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Sometimes circumstances teach you more than anyone else can. A touching tale of love and epiphany. May 2016 Muse of the Month winning entry.
This year, we bring you the Muse of the Month contest every month. Congratulations to all the winners of the May 2016 contest.
The cue for May 2016 was:
“Doubling that peaceful sense of contentment was the beaming pride she saw shining in her parents’ eyes.” — Kavita Kane, Sita’s Sister
The third winning entry is by Kasturi Patra.
‘Are you sure, Piu?’ asked my parents.
‘Of course! I was just God-gifted. Why would I trade that for unnecessary scars on my body?’
‘But it might save someone’s life…’ My mother’s voice trailed off.
‘Aren’t you guys proud of my achievements? You want me to give up all this for the sake of some stupid sacrifice?’
I really didn’t get my parents at times. It’s a known fact that we are all born to die. So it is beyond my understanding why this was being made into such a big deal. I controlled my urge of shouting this at the bunch of people outside my house, some of them with young kids, shouting slogans, waving placards, literally wanting me to carve out one of my beating hearts. ‘Save A Life. Donate!’ they shout.
I am a rare creation of God. Literally one in all of humankind. Scientists are yet to find the reason why I was born with two hearts. And these people want to cut one of them out and save a life. Huh?
A razor sharp IQ, increased focus, exceptional athleticism, and a phenomenal metabolism rate – are just a few of the benefits of increased blood circulation. Why would I ever give that up?
My life has always been a piece of cake thanks to my hearts. Studies were never a problem; heck I could spend evenings shopping with girlfriends or going for movie dates and still top my class. I don’t know if they were jealous of me but all my friends were in awe of me. I, in turn, have had my fair share of dates. The fact that I had two hearts helped me there too. I could date both girls and boys. Like Woody Allen once said, ‘Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on a Saturday night.’
But there was a problem. I never fell in love. I could pretend to the rest of the world, but deep within the void seemed to grow larger till it replaced all hopes and dreams in my hearts of ever finding and experiencing romantic love. I found most people to be merely mediocre. My athleticism, looks, brains, always put me way ahead of anyone’s league. Initially, it used to be amusing; I could get dates at my beck and call. But slowly, I got tired of people trying to keep up with my smartness. Everywhere I went, I was the cynosure of all eyes. All thanks to my two hearts.
And these people wanted me to give up on the secret to my awesomeness! I’m no saint and let them curse me as much as they wish to. So what if I can’t love in return? I’m having the time of my life!
Nah! Go with your pleas to someone more noble! I’m human and I will savour the last bit of this deliciously rich life.
It was Rini’s engagement that day. I had a little over a year left in Delhi, as I’d been accepted at New York University (NYU) for an Economics PhD. (What a surprise!). I know studies won’t be a challenge over there as well, but to continue being the top dog, I might need to put in a bit more effort factoring in the best brains across the world that I would be competing with. And who wants such drama at this juncture?
These people outside had got a whiff of my leaving the country and hence they want me to give one of my hearts before leaving! I know I’m smart, but should I really risk not being a topper at NYU for the sake of a stranger’s life? I doubt how many of them are such great souls that they expect a twenty-year-old to be! My life is full of big dreams.
I’m beautiful, smart, and the world is my oyster. I aspire to be a world economic leader someday. And look how small their dreams are! Save a life when I’m thinking of saving the world!
My parents too have joined the bandwagon. They think it’s better to be a good human than a super achiever. But I know exactly what I want. I’m developing myself for greatness and they want me to embrace mediocrity at the cost of humanity? Screw it all!
I started getting dressed for the engagement party.
I glanced upon her while Rini dragged me to meet her would be sister-in-law, Tina. She was zipping Tina’s choli and helping Tina get her attire in place. Her eyes were a haunting shade of grey that seemed to tell stories of a long time ago. She was in a magenta silk kurta and faded jeans. Her face radiated a kindness and composure that instantly put me at ease. Despite her functional ponytail and simple attire, she could hold your attention for some unknown reason. Otherwise, why did my eyes get stuck on her when there were so many people in the crowd? Call it magic or whatever, looking at her I was almost about to cry because it felt like she could read my lonely soul. The only person who understood the pain that came with being almost perfect. It felt she understood me more than anyone else ever did.
‘Hey!’ That was all I could manage.
She held out her hand.
‘Meera.’ Her smile had the warmth of the winter’s sun.
‘Hi! I’m Piu, Rini’s friend.’
‘Hello! I am currently interning under a fashion designer in Delhi and I am here to fit the dresses for Rini and her family.’
‘At the cost of sounding clichéd, I feel like I’ve seen you before.’ I blurted out.
