Your glasses

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I sometimes wonder why do you wear your glasses. Maybe you wear it because it protects your eyes from the radiations of the sun. You definitely like to care of your eyes. Or maybe because it’s in fashion and you want to be trendy and not mocked at by your peers for not wearing a pair.

They say you can catch a person telling lies by looking in her eyes. So maybe you are lying about something and want to hide your eyes so you are not caught. They also say that when a person smiles truly their eyes also do so. So your glasses may be a cover for all your fake smiles. Maybe you cry underneath those dark glasses and do not want the world to see your tears and you want to project a strong picture of yourself.

Your glasses may very well be an excuse for not looking into the eyes of every person you talk with and paying attention to them without them knowing. Or it may so be that you do not want anyone to look into those eyes of yours and fall for you. Maybe you want to show that you are cold and practical by obstructing the world a view of your eyes, although inside you still are the same.

The world might look different through those dark glasses of yours; you may see things, people and situations that are not clearly visible with our naked eyes. The world is a gray place for most of us seeing it with our naked eye. But maybe you can clearly distinguish the world as black and white with your glasses. Maybe you want to see a different version of reality, a different world which is a pleasure to your eyes.

An unusual ride

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I was on my way to Cotton College, panbazaar, to attend a quiz in a public bus from khanapara. It was stranded on the bhangagarh bus station for an awfully large amount of time as it was almost empty as the day being Sunday. I was suffering from a mild headache and since I didn’t want to be bothered by the cacophony of the environment I had my earplugs on with a song from arctic monkeys blaring at the maximum possible volume.

Having nothing to be preoccupied with, I started to look to the other side of the road. I found the roads to be having a lesser density of vehicles than usual, which was perhaps expected the day being a holiday. I suddenly saw a girl hurriedly and I must say quite dangerously trying to cross the road. She came from the other side of the busy G.S. road to the divider in between. While crossing the road she narrowly escaped a collision with a biker. She seemed to be in some sort of an emergency. She had adorned a funny looking woolen multicolored hat, a black jacket, blue jeans, and pumps and had a backpack on her back. She wore glasses and seemed to be in her late teens.

Suddenly I began to hear some commotion even with my earplugs still blaring loud music. I at once opened them to get a sense of the situation. All I could hear were some incomprehensible noises. Then I saw two shabbily dressed women enter the bus through the back door. They seemed to be in a rush. Strangely enough these two ladies were standing even with seats available. Amusingly one of them was acting as though she was scratching her body, although trying to conceal her act with her shawl. Also she was stomping her feet with her shoes seemingly trying to kick something.

Then I heard a female voice shouting to return her money. I turned around to notice the girl with the funny looking hat rushing into the bus. I then began to understand a little from the ramblings of the girl and the two shabbily dressed women. Allegedly according to the girl these two women had stolen her wallet and she wanted it back. The women retorted that the girl’s allegation was baseless and to mind her manners and to think twice before accusing an innocent person. The women also asked whether she had seen her stealing her wallet. The girl replied that other people had seen them doing so and were ready to testify against them.

My co passengers were worried of the whole situation. So they asked the ladies to settle their grievances outside the bus so that the bus ride goes on without any further hitch. And so the bus started. The commotion and the ensuing situation seemed to have benefitted the bus. Now there were now more passengers and the seats were almost filled up. I once again started to put on my earplugs, when something caught my attention. Lying on the floor of the bus was a wallet. I immediately called the conductor of the bus and pointed my finger in the direction to make him notice the wallet on the floor. He immediately picked it up and began to look through its contents. The bus had been barely gone twenty metres from the last bus stop.

The conductor was browsing the contents of the bag publicly. Everyone seemed to be having a good time in peeking through the belongings of a stranger. There in one of the compartments was a driving license and the picture on it was that of the girl with the hat. Suddenly I came to understand the whole situation that happened at the previous bus stop.  The two ladies may have stolen the wallet of the girl and when they realized she was after them they hopped onto a bus. But the girl still chased them to the bus. The other one was just merely trying to hide the wallet . But when she saw the girl in the bus she decided to get rid of the evidence. She stomped her feet merely to kick the wallet out of immediate sight of passengers and the girl.

