My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 20


Not so long ago…

The story before the breakup… continued
I understood an important moral from that situation. To fight and conquer in all my battles is not supreme excellence. Supreme excellence consists in breaking her resistance without fighting. I loved her…I worshiped our relationship…I let her go…
So the day came…She left for Chicago…I left for Orlando…
After spending two wonderful years together as great friends, I felt better letting her go…For the first 10 hours, it was cool. I felt better that I had some more breathing space which I was missing in the last two years. It was a week long trip and the first two days went by with me missing her at rare occasions. Then came the day we had to go to Disneyland…I started the morning much more excited than any other. I bathed, woke up the other guys, we had breakfast, took off and reached Disneyland.
Thankfully we didn’t have to stand in the queue as Archana has already done the bulk booking. I started to walk towards the gates. I was walking along with Sumanth and casually looked others walking around us. Everyone was happy because they were with the people who matter the most in their lives.
What was I doing here alone? With every step I took, the stride became difficult. By the team, I reached the gates; I was in no mood to get in…I turned back and started to run…
Preethi and Sumanth stood their looking me…
‘What happened to Arjun? Why is he running to the taxi stand?’ asked Preethi.
Sumanth just smiled and let me go…
I took the cab, reached airport, boarded the next flight to Chicago… Reached Chicago, went to Tania’s place where Zoya’s been to… The door was locked. I didn’t call Zoya or Tania or Fatima…I sat on the door steps waiting for my love… It’s been more than 3 days since we spoke… But I couldn’t wait anymore…
‘What wrong babe?’

‘Nothing…’

‘Something’s been bothering her…She’s been this way all these two days?’ said Tania
‘Are you okay…?’ asked Fatima carrying her shopping bags…I stood in the dark waiting for her to come closer…
She saw me but couldn’t see my face; she took slow, short steps towards me… I walked a couple of steps so that the moon light could fall over me…
She saw me, dropped her bags in surprise…picked up her pace and finally came running to me…I missed her too much for too long and I couldn’t miss anymore…I stood there, wanted to touch her but I didn’t, wanted to hug her but I didn’t, I wanted to kiss her but didn’t…I wanted to make the move…
She was overwhelmed with emotions…She hugged me…Tears rolled from her eyes. She hugged me real tight…I could sense for the first time that she did have feelings and she missed me dearly! There was no better moment I could wait for to propose her… I went on my one knee, held her hand and said,

 
‘You are the only person that can make my heart beat faster and slower at the same time. I came here tonight because when I realized that if I want to spend the rest of my life with you then I want the rest of my life to start as soon as possible. It seems right now that all I’ve ever done in my life is making my way here to you. If I tell you I love you, can I keep you forever?’

There was surprise, shock from Tania, Fatima and the onlookers

‘Yes…’ She said in disbelief…

‘I love you…’

‘I love you too…’

I could sense the excitement in her; she couldn’t believe what was going around her until everyone watching us clapped and applauded to show their excitement… 

We were officially in ‘Love’

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My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 19


Not so long ago…

The story before the breakup…

My GPA was pretty good. Zoya’s GPA was also fine. So there was never a question of studies or education.

‘Is it related to the story?’

‘No…’

‘Then please skip it…’

‘Ok… It was semester break. All of us were planning to prepare for a trip to Orlando and Miami. My plan was to propose her in Disneyland… I planned each and everything so meticulously that it was perfect. The plan was to put on a Mickey mouse (Zoya’s favorite character) costume, plan a carnival dance for her along with the dance troupe, so that I could dance around as one of the cartoon characters and finally when the dance is over, I as in ‘The Mickey Mouse’ would take her hand, go down on one knee, take off my mask, and propose to her…’

‘Dude… That’s epic romantic…’ said Rajesh…

‘Yeah… The epic romance costs, a goddamn $1500 and then an extra $300 per head for the arrangements and a candlelight dinner… ‘

‘Now that’s a lot of money for a career starter! So what happened next?’

