For Steve Jobs, and for myself.

As vague as it may sound, every time you believe that you can change the world, you tend to connect the dots with something superficially higher than you. Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s all you need in life.

Steve Jobs passed away today. When I booted up my Macbook this morning and opened my Safari, there was his image, with his thumb and index finger gently drubbing his chin, looking intently on screen. That was the image Apple had as they posted his obituary all over their website. Something about that picture stood out (note, it’s now my profile picture). It had a bit of age, one that showed that Steve has now aged, white beard accompanying him all over with a round-shaped glasses to go along with it. His receding hair gave him away. It was actually a far cry from the looker he was when he was still in his 20s. But something still stood out- one of elegance, a calmness that tells you this man’s always thinking, always finding a way to reinvent himself.

Then I went to Facebook and I scanned through several posts. The news of Steve’s death was spreading like wildfire. There were all kind of obituaries written for him, from a simple, unadalturated RIP to a lengthy description about how he was an inspiration. And then there were the slew of those who said Jobs’ inspiration to them was the fact that he taught them how to make ‘easy money’. I was startled.

Steve Jobs did not make ‘easy money’. Apple was not one of those easy-puny marketing schemes that a guy would be narrating to you while buying you a fattening KFC lunch. No, this was innovation. He drove a Mercedes because he innovated. And that story was not made of a bed of roses. At only 30, he was kicked out of the company, only to come back and save when it was floundering 12 years later. It perplexes me how much this generation has taken into this ‘easy money’ mumbo jumbo. For me, that term should cease to exist. I frown at every person who tries to persuade me into signing up for any such marketing schemes. No, this was not easy money. Please do not insult the value of innovation and creativity. I bet every other guy who sits and sets the motion rolling about ‘easy money’ never bothered to think about how to make this world a better place. Steve, in his own i-this and i-that way, managed to contribute, however petty it may sound. There’s no calculator to judge how much you’ve changed the world. But at least he did what he did with purpose. That’s what made him whom he was.

This is a guy who always wore a black sleeve T-shirt and a Levi’s jeans wherever you saw him, even when he is busy launching various products. This is a guy who didn’t bother to delcare how rich he is. For all those easy money schemers, keep arsers like Donald Trump as your idols. I’ll not argue one bit.

Because if your idea of making it big is all about walking out from a limousine and then spitting wisdom in a packed conference room, pointing fingers to the crowd and saying ‘you too can make it, you too can make it’, then don’t call Steve Jobs an idol.

Steve Jobs isn’t about the money. And he would tell you. Not everyone ‘can make it’. Yes, that’s a bummer, but that’s the truth. The ones who ‘make it’, and later leave an impact and legacy like he did, are the ones who can fall onto a bottomless pit and later come back up stronger than ever. Steve spent 12 years outside of Apple, never losing his vision for the company. That one ‘can be you’. But you need to be strong, resourceful, and above all always have a purpose for what you are doing. And if your definition of ‘making it’ is about how big a millionaire you’ve become, then don’t read further.

For me, you can have 400 million and still ‘not make it’.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a pen pal of mine from India. I hardly knew him, and he added me only after reading several of my posts and stories on my website. After I announced my forthcoming novel last month, he surprised me recently by sending me few cover designs for my novel, though me and my publishing team have already finalized them.

When I asked him why he had sent me those, he told it was his ‘gift’ to me, because I have inspired him through the little work I have done so far.

It was no big deal if seen in a matter-of-fact manner. I am not going to use his designs to replace my existing covers, and I conveyed the same to him. But somewhere beneath all this, there is this silver lining, that tells that one keystroke for a word here can affect or inspire one person in India, whom I have never met or spoken to before.

And slowly it dawned on me, in my small little world, I’m already ‘making it’.

As vague as it may sound, every time you believe that you can change the world, you tend to connect the dots with something superficially higher than you. Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s all you need in life.

Steve, you path may have ended, but the chain of dots you helped initiate has now become the tool of my journey. However small, even through a particle, we all live on via these connected dots.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Mother of all proposals 2

“What?” Jaya seemed rattled once she heard the news. She shook her hands so hard that the chocolate top of her cone ice cream splattered on the ground. “Shit,” she said, looking at it, “I hate my hand tremor,” she said, caressing her arms, which are showing signs of trembling. “Do you know?” she asked. “Know what?” he asked back. “That too much of shocking news can kill me?” she asked. She proceeded to munch off the cone, as he starred at her silently. She looked at him with a mouthful, and suddenly remembered what they were talking about. “What were you saying again?” she asked. “Err, no, drop the idea,” he said and started walking. “You want another ice cream?” he asked. “No thanks sonny,” she replied. “One name, one name. Sonny, sunny, kiddo, baby, how many names do I have?” he asked back. Jaya just smiled. “I can call my son whatever names I want to call him with. And he starts earning by himself and the first thing he offers to buy for me is an ice cream cone,” she continued smiling. Anand looked dumbfounded. “The business isn’t going great, yet, can’t you be patient ma? You have to poke me at every chance you get,” he said. She was still smiling. “I know there is a reason for you to be spending time with me like this after a long time, so do tell me, what’s the catch?” she asked.

“No, I don’t want to tell you anything.”

“Why so?”

“Because I don’t want to be a murderer. What I have to say is sufficient not only to kill you, but to burn you into ashes and roll you off that Ganges river,” he said, continuing to walk and reaching the car. Both of them got into the car and started driving.

“So,” Jaya opened up after five minutes of complete silence. “You want to get married?” she added. Anand was taken aback. He did not know that his mom actually remembered what he had told her just now, for a moment it seemed as if she had forgotten the statement that made her drop her ice cream in shock. “You remember?” he asked back. “I have my ways of calming myself, to accept things slowly, diversion is one of them. As you saw for yourself, I’m good at it,” she said, smiling again. “Is she crazy?” she asked.


“Yeah, like the all over you kinda type?”

“Far from it, why?”

“Because you are only 23? And it doesn’t seem to be an age where you need to run left and right to get married.”

“Maybe she is possessive, wants you to be under her control, under check, so she persuaded you to marry her so fast?” Jaya added.

“No, no, no ma. Ma, i’m your son,” he said.


“So what? So I won’t make such horrible choices.”

“I used to say the same thing when I was young son. And it was the very same me who ended up choosing your father,” she said. He sighed.

“And you don’t have to act like a good son. You did not tell me that you are in love at the first place. Now you show up, asking permission for marriage,” she took a swipe at him.

He opened his mouth to explain things, but she stopped him from saying anything.

“As I said, I need to take things slowly. I’ll ask questions, you answer,” she said.

“How long has it been?”

“A week,”

She starred at him for some time, without giving any sort of reactions.

“There can only be three reasons why we are having this conversation now, and you’ll get slapped by me for every one of those three reasons,” she said, and he braked so clumsily that the car jerked for a while. “Go back to home, and don’t open your mouth till we are there,” she said sternly. He looked everywhere else except at her. Slapped? It was his mistake in thinking that just because he had a cool mom who gave him plenty of freedom and guidance without nagging or ordering, she would just roll over and bless his intention to marry Geetha.

As he walked into the house, he was rubbing his cheeks lightly in anticipation for what might come. Once again, Jaya had the silent treatment to offer. She took time to settle herself, to change her clothes, and to settle herself on the sofa with the television turned on. “One- she is pregnant,” she started, while watching the television. “Two, she is an elderly woman,”

“Three, she is married?” she starred at him vociferously. “And the third one, is disgusting,” she said, as if warning him.

“Ma, it’s not the third one,” he said, took the remote and switched off the television. “It’s my life matter, don’t drag this on for 12 hours just because of your anxiety, quit fooling around with me,” he retorted.

“I might get a heart attack by the time you listen to the whole thing,” he added, and went silent.

Jaya looked at him. “Sulking?” she asked, while coming over to sit beside him. “Tell me then,” she said, with a broad smile, patting his back.

“It’s the second one,” he said.