Meanwhile the conductor asked the driver to stop the bus. One of the passengers who seemed to be in his thirties with a haircut similar to an army man volunteered to take the wallet and give it to the girl. The previous bus stop was hardly five minutes away on foot. He jumped off and began running back to the bus stop. The bus started and everyone was talking about how they knew the two women were thieves from the get go, how they pitied the condition of the girl, etc. some of them even started taking credit for having discovered the wallet. I meanwhile kept to myself and didn’t join the conversations starting around me. I put on my earplugs and switched on my mobile’s music player. Ironically enough the song playing on my player that time was “do I wanna know” by Arctic Monkeys. Almost all the passengers barring me were engaged in animated conversation. I meanwhile closed my eyes listening to the music in my ears, as the bus started inching closer to my destination. 

Dilemma

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Drinking the most expensive cocktails available in a lonely bar at 2pm in the afternoon is not everyone’s idea of spending time in his home city after a span of 5 yrs. But so it was for Kaustav after having a row with his wife Sakshi for the amount of tip to be given at the hotel. Kaustav was in his hometown Guwahati for a business trip as part of his company’s expansion program in the north-eastern part of India. He worked in a big marketing & advertising company based in Mumbai.

After his initial posting in Mumbai, Kaustav being the only child, his mom and dad shifted along with him to Mumbai. There he met Sakshi through a common friend and although they didn’t love at first but slowly they began to like each other’s company and due to similar family backgrounds they married. Today was supposed to be the last day of his 4 day sojourn to Guwahati.  Kaustav’s mother was recuperating from a bout of jaundice so their parents didn’t come with them to Guwahati, only Sakshi came along with him.  Surely Kaustav was a bit overworked from his daily meetings and conferences but lately his difference with his wife has been rising in the past year or so.
Kaustav paid the bartender and but didn’t offer any tip.

Contrary to what he had expected he was utterly left disappointed after drinking. The cocktails although expensive did nothing to help his mood. Discontented at the poor quality of cocktails and frustrated at having wasted so much money he went to his car and looked for his chauffeur who was having a nap in the car parked beside the road adjacent to the bar. As he was going he suddenly happened to notice a known face amongst the crowd. 

His heart pounded very fast for he was seeing Riya after about eight years. Riya was his first and perhaps till now his only love. They were both college sweethearts but when he went to study in Singapore, Kaustav on the apprehension that Riya might find someone better than him or perhaps she would cheat on him in a long distance relationship broke up. Kaustav was then okay with it although he felt a little bad but Riya was completely heartbroken at Kaustav’s attitude. He had recently heard that Riya had married a professor and was now working as a lecturer in IIT-G. Seeing her walking across the other side of the road made him realize that he still loved her and after all these years he still couldn’t forget her.

Kaustav at once wanted to cross the road and talk with Riya, for Riya was once also his best friend, now he hardly had one friend only acquaintances. He wanted to enquire about Riya, how she had been all these years, did she miss her, how her husband was and what not. But he also wanted to look at Riya more closely. He wanted to look at the face that had been eluding him for so many years, the eyes where he could be lost forever with joy, the voice that seemed more pleasant to him than any other music record in the whole world. He wanted to rekindle the old love and friendship he had with Riya.

But he stopped, because reality suddenly dawned on him. What if Riya becomes angry seeing him? What if she says something bad that he wouldn’t be able to forget? Besides he also doubted that even if Riya liked seeing him after all these years and somehow if they are able to rejuvenate their love, it would be tremendous injustice to throw their relationships with their respective spouses in jeopardy. He could not think of cheating on Sakshi and even the thought of it made him feel guilty.
So he watched Riya walk through at the opposite end of the road. Riya didn’t look a year older to Kaustav when he had last seen her at college. The road made it seem as though Riya and Kaustav were two parallel lines, close but yet not intersecting. The distance of the road separating them must have been about 16 meters but their hearts were worlds apart. Riya didn’t seem to notice Kaustav, maybe because he has changed in these years and Kaustav felt it was only better that she hadn’t.

Kaustav didn’t awake the driver for he didn’t want to be interrupted while seeing Riya walk.  He silently took out his cigarette, lighted it ever so carefully and smoked absentmindedly. He watched Riya slowly fade into the crowds of people coming in from the other side as the smoke from his cigarette faded into the polluted atmosphere. But still he could make out Riya’s face amongst the crowd.  The crowd began to disperse as he took another puff from his cigarette and Riya was again visible to him. But as the smoke from his last puff began to fade away into the air Riya seemed to have disappeared in the horizon.

Disappointed Kaustav threw away his half smoked stick of nicotine and stomped on it as though trying to kill away the happy memories he had with Riya. As the light of the cigarette butt died down he felt as though a part of his also died with it. He was about to curse himself for having left such a nice girl as Riya but was stopped short by the yawning of the chauffeur who was rising from his short nap.  Kaustav also was awoken from his sudden despair after noticing Riya. He hopped into the car and asked his chauffeur to drive to the hotel quickly. 
  

