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Stories to Stir your Soul...


A Close Encounter - Vijay Ch.


( Vijayender Ch, Vijay or simply Vj for short, is a B.Tech Work who has worked with Orient Longman Limited, The Times of India and Deloitte Consulting and presently working with Oracle. His interests include Books, Music, Traveling, Movies, Web Designing, Short-film making,Fellowship in Philosophy. He is at present working on a book .
Web Site: http://www.geocities.com/vjwpf2/home.html

)


Doubt is his default position in life. Conclusion looks a mission impossible to him. And when someone comes along and says, "Hey! you just missed an opportunity buddy!" he looks bewildered and wonders how the other person can be so certain that it was verily an opportunity. He's wholly destitute of the ability (if it can be considered so) to spot that precise moment when a potential opportunity becomes a certain one. This is commonly called dumbness. You need to have opinions and conclusions to achieve anything in this world; doubt won't do. To heck with it, nothing of that makes any sense to him. If one zooms out and pans across life, everything goes easy and everything looks equally important. Zooming in is fuss.

Anything beyond assumptions that yield to common-sense approach and anything more than the necessary practical confidence principle look vague and unnecessary to him.

If being a sceptic has invaluable rewards for the individual, it puts him in interesting spots in relation to the world; those moments when the world becomes a stage and he appears to have donned the role of Hamlet. When everyone is happy or sad depending on the result of the throw of a dice, he is still engrossed with the laws of probability. When everyone believes life can be compiled, it appears to him that it is strictly an interpreter-based program.

So, when this girl - who was a friend of a girl he knew for some time - called up and introduced herself in a most impressive manner, he sensed everything wasn't normal. There was an air of difference - that difference that any other guy would have spotted. Yet, he was not quite convinced. "Maybe it is just the way she is", he told himself and deftly calmed down. She is studying speech therapy. He studied engineering. She is still in college, he is just out of college and is working as the Editor in a reputed publishing firm.

Fifteen minutes into the discussion, she asked him out, for a treat. "Boy, this is it!" his friend yelled. But he was nowhere near such certainty. "What exactly does he mean by 'it'!? And how can he be so sure!?" he thought.

But life isn't that easy, damn it! He felt life had suddenly become a jet plane and was about to take off. Only, he wasn't sure. Is there really an it in it? Or, is it all just in the mind? Anything can happen; how can only it happen? He wished he could exchange his mind with his friend's and see what he really meant by it. But then, is it not better to be ready for any turn of events than expect only one? Why are people so obsessed with destinations? Why can't one just enjoy a free ride? His friend was beaming up with envy but he just managed to give a matter-of-fact '"Let's see" smile. Meanwhile, life was speeding ...

He readily agreed for the treat. "Where?" she asked. Yes, fixing a place is still there on the agenda. Contemplation - or its pretension - over, he said, "Pick'n'Move?" Done. He dwelled on the two words pick and move for some time, and left it there.

***

She would reach Pick'n'Move in twenty minutes. Take-off. No seat belt, nay, he doesn't have one, he is on a “Splendor”. Riding a “Splendor” at 70 or more is bliss. He loves speed. He loves the amazing control over the machine. He never had sex, but he feels it cannot be any more exciting than a ride or a drive. Statistics support, you see - a ride or a drive can last much longer than 'eleven minutes', the world average for the 'act'.

The act, yes - this is what holds the world together. This is the damned shit around which all the fucking vocabulary of love, relationships, family and society revolves. It's never about love, it's always about this. Take away this from relationships and all families in this world will crumble. Love is just the sacrificial utility that is butchered at the altar of the bedroom... or a car... or the park... or whatever. Love is just the path, the act is the destination. See, it's all about the destination. It's all a game of instincts; all else is simple balderdash. Some chemistry, more biology, and then mathematics - that's our life. Animals do it simple and straight. We just complicate it. The signal turned red. Stop. Freud said it all, why does he need to repeat again?

