Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Definitely Tomorrow

Mayank looked around his room and sighed. It was a mess. The bedsheet was crumpled as if he had spent the night fighting with it, which in hindsight maybe how he slept. The pillow was in the middle of the bed instead of on top and the sheer number of electronic gadgets on the bed were a fire hazard for sure.

When Mayank’s eyes moved away from the bed, the sight was even worse. Where the bed at least had scope, the table had lost its identity completely. Everything from papers to boxes to books were on the table. He couldn’t even identify which was which at this moment.

“I will clean this up. I promise.” Mayank said to himself for the umpteenth time. Right now, that was all he could offer his room. He was getting late for a meeting and has managed to oversleep even in this strenuous situation. This meant that the room could only look at him in hope. Mayank tried to find the watch he had received as a gift but couldn’t find it in the pile in his table so he jumped to the next best thing — his smartwatch. It was an important meeting so he had wanted to look the part but as life would have it — that wasn’t possible today.

Mayank left the room and locked the door. As soon as the door was locked, Mayank’s mind got wiped clean. There was no room anymore to clean, no problems to sort inside the house. His whole mind shifted to the task at hand — getting a cab to reach the office at time.

Mayank was just in time for the meeting.

Once the meeting was over, Mayank felt the thrill of holding the room by himself. This was his first time with such a huge responsibility and when his colleagues gave him a treat, he just couldn’t say no.

By the time he reached home, he was completely smashed.

“Tomorrow is Saturday. I will definitely do it tomo…” Mayank said to himself and fell on the bed. Before he could complete his statement, he had dozed off.

The room remained in the same state that night, as with every previous night since she had left.

Poetry, Random Tales

A Moment of Love

There was a moment in time when everything stopped. It was not something that I had ever imagined would happen. It was something that wasn’t supposed to happen. It just did.

I am not sure if this was love. I am not sure if this was even an emotion. It was a moment when the heart skipped a beat and the mind was stunned.

It was the moment when I had met you. An unforgotten moment it was.

The moment is affixed in my mind like a painting. Some of the shades mix with each other, others give a different hue than what might actually be reality. However, the emotions invoked on seeing that painting are as fresh as the first time. You looking at me smiling.

The conversation of a lifetime, happening in that single moment. You knew I loved you, I knew you loved me. The whole evening we talked and the evening began in that moment. The perfect moment.

But the evening passed. You left for your life; I, for mine.

Five years passed before we met again. Five silent years after a conversation of 5 hours.

You are with your family, me with mine. I named my daughter after you, your son has my name too.

We had discussed our kids too, I remember. In those 5 hours, we had discussed it all.

Your busy husband who would not come to the party, my pregnant wife who couldn’t.

The conversation, ignited with a moment’s passion, burned all the boundaries, all the walls.

To the world, nothing happened in those 5 hours that tarnishes us.

Yet…

In that moment, everything happened.

In that moment, I was yours and you were mine.

Random Tales

kpwrites #3

“I don’t know what to say but I think the best thing would be for you to leave,” she said without meeting his eyes.

Rohan looked up waiting for Sanya to at least acknowledge his existence but after a few minutes, it was clear that this was a futile venture. Rohan picked his gift and left.

Sanya fell into the chair and tears started to pour from her eyes. She had never thought that she would say no to Rohan’s proposal. However, the truth is that she couldn’t say yes in good faith after what had happened between Kartik and her last night. She wanted to believe that it was more than just physical but that would be a lie, at least right now.

She had met Kartik yesterday at a friend’s party and had woken up in his bed this morning. She wanted to blame the alcohol, the party, her fight with Rohan but in the end, it was all her. Kartik had been a gentleman offering her breakfast but she was in no mood to eat. And when she reached home, Rohan was there on one knee offering her a ring. She couldn’t believe that he would propose to her after the fight they had two days ago.

‘I should’ve told him,’ she thought with her hands on her forehead. Tears were flowing freely now. “Why was I such an idiot?”

Rohan threw the ring on his way out. It was a fake and didn’t cost him more than a coffee. He took out his phone and started typing. Disgust was blatant on his face.

“Completed the dare.”

“Good. What was her response?”

“She told me to get out of the house.”

“But she didn’t tell you about last night.”

“No.”

“Okay.”

Kartik and Rohan had known each other since childhood. Each putting the other through ridiculous challenges and placing bets on the outcomes. Two days ago, after his fight with Sanya, a drunk Rohan had dared Kartik to sleep with her. He wanted to test her resolve in the relationship. On the other hand, if Kartik succeeded, Rohan had to propose to Sanya.

Rohan had lost more than a bet this time.

Kartik hung up the phone down. For the first time, he wished he hadn’t won.

Sanya picked up the phone. “I have to tell Rohan the truth.”

Non-Tech

Anatomy of a Breakup

A breakup is never easy. A breakup shouldn’t be easy. If it is, then it wasn’t a good relationship to begin with. At its core, a breakup is a death. In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari talks about the two realities – Objective Reality (Trees, Lions, Rivers) and Imagined Reality (Corporations, Countries, Religions). A relationship is part of the second reality. It is imagined in the mind of two people and then those two individuals share their reality with other people through stories. Stories about how these two individuals met, how they realized their feelings for each other and how they are conceiving a future together. When this myth breaks down, the relationship ends.