Karmic roadblock

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Stranded on a steep hillside dhaba sipping cup after cup of tea wasn’t supposed to be in the itinerary of Rajesh. Rajesh a travel writer for a leading lifestyle magazine had been on a visit to the Buddhist town of Tawang for his review of tourist places in northeastern part of India. Their bus was stranded for about three hours due to a sudden landslide. The army and local people were clearing the debris and the road wasn’t supposed to be clear till tomorrow morning. He and some of the fellow passengers took rooms in a nearby guesthouse whose name was too exotic to pronounce. Rajesh was so engrossed thinking about his work and awed and mesmerized by the steep hills and lush forests that he didn’t care who his fellow passengers were in the bus. Now since the road was blocked for the night he had all the time to notice his fellow bus boarders and also the natives of the hills.

He observed that the people boarding the bus could be mainly divided into three groups- hippy tourists, monks and some locals who had some business to attend to. Rajesh never liked hippies, the locals and the monks seemed nice but he didn’t understand their language nor could they or so he thought. Besides he was not in any mood to engage in sign language histrionics. So he sat in a corner sipping tea and reading the latest issue of the magazine he worked in, which he had packed in his travel bag. The hills made him both happy and sad. The hills were beautiful, steep and majestic but they also were devoid of enough human interaction that although, he seemed to dislike when he was in the city, now he missed here in amidst the hills.

Soon a monk came and asked ” its hotter here than in Tawang, isnt it?” Rajesh was a little surprised that the monk seemed to speak in a common understandable tongue. The monk looked about 40 yrs. old had a radiant pair of eyes and his smile was mysterious to say the least. “Ya, but I am more attuned to a little heat than the harsh cold in uphill.” And thus started their conversation. They enquired about their purpose of visit to Tawang, discussed about the weather, places they had been to around the world. The monk abruptly asked Rajesh “what is that is troubling you my son?” Rajesh was a little taken back by this sudden question and hesitantly replied “no I am not troubled sir. “The monk then gazed straight into the eyes of Rajesh and he was forced to concede that yes he indeed was troubled. Rajesh was troubled by the constant stress of his work. Lately due to stiff competition from his contemporaries he was losing face in the eyes of his employer. Although he did write articles which seemed good to him the editors were not much pleased with his work. He always longed for the approval of his editors and he was quite distraught now for not getting enough of it. However Rajesh was not demoted from his position nor was there any risk of losing his job, infact he earned better now than before. But he still wanted something to happen and yet he did not know what it was. So he grasped the first opportunity for a trip to Tawang thinking it would soothe his mind but contrary to his expectations it did not help much.   

Listening to the plight of Rajesh the monk first smiled dispassionately and then said, “Believe in Karma and you will be fine. And…” Rajesh interrupted, “how can I believe that my present condition is a result of my past life sins. I would respectfully decline to do so.” The monk explained, ” I m not asking you to believe in your Karma of previous life. All I m asking you to do is to believe in the Karma of your present life. Believe that you will get what you truly deserve. Your work will reap you the benefits you need. Do not be attached to the results of your actions. Do your work and leave the rest to a higher entity. What goes around eventually comes around. Do not get into some work expecting to get something in return, because it is expectation that hurts the human soul the most. Unfulfilled expectations are the cause of sorrow. If you can free yourself of expectation you will attain nirvana, but I understand it is not possible for people like you, to be devoid of any expectations entirely. But try to have minimal expectations and dont be attached to the results of your work.”

Rajesh listened like a child to all this and somehow a big clout cleared in his head and peace seemed to finally reside in his mind. The monk and Rajesh parted ways for the night and after so many days Rajesh slept like a child. Next day when he woke up the debris were cleared and he wanted to talk again with the monk. But the monk was nowhere to be seen. He enquired about the monk to others and he did meet some monks but none fitted his description of the monk he saw yesterday. He thought maybe he had wandered to some nearby monastery. Before restarting on his bus journey he thought it would be apt to go visit a nearby monastery so that there are no further roadblocks on his journey home. But he was shocked to see in the monastery the picture of the monk he had met. The name was written in possibly Tibetan script but below it was written (1968-2012). He was shocked and doubts started to arise in his mind whether that was a ghost of the monk . But he remembered the monk or the ghost of the monk or whatever it was had delivered to him. He decided that the purpose of his visit to Tawang is now fulfilled. He accepted that it was perhaps divine intervention that sought to deliver him the message of Karma and to which he must adhere to. He then left the monastery and boarded the bus on his way to home.