"E-mails from Heaven"
- Aleem Merchant
"If is so easy to read 'it', why is it so difficult to be one"
Someone told me, that everyone has two dreams, one to open a restaurant and the other to write a book. Now at that point of time I thought, restaurant, yeah, but Book! Naah! not my types. But here i am, typing the very first para of a book that i dream of publishing someday.
An unusual story should have an unusual beginning. So how should i begin the first page.
Well i could begin with the place, or the features of the characters. Heck! Lets start, before i bore you.
Tanya waited by the window looking at the stars. No, she had no information about anything on astronomy. She liked admiring them. Like most people she believed that when someone dies they become stars. Partly influenced by the typical Bollywood movies she would see in her spare time with her friends. She was just an ordinary girl. Average looking, calorie concious, just scraped through her graduation, doing well in her new job, happy and cheerful all the while.
But tonight was not an ordinary one. Tanya was going to turn 25 that night. And she wanted to spend it with her mother, who had passed away when she was just five. She looked around for the brightest star and chose one her heart told her "Thats Mom!".
A few blocks away, the church bell rang.
"Happy Birthday Tanya", she said to herself "and Thank you mom, for being there whenever i want you"
Quietly she sank into her Bed and smiled as she slept on her pillow, of a small town girl with big dreams.
That she will make it someday.
Just like each one of us.
The hustle bustle of the city takes charge everyday and everyone gets up and rushes to work. Buses, trains, cars, cabs all on their way to the city. Thousands of people stuck in traffic. Train delays. Buses punctured. Flooded Roads. Potholes.
But there is something about Bombay that keeps it ticking. That no matter what, the crowd looks cheerful, full of energy. The look on the faces of people, with six hours of sleep is like they’ve been on a six day vacation.
Tanya looked at herself in the mirror. "yeah, these Levis really fit well". She was happy she had paid a lil more to get a good pair. "Because Im worth it" she giggled imitating one of the ads she saw on TV.
Tanya used to catch a Bus everyday to work. Luckily for her, the Bus started a block away from her house. So she used to get it pretty empty.
"Drats, wheres Isha?. She cant miss the bus today. And she missed it today on my birthday. Ill get her for this one."
Isha and Tanya were best friends.They knew each other for about three years.Spent most of their time after work together and like typical girlfriends, gossiped about the bosses affairs with a client, flirted with guys, shared lil secrets that meant nothing to anyone but them, had small code words for silly things and laughed out loud the moment it was uttered. But what they enjoyed most was to send lil messages on each others computers through the Local Chat.
It didnt take long before the bus was full and people were hanging out from the window. Typical sight in a "developing country" where transport was waiting to be developed like most other things.
"Dammit pick up the phone."
Tanya was taught that any organization in which the phone rings more than twice is a dying organization. So whenever the phone would ring more than that she would begin to get uneasy. But who was gonna teach these people in the bus.
Suddenly everyone started looking irritated at Tanya.
She felt that the ring was coming from her Bag.
"I dont have a mobile" she said to herself. “but if you insist....
And when she looked inside she was thrilled. There was a sleek mobile phone with a cute lil tag that said " Happy Birthday Tanya"
How sweet she thought to her self.Who could it be?
She read the screen.
Well who is "ME" she smiled
And clicked the "Yes" Button
Unfortunately she didnt live to hear who it was.....
The Bus blasted.
The sounded echoed over a mile. The city stopped for a moment. Glasses shattered. Cars banged against each other. Eyes shut.
And when hundreds of people realised what had happened. A grip of fear overtook them. A second bomblast the city had experienced this year.
The echo of the bomb still resounded in their ears.
You could see the look on their faces and there was only one small word to describe it-Fear"
In about a minute the place was flooded with police, reporters, ambulances and onlookers who had survived. But what didn’t survive were about 45 people. People with hope, dreams, families, and most importantly -innocence.
The story does end here. In fact it begins.
"Destiny always uses Plan- B"
The news spread soon. The TV channels had covered it all. Bodies beingn taken to the hospital. Remains fo the Bus. Affected areas. Interviews of eye witnesses. Stories from the injured.
