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Life’s what you make it :)


I always dreamt of becoming an author and getting my novel published by some famous publishing house since I was 9 or 10. BSB music inspired me initially and so did science & computers. Did schooling in medical stream with C++ as an additional subject. Graduated in basic lifesciences, wherein my brother always wanted me to take up Eng(H). Denied admission into TV today Network for Journalism course and instead took up Masters in Hospital Administration just because I never wanted to go off the track. Came back home after completing my PG. Search for Job was on. Went for an interview which happened to be a PRE job, the fact which I realized while I was being interviewed. My CV was reviewed again. They created a new job position in Corporate Communications for me just because I was passionate for it apart from all the basic things which I’ve done till date in my graduation & post graduation.

Today I am the creator, editor & designer of my monthly in-house company magazine. I handle PR activities, media plans, branding., advertising and a bit of HR. I already know how to handle HRMS. Planning to set up an intranet for my organization. All at the age of 21. People at my workplace ponder over it. They really do.

 

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At my current job I am utilizing each and every skill that I possess, doesn’t matter how diverse they are functionally . Its the kind of job that I always wanted or dreamt of- independent, creative, innovative.

Whenever I discuss media plans, advertising, inhouse magazine etc. with my mom, she always ends up asking – “ye jo tune course kiya hai (hospital administration) usse related kaise hai?

I feel uneasy answering her question because its quite difficult to explain how is it related.  

But one thing that I’ve learnt from my diverse background and experience is that one should always take up his/her passion as a career. Satisfaction comes first, money should always come later. 

Today if I look at myself I can easily say that I am being highly underpaid for whatever kind of work I am doing and I am into currently, but when I look at myself for the second time, I stand proud because of the things that I am doing. I love it. I never though of doing such things. 

All my life I’ve been trying to run away from my passion – thinking I would never be able to realize it because I’m not capable enough of doing it. And now it feels as if I’ve met my passion all over once again. And a tad too bit afraid to lose it all over again. 

I try n give a best shot at everything I do and every task I perform – at work , at home .. But then I’ve always felt that it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best..

I dunno for how long I’ll be able to continue with the job but I’m glad that life gave me an opportunity to realize my passion – this time for entire life.

Don’t you dare to keep yourselves away from what you like doing the best, because life is what you make it, after all 🙂

A few good memories that I would like to share : 

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P.S: Don’t know from where did I get this bakwaas to write. Pardon me for grammatical errors.

 

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2 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

He Was Not There


One morning, I saw someone

In the rain which was raining

As if from now onwards it would never rain again.

He was standing there alone,

Though sad, mad and confused

I was convinced, by seeing his face, completely blown

That he must have lost someone,

In the midst of his life, leaving him amused.

How lucky the person must be, I thought,

In this ruthless world,

For he was being looked upon by someone

With heart full of care, compassion and love.

A strong breeze disturbed my thought process

And suddenly I felt a bit better

Ignoring all his pain and distress,

I decided not to indulge in his matter.

I started moving forward on my own path,

And covered a little distance

I stumbled upon a small stone

And ended up with losing my consistence.

Was that a sign of my ignorance?

In my mind, silently I thought

Wasn’t I supposed to share his grievance?

Questions started piling up in my mind, a lot.

For the first time in my life

My mind and heart clashed,

Mind wanted me to continue with my journey

Whereas Heart told that by doing so I’ll be a complete trash.

I was facing a dilemma that I’d never faced

But that sense of mixed emotions that he had in his eyes,

I remembered,

Kept me amazed.

I decided to turn back and go up to him,

And ask for the reason behind his dismay

I might sound loony to him, I thought

But finally turned back around again.

Was it because of haziness due to rain

Or that the person was actually gone,

But I didn’t get to see anyone

About whom I’ve been thinking of, all along.

“He must have found his lost friend

Or must have stopped looking for him”,

A thought that came to my mind-

Suddenly when the rain stopped.

I once again started on my path of regret

Regret cos I was not able to help him at all,

Wished to meet him once again in midst of his journey,

And ask for his whereabouts.

What else could I do now, I thought

As he was not there, never ever there, after all.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Fiction, Poetry

 

!!..Love Stranger..!!


‘A drop in the ocean,

A change in the weather,

I was praying that you and me might end up together…

It’s like wishing for rain as I stand in the desert,

But I’m holding you closer than most,

‘Coz you are my heaven!’

Part I

Emotions

 

“I feel like a failure. My life has been a failure. They say there is no one who never had a dream to live for. They say there is no one who hasn’t had his dreams shattered ever in life. They say this and they say that…they say a lot of stuff! They might call me a coward for taking this extreme step but I feel a failure like me doesn’t deserve to live. I leave behind my experiences in this diary hoping that others don’t repeat the mistakes I did, hoping that it reaches the people that I love and care for, hoping against hope, that no more dreams are shattered. I’d be long gone by the time it reaches people. To everyone who ever loved a fool like me, my apologies…..for I could never reciprocate your love…I was too blinded by my own obsessions…something that I’ll regret till the time I breathe….which won’t be long now…”

It is not very easy to articulate your thoughts on paper when you know you are going to end your life in a few moments. She closed her diary and stared at the beaker kept in front of her. Just a few swigs of concentrated Potassium Chloride would be lethal enough to end all her miseries. It would paralyze her heart in seconds. She ignored her constantly buzzing cell phone. She did not need any reassurances, people telling her to stop. She knew nobody would be able to find her in this remote part of the campus. By the time they do, it’ll be too late. She thought, smiling to herself. She then picked up the beaker and began gulping the liquid. At that very moment, she closed her eyes and then everything went black…

 

…………………

(Four months ago)

“Dear diary, here I am, Rhea, sitting and sharing my emotions yet again with you. It’s been two months! Two months since I last saw him. These semester holidays were like an endless wait but finally it feels good to be back at college for one last time. I used to keep crossing dates on my calendar at home…like literally! Mom thought I’d gone mad! Yeah maybe I am crazy! Have been for him, since four years now! He’s just not realized it yet but I’m sure he will. Asshole! He has to! Final year, 10th semester, 5 months, I know it’s now or never for me. As it is I’ve wasted a precious week of college this semester coming late…and now I can’t wait to see him! Anyway catch you later diary. Just received a text from him! ‘Where the hell are you?! Need to talk!’ Guess it’s something important!”

She hastily admired herself before the mirror. It was something she was accustomed to do especially whenever she had to meet Viraj. They were meeting for the first time after holidays. Perfect! ‘C’min to the mess!’, she texted back as she scurried down the stairs too excited to even lock her room. The room can wait, he shouldn’t!

 

No one would have ever bet on Viraj and Rhea becoming best friends, considering their first encounter. Rhea had been running with a cup of juice in her hand when she accidentally tripped spilling the contents of the cup on an unsuspecting Viraj. You fucking bitch! He had shouted impulsively, instinctively giving her a couple of smutty blows, one that had hit her just below her abdomen narrowly missing her genitals and the other on her right thigh. He had then unfeelingly turned and left in a frenzy leaving behind a whimpering Rhea in the middle of the football field all alone.

The next day when he saw Rhea limping to class, he realized the gravity of his mistake and vowed to make amends. He tried apologizing in person to an unrelenting Rhea who reciprocated the gesture with a couple of tight slaps. He then started slipping a chocolate with an apology card everyday in her bag and on her desk in class. But the chocolates used to make their way back to him untouched and the cards unopened. When this did not work for a week, he found out her number and started sending ‘Sorry’ texts. He used to make an innocent face and hold his ears in apology whenever they came across in college but Rhea used to ignore him turning her face away every time.

‘Rhea you can call me an asshole for the rest of my life but please talk to me at least. Just tell me once that you’ve forgiven me.’ he said one day.

‘Oh really?! First you insult someone and call her a fucking bitch. Then you give her two nasty blows hard enough to make her limp for a month and leave her in the middle of a freaking football field! And then you audaciously trick someone into disclosing her cell number so that you can send cheesy apology texts which don’t cost you a penny thanks to your free SMS pack! On top of this you have the guts to say Sorry Rhea! I made a mistake!! Balls man!!’ she had retorted.

‘The SMS pack thing hurt.’ he quipped, hoping the humour would melt her.

‘Not funny!’ she replied solemnly.

‘Hey Rhea, someone is genuinely sorry and deserves another chance!’ he pleaded.

‘Hmm, so tell that someone to talk to the hand!’ she retorted raising her palm to his face.

‘But…’

Dude! Can you fucking see me limp?! Can you feel the pain I’m in right now?! The second chance you’re talking about…! No way in hell!’

Viraj had realized then that he had very deeply hurt someone. One last shot! Risky but worth it! He thought.

That afternoon, as Rhea sat in the mess having lunch, she heard someone shout her name. She turned to see it was Viraj holding a thick wooden stick in his hand. His voice had attracted every one’s attention and all eyes were on him. ‘Rhea, I have been a Jackass and I know it. I also know that I can do nothing about it. I am responsible for all those cuts, bruises, sprains, limps and whatever you’ve got and I can’t rest until I feel your pain myself.’ he said. He then tightened his grip on the stick and in a sudden act of utmost insanity started heaving blow after blow on his right leg as hard as he could until he fell off and the stick broke into two. ‘Aaarrrghhhhh!!’ he uttered a loud cry as he fell.

That evening, he met Rhea with a cast over his right leg. ‘Hi!’ he said smiling, as he limped towards her.

‘I was right about you. You really are insane! What the hell have you done to yourself?’ she exclaimed, a speck of concern on her face.

‘Well nothing really. A minor hairline crack! I’d just bargained for a severe sprain though, not this! Doctor said a month and a half, that’s it.  But anyway, now I can limp with you too.’ he said grinning.

For the first time, Rhea smiled at him. ‘You don’t really give up. Do you?!’

‘Well! For certain things, you don’t really give up. Your friendship is one of them. And then I wanted to show you that Viraj is not that bad a guy after all. So, are we limping buddies now?’ he grinned.

That was the first time Rhea felt something for Viraj. Though the feeling had stayed for a fleeting second then, little did she know that the same will eventually become her raison d’être. ‘You are impossible!’ she smiled back at him.

‘Apology accepted then?!’ he asked skeptically.

‘Well whatever…’ She replied.

‘Ahh, one more thing Rhea…’

‘What now?!’ She asked raising her eyebrows.

‘Now that we are friends, do you mind having a glass of JUICE with me?!’ he quipped grinning.

‘Ummm, Yeah as long as you don’t incapacitate me if it spills.’ she replied with a smile as they both limped together to the mess.

 

That was roughly four and a half years ago. Their bond of friendship had strengthened over the years. But today, Rhea had an uneasy feeling as she made her way to the mess. She started scanning random faces searching for him when she finally found him sitting in the mess lawns staring blankly into the fields as if in a limbo. He turned as he felt her hand on his shoulder. He gave her a melancholy smile, his mind toying with the right words to begin with. He cleared his throat and uttered the first words that came to his mind.

‘It’s over!’ He said blankly.

‘Huh?! What’s over? What happened?!’ She asked solemnly, though she thought she knew what was coming.

‘She ditched…me!!’ He said with a lot of effort.

There was a stunned silence as Rhea assimilated the implication of what she heard. There was shock and disbelief written all over her face.

‘What the fuck! Sylvia…..ditched….You?!!’ It just couldn’t be true. Sylvia and Viraj had developed intimacy during the second year working together on a project. Their relationship was the envy of the whole batch. Everybody idolised the way Viraj was mad after Sylvia and the way she reciprocated his feelings. Rhea stared incredulously at Viraj, lost for words.

‘After all these years…all of a sudden…weird issues between us…and she just says Goodbye…!’ He broke off unable to complete, tears rolling down his cheeks. Rhea had seen Viraj cry just once in her life before and that was when they had had a serious argument in their first year. She knew this had terribly upset him. Viraj never cries otherwise.

She sat there for some time, not knowing how exactly to comfort him. Rhea had not anticipated she’d suddenly be put in such a situation. What can I possibly say? She thought. She had to get the details but this was not the right time. Rhea! Just keep bullshitting! Cheer him up!

‘Hey Viraj, you know what I feel?’

‘What?’ he asked, staring blankly at the ground.

‘Sylvia was never your kinna girl you know! I never really…’

‘Oh please don’t give me that crap!’ Viraj retorted.

Not a good start. She thought. That’s a clichéd dialogue for all break-up situations. Improvise Rhea!

‘No mate, what I meant was maybe God has something better in store…he closes one door…opens another….’

‘Rhea! Please don’t give me that crappy door philosophy right now. No matter how many doors he closes for me, I want Sylvia behind every door I open…everytime.’ He said turning to stare at her solemnly.

Another cliché! This is not working! She thought. Rhea you can do better! Something Spontaneous!

‘Come on dude! We’ll sail through it together. I’ll help you. Trust me, I’m still there, your bestie! Isn’t it?! I’ll never ditch you. Now don’t let a bitch fuck your happiness!’ She said trying to sound somewhat jubilant.

‘Rhea,’ Viraj began, ‘It’s not all that simple! It’s more than happiness…it’s about dreams. Something that I’ve been living for…something that drives me to…do things….I’d never do otherwise…a dream of seeing her by my side everyday…of laughing at her jokes… sharing her sorrows…of growing old together and taking care of her…of…forget it. It’s very complicated!’

Rhea turned her face away as a tear rolled down her cheek. She couldn’t bear Viraj pining for Sylvia with tears in his eyes. She kept mum for a couple of minutes, not knowing what to say. She decided to change the topic.

‘Hey! You wanna come over for a small walk?!’ she offered.

Viraj stared at her.

‘Oh come on! A walk never killed anyone!’ she coaxed.

‘I don’t feel like.’ he said.

‘But I feel like going for one…with you. Now buck up dude!’ she persisted.

Rhea kept tugging and nudging him until he finally had no option but to stand up. ‘You don’t give up! Do you?’ he said.

‘Remember?! For certain things, you don’t give up till the end! And to see you smiling right now is one of them!’ She winked.

