A heavy down pouring and a quiet little desolate café. Mr. Bagchi was picking up the broken pieces when Nalini came in.
“What happened?” enquired Mr. Bagchi.
“I didn’t make it through” Nalini frowned.
Nalini was Mr. Bagchi’s last hope, the only family he had. 17-year-old Nalini was a happy go lucky girl who aspired to be an astrophotographer. Nalini was an orphan. Her parents died in a car accident when she was 5 years old. Since then, her grandfather has single-handedly brought her up. They are each other’s last resort.
Now, this young aspiring astrophotographer has been running pillar to post to get hold of a job so that she can help her grandfather and purchase a good quality camera for herself. Being a science student her enthusiasm for the world of science knows no bounds, especially when it comes to astronomy and space.
However, unlike others of her class she doesn’t want to be a physicist or an engineer rather she aspires to be a microbiologist. She wants to tame both the worlds – the world outer space and the world of tiny micro-organisms. She wants to be a microbiologist who is an astrophotographer. One is the love of her life while the other is her passion. So, she was taking one step at a time towards fulfilling her dreams.
Nalini has been giving interviews for any kinds of prospective job. From content writing to photography to volunteering – she had tried all avenues but without any luck. Her age and educational qualification seem to be a problem. People wanted a 12th pass graduate whereas she was still in the 11th standard Today, she went looking for an apprentice job in a bookstore nearby but alas here too she was rejected.
2 weeks passed by since then, Nalini went about her usual ways – studying and helping her grandfather run the café. She was taking an order at a table when she overheard a gentleman’s conversation.
“We need a fresh face for this advertisement. A bubbly girl who looks like a book nerd”, said Akash.
“Can’t we use anyone from this lot? These 2 girls seem good”, said Rajeev.
“Well, they are good but not what I am looking for. That exuberance and maturity are missing”, said Akash.
“She should speak of science as if she is a scientist traveling in this unknown world. That what I want”, he added.
“Well, I am afraid we have to hire those ugly looking nerds then. Beauty and brains don’t go together. You have to compromise at some point”, said Rajeev.
“Let’s take another round of audition. Tomorrow afternoon in college. Let’s start at the very beginning and a very good place to start”, said Akash.
“Now, you are quoting The Sound of Music! Good going. Too much of a hassle for a 30000 rupees advertisement shoot”, said Rajeev.
With this ended their conversation and ran for their next lecture.
“Such prejudiced people. What a waste of talent”, thought Nalini and went about her usual work.
That night Nalini lied wide awake in bed, tossing and turning, and thinking about those young lads. Does she have a chance? She might not be beautiful but surely she can look the part. After all, she has scientific knowledge and looks like a geek. She decided to give it a shot.
The next day, she asked her grandfather about them. They were frequent visitors to the café and surely Mr. Bagchi knew them.
“Ah! Those two – Akash and Rajeev. They are always onto some filming stuff but they study architecture in college, I think”, said Mr. Bagchi
“How do you know all this Grandpa?” asked Nalini.
“Well, it says Srinath College of Architecture. Doesn’t it?” asked Mr. Bagchi flashing the i-cards.
Just the thing Nalini needed. She instantly ran up to the college. She remembered that the auditions were taking place today. But, alas! She was 5mins late the auditions were over at 2 pm. Somehow she managed to convince the authorities to let her in. Everyone was reluctant to allow her, except Akash.
Soon, she was selected for the role. The director of the advertisement was Akash himself. Akash Bhatia and Rajeev Mishra were 2 young architect aspirants who had their heart in filmmaking. The 20-year-olds made short films promoting social awareness. This time they were shooting an advertisement showcasing partnership of science and architecture. So, Nalini Bagchi started working with Akash and Rajeev for a meager monthly salary of 5000 rupees.
While they wanted to marry science and architecture, it’s another love story that took off that day. The happy-go-lucky science geek had found her match in the introvert Akash. Together, they painted the town red. It’s as if new buildings came up every day and Akash found a new home in it. As for Nalini, Akash made her feel hysterical. With him she is not herself, she is someone else. A different but better version of herself. With him, she became a woman and with her, he became a man.