She once again flashed that gooey chocolate brownie like smile.
‘Your smile seems to come straight from the heart.’ I just couldn’t stop myself before my thoughts came out loud.
‘Thank you. I see no point in pretence. This life is too short, Piu. Better spend every moment to the fullest.’
I don’t know if what I felt then was love. It was like meeting someone you knew as a child, after decades of separation, and knowing that finally you’ve come home. Yes, Meera felt like my ‘home’.
‘You are different and I’d like to know you more.’ That was all I could manage. We exchanged numbers and she left shortly as her job there was done.
Sometimes everything goes wrong simultaneously and just when you thought you’ve hit rock bottom, things get even worse. Rarely, does the opposite happen. Hence, I didn’t know whether to call myself plain lucky or just God-gifted. Not only was I blessed with a bright future ahead, the only thing missing from my life was true love, and that suddenly appeared as EXACTLY the way I would’ve wanted it. The good news didn’t end here, though. While I was going to attend NYU, Meera was about to join one of New York’s fashion houses as a designer!
We came closer to each other by taking hesitant, awkward baby steps. It started as a friendship that grew too fast and kept getting deeper with time until we realized we needed each other, forever.
I know every lover thinks that their love is special but trust me, she was. Never before had I met a person who felt so deeply about everything around her. She was a bookworm and opened my eyes to the world of fiction. Till now, I’d only focussed on books that’d get me ahead in life’s competition. She made me read authors like Haruki Murakami and Jhumpa Lahiri. The more I read, the more I delved into a part of my subconscious that I never knew existed!
She used to teach a bunch of kids in a nearby slum twice a week, and once when I accompanied her I realized how beautiful it feels to receive love from strangers. She was an animal lover and one night she called me to ask whether
I’d accompany her to the vet as a stray pup had met with an accident.
Meera was everything I was not. Her kindness, her sensitivity, the way she understood others was what had attracted me to her. She loved reading books on spirituality and when she discussed her learnings with me, I felt as if I was being given a glimpse of a part of my soul that existed deep within the layers of material desires. The part capable of thinking about other beings and about the interconnectedness of the Universe.
She never asked me to be like her but after being with her for a while, there were subtle changes taking place within me. I had started feeding some neighbourhood strays, I sometimes visited those slum kids with her, and I started feeling for the plight of the less fortunate– something that never affected me before. Also reading for the sake of pleasure became the new thing for me. Life started getting better and somehow the void which I felt earlier, started shrinking.
It had been almost eight months of our courtship. We were looking forward to our time together in the U.S. which was about to begin soon. She called me on phone at 6 that morning.
‘Can you come over to my place at once?’
Her voice seemed to be coming out of a deep dark dungeon. The last ounce of sleep disappeared from my eyes.
I saw her sitting with her back resting on the armchair in her garden. For the first time, I saw my love look beaten and defeated. There was a hint of resignation in her voice, when she finally started talking.
‘I had been meaning to tell you something. When my brother was around 5, both his kidneys got damaged due to typhoid. The only match in my family was mine and I never thought twice before giving him my kidney. Heck! I’d have given both if that is what would take to save my little brother’s life.
‘But now, after all these years, there are complications in my body. I’d been taking medicines to take care of the minor problems, but they persisted.
‘Last night, the doctors informed that my kidney is damaged and the possibility of transplant no longer exists. I have around two months, tops.’
I looked at her calm face and the first thing that ridiculously came to my mind was that there was a spot on her chin.
I wiped it off and waited for the tsunami within my chest to settle down.
But it seemed that touching her magnified the intensity of the storm. I held her body while she tried to stop me from trembling.
I cried. I had no words to offer her. I just cried.
I smile at Karma’s sense of irony. Earlier, though I felt empty within, I was pretty satisfied with the material pleasures my life was offering me. Meera was my first love and she showed me something that was lying dormant deep inside me. The power to love selflessly. The kindness and the humanity that make this world a better place. But once I found those, she left me for another world.
I feel lost without her, and yet I feel more grounded than I ever felt before. I have just two months before I’d be travelling to the U.S. It didn’t matter anymore whether I’d still remain the topper at NYU or if I’d still be this slim and lithe. What mattered more was the incredible joy I felt when one of my hearts started beating in that unknown child’s body. Doubling that peaceful sense of contentment was the beaming pride I saw shining in my parents’ eyes.
Kasturi Patra wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!
Image source: sad young woman by Shutterstock.
I read like a maniac, like my life depends on it. I also write and
Thanks so much, Rummana. 🙂
Very nice, heart touching story.
Thank you, Ruchi. 🙂
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