He looked aside. A guy and his girl, on his bike. With her hand firmly wrapped around his belly, her chin resting on his shoulder, she said, or whispered, or whatever, something in his ear. She giggled. He laughed. A typical programmed behavior. A for loop, that must have run a million times now for millions of guy-and-girl pairs across the world, across centuries. As it appears, and by convention, it is love. But what's the real story? What's on the guy's mind? What's on the girl's mind? Is this that it that his friend referred to?

He wondered what was on his friend's mind right now. But how does that matter? More important to know was what's on that girl's mind - the girl who would reach Pick'n'Move in another four or five minutes. Yellow turned to Green. Time to shift gears. The guy and his girl, with her chin still resting on his shoulder, went the other way.

He looked at the watch again. He is almost there, and well on time. Will she be there waiting? Ah! wishful thinking? May not be; maybe she really will be there waiting for him? Or, will she come late - as they say, like most girls do? Or, will she not come at all? Was she just playing a prank? Nothing mattered now, he was game for anything. If she comes, he will have a good time, and interesting at that. If she doesn't, he will have a good time anyway. He parked the bike, took off the dark glasses and looked around for the girl wearing red. No, she's not there. Not just yet. He went inside Pick'n'Move and checked the location. "Nice", he said to himself.

Confidence dwindled and doubt took over. Doubt about what? Sometimes, it's about nothing. It's just doubt. A mystical vagueness. He had been out with girls before and had had his times and moments. But this time, it just doesn't seem to fit in the scheme. The sheer blinding pace toppled him. He does fine at 100 on a bike or a car. Shifting gears and accelerating doesn't come easy for him in life.
He came out to check again, and the girl wearing red was just parking her two-wheeler, blue in color. Looked like Kinetic, but he couldn't make out from that distance. He took three steps forward and strained his eyes. Yes, Kinetic Honda. The girl locked it and walked towards him. Silky hair, neatly arranged in a ponytail. Svelte figure and firm gait. It occurred to him that he would not have just a good time; he would have a great time! Formal, appropriate opening sentences over, they settled for a place to sit.

He wanted to say, "You are amazing. I mean... you call me up for the first time, and fifteen minutes into it you ask me out. It needs either an uncommon confidence or a firm intent, or an optimal mix of both. Besides, you look gorgeous! I believe I am in for something exciting. What exactly is on your mind?" But no, he couldn't utter a single word about that. You cannot be so direct in life until you cross a particular line. Till that moment, one has to deal with life in an indirect fashion. She lead the conversation. You know, ever since the jet took off he had been behind in pace. He is now just making a desperate bid to catch up.

Predictably - yes, most of it is predictable; a simple while loop - the discussion turned to books. Even for other reasons, it was an inevitable turn, given that both of them loved reading books and, important, he was into publishing. Presently, the waiter brought her drink. She felt the glass . Cold it was, and she made that "Ooooh, so cold!" gesture. Suddenly, his mind switched frames. The focus turned to the superficials, and he hardly followed her words. The fragrance in the air - no, he doesn't know the name of even a single perfume that girls use, so it was just fragrance for him - the swift play of her silky hair against her shoulder, that sly glance in her round and beautiful eyes, the brisk movement of her lips, her slender fingers resting just a touch away from his - made him at once at ease and uneasy . He wanted his friend to be here and just watch how he handles this moment. Would he have made the move X or move Y? Unmoved, he still focused on the superficials.

"So which book are you reading these days?" he asked between the sips. She held the glass a while longer to her lips, took a long sip, looked straight into his eye, and said, "The Art of Making Out". Making out? Same as figuring out, just as he figured out the name of the two-wheeler when she parked it? It perplexed him that someone thought it was an art and wrote a book about it too! However, it didn't convince him. Maybe, it occurred to him, it is different from what he knows. Maybe her 'making out' is different from his 'making out'? Maybe it is about logic? Fresh out of college and into publishing he could not admit ignorance. He managed to package ignorance as curiosity and dared, "What is making out?" Giving that you-don't-know-even-this! look, she said, "Making love". Sex, buddy. He gulped the drink but pretended to be easy. "Oh O.K. !" he said.