‘Actually, nothing happened before to happen next…’

‘Beg your pardon?’

‘She said she doesn’t want to travel to Orlando and Miami…’

‘Where did she want to go then?’

‘Chicago…’

‘But why…?’

‘Her friends Fatima and Tania were studying in Chicago…I asked her why not plan for the Chicago trip the next time but she was adamant. She wanted to go. I didn’t want to reveal the surprise I had for her nor did I want to miss the Orlando trip…I went into a convincing drive for the next three days…Nothing worked. I was exasperated. I was vexed. I couldn’t stand her stubbornness!

This was followed by four days of endless fights… After every fight, I looked more and more like someone who was standing on the edge of insanity with one foot on a banana peel…’

Rajesh smiled…

‘And after every fight she would start crying.

And with her crying tantrum, she ends up winning every argument. I just don’t understand her when she is crazy… She would immediately start proposing the fact that she is single independent woman and she has a right to decide what she wants!

I sometimes counter argue on that point as well but in vain…

Rajesh couldn’t stop laughing… But was attentively listening to me…

‘So what finally happened…?’

‘She won the argument… She went to Chicago and I went to Orlando…’

‘Did you really go to Orlando?’
 
I looked at Rajesh, winked and said, ‘No…’

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 18


Not long ago…

‘As you know it was Aruna’s birthday couple of months ago…Everyone were invited…The cake cutting happened…I don’t know what the problem was between Arjun and Zoya but they pretty much stayed separate during the entire celebration. Then we went to the nearby dance bar where there was dance, booze…In short, it was one hell of a crazy night…The dance floor was amazing and the music rocking! All of us were pumped up… Dance was in the air…All of us were dancing and suddenly out of nowhere, our superman walks over to Zoya, grabs her and smooches…!’

‘What…?’ said Rajesh

‘We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing…She pushed Arjun and left the party…That incident didn’t go well with Zoya I suppose…Within few days, she moved into Archana’s apartment…

We thought everything was going well between these guys but there was no purpose for Arjun to act that way… We just couldn’t figure out!’ completed Sumanth.

Rajesh’s hands were over his forehead in shock and awe! He certainly never expected this from me…

Meanwhile, here are some of the reactions from my friends whenever they discuss about me, Zoya and the incident with someone new…

Varun: I knew this a long time ago… They just weren’t meant to be together… I had long waited to propose Zoya… She is so gorgeous… How could Arjun act so cheap…?

Sruthi (This chick wasn’t even at the party!): It was so shocking…For a second, I felt so embarrassed. How can someone force themselves over a girl that way? Had it been India, my uncle (Police Officer) would have taught Arjun the right lesson!

Preethi: That was just out of the blue! Had I been in Zoya’s place, I would have given Arjun the smooch of his life… I had been trying to propose him for the last 2 years…Now…at least I have a chance on our graduation day! I am so happy that they broke up…They just weren’t right for each other!

Mike: Oh! WTF (What the Fuck)! When did that happen? Are you serious? (This jackass was drunk and didn’t know whose party he was in…)

Prasanth: Look! Look! I have the picture on my iPhone! Man! 8 megapixels! Look at the clarity of the picture… It’s just awesome!

Prachi: Big deal! Dilli mein bahut dhek chuke hum (I had seen this many a time in Delhi)!

Manoj: Our country’s image and our rich culture are getting spoilt. These guys should be taught a lesson on our cultural sensitivities. Naam tho Arjun hai… par pyar Pakistani se karthe hai! Kaise Kaise harkat kar rahe hai ye loog aaj kal? (He has a Hindu warrior prince name but he has fallen for a Pakistani…I don’t know where our culture is taking us…)

Nicole: Yeah right! That couple from Sub-Con right! The video went viral on YouTube… In 24 hours, we had more than 11000 hits! The video was titled – ‘India finally smooch Pakistan!’ I guess that counts for some cultural exchange in America!’

