Friday, 16 August 2013

Dancing is all Street & Latin to Me - II

This is the sequel to my rant on dancing here.

One of my New Year resolutions for 2013 was to learn to dance. And this time, something more to the tune of salsa. Now, when I sifted through various dance-class flyers & online ads, the image in my head was something like this:-

Sabrina & Louis on Dancing with the Stars
And this:-

I was mortified by the thought of what appeared to be "climbing" on guys, like a vine would on a ladder. What was this? Legalized infidelity!? Fortunately, my horror was quelled when I actually attended a trial class for Ballroom Level-1. And reality looked more like this:-


I heaved a sigh of relief and immediately signed up for the lessons. But I'm guessing the steps are mild only in the first few Levels. "Man-climbing" probably surfaces in Level-10.

Before I begin my discourse on the funny-bits about the classes, I'd like you to appreciate the beauty of Latin dances. The music, oh! It makes you swoon! When the songs play, your mind pauses and turns into mush. The tracks are so lovely, your body starts swaying on its own. You don't even need alcohol to get intoxicated! THAT'S how powerful latin music is! (On a separate note, you might want to read this excerpt from my latest short story and see where the inspiration came from!)

The people who attend these classes are quite intriguing themselves. Most leave their husbands/wives/girlfriends/boyfriends home when they come to shimmy in the night. (And I'm not very proud to say I do the same. But it's not technically or financially feasible to fly-in your significant-other from a politically-sensitive South-Indian city for an hour of dance each week, more so if he balks at the very mention of dancing.) Also, because I'm no better myself, I have no right to wonder why people with partners in the same city (and sometimes, under the same roof) don't bring them along.

Anyway, getting back to the topic of dancing, I won't tell you what Wikipedia will. We'll talk about stuff "they" won't tell you anywhere. When I first started in Jan, the system felt like speed-dating (not that I've been to any speed-dating-events). Random women are paired with random men; they're expected to dance for 2 minutes; and after the buzzer beeps (this'll be the dance-teacher's instruction), the ladies move to the partners to their right. Of course, in a speed-date event, the man gets up from one table and walks over to the next. But then again, this is dancing, and shouldn't be compared with dating (speed or no-speed). Also, here, the motive is not to find Mr./Ms. Right but to find your own self.

In the process of "finding myself", I found many interesting characters in the form of dance-partners. (What will follow is a slight variation of my style of caricaturing, like I've done before.)

  • The John Abraham - Yes, we had a John Abraham! I bet your dance class doesn't have one! :-P So, on my first day, I moved over to this man and he introduced himself, "Hi. John Abraham." (To this day, I can't figure out if that's his real name.) And I replied, "Bipasha Basu Oindrila." Like his namesake, he had a firm grip (again, the comparison is out of place as I've never danced with the real John Abraham) and a gruff voice... AND was quite outspoken when he said at the 2nd class, "I'm glad you came." (and instantly made me regret my decision).

  • The Genius-learns-to-Jive - This one is the nation's pride; the pure, rare & eternal... no, wait! That's platinum! Let's start over - This one is the nation's pride; the heavily accented engineer from Aye.Aye.Tee Bombay! *Whistles & fake round of applause.* He'll always wear IIT-B branded clothes so the girls know who they're dancing with. (*Now, I assume my ready-to-mock, high-pitched excited tone* Of course, of course! All we girls ever want to do in life is ensnare engineers from premier institutes 'cuz we've nothing better to bide our time with.) If only you could remember your steps a little better and remember to show-off a little lesser! You wouldn't be so bad afterall.