‘Yes, I do remember.’ he said smiling as they both disappeared chatting into the fields…

“Dear Diary,

Life is full of dreams: metaphorically and literally. I still remember how I used to wake up screaming at nights as a kid, seeing ghosts and monsters running after me. ‘Go to sleep my child! You must have had a bad dream!’ my parents used to say. Then there used to be the good ones too sometimes: me landing up in a chocolate factory savouring the legion assortment of chocolates to my heart’s content. Those mornings, I used to wake up and ask my mom whether I could buy a chocolate for myself.

We all have been savvy to such inconsequential dreams we forget the very next morning. But as we grow older, we start seeing certain dreams we don’t forget the next morning or the morning after that, in fact you know what diary?!, they stay with us for so long that we accept them as part of reality and start living them. I wish I could tell Viraj I understand what he’s going through right now. Little does he realize that I’ve been going through the same since a few years now. You are a part of my dreams Viraj. To be honest, a lot of mornings, I wake up seeing dreams of you forever being by my side, of you sharing my sorrows and my joys, just the way you feel about Sylvia.

Sometimes I dream of you taking care of our kids and bearing their tantrums, of you lending a hand in the kitchen and messing it up and then me giving you those dirty looks. Sometimes strange things like the two of us spending time alone, on a beach, holding hands. Sometimes, dreams of you snuggling up into bed and cuddling me in your arms after a hectic day at work. And I don’t forget them the next morning. They stay with me always I don’t know why. You’ve already taken that place in my dreams and I can’t imagine anyone else there. Is it not madness?

Diary, Will Viraj ever get over Sylvia? Is it actually the end of their relationship? When in spite of knowing everything, I find life without Viraj difficult to imagine, I wonder how he will cope with this?! I don’t know yet! And I don’t know what exactly he’s thinking or feeling right now! But what I know is that I’ll make Sylvia pay for this somehow, whether Viraj likes it or not…”

 

Sandra had a smile on her face as she saw Kabir sitting in the mess lawns, his laptop open before him.

‘Congratulations dude! I just got the news. Somebody’s going to London. Not everybody gets placed with Herbert Smith.’

‘Yeah thanks for that! But there’s still this semester to go before that happens.’

‘Your parents would be really proud of you.’

‘I know! Dad took an education loan for my course here. The university sponsored my law school education on the condition that I’ll repay them with my salary as soon as I get a job. And now, the signing amount and my first month’s salary would be enough to pay off the entire debt like this.’ he said snapping his fingers with a grin.

‘Hmmm I can see the spark in the eyes! So what’s the plan now big man?’ she asked, her expression turning solemn.

‘Plan?’ he asked, raising an eyebrow.

‘Yup! Now stop pretending. As if I don’t know what you’re doing with that laptop!’

Kabir sighed. ‘Well, the plan is to keep myself busy this semester with anything that I can lay my hands on. And then I’ll settle down in London and be gone for good.’

‘And what about Rhea?’ she asked.

‘What about her?’ he asked indifferently.

‘Dude Go die! You’ve been after her since first year. You never looked at any other girl. And now you’ll just leave like this without letting her know?’

‘Sandra chill! You know she’s just a good friend.’

‘Friend, my ass! I’m also your friend and in fact your best one in college but you don’t keep stalking my Facebook profile sitting in the mess lawns when you should be celebrating your job offer. You don’t keep track of my every move, you don’t feel jealous when I’m talking to a guy and neither do you think of me when you listen to your iPod with those fucking ear plugs on.’

Kabir looked at Sandra giving her a wry smile. ‘When you know everything, why do you want me to say it every time?’

‘Coz I don’t want you to run from the truth!’

‘I’m not running anywhere! But we both know that she’s loved Viraj ever since she’s known love. She never saw this other guy…waiting at her backdoor hoping that someday she would turn and notice huh.’ Kabir smiled to himself shaking his head. ‘I can just dream of being a good friend who’ll always be there.’

‘And you’re happy with that? Just being there?!’

‘Sandra, I’m happy if she’s happy. I’ve seen her pining for Viraj every single day and I know how the feeling is like. To be with someone you love, talking to them, seeing them everyday knowing you’ll never be together. After all these years, the passion within her is still alive. When she’s with Viraj, she forgets everyone around her. Have you ever noticed? I have!’

‘And what are you doing? Running away from your emotions to London?!’

‘Nah! Trust me, when it’s real, you just can’t walk away like that. I can’t leave without knowing that she’d be happy.’

‘Then show her that she can be happier with you, rather than running after something she can never have.’

‘Sometimes…a new dream is born on the pyre of another. She’s always dreamt of being with Viraj…not me. And if I have to lose her forever to make it a reality…so be it!’

‘This is not the fucking way to love you idiot!’

‘There never was a prescribed way Sandra. We all have our own ways. The truest of feelings cannot be described in words. You just let them take over you and then do whatever feels right.’

‘Jesus! What good would it do to lose her like this? You don’t even want to try and win her heart?’

‘I want to! But sometimes, winning is all about losing.’

Sandra gave him an I-don’t-get-you kind of a look. ‘You’re talking crap now!’

Kabir heaved a sigh as he shook his head. ‘Have you ever noticed the smile on a mother’s face when her five year old daughter beats her in a game of Ludo?’

Sandra gave him a bemused look, not getting the drift. ‘Ludo?! Where the fuck did Ludo come from? This is your life god damn it, not a game!’

‘You don’t get it! Do you? When a mother deliberately loses a trivial game just to see her daughter’s cheeks turn red with joy! And when the daughter on having beaten her mother gives her a loving hug, the mother sits back and says to herself Sometimes, winning is all about losing.’ He said as he got up, leaving an awestruck Sandra in the mess lawns.

 

Viraj became increasingly morose in the weeks following his break-up. His attendance dropped and he became anti-social and reclusive. He very rarely came out of his room. He even started avoiding Rhea, her calls and her messages. His changed attitude was troubling Rhea too. She just couldn’t concentrate on anything in the college. She constantly fought a strong urge to strangle Sylvia every time she saw her. It was easier for them to avoid each other being in different sections. The time to face her would soon come. Rhea thought.

Rhea suddenly started realizing how accustomed she had become to Viraj’s presence. She generally preferred sitting next to him in class whenever she got the chance. Though they were never dating but just sitting beside him used to make her quite happy. It gave her something to look forward to every morning. She took out a crumpled piece of paper from one of the zippers in her handbag that she had kept since her first year. It was a simple yet sweet poem Viraj had written for her way back then, the times when they were best of friends and spent most of their time together.

The little things you do for me,

Makes me fall in love with you,

Those little things you say to me,

They make my day, believe it’s true,

The little pranks we play in class,

The times we have a hearty laugh,

The little things you do for me,

Makes me feel so nice with you,

That is why my dear friend,

I like to sit next to you!

Rhea folded the piece of paper and kept it back in her bag. ‘I miss you Viraj!’ she muttered softly under her breath.

The reality always stared at her in the face. This would end someday very soon. These classes, lectures and college would be over and Sylvia would take away Viraj with her. They will marry and go away someplace, and I would eventually be forgotten. But she preferred to live in the present. She had gradually prepared herself to live without him in future but being alone in class since the last few days racked her all the time. This had to happen someday! I was prepared to face it! Then why is it killing me today? If just a week can maim me so much, how would I ever spend my life without him?! She gave an ironic smile, shaking her head, as the thought crossed her mind.

“Dear diary, he just doesn’t talk to me! In fact he doesn’t talk to anybody much these days. I don’t know what’s going on in his mind! What is he thinking! What exactly is troubling him so much! I feel his absence in the class, in the mess, everywhere! This is just a glimpse of my future! Didn’t I prepare myself for it?! Why is my heart failing me then? I guess that’s love! It just obscures the flipside of everything. Everything becomes easy, everything becomes possible and everything just makes you feel good. You just don’t listen to anybody but your heart until the reality hits you in the face. I plan to confront him on the first opportunity I get!”

 

Rhea got her chance in the next couple of days when she saw Viraj walking towards the academic block for the morning classes.

‘Hi! Care to talk?’ Rhea said as she caught up with him.

Viraj stared at her nonchalantly. ‘You should leave! I’m in no mood to talk about anything.’

Rhea felt slightly hurt by the callous indifference in his tone but she let it pass. ‘Viraj! What’s troubling you? Discuss it with me, I’ll help you. We’ve always discussed stuff in the past too isn’t it?! You just can’t let her do this to you…’

‘For God’s sake! I have nothing to discuss…! I can’t tell you everything all the time!’ he interjected.

‘What crap?! What has she said?! What’s hurting you so much damn it?! Tell me or we’re not entering that class!’

Viraj sighed, a helpless expression on his face. He was silent as if contemplating what exactly to say. ‘Rhea please! Can’t you fucking let go off me for a while?! Just…don’t…talk…and leave me alone! It’s difficult for me. You won’t get it. Not right now!’

‘You sound demented! You can start talking or we can stand here all day! Your call!’ Rhea said assertively.

‘I can’t…! I’ve been trying…to think…to do what she says…it’s weird! I tried to hate her for what she said to me and I tried to stay away from her. Thought would be easy! But…you know how strange it is. You decide to hate someone you love a lot and you feel you can do it. You think of all the bad times and it helps you. But as time passes, the bad memories tend to fade away leaving behind just the good ones. And that is when you realize your will is not as strong as it used to be!’

Rhea closed her eyes in fury. Right then she felt like devastating Sylvia’s life for good. She didn’t deserve to stay happy when Viraj was pining for her like this.

‘What hurts more is that she doesn’t even care! She’s happy with her life. If only…if only…Sylvia could realize the pain of losing someone she loves!’

Rhea stared into his eyes. ‘So that is your problem! Is it?’

Viraj did not speak. He kept staring at the floor. ‘I don’t know! Maybe! Now shall we?’ he said motioning towards the class.

 

“I realized something today diary! It is easy to get over a break up. It happens, you accept the fact and move on with life. You accept everything that comes with it; the pangs of loneliness, that feeling of rejection, self-doubt, random memories and those occasional smiles, the casual tears. It’s still easier if you know the other person is yearning for you too. But nothing hurts so much than the fact that the other person is happier without you. It hurts to imagine that your ex is not thinking about you when you are spending sleepless nights dreaming about them, caring about them and somewhere deep in your heart, maybe still loving them. You may not want to accept it but that is the real thing that hurts.

Viraj is going through a similar phase. I can never be with him if Sylvia’s memories keep cropping up in his mind. I also know that maybe he will never ever love me the way he loved her. It hurts diary but I smile to myself and say C’est La Vie.

But I still want to ease his pain. I still want to see him happy the way he was way back in the first semester and I’ll do anything for it.”

 

The next afternoon, Rhea sat in her room staring blankly at the wall, speculating on an idea. Something had been going on in her mind ever since she had had that small conversation with Viraj.

If only Sylvia could realize the pain of losing someone she loves.

Pain of losing….

Someone she loves…

If only Sylvia could realize…

Pain…

Someone she loves…

She needed someone she could really trust. She finally picked up her mobile and explored her inbox for a certain type of forwarded text message. She found a sweet text on friendship. She selected a contact and pressed the green button on her phone. Message sent. She waited, expecting a reply. Within minutes her phone buzzed. 1 New Message. A sly smile crossed her lips as she read the name of the sender. He replies to every text. He always does. He’ll always do what I want.

A rare forward from the young lady! :p He sent.

Where are you? Wanted to talk! She replied.

What happened? I’m coming to the mess in 5 minutes.

Bingo!! J

Across the campus in the boys’ hostel, a guy was jumping in ecstasy as he got ready to leave for the mess. She sent a text. At least she remembers me sometimes. Do I still have a chance? Oh God, fuck me!

 

Kabir was waiting for Rhea in the mess smiling to himself, probably still thinking about the sudden unexpected text. ‘Heyo Rhea! When was the last time you specifically called me for something this way?!!’ he grinned as she entered.

‘Thanks for coming dude!’ she smiled. She had a purpose. She was good at manipulating emotions and she knew it. The messages and the smiles were all a part of it.

‘Hey! No formalities! Just sit down and relax. I’ve ordered juice for the two of us. Now just fire away.’

Kabir could tell it was something very important and he was glad Rhea found him worth sharing it with. Yes! We’re good friends! Close indeed! He thought.

‘I talked to Viraj yesterday about Sylvia!’ She began.

Kabir’s expression suddenly turned dispirited and resigned. Of course! I should have known! She’s always thinking about Viraj. It’ll always be Viraj. ‘Yes! So what happened?’ he asked veiling the dismay in his voice with a smile.

‘I want to see him happy Kabir. He’s suffering.’

‘Of course! We all want to see him happy Rhea and we’re doing every bit possible.’

‘No we aren’t! It kills him inside to see Sylvia happy without him dude. I see it in his eyes. She doesn’t talk to him at all these days. I’ve heard she likes this guy Aseem in our batch. She’s been spending a lot of time with him lately. The spark has been growing and I feel he’s the reason she left Viraj. They are going to make their relationship public very soon.’

Kabir stared at Rhea, a clueless expression on his face. ‘I don’t get what you’re heading at. She’s with Aseem now? As in Aseem?!’

He reiterated the name to double check. His sensibilities didn’t allow him to believe what he heard. Aseem was one of the most infamous guys of the batch known for all the wrong reasons. His charm though was irresistible and the general notion in the batch was that he could easily get a girl if he wanted to. He was wild and profane, a chain smoker and a junkie, sometimes reclusive but otherwise loquacious and a lot of girls harboured a secret crush on him but none admitted probably because of his notorious repute.

‘Umm well, if rumours are to be believed…they are secretly committed!’ she said.

‘So what are you thinking?’

Rhea paused, pondering on how exactly to put forth her idea. ‘Well, I won’t let this relationship last!’

‘Huh? I don’t get it! What will you do?’

Rhea had rehearsed this part of her speech really well. She had to sound normal though she knew her idea was insane.  ‘Kabir! You are a good friend and I‘m counting on you to help me on this. Aseem doesn’t seem the guy who’ll stick with one girl for long. He’s with Sylvia and she likes him. I’ll make sure it doesn’t stay that way. I’ll be the bitch in Sylvia’s life. I plan hitting on Aseem and madly going after him. I plan on ridding Sylvia off her new flame.’

