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7 seconds: Typical Teenager, Atypical Life


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7 Seconds – The Story of a Typical Guy with a Not So Typical Life
-The Novel in a Nutshell-
(From the author’s pen)

Do your teenage years ever end?
Yes, you would say, at 20 years of age.
But for Akshant they never did end.

They had told you a lot of stuff in your growing years which you might have forgotten by now. If you are a parent by now, remember what you can do to keep a check on your children. Teenagers may come to know new things about themselves. Romance might get redefined for all the mature readers.

Not all authors that you have read have the persuasive power to affect your mind-set; Atul reads your youthful minds. The teenaged readers are going to find it as a worthy guidebook, the young adults will find it as a romantic novel and the mature readers will find it as a thought transforming read.

You never actually grow up in totality, and this story prods on the youthful cringe hidden inside you.

Pages (A4 sized) in the story: 222

A fantastic story made free for reading after realizing that I don't have the money to get it published by a good company. Read it here for free and try to take lessons of what to do and what not to as an Indian teenager.

Published in: Self Improvement
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7 seconds: Typical Teenager, Atypical Life

  1. 1. 1 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal
  2. 2. 2 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal About the Author Some background Just a bit Atul Kaushal was born in the year 1990 and brought up in the minor city of Karnal in the Indian state of Haryana. He is a young biotechnologist who got his Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology from Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak. He did the first two years of his degree from Career Institute of Technology, CITM (now Manav Rachna International University, MRIU) located at Faridabad, Haryana, and the next two years from University Institute of Engineering & Technology, UIET located inside the MDU campus at Rohtak. He unfortunately met with a serious accident that fractured his B.Tech degree in midway. It pushed him behind by a year in the course. But the accident also inspired this story and Atul also took clues about the story from his studies. He has since mended his life and has got a message for his fellow youngsters of India: Don’t waste your time or otherwise time will waste you. He completed his bachelor’s degree in the year
  3. 3. 3 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal 2014. He completed writing this book in the year 2012 and then went on with polishing it till he could finally self-publish the book. Starting from scratch and without any godfathers in publishing line, he clearly makes his statement: I am here to change the rules. Atul draws inspiration from prominent new age Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat and builds up his novel’s realistic storyline building on their mistakes, new age world English fiction writers like Joanne Kathleen Rowling and his able English language teachers in school time apart from his parents who did their best in encouraging him. He is a proactive social servant apart from being a fitness enthusiast. Atul adheres to professing physical exercises in this busy modern life. As a lover of nature, he supports planting more trees and stands against the desecration of the already receding forest cover. In his free time, Atul likes to play his guitar as he sings along, and he likes to study regarding miscellaneous subparts of science on the Internet. He is an admirer of rock and metal music genres; he is also a fan of retro music and likes to strum his guitar to the softer songs of all the genres. Atul can be contacted in many ways. He can be contacted on his Facebook presence, or write to him at
  4. 4. 4 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Contents ABOUT THE AUTHOR Some background Just a bit ...................................................................................................2 AUTHOR/PUBLISHER’S INFORMATION Atul Kaushal Sharma New Age Self-Publishing Services Book Published by A.K.S. Self-Publishing Solutions on KDP ...........................................................................................................10 -FIRST OF ALL- Acknowledgements From the author to his people.....................................................12 PROLOGUE 22 December 2025 (Satyaa Narrates).................................................................................16 -CHAPTER ONE- Childhood (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................21 -CHAPTER TWO- First Crush (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................29 -CHAPTER THREE- Separated From Abhinav - My Dual Natured Father (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................37 -CHAPTER FOUR- My Guitar Love & Tobacco Aversion (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................52
  5. 5. 5 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -CHAPTER FIVE- Second Crush & First Love (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................59 -CHAPTER SIX- Some Love, Results and Pre-College (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................72 -FIRST RELATIONSHIP PROCEEDS BUT WITH HICCUPS- Psychotic Sides Surface (Akshant Narrates) ............................................................................77 -FIRST RELATIONSHIP WORSENS- Bhanu’s Two Brothers (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................94 -FIRST RELATIONSHIP ENDS- The Unavoidable Tears (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................104 -CHAPTER SEVEN- Pride & Responsibility, More Love & Agony (Satyaa Narrates)...............................................................................115 -MY DAMAGE CONTROL MEASURES GO AWRY- IIT Roorkie Fest (Satyaa Narrates)...............................................................................147 -CHAPTER EIGHT- The Preceding Peaceful Calm (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................161 -CHAPTER NINE- I Dissolve the Confusions (Love Part III) (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................170
  6. 6. 6 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -CHAPTER TEN- My Stint as the Tourist Guide (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................183 -CHAPTER ELEVEN- Avatar (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................189 -CHAPTER ELEVEN- Akshant Reaps the Fruits of the Seeds He Sowed (Satyaa Narrates)...............................................................................193 -CHAPTER THIRTEEN- Tutor Akshant (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................198 -A CHEAT- Gurleen Disappoints Me (Akshant Narrates).............................................................................202 -CHAPTER FOURTEEN- May 7, 2010 (Akshant Narrates)............................................................................211 -CHAPTER FIFTEEN- 7 Seconds (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................216 -CHAPTER SIXTEEN- Rebirth (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................221 -CHAPTER SEVENTEEN- Ghosts of Childhood Return to Haunt (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................233
  7. 7. 7 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -CHAPTER EIGHTEEN- I Prepare For Mathematics (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................241 -CHAPTER NINETEEN- I Realize My Mistakes… (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................247 -AND IT CONTINUES- Corruption & Redemption (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................253 -CHAPTER TWENTY- My Love for My Nation, My Parents & Poetry (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................257 -CHAPTER TWENTY ONE- Last Year of B. Tech Ends at Kodaikanal (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................265 -CHAPTER TWENTY TWO- Room Number 69 (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................270 -CHAPTER TWENTY THREE- Divine Sin (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................276 -CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR- I make my parents smile (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................280 -CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE- My New Outlook of Love, Life & Parents (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................284 -CHAPTER TWENTY SIX- I Propose Anamika for Marriage! (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................289
  8. 8. 8 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN- 7 Seconds Again! (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................297 -CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT- Back to the basics (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................306 -CHAPTER TWENTY NINE- Hard Work Pays (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................310 -CHAPTER THIRTY- Results Are Out (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................315 -CHAPTER THIRTY ONE- Another Interview (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................319 -CHAPTER THIRTY TWO- 7 Seconds Once Again!!! (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................322 -CHAPTER THIRTY THREE- Mathura Refinery (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................331 -CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR- History Reckons (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................336 -CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE- Spiritual Sunday (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................340 -CHAPTER THIRTY SIX- Fatehpur Sikri (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................346
  9. 9. 9 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN- Monument of Love (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................350 -CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT- Ist Dieser Herr Kautilya? (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................362 -SHUDDHA RAKHT- The Organization (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................378 -CHAPTER THIRTY NINE- Just! (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................383 -SHUDDHA RAKHT- The Conspiracy (Satyaa Narrates Through Her Secret Source) ..................390 -CHAPTER FORTY- July 7, 2014 (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................401 -CHAPTER FORTY ONE- Abstinence & Lies (Akshant Narrates)...........................................................................426 -CHAPTER FORTY TWO- Marriage Bells (Akshant & Satyaa Narrate) .......................................................439 -SHUDDHA RAKHT- He Must Die (Satyaa Narrates)...............................................................................450
  10. 10. 10 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Author/Publisher’s Information Atul Kaushal Sharma New Age Self-Publishing Services Book Published by A.K.S. Self-Publishing Solutions on KDP House Number D9, National Dairy Research Institute Campus A publication of Atul Kaushal on Copyright © Atul Kaushal 2014 All rights reserved 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblances with any living or dead or even lifeless entities are entirely coincidental. E-book published by: A.K.S. Self-Publishing Solutions on KDP E-book distributed by: Amazon Languages: English ISBN-13: ISBN-10: Typeset in NDRI by Phoenix Arts, Karnal
  11. 11. 11 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Published electronically at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing This e-book/book was sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by the way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise be circulated in any form of electronic or print form, or otherwise without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on all the subsequent purchasers and without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means (electronic, mechanical, recording, photocopying or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above-mentioned publisher of the book. A.K.S. Self-Publishing Solutions
  12. 12. 12 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -First of All- Acknowledgements From the author to his people Firstly, I thank my parents owing to whom I am alive this second as I am putting together these lines of my first novel. They were the ones who acted as the major inspiration for me to write this story. Then I would like to express my gratitude to that strongest power, the power of time. I thank my closest friend Madhur Sagar Gupta for the confidence he imparted. I would like to thank my best friend Kripi Mehra who inspired me to add poetry pieces. I would like to thank my friend Shruti Prakash who has had great contributions towards making it a presentable book. I would like to thank my cousins Shubha Akka, Bharath Rao, Namita Didi, Ashutosh Jeeju, Vivek Kaushik, Priyanka Bhabhi, Pranshu Saini & Kriti Saini from the North, and Megha Manjunath, R. Deepak, Chaitra Manjunath & Srinidhi Chinmayi from the South for their valuable constant support & guidance. I am also grateful to my friends from all four of my schools, especially Kendriya Vidyalaya who helped me learn the world’s most important lesson called life. I would also like to thank my guitar students & constant companions Vinayak Sharma and Abhinav Jauhari, my childhood friends Abhishek Thakur, Rohan Kimothi, Rohit Sankhala, Ravil Thakur, Shivani Kimothi and Rishabh Kimothi who have all been with me
  13. 13. 13 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal throughout the toughest of my time share. I would also like to thank my college friends from both my graduation colleges CITM/MRIU, Faridabad and UIET, Rohtak; Vitasta Gurtoo, Vinod Mudai, Anand Dalal and last but not the least at all, my close friend Pragya Mehra too who have all taught me the most important lesson there is, the lesson of life. Then there is the English Professor Mihir Bannerjee from my senior secondary who taught me some of the most important lessons in life and always considered me a good human being; Principal Annie Thariyan from Kendriya Vidyalaya, whose boosting words are still anew in my memory. I acknowledge Professor Col. (Retd.) JPS Suri from CITM/MRIU, Faridabad for his faith in me as his soldier of morals. The publishers then need a special mention because without them publishing it would be impossible and it would have remained another file in my laptop. Then finally, I acknowledge ‘you’ for choosing to read this book. I hope to share the lessons which time has taught me so far; but as they rightly say – others can only show you the way, it is always you who chooses to walk on it. Hope you interpret the lessons hidden in its various chapters positively, leave out the negative shades while interpreting the positives that I try to convey and hope that you mayn’t read it just as a story. Read Akshant’s story with positivity & patience so that you may feel enlightened in the end.