"They Police feel it a terrorist strike again". Journalists said confidently posing in front of their cameras. This is so and so from pay making channel.
The numbers of people who died varied from channel to channel.
Advertisement breaks did not stop.
Websites were up with stories and web banners kept slowing down the pages download.
Journalists were out on the spot. My what a great story to tell.
In a moment that the incident was converted from a tragic spot to a buisness making racquet. Like scavengers after the prey was killed. Taking a bit of their share part by part.
Offices called it the day. Markets fell. Panic had struck the city and red alerts were called everywhere.
That night was a clear night. The moon looked at this little Tinsel town sadly and wept, not alone. Isha was at the window too. Weeping. She knew that if she would be in that bus probably things would have been different. Probably Tanya would be with her then. Celebrating her birthday in their own special way. And if she had to die at least Tanya woud be with her.
She could stop thinking.
That night appeared a lil more starry than other nights.
"I love you,Tanya" she said to herself. Probably I never told you this when you were there but I do"
Doesn’t this happen most of the time. We realize the value of people when they are gone. We are always embarrassed of our parents and their ways. Sometimes we dont even wanna spend time with them. We don’t realise that one day they will be gone and we will never get even a chance to thank them.
Isha tried hard to sleep but couldn’t. She kept thinking about Tanya and her funny ways. Tanya knew Isha in and out. All her secret crushes, dreams, wishes everything.
She couldn’t believe that she would never meet her again.
But destiny had a different Plan.
1 new mail
"There will always be a part of me wandering"
-The Lighthouse Family
The next day Isha quietly walked into the office. There was a unusual hustle-bustle on the roads. No one seemed to be bothered with the incident. Like as if nothing had happened. Life was so normal. Isha never knew whether to appreciate the city pulse or hate it for its insensitivity.
"Does anyone care", I dont think so.
As long as they are safe no one cares."
She settled down on her chair and sipped her coffee while she started her computer.
As she logged on a message popped up "One new mail"
But she froze as she read who it was from.
You wont believe what happened today.
Aryan asked me if he could take me out to dinner for my birthday.
Gotta go. Ill catch ya soon.
See you tomorrow. Dont miss the bus honey.
Isha had tears in her eyes. She rushed to the wash room and cried.
"I wish I didnt miss the bus Tanya.....I wish."
Life sometimes is like a bus. An opportunity taht stops for a moment and then goes on. You either step on it or don’t. The choice is yours. Sometimes the bus looks full and you dont want to get it because it will be difficult to get in. But once youre on it, youll adjust. It all depends on you and your choice. No one can stop you but yourself.
You just have to learn to identify your bus and the bus will identify the destination.
Isha called Technical support that evening and asked them to delete Tanya's account from the system.
"Even Darkness has beautiful shades of grey"
That night Isha had a very weird dream.
A dream that would change her life forever.
It was Tanya. She looked like she was worried. And she was in the Ishas room.
"Tanya, theres something i have to tell you. Someone has intruded our lives. I cant tell you who it is. But danger lurks around the corner."
"Tomorrow when you sit in the bus you will see a bag in the last row. Report it to the police. Please"
Tanya got up with a shock.
She couldnt belive what she had just seen.
It was long wait for the morning as she couldnt sleep that night.
Hesitantly she entered the bus. She didn’t bother to look in the last row. She didn’t want to believe last night’s dream. She knew that it was just a dream and she was scared from her narrow escape.
"I have to go to the doctor" she whispered to herself.
Suddenly there was a noise from the back of the bus. Everyone started getting down hurriedly. Someone had reported a unidentified bag in the last row. Isha immediately panicked.
She knew this was going to happen.
Even before she could recover from the shock. The bomb squad had reached the site and the bag was identified to be another bomb.
Saved once too often Isha walked to the office which was not far.
"Tanya I know you are here , somewhere but where.
You saved my life. Im sorry i did not listen to what you told me.
Where are you?"
Isha suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder.
Scared, she turned around.