She nodded slowly, calmly. She patted him again. “A couple of years don’t matter,” she said.

“11 years?” he asked. She clutched her chest.

“Ma!” he yelled. “I’m not dying yet you fool. But that could have easily killed me,” she said. “11? What the?” her facial reaction was one of a rainbow, full of expressions of disbelief and shock, and all Anand could do was to stare.

“She has this aura of boldness about her, an elegance, the way she carries herself,” she said, and he noticed that he had this smile on his face when he told her. His mother had crossed her legs, sitting on the sofa opposite, looking at his description. She had the whole lot of her medicines place on the glass table in front of them, including the injections that would be needed in case she succumbs to a heart attack or any mild complications due to her heart problem. “Such a drama queen,” he interrupted his own description, but this time he did not look irritated or annoyed, but was rather smiling.

He imagined everything about Geetha that appeals to him. “I like the way she makes decisions. Impulsive, yet with a reason. She never bragged about herself. She never shunned me away when she could have done so. She treated me like a man who deserves to be treated with due respect,” he explained further. She nodded. “You haven’t told me her name,” Jaya said, fiddling her fingers, looking at Anand as if she is set to judge him anytime soon. “It’s Geetha,” he said.

“And she’s 34?” she asked.

“And she’s a lawyer?” she added another question. And nodded again, and took a couple of pills and swallowed. Anand narrowed his eyes at her. “Ma..,” he warned her. She signalled him to continue. “Well, she’s good-looking and all, but above all, she is human and is ready to admit her flaws,” he added. “The fact that she is fighting Karthi’s case proves that she is non-judgemental as well,” he continued. Jaya listened to all of those descriptions intently.

Half-an-hour later, she walked into her room after her son had gone back to his house, having not told him an answer. She looked at the mirror, clenched her teeth, and let out a small shriek. “You gave me a husband who goes after every panties he could afford to, and now you gave me a son who loves someone who is old enough to be my younger sister,” she mumbled. “Iraiva,” she shrieked again, and laid on her bed. And then she called the taxi.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Mother of all proposals

It wasn’t until Geetha was packing her things the following the day that the thought of that young man named Anand who was supposedly interested in her came back to her mind. She sighed, but with nobody watching, she allowed herself to let go of a slight smile, before continuing to pack her belongings to make her way out of the office. She knows that this is nothing but a consolation prize. Nothing would come of it, she knows that much, at least she could brag about tha fact that a young man is interested in her. But he wouldn’t be interested anymore, if he thinks over the matter for a few hours, and knows everything about her rocky past, her current status, and the complications that such a marriage would bring.

She made her way out of the door slowly, her hands full with her bags and so on, and then she froze. Standing in front of her was a man who was staring at the signboard of the law firm. She turned around. Geetha and Associates. “You own the damn thing?” he asked. It was Anand, standing and asking a question as if he is a well-known friend who has just gone out of touch for a while. She did not know how to answer him, why he was here, and every other question related to his presence. She just froze. This was supposed to be a joke. If he is serious in pursuing her, he must be out of his mind. Why is he trying to defy nature? And she knew what that question meant. He is trying to do the very thing she thought he will never have the guts to do- to genuinely try and know more about her. He is treating this like its more than a physical crush. “Yeah I do,” she said, staring at him. “And that’s my name.”

“I know that much,” now he was looking at her, and he was smiling. “Can I walk you till your car?” he asked. The first thing that crossed Geetha’s mind, while nodding to his question, is that he will definitely give the same blurred, dumbfounded reaction when he sees her car later. And he did exactly that.

“You drive this? I thought Karthi was exaggerating,” he said, staring at her sports-edition Mercedes a little while. He allowed herself to chuckle a little this time. She found him cute. “It looks you need to deal with a lot of shock,” she said. “Listen,” she moved closer to him, “you seem like a very good person. It’ll be nice to be friends with you, to be your well-wisher. We can get to know each other, be friends, everything, but why don’t you just drop the big bang idea you have about me in your mind?” she asked.

His eyes were still wide open. “I’m not after your…whatever…lifestyle, wealth, if that’s what making you speak like this,” he said. “That idea, frankly, did not cross my mind, yet,” she replied. “Why can’t it happen?” he finally asked the question that was the main reason for him to come all the way to her office to meet her. “Why?’ he repeated.

“You know the numbers,” she said. “Yeah, they are just numbers,” he retorted. “I’ll get old much earlier than you will, you might find a new spark with someone else as soon as I turn 40, how on earth do I trust you?” she asked. “Wait, that’s another stage altogether. The question here is, I like you, and do you like me?” he asked back.

She sighed. “Okay, let’s talk,” she said, leaving her behind her car and starting to walk. He smiled in a sprout of excitement. She knew how he would have reacted though she did not see it. “Don’t get excited, I’m sure you’ll drop the idea after we talk,” she said. But his heart wouldn’t listen. He jogged behind her slightly and walked right beside her.

Geetha had never done this before, nor did she think the time would ever come for her to do something like this, at least not after everything that has happened in her life. Here she is, preparing to confide in a 23-year-old in a way she has never done, not even with her own brother, in hopes that he would shy away from her after this. His interest in her defies nature, logic and all comfort zones. How will she walk around telling people that her partner is 11 years younger to her? It would seem awkward and will attract even more attention, and unwittingly he will garner much much more attention if it happens. It might all break down as soon as it starts. This is as ridiculous as an idea gets.

“I know you think I’m strong, very verbal, straight to the point, professional, and you might have liked all this,” she said. “But you should understand that I am in my mid-30s, and that I have had so many years in my life in which anything could have happened. I can’t summarize my life, but if you think I’m all perfect, then you are wrong. If you think I never had relationships before, you are very wrong. If you think I don’t have fear and insecurities or wounds for that matter, all from my past, once again you are extremely wrong,” she explained. “I know it all sounds very disturbing, but that is how the truth sounds at times, and that’s what I’m prepared to tell you. If the idea of it itself sounds disturbing, how will the real thing sound? That is why I’m telling you, you are making a big mistake. At your age, it might seem that everything is possible, but from where I stand, I see things realistically,” she added.

He was listening to her explanation quietly, with a small smile carved on his face. He seemed calm; he ahd thought about everything Geetha is explaining to her right now and he is prepared to listen, and now that she is prepared to tell, the signs are good for him. “Do tell, I would like to listen,” he said.

And then Geetha unfolded her life.

It was drizzling lightly, as Geetha sat on the pavement and stretched her muscles after a long day at work. She was expecting someone. Everything in life seemed good now, she had a stable rising in her career, and her personal life seemed to be in a good stead as well. He ran over and kissed her on the cheeks, his shirt half-wet in the drizzle. “I can’t find parking,” he said, trying to dry himself up a little. She looked at him, wearing a broad smile. With his shades, his branded watch, the bouquet of roses in his hands, he looked every bit like the macho hero every girl would dream of in their teenage-hood. He spoke English with a British slang, was UK-educated, and he was 27. She was 25. They were so in love that nothing else mattered. Not even religion. “Amir,” she said. “Do sit, it’s raining, it’s nice,” she said, pointing to a small space to sit beside her. He smiled, and he held her hands, and then sat beside her. “It’s nice isn’t it?” she asked. He looked at her. “You are nice,” he said. “Shut up,” she retorted. That was the perfect life, watching nature drizzle upon them with no pressure attached, nothing to chase after, a comfortable life where money was not going to be a problem. And that love was there, with all of its sweet-talking. They have been together for a year. He was in and out of UK, where he also has a home and has earmarked it to be their future home. He has a small business running there with his friends, while he lives a comfortable life back in Malaysia.