  14. 14. 14 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Atul Kaushal
  15. 15. 15 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal
  16. 16. 16 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Prologue 22 December 2025 (Satyaa Narrates) The cool breeze which blew from the Yamuna was silently gathering a hint of heat from the pyre which lighting up the evening atmosphere at a distant Yamuna bank in Mathura. A regular ‘Archana’ was taking place even somewhere down the river at a distance as the small lights of diyas (earthen Indian lamps) indicated. Sankshaya came running and after her came running Sanchay, seeing whom I am always reminded of his dad. “Satyaa mausi – Shanky is pulling my hair again & again, I want revenge!” declared Sanchay clearly faking anger which failed to veil away his smile. “Mausi save me!” said Sankshaya giggling as she hid at my back before again excitedly running back into their quarters after finally making faces at Sanchay. Sanchay followed his quick sister’s trail, that day they I had come to know that their family was preparing to shift to Bangalore after Mr. Arjun Kautilya’s five years’ job extension period granted to him after retirement due to the quality of service he had been providing the refinery with, but it was going to be depleted next year. So this was the last time during his job and the stay at the Mathura Refinery Campus that his only son’s birthday on the 23rd of December was coming inside the Refinery Campus.
  17. 17. 17 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I started telling, “Sanchay, do always keep this in your mind that your dad would want you to look after each other, you should always be really protective about your sis – ” but I could only notice them start running off again which made me add, “Sankshaya-Sanchay – look out as you play and don’t get hurt! I gave your chocolates to your mother,” I called after them in an attempt to lure them back into the house as Sankshaya started to run again after she briefly pulled Sanchay’s hair as a final incitation. Sanchay again started chasing her. A hearty smile automatically came to my face as I was looking at the joyful twins and I remember their father – a nice, brave & helpful man, a sweet & handsome, crystal-hearted, decent & romantic guy to me and a near-perfect son for his family. I had brought chocolates for them – their dad’s favourite chocolates. This was quite true as their dad was the only child of their grandparents and he had only few genuine friends who all were of such an opinion about him which he had got to be with at malls – his favourite bunks, various libraries, classes and various places with them only. He was highly interested about poetry and even composed few songs in his lifetime. Akshant is his unique name. I was the closest to him during his college days and even later on in his life so I will narrate his part of the story in his words just as he shared it with me. While narrating my part, I’ll try my best to keep the narration fair enough on my part. I look to keep it both heavy & light and intense & interesting.
  18. 18. 18 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal As you read on this story, you will get to learn from his mistakes and good deeds.
  19. 19. 19 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I will start over with his childhood first as he had shared it with me, following up with his teenage and young adulthood in his own words along with my part in the drama of his life to make you connect better with all of it.
  20. 20. 20 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal
  21. 21. 21 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter One- Childhood (Akshant Narrates) On the night of a frosty & rainy 23rd December, 1990, inside the maternity ward of Swarn Jayanti Hospital, Mathura a baby boy was born at the strike of 9 pm to Arjun Kautilya Sharma (AKS) and Shanti Sharma. Not taking too much trouble in searching a suitable name, with mama’s consent, my daddy decided that his only son be known as Akshant (AKS+SHANT) combining both of theirs first names. So my name was registered as Akshant Kautilya Sharma. I was a cute baby, with mixed features from both North and South India which suited me. Given my fair complexion and a nose not exactly straight, I appeared like an alien from another planet according to the doctor who looked after my delivery as she joked at my elongated head right after the delivery. This exceptionally large size of my head remained till I was ten and the watchmen of Mathura oil refinery used to identify me as a thin, European-looking kid with the larger skull. All my maternal uncles & aunts, and my paternal aunts, all of the neighbours and my parents’ acquaintances liked the baby very much as I was told by my parents. I grew up peacefully & was never a trouble kid for my parents. At the tender age of 4 I started school from Upper Kinder Garden at Vidya Devi Jindal School in the
  22. 22. 22 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Industrial Area at the Nandgaon Road of the village Kosi Kalan in Mathura having skipped both Nursery and LKG due to some other schools previously rejecting my application for admission citing that both my parents were working. “I won’t go to school today, I’ve not completed my homework,” the young version of me would often say so every next morning. “Oh my Sweetie hasn’t completed his homework. It does not matter, daddy can always help you complete it and then you can go to school,” my mother would tell me in a soothing voice. Though she was softer at heart but anyways she sought to shift the responsibility to dad. I would then go to my dad and say in a barely audible voice, “Papa, please mera homework kar do…<Papa, please complete my homework…>” “But you had said you’d complete it by yourself. Roz ka yahi drama hai tera – the same drama won’t be doing any good to you if the same mistakes are repeated daily. Today I can complete it for you as always but who would do that for you when you’re at college?” my father Arjun Kautilya Sharma would ask me in a stern voice. “Tomorrow onwards I’ll never ask you to do it for me. I swear it by Lord Krishna!” I would say which would make my dad smile. My father would then say in a really stern but loving voice, “Okay – I’ll do it for you this time considering you to be our own little Kanhaiya, but tomorrow onwards you’re going to try to complete your homework at school itself.”
  23. 23. 23 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal But that tomorrow did never come until I was at college that I had to do my work by myself. I had made friends with the cute and naughty Abhinav Tagore who read in the same school as mine and lived in the same street of the Mathura Refinery Township as me. We did well in all the fields, and Abhinav, who was slightly bigger in size, was always protective of me at school. When young, me and Abhinav were like twins, well at least the rest of the kids thought so after seeing Abhinav and me always being together and doing the same stuff, teased the same kid, fought the same kid, scored almost the same at school, shared the same food and played together the same games, liked the same girls and all that stuff which brothers usually, or sometimes even rarely share. Abhinav was always protective of me, and I was always totally supportive of Abhinav in all the various mischief which we together committed. In exchange of my loyalty, the kid Abhinav would complete my homework and even himself would often tell me to practice handwriting just like all elders had been telling me time and again that doing one’s homework by themselves helped in higher classes. He would also finish the lunchbox for me so that I may not be scolded back at home. Abhinav also recalls that once he had once naughtily challenged me to break the last window of the school matador. I had fallen for his trick. It was already sort of dangling and so, when I pushed the already drooping window with both my small 7-yr-old arms and a boosted over-
  24. 24. 24 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal confidence, the window went crashing down after detaching from the van, ‘Crack! Thud,’ and so issued the noise. Both of the school van crew, the driver and the conductor punished the little me and made me bend into the ‘murga’ or cock position in the torrid shower which was pouring from the clouds that day. The school van staff then demanded a fine from the six years old me, “Bring five hundred rupees as fine for breaking it.” Later, I remember going home and exploding in tears in front of my mother when she was home for lunch. In the evening, when she told my father about the school-van window, my dad was unperturbed and told me to not to worry about the matter, as I had told him that the particular window was already dangling. My father then told the bus-wallah to not to bother me for an already dangling window and the matter was to be forgotten by everybody but me. But it surely showed that I was a fighter right from my childhood and that I really loved challenges. I loved my mother the most when I was a kid and was really joyful whenever she brought any chocolates, sweets or Hot WheelsTM cars for the younger version of me. I would talk to myself while I used to play with them. So my childhood went quite normally apart from the fact that I had nobody to look after me during throughout most of the time during my growing years. I was also a fan of sweets since my childhood and being the only kid, I let myself be spoilt in that context. There was this ice cream parlour
  25. 25. 25 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal just outside the campus. I used to sort of guide my father there every Saturday night. “Namaste Shaab,” the Nepali caretaker would say to my dad, “Mango, Vanilla, or Butterscotch?” “I want butter-couch daddy!” I would demand. “But it was the same last time too,” my father would say, “Try the mango flavour this time or vanilla perhaps?” “No daddy, I want butter-couch!” my demand would persist and my sweet loving father would finally give in to his only child’s demand. The Nepali caretaker of the shop would smile brilliantly noticing my persisting childish hues. This was all to my chic-lifestyle. I just used to demand toys and few other things. My parents counted them all among privileges which other children who had siblings did not regularly get in India. Obviously these reasons would also stand true in explaining my being the only child of them both. I had friends at schools that used to talk about their grandparents and siblings. I just listened to them and felt really nice. “Even I want a little brother, mummy.” I would demand from my mother as if asking for a toy robot. “But why, you have us, we invest all our time at home for your happiness,” mummy would say. “But I still want a sibling!” my demand would suddenly become agitated as I would sit on the floor to pressurize my parents. My daddy would remain intentionally silent as he would let mummy do the job of diverting my attention.
