Dedicated to – “She” wanted happy love stories.
The speaker blared the song in the rickshaw. It was an old 80s romantic song ,Reema felt a giggle built inside her. It was quite an irony she and her 4 colleagues squeezed in a auto rickshaw were going to a wake of their now Late boss Sumeir Shukla.
The song ignited her rusty old feelings for her boss and she felt a bit sad at the thought that this would be the last time she would see his flesh…dead & cold.
The bunch of colleagues stopped outside a gigantic bungalow surrounded by huge False Ashoka trees. They stepped inside the living room, where it was filled with mass of people wearing white color clothes of varying shade. Mr.Sumeir shukla’s body was laid down the ground, covered with a white shroud, and only his face was visible. He looked unbelievably calm, poised & alive. The only sign which gave away that this was just a dead body, were the nostrils filled with camphor scented cotton balls.
Reema & her collegaues walked up to the body of their boss to pay their last respects. His whole immediate family was sitting around the corpse. The whole atmosphere was of a sombre nature, filled with fragrance of rose incense sticks, servers were fluttering between the hall and kitchen to serve water and juice.
Reema stood beside the dead body & studied it. Her boss, a 55 year old man, didn’t actually a look age above 50. She could still remember his persona and his heady perfume, of course his short-temperedness came free with other traits. God bless his family, Reema said a mental prayer for the family & stepped aside a bit to make way for the others. Suddenly she felt a push from behind amidst the crowd and Reema fell on the dead body.
She was face to face with her dead boss, except his eyes were closed. She had imagined this many times, but didn’t know her wish was going to come true in a inexplicable manner. There was a hush in the room.
Reema tried to get up, but she fell again on the dead body. The force made the camphor cotton balls flew out of Mr.Sumeir Shukla’s nostrils and he coughed. He opened his eyes slowly & looked at Reema. Reema stared at him with shock and her colleagues finally helped her to get up.
Mr.Sumeir Shukla slowly got up and sat on the floor. His wife and his kids came rushing to him. “you” he looked at his wife and barely said- “I want a divorce.”
His wife crumbled onto the floor and let out a loud wail. Divorce is another kind of wake.
But this is the story of Mr.Sumeir shukla & Reema. We’ll concentrate on Mrs.Shukla some other time.
Mr.Shukla said to Reema “You..” he pointed at her. “report after one week at work. Paid leave. Now go.”
After one week, when Reema reported to work, Mr.Sumeir Shukla. The atmoshpere at work still had a festive nature about it, since Mr.Sumeir Shukla literally did come back from death.
Reema went inside Mr.Sumeir Shukla’s cabin. “Sit” Mr.Shukla said in a grouchy tone. Reema looked slyly at him.
“Thank you for being saving my life.” Mr.Shukla said.
“Thank you, sir..I would’ve never been able to sleep with you under any other circumstances, while you being alive. ” Reema blurted out..
“what..” Mr.Shukla said and looked at Reema.
“I am really sorry, I didn’t mean that. ” Reema said & slunk back into the chair. Mr.Shukla studied her “very well” he began again.
“Don’t expect any raise..you did save my life, but you will have to earn your raise.”
“Yes Sir, I’ll work for my raise.” Reema said and began to get up.
” Wait..” Mr.Shukla said “Would you, do you..”he stammered. “Would you like to come with me for a cup of coffee, today evening after work?”
“Ok sir.” Reema said & beamed at the thought. She walked towards the door, when Mr.Shukla called out again “Reema, concentrate on work please.”
Some bonds are too strong to break, no matter what. One of them being when someone saves your life.
Reema was 30, when she first took up job as an auditor in Shukla & Shah . It had been 7 years, since Reema now well versed with the firm, worked as a chief auditor for the firm. She was still single and her parents were religiously hunting for the groom. Her on & off relationships, didn’t work out for her, because most of the time she gave too much and lost everything. Her only main constant thing in her love life was the buying of lingerie when a man entered her life & her boss Mr.Sumeir Shukla who topped her crush list. Things looked different now for her in that horizon, when she accidentally saved her boss’s life.
Reema was early & waited for Mr.Shukla at the cafe. She played with the spoon absentmindedly, while Mr.Shukla walked in through the door.
After his sudden death & even more surprisingly his resurrection, Mr.Sumeir had put on weight, but it suited him. He sat opposite Reema & they both settled comfortably over a cup of coffee.
“Thank you seriously for saving my life. “Mr.Shukla Said.
