Thursday, April 13, 2006

Zaadzing

Hi all,

For the past week, I've been playing around at Zaadz

It is a community of people who want to bring about positive change in the world. The discussion groups are really interesting and evoke a lot of thought. I guess you could say I am looking for ideas for my next story here :)

The community grows like orkut. Either existing members invite new people or you have to fill up a small application form that asks you questions like "how would you like to bring positive change in the world" and submit it. You then get an invitation from the CEO of the site itself :).

I feel it does a better job of networking than Orkut. Ping me if anybody wants an invite. :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mika - The Finale

For those who missed the earlier parts, here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II
Mika - Part III
Mika - Part IV
Mika - Part V
Mika - Part VI
Mika - Part VII

Mika and Arun made their way through the throngs of people at the hospital. They found Hemanth's parents in the lobby. Mika went and sat next to Hemanth's mother.

"Hello mother, how's Hemanth now?"

"He's fine now, Mika. You look tired out! God will definitely help you find the person you are searching for."

"By the by, mother ... do you know Hemanth's email address? ..."

"Umm ... I think Hemanth once gave me his visiting card ... let's see if it has his email address ..."

She searched in her purse for Hemanth's visiting card and handed it over to Mika. Mika eagerly took it in her hands and glanced at it for the email address. Arun looked over Mika's shoulder.

"Is it him?"

Mika nodded in the negative. Mika stood up and went to the porch of the hospital. Amlu was standing there gazing at the garden. White little butterflies were skimmering over the tops of the tender petals of daffodils and daisies. Mika went and stood next to her.

"Do you enjoy watching the beauty that nature has to offer?"

Amlu looked up at Mika and gave her captivating smile and nodded very assertively.

"Yes ... Daddy has always taught me to enjoy the little things that many people miss out on ... Daddy says if you make peace with things around you ... you will always be happy ..."

"Very true ... "

"Mika Akka? ..."

"Yes?"

"Did you find 'neo'?"

"Nope ... I still haven't found him ... "

"Do you want me to help you in finding your friend? ... you see .. all you need is a lot of faith ..."

"umm ... I really wish you could ... but you already have done a lot in locating your father ... I guess you should also take a good rest along with your Dad ..."

"Come on, Akka, .. just tell me his name or something more about him ... you will see I can help a lot ..."

"Umm ..okay ", Mika cheered up a bit with Amlu's antics. "I don't know his real name and you also know his name on the computer 'neo' ... I will give you one more clue ... his email address is catchme.ifucan@yahoo.com."

"Yahooooo .. yahooo .. ", Amlu started dancing about.

"what ... what is it you are so excited about?"

"i ...know ... the .... person ! ...", Amlu kept running around Mika and shouting.

"oh! ... who is it? ... "

"it is my father ... the email address you told is his secret email address known only to him and me ...", Amlu suddenly stopped running. "umm .. how is that you know his secret email address? "

"Secret!", Mika said and ran inside the hospital.

"Arun!"

----------------------

Mika entered the ward where Hemanth was resting. Hemanth was reading a novel as Mika entered. Mika noted the title "A Walk to Remember". Hemanth closed the book and looked up as Mika entered.

"Hi Hemanth", Mika said. "I'm ... Aarthi ... I'm a neighbour of your parents..."

"Oh ... hello ... pleased to meet you ... take a seat .... "

Mika sat down in a couch across the bed.

"Thanks a lot for helping my parents in need .."

"Oh, it was my duty ..."

Both were silent for a while. Hemanth seemed to be deep in thought.

"Are you always very pensive like this?"

"Oh .. sorry ... no I guess - only when I am thinking ... "

"Oh .. I guesss I should be leaving ... I'll see you later ... "

"No ... no ... don't leave please ... I'm extremely sorry ... I guess I'm not very communicative but I would really love if somebody would talk to me ... "

"oh ... right then ... ", Mika sat down again.

"I was just in a deep thought about the novel I was reading ... it's one of my favorites ... every-time I read it, it always revitalizes my faith ... "

"oh ... great ... it must be a very good book then ... "

"yeah, it is ... especially when you are just out of a trauma .. it makes much more sense too ... "

"Did the ordeal test you a lot?"

"umm ... yeah .... umm ... ", he smiled to himself. "what's funny?", Mika asked.

"oh .. it reminded me of something I had said to ... ", Hemanth stopped, then looked at Mika straight in the eyes. Mika shivered a bit. It make her feel as if Hemanth was gazing deep into her thoughts.

"hey, have I met you somewhere before? .... "

Mika quickly said, "No .. I don't think so ... what makes you ask that?"

"well .. err ... ", Hemanth smiled to himself again. "this is the second time in the last few days that I am ready to believe in someone whom I don't know much ... something has definitely changed in me .... changed for the better I guess ..."

Hemanth then looked at Mika and smiled. Mika blushed.

"So ... who is this other person you are talking about ? ", Mika asked with a twinkle in her eyes. She was highly excited within. She could hear her heart beating louder than ever.

