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Friday, November 9, 2018

Cityblog Feature: Nayakgiri: Comedy Short Story : Mail That Did Not Bounce

Mail That Did Not Bounce
Today Mr and Mrs Bhatavadekar are the esteemed guests for dinner at our place. I am worried about how I should face them after almost a decade.. Actually I am feeling guilty that instead of being happy and excited about the reunion with someone who had been my best friend during most of my teens and young adulthood. But I am scared about both the past and the  future. Let me take back to the past first to explain root cause of my worries in present and define effects of present in my future.

When I say past , I mean those glorious college days with lots of friends, events, treks, picnics, restaurant food, movies, dramas when in Pune and Infinite fun of hostel life at a remote place. Life was an succession of events as endless like an Ekta Kapoor serial plot where something happens all the time. The most arduous task in life during those days was attending the lectures at 8 am in the morning after waking up at 7 45am squeezing breakfast in between. The most testing times were at the end of each semester where we would attend an event called as End Term Exams. The most bizarre task was to get inside my digestive system the most tasteless, pungent smelling and uncooked food someone can ever eat. I dont know how I could have survived without  those omelets and Maggie dishes served at Naren Da (made to sound as NOren Da in Bengal) night canteen. The best parts of the life were the summer and winter vacations in Pune.

The past which I referring to was enacted in one of those winter vacations and the protagonist was my best friend Harshavardhan popularly knows at HB pencil. The genesis of this name was his pencil like tall and thin stature and his initials. Harshavardhan Bhatavadekar is a long name and if you add middle name it becomes an infinite loop. His fathers name is Shrinivas. I wonder if he gets enough space on the forms he need to fill in. I and HB met at preschool and had been together like a pillow and cushion till we parted ways after 12 th to different Engineering Colleges. We also had few other boys and girls in our motley group. We had named our group as MTV (empty vessels) as we made lot of noise. We had Prakash the eternal  forgetful day dreamer, Sumedh aka KK Kishore Kumar , Seema the emotional fool, Pradnya the fighter. HB was the joker and they called me scholar for my scholastic skills. I parted the group to join my far off college in middle of nowhere..

As we met in that eventful vacation, I found HB always lost like a passenger waiting for his Departure gate  to be announced at an European Airport. He was very uncharacteristically quiet  like a tap in a house where the water supply is cut due to non payment.  I could not trace the reason. I tried to talk to him but the guy avoided the topic like one avoids karela sabzi in the plate . But I am as persistent as a tele-caller. Sunset is the best time and any hill around Pune is the best place for one to feel more philosophical and feel an urge to open out to someone like one feels an impulse to throw out after smelling rotten fish. But what HB threw out was expression of his love he felt for Seema.

Here goes the conversation:

HB : Do you know how it feels when all the stars in the sky fade away? Or do you know how it feels like when all the water in an Ocean evaporate?
I : No
HB: What do you mean by just NO
I:  The probability of both the events occurring is zero so no living or dead being  could have witnessed any of those events.
HB: Let me ask this the other way: Have you felt like everything is stopped when someone enters the room. Do you hear music in the background. Do you see rainbow in the sky? Do you feel soft breeze blowing.
I: Yes when a professor comes with marked exam answer sheets . Instead of rainbow I see stars in the daytime, instead of music its a long lecture I hear, but yes  the whole world stops..
HB: Lets cut the crap I am in love with a girl
I: Hey  Thats the thing which has turned you into a vegetable inside a grocery store. By the way, Who is this lucky  girl
HB; Can you guess?
I: Come on man, lets cut the crap,  Name her
HB:  I am in love with Seema
I: Oh one of the MTV member ? Doesn't  this violate MTV spirit. Knowing both of you I feel you should rethink.
HB; I don’t care and I am 100 % sure about my decision. If not Seema, then its nobody..
I: So please lock his decision computerji
HB: But I do not know how to express it to her. Will she like it ? Will she be upset? Will I loose her friendship? Thats what is bothering  me day and night . I cannot sleep neither I can eat. My life without her will be as useless as a mobile phone without sim card. Or will be as powerless like bank account without balance.
I : So why don’t you deposit some power into your account, just propose her
HB: I don’t have that power. I cannot imagine standing in front of her and saying these three words.
I: So write it.
HB : Thats a great idea. So typical of you to always come up with a solution.  But there is a problem. You know my literary skills so can you please write same on my behalf?
I: Come on man, its tough.
HB: You need to do it for our friendship. But lets do it in steps. Lets send her letter without my name: Anonymous. Then you get the feedback from her. If she is angry and upset, I will not face her till she gets back to normal. And forget her and live my lonely life. Ekla Chalo Re…
I : I don’t think its good idea, but as what you think ok. After all its about your life.

