Friday, August 15, 2014

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Slideshow

Slide 1

It was for the fiftieth time since last half an hour or so that he was clicking on that refresh button of his browser. Adjoining the refresh button was the address bar which read 'http://www.engineeringentrance.nic.in/results', not one of the most visited links on the web, but the day was different. Certainly it was. Rested silently on the side table rack, few sharpened charcoal pencils, a brand new; most likely unused; eraser, a partially blackened sandpaper and few old; but not so silent pieces of paper; bound together in the form of a handbook which peeped through the dust layer craving for his attention.
Gaurav; like the other 10 lakh aspirants undertook the most prestigious and coveted engineering entrance examination  of the country earlier this year. Many of his peers also gave the examinations; success guaranteed a 'pakka seat'; a commonly used term among the locals, in the esteemed institutes of the nation. His mother received a phone call early in the morning from his mamaji, who euphorically blew his trumpets on the phone that the results were out; Varun, his maternal brother had performed tremendously well in the examinations which was, but obvious with that early morning, once in an year call from his beloved mamaji.
Gaurav's mother was longing for her son's success; that she had been continuously offering prayers at almost each and every temple of Kannauj, holding fasts every monday since the day Gaurav went to Kota for his preparations. His father being a businessman mostly remained out of the country and had absolutely no idea about it, or him.

A slideshow of similar instances, memories just like those filled the hiatus between the successive refresh hits. He refreshed the page once more. The page rendered "enter your roll number"
Gaurav looked anxious !


Slide 2


4 years have gone by.
Gaurav was sitting all alone in the same room. He has just arrived home after his penultimate semester papers. Things have changed over here since the sad demise of his mother two years ago. He still remembers how he was unable to attend his mother's funeral due to some internship thing that he was involved in the overseas.
Gaurav looked sad. Gaurav was coming back home two years after the incident. It was some kind of important documentation; verification of some kind that he had to undergo in a matter of days. He missed his mom. Probably the reason he kept away from home; probably not. Gaurav's father as usual was away; making money.

Money's important! if it had not been the money thing; Gaurav wouldn't have been in an engineering college today, neither he would have been able to attend that illustrious overseas internship.
A chain of old memories went past him when the stinging sound of the doorbell brought him back to reality. It was mamaji along with Varun at the doors. Surprised was he to see them. He woodenly welcomed them inside. 
"We were told by Sarita that you were here", exclaimed mamaji. After his mother's demise it was Sarita who took care of the House.Now Gaurav understands the difference between a house and a home!

"Well beta, tab batao kaisa chal rha hai?", shot Mamaji.
One of the most obvious and undoubtedly absurd questions that people ask. The question went past an inattentive lost Gaurav; unheeded 

"Aur Gaurav beta, kya chal raha hai?" intensity of his voice was high this time. This one tore apart Gaurav's formidable defences.

"Sab thik hai mamaji…aap bataiye aapka kaisa chal raha hai?" An eye for an eye, retaliation it was from Gaurav…unintentional though.

"Bhagwan ki kripa se idhar bhi sab thik hai…"

"Tab Mamaji aap aur Varun yaha, achaanak; kuch kaam tha?", enunciated Gaurav.

"Tum to jaante hi ho beta..Varun ki job lag gayi hai videshi software company me. "
(after a brief pause)
"Package badhiya hai." Well that was the 'desi ghee ka tadka'; 'desi' counterpart for 'icing on the cake' or may be 'insult to injury'….who knows.
Gaurav didn't know about this previously,
He made a congratulating gesture towards Varun. Varun gesticulated back by shaking his hands with those forwarded by Gaurav. 

"Haan to beta bol rahe the ki…job to lag gayi hai..par ek dikkat hai?, continued Mamaji.

"Boliye", said Gaurav; a rather 'not required' labelled comment, knowing it was mamaji who was calling out the rules of the game here and it was like "I speak. You just listen". Bhanje ki kya bisaat.

"Haan to dikkat ye hai ki Varun ko ek hafte me join karna hai aur visa milne me dikkat ho rahi hai…"

"To isme main kya madad kar sakta hoon?", Asked a confused Gaurav.

"Are beta wo tumhaare papa se baat karo na…unke to kaafi bade contacts hain."

oh yes! Money; contacts…things his father spent all his life to make. Air of suspicion around Mamaji's yatra cleared.

Gaurav didn't talk to his father often. But he didn't want others to know this…he assured Mamaji that he'll talk to his father on this matter.

"Aur ek baat beta, wo hmlog mai aur tumhaari maami aaj raat Banaras ke liye nikal rahe hai…Varun ko kal passport office me kaam hoga to ham soch rahe the ki varun yahi tumhaare saath reh leta.."
even before Gaurav could answer. Mamaji went out of the house attending an incoming call.