It was Aryan.
Aryan was a young, dynamic middle level manager from the office. He had a secret crush on Tanya and called her once in awhile on the office intercom.
Isha looked at Aryan smiled sadly. She knew this hurt him as much as she did.
"You know I had the weirdest dream last night" Aryan said "Tanya was in it"
She said "Dont worry Aryan, Ill be there for you guys"
Isha stopped for a second.
Something unexplainable was happening.
But this time, she wanted to believe.
The work pressure was beginning to get onto Isha. She felt she needed a break from all this. Probably spend a few days in her village. Being not much of a social girl, she had few friends. After Tanya, Isha felt really alone and began to get into depression.
"Isha?" It was Mrs. Shroff, the boss’s secretary.
"The boss is calling you"
Not knowing what had happened Isha walked into the cabin and knocked slowly.
"May I come in Sir"
"Yes Isha, come in"
Mr. Das was a known celebrity in the advertising industry. A smooth talker and his excellent skills at closing deals had taken him right to the top.
"Isha, i have been noticing that off late you haven’t been looking good"
"I know its about Tanya, and all of us are sorry about it. Life has to go on. I think its time you start concentrating on your work. If you want ill shift you to a better account"
"No sir, Im ok" Isha heaved a sigh of relief. She thought she was going to have it for the day. Slightly disturbed she walked out of the room.
As she walked to her workstation she saw an message flashing on the computer.
I mail recieved.
Do you want to read Now? Later?
Irratatedly, she picked up the phone and dialed Technical Support.
"Hey, I told you guys to delete Tanyas Account. Why dont you guys listen?
Im getting mails from her account still. What the hell do you guys do anyway?"
"Hey Isha, it is deleted, I did it myself"
"No its not. Check it again"
"Ok. Ill give you a call back"
Isha deleted the mail before she could even read it.
"Isha? It was deleted that day itself. Watch your tongue next time! And please go for a check up."
Isha froze. The message did not get deleted. She kept clicking the delete button but it did not go. She didn’t want to read it. She was scared. She never knew what to do. She pulled of the power cord from underneath.
Isha went to the canteen for lunch but she couldnt eat much. She kept wondering about what had happened. Was it a hallucination. Was she going mad. She desperately thought that she must call in sick the next day, but she had already got a warning from the boss. It was too dangerous to do that now.
She logged on the system back again.
The mail was gone.
"I bet it was just my imagination. Poor guy. really got a piece of my mind"
There was a huge pile of documents on Isha table. She had to get done with at least half of it by the evening. She quickly browsed each of them and got them in order.
She was in the middle of entering them in the log when suddenly a message popped on her screen.
<Tanya> Hi Isha! Its me Tanya!
Isha stared at the screen. It was happening again.
This time she thought someone was playng a joke.
She looked across the office and saw that no one was using Tanyas computer.
Then who was typing the message.
<Tanya> I know you don’t believe this. But I guess you will have to.
I dont know how to convince you but I am still here with you.
<Isha> I don’t believe you. Who are you? Why are you doing this to me. Its not a nice joke. Please dont do this to me again
<Tanya> Wait! Isha please. Believe me. Its me Tanya.
<Isha> This cant be happening. Tanya is dead.
<Tanya> Yes I am dead. But I had a choice.
<Isha> What choice?
<Tanya> That I can choose who want to contact.
<Tanya> Because I wasn’t supposed to die. My time had not come.
<Isha> How do I believe you?
<Tanya> Close your eyes Isha!
Isha couldn’t believe what was happening. But somewhere in her heart she felt Tanyas presence. She felt that she was around. She closed her eyes and could see Tanya. She looked happy but she was crying.
When she opened her eyes she saw that the screen was blank. there were no messages on the screen. Was she dreaming again. This was really happeening, wasnt it.
Whatever it was Isha was not feeling lonely again. She smiled.
Its been 6 years I wrote this, and ever since had multiple ideas to proceed, but I guess I never found the time, and sometimes felt the concept was a little outdated.
Whatever it was...maybe it was never meant to be...