  • The Rogue Leader - Remember how the man always leads and the woman follows, in ballroom dances? (Such a patriarchal society this is!) Well, some dancers take this a bit too seriously and try to wield their power on the dance-floor. They always signal for the switch-turn and keep you turning till your head spins. And when you suggest you'd like a New York or Cuban rocks or arm-lock, they vainly say to you, "Hey, I give you the lead. I get to decide." And when you go all class-monitor on him and look to your dance-instructor for help, all you get is, "He's the man. He leads. You must follow." *grrrr*

  • The Pseudo-Follower - Quite a pleasant chap to dance with! Mostly 'cuz he let's you lead (or at least gives you the signal you ask for) and follows your every wish as his command! :-D He even goes on to tell the couples next to you how he'd be nowhere without your leadership skills (aww!! :-) Hey, B-schools, didya hear that!) The only words that leave his mouth are "Yes, m'lady...", "Do your magic...", "There's my girl!" (Oh, wait! Why do all those phrases suddenly sound so wrong? :-o )

  • The True Dance-Divo - (FYI, Divo is Italian for male-diva.) Here's a real man who brings his girlfriend along (I salute thee!). And his only aim is to dance. He remembers his steps (why of course! Unlike the rest of us, he gets to practise with this partner everyday), holds you just right... not too close, not too tight (but then again, going by the pictures at the top of this article, I can't say whether there's any limit to how close you can hold your partner), and dancing with him is a delight! (didn't mean to say that. It's just that delight rhymes with right & tight :-P )
Did I tell you when I joined the class, I joined with the sole intention of learning the Latin art, and did not want to know about people or let them know anything about me? I wanted to dance in oblivion. It was simpler with strangers. Knowing people would only complicate things. Every time someone asked me my name or what I did or where I lived, my forehead furrowed. Why couldn't they just shut up and dance!? But the questions kept coming. And with time, they changed forms - "What are you doing this weekend?"; "They have this _____ concert tonight at IIT. Wanna come?" (aye-aye-tee-guy bides his time by asking engineers out?! :-o ); "busy tomorrow? Sunday, maybe? Or next weekend?" (dude, get the hint!) See why it's easier to dance with strangers? Unfortunately, strangers don't remain strangers for long.

Oh, why the pin-drop silence? You don't read my blog without giggling (just a little bit)! So, I present you double entendre-phrases that can be heard in a latin dance class (N.B.: All this is Latin-dance-jargon and routinely used by any good instructor.):-

  • Man, give her the hair-brush.
  • Girl, don't resist.
  • Flip her hand and place it on your shoulder.
  • You're too stiff. Sway with me.
  • Man, flip the girl and hold the Titanic-position.
  • Girl, don't stand straight; lean on me.
  • Take her into a cuddle.
  • Come a little closer. (No, wait. Nobody says that anymore. They just pull you forward.)
I cannot say goodbye to you without leaving you with a song, now can I? So here's Michael Buble and The Pussycat Dolls' rendition of Sway.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Dancing is all Street & Latin to Me

If you ever become an angry, Bengali mum (remind me to do a post on How To Become an Angry Bengali Mum) who holds the Indian culture in high regard, you'll probably certainly send your daughters to dance classes with strict dance teachers who not only teach you one of the many classical Indian dances, but also frown on you when you wear western outfits to the class. 

I was an innocent little girl of 6 when I was first whisked off to Bharatanatyam classes. I was the youngest student in a class of all girls who wore pink salwar-kameez with a matching dupatta, pinned into place. I was too small to understand the significance of any of this in my future (I still am), and also clueless as to why I was woken so early on Sunday mornings to stamp my bare feet on the floor as our guru hollered "taa digi digi thai". My sister got off easy as she was only 4 and could barely eat without dropping almost all the food on the floor. 

4 years later, my mum found a Kathak teacher for us (and this time my sister had no way out :-D ) and despite our crying and cribbing, we were enrolled into another Indian-Classical dance class. Things were tougher this time around- the ghungroos were heavier and had to be wound around pink (Why is it always pink!)- knee-pad-like things that were worn not on the knees but above the ankle. I suddenly missed the strap-on ghungroos of Bharatanatyam. The instructor was even stricter, and made us repeat each step till we perfected every expression and intricate-gesture. We could sleep on Sunday mornings but could never catch 40 winks on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons. But this was nothing compared to all the layers of heel-skin that would peel off with all the spinning after each "tig dha dig dig thai". (Why don't they ever let you wear shoes in Indian dances?!) We pleaded & protested, but our mum was adamant. We were Bengali, "cultured" daughters, and it was our duty to know to dance (and sing, and paint, and score cent-percent in Math, and be good debaters, yada... yada...). So, our daddy-dearest came up with an incentive- he'd contribute to our piggy-bank (Yes, we learnt the art of saving early in life. I should've known then that I was cut out for the Banking industry.) the same amount as our dance-fee if we diligently attended the classes. Now, how could we say "no" to that!

