One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time.
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet
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Rakesh, a talented banker met a beautiful lady named Sunita on facebook through mutual friends. In the beginning, they weren’t so close, but later they started chatting quite often and became good friends. Only one thing was common between them and that was they both were married. Sunita had two kids, a boy and a girl, while Rakesh was newly married.At night, they used to share and discuss their daily routine activities. Once during their conversation, Rakesh had complimented on one of her alluring part of her body and said that her husband was very fortunate to have her in her life. In reply,
Sunita said, in fact you should ask my husband about that. Their friendship was getting stronger day by day and in spite of chatting with each other since a couple of months, they never had any telephonic conversation between them. Rakesh had once asked Sunita whether he could call her and Sunita replied to him that she would call him in the evening. Rakesh was patiently waiting for call,but Sunita did not call him. Rakesh didn’t call her as he didn’t want to disturb her. Rakesh asked Sunita,”When can we meet?” She replied that we will meet on 3rd of next months.” Rakesh was very eager to meet Sunita, so he requested her to meet her a bit earlier. Sunita told him by that time I will be free from my busy schedule. They both agreed to meet after on 3rd of next month, in between the span of time they chatted quite often. A week prior to their meet. Rakesh reminded Sunita that coming Monday was the 3rd when they have to meet and Sunita said that she doesn’t remember the conversation about their meeting.
Rakesh was all set to meet Sunita the next day. He messaged her saying that “Hi! What time are we meeting tomorrow?” He received a reply from Sunita saying that “Apology, we can’t meet tomorrow.” He asked her the reason for not meeting him. Rakesh was upset because Sunita didn’t reply him since 3 hours. Finally, Rakesh received a message from Sunita saying that she cannot meet him as her husband is along with her, She was going to attend a meeting, and after the meeting she promised Rakesh to meet him. but now her husband is also going with her. Rakesh was really confused upon the response received by Sunita and the doubts raised in his mind as “She can’t meet, is she really with her husband or she doesn’t want to see me?” Rakesh messaged Sunita saying that “If you don’t want to meet me, then I am never going to call you nor message you.” Sunita replied to him saying that “As you wish to, bye!”
Rakesh was very firm on his decision of not speaking to Sunita. He was very arrogant from outside and soft from inside, whereas Sunita’s nature was unpredictable as she was very short-tempered and perceptive in her thoughts. They stopped chatting with each other. Rakesh was very desperate to call Sunita, but his anger & self respect was not allowing him to do so. Sunita was missing his chats and she was really eager to receive his messages on her phone. Every beep on her phone would make her ecstatic.Twenty days had passed, they both were very desperate to share their their things with each other , but their ego was stopping them from doing so and one day Rakesh posted an emotional quote on his fb wall, after reading it, she was unable to control her emotions and finally she messaged him on messenger conveying that “Sorry Na!, Itna bhi gussa sehat ke liye achi baat nahi hain, I have deleted your phone number because I was angry,so please message me your number.” After knowing that Sunita had deleted his phone number from her contacts, Rakesh became more annoyed with this behavior of her; after all it was she who broke the promise of meeting him. Sunita realized and kept on messaging him asking for apology, but Rakesh wouldn’t just reply to her messages.Sunita pleaded Rakesh to talk to her and said that,”Aur kitne baar sorry bolu tumhe! If you don't want to talk to me,then I promise that I will never disturb you again”. She didn't message again for a few days. Rakesh went on his business trip to Banglore and Sunita also got engaged with her family & household chores.
Inspite of being extremely busy with his client meetings, Rakesh was flustered from inside. He couldn't control his mixed emotions anymore and one day he took his phone & dialed her number. Her phone was ringing and on the fifth ring she received the call saying “Who’s this?, This is Rakesh, he replied , “You deleted my number, and Sunita replied by saying, “Yes, I was angry hence I did. It was the first time they both were talking on the phone, since they started knowing each other on facebook. “You speak so slow”, Sunita said, “Yes I am very soft-spoken"Rakesh replied. On the other hand, Sunita was very loud while expressing her thoughts, they spoke only for five minutes, but it was very compelling for them. After the call, Rakesh was feeling relaxed and Sunita was also contented. After the gap of twenty days of no chats,Rakesh returns to Mumbai from his Banglore trip, he was delighted and he took his wife 'Parol' for dinner on that very same day. Now, Rakesh & Sunita used to talk on the phone quite often. Everthing was going well, until Sunita accepted a friend request on fb from Ajay.
