My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 13


Not long ago…

What is that?

‘My luggage for the trip…’

‘Are you kidding me? We aren’t going on a marriage or social trip. It’s a trekking and camping trip for god sake!’

‘Yeah…! I know… But I am still not clear on what to wear!!!’

There is this strange stuff about women and their outfits… If a man goes on a seven-day trip, he’ll pack for five days’ worth of clothes and will wear some outfits twice; if a woman goes on a seven-day trip she’ll pack 21 outfits because she doesn’t know what she’ll feel like wearing each day. How true…

‘Ok… Listen… Have you ever been on a camping trip?’

‘No…’ she said confidently.

‘Do you know what they do during camping?’

‘Sit around a bon fire, talk, play games and sleep in the camping tents…’

‘Wow! You know a lot of stuff about camping… But on a serious note, let’s face reality! You don’t know anything about camping. Whatever you have seen or heard about camping is from films…I am I right?’ I said in a satirical tone.

‘What should I do now…?’

She sat on the bed with her head down dejected. Her expression was so heavy that had someone seen us in the moment, they would have thought I am teaching algebra and calculus to a poor little kindergarten kid…

‘Alright listen,

Rule 1: Thumb rule, always follow the camping leader

Rule 2: Always, carry disposable luggage. Fewer luggage’s’ and more comfort!

Rule 3: No matter what happens, you always have stuff that is disposable so that it would greatly reduce a lot of carry weight!

Rule 4: You need to carry a lot of mosquito repellants, creams that would save you from insect bites and last but not the least, a good camping gear’

‘Are you done?’ she said is an exasperated tone…

Without looking at her but her luggage, I said, ‘And yeah… the most important rule is Rule 5

‘And what is that?’

‘Follow Rule 1 religiously’

She was already in a teary mode, but I pretended to not notice it… But as you know girls always need a reason to cry. And they won’t do it alone unless they know you can hear them. So in a matter of seconds, the entire explanation of the camping trip fizzled out.

I said sorry close to ten times, apologized to her a hundred times, and explained her that she can carry anything and everything… but she still sobbed.

‘Alright, if you promise to stop crying, I will get you a surprise gift…’

The sobbing stopped…

‘And it would be at a surprise moment…’

‘Seriously…?’


‘I promise…’

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My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 12


Present Day…
All my life we had spent our wedding anniversaries together. I remembered my anniversary this year… I didn’t want to go but she promised me that everything would be fine and I had to go…

‘This is your big day… You go get the bread for the family… I am here to take care of everything!’

‘But it’s a month long trip! I will miss you and bash…’

She hugged me and said, ‘Don’t worry… Everything will be fine’

Not long ago…

What was I doing over there – Cute, Stunning, Elegant? What the heck is wrong with me? She is just another girl and she is just someone accompanying you to Tennessee but wait… Why did she say that? What does she really mean by that?

I would better not give any more importance to today’s conversations. My head was already spinning with wild thoughts and at the same time, I was trying to understand and connect the dots but I was as usual clueless.

The next day started on a good note. She promised to cook food for us and I helped her with the dishes. Throughout the day, she spoke a wide range of things and for most part of the time, she had to explain me what she meant in Urdu as I hardly understood. 

I was the silent listener lost in her sheer beauty. Her feminine beauty had sealed me off to bear any other thoughts. All I had on my mind was Zoya and why the hell is she so beautiful. She had loads and loads of topics to discuss and she was intoxicating me with her exquisiteness.

She made me listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and made me watch Shahrukh Khan Movies… I made her listen to A R Rahman & Ilaiyaraaja songs and movies of Yash Chopra, Santhosh Sivan and Mani Ratnam…

Ah! Then the movie Dil Se came by…

I was a huge fan of Mani Ratnam’s movies… She was a huge fan of Shahrukh Khan… The most surprising aspect of our scenario that day was that we have never seen this movie for various reasons but have been huge fans of the songs… Finally we got a chance to get hold of the movie and it was time to play the movie.

We never imagined that how a movie like Dil Se, could be so dark and yet touch human relationships, terrorism, brilliant cinematography, amazing choreography, fantastic music… The last bang came at the end… Never believed that there can be an end of that sort in Bollywood movies…

By the time, the movie ended, it did leave us speechless for few moments. Our heads were clouded with thoughts and opinions and yet didn’t find answers to them… In short it turned out to be an instant classic for us…

The only question I ever asked her was this,

‘How could someone so flawed, helpless, ignored and destroyed fall in love?’

She looked at me… She didn’t answer my question. But there was this genuine sadness in her eyes. It was not a movie on Kashmir… It was not a movie on Pakistan… But why did she have that helpless look on her face… I didn’t want to force her into answering anything that I would regret. I sensed a deep sense of pain in her eyes.