‘What the fuck??!’ Kabir stood up shell-shocked, his chair falling back. ‘Do you realize what you’re saying? Can you even do it?’

‘Yes I do! Sylvia has to realize how it feels to be dumped, to lose someone you love! The way she made Viraj feel! That is the only thing that can make him feel better. She has to experience at least a tinge of what Viraj is going through right now.’ she proposed.

‘Wait, listen….this is fucking crazy! What if Sylvia is fooling around with Aseem too?’

‘If she likes him, then it’ll hurt her emotions, if not then it’ll hurt her ego. Either way she’s hurt and that’s what I want.’

‘But hitting on him as in…what the fuck…I mean are you going to…’

‘Yes! I’ll make him fall for me or the least rid him off that bitch. I’ll ditch him later. I don’t care if he suffers. He’s also partly responsible for Viraj’s plight.’

‘You’ve gone mad! Insane! You realize you’ll ruin your reputation going after him, your grades, your friends and god knows what else!! I can’t let you do this Rhea, I’m sorry.’ He objected.

‘Kabir! Please don’t say No! You are the only person I can count on for this. I can’t see Viraj the way he is right now. It kills me!’ She had tears in her eyes and she made no attempt to stop them. She desperately needed Kabir’s help and she could do anything for it. She was prepared for emotional manipulation too. It is about Viraj.

‘Hey Rhea, listen, alright! I’m with you in whatever you’re doing. We can discuss this. But please no more tears!’ Kabir knew it was insane but he had his own failings. He couldn’t see Rhea in pain too. He could see the desperation in her eyes, that strong urge to do something for Viraj. If it makes her happy! So be it! She’ll have my back. ‘But Rhea, are you sure…coz it’s absolutely…’

‘Kabir,’, She interjected, ‘I still remember the time Viraj used to get late for the morning class when he had the fracture in the first year. I still used to make it. I just had a minor sprain. We had an asshole for a teacher who never gave him attendance. He used to ask him to leave early from his room to make it in time. He eventually fell short of attendance. He was fined 2500 bucks and had an extra project and assignment submission as penalty in that subject which the fucking teacher ensured wasn’t very easy. But he didn’t mind it! He was happy coz he had my friendship and I had forgiven him. Ever since, he’s done so much for me. It’s time to repay the favour.’

Kabir was silent. He knew Rhea would never relent. ‘I understand Rhea! Like always, I understand everything! But tell me something?!’

‘What?’ Rhea asked.

‘You love Viraj! And it will always be Viraj, I know! Then how will you do this? How will you manage to hit on someone you don’t really like? To flirt with someone when every second your heart beats for someone else?! To dream of someone else when all your dreams belong to another guy?! You love Viraj right? Then how?’ Kabir asked.

Rhea smiled at Kabir, nodding her head. ‘Yes, I love Viraj and it will always be him and that’s why this won’t be tough. You are my friend and howsoever weird or insane you might have found my idea, you still decided to help me no? That’s friendship! Viraj fractured his leg on purpose just to apologise to me. That’s friendship! And now what I plan to do with Sylvia for hurting Viraj, howsoever crazy it might sound, that’s my Love for him! Don’t you see? Friendship drives us to do strange stuff sometimes, and love stranger!’ she said.

Kabir simply nodded in amazement, his eyes wide open.

 

As Viraj entered his room, he went and stood at his balcony staring blankly at the rocks and the mountains beyond the campus. He was supposed to leave for Vienna for an international competition that night but right then, his mind was elsewhere. I’m doing it for her. It’s about my dreams, about love. He packed his stuff and locked his room taking out his mobile phone. At the gate! He sent a text message.

I have decided. I’ve made the choice. Lord, give me strength to witness the consequences of my actions…

 

 

PART II

For the One I Love

 

“I feel bright today! Sublime! I am about to do something very crazy but then I have a plan and it gives me something to look forward to!

But diary, somewhere deep inside I feel guilty too. I hate to admit it but I’m using Kabir and playing with his emotions. I needed someone I could trust with my plan and who better than a guy who madly loves me! Yes I might sound cruel right now but then we all do this don’t we? We all use people for selfish interests at times and I’m no different! It’s all For Viraj! I tell myself. I’ll make up for it somehow and I’m sure Kabir will get over me once we’re done with college!

Anyway, the plan is to get closer to Aseem. Never talked to him much all these years! Feels weird already! Viraj returns in 2 months. I just hope everything works out! By the time he comes back, Sylvia would be in deep shit and he’s so going to love it! I’ll see him smiling all over again! Forgive me lord, but I’m doing this for Viraj, for the one I love…”

 

Aseem never used to come out much and thus his movements had to be tracked. Rhea didn’t want to miss any chance to bump into him. She needed someone from the boys’ hostel to keep an eye on him. She had delegated the tracking job to Kabir who had further involved Sandra into the hunt. Kabir started spending most of his time roaming around the campus. I shouldn’t miss Aseem! Rhea needs him! After a couple of days of futile efforts, they finally got going.

Target spotted outside library. Kabir texted Rhea the day he saw Aseem.

Roger dude! There in a jiffy! She replied. She felt her heart pounding against her chest as she looked at herself in the mirror. Relax Rhea! Why so anxious! He’s just a batchmate! But the anxiety persisted for some weird inexplicable reason. She felt like she was going for a first date, like a guy about to propose a girl. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she stepped out of her room. Everything’s gonna be just fine!

Kabir and Sandra were standing outside the library when Rhea came.

‘He just went inside! Weird! Dunno what brought him here of all places. Never seen his lazy ass in the library before! All the best!’ Kabir said grinning.

Rhea felt like a small kid being sent for tuitions for the first time. The queasy feeling intensified with every step she took towards the library. It’s a goddamn library! How am I supposed to talk here?! She entered the library building to find a flustered Aseem fidgeting around outside the sitting room. He was searching his pockets frantically for something, muttering under his breath. Yes! This guy was weird! Rhea gathered the courage to walk up to him.

‘Hi dude! Looking for something?’ she asked smiling.

He reciprocated the gesture with a sweeping movement of his hand. ‘Bah!’

Bah?! Is that it?! I offer help and all he gives is a fucking BAH?! Rhea stood there watching his actions with a puzzled expression of a twelfth grader who’s taught Calculus for the first time. She waited for a minute before asking again. ‘Dude is there something…’

‘Wait…lemme jus check…my…’ He interjected, searching his bag now. I rather wait outside! She thought, turning to leave but then suddenly he called out her name!

‘Rhea!’

She stopped and turned. She was surprised he even knew her name considering the fact that they’d hardly ever talked or seen each other much. ‘Yeah so what…’

‘Well, d’ya have a smoke?’ he asked finally in a desperate attempt. ‘I fucking dropped it or lost it or….I mean…I’ve been wasting s’much time…d’ya have it?’ The desperation in his voice made Rhea actually feel sorry for not having a smoke right then.

‘Nah! I don’t smoke dude!’

‘Ahh…Fuck the world! I can’t study without a smoke mahn!! Fuck! How did I drop….Bloody jackass of a pocket I have!!’

‘Relax…’

‘Coming?! Gotta buy a smoke from outside! Fuck!!’ It felt more like an order and Rhea could find no reason to refuse. She immediately relented. Yes that’s what I wanted anyway! Time alone with him!

It was weird for Rhea to be walking alone with him. There were a few awkward minutes of silence before she came up with something.

‘So, Aseem and library huh? Weird!’ she said with a sly smile.

‘Ahh! Rhea walking with Aseem! Weirder! What’s the catch girl?’ he replied, without looking at her, probably still not over the fact that he’d lost his smoke.

Rhea realized quickly that this guy was smart. No Wonder! ‘Dude! You offered a walk and I tagged along! Is it Rocket Science?’

‘Hmmm, fuckin hate Science! No wonder I chose arts with law unlike you Science freaks.’ he replied nodding his head. ‘This fucking seminar Sylvia asked me to work on! Some IPR and The Doha Agreement crap I dunno…says I should do academic stuff….as if…! I need to prepare a project and present it!’ he went on to explain.

‘Oh My..! So your new flame is already controlling your life huh?!’ It was a clever way of finding out their relationship status from the horse’s mouth itself.

‘Ahh! We just hang around man! Friendly stuff! Flame and all…fuckin shit!’ he argued as he bought a pack of smoke.

She felt a sudden flare of anger inside her. Just Hang Around?! You ruined a fucking relationship asshole!  Her dislike for Aseem intensified with every step she took with him. ‘Don’t do it then or ask her to help. No Compulsions!’

‘Ahhh! She doesn’t do shit for me! Says she’ll help me if I get stuck! Stuck?! My fucking candy ass! You need to have a friggin idea where to start!’

Rhea grimaced with amusement as they entered the campus. ‘I can help you with the project. With the structure, research, formatting and all…and then you can go and present it in the seminar.’

Aseem looked at Rhea with raised eyebrows. It was as if someone had asked him for his pack of smoke. ‘I’m already having second thoughts about this crap and here you are…so keen to help! Why? I’d rather fucking smoke up in my abode.’

‘Stop questioning me dude! I’m your friend, an eight pointer and IPR interests me. Just give it a shot! It’ll add to your CV, get you a job maybe get you started with life…’

‘Life and all huh..! The fucking pointers can suck my dick and the jobs can lick my ass for all I care!’

‘Buck up dude! Try looking beyond your pot and hash for once! Give yourself one good reason to work on it. Just one decent enough reason!’ she coaxed as they made their way back to the library.

‘One good reason huh!’ He closed his eyes and inhaled the smoke, deliberating on the idea as the tobacco did its job. ‘Guess you’re right! I’ll try and find a reason and give it a fucking go. But we’ll start tomorrow. Watsay?’

‘Roger! I’ll see you at the library tomorrow then.’ Rhea smiled.

‘What’s your Google Id? I’ll add you on messenger. Instant connectivity! Fucking bless Google for that!’

Rhea hesitated. ‘Ahhh…dude I ahhh…don’t really use the messenger.’

All of a sudden, Viraj and his memories came flooding into her mind blocking everything away. Their first year when they chatted like crazy on G Talk all the time, the time Sylvia had not entered Viraj’s life, the time Rhea was falling for Viraj with every chat they used to have, till Sylvia came and took that place. One day, when Rhea could no longer take it, she deleted the messenger and all her chats with Viraj vowing never to use it again. It reminded her of old times and she wanted to box away those memories in some part of her heart.

‘No messenger?! What kind of a fucking world do you live in girl?!! Anyway phone it is then! Gimme a missed!’

‘I’ll do that.’ Rhea said.

Aseem nodded, making clouds of smoke in the air as he walked away.

Rhea then took out her cell phone and typed a message for Kabir:

Thanks for today mate! Unfinished business though! Get ready to ruin a seminar presentation now! Wohoo I’m so excited! I really love you for this!

At the other end, Kabir smiled as he read the message. I love you too! More than you realize! More than you’ll ever know! Maybe more than I’ll ever show! He thought.

But all he sent back was a simple smiley. J   

 

“There are primarily three kinds of girls. One, who are beautiful but not too conscious of the fact. Two, who are beautiful and know how to capitalize on it and three, who have this false notion of being hot and beautiful. With all modesty, I can put myself in the second category. I know I can potentially exploit Aseem and I’ll do that.

I might sound like a bitch for planning to ruin someone’s first attempt at something productive but I’m sorry diary, I just can’t help it! I’ll strike when it hurts the most. His confidence, his morale and his will, all will be shattered. Yes, I’ve stopped caring too much! Yes I don’t think much about people and their emotions, even though I might act like I do. Life made me that way. Who cared about my emotions huh? Who was there when I was hurt? Couldn’t Sylvia see that I was already there for Viraj? Why did she have to just….interfere?!

I learnt caring too much just hurts, so you might as well live life on your own terms. It’s a bad bad world out there and being devoid of emotions just makes me stronger. The only person who still makes me go weak is Viraj.

Viraj did send a text btw. ‘Reached. Safe. Phone would be switched off. Do not contact me, I’ll call soon.’ It’s been a week and no news from his side. Well, anyway, he’ll be happy to hear all the spice when he comes back…”

‘So what’s next on the agenda vamp?’ Kabir asked grinning, a few days later.

‘I’ve started helping him with the research, Intellectual Property Rights and all huh! You guys aren’t too close in spite of being in the same hostel. You better try and change that soon so that when the time comes, you can easily rob him off his intellectual property! I’ll tell you what to do when the time comes.’

‘I’ll do that indeed! But watch your steps carefully Rhea! Don’t mess up your part!’

‘Relax dude! Everything’s under control! It’s gonna be fun!’ She winked.

 

‘Reyo! My Oreo!! Can you fucking believe it!?! I’ve hit the jackpot!  Found some material that can corroborate the crux of my project. Now it’s gonna be fucking awesome. Thanks gal! You’ve been a great help.’

Aseem sounded excited for the first time ever since Rhea had met him. It had been a couple of weeks since she had started helping him and he was indeed making quick progress. They used to spend a couple of hours in the library everyday and Rhea ensured they were productive. She couldn’t help but notice that she’d already become Reyo and Oreo for him. He started feeling comfortable with her and much to her surprise took active interest in research. ‘Once all this is done, we’ll smoke pot together!’ he said smirking one day.

‘Fuck you Aseem! None of that crap with me! How many times do I have to tell you?!’ Rhea cried, frivolously punching him in the stomach. She couldn’t help but smile every now and then at Aseem, his pranks and his insanity.

‘Oh my bad! I forgot. By the way, d’ya have a smoke huh? Guess I lost mine! Let’s go buy another!’ he grinned.

‘Asshole! Stop flirting and focus!’ Rhea smiled. ‘Is this the same guy I talked to a month back huh? Someone detached from life?’

‘Haha! Yeah! I guess so. You only gave me the direction. Told me to find a reason to work for this! And I found mine. I have another month, trust me m gonna fucking nail this seminar!’