“I have good news,” he said, maintaining the smile he had on his face, while looking intently at her. “She said yes?” Geetha asked back. He nodded. She was surprised. She did not expect her life to be this good- to be too good to be true. There seemed to be so many obstacles she would need to face in order to make this work in the first place, but their journey has been anything but rocky. He flirted, wooed and coaxed her. She gave in. They were together for a year, and now they were at this pavement- with him telling that he has managed to convince his mother of all people to agree to their official union. There were cultural and religious borders that needed to be broken, but none of that seemed like a problem here. His mom has said yes. She needed her own mom to say yes now. To more of her surprise, she too said yes.

For all of the stern opposition she thought she would receive from her mom, her mom seemed convinced that Geetha was making the right decision. Geetha was so surprised that she asked her mom why she did not bother to offer even a little form of opposition. “Look Geetha, you chose your path all your life, you did good in all of them. True, we guided you, but you made choices, you were very stubborn, you had things your way, and it always served you good. You told me that you love him, you want to be with him; you are prepared to face the consequences, and you have good time together. It’s a little hard, but if you are sure, you would help assure us,” she said. Her father, in his usual sporty manner, allowed his child to make her own decision, a practice of his ever since both Geetha and Yuva were young.

It was that particular summer that Geetha had travelled with Amir to UK to see their so-called dream house. And then everything crumbled. They had arguments. He said he never had a relationship before because he was afraid of commitment. It was convenient for him to have a relationship from the far land, not to spend all the time together, to have that comfortable distance between each other. Not getting too personal. Geetha was the same. She was successful even at a young age, she had her dreams to pursue, and never seemed like the one who will be devoted to her loved one all the time. But deep inside, that was what she wanted. She gave in to his wooing because he had said things like she is the best thing that has ever happened to him. She felt important. It was vital because he wasn’t talking about seeing each other or keeping options open, he was talking about love. If he loves her so much, he would be worth being with, she thought. But that summer in UK she knew some men could woo all they want and never actually mean what they said. And once he urged that they should keep options open. He expressed frustration without trying to take care of her heart. She was independent in nature, but she was prepared to sacrifice things for love that she thought very few people in the world could afford to have. It was supposed to be a fairytale. She is prepared to break the borders to be with him, she was even prepared with all her conversion papers. Then one cold freezing morning, she packed her things.

She knew, after a whole week together, that a man like Amir is just as good as many men who woo her from time to time, only that those people don’t mince their words as good as Amir. She walked out of his country house, where Amir has hardly been home for the past two days. She could see everything that was wrong with the relationship- Amir never knew who he was. He never knew he was not the type of person who will stay in a country house for a whole year. He needed Geetha to find out that he isn’t as romantically inclined as he originally thought he was. “Amirul, I’m leaving,” she told him over the phone before switching it off. He wasn’t worth all those troubles she would have to go through just to be with him. Because he is just as normal as others, not a prince charming she thought he was. When she returned home, she wrote him a long letter as to why she felt she should end the relationship. She never went to UK after that.

Amir acknowledged her reasons, and three years later, got married. He came back in touch with her, wanting to be friends, claiming still that no-one saw his flaws the way she did. He expressed regret she did not bother trying to change, but rather shied away- that he would have listened. She argued that her heart should have been taken care of. He wanted her to stay around as a confidant, because she could best spot his troubles. She still does it till today. Amirul is 36, married, and has two kids. He still avoids bringing his wife whenever he sees her. Yet Geetha helps him make the most important decisions in his life.

Three years later exactly his mom had used her failed love story to convince her that arranged marriage is the way to go, because there aren’t anything special is men. His name was Rajiv, was a good-looking, reasonable-doing man. He talked well when they first met, and seemed smitten by her. But then he stopped her from attending dinner with a client. Everything was fine as long as she was the temple girl wearing elegant sarees and Indian outfits, but arguments would crop up every time she switches to her professional mode. He asked her to stay working under her mentor when she was set to start her own law firm. She was taken aback. She was persuaded into accepting his decision. Then she stood back and analysed. With minimal things in common, it wasn’t worth sacrificing her social self and her career progress to satisfy his dominant needs. Two weeks away from marriage, she called it off. His family being an influential one, did as much damage as they could by spreading an image of her as a wild spoilt woman in the eyes of other extensive relatives and known people among the traditional Indian families. Nobody was much interested in considering her as a potential bride in any of their searches. She felt like a fish that was waiting to be picked out of the pond. She was much better than that. So she swam back in, and decided she would be herself. She asked her mom not to look grooms for her anymore.

“One did not like my personality and the other, I don’t know what to say,” she said. “There is no prince charming in this world,” she added, looking at Anand. She knew the question he was about to ask. “I don’t think I can fall in love, because I’ve lost faith,” she explained. Anand knew it all depended on him now.

“Look at our differences Anand, it’s the same. I have to make adjustments to be with you, so many things will be altered. Would it be worth that? What if it turns out just to be like the others?” she asked back. Anand got a little offended by that question. “I’m not saying you are like them, but you never actually know till you are there, you knew had a relationship before,” she explained. Anand felt vulnerable. He doubted if Geetha’s words might have truth in them. But above all, he knew one thing. He would be able to alter himself if he has insecurities that harm their relationships. Insecurities are meant to be diminished, not to be cultivated. “We can talk, worse come worse,” he insisted. “You will not give up, would you?” she asked back, sighing, half-smiling. “I haven’t seen a reason why I should. You told me I might to do so after your stories, but I still don’t,” he said.

“I have to make sacrifices in order to be with you as well. And I’m prepared.”

“But I can’t take another failed relationship.”

“You won’t know until you give it a chance.”

She sighed again. He is determined to break the wall that she had so carefully built around herself. “Fine, marry me then,” she said. He was sipping coffee and coughed so loud that he messed the whole table. “See?” she said, smiling. “Just to think about marrying me gives you a shock while it should be giving you delight,” she added.

“Fine, fine, ask me again,” he retorted.

“No, it doesn’t work that way,” she began walking away from the table to the counter. He stood dumbfounded as she paid both of their bills and walked out. And then, he did something he thought he will never do, run after a woman.

“Yes, yes, I will marry you,” he said, panting.

“Oh, will you then?” she asked sarcastically, hands on hips. “You think so?” she added.

“Yes yes,” she insisted.

“Well talk to your mom first of all,” she said. “Maybe while trying to convince her why you want to marry someone 11 years older to you, you would know what you are getting into,” she said, and continued walking.

“Fine,” he said.

She looked back at him in disbelief, chuckled, smiled, and brushed him off.

“Fine,” he repeated to himself. “Very fine.”

But at the bottom of his heart, he had no clue where this whole episode is heading to.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 11

Anand sat back quietly. His fingers rolled on the sofa, and he started pinching small pieces from the protruding cotton at the old sofa, he refused to look at both Sabhi, and Karthi who just walked in and put her bag on the couch. He blinked like a small kid.

“Why? You said something big happened?” Karthi asked Sabhi. Sabhi kept starring at Anand. “He’s out of his mind, I think,” Sabhi said. “Why, what he said?” Karthi asked.

Sabhi whispered into Karthi’s ears. “What the…,” Karthi was reeling in disbelief. “Do you know how ridiculous you sound?” she asked Anand. “I know,” he said, in a mellow voice. “But you are not going to drop the idea?” she asked. “Well, I don’t think I can help it,” he said. Karthi sighed. “Us being us, I think we will be hypocrite if we discourage him,” she added, looking at Sabhi.

“But he’s not gay,” Sabhi retorted, only to stop her argument halfway, realizing the point that Karthi was trying to make. “I have to go see her people,” Anand said. “You are talking as if you have an unwanted disease. You have to or you want to? Be clear,” Karthi said.

“I want to,” he finally explained.

“Go then,” Karthi said. “Since you are very interested in dating someone 11 years elder to you, go,” Karthi made sure she emphasized the point. Though she is shocked, there isn’t much she could do about it, and at the same time, she needed Anand to realize what he is getting into before he event starts. If the age factor will become a hindrance for Anand, he might as well not take any steps at all.

“You sure you don’t want to think it over?” Sabhi asked.

“How long will I think? I won’t find answers if I think, I’ll give it a shot,” he said.