  26. 26. 26 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Amma would say, “There are a lot of other kids who don’t have any siblings and you are not an exception. There’s the example of your cousins from Bangalore, and why bother going far, there’s Dr. Aasha’s daughter, Anamika, go and see if she also irritates her parents for the same stuff as you.” I would say indifferently, “I don’t know about her, I just know that I am lonely.” My parents would then try to shift my attention towards something more interesting to my childish self. They would talk about food articles with me and if that failed to get my mind diverted, they would use their trump card right there and right then by telling me, “Whenever you seek to escape from studies, you start talking about vain stuff!” I would be easily subdued by this comment by either of my parents because any studies were a weak spot for me till I had had to do writing homework and I hated writing. My parents could not help me more to complete my homework. Their helping me complete my homework had ruined my handwriting due to lack of practice and my primary school teachers would tell my dad in all of the parents-teacher meetings, “You better be strict with him today or he will suffer in future. Dictate at least three pages in both of the languages, Hindi & English.” Such parenting tips which advised them to be strict with their only son were either ignored by my parents, rather they were refused to follow such guidelines by me. I always preferred playing computer games over written homework which would bring me pain in my little hands, but I’d still score sufficiently good enough to consistently
  27. 27. 27 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal remain among the three toppers of every class during every year at junior primary school. No one could blame my parents. They were not in a joint family and my relatives seldom visited us. So my parents were busy doing their respective government services, and I had to do most of my own parenting by myself. I had to teach myself that how to survive alone at a young age of five years. My parents dropping me at the crèche did no good to me as I could not get used to so many kids around myself. On my 7 years birthday, I remember breaking down into tears because I could not take the obvious birthday raucous caused by other kids who had been invited. My parents had called off the party and sent the kids home after making them have the cake and the toffees apart from other snacks. My parents then tried to make me understand the things after the kids were gone, “Akki, it’s not the way to behave. It was you only who invited them.” But even back then I was a lover of my privacy and peace who refused to understand even a bit of whatever my parents tried to make me understand. Then a trait of being a secretive and private person also developed inside me at that young age – there to stay till the age of sixteen and till
  28. 28. 28 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal that time I did not feel like sharing about everything with anyone.
  29. 29. 29 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter Two- First Crush (Akshant Narrates) Years passed on and so did our class III B. It was then that our school's sweet, soft-spoken and kind-hearted Principal Mr. SP Mehta was leaving the job from Vidya Devi Jindal School to Delhi Public School, Refinery Nagar, Mathura branch and many of the kids were going to follow him to a new school. He was a charming personality according to all the kids. I was no exception. I particularly liked his soft, kind-natured voice. He was just like Krishna. And he was also like Santa Claus. Always his coat or jacket’s pockets remained full with toffees and other confectionary items that he kept distributing among the kids. So when he shifted his workplace to the newly opened Delhi Public School, many kids and teachers followed him. Abhinav and his family were leaving the Refinery Campus and moving out to Krishna Nagar and he shifted to Delhi Public School excusing that our favourite principal was moving to that school. So I also shifted to Delhi Public School just like many other kids apart from Abhinav because I used to consider Abhinav my best friend. There, we again started going to classes in the same section, section 'B' by chance and we again used to share the same desk. While I was showing great interest at geography, civics & history, Abhinav was showing the same interest at Mathematics as
  30. 30. 30 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal always. The IVth B ended with both of us scoring wonderfully well at all the subjects, my marks slightly lower than Abhinav’s marks in aggregate. Then class IVth ended and we reached the standard Vth 'B'. At this point in the life of younger version of myself, there was the entry of my first love, or rather crush, Aniketa Sood. She was roll number 9 in standard 5th B and I was roll number 7. For the 9-year-old me she was a really beautiful young girl. Oh, she was in-fact a beautiful, really beautiful girl for many young boys. Many-a-juvenile brains were corrupted with the peculiar flavour of "LOVE", by this young beauty and I was no exception in this particular case. She was as white as snow, she had a voice which was sort-of peculiar, as if a harp was being played, and she had those beautiful hazel- coloured eyes which were a treat to be stared at. I really liked her but would keep the feelings I was getting about her to myself for a long time. We students were exposed to a competitive atmosphere at Delhi Public School. While I was always trying to score more than Abhinav and not succeeding as much at Maths and Science, I was surely scoring the better at Hindi, Sanskrit and English. At home, I started learning German and French. While Vinayak Das Belgaum uncle had brought German-learning resources for me, I started French by myself. But as everyone is aware of it, French is not such an easy language for everyone.
  31. 31. 31 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal My stay at the second school was a nice one as I did discover a natural gift in my singing prowess at different school-level singing programs, which played a really important role in my late-teens. Young boys in my class often playfully asked each other about the girl who they liked the most. On being asked by other boys in my class about my choice among our classmate girls, the twelve years old self of me would innocently say, “I love Aniketa,” “And will you marry her?” my classmates led by Hardik Chawla, a businessman’s son would ask me teasingly. “Of course, I will definitely marry her only!” the younger version of me would reply in a determined manner with my eyes looking dreamy. All the boys in our class started teasing me with Aniketa’s name. To be truthful, I felt no shame in accepting that I loved Aniketa Sood. She possessed such a charming personality. Whenever I looked at her, I felt that violins were being played and flower petals started falling down around me in my imaginary world. I used to look at her face and thought it to be the most beautiful face I would ever get to see. Apart from beautiful sharp features, she had a natural blush in her cherry cheeks, and as her primary schooling had been done at a convent located at Kasauli till class IV, she also had a polished musical ring in her voice when she used to speak in English. Of course not many kids in our class could speak in English. So she was made
  32. 32. 32 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal the class monitor thanks to her credentials and English skills. She was also chosen the Junior School House Captain for Kalpana House and it did use to suit her. She would come to our desk and try to threaten us with her finger moving angrily in front of her, “None of you is behaving, I will tell your names to the teacher, let her come.” Initially, a competitor came up. Anurag Tripathi. He was roll number 10 and would sit behind Aniketa in exams. Between me and Aniketa, another boy named Akshay Singh was having his roll number. And alphabetically, Abhinav had his roll number before me. Abhinav was acting like my elder brother in this school too. Frequently he would be observed by the entire class protecting me and my interests. He bossed Anurag around for me, scaring him out of the competition. “Some other competition will rise if you guys suppress me today,” Anurag would calmly say, “She is sought after by many of our seniors.” True he was. Many of the older boys from our senior classes used to steal looks at her during the assembly, or during the recess, in between periods, or after the school got over. She would still carry herself with the young childish swagger. I was impressed more from each trait of hers. Childhood was so simple till it was childhood and young teenage. But as I gained more and more years of age, the craze inside me for Aniketa only got more strengthened. Later, I had written a song too in Hindi language for this girl named Aniketa Sood when I was just 14 years of age. Childhood was gone. She used to
  33. 33. 33 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal be the only thing on my younger teenaged mind. Teenage had descended in its complete colours when finally I had composed the song with a proper tune too for proposing her. The Hindi title of the song was ‘Jo mere dil mein, tu basi hai’ (If you are here in my heart). Music was an ability that was in-born in my younger self. I was fascinated by this young beauty and later, when I proposed the girl, she rightly rejected me. But I never thought badly about Aniketa as she had spoken to me on phone daily for several hours just as best friends would. Also she had spared me some company as I was the only child of my parents, and I counted those among the happiest times I had ever spent with anybody. I would elaborate on this chapter in my life. It was an infatuation which had developed quite early. “Aniketa, you have talked to me for quite some time now,” I said. “So, that’s good, is it not?” Aniketa asked. “I wanna confess something,” I said. “What it is? No – wait. Don’t say it!” Aniketa sort of warned me. “I won’t wait, I can’t wait. I’ve already spent too much time alone. It was a long time that I’ve waited.” I declared. “Akshant, just wait and think about it, the things won’t remain the same. I know what you want to say.” Aniketa again said. “I have been in love with you Aniketa ever since you came to DPS. All these years I have just loved you and I have loved you only. I even composed a song for proposing you. You just listen to it once,” I said
  34. 34. 34 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal it all in one breath without beating around the bush. She was not ready for my proposal. Neither was I ready for what I heard next from her end. I had not have any counter-comments ready for her angry words which followed. “Don’t ever call me again, Akshant! Because this was the last time we talked! I didn’t expect you to propose me. I thought that you were a good boy. But you are just like all of the others. Don’t ever call me again.” *Click-thud* came the receiver’s angry sound. I understood that I had lost her, even as a friend... We stopped talking. No, it would better be put as she stopped talking to me. Today when I look back in my past then this particular composition is way too romantic in my opinion for a young teenaged boy aged just 14 years! Although I had composed this song for Aniketa, she could never listen to it when it was ready for her to hear as we stopped talking after Aniketa got angry after I verbally proposed her. She had even refused to listen to the song. It was unlucky for her. Anyways, I will share the song lyrics and the translation with you.
