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Ishaan Bharadwaj

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Vacations are on; I walk around the house and see that my home guys are away. All I have is my car, bag and a spirit to capture this beautiful world in my eyes. So I pack up all the things I need - warm clothes, medicines, socks, gloves and my old muffler. I go to the kitchen pack in some knick knacks in a separate bag lots of water and throw it all in the boot of my lovely little car. Lock up the doors, say aloha to the house and off I go.

As I cross the border of my hometown I look at these endless roads, making me feel that my expedition will either get me there or I’ll end up nowhere. Landscapes flash by; the weather gets worse, like clouds are building Road to Paradise

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up to wash me down this steep hill. I look down; I take a deep breath and move forward. I keep struggling to overcome steep road ascents, it rains heavily, roads get slippery every second instant but the urge to reach to the best part of this humongous valley at the right time felt more than important to me.

Some hours passed, I reached half way to my destination, a small town situated right in the middle of the hill. I get out of the car; stretch out under the sun that’s trying hard to tear the grey clouds to shine this sweet bustling little place. The crisp chill in the air, the freshness of the dew and the smell of Jasmine and other exotic scents coming out Road to Paradise

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of the beautiful bunch of flowers all across the hill. I asked a local for a nice tea shop around. He directed me to climb up to the flag that I could see from where I was standing. I walk up, with all my strength and my legs half asleep; rubbing my hands to the sunlight I jog myself up to the cafe.

I step into the tea shop full of locals and some tourists, the sound of old melodies being played on the radio. I order for a large cup of tea as I usually do, pick up a pack of namkeen and sit on a table kept on the utmost corner of this old looking pale walled place. ‘Saheb, you ordered for a tea.?’ Asked the waiter. Road to Paradise

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I said ‘yes, keep it here’

I asked him for some magazines if he had. He brought me a copy of an old India Today, the one I never read. As I sip into my hot cup of tea I hear a very soft voice saying my name. I gave myself a thought if anyone really knows me in this unknown place.

The voice got louder,

‘Dodo’ it said,

I froze; I knew I’ve heard this after a very long time, like I missed it for several years Road to Paradise

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and it’s here to my surprise. I turn around slowly with my head glancing every inch of the surroundings. I see her. She has dark brown hair, she looks much more fairer like locals from the hills usually do. Wearing a grey T-shirt with full sleeves and a pair of jeans. Sitting with some of her friends, she tries to save herself from the fear of calling the wrong guy. But I recognise her, and I do that very well, but I’m a bit confused too.

I stand up and walk towards her, with interrogative lines on my forehead and a reduced smile on my face.

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‘Kuku ?’ I said,

And she had her jaws dropped down in surprise, we show this ‘ I can’t believe its you ’ gesture to each other she holds my shoulders with little tears in her eyes, I see, she hugs me tight, It was soon before long. Like the past broke us apart to an infinite term.

Her friends walk out and she makes me sit down and questions me, Where I was? Why had I been away? What am I doing these days ? Why am I here?

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I sit in a relaxed way, looking into her beautiful eyes, the eyes I’ve known for all my life. I answer all her questions one by one, Telling her the reason I was away, I too told her that I’ve been working with an automotive firm as an engineer in the western coast of our country and that I was here for a trip towards the other half of the valley. She hears me with all her interest and tells me about some beautiful places to visit around this little town she lives in. She pulls me by the hand and we jump out of the tea shop. The shop keeper runs after me saying

‘Sir, you forgot to pay’ Road to Paradise

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I handed over a 20 rupee note to him and forget to take the change.

As we walk out, she starts to flaunt that she had learnt to drive and that she could shame a guy in driving skills. I smile and hand over the car keys to her.

‘You drive’ I say.

She takes the keys from me and run towards my car like she’d steal it, I run after her too. She gets in, does all the adjustments to make herself comfortable and starts it up.

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‘What shit music you keep hearing’ she complains, takes out her phone and connects it to the car’s system.

‘Rock music, that sounds better than your stupid melodies’

I laugh at her as she rockets the car through the ups and downs of the hill roads. Five minutes later we reach a market, she gets down saying that she wants to get her phone recharged and that she would be back in a snaps time. I wait for her in the car as it drizzles outside. In the meantime I toggle through the songs I have in my CD. Road to Paradise

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There isn’t anything as interesting to listen really, I find.

Fifteen minutes passed, I don’t see a sign of her, I open the door and I hear her rushing from my back again asking me to move back inside the car. She apologises for being late and that she was trying to find something to take back home that she couldn’t find.

She starts off the car a drives me to a church, the place has a big balcony besides it from where the step farms located on the bed of the valley could be seen with the other peaks surrounding it shined with greenery. Road to Paradise

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She guides me around the place, tells me about the history, that it was built to honour the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the hills and its residents.

Then she takes me to a place down the hill near a river, she asks me to stand still and not react to what she was going to do. I did as she said; she blindfolded me with a handkerchief and guided me forward. After three minutes of walking she stops me and does a countdown.