Ajay was one of Rakesh's very old friend from his previous organization. Sunita disclosed this to Rakesh after accepting his request, therefore, Rakesh was unpleasant. One night, while chatting Sunita told Rakesh, “Your friend on other hand is chatting with me & he’s talking cheesy.” “Don't chat with him,” Rakesh replied. He was getting furious, but he was not sure on whom, his old friend or his good friend Sunita’. Next morning, Rakesh messaged to Ajay, “Please do not chat with my friend. Would you like if I chat with your friends & family the way you chat with her?” On that note Ajay replied "Is she your relative?” “Yes...she is”, Rakesh replied. But Rakesh didn't know his care and concern for Sunita will hit him back in a few minutes. “Why did you tell Ajay not to chat with me”, Sunita messaged to Rakesh. After reading this, Rakesh was shocked. “How can Sunita say something like this to me.” Rakesh said “I just wanted that someone should not misunderstand your friendly nature with your character”. “I am good enough to take care of myself”, Sunita replied. This reply from Sunita broke Rakesh’s heart and whatever he did it was all in good interest, but it was all a waste. “Ok, then you can continue chatting with him, I am not going to disturb you anymore”, Rakesh messaged her melancholy.”Ok..bye!”, Sunita replied.
This sudden change in Sunita's behaviour made Rakesh confused and he decided not to contact her again. But the same afternoon, Sunita messaged Rakesh saying, “So you don't want to talk?”, “Go and talk to Ajay”, Rakesh replied. “Look! It's too much now”, Sunita said. “You only said; Go ahead & bye!”, Rakesh replied. “Are you mad Rakesh, Gussa kya sirf tumhe hi aata hain?”, Sunita asked. “I wouldn’t like ki meri koi frnd mere kisi unknown friend ki request accept kare aur mujhe ignore kar ke usse chat kare, Socho agar mai aisa karta tumhare sath?” Bolo Sunita?”, Rakesh asked. “I never ever ignored you. Call me now”, Sunita replied. This conversation lasted for more than an hour but Rakesh didn't call her. But after a couple of days, Rakesh realized that he became a bit possessive about Sunita. Anyways, we are just friends and I have no right to command her. After all, it’s her life.
Rakesh was repenting about it and he couldn't control himself. At one evening, while returning from office he called Sunita. Her phone was ringing, but Sunita didn't answer her phone, as she was really upset with Rakesh's this kind of awkward behavior. Next day while returning home,Rakesh again called Sunita, but there was no response from her end. This became a routine for Rakesh for next 3-4 days, but still inspite of various tries there was no response, Rakesh apologized her even by sending her an emotional messages, but he failed to win her heart. One day, he recorded an emotional song in his own voice & sent it to her and this certainly worked. "Bas karo! Yeh emotional atyachar”, Sunita replied. Her one reply made Rakesh so joyful that he immediately called her and poured his heart out. They spoke for almost an hour. 'Parol' was astonished by this sudden change in Rakesh’s behavior.
It's been five months now since they became friends and they both were not sure about their relationship. After last few failed meetings, Rakesh was very hesitant to ask her for their next meet to avoid further disappointments. Luckily, it was Sunita who approached this time. “Listen, I am free next week..we can catch up” Sunita said. “Sure, why not?”, Rakesh replied in a subtle tone. They decided to meet on Tuesday evening at Bandra around 6:30PM at CCD for coffee followed by a walk on bandstand to enjoy a beautiful sunset and later a delicious dinner at Lucky. This time Rakesh was impassive about the meet, but Sunita was quite excited. She even bought new outfits for the meet. On Monday evening, Sunita messaged Rakesh, “Hey,ready for the meet?. “Yes!”, Rakesh replied. Now, Rakesh was avid and he couldn't sleep that night. But he was a little concerned too. “What will happen when we will meet, will I make her happy & what if she finds me boring?” All these questions were flying in his sky like mind. On the other side, Sunita was also disquiet as she kept on checking herself in the mirror. After every passing hour, she started feeling nervous, “Am I looking fat?” She must have asked these question to herself a hundred times. She didn’t want to put a bad impression on Rakesh. Inspite Rakesh saw her pictures on facebook, she was a little hesitant about her looks as she was a mother of two.