He still felt he was behind in pace. Should he make the move? But which move? Any move can be tried in any situation, he felt. Gut feeling suggested he could ask the girl out again and she would agree. Three or four outings more and he can attempt to cross one or two lines of intimacy. But what if gut feeling is wrong? Nothing is absolutely reliable in life. There are always exceptions, and what if she is an exception? Maybe she doesn't have any intent at all? Maybe she just wanted to have some nice time and didn't find any guy else for that? And everything else may be just his interpretation? But, then, yes, it's only a maybe.

Time to move. Not really, but he wanted time to think. And he never asked what exactly was on her mind. And whatever his mind suggested as were her intentions, he brushed them off as simple, but probably true, conjectures. As they moved out, he executed the last statement in the while loop - he asked her if she was busy next weekend. Every statement in this while loop is an if-else condition, in turn. If she says yes, plan A. Else, plan B. She didn't disappoint him. "Call me a little earlier so we can plan for a movie", she said. "O.K great, it is working", he said to himself. Was this 'it' that his friend talked about two hours ago? As she was about to push up the accelerator and join the traffic to head for home, she said, "Call me up when you reach home. Bye!" And she left. He believed every moment of parting needs a tune, but no music played in the background. Traffic moved ahead, and the jet landed.

He looked back at Pick'n'Move once and left. Those were not the days of SMS and e-mails. Despite his friend's reminders and his own ideas, he didn't call her up. The next day, he had to leave for Mumbai. She tried his number but nobody answered. He played with the idea of calling her at times from Mumbai but dropped it. "Later" is the easiest excuse in life. Not that he was lazy, but that he didn't see any point.

A year later he returned. On a lazy day, he tried her number. Promptly, the voice said that number did not exist any more. He looked at the receiver for a while, and it appeared as if he was holding life in his hand and wondering what to do with it.

****

They were driving past Pick'n'Move - he and his friend. His friend pointed at a girl and said, "Look at her yaar! Sexy naa?" As he shifted his focus from Pick'n'Move and tried to look at her, the smiling face of the girl wearing red flit past him. The girl who still was a part of a close and unforgettable encounter, the fastest of its kind for him- it was an encounter that promised it, but whose options were all closed now.
" ”It” could've gone anywhere. There are n number of roads in life, and every road leads to somewhere, what's the fuss?", he thought. The signal turned yellow. And he was all set to move ahead.

***
- Vijay Ch.
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8 Comments:

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous me too said...

This is the first story i have read on this site. My first impression is unfortunately a little negative; maybe a little more time could have been spent on this piece. Small things jumped out like "Till" instead of "'Till"- the correct abbreviation for "Until". Some of the sentences didn't flow very well either. Also the plot of a stranger calling and asking for a date sounds entirely improbable. The character developement also popped up intermittently right before it became necessary. I found it was very easy to follow the writers train of thought, which is something that should normally be avoided.

 
At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as "me too" said, the writer's train of thoughts was a bit predictable. However, as for the "plot" well i hav a theory of why the girl wud call up a little-known guy for a date: maybe she was pissed off with her boyfriend and felt an impulsive desire to protest/make him jealous/...? whddya say vijay, u can write a prequel to this story on those lines :-)

 
At 3:49 AM, Blogger sumandatta said...

Well i should point out that "Till" is a proper word in itself meaning "until" (check out the dictionary if u like http://www.m-w.com ).

The abbreviation of "Until" would be " 'til " and not " 'till " as "me too" said; and that wasn't what the writer meant. He used the whole word "Till".

 
At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Rhea said...

Lucky Vijay got so many comments and I didn't even get one. May be Me Too can stretch a charitable finger and take a look a my poor story, i'm pretty sure it's busrsting wiv tols of nistakes. 'til later then.

