spoon

Dusk

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He smiled.

It was a smile of victory, of contentment. The most genuine smiles are often priceless, as they are not easy to come by. Sometimes it takes years of hard work, sometimes a happy memory. In Prawal’s case, it was the former.

Excellence is achieved not only through hard work, but by being passionate about something; by being crazy about something you love the most. Prawal had somehow known this since his childhood.

When he was just a five year old little brat, all he wanted to do all the time was play cricket. One evening when he came back home after a game, his mother, like everyday, had immediately dragged him to the bathroom. She had then asked him casually while giving him a bath, “What do you want to do when you grow up, my dear?” And Prawal, who was wearing nothing but a smile, had replied in the same casual manner, “I want to play Cricket.” His mother had simply laughed, and he had kept mum.

Now, fifteen years later, he was still smiling, holding the cell phone in his left hand. It was just seven-thirty in the morning, and he had woken up to the most exciting news of his life. He had been selected for the National Cricket team. Only his mother wasn’t alive to enjoy his success.

He was enjoying the moment. Though the call had gotten over, he was still holding the phone and smiling. Some of his friends noticed him and whistled. It was February 14th. Love was all around, and his friends’ thoughts were that of a conventional mind.

He finally kept his cell phone back in his pocket and walked back into his hostel room. He needed to be alone. The first few moments of one’s greatest happiness should be spent with oneself, and that’s exactly what he was doing. It was Valentine’s Day, and he was in love – with himself.

Falling in love with oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

***

He loved himself very much, and that’s the reason he could give so much love to her – to Ananya.

Ananya!

He had to tell her the news. She would be so happy for him, he knew. She had dreamed of it along with him. Except for her, there wasn’t anybody in his life. She was one, she was all.

He got dressed up, and just when he was about to go, his cell phone rang. It was an unknown number.

***

“Tell me one thing. If you have to choose between me and cricket, what is it going to be?”

“You know, people love a lot of things in their lives. For me, there are only two things I love with all of my heart: You and Cricket. But if I have to choose between you and my game, I shall have to choose the latter.”

At that particular juncture her respect for him grew, and she kissed him on the cheek.

“Would you have kissed me on the lips if I’d said that I’d choose you over my game?” Prawal asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“No, you idiot. I’d have slapped you hard across your face if you’d said that. If you can’t love yourself, if you don’t have any respect for your dream, how can you ever love me?”

***

“Hello,” Prawal said into the phone.

“Prawal?”

“Yes, this is he.”

“I’m Dr. Pradeep from Ashraya hospital. I was rather hoping you might be able to come to hospital now?”

“Oh, my test results have come, haven’t they? I’d almost forgotten about today’s meeting with you. Sorry. But sir, I was on my way to somewhere else….”

“Just a matter of few minutes, my boy. Anyhow hospital is not too far, is it?”

“Yes, all right. I’ll be there in a while.”

***

The rays of the morning sun were reflecting on the lake with iridescent brilliance. For some people that were strolling along the bank of the lake, the day had just started. But for Prawal, it was over. There would be no more mornings for him. The doctor had said two more months; two more months filled with darkness. Two months, only if he got admitted and started getting the treatment.

A week ago when he had complained of severe abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and some blood in the vomit, the doctor had subjected him to various tests.

“I was just over-reacting. I’d eaten like a glutton the previous day. Maybe it’s because of tha…..” he had begun to say the moment he saw the doctor in the morning.

“Stomach Cancer,” the doctor had cut him off. He knew no tricks could make Prawal feel any better.

He had listened to the doctor in silence for the next half hour, without reacting. And then he had just gotten up and left.

Now, he stood staring into the void. His life had come to a stand still.

***

“What is love, Prawal?”

“I don’t really know what love is, my love. All I know is that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you. I’ve heard people say that a man should find a woman to die for, but I’m proud to have found a woman to live for.”

And they hugged each other tightly as tears rolled down Ananya’s cheeks.

***

He stood there incapacitated, listening to the horrific thoughts in his mind. He shuddered at the thought of Ananya.

People find love on Valentine’s Day, but Prawal had lost it.

He came back to reality when his cell phone rang. It was she.

I’m sure to go through a lot of pain in the next couple of weeks, but the pain would be unendurable for her if she ever came to know.

The phone was still ringing. He held it tightly as if he was trying to crush it, closed his eyes, and switched it off.

********************The End********************

Copyright © Karthik 2010


Comments (47)

Karthik! Dude! That was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L!! And for me, this is by far your best story! Loved the narration style. The story is not new, but the way you presented it was just superb! :)
All the best for the contest!

your shortest fiction I have read :P

very nice story and plot..good narration..did it take you long to write this one and make it short? :D ok, don't frown now :)

good luck buddy :)

BRAVO!!!!

Brilliantly narrated!

it was all good until the ending...

being in the unknown is IMO rather more painful than the truth....

