heart with her performance. She thought what it would be like existing as Birdee Pruitt in real life. She also loved the soundtrack of that film very much. When she told Rahul about this, he immediately replied that he too had loved that film a lot and never missed its repeat telecasts. 













Noyonika wanted to write about her feelings after seeing HOPE FLOATS, but the words refused to come out. She had a diary where she would write every now and then. Though not in a very regular fashion. Sometimes she would write only a paragraph. Other times she could not stop writing pages after pages. Often words would build up inside her head but she would be too lazy or too depressed to pen them down. 














Sometimes she used to go to Rabindra Sarobar Lake with her school friends. They used to enter from the Nazrul Mancha side and exit from the Menoka Cinema side. The first time she went there, she was quite amused seeing couples sitting together, making-out and sharing those cement-benches with other couples. Her gang of girls used to giggle among themselves whenever they saw such amorous activities. They used to laugh loudly, pass remarks and their main aim was to disturb those couples. But secretly Noyonika wished that one day she and Rahul would also come and sit in this park and make-out. She wanted to walk the entire length and breadth of the Lake hand in hand with Rahul. She wanted to go and stand on the hanging bridge with him and feed the fish below. Once she saw a couple there sharing only one cone of ice-cream. She saw the boy holding the cone, and he and his girlfriend would take turns to lick the ice-cream with their tongues. Noyonika immediately wanted to share an ice-cream with Rahul in similar fashion. She really wanted to spend time with Rahul at the Lake in summer evenings and winter afternoons. Even after coming out of the Lake from the gate opposite Menoka Cinema, her heart would still remain back. In those days the concept of a multiplex was alien in Calcutta. Menoka and Priya were the places where she could meet the Khan-Trio face to face. The shortest one was her all time favourite. And she was eagerly waiting for his next film which would eventually revolutionise Bollywood. 














Bollywood is somewhat responsible in making Indian teenagers romantic in a different sort of filmy way. Inside her own ideal filmy world, she wished that Rahul would try to sweep her off her feet, that he would try desperately to gain her attention, that he would call her every afternoon and find her phone engaged, that he would write poems about her in the hope that the flicker of love would start flickering inside her heart for him, that he would propose to her and she would refuse him and play hard to get, still he would try to woo her till the end of time, and then one day she would finally accept his love. She always wanted Rahul to be the man who would one day ruin her lipstick, but never her mascara. 













But in reality things were different. Her love life was heading nowhere. Her grades were not improving. Half the time she was grumpy about one thing or the other. She felt that no body could understand her. She herself could not understand half the people around her. Sometimes she wanted to run away from everything and start afresh somewhere else. Her love for Rahul was burning her from inside. And the fact that he was not reciprocating her feelings was making her miserable. She kept on listening to Ritika Sahni's Tomakey Ektu Dekhtey Ichchey Korey and Pabona Tomar Mon Ta in her old Philips double-deck cassette player. She was truly, madly, deeply, hopelessly and helplessly in love with Rahul. She was sick of love, but also she was in the thick of it. And the following song used to murder her mercilessly from within her soul : 






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She subconsciously wanted Rahul, decked up as a knight in shining armour, to come and rescue her and take her away in his white horse. She wondered whether in the spur of that romantic moment she would sit on the horse with her legs on one side, or whether she would sit with her legs on both sides of the horse. 













Sometimes she would give blank calls to Rahul. She loved hearing his voice saying, "Hello, Hello". On her birthday when Rahul forgot to wish her, she was very hurt. And I mean very very very hurt. She felt like strangling him. And then felt like making love to him violently. That day too she gave quite a number of blank calls to him. That day it rained a lot too. She looked at the falling raindrops through her glass window pane from her fifteenth floor flat. Looking down at the wet and raunchy Calcutta made her fall in love with this city even more. She pressed her hands against the glass, closed her eyes and instantly she could feel Rahul's warm breath on the back of her neck, as if he was gently holding her from behind. She also distinctly heard him wishing her happy birthday in her ears. Soon as his lips slightly brushed against the back of her neck, there was wetness all around.     













Only for a brief period in the eternal flow of time, Rahul and Noyonika's friendship peaked intensely before the eventual and inevitable final fallout. The fire of a candle shines brightest just before dying out. They became the best of friends. They would talk almost every afternoon. They would share their deepest secrets and their weirdest fantasies with each other. She would write long emails to him. In those days 123india.com was a very popular site, though today hardly anybody uses it. Rahul would reply to some of her emails. But sometimes she would try to act in an over-smart way and that used to piss-off Rahul. Then she immediately used to apologise and tried to manaao him again. Secretly Rahul also used to get a kick out of the undivided attention that she was giving him and because of all the little things she did to make him happy. 