Rhea gave a crafty smile. Oh! You’ve no idea! She thought. ‘Ahaan! So what reason was compelling enough for you to sacrifice your pot for once?’ she asked with a naughty twinkle in her eyes.

‘I have my reasons!’ Aseem exclaimed smiling.

‘Woah! So the secrecy and all huh?! Anyway, check this out. Just keep collecting material then we’ll start drafting in a week’s time.’ she said, pointing at her laptop screen.

‘Hmmm! Guess Sylvia was right after all. There is something beyond weed and pot and it’s equally intoxicating!’ Aseem smirked.

‘What’s intoxicating?! The research or my company?!’ Rhea grinned.

‘Woah! I’d say it’s a freaking deadly combo!’ he shot back with a wink.

‘Ahaan! So, did you tell her I’m helping you?’

‘Yeah I did actually a few days back. She seemed indifferent. Takes the burden off me! She said grinning. I owe you for the last one month Rhea! Really!’

So it’s not affecting her much?! Or is she shamming?! Huh, it will eventually! Rhea thought. ‘Huh?! Oh yeah….no issues dude. I’ll ensure you return the favour. Let’s pack up for today.’ she smiled.

‘Bingo there!’

As Rhea came out of the library, she texted Kabir, updating him with the events, something she’d been doing since the last month.

Today was cool! In a couple of week’s time, I’ll tell you exactly when, all you need to do is access Aseem’s computer and delete all his documents! As simple as A B C! Fuck the seminar! Thanks bud!  She sent.

 

‘Do you see this?’ Kabir said, as he showed his cell phone to Sandra.

Sandra smiled as she surveyed his inbox. ‘Woah dude! Isn’t someone on cloud 9?! The inbox’s full of Rhea Texts huh.’ she said grinning.

‘Yup! You don’t know how much time I spend every day just staring at my inbox reading her messages. I keep staring even at every Yes, No and K that she’s sent in the last month damn it!’ he said with a glint in his eyes. ‘I feel we’ve come closer in the past month like never before.’

‘Ahaan!’ she grinned.

‘You know what Sandra?! I’d stopped dreaming about Rhea and me together. Somehow I’d told myself to be practical and give up. I tried holding my feelings but in the last month, our growing intimacy has made me think, maybe now she starts caring about me the way I do, maybe she starts loving me, maybe we have a chance…maybe she realizes…maybe Viraj patches up with Sylvia or something…I mean…even the slightest signal from her makes me go crazy…you know…’ he paused.

‘I understand dude! I can imagine that niggling desire inside, a hope of a miracle..! The way you feel right now..! We’ve all at some point of time in our lives, hoped for certain miracles to happen. Sometimes they do, sometimes not. But I sincerely wish they happen for you.’

‘Am I being selfish Sandra? To want someone knowing they love someone else?’ Kabir asked.

‘No buddy! Not at all! Aren’t you selflessly helping her in her plan?! And even if you’re being selfish, you should know it’s beyond your control. Trust me, certain feelings are! You know what’s selfish? Flying away to London just like that?!’

Kabir smiled. ‘Naah! I hope I get to fly with Rhea. We’ll fly together this time. Once all this is over, I’m gonna tell her everything I feel about her right from the very first day when I saw her, when I fell for her, things I’ve done for her over the years she doesn’t even know….everything.’ Kabir stared blankly at a distance saying all this more to himself as if reliving and treasuring every moment.

‘Tell me something Kabir!’ Sandra said biting her lower lip as a smile crossed her face. ‘Don’t you feel jealous sometimes?! Aseem gets so much of Rhea’s time everyday when you secretly wish it were you?!’

Kabir raised his eyebrows with a You-Got-Me smile. ‘Ahh..well…you know…okay…sometimes I do…’ he sighed admitting, ‘But then it’s not like she fancies him or anything…you know..she’s just doing it for Viraj…it makes her happy….and then I’ve learnt to live with so many mixed emotions over the years….I guess I can live with the envy too!’

‘Awww Kabir! You know you’re just too cute sometimes. A real darling!’ Sandra said ruffling his hair.

‘Real darling! I hope she says this to me someday.’ he beamed.

 

With less than a couple of weeks left for the seminar, Aseem started spending more time in the library away from Sylvia, much to Rhea’s delight. Rhea was glad the seminar was keeping him busy enough to ignore Sylvia and piss her off. They’d started devoting more than a couple of hours now and sometimes it used to take up the entire evening. Post the library sessions, Aseem’s narcotic necessities further prevented him from spending time with Sylvia.

Rhea too, had started looking forward to the library sessions lately. She used to get to learn a lot of new stuff. Most of the times they used to sit outside the library building on the steps with their laptops. Aseem used to crack profane jokes whenever he got too ragged with research. Rhea couldn’t help but join in too. He never missed a chance to sneak in a couple of smoke puffs bugging Rhea every time.

‘Can’t you fucking control the urge for a while?!’ She cried perplexed one day.

‘So someone’s started using the fuckin F word too! Naaaice!’, the deliberately elongated ‘nice’ further pissed Rhea off.

‘Fuck off! You refuse to listen isn’t it?!’ she exclaimed giving a resigned smile!

‘Wanna smoke pot?!’

‘Fuck you!’

‘Weed?!’ Aseem persisted grinning.

‘Shall we work?!’

‘Hash?’

‘IPR?!’ Rhea mocked.

‘Okay joint smoke?!’

‘Dude! If you keep doing that trust me, I’ll beat you!’ She retorted grinning.

‘You beat me! I beat you to death!’ he said in a hoarse voice making a growling sound and clawing at her.

‘Oh really?! Take these then!’ she said giving him frivolous punches all over his body.

‘Okay Stop it! I was fuckin kidding damn it! STOP! For my pot’s sake Relax!’ she stopped and gave a feathery blow on Aseem’s nose as he looked up.

‘Owww! That hurt!’ he said rubbing his nose.

‘It should! If you keep mouthing crap…?!’

‘What’s that?! Classified CIA documents?!’ Aseem quipped pointing at a diary in one of Rhea’s jacket’s pockets.

‘Well…that is my personal journal!’

‘Personal huh?! So I’m not the only one with the secrecy and all?!’ He mocked. ‘And what do you really write?! I bet its filled with gibberish on IPR.’ He grinned.

‘No asshole! It’s everything worth remembering after college, my experiences, my feelings and thoughts…everything I feel about…it’s personal!’ she said clutching the diary closer to her chest.

‘So you carry it everywhere like your little kid?!’

‘Almost everywhere…yeah!’ She replied nodding her head.

‘Aha! So why don’t you just let me see what you think about me in that huh?!’ he said grimacing.

‘It won’t remain personal if I show you, will it?!’

‘Oops! I get that, fine! But you know what Rhea?’

‘What now?!’ she mocked with raised eyebrows.

‘I like our library sessions. The time we spend and the things we do…I mean…I get to do something productive and I’m learning fast…It’s like…you know.. I…feel really nice to sit here next to you every day.’

All of a sudden, the smile from Rhea’s face just faded away. She clutched her handbag which had a certain piece of paper, as images from first semester crept into her mind. Of Viraj sitting next to her, writing that short piece of poetry for her and quietly passing it under her table.

…The little things you do for me,

Makes me feel so nice with you

That is why my dear friend,

I like to sit next to you.

‘I guess we should pack up for the day now.’ Rhea smiled as she shut her laptop, driving away the nostalgic visions. ‘Just a couple of weeks left! Work hard for this! See ya!’ The words just came out and for the first time she felt like she actually meant them. ‘And give a fucking break to your smoking habit. It’ll kill you otherwise!’ she yelled at a startled Aseem, preparing for another smoke.

“It was weird! The way Aseem talked about our library sessions today! All of a sudden, he reminded me of Viraj. For a moment, I felt as if it was the first semester all over again, Viraj sitting there with me, old times, chatting like there’s no tomorrow. I can’t explain diary, it felt as if there was a connection, a strong, uncanny, inexplicable bond between us! Is he actually falling for me? Is my plan working? Then why doesn’t it seem right?! I better put a brake on my thoughts!

Anyway…just a couple of weeks left, for the seminar and for Viraj to return. ‘Coming back in a couple of weeks!’ That’s all he’s sent! How busy can he be damn it! No Skype, no calls, nothing! I’ll kick his butt when he comes back!”

 

With each passing day, the project was nearing completion and Rhea was soon realizing that she had to take the decisive step but still she kept delaying it for some strange reason. She just didn’t feel like doing it right then.

‘So this is it?! Ten days to go and we’re almost done.’ Aseem said one day.

‘Yeah! Right!’ Rhea said, staring at her laptop screen avoiding his eyes, her guilty mind making her uneasy.

‘You know what Rhea?! I never thought I’d be able to do it initially. And now when I look at the forty pages of hard work, it really feels great. I’d really have given up without you. Guess some things are just worth fighting for you know, like…you just shouldn’t give up….and this is one of them.’

For certain things, you don’t really give up, and your friendship is one of them! Viraj had said something like that! The reveries of the first semester came flooding back into her mind. The fracture, the apologies, their friendship.

‘Keep the momentum going for the end terms too! One last series of exams before we pass out! I’ll help you with them. You gotta work hard, study and nail them too.’

‘Ahh! Fuck it! I never do that!’

Rhea gave him a firm look. ‘Well. Just shut up and start working! For once, study! And we still have a month of college left, any more symposiums and seminars and I want you there. And throw this fucking shit away! You want to live don’t you?!’ she screamed snatching the pack of smoke from him. Viraj doesn’t smoke. You shouldn’t too! Gosh! What’s wrong?! Why am I even comparing?!

‘Whoa Whoa Rhea! Gimme a break! Are you trying to fucking turn a junkie into a geek huh?! Chillax!’

“I’m losing it! Guess there’s something wrong with me! That one question has been bothering me the entire day! What was I trying to turn him into? What is happening to me? Why am I being so nice and considerate to him all of a sudden?! All this time, I’ve wanted to ruin his seminar and now suddenly all I want is for him to do well! My heart and my mind are playing games with me!

Diary, this guy reminds me so much of Viraj! The way he talks, his attitude, his pranks…everything. I cannot bring myself to possibly ditch him now. I’ve seen him work so hard for this, the zeal and enthusiasm on his face like that of an infant who gets his first toy. This is like his first toy, his first effort at something that can change his life for the better.

Oh Fuck me! He was the one I was fighting against and now I’ve forgotten what I’d started fighting for! Seeing Sylvia suffer is one thing but how do I hurt him?! How do I do it?! So then, what exactly did I do there in the library today? What was I trying to turn him into? I think I have the answer. My heart wants him to be like Viraj! Maybe I’m searching for him somewhere within Aseem! I want to turn him into another Viraj! Did I hear insane diary? Well yes, we’re all allowed to act insane every once in a while isn’t it?

I’m scared diary! It’s getting personal! Guess I have a soft corner for him now!”

 

‘Eight days to the seminar! When do you plan to give me a go ahead? I can enter his room whenever I want now. We are hostel floor buddies.’ Kabir said giving an impish grin.

‘Relax dude! Just a couple of days more! You’ve done pretty well.’ Rhea said.

‘You wanted to ditch him no?! Now’s the time to do it! I just can’t wait to see his goddamn face. And Sylvia…huh…he hardly spends time with her thanks to you and the research.’ he smirked.

‘I can’t wait either. We’ll do it very soon now.’ Rhea said looking away from Kabir.

‘Very soon?!!! When Rhea! What’s wrong?! Why this reluctance? What are you up to?’

What am I up to?! Now that’s a difficult one to answer! How do I tell him? What do I tell him?! It’s all so complicated! Would he even understand what’s happening to me? Can I even explain?! Guess not! ‘The plan is on Kabir. Just relax!’ she said trying to delay the inevitable.

Aseem had become a big distraction from everything for Rhea. She used to keep thinking about the library sessions all the time. She used to keep wondering about how Aseem was managing the project on his own in his room. Sometimes she used to remember his pranks and smile to herself.

Jerk! She smiled thinking about Aseem and his buffoonery, sitting before her laptop in her room. ‘Smoke pot?! Wanna smoke pot!’ she said to herself grinning. ‘Joint smoke?! Man I lost mine, come lets buy one?!’ she imitated his baritone making weird faces and breaking into laughter.

‘Rhea you alright?! On Skype or something?!’ Someone from outside the hostel room called out.

‘Umm…Yeah..kind  of….relax. I’m fine!’ she shouted back stifling her laughter.

She straightened herself on her chair heaving a sigh, still smiling to herself and opened her browser. Send me your Google Id. She texted Aseem as she typed three words in the Google search box. ‘Download Google Talk!’ Whatever the shit is happening to me!

 

The next few days were quite eventful for Rhea. It was like the first semester all over again. She spent hours chatting with Aseem on the net and spent time with him in the library too. Their chats used to remind her of old times with Viraj. In fact she had started associating everything Aseem did with Viraj. She was too preoccupied to realize that almost two months had passed since Viraj had left and it was time for him to come back. Aseem hardly used to get time with Sylvia and Rhea could feel he was more at ease with her. She noticed Sylvia spending most of her time in solitude and knew in all probability she would confront her soon enough. Bring it on bitch! Everything had gone as planned and all Rhea had to do was give a green signal for the coup de grâce. Kabir! I remember the plan! We’ll do it very soon now! She thought.

“What the fuck was I thinking?! No messenger?! Aseem was right. What kind of a world did I live in?! Last 4-5 days have been like so exciting diary I can’t tell you! And can you believe it Viraj is coming back in another 5 days! It’s kinda weird to admit but Aseem actually distracted me from all the pain and misery I felt missing Viraj. Last few weeks, after really long I’ve not had to hide my pain in the garb of joy. The happiness is unfeigned!

I like him diary…I mean…I like spending time with him! I dunno how or why but I see a reflection of Viraj in him. He takes me away from that void inside me, distracts me from that feeling of yearning and longing for someone! Being with him feels like I’m always connected to Viraj! I feel like caring and helping him in ways I could never do with Viraj. Its inexplicable…everything’s just so surreal!

