If you don't love what you do, you won't do it with much conviction or passion.
- Mia Hamm
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Sleep was longed. Morrow was his initial period of college. The college was 11km apart. The only way Zaheen could reach there was by bus. Zaheen had never ever travelled by bus solitary. A medium height perfectly maintained body and his curly hair were almost a huge attraction. He got up early, so early that the sun didn’t even strike the light through the ozone. He ate his breakfast and left his home for college. Compared to other people, Zaheen always walks faster a bit slower than running. He finally reached the bus stop, looked left, right to make sure he was safe. The bus was on time, he climbed the three stairs and got seated. There were other people too on the bus, almost all the seats were occupied.
A WEEK LATER
The fear of travelling was not even in existence. He started memorising some faces, most of them were old people, but that guy with short hair, jawline, always eating apple had a particular space in his head. He and the apple guy (Zaheen usually saw him eating apples that’s the reason he named him apple guy) were in the same college.
A MONTH PASSED
Zaheen was lost now, most of the time he was exhausted and a bit sad because the apple guy was not in the air. He waited for the bus. Today the bus was crowded he thought having a glare from the front window. He never sat at the last seat, but that day he had to. Looking for the seat, to his surprise next to the window seat had a bag placed, he recognised the bag, it was the apple guy, the moment apple guy saw Zaheen he picked up his bag and smiled. Both of them were much closer now. He was not listening to songs today. The journey was 17-20 min long. In that time, eye to eye connection was not made, but unconditional feelings were expelled out. It was Navratri. There were no words. The day ended with a n numbers of chemical reaction happening in his body.
20th October 2008
The exams had ended. It was the start of Diwali vacation. But still, there were no alphabets. Zaheen travelled every day just to share a 20 min seat with the apple guy. There was enjoymenbut a slight bitter face, because the journey would stop now. The temperature felt down drastically. It was the winter of 2008.
The vacation came to an end.
Zaheen was wearing his jacket. People started judging him on the basis of society, religion, culture. But he didn’t care at all. At that time expressing ourselves truly for what we are was equal to jumping off a cliff. The city was not polluted. The air was pure. He boarded the bus and started looking for him, he was in front seat today. Even the apple guy was waiting eagerly for him.
They again shared a seat for 20 min. Zaheen was much more expressive, but still, there were no words. The patience of expressing feeling was assembling day by day.
THE PROPOSAL DAY
A month had passed. The city had suffered a huge loss.
The air had all types of smell, some even of death.
The city was returning back to its daily schedule and so was Zaheen returning to his college which had almost a huge holiday. The chocolate was still in the bag. He was a different person, love for him meant everything. Being gay that too in 2008 was a huge ass challenge and that too expressing his feelings was much high level. He was early, his eyes were continuously searching for the apple guy in the bus, college but no he was not there. He might be sick Zaheen thought and he waited for the next day and again waited and again waited...
Sitting on the bench, Zaheen was thinking about the temperature rise. It's winter it should be cold he thought. 2018 brought many gifts to the people with a special heart, sec377 was long gone. Finally after all those years falling in love was not a crime any more. Apps like Tinder and Grindr existed now but rather they were not dating apps. Words like "Hookup culture" existed more now-a-days. People say love is in the air but is love really in the air? if it was everyone could smell that love. A few moments later Zaheen saw two old couples, they were crossing the road together, love still existed rather than snapchat stories. The air was polluted. He was all alone now but he had one friend that was his pen. He was writing a story a new one:
Asssalamualaikum. The same way she said this word. She knew Urdu well and on another side myself who used the language which was much different from the original language. I still remember that day when I entered the class and she was completing her notes. She was wearing burkha. As time passed love was in the air but only for her not me. She had stories of all the lovers but it was me who never wanted to be a good listener. Love suddenly disappeared there were no feelings now. She lost hope and so did I.The day arrived when all the things were in opposite direction and the only person to stand with me was her, I fell in love with her, but I didn't know with which face I should speak to her. The year ended and so does the story ends. Today thinking about you makes me think that at that time I should have expressed my feelings. In this growing technology where love entered life for one day and left the other day, life has become complicated.
