I got a story to tell

In search of a Perfect Boy…

Who was never found.

Not all of us have the ability of interacting with people. Some of us struggle to frame proper sentences when we come across other people. I am living in Kolkata since I was born. In the same building with almost the same neighbors. I hear Radha aunty’s Labrador bark the same way from last 3 year. I feed milk to the same cats, who live near my building. The old couple living on the 4th floor still go for morning walks holding hands. I know everybody who are living in this building or so I thought. I would look at them from my balcony and make up stories about them in my brain. I am a reader, stories fascinate me. So I tend to find stories in the people living around me. Apparently “asking them” would mean I have to make up words, look at them and who knows maybe I even have to go through the torturous act of ‘small talk’.
My ideal day is the day when no one comes up to me and force me to interact. I would leave my building, without making any eye contacts, always looking at the ground so that Bhanu uncle, our security guard doesn’t smile at me or ask how I am. Returning home was no different, simple, keep looking at the ground and think as if Bhanu uncle or anyone present there doesn’t actually exists. I know, while I am always trying to isolate myself, there are people in this world who are thriving for this very attention. But this is something I cannot change. The characters in my books don’t ask me questions rather they just mind their own business while I intrude into their personal lives.
One ideal empty evening when I was entering into my building, I noticed a paper plane lying on the ground. There are no children in my building, since when the grownups are into making paper planes? My introvert soul became curious. I picked up the plane, there was something written something on it. It was not an origami paper but a paper torn from someone’s personal diary. I asked the most trusted person an introvert has, myself that what should I do with this? Should I return it to its owner or take it home and read it? ‘Read’ this word changed everything and the next thing I know is that I am lying on my bed and reading it.
The paper read, “Today granny made delicious breakfast, my favorite ‘parathas’. I had like 4 of them with of course granny’s homemade ‘aam ka achar’. Granny was wearing this sky blue ‘saree’ along with that sparkling smile of hers. She never lets me feel lonely by asking me every once in a while if I needed something or just how I was. Other people might consider this as something irritating or annoying but to me it felt so relaxing and assuring. I am really blessed to have her in my life.” I was surprised to read this which seemed like a paper from a boy’s diary. It wasn’t surprising because of the beautiful arrangement of words as it wasn’t written by someone exploring his literature skills, but the scribbled parts on it and the fact that it was made into a paper plane and then thrown away depicts that this person has a soft side for his granny but doesn’t want to keep an evidence of his this weakness. You don’t get to see such grand children in this modern world and because of that this paper was special.
Ever since then I would find a paper plane lying on the ground, in the evening as if waiting for me. Calling the trespasser in me. It was after 5 such planes that I got to know his name. That 6th paper read, “I don’t think anyone is as lucky as I am for having such a beautiful granny, aging gracefully with soft white hair, tiny body structure and with that big smile. Every morning without a miss she would wake me up. The way ‘Sameer’ sounds when she takes my name has more melody than anything I have ever heard. I told her that today she doesn’t have to pack lunch for me, but my darling granny is super stubborn and packed lunch for me anyway. My friends suggested to me that I should throw it away as we had a plane of having lunch in this fancy café. But I had that lunch.” It’s Sameer! But he doesn’t seem like such a softy from what I have seen. What does an introvert know about other people? The answer is nothing.
Now I not only read but also stalk this boy who lived next door and somehow I have not seen him more than twice in this year. First was when they moved in last year and the second was when mom forced me to go and give Diwali sweets to our neighbors. Sameer, a lean tall guy, always wearing black or dark green t-shirts with I guess that same black jeans, his never kempt hair and with slight beard. I know all these things now because stalking him became my new hobby along with reading bits and pieces of his personal life. Weirdly I have never actually seen his granny except for the day they moved in. I knew Sameer lost his parents and lives with his granny but the thought that he is so close to her and spends his days only thinking and worrying about her. Is it possible to find someone suddenly attractive? Maybe it is because I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about him. I had too many questions in my mind like is his entire day only surrounded by his granny? Doesn’t he do anything else? Why write your thoughts at the first place if you are going to throw them away? Why paper planes when he can just throw them into the dustbin? While his days revolved around his granny, mine revolved around him and his paper planes. Those papers had emotions, compassion and everything we only find in the books and not in real life. He was the perfect boy a girl would want as a lover. I wonder if he had ever noticed me, or at least noticed that his paper planes disappear. That face of his, I can’t believe he wrote all those words, oh such sweet words. He is perfect, the perfect boy a girl should dream about. Am I falling for him? A boy who daily writes about his granny, yes I guess. His word are too selfless to not fall for. All these corrupted feelings would creep into my heart.
I remember it was a cold January evening of 2015. I was returning home with the hope of finding another plane. When I entered from the main gate, I saw a big crowd. A night mare for me, but I have to go through, they were standing where my paper plane should be. I cut through the crowd to find a dead body. It was Sameer’s granny. Then I saw Sameer standing quietly standing away from the crowd. I don’t talk to people but something inside me pulled me towards him. I went to him and said “Sameer?” He looked at me, he was not in his senses, he was shaking and his eyes were almost red. He was not crying, I noticed some white powder like substance under his nose. And then I realized some powder was on his black t-shirt too. Suddenly I could not recognize the guy standing in front of me. What could that powder mean? It was drugs for sure. I could not confront him so I went back to where everyone else was. The little wrinkled old woman was lying there. I have only seen her once before this but that time she was alive. I stared at her for what seemed like a very long time and I might have stared at her for even longer had the uncles of my colony did not raise her bed to take her away forever. I saw her left hand was holding something very tightly. I struggled to open her hand and get that out but I managed to get it out. It was a paper plane.
It read “Today is special, it’s my birthday and like every year granny made “kheer” for me. I took her blessings this morning before leaving for college. My day went amazing, granny called to know what I wanted to eat today for dinner, I asked her to bake a cake for me because she already knows what I love to eat. Today I am going to obey everything she says because I want to be my perfect granny’s perfect boy…..” before I could finish reading I heard a police officer shouting at Sameer. I thought it’s because he was on drugs, but the truth is his granny died because of him. While he was snorting his powder, his granny tried to stop him. Unfortunately, when she tried to stop him he pushed her, so hard that she fell head first and the old lady could not survive through it. Unbelievable isn’t it? I thought the same that he isn’t the Sameer I have been reading about. It turns out that day he didn’t take any lunch to college instead he threw it away. He would always shout at her for waking him up in the morning, would disrespect her. The crowd murmuring all these things around me, as if there were two Sameer, one which the entire building knows and the one I almost fell for.
That night I could not sleep, around 2 I heard a car’s horn. I peeped from my balcony to find that Sameer was dumping huge heaps of papers in the trunk. I thought to myself that those must belong to his granny. I rushed down and ask Sameer if I could go through them. He seemed reluctant so I just went for it. There were journals, poems, writings etc. these were just as precious as any jewel and that handwriting. I found out that the Sameer I was looking for only lives on paper. It was she herself penning down about her perfect boy who never actually existed. That note in her hand was her last attempt of finding him. The Sameer she lost along with her son and daughter-in-law. I took as much of it as I could and read them all. And my favorite, which I still have with myself, is an empty diary which has some missing some pages. Just like some of our lives, where we create our own reality and then tear them off from our heart.

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Shreyasha Banerjee

I hardly can write, sentences that don't rhyme. As words construct my soul, poetry being it's hymn.

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