'well he wasn't asking anyways' muttered Gaurav.
"Did u say anything?", enquired Varun.
"No.…Nothing ! Make yourself comfortable here, I'll tell Sarita to make necessary arrangements for you…and in case you need anything…you know who to ping now."
Gaurav retired to his room not before passing on instructions to Sarita.

Varun, unlike his father was a calm and composed individual. He was a cheerful, soft spoken fellow, a keen observer but not so spontaneous commenter as was his father. He knew when to draw the line. He talked sense. That was one of the reasons why he was chosen for the fresher job of marketing consultant at Future Animations California; giants of their field. They needed individuals like Gaurav.
While Sarita was busy making arrangements for Varun, he enjoyed the evening tea. Gaurav was to be seen nowhere.

Night grew dark and Varun found it difficult to sleep. He woke up and tried to find something to read, maybe that could lead him to his dream zone. Books certainly are man's best friend and if that man is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Engineering, to be precise a night owl hosteler; it truly helps. There was nothing in the room to help his cause. He went out of his room into the drawing hall in the quest only to find nothing. Rationale for the unusual wasn't that tough to interpret.

'Doobte ko tinke ka sahaara.'
He observed rays of hope peeping through the tinted glass panels of Gaurav's room. He straightaway went to his room. Varun wasn't surprised to see Gaurav awake or was he? The door was open, Varun knocked. Gaurav was rather inert to what was a pretty shock knock. Varun entered the room…only to find Gaurav in his own world.
"Do you have any novel or anything like that…I'm finding myself unable to sleep so…I thought ki that could help."
an unresponsive Gaurav was something Varun was alien to…he had seen him in his pre-college days…he used to be quite a guy. Charming, passionate….energetic. Something was haunting Gaurav and he was certainly not in a mood to discuss it with anyone.

"Gaurav, do you have any novel or books with you?",Varun sounded a bit loud.
"Oh…What? What do you need? What's the time? What is it that you need at this time of the night."

"Come on tell me bro what the hell has hit you? What do YOU need bro?", Varun wanted to ask Gaurav.
"What?"' Asked a baffled Gaurav.
"Nothing. I just came here to see if you've got any books with you."
"Haan..ok wait. let me check. I've also not been here for two years…Sarita must have kept those somewhere around here.", Gaurav talked to none but himself as he went on to search his old belongings. In matter of minutes, he found a carton placed on top of the Almirah; it had all his books and stationary.
"Here it is, take the carton with you, search and you should find what you need…in there."

The dusty Carton accompanied Varun back to his room after he wished goodnight to Gaurav, who responded back rather inattentively.

"Wasn't that heavy", muttered Varun. "Let's open you up Mr. old carton. Well, surprise me."

"Adventures of Sherlock.…, Gulliver, and what's this ohh.. Captain Dhruv. Sorry Captain you will not be required today, nevertheless thank you for making my childhood awesome."

he was recording in some self and the carton adressed conversations when he found out an old, though everything inside was old enough to be called OLD…but this one looked really OLD. It was kind of different from rest in the pack. Pages; clear victim of some rodent attack; as was clear from the torn Edge , bound together in the form of a book, a handbook kind.

"Well...well...well who are you mister?"Varun whispered.
He opened the handbook.

DUMBSTRUCK! SPEECHLESS.
And he thought of getting a nice little sleep after some book reading stuff. Poor he. 
It was the morning!

Varun left early. His visa issue got resolved eventually after the 'CONTACTS' came into play.
Off he went to California, The Silicon Valley.


Slide 3


Life goes on; two more years and Gaurav ended up looking after his father's business. What did not end was his gloominess.
Gaurav's father had grown old and now spent his maximum time at home; alone.
He noticed things he should have noticed before. He missed things which mattered to him.
He noticed that Gaurav wasn't a child anymore.
He missed Kanta. He spends his days in agony that maybe he should have been with the child when he needed him the most. He wanted to talk to Gaurav; Gaurav doesn't talk to anyone anymore; but to the clients; has no friends.

One fine day

Gaurav was awaiting an important call. As told by his father, they were giants of their field and a small step could be the game changer for him.
The phone rang. He picked up the phone.

"Gaurav ji bol rahe hain?"
"Yes.", answered Gaurav.
"ye ham RTND couriers se bol rhe hain. Aapke naam se ek parcel aaya hai. Shastri chowk se kitna door hai aapka ghar?"

"aap chowk se secretariat jaane waali road me seedhe chale aaiye. SBI ATM se teesra MAKAAN mera hai." Replied Gaurav.

"Accha Ji. ",Courierwala disconnected the call.