There was one question left answered can we find true love online?. She is married to someone else now a better person may be, but still, whenever I hear someone saying Asssalamualaikum it reminds me of her.
The story ended here Zaheen was bit bored now, he had no words left. For him his mother was everything, but she left this world years ago. There was one the specific day when he cried a lot that day he was combing his mother's hair most of them were black but there was one hair, which was different from other hair, the hair was an attraction. He saw something different, he thought after all the time she would leave him and that day is what we cannot imagine. He started walking now towards a random direction until the road ends.
Friendship with Zaheen was not an easy task to do. But Hem had done PhD in it. He couldn’t resist Hem, talking to him was the only thing he liked, the conversation runs for more than the time we take to have a fight. Hem was taller than Zaheen, but more skinner than him weighing about 50kg only. Zaheen hated this because he hates people more skinner and taller. Hem liked Zaheen from the first day he saw his profile, they were going to meet today. As usual, Zaheen was on time at, one of best lesson his mother gave him was to be always on time and he followed that. The hem was late by 25 minutes more than expected. Hem had perfect jawline which reminded Zaheen of someone he loved.
“ You’re late again!” furious he was.
(“Urr” was the word only used by him, he invented that word)
“You know right travelling from Mulund is not like having a sip of water.”
“Taunting me or just?”
“Whatever you think, now don’t be a dick lets go eat something.”
“Umm it’s you to decide right where should we go, it’s your turn.”
“ tang tang 1....2.....3...., yes Dhaba!” He said with an affectionate smile
“How can a guy having a tag: a son of a rich father say that line, I want to leave this world right now.” Zaheen raised his eyebrows
“Finish your extra tangy sauce attitude and wear this.”
Wearing the helmet he said, “A helmet why would someone care for a dumbass like meeee...”
It was the speed breaker. Hem stopped his scooter and said, “Behave normally at least today!”
“Now don’t give me a lecture about psychology, drive I’m hungry.” he gave a look of 5-year-old child begging for one more ice cream.
“As my boyfriend says”, there was a cunning smile on his face.
“Urr I’m not your boyfriend”, Zaheen said hesitantly.
Eating the food they discussed their lives, Hem by a profession was a lawyer. He was the best person Zaheen had met till now. When Hem starts talking he never ends the conversation goes on and as always Zaheen listens to him properly. Hem had feelings for him from years and he had even said that he would wait for him.
After 2 hours the conversation finally ended, it was not so cold. It was the time to leave. Zaheen hates one thing in the world the most that are hugs. God knows why he hates them, he never says GOODBYE maybe he might be having a reason. With a handshake Hem left. Walking on the road Zaheen felt an known smell sensed by his oldfactory sensors, similary to the smells of apple. As people walked so did Zaheen, the crowd was almost mixed one including people in relationships, the one who is dating, the one for the sake of hookups and the other old people enjoying the evening.
At the publication house
“Zaheen why not to write a story on two lovers separated by the Bombay Blast in 2008?”
“Well it sound’s good.”
“So start writing the story your deadline is...”
“ First of all, I need to talk about pending payments.”. Zaheen said abruptly.
You’ll receive your payment soon.”
To start a new book Zaheen needed an idea which was given by his publication manager. He had never experienced conditions like losing publication the blast. He thought to interview those people who had lost their loved ones in the blast
He was searching for ‘g’ in his contact list.
‘Hey! Mr Maru.‘
‘ What do you want?’
‘ I wanted to know about people who died in Bombay Blast. If possible can you share me their information?’
The female voice responded, ‘ Yes I can fetch that information, but what will I get to do your work?’
‘Two crispy chicken...’
‘Yes, check your email in next 10 minutes.’
‘ Thank you so much!’
The person Zaheen was requesting was Grishma. She was working in CBI still as a junior. These two met back at the time when both of them were in degree college and from that day till now they’re still best friends.
La lala. His phone beeped
Later that day
165 People were on the list. 146 people had their complete information.3 of them were foreigners. The last person on the list had complete information his name, his address except for his picture.
3 days later
The sun was shining much brightly today. With all the accessories Zaheen needed he was finally out for the search of families who had witnesses Bombay blast. He had selected 6 families. It was 4:00 in the evening, tired and thirty but still, he wanted to have a talk with that last family. Till now the information he had collected was not even half. He finally reached his last destination
An old lady opened the door, her hair was almost white, she was probably in the 60s.
