Stories Apne Apne by Raj Deepali Pandey

There was a huge crowd in the courtroom. Men and women, all in black, waiting for their cases which were lined up for hearing. He was also waiting for his turn, with a file in his hand. The judge was not yet seated. There was a usual commotion in the courtroom. All of a sudden he started feeling sick. The counsel’s attire suffocated him. He felt an urge to go out in fresh air. But the judge would be arriving anytime and his case was listed at the top. His suffocation increased, he tried to loosen his collar, but nothing helped….

lawyers in court
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     The very next moment he found himself on his bed, snuggled up in the quilt. The obsession for legal practice became so contagious that even the lazy Sunday mornings were welcomed by the monotonous dreams of the courtrooms. It took him about a minute to realise that he can rest his bones for another hour or so, as Sunday was the only solitude left in life.

      Bhavya Sahai….the resounding name, being the replica of his personality. Just the right height, fair complexion, deep and husky voice, enough to give a mini heart attack to fragile person if heard at a higher volume without warning, and an overweight body. Wait… calling him fat or overweight would be blasphemous. Gourmand would be a preferable word. He considered his weight to be the symbol of his happiness and well being. For him, those who lose their appetite upon depression are the biggest failures in life, for him the love for food is eternal and unconditional, surpassing the love for any human being. That explains, that even while coping with the complexities of personal and professional life, he only gained more and more weight, with a resolution to shed it every year, all in vain. A die hard reader and fan of thriller and mystery fiction, historical and mythological stories, he was always ready to defend the dark characters like Raavan, Meghnath, Duryodhan, Aurangzeb whom the world painted in black. Legit for him to do so, a criminal lawyer by profession.

   Lazily he picked up his phone. Numerous messages and few missed calls. Ignoring all of them, he opened the group chat of his buddies and more often alleged gay partners. And as usual, Rohan and Yash were busy abusing each other, and him too, in the crudest language unheard of on this earth. Yes, the abuses in hindi could have made any person nauseous, while the abuses in English were so fluent that could put Tharoor’s vocabulary to shame. That was the best possible way these men expressed their love for one another. But for any innocent person, the messages seemed to be utter shit, lousy and disgusting.

     Rohan, the sweet guy who was notoriously known for being Bhavya’s true love and prospective suitor, if only the society permitted. The only crime that guy committed was that even after qualifying CA, he still never prefixed it in his social media usernames. And that’s really a shame in Indian society, for who cracks such tough exams and choose not to reveal one’s achievements to the world. Only Rohan, the grounded guy.

       Yash Verma, the self proclaimed sweet, simple, kind hearted and down to earth guy, with a soft corner reserved in his heart for the fair sex, or for almost all female species on this planet. This even sweeter guy, an ardent devotee of Game Of Thrones series, would skillfully cite its example if any beautiful girl tried to extract the ‘brotherly’ love out of him. “All Indians are my brothers and sisters” was as much a taboo for him as a woman wearing revealing outfits in her orthodox matrimonial house. He strictly believed in ‘only’ friendship, special emphasis on ‘only’, so as not to tarnish his image among the girls.

      With half-opened eyes, he slowly typed a message and sent, adding one more extra-terrestrial abusive word in the group and confirming his love for them.

       The next chat was that of Deepesh. “Are you free to meet me today?” “Need to tell you something.” Now Deepesh was a melodramatic bro who could never say even the simplest of things without arousing the curiosity in the mind of the listener. “Cant this man stop being feminine all the time and tell the facts straight”, Bhavya grumbled and sent a message to meet in the evening to discuss his pain.

       The next chat he opened was of Deepali. 10 texts, 3 voice notes to be specific. The most irritating girl he ever met, only according to him. Now Deepali was the sweetest and simplest of girl one can ever encounter. A girl next door, with zero attitude and a kind heart, always ready to help her friends when needed. But as they say, it takes the skills of a jeweller to identify a gem, and Bhavya was completely naive when it came to understanding the true value of people around him. He read the messages, scrolling carefully. In all the messages she requested him to send an urgent mail by logging in her account, as her phone had encountered some technical error and she couldn’t log in…again. He sighed and murmured some inaudible string of words. She and her phone….they were never on good terms, just like an unhappy couple stuck in an arranged marriage for the sake of the family. He kept his phone back without replying, drifting to sleep again.