I wanted to touch her hands to make her feel better but I couldn’t. I wanted to touch her gently on her head to make her feel better but I couldn’t. Something stopped me. Was I wrong? I didn’t get the answer to it… I was losing myself to her even more than before. I was getting deeply engrossed in her…

 
I got my answer in her silence. I never pondered over it again… I was falling for her fatal attraction…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 11


Not long ago…

‘Wow… One step closer…’ To make it sound easy and not desperate, I asked her if she had traveled anywhere in the United States.

‘Nope and that’s what I regret. I have a couple of friends in Chicago but never got a chance to meet them. Perhaps, will plan sometime during the semester break to meet them’

‘Hey, listen… Got to tell you this… I heard from Sumanth and others that they are planning for a trekking, camping and adventure trip down to Tennessee Mountains. Why don’t you join them?’

‘Wow… Is it that they have already planned or still planning?’ With her beautiful eyes wide open, she queried with acute curiosity. 

‘I don’t know. But I can always tell them you are interested and you would tag along with them. What say?’

She had her cute confused look over her face but she finally said, ‘No’

‘But why…? You just told me that you liked traveling…!’

‘I don’t know anyone of your friends. I would be left all alone when everyone’s having fun. What about you? Are you going?’

Trying to play safe, ‘Yeah… they have asked me to join but I am still not sure…’

‘Oh! Then why don’t we go along with them? You will have company, I will have company… what say?’

Not sounding too surprised and at the same time, sounding accommodative, I said, ‘Sure…Anything for my roomie…’

‘Deal…?’ ‘Deal…!’

She immediately picked up her phone, scanned through the contact lists, dialed her friends in Chicago, Lahore and God knows what other places and planets she called but she did convey her excitement to them that she is going on a trip to Tennessee Mountains…

We went around the park, I showed her the place where I was mugged and beaten up badly, and she showed me the building where she had evening semester classes… We finally walked back to our apartment, watched ‘How I Met Your Mother’ on TV, grabbed some salad for dinner and finally walked back to our bedrooms. Before she closed her bedroom door, I told her,

‘I had a nice time this evening. Thank you… ‘,

‘Me too… Thanks for the tea. Had a good time…’

‘You are welcome…’


‘And listen…’ she said blushing, ‘…you could have always asked me to join you for the Tennessee trip. I would have never said No to you…’

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 10


Not long ago…

‘There is an old Arabic saying: When a man falls in love, he would pass through 7 shades of love which leaves a lasting memory. The shades determine the level of anxiety that runs in a person to fully determine his life cycle from start till death. These emotions and feelings are the same for everyone and everything that a man comes across except for the woman he loves… The passing through of these 7 phases in a man is overwhelming, that it changes his life once for all.

So what are these 7 stages of love?

01.   Attraction
02.   Infatuation
03.   Love
04.   Reverence
05.   Worship…’

I couldn’t take it… I closed the book. Thought myself,

‘Who would read such stuff…So boring…People say satire is dead? It’s not dead; it’s alive and living in my apartment!
 
I mean, even the first two are fine but love, reverence, worship… Gosh! They sound absolutely absurd…’ I just understood the fact that Zoya reads some real creepy horror books and she was making a statement with this!

Her bedroom lock clicked, and she was ready. She got out of her room and for the first time trust me she looked like a girl… Don’t ask me how… but she did!

She let her long black hair loose and uncovered, there were hardly any artificial mascara on her face but eyes were making me go senseless. There was no black veil, she looked curvy but not thin or whale like in her cotton shorts and tank tops. Her skin was so smooth that even a drop of water on her skin reminded me of butter sliding and dancing over a hot pan.
 
In short for the first time, she was looking gorgeous and elegant. I couldn’t take my eyes of her beauty…

‘What are you surprised at?’ she asked.

‘I am surprised that I no more have an alien monkey running around my apartment…’

She smiled and affirmed the fact, ‘Our Apartment’.

And friends, always remember, the good girl keeps the dairies and contract intact and the bad girl never has the time for any… To me, she just made her point sound and clear…

We went to the nearby Starbucks and I noticed few guys looking at her. In fact they were not only looking at her, but as Rajesh would say, ‘checking out…’

I noticed that no matter what it meant, to me tea and Tennessee were top priority and I didn’t want to ruin the trip… And so, we ordered tea. I asked for green tea and she had chai. We sat at a corner discussing our college, work and schedules. I asked her what she liked the most and prompt came her reply,

‘Traveling and cooking food’

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 09


Present Day…
The flight took off. There were clouds all around. I prayed God, why did he do this to me? Is it because I fought with her or is it because I loved her more than I loved myself? I was battling my own questions. Deep down, I knew that I had no answers…

Not long ago…

Zoya took her shoes off, saw me sitting on the couch with my laptop and then walked into her bedroom and closed the door.

