Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A new name for the past ... fate.

The setting sun seemed to be too tired with the day’s events and just wants to plunge in the cool blue ocean lashing the sands and Kannan stood there watching the sun move fast into the arms of the ocean. The wind caressed his hair like a mother would do when she sees him worried. The heat of the day left a few drops of sweat which was being wiped by the evening beach winds. His eyes were wet yet tried to hide them as there were others watching the sunset. But they would be having something else and each one will have a different feeling looking at the sunset. Kids were flying kite and the kite had a shine on it like the dreams and hopes of tomorrow. Kannan was thinking of the time that was while he saw the speeding sun diving into the ocean.

Four years in college, the fun, the pain, the exams, the sessionals, the rough records, the workshops... Engineering was not the first choice for Kannan, but he seemed to enjoy it then. The companionship and camaraderie, the love and the silly fights and all that came along with it. It was for Amma and her alone.... for her words were

"You get me the degree certificate and then do anything you want to do ...."

The initial days in college in the C1 batch of Civil Engineering students, Kannan was a loner. Probably the tall stature, huge and matured look, kept others away and Kannan was not in a mood to confront those issues. He would walk in and sit in the front bench and hide everyone behind him with his wall like body and gave them the freedom to pursue their antics. The Seniors in college thought he was in his M.Tech or some other master’s course coz his size never gave him a look of a first year student. The UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects) hurled from behind on Salim Sir who used to give sedative lectures on Economics, which put almost everyone to sleep, the exchange of film magazines, the discussions of girls about the new trends in churidars  an accessories... all seemed not to be Kannan's cup of tea. 

Kannan reached Vattakottai on his bike just to see another sunset as he watched with his friends in college 8 years back. The excursion to Vattakottai from college was to get acquainted to each other and spend the next 6 semesters together. But that trip changed Kannan's life. It was the day he spoke to his friends in his class. Kannan was sitting on the same ledge on the fortress where Priya, Jyothi and a few others approached him on that day. 

"Are you Tamil" asked Priya
Kannan smiled and said "Yes."
"Oh Me too ..." the 5 foot two stout girl with a white T shirt with a picture of a sunset and huge brown shell frame shades over her big eyes,  which covered her high cheek bones and a pony tail tied high replied.
"I am Priya ... and you ..."
"Kannan... Kannan Iyer" said Kannan
"Bond ... James Bond" was the reply and they all laughed.

Though in the same class, they never communicated much. But very less they knew that the acquaintance was for the next 8 years. The next three and a half years in college changed the friendship towards support for each other. The time to share their studies, notes, thoughts, and difficulties... It was the end of college and time for them to decide what they should do further in life. They did ... and got married. The night before... on December 7th, there was so much of excitement. Kannan could hardly sleep. All night he was hushing on the phone about the next morning's arrangements. Got up early and had a quick wash and wore a white silk shirt and dhoti. Appa saw him in the strangest of morning wear and asked

"What’s special?"
"I am going to the temple after I drop you at the station" Kannan said with a smile

Though he was telling the truth, it was not the whole truth. The results of his exams were not yet out and he was going to get married without letting anyone know, but a few friends who were a part of the plot. Probably that’s why the oath at the court asks the witness to say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Kannan was silent as the white Fiat KET 3080, moved steadily with Appa beside him to the railway station.

"I will be late" said Appa... Kannan nodded. He got out of the car and bent down as if to pick the coin he had dropped purposely and touched Appa's feet and said nothing. But his heart spoke a lot then. He needed his Appa's blessings.

He drove to Priya's house, where she was equally tensed. She was dressed simply in a green saree and a golden blouse. A simple chain on the neck and a couple of bangles as if it was just another temple visit. The moment they had been waiting for was just a couple of hours away. There were a thousand butterflies in his tummy. No one knew about the marriage except Priya, her parents, the one and only friend of her father Ramakrishnan, a few friends and Venki Mama. 
Venki mama was all so tense near the temple when they reached. He had ordered a tea and did not drink it... instead he ordered a bottle of cool soda and did not have it... He did not know how Appa would react when he comes to know that he knew. It was more like Venki mama was on the delivery table and he was about to give birth. The birth of a new chapter in Kannan's life.

The temple gave a feeling of being blessed by God. All were waiting for the moment. The lamps, the smell of the burning oil in the lamps, the incense and camphor, the garlands, the music on the speakers in the temple, the brass utensils and the December morning wind outside. The tension was ebbing off. The poojari came out from the sanctum sanctorum and gave the yellow thread well covered in turmeric as it is supposed to be sacred and auspicious with the gold medallion... which would be the sign of the marriage. 

The wedding knot was tied in front of the deity. Venki mama gave Kannan one of the white tube rose garland with a red rose as decoration on it and the other to Priya. The garlands were exchanged without much pomp and splendor. There were no special band to play the wedding bells, but only the temple bells and a devotional song playing in the temple sound system. There were no special gatherings of people but just a few who witnessed. The fragrance of the garland filled their breath and their hearts with happiness amidst all the tension. Kannan and Priya stood there for a moment in silence with folded hands. The life changing moment. Two people who were friends at college now from then on were husband and wife. There was a moment of stillness, probably never before or never after. The rites the temple were over and the husband and wife signed on the temple register. They lifted their heads, looked at each other and smiled, not knowing till when the smiles would last. 

All the four years of life flashed in Kannan's mind. The starting life together, being there for each other, working together for a while in one office, the quick lunch outings and the late night movies, the long bike trips, travelling to Hyderabad for further studies, their life and difficulties in Dubai and return, the long hours of work and not giving each other the quality time, the scuffles and fights and last but not the least, all the people who crept into the relation as mediators, soothsayers and problem solvers worsened or rather distanced the two. The flashes of thoughts were many... some sweet, some sour, some happy some painful, some of togetherness and some of being away, but it was a wild storm of thoughts indeed when others were enjoying the serene sunset.

"Here ... take this" after one of the daily fights Priya stood before Kannan with the medallion, the sign of marriage in a chain, in her hand. Threw it to the floor expressing her discord in the fight. Gone are the days when the insignia of marriage need be around the neck of the wife. It has now turned to be just a fashion accessory, which can be worn or removed as per convenience... at least the sentiments no longer exist in many. But, this day marked the end, end of all the decisions and thoughts... ended so soon... What started with laughs ended in tears.

The smiling face in their mind were being taken over by the angry visages. Like the left over milk curdles over time, the relation too curdled with days passing. Kannan wiped his tears and a chapter ended in his life. Tears came to his eyes as the heart was stuffed with hurting memories of the past, as it was not usual for people to share their struggles with others with an obvious question in the end... "What will they think?". Yes men do cry... they do have tears to shed, but life is strange and has so much in store, but we never know what is round the corner. Kannan took a deep breath and exhaled the thoughts along with his breath. He kicked his 350 cc Bullet to a heartbeat and drove back with memories washed by the golden sea at Vattakottai. As he distanced from the beach, the sounds of the waves faded away and Kannan had made up his mind to move forward in life, leaving the broken dreams and memories there in the beach for the ebbing waves to wash away. The sense of adventure and happiness on December 8th was being replaced with scars of the wounds of life ... as memories. He drove into the darkness of the night full throttle giving the 8 years one name ... fate.

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