Rajesh’s head was spinning… He couldn’t make out anything of what has happened between us… He finally said,

‘Arjun, Just… Just tell me what happened? What the fuck is going on here?’

It was confession time…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 17


Present Day…
I remembered the day I got placed in a huge IT firm. Handsome salary…Great life…The promise I made to my dad that I will make him proud! My plans to propose her after graduation, settling in America… In a way, a full circle of my life in America was in flashes before me…
 
Not long ago…
Almost 18 months passed by and it was time for us to graduate in the next couple of months! I found a placement consultancy ready to place me as a contractor in their firm and well…it was a start. I was happy to look back and say that things have moved on faster and better in our lives. In fact my maturity levels grew leaps and bounds over these months.
 
Meanwhile, Rajesh, who came to US 10 months back after getting an admission in a university in LA, knew how difficult it was for me to live with Zoya and yet find it difficult to suppress my feelings for her… He flew down for a weekend to my place. That weekend I, Rajesh and Sumanth went out fishing…
 
Aise ladki zindagi mein baar baar nehi milti hai mamu! (Mate, you never come across girls of her type…) Never leave this chance. She is the right girl for you. Agar tu usse sach much se hi pyar karthe ho, tho batado na? (If you love her so much, why don’t you go tell her that you love her?) What are you waiting for?’ said Rajesh…
 
‘But the problem is she hardly shows any kind of similar emotions! She is always light hearted and introduces me to people, that I am her best friend?’, I said.
 
‘What do you expect then…To introduce you as her boyfriend? Did you introduce her that way to anyone so far?’ said Sumanth.
 
I shook my head in agreement.
 
Phir? (Then)’
 
‘Ok… Let this be a man to man talk… For all these months and numerous moments, didn’t you get a single chance to get attracted to her…Romantically…Or at least go talk to her?’ said Rajesh
 
Yaar, chance tho mila par… (Buddy, I did get the chance…) but when I look at her eyes, I just don’t know… I just forget every word I want to express…I even talk her not to look at me that way with her eyes when I want to say something…’ I said.
 
‘’See… That was the signal dumbo!’ said Rajesh
 
Sumanth was sitting there all along and he couldn’t take it anymore…’Rajesh… Trust me you just don’t know what this prick did the last time assuming that was the signal!’ smiling cheekily at me…
 
I put my head down…I didn’t know what to say…
 

Kya kia is dakkan ne?(What the heck did he do?)’, asked Rajesh with his eyes wide open to Sumanth…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 16


Present Day…

I reminisced the days we spent pondering over the question of what would happen if our parents got to know about us and our relationship. Would they agree? She loved her father, so did I, my mother. It was a difficult decision to convince and we knew that from our first day together! My mind was quizzing my heart… We broke so many hearts, so is God breaking ours? Is this a punishment or redemption? I kept getting questions but there were no answers…
 
Not long ago…
 
Two more days passed by…
We were increasingly becoming closer and better friends… We started to understand what we wanted with a sheer glance at each other… The communication levels were dazzling and our pair stunning!
 
That was the first time I was on a trip with a group…first time with a girl…first time as a responsible caretaker for a girl whom I didn’t know for the last 20 plus years in my life… The feeling was fantabulous and mind-blowing…
 
During the next few months,
We shared unending stories of our home, our cultures, people, possessions… Soon the barrier around us was fast diminishing. I was increasingly finding myself centered in a world, where people were always happy and having fun…couples always in passionate love…Girls in my neighborhood disappeared overnight and the remaining were no match to her exquisiteness…The moon’s brightness lost outright to her even without a bout… Was I dreaming…? No…
 
Then what was I doing? I was eating… sleeping… drinking… thinking… Going nuts about just one soul… Zoya!
 