This was not all. My mum, who's trained in Bengali classical style of dance, would choreograph dance pieces for us kids in the colony and make us perform at every Indian festival. I could never fathom what pleasure she got out of getting us dressed in white sarees with red border (that made us look VERY fat, by the way, and cost us potential boyfriends...Yes, in Mumbai the dating-scene develops fairly early :-P )

By the time I turned twelve, I had had enough of my mum bossing over me. I put my foot down and declared I was leaving classical-Indian dancing for good. (Now that I've "grown up", I can see what a favour my mum was doing us. But I can't blame my old self for doing what I did.) I dabbled with western-dancing (meaning mostly Bollywood & Hollywood-pop) for a year. That was actually nice. I knew the music. I understood the steps (everyone from Shakira to Shilpa Shetty did the steps we were doing! :-) ). And our dance-costumes were always kickass! Diwali & Christmas parties were the perfect occasions to show off our moves to starry-eyed boys in their teens (and mentally tell ourselves we nailed them it :-P ).

This was followed by a long hiatus from dancing, owing to exams- 10th & 12th Board and then 4 years of University exams. The Indian education system is quite a social-life killer, and the fact that your parents won't take anything less than stellar scores (Truth be told, I'm not that good. But a little bragging is essential to make this article sound dramatic :-P), really adds to the fear of poor-scores-cuz-i-was-busy-enriching-my-personality

Cut to the present, and I'm learning Rumba, Cha-cha, Waltz (English & Viennese), Merengue, Rock-n-Roll, International Jive, Salsa & Bachata. Phew. :-D How am I doing all of this? We'll find out in my next post!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Football Shootball Hai Rabba!

It all started with one little thought... "Why should boys have all the fun?"

*  *  *

Last month, a bunch of football enthusiasts at my office decided to have a tournament for the entire floor, and a sprightly girl pal of mine suggested there should be a match for the women too. What at first seemed like a passing thought, quickly turned into a movement. That friend and I pestered, pleaded, then pressurized (when the 1st two tactics didn't work) every girl that passed us by to participate in what would be our firm's first ever all-girls football match.

We couldn't contain our excitement once we had 16 ladies on board, so we gathered in a conference room and worked on the specifics. By what seemed like mutual consent (or probably the reluctance to lead in a sport none had played before), that sprightly friend (let's call her Sweetheart, shall we? She has a similar sounding name, by the way :-P ) and I were declared the captains of the two teams. We split the girls by lottery (because there's no better way to choose when most are your friends, and sensitive), and started discussing the most important aspect of the game - the jerseys! (:-P Hey, you gotta look good and play good! Lorena from The Brothers Garcia taught me that when I was only twelve.)

We were not the only excited people at my department. The men too shared our excitement and volunteered to coach us. Now, coaching a dozen-odd girls who also happen to be first-timers in football is no mean feat! You have to remind them that ballerina-flats can't substitute for sports-shoes, let alone soccer-studs. The training sessions were the most exhilarating moments we had that week (if you exclude the actual match, which was a cracker!). And more so because of the July-rains, which are always heavy. We all had been so apprehensive about playing in the rains. (We could catch a cold or get pneumonia!) But when we started warming up and getting a hang of running in the downpour, we began enjoying it.

The coaches taught us everything- 

  • how to warm up (the most important thing to do before playing the game, if you don't want your muscles to cry after the match)

  • the rules of the game (that included side-kick, goal-kick, penalty shoot-out)

  • how to kick the ball (very, very important). Most of us didn't know we'd break our toe if we kicked the way we were kicking... and that we all have a sweet-spot on our stronger-foot that takes the ball farther than any other spot will. Also, the fact that the secret to an accurate kick lies in positioning the weaker (non-kicking) foot towards your goal.

  • how to decide our positions (good runners would be mid-fielders, girls with strong and accurate kicks would be the strikers, etc.)