Is that what’s preventing me from hurting him?! From executing my plan?! Do I see Viraj in him? I dunno! I just don’t want him to fall for me and get hurt! Gosh! Rhea, you fucked up! I’m all messed up in the head diary! I didn’t bargain for this!”

 

I can’t keep him in the dark anymore! I have to tell him everything! I can’t go ahead with the plan. Rhea thought sitting in her room one afternoon, four days before the seminar. I need to talk to you. Now! She texted Aseem. As soon as she pressed the green button, her phone buzzed. 1 New Message from Aseem. ‘Isn’t that too quick?!’ she said to herself surprised. Are you in class? Need to see you! It’s important!

Coincidence! Rhea thought! She couldn’t help but notice how the message was so similar to what Viraj had sent her in the beginning of the semester. The situations! Aseem’s actions! It all keeps coming back to Viraj! She could tell it was something grave but she didn’t want this episode to end the way it did for Viraj. Meet me outside the library in 5 minutes. She replied. As she reached the library, she saw Aseem sitting at the steps staring blankly at his laptop screen. Images of Viraj sitting in the mess lawns crying for Sylvia came flooding into her mind. She went over to Aseem, driving away nostalgic visions, and placed a hand on his shoulder, the way she’d done with Viraj. Aseem looked up, a tear rolled down his cheek as he felt her touch. Déjà vu?! Rhea thought.

‘It’s over!’ he said giving a wry smile.

‘What dude?! What’s over?’ Rhea asked with increasing apprehension.

‘My seminar dream! It’s not there! The research material…the final draft…everything…someone’s messed up with my laptop big time…I can’t even recover anything…it’s all vanished…forty pages of hard work…evaporated…into thin air..!’

‘What the fuck!’ Rhea exclaimed in shock. Kabir! What the fuck?! You did this?! On your own?! I was supposed to fucking tell you! She thought. She felt like going berserk at Kabir. She just didn’t have any words of comfort for Aseem right then. She felt as helpless as she had done back then with Viraj.

‘I’ve never wanted anything more than this seminar my entire life Rhea.’ Rhea remained silent, too dazed for words. ‘I felt guilty. I wanted to do it for her….for…Shipra!’

‘Who’s Shipra?’ Rhea said surprised at this unfamiliar new name.

‘She was…! My best buddy…my girlfriend…my life…the one girl who changed me. I wasn’t a born junkie Rhea. I had a life and I loved her. We both got into different law schools…the best ones!! We both boarded our trains together that fateful night five years ago…only that she never made it. Her train met with an accident and she was the only unfortunate one to die in the entire coach…’ Aseem paused, shuddering as he remembered the incident. ‘You know….she died in my arms. You can’t imagine how incapacitated I felt. In the hospital…she breathed her last in these fucking arms and I could do nothing.’ he cried raising his arms to his face and clenching his fists in fury.

‘Aseem I’m…’

‘I asked God that night! Why me?! Why my girl?! When I was at the threshold of a new beginning in my life…and he didn’t give me any fucking answers…ruined my life! I found my answers in drugs and alcohol. Yes, I became an escapist!’ he yelled at himself, ‘Until you made me realize how wrong I was. Shipra wouldn’t have wanted a fucking wasted junkie. You coaxed me to find one reason to work on the seminar and I found mine. I wanted to do it to show her I was a fighter…that I hadn’t given up on life…that I still had it in me…but now…’

‘Aseem relax!’ Rhea interrupted. She felt her uncanny bonding with him getting stronger. He’s lost a loved one! I’ve lost Viraj to Sylvia too… maybe forever! We both are yearning for love. She somehow felt like she was seeing Viraj in pain all over again. ‘Hey mate! I’m still there for you. Don’t give up…trust me I’ll fix this before you even realize. I’m good in IPR, I have a lot of material from our library sessions on my laptop…I have good books, older drafts and stuff…we still have 4 days with us…trust me I’m gonna mail a fucking project to you in 3 days and you’ll still nail the seminar.’

‘No point Rhea! It’s all over…I’m sorry Shipra!’ he said resignedly to himself.

‘No! It’s not…trust me I’ll do it…you’ve had enough! Give me 3 days and you’ll have the project with you even if it’s the last thing I do!’ she said looking straight into his eyes as Aseem nodded blankly. I need to talk to Kabir right now!

 

‘We need to talk!’ Rhea said storming into the mess halls as she saw Kabir and Sandra sitting.

‘Let’s go outside then.’ Kabir whispered softly. He knew where this was heading.

‘Please do.’ Rhea said, her expression solemn.

Kabir knew he’d taken an impulsive step by deleting the documents without Rhea’s permission but he had an explanation. He could tell Rhea wanted to talk about it. He wanted to be the one telling her first but that evidently hadn’t happened. They’d made their way to the middle of the mess lawns when Kabir began. ‘Rhea I did it today morning…had no choice…he was shifting hostels…you were in class…’

Kabir was interrupted by a hard slap from Rhea leaving him dumbstruck and inviting the stares of everyone in the mess lawns. ‘Get lost!’

‘Rhea…?!’ Kabir exclaimed shocked, his hand on his cheek. ‘What the…’

‘Fucking get lost from here before I lose it!’ she said looking down at the grass, her voice rising with each word.

‘Damn it! What’s wrong?! He’d have changed hostels by afternoon….the plan…our plan…would have failed…I couldn’t have done it then…would have been caught easily…I planned to tell you first thing post classes today but…and its just 4 days away…we were doing it sooner or later anyway…what’s the big deal?! I did it for you…’

‘Big deal huh?!’ Rhea retorted. ‘YOU DID THIS FOR ME?! FUCKING LIAR! I’LL TELL YOU THE TRUTH!’ She was literally yelling now bringing Sandra outside too. ‘You never really cared about the plan. IT WAS ALL TO GET FUCKING CLOSER TO ME ISN’T IT?!’ She shouted.

Kabir stared incredulously at Rhea. He couldn’t imagine her saying all that. What’s happened to her? She’s taking it personally?! She doesn’t mean it! Oh God! Tell me she doesn’t mean it!

Wow! I’ll get to talk to Rhea! A valid reason to bug her all the time! I’ll get to spend time with her, text her! Oh she’ll simply fucking fall for me! She’s so naïve! That’s all you thought!’ Rhea continued. ‘YOU NEVER FUCKING CARED ABOUT VIRAJ….ABOUT ME…YOU FUCKING SELF CENTRED FAGGOT!!’ She continued hollering.

‘Rhea relax! Calm down! People are watching!’ Sandra said trying to hold her back. She thought it prudent to intervene before the situation escalated into anything nastier.

‘TELL HIM TO FUCK OFF SANDRA!’ Rhea screamed. ‘YOU KNOW WHAT KABIR?! YOU THINK YOU REALLY CARE FOR ME?! YOU LOVE ME?! DUH! I SEE FUCKING HOPELESS ROMANTICS LIKE YOU EVERYDAY! ALL YOU SELFISH FUCKERS NEED IS A GOOD LOOKING GIRL TO CHASE AFTER! FUCK YOU AND YOUR FEELINGS!! DO YOU HEAR THAT?!! FUCK YOUR FEELINGS! I GIVE A DAMN TO THEM!’ She felt like hurting him with words as much as she could. He fucking deserves it!

‘Okay we’ll tell him to leave just relax Rhea!’ Sandra said still seeking to cool her off. ‘Dude…just leave for now…you can talk to her later!’ she said looking at Kabir.

‘JUST GET LOST! I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO THIS MOTHERFUCKER…EVER!’ She yelled turning to Sandra. ‘AND I’LL FIX THIS UP YOU FRIGGING ASSHOLE! I’LL MAIL HIM A PROJECT IN 3 DAYS JUST WAIT AND WATCH! I WONT LET YOU RUIN HIS LIFE!’

Kabir simply stared in disbelief at a hysterical Rhea with tears in his eyes. This couldn’t really be her! She can’t say all this to me! ‘Rhea…I’m not self…I care…I Love…I…I…can’t just bring myself to say it…you don’t realize how much…’ He stuttered, too stunned to process his thoughts.

‘Kabir! Not a good time…I mean it!’ Sandra exclaimed assertively looking straight into his eyes.

Kabir simply nodded turning to leave for his hostel, tears rolling down his cheeks as he walked away.

 

72 hours! I can’t sleep! Rhea shut herself in her room completely. She frantically kept researching and typing before her laptop like someone possessed.  Her diet got restricted to only Red Bulls, coffee and dry fruits and the only rest she used to take was rare power naps of 15-20 minutes when she felt she’d pushed her body to the brink. It’ll be fine Aseem! She thought. She had cut herself off from Kabir completely. She’d blocked his mails, his calls and his messages. Frigging piece of crap never deserved my friendship! She thought still fuming at him. Her blood used to boil every time Kabir came to her mind. That Son of a bitch!

Finally, with the third day almost coming to an end, towards the evening, she heaved a sigh as she finished writing the last words of the project. Phew! She realized she had completely outworn herself as she mailed a copy to Aseem and reclined on her chair. Meet me outside the library in 5 minutes! She texted him. I need to see him. Explain everything to him properly.

I’ve done it! She thought flustered. For him! Where did I get the energy from I don’t know! Did I do it for Aseem or for the Viraj that I see in him?! Gosh! What have I done to myself! Today is the day Viraj was supposed to come back, I didn’t even realize! He could be here anytime. Hasn’t texted yet!

She made her way towards the library. It had started to rain and she felt slightly dizzy with all the exertion. As she was crossing the football field, she couldn’t help but notice a vaguely familiar silhouette of a guy with a girl in one dark corner. She walked towards them as her curiosity got the better of her. As she moved closer, the two figures became clearer until finally, for some strange reason, she recoiled in horror at what she saw before her.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as the rain started to get heavier. She closed her eyes and looked up and it poured down and for that one moment her tears and the rain were one…

 

 

PART III

Love Stranger

 

Rhea slowly opened her eyes regaining consciousness as someone shut the door of the room behind him as he left. She found herself lying on a bed in an unfamiliar environment. It was a small, neat and tidy room with white curtains. She noticed her bed sheet and pillow cover were white too. Everything is a shade of fucking white?! She looked around to see a couple of machines with monitors making strange beeping noises. Again white?! As she tried moving her left hand, she felt a slight pain. Ahhh! She noticed a needle inserted in her hand which was connected to a bottle of transparent liquid hanging upside down through a tubular apparatus. What the fuck?!

‘Where am I?’ Rhea asked a lady in white attire who’d just entered the room. Lady in white too?! Is this heaven?

‘Good morning dear! You’re just fine.’ the lady replied.

‘Everything’s so white and pure here.’ Rhea said looking around, ‘Is this heaven?’ This must be heaven! It has to be! I was supposed to be dead.

‘Indeed! A heaven for the sick and ailing!’ The nurse said smiling. ‘You’re on a hospital bed Rhea and that’s a drip.’ She said pointing at her hand.

Hospital?! Her recent memory was still a blur. She remembered gulping down something very lethal. A hospital bed was the last place she expected to be in. I’m surely dead. I must be dreaming. This must be one of those dreams people see post death while they make their journey to the other side! She pinched herself to make sure. Ouch! It hurts! Her mind was clustered with random images like pieces of an unsolved puzzle. She could recollect visions of her tearing a page from her personal diary, of talking to someone in the football field, sneaking into the academic building late at night, staring at a beaker filled with a semi transparent liquid but it was all still obscure in her head. ‘Am I not dead then?’ she asked the nurse dazed. Am I getting paranoid?!

‘Gosh dear! You just ODed on glucose! Why would you be dead?! For heaven’s sake!’

 Glucose?! ‘Who brought me here?’ Rhea asked.

‘A guy from your university dear. He just left. And now let me go fetch the doctor for you. Just lie down and take some rest.’ She said smiling.

A guy?! Oh freaking crap! Aseem! He saved me! How? She noticed her diary kept beside her on the table. She sat up on her bed and opened it. She closed her eyes to recall everything that had led to her in that bed and all of a sudden, the agony and despair within her started escalating as events of the past few hours struck her mind like a bolt from the blue…

 

She closed her eyes and looked up and it poured down and for that one moment her tears and the rain were one.

‘Viraj?!’ Rhea cried out, the heavy rain and thunder nearly drowning her voice. The couple was making love so passionately that they didn’t notice Rhea approaching towards them until she came too close. Rhea could see the girl locking lips with Viraj from a distance and she knew who it was.

‘Oh my…Look who’s here!’ Sylvia turned to look at Rhea mocking her in a sing-song voice. ‘Surprised?! Shocked?! What?!…Gosh Rhea, you shouldn’t have seen us like this. Not the way we expected to break this to you huh! We were just savouring an intimate moment…you know! Fucker came back few hours ago as one of the finalists in the competition, couldn’t win though else he’d have had a magnificent treat from me tonight.’ She grinned turning to Viraj. ‘Oops, but don’t you know this already?! You don’t? Awww Shit happens!’ She mocked feigning sympathy.

Viraj stared blankly at Rhea. She gazed back incredulously at him, lost for words. What is happening?! Why? She didn’t know what to say.

‘Oh now stop staring like that bitch…!’

‘Sylvia…easy!’ Viraj finally said, putting his hand on her shoulder. ‘Rhea…I’m…sorry…I meant to tell you this…’

‘Tell me what Viraj..?!’ She interjected, expecting the worst. Viraj lied?! He betrayed me?!

‘Well…that Sylvia and I never really broke up….I mean we did but then…we worked out things…we had a compromise…’

‘A what..?!! When??…Since how long…’ Rhea exclaimed shocked. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to hear any more answers.

‘All this time…we’ve been together Rhea…before I went..!’

‘Like what…?! For the last couple of months now…you’ve been…God damn it!’ Rhea could not really believe her ears. Every word Viraj said was like a revelation. Rhea broke into tears opening and closing her mouth looking at Viraj unable to find the right words to utter. What do I fucking say?!

‘Why…Viraj…Why?!’ she cried out almost beseechingly staring at him teary eyed.