My ego was not letting me to go talk to her but I didn’t want to end up on the loner side during the trip and hence took some courage and went up to her bedroom door and knocked twice.

She opened the door and said, ‘What!’

‘I am… I am sorry’

‘For what…?’

Women will always ask questions that have no right answer, in an effort to trap you into feeling guilty. That was exactly happening here.


For whatever happened between us…I am sorry…’ I paused and then said, ‘Friends…?’ extending my hand as a friendly gesture

She was 5 inches shorter and stood there at her door looking at me.

For the first time, I saw her hair let loose; her hair was so silky that it kept falling over her cheeks; her neck line was curvaceous; her collar bone was dressed with a thin gold chain; her cheeks were pink and eyes…’ Oh! God, I was lost…

She waved her hands a couple of times to get me back to my senses and said, ‘Ok! Deal’

‘Oh! Great then…!’

She smiled and said, ‘Ok…Cool’

And when she was about to get back inside and close the door, I stopped her and said, ‘One more thing…’

She was waiting for me to complete…

‘Don’t get me wrong, but do you want to join me for some coffee today?


She thought for a moment and said,
‘Sure. Why not? But listen… I have a suggestion… Just Tea… Coffee doesn’t go well with us…’ she said with a quirk.

‘Ah! No hurry… They usually take orders only when we are at the store for the drink…’

I smiled, she smiled and we strolled back to our rooms… I instinctively turned back to knock her door and ask her for the Tennessee trip but thought again what Rajesh said…

‘Girls are like soup, first you warm them up and then you dress them with breadcrumbs…’


I shook my head in agreement and walked away…

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 08


Not long ago…

3 Weeks later…

For the first two weeks we were involved in a competition of shutting our bedroom doors on each other. The most violent wins…The next week involved in just eye contact…’

A week later, my batch mates – Sumanth, Mike and others were planning on a camping trip to Tennessee. It was a road trip and I was excited. Ever since they were planning for the trip, I was desperately waiting for them to ask me and when they eventually asked me, I said ‘Yes’ and started to plan for the trip…

I got some cheap camping gear from eBay, picked up a pair of ‘1 for 1’ trousers from GAP, a pair of trekking shoes and many more… I was all set to go and then something hit me… Almost all these guys will be hanging around their girlfriends (who were also travelling from different universities) and I would be left alone… I needed a partner in crime!

That night, I called up Rajesh and spoke to him about all the stuff that’s been going on in Texas since the last weekend. I spoke on the exams, my new part time job at the filling station (apart from the part time job at Subway), the planned semester breaks, playing cricket with fellow college mates from the university over the weekends and finally about the trip to Tennessee.

‘Dude, it would have been great if you were here… Hate being alone… Even when the Tennessee trip happens, I suppose I would be left all alone when we go to camping as I fear that all the guys would be hanging out with their girlfriends…’

‘I am planning to reapply for the Spring break semester. Hopefully, should get the visa this time… But wait… Why don’t you ask Zoya to accompany you?’ Rajesh said.

‘Nah…That crackpot wouldn’t come.’

‘Why wouldn’t she come?’

‘I don’t know dude, but I can’t stand her! I will go nuts and my entire camping trip would get ruined even before it starts!’

‘I guess you are just stubborn. Let go of your ego and talk to her… She’s a girl dude… and from Karachi!’

‘So what…?’

He said jokingly, ‘I haven’t seen her but I have always heard that the only mistake we Indians did was to send away these good looking beauties away to Pakistan…’

‘That’s true… Had they stayed back in India, it would have demoralised Pakistan from getting separated’, I said laughing loudly.

‘See… That’s exactly what I am saying! They are very good looking and they are worth the risk… What they bring to you is something none of the western lassies can get you… Eternal beauty…!’

‘Are you sure…?’

‘100 percent…!’

‘Hmm…She is good looking and I would admit that! But I don’t want to be friends with her…!’

‘Please! You don’t utter a word about attractiveness and beauty! Saale! Aliens, Science fiction movies ke alava, kabhi tumko samaj mein aaya ladkiyon ke bare me? (Have you ever known anything about girls apart from Aliens and Science Fiction movies?)’

‘Ok Sirji…Fine…What do you want me to do?’

‘Go…Talk to her…Buy her a cup of coffee, ask her out for a walk and for god sake don’t discuss about politics and religion…There is never an end to these topics…’

I paused for long and then agreed in an annoyed tone, ‘Ok…Will try’

Just then, I heard the main door open…it was Zoya. I winked to Rajesh communicating that she’s here.  