She questioned “ Yes?”
I’m here to know about your loss in 2008, please don’t mind sharing about it, won’t take much time. Zaheen said with a belief of expecting a yes she responded “ Well young man, I don’t trust you, but your words are forcing me to trust you. Come in! “
He entered the house, the house was almost clean, not even a dust particle could be seen, a song was playing in the background with a low voice
“Have a seat Mr Za..”
“Call me Maruf.”
“So Maruf what interest do you have in to talk with people who have lost their loved ones in Bombay Blast?”
“I’m writing a book on a theme like losing our loved ones, I’ve never felt what it is to lose people without even having a hint of it.”
“ I feel deep sonder thinking about all the people who lost their loved ones.”
There was a complete quiescent for a while.
The old women eager to go with the flow asked him “ Tea or Coffee?”
“ Tea” within nanoseconds he responded.
10 minutes passed.
“Here is your tea.”
“Thank you, Ma’am, can we start now?”
“Yes, Mr.Maruf. Back in 2008 when winter seemed to be going good, 26th November 2008 time: 08:00 PM. An air flow of silence all over Bombay. The air had all types of smell cigarettes and even the smell of blast. People were scared to even sleep that night. Everyone was afraid, praying to God. Some were crying in grief and some were just looking as if looking at a dead clock. I received a call from my daughter she stays near the Taj Hotel. My son wanted to visit her, but he met her but he never returned. He left the same way every time he left, but that day I wished I had stopped him. Death banged and banged my door and I couldn’t even hear because my ears were deaf at that moment. Even my inner heart was conveying something to me but it was me who ignored. Death at last never banged the door again. I received a call from an unknown number I said hello and my next few minutes what I heard on the cell phone I couldn’t even believe, my eyes stopped moving, I could feel my heart pump blood so fast. My greatest fear in life happened a few minutes back. I lost my son I cried for him, but that day people out there said that you should be proud of your son because he saved 6 people and that makes me proud. Death has to pump blood or tomorrow but someday people arrive at your doorstep. No one can run from it.”
“ I’m sorry,” he said with his voice deepened.
“ You shouldn’t be sorry. People who organised the blasts should be sorry.”
“Do you have any picture of your son? Just for sake of a record. People you won’t find his pictures in my house, you should visit my daughter she has the pictures of Yash.”
People take it, that’s my daughter’s card it has her address.”
“Thank you, Ma’am, and sorry for the inconvenience made.”
“Well, I should thank you, son, for years I’ve not opened up about Yash.”
“That meant so much for me, the, and you, ma’am.”
“All the best for your story. May God bless you.”
With a smile on his face Zaheen left, it’s been years now he had barely talk with someone .
It was raining cats and dogs. Zaheen, as usual, was without an umbrella, he was near Taj Hotel, he sat there on the bench and was enjoying the rain the same way a child does. “kindness can be taught to a ch8ld, but no one can teach children to avoid rains and spoil their clothes”. Childhood never left him and adulthood never reached. With every drop leaving off his body, he felt the same way of losing people, people he loved. He was crying but no one could see, the rain had given him the perfect shelter. His eyes were almost red, he couldn’t even see properly. Someone came running towards him and pushed him, Zaheen had almost fallen, someone he his senses ‘What the hell...........
.... Vaishnavi, what are you doing here?’
‘ I knew you’d be here.’ she said sitting next to him
‘ Well my sister, best friend and all and all how did you know I’m here?’ he said shockingly.
‘That’s the reason I’m your best friend.’,she said smiling.
‘Wait a minute, are you crying?’, she peeked in front of him.
‘No!’ he avoided her.
‘Yes, you’re! Remembering loved ones?’ she sat back cleaning herself.
‘Kind of,’ Zaheen said with his head down ‘How is Ashish?’ He questioned her.
‘ He’s good’.
‘It’s strange right that you both are still together. People just stay for years and leave. How do you bot even manage with each other?’.
‘ Well not strange, but true love makes everything possible’.
‘Want to eat something?’
‘It’s on me right?’
‘It’s been years I haven’t eaten that.’