‘I’ll tell you why…because he chose me bitch!! You thought you could sweet talk…’

‘Sylvia don’t!’ Viraj cut across. ‘Rhea please don’t make it hard for me. I did it for you…’

‘For me?! Oh really…?!’

‘Viraj cut the crap…just let me talk!’ Sylvia yelled butting in. ‘Yes he did you a fucking favour asshole! There is a line in friendship that you should not cross and you kept doing it again and again…and again…hoping he would fall for you isn’t it?!’ Sylvia asserted. ‘And when you start loving a person, you don’t really realize where to draw that line. Viraj, I’m sitting with you! Oh don’t worry, I’ll take care of you! I’m there for you! Yeah I’ll call you tonight! We’re going there together isn’t it?! Like gimme a fucking break damn it! You can’t just keep showing all that make-believe care and affection all the time. And you thought Viraj would eventually leave me huh?! No girl would like you prying on her boyfriend like that.’

‘Prying?! Make believe…?! Sylvia how could you even think…’ The fatigue and exhaustion had simply vanished making way for shock and despair.

‘Oh really is it..?? You and I both know how you feel about Viraj, it shows. And I don’t think I was too comfortable with you breathing down his neck all the time…which lately had increased a hell lot. And you know what? I didn’t want Viraj to give you any false hopes too. You can’t keep dreaming of being with him all the time when we all know it’s never happening.’

‘Rhea don’t you get it?!’ Viraj butted in trying to vindicate his act. ‘Sylvia and I were having issues and my friendship with you was one of them. She told me…gave me a choice…to either distance myself from you for everyone’s good or lose her forever. Trust me it was very difficult for me but I knew you’d understand. So, the night I was to leave, I asked her to meet me at the college gate and told her that she was right.’ Viraj paused as he walked towards Rhea. ‘Look at me!’ He said placing his hands on her shoulders. ‘You know how it is to love someone Rhea. I want her in my life, I love her…I…want to spend my life after college with her and that life is just a month away now.’

‘And…and what about me Viraj?!’ she cried. There was a strange desperation in her voice. It was like more than a simple question to her, as if she’d waited for this answer for a very long time. Rhea looked into his eyes beseechingly, tears in her own. Don’t say it Viraj! Just don’t say the words! Don’t leave me like this! I always knew it was coming but please I’m not prepared right now! Not so soon! I can’t imagine not being with you anymore! You can’t just end it this way! Just because she wants you to?! Please! Please!

‘Rhea, you are a friend…but…the truth is…that I can’t imagine my future without Sylvia. Too much of care and affection all the time…honestly…Rhea…it gave me the creeps! I can’t be with you always…It’s Sylvia! And now that college is about to get over, it’s time you faced the facts.’

Rhea simply stared at him blankly. There it was! He’d said it finally! He’d made the choice! After all those years, the day I’d been waiting for! The answer I always knew! She felt all her hopes shattering as the reality started to sink in. How can he say that?! He’s not thinking clearly! He’s not! Sylvia is clouding his feelings, his judgement! Rhea was in a state of denial.

‘Viraj…I…not this way…you’re kidding right?!…Huh…ok…you’re not kidding! Tell me something, all this time that you were away, you were in touch with Sylvia, weren’t you?’

‘Yes I was. Skype!’ He admitted avoiding her eyes.

‘And all this time, you deliberately ignored me isn’t it?’ she asked expecting the obvious answer.

‘Yes…For your own good! You’re still a friend…’

‘NO! Please don’t! Don’t show me any more dreams! We can’t be friends. Not anymore! Oh fuck…what have I done…I thought you were shattered…in pain…Oh my God…Aseem!!’ She broke off midway somehow feeling cheated and betrayed. It was all too much to take in and she didn’t really know what to say or do or even feel. She suddenly thought of Aseem and everything she’d done to him. He must be waiting!

‘You dare not utter his god damn name bitch! What the fuck you think you’ve been doing anyway huh?!’ Sylvia screamed at her. ‘I bet your friend here doesn’t know what a bitch you are! Does he now?’ she yelled turning to Viraj. He evidently knew nothing and seemed lost.

‘Oh Fuck! I need…to talk to him…he’d be waiting…library!’ Rhea stuttered seeming somewhat disconcerted by the turn of events.

‘Oh fuck really?!’ Sylvia mocked. ‘What’s left to talk after ruining the entire thing huh?! You fucking whore!’

‘Sylvia…hold it! What the hell is all this?!’ Viraj cried not getting the drift.

Sylvia continued hollering, ignoring Viraj and his protests. ‘He never really trusted you bitch but was still kind enough to give you a chance…he wanted help anyway… he didn’t really care where and how it came from…since I refused to spoon feed. He told me about you offering him help out of the blue the very first time you tried it and I knew something was not right about it. So I secretly kept helping him…preparing a draft of my own for him…you know just in case you turned out to be a bitch and bailed at the last moment…which is exactly what you did… but he still didn’t stop you from working on the project again, just in case my version wasn’t good enough for him…Yes, he was selfish. We all are! You are too! Just think about it!…but you know what hurt me the most…you ditched him when he had actually started trusting you…the fucker doesn’t even know what you’ve been doing to him all this time and you still fucking want to act all goody-goody huh… when you’d planned to fuck his efforts right from the beginning…why…to earn a few brownie points from Viraj?! Why don’t you fucking tell him what you’ve been doing to Aseem?!’

Sylvia was literally panting now. ‘I won’t let you fuck around with him bitch! Not Aseem…the one guy who’s been my support system when things weren’t going right with Viraj! So take my fucking advice…and whatever nasty you’re plotting against him now…just shove it up your guilty ass! You’d almost have laughed away to glory had I not been preparing my own draft for him. And for all I know, he’s already working on it since last three days. Nobody’s waiting anywhere for you… so you might as well take your sorry ass out of the football field and get out of our lives for good..!’

Viraj had been a silent spectator to Sylvia’s outburst so far, too baffled to speak. ‘Rhea what have you been up to behind me? Is all this true? Can you explain?!’ he asked her almost contemptuously.

Rhea suddenly felt purged of all emotions standing there in the field soaked in the pouring rain. She’d just seen everything fall apart in minutes before her. ‘Viraj…I wish I could!’ She did not have any answers to Viraj’s skeptical stare. She somehow strangely felt betrayed by Aseem too. All that effort in the last 3 days! For nothing?! Kabir’s shocked face and moist eyes came to her mind. God! He’ll never forgive me for everything I’ve said to him! She looked up one last time at Viraj as she gave a wry smile shaking her head. It had all begun with an incident in the football field five years back! Ironically, it ends in the same field today. She stood there for a few more seconds reflecting on everything she’d said and done, all in the name of love, until she finally turned towards her hostel, her tears blurring her vision.

 

“I feel like a failure. My life has been a failure. They say there is no one who never had a dream to live for. They say there is no one who hasn’t had his dreams shattered ever in life. They say this and they say that…they say a lot of stuff! They might call me a coward for taking this extreme step but I feel a failure like me doesn’t deserve to live. I leave behind my experiences in this diary hoping that others don’t repeat the mistakes I did, hoping that it reaches the people that I love and care for, hoping against hope, that no more dreams are shattered. I’d be long gone by the time it reaches people. To everyone who ever loved a fool like me, my apologies…..for I could never reciprocate your love…I was too blinded by my own obsessions…something that I’ll regret till the time I breathe….which won’t be long now…”

It is not very easy to articulate your thoughts on paper when you know you are going to end your life in a few moments but she still kept on writing. Her mind was blank with the exhaustion of three sleepless nights. There was just one thought echoing in her mind. Potassium Chloride! It would do the job in seconds. She wrote the words on the page in her diary as she made her way out of her room. “…something that I’ll regret till the time I breathe…which won’t be long now…and Potassium Chloride it will be!” Then suddenly, as if worked into a delirium venting her anger and frustration, she simply crumpled the page and threw it on the hostel floor tearing it away from the diary as she stepped out into the stormy night again, only with a much extreme purpose in mind this time.

 

‘Try her fucking cell phone!’ Kabir screamed frantically.

‘Just did. No reply.’ Sandra said. Sandra had come out of her room just minutes after Rhea went out and had seen the crumpled piece of paper. She had rushed to check on Rhea, not finding her in her room. She had then immediately called Kabir to the mess area.

‘God Damn it Rhea pick up the phone! She’s blocked my calls!’ Kabir yelled madly. It was already curfew time in the college and everybody had gone back to their hostels. Kabir strained his eyes to scan the visible parts of the campus from the mess hoping to see a silhouette in the stormy rain. Sandra had jumped the wall of her hostel complex to come to the mess and she knew that she could be in trouble if the warden or any of the guards saw her. Kabir though, was in another world altogether. He wasn’t thinking about anything else but Rhea right then.

‘Show me the fucking page!’ He yelled. Fortunately the stormy night and thunder had ensured the guards stayed in their shelter and most of the yelling and screaming was stifled. Kabir stared at the page and the chemical name again. ‘Holy Fuck! God Damn it no!’

‘What happened?!’ Sandra asked.

‘I need to go…I know where she’d be going…I need to fucking stop her.!’

‘Kabir…where…’

‘The chemistry lab! The restricted section! This is a fatal chemical…oh Fuck!’ He cried, his face turning pale. ‘Sandra, alert the guards in the meantime! And keep trying her fucking cell phone please!’ He instructed as he turned to run.

‘Kabir! Stop! What the fuck are you doing…let me tell the guards…we…’

‘We can’t wait! It’ll be too late…just do what I’m saying..! I need to sneak into the academic building right now…and probably break into the chemistry lab too!’

‘Dude are you even thinking?! This is serious shit…serious disciplinary breach…you could lose your job over this…Let us take the authorities with us…at least the guards! You’re wasting time!’

‘SANDRA DO WHAT I SAY OR FUCK OFF! SHE MIGHT FUCKING DIE!’ Kabir hollered losing his temper. Sandra clutched his arm ignoring his outburst as he started to run again. ‘Kabir STOP! Think about your fucking job for a second…the education loan…think about your dad…your family…their dreams…think about the way Rhea screamed at you the other day…think about who loves and needs you more…don’t risk everything blindly!’

Kabir momentarily paused probably to reconsider, then just like one of those strange things people do when madly in love, he ran towards the academic building and the chemistry lab in the incessantly pouring rain knowing fully well that breaking into the restricted section could cost him his job, family’s dreams and his five years of law school career.

 

Rhea knew nobody would be able to find her in this remote part of the campus. By the time they do, it’ll be too late! She was sitting in a distant muddy patch between shrubs and bushes away from the hostels and the mess. She ignored her constantly buzzing cell phone. She did not need any reassurances, people telling her to stop. She picked it up and smashed it against a rock. Good riddance! Won’t need it now! Dead people don’t talk anyway! She was simply preparing herself for the end. She finally got up. It is time!

 

Kabir heaved a sigh of relief as he entered the Halls of Learning. There were no footprints on the floor so he knew Rhea hadn’t made it to the lab yet. The wet shoes would have left a print otherwise! He very discreetly began ascending the stairs to the Chemistry lab. He noticed that there was just one guard patrolling the entire first floor and he was in the other section of the building. He could see the lab right in front of him. He decided to wait on the stairs for Rhea to show up. I’ll stop her here itself! With each passing moment that Rhea didn’t turn up, his anxiety heightened. What if she’s somewhere else?! What if she tries something else?! What if she has fainted somewhere?! He knew he couldn’t waste much time simply waiting for her to turn up and neither could he leave. What if she turns up after I leave?! He knew it was only a matter of time before someone noticed his footprints too.

All of a sudden, he decided to take a very impetuous step. There’s no other way! He ascended the stairs as he saw the guard walking to the other section of the floor again. He removed his shoes and socks and rubbed his heels against the wall to dry them. He hid them in the nearest trash bin he saw. I don’t need fucking footprints anymore! He then very stealthily made his way to the lab door. There was no lock and it was simply latched. That’s lax!  He entered the lab as he silently closed the door behind him. He winced as the distinctive pungent odour of the lab filled his nostrils. He made his way to a closet which bore the words ‘Restricted’ in bold to find a number of weird smelling chemicals kept in containers. He knew he was running out of time and he hoped the guard won’t notice the unlatched door of the lab from outside.

He began emptying all the containers placed in the restricted section in the sink as fast as he could. If they catch me doing this…! Once he was done, he surveyed the other containers in the lab and began emptying all of them too! Just to be on the safe side! He found glucose beakers kept in one of the sections. He acted on impulse taking a few beakers from there and replacing them with the empty ones in the restricted section. He removed the label of Potassium Chloride from an empty beaker and put it on one of the glucose containers. He knew he was being insanely reckless but with everything going on at that moment, that was the best he could think of. He wanted to be sure Rhea would be safe in case he got caught. He scanned the lab to realize that apart from the locked store room, the only liquid left was glucose. The place is safe! I shouldn’t entirely decimate the lab! He stalled a moment to catch his breath before making his way to the door.

As soon as he opened the door, he found the big burly frame of a guard standing outside grinning at him, probably delighted with the fact that he finally had some action in the dull and mundane night. ‘Boy, do I have to say it or can you read my mind?!’ he said scornfully.

Fuck me God Damn it! I’m done! The Registrar! Rhea?! Kabir knew he had been caught red handed and there was no point running. He simply closed his eyes biting his lips in exasperation as the guard dragged him outside the building to the Registrar’s residence.

‘Fucking caught you a little late! I hate to wake the Reggi at this odd hour but this is serious shit man. I’m gonna lose my job for being lax but I’ll ensure you don’t go scot free either fucker!’ the guard exclaimed.

As Kabir was being dragged, he turned to see a figure sneaking into the Halls of Learning. He at once recognized it was Rhea. He knew what she was about to do. ‘Hey, please just let me…’

‘Just keep fucking walking…no way you’re running anywhere now!’ the guard retorted furiously clutching his shirt collar tightly. She just entered the Halls of learning! Alert no one! You go stop her! I can’t! Will explain later! He immediately texted Sandra.

