Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adrian and Shashi


Short Story, Fiction. 

Microsoft Free Clipart
Shashi cooked the evening meal, glancing fondly at Adrian as he fed the dog. Their bedsit was big as a barn and they’d both felt a dog wouldn’t cramp their space. They’d found Tim at the local SPCA.

“I swear Tim’s grown since last night.”

“His food bill certainly has since last month,” Shashi said dryly, energetically stirring the white wine sauce, one amused eye on Tim wolfing down his food. Within seconds it was gone. The dog looked surprised. Adrian laughed. Tim wagged his tail and bent down to give his bowl another professional lick. A few laps of water to wash it all down and he looked at Shashi with beseeching eyes.

“We’ll take you soon as I’m done, action man,” Shashi grinned, expertly measuring out rice and water into the electric cooker – a gift from thoughtful parents to make life easy. Shashi remembered wondering at the time where in the small kitchenette this would fit. Now steaming hot rice, because it was cheap and easy to cook, had become a regular accompaniment to their meals. 

Weeping Willow, NZ
With Tim barking madly at his heels, Adrian walked to the door. Barely managing to contain an animal gone berserk with joy, he leashed Tim and stepped out, letting the dog run ahead as far as the retractable leash would allow.  Putting the final touches to their meal Shashi hurried after them, eager for the walk after slaving over the hot stove.

It was dusk - the best time of day to unwind after a long, hard, punishing schedule. Their exams were looming and if they weren’t attending lectures, they were cramming. Tim forced them to get away from it all for a few minutes everyday. Once back home they would bury their noses in their books again, but with fresher minds.

Trying to keep up with Tim’s energy as he charged off to sniff at trees, lamp posts and grass verges, Shashi smiled. Tim had added a wonderful dimension to their lives. 

“Wonder what’s exciting about sniffing at dog piss,” laughed Adrian.

“You don’t know what stories those smells tell.” 

They approached the bend in the road. This is where university flats ended and the posh suburb of Streamarbour began. A wide grassy bank, majestic willows, birches and pohutakawa lined the little stream where ducks paddled, entertaining families with kids, university students, couples and the old. Shashi and Adrian paused to watch as a proud mama duck and her ducklings swam past single file. “Quark” warned mama duck in guttural tones to one of the ducklings who got waylaid by someone squatting at the edge of the stream, holding out her hand.

Tim seemed to know that hand. Tugging hard at his leash he almost dragged Adrian to reach it and proceeded to smother it all over with a very slobbery tongue. “Oh TIM,” squealed a familiar voice. Adele jumped up hurriedly to face Adrian and Shashi with a smile. “Oops, sorry Adele. Ever since you got him those doggie treats he’s been overwhelmed with gratitude.” 

“You mean, overwhelming,” laughed Adele ruefully, rubbing her wet hand and face. Part of the charm of a university town was that one did run into friends often. After a few minutes of conversation Adele said she had to get some books from the library and that she’d better hurry before it closed.

Adrian and Shashi smiled their goodbyes clutching Tim's collar for he wanted, once again, to demonstrate his fondness for the lady.

“Easy boy,” murmured Shashi, making sure Adele was out of earshot, “she’s married to medicine. You don’t stand a chance.” 

Adrian laughed. “I agree,” he said. “She’ll probably top the class." 

After a good forty-five minutes they led a tired but happy dog back home. Tim promptly flopped in his favourite corner, dozing contentedly within seconds. Adrian poured out some wine - a pinot for Shashi and a cold chardonnay for himself, gifts from Adrian's indulgent parents. 

“You drink red and I, white; I am a tea person and you prefer coffee. However did we get together and manage to stay together for five whole years?” he laughed.

“I know. You like rugby - jinkies, what a blood sport,” Shashi teased, knowing Adrian would rise to the bait as he loved rugby with a passion.

“What about cricket? Half the players are just sitting around waiting.”

“You wouldn’t understand. It is a game of skill.”

“It’s boring. Nothing seems to happen. Rugby is fast - involves all players.”

“A game of kill, not skill," said Shashi, slightly riled, "where the unsporting rule by manhandling their opponents.” That was an unfair dig – a reference to a recent incident where a rugby player had picked up his opponent by the legs and smashed his head.

“Those players are disqualified - taken off the field immediately. You know that. Rugby isn’t just violence without rules."

 “Those huge hulks break all your so-called rules and are happy to take the penalty AFter they’ve almost crippled their opponents and made them redundant,” said Shashi. “That’s not sporting.”

Adrian laughed softly. “People break rules in cricket too – all that match fixing and under arm bowling one hears of,” he said, aware that this was beginning to sound like an argument. How on earth did they get into it?

“Well,” said Shashi crossly, “I hate it when that happens.”

 Realising they were dangerously close to a fight over something neither cared too much about, Adrian quietly got up and dished out the food. Then he motioned for Shashi to join him.

Damn, it smells good,” said Adrian, sniffing appreciatively.

Shashi, knowing full well Adrian was trying to make up, but still sore about his exposing the underbelly of cricket, couldn’t help feeling a bit gratified. The two ate their meal in silence though both were aware that it was Shashi’s turn to say something to indicate the fight was over. Childishly taking refuge in their theory of savouring each bite seemed like a better idea to Shashi.