  35. 35. 35 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Jo Mere Dil Mein Jo mere dil mein tu basi hai, (If inside my heart you reside,) Toh zindagi ki har khushi hai, (Then I have all happiness in life,) Na jaana – Na jaana jaanam mujhe chhod ke, (Don’t leave me alone,) Na jaana Na jaana mera dil tod ke… (Don’t ever break my heart…) Tum se hi mera hausla hai, (My morale is from you,) Tum se hi har faisla hai, (From you is each of my decisions,) Tere bagaer zindagi, begaani… (Without you my life is, stranger…) Tere bagaer zindagi, veerani… (Without you my life is, emptier…) Tum se hi jaana pyaar kya hai, (I have known love after knowing you,) Tum se hi nayi zindagi hai, (Knowing you only I have a new life,) Tere bagaer zindagi, begaani… (Without you my life is, stranger…) Tere bagaer zindagi, veerani… (Without you my life is, emptier…) Jo mere dil mein, tu basi hai, (If inside my heart you reside,) Toh zindagi ki har khushi hai, (Then I have all happiness in life,) Jo tu nahin toh, kya zindagi hai, (If you aren’t here, what my life is,)
  36. 36. 36 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Jo tu nahin toh, kya zindagi hai... (If you aren’t here, what my life is...) The lyrics to the song which I had composed later at just fifteen years of age which could never reach the ears it had been originally composed for
  37. 37. 37 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter Three- Separated From Abhinav - My Dual Natured Father (Akshant Narrates) I was largely a silent teenager to the teachers, but a head-ache to those seniors whom I would talk to – mercilessly – for hours in the school van till either me or them reached their stops. But I was younger than the age of 13 years back at that time when I used to be talkative, and was too cute to be scolded; at least my neck was as slim and long as a kid that people overlooked my mistakes when I sweetly said sorry with my head held high with a charming smile. Not much later was the time when I was turning into a lonely teenager with the passage of time; the more I gained inches in my height, the more I became a silent and private person. I then transited from a talkative juvenile kid to a silent lonesome teenage boy in my middle teen years. The reason being I had to keep shifting schools. This could always mean the other way round too, but I preferred silence just because I had become accustomed to it back at home, until my parents started having shouting matches, and I liked solitude more than any other thing. I disliked noise as I was not used to it and had no siblings, so I preferred having only a few close, bosom and real friends. To top it all, I liked football more than cricket and there was
  38. 38. 38 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal only cricket in Mathura, and probably all the Uttar Pradesh and all over India. My third school turned out to be the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Refinery Nagar where I had been brought up right after my birth at the hospital. I started going there from 8th standard as my parents were planning to relocate to my maternal grand-mother’s city, Bangalore where they had got their house built. It was obvious that being in a metropolitan city would mean better opportunities and exposure for me and that there won’t ever be any curriculum issues. This led to a separation between me and Abhinav. The two boys who looked like brothers to everyone were poised to avoid each other and talk formally like just friends. I got to be with the best and the most genuine friends in the comparatively smaller Kendriya Vidyalaya. I made bosom-fast friends with the naughty boy Bhavya, witty guy Surya, the robust true Sardar brothers Malak Singh & Sinderpal Singh, the intelligent Mohan, greatly lively Rohit, and somewhat slow Rekha & the topper girl Nakshatra. The plan for shifting to Bangalore however didn’t materialize in future and my mother’s aspirations to get back to her homeland were laid in tatters shortly afterwards. So I continued my schooling at the KV, only slightly missing my previous classmates as I found it easier moving on with newer, fewer and awesomest friends. Now I would share with you something really true from my own personal experience, ‘Bigger the school’s name in smaller cities, more populous the classrooms will be and
  39. 39. 39 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal inferior would be the quality of overall education imparted – and it includes both values and studies. Though the district toppers would be from bigger schools, better human beings will always get churned out in majority from smaller schools.’ In an unlucky afternoon in the monsoon of 2005 our school had got over earlier, so to reach home quickly I pedalled my bicycle furiously to race along with a school rickshaw. There was playful jeering from the kids sitting in the rickshaw, “You won’t win the race from our rickshaw! Our rickshaw bhaiya is pedalling much faster than you.” I called loudly after the students in the rickshaw with an intention of teasing them, “Hey juniors! I’ll soon leave behind your snail-paced rickshaw and reach home earlier than you – just see how fast I can –” and as I was in the middle of my sentence, I put more effort to accelerate and my foot slipped off the left pedal which made my 14-year-old version fall on the newly built concrete road chin-first with a considerable force – “Unhh!” As the rickshaw-puller helped me into a standing position the kids on seeing my face instantly hissed in unison, “Sssss…!” And then I heard someone, “How his chin bleeds!” I immediately got the steel tiffin box out of my bag and had a quick look of what had become of my chin to invite such a pitiful reaction from other kids. I could just see blood oozing out from the area which was supposed to have been my chin.
  40. 40. 40 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal “Bhaiya, aapke to kaafi zyada lag gayi, (Elder brother, you got hurt real badly,) you should’ve taken care of the moist roads in the rainy days of monsoon, these are not roads of America or Italy that everybody gets to become another successor Lance Armstrong – or Pirelli!” said smartly a junior named Abhishek who was among the brightest students of his own class. “Haan aur ye race kyun laga rahe the aap, (Yeah and why were you racing,) we know that you’d simply ride your cycle more swiftly than this rickshaw of ours, there was no need to prove it practically,” pointed out another junior named Bhawna. “Bhaiyaji aap kahein to hum aapki cycle aur aapko aspataal tak chhod aate hain, (Sir I can drop you till the nearest hospital if you tell me to)” the aged rickshaw-puller offered to take me and my bicycle to the nearest dispensary. I thought for not more than a second only to calmly shake my head to say nothing else but, “No, thank you bhaiya, I would help myself.” while still pressing my wound with the fingers and palm of my right hand trying to cease the incessant blood from oozing out and preventing it from dripping down to the ground. As I removed my hand, it invited a sympathetic reaction from everyone who just clicked their tongues in unison, ‘Tch-tch-tch-tch!’ ‘Ouch, that must have hurt.’ Bhawna offered her handkerchief saying, “Ye lo bhaiya, (Take this elder brother,) you’re still bleeding too much, it would require stitches, I fear.” I thought that it would be better to produce my own handkerchief and spoil it rather than
  41. 41. 41 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal somebody else’s towel-like handkerchief. So I drew my handkerchief out of my own pocket to wipe the blood and observe it more clearly. Few passers-by were discussing with each other, one of them was telling another, “The younger generation these days, you know.” I ignored the voice and I produced my own handkerchief instead, pressed the wound and went on my way to the Mathura Refinery hospital to get my chin stitched back again close to original. My neck was also aching now. On my way I realized that I couldn’t ride by holding onto the bicycle’s handle with one hand as there was a lack of balance holding the handle by just one hand. So I stopped and tied my handkerchief around my chin and knotted it tightly above my head to stop bleeding. When I reached the refinery dispensary, I looked a bit funny & pitiable at the same time. The receptionist who knew my name first clicked his tongue like all others and then issued a prescription sheet, he didn’t ask me much about how, when or where. I went on to find that my favourite Dr. Aasha Belgaum was absent and so I went to Dr. Manoj. Here I sat on the procedure table & invited remarks from Doctor Manoj who was tending to my stitches with surgical ability. He then told the senior nurse, “Ye aajkal ke bacche to dekho! Look at the kids these days, even my own son got his leg fractured the other day when he was having fun on our new TVS Sunny.”
  42. 42. 42 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I immediately clarified on sensing that I was being generalized as just another ‘kid’, “Uncleji, I didn’t use a motor vehicle without license, I was just imbalanced on my bicycle,” Dr. Manoj, though feeling uncomfortable by a straightforward remark from such a young boy of my age, still emphasized on his point, “Betaji, my point is that you don’t need to try breaking the speed records even for your bicycle.” I stayed silent and waited till the doctor was done with stitching my chin and dressed it properly. Then I said as I got off the observation table, “Thank you, Doctor Uncle! I promise you that I’d take care now on,” “Take care of yourself for the sake of your parents as you’re their only child. They will get worried in vain,” said Dr. Manoj as he ultimately put a sticky bandage on the cotton swab to hold it in place over the stitches. Finally the stitches had gotten in place and I got close to my bag in the corner. “Thank you doctor uncle, many thanks, I promise that in future I’ll surely take care of myself,” I said as I hurriedly picked up my bag and started to bolt out of the room. This was bound to invite the doctor’s further remarks in a barely audible voice to the senior nurse, “He won’t learn a lesson ever – someday he is going to get himself hurt very badly!” On my way out from the dispensary, I came face to face with an even younger Anamika who was there on behalf of her mother, Dr. Aasha Vinayak Das Belgaum to deliver an important piece of paper required for by the dispensary for leave application records. I waved and beamed at her.