   


Noyonika always wanted to meet him, but unfortunately it never worked out. Rahul was always busy with one thing or the other. He was a very bad boy and in those days was ill-behaved, arrogant, obnoxious, dominating, selfish, demented, hot-headed and bad-tempered. Some of their so-called mutual friends loved to bitch about Rahul to Noyonika. But this only had a reverse effect. Her love for him increased with each passing day, and obviously night. But we all know that too much familiarity breeds contempt. Thus the friendship-phase between them passed over soon. They somehow drifted apart. And Noyonika once again became alone struggling with her romantic feelings for him. She again felt lost in love with him. 














A few months later she saw Rahul walking hand in hand with a girl in a blue saree at Maddox Square during Durga Puja. That girl was none other than Rahul's first-love Shona. Noyonika's heart wanted to go forward and talk to him, but her brain strictly ordered her feet to remain firmly rooted to the ground. She thought that Rahul had not seen her, and that gave her some comfort, but Rahul being Rahul, had actually seen her from the corner of his eye. He also initially thought of going and saying Hello to her, but then thought that it would be an awkward situation. Seeing him with another girl really broke Noyonika's heart. She really wanted him, nothing else, just him. 













Time flew. Things changed. People moved on. And some people really moved on. Calcutta got a makeover. Mobile phones replaced Landlines. A decade passed in just a few seconds. But the more things change, the more they remain the same. Noyonika's love for Rahul still remains unrequited. He still stands there somewhere in the horizon. She sees him there, wants to make a mad rush towards him, but ultimately realises the futility of it. 
















Today Rahul and Noyonika are no longer in touch. They live separately in separate parts in the city. Nowadays once in a blue moon they happen to cross each other's paths but they choose not to recognize each other and try to lose themselves in the maddening crowd. Saying Hello to each other would mean explaining a lot of things that happened and a lot of things that did not happen. But Noyonika's love for Rahul still remains intact inside the deep crevices of her heart. And even while surviving in the cut-throat rat-race inside the big bad world, she still misses him like before. 













She still searches inside her heart for that lost innocence of a time gone by. A time which will never return. Its like a beautiful dream which one had unknowingly dreamt many years back and even today the remnants of that dream continue to give solace. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. Reminiscing about the good old times can really be therapeutic. These days she absolutely loves the song Tumi Ki Cholechho Taar Khonje, magnificently written by Kabir Suman and mellifluously sung by Sabina Yasmin. Especially these twelve lines play with her heart-strings exactly like when a man plays with his beloved's long hair. 


Se Chhilo Aamar Chhelebela 
Taakey Aamio Dekhechhilam 
Dupurbela Ekaar Khelaay 
Songi Chhilo Taar-ee Naam 

Koishorer Obhimaaney 
Taakey Aamio Peyechhilam 
Prothom Ojaana Bedonaai 
Jhhorechhilo Taar-ee Naam 

Jouboney Bhalobashaai 
Taakey Aamio Chineychhilam 
Buker Duronto Spondoney 
Kenpeychhilo Taar-ee Naam... 


And here is that song : 





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Even today Noyonika sometimes re-reads her old emails which she had sent him a decade back. Reading those emails again brings tears to her eyes. She closes her eyes and transports herself back in time. And she does not feel like coming back to her present reality. Even today she misses him just the way she did a decade back.  






  





Time is a great healer. It heals all kinds of wounds, both external and internal. However some people like to keep some of their bittersweet internal wounds alive even after a decade. Noyonika falls in this category. No matter how hard time tries to heal her special wounds, it always fails to do so, because she would not allow it. She loves living with them. And by now it has become a matter of habit for her. Without her wounds she would not feel complete. 














However lastly let us all agree this to be just a typical, filmy and cliched Blog-Post. Now allow me to bend the fabric of space and time, and make Rahul and Noyonika bump into each other one rainy evening on the streets of Calcutta, with the divine smell of wet-earth all around and with the faint tune of Ei Poth Jodi Na Shesh Hoy coming from a distant radio. Permit me to throw in some elements of magic realism into the scenario. Both of them look into each other's eyes and instantly pages after pages of conversation get exchanged between them. Nobody says anything. They just keep looking into each other's eyes. Yet everything that needed to be said gets understood by the other person. Rahul doesn't have an umbrella, she does. In the last scene the audience sees both of them sharing that umbrella and walking together hand in hand away from the screen towards infinity. The end credits start scrolling upwards and we hear Anjan Dutta singing : 


Hoteo Paarey Aamader Ei Gaan 
Keu Rakhbey Na Mone Dhorey 
Haariye Jaabo Aamra 
Somoyer Ogochorey 
Hoteo Paarey Etaai Sudhu 
Bhalobashar Navishash 
Hoye Jeteo Paarey Etaai 
Aagamir Itihaash...












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