The woman he had no intentions of loving, but who he did love, hopelessly. The woman he had no intentions of dating, but had ended up committing himself to. The woman who had always been four years elder to him, but realised it only when she was about to hit London for a PG course. The woman who had gotten into the car, without looking back once as he stood there on the empty streets outside the institute, nursing a broken heart.
Akkie's relationships have followed a trial and error pattern. He finally meets the one woman who completes him. They both plan their "dream wedding", only the wedding turns out to be anything but a dream! As Akkie tries to placate his agitated bride three days before their wedding, his past catches up with him, spelling disaster after disaster. The crunching blow comes, when the son of his first ever girlfriend calls him "Papa" in the room filled to capacity with the bride's family. The wedding gets called off. But Akkie knows, there is no one else for him, but her.
Clicking away on the keyboard, conjuring thoughts and shaping them into words, has been her passion and vocation for close to a decade now. As a journalist, a copywriter and an avid blogger, Hitesha has played enough with words to make people sit up and take notice. She believes that everyday situations make some of the best stories. May it be her exploratory stint as an English teacher in Germany, or her rigorous schedule as the Managing Director of SPARC (Society for Protection and Rehabilitation of Children), generously talented Hitesha has always had an eye to cut through the routine and see life in its minutest vivid details. This is what reflects so effortlessly across her writings. Also, being a professional psychologist lends a certain flair to her writing talent as she weaves different characters and their unique perspectives into wonderfully engaging narratives.
Flowers and More
An Indian trudging along the snowy streets of Munich, with no particular direction in mind and eventually landing at one of the pubs, suddenly realising he frequents it much more than the home of any friend, is quite similar to an Indian walking along the streets of a winter night in Jodhpur, with no particular direction in mind and eventually landing at one of the all night dhabas, suddenly realising he frequents it more than his home teemed with relatives. It's the need to fit right into the social clique, which actually keeps him away from it. The need to impress everybody, to be admired, to be popular, this need to be accepted is so strong that he would in fact go to any length to achieve this. And often, he wants to achieve this without appearing to be quite eager to do so. He has to, at least for the sake of appearances, appear to be a natural at it. No matter how long Akkie had stayed outside India and no matter how many banks opened their NRI accounts for him to exploit, in a social circle, he would always be evaluated as an Indian. Whether he consciously realised it or not, he wanted to make every single Indian spread across Jodhpur, proud of this little Indian boy flung far away from home. So he had to impress the people he was with, do the right things, say the right words, use a fork and spoon with finesse, make intelligent conversation, so that when he left, his hosts were already making a mental note to invite him all over again. All of this can be quite a responsibility even at thirty-three. He had spent years grooming himself. Taking his cue from those around him, mentally registering them and unconsciously emulating them at the next possible opportunity. He knew the unspoken rules of fine dining and the slight differences which separated them from a casual dinner with the family or a friend. But every now and then, he still was flummoxed. He often found himself pondering over the right thing to do. Like right now, he knew he had to pick one of the finest bottles of French wine to carry with him to dinner at Max's, but he did not know which flowers to pick for his two week old bride. Max, was as German as Germans could get. He worked as an engineer, in the same firm as Akkie's. Though their fields were vastly different, a love for books bound them. Often they would step out to grab lunch and end up discussing the merits of a particular book written in either German or English. Max was vastly flattered by Akkie's interest in the German culture. He would spend hours explaining traditions and outlining the history of Germany to Akkie. To his credit, Akkie, was genuinely interested in getting to know more about the country he seemed to be spending much more time in, than he had originally planned to. They would spend pleasant summer evenings swapping stories about differences in cultures, each proud of his own origins. After about a year of splendid evenings, Max started inviting Akkie over to his home, to experience first hand the joy of Christmas or the fun of Easter. Akkie soon became like an adopted brother to Max and the best man at his wedding two weeks ago. So when Nati, Max's wife, had called him last evening, apologising that she hadn't spent much time with him at the wedding and had invited him over for dinner, he hadn't refused. He had met Nati quite often, while she was dating Max. She was a very colourful woman, always cheerful and he had envied Max for having her in his life. But now that they were married, Akkie suddenly seemed at a loss for doing the right thing. Nati, Max's girlfriend and Nati, Max's wife were definitely etched as two different personalities in his mind. As he stood at the florist, eyeing the array of bright flowers, his confusion multiplied. Out of habit, he headed towards the crimson roses. Almost all the women in his life, who had mostly been single, had invariably been flattered when he had presented them with a bouquet of red roses interspersed with a sprinkling of white nameless dots of flowers. They