  43. 43. 43 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal “Oh my God – what happened to your chin!?” Anamika asked me in a feeble but concerned voice, her face apprehensive. I quickly explained it all in the fewest possible words to which Anamika said, “Akshant, you better take care of yourself. Today it’s just a stitch which only got your chin looking like Santa’s beard, tomorrow it could be something more dangerous.” I said, “Yes I will, Anamika. Do not get worried about me. See you later!” I tried to smile but I winced from pain, narrowed my eyes momentarily and nodded wordlessly before I grabbed my bicycle and continued on my way back to home. Then I reached home only to discover that my father was home much earlier than the usual time he used to come for lunch, a girl’s Scooty was also parked in front of the door and both the doors were bolted from inside. I breathed in relaxation that my dad was home right when I required him to be and I pressed the bell. No answer. I again repeatedly pressed the bell’s switch few more times impatiently. But still there was no movement beyond the glass window door and no answer. The wound at my chin was aching badly. I pressed the bell again and strained through the outer door mesh and beyond the inner glass windowed wooden door I saw two shuffling outlines of which one I instantly recognized as my dad. I then immediately tried to peer inside through the door mesh and the glass beyond it with strained eyebrows and saw my dad coming but I thought
  44. 44. 44 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal that surely there was another outline in the background moving swiftly towards the kitchen from the bedroom’s direction. Then I unintentionally pressed my chin deeper into the door mesh to make a red blot appear on both the bandage as well as the door mesh. This caused me to groan in a voice bit louder than just a silent gasp, “Owww! Sssss!! Shit!!!” As the door opened, I had expected my father to initiate a full-fledged enquiry about how I had made what I had made of my chin but at the same time I was looking over dad’s shoulder for that feminine figure. To strengthen my suspicion, daddy didn’t immediately observe the bandaged chin but he was actually looking nervously around and stealing looks in the direction of the kitchen like naughty kids who have performed some mischief, also downwards towards the floor and asked me instead, “What – what are you doing home this early – did you bunk the classes – have we inculcated these morals – how long have you been doing this?” “I can ask you the same question, dad, if I wasn’t bothered by this stitched chin – how come you didn’t notice it… I know who else is here and why you are so nervous. I have seen that Scooty parked outside, do you consider me as dumb as other people?” I replied as I went further inside the home in search of the person to whom I had guessed that the outline belonged to the same girl to whom the Scooty belonged. “Who else would be here? There’s no one. I’m alone in the house. Look for yourself in the bedroom. If someone might be hiding – I see that your chin is
  45. 45. 45 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal grossly hurt, so I would suggest that you took a quick shower – tell me its details later. Get rid of your clothes and go to the bathroom,” my father tried to cover it up by commanding me to take a bath but instead I started advancing towards the kitchen. Arjun Kautilya Sharma looked panicked as I proceeded that way. “Where are you going, Akshant!” exclaimed my father out of panic and it was evident from his voice that he was attempting a major cover-up. But I said, “I must drink some water, papa – in case you still haven’t notice my jaw!” “Haan – to main la ke deta hoon na, I’ll bring it, you should go to bath, and water is even there–” my heavily breathing father Arjun was now cut short by the infuriated self of me when I strongly said to his horror, “–I know who you’re trying to cover- up dad!” As I approached the kitchen, my father held his breath – fearing the worst outcome, as if I was a railway engine and he a herdsman who feared that some of his sheep which were stuck on the track might get in the way. And a woman less than half of my father’s age came to my view as I looked into the store room adjoining the kitchen while I was filling my glass of water. “So this is what was causing you feel hot on a cool rainy day – a date with another married woman half your age – she’s not even as good-looking to have seduced you! What’s wrong with your hormones dad!! Pathetic dad – you are so cheap – I feel ashamed to be your son!!!” I spat the words out onto my
  46. 46. 46 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal father’s face as I spoke out in disgust while brandishing a punch in the air and hit my own other hand. This was me now who was suddenly breathing heavily; my stitched chin had started to ache sharply now, throbbing with pain. I pulled down my bandage away with rage to reveal a definitely horrific sight of a blood-stained stitched chin. “Your anger is understandable – completely understandable Akshant, but I’m not the one you think of me to be, I am here just because I needed to take some lessons from your father regarding computers,” said the scared young woman quickly, avoiding eye-contact. “Oh yeah, I see you had to take only these private lessons in the bedroom, is it not like that?” I said aggressively to the woman as I advanced towards her. Then I angrily got rid of the bandage on my chin and threw it away in madness towards her, it wheezed past her left-hand side and missed her just by an inch to hit the refrigerator and my voice boomed very loudly at my father in an unmistakable accusatory manner. “And you! Don’t you feel ashamed of these lowly acts??? You are the man who used to be my mum’s faithful husband till yesterday! Well at least I feel ashamed of being your son!! I HATE YOU!!!” then I couldn’t manage to keep my tears from coming as I shouted. “Akshant please – keep your voice low – I request you to calm down!” whispered my father weakly, holding my arms almost fearing that I’d slap or otherwise hit the woman.
  47. 47. 47 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal “Leave my arms Mr. Arjun Kautilya Sharma – I won’t be dirtying my hands by even touching this cheap down-market call girl.” I said in a dangerously lowered voice as I tilted only my neck towards the woman without letting my gaze meet hers this time as I had had enough eye- contact with her. Then I shrugged myself free. “Akshant I’m not who you think me to be –” started the vamp, only to be silenced by me physically this time as I put both my hands forcefully onto her mouth and her throat, apparently I had forgotten my own words about not to touch the woman. I furiously said, “I used to address you as didi, and this is what you surprise me with? Spit on you!” Dad had to intervene to prevent any mishap from occurring as he feared what his only son would face from the society if the young woman was seriously injured. I let her go after which she started weeping silently and as my father was guiding me away to a distance safe enough for the woman, I looked one last time towards her and said in a cold rush of words, “Get out and dare to come back because I do not know what your fate would be! Care for your own life, don’t be seen around my mother’s husband ever again!” After dad was gone back to office, I rang up Abhinav to tell him about my chin in an attempt to divert my attention from all what I had experienced as I was coming back from school. As I was talking to him, the bell sounded and even my mom was back for lunch by now. Quite contrary to dad, she immediately observed and began investigating about my chin, “Oh God! Hay
  48. 48. 48 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Bhagwan! Tch-tch-tch-tch! Sssss! Akki, my son, how did you make whatever you have made of your chin?” I started the same tape over. I told her that how I fell – chin-first – on the concrete road, how I had been to the local dispensary and got stitches done to my chin. She was not satisfied and sought to accuse dad. She did confront dad over this issue and made an issue seemingly out of nothing. Of course it was not his fault if I made my bike crash. Both my parents used to have shouting matches due to various non-existent issues. Even though my father still used to lightly argue, I could see that his quarreling technique had changed. Perhaps it was the evil daughter-mother duo which was feeding words into him. As a mature teenager my studies suffered a lot due to this reason. I could barely focus on my studies due to this habit of escapism. I took to playing computer games at the local Sify iWayTM and bunking classes. My dad thrashed me badly on listening to that vamp and her mother, even when I was 16. My studies were to suffer a lot later in my +1 and +2 due to this reason. But these were definitely not the only reasons. Over the time, I had become an escapist by my nature; a hedonist-escapist to sum it more exactly and always looked for easier ways to make stuff work according to my convenience. Everything was falling apart for me. All this was going through was going to affect my boring life in a big way. Over the years, my nature had become largely private. No one could detect what could
  49. 49. 49 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal be going on in my mind. I could just not prevent my thoughts from roaming into the negative territory. The episode of my dad being an unfaithful husband had its toll on my life; this man was the father who had taught me to write, had helped me in my homework and taught me to walk by letting my younger self’s tiny hands hold on to his finger was being this way. He was being manipulated by the vamp and so he was being hostile to his family. Mother could only wonder why such a soft-natured husband had suddenly turning bad. But dad bought me my first guitar, a PlutoTM acoustic guitar as well as the second guitar, a Fender electric guitar couple of years later when I was about to go to college. These were the dual faces of Mr. Sharma’s nature. So I felt that my dad was very cool, but at the same time an unfaithful husband. My mother Shanti had doubted my dad on some occasions; especially the day when she smelled ladies’ perfume she was putting my father Arjun’s shirt for washing in the washing machine from the laundry bag. I quickly sensed that my dad was in trouble as he didn’t have any proper excuses ready. A disaster was looming very threateningly. So I quickly made up a story and told it to my mother, “Amma, appa smelled really badly of sweat this afternoon when he came for lunch. I was home this bit early due to this chin of mine. I smelled him by mistake and it was awful! So I just took out your
  50. 50. 50 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal perfume from inside your dressing table and just sprayed it all over him.” “I don’t know why your father not gets a gents’ deodorant instead of spraying this ladies’ perfume all over him,” my mother said. Now my father chose to reply, “I’ll get myself a good gents’ deodorant tomorrow itself, I’ll take Akshant with me to select it.” I just stared at my dad at this dialogue which made him ask me in a made-up sweet tone, “What, won’t you come with your dad?” My mom, Shanti Sharma said, “Oh don’t you worry about him, he’ll love to help his loving dad.” “Sure mom, anything else?” I asked my mother. “Oh yeah – thanks for reminding me about it, Akshant, get him to the dentist as I fear he has some bad breath problem for more than the past one and a half decade. I smell his horribly bad breath ever since our marriage. The dentist would prescribe some good medicines for him,” mummy said as she looked towards papa who was standing there away at an earshot’s distance with his head held high like a lion as if he did not care what his wife and his only child, which is I felt. I found that he was no longer the same papa who was interested in listening to even a word by either of us – especially me. I had not forgotten those ice creams for which I used to get stubborn about. And it was on this moment that I felt like I was being the sausage of the already distasteful burger of our family relations which had suddenly turned sour after having been spoiled by time. Though I nodded my head, all this made me always feeling stuck as I had
  51. 51. 51 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal always liked my dad but I definitely loved my mother more at that age. Whenever they had an argument and time came of siding with one of my quarreling parents, always I chose my love over liking and sided with my mother. I used to be the weaker riot police who would tried to pacify their shouts, “Lado mat, please keep quiet and don’t fight!” But at that time, I was really young, so I myself ended up weeping and that sorted all their altercations by diverting their mind towards my cries. Mum used to come and hug me, and even she used weep. Then I got enough of their altercations. Therefore, I started living like strangers with them.
  52. 52. 52 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter Four- My Guitar Love & Tobacco Aversion (Akshant Narrates) Yes I had inherited music in my genes from my parents and had grown up listening to retro Bollywood music and had a niche for Rafi Sahab’s songs. In my late teenage, I used to compose nice songs on guitar and also used to upload them on YouTube for sharing with friends & family. I developed a small fan following too. I learnt to play guitar when I had got my first guitar in class XI as a gift for my nice Xth board results. Over the time, my attachment to learning guitar increased so much that I got my second guitar, the electric one before I started going to college. I learnt decent guitar with nobody to teach it in or around where I lived. I had no printed material apart from me with a book named “Guitar -A complete learning guide for the player” which I bought in the Delhi Book Fair and with lessons on the internet. Then later on, it came in handy as I had started giving guitar classes to few folks at college for obtaining my pocket money once I started going to college later in my life. I played nice guitar even though my left hand’s index finger was a bit shorter than normal. I was among the only few among my friends who knew how a guitar was played.
