Monday, February 9, 2015

Soul Mate

A short story written a few years back, was published in HT Cafe ......

Thunder and lightning.....rainbows and stardust.....the instant recognition of your soul mate. These were things that happened to giddy teenagers when they first met someone special, mused Kaveri.  Not to 42-year old happily married women with kids. Yet, amazingly, this was what was happening to her. She couldn’t believe it. She, Kaveri Raje, the always-cool-and-rational librarian, wife to Parag and mother to 17-year old twin boys.

Kaveri and Parag had a strong marriage, one founded on mutual love and respect, shared values, and a lifetime of shared experiences. True, she had always felt that she did not really love Parag as wholly and completely as he loved her. But then, she had always been practical and down to earth, never romantic like Parag. She had simply believed that she was incapable of feeling strong emotions or passion the way others did, that she was too much of a realist to get swept away by love. But look at her now. Here she was, completely swept off, by an unknown man at the age of 42. Wasn’t it strange how Life caught you unawares?

She remembered the first time Ajay walked into the library. She was busy working on the catalogue, when he approached her desk with a request for ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl Buck. She was struck by her reaction to him, from the moment their eyes met. He was a perfect stranger, yet, when she looked into his eyes, she felt as though she had always known him.
“Her books don’t get issued very often, so they’re probably on one of the back shelves,” she explained, as she put a search in her computer catalogue for the accession number. The attempt at conversation was more to divert herself from the way every cell in her being was clamouring excitedly. Cellular recognition, her brain told her amid all that clamour. She panicked at that.
“That’s a shame,” he said, in response to her statement. “Her books are so relevant even today, I wonder why people don’t read her,” he said with a rueful smile. That smile devastated her. As did his rich, deep voice.
Over the next couple of months, their friendship grew. It started over a discussion of Buck’s books. Very soon, Kaveri was amazed to realise how alike their thoughts were, and not just about books. Their thoughts were uncannily similar on music, on people, on life, on relationships. And that was the other thing. Kaveri found she could talk to him about anything on earth, and she could talk to him so easily. It was as though they were both always tuned in to the same frequency, so perfectly their thoughts aligned with each others’.

She had told Parag about the friendship right in the beginning. Parag was not the least bit concerned. After all, they had been married for 19 years now, and had known each other for 5 years before getting married. Parag often said that he trusted Kaveri more than he trusted himself. Kaveri was so clear headed, and had such firm opinions about right and wrong. It was unthinkable to him (as it had been to her till now), that she would fall for another man. ...What was she to do? Her extreme honesty meant that keeping her feelings from Parag was increasingly becoming difficult. Yet, how could she tell him that she had finally found her soul mate in Ajay? She had always had a sense of something being missing between her and Parag, and had always felt it was her, because she could never give herself up as completely as he had in the relationship. Now she knew that she too, was capable of complete abandon, of loving someone beyond all bounds. She determined to think things through and arrive at clarity about the whole issue. She knew that given time, she would be able to.

It was obvious that Ajay felt equally strongly about her. He didn’t have to say anything to her, but the way he looked at her, the way he read her thoughts, perceived every subtle nuance in her moods was enough to tell her that the feelings were mutual.

They met for coffee at Barista every Friday evening. That evening, Ajay was in a pensive mood.
“What’s up?” she asked him. He looked into her eyes with a serious expression and sighed.
“Why didn’t you come into my life earlier, Kaveri?” he asked. He didn’t say more, but she understood. Understood that he felt the pull as strongly as she did, felt that they belonged to each other in a way they never had and never could to their respective spouses. She smiled, as she had thought about the very thing he had asked her.
“Because Ajay, in this lifetime, this is all we are meant to be to each other. Dear friends.”
“Don’t you want more?” he asked, troubled.
“No Ajay, truly I don’t. I am just so happy that I have met you in this lifetime, that we have both recognised each other as soul mates. After all, tell me, how many people do you know who have truly met the one meant for them? We have, and when we are together, I can see the promise of all that we can share, that we have perhaps shared in many past lifetimes. The echoes of those distant memories of lifetimes of shared happiness reverberate all around every time we are together. But Ajay, in this lifetime, we have met when we were both married, with families of our own. This is the way it is meant to be. And I am happy with it. Let’s not spoil what we share.”

They didn’t say more on it that evening. Ajay was unusually quiet, and after she went home, Kaveri wondered where things would go, whether he would put pressure on her to change the nature of their relationship. Knowing him so deeply within her heart, she found that hard to believe, but she was disturbed nevertheless.

But the next morning, an sms from him cleared all her doubts. “Thank you, my dear soul mate. Thank you for helping me put things in the right perspective.”

Smiling, Kaveri busied herself with her morning chores. It was another ordinary day in her ordinary life, and she better not be late getting to the library.