Apples And Oranges
Apples And Oranges
“Give me that, it’s mine” snapped Kia, as her brother stole the last packet of Gems from Kia’s midnight snack savings.
Kabir had always been notorious and had always used it to distract Kia from her break-ups. It’s not like he was oblivious to breaking hearts. But unlike Kia, he did not volunteer for it by going into relationships. Girl’s just broke their heart over the fact that he didn’t get into one. And why not? He was a typical chic magnet with his ‘class president’ post coupled with his silky dark-brown hair. The fact that he was sensible, intelligent and smiled with a sparkle in his eyes, was not helping either.
He was not particularly handsome, but he was devastatingly charming and a gentleman to the boot. Or maybe the ‘good hair’ thing was the real deal here. It may sound naïve, but guys having soft, great hair is a big hit with girls. Kia always was tired explaining to her girlfriends, that she is of no help getting her brother to date one of them. She always nagged him about it, because she had to tolerate all the nagging from her friends. Also, because- ‘why the hell not?’ Kabir was great with studies, all his free time went doing something or the other around the house or in bowling with his gang. Concluding, he had a lot of free time. It’s not like he was not into girls, just not into any at his school or any other school in their area.
Which was confusing, because Delhi was a hot zone for girls. Also, they were 21 now, both Kia and Kabir, living with their two other cousins, away from home, to complete their studies in a second most productive metropolitan in India. I guess Kabir was looking for something more than- ‘He has such great hair’. Kia, on the other hand, needed just half a reason to start dating someone and it took only the other half of it for her to breakup with them. Thus, our two twins lived their life in a 2bhk on Vasant Kunj. Kia, an art graduate, pursuing her interest in cinema was paving her way to Mumbai while Kabir, a software testing major, was targeting IBM for his final year internship.
As they sat sharing the last packet of gems in the star-less blue night, looking at the sparkling streets of tall buildings and buzzing roads, Kabir edged Kia to share her distress with him. It was easy to spot that she was distressed because nothing other than that would convince our size 4 babe with a Sunny Leone poster hanging on her wall, to hog sugary food at 2:00 am in the night. After listening to Kia banter on about another one of her silly affairs, Kabir advised: “Stop dating random guys, Kia”
Mimicking him, Kia said, “Start dating random girls, Kabir”.
“Really? Do you think, we will ever find what we are looking for that easily?” exclaimed Kabir.
“Do you know what you are looking for?” snorted Kia.
“I know what we are looking for,” said Kabir with a knowing grin.
“We, as in both of us, you know what even I am looking for” Kia’s famous sarcasm found its way in.
“Yes, little sister,” said Kabir, teasing her back.
“I am not your little sister, you were born 7 minutes before me!” exasperated Kia, and continued with a pressed smile, “What am I looking for?”
“We need to travel some 1000 kms and go back in time by 25 years for that!” said Kabir taking Kia with him into a narrative time machine.
1995 - GUJARAT, INDIA:
It was a beautiful evening in September 1995, when Mohan decided to give a surprise visit to Prerna. It was quite chilly for anyone to be out with 15 degrees of odd temperature that night. Temperatures did not drop that low for the month of September in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. But this visit was of a dire need to Mohan. Prerna was leaving for her first job to Mumbai in a few days and Mohan had a feeling, she was avoiding him. In spite of their break-up a few months ago and irrespective of the fights they were having before it, Mohan and Prerna were inseparable when it came to friendship.
With less exposure to the world and a lesser knowledge of self, both were undoubtedly immature but shared a very mature and respected bond. From the first time that they met, Prerna felt a connection for Mohan and Mohan reciprocated with equal sincerity. Mohan understood Prerna and Prerna understood what’s good for Mohan. They both knew how rare it was to have something like this and were sensible enough to not put it at stake, just because their compatibility in love was missing. Was it really missing or was it a drawn conclusion after a frugal attempt at the relationship by two souls, who were still to find themselves, is a mystery!
The love between Prerna and Mohan was visibly strong. Mohan was the centre point around which Prerna built her everything, while Prerna was Mohan’s everything. There were no beliefs, morals or decisions that Mohan would stand by if Prerna was to be upset over it. There was no decision Prerna would leave if it would hamper Mohan in any way. Getting over each other did not come easy to both, but both had their own different ways of dealing with it. Prerna tried to find distraction while Mohan took to devotion. Mohan had faith that at some point, she would return to him. That faith was the only thing which kept him going, the strength that made him listen to her talking about other guys, the motivation that made him knock her window on the odd chilly night of 29th September 1995.
“Oh God! Mohan. What are you doing here? It’s so cold out today.” bantered Prerna as she opened her window pane to let him in.
“Tell me about it! Why are you not answering my calls?” his worry inquired her patience.
“I was busy Mohan, why would you expect me to answer all of your calls! Why are you even here, you could get sick?!” the edge in Prerna’s voice was unexpected to Mohan.
“Hey, why are you getting upset. I was just worried.”
“Well, don’t be and stop coming here this way, we are not together anymore,” Prerna spoke throwing Mohan off guard.
“I know that I just thought of checking up on you”
“I have Vishal to check up on me. Check up on yourself Mohan. Have you decided what to do with your life? Did you find your interest yet? Are you doing any job or thinking of further studies in any field?”
“Woah! I will do it Prerna but what’s this about Vishal?”
“Vishal is from Gandhinagar, we are dating since past month and are traveling together for a job to Mumbai.”
Prerna did not know why she had not told Mohan about it, but she knew that she felt obligated to do so from the moment she agreed to date Vishal. That obligation was a problem. It was a sign that she was not over Mohan and she did not want to give in to it. She had to disconnect herself from him, she needed to disconnect herself from him. Because she was everything to him. Prerna did not know much but she did know that no person should find their whole identity in another person. She knew that as long as she was around, Mohan would never find himself and that, was not good for Mohan.