“So, let’s go,” he continued.

“Go where?” Karthi asked.

“With me, where else,” he said.

“You go,” Karthi said sternly.

“Or take Sabhi,”

“Eh, hang on here, who is the one who actually knows Geetha better among us? Take Karthi,” Sabhi said.

Anand starred at both of them, and pointed a finger out, scanning between them, as if getting ready to randomly pick one of them. “Both of you are coming,” he said. “That’s final,” he added.

Karthi tried to raise an objection, but he interfered again. “Not a request, it’s an order,” he said, before scampering off to get ready. “I’ve never seen him this excited,” Sabhi said, blinking with her big round eyes, as if starring at something with disbelief. “11 years da, 11 years!” she added, as if murmuring to herself.

Karthi sighed and slapped her hand on her forehead. “Oh My God, what are we getting into?” she was murmuring to himself. Inside the room, Anand was looking at the mirror and murmuring to himself.

All three of them stood looking at the door of the firm. They were right outside of it, yet they were not entering yet. Anand was looking at the signage. Geetha and Associates.

“She owns the damn thing?” he asked, his mouth open with agape. “Didn’t I tell you?” Karthi asked. “That’s another reason why all of this sounds so ridiculous. You own a small computer shack,” she said, without suggesting anything. “Hey, hey, it’s a shop,” he retorted. “But compared to this and her Mercedes?” she asked back. “It’s a sports-car by the way,” she added. He blinked.

“Hello, she had 11 years head start. I just graduated last year,” he argued. “I’m starting to loathe the number 11, wherever I see that number I’ll be reminded of this,” Sabhi said all of a sudden. He starred at her. “So who’s going inside?” Anand asked.

“Oh God, we are not doing this time-wasting again,” Karthi sighed, grabbed Anand’s wrists and dragged him inside.

“Hi Karthi, you came in unannounced,” Geetha greeted them with her exuberant smile. Anand felt vulnerable being so close to her. “Who’s this?” she asked. “A friend,” Karthi said curtly. “You seem to be dragging him in here,” Geetha noted. “Oh, that’s nothing,” she said, letting go of his wrists. “I’ll explain to you inside, a short meet?” Karthi asked. “Sure, I can make time,” Geetha said, and both of them disappeared into Geetha’s office as Anand stood watching.

“Nervous eh?” Sabhi stalked from behind and patted him. “Too bad she didn’t have clients, you have to face it now,” she continued patting him. “Well, I think she has one client now,” he said, looking at Geetha and Karthi seemingly pondering over papers inside the office. “She’s talking about her case, isn’t she?” he asked.

“I think so,” Sabhi said.

“What a hype,” he said and sighed, disguised as disappointment, but deep down, its relief.

Karthi came out of the office sometime later, and smiled at them. “Well, the case seems to be going on well so far…,” she said, slightly hesitating. Geetha came out of the office, and walked in an opposite direction. Anand starred at Karthi. “This is what all the grabbing was about?” he asked, and all of a sudden he went speechless.

Geetha has just nudged Karthi aside, and hands on her hips, she stood starring at Sabhi and Anand. “I don’t want to be offensive, but not only you, but you friends are weirdos too,” she asked, and walked away, without an iota of emotional disturbance. No anger, nothing. Just a statement, and she was gone.

“You told her?” Sabhi asked. Karthi, still feeling shocked at being called ‘weirdo’ by her lawyer, nodded.

“I thought if anything, she’d sound me in the office, so it should be okay. But she did it here, in front of everyone, I guess this is not okay,” Karthi said.

“You are a sweetheart,” Anand smiled at Karthi.

“I guess we know something about her now,” Sabhi said.

“Yeah, she stings,” Anand was still smiling. Sabhi leaned forward and looked right into his face.

“Yeah, when she stings, you glow right, like this?” she asked sarcastically. He did not respond.

Shortly after, Geetha left the office in a hurry as they still stood there. “You told everything about me?” he asked Karthi.

“Yup, obviously that’s why you are weirdo now,” she said.

Anand did not expect a great reaction from her, so he wasn’t surprised. It seems weirdo isn’t that bad a start considering how impossible the whole thing sounds.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 10

Yuva’s steps slowed down as he reached the doorstep, and when he did reach the doorstep, he froze, and completely stopped. This is not a new routine for him, but something had to be done today, no matter what. He turns 28 in a week’s time and time-wasting will not be a feasible option.

He walked into the house, took off his shoes, and quietly got seated on the sofa in the living hall. His mom passed him by. And again. And one more time. As usual, she ran from this end to that end of the house, doing the house works that she often drowns herself with. After a while, she finally noticed that Yuva is indeed seated on the sofa in the living room, something that he has not done before. “Are,” she called out to him. “What are you doing there?” she asked.

Yuva turned around with a sigh. He expected a better tone at least. He felt this will not be the day afterall. “Go and take a bath, don’t be a lazy bum,” she added, still in an annoying tone, patting his back. “Wait ma,” he felt frustrated.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Nothing ma, I’ll go, a bit later,” he said.

“I’m about to prepare dinner,” she continued in her harrying tone. “I won’t die if I don’t bathe now, give me a few minutes,” he raised his voice. He didn’t like this. He didn’t like the tone he had used on her. “Whatever,” she grumbled and walked back inside.

He didn’t know what he was waiting for now, except that he saw the time and realized he could wait a little longer, and he was vindicated. Geetha appeared at the doorstep, both her hands fully occupied with her laptop bag, and obviously a couple of new shoes. She was wearing all black, and she dropped her Mercedes keys nonchalantly on the couch next to him before proceeding to place her belongings nearby. She had noticed him, and looked at him peculiarly.

“Oh, you are here,” she said.

“Why so different today? Aren’t you supposed to be seated on the dining table, all bathed and fresh like a good little mommy’s boy?” she asked sarcastically.

He starred at her.

“What’s wrong my little baby brother, anything bothering you?” she pouted her lips and squatted right in front him, as if tending to a little boy. Yuva got irritated, but he couldn’t help but let go of a wry smile.

“Why baby?” she pinched his cheeks and chins.

“You need your sister’s help?” she asked cheesily, as he remained mum. He allowed her to do all the talking.

“So? Any progress?” she batted her eyelashes.

“Don’t do faces. Same old story. You think that cranky mother of yours will come and hug her son when he comes back from work?” he said.

“No, baby, don’t get frustrated. Big Sis is here, to take care of you,” she said.

“Yeah, I leave it on your hands, plus, you have done it twice na?” he said.

She pouted her lips again, and made teasing sounds. He had no choice but to keep a wry smile.

“Wait ka, wait. My day will come,” he said.

“Is that a bribe?”

“What is?”

“You calling me akka? You want my favor so you call me akka. But nevermind, being the exemplary sister that I am…,” she finally stood up and started walking to her room.

“You can brag later,” he said a bit louder.

The family- father included- who is an independent businessman, had dinner together later that night. There was an awkward silence. Geetha usually talks, a lot. But today she didn’t.

They sat in the living room later, like one fine family, watching television. The boring part of the serial came. Actually the whole serial was boring- it was just their way of sitting together.

“Ma,” Geetha said. Everyone turned around, except for Yuva, who at that very moment, started biting his nails. The mother slapped Yuva’s hands. “Ma,” Geetha said again, this time, in a very unusual tone. Their father turned around. Geetha looked at him for a split second, and he immediately placed his focus back on the television. “Ma,” she called again before her mom turned to the TV again.

“Fast,” her father said in a loud whisper. He could not contain his anticipation. He immediately came and sat right next to Geetha. The mother looked on, blinking, clueless. “What is going on?” she asked.

“There is something I need to tell you,” she said, slowly clearing her throat. Her father was already having a glowing face and looked at her intently.

“I’m not saying anything until the most important person in question actually turns around and participates in this conversation at least,” Geetha said loudly. Yuva turned in a startle. He was biting his nails again.

