Remembering the missing two by Champa Srinivasan

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It was sometime in the last week of July 1965. I was just two year and two months then. I was sitting with our old maid, Annor Ma, at the cemented platform, outside our main gate. It was past the usual evening playtime for the local kids and the elderly neighbours who were passing by, all stopped at us and enquired, what made the two of us sit out in the dark.

‘Her mother is coming back today’, Annor Ma said.
‘From ?’ and ’Oh we never knew that she is away’, were the responses we heard from them.

The taxi, for which we were waiting, arrived pretty late. Baba got down from it first and then came out Ma. I ran towards them. Both smiled at me but both were busy. Baba’s hands were full with bags and baskets of different sizes. Ma was holding a bundle on her arms, wrapped all over by a towel.

The moment we entered the house, I lost all my patience. I turned around facing Ma and in a very firm and unusually shrill voice cried out, ‘now throw away that wrapped parcel and take me in your arms.’

Ma was visibly embarrassed.This is a story from almost decades back and I was only little more than two but I somehow remember all the happenings of that evening like I have seen it in a recent film. She called Baba, handed over the bundle she was holding in her arms to him, hugged me tight and softly said,’ B, she is not a parcel but your sister, dear. This little baby is our gift for you and from today, we would always be Four.’

Remembering the missing two, Ma and Baba, on my sister’s birthday.



I Too Had A Love Story (True Facebook Style) – By Champa Srinivasan

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I met Sayan through a poem in Facebook. I was so enthralled by the poem, he had posted on his Facebook Timeline that I sent him a message, congratulating him for writing such a brilliant piece and requesting him to write more. It was just like one of those compliments we get to read in the social media sites. I did not expect a reply so fast, because we did not even know each other then. .

Once he replied saying that that only a true friend could write such a heart warming message and it’s never too late to be friends in life, I sent him the add request and we became ‘friends’. We started messaging each other then itself and by the end of the day, we knew a lot about each other. We spoke and shared a lot in the first one week. He knew what my children liked to eat for dinner and who had been my first crush in the college days. I knew which club he used to go to for his Friday evenings, what gift he was planning for his daughter’s birthday and many other trivial and not so trivial things about each others’ lives.

I had just then recovered from a surgery then and was going through a very vulnerable phase in my life. The close brush with death had left me an emotional wreck and Sayan’s attention, his choice of books and songs, his supposed concern for me, kindled my fondness for him. My husband had gone for one of his usual office tour abroad and Sayan’s online company filled up my loneliness and we both were getting attracted towards each other fast. A holiday with his family to Egypt had been booked quite long ago, Sayan said and so he would not be able to log in to Facebook much, he regretted. I told him that I too would be get busy for sometime as my brother and his wife were coming to see me from Nashik .

Sayan and I wanted to make the best of time we were online together before his holiday and my brother’s visit. I was at home, still recuperating and on medical leave but he kept messaging me constantly from his work place. He would just not give me time to eat or sleep. I simply got carried away by his attention and devotion. I had somehow got used to a matter of fact kind of life after eighteen years of marriage and two grown up kids, Sayan suddenly made me feel very cared for and sought after. He took me back to my college days once more. I kept waiting for his messages all day and at night I woke up again and again just to check my Facebook inbox.

Sayan was a early morning person. On most days, I woke up in response to his ping in the messenger and we loved to start our days together, sharing our joys, sorrows and stories of our daily chores. We did dream together a lot. We spoke about having dream vacations together at the mountain top, the silvery beaches and the verdant green. We watched the same film together, at our respective homes, miles apart and then spent hours together dissecting and discussing it. We listened to the readings of Plath and Auden, together in YouTube, we even looked out of our windows at the same time to see the same moon.

We both were very convinced that we were in love with each other, at least I were. I still remember it well, the day my friend Smita, came to see me. She kept staring at me for sometime in surprise and then asked me very softly,’ what soap and lotion are you using recently, your skin look radiant like that of a seventeen year old.’