Somehow I had a feeling of unease. Something was wrong Whether it was about the pair of HB and Seema because it is a conventional wisdom that opposites attract each other but both of these are so similar emotional fools that I would imagine a dinner table conversation at future Bhatavadekar residence if things go ahead.

HB: Hey Honey can you please pass me salt?
Seema: Why
HB: The Daal needs some taste.
Seema: So these days you don’t find anything good be it salt in the food. Yesterday you said that we should watch out on oil in the food. Cooking is not the real issue.  I know I have put on some pounds and also that you are thin but how does that give you right to hurt my sentiments
HB: No Honey I did not mean that. How would I hurt you anytime. You are the only oasis in my life turned into a desert.
Seema: Does that mean I turned your life into desert.. But then if I am Oasis , why is your life Desert?
HB: No Honey I did not mean that, I mean life pressures are so difficult and you are the one who ease it how. Your love and support are the only things which are granted in this uncertain world.
Seema; Does that mean I will be taken for Granted.
HB: No Honey I did not mean that…….

I am sure such will be the conversation in futures, But exceptions prove the rule so I convinced myself that let me give this pair a chance.  I was also uneasy about me writing a letter for him. But these are the times to live up to the friendship.  

HB: One more thing since you live in same part of town as Seema you need to give it to her
I: How can I hand it over in person?
HB: Then leave it on the Honda Activa. Take an envelope, Write Her name and keep it in tray in front.

That sounded like the easiest of task. I reluctantly took up the more challenging task of actually writing the letter. I spent few hours planning this letter over  three cups of coffee, Then another few hours writing same after rewriting it eleven times and downing six cups of coffee.. And then the masterpiece was ready which I felt was as crisp as freshly baked biscuit.,  with as literary value as a  in a Times of India blog. I thought of getting a second opinion but due to the confidential nature of the document I decided against it. I wanted to write it as an engineer and a funny guy like HB would write.

Letter goes like this

The Greatest Person on this Earth

Wanted to say this in person but cannot as i am sure that I will get tongue tied in your presence just like Bard in Sonnet 85 ( A certain Mr William Shakespeare is fondly called as Bard). I need a promise from you as I do not want to lose your friendship because its the most precious thing I have in the my below the poverty line world, as defined by the United Nations..

Just to inform you that I have been acted upon by an external unbalanced force like that body in the Newton’s first law. This not a gravitational force  or any known physical force , but is an attraction towards you. This attraction is not a magnetic but magical . This is a  Magic cast that you have woven the world wide web around me. My life was rotating like an electron in a fixed orbit but you have given me escape velocity to put me into simple harmonic motion which I am oscillating. But then I realized that I am in love. Love is in the air and in the greater percentage than Nitrogen. But its Oxygen for me to remain alive. Let me invoke all the powers of the universe to say these three magical words: I love you Seema.

I wish to spend rest of my life with you reading Shakespeare Sonnets, discussing issues of the world, sharing jokes, eating your favorite pastries and ice cream. I promise to make your each day happy. Life will be a romantic long drive,  Monsoon picnic , a long European vacation, tour in the paradise of lonely island, a Himalayan trek. Will you accept my Love?

Your Silent Lover

HB was happy with the content. I again asked him to sign the letter instead of leaving it anonymous. He declined.
He said” I have a plan. Once you deliver the letter, next day you talk to Seema and   gauge her reaction indirectly with no mention of letter. Based on that we can define a plan. Both of us are engineers and you have specialization of Instrumentation to measure her mood
I: First you expect me to write for you, deliver it to Seema and meet and measure her mood. But I am not an instrument and my professors don’t teach me this kind of measurement. Get some Humanities major for this task. Hey that's too much for me to do. What if my assessment is wrong? What will I ask her? I cannot just say did you like the anonymous letter?  And its not easy.
HB: Then be prepared to see me in this stage of limbo. Neither here or there. I will lose my grades . I will not get a job or scholarship. My life will be ruined. All because of you
I: Hey thats emotional atyachaar.

I agreed after lot of convincing and emotional blackmail. Next day I called Seema and asked her if we can meet as I am catching up with old group  friends individually during small vacation and could not coordinate group meeting.. In such situation college canteen could have been better a location to ‘accidentally’ bump on rather than calling her,  finding a pretext and meeting at some joint..  She said she would join me. But she made a curious statement that she was expecting my call.  