  • and even football jargon (that was a typically corporate-thing to do!) like fallback, mark-your-players, carry-the-ball (a cute little lady picked up the ball with her hands and carried it when our coach ordered her to "carry" the ball...LOL)!
Hours after the first practice-session when we sat at our desks in office, the muscle-cramps kicked in. It was a herculean task to walk over to the water-cooler. Even crossing our legs required lifting the thigh with our hands. We were crying out of pain by the time we were home. That's when a random guy snickered "You girls are playing WHAT?! You play like GIRLS indeed!" That did it for us! We had to shut him up! We were gonna work hard and show 'em we had a mean kick!

Practice apart, we had plenty of other interesting things to do- picking jersey-colours, choosing names for our teams and finalizing the logos. Only that kind guy (who volunteered to arrange our jerseys) knows what we put him through! My team's colour had to be something between pink and purple with a hint of maroon. My girls had so many issues with the colour! :-P ("...I'm NOT wearing pink! It is too girly"; "...dark won't look bright at night when we have the match"; " of the boys' teams has maroon. We can't have the same colour"; "...the other team has striped sleeves and a V-neck. Round-neck makes me look fat!")

That Friday was the D-day! The match would be after office hours, and we kept telling each other it was just a friendly-match and we shouldn't work ourselves up. But excitement got the better of us and we had to strategize! Word soon got out that both the teams were having strategy-meets after lunch, and the guys offered to share their pearls of wisdom with us. One man even suggested, albeit in jest, we should poison the opposition's striker!

The strategy-meet that I called for my team has been till date, the most invigorating meeting I have ever chaired! I must've taken my captaincy a bit too seriously, because I got an easel-mounted white-board and coloured marker pens to illustrate our game-plan to the entire team (and two men who played managers) seated around the conference-table. It was so much fun drawing the football field and putting crosses for every player. We had carefully decided our rotating positions for the 6-a-side match. The aim was to keep our forwards fresh throughout the game and at the same time, maintain a strong defence. For the 20-minute game, we would play offensive (5 minutes- to try and score a goal early in the game so the team's spirits stayed up) - defensive (next 10 minutes - to keep the other team from scoring a goal) - offensive (last 5 minutes - to manage an emergency-goal at the last moment in case we slipped up). The rotation-plan was fantastic as it ensured all our players played for the maximum time possible and we used every girl's potential to the hilt. We even had a provision to handle (God forbid) injured players. We were not going to tackle, as we still had sisterly-affection for the other team and couldn't make anyone cry.

Locker Room Conversation (random phrases in random order, to lighten the tone of this post):-

"Does my ass look fat in this?" (This never gets old! :-P)

"Are these shorts too short?"
"Honey, those aren't shorts. Those are hot-pants!"

"My socks won't come up."
"Yeah. We're all wearing ankle-length socks. No wonder, we can't wear shin-guards! (prerequisite for tackling)"

"We'd better win this match. I paid 4 grands for these shoes even after a 50% discount!"
"I too had to shop for socks." (And you still managed ankle-length! :-P)

"Quick! We're getting late!"
"Sure. Just let me wear my lipstick."
"It'll be dark in the evening. The colour won't be visible! And anyway, it's raining."
"Oh, shit! Let me remove my eye-liner. I'll have black lines running down my face otherwise."

Awaiting our turn

The Captain's Last-minute Checklist:-
  1. Print out rotation-plan & hand it over to the team-manager - Check
  2. Get all the players out of the changing rooms and on the way to the venue - Check
  3. Make everybody warm-up for 15 minutes even if they bicker - Check
  4. Stop thinking about the salsa-class that you are missing - Check

The final match was like a dream-sequence! The synthetic Astroturf that we played on had cage-netting and overlooked the entire business-park area. It had a beautiful view of the residential buildings and the mountains that lay beyond. We felt like stars running across the floodlit field which also had shock-absorbing rubber-infills. We did not realize when the 20 minutes passed and we emerged victorious. Victorious, not because my fabulous team scored a goal and the strong defense and nimble goalkeeper (I was the GK for the 1st 10 minutes :-D ) managed good saves, but because all the women from both the teams really stunned the men forever. There would be no more snide remarks. Only amazed and proud looks, thanks to the terrific game we played with only 3 practice-sessions spread over a week!