I blushed at hearing that. I knew that it was Sayan’s company that was making me glow. Sayan had gifted to me my long lost youth, I believed. Is this then what they call Love? Why have I been deprived of this joy so long, I asked myself. What was I doing then, all these years, just building up a nest? Feeling togetherness in happy domesticity is then not what love actually means, does it then have some other name? Is Love all about the yearning and wanting, missing each other every moment, longing for the one, who is unknown and always beyond? At one point of time, I paused to ask myself, what if Sayan and I, in real do meet. Once the mystery unfolds would I still crave for him like before?

The day before Sayan left for his holiday to Egypt, he said that he wasn’t feeling happy and he actually didn’t want to go. I tried cheering him up. He said that it was me with whom he would love to go for a holiday and not with anyone else. I ran up to the dressing table mirror and saw my face in it, at hearing this. I tried plucking off those couple of grey strands popping out near the temple, I pencilled my eyes, pressed a red bindi in between the brows, applied some gloss on the lips. I knew that I was blushing and I smiled at my phone camera and posed for a ‘Selfie’, to be sent to Sayan along with my next message saying, ‘A gift for You’.

He left for the Egyptian holiday, next morning. I did not want to bother him when he was with the family but still sent him a message after a couple of days, wishing him a good time. I expected to hear from him, as I had started missing him by then. A ‘thank you’ came back after many hours and since then my wait had begun. My brother and his wife had arrived to stay with me, in the mean time. We went out together for shopping and trying out the new fine dining joints of the town. We had long sessions of chats, brother and me, trying to recollect all our nostalgic memories. We spoke about mom and dad and our childhood neighbours and friends. I laughed a lot, I had a blast with my brother who was older than me only by a year but I kept missing Sayan too. Nothing could distract me from his thoughts.

Sayan returned from holiday a week later. I was too excited to see that a message had arrived in my inbox from my friend. He wrote that he was not keeping well and would get back to me after some days. I wished him a speedy recovery. My medical leave had ended too and I went back to my office and got busy with all the pending work. He didn’t write to me again. I came across one of his poem in a web journal. It was a beautiful poem, about sighing for the beloved from a distance but never letting her know. I felt restless one more time. I messaged to him, asking about his whereabeings. He, however, chose to remain silent and never replied.

I tried to keep my desperation in control and preach my mind on right and wrong. I spent frivolously on shopping clothes and other unwanted items, I cried for my parents, both of whom had departed almost a decade back. I attempted writing some mushy poetry and I even contemplated suicide. It was around this time that I wrote a long note to Sayan, one night. I did away with my feminine ego and shame and asked him, why he stopped interacting with me, where and when did I, so abruptly, go wrong. Next morning, there was a one line reply in my inbox from him. He said that I was getting ‘genuinely involved’ and so he had to stop.

His reply left me perplexed but I did not break down. What was that the guy looking for then, if not an ‘genuine involvement’, I thought! I realised that I had been taken for a high and mighty ride. Sayan was perhaps building up his mood just before going for a holiday with his wife and the foolish me, I allowed him to use me as his invigorating and rejuvenating tool. I remembered, what my friend Tina had said in one of those girlie coffee meets that we women are always desperately waiting to fall in love whereas the men who befriend us, in the social networking sites, have a very clear agenda in mind. They use us as stimulants for their rusted conjugal lives. Tina winked and what she said next, left all of us into splits, ’we are the mental viagras those old fools need so that they can go home and make happy their unsuspecting wives’.

I started laughing too as I remembered Tina’s words. Online relationships are meant to be fun, I was convinced and if we do not fail to forget our LOCs and stop looking for loss and gain, we could all have some real good time and avoid the unnecessary heartbreaks .No, I did not ‘Unfriend’ Sayan. He is still a friend, I enjoy reading his posts but I do not write to him anymore. Sayan clicks a ‘Like’ on my ‘Profile Pictures’ once in a blue moon. We feature in each others ‘Friend List’ in peaceful and happy co existence, like Facebook friends are supposed to do, without having much expectations from each other and of course without getting ‘genuinely involved’.