‘ umm okay,’ he agreed to look at her childish face.
‘Lemme call Ashish, he’ll oppose too in eating this’
‘urr doesn’,t matter.’
Vaishnavi and Ashish were in a relationship for more than 10 years. Still not married. But still together. With n Number of fights, they even not leave each other. Relationships include sacrifices and both of them were perfect in that, case. Ashish was still romantic and Vaishnavi was still the girl who wanted to get slim.
They both were the most important persons in Zaheen life.
La lala, his phone beeped.
The message read
‘Read today’s Newspaper would help you fetch articles.’
‘I’m not writing anymore, a terrible fight at the publication house.’
‘Just read it’ll help you find other plots’
‘Okay. Thank you, Gaurang.’
Zaheen bought all the Newspapers which he could read easily. All of them had one line in common.
“10 years, but still we are in the same fear.”
“What has changed in 10 years?.”
His eyes were almost glued to the newspaper. One by one, he completed reading every line of all tthe newspapers. One article had the picture of the victims died in the blast. One person in that picture, made him felt down to Earth. Below the picture, there were names of the people present in the picture. He read the name, stood up and started searching for something small.
Who could guess that the visiting card would be in the washroom? But Zaheen as always. He read the address and left home.
‘Yes?.’ A teenage girl opened the door confused about who is this person. Her mother questioned
‘Who are you?.’
‘I’m Zaheen, I’m here...’
‘Aha, come in Maa told me about you.’
‘Sorry, I’m visiting you at this unpleasant hour.’
‘That’s not a big problem.’
Zaheen was breathing heavily. After travelling hours he was finally, there were the only unanswered question was going to be answered
‘Here, Water.’ She sat on the chair in front of him
‘Thank you.’ He smiled.
In a slow voice, she whispered something to her daughter, after minutes she came and gave her mother an album.
‘This is what you needed.’ She said while passing the album to him.
‘Before opening, I would like to ask you a question, Yash was in MKS college?.’
She was shocked to hear this. She said ‘How do you know that?.’
‘We were in the same college.’ He said with his eyes broad open.
‘Yash was Gay. I supported him for that. He told me about a boy who had tangled hair, almost skinny like a stick. He had feelings for that boy.’ And suddenly she stopped thinking that she’s giving too much information.
‘Well, You’re a good person. You supported your brother at that time when society was much cruel.’ He said in low voice.
‘That day he had come here to meet me. He was nervous. He was going to express his feelings for that boy. God took him away from us, I think he had a better reason to steal him from us.’ She murmured quite a few prayers.
‘Sad to hear that.’ Spelling every word was hard for him now.
Zaheen left her home. He was walking in darkness, all lonely on the road. Dogs and cats were the rulers at night. Time was not on a dusty highway, now it was in a desert where we could feel every second pass. People enter in our life for an invalid reason and leave us for a valid reason. He was hungry, but his heart was broken into trillion pieces, that his stomach felt bad to convey the message to the brain. He loved the apple guy truly. Love never died. It was hard to believe that Yash died.
All his life Zaheen was waiting for Yash. After all these years he always loved him.
In the era of Instagram, Facebook where memories are stories, people to fade away just like a story. Love at a time was unbreakable bond but now love is in the air, it never reaches the ground we humans just see it.
Zaheen was broken, all over his life the person he, was waiting for, died long back. He wanted to cry. But he didn’t cry, he started typing on the typewriter.
After all these years Zaheen finally published a book. A book a bit confusing, sarcastic and filled with love, emotions, loss, faith and hope. The book starts with a letter invented by the character itself. A different language not thinking what other people will think, because the writer had written it with a big heart. The real meaning of life can only be understood where we see the sun drowning, but it won’t ask for help, we humans just see the view, feel it and let go. The real fact the never drowns, it leaves us to face the Night, the bitter part of life and experience what life really is. God created us with all the hard work just to see how cruel we humans are.
At Book launch.
At the perfect time people had arrived and so did Zaheen. The book was simple. A normal book. A book with a title. The book was launched finally. All the fans were in the queue to get the book signed.
The book was launched with a title ‘TARDIGRADE’. It’s an micro animal. This animal is famous for its survival instinct. The other thing it is famous for it’s love towards its mate. If one of the mate dies the other lives alone, dies, or lives alone. Maybe this would be reason he choose this title.