Posing with the people with deep pockets who made this happen

Friday, 9 August 2013

Caution: Men at Work #3

The previous posts in this series can be accessed here and here.

After weeks of being in a solemn mood (to do justice to the short story that I finished last Fri), it's time again for me to indulge in some light banter. I will pick up from where I left last time, and give you five more specimen to add to the male-trail! :-D

*  *  *

Exhibit - 6 (The Mint Factory):

Whadya say? He mints money for the firm and makes enough to feed his next seven generations? Oh, quite the opposite! He spends what seems like every penny on packs and packs of ci****ttes (yes, that's a cuss word!) and roams the streets corridors chewing endlessly. I always thought these people were aiming to be "cash cows", what with all that ruminating/chewing the cud! Or perhaps following Kareena Kapoor's last-season-diet (eat small meals every hour)? Only in this case, they pop like-a tiny meal every few minutes.

But I was brought out of my ignorance one fine day when this guy begged me for a chocolate 'cuz he was starving. (Say, how do you starve with such subsidized food options at the office-cafe?!) He reiterated how badly he needed to eat something, told me what he had wasn't good enough, and pulled open his middle-drawer. I can swear that in all my 13 months here, I haven't seen anything scarier in anybody else's drawer! Every space in that 20cm*40cm*60cm drawer was filled with packs of mint. He might as well have shown me skeletons hanging in his closet! That guy was hoarding chewing gum like it was gold flake (pun unintended). He gave me a toothy smile and I fled in the direction of (what I presumed would be) safer drawers.

Don't even ask me why I'm wary of smokers! For a girl who's been haunted by asthmatic bronchitis since she was 7, any devil human who takes a drag (or gives you the second-hand version) is synonymous with a murderer. Seriously dude, if you wanna die, go die! Why're you taking me with you?!

Exhibit - 7 (The Closet Dancer):

He looks harmless and keeps a low profile on a daily basis. But invite him to a party, play some I'll-never-be-caught-dead-listening-to-this-type music and let him have three drinks (just three, please!), and he'll burn the dance-floor! There'll be arms flapping everywhere (and other party-goers moving away in fright), shirt ends (which are so very crisply tucked in at work) coming out of the pants, and buttons bursting off the shirt! He'll dance like no one's watching (as the others watch like no one else is dancing). He gets all fired up if there's a prop (usually the bottle he emptied). All my sympathies lie with the guy who acts like a David to the Goliath and tries to calm the dancing-demon (we all know he'll be smashed into a wall as the next dance move involves spinning with the bottle). But then again, drunk-dancers are always better than drunk-drivers.

Exhibit - 8 (The Metrosexual Man):

He was a rarity when this term gained popularity (in India) and I was still in high school. But today, the offices are teeming with this type. He has a man-purse/briefcase-ish bag so chic that it makes me wanna trash mine. He asks for a spare lip-balm after he's done eating and makes us girls wonder why we don't gloss up often. He also keeps up with the latest hairstyle-trends and tweets pictures of him pouting (oh wait, guys don't pout! Or do they?) with the just-in look (this time, I really didn't mean the pun :-p).

You can see he can be a good shopping companion as he whispers to you how that lady's shoes don't match her skirt. He can also tell what brand of shirt you're wearing (and that's scary because women's shirts don't have monograms like men's actually need to read the buttons to tell the Allen Sollies & Van Heusens apart). The best thing about the metro-man is his ability to notice little things. It feels wonderful when he compliments you on your new shoe instantly (which your girl-friends notice only after the compliment), or when he can tell you the new hairdo looks better than the old one. (I bet, my boyfriend won't be able to tell any difference if I went bald!)

Exhibit - 9 (The Dude-on-a-Diet):

He comes in all shapes and sizes but with only one resolve: to keep off the calories. He counts calories like they're hickeys (Note to self: Keep the blog clean) scores on a 100-mark Math paper, or tells you he'll skip breakfast as his dinner was too heavy.