“You! It’s you!” her father exclaimed, pointing at Yuva. Yuva looked almost embarrassed. The mother looked at all three of them, and her face reaction slowly changed.

“About time boy,” her father said.

“What, no, not again,” her mother snapped.

“What again?” Geetha asked. Yuva looked baffled. “Well, you had your two,” the mother said.

“Why are you talking about me? We are talking about him,” Geetha was getting enraged. She did not want her mother to do it again, she has already done enough damage to Yuva’s confidence as it is.

“She has to be a Malayali,” her mother said in a definitive manner, and turned back to her TV. Yuva looked bemused.

“Since when you put conditions?” Geetha asked. “What’s with this new habit?” even her father seemed bemused.

It did not make sense. This family of Nairs had grown up speaking Tamil even in their households, and the only thing that is Malayali about them is that that’s their culture. It did not make sense for her mother to put up such conditions when she could not even understand her daughter-in-law speaking Malayalam.

“Nisha Ratnam. 26. She’s purely Tamil. She’s a writer for a local magazine. Has a very stabil life. I’ve been with her for two years,” finally Yuva spoke out. And he gave all the details that needs to be known.

“And you are proud of that?” his mother asked him back.

Geetha looked even more exasperated.

“We will talk about this some other time, just give it some time, it might not last for him,” she said.

“Oh, what, I will break up tomorrow?” he asked furiously.

“Mom, we will speak some other time, don’t say anything else already,” Geetha said. “Stay quiet,” her father echoed her thoughts.

Geetha got down the stairs and peeked at the doorway. She wanted to make sure Yuva is not in the house. “Has he gone for work?” she asked her mother. “Yes,” her mother answered, and entered the kitchen. Without much ado, Geetha stormed to the kitchen.

“Ma,” she called out to her mom. “Yes?” her mom asked back. She was calm again, as if nothing had happened the previous night. “I won’t tolerate this,” Geetha said.

“Won’t tolerate what?” her mom asked. “Don’t you dare ruin his life,” Geetha raised her voice. She could still feel rage in her. Her mom looked baffled. How can she be intending to ruin her own son’s life?

“You allowed me to make my decisions and have a love marriage. Now you are denying him at the first time asking. Just because both of my relationships didn’t last till marriage doesn’t mean his won’t as well,” she said.

“I don’t want to hear any excuses ma, I don’t want to say anything further. I just hope you know that I’m angry at what you are trying to do,” she stormed off. She faked a early-morning flu, and decided to go to work late today, and waited until Yuva had left for work, all so that, she could finally yell at her mom.

She felt like she has just yelled for him. Her younger brother, who has lived in her shadows ever since growing up. And she doesn’t want his love life to be affected by the very same trend that has drained him from becoming the man he had wanted to become. She sighed. Her mom needs to know. And she wouldn’t want to know unless she sees her favorite child, Geetha, being angry at her. Geetha rued that thought- favorite child. The term that has defined not hers, but the whole of Yuva’s life.

To be continued..

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 9

Sabhi and Karthi walked into the hall and found themselves starring at Anand. In his shorts, he had squeezed himself to sleep in that tiny little sofa of his, although there was one much bigger right beside him, one that would allow him to actually lie down and sleep. His mouth was agape, and there was a sound of faint music. His iPod is still running.

“He does that all the time,” Sabhi said.

Karthi stood watching the bigger sofa with much intrigue. “Oh, this is his favorite,” Sabhi added, with a smile. Karthi followed suit. They sat on the large sofa. Sabhi realized that the sight of Anand squeezing and drooling on the small sofa was proving to be a huge distraction. She slammed a magazine right onto his shoulder, and he woke up in the startle.

“We have a visitor,” Sabhi said.

Anand slowly tried to recapture his consciousness.  He noticed Karthi sitting beside Sabhi. He slowly realigned himself, and let go a foolish smile.

“Welcome to our world,” he said, sheepishly in his sleepy voice to Karthi.

“Yes, your world indeed,” she said, and looked around the messy house, which was completely disorganized in every way possible.

“So you stay here a lot?” Karthi asked to Sabhi.

Karthi opened her palms, revealing a house key. Anand grabbed another key from the table in front of him, hidden under a cluster of gadget magazines.

“I don’t stay here, my parents will go crazy, but I come out of my house every morning under the pretext of going to college. They think I’m headed to the library, but I’ll head right here, whenever I don’t have classes,” Sabhi said.

“Well, there needs to be someplace I can be myself. And Anand is the only one with whom I can be myself. And now, you the second person,” she added, with a smile.

There was a momentary glimpse between Sabhi and Karthi, and Anand caught the sight of it.

“Lovers,” he said. He wasn’t smiling. He had a confused face. Sabhi laughed at him.

“You see,” she said, mildly, softly.

“He still finds the idea of us very odd, the idea of homosexuals. But he never judges,” she had a warm smile on her face.

Anand just stayed quiet. He felt like he had just received a warm hug. Sabhi patted his arms.

“Thanks,” she added, and Anand saw something he had never seen in her eyes before- tears.

He didn’t know what to do. He looked at Karthi. She noticed what was happening, and moved closer to Sabhi, and placed her arms around Sabhi’s shoulders.

“There’s nothing to thank me for,” he said.

“You’ll only ever get one thanks. Since you were so generous, don’t ever call me ungrateful,” Sabhi said, wiping her tears with a teasing smile. Karthi still didn’t speak. She preferred to watch. She liked what she was seeing.

She thought the world if full of judgemental individuals and that people like her need can only live with their own kind if they don’t want anyone smirking at them; but she was wrong.

Here, in front of her eyes is a man who couldn’t understand how it feels to be a homosexual, but nevertheless he accepts them.

“Yeah, thanks, on behalf of her, for taking good care of her till she managed to find me,” Karthi said.

Anand smirked again. He was never a fan of sweet talks. Moreover when it’s a woman saying it to another woman.

“Anyways, I need to go the law firm now,” Karthi said.

“Where?” Anand asked.

“To meet her lawyer. She is fighting against the school which sacked her,” Sabhi said.

“You going too?” Anand asked, nodding in the meantime.

“Yeah, I’d like to meet the woman who made the cover of a magazine,” Sabhi exclaimed. Anand raised his eyebrows.

“Who is it?” he asked, intrigued.

“You tore the bloody magazine,” Sabhi raised her voice, picking a small piece of magazine cover below the table near the sofa.

“Well, I needed some papers for the stuff…and, and, you left it here…I thought..,” he started mumbling.

Sabhi ironed out the magazine cover with her palms, and held it up high to his view.

“This,” she said.

“This woman.”

Anand starred at the picture of beautiful, young mature lady.

“That, is a lawyer?” he asked.

“Yeah, hot lawyer,” Sabhi said.

“I can’t believe you tore the magazine,” her tone suddenly changed to a girlish one.

“I’m coming,” he said.

“Hot lawyer factor?” Karthi asked, for the first time speaking out.

Anand did not answer, and gave a rather dumbfounded look.

“I’ll get ready,” he added, and went off to his room.

“That author called Nisha wrote a really good piece on this woman,” Sabhi said.

“…And he tore it,” she carved out a sad face, with a fake sobbing sound.

Karthi rested her chin on her hands, and looked at Sabhi.

“What?” Sabhi asked her sternly.

Karthi smiled.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Sabhi retorted, blundering away into a blush.

Karthi pushed the entrance door and the three of them walked inside.

“There she is, your celebrity,” Karthi said. “I’ll go meet her,” she added.

Sabhi and Anand sat in the waiting room and waited for Karthi to finish the meet.

Once she was done, she walked into the waiting room accompanied by Geetha, who greeted the two of them.

“Karthi,” Anand said slowly as they were making their way out of the firm moments later. He had a mischievous look on his face.

“Can I like, ask her out for a date?” he asked. “Who?” Karthi asked, shocked by her own suspicion of what he is asking for.

“Geetha?” he asked.