Thus, a relationship involves three individuals – two objectively real people and one imagined relation. It is the death of the third individual – the imagined one – that is called a breakup. The two real people exist. No physical harm has happened to them and yet, the pain is often immeasurable.

If you are unable to grasp why the death of a myth causes so much trouble, remember that most recent wars have been for myths like countries or religions. The 2008 economic crisis was based on the meltdown of a myth. Heck! The whole concept of society in any form is based on shared myths. In a nutshell, just because it’s imagined doesn’t mean it’s not real, even if the definitions collide on the matter. And like everyone deals with death in different ways, all of us handle a breakup differently. Mainly, people can be put in three buckets –

Workers

Some of us become workaholic and put every ounce of our energy in our goals. There are two advantages of this technique. One, continuously doing something doesn’t give the mind to dwell over the matter. Second, one is productive and is able to achieve something even in a bad situation. It may be a silver lining, but something is always better than nothing. The disadvantage is that the feelings that were pushed during this period may come back like the sleep that hits you after a alcohol and caffeine fueled night-out. Worse, it may emotionally char you forever with no healing ever taking place.

Criers

Other people just let out the pain by crying and drinking. They would talk to their friends and share the pain. They would seek support and break down at every other turn. However, this has its advantages. A person like this is able to heal faster as sharing of pain helps in reducing it. This person is also inadvertently connecting to their other relationships and strengthening them. The disadvantage is that the productivity is zero and if the person doesn’t heal quickly, this person might become a burden in the other relationships.

Shutters

Finally, there are people who just become stunned, and eventually, they shut down. They end up being completely useless. Binge-watching television is one of the most prominent features in such a situation. Listening to songs while overthinking every moment of that relationship to identify the situations where things could have been improved. Looking at ways in which things can be put back together or torn apart further. Frankly, I don’t know any advantage of this situation. You aren’t productive, you aren’t healing, and you aren’t going forward. You are just stuck in a moment in time, frozen and looping. Unfortunately, this is also the place where most of us find ourselves. My advice – either pick a project to do or cry your heart out. Get out of this place ASAP!

But I’m not interested in giving an advice on a breakup. My interest is in the mechanism of the breakdown of the myth. How does a breakup happen? I believe that often, the seeds of a breakup can be found in the beginning of the relationship. It all starts with the construction of the combined myth. This combined lore consists of two stories – my story and your story.

My Story

– I saw you when you were talking to your friend.

– I fell in love with you when it was raining, and you were wearing that black dress.

– I realized it won’t work out when we fought that day.

– I told you about it when I couldn’t take it anymore.

Your Story

– I saw you when you were being a buffoon.

– I fell in love when we went out for the show under the clear sky.

– I realized that it wasn’t working when you didn’t talk to me that day.

– I believed we can work out our troubles.

When two people come together, there are many forces that are against the relationship. For some, it’s the society; for others, distance. Some must fight the financial barriers while others have to fight their own past issues. The higher the strength and the number of these forces, the higher efforts the relationship requires. The relationship is more draining and the chances of success of the relationship are also reduced. These challenges are thwarted by the strength of the relationship which comes from the shared narrative, the combined myth – the love story.

The shared lore is bound to have two different narratives – my story and your story. In an ideal world, these two stories would be identical. This would make it strong and able to handle any external force. In the real world, the two stories deviate from each other and the farther they are, the weaker the relationships become.

The worst case is when one person thinks they are in a relationship while the other thinks they are not (friend-zone anyone?). However, even in a relationship which is clear on its status, there can be small deviations which would lead to butterfly effect in the future. If the two stories start deviating and are not reconciled, eventually, the relationship will become weak and external forces will overpower the relationship. It is also important to acknowledge that the small deviations in the story would come. For one, memory is not set in stone. Second, we are not hive mind and can’t know everything about the other individual’s life and thus would take assumptions which will add those deviations.

That is why, communication is considered one of the most important pillars in a relationship. It helps in identifying the small deviations before they become too big to be handled. Constant communication helps in keeping the deviations small and manageable. No wonder that most researches on relationships conclude that almost all healthy relationships (not just romantic ones) have good communication at its core. In fact, a good relationship can falter even after years if the communication breaks down due to some reason.

Another important component in maintaining the combined narrative is conflict resolution. If the two stories are different, which one is the correct version? What is the TRUTH? Well, the truth is what both participants can agree on. Trust is the key here. It helps in conflict resolution. That is why a breakdown of trust often is the quickest path to a breakup, even faster than lack of communication. Because identifying the conflicts is of no use if they can’t be resolved.

However, it’s possible that some deviations are missed even after regular communication and deep trust. These deviations become larger and might come out in the open too late for a quick resolution. Resolving them requires both communication and trust with a lot of patience. Patience, unfortunately, is a commodity in dearth. Often, the modern life doesn’t stop, and allow people to take a breath, to contemplate, consider and resolve conflicts. This is where the relationship is at its weakest and this is where it often breaks down. The deviations continue to increase until one day, one person says – I’m done.

The shared narrative breaks and the combined myth ends. The suspension of disbelief is over and the third entity in a relationship, the imagined one, dies. It doesn’t matter if the two people were good or bad, it doesn’t matter if the two people were near or far, it doesn’t matter if the two people were rich or poor. The relationship continues as long as the two stories in the combined myth reconcile and it breaks when they deviate from each other.

To conclude, talk. Share your stories and ensure that both people have the same narrative. They are on the same page.

And for those who have already crossed the breakup bridge – mourn. It was a death.