There was a screeching silence between them after she revealed that she was dating someone. The kind of silence that both never thought to face when with each other.
“Well, say something” uttered Prerna.
Mohan was shivering, with anger or hurt, who knew! But when he finally spoke, only questions he had were: “So, if I can’t check up on you because Vishal is there right now, what am I to you exactly? Some backup option for you that you drag along? A toy to distract you, if Vishal, or any other guy that you keep mindlessly talking about, leaves you someday?”
“What! This is utter nonsense Mohan, you know that’s not true,” said Prerna shocked by such blame.
“No Prerna, all I know is, I am not your dog.” leaving Prerna with that remark, the two shattered souls spent nights crying over their failed love. Prerna tried to contact Mohan before she left for Mumbai and even after. She had to know what was going on with him, had to make sure he was on track and that leaving him was actually worth it. But he was not. Mohan spent his days repenting losing himself in Prerna and starving his days to pain.
1998- MUMBAI, INDIA:
It took Mohan a significant amount of time to get over Prerna’s betrayal and find himself as a writer. But it did not take him long to realize how wrong he had been about her. Maturity, for Mohan, brought with it a plethora of reasons why he needed to form his own individual identity uninfluenced by Prerna’s predisposition. He knew that she might not love him, might love Vishal or someone else but she definitely acted on what she thought was good for him.
As the feeling of ‘being used’ left his heart, a feeling of ‘regaining old ties’ crept in. They were both in touch with each other’s whereabouts owing to the same set of college friends. But ashamed by his senseless hurts, he found peace in his realizations and never confronted her. Today, he had a book launch in Mumbai about ‘Autism and ways to deal with it’ and Prerna was going to visit for sure. It was a successful event, at the end of which he found a slim pretty girl walking her red salwar kameez and dangling jhumkas towards his neatly pressed white khadi shirt and brown trousers.
“Wow, you are famous Mohan, I so did not know it” praised Prerna with a big proud smile on her face.
“My publisher says so” he humbly replied.
Before he could get caught up in an after-event book signing, they decided to meet over dinner to catch up on old times (Hopefully, the good ones) and parted ways.
It must have been the prayers of all their friends, that their dinner went along blissfully. After a heartfelt dessert, Mohan and Prerna found themselves walking towards the marine drive.
“So, still with Vishal?” Mohan enquired in an attempt to find a topic to talk about after 3 hours of life updates.
“No, that was a long time ago,” Prerna replied, quite nervous on where this would backtrack to.
In her mind, she was guilty of always knowing what’s not good for Mohan but lost in her fantasy love story, never realizing that she was one of those things. The same nervousness reflected in Mohan too, for his own faults.
He very awkwardly said, “Listen, I wanted to tell you something since a long time, but it’s not coming off easily”
This change of topic was a relief for Prerna and she replied in a playful tone:
“Ohhh, is this where you tell me about your love interest, big man?”
“Haha, no, I wanted to talk about all those things I said back when we had our last fight” he replied, somehow easing into the topic.
“Listen, Mohan, I don’t know where you are taking this conversation but I am really Sorry it all happened. I couldn’t explain it to you because it wouldn’t have worked that way. But we were not at all mature and at that point, I was not good for you, irrespective of the love we felt. I know it hurt you but I also know that I did the right thing.” Prerna hasted her replies to avoid another fight.
“Calm down Prerna, I know that now. I am Sorry too. I will never put our friendship to test again. I don’t think you ever treated me like a dog and I know you loved me sincerely.” Mohan calmly expressed his years of turmoil in a matter of few sentences. Maybe it was Prerna or it was the magic of being at Marine Drive, but something helped him discuss the most tormenting incident in his past. It was as if the courage he was searching for since long, was finally found in the sea, rocks were transmitting it up to the rim and the wind passed it on to him.
“You are wrong, Mohan” Prerna sat there putting a question mark to his newly found relief. “You are right that I never thought of you in any disrespectful way, but you are wrong about the fact that I loved you. And about our friendship, you may not but I want to put it to test”.
“What do you mean, Prerna?”
“The only reason I broke up with you is that you needed to find yourself. You never understood that. I don’t want to be friends with you. You said- ‘I loved you’, it's past tense. Truth is, I still do. I want to check if now, I might actually be good for you.”
Prerna could not believe the words flowing out of her own mouth, but she found her turmoil evaporating in thin air, irrespective of what Mohan had to say to her proposal.
She sighed, then smiled, feeling a novel sanctity. She found him doing the same. And for the next couple or 15 minutes, people at marine drive, found them both, laughing uncontrollably over the success of their love story.
That one time, I think it was the sea,
but 6 months later, it was all ‘Mohan-Prerna’, taking them to ‘Marry me’.
“That's one deep bond, brother. I don’t believe we will ever find anything like it” exclaimed Kia.
“I wonder why they were laughing though” she furthered.
“Well, I have a philosophy for it: You go through the extravagant amount of pain in life, finding your wealth as you struggle to get away from something, only to end up realizing that ‘that something’ is the start and the end of everything else. Not everybody believes it, but everybody experiences it at some point in their life. That soul-mate kind of love.” replied Kabir
“How do you conclude that’s the kind of love we want?” pointed out Kia
“Because, it’s the kind of love our parents had, its what we have grown knowing, its what we think is legit. It’s all a psychology, little sister” added his notorious side, unable to control itself even amidst a sharing as deep..
“I am not your little sister, we are twins for God’s sake!!! Anyways, are you saying that is our parent’s love story?” replied Kia.
Kabir nodded in agreement and shocked Kia: “Woah, That’s unfair. How come I don’t know it and you do?”
“Because I am elder to you.”