True-incident alert:

So this happened during my first month at the first full-time paid job (I really wonder why the guys at internship-firms aren't as entertaining). I was walking with my food tray across the cafeteria in the hope of finding an empty table or at least a familiar face I could sit next to. I spotted a bunch of guys who were training with me. Only one kind guy nodded in approval (as the others looked up from their plates, gave me zombie looks, and got back to poking at the food) when I asked if I could join them. After the initial exchange of pleasantries, the table was creepily quiet. I noticed then that all but one guy had little other than salad and soup on their trays. I've never felt fat lunching with celery-chewing girls but the guys made me feel like I was obese. What was I doing eating carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals AND roughage - all in a single meal?! They looked at my plate and I showed off my rotis by dunking them for an extra second in the yellow-dal. The lone guy with a complete meal on this tray smiled at me as if he understood the joke that the others would never get.

It's obvious why most girls survive on bird-food, but the men?! What forces them into this act of abnegation comparable to self-flagellation? Have all the girls suddenly started digging size-zero men? Is bulking up dying a slow death? Are those men auditioning to model for Abercrombie & Fitch? (not Fitch-the credit rating agency, you banking-snob!)

Exhibit - 10 (The Shy-Guy):

Now this one's my favourite type - The classic omega-male! He keeps away from women like they're wet paint. He avoids eye contact and conversations and walks all the way around the conference table so he can sit away from any girl of suspect character. By comparison, he makes all girls look like coquettes. (Thanks, Anand Mahindra, for the vocabulary lesson :-P) But there's the man who brings out all the "alpha"ness in me and makes me wanna slam the meeting-room door shut, un-clip my hair, let all the curls lose and go "and where do you think YOU'RE going, young man?" :-P (Disclaimer: The previous line is for special effects only and must not be misconstrued in anyway to be held against me.)

*  *  *

This post ends my cheekiness towards men. I can only hope they spare me the caustic remarks and choleric looks when they run into me tomorrow! :-P

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Ghost from Mud Lake - Bonus Chapter

This is a special chapter with alternate endings to the short story. You might want to read Chapter IChapter IIChapter IIIChapter IV and Chapter V to make better sense of this.

1. Bollywood-Style Ending:-

...I felt tears knotting in my throat and a pain singeing my heart, but I gathered myself and walked out of the night club. It thundered outside but there still was no rain. I walked as fast as my legs would carry me while thick, fat tears rolled down my cheeks. And then it started raining, and I stopped. But the raindrops miraculously missed me. I looked up to find a dark green umbrella shielding me from the sky. Tushhar had left the club and come after me.

"Won't you hear my friend mix some numbers for you? She's one of the finest DJs here."

I turned my face away from him and discreetly wiped my tears. I had no answer, and certainly no strength to deliver if I had one. I looked ahead- the the road looked long, endless and dark. The rain fell mercilessly on the ground, dragged all the filth from the sidewalk with it and turned the street into a vast mud-lake. Tusshar and I stood alone, like two ghosts hiding from the light, on the pink pavement, protected by its elevation from the road, under the green umbrella that stopped not only the raindrops but also time.

And then, he took me by surprise by folding the umbrella close and placing it on the pavement. The night poured on us like there was no tomorrow. Tushhar gave me a determined smile and offered his right hand, "Can I have this dance?" My left hand seemed to have a mind of its own as it floated over to his outstretched palm. He lifted my left hand and placed it on his right shoulder as he held my right in his left. 

We danced to the music of the rain as it consumed us, body and soul. Tushhar tightened his grip on me as it got harder to dance on the wet sidewalk and he held me closer than he had ever done at the foxtrot class. Our clothes clung to our skin and outlined our shapes even in the dark of the night. We were ghosts no more; we had forms. Clear and distinct. We were alive.

