The tattoo on the wrist and not on the back


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.
This week’s prompt:  ‘He/She had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’

I was sitting by my desk listening to the chit-chat of my colleagues. I had been newly recruited and was trying to fit in with them. I was listening to this particular colleague of mine, Priya, who was parodying the mannerism of our creative head. I was bored. So I began toying with the mouse of my system when I saw that a mail from our creative head had just arrived. The mail read:

All the three subordinates are expected to report in the conference room to brainstorm on the ways in which we would go about making the two leads in the serial meet. We will discuss the possible options and ways in which we can align it with the main story.
Jayati Bhattacharya
Creative Head
Lalaji Telefilms

I immediately reached the conference room, excited about my first proper meeting. The other two subordinates- Priya and Rashmi-decided to visit the rest room first.

Actually one of our many serials had recently gone on air. Within the larger plot there was this small subplot showing the romantic chemistry between the two leads. The problem was that since there were so many of our serials on air we had to come up with ready-made quick situations to make it look convincing and real between the two without making too many efforts. Here in India, because it really doesn’t matter how many episodes it takes, so that wasn’t our concern at all. Some serials, as you know, manage to run even after completing few thousand episodes. We had all the luxury to work with the idea ad improvise on it.

Priya and Rashmi were talking about their respective boyfriends when Jayati entered the room. We immediately sat to discuss.

Priya: My idea is doing it through a tattoo.

Jayati: (mockingly as she kept looking at her mobile screen) Tattoo? ( After a few seconds of silence)Hmm. Go on.

I liked Jayati’s expression because it echoed mine. The idea wasn’t even worth listening to, I thought.

Priya looked at Rashmi as she began elaborating.

Joy Kapoor (our male lead in the serial) will spot a tattoo drawn on the back of Riya (our female lead) and be intrigued by it.

Jayati: What for?

Exactly! What for? Tattoos are so clichéd, I thought.

I had this shocked expression of disbelief on my face.

Priya: There’s the catch ma’am. When he sees the tattoo for the first time he will feel some sort of familiarity with it?

Jayati lowered her glasses and looked at Priya intently as if trying to read her expression or her next thought, but she didnot interrupt this time. She had an approving smile on her face which was so unlike the expression on my face. But, Priya was facing Jayati, so she continued after a number of seconds she thought would be enough to let the idea sink in among her audience. She continued:

“He will wonder, ‘he had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’ And after a couple of episodes it will come up that it is the same tattoo which he had always seen in his dreams, say, since his childhood. We can invest good number of episodes in showing this process of realization.”

Jayati had this “wow” expression on her face now which probably encouraged Rashmi to chip in. She started, “And later, we can develop the plot in such a way that it would seem that they are connected by their past lives giving a supernatural dimension. Later we will decide if we want to extend this supernatural element. As if their love is greater than time, life and death. A connecting thread as if nothing can separate them. Eternal love.” The conviction in her voice kept soaring with each word. Clearly the two had discussed the idea beforehand.

She would have gone on describing the magnificence of the idea when Jayati interrupted with a hint of triumph in her tone:”Quite convincing that is.”

I was sure that this was Priya’s idea. Only the other day, as I passed her desk I heard her telling her boyfriend in a very authentic dramatic tone, “Baby, I love you very very much. You make me fall in love with you again and again. I want to stay with you forever and after. You know what, I was thinking that we get a permanent tattoo on ourselves so that in our next birth we can spot each other, recognise and fall in love immediately without wasting even a second.”

I am not sure how the boyfriend must have reacted. But, I had this pukish expression on my face. What a fool, man! I don’t know if this was meant to be fugurative or literal but it was such an outrageous idea. May be she was just too love -stricken, I consoled myself. As if the tattoo was going to survive even after their death when their bodies are buried or burnt!

I sensed that our discussion was nearing an end. Jayati seemed to have found the idea favourable. But Rashmi ignoring all that continued with pride: “You know, this will show that we are a part of the tradition. Trying to pay our little tribute to Bollywood. The audience will immediately connect to it.”