  53. 53. 53 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I became friends with Ravindra Thakur who lived in the Refinery Nagar Campus like me and we got interested in each other largely because of the love for guitar playing which both of us shared. Both of us became good chums; but guitar was only one among the many similar tastes we shared. Likewise, both of us wanted to be in the military to serve the nation in future. While Ravindra Thakur had a long, lanky and sturdy body that supported his aspirations in the Services Selection Committee, SSC, which contenders had to face after clearing the NDA or IMA theoretical exams. I had no such body till I was aged 23. My weak immune system added to my woes. When we were both young, we greatly enjoyed playing war games on the real world turfs of the nearby playground and in the virtual world of war-oriented games on computers. “Captain Kautilya, report in – over!” Ravindra used to start out the war game in a serious way over the wireless devices. Ravindra would then have to wait for no more than few seconds to receive a reply back due to the jittery pair of home- made walky-talky wireless handsets that Ravindra had built at home with help from his dad. He was usually greeted by me as I was smiling more than a bit carelessly while I saying, “Major Thakur, receiving heavy fire! Need assistance – over!” “Stop grinning! We will give you covering fire as your team marches forward – over & out!” And so we used to play our war games in the local playground whose storeroom would make
  54. 54. 54 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal the command centre. Here we would come for healing and ammunition. On being asked our career motive, both me & Ravindra would name joining the army as the sole career aim for some years during our teenage, though only Ravindra could achieve it and I couldn’t make the dream come true, because of my parents’ and then later due to my first girlfriend’s desire. But I can now admit it to my close friends that my first girlfriend’s wish acted just an excuse to my negative habit of escapism. And it was due to it that I had not filled up the form for NDA in the first place. This was just one of my negatives. Like all other human beings I too had one too many which I was aware of and even those which I was unaware of back then. If positives were all I had, I’d not have invited bad remarks from my teachers in my secondary classes. On parent-teacher meetings, my father would regularly just be greeted with complaints from my secondary teachers ranging from lack of concentration and short attendance to similar short-comings in my nature that were affecting my studies. My class in-charge Mr. Narendra Gupta once told my father, “We don’t know what’s wrong, but his attention has been found missing lately; he used to be such a sincere student in the beginning who used to do all his work. Sharmaji, you’d better be watchful regarding his company.” The comedy of my life was that I didn’t have any company normally; and such people are just like plain canvas left out in open for bad artists, just like free electrons are for highly
  55. 55. 55 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal electronegative elements. I always found myself trying to avoid people and feeling manipulated by other students’ groups, largely my classmates & friends. Unaware of the tricks the people my age usually played, I used to be at the receiving end of their jokes & practical gags. The natural trait of kids to tease others more if they show any irritation was well observed by me at a very young age. I changed my view towards the society I was exposed to at that really fertile age and I could see other kids trying to tease me and each other more & more along the progression of time and I became an introvert until it was college for me. “Akshant, why are you so serious?” my cousins would jokingly tease me. I was as serious as my name – very serious – in my younger years, close to a dull kid. But my seriousness was limited only to my behavioural traits and I was purely non-serious towards studies right from my younger years. I took all of the subjects very lightly till I reached secondary school where I frequently started encountering d2x/dy2 in mathematics and science. I would just let calculus take a back seat among my preferences and that left a lesser scope of success for a non-medical student like me. I used to escape worries rather than solving my problems by myself. When mathematics was essentially being the only subject which I found difficult, I did not practise it in ways suiting my intelligence, but instead I practised escapism and negligence. So, a lot was
  56. 56. 56 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal always going through my mind seeking ways to take the easier route forwards towards every single thing I had to deal with except music. As I used to learn playing guitar in the beginning, I came to know about new things by searching over the internet for the cause of hurting fingers. I read about callus development in my left hand fingers after my fingers first started bleeding that a new and harder skin called callus would develop on my left hand fingers. It would happen only if I continued playing the strings until my fingers almost bled. I read it again & again that only proper practising could help in that callus skin’s proper development would speed it up and then only I would be able to play the guitar better. Initially, I tried to play it alone. Later, I came to know that a boy over 3-4 years older than me Ravindra who lived in the refinery township used to play guitar too, yes he was the same Ravindra who tamed the same martial dreams as me at a time. Ravindra and I would cover popular English language songs during our jamming sessions. He would often be citing bad examples very conveniently to justify his own bad habit of smoking, “Even the professional band artists in the West generally smoke a cigar or two while they jam, so I started it too and would even suggest it to you for bring that special effect in your voice.” “Thanks but no, thanks. I have long pledged to not to stay around smokers, so I’ll just leave now and you can keep smelling of tobacco.” I said and went
  57. 57. 57 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal away just as Ravindra would start coming closer to me. Strong differences had later risen up there between the two friends because of various causes related to my aversion from tobacco. Even though Ravindra won’t smoke in front of me, I would still complain of having to inhale the irksome stench of tobacco from Ravindra. I would ask him quit smoking forever. But Ravindra who was much older than me would never relent and won’t stop smoking claiming it was his life and so it was solely his choice how to live it or smoke it away. But I never could quite understand why Ravindra couldn’t quit smoking. So I looked for some more company other than Ravindra for pursuing music as a hobby. I then came close to my secondary school friend Madhav to follow this still new-found musical passion. And as I realized that I couldn’t modify my world as I wanted, I would instead stop being in contact with people who fell short of my criteria for making a good friend. Even if I disliked them for even one of their bad habits – be it their different addictions like alcohol or smoking tobacco, or just their usual habit of using foul language – I was thinning my friend list. I focused on playing my guitar & the flute gifted to me by my doddamma (Kannada for mother’s elder sister) away from Ravindra in the company of Madhav at my own quarters. Ravindra had to quit it when he cleared NDA qualifying exam and joined the Indian Army 4 years later after
  58. 58. 58 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal his degree in Electronics & Communication Engineering was done. Because Ravindra had understood that he must stop being an addict to the smoke if he had to develop and maintain the decent stamina required for clearing the physical examination part after clearing the written examination & to be in the officers’ good books during his stay in the army.
  59. 59. 59 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter Five- Second Crush & First Love (Akshant Narrates) I always used to recount that stay at Kendriya Vidyalaya was the best one – the awesomest one – in my own words. And of course I had made friends-for-life with the friendly Surya, the funny Rohit, the brainy Mohan and the gorgeous Nakshatra. When I passed class 10 with 88.4% marks, I was supposed to say good-bye to the good old Kendriya Vidyalaya to go to a big school again for XI and beyond. I chose a big school, Sacred Heart Convent School to continue with classes XI and XII, as the school was offering 50% rebate in tuition fees to those students who had succeeded in scoring more than 85% in Xth CBSE final exams. After I had shifted to this bigger school for +1 & +2, I kept missing KV all my life. Like many others, I also dreamed of cracking JEE when I was in XIth. And so I started going to ABC classes, where Mr. Ramesh Bombay taught mathematics with great proficiency. As my mathematics skills were so poor at that time such that no teacher, no amount of money spent could do any good for me. So when the problems’ various solutions started flying over my mind disintegrated into various figures and letters from the board, I started doing the most obvious and convenient activity for an escapist which became a vogue addiction – bunking – on a regular
  60. 60. 60 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal basis. This was my biggest mistake. What I should have done was the opposite. But I did use to visit the coaching centre daily after the class timings to see the face of the girl named Bharti Singla who just smiled at me every time our gazes met. I mistook that mockery of hers as a green signal and I started gazing at her instead of the white-board in front of me when I attended classes. My bunks continued side by side with dedicated regularity. I proposed this pretty girl in class XI and my proposal was rejected right away by the girl. She didn’t even care enough to reply to my proposal and refuse to my seemingly non-serious proposal. She did the right thing; adolescence is not the age for getting into any such commitments but I refused to accept it. I had showed my parents the dream of their only son getting through into IIT entrance examination, but I remained lost in my fantasies about my idea of love as a choice and a necessary option after forgetting Aniketa. After getting poor results in +1, I joined the tutorial classes of my school teachers. The bunking saga continued here as well. Though I had an above average IQ of 138 my studies were doomed to be fared badly because I never practiced a thing taught. All of these, my bad habit of bunking & an escapist nature accompanied by a lazy life made me perform poorly in studies. I made a mistake by not telling my parents about the problems I faced the same day I realized it. I was just silently being a non-playing part of the play my life was playing. But the play of
  61. 61. 61 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal solitude in the campus was too much for me and took to computer games, internet surfing and video games at games parlours as an escape through which I wrongly sought to divert my mind from the mess created at home among parents and so I was escaping my share of Karma at studies. Though I behaved perfectly normal, I was extremely scared from the inside about my future and about where my life was going to. I was an escapist since that young age and intentionally fell for a previous classmate and female friend of mine named Bhanupriya Chopra, whom I came to talking terms hoping to forge a relationship with my first crush Aniketa through Bhanu. But I fell for Bhanu instead. It’s probably one of the wildest love stories that you’ll ever hear, the girl being almost a year older than the boy and the particular love story was a typical teenaged love story. When my friends like Ravindra would ask me, “Wassup buddy, what’s special and how good your IIT dream is brewing?” I would be replying, “Better not talk about studies, let’s talk about our common passions which are guitars and the armed forces, I’m in no mood to talk about studies.” So this way I was turning a blind eye to my studies. Results were definitely bound to cold shoulder me. The intelligent student in me had disappeared and not even his shadow persisted in my nature anymore. It was on my birthday in December 2007 that I received a message on my mobile number greeting me a happy birthday apart from ‘I love
  62. 62. 62 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal you’ but the person never revealed their identity as the number didn’t receive any phone calls from my mobile. I tried using my sources for getting to know whom that number belonged to but nobody among my friends was of any awareness about the number. In the meanwhile, the Aniketa episode was coming to an end as well and I got busy with my half-hearted efforts at studies. I used to compose poems & songs for some people or about some national issues which I myself or as I thought the nation faced. I would often get my heads together with Madhav Singh Gumra. I used to practice music with him as he was my closest friend from Sacred Heart Convent School and shared my thoughts and hobbies. We put all our thoughts in a song that could express their and the general teenager’s feelings about a world where any thoughts that came as off the league or different from everybody else are discouraged. We both were of the opinion that the person who questioned the system was made to submit no matter how hard they tried to resist the methodology of it. I could only give vent to my and many of the students’ feelings by singing them in an aggressive song which I had composed as I felt that I had done wrong to myself by choosing non-medical stream when I believed that I could’ve done much better in arts stream choosing music for a later time in my life. The song lyrics could be described as a call of some prisoners suffering in captivity for help.
