Friday, June 28, 2013

Round 2 (Match # 5) - Himanshu Khatri vs. Rishi Srivastava

*) - A Very Strange Love Story

(Himanshu Khatri)

In April 2011 life changed for Mayank and Harshita. He lived in Chennai, she lived in Mumbai. They had both been married for a long time (about 25 years), but something was missing in their relationships. The spark had gone and they had found themselves drifting away from their spouses. Love was still there, as was friendship, but things were not right, not for a long time.

Mayank had been writing for a while and posted his stories on Short Fiction. Harshita started reading stories of all genres, when one day she read a story written by Mayank and felt compelled to send feedback to comment on it. He courteously replied, thanking her for her comments. Harshita looked to see what else Mayank had written and read another story, sending feedback again. She liked the easy, friendly manner with which he replied, certainly not flirtatious or coarse, which had been the case with a few other male writers she had sent feedback to. Replying to feedback and responses to the comments continued and developed into friendly chat, telling each other of their lives, their families and their marriages.

The coincidences in their lives were astounding. They both had a love of cats and they each had two daughters. Mayank worked in the Infosys; Harshita was brought up in a family of Engineer . His wife had worked in the HDFC Bank, and so had Harshita. His elder daughter was in the IAS, her younger daughter wanted to be a IAS. His younger daughter was a Primary School Teacher, preferring to teach the youngest children; Harshita worked with young children in a Pre-School.

They found out a year later that Mayank and his wife had their first foreign holiday in The United State of America. Unbelievably, that was where Harshita and her husband had their first foreign holiday ten years later. Their tastes in music were almost the same, they watched the same TV programmes, and they both loved the cinema and theatre. Their taste in music and wine were almost identical, and they both loved eating out and taking part in quizzes. They even found that they had exactly the same make and model of mobile phone. Months later, they discovered that they even had the same make of watch, (both, unusually, light powered) with the same (his and hers) gold and silver watch straps. The similarities in their tastes were uncanny.

By August they were completely comfortable with each other, exchanging up to ten or more emails a day sometimes. They told each other things that no one else knew; building up a real sense of trust between them. Very quickly they realised that what they felt for each other was more than just friendship and that they were falling in love.

They waited for each other’s emails with eager anticipation, and soon the need for more contact grew. They both got Gtalk and chatted whenever they could, filling the void in their lives. Their thoughts were so in tune that they often typed the same thing at the same time, so often, in fact that they almost expected it. Sometimes they would talk on web cam, falling deeper in love every time they saw each other, but frustrated that miles still separated them. They talked on the phone whenever they could, desperate for physical contact.

In December 2012, Mayank’s younger daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Mayank and his wife were returning to Pune to see their daughters and meet their new grand-daughter. This would be the only chance for Mayank and Harshita to meet up, it might not happen again until May of the following year. They needed to affirm that what they thought they felt for each other was real. It’s one thing falling in love over a period of months via the internet, but what if they didn’t have the same attraction when they met… the flesh? They needed to know, before they could make any decisions regarding their futures. In December they met, the attraction was instant, their instincts and feelings had not let them down.

In April 2013, they moved in together in Pune and their love is very real. They have a wonderful loving relationship based on love, affection, total trust and openness. There is nothing they can’t talk to each other about, they talk for hours. They respect each other; they listen to each other and give unconditional support. Theirs is a very unusual love story. Most internet affairs don’t work, but this is different.

“Two people whose paths crossed at a time they both needed more than they were getting in their marriages, found each other. Not a brief, lustful fling…. after living together for over a year, they know this is real love.”

Rating - 58/100

Judge's Comment - Nice read. I liked the way you took a different approach towards the feeling of love between senior citizens. And yet you were successful in maintaining the grace between their relationships. It was a simple narration, somewhat too simple.

*) - Keepers of Gates of Heaven

(Rishi Srivastava)

Travelling in India is such a learning in itself. One has to deal with all the situations as what is planned generally don’t happen here. Trains are late often. One does not gets the desired seat in fully packed flights.

It's an opportunity to meet so many different people and experience so many different stories of life.

I was waiting at Nagpur station as my train was late. I was rushing to Delhi as I had to appear for my audition for singing.

Train was so late that at last I jumped into another train which was a connecting train to Delhi. Looked for the T.T. and finally arranged a seat which I had to share with another peson(Window Seat – side one) and it was comfortable.

“Please do not play any music… ahh”, said the person sharing the seat with me.

“Why  !what is the problem bro…”, I asked in a rude manner.