“But, isn’t it that it is always the mother and the lost son or lost brothers who meet this way?” I raised my problem. I just couldn’t swallow any more.

“Yes,” Jayati ventured this time in defence ” but, this is the twist we are offering. Of course we can’t blindly copy the trope. There is somethig called innovation if they ever taught you that in your media school, Surbhi.”

As soon as I was snubbed this way Priya started off ignoring my discomfort, “In fact I just realized what a brilliant idea this is! Imagine, if later we have to show that this is not the right woman for Joy, we just need to show that the tattoo was temporary by showing that it gets washed away one fine morning.”

“Excellent! Start working on it Priya and Rashmi. What would have we done without the two of you.” Jayati lauded them as she rose from her chair to leave.

Before leaving the room she turned and looked at me with mild disgust and said,” I hope you will catch up soon with them in terms of creativity. And yes, Priya, place the tattoo on wrist or hand or somewhere. Back is too sensuous a place for our audience, you see. An ideal woman in Indian society is not supposed to expose her back.”

 

No I didn’t faint. I just resigned. Not from life of course!

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38 missed calls in 10 mins!


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

And now:wowbadge

 

Of course this had never happened before. She had never been this desperate. Normally, she was a very understanding woman, his girlfriend. If he missed a call or two she would wait for five-ten minutes before calling him again. She was a very patient woman.
But all this didn’t cross his mind now. He didn’t need to consciously think of all these things. It was deeply entrenched in his brain that she was a patient, understanding and composed woman. All that came to his mind before calling her back immediately was- this is abnormal. And this too came to him in the form of sensations and not words.
His mind was jammed with the loss of coherent thought. It was only when the operator repeated in her anglicized English- “The number you have dialed is out of coverage area. Please try after sometime,” he realized that he will have to redial her number.
He didn’t even wait for that second to elapse before dialing her number again. This time he heard the bell ringing and felt a little better. She didn’t pick the call so he had to call her again. This time after a considerable number of rings which he obviously did not count she picked the phone. There was long silence, about half a minute long before he heard a soft sound of ‘hello’ almost buried under the sound of her rushed breath. The phone got disconnected. He began to get irritated now. He was almost fuming with anger. ‘This was sucha callous behavior, so irresponsible on her part. Fine if she didn’t want to talk, but this is no way of keeping the call. So abruptly, huh?’ he thought.
He called her back in a fit of anger plus irritation plus annoyance plus unmediated desperation. Instead of her voice, he heard the operator again, “You do not have enough balance to complete this call. Please recharge your number immediately.”
It was fifteen minutes to three by his clock. Now he had that holyshit!-expression on his face.
Immediately his brain replayed the little soft sound of ‘hello’ amidst the overwhelming sound of her pacing breath that he ha heard. Suddenly all his anger vanished, replaced by anxiety. Now he had begun to grow worried. What did she want to talk about? Is she okay? No, she definitely is not fine. Something is wrong. Why was she breathing so heavily? She won’t try to harm herself, isn’t it? She is too sensible to do anything so irresponsible. What kind of a woman she is! I don’t know what to do about her. What do I do now? etc.
He was increasingly growing desperate. But all that he could do was to wait for her call. He was growing fidgety by every passing second. It was becoming more and more difficult for him to wait like this.

