“Quite a bit. I made 10 slides, and need you guys to see them now” I replied while taking the pen drive out of my bag. We were at Ayush’s place this time, and his room looked like it belonged to an eccentric person. I wasn’t surprised, because Ayush’s personality agreed with the vibe his room gave off. He had painted all his walls with what he called ‘abstract art’, and had empty bottles of paint everywhere. His computer table was the only thing that seemed to be well kept in the entire room. If this wasn’t enough, he had the quote ‘Crazy people who are productive are geniuses. Crazy people who are rich are eccentric. But crazy people who are neither productive nor rich are just crazy’ plastered on his door.
“And I came up with a concept for the chart summary” Ayush said with a quick glance at Nandita, “I spoke with Nandita the other day and she agreed with me. Just a sec”, he got up to retrieve a rolled chart paper from his art store. I guess it must be the place where he kept all his works.
He unrolled the chart and displayed it to us. I couldn’t help but stare at it, not believing that I had not agreed with this idea initially. He had painted the entire background black, and there were two fire torches in the bottom right corner, depicting ‘enlightenment’, in Ayush’s words. Two patterns that looked very much like climbers grew out from behind the torches, white in color.
“It’s..amazing”, I said softly, whilst looking at the painting. Ayush stared at me for a second, which also broke my trance.
“I thought you didn’t like this idea”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t quite picture it this way when you told me”
He grinned, “Good. Now you know when to not contradict me”, he said with an attitude that sounded bogus. I gave him a dirty look, which only made him grin more.
Before I could say anything to him, Nandita spoke up, “Naina, can we see the slideshow now?”
I curtly nodded and pursed my lips. Getting up from my chair, I made my way towards Ayush’s computer and inserted the pen drive into the input. Ayush, Nandita and Vivek gathered behind me as I double clicked on the icon.
I don’t believe in making jazzy presentations and putting in too many effects, it makes the entire presentation look very congested and rather lousy. I like to keep it simple and elegant, which is exactly what I had done with this project too. Somehow, it always worked for me.
We finished watching the presentation and discussed the minute changes. Everyone pretty much liked the way it was coming along, so we sat down and talked about our further course of action. The discussion lasted for about 10 minutes, and then we all got bored. Our conversation easily drifted towards a different topic, and the next thing we knew, we were talking about UFO’s and aliens.
It was only when Vivek’s parents called that we realized that it was 7 in the evening. He said a quick goodbye and left. Nandita, Ayush and me quickly ran through our next plan before she and I left too.
As we were walking towards my car, I noticed that there was a certain subtle sadness still lingering in Nandita’s eyes. Had I not been her friend, I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the real emotion behind that smiley face. Deciding to break the silence, I said, “You okay?”
She blinked twice, as if being broken out of her reverie. Once she realized what I had asked, she simply continued to look ahead, knowing that I would understand what her answer was. I decided not to probe further.
When we reached my car, I dug my hands into my pocket to fish out the keys, “Shit!”
Nandita looked at me, “What?”
“I left my keys inside. Damn. Give me 2 minutes dude, I’ll just be back” I said hurriedly and started to make my way back towards Ayush’s house.
“Listen Naina, I think I’ll catch the auto. Mom has already called me thrice” she said
“Yeah but it’ll just take me 2 minutes” I replied. This always annoyed me. Parents’ over protectiveness. When will they have enough faith in their kids to simply let go? This is one department my mom ruled in. She trusted me with the freedom I had, knowing that I’d never misuse it.
“I know, but I told them that I’m on my way. Don’t worry, I’ll go, okay ?” she said with a small smile.
“Yeah, don’t worry” she repeated. I finally sighed and said, “Okay Nandu. It’s your call. See you in school”
She just smiled and walked off, waving her hand to stop an auto. I looked at her for a second before turning around, hoping that she’d be okay.
