Message in a Pen – III

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Read part 1 & 2 of the story here -

Message in a Pen – I

Message in a Pen – II

Neelam came to take the exam. She was flanked by two burly cousins who did not allow any male to come near her. She had a chat with Ruchi, Sneha, Amrita and Kiran for a few moments. The girls were left shaken. Neelam’s left eye was surrounded by a black patch. There was an ugly red bump on her forehead and her lower lip was swollen. She was walking with difficulty. She took the exam and went quietly back to her home in the car. No one saw her slip a pen in Ruchi’s hands which she later gave to Saahil.

The five of us gathered in Saahil’s room as soon as we reached the hostel. He opened the pen and a paper protruded out of it. There was no refill inside it. The paper was folded multiple times and pushed in the base. Saahil pulled it out and opened it. It was a message from Neelam. He read it and passed it over to us. 

Saahil,

I might not be able to write again. They have locked me up in a room. Dad beats me up everyday. I don’t feel the pain anymore. My left hand is numb. He twisted it too much.

My love, I have agreed to marry someone else. Dad says that if we try to elope, he will dig us out and hack you to pieces in front of me. He can do that Saahil. I am not able to sleep at nights.

Sweetheart,

I want you to go and find happiness without me. Our friends were right but we were hopelessly in love. I will never regret loving you but I cannot bear the thought of seeing your dead body. I will live happily knowing that you are alive somewhere.

I know what I am asking will be unacceptable to you but time will heal everything Saahil. You will fall in love again. And me. Don’t think of me as heartless. I have to think of happiness so that I don’t go mad in these walls.

Give my love to the gang.

Neelam 

                                                *           *           * 

“You think I chickened out that day, don’t you? The day the message came in the pen?” Saahil asked.

“No, I don’t. This is not a movie,” I said. The breeze was still playing with the swings.

“You think ours was not a true love?”

I remained silent.

“I loved Neelam. The day I saw her during the exams, I was furious. I wanted to go and kill her dad. How could he do this to his own daughter? And what would it have solved?”

“It’s just that I think you and Neelam gave up too easily. It’s like…”

“It’s like Neelam and I am glad that we parted, that I do not live with a sad expression on my face, that I do not always remember my past, that I do not  make my wife realize that there was someone else in my life earlier and was snatched away from me,” Saahil completed it for me.

“I am sorry but yes, that is what comes to my mind. It is as if both of you were relieved that you got rid of each other.”

“No. We were not. You saw how I barely passed the exams, how I used to sit in the hostel room and cry all day.  You were there. Do you expect me to do that all my life? Our happiness is not confined to one person. I had to dig out my happiness again after she was gone. I had to because I was going nuts. And now I should feel bad that I tried to find love again and succeeded?”

On an impulse I looked towards my left and saw Kirti standing at the door of the house and looking at us. She was far away and could not hear us but her expression said it all. She then smiled and went inside.

“Did you talk to the others about it?”

“Of course I did. I wanted to talk to you too but you were so unapproachable. You had drawn walls around yourself. We barely talked in the last three years. Thank God you are back.”

“I was completely shaken up by the incident. I always thought our country was progressing.”

“Outsourced jobs, more money and shiny cars cannot change the mindset,” Saahil said.

“I guess you are right. I am sorry for everything. I should have talked to you earlier. I don’t know what I was thinking,” I said after sitting silently for a dozen heartbeats.

“I cannot live my life starting every thought with a what-if. I had to forget Neelam to live. That does not mean that I did not love her and that does not mean that I love Kirti less.”

I nodded and looked up at his face. Both of us smiled and then stood up and hugged.

“Welcome back,” Saahil said. 

As we moved towards the house, I slowed my steps so that Saahil got a bit ahead of me. I took out a folded piece of paper from my pocket and tore it in two. I then crumpled it and threw it away. The wind took the pieces towards the swings. There was no need for me to preserve Neelam’s message anymore. It was time to move ahead.

“All ok?” Rajat asked as we entered.

“All ok,” I said.  

Saahil went and sat with Kirti and put his arm around her as she placed her head on his shoulder. 

                                                *           *           * 

The train entered the tunnel and a cool breeze brushed my face as I mulled over what had happened today. It came to me that the way we look at it, our definition of love is quite monochromatic. But when you go through the layers of your life, you begin to realize that our understanding of love is very similar to our understanding of the universe. Unimaginable dimensions of it will always remain unexplored and so our characterization of love will always remain elementary. It is not just the warmth that spreads through our heart; it is not just the pain that obliterate our soul. We discover it when we are not searching for it; we find it in remote inaccessible corners of our heart, when the light of hope has almost diminished, when we believe that our soul is too ravaged to mend by its touch, when we are sure that we are done with it.