A cliché but so beautifully told! One of your best narrations to be sure... I think you did it justice! :))

I agree with Neha's comments. You shortest I have read to date. Your versatility never ceases to amaze me. I am waiting to see what your going to come up with for the Blog-a-ton next week and for rest of BPL. I wonder if you can retain your versatility when you become an established writer.

a narration nicely told....I liked the way you started it .."he smiled"

and then in the end u write "He held it tightly as if he was trying to crush it, closed his eyes, and switched it off." says so much abt the grief he is feeling .....
:) all the best

Falling in love with oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

I havent read a tangier quote on love..
OSUM Karthik..
And " I don’t really know what love is, my love."
And the image does appear to illustrate the story finally !
Gr8 job dude!
ATB for BPL

A simple story, beautifully narrated. That made it so special. Wonder how you do it... all the time...

P.S. All the Best for the contest!

Hey nicely written.
A sad short story for sure.

/I’ve heard people say that a man should find a woman to die for, but I’m proud to have found a woman to live for./aaawwwww.....
if someone talks like this.. its hard not to fall in love with that person :P

massttt storyy...
u murderer... u killed him :(

Brilliant Karthik! And having been there done that, made a choice opposite the one your protagonist makes - as you know now after that phone call - I admire Prawal even more: his clarity and his love - somehow they seem entwined in decisiveness not splintered.

Now a little mistake though my man which becomes crucial because it is the heart-sentence of the story (at least for me):

“You know, people love a lot of things in their lives. For me, there are only two things I love with all of my heart: Cricket and you. But if I have to choose between you and my game, I shall have to choose the latter.”

You mean, "I shall have to choose the FORMER" right? I am sure it was just a minor lapse in concentration.

Rest of the journey looks beautiful; I did not cry but the story deserves my tears! :)

Beautifully etched Karthik. Even though its a normal plot, you have weaved it very nicely. One of your shortest eh? :-P

Very nice :-)

a sad one...yet warm...

Your writing has always been superb but this one you hit it out of the park - Great story!

Cricket, Ma, Cancer and Love.....
exact ingredients for indian readers...

What made me appealing is the way you have convincingly presented loving oneself and one's passions

Beautiful Story :) :) A very common story, the theme of which we've seen in many old movies has been put here in a very beautiful and simple way Karthik :) :)

Hi Karthik..... this is your first post i am reading and liked it a lot..:)

Ah! A short post that holds your interest. Bes of luck for the competition.

Loved the sweet way you gradually introduced Prawal...his love for the sport and eventually Ananya. It added a lot of charm and grace to a simple story.

Excellent piece of tragedy in romance :)

Best wishes for BPL :)

That was like "a perfect bollywood love story", nevertheless I liked it very much. It was sweet and short.

Preeti,
Thank you so much, Preeti. :)
You liked it so much? Hehe.. I'm so glad. ;)
Thanks for the wishes. :))

Neha,
:D No. For a change I kept the word limit in mind and wrote. On the contrary, I can't write much on a mushy topic like this. :P
Thanks. :))

magiceye,
Welcome to Eloquence Redefined.
Thank you. Keep visiting.

Guria,
Touche! It IS cliched. :P
Couldn't think of anything else apart from making someone die. Hehe.. :P
Thanks, G. It means a lot. :))

Sundeep,
You are right, man. I agree. Being in the dark is more painful than the truth.

The Fool,
Shortest because of the word limit, man. :P Also as I couldn't have written more on a topic like this. ;)
I like only happys endings. :)
Thank you so much, Karthik (ha! I know your name now) :D
Not sure whether I'll participate in blogaton.
Established author? Hope I'll be someday. Thanks, man. :)

Pushpee,
Thanks a million, Pushpee.
One of the best compliments. I really give a lot of importance to the opening and ending lines of my stories. Thank you so much for noticing it. :))

Vibz,
That quote is by Oscar Wilde. :)
And the second one you mentioned is mine. :D Thenks. :)
And yeah, the image does appear finally. :P
Thanks, Vibz. :))

Roshmi,
Thanks a lot, Roshmi. :)
That was a great compliment. Glad you liked it.
And thanks for the wishes. :))

Archana,
Long time no see. Hope you are doing fine. :)
Thank you so much, yaar. :)

Megz,
Welcome to Eloquence Redefined.
:D Thenks, thenks. :)
Haven't murdered him. Just gave him the news. That's all.
But I'll definitely murder you if you don't keep visiting my blog. :P

Srini,
As always, I was waiting for your comment. :)
Yes, after that phone call, I know what you mean. ;)

And about the sentence you've mentioned, I meant LATTER only, Srini. Not "former".
"But if I have to choose between you and my game, I shall have to choose the latter."
I was actually referring to this sentence when I said "latter."
I understand why you felt that it was a mistake. In the previous sentence, I've written, "...there are only two things I love with all of my heart: Cricket and you."
Now I have changed it to "You and cricket." So there is no room for confusion now.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention anyway. :)

So glad you liked the story, man. It means a lot. :))

Insignia,
Thanks a lot, yaar. So glad you liked it. Yeah, it is cliched. I've always believed that most of the times it's "how" you tell a story is more important than "what" the story is all about. I'm really happy you liked my presentation.
:D Yeah, it is my shortest story. There was a word limit of 1000. :P

ANWESA,
Thank you.