Hemanth fiddled his hair with his fingers. "Well .. huh ... I don't know much about her except her name ... I'll keep that a secret for the moment .... well, she .. she ... I don't know really know ... there was something about her ... her faith in me ... it filled a long standing void in my heart .... "

"well ... hah ..", Hemanth laughed again. " ... it is really funny I know but ... "

"What?", Mika asked hardly able to remain calm from outside.

"well ... you see I could be in love with her .... not sure how this is possible ... how I could feel so with a person whom I've never met ... but yet ... "

Mika got up and went to the balcony. "Excuse me for a second ... " Hemanth who had been engrossed in his own words .. suddenly realized that Mika had been in the room... "oh ... sure ..."

After a few minutes, Mika entered the ward again.

"Hemanth, I've got to tell you my real name."

-------------------

Hemanth had been stock still since he heard Mika tell her name. Mika turned and went out into the balcony again, tears in her eyes. Hemanth limped along to the balcony as well.

"Mika ... "

Mika did not turn to see Hemanth.

"Mika ... I'm sorry if I've hurt your feelings ... "

Mika simply turned around swiftly and tightly hugged Hemanth.

-------------------

Arun who had been dreamily watching the bustling activity outside the hospital for a long time turned back. He entered the hospital and walked up to Hemanth's parents.

"I've something very important to tell both of you."

------------------

Hemanth grasped Mika firmly and slowly pulled her away. She was beautiful in the evening light. Her hair blew over his face.

"Mika ... look at me ... it might be that whatever blossomed between us could have been ... ... but at the same time, that is the very same thing that gives one the power to look at things as they are ... and the courage to stand up to it ... "

Hemanth continued.. "You were right in your emotions ... and I guess, so was I .. I realize that now ... there is nothing wrong with that ... but ... "

"Appa!", Amlu came running in. "Mika Akka ... Appa, do you know that it was Mika Akka here who saved my life .... "

----------------

A fragile Sunitha entered the hospital with her caretaker. Nearly two years of chemotherapy had sapped most of her physical strength. Yet, she had fought on with Hemanth by her side.

Sunitha saw Hemanth's parents in the lobby. They were weeping. Then she noticed someone who was sitting across them. Someone, who initially had his head buried in his arms. The person looked up. Sunitha saw Arun looking at her with teary eyes. Hemanth's mother saw Sunitha and came running towards her.

"Sunitha ... why did you not tell us the truth earlier .... "

Sunitha consoled her. "Aunty, at least you know now ... "

She smiled understandingly at Arun. Arun smiled back weakly.
---------------

Hemanth held Mika's palms. Both of them had tears in their eyes. Both looked into each other's eyes for a long time. Hemanth with understanding in his eyes released his grip on Mika's hand gently. It was metaphoric to his emotions.

Mika finally said, "Hemanth, you have taught me more in these two days than all my life ... I know that I will tread my life boldly from now on ... and .... I would like to have you as a friend for life to guide me all along!"

"Definitely", Sunitha replied. "You should ... ". Both Hemanth and Mika turned to see Sunitha standing at the balcony door.

Hemanth exclaimed, "Sunitha, you shouldn't have taken the trouble to come all the way here .... you are still sick ... "

"Hey Hemanth, who am I fighting for? ... for you, idiot! ... when you are in trouble ... what's it about me ... ".

Hemanth went forward and hugged Sunitha's frail structure tenderly. They held each other for long. Amlu jumped up and hugged both her parents. Mika smiled at the three of them.

The end

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mika (Part VII)

For those who missed the earlier parts, here are the links
Mika - Part I
Mika - Part II
Mika - Part III
Mika - Part IV
Mika - Part V
Mika - Part VI

"Let's go and see him...", Arun said.

Mika hesitated. "Arun, you go ahead ... my mind will not be at rest until I find out about 'neo'", she said firmly.

Mika and Arun had spent the last few hours asking the locals about anything that struck them about the scanty details that they had about 'neo' - his mail id and that he was a computer geek and that he might not have many friends. But since most of them were already in a state of grief about losing their loved ones or in frantic search for them, Mika and Arun could not garner any useful information. In this place, finding a person whom you knew very well was tough. Talk about finding someone you hardly know anything about!

"Mika, I know that we do have to find 'neo' ... but we do not seem to be making any progress here ... in fact, Amlu's father might help you find out who 'neo' is, since he has been here for quite sometime ..."

"No Arun ... sorry ... I can't leave ... "

"Okay ... no problem .... I will go and meet him and also try to find some information about 'neo' from him ... you continue your search ... keep your cellphone handy ... bye"

-------------------

Arun entered the hospital to see Amlu's grandparents sitting in the lobby. He walked up to them.

"Hello Sir, how is your son?"

"He is fine ... he has some suffered a few fractures ... also he was a little disoriented after the ordeal ... he has been currently sedated to relax and recover ..."

"Where is Amlu?"