I called her every day to check if she had lunch and dinner while I was slogging at the local motel front desk and subway counters…
 
Every time Sumanth was around, he would always give me an alluring smile when I spoke to Zoya. It was going well and brilliant the way I had thought… We cooked together; we ate together, went out to watch movies with everyone in the gang, and shared our unending jokes…
 
I taught her a lot about electronic gadgets, computers and different technologies…She in turn helped me to understand Shahrukh Khan and Peshawar food! Though I loved the food and didn’t understand Shahrukh Khan as a subject of interest, It was pure joy! Soon we were discussing various books that we have come across and read in time… We were opening up new worlds for each other…
 
I was born in a Tamil family settled in Telugu/Hindi/Urdu speaking city of Hyderabad in India and English was naturally taught in our British styled English medium schools. She was born in an Urdu speaking family settled in Karachi, Pakistan. She spoke one of the cutest English I had ever come across.
 
I was a huge Science Fiction movie fan and it turned out naturally as I once planned for a marathon Star Wars and Star Trek weekend… I knew she was just there supporting and watching those movies just not to disappoint me…
 
I was happy…
As it always comes with girls, the tit for tat story continued the next weekend… She took me to a marathon shopping in and around the city… Sometimes the conversations with the shopkeeper also turned out to be super funny… For instance, Zoya went to a shopkeeper and asked him,
 
Zoya: ‘Do you have a four volt, two watt lamp?’
 
Shop Keeper: ‘For what?’
 
Zoya: ‘No… Two!’
 
Shop Keeper: ‘Two… what?’
 
Zoya: ‘Yes!’
 
Shop Keeper: ‘No’
 
So my shopping sessions with her were never boring and always peppered with amazing fun and great joy. And her sense of humor was also simply amazing. I was explaining her my first days in US…How I took to US and then my initial experiences in America…
 
During this conversation, I happened to say, ‘…After I was mugged and admitted in the hospital, I was lonely and had no one around me… I felt that I was the only one who had no one to care for…’ I said this expecting that there would some soothing words from her that she is there for me but prompt came her reply,
 
‘Never feel that you are alone and no one cares for you in your life… Whenever you feel that you are alone and no one cares for your existence, just miss paying the rent, mobile and a couple of other bills… You would immediately be reminded that you are not alone and people care for you…’
 
We couldn’t stop chuckling at each other… ‘That was good one’ I said
 
I started to feel a connection with Zoya… Soon I realized that we were no more people from the neighboring countries…We were just the same people like any other living in America, wanting to survive and make it big in a foreign land. In short it was brilliant… I was in love with her but couldn’t tell her…She became so important to me that my entire world revolved around her and I didn’t want to spoil it…
 
In a way, I was in reverence mode…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 15


Not long ago…

Sumanth started the camp fire; we started off with dumb-charades followed by Antakshari. This went on for an hour before we decided to play truth or dare… Many rejected the idea saying ‘some other time’. Then we decided to play the simple confession story – To tell everyone how they met and fell in love the first time except… others should find out whether the story is true or fake… It was like opening a Pandora box… Amazing fun and everyone shared their version of funny stories, both real and fake in equal measures and it was great. Then it was Zoya’s chance to open up…

‘I was in my 9th grade…’

‘9th mein hi…?’ Said someone…

She smiled and said, ‘…listen… I was in my 9th grade and there was this good looking guy in my class who always used to tell us what to do and what not to do. I was madly infatuated by him that I used to listen and do whatever he says until one fine day I realized he was already married…

‘Married! 9th grade mein hi?’

‘Are you kidding?’

‘Yeah, unfortunately he was my school teacher…’ Every one burst out laughing saying that the story wasn’t true… and there was some magic around the place and Zoya was glowing at the center of it…

People didn’t believe her… So she had to sing a song for everyone.

‘No…No…No… I am a bad singer… Please! Something else…?’