  63. 63. 63 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal But an even better description would be presented in the lyrics themselves which are mentioned. Madhav helped a lot with the tune of the song intended as a teenage anthem of people stuck in nonmedical studies. When I insisted him to sing the song, he politely declined to do so. He said, “Akshant, these lyrics and a major part of this song’s music is your brainchild.” “But for the first time I think that I can’t manage both the electric guitar riffs and singing synchronization with the lyrics,” I expressed my inability to perform the song all by myself. Madhav, who is comfortably three inches taller than me, put a trusting left hand on my right shoulder to say, “You can even manage IIT if you ever tried, but since you have different plans and have composed such lyrics, you can surely manage this song.” I just nodded lightly and said, “I can crack IIT, but I don’t want to. I am just like you. Why should all the young men aim for nothing but IIT in their lives?” “Just because it will give the parents a reason to feel proud about,” Madhav said. Seeing me silent he went on to sadly say, “Probably only then you can get a beautiful wife and a better life.” “And do you buy that theory,” I said. Instead of answering my suspicion Madhav said, “No brother, I don’t. You should get ahead with this new composition of yours.” Many of our real friends from various schools, and our long-distance friends from over OrkutTM
  64. 64. 64 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal – yes, Orkut was alive back then, virtual friends from FacebookTM & followers on Twitter, and my YouTube followers felt connected to the short hard rock song which had strong distorted guitar riffs with a quick dark accompanying rhythm issuing from my electric guitar’s multi-effects processor cum sampler. They thought that the lyrics very meaningful to their own lives.
  65. 65. 65 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Hum Hain Band Yahaan Hum hain band yahaan is jahaan mein! (We are trapped in this world!) Hum hain band yahaan is jahaan mein!! Laakhon hain gham yahaan is jahaan mein! (There are sorrows aplenty here!) Laakhon hain gham yahaan is jahaan mein!! Murda laash-sa chala yahaan pe, (I have walked this land like zombies,) Gada zameen mein hoon! Gada zameen mein hoon!! (I am laid in a grave!) Kheencho mujhe koi haath pakad ke, (Someone pull me out of here,) Dum ghute mera! Dum ghute mera!! (I feel suffocated here!) Hum hain band yahaan is jahaan mein! (We are trapped in this world!) Hum hain band yahaan is jahaan mein!! Khwaab hain gum yahaan is jahaan mein! (Our dreams are lost here!) Khwaab hain gum yahaan is jahaan mein!! The lyrics to the second song I composed, at sixteen years of age, which helped me give vent to my anger that the hardships in my studies had invited In its first few words, the song means, ‘We are trapped in this world!’
  66. 66. 66 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I tried to convey it best how the younger generation felt limited in the education system. Music was how I used to escape everyday tension. It was how I and Madhav used to divert our attention from our duties most of the times in our lives – be it our problems related to education or be them other problems of our lives as we thought. Bhanu listened to the song on the internet and told me on call, “Akki, you can consider me your best friend and soul-mate. As a non-medical student myself I can exactly understand your heart-felt frustration. You have something, and you just need your luck to shine. I think you should study harder, you have it in you to do it.” “Bhanu, there’s not any point in studying what my parents would like me to. But Shanti, now that I’ve started it, I’ll complete it – I can’t let my choice be proven faulty – I had my options open after 10th standard but I chose non-medical sciences stream.” I spoke the complete truth. Bhanu said in her sweet voice, “You addressed me as Shanti. It’s your mother’s name.” I replied, “Yes Bhanu, I’ll call you by the same name because it’s actually you who brings genuine peace to my life.” “Really, is it so?” asked Bhanu. “You won’t mind – would you?” I asked with only a tinge of nervousness. “No, no, no – not at all! It’s my pleasure if you think so and actually feel so.” said Bhanu. Just then I blurted it out as it came to my mouth – from my heart, “I wish that I get to marry somebody like you – someone who I can look up to whenever I wish to listen to a calm voice and
  67. 67. 67 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal get relieved from these worldly worries and someone who can make me smile even when I’m so tensed up.” “Do you realize what you just said – do you really mean it?” asked Bhanu. I then rolled back my memory tape till just a few seconds ago and again went through all of whatever I had said a few seconds ago and I could just manage to say, “Oops! I’m sorry Bhanu, I really wanted to say that but not like this.” Bhanu said, “You composed a song for proposing Aniketa, compose one for me as well.” “But I have only been able to sing the same only in front of you already, won’t that do?” “No you’ll have to write a new song for me and it’ll be only after it that I’ll formally say yes, so tell me when you’re done composing the song for me.” Bhanu finished. “Okay Shanti – I’ll compose this romantic proposal song for you this time, it’ll be totally unlike the song I had composed for… Aniketa… You’ll like it, you will love it and I can guarantee that if you liked my first song then you’re definitely going to love it.” I said confidently. Even though it was a childish demand, I enjoyed working on it. Therefore, I then started composing a short song which I thought would help Bhanu get rid of any type of doubts about her past and me having any problems with her past. I gave it a really jolly tune with lyrics depicting all my hopes from the relation – quality time, strength and longevity.
  68. 68. 68 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal No, not at all because I am a really great musician, but because I can channelize my emotions, feelings and thoughts through music. I did compose some more songs. While the first song I composed had been composed without me having learnt to play the guitar, but now this song was a proper song – my first such traditionally composed in the scale of the G chord. I looked at my composition’s lyrics and translated them into English language. It looked like a fine poem. So I sent it to Bhanupriya’s number. Her response was exactly what I looked for. All what I wanted from the relation was persistence lifelong and even Bhanupriya used to think that our relation was as ideal as it could get.
  69. 69. 69 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Zindagi Bula Rahi Hai Zindagi bula rahi hai, (Life is inviting,) Humko tumko bula rahi hai… (It’s inviting me & you…) Zindagi bula rahi hai, (Life is inviting,) Humko tumko bula rahi hai… (It’s inviting me & you…) Aao chalein hum sath-sath, (Come let’s walk together,) Le kar apne haathon mein hath. (Let’s be hand- in-hand.) Zindagi bula rahi hai, (Life is inviting,) Humko tumko bula rahi hai... (It’s inviting me & you…) Vaada hai tumse, (I promise you,) Ladenge har gham se, (We will tackle each sorrow,) Qayamat mein bhi hum, (Even in doom’s event,) Bichhdein naa tumse. (I won’t leave you.) <Humming> Mmmhmmhmm mmmhmmhmmhmmhmm </humming> Koi khushi yun ga rahi hai, (Some happiness sings within,) Humko tumko lubha rahi hai… (It tempts me and you…) <Voice fades> Zindagi bula rahi hai... (Life is inviting...) </voice fades> The lyrics to my proposal song for Bhanu
  70. 70. 70 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal The short song could be classified as an extremely happy and hopeful love song but also as a cautious proposal composition. It reflected both the positive attitude and the innocence at that tender age displayed by me. I proposed Bhanupriya Chopra on 15th of June in the year 2008 – the year of my entrance exams and senior secondary board exams – with this second song which I had again composed by myself. You might think of me to be overconfident, Satyaa, but with this very song I discovered a poet, a musician and a true lover of humanity inside me. I could tell that if I had once been able to compose one song, I will be able to compose some more songs along with the passage of time.But Bhanu asked me, “But I have an ex- boyfriend, don’t you have any problem with that?” “Look. I’m not a gay and I can prove it to you,” she laughed heartily. Then I continued the good laugh we just had, “So I obviously don’t get any feelings for a boy who I have not even met ever. He was just a phase which you met with at a younger age than now, I am not concerned with your past, and I just want to be there in your present, your future and all your thoughts…” I followed the sentence with a heartfelt genuine smile and then I encased her long but weak appearing hands in my short but stout hands that do not match my height before I asked, “Are you willing to make my life beautiful, Bhanu?” She said yes without waiting for any more words, “You have given me the most romantic proposal today. I do not personally know any more guys that can compose such poems in a musical
  71. 71. 71 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal manner. You need not say anything else. I expected this to be only a formality but it has blown me off my feet. Yes I love you and I want to give you the best love of which you could only imagine.” And then we forgot about AIEEE exam which was still remaining. Our chats got extended from just one message each hour to more than 50 mutual text messages each day. SMS packs failed to last more than a week. My monthly expenditure was already going sharply uphill. Then I was taught by Bhanupriya Chopra how to kiss a girl. The first kiss for me was long; so long, very long as it was approximately 40 minutes undisturbed at my home as both my parents were working at their respective offices at that time. The juiciness of the warm kiss slowly and passionately was relished by both me and her as we caressed each other’s backs. We were encouraged indirectly by my father who at that time was also in an illicit relationship.
  72. 72. 72 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -Chapter Six- Some Love, Results and Pre-College (Akshant Narrates) The results of this magnificent bunking, addiction to online games and various unhealthy distractions added along and to top it all, my immature relationship with Bhanupriya were but obvious. My results were as bad as they had to be. I had obviously not cleared IIT, and my CBSE/AIEEE results too were not well enough. The ‘MAJOR’ reason was the feeling of escapism that had come to take me over the top and down towards the bottom by yielding the results as not having cracked in through the JEE itself but a poor rank in the AIEEE too. “Akki, my results are awful for AIEEE – I just managed 165,000+ and I’m unsure if I would secure a good college. But I scored well enough for CBSE twelfth class results. How did you perform?” crackled Bhanupriya’s evidently saddened voice over telephone. “My rank is merely half your own rank. A good college will not take me in a popular stream of engineering either. Though you might manage to get biotechnology in a decent college,” seeking to make her carefree I said these words of consolation. Sure her spirits were lifted a bit, “I just wish that both of us get the same college & the same classroom. I want to share the same desk with you, Akki. Please file for ACE – Agra College of Engineering where we can both get admission in the same classroom.”