could not stop gushing over the thoughtfulness behind the gesture and always felt a little overwhelmed by this romantic streak in him. The old lady who owned the store recognised him and stooped to arrange the bouquet he had favoured all along. Nein, Danke he stopped her with his no thanks. Nicht diesesmal! Not this time. He remembered a long discussion he had with Max about a year ago, when he had just met Nati. They had been discussing why red roses were considered as a gesture of undying love or a tribute to romance. Both of them were convinced that it had to do with the colour red, which signified a burning desire or passion or the thrill of an adventure which brings along with it, a sense of danger. It had however nothing to do with the rose itself. They were convinced that there were flowers prettier than the rose, flocking the florists these days. But it had to be red roses, because Shakespeare or Napoleon Bonaparte had created historical romances using a red rose. So for the joy of a romance rich with history, girls still craved red roses, hoping their mere presence, would add a touch of mystical magic to their very urban romances. After discussing at length and establishing the unshakeable position of red roses as the symbol of romance, it would be churlish to present them to his wife. He was positive, Nati being herself, would swoon over the flowers, but he did not want to offend Max, who would be doing a mental revision of the very same discussion, which had just crossed Akkie's mind. Roses were definitely out. So if not roses, then what? The Red Dahlias looked very pretty sitting there inviting to be picked. While they were not as romantic as the roses, they were also not as expensive. He was visiting them with a very expensive bottle of wine. He really could not team them up with not-so-expensive Dahlias! Though Max would never notice the difference, Nati would sure point it out to him in a post-dinner cosy conversation. She would snuggle up to him and say, I don't know, I don't think Akkie really has good taste in flowers! Or maybe he was just trying to balance out his pockets! And she would giggle as if it did not matter. Akkie could still live with the knowledge that Nati thought he had no sense with flowers, but he could not live thinking that she had classified him as some stingy Indian. Dahlias wouldn't do. He once again included Roses in his thoughts. Maybe Red Roses were out, but he could see a sprinkling of beautiful pink roses. He also noticed that two people had walked in after him, given him curious looks as he stood there eyeing the flowers, made their decisions, had their flowers wrapped and walked out. What did pink roses signify? Nothing. Of course, he could make up a million things right there on the spot. But how would he explain them to Nati or Max? And in the absence of his explanations, pink roses looked like a thoughtless act. Like something he picked in a rush to get to their place and hadn't paused to give much thought to. And he didn't want to offend the new bride with a thoughtless gift. Pink roses were out. He put his hands on his hips and exhaled loudly, causing some of the blossoms closer to him to stir in their long vases. He looked around seeking help, not knowing who would actually be able to help him with this dilemma. Need help? she asked He turned around to face a complete stranger. Her rosy complexion complemented her jet black eyes, highlighting her Indian origins. Her hair was slightly wind blown and hung in careless curls around her shoulders. She was smiling at him, an open smile which said she genuinely wanted to help. He glanced quickly at his watch, he didn't want to be late for dinner, Max was very keen on punctuality. But he didn't want to miss out on a chance with a conversation with this seemingly beautiful Indian in the strange city of Munich. Getting late? she enquired still with a smile, noting his gesture. I need to pick flowers for a two-week-old bride. A good friend's wife actually, he said welcoming both her conversation and her help. Ah! And red roses are too romantic, yellow a little confused, pink insignificant, dahlias and gerberas look inexpensive, carnations don't quite make the mark, she paused in her speech, cocked her head and looked at him, How am I doing so far? He laughed. Not because he was expected to, but because she really made him laugh. I am not sure I know so many flowers, he confessed, But you are spot on, on the confusion bit of it. She walked him to a section of the store and began plucking some flowers from the vase and grouping them together. Pick orchids, she suggested, They are beautiful. They are a sign of respect. They say I admire you because you stand out from the rest, just like me. They say I know you are tough, just like me. They say you don't deserve a mere rose or a lily or something fancy, you deserve something more, something which shows a strength of character. You deserve me. She stopped and handed him a very elegant bouquet of blue orchids, laced with a spattering of green and yellow tiny flowers. They did look beautiful. He was mesmerised. He looked from the flowers to her; she was looking at him with an expectant smile. They are perfect! he exclaimed and walked to the counter to have them wrapped. She loitered near the counter, picking some perfectly white lilies and bright orange carnations. Do the orchids really signify all that? He asked still enveloped by the magic of her words. She laughed, To me they do. Every flower speaks something to the woman you gift it to. So no matter which flower you pick, it all depends on the woman. She moved further away to gather some button roses to add to her collection. On an impulse he picked up a purple orchid from a vase nearby and paid for it. On his way out, he stopped by her side and tapped her shoulder. Offering that single bulb of purple orchid to her, he said, This one for you!