‘Nothing doing… You have to sing a song…’

This trip opened the multiple façades of what Zoya was all about. Her expressions were getting cuter with every passing moment. She rolled her tongue in cheek, her eyes popping out in surprise whenever something crazy was said / happened, her long black hair falling frequently over her cheeks, her fingers running through her hair to set them… In short, I just couldn’t take my eyes off her…

And so she finally sat down to sing…

Songs have this strange way of connecting people with the one whom you are attracted. It does bring back those feelings, nostalgia and longing to be someone’s… I was sure that she would sing some Urdu or Arabic song typical of a person from a Islamic country. I was wrong… She started to everyone’s amusement…

It was from the film, Bombay… and the song… ‘Kehna Hi Kya…

A couple of guys stopped sipping their beers, the girls sat in a position taking notice of her,  and trust me guys for a moment, I felt complete… there was the song, campfire, the moon, an angel like girl singing the song of your dreams… To me it was pure bliss…

As I said, songs have this amazing feeling of rekindling the fervor in us… and I was no stranger to it. But what made me flabbergasted was the way she sang… She sang but she looked straight into me when she sang…

There is this strange connection a guy feels when a girl sings. But when the girl looks straight into you when she sings… You just go blank and remain speechless. I stood there dumbfounded. This was definitely not attraction… but neither was it an infatuation… It was something more than that…

I just couldn’t figure it out what it was then…

But I did eventually…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 14


Not long ago…

‘Ok… Now that you have explained the camping rules, I will carry only 9 outfits for the 4 day trip…’

‘How gracious…? Seriously 9 dresses…’

‘But, I have reduced it from 15 after you explained the rules…’

I didn’t have an option and so I had to say, ‘Yes!’

The trip started, it was a long drive and we were driving in 3 rented cars first to the airport to pick up our other friends. And then we drove through Louisiana à Mississippi à Alabama and finally Tennessee… We reached Nashville and decided to stay at a motel. We took five rooms with bunker beds, two for the girls and three for the guys…

We started our trekking at 8 AM and walked through the woods for a good distance. We did a lot of exploration and the sight of the smoky mountains was breathtaking. The more we went around, the more amazing it was…

But by the time it was evening, everyone were tired. So we setup out camps and started a bon fire. As we planned well ahead for the trip, we stocked ourselves with good amount of food supplies. Mike decided to make some barbeque for vegans and non-vegans… Unfortunately, the food was not spicy and so ‘American like’… I didn’t complain but as you would have guessed, ‘Her Royal Highness’ did…

‘Do you want me try my hand in making these kebabs?’

I asked her to take a seat but she wouldn’t oblige. Mike was an easy taking guy and hence, called her up to make some in her own Pakistani style…

To my surprise, she was already well prepared with her masalas that she got from our home. She marinated all the stuff and the end product; people just fell in love with her food… It was amazing… Girls, who hated her from the start for her attitude, suddenly became fans of her… In a matter of 2 hours, everything changed… People loved her food and thanked me for bringing her to the trip… The beer and the kebabs were an amazing combination and it worked wonders… Now Zoya and I were officially part of a circle of friends, which I had longed for a long-long time…

I went to talk to her but she wasn’t ready to talk to me without an apology from my side…

‘Apology…? For what…?’ I asked her in a surprise tone…

And friends, the apology was for trying to suppress her amazing talent… I rolled my eyelids in censure and said, ‘Ok baba! Agreed! I am sorry… Please maaf karlo na yaar…? (Can you please forgive me?)

‘Your apology is under consideration’, she said with a squeak smile…

I just remembered my brother-in-law telling me about my sister Swetha when they visited Hyderabad few years ago,

‘Ek baat yaad rakhlo Arjun (Remember one thing Arjun), Women are never wrong. Apologizing is the man’s responsibility, It’s written everywhere in our recorded human history. ‘

‘How can you say that so certainly?’ I asked him with my usual duffer face!

‘Hmmm, tell me… who was it that gave Adam the apple?’

‘Hahahahaha’


I remembered this incident and shook my head with a smile. Zoya was desperate to know, but I just passed it off… An unreasoned passion was in the air…