“Smitten? So fast?” Sabhi asked excitedly.

“Do you know enough about her?” Karthi asked. “Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me,” she added.

“Why wouldn’t it?” he asked back.

“How old is she?” Karthi asked, stopping her tracks.

“I dunno, 25, 26?” he asked.

“30 freaking 4,” Karthi retorted.

“Ouh,” he said, with a blurred reaction.

“Listen, you guys, I want you guys to forget what I just asked about, alright?” he said. Sabhi giggled.

“Shut up,” he said.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 7

Yuva waited anxiously as Karthi seemed to be taking up much more time than he had expected her to take. He looked at the entrance into the computer shop, he knew he had a choice to enter, and deliberated whether he would join her there, or whether he would stay downstairs.

He flicked at his watch, and realized it’s been a good 20 minutes. He couldn’t wait anymore. He made his way up the stairs, and pushed open the door into the shop. Karthi was there, seated beside another young woman, and a young guy, presumably the one who owns and runs the shop, is seated at the counter. All three of them seem to be having a comfortable chat with each other.

“Hi Yuva,” Karthi said, seemingly slightly taken aback by his sudden presence.

“Hi,” Yuva said awkwardly. He could sense that he had disturbed a flowing conversation.

“Are you in a rush?” Karthi asked, looking at him politely.

“Mind waiting? Or you can grab a chair as well,” she continued.

Yuva laid back on small wooden table nearby.

“Oh no, no rush,”

“I’m fine here,” he continued, still looking quite perplexed.

“This is my friend Yuva, by the way,” Karthi said, seeming to realize that Yuva is a stranger for both Anand and Sabhi.

Karthi and Sabhi looked at each other and let out a giggle.

“This is Anand, and that is Sabhi,” Karthi completed the introductory process.

“7 tomorrow?” Sabhi asked softly all of a sudden.

There was an awkward smile on Anand’s face as well. Karthi’s smile was much more genuine.

“7 tomorrow,” she seemed to robotically repeat after Sabhi’s suggestion.

Karthi looked back at Yuva, still wearing that broad smile on her face. “Shall we go?” she asked.

Yuva still couldn’t understand what is actually happening. He starred blurred about the whole situation. What he does now is that Karthi has an appointment at 7 tomorrow.

“Yeah,” he said, after seemingly taking ages to respond to her question. They made their way down from the shop immediately after.

“Your friends?” Yuva asked as they were walking towards the car, taking the chance to shed some light on what actually went on upstairs.

“New friends,” she replied, still grinning broadly, and taking her seat in the car.

“You seem particularly happy about something,” he kept pressing the point. His curiosity is now overwhelming.

“Well, wouldn’t someone who just got a date be happy?” she asked.

“With?” he asked, but soon his face reaction changed. He already knew the answer.

“Wow,” Sabhi was wearing a similar smile on her face.

“Okay, I’m happy for you, but it all is still a bit awkward for me,” Anand said. “You got a date. She is dating a she,” he seemed to be convincing himself rather than saying anything to her.

“I can’t believe she tracked us all the way here. Remember the amount of times we came across her?” Sabhi was still elated.

“Yeah, I guess such wonderful love exists even in these situations,” Anand said.

It was not the first time that either he or Sabhi have seen Karthi in their lives. They came across each other so many times previously, and Anand recalls the countless times that Sabhi had claimed to know for certain, without even talking or going close, that Karthi- just like Sabhi- is also a homosexual.

“It’s weird. I thought there always will be the guy-girl kinda thing, you know. Like you were girlish, I thought the other has to be more boyish. But she’s just as feminine as you are,” he said.

“Are you like, attracted to her?” he added.

“Yeah, why would I want a date with her?” she asked back. Anand nodded.

“I still have a lot to learn then,” he said.

“This is not science. It’s a feeling. You’ll know when you are used to it,” she said.

“And, it doesn’t always work out with the boy-girl thing,” she said.

They stayed seated, smiling at each other. “You guys exchanged numbers?” he asked, sarcastically keeping his smile.

“Shit!” her smile dissaperead as quick as lightning.

“You guys decided where to meet?” he asked again.

“Oh damn,” Sabhi cupped her palms and buried her head in it.

“Are you sure about this, Karthi? I mean, is this for real?” Yuva asked. The situation has demanded him to speak about the issue with her now itself.

“What you mean, am I sure?” she asked back.

“About your sexual orientation,” he said boldly, not knowing how much he runs the risk of offending her in the process.

“I bloody well am sure,” she said, raising her tone. She looked at him for a while.

“You will come to terms with it. I know people have a hard time accepting it. I don’t know why gays are easier to accept for people compared to lesbians,” she said.

“You are not a bigot are you?”

“Bigot? Well, that’s a big word…erm…no, no, not a bigot,” he said, stuttering with his faltering smile, as if the question caught him red-handed somewhere. And the word stung him.

Karthi looked at him peculiarly.

“Okay, if you say so,” she said.

“Oh…” she added.

“What?” he asked.

“I didn’t set a location and I didn’t take her phone number, didn’t I?” she asked.

“Why are you fucking smiling?” Sabhi asked, frustrated. Anand remained smiling. “Anand!” Sabhi raised her voice.

Anand pushed his chair back, and reached for a small sticky note that he had on the nearby shelve. He pasted the sticky note on Sabhi’s shirt.

“What is this?” she asked.

“Next time ask her to give her laptop before giving her contact details,” he said. It was Karthi’s number.

“Man, I love you!” Sabhi shouted.

“So, do you want me to go back?” Yuva asked, albeit involuntarily, slowing down the car. “You wanna pass it off?” he stressed on the point again.

Karthi was thinking. He seemed to be making inroads in his attempts. And her phone rang. He used that opportunity to keep driving the car in the opposite direction.

“Hi, Sabhi…wow…,” she suddenly sprang to life while speaking on the phone, tapping Yuva on his shoulder in her excitement. Yuva let a subtle sigh.

To be continued…

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 6

The sun is not helping. The blazing hot weather at this time of the year is not making life any easier for Anand. After a while, even continuously leaning against his car seemed a bad option, as the heat began to grasp his body. He grew slightly uneasy. And just when he was about to get frustrated, she showed up, with an apologetic smile on her face. She was shielding her forehead from the sun using her fingers.

“You waited too long?” she got onto the most important point without even wasting her time. The little ounce of intention Anand had in him to raise his voice on her dissipated almost instantly. She walked past him and reached out to open the car door. “No,” he said. “Let’s walk.”

“But why? You want to melt?” she asked.

“You want me to get stuck like a sheep in the middle of the flock, and wait to be slowly shepherded to my destination? I’d rather walk. Thanks. I’m fortunate enough I found a parking here. I won’t be as lucky over there,” he said.

She nodded with a mild smile and got back up on the pavement, and they started walking.

“Yaar?” she cutely started.

“Yaar..,” she stressed again.

“What you want you yaar to do for you now?” he asked, before realizing his shoelaces are loose. He bent down to tie them, as a smile appeared on Sabhi’s face.

She grinned wider as he wondered unknowingly what she is trying to tell. And then he caught it.

“Oh, no,” he said.

“No, no, no Sabhi, take you yaars elsewhere,” he stressed, and started walking again.

“Please?” she pleaded.

“Do you have any idea what you are asking me to do? Sabhi this is not a small matter,” he said sternly.

“That is why I’m seeking you help Anand. You are the only one I can rely on this matter. I can’t do it alone. I’m…I’m…too young to do this all alone.”

“Then don’t do it. What’s the rush now? Nobody’s forcing you to do it. You can do it when you feel you are old enough.”

“I am old enough for me to trust my convictions and feelings, just not old enough for them to trust me. That is why I could use you by my side,” she insisted.

Yuva stopped walking as he reached a corner. He sighed, and shook his head a little.

“I’ll think,” he said.

“When? After how long?” she asked.

“Now, Sabhi, now. We need to walk for another five minutes and I’ll think now, I’ll give you an answer when we reach the shop. But when I give you my decision later, that will be final, okay?”