****

“Tring…tring…”
There was no answer.
She called again, and again there was no answer. She called him yet again. She kept calling him till she forgot that she was calling him. She was now dialing his number mechanically after listening to the operator informing her that the other person was not responding to her call. She had lost count of the number of times she had dialed his number, 25-30 times, she didn’t know. She wasn’t even listening to the operator now. She began muttering to herself, repeating the same thing over and over again.
The ten heaviest minutes of her life. She had dialed his number thirty-eight times and he hadn’t responded even once.
She let the phone drop beside her. Her gaze stood fixed on the wall in front. Soon her vision blurred with tears. She could not understand why she was crying. But the tears rolled as if they knew everything without her telling them, as if they understood and read her mind better than she herself could. All that she felt was extreme sadness, as if somebody was scratching the flesh of her heart with their finger-nails.
Years ago, one night she had confessed to him, “Yes, I’m in love with you at and from two-thirty tonight.”
He chuckled and asked her to repeat. He had asked her to say it again and again and never to stop. There was so much confidence and authority in the way she spoke these words.
Later he would always say that it was one of the most fulfilling moments of his life.
It was two-forty by her clock now. She pressed her face in the pillow and closed her teary eyes.
When her phone rang for the first time, she just stared at it unable to move and react. second time it got disconnected before she could gather herself to say something.

****

After the call got disconnected precisely at 2:28 A.M., he threw the phone on his bed and went to the wash-room and sat on the commode with his head buried in his palm. He felt an urgent urge to cry. Last time he had cried was when he was eight or nine years old. A couple of tears moistened his palm and then they stopped. He sat like that for good eight-nine minutes, hating himself for ‘letting himself fall so much and that too what for? A girl?, he thought. He decided that he is never going to even think about this woman who hurt him so much. He also thought that- He will never ever let himself fall for this woman. He will try all that he can to avoid her. He will learn to un-love her. How can she say something of this kind! This is the end, this definitely is the end of it all. etc.
When he came back to his room, he could not stop himself from checking his phone. There were thirty-eight missed calls in ten minutes.

****

His phone beeped. He opened his inbox. It read:
You’re mine and I am yours. There’s no way out of this, no getting away, no going back. So this can’t be the end. I will neither let myself abandon you nor let you do that. There’s no existence without you. And if there’s it’s not worth living for. So, I am going to try, try till you don’t come back. I am going to try against your will to leave me and go.
12 Nov. 2012 3:00
He replied:
I love you too.
12 Nov.2012 3:00

 


That night…that girl…


That night Sameer again came to sit in his balcony with a bottle of water and his mobile phone. He wasn’t expecting any call nor was he particularly thirsty. He had carried these things with him out of habit. He had tried sleeping for more than two hours and when he grew tired of trying he moved out in the open. He sat on the chair and raised his eyes towards the sky in that vague expectation of finding the stars shine back to him. The expectation was triggered by an unknown urge to do so and not out of the poetic impulse to appreciate their beauty against the infinitely stretched dark blank background. He coughed a little. This time it was his body reacting involuntarily against the smoke of cigarette which traveled towards him from the second floor, below him. For a moment, he thought that he felt anger but that feeling subsided soon.
But next time when he coughed, he couldn’t resist the urge to shout at the smoker. He approached the railing and darted his face out to face it. He had grown tired of inhaling someone else’s smoke night after night from his balcony. There was a lanky fellow dressed in a loose off-white woman’s tee. Suddenly he forgot all about his irritation and became curious. He was a strange fellow, no doubt, thought Sameer. His hair was short. The finger-nails of the hand holding the cigarette were painted black. Its blackness shined in the moonlight making it evident that the coating was freshly put.The light coming from his room fell on the back of his legs which were smooth and not very firm, rather very feminine, Sameer judged. The two legs were drawn close, one foot resting over other, thus the person was effectively standing on only one foot. It seemed to Sameer that the navy blue shorts which the other person was wearing enhanced the roundness of his butts. It had pockets at the back, and in the right pocket, a match-box was tucked in. There was a strange kind of grace and sensuousness in the way that person stood in his balcony, drawing the smoke in and then exhaling it. Sameer coughed again. But, he seemed to have forgotten about his troubles. He was too engrossed in rummaging through his entire frame when like a shock, it occurred to him that it was an awkward thing to do. He grew ashamed of himself, part of him questioning his sexuality and part of him trying to reassure him about the same. How could he scan a male’s body in such a way, full of desire and curiosity? There was a woman sleeping inside on his bed whose body he had loved less than five hours ago, and its memory now disturbed him more. He tried very hard to tear his eyes off him but failed to.
He coughed again and tried to dispel his enchanted state and speak out. But, a “hey!” was all that he could manage.
There was no response.
This time he had recovered himself fully and his voice rang loudly, ” Hey! …Excuse me!”
The listener did not care to lift his head and look towards him. There was also a kind of reluctance in respondent’s voice and the sound of “s” in his “yes”, therefore, trailed ending in a “-esh” spoken in a manner very exotic to Sameer. The sound of the voice hit him like a jolt and seemed to suck him in enshrouding him in its magic. The voice was heavy but not masculine. It was rather, if he could say, very stirring and absorbing. Sameer became conscious of the way he was enticed and also guilt-stricken at the same time for being so powerfully swept away. It was the voice of a ‘she’ and not ‘he’. Suddenly he felt light and enthusiastic. As if the mist had cleared and some kind of clarity had dawned upon the way his brain was functioning. The feeling of guilt had subsided and was taken over by a new wave of curiosity and energy.
A few minutes passed without any of them saying anything again. The girl’s lack of response seemed a bit too strange to him now. Ordinarily, the person should have turned and looked at him, if not for anything, then for curiosity atleast. That is why, Sameer had not spoken anything further. He wanted the other person to grow curios and show him his face. But, either the other person was too shy or lazy or simply not so interested. When he grew tired of waiting and irredeemably uncomfortable of the silence, he spoke. But this time, he carefully calculated his words, rehearsed it once in his head and in a tone whose politeness surprised him too he requested,” Please do not smoke from there. The smoke travels upward making it very difficult for me to stand in my balcony.”
The girl turned her face upward as if shaken out of some kind of trance. The first thing that caught Sameer’s attention was her expression which was that of a timid, vulnerable, scared creature, almost like a little child caught stealing sugar from the kitchen, trying to put on its most innocent face, all apologetic, to ward off any possibility of punishment. Sameer’s features relaxed instantaneously and he was filled with a feeling of pity mixed with a lot of love. He wanted to reach out to the girl and ask her to relax too, and may be even hug her and ask her not to worry, that it wasn’t all that difficult for him, and that he would manage. A thick waft of smoke which must have been exhaled before the conversation, swirled in front of his nose and all that he could do was to cough again. Almost involuntarily, the cigarettes fell from her hand. He was staring at her open palm now and just then a drop of sweat trickled down his forehead and hung from the tip of his nose till gravity pulled it and it dropped on her palm. Under moon’s light his sweat glittered once on her palm till she rubbed it on her shorts.
“I am really sorry. I did not imagine that there could be someone standing in the balcony on your floor this late.”
Sameer heard himself say, ” you shouldn’t smoke, you know” in response. He was surprised by his own audacity and sternness of his voice.
“Yes, I know. I don’t smoke everyday. It’s just today…”
“Yes, you do. Everyday. Don’t lie…”
He would have added something but he was distracted by the voice coming to him from his room. She was calling him. He turned towards his room for a moment and prepared to leave. But, for one last time he wanted to fix his eyes on that beautiful face below him. That face was still facing him but the eyes were lowered in guilt as if seeking apology. The expression captivated him. He couldn’t move. The woman kept calling him but, he could not simply tear himself from what was in front of him.
“Okay. I’ll go to the terrace and smoke there then” she said and rushed in.
Sameer stood there for a minute and then went inside. The woman on his bed wanted the light to be switched off. When he went towards the switch he heard someone climbing the stairs. He heard her reach the terrace. He lay on his bed blinking in darkness thinking about nothing initially, But soon, he realized that he was trying to suppress his desire to follow her to the terrace. He pressed his face in the arms of the woman sleeping beside him to resist the desire. It woke her up. She opened her eyes and seeing him holding her so tightly was instantly filled with tender emotions for him. She came closer towards him and caressed him till he slept finally.