Strange! "a parcel for me…",felt Gaurav

It was a matter of time that the Courierwala arrived.
"Haa to bhaiyyaji. Ye aapka parcel. Aur yaha sign kar dijiye.
ek glass paani mil jaata to….hehe."

"Sarita! a glass of water please.", announced Gaurav as he signed the document.
The Courierwala left the scene soon after having a glass full of water.

Accompanying the parcel there was this letter from Future Animations, California against his name.

//

Dear Mr. Gaurav Khandelwal,

We have recently gone through one of your works.
.…

.…
yours sincerely,
Mark Vettel
CEO
Future Animations

//

"my works...what…how?

and they are offering me a job in their creative team too…there must be some mistake."
He looked puzzled.
He began to unpack the parcel.
He opened it!

6 years and.…he sat down on the ground. Tears fell off his ocean filled eyes on to the old paper…his 'Handbook'.

monsoon just hit the Sahara !
inside the handbook there was this another letter. This was unlike the earlier one, a non-professional one.

//

Dear Gaurav,

This is not a letter, it’s a confession. I know you wouldn't talk so I decided to write to you.

Life is a slideshow, it has got many slides to offer you…money, contacts, power.
Slides do form an important part of the slideshow, it is what people desire for; pursue. I too, have run all my life after these slides…one after the other. I never felt like I was missing something, leaving something behind. I ran very fast; probably. And when you run that fast you often miss a few things. I...like many others, always used to think that these slides were the slideshow but lately I've understood that alongside these slides there are these things, small little things called 'transitions'. The small moments in between which make life worth living. Adding to this, there is also this interesting and obvious part about slideshows; one day it has to end.
It is at the very end of the show that I realized that I've missed those moments…the transitions. 'Transitions' are the real essence of any slideshow. 

Baccha, I wish you should have done it earlier, maybe we should have allowed you to be yourself; maybe you should have. All we did was, make you flow downstream. Upstream; you were destined for. Maybe, I was worried about the slides you'll end up with, in your life. What we didn't worry about, were your moments, the 'transitions'. I knew that you loved  that charcoal pencil more than anything in the world. You lived our life. You selected the slides we thought would be good for you. A mistake, probably had been made and you accepted it to be your destiny. If it hadn't been Varun; maybe I would not have written all this. He knew what exactly, did u need?

In a slideshow, it is never any 'special effects' that does wonders for you.
The same thing goes for life, too. It's not about the miracles, It's often about belief in one's abilities. And a bit of support from the environment.This is a matter of chance that Varun figured it out; most people are not that lucky.

 Always remember one thing about the slideshow son, 
It is never yours if you don't choose the slides, live by the transitions.

 I'm glad that you're lucky; that I'm lucky. This is a transition that I don't want to miss.
You boy, picked up the most important call of your life today.
You know…I know…it's not a mistake; they've made.
I know that they can never pay you the world, but I know for sure…you will earn more than what I ever earned in my life. You'll earn those 'transitions'.

Money is a five letter term kid. Happiness is a bigger one. You'll earn happiness.

I've liquidated all my company assets so as to leave enough for me to die peacefully; the end of slideshow, and to make you go chase your dreams; do your stuffs; whatever you like. 

Beautiful transitions make beautiful slides and beautiful slides make a beautiful slideshow.
Make a beautiful slideshow for me and your mom, son.

And do meet Varun who's over there, without whom I wouldn't have realized that I missed so much in my life. And boy, your favorite charcoal pencil set is kept safe in the same drawer, where it used to be; don't forget those.

will not be able to write more…god bless you!

Sorry,
Papa

 p.s. I really miss your mom buddy and I'm sorry.

//




He went to his room. Locked himself in. 
He wept…all night long.
They wept...all night long.


Slide...


Gaurav's father, Mr. Sameer Khandelwal passed away, a few years ago, Sarita, now takes care of the trust; Gaurav's father left all his money with.
Varun is the currently with the Future Animations and is doing great.

Gaurav's handbook inspired animated movie 'Charcoal says' won the Academy awards for the best animated movie in 2010.
It has been time since Gaurav left Future Animations.
He moved on.…to teaching the minutes of charcoal art at the London School of Arts.
He has a 4 year old child from his Iranian wife Rehana (used to be his co-worker at Future), 'Sameer'.

Now Gaurav is trying to figure out what Sameer's good at….probably pooping now and then! It's all that he has been able to find out, till now.
'It will be you Mr. Sameer Khandelwal, who'll be choosing the slides for your slideshow and I'll always be by your side, Son'; 
He smiles at Sameer. The kid fires a smile back.
He looks happy! 

He misses them; both.


(end of slideshow. Press esc to exit.)




"aur haan! mamaji pooch rahe the : Kaisa chal raha hai?"
 please do comment.