Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Purposeless

I picked up a pebble and threw in in the ocean. The pebble jumped twice and then sunk in the water. The beach was crowded today. People of all age were on the beach, laughing, giggling and just about having the time of their lives.

A couple, elderly, probably around 75 years of age was walking towards him. I felt a pang of jealousy, looking at the silver hair on their heads. I ran my hand through my hair and a strand came out on my hand. Jet black! As always.

Damn!

It had been over 2000 years now. I don’t remember the exact time when I was born. I had forgotten most of the first 500 years of my life. And here they were, old couples walking hand in hand with grey hair.

“Bloody old people with their bloody white hair enjoying their bloody purposes.” I muttered and threw another stone in the ocean.

On an average a person lived around 80 years. The first twenty or thirty odd years go in finding a purpose. That is when a person truly starts to get older. Scary thought, isn’t it. Let me tell you something scarier — not finding your purpose.

It was fun for the first few centuries. I was alive while others grew old, weak and then died. The charm slowed down for a few years but started again during the dawn of industrial revolution. However, that lasted only so long and now, this new millenia really started to frustrate me.

I wanted out and there was nothing that I could do about it. I tried everything. Saved lives, traveled the world, learned to cook, invented a few things and became a voice artist for sometime as well. Believe me, I tried everything possible.

Unfortunately, not a single grey hair, zilch. I still look like a 20-something.

“Hey Suyash!” Sheena called me. I cringed. I turned hoping against hope that it is someone else calling some other Suyash. No such luck!

Sheena came running to me and gave me a bear hug. She had almost tackled me. That is amazing considering that she is a tiny girl.

“Hi Sheena.” I said trying to create some distance between us. I had met her only a week ago and boy if I had accidentally found a sick puppy. Let me tell you three things about Sheena.

One, she is accident prone. Trust me when I say that she is on a completely different obstacle course of life than the rest of us. She stumbles, fumbles and is outright idiotic. Two, I met her when she was thrown out of her orphanage for turning twenty. She immediately got attached to me like a flea to a dog. Three, in her twenty years, she learnt nothing about the world. She has seen the world through her books and all she knows about the world is what those books told her. Unfortunately, most of those books were fairy tales.

These three things combined meant that she couldn’t live through her entire day without being at some kind of risk. For the past one week, I have had to save her from thugs, thieves and even dogs. Really! Dogs. I leave her for two minutes and I come back to find her trying to feed a rabid dog. It was only my centuries of practice helped me aim towards dog with quick reflexes. I have no idea how she was surviving before meeting me but it gives me hope that she can live without me. Unfortunately, she isn’t leaving me.

“I missed you Suyash.” Sheena said while trying to still continue the hug.

“You had gone to change into beach clothes. It was just ten minutes.” I muttered.

“Whatever. So, I was thinking that maybe we should eat some seafood today. I am in the mood.”

“You are allergic to sea food.”

“Not all fishes. I can eat that small one.” Sheena said making a C with her fingers, trying to remind me of the small fish she ate a few days back. She is talking about Sushi. It was chicken sushi. Don’t ask.

“That wasn’t a fish.”

“But I thought we ordered fish.”

“I asked him to make the dish with chicken as you are allergic.”

“Oh. Okay. Chicken then.” Sheena said while picking up a pebble. She threw it towards the sea and it fell short of the waves. I shook my head silently.

“What! I am learning.” Sheena said and picked up another one.

“Don’t you have anything else to do?” I snapped. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate people. Even after thousands of years, I enjoy spending time with people but she is a torture. Can’t a man lament his immortality in peace. I know what you are thinking. Toughen up. Just 50-odd years and then I will be free of this person. Just because I have lived this long doesn’t mean my seconds have started to move faster. Those will be 50 long years.

“I had this appointment. Some interview or something. But I thought spending time with you would be more fun.” Sheena said as my eyes widened.

“You have an interview. For work?” I asked.

“Yeah. But it is like in half an hour or something.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well. I don’t know… I didn’t think it was important or you cared.” She said and picked up another stone. All I could see was an opportunity to spend 9 peaceful hours in a day, everyday. I took her hand and made a run for it.

“It is not right. A girl should be independent. You should go for that interview.” She yelped but continued to move with me. To be honest, she didn’t have much choice. I was around 6 feet while she barely scratched the 5 feet mark.

“Where is the office?” I asked her while running.