[image from here]

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83 comments on “Message in a Pen – III

      • You know what, similar kind of story had happened to one of my classmate during graduation. She was a Telugu hindu Reddy family and had fallen for a MalayaLi christian boy. He too had fallen for her. Then the boy went and asked for her hand and after that incident her parents made sure all of us did not visit her and got her married just after graduation. I dont know whether they were violent with my friend like it had happened to Neelam. She was a bright student and now i heard she is working as a teacher, such a shame for her intelligence. I feel real bad and very angry at her parents!

        • Well pardon me for commenting without knowing the entire background of your friend, but how is being a teacher shame for her intelligence? What could have been her alternate career options given a chance or had she lived under desired circumstances? I’m sorry about whatever happened to her but it is better to teach and impart knowledge, to whoever and whatever the subject is that not pursuing any profession at all. Teaching is a great profession as it builds lot of other professions. Maybe her desired career could’ve given her more mental satisfaction and financial support, but I think you guys and she herself must cheer for the fact that she is doing something which very few people have the capability of, imparting knowledge.

          • oops, maybe I should have written it in a different way. I did not mean to say because she is teaching it is a shame, no, what I wanted to say was she was good one branch of science and could had done wonders. Yes, she might be enjoying teaching and I am proud of her that she is using her knowledge in this way. In fact I always wish I had better teachers than I was given in my schools. I strongly feel good teachers are very important in order to build a bright and talented next generations.
            Thanks for pointing this out. Now I read my comment again it sounds as a narrow minded opinion :-(
            Cheers,
            I have written a blog post about education and my take about it if you wish please read it :-)
            http://bhavana-pen.blogspot.cz/2010/11/education-and-schooling-where-is-it.html

        • I think the problem was that Saahil and Neelam had utter faith in their parents and that is what killed their love story. They thought they could turn them around.
          I don’t know how things would have turned up had they eloped. I don’t know if they would have been alive right now. So, I believe it was all right the way it happened. At least they lived to tell the tale and now hopefully there are 2 people in the world that will teach their children the importance of ‘freedom of choice’.

  1. I waited to comment till you post the last part. The way you have expressed the essence of the story in the last few lines is brilliant. Everybody who has loved and lost and loved again will identify with your story. I am so glad you decided to share something so important and close to your heart here with everybody. And it is so true, that we discover it when we are not looking for it, especially when we are sure we are done with it. :)

    • Thanks for liking the story Dauntlessdaisy.
      It is a bittersweet chapter of my life. I think we can look back at things in a much more mature way after a while. Life has its own mechanisms of teaching us from our past experiences.

  2. This was sad,and yes the definition of love is monochromatic for all of us,but it actually amazes us every single time it takes a different form….Have known people with broken relationships and it always breaks my heart to see how underrated love is in the Indian society,and everything starting from religion,caste and ego is insanely overrated,so much that human lives are a small price to pay. :(

    • I think we as Indians do not understand the concept of love. We mistake it with control and coat it with pressures from the society. Yes, religion, caste and ego are much more important than the happiness of your child and you won’t mind hitting your child for them.

    • Yes, it was a real story and I too am glad that both of them are alive. I meet Saahil regularly but I have no idea how Neelam is right now.
      Thanks for liking the story Afshan.

  3. Had been waiting to comment when I read the end. Many love stories end in such a manner, Amit. Glad both moved on with their lives. All I hope is they both are happy with the decision they had to make. After all, one needs to live his life; if not for their love, for themselves. A gripping narration.

    • Thanks Latha.
      Saahil seems all right with his decision. He has two kids now and he is enjoying his life. I have no communication with Neelam except that she was in US 4-5 years back with her husband. I hope she is doing fine.

  4. Thank you for not making us wait too much for the final part :smile:

    We kind of had the same love story, except that we choose to elope and get married even when there was a threat of us getting murdered. This is exactly what I want to say to all those people who ask me how could I leave my family for a complete stranger and still live happily; when my family refuses to even talk to me. I want to scream at them and tell them that I still do love my family and do miss them, but that doesn’t mean that I put up a sad face and make life miserable for the man I love most in this world. Honestly, some people even get offended when I tell them that I love my husband more than anyone and they start giving me that lecture about how parents are the first ones we learn to love, how I will feel if my sons start loving their spouses more than me….blah blah!!

    I am so glad to hear that both your friends are happy in their respective little world :smile:

    • AD,
      I think Saahil and Neelam had too much faith in their parents. They thought that they could turn Neelam’s parents around. Who knows what would have happened had they eloped.
      And you should tell the people who lecture you to buzz off. You are not a 10 year old who needs lectures. I really can’t stand such people around me.

  5. What kind of a father beats up his own daughter, whatever the provocation? In a country where such cruelty, stupidity and arrogance isn’t tolerated he’d be in jail.