  73. 73. 73 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal I first met her in private just two days after the day I got into a relationship with her. Then we met at other places around the city and ended up kissing at all the unlikely locations. Most of them were rather shady spots. We kissed in the parking lot of the local McDonalds in my father’s car that I used to sneak away while my father was still off to the office but only after I was done getting a driving license issued in my name. We did a lot of similar mischief in the last rows of cinema halls of Agra, where Bhanu later got admission in a college, and at much similar places. I can remember many of our dates in the movie halls. But the best ones were at my place on Saturday mornings. We used to kiss in many different ways. We kissed while eating a chocolate bar; no-no, actually we ate the same chocolate bar together while kissing on my insistence and Bhanu said it was the sweetest way of kissing she could have ever experienced. “Akki, I love you and I’ll never let you go to anyone else,” said Bhanupriya while she was probably faking possessiveness. “Same here Bhanu, I love you too.” I plainly replied to Bhanupriya, I had just understood that my first love wanted me to be more possessive. Whether as a lover or a showpiece, but she surely wanted me to be the closest to her. “Can’t you opt for seat transferred to UP University in this college ACE, you will get admission here as well?” Bhanupriya would often ask me few months before the college.
  74. 74. 74 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal “No dear, as you know that this college is more close to the capital of the nation, it is bound to give me a better exposure to both people and situations. I miss you too, Bhanu. But don’t you want me to be greatly successful?” I averted this topic by saying so. Though I had said that bit about my career, but I still had a much careless attitude about my studies within myself. I started searching a possible escape from my responsibilities. My first romantic escapade had started teaching me some important lessons in life. Bhanu belonged to a family with a marginally more sound economic background and wanted to remain enjoying the pleasures of an economically secure future. I now knew that love at such a young age was not just risky but it was also immature and probably untrue for almost everyone. Both of ours feelings were true, at least I thought so until a long time. But yes, we loved each other truly but in our own ways of expressing it to each other. I say so because while mine was more possessive hers was more dependent on the physical distance between us. “Bhanu, I have serious concerns regarding both of us. I think that you prioritize getting physical with me and I would not be surprised to see you getting physical with me. On the other hand, I fear my own possessiveness.” I told her over a call. This invited her response, “I accept the fact that I love you both physically and emotionally. But I would attach the prefix over- to what you call your habit of possessiveness. Why do you think that just about
  75. 75. 75 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal every guy flirts with me? There are boys that I trust and find decent. You are jealous and over-possessive.” “Yes, I will be over-possessive if you keep on taunting me intentionally,” I said simply, “I don’t want you to come narrating how random boys flirt with you.” “But –” Bhanupriya started to counter my comment but I interrupted her. “– Bhanu, dad’s call has just popped up on waiting, I’ll talk to you later.” I said and cut the line and answered dad’s call, “Yes papa?” I sort of knew what he would say. He said, “I am at the office at your Vinayak uncle’s lab. He is curious to know about the seat you have secured. What’s the status of your seat allocation procedure through AIEEE?” “Papa, I have locked my choice as B.Tech biotechnology at MDU, I match their rank requirements easily,” I said. I heard my father say the same thing to Mr. Vinayak Das Belgaum who told my father in a gladly tone, “Biotechnology is a great choice with a wide spectrum. Many government divisions like this biofuels department of our refinery are working towards greening the environment. Akshant has made a good choice of subject for his bachelor’s degree.” But daddy told him, “Everyone knows that there are only some government agencies that offer jobs in biotechnology field and a government job is very difficult to secure. Otherwise there are few private biotech-related firms that don’t offer good money for the amount of working hours they demand. Most biotech students pour in bank and IT sector jobs.”
  76. 76. 76 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal Mr. Belgaum agreed, “Yeah, Akshant must do hardwork if he wants to get successful in his life.” I started feeling cornered again. I somehow made an excuse and cut the call. I instantly made a mental note based upon whatever I had just observed during the call, ‘The grown-ups certainly have an issue or two with everything related to the next generation. They are over-concerned with everything relating to the younger generations. Even people who are not related to you don’t spare you if you are a teenager. Set aside the parents, they are self-justified to be concerned about their sons & daughters.’
  77. 77. 77 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal -First Relationship Proceeds But With Hiccups- Psychotic Sides Surface (Akshant Narrates) In the first few months of the relationship, all was fine and both of us were more than happy and we enjoyed kissing as the most beautiful display of our feelings towards each other. Both of us had immaturely even done family planning on Bhanupriya’s insistence and even chosen two names for our kids. All was going smooth initially until one fine day in August 2008 when while being at my place on a regular meeting I asked Bhanu in the middle of our kiss if she had forgotten to brush her teeth in the morning, “Bhanu, did you forget brushing your teeth this morning?” Bhanu had definitely not expected to listen to this at the age of 18 years from her boyfriend but she replied truthfully with her head bowed down in discomfort, “Yeah, I forgot today only, baby.” Seeing her suddenly saddened and off-colour face I said, “Yes I know that all of us are just living beings and anyone – you, me or anyone else can forget any basic activities any day. You should perhaps brush your teeth now.” Bhanu made a face of apprehension; she raised her eyebrows in extreme surprise accompanied with a look of having witnessed something really weird on my face, “Now? Is it necessary for me to
  78. 78. 78 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal brush, can’t we kiss without me having to brush my teeth?” I smiled and insisted, “Yes dear, I’m afraid that I can’t bear the smell – you can use my toothbrush if you want to.” Bhanupriya said, “You’re weird, and you’re upsetting me! Everyone forgets one or the other day – even you could have forgotten brushing your teeth someday.” “We can leave the idea of kissing today, if this bothers you so much, I was going to offer my own toothbrush to you but our relationship is beyond these physical compulsions. We can kiss any other day because we surely have our entire lifetime for kissing.” I said calmly. Bhanu thought for a while and commanded in a strong and highly irritated voice, “Okay fine! Give your toothbrush to me, jerk!” Though Bhanu brushed her teeth, she had gotten upset with me. I tried my best in turning things back in my favour instantaneously by singing a Mohammad Rafi retro song for her as she brushed her teeth looking at the mirror with strained eyebrows. I immediately started singing the most appropriate Mohammad Rafi song which I thought suited the situation best. “Yoon rootho na haseena, (Don’t be irritated like this, my queen,) Meri jaan pe ban jaayegi, (My life will be threatened,) Meri jaan pe ban jaayegi, (My life will be threatened,) Haaye yoon rootho na… (Oh, don’t be irritated like this...)” Bhanu was lightly surprised to hear me sing the retro song to her and said through her foamed
  79. 79. 79 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal teeth while relaxing her brows, “O yeah!? Go on now and try to please me.” “Karte na jo bahaana, nazdeek kaise aate, (If I had no cover, how could I come close,) Ye faasla ye doori hum kiss tarah mitaate, (How would I then be treating this distance,) Haathon mein tum na lete jab haath hi hamara, (If you would not be holding my hand,) Is beqaraar dil ko milta kahan saahara, (Then this restless heart would not be treated,) Haaye yoon rootho na… (Oh, don’t be irritated like this...)” By now Bhanu was done brushing her teeth as I melodiously sung the song to her faking an inebriated voice. She said, “You’re so naughty – and smart! You know how to manipulate your love partner at such a young age.” I smiled and continued singing the remaining part of the legendary song. “Ye baal bikhre-bikhre, gaalon pe yoon na hote, (If these slivers hadn’t been on your cheeks,) Ye naag kaale-kaale, phoolon mein yoon na sote, (These blackish snakes hadn’t slept among flowers,) Ye raat ka andhera, din se gale naa milta, (This dark night caused by them wouldn’t hug the day,) Ulfat ka shokh gunchaa, aise naa dil mein khilta, (Then this bud of love wouldn’t have blossomed,) Haaye yoon rootho naa… (Oh, don’t be so irritated...)” She thought that it was not fruitful to stay angry, so she smiled and came close to me. “Aao qareeb aao, palkon pe baith jao, (Come even closer and take your place on my eyelids,) Aankhon mein jhoom jaao, dil mein mere samaao,
  80. 80. 80 7 Seconds Atul Kaushal (Come swing in my eyes & fit in my heart,) Ab muskura ke kehdo, hum to khafaa nahin hain, (Now smile and say that you’re not angry,) Ik dil hai ek jaan hai, hum tum juda nahin hai, (We are one soul & two bodies, we are no different,) Haaye, yoon rootho naa haseena, (Oh, don’t be irritated like this, my queen,) Meri jaan pe ban jaayegi, (My life will be threatened,) Meri jaan pe ban jaayegi, (My life will be threatened,) Haaye, yoon rootho na haseena... (Oh, don’t be irritated like this, my queen...)” Bhanu hugged me tight when I ended with the song. I was looking into her eyes all this time. She was extremely happy that I could sing so good and that too in a romantic way. She said, “Lucky would be the one who gets to marry you, Ak–” I immediately put my hand on her mouth as she was going to complete the sentence. While holding Bhanu from her back I said, “That girl has the brown eyes I’m currently losing myself into.” Then our eyes were blind for every other thing except for each other’s eyes for some moments. Bhanu told me as she faked an irritated face, “Aap hai na ek dum kamaal ho – you’re just wonderful! My personalized AIR FM Gold you are, what’s their program called…? Yeah I remember it – Bhoole Bisre Geet! So lucky I am to be the one who gets to marry you.” Then I tried to further make things memorable between me & her by kissing her lips long and hard. Both I and Bhanu were all smiles and we must have been truly and extremely satisfied for the entire day after another one of our very rare