 
At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

@me too: as regards "till", suman explained it so i guess it made things clear. as regards the plot sounding 'entirely improbable', i must tell you that this is a story done up based on a real event. so, it cannot be helped if does not sound credible. that it sounds improbable is simply because of some misconceptions that we have about the 'predictability' of life, and not because of any flaws in imagination. we tend to assume that life follows logic and don't find it easy to admit the importance of probability, and this plays on our liking or disliking a story/book/film. as regards 'should be avoided', well, there is no such thing as 'right' way to write. so, anything can be hailed as a great work, and, equally, anything can be dismissed as junk. 'perspective' is the keyword.

@anonymous: it's a written form of a real event. well, the girl could have had any motive behind her decision. reminds me of shakespeare's quote - "there is no art to find mind's construction in the face". we, however, have the habit of explaining away everything, so we indulge in analysis-and-conclusion model.

prequel? great idea! thanks :)

have a great day!

 
At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Akash said...

[ I think my comments are occupying space more than their share but I couldn’t hold myself back from writing them all here. :- ) ]

Hey Vijay !! youhave don’t a great job. The article is excellent ! I really liked your short story. The matter I like most is that you have gone more into the psyche of the central character and you have projected and linkd very creative & different ideas into eachother.

Well I even don’t know much about niceties of writing but IMHO this literary world craves for ideas & articulating them with proper words so they resonate the desired effect in readers. And the rest is niceties of writing. And
certainly niceties matters a lot but the soul of creation would always be ideas and niceties of writing is something that can be learnt by great practice and
observation...there is no big deal in it. The literary word is full of authors with their creations which look well articulated but merely present any effective ideas.

I can infer from some of your sentences that you really have creative mind. The sentences I liked most are …

@You need to have opinions and conclusions to achieve anything in this world; doubt won't do. (it’s a great conclusion itself), @If one zooms out and pans across life, everything goes easy and everything looks equally important. Zooming in is fuss.( excellent way of pressenting the “importance of vision” )@interpreter-based program (this words resonate the plot of “the matrix” in my mind, the very concept that how our different perceptions can trap us into completely different program of “effect and reson”, only changing perception at one point can effect the rest of concequences of action & result – can bring you into a different loop ..in ur own language of “loops” :- ) @You cannot be so direct in life until you cross a particular line. Till that moment, one has to deal with life in an indirect fashion. (this tells a lot about the character )@He wished he could exchange his mind with his friend's and see what he really meant by it. (that’s the vicarious instinct an artist must have ) @The signal turned red. Stop. Freud said it all, why does he need to repeat again? (nice relationship linking the effect ofoutside event to the inside one)@But what's the real story? What's on the guy's mind? What's on the girl's mind?@ Doubt about what? Sometimes, it's about nothing. It's just doubt. A mystical vagueness. ( excellent expression !!) @He wanted his friend to be here and just watch how he handles this moment. Would he have made the move X or move Y?@He believed every moment of parting needs a tune, but no music played in the background. Traffic moved ahead, and the jet landed.( very effective projection of character’s enternal emotions, values and expectations in just a single line)@"Later" is the easiest excuse in life (so right !!)

@ On a lazy day, he tried her number. Promptly, the voice said that number did not exist any more. He looked at the receiver for a while, and it appeared as if he was holding life in his hand and wondering what to do with it.( Here u win the game! This is the most effective dialogue of the story , again I must say you have very beautifully linked the effect of outside event to the event going inside the character’s mind…if one directs this thing into a film shot …the outside-inside linking and the background telephonic voice, “this number did not exist” makes the scence perfect.) @" ”It” could've gone anywhere. There are n number of roads in life, and every road leads to somewhere, what's the fuss?"

Hey do keep on writing ! the literary worlds is waiting for you !

Cheers!
Akash

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

@akash

thank you! you sure are generous with compliments :)

btw, you write well too. maybe you should try writing one. really.

have a great day!

 
At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vj,

An old buddy here. Why not write the story from the Girls point of view ? That should serve as a prequel and unravel the mystery of why she wanted to date him.

 

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