    The young man coped with her decision as best as possible. With her mind made up he knew it was best to let go. He still spent a few years grieving and was lucky he had good friends who helped him through. Am glad he got a second chance at love.

    Loved your observations in the last para. Love does have many layers and hues which is why I enjoyed this well written story of love, loss and rebirth. And birth.

    • Parents beating children is pretty normal here. I have heard of instances of parents hacking their children to pieces/beheading them/burning them alive for honour. That is how it is in this incredible country. Sometimes I feel we deserve the state we are in.
      Yes, Saahil is doing fine. He and his wife had a baby girl a few years back. :) I really don’t know where Neelam is and how is she doing.
      Thank you very much for liking the story.

  6. Despite knowing the end, somehow, I was expecting a happy end to this story. But then, like you said, life is not a movie. And in any case, who is to say that what ultimately happened wasn’t the best thing that could have happened?
    Good story, Amit.

    • Yes, there are so many possibilities but we can never be sure where that path would have ended. Would they be alive if they would have eloped? Can’t say.
      Thanks Rickie for liking the story.

  7. Sigh! you have written it so wonderfully. I am a big fan of all’s well that end’s well..and guess..though it didnt end exactly like a love story, it did end up nice…

  8. Its so terrible and everything happens for a reason. I wonder why the parents always oppose for a love, all they need is a good guy, when they expect to nod a big yes when they show a guy, why don’t they realise and nod the same yes when their guy/girl shows it. when they beat a girl to death as she/he is against it, what if the same happen to their parents, as the girl/guy didn’t like the particular bride or groom they have selected! can they end beating up their parents? I must say one should be broad minded! we need to take this as a lesson and we must not repeat the same pain we learned to our off spring!

    • Yes Chipmunk, that is the only hope. People who go through this trauma give their children the freedom of choice. That is the only way this evil can be uprooted.

      • and in some way or other I am undergoing this same turmoil only thing is beating is not their. I don’t know what they want! they never see the life of their kid but some how see for their society who does nothing other than speaking at back!!!! I wonder why people go beyond their limit and act super stupidily and at last end up crying!!! I some how don’t want my future kids to undergo the turmoil that I am going through!! after all its a single life! glad that their life turns to be a super one, if it is the other way round I would have scolded god very badly for providing an unfruitful fate!!!

  9. Amit, at the cost of repeating myself, you have a wonderful way with words, it talks to your heart straight.
    I am so glad reality persisted and both of them have found happiness again. Some times we really have to let go of things that we hold dear for their and other’s happiness. Truly admire your friends and specially loved the fact that there is no bitterness left in them, just acceptance.

    • Thanks Bindu. :)
      Yes, since they wanted to convince their parents and it didn’t work out, they did not have any other choice. The violence of course was unexpected and that is what shook everyone.
      Time takes out all the bitterness in you if you have the right people around you.

  10. The last part brought a sigh of relief. Not everyone is lucky with love but I think Saahil & Neelam were second time lucky to be happy with their respective life partners, never mind if there was little bit of compromise in it. At the end of the day, love, happiness and peace is what matters. Great story Amit!

    “Do you expect me to do that all my life? Our happiness is not confined to one person. I had to dig out my happiness again after she was gone. I had to because I was going nuts. And now I should feel bad that I tried to find love again and succeeded?” – Loved this part! Kudos to Saahil for being brave & realistic and not doing something drastic in an impulse.

    • Yes, it was difficult to get out the gloom initially but they had to pick up their life and move ahead. We were worried in the hostel that he might take a drastic step but thankfully it didn’t happen. I am glad he found love again. Kirti is a very nice girl and their two kids are wonderful.
      Thanks for liking the story Sreetama.

  11. I read the three-part series at one stretch. I just hope both of them have really moved on, as the story suggests. And yes, there’s always an open door amidst the locked ones. We just have to look or better, knock. :)

  12. Read all the three parts today. I hate the fact that love is so complicated at times. It is so hard to find each other but circumstances create unnecessary turmoil. I really really wish all love stories ended like fairy tales. How beautiful will that be.
    Well written, Amit. The two stories that I wrote for the contest are sulking in a folder :)

    • It is the kind of environment that we live in that makes everything so complicated. I hate the way we treat such a simple emotion.
      Nisha, maybe it is time to share those stories with us. :)

  13. Loved the narration. This is probably why Indians believe everybody adjusts and settles down and Indian culture is saved :( There are so many such stories, we too watched bits and pieces of them and never learnt how most of them ended.

    • Thanks IHM.
      Indian culture has already gone down the drain because of people like Nisha’s father. People like him as selfish creeps who puff their egos under the pretext of saving our culture.