A year later.
The book almost got famous because of its story and little things which are expressed perfectly.
Zaheen got an email. Emails are what he never opens.
The email read : Loved your book truly the way you’ve written. The emotions are expressed perfectly but there’s a twist right?. As the book ends we come across a picture, a picture of bus. The reason of the picture is simple. It’s the bus in which you’ve travelled when you were in your degree college. It’s the same bus where you met your love. It’s the same bus where you explored books. It’s the same bus where you realised that you’re meant to do something else. Am I correct?.
Zaheen was shocked reading this text. He never expected that anyone could read the book in a serious manner. He couldn’t even believe that the reader almost replaced himself with the characters in the story.
He wrote back : Well these days we don’t find people like you. Dedicated to the work. People nowadays do anything to fall in love but love is not in the air we could see it but we cannot feel it. When we love we expect people to be in their limits. One day definitely people will realise that they were wrong but the train would be returning from its destination and the ticket would be invalid. Well I’m lucky to have a reader like you. Thank you Shyam Sharma.
Zaheen and Hem were living together now. It’s been 6 years now. With number of fights and apologies they cannot be separated. . Hem was still working as Lawyer and Zaheen was doing nothing. He enjoyed his life doing nothing. Hem was too busy in his work . The loved each other more then themselves but only as best friends. Zaheen after all these years finally was not alone . We humans are always late let it be work, school or nowadays even death. The home they lived in was much decorated with books and lightning which was pretty good. The house had a name plate ‘Sane and Simple’. Life had given happiness to Zaheen after all these years but still he didn’t loved Hem.
Zaheen woke up early as usual. He ate his breakfast. Watered the plants and started cleaning the house. Hem as usual woked up as a young child who wants to do nothing but sleep. They ate their meal. Hem wanted to play video games they were his favourite on the other hand Zaheen didn’t even know how to play, but today he wanted to play.
“Fetch my glasses or else I won’t be able to see what’s happening.” Zaheen said sitting on the couch.
“Why don’t you get up and fetch those?” Zaheen said with anger on his face.
Hem went in and started searching for those glasses. He opened cupboards, he checked book shelves but he couldn’t find them.
“Where did you see them the last time?” Hem said.
“Check the cupboard which has read newspapers.” Zaheen said lost in the game.
“Okay.” Hem said banging his head to the cupboard.
He finally got them. But there a bottle, a small one which had tablets in it. The bottle was almost half of the tablets quickly he read the name and went outside to give hem glasses he needed.
He Googled that name. The name read ‘Dasatinib’.
Few minutes passed.
“Boy what is taking you so long?” Zaheen shouted.
“Coming.” Hem said slowly.
“Oh, you’re finally here ready to loose?” Zaheen said confidently.
“You’re not lucky as always .” Hem said with a big smile.
People or I must say this generation particularly thinks love is just a ring that fits in anyone’s forefinger. Love evolves but love has evolved so much that it stays for one day only. We humans cannot stay alone we constantly need someone to stay beside us whether they are our loved ones or our friends. A person thinks for other person, cares for other person, sleeps while thinking bout that person but really the other person thinks of that person?
The other person enjoys nights with friends, cigars, beers, girls and much more but the person who loves sleeps in his/her bed thinking about their loved ones. Restriction is the only word that 21 century generations hate. People go out, enjoy and construct memories in their head. Other type of people don’t go out at nights, they stay at home, they also need memories right? But these personalities are the best. We humans think we need to enjoy, but really? A person who has many friends might be happy now but someday he/she will realise that we are alone and we have to fight alone. Restrictions in relationships exsist now. People should apply restrictions. Restrictions are applied when the other person thinks of themselves. In relationships we should understand what should we to do and what not to. A nightout? 100% ‘No’ is what I’ll say because my sleep is just everything and I don’t betray my words. Betray, people betray people amazing right? We have crush on people but we know we are going to be rejected forever. Forever, people stay forever if and only if they love each other truly, knowing each other, doing things which will make them happy.
Happiness, are we truly happy with what we are doing? Are people important for us? Can I hear anything for my love? Can I? Can you?