Roger! Tears of relief rolled down his cheeks as he read Sandra’s reply. He closed his eyes and smiled to himself. I might have been caught, but I know the lab is safe! Rhea is safe…

 

‘I found her outside the library by the steps in a pool of her own vomit by the time I reached. Doctors diagnosed lack of consciousness due to acute stress and they suspect a glucose overdose too but they don’t know how yet.’ Sandra told Kabir as they sat in the hospital room with Rhea lying unconscious on the bed.

‘They don’t need to know anything. Docs said she’ll be up and about in few hours.’ Kabir said. The registrar had suspended Kabir for a week and had asked him to appear before the disciplinary committee subsequently for a hearing to decide the future course of action. He’d accepted his guilt without protest. Afterwards, he and Sandra had immediately rushed Rhea to the hospital where she now lay unconscious oblivious of everything that had happened.

‘Kabir! She drank an entire bottle of glucose in the lab, nobody knows she did it; nobody saw. It’s you who was seen literally devastating the lab. They’ll suspect you for everything.’

‘It’s almost 4 in the morning!’ Kabir exclaimed looking at his watch ignoring Sandra’s concern.

‘Are you listening damn it?! They’ll grill you for this.’ Sandra said raising her voice.

‘I know. And that’s why I’m taking the blame. I emptied so many beakers myself…one more to my name won’t hurt.’ He said giving a slight grin. ‘She’s had enough already. I want to keep her out of this.’

‘Oh really?! And what will you tell them?! That you were playing Dr. Jackyl and Mr. Hyde in the lab?!’ she exclaimed angrily.

Kabir wasn’t listening. He was lost in his own reveries as he stared blankly at Rhea. Suddenly a teardrop rolled down his cheek as he blinked. ‘Tell me something Sandra…’ he began. ‘It’s just because I run after her like crazy all the time, she takes me for granted isn’t it?’ he said looking at Sandra.

She became quiet, her temper mellowing down. She felt tongue tied thinking how to react to that.

Kabir continued ignoring Sandra’s response.  ‘She knows that I’ll anyway be there for her…so she can take me for granted. How could she…I mean…she just thought about Viraj?!…not once did she think that there was someone else who’d be devastated if anything happened to her! And the same Viraj she cared about so much, led her to do this.’

‘Kabir I’m sorry…’

‘But the best part…’ Kabir interjected speaking more to himself now. ‘With her, I just can’t help being taken for granted you know?!…It’s like I feel…God if it’s for Rhea, then let me be used, toyed with, taken for granted or whatever…I just don’t mind it! And that’s my weakness’ he said giving an ironic grin.

Sandra kept nodding mutely at him.

‘Sandra, I know I have to face the disciplinary committee. I requested the registrar to keep the nature of breach and my hearing a hush hush affair and he relented. Apart from me, nobody knows what happened last night…not even Rhea…except you.’

‘Hmmm’ she said nodding her head.

‘And that’s why I need a favour from you. Just keep this a secret, don’t tell anybody…don’t tell Rhea. All she knows is that she ODed on glucose and fainted…and you’ll keep it that way.’

‘What about you?’

‘Well…I’m leaving right now…’

‘What?! Where?!’ Sandra asked surprised.

‘Well…dunno…maybe home for a few days…I just don’t feel like talking to her right now…I need some time off Sandra…need a break…I’m too messed up in the head. And I bet she won’t wanna see my face when she wakes up…not anytime soon at least…’ He said smiling looking at Rhea.

‘So would you keep that little secret…for my sake?’ he asked Sandra.

‘Ummm…hmmm…Yeah I will.’ She said nodding her head.

‘Swear on our friendship?!’

‘I’ll take it to my grave…if that’s what you want.’ She replied solemnly.

‘That’s fine then! Now I’d like a few moments alone with Rhea before I leave…if you don’t mind.’ He said smiling.

‘Of course not dude.’

Kabir went and sat next to Rhea as soon as he heard the door shut behind him.

‘Hey!’ he said running his fingers through her hair. ‘You know you’re much better off shouting and screaming at me…calling me a motherfucker…a frigging asshole…jackass…and whatever self centred faggot you call me…but not like this Rhea…not on a hospital bed…it…it just kills me seeing you here right now…I…’ he suddenly realized how difficult it was for him to express his emotions even before an unconscious Rhea.

‘You know I’ve always wanted to tell you so many things…like the way I sent you an anonymous rose in our first year on Valentine’s Day…the way I was almost about to shift to science stream just to be in your class…the way I used to foolishly pray for your sprain to heal when Viraj had hurt you…I mean…I’ve done some really crazy shit for you over the years damn it…but of course you wouldn’t know, just like you don’t know so many other things…like how I brought you here…how I broke into the Chemistry lab into the restricted section committing a serious disciplinary breach…like how I’m on the verge of losing my Herbert Smith job now…that I’ve got no clue how I’m gonna pay off my education loan if I lose that job…you’ll never know what story I cook for my parents…to convince them…but you don’t have to worry. This self centred faggot will take care of everything and he’ll take care of you too. I’m not going anywhere!’

A tear from Kabir’s cheek fell on Rhea’s nose as he bent down to kiss her forehead. He wiped it off with his finger and patted her cheek. ‘You’ll be fine.’ He said smiling at her.

‘I love you Rhea…after all these years I’m saying it on your face even if you can’t hear me right now. Maybe later in life I won’t regret never saying it. I’m sorry to have hurt you…I know Viraj shattered your dreams…I also know that you’ve had many hopeless romantics like me chase after you but tell me how many have been there for you the way I have?…no matter what happens, trust me, I’ll do anything and everything it takes to take you out of this mess…Sandra would keep my secret…even if it means seeing me go down…I trust her…that’s what our friendship is…and I won’t let her effort go in vain…I’ve saved you so far…I’ll do that in future too…that’s what my love is…you loved Viraj, I know…you always have…but you will smile again, love again and you’ll have a good happy life…hopefully with me by your side. I’ll do it for both of us…make it happen! After all I still remember what you said, friendship drives us to do strange stuff sometimes, and love stranger. Isn’t it?!’

Kabir finally got up from the stool and walked towards the door preparing to leave. Rhea slowly opened her eyes regaining consciousness as Kabir shut the door of the room behind him as he left…

 

So this is not heaven after all! It had all come back to Rhea as she sat on the hospital bed with the diary in her hands. The pieces of the jigsaw in her mind had arranged themselves into a lucid but dismal picture. She remembered gulping down an entire bottle of what she thought was a lethal chemical before she’d blacked out on the library steps. Glucose overdose! That was glucose? How come? She reflected on everything that had happened the night before, staring at her diary until she finally began to write…

“Dear diary,

I’ve been sitting and thinking for a while now; and I’ve realized that it is probably time to finally let go, to close a chapter in my life, a memorable yet forgettable chapter titled Viraj. You know what diary? I’ve practically lived dreaming about him for so long now that it’s hard to remember how life before him was like. But now it’s a different story altogether…as they say, some things are hard to remember, others hard to forget. I admit he’ll be really hard to forget but I have to tell myself that it’s over. He’s not coming back to me…ever!

It’s amusing how we’re ready to do anything in love…like literally anything. We’re prepared to compromise on our best friends, our dreams, values, morals and even parents. So was Viraj really wrong in what he did? Maybe not! Do I really blame him for choosing love over his best friend? Most of us would do the same, none of us would admit. What did I do after all? I was so obsessed with Viraj, I ended up hurting Kabir, who’s always been there for me. He’ll never want to see my face again! I wish I could tell you how sorry I am Kabir.

Honestly diary, a part of me is so mad at Viraj that it wants to bang his head against a wall but then I sit and think rationally to realize that’s no solution, is it? But again I don’t blame myself. Since when did rationality come in love anyway?

As I write, memories of first semester crop up in my mind. ‘Now that we’re friends, do you mind having a glass of juice with me?’ Our first glass of juice together, our first memorable moments, the beginning of our friendship! It’s amazing how the smallest of our choices and actions eventually shape our destiny. The butterfly effect! Today I wish I’d never spilt that juice on Viraj, or I wish I’d never forgiven him, we’d never have come so close, all this wouldn’t have happened and life would have been so much different. I can’t really be friends with Viraj diary ‘coz I know I’ll keep crossing that thin line between best friends and lovers over and over again. How can you be friends with someone you love? Teach me!

Aseem has his seminar today. Well, I’m not mad at him. We can all turn selfish at times, especially in the interest of our love. Isn’t it? I forgive him. Yes, Sylvia was right, maybe I was selfish too. I could have left Aseem alone long time back when deep inside I’d realized that I would never execute the plan but I preferred keeping everyone in the dark for my own selfish interests. I admit I continued the library sessions not because of Aseem’s seminar but because being with him felt like being strangely connected with Viraj. It meant a distraction from the feeling of yearning and agony I felt missing Viraj all the time. It’s strange isn’t it? You start seeing a reflection of someone you love in somebody else?! So yes, I was selfish.

The road ahead for me is very clear. I face the arduous task of moving on with life without the one guy I always dreamt of being with. Whatever I did, no regrets! And I’m sure I’ll sail through. College would be over in less than a month and then we would all go our own ways. I won’t have to see him everyday…good for me ‘coz gradually all his memories would fade away. He’ll be gone for good…from my life.

But you know something weird diary? In spite of everything that’s happened, In spite of everything Viraj said and did, In spite of the fact that I’ve decided to close Viraj’s chapter and as much as I hate to admit it, there is still a tiny part of my heart that silently hopes and prays that somehow, someday, someway, Viraj would appear before me apologizing with a cast over his leg, limping and asking to have a glass of juice with me once again…and that is what I feel makes, love stranger than anything else in the world!”

…………………

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Fiction, Short stories

 

!!!…Love Hurts, Boys Lie…!!!


[Set in NLU Jodhpur, Love Hurts, Boys Lie is a story of 2 college-mates, Sunny and Raj, who are somewhat similar yet different in their approach towards love. It’s a story which highlights the consequences of their actions and approach towards love, a story of their adventures, misadventures and their secrets…]

 

Boys’ top lies: [And what they actually mean]

I miss you. [Yeah, when I feel horny…]

I’m single.  [Coz m not actually committed to the girl I’m with …]

I’ve never been so serious about a girl before.  [And neither am I with you…]

I really love your eyes. [Actually I really love your… something else, wish I could say it.]

Oh Man!!! That girl was really after me.  [With chappals in hand for spreading rumours….]

I’m not like other boys.   [I’m a different kind of a Kamina…]

I’m so in love with your smile. [I’m so in love with your… (Beep Beep)…!]

I promise I’ll never make you cry. [Lagta hai ab pat jayegi! 😀 ]

I really love you baby!!  [Fuck you baby…!]

 

‘Centuries have elapsed. Poets, authors and philosophers have tried their utmost to explain the meaning of love, but still it remains a big enigma. It is still something which can’t be described, something which can only be felt and something which has enough potency to make or break a person!!! No wonder it is said, we can’t tell “what is love” but we can tell “when in love”!!’ – Author

PART I

He had tears in his eyes as he ascended the staircase. Five! There were more than five! There was The One! He thought. He recollected everything that had taken place. Yes! Boys do lie. With these thoughts he reached his room finally when someone shouted,

‘Hey Dude! You’re here? Did you not hear about the award?’

‘Award?! Who got it?’ he exclaimed surprised, quickly wiping his tears as he turned back, though he knew the answer, he had heard it as he was walking into the hostel. He was glad it was dark and no one could see his moist eyes.

‘I missed it too. I knew I wouldn’t be getting it anyway. That’s why I asked you. But you two really looked awesome together!’ the guy said with a grin so wide that his face resembled that of an ape. He was probably half drunk already.

‘Yeah of course! Thanks!’

‘Your chick was really smokin’ hot dude. Did you get a chan…?’

‘No!’ he cut across bluntly. He probably knew what was coming and he was in no mood to answer.

‘Alright Alright! So do you see any future from where you stand at present?’ the guy asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

‘Can’t say! Maybe. Time will tell.’ He said.

‘Indeed dude, catch ya later. Time for booze. You coming?’ The guy asked giving a naughty wink.

‘Nah! Not in the mood tonight. You guys carry on!’ He said.

‘Oh really??!! An extra few pegs for us today then!’ His friend grinned.

‘Yeah but just today!’ he said smiling, as he unlocked his room.

………………………….

(Earlier)

‘Whom are you staring at man?’ Sunny asked.

‘Me, huh?! The girl in the red top obviously! You know it! Why bother asking!’ Raj grinned back at him.

Both of them were sitting in the Mess Halls having lunch.

‘Huh! You have a one point agenda in life I guess! Checking out girls.’ Sunny said.

‘Correction my friend! The agenda right now is checking out the girl in the red top.’ Raj answered with a mischievous grin.

‘Same difference! What do you intend doing huh? Dating her? You’ve already dated two girls in the last month and a half. Give yourself a fucking break. Moreover, she’s a senior and already in a relationship. The senior guys will murder you. Don’t even think about it!!’

‘You kidding me huh! Boyfriend? So what! Never commit the fallacy of using the words “serious relationship” and “college” together. No way! It is like a basketball game. One instant, the ball’s in your hand, the other instant, woooshhh its gone…to your opponent and sometimes even your team-mate, whom you call your very good friend!’ Raj couldn’t help grinning at his own example.

‘Well I don’t….’

‘Come suck my balls!’ Raj said, cutting across.

‘Dude she…’

‘Cut it! Tell me are you serious about your girl huh?’ He gave him that’s-my-point kind of a look. He knew Sunny’s answer. Sunny had told him on numerous occasions before about his year old ‘strong’ relationship with a girl and his ‘deep affections’ towards her.

‘Ahhh….see…it’s like….’

‘Say no more! That hesitation proves my point. I’ve never been so serious about a girl before. That’s what we say to all the girls. We boys really are an amusing breed. Now continue with your lunch and let me stare at that girl.’ Saying this, Raj started checking out the girl again.

‘Its hardly been a month at college and you’re already being tagged as one of the biggest flirts. Do you care about your reputation huh?’