  14. I waited to see the last part before I posted anything. Firstly, thanks for not making us wait too long, with all the “daddygiri” going on at your end! ;-)

    I’ll take solace in the fact that both are alive and well. But yes, I have seen too many such things happening over and over again. If not physical violence, it is emotional blackmail that always comes into the picture. Unfortunately, most of us like to believe that we are inside a 90’s Bollywood movie!

    Well written buddy!

    • :) Daddygiri do keep me occupied. God knows how I took time to publish this post.
      Most of the Indians go ga ga over ghar ki izzat but have no idea what it means. It does not vanish when your child falls in love but it is seriously threatened when you hit your child. People who do that do not deserve to be parents.

  15. Read all three posts together, loved the way you narrated and this the reality of most of the love stories in our nation. In the end I believe both of them found love and happiness again. Beating an adult girl by her family: I wish there some rules to prevent this. Personally I feel hitting anyone is not good.

    • I think she was an adult when she was beaten up. Even if she would have tried to approach the police, nothing would have happened knowing that the incident took place in Haryana. Remember we live in a country where politicians think that it is OK for random people to beat up girls to bring them to the correct path.
      Thank you for liking the story. :)

  16. I was away for a while..and missed the third part. Well, it is a happy ending in a way.I would have never wanted them to be killed and even to elope. Eloping may sound romantic to me, but at the end of the day, I am against it. Again, the fact that this is a true story hurts me, and the thing that somewhere this must be going on even as I write this comment, frustrates me. I wish the society changes someday. I can’t see it happening anytime soon though. :(
    The last paragraph is something to think about, specially for me.

    • Pseudomonaz,
      I have known parents who are completely liberal with their kids (like my parents) but there is another dark side of the spectrum. That darker side will not change in a hurry. It will take centuries and thousands of human sacrifices.
      I have also known couples who eloped and were then completely cut off from their families. They found their peace in each other.
      It is supposed to be so simple and we unnecessarily complicate things.

  17. Wonderfully written Amit.. Its really sad how Indian parents are so much against the word love marriage that they blindly oppose it even without a specific reason. My own my parents say that they would never agree to love marriage ( even without thinking if there was any chance our BF/GF would be of same caste, financial level etc.. – things that normally Indian parents look in arranged marriage ). The person was chosen by us and not them is enough reason for them to object :(.. We two sisters and our bro did not fall in love is a great relief to them and us !..
    “Do you expect me to do that all my life? Our happiness is not confined to one person. I had to dig out my happiness again after she was gone. I had to because I was going nuts. And now I should feel bad that I tried to find love again and succeeded?” – This is the message I really want to give those who think of suicide on failure to marry their lover.

    • Thanks Seena.
      Oh God! I would have given my parents a nice piece of my mind. I cannot understand this thought process because I was bought up in a completely opposite environment where my parents found it very absurd that I didn’t have a girlfriend in college. :|

  18. Your last para is very profound…didn’t know what to say…

    I guess the ending could have been a lot lot worse. Atleast they found peace and happiness in their own way.

  19. I agree that you find it when you are not looking for it… And when you do, you realize that God loves you more than anyone ever can. I’m blessed with J and his family. My mother handled our ‘love story’ with grace, dignity and expressed a trust in us that stands rock solid to date. I did get many lectures about how our cultures were different (we are from neighboring states) and how it would fizz off after a few months (they have slowly been extending the fizz out deadline), but guess who has the last laugh!

  20. What would be your take on the following: (hope you won’t justify by saying that the guy brought it upon himself and find ways to justify it)

    Emma Roberts Arrested for Domestic Violence in news today

    Emma physically assaulted her bf a bloody nose and a bite mark too & u know she was released later bcoz the bf declined to press charges and made up with her

    u might dismiss it off as some isolated incidence or would u equate it to misandry just as an attack on a woman is also representative of misogyny as per all

    or would u go further & be fair by berating the guy, a victim of domestic violence here, for declining to press charges against his gf?

    You can just think over it. This a q that many ppl should answer/atleast think about.

    You can remove this comment after reading it since it not related to this post.

    • You are right. This comment is not related to the post and I usually delete such random comments but I will let your comment stay. It will remind me of my tolerance levels.

      • @Amit

        It just sounds great.

        I am more than delighted to present you – my above mentioned comment in form of a ‘certificate’ which will forever adorn your blog in recognition of your amazing tolerance levels. And, man, you do have a high tolerance threshold & I can certainly vouch for that.

        Have a great night! :) ;)

        • Believe me, it is not that high so don’t push your luck too much.
          Maybe you can hang the certificate round your neck. That way, you can make more and more people read it.

  21. This comment has been deleted by the blog owner as he has reached his threshold of suffering fools who start by shoving their ideas down your throat and end with vicious personal attacks

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