       But he woke up five minutes later, something strikes his mind. He opened her chat again and looked at the details she sent for mail, and got to work. It must be important. The workaholic in him knew better than anyone else the importance of one’s work. And on the top of it, she was the love of his life, his dream come true, he couldn’t prioritize his sleep over her needs. And it hardly took five minutes. After all how could he have denied help to a wonderful girl like her, he has savoured the delicacies of her hand throughout his college life, which added to his chubbiness.

        As soon as he was done sending the mail, he sent her a message giving her the confirmation of the same. In return, he got a thread of messages from her in his praise and how much he helped her in times of need. After all it was necessary to placate the short-tempered friend, especially when his Sunday morning was kicked off by the social service. Smiling at the texts he kept back the phone, lied again, enjoying few more lazy moments rolling on bed, and then got up to get ready.

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Coming downstairs, greeted by his mother with a wholesome breakfast, and a glass of bournvita. He still preferred hot bournvita milk in the morning over tea or coffee. Maybe that was the only way he could keep the little child within him alive. Surprisingly, he never knew how to prepare this simple beverage. He was completely unaware of the amount of sugar and bournvita to be added to the milk to give it a fine taste. Hence, if mom went out for even a day, the poor child had to skip his chocolate milk. Maybe he never wanted to grow old so as to learn few things for himself, or it might be the magical touch of mother’s hand which he cherished more. Gulping down his milk he quickly ran to his office upstairs to attend the call of duty.

        Files were piled up on his desk. Though he was a workaholic, yet procrastination was inevitable. Time and again he used to regret as to why he chose this profession, where a person had to struggle morning and night. In school days he had plans for a corporate job, but childhood and teenage could never predict what his future had in store for him. Fascinated by the family profession, he knew of the skills he possessed. It ran in his blood. But the life of a lawyer is not as glamorous as depicted in movies and fictions. One has to toil hard day and night for years to make a respectable position amidst the cut throat competition. The work was strenuous, tiring and challenging, and he was left with hardly any time for friends and family. Once he became a full fledged lawyer, complaints from friends followed. How could he explain to them that he hardly spent time with himself. He knew his priorities in life. Focused on his work, he was sure to make it big and add another feather to the cap of his family’s name, and he knew nothing could distract him from achieving his goals.

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     It was late in afternoon till he got a break. Settling on the dining table he got the major disappointment of the day – ladyfinger. He was expecting paneer, which he ate five out of seven days in a week but never got bored of it. Those soft cubes of cottage cheese, whether sautéed or residing majestically in the thick creamy delicious gravy can tickle the senses of any foodie. But he didn’t complain, hunger gnawing at his sides made him compromise with the healthier yet tasteless alternative.

       Then came the time which he could spent as per his choice. Usually he liked to take his siesta at this time. But it was one of those rare occasions when all his friends, now working in different cities, and abroad as well, were back in town. So he called them, hurled his usual string of abuses for the ones who had no time, and finally planned to meet them out.

       It was late in the evening while they relived their old days again. Going on a long drive, having drinks, roasting each other, discussing their professional as well as love lives, they knew that perhaps their lives have changed a lot, but not their bond. It was still fresh and lively as ever. Being together made them forget all their worries and made way for immense happiness and satisfaction in their hearts.

         It was about 9 p.m. Bhavya’s phone rang. “Mother India Calling”. Leaving the shouting and cussing herd for a while, he went to speak to his mom.

   “Hello, where have you been throughout the evening? Its late.”

   “I came to meet my friends, will be returning in a while.”

   “Okay, you’ll be having your dinner at home I guess?”

   “No mom, the ladyfinger you served me in lunch was so delicious that now I don’t want to spoil its taste by eating something else, I have no space for anything else”. He spoke in a soft, mocking tone, smiling to himself.

“Why do you talk like that?” He sensed the disappointment in his dear mom’s voice.

“Mom I’ll have my dinner with my friends, please don’t wait for me.”

“But I have cooked daal makhani and matar paneer….” she replied in a hopeful, sweet, motherly voice.

      A wide grin appeared on his face. He picturised the mouth watering magical dinner with the sprinkling of his mother’s affection. Hesitating for a while in a scripted manner, he replied, “Okay, I’ll eat only a little with friends and would be having my dinner at home. I’ll be back in an hour.”