“You see … something  has happened wrong with these people. So it's a sad time. You can use my earphone if you don’t mind.”, requested the person.

“Ohhhh !not a problem… You are with them…. ???”, I asked pointing to the two boys or rather looked as brothers in the front compartment.

“Yes … I am with them. ….  I am Arjun…..”, introduced himself.

“Hello !  I am Rishi….”

He insisted me to use his earphone. I was listening to my favorite tunes and enjoyed the picturesque view from the window.

Suddenly saw that Arjun stood up and moved to the two boys. The elder one was helping the younger one to eat his food. Sometimes would feed the younger one from his plate.

Arjun stood up to ask for water. He was with them but did not had lunch with them.

Both the boys looked a bit quiet and yes the elder one really had sheer sadness in his eyes.

“Ahhh !you have not ordered anything to eat.”, I asked Arjun.

“I guess you also have not ……..”, he replied.

“No ….  I had something on the station itself so no need to eat anything.”

“Well ! I am fasting so I have my own stuff which I keep chewing from tome to time.”, he replied.

“You are fasting……which fast… I mean there is no Navratri and today is Wednesday… ”

“Ha ha ….. I am fasting for some wish of mine till it does not gets fulfilled.”,Arjun replied.

“Ohh !great.”

“Ahh …..aaaaaa….. where are you going ????”

“Delhi ……”, Arjun said

“Ahhh….  U said it's a sad time for these people…??”, I asked.

“ Ya …..its like a very bad phase for them coz…. they have lost their parents….. &certain things have not gone well for them….”, replied Arjun.

“….. They are the only sons of their parents..Ridwan& Imran.”

“So you are a family friend………”, I asked.

“Yes you can say………. But I am Ridwan’s friend since highschool.”,Arjun replied.

The elder one Ridwan was always pampering and was caring his younger brother. Both boys had very low energy. They did not bothered anyone else except Arjun.

Arjun was kind of a care taker who escorted them.

But there was something else attached to their story which I was not aware of.

“So how you are travelling to Delhi……..”,asked Arjun.

“..ahh ! there is a singing audition in Delhi so..”

“Ohh!  So you are a singer , music lover and I asked you to put off uritunes….. haha……even Ridwan is a great singer  and musician…….”

It was now that things started to open as Arjun became more comfortable with me.

He started telling the all about Ridwan.

Ridwan was a complete family loving boy. He and Arjun had been friends since a long time. He had a realm of love & care for his family.

Arjun told me that how Ridwan was so  concerned about his family and younger brother since childhood.Became mature at a young age due to his family problems.

He was responsible or made himself accountable for certain things at home. He was the key at home for a peaceful environment.

Always tried to help his father in maintaining a balance in his work life and home.

His mother’s illness was a big concern.

In this scenario, he actually deteriorated his own career & life.

People or relatives who were always jealous of prosperity which came to their familytried to defame Ridwan.

They always said that Ridwan acted very caring for his family in such a childhood and acted as a figure which let his family be together but was a failure in his own academic career. 

Finally Ridwan left his hometown for higher studies……… and here was the biggest hardship coming his way.

It was now when he was so much worried about how things would work well in his family as he would not be there.

Being in a hostel and not getting holidays to travel back home made him more homesick.

He tried hard to become a good student which he never was in his whole academic life.

He suffered from a disease called the adjustment disorder and just after three months in his hostel became sick.

He acquired this disease just thinking of his family and younger brother while he was away from his home.

He came home for few days for a holiday. His parents were also worried as to how their son who was such a caretaker and fighter looked depressed.

Ridwan’s mental condition had deteriorated and started to think negative.

In the same time many other things started creeping at the same time and acted as an addon for the survival of his disease. He acquired piles as well.

Things went wrong and slowly became worst.

His wish of coming back home as he suffered lot and was not in the condition to study there was strongly declined by his parents.

Ridwan’s parents had invested a handsome amount in his fee so they were never in favor of Ridwan coming back home.

This made Ridwan more restless as his own parents were not helping him.

Somehow he undergone psychiatric treatment and fought his illness alone in the hostel while studying.

Still after too much humiliation and mental sufferings & pressure from life……… got well.

He fought and even cleared his semesters.

Things became normal .

Ridwan left it all back as a nightmare and thought that a person who thought that how his family would live happily without him actually went sick……… and his family had the capability to live without him………

Years passed by………….  Finally Ridwancompleted his studies and started working.

Days passed and again hard days started when he left his job and could’nt find one better job.

He was then 25.

