Fiction: As the Life Turns - Part 1

>> Friday, August 15, 2008

Dear Readers,

I've never written any stories before. This is the first story I've ever written. I've always been kind of curious about and interested in writing stories, though. I remember that years ago when I finished my high school and was waiting to start college, I bought a thick notebook and started writing a story. I don't remember now what it is that I wrote, but whatever it was, it never got very far. I was interested in writing and drawing/painting, but both passions lay hidden somewhere in the back of my mind for years until now.

The following story is a work of fiction. I myself don't know where the storyline will go and how long the story will be. I wrote Part 1 in January this year and have just written Part 2, seven months after I wrote Part 1. That shows I'm not a very prolific writer.

This story is a figment of imagination. It is not based on reality. Except for the public and historical events and figures, all other events and characters are products of my imagination. Resemblance of any character in the story with any person and the person's name is coincidental.

If you read more accomplished and established writers, I'm sure you're going to be disappointed with this story. Nevertheless, I'd welcome your comments, whether they are complimentary or critical. I'll let you be the judge.

Best regards,

* * *
As the Life TurnsPart 1

By Ajay Pradhan | January 24, 2008

Ashay had just arrived in Vancouver the previous night from a visit to Kathmandu. The latter was his home; the former, a home away from home.

It was 11:30 in the morning on Thursday and he was still in bed, enjoying his slumber in the warm morning sun sneaking through the window that overlooked the beautiful False Creek in Vancouver’s Yaletown. He had taken the rest of the week off at work.

Yaletown was an antidote to Vancouver’s faster and more dazzling northern downtown peninsula and drabness of its eastern middle-class district. He loved his home away from home.

The phone rang when he was still asleep. “Hello,” he mumbled, picking up the phone.

“Ashay, this is Sheila. Welcome back,” a soft voice of the caller sent warm tingles down his spine. “I would have picked you up at the airport, but I’m sorry I arrived home late from Seattle myself” She almost sounded apologetic.

“Hey, don’t worry, Sheila."

“Can we meet today, Ash?”

Ashay wasn’t too crazy about being called Ash, which many of his friends and families did. He somehow thought the abbreviation had a feminine ring to it. He didn’t like his name being associated with the Bollywood star, Aishworya Rai.

“I’d love to, Sheila. When and where? But, don't you have work today?” asked Ashay.

“Right now,” Sheila’s voice had a definite urgency. “I could come over, if you want. I took a day off today.”

“I’d love that, Sheila, but my apartment is messy right now and I wouldn’t want you to smell the musty odor,” Ashay lied. His apartment was immaculately clean and fresh, the way he always wanted it to be. He wasn’t a neat freak, but he was definitely not a slacker.

"Ashay, it was six months ago today that we met. Happy Six Months Anniversary", Sheila said.

Ashay hadn't remembered the date they met. He was never good with dates. "Oh, hey, Happy Sixth."

Sheila was his friend, but both had a certain level of attraction to each other that they kept hidden. It was the sort of attraction that normally didn’t exist between friends.

Sheila worked for an investment firm. Ashay worked for a policy research institute. She was a doer; he, a thinker. Ashay was smart; Sheila was smarter. They both went to Ivy League schools in the U.S. Ashay graduated from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Sheila graduated from Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. They both were first generation immigrants in Canada. They both thought alike, and each told their friends, “Nepal gave birth to me, U.S. educated me, and Canada is feeding me.”

Sheila was Shila Dhungana in Nepal. With an ‘e’ added to the name, she made things easier for her colleagues who never pronounced her name right. She didn’t like being called Shyla, so the extra ‘e’ helped her bring her colleagues back to calling her the right way, Sheela.

* * *

Sheila had met Ashay Shrestha at an investment policy seminar in Seattle, two hours down south from their home in Vancouver. Neither of them thought the other was a Nepali or were from Vancouver. With Seattle being ethnically diverse and multicultural, they didn’t take notice of each other because they thought the other was a Nepali. Vancouver being as ethnically diverse and multicultural, each had long stopped wondering if a Nepali-looking face at Pacific Center Mall or Guildford Mall was a Nepali or not.

At the seminar, Sheila and Ashay took notice of each other because each had a sparkle in their eyes when they saw each other across the round table.

Their friendship started during a coffee break with a simple, “Hi, I’m Sheila, and you are?”

“I’m Ashay. Nice to meet you, Sheila.”

“So, how are you enjoying the seminar, Ashay?”

“Oh, I’m enjoying it alright, but I’m itching to go back home.”

“And the home is…?” Sheila quizzed.

“Vancouver,” replied Ashay.

“You’re kidding me. I’m from Vancouver, too.” Sheila said.

“Wow, small world, eh?” Ashay exclaimed.

“So, Ashay, wanna do lunch together?” Sheila didn’t care if she seemed a bit too eager.

“I’d love to,” Ashay was excited.

Thus began their friendship. That was July 24, 2007, exactly six months ago today.

* * *

Ashay was in Kathmandu for two weeks for a family visit. He had a mother who doted on him as if he was still a kindergartener. He hadn’t seen her in about two years and he was very excited to see her. His father had passed away many years ago. He had two brothers and a sister. They were a close-knit family, even though they were geographically dispersed in different corners of the world at different times.

His mother would always say to him, “Ashu, I’m getting old and I want to see you settled down with a lovely bride.”

“I’ve got a few photographs that I want you to see.” His mother told him the very day he had arrived in Kathmandu.

“Aww, Ma, come on now,” He protested, not wanting to discuss the matter any further. “I came here to see you.”

When he was in Kathmandu, he had the opportunity to get around with his old friends. Having been away from Nepal, he wanted to refresh his memory of the old, architectural buildings and temples.

With the architectural bones of an 18th-century Kathmandu, the city had evolved in a mixture of ancient architecture and modern city vista. He went to Basantapur and Thamel tourist hubs. He was particularly impressed with the transformation of Thamel from a sleepy district that he had last seen to a bustling tourist destination with multitude of restaurants, pubs and cafes serving cuisine from most parts of the world.

One evening he and his four old friends, Nisha, Pranita, Apurba and Prakash, went to have dinner at Jatra, a restaurant that offered sumptuous cosmopolitan faire on their menu and an eclectic choice of cocktails.

Just when the cocktail orders were being placed to the perky waitress, Pranita’s cell phone rang.

“Hello,” Pranita flipped the phone and softly answered, not wanting to draw the attraction from other tables.

“I want to talk to Ashay,” A female voice said.

“Who’s this?” Pranita demanded.

“Just give him the phone, please,” The caller was in no mood to reveal her name.

“But how do you know Ashay is here?”

“Will you please give him the phone already?” The caller didn't even say, "Would you..." She seemed pretty determined to talk with Ashay.

Pranita gave Ashay the phone.

“Hello, who’s this?” Ashay spoke into the phone and listened.

All his friends at the table noticed Ashay’s face go pale as he listened.

* * *

[End of Part 1]

Go to Part 2]

Photo Credits:
Stock photo of couple holding hands: Anonymous photographer.
License: 100% Royalty-free.


Anonymous December 20, 2008 at 1:54 PM  

The story is beautifully written so far. I can't wait for part it soon :)

-by a reader who read this at 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday :)

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