‘All the best…’ He whispered and ended the video call.

My Noiseless Memories – Chapter 07


Present Day…
I was on the flight to Orange County. Her images kept flashing before my eyes. I was cursing myself for the fights that I had with her for no reason. I was fighting my tears but they kept rolling uncontrollably. The pain was unbearable. Rajesh kept patting me on my back… I kept asking him why’s this is happening to me alone…?

There was pain on Rajesh’s face… He was confused… He didn’t have an answer… He just couldn’t answer me… I hugged him for comfort…

Not long ago…

We all have our own funny instances in life. Some are inside jokes in a family, some between friends and few between colleagues. But there are few instances when we are around people who absolutely mean nothing to you and yet you have to put up with them considering that there is no way out. I was stuck in a similar situation… The only way to get out was through…

Since Zoya moved into the apartment, it was officially no more my apartment but our apartment. How many times you might have heard India and Pakistan saying together – That’s ours!

One Sunday morning, Zoya made some tea and we sat on our kitchen table talking about college, professors, classes, her new job at the library and my new job at Subway. I even told her that I would be getting a six inch sub free of cost every evening before I left for the day. In all, it was the usual pleasantries. At that moment, a song started to play on a Hindi channel on the television and I increased the volume.

Zoya wanted me to reduce the volume as she found Bollywood movies ridiculous. Out of sheer enjoyment, I poked fun by saying,

‘I don’t know why but thank god we don’t call our cinema Lollywood…!’ (For folks who don’t know what Lollywood is, it’s the official name of the Pakistan’s movie industry based out of Lahore…Don’t ask me how?)

‘I never said Lollywood was any better than Bollywood. It’s just that Hindi movies suck big time with all the drama and never ending songs…Only Shahrukh Khan is the best in Hindi movies…’

‘You’ve got to be kidding… Seriously! Shahrukh Khan? He is the most overrated actor of all time…’

‘Oh! Whom do you like then?’

‘I love Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Naseeruddin Shah…! They are brilliant actors!’

‘So you still love those old dudes…Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah?’ She said sarcastically…

‘Yeah right…! Shahrukh is just 25!’

‘I am not saying that!’

‘Be thankful that I don’t like the sick SRK’ I said

‘SRK is a superb actor… You’ve got to agree…’

I didn’t want this crazy movie star topic to go ahead. Any longer I would discuss on SRK, I would start feeling gay and hence switched the topic. ‘Alright… Agreed! So what do you do in your free time?’

‘I read a lot of books’

‘Sometimes, when I look at you, I feel you are one of the few handfuls who have actually made it large outside Pakistan…Technically the other being ISI… Isn’t it true?’ I said with a satanic grin…

‘You are mistaken. There are great universities, beautiful places to visit, peaceful towns…’ she said

‘Then why does the media goes hammer and tongs about the grave dangers in Pakistan?’ I interrupted.

‘No. it’s just not the way it’s portrayed by the media and world. It’s merely exaggerated ’

‘I couldn’t agree on that… To me, the poor people are living a horrible life in Pakistan…’ I said

‘BTW, even I hear India is full of diseases, illiterates, poor sanity conditions, pathetic living experience and horribly maintained areas, corrupt politicians, baseless bureaucracy and many more. Will you be agreeing to it?’

It was game on for a Sunday morning and I was raging with anger but I gently placed the tea mug. I knew some of details what she said was true but the love for my country just didn’t let me go off the topic.

‘I wouldn’t agree to it. Of course, there are issues when you have such a huge population but we still have made it large. We proved that we can co-exist peacefully with different castes, languages and religions and show a lot of advancement in the field of science, education and technology.’

‘So it is in Pakistan…’

‘Yeah right…! That’s the reason why India is surrounded by failed states’

‘But remember… I always dream of a better tomorrow for my country…’ she said.

‘It’s really funny when you say a better tomorrow… It sounds like ‘I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives…’ I said with a mocking tone!
‘Whatever…’
‘Given a chance, I would make KFC out of them!’ I said in a satirical tone…

She shook her head in disbelief and said, ‘Trust me, if you want to go on and on about India, so can I go on and on about Pakistan. The underlying fact is both the countries are flawed and at the same time equally good’

Man! She was super annoyed! I couldn’t agree but she has already ended the discussion as she stood, walked towards the kitchen sink, washed the mug, switched off the TV which was playing good old Hindi songs, took her laptop and started chatting with her friends…

I couldn’t take this crap and said, ‘What a bitch!’ with a smile…


She had to retaliate and so she said aloud, ‘Jack Ass!’ with a smirk…