“As you wish,” the smile reappeared on her face, as they continued walking.

“So, where do you intend to get your computer fixed?” Yuva asked. “I have been going around the town for half-an-hour now, in case you have not noticed,” he continued.

“What this is all about, may I ask?” Karthi asked.

“Just, meeting an old friend?” he said, feeling cornered by the tone in which she had asked the question, almost prompting him to just spill his true intentions.

“Hey, stop, stop it right there,” she seemed distracted all of a sudden from their conversation. Yuva was partially relieved that she is not insisting that he explain the reasons now.

“What is it?” he asked, trying to figure out what got her attention in what seemed to be a perfectly normal yet busy city road.

She did not answer; she peered at his side, through the window into the pavement for a while. Cars started honking from behind as he had abruptly stopped the car on its stride.

“I have to go now Karthi, I’m holding up the traffic,” he said.

Karthi looked behind, and then looked at him for the first time in what seemed to be an eternity of distraction.

“But I need to come back here, come around here again, will you?” she said.

“This saw a shop or something? To fix your computer?” he asked.

She did not respond. Yuva assumed that must be the reason for her sudden distraction. He continued driving around, wanting to come back to that same spot, and this time to properly park his car, so that she could go down and tend to her works. After that, Yuva would be happy to slowly touch on the sensitive issue- her sexual orientation.

But as soon as Yuva finally managed to get his car parked, Karthi disappeared as quick as lightning in the midst of the walking crowd, leaving behind the laptop that she was claiming needs fixing. Yuva was intrigued by her rush, and he got down from his car, attempting to follow Karthi, who, by herself, seemed to have a target on her own that she is following.

Karthi rushed through that flock of shops, she did not remember the name, but she remembered the location and how it looked it. And finally she was standing in front of a red-colored grill, and opening to a shop located at the first floor of a small shop lot.

She sighed, and took a deep breath, and she climbed up. As she pushed through the sliding door to enter the shop, she read the sign above. It was a computer shop afterall. And she had conveniently forgot her laptop. But that was not her main intention. She saw exactly the two people that she expected she would see in the store.

Anand stood up from his chair, just as he was about to tell Sabhi what decision he had taken regarding her request. “You are making excuses again,” Sabhi said, as he gave up the reaction of being astonished at witnessing something. Sabhi turned around, and there, at the door, was a woman in a red churidhar, with a sweet tanned complexion, slightly sweating, looking awkward.

Sabhi stood up and face the woman.

“I…have…a…laptop…to…fix,” Karthi said amidst her panting. Sabhi turned around to Anand, and he was already wearing a broad grin on his face. He knows. She knows. That woman knows. They all know- that that’s not what brought Karthi to this shop.

A convenient co-incidence, it turned out to be.

To be continued…

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 4

“You are absolutely sure about this?” Yuva asked one more time, with an enquiring look. On another day that question would have been laced with sarcasm and Geetha would have retorted, but when she looked at him back she knew for a fact that he was asking that question out of concern, and nothing else.

“Yes, Yuva, I can handle this,” she said, slowly caressing the bandages strapped on her arms and forehead, and pushing open the door with her right hand. She did not enter yet. The door half-opened, she looked at him and smiled, as he remained there, standing behind her. “I’ll be okay,” she said with a pleasant smile, and nodded at him. He finally gathered his steps and walked away. She pushed the door completely open, and right there was a cluster of crowd starring at her, all of them her office staff, gathered near the entrance. Geetha’s eyeballs rolled as she looked at them and they silently looked back at her. And without warning, a ring of applause, cheer and relief broke out loud. She starred down the hall, slowly negotiating past her fellow colleagues. Either they are truly rejoicing her return, or her return is being a comfortable excuse to make the firm premises a mess, she doesn’t know. But she knows that there is a woman sitting in the waiting room, where her prospective clients mostly wait for her. She looked desolate, almost ignored and abandoned as the whole office staff are busy tending to their celebrations. Questions from them were ringing in her ears, but she did not listen nor respond to them. She is still feeling dazed, but she watched the woman intently. “Who is she?” she asked Cheng who happened to be beside her at that time, asking all sorts of questions about the case and her health. Cheng’s enthusiasm disappeared. “She wanted to meet you about a lawsuit, and she wants you no matter what. We told her you’ll be back today, so it happened to be that she’s waiting for you since today morning,” he said. “I’ll meet her in my office,” Geetha told him, and walked off. The celebrations are a pleasant surprise nevertheless, nobody complaints about being treated as important, but nevertheless, there’s a job to do.

“Hi,” Geetha said, struggling to get her coat off as she attempts to make herself comfortable in her own office again. “Let me help you with that,” the woman came forward and helped take off her coat. “I understand you have been trying to meet me,” she said, finally taking her seat. “I’m Karthi,” the woman, said, offering her hand. For some reason, Geetha knew there and then that she never handled a case such as this, though she was yet to know the details of it.

Yuva waited at the foot of the stairs as he saw Nisha descending down the stairs with an apprehensive look. There was caution in the air. As she came closer, he blatantly held his cheeks. She stopped. “You want another one?” she asked. “What did I do wrong this time?” he asked sheepishly. “Then behave normally, otherwise you know what I’m capable of,” she said with a sarcastic smile. She instinctively grabbed his hands, took them into her own, and started walking. “Don’t be afraid, I’m still the same girlfriend, we are supposed to hold hands,” she said. “Where are we going?” he asked without a clue, as she seemed to be guiding him with a clear notion as to where she wants to go. “We are going to say thanks to your sister,” she continued walking.

Yuva was lost as to the course of events that are now taking place in his life. This is not the first time he and Nisha had fought, and subsequently reconciled with the help of his sister. And this is not the first time they are walking to her office right after finishing their works in order to thank Geetha for playing peacemaker. How many more times will their relationship stand these tides? How many more times will Geetha readily play peacemaker? He had questions in his mind, questions as to why the fights appear in the first place. There is something wrong somewhere, but now at this moment holding her hands again is a pleasure he is not willing to sacrifice by asking uncalled for questions.

He does not want to ask questions. He does not want to sit and discuss the direction their relationship is heading with her. But he senses that he knows it, she knows it, and Geetha knows it. It won’t be like this forever. Someday, they will talk about it.

Nisha pushed open the door slowly and immediately noticed that Geetha was in her office, apparently attending a female client. They had to wait. Both went to the waiting room and sat two seats apart. A beguiling silence followed. There was little skirmish smiles, occasional hesitancy, and everything else around it. It was as if they were just playing around with the idea of love once again, stoking the fire of attraction. Nisha, especially, was very much into it. She knew that she loves him beyond anything else she has ever desired and taken knack for in her life. She is willing to go through this emotional roller-coaster again if given the choice. He was worth it.

A knock on the door, and Geetha showed herself with a wide grin. It’s been a good 20 minutes, but Nisha and Yuva did not utter out a single word with each other in that period. “Hey,” Geetha said, taking her seat beside Nisha. A rush of blood woke inside Yuva, he felt left out. Geetha is the peacemaker, but she always harps about Nisha’s emotions. What about his? What is with these woman to woman discussions that they have from time to time? He glanced as they continued speaking in hushed tones. Giggles are heard.

“Hello, I’m here?” he said enquiringly. What is it that makes Geetha attract the attention of everyone, until an office celebrates her return, or makes Nisha forget his existence and immerse in a conversation with her?

Before either Geetha or Nisha could their attentions to him, another knock on the door came about. A poked her head into the room, obviously not intending to take too much of their time. “When are we meeting again?” she asked. “Next Tuesday dear,” Geetha said.

“Karthi?” suddenly Yuva woke from his extended period of dullness. The head was no more poking in. Karthi entered the room completely. “Yuva,” she said with a warm acknowledgement. Geetha and Nisha’s heads turned simultaneously in Yuva’s direction.