“What happened was just a coincidence.”Reema begin
“No..this is some twisted fate..” Mr.Shukla interrupted.
“what actually did happen to you.” Reema asked.
“you remember that accident, right ?” Mr.shukla said
“yes, i do .” Reema said.
“After heavy loss of blood, I begin to drift in & out of consciousness My vital organs were not supporting me that much & I went into coma….”He paused for a while..He suddenly laughed,”well the doctors gave up hope on me too soon & pulled the plug..but you saved me..So i am at loss of words after this…” Sumeir looked at Reema expectantly.
“I well..I never knew that i was going to save your life..Someone pushed me from behind..and I just fell on you.” Reema said and looked down at the cup.
“Do you like coffee ?” Sumeir asked suddenly. “yes i do.” Reema said “its like coffee runs in my veins, rather than blood. ” and she laughed.
“I have to go now..” Mr.Shukla said and got up..”Bye” Reema said.
“and Reema..” Mr.Shukla said..”Concentrate on work please.”
This story is between a cross of willow -o-wisp love and platonic relationship. Its hybrid relationship, where the two colleagues have not crossed any lines..And why do we say that in love we need to cross lines or boundaries..love is not a race after all.
The days went by, Reema & Mr.Shukla’s story blossomed. It blossomed partly because, Reema had saved his life & Mr.Shukla was feeling free, after the committment of divorce to his wife.
From boss & a suboridnate, they went to being amiable colleagues and from Mr.Shukla to Sumeir, from Reema to Reema.
“Why were you attracted towards me?”Sumeir asked.
Their little coffee shops dates had found their equivalent in long walks by the sea. In the dark so that no one can see them. They had hardly even touched one another & after 6 long months, they were still chaste but not in their minds.
The friction between them was a respectful one. They still couldnt be lovers. It was something of a byproduct. Sumeir was there, because Reema saved his life. Reema was there , because for her the dream came true.
Sumeir’s enigma perhaps came a little off, when Reema came to know him layer by layer. He was an ordinary human being after all. No super powers. There were fragments of jealousy in their minds, but it never did last long.
So this afternoon, when they had finally planned to get their mutual beast of carnal desires out of the way. They went away to a town by the sea, booked themselves a room in a hotel and laid down by each other.
“Why were you attracted towards me ?” Sumeir asked. “Not were, i still am.” Reema said and smiled.
Her hair, swirled around her face and she looked to Sumeir. To lie down beside Sumeir was a dream come true..for now
“You wouldn’t even have liked to look at me in my younger days. ” Sumeir said.
” I think, i would have liked you just the same.” Reema said.
” Love is blind. Lovers are not.” Sumeir said.
“Thank fully, we are not lovers.” Reema said and kissed slightly Sumeir on the cheek.
She laid back on the bed and looked at the ceiling.
” I always wondered, how was it to love a 50 year old man.” Reema said.
“So am i one of your experiment?” Sumeir asked.
“No, Jesus..” Reema said and kissed him lightly on the mouth.
“Is this one of the scene, where you will take off your clothes and we’ll make some mad love.” Sumeir asked.
“No, you have been watching too many porn movies…i think i just want to lie down with you. This is more sacred than sex. This is not even love. this fucking thing what we have is the pedestal where love is worshipped.” Reema said
“yeah, love is over rated, anyway” sumeir said.
” Thank you for making me what i am today. Thank you for not loving me..if you had, i would have lost myself again and again. thank you for finding me. ” Reema said and looked into the honey brown eyes of Sumeir.
“Thank you for saving my life. No other bull shit. And thank you for making me realize that freedom is so important. “Sumeir said.
“We are saying lots of thanks, today. ” Reema said and laughed softly.
“And we don’t even celebrate thanks giving in India.” Sumeir said.
They both holded each other for a while .
“This is it..” Reema opened her eyes & moved away a bit.
“When are you leaving ?” Sumeir asked.
“Tomorrow night.” Reema said.
“well..be safe, work hard and save more lives..just don’t trip around dead bodies anymore.” Sumeir Said.
“May all the sunshine in the world with be us. May you find freedom, May i find love, May we both be happy. ” Reema Said
“Amen.” Sumeir said.
Reema walked out into the late evening , basking in the last rays of setting sun. The sky was covered in beautiful pastel hues of orange, yellow and a slight hint of lavender.
There was new life waiting for both him and her. They had both saved each other’s lives unknowingly.