We met at a popular joint in our locality. I told her that I met HB  few days back. I praised HB saying that he has cracked this semester and he is doing some great project work. He also is in college cricket team. She said its been a while she met HB and asked me to tell him that she wanted to meet him as well. I was comforted by normalcy to face her at the joint.

Seema: Its good to meet you. We miss you so much in MTV
I: Thats what HB also tells me. In fact he also wanted to join me here but could not for some reason..
Seems: Good
I: Good, Meaning?
Seema:  I mean i wanted to say its fine  since  I can meet him anytime in Pune.
I: Yes he is always there for his friends
Seema: Forget about HB, I found that  you have changed a lot.
I: Yep lost few more pounds.
Seema; Not that way, I mean you have turned more normal more social. You have stared feeling emotions. Just  that you don’t know how to express them. Poor you.
I: But then we are meeting today after six months and that too for 3 minutes and 45 seconds
Seema: Ha ha, but I know how to read. I mean read your face.
I: Thats a good skill to have. Do you use it in real life.
Seema: Not till today. After all this thing has happened for first time in my real life.
I: What happened ?
Seema; Someone has expressed some special feeling for me. I have told Pradnya and now to you
I: Almost entire MTV knows it  But Did.. Did you,,, Did you like those feelings?
Seema: Yes, It feels like you have someone you can bank on in this untrustworthy world,  A Shoulder upon which you can cry. Only Oasis in the desert of Life. But I am waiting for author of this letter to say those three magical world in person
I; I am so happy . I cannot wait till I tell this to HB.

I got positive signal for HB as I observed that Seema is not upset . Infact she was feeling good about it. and he can personally express that to her. After that we talked about everything that you can discuss books, family updates, studies and colleges, MTV, politics , sports and so on.

I rush to HB’s house.
I: Man you have got green signal to ride your life with Seema as a pillion rider. She says she likes the letter and wants you to say her these three words.
No: But she does not know who has written it , I wont say her I Love You inperson unless  she likes me and wants me to say it to her.
I: Come on strike iron when its hot. Why waste time
HB: No, Let me send her  a signed letter and let me ask her to meet me if she likes  me else I wont meet her.

So he convinces me to write another letter I spend a day to come up with a gem..

To The Greatest Person on this earth

I love you my love. I love loving you and its so lovely feeling to feel your love.

I feel like I have been graduated in life due to the convocation you bestowed upon me. My life has been upgraded to the next version without any bugs and with new unparalleled features. You have liked my letters just like a professor likes  answer papers written by an A+ grader. I am too excited to ride the vehicle of my life with fuel tank full of your love

Lets get on this vehicle.


After getting approval from HB, I went to Seema’s Society. I forgot to get an envelope. I located an Activa in parking reserved for her flat. As I was about to write Seema’s name on the back page of the letter , I saw  Pradnya coming out of the stair lobby. I dropped the letter in the Activa and went outside on the road. I hoped she did not see me.  Next two days I was in Mumbai to meet my cousins. I reach home when my mom gave me an unopened envelope received by post.I saw name of Seema as sender. I was curious. I read matter written below my name.

I know how hard it would have been for you. But I like your intent and sincerity as you have shown till date in your life , career and friendship. I know you very well to help me make my life a picnic vacation and the rest. And yes you forgot that I know your handwriting . So I knew it were you. And yes I would love to read Shakespeare with you.

I was so shocked that entire exercise had gone topsy-turvy. I was right I should not got into this love business . Then I understood the implication  flow of all the conversation I had with Seema. I had let down my fiend and entered into unknown territory totally unprepared. But then my idiot friend had me into this. I went to HB to see him very sad.
Before I could say anything he said: I don’t know what has gone wrong. But why me?
I: Yes everything has gone wrong so far. Read this letter.
He read Seema’s Letter and was furious
HB: Its all because of you , you must have realized in your meeting but instead you tried to be smart.
I : hey man that's very mean of you. So are ungrateful creature. Here I tried to help. Put myself in in line but you accuse me
HB: You have not faced a fully angry Pradnya.
I: Whats Pradnya go do with this
HB; Don’t act innocent. You gave the second letter to Pradnya
I; I swear I don’t know Pradnya’s new house. I have not sent written word to her.
HB: Brutus et tu lied.
I: That’s not the phrase its Brutus et tu, Comma, Liar. Both are different characteristics of a human being.
HB: Cut the crap, I am not a friend of yours anymore.
I; Cut the Crap, even I don’t want to see your emaciated face anymore

That was a blow to me having blown a thick friendship away with one sentence. But I was not the initiator of this. Next day I got a call from Seema .
Seema: Did you read my letter?  
I: Yes
Seema: Are you  excited, I am feeling like the luckiest person on the earth,.
HB: I had to tell you a thing
Seema; You can tell me everything. So we are meeting tomorrow .