Grayquill,
Long time no see. Happy to see you again, sir. Hope you are doing fine. :)
Thank you so much. Very glad you liked it. :))

Mahesh,
So true. Emosional attyachar at its best. :P
Thanks a lot, man. Glad you liked it.

Meow,
Thanks a million, Soumiya. :)
Happy you liked it so much. ;)

Abha Midha,
Welcome to Eloquence Redefined.
Thank you very much. Keep visiting. :)

The Holy Lama,
Thank you so much. :))
So glad you liked it. ;)

Chatterbox,
Thanks a lot, CB.
I was quite skeptical about its outcome.
Glad to know you liked it. :)
Thanks for the wishes. :)

Nethra,
Yeah, I agree. It is a cliched story. Glad you liked it.

Hehehehehe told you the image completes the story :D. The human race is very audio visual my dear

aye haye kyabaat ha.. nowi know what you were doing not responding in te conferences .. you were busy writing this he he hehe NICe ONE .. fingers crossed now :)

The ending was kinda expected but you have narrated the entire story very well :) kept me glued.
and I like the name Prawal. what does it mean? neenu yochne maaDi aa hesru iTirteeya, nange gottu :D

Phoenixritu,
I still don't agree. An image doesn't complete the story. It's a disturbance created deliberately. Just my personal belief.
A story is itself a painting which is painted with words. It shouldn't be hampered with any other pictures. A reader should enjoy the story in its purest form, imagining it perfectly in his head. Well, this of course is in writer's hands. And this has always been my attempt; this is what I have always tried to achieve.

Very well narrated, as usual, Karthik. Though, this, for sure is NOT your best work. I've read better pieces on your blog! :)

Bikram,
Shhhhh.... You just found out a secret. Don't tell anyone. :D
Thank you. :)

Shruthi,
Hehee.. Thenks, thenks. :D
Ending predictable aa? It's obvious, isn't it? That was the topic given: A Tragic Love Story.
Yaaradru obru saayle beku. :P

Prawal andre strong, fierce anta. :)
Yochne maadi enu idlilla. Eno manasigbandid itte. :D :P
Thanks again. :))

The Virgin Author,
Thanks a lot, man.

i found the story a little corny...but i guess i find most love stories that way..
excellent narration though as usual...i enjoyed reading it..

..very well narrated brilliant!!

Oxymoron,
I agree. It IS corny, and all love stories are. I personally don't like love stories, but here, this was the topic given to me: A Tragic Love Story (not more than 1000 words).
So I had to come up with something.
Thank you. Glad you liked the narration.

Harman,
Thanks a lot, Harman.

It sure is a wonderful piece of work Karthi.. One of the best I tell ye.. :)
Good luck.. :)

a plot narrated quite well:) As somebody said perfect bolly masala....
enjoyed reading it
Good luck for BPL Karthik...

Narration was tooo good :) This is the shortest fiction of yours I have read so far :) But still you did complete justice to it. Really nice. Good luck for BPL :)

While the simplicity was well conveyed and covered in the narration,i was quite surprised with some very ordinary sentence constructions...simply because of the high standards you set previously...here are some examples you might want to consider rephrasing....

phone and smiling for himself.

his friends’ thoughts were that of a conventional mind.

Prawal said into the phone.

Anyhow hospital is not too far, is it?”

“Yes, all right. I’ll be there in a while.”

started getting the treatment

Bedlam,
Thanks a lot, Manna. Glad you liked it. :)

PNA,
Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed.

Avada,
Yes it is the shortest fiction I've written. Thanks to word limit imposed. :P

Gyanban,
Thank you so much, sir.
And as for the sentences you've mentioned. They are ABSOLUTELY fine. I don't see any problems in them.

ohhh my that is such a beautiful story... and so brilliantly narrated... emotions well expressed... loved the story...

Hey Karthik,

Allow me to highlight three of many other beautiful sentences/phrases from this post that I strongly think must become part of "quotes of an artist". Here they are:
-And Prawal, who was wearing nothing but a smile
-The first few moments of one’s greatest happiness should be spent with oneself
-Falling in love with oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance

The end of the story felt like I walked a long stretch of road and then whooooosh, "nothing". "Complete void." Where you searching for this effect mate? I do not know if you were, but this is the most awesome effects I have seen for a good time to come!

The best part of this story is the plot. You made it look simple, man.

Great work!

Cheers!

-Vittal

I guess that's your shortest story till date. Loved the way you told it. :)

Rajilakshmi,
Thank you so much. Glad you liked it. :)

Vitty,
Thanks a million, Vitty. That was one of the best compliments.
The first two sentences you mentioned are mine, but not the last. It's Oscar Wilde's. That's why I have put it in italics. :)

Actually the topic given was: A Tragic Love Story (not more than 1000 words). So in a way, yeah. The ending was supposed to filled with void.

Thank you so much, once again. And sorry for replying so late. :))

Destiny's Child,
It's the shortest story, because I was bound by the rules. Not more than 1000 words. hehehe..
Thanks a bunch, DC. So glad you liked it. :))

I am doing good! :~) Just being lazier these days :~)

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