…………………….  Slowly but surely realized that he actually was losing everything in his professional life.

His family was well settled now and things have been good as compared to past and his younger brother was also to a right path in his career.

So it was only him who had to prove himself.

Ridwan came back home and it was the fourth month he was looking for a decent job.

 A discussion with his father on a regular Sunday regarding his job arose to anger & old wounds became fresh…………………

He was disturbed afterthe discussion with his father that morning………… that still his family thought that he was a failure and a burden on them as far as his own hardships were concerned.

They had no faith in his thinking and stated it as insensible or obsessive.

He again lost his mental balance and started doing dramas and he also did’nt knew it as to why he was doing it.

All this was too much for his family to bear it for him.

Finally one day his parents asked him to either leave their house or sign a note where it would be clearly stated that any un-happening with him would solely credited to Ridwan only.

This was an awakening call for Ridwan.

He thought ( he started thinking a bit negatively) that when his family has no feeling for him why should he be concerned for them.

They all are well placed in their life and wanted to live stress- free life.

He actually was acting to relax his mind that he had no love for his family now……………….

But it was not so……

He left the house and got himself medical treatment again.

Finally, landed up on a small job.

He started believing that everyone will get to their goals and make their life and would be comfortable in their life except him.

So he left the concern for others including his dear family and did everything to earn money out of his talent.

He started working in a company to earn his livelihood, started working on to bring his imagination real (his passion for singing), started singing at various parties and famous restaurants as his part- time job.

Earned a lot of money. He was excelling in his job. It was only two years now and he had built a successful life at least what looked at that time for him.

One day he got a call from his brother that he had to come back home.

Ridwan denied and said he would come to visit Imran when he would free.

But Ridwan took the first flight to Hyderabad from Mumbai.

It was his father’s funeral.

He died due to kidney failure which arose from high diabetes level.

His parents were not able to manage things well at home. Did not took medicines timely.

Ridwan blamed himself for his father’s death.

His mother’s condition was also not well. She suffered a shock of his father’s death.

After ten days his mother also died.

Ridwan’s love for his family never ended. It always grew more. It was the circumstances in life which made him stay apart for few years.

What could ridwan do now ?

He was unable to understand as to where he went wrong. 

His younger brother had no support but Ridwan only. Imran was pursuing higher medical studies.

“Arjun ….. I am going to washroom… Please sit here and take care of Imran.”, said Ridwan pointing towards his own seat.

“Hello !”

“Hi !”

Ridwan and me exchanged words for the first time. He looked a humble person.

It was just two hours left for Delhi.

Ridwan and Imran were sleeping as Arjun told me some more things.

After their parents death Ridwan left his job and came to Hyderabad to live with his brother and support him mentally to finish his studies and finally become a doctor, which his father dreamt of.

“So how they are travelling to Delhi….”, I asked Arjun.

They are going to visit HazratNizammudindargah which they never visited due to paucity of good time. Their parents initial nikahceremony(marriage) happened there only.

Ridwan earned his living by teaching music in Hyderabad. He had no personal goals to accomplish now.

“Ridwan’s parents had kept the most appropriate name for him. He is indeed Ridwan.”, said Arjun.

Arjun accompanied Ridwan and Imran for their visit because in his hard days ridwan had supported him. He was always like a consultant to Arjun. 

Arjun had kept this fast for Ridwan& Imran so that they may become normal and live happily.

“Sahab ….Kuli ……Kulii”

It was the last stop – HazratNizammudin station.

While leaving the train Ridwan handed me a small postcard photograph of HazratNizammudindargah and thanked me that I gave company to Arjun through the whole journey.

He was indeed Ridwan.

Ridwan which means – “keeper of the gates of heaven”

His love for his family was immortal.  Apart from that he made others happy while sacrificing his own happiness.

Really love has no boundaries.

Rating - 62/100

Judge's Comment - Loved the way you drew the live situation and the backlog of the story. Though I feel some un-necessary parts in the story. As one of the another judge, Kshitish, Always use to say "If you show a gun in the first frame of a comic, make sure to fire it later anyway". You did show the gun, but there was no fire. But you kept me tied to the story, and that's what ultimately matters and made you a winner. Only if you can trim your creation further to remove the un-necessary parts of the protagonist Ridwan's life, it would have been better.

Result - Mr. Rishi Srivastava is the winner of the match and goes to Round 3. Mr. Himanshu Khatri is eliminated from Freelance Talents Championship. 

Judge - Mr. Pankaj Vijayvargiya (Author, Musician & Entrepreneur)  

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