Finally the day had come, Rakesh took a leave from his office to groom himself with a good haircut & clean shave. While, Sunita on the other hand couldn't do much because her daughter fell sick and she didn't want to inform this to Rakesh. By evening, her daughter had recovered from her illness and Sunita was relieved. It was almost 5:00PM. Rakesh had to travel from Churchgate to Bandra whereas Sunita didn’t have to travel so much as she was from Bandra itself. Rakesh decided not to travel by his car just to avoid traffic during the peak hour. The fastest mode of transportation to reach the suburbs is by train only. Rakesh purchased a first class ticket and boarded the Churchgate to Borivali fast train of 5:54pm from Churchgate Station. Sunita was all set with her new pair of jeans & floral mosaic top, When Rakesh intimated her stating that he is travelling by train. Sunita was amazed to know that he was travelling by train, but since it was their most awaited meet he could manage this time. Sunita had also left her house as she was travelling by her car. They both were very nervous and at the same time excited. They couldn’t believe that finally they were meeting. They started recalling their phone conversations, chatting for hours & small fights which they used to have. Sunita switched on the FM in her car to experience her mixed emotions with the songs being aired live, Rakesh was enjoying the monsoon cool breeze sitting beside the window of the train, strange but everything was so romantic.
Suddenly, there was a huge traffic towards Bandra Station and the people were running towards the station. A lot of honking and hustle-bustle was going on. Sunita took her car’s glass window down, “Kya hua bhaisaab,itna shor kyu hai?”Sunita asked one of them who was running towards the station. “Bomblast hua hai,madam"he replied. Sunita was dread she increased the volume of radio, there was announcement going on that "Mumbai is on high alert, a series of seven bomb blasts that took place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railway in Mumbai, which is the capital of the Indian State of Maharashtra and the Nation's Financial Capital"After hearing this, Sunita was shocked and she immediately took her cell phone & called Rakesh. His cell was not reachable, but she tried several times and still she couldn’t get through him. She called her husband & told him to switch on the TV. He said, “There are several bomb blasts which took place in the first class compartment of the local train at Matunga Road, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road, Jogeshwari, Bhayandar and Borivali between 5:37PM to 5:57PM.”
Her phone dropped off from her hand , she kept calling Rakesh, but he was out of reach. She even messaged him, but the message was not getting delivered. Now she couldn't control herself, so she got down from her car and ran towards Bandra Station. It was raining, since it was the month of July. There was chaos all over the place as the Police Vans & Ambulances were going to and fro from here and there. People were not allowed to enter the station as the rescue operation was going on as fellow passengers and bystanders helped the victims to reach the ambulances which were waiting for them. Sunita was helpless in this situation. The mobile phone networks were also being jammed. She returned back home, her husband was
at home only since her daughter was unwell. They all were so happy seeing Sunita, but what was going on in her mind, nobody knew about it. She really felt restless and uneasy that night. She couldn’t eat or sleep that night.
The following morning, the telephone services were restored. Sunita tried contacting Rakesh. Meanwhile, she switched on the TV and saw that few names and photographs of bomb blast victims were being displayed on the screen. She felt the ground slipping under her feet when she read the name 'Rakesh Saxena- Dead; The train which Rakesh boarded from Churchgate to Borivali at 5:54pm had a blast at Mahim station. Sunita was outraged and she couldn't even blink her eyes. There was not a single drop of tear in her eyes & her face was drawn.She opened his last message which said, “Hey, guess what..I am travelling by train;. She clicked on his facebook profile picture, her phone screen was flooded with tears now.
There was no other source of contact to Rakesh's family. She didn't even have his residential address. She was only aware that he used to stay in Coloba with his wife & 'Parol' & his mother. She was very depressed by knowing the fact that who will take care of them now. She knew about 'Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank' where he used to work at Nariman Point Branch. It was the Third Day after the tragic incident of '11 July 2006. Inspite Mumbai being on high alert, Sunita went to his office & managed to get Parol's contact number. In the evening, she screw up courage and called. It was very difficult for Sunita to talk to her on the phone. On the other side, Parol was crying like a baby. Sunita tried to console her, but she needed human support. Sunita took her address they decided to meet one Day.
(Story ends here but the never say die spirit of Mumbaikars will never end...Thanks for showing the interest in knowing the life of Rakesh, Sunita & Parol. Hope you have liked the story)