“Dunno. Somewhere in the central city region. I have the address in my mobile.” She said and gave me the mobile. I entered the password (yes, this girl gave me her mobile password in the first two days — go figure) and checked the email. I could make there in 30 minutes but I had to get Sheena into a dress as well.

“Sit.” I said to her and jumped in the driving seat. I called a friend of mine who worked in the same building and told him to get a dress for Sheena — size small — and meet me in the ground floor, within 20 minutes.

“You really care that much.” Sheena said while stifling a yawn.

“Yes. You will get this job. It will make you confident and independent. You should do it.” I said absent-mindedly. I was focused on the road. I don’t think I had drove like this since 1998. And the only time before this when I had my heart racing like this was around 1800s. The horses in those times were something.

“I don’t have the right clothes. I haven’t brought my certificates.”

“Your certificates! Where are they?”

“At your house. I brought them yesterday with my stuff.”

“You brought all your stuff to my place.” I was shocked and yet not. I should have expected it from her.

“Yeah.” I called my maid and gave the phone to Sheena.

“Tell her where the documents are.” I said while zipping through a yellow light. I think it turned red by the time I actually crossed the signal but that is a problem for another day.

She told the maid and I sent the address to her Whatsapp (yes, my maid uses Whatsapp). I called my driver to bring the documents within 15 minutes to the location. He should make it. I live in the central part of the city. I bought the land around 1750 when the city was a village.

We had reached the office just 5 minutes before her interview. I literally pushed her to the washroom to change and for once, she hurried. Within 5 minutes, she was ready. Unfortunately, my driver was not here yet. This meant we were late. I told my friend to bring the documents as soon as the driver came with them and ran towards the lift.

The lift took at least 5 minutes to reach the floor where the interview was set. I hate slow lifts.

“The interview.” I said panting.

“Name?” The woman sitting with glasses asked me in a stern tone. Remember, I look twenty something despite my age. What can I say, I maintain myself, unfortunately.

“Sheena.” Sheena said. Full name Sheena. I thought bitterly. Suddenly I realised that all these efforts might all be in vain. After all, they will talk to Sheena.

“Yes. I am sorry but your interview is delayed by fifteen minutes. Can you wait for 10 more minutes?”

I gave a sigh of relief, surely audible. I thanked the kind lady and sat down on one of the chairs present for candidates. Sheena said beside me taking my arm in hers. I was too exhausted to even push her away.

Five minutes later, my friend was there with the documents.

“Don’t worry. She will get the job.” He said to me. I thanked him.

“Ms. Sheena. You can go now.” Finally the lady called her. I stood up before Sheena, my excitement barely contained.

“Wow! I really didn’t think we would be here today. Thanks for doing this for me Suyash.” Sheena said and without warning kissed me.

This was the first time we were kissing and I must say, it was good and I have centuries of experience. Nevertheless, there were more pressing matters at hand and I pushed her away.

“All the best.” I said to her but more to myself.

“Thanks.” She said her hand stretching to weave in my hair. For once, I let her. I was too excited.

“Hey! I didn’t know you had grey hair, Mr. Oldie.” She said laughing.

“What?”

“Oh come on! Don’t be scared. Its just one grey strand. I just hope it wasn’t from the kiss.” She said and ran to the interview.

I went to the washroom and saw it. A grey strand standing proudly and not just that. I had a wrinkle near my left eye. It wasn’t there in the morning. A tear trickled down my eye. I didn’t know what caused it — the race, getting Sheena to the interview or the kiss — but I got older. I had found my purpose in life. I just had to pin-point on it. Somehow, though, I already knew it was the third one.

“Not again Sheena.” I said annoyed.

“Sorry.” Sheena said as I picked her up. She had tried to bend to get a pebble and fell down. At the age of 70, it is not wise to pick stones just to throw them in the ocean.

“Wow! You are still strong.” Sheena said. I smiled at her. Fifty years have passed since that first grey hair came in my life. Fifty years, spent in caring for Sheena and in spending time with her.

I do feel a guilt sometimes that maybe I stayed because being with her aged me. But I don’t care. She loves me absolutely and these past fifty years have been amazing. I did fell in love with her. When, I don’t know. Sometimes I think I fell in love the first time I met her but I didn’t want to accept it. Other times, I think it was after our first kid that I truly felt those feelings for her.

Honestly, I don’t know and now, after fifty years of growing old together, I don’t care.