Damn, it tastes good too,” he ventured finally, responding to Adrian's truce offering. The two smiled tentatively and Adrian raised his glass in a silent toast. After a sip he added, “Hope I can rustle up something as good tomorrow.” They finished the meal and continued sitting at the table, chatting some more. Then, reluctantly, they got up to clear away their simple meal.

As the two passed each other Adrian silently reached out for Shashi. For a moment the young men hugged, content, energised by each other, and wonderfully happy. These were their last few, critical days at medical college. Both knew a lot depended on their doing well in their exams. There could be no distractions now. “Later,” said Shashi softly with a sigh and a final lingering feel of Adrian’s wonderfully sculpted arms. The moment passed and they reluctantly broke contact. After a while each was lost in his books.

They both had dreams. To make them a reality  they knew they’d have to work hard - perhaps harder than others. There simply were no shortcuts. Eventually, they planned a partnership.  Partners in life and partners in work.

Damn, life was good.

Note for non-Indians – The name, 'Shashi' is common to both genders in India. I used the name as I wanted heterosexual Indians to realise only towards the end that the story was about two men living ordinary lives together. As I suspected, most comments were positive towards same sex couples.

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35 comments:

  1. nice story
    yes shashi name is given to boy child as well as girl child in India.
    Still in India people do not like gay people and one Case is going on in Indian SC regarding discrimination of gay sex.

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  2. Thanks sm. That is the very reason I wrote this story. Prejudice is something one has to look inward to overcome. The question to ask is this - If two people are in a loving relationship that does not physically hurt me, why do I feel threatened by gays? Luckily, I've read some very promising pro-gay blogposts by Indians and I do believe people who truly believe in their God (whoever that may be)are beginning to accept that gays were made by God too.

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  3. A couple of links to the Supreme Court case to decriminalise gays in India:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17188283
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/28/india-supreme-court-rebukes-ministers-for-conflicting-gay-views/

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  4. Good story and held attention till the end. Yes, we are still uncomfortable about gays in India.

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    1. Thanks Rachana. We are uncomfortable only because we decided to push them under the carpet and hide them from view. But they never really went away. The only thing we did was to let some rotten heterosexuals abuse them and get away with it because the decent ones didn't want to know. The rotten ones will change when they discover their brothers or uncles or friends or children are gay.

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  5. Ah! You created such a nice serene kind of enviroment with the setting and threw the bouncer. Very smartly used the name I must say :) Loved it!

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  6. Wonderful story, beautifully narrated! Loved the way you ended it with a nice little unexpected googly in the end :)

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    1. I must admit I had to look up "googly" :) Flattering comment. Thanks very much, Arti.

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  7. this was a nice read and true, couldn't make out whether shashi was girl or boy till we reached towards the end part of the story but by then it didn't matter

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  8. Thanks Sujatha. That's a real compliment. It really doesn't matter, does it?

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  9. Liked how you used fiction to put forth your point.
    And sexual preference is a personal choice, wonder why it makes people uncomfortable.

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  10. Thanks Purba. Good to see you here. More and more people accept that same sex couples have always been around and that they are as normal as heterosexuals, thank goodness.

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  11. Nice story written in an innocent way like an usual family or friends story with the gay aspect just suggestive and not explicit. Where skillfully done.

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    1. Thanks TF for the compliment and for stopping by. To be honest "no explicit, hot, sizzling sex" is my style of writing. It makes no difference whether I write about gays, lesbians or heterosexuals.

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  12. oh i loved the surprise element in the end.. wow...lovely post...

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  13. You have a flair for fiction.....engrossing tale.

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    1. Thanks Alka. What a wonderful compliment.

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  14. That was an interesting narrative:)

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    1. Thanks Rahul. I wanted people to realise that gays are multi-dimensional like any other human and it is wrong to get stuck on only the one dimension when you meet them. Imagine, if everytime someone met you they thought oh, he likes sex with women. It would probably creep you out to be thought of like that.

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  15. Thanks, twice over, KayEm for having dropped into my blog and left a comment. I wouldn't have known to come here and I'd have missed something! Lovely write-up!

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  16. Glad you liked it CS and welcome to the blog. I enjoyed your take on the "Fox and The Grapes" story too!

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  17. Thanks Rohit. Had a little peek at your blog and enjoyed your musings.

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  18. Loved the twist ending (and message)! :)

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  19. Very well written and very intriguing. Enjoyed reading every word. You go girl.

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  20. Thanks a lot, Sonali and welcome to the blog :)

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  21. Email from John McCarthy, Author.
    Thank you for that remarkable tale which stays in my mind. I wanted to say that while it closed with a beautiful example of a surprise ending, I was most struck by the skill you brought to the relationship between the two - and the way that changed and how you painted the changes in their behaviour to each other. Any of us who know about relationships (irrespective of gender of the parties) would have felt the impact of that part.

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  22. That was a surprise towards the end. Well written.

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  23. Thanks, Shail. Was wowed by your story about the widow and her daughter, Jyoti.

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  24. A very nice story and yes people in India are still not comfortable talking about it.

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    1. I know, gbp but hopefully, we're gradually making them face up to their prejudices.

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  25. Had to share this wonderful article by Daddy-san https://daddysan.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/1830/

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