‘Three, Two, One, tada !’

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On first sight, I looked down and got imbalanced.

I was standing on a rock, on a high cliff next to the utmost beautiful waterfall I’d ever seen. Thundering down the pristine water, the dew drops in the air making a rainbow against the tinge of yellow light from the sun.

I was darn impressed by the sight already. Like heaven in real life. I stretched my arms out, like I was a bird flying across the waterfall.

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I looked back at her, she was laughing at me.

‘What, why are you laughing?’ I asked.

‘Nothing, just like that’ she replied.

I hopped down and walked back to the car. Her phone rings.

‘Its mom, stay quiet’ she commands.

I stare at her with my mouth zipped. After her call ends I murmured her if I could speak. After her stupid approval I ask her Road to Paradise

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where she stays. She invites me to her place saying that I should really come there and meet everybody and that her elder brother would be well surprised. I accept her invite and laugh at her commenting on her original ‘rondu’ voice that still hasn’t failed to fade. We get into the car again and she drives uphill for half an hour. Slowly and steadily she reaches a dead end of the road and stops the car, switches it off and says,

‘We’ll have to walk a kilometre uphill to reach home as the car can’t go there’

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I take the keys from her, lock the car securely and start walking with her on a flight of stairs that seemed never ending. As some tens of stairs passed by I compliment on the view she gets from her home area, it looks beautiful.

After we reached halfway up to her home she complained that she’s tired and could not climb up anymore. She stands leaning to the ground holding her feet in pain in a condition to almost breakdown and fall on the ground. I pull her by the hands, grab her legs and her shoulder and carry her in my arms. She gets amazed how I lifted her up, thinking that she’s quite heavy to be lifted.

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‘Haha, you’re not heavy enough’ I commented.

She laughs back at me; pinching my nose she puts her head onto my shoulders and embraces me. She keeps looking at me as I carry her home.

‘I’m really happy to see you today, I’ve really missed you for all this long’ she said.

I get closer to her and kiss her forehead, and like the world stood still for some seconds. She smiled, held her cold hand on one side of my face and kissed me on my

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cheeks after which she pulled the other one quite awfully.

As we reached her home, which was well, located on the very top of the hill, had an extremely pleasant view of the entire valley. As she opened up the gate I saw one of her cousin sisters reading a fat travel magazine sitting on a chair made of thick bamboos. The other one was walking out of the kitchen and she recognised me in a snap.

‘Ishaan, you’ve grown up so much’ the elder sister commented with a surprised smile.

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I walked inside further and met her parents, someone I’ve never met before but had seen so knew it was them. She Introduced me to her parents telling them I am her best friend and we used to study in the same school when we were small kids and that I somehow found her again when we were in high school.

After having a nice, delightful chat with her parents I was invited to have an evening supper with them where I met her two brothers who welcomed me with a lively spirit. She goes to the kitchen and brings me a bowl of Chocolate Pudding.

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‘*Sigh* so finally I get to taste this ‘ I said to her with a huge smile on my face.

While I ate the deliciously hot pudding I complimented on her preparation and that it tastes very good and told her ways to make it a better. After the supper, she guides me through the house; shows me each and every room and finally she steps me inside her room. A square room with sides of visually the same length, red coloured walls with a wooden floor and white roof. Her bed is loaded with books and stationary lying all over it. I walk further in and notice a yellow envelope with my name on it. I open the envelope and I pull out the card. Road to Paradise

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‘So, you’ve still kept it safe’ I say to her,

As I look at the Friendships Day card that I gave her long ago. She stares at the card and then at me and doesn’t utter a word for a minute.

‘I wanted to see if you really could live up to your promise’ she tells me.

I look out of the window and see that the sun has started to set and that its getting darker every minute. I tell her that I’m supposed to leave and I should start moving where I was headed to.

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I walk through the home where all the candles have lit up already, I say goodbye to everyone and at last land up at her door where she stood, I went in front of her and she held my hand from the back of the palm. She keeps a pack of chocolate in my hand and closes it.

‘Keep it, it helps you in the cold weather’ she said.

I look down to the pack of chocolate and slowly look into her eyes. I cry, I cry like hell. I apologise and I pull her towards and hug her tight, letting loose I hold her face with my frozen hands on her cheek and say. Road to Paradise

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‘Loved you once, Love you still. Always have, Always will’

She sees me off from her gate, and I keep looking back at her like I’ll never see her again. I slowly get in my car and drive off. I put on my favourite songs and try to find my way to my destination as it was dark and chilly. I kept driving when suddenly a disturbing noise pained my ears....

I woke up... And snoozed my alarm clock.... 8:00am 12/11/2011 Ishaan Bharadwaj... Road to Paradise

Road To Paradise  

The most talked about date brought all sorts of weird news and a wonderful dream to me.

Road To Paradise  

The most talked about date brought all sorts of weird news and a wonderful dream to me.