"She is sitting beside him inside the ICU ... she has told the doctors firmly that she likes to be next to him ..,"

"Oh ... good ..."

"By the by, did you find anything about the person you had come searching for?"

"Not yet .. We are still searching for him ... "

The grandmother was still crying.

"Why are you still crying, ma? You son is safe now ... "

"Well ... I was just thinking that if not for Amlu, we could never have got all these people to search for my son ... you see, he ... he came away from Chennai to be away from family and friends ... not many were willing to help in searching for him ..."

"Oh ... he doesn't like company?"

"Not exactly .... I actually cannot blame him ... His actions made most of his family and friends desert him ... we too deserted him ... "

"What? You deserted your son?"

"Well, if you were to know what he did ..."

"Mitra ... don't bring that up again ...", the grandfather said firmly. The grandmother quietened up.

"Sorry Arun", the grandfather spoke to Arun "... well I don't want to go through that story all over again .... but you could just take it that Hemanth destroyed our faith ..."

"Oh ...", Arun did not know what to say. He looked down and then looked at the grandmother's hands in which she held a photo of their son Hemanth, Amlu's and a girl who appeared to him as Hemanth's wife.

Arun's eyes suddenly brightened with shock. He pointed at the girl in the photograph.

"Is .. is that Hemanth's wife?"

"Yes ... well.... do you know her? .... ", the grandmother asked seeing Arun's expression.

"Err ... sorry no .... I mistook her for somebody else .... I ... let me be going and see Hemanth". He got up, stumbled a bit and then walked towards the ICU. Then, halfway through his stride, he paused, turned and walked out of the hospital.

--------------------

27th December, 5.30 p.m

Mika called up Arun for the umpteenth time since 5'o clock. There had been no trace of Arun since afternoon. She had called up Amlu's grandparents and they had told her that Arun had left the hospital at around 1 itself. She was beginning to get afraid that something bad had happened. She debated as to whether she should tell her parents about this. They would definitely go hysterical. Just then, her phone rang. It was Arun.

"Arun! what on earth happened to you? I was so worried .... "

"Mika ...", Arun's voice on the other end was very soft and shaky, as though he had been crying.

"Mika, could you come over to the beach .. I am near the boat statue near the end of the beach where we were in the morning."

-----------------

Arun sat with his face buried in his hands. Ever since he had seen her in the photograph, Arun remembered nothing but the last meeting he had with her.

---------------

It had been a regular day at office when his desk phone rang. He picked it up.

"Hello"

"Hello, Arun. I am calling from the reception. There's someone to see you here."

"Oh ... ok ... I am coming there ..". Arun walked up to the lobby. It was a huge hall and lots of people were engaged in conversation. Arun glanced at the receptionist. She pointed to a girl who was sitting in the far corner of the lobby where not many others were seated. The girl was seated with her back to him.

Arun walked to her. She turned as he walked towards her.

The blood froze in his veins as he recognized her. "Oh my god ... what is she doing here!"

She stood up as he walked up to her.

"Afraid to see me?", she smiled sarcastically.

"Dont worry", she continued. "I just came to give you this ... ". She gave him an envelope and walked away.

"But ..... what ....."

--------------------

At the beach, 27th December 5.45 p.m

Arun heard footsteps behind him. He turned to face Mika.

"Mika, I want to tell you about a mistake I made six years ago ..."

-----------------
Mika looked up into Arun's bloodshot eyes. She had just finished reading the letter in an envelope that Arun had handed over to her.

"Mika ... that mistake haunts me ... I have never been able to get over it ... I carry this letter with me wherever I go ....."

Mika looked at the letter again.

"Arun,

For years, every night, your face used to haunt my dreams. I used to wake up every other night chilled to the bones. But slowly a smothering warmth started to pervade. Out of the ever surrounding mist, a form began to emerge, it was a face I had known since childhood. A face that brought a smile to my face every-time I saw it. A face so gentle and reassuring - the face of Hemanth. [I know I have mentioned him a lot to you]

Yes, I live with Hemanth now. As a child cuddling with his favorite pet, he has caressed me through my turmoil without uttering a single word. In fact, his silence has been the hallmark of the faith he has placed in me. Now, God has endowed me with a beautiful girl, a
darling whom I hope never is unfortunate to see her genetic father. She will be Hemanth's for the upbringing.

Today, I came here to tell you that I guess it was God's will that I should suffer so and it was his will again that I realize the ruby right in my backyard. I don't know how to thank Hemanth for his sacrifice. May be, I never will be able to. Today, as some unknown virus tries to make headway into my body, I smile to it to say, "Do your worst! .. I have got whatever I could ever hope for!"

For you Arun, I have just a few words before I bid adieu for ever.



"Keep the faith ..... ever"



Sunitha"


Mika suddenly felt something strike her. Hemanth ... left friends and family ... came here to work alone ...

"Arun, let's go to the hospital to see Hemanth"

Continued at Mika - The Finale