Yuva kept looking until Karthi walked out of the door. His eyes weren’t elsewhere. It wasn’t until he turned around that he realized that Geetha and Nisha are still in the room. “Err, like, we are here?” Geetha said. Nisha was looking at him enquiringly. “Collegemate, my junior,” he explained. “Oh, close?” Geetha asked. He couldn’t figure whether she had any kind of assumptions with the way she was asking questions. Worse still, Nisha is still being silent. “That was 15 minutes without noticing our existence, she must have been pretty close,” Nisha finally said. 15 minutes. Yuva did not realize it took that long for a normal introductory conversation he had with her right outside the waiting room all this while.

“Why is she here anyway?” he asked. “Thoda, 15 minutes, and you did not ask that basic a question to her?” Geetha raised an eyebrow. “I know it has be a court case, but what’s the catch?” he asked again. “She’s suing the school which used to employ her; they fired her recently,” Geetha explained. Yuva nodded, and walked back to his seat. “What for?” Nisha had that extra curiousity. Geetha geared up as if she’s lost for words to explain the situation. Yuva grabbed himself a plastic cup, and helped himself to some water from the fertilizer. The 15 minutes of animated talking had left his throat parched.

“Because she…I can’t find the right word…lesbian?” Geetha said, one word at a time. And with one cough, Yuva spilled the water onto his shirt.

To be continued..

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 2

Yuva looked stunned; utterly speechless as he starred at Nisha, non-verbally demanding an explanation for why she had deemed it fit him to slap him across the face in front of tens of other people, who are just enjoying this unfolding drama. What crime of his was worthy of such a punishment?

An impulse surged in him almost instantly to retaliate, but looking at her brewing in frustration and anger, he knew that she was sending a clear message- her anger is justified. “Don’t you ever talk to me like that again,” Nisha said. “What is your problem with me? Am I not good enough for you now? After everything I tried and changed? What else are you expecting?” He looked up silently, determined not to answer- she already gave him a punishment and if she’s looking for an explanation as well, she wouldn’t be getting one from him.

“Are you sure you can handle this, Ms. Geetha?” Prakash quickly stepped in front of Geetha and asked. “I don’t charge that amount of money for no reason, I’m expensive because I am a good lawyer, I’ve handled dozens of identical cases, so you can go ahead and sue me if I fail,” she retorted. “Appreciate your confidence, and fairly that is why I have hired you, but I believe I’m now talking about handling that car steering of yours,” Prakash glanced at Geetha’s Mercedes. “You are not in the right state to drive, Geetha, I can tell that much,” he continued, glancing skirmish at Geetha as she did another puking face, before straightening up and pretending- for the umpteenth time- that the whiskeys that he had whisked down her throat in that bar have crashed against her wall of immunity, leaving her just as sober and aware as she always is. “I have done this before, countless of times, my Mercedes will be fine,” she stuttered. “I have to say it’s rather about whether you will be fine, you sure you don’t need anyone to drive you home?” Prakash was kneading a fine line between showing his concern and professionally respecting Geetha’s opinions. But he knew she wasn’t going to make it home in this state. “Will you drop me then?” he asked. “I’ll come with you, some other people will be in my car,” he added. Geetha turned around, smiled, sat, turned on the keys, and did another puking face. “Hop on,” she smiled and said after straightening up her face again. Prakash sighed.

It was more like a dream. Almost every one of them is. Prakash knows it from the numerous experiences he had with them in his life. He did not become a corporate mogul due to inheritance or sheer luck- he was in the streets as well, huffing and puffing like others in the city, wrote motorbikes in horrible weathers, experienced near-death experiences- he was used to all of it. But was she? He held her wrists, and knew for a certainty that she has just passed out. “Boss,” his driver patted his shoulder from outside of the car. “You ok?” he added, concerned. Prakash was still struggling to regain full consciousness, but he knew what happened. He looked down at his body. He has been cheated before. You don’t feel any pain and you think you are ok, until you start moving and the pain sinks into you. But not this time. “Take her out, she’s bleeding,” he told his driver. The shimmering light of Prakash’s own car, which has been following Geetha and him all along caught his eye- he was finally conscious, and seared in pain. Accidents aren’t pretty, all the more so when you ram a Mercedes at 100 mph on a divider. He understood what that look on his driver’s face meant- both he and she are lucky to have survived.

When Geetha opened her eyes, to finally recall everything that has happened- the meeting, the drinks, the overdose of it, the drunken feeling, the sheer disillusionment of thinking that she could drive while being drunk, agreeing to risk Prakash’s life as well by bringing him along, and ramming her car straight into a divider after not listening to Prakash’s frantic advises to turn the wheels or put on the brakes. “Damn,” she said, aching with a little pain on her forehead. “Yeah, damn, you survived,” it was her lovely brother sitting by the hospital bed, arms crossed, looking ignorantly as she tries to get her body straight up. “Too bad you did eh?” he added. She starred at him with coldness. “Your sister, someone who was apparently born six freaking years before you did, my brother, is in pain. Mind helping?” she asked sarcastically. Yuva finally moved to help place a pillow on Geetha’s back as she sat up straight. “Yeah, it’s all of your own doing, you were too much of a smart ass for your own good,” he replied. “You told Prakash that you did it countless of times before? How lucky should all of us feel that you are still alive then?” he stared intently at her, and at this, Geetha smiled. Despite that frustrated face of his, she knew what that look meant. “Aww,” she said. “I know you love me so much, come give your sister a big big hug.”

“You are unbelievable,” he said, moving forward to give her a warm, hesitant hug, careful not to touch upon any of her injuries and aggravate the pain. “Your cheeks seem red,” she said, noticing a red mark of Yuva’s cheeks. Being born to the fairer gene in the Indian family tree definitely did not help him there, to get found out so easily. He stoned himself, determined to try and ignore the questions. “Yuva?” Geetha was persistent. Yuva’s silence meant that there was something indeed that he was hiding, that there is a story behind the red mark on the cheek. “She slapped me,” he said, putting a sad face. “Who?…Nisha?” she asked, and at that moment she stuttered into a laughter as Yuva nodded. “You don’t have to be so crude,” he added. “Well, that’s classic. Why? What did you do? What did my lovey-dovey-adorable brother do to her eh?” at this, she pinched Yuva’s reddish cheeks. Yuva glanced at her, brewing in embarrassment. “I’ll talk to her, gosh, do I have to help you two make up with each other every time?” she sighed, with a smile on her face. “What did you do exactly?” she added abruptly, the smile fading from her face. She knew Yuva must have done something to warrant that wrath from Nisha, even though admittedly Nisha can be quite emotionally driven at times.

Nisha and Geetha both have a good relationship, a friendship of their own. It is for Geetha that Nisha fought with her editor, to ensure that the feature she wrote about Geetha remained a cover page story for the magazine she works for. Nisha has tried, with everything that she could, to be the person that Yuva wants her to be- the way she talks, the way she wears clothes- all these elements she has changed for his sake, and ultimately, she believed, for her own sake. But she could not tolerate being told how to speak to her own boyfriend by her own boyfriend. Whom is she supposed to impress? Is she supposed to impress him with the way she talks even after two years of being together? It wasn’t his mom or anybody else who were listening to that conversation, neither was she cranky nor offensive. Why that driven need to ask her to change her speaking pattern during even a private conversation, in which, she believed, is where everyone can just be themselves without trying too hard to please anyone else? What is this love that requires a person to change so much externally?

The phone rang. It was him. This was not the first time that this has happened. He would ask sorry, and he did. It was not the first time that Nisha had conveyed her feelings to Geetha and Geetha in turn made her brother understand how Nisha felt. Why is she unable to relay her feelings to him by herself? What is stopping her? She smiled as he started being a boyfiend again who makes everything look normal again. And slowly inside her, she buried the questions that have arised in her. But she knew, someday, somehow, they have to be awakened again, and that one time, they have to be answered. But for now, ignorance is bliss.

To be continued…