I agreed. I realized that she has started taking control of mine by ordering to meet her next day. I was scared. The entire situation was scary. I had got a emotional and dominant Girl-Friend and lost a life buddy. I felt like Bertie Wooster trapped at Blandings Castle with likes of Puppy Glossops, Madeliene Bassetts, and others. I needed a Jeeves. But there was none. I took out one of the Jeeves book, a  photo of P L and kept on the  table and prayed for a brainwave to resolve all the issues. And my gurus never fail. to inspire me  My handwriting which had got me in trouble would save me.  I had to make myself a villain out of me for Seema, create sympathy in Seema’s mind for HB and prove my innocence to HB. I made a plan.  Pradnya had to be at the center of the theme.
I called KK aka Sumedh from MTV.    
I said  to KK : “Someone is trying to frame HB. Someone has written and send love letter to Pradnya and written HB’s name as author. But HB has not done it and I believe in him. Seema also has received an anonymous letter and Pradnya knows it. Why don’t you call Pradnya and let her know that HB is innocent and she can  show the letter to Seema and  get some clues to find the true author?
KK: Why don’t you call her yourself?
I: No don’t ever mention my name to Pradnya. She knows that I close to HB so she might think that its a cover up.
Next day I went to meet Seema at decided joint. There I saw both Seema and Pradnya waiting for me.
Seema: So Mr Scholar, you wanted to make fool out of all of us.
I: I don’t know what are you saying.
Pradnya: Writing love letters to your friends. Framing your poor best buddy.  You find everything funny. Buts its not funny.
Seema: Its cruel playing with emotions and laughing. Is it what they teach you in the best college in the country. Leave us mere mortals alone. Poor HB. I will try to meet him and explain.

I concluded that my ploy had worked. I had met two out of three objectives: Me getting out of Seema bond and Seema sympathizing with HB.Next day I called KK. I told KK that in order to save HB,  I  have owned up to Seema and Pradnya that I was the one who had written the letter. Can you ask him to maintain silence and status-quo on this matter? Anyway I am far off and you guys are in the city so its better that I walk out. KK was impressed. Next day, which was last day of my vacation i got a call from HB

HB: Thanks buddy for holding the fort at your end despite my ungrateful , unreasonable, irrational, idiotic, improper behaviour.
I: Yes I wanted to correct the situation, so I asked KK to tell girls that it was me who were the mischief maker and don’t ever tell them this till you mend your situation with Seema
HB: Seema had called and wants to meet me tomorrow. By the way , how did second letter reach Pradnya. She said that she got it in her Activa

That brought me back to the events on that day. I think I mistook Pradnya’s Activa to be Seema’s Activa. Wish I had mailed that letter to Seema.

I: Cut the crap friend, and all the best . Hope to see you both together in my next vacation.
I ended my adventurous vacation but my wish to see both of them together till date has not been has been fulfilled. Next two vacations I took up summer projects and summer training so had only week long visits. HB got a scholarship to US university and I got a job. We are still playing hide and seek to meet in our home city thanks to my long deputations and work.

Life had moved on for HB and Seema well. The sympathy turned to special friendship and love. They got married three Decembers back. I got married to Pradnya last year.

It was destiny. Pradnya had met me at my office. She worked with company which provide Health and Wellness training to our company. She was the trainer and I was the trainee which still I am in personal life as well. She told me that after the marriage HB had confided about flow of events during that fateful vacation. Seema was so apologetic and called Pradnya. Pradnya really wanted to apologize me and she got an opportunity. She felt that I was heroic as was my loyalty to friendship with HB despite everything. I also liked Pradnya’s frank and simple approach to life. Her fighting spirit. We started meeting each other and we graduate to next level.

To summarize this, all this would not have happened in today’s age. Email was just getting popular in those days. There would have been no issue of someone knowing someone’s handwriting. Also if we had good connectivity. I still remember those strange sound made by modems later to that ear. HB would have emailed Seema. And any wrong id would have resulted mostly in bounced mail.

So here we are waiting for the Bhatavadekars, I imagine what would have happened if we had emails then. Life would have been different. I was also afraid to face Seema and was not sure how could I  react to her emotional trails. I was worried if there could be anything from past which can affect present and future. I am tense…..

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