~  ~  ~

2. Hollywood-Style Ending:-

Erm... my blog is only 3 years old. It's underage. I can't do adult content yet. :-P

3. My first choice for the ending:-

...Sunday morning brought with it some sunshine. I slid open the window of my bedroom. The air was fresh and the skies, clear. The rains last night had washed the entire city clean. I carried my broken heeled-shoes to the trash can. If only broken hearts were as easy to dispose. I brushed by teeth and had some coffee. Java Beans, the sachet said. I laughed a hollow laugh. The bananas in the fruit-basket were ripe and yellow. Why was I so blue? I tore a banana off the bunch and looked for my running shoes. I might as well grab a run while the sky looks so clean.

I was looking at a cloudless sky after a long time. It had exhausted all its waters last night, giving me company as I cried my heart out. I too had no tears left in my glands. Tushhar was a beautiful song in my musical that delighted me for a long while. But the song would have to end somewhere for the musical to proceed. This was that inevitable "change" that I would have to face some day. And that day was here. 

My lungs drew more air as I picked up my pace. I closed my eyes and let the wind brush against my face. I felt light. I felt strong. I was ready for my life to take a new turn. I opened my eyes, and smiled.

~  ~  ~

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Ghost from Mud Lake - Chapter V

This is the concluding chapter from the short story, and follows Chapter IChapter IIChapter III and Chapter IV.

It was Saturday. And surprisingly calm and breezy. I finished pinning up my bouffant and twirled before the mirror. My midnight-blue evening dress went well with my sparkling black dancing shoes. I felt an immense sense of gratitude towards Ricardo, the dance-maestro, who taught me to turn with every few steps and unknowingly showed me how to turn my back on unpleasant feelings. He taught me that "change" was inevitable and I would have to learn to dance in every new situation in life. I was glad to have danced with all my fellow dance-partners who patiently matched their rhythm with mine, offered their shoulder and gestured "I've-got-your-back" every time I finished a turn. But most of all, I was thankful to Tushhar, who stirred my heart, brought a sparkle in my eyes and gently danced us out of our loneliness.

I beamed with happiness as I entered the club where the lights were dimmed. I joined some familiar faces on the dance floor with my eyes on the entrance. Tusshar entered, looking happier than I had ever seen him before. He held hands with a girl who smiled as she walked in. She flipped her long, black hair to reveal a white off-one shoulder satin dress that ended above her knees. I looked on helplessly as he led her to the bar after she whispered something in his ear.

I felt tears knotting in my throat and a pain singeing my heart, but I gathered myself and walked out of the night club. It thundered outside but there still was no rain. I walked as fast as my legs would carry me while thick, fat tears rolled down my cheeks. And then it rained, mercilessly. I did not reach for my umbrella. It was as if the sky felt my anguish and sent down a curtain of showers to hide my tears. My bouffant flattened in the downpour, the sidewalk turned muddy and my pencil-heeled shoes sank in the swampy ground. The road stretched like a large mud-lake and I hoped the waters would dissolve me if not my pain.

*  *  *

Sunday morning brought with it some sunshine. I slid open the window of my bedroom. The air was fresh and the skies, clear. The rains last night had washed the entire city clean. I boiled water in the saucepan for coffee and turned on my laptop. I took a deep breath and went to Tushhar's blog, for one last time. I was surprised to see a new post.

He wrote about a girl he met some months back, and how he ran into her time and again, but could make no conversation with her till a false fire-alarm woke him from his slumber. That night, he had followed her to a strange room full of music and waited forty minutes before being a man and stepping into the hall. And till date, he hasn't been fully able to come out of that room.

~  ~  ~

Secrets of the Story:-

This is my second short story on this blog. The first one can be found here. Many have asked me if this is a true story. This piece draws its elements from reality. The setting is real in most scenes. The emotions of the characters are very real. However, not every real story ends this way. Some end in tragedy and tears and some last many years. 

When I finished the first chapter, one of the first few readers asked me why I refer to the central male character as a "ghost". I hope he found his answer in the third chapter. But this final chapter makes us question whether it is really the guy who is the ghost in this story. 

There's also the mystery behind the "mud lake". Is it just the road that submerged in the downpour and dirt? Or is it a real place with a real name? To know the answers to these and other questions that you may have, please write to me by commenting under this post. 

And if you prod me a little more, I will reveal to you the alternate ending to this story that I initially had in mind. It is with that ending that I began writing this piece.