‘I don’t care’

‘Do you care about anything? Like anything at all?’

Raj turned his gaze towards Sunny. ‘Well yes. I do care about the girls in the college.’ He said, giving a puckish grin.

‘Girls in the college! Huh I can see that. But you give a rat’s ass to your image!’

‘Yes!’

‘I guess you’ve taken the announcement quite seriously huh?!’

‘Well I guess yes! It’s a prestige issue now, has to be taken seriously. Seniors kicked our ass all this month. It’s our turn to kick ass now!’

‘Are you thinking….Omg….the girl in the red top!!? No way! She’s part of my plan!!’

‘Hmmm, my dear gas tragedy affected Bhopal guy has some plans with her!’ Raj mocked.

‘Fuck Yo…!’

‘Chill dude! What about your girl in Bhopal?! Guess you told me you had long term plans with her!’ Raj said, his comment laced with sarcasm.

‘Yeah, Kanika! I’m not very sure. She’s there for me when I’m in Bhopal, but what am I supposed to do at college here?! I need to have a life here too and I see it with that girl in the red top. And of course, if I can’t have my way with this girl over here, then I have other short term plans in mind with her. You know, just one chance…one good chance…and she’ll be…’

‘I get that!!’ Raj cut across as the implication was pretty obvious. ‘Enterprising! But take my advice; Jodhpur is already a hot place. Don’t play with too much hot stuff.’ Raj grinned. ‘Give others a chance too.’ Both got up, done with lunch. ‘Don’t take the announcement seriously. Leave that for me.’ He said.

‘Look who’s talking! The guy who’s already ditched two girls in a month.’

‘A month and a half!!’ Raj corrected with a grin.

‘Whatever!’ Sunny said.

‘At least I wasn’t scheming of two timing like you huh. And I didn’t ditch anyone. We were together till we wanted; and we mutually parted ways. No pain no hurt.’

‘I need no justification!! You’re a flirt and everybody knows it. I do what I feel is correct and you don’t preach me. Got that?’ Sunny said, his voice rising.

‘Alright tell me something!’ Raj asked as he started to walk out of the mess. ‘What do you plan telling your girl in Bhopal? Hi darling! How are you? You know what’s new? I’m dating a girl here coz I need to have a life!’

Sunny stared at him. ‘Doooood! Is that a question?!! All I have to say is: Hi darling! How are you? You don’t know how much I’m missing you. I really love you. That’s it. That’s all a girl needs. She’ll be on top of the world!!’

Raj sighed as he shook his head. ‘You don’t know how much I’m missing you!!! I really love you!! Lies again!! But what if she actually misses you? What if she really loves you? What if she takes your, I love you, seriously?!’

‘Not my problem dude! In that case, she’ll come to know the truth someday. I used to flirt with girls in Bhopal too and sometimes she didn’t like it. We used to fight a lot over it. But now she understands. ’ He said.

Raj stood there in the mess hall preoccupied with his thoughts, the smile not there on his face anymore. ‘Don’t do this to her dude. Tell her that you like her or that you don’t. Don’t keep her hanging in the middle. She understands because she probably loves you and maybe she knows that you don’t love her but she hopes that someday you will change and she’s ready to compromise on her present coz she pictures a happy future with you. But that doesn’t mean you can take her for granted. Nobody waits forever no matter how much they love you. It’s practically not possible. Understand this before it’s too late.’

‘Chill dude, don’t you worry about my girl. We guys are very good liars!! She won’t ever come to know in her wildest dreams if I date a girl here. And I plan to tell her soon about this break up thing. As it is long distance hardly works and I’m anyway not going to change.’ He grinned.

‘You will change!’ Raj asserted.

‘Really? She will change ME?!’ he exclaimed in a pseudo-surprised tone.

‘If not she, then somebody will, trust me.’

‘Whatever! You’re trying to divert from the topic. The girl in the red top….are you backing out or are you still taking the announcement seriously?’ Sunny finally asked.

‘Huh?! Ahhh…Won’t let you go so easy! All the best then! You try your luck and let me try mine. That girl will either go with me or else I’ll ensure it’s not with you at least. I remember the announcement.’ Raj had a smug grin on his face.

‘Then I’ll also show you what I do with people who give me attitude!!’ Sunny wasn’t grinning now. They had turned serious. The chitchat had turned into a heated discussion with serious challenges and sarcastic comments.

‘Dude, I’ll also ensure others remain immune to your Bhopal gas.’ Raj said.

‘Fuck off!!’ Sunny said, with as much profanity as he could muster.

‘Same to you dear!’ Raj said walking out of the mess for the post-lunch classes.

 

The bombshell had been dropped that morning by the convener of the cultural committee. Everyone was looking forward to the freshers’ party. The freshers because they could finally do away with the so called protocol and the seniors, guys in particular, because of the age old “NLU tradition”. The convener had a wicked smile on his face as he greeted the sixty odd freshers in the class.

‘Good morning class! Well this is the official announcement for the freshers party which happens to be on the 21st of this month.’

There were roars of appreciation in the class. Nobody knew yet, about the rider attached with the announcement.

‘But before you are done away with the protocol and stuff, there is one last thing that you all need to do.’

The class fell silent. They were all wary of what the seniors were capable of. They had seen enough in the past month and a half. They waited in anticipation for the convener to continue.

‘And all of you are expected to come or else we might take it as a personal insult….’

‘But why in the world would anyone not come for the party huh?’ interrupted one of the students.

‘Don’t forget the freshers’ is not yet over. Where…is…the protocol?!! You don’t interfere when a senior is speaking. And I did not hear the word SIR from you!!!’

‘Yes! Sorry sir!’ The guy said, going red in the face, he was evidently embarrassed and didn’t say anything for the rest of the period.

The convener continued. ‘So, what we all have decided is that every student has to be accompanied by another student…’ he paused to see the reaction before completing, ‘of the opposite sex.’

The freshers looked at each other, not really perturbed.

‘I’m not done yet.’ The convener went on. ‘I meant accompanied by another student of the opposite sex….of a senior batch. You need to ask them to accompany you to the party, just enter, stay with them till we tell you to and then you can all enjoy as you wish. You have to follow the NLU tradition. You don’t have a partner, you don’t enter.’

‘What the fuck!’ someone said shocked.

The cruel smile was back on the convener’s face now. He had done his job and done it well. It was the ultimate kick on the ass for the freshers.

‘And I don’t see any reason why you people can’t do this. You have roughly seven days to approach your seniors. Today is just 14th. So all the best and hope you have a wonderful freshers’ party.’ He had a satisfied grin on his face as if Allen & Overy or Herbert Smith had offered him a 20 lakh placement package.

 

The mood all across the campus in the following days was upbeat. The freshers were busy exploring the campus, anxious looks on their faces, trying to ferret out decent seniors whom they could approach. It was not a very easy task especially for the boys. The girls had already been successful in grabbing most of the popular 4th and 5th year guys while the guys were still wandering aimlessly trying to check out every other senior they could without making it too obvious and obscene. Everything had taken a backseat from studies to evening games, sports and even meals for that matter as guys started coming to the mess not to have food but hoping to bump into a senior in a typical Shah Rukh Khan romantic flick style. Kuch kuch hota hai, tum nahi samjhogi. That would at least save the pain of approaching a girl. They thought.

‘Do you have a date?’ or ‘Who asked you out?’ was the talk among the seniors while at the other end, the fresher batch went; ‘Did he say yes?’ or ‘What did she say?’

The exuberance and a palpable level of excitement in the atmosphere also made several coy individuals shed their inhibitions and make bold attempts at approaching seniors, many of the attempts being successful. Sunny had also been very confident right from the beginning. He had already asked, Shefali, the girl in the red top he had seen few days back. He had extracted quite a lot of information about her. She was a sophomore and part of the Academic Committee.

‘I’ll let you know in a couple of days.’ She had replied. Answers like these made the boys’ job even more difficult. No girl would say YES in the first go itself. They had to shamelessly keep pestering hoping she would finally give in and at the same time try not to overdo it else annoying her.

 

‘Dooood! I’m so excited. He said YES. I’ve got the best guy of the 5th year.’ Priya said, as she sat with Raj in the mess halls. Raj smiled. He was happy for Priya, his closest friend at college.

‘Whom are you asking dude? Be quick before all the good girls get booked. You have a girl in mind?’ she asked.

‘Hmmm. I think it’ll be Shefali.’

‘Shefali?!? You know Sunny has already asked her.’

News used to spread like wildfire in the campus and given the sensitivity of the situation, even a casual Hi to a senior became the talk of the town.

‘Yeah I know. But she hasn’t said “Yes” yet.’

‘So go and ask her before she says YES and before you are left with no other decent chick to ask?’

‘I’ll do it but with a plan so that she has a good reason to say NO to Sunny.’

‘Dude! Whatever! But just do it.’

‘Yeah I’m doing it pretty soon.’

‘Your wish! Let’s push off now. It’s time for our favourite post- lunch class!!’ She said sarcastically.

The Pol. Science class was like a movie theatre which showcased only RGV films. The attendance always used to be scarce and people looked in every direction but the screen, the screen being the teacher. Once the class began, students showcasing their artistic skills in notebooks, texting each other, couples sitting at the back holding hands and few pseudo-attentive faces staring at the teacher was a routine and amusing sight. Raj groaned as he entered the class.

‘The platinum class is houseful. We’ll have to be contented with the middle rows.’ He smirked, looking at Priya.

Ten minutes into the lecture and the usual activities had already begun. Priya tried concentrating but eventually gave up too. She tore a piece of paper from her register and wrote something on it, passing it on to Raj.

“I’m really confused what to wear for the freshers’ party. I have these two dresses, one red and the other black.” She had written. Raj smiled to himself but it was more because of the innocence with which Priya had asked for his opinion. They started a conversation on the sheet of paper to kill time.

He wrote back:

Though I prefer black, but I feel the other one would suit you better.

Well I’m not really sure on that.

Just an opinion. Take it or chuck it.

Hmmm! I feel so odd sitting here.

And why is that so?

I’m the only girl sitting in the whole row. I dunno why I always end up being seen with boys. I don’t want that.

Just take it this way: wherever I go, guys follow. It’s all about attitude in life.

Ha! Ha! That’s okay but people might take it in a wrong way.

There is no wrong or right way. It’s just the way we think. Trust me its college, nobody cares whom you roam around with and then all you need are good friends. Boy or girl doesn’t matter. You have at least one good friend who is a boy. 😉

Yeah I guess you are right. 🙂 And I think I can help my good friend to get his girl. If you are really interested in asking Shefali, I can try and help you with it. She’s on my floor and a good friend of mine.

‘Really??!!!’

Raj suddenly said it loud enough to invite the stares of the whole class. Suddenly all eyes were on him. The couples sitting at the back, lost in each other were also startled by this sudden unexpected noise. Raj could feel the glare of the sixty-student strong class on him and it made him uncomfortable.

Fuck! Raj thought.

The teacher stared at Raj.

‘Yes Raj it’s really hard to believe that Rousseau had a promiscuous relationship with a lady who initially used to consider him her son. That was exactly my expression when my teacher told me this, twenty years back.’ He said.

‘Huh?’ Raj was too dazed to realize what the teacher was talking about. Good Lord! He thinks I was listening to him. He’s talking about a certain Rousseau. Thanks Rousseau for saving my ass. I owe you one really. He thought, relieved.

‘Ahh…yeah sir, that’s indeed weird.’ Raj said with as much surprise as he could muster in his tone. Phew!

‘Who the fucking hell was Rousseau?’ Raj asked Priya, cautious enough to whisper. He didn’t want the teacher to hear this one or else he knew this time he would be thrown out of the class for sure and no Rousseau would come to the rescue. He didn’t want to risk bearing the agony of sitting through half the Pol. Science class and still not getting the attendance for it.

‘Dumbo! He was a political philosopher but for you he’s God right now. At least listen to something in class.’ She said, giving him a friendly nudge.

‘Oh! The lady must have deserted the young man after all the sex, no wonder he became a philosopher!!’ Raj quipped, grinning.

‘Oh yeah! It couldn’t have been the other way round at all!!’ Priya said sarcastically.

‘Huh!! Why do we guys always get the blame??!!’ Raj argued grinning.

‘Coz guys suck!! Now shut up and listen. He’s teaching Aristotle.’

…………………….

The room was in a mess as he entered it. He allowed his body to fall on the bed, still lost in thoughts. There was just one voice ringing in his ears.

Just get lost!

Nobody has ever shouted on me the way you just did.

You!! Out of all the people, it’s you who’s saying this?!

It’s all over. There is no future. There never was.

He took out a photograph from his wallet. It’s all over. The pain and agony had become irrepressible. There is no future. He finally started crying uncontrollably as the hard truth hit him. There never was any future. Tears rolled down his cheeks and fell on the picture of the girl, her face beaming.

…..…………………

PART II

‘I wasn’t wrong. It’s just that you never understood me. I wish I could just tell you all that I could never say. I know today even if I call you, you won’t take my call. If I text you, you wouldn’t reply. The distance between us seems to grow wider with each passing day and my inability to do anything about it kills me. No matter what I say or what I do, I just can’t make myself to forget you.’ The guy lamented.

He stared at the photograph in his hand.

‘I know you aren’t talking to me but I’ll still give it another go because I really love you and I really miss you and it’s not a lie like the ones boys keep telling girls to fool them. I know I hurt you, but you hurt me too and probably much more. Though I hate to say it but your love hurts and hurts to the core. It stabs me through my heart every morning. It butchers me into slices every night and I can feel its pangs all through the day. You won’t realize it because you are not a boy. For you, boys are just liars and cheats but today I’ll tell you what a boy exactly feels and what a boy’s love is all about.’

He knew what he had to do now. He signed into his Gmail account and clicked on the ‘compose mail’ option. It was the only way, he thought as he typed in the mail Id.

He pondered for a moment before filling in the ‘Subject’ box. He finally typed after much thought:

Love hurts, Boys Lie.

………………………

‘After whatever you did, I guess I deserve more than an apology and I request you to please accompany me to the