On weekends they would shoot their advertisement series and during the week they would catch up after college. Soon the film was complete but their relationship wasn’t. It stood the test of time. Nothing could separate the 2 lovebirds – neither Rajeev’s conspiracy nor Mr. Bagchi’s apprehension. 5 years went by, Akash completed his studies and Nalini set out for her microbiology course in another city. By now she had a camera of her own and was pursuing her hobby.
Nalini moved to a new city with her boyfriend. While Akash got placed in an architecture firm in Chennai, Nalini got into a prestigious college for her Master’s Degree. The crowd of Chennai seems quite a shock for Nalini. Delhi to Chennai was a huge change for her.
Not just the atmosphere and the language but the people also seemed to quite different than what she had imagined. But Nalini never despaired. For her, it was a new beginning, a new life with Akash. A way to build their dream world, their dream house.
But Akash has changed since they moved here. He isn’t his usual self anymore. He became negligent and forgetful. He started keeping secrets from her. He wouldn’t meet her for days and always found an excuse to leave early when they met. Soon Nalini found out the truth about Akash.
Rajeev was right, Akash indeed was a womanizer. He has been leading a dual life all this while. He already had a girlfriend in Chennai. Now, she understood why Akash was eager to move to Chennai rather than going for that lucrative job in Bombay. He wasn’t missing Nalini. He was missing Prajakta and wanted to be closer to him. In fact, all this was a time pass. A stop-gap arrangement till he was in Delhi, away from his real girlfriend.
After knowing this Nalini broke up with Akash. Thus began the beginning of a beautiful ending.
It’s been 9 months to that. Nalini is holding up good now. The city is no longer alien to her, she has a found a home here. The people are her’s now, except for one – Akash Bhatia. He is still in town. Alone and bereft – separated from both his girlfriend and without a place to call home.
Years went by, and Nalini grew up to be a fine young woman. She is 28 now, graduated from college and going for a Ph.D. Degree in Biotechnology. In between, she has lost quite a few years.
Now, a lady in her own rights, Nalini has found love again. This time it is a fellow blogger. An old friend in disguise of a new ally. They happen to connect on Facebook and instantly hit it off.
This person, Sekhar Dasgupta was a photo-blogger just like Nalini. However, there’s a stark difference between Sekhar and Nalini. While Sekhar was a food blogger, Nalini is an astronomy and astrophotography blogger. Together, they made the world of onion rings and Saturn’s rings come together.
With Sekhar, Nalini felt different. Different than what she had felt with any other man, even Akash. Today, Nalini remembers Akash. How different and stupid their love was. “Was it love at all?” she wondered. “If that was love, then what is this?” She hasn’t met Sekhar yet but seemed to read his mind. She seems to be with her from hundred miles.
Sekhar makes her more of herself. With him, she is herself – her true raw self. “That’s why this feels so different and unlike of other feelings”, she thought. There’s no fighting for acceptance here. There’s no struggle with her inner self. It’s all a belonging.
“I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 22 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time”, she thought.
Now, she knows that, that was an Attachment and this is indeed L O V E.
Knowing her true feelings set her free. She became bold and happy again, after a long time. Love has given her a courage that she didn’t know of. Now, she’s ready to meet Sekhar. Ready to meet a complete stranger whom she had known for her whole life. The meeting was scheduled to happen a week ago when Sekhar came to Chennai but Nalini didn’t budge.
Now, they are meeting at the blogger’s awards meet, in front of the whole world. Nalini’s own little world.
“Perhaps, it is Sekhar’s world too”, thought Nalini.
“Hello, Neelu! You have become fat”, just then a voice came from behind.
A startled Nalini turned around.
Neelu, that name – only one person called her by that name.
“RAJEEEEEV”, exclaimed Nalini.
Indeed, it was Rajeev Mishra all along. Rajeev was Nalini’s Sekhar. It is his pen name.
Just then the presenter announced, “The best amateur blogger’s award goes to Nalini Bagchi and Rajeev Mishra”.