As I was walking towards Ayush’s gate, I heard faint voices of music coming from the right. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out where the sound was coming from. Getting closer, a small room came into my view. It stood separate from the rest of the house, and was pretty much hidden from the front view. As I got nearer, I recognized the song being sung. It was ‘Dooriyan’ from Love Aaj Kal.
Without bothering to knock, I opened the door only to be surprised by this guy again. Ayush was sitting on a small bar stool, with a guitar in his hands, and was singing. I stood at the doorstep, my mouth agape. He was slowly beginning to resemble one of those magical boxes where you find a new box every time you open a box.
He didn’t notice me, so I took the liberty to look around the room. It had nothing except of a drum set, a electric guitar and a small cabinet in one corner. His pack of cigarettes was also lying on the floor, next to his stool. My eyes landed back on him, and I noticed for the first time that he was in fact, a very good singer.
I guess he noticed a presence because he abruptly stopped. He turned around and looked at me, “You? Jeez not again! You love sneaking up on me or something?”
“I left my keys inside, when I was coming back I noticed music coming from this side. So I decided to find out, hardly my fault that you like to keep your entire life a secret” I replied.
He sighed and shook his head, “Great. I’m beginning to think that you’re some CIA agent whose been sent to spy on me”
I ignored his answer and said, “So what’s your passion? Music or art?”
“Music” he said without a second’s thought, “I love art too, but music is what really makes feel alive”
I nodded, now suddenly remembering the time when I was fond of singing too. It seemed so long ago, and I still don’t know why I stopped singing. I walked inside without his permission and sat down on a spare stool, “Why did you keep this place hidden?”
“Well, for two reasons. One, it’s my escape when I’m feeling sad or depressed. Two, this privacy sort of gives a ‘sacred’ feel to my music”
I nodded again, now unconsciously smiling at the memory of myself dressed up in a saree and singing ‘Vande Mataram’ on Independence Day in school, “I used to sing too”, I said without realizing.
“Really?”, he said, surprise evident in his voice.
“Yeah, but not now. It’s been a long time”, I replied, “Anyway, now that I know, why don’t you sing something?”
“What do you wanna hear?” he asked, grinning.
“Anything that sir Mozart would like to sing”, I replied, now grinning too. He adjusted his guitar and thought for a moment before saying, “Okay. This is one of my favorite songs. Never say Never by The Fray”
Here is the link to the acoustic version of the song:
I smiled but didn’t admit that I loved this song too. That would totally screw our chalk and cheese image.
Vivek entered his house, fearing the impending confrontation with his parents. The moment he stepped inside his room, he saw his parents sitting on his bed, with his cousins running around his room. He sighed, joint family sucks.
His parents, his grandparents, his chacha-chachi, all lived under one roof. There were moments of joy and togetherness, and then there were moments of extreme frustration and suffocation. Vivek hoped every single moment of the day to reach the age of 18 quickly, so that he could move out and live on his own.
“We told you to come early. Your mama-mami will be here anytime now. We’ve been calling you since –”
“I’m sorry, ok? I lost track of time but I came as soon as you called me up” Vivek said, getting irritated. He ignored his parents and walked towards his closet to take out some ‘acceptable’ clothing for the evening. Why the hell were they coming anyway? And even if they are, why is it so important for every goddamn person to kiss their feet?
“Behave yourself Vivek. You have no right to get fired up. It’s us who’ve been waiting, while you were having the time of your life with your friends” said his mother in a loud voice. Vivek decided not to argue, he knew it was no point saying anything.
“I’m sorry, won’t happen again”, he said with his head hung low.
“It better not”, and with that, both of them got up, murmured something like “Get ready fast” and walked out of his room.
He sighed and got back to getting ready. He had lived in a joint family all his life, but he warmed up to the institution. Freedom and space were non-existent concepts, and each and every action was scrutinized with a fine microscope. He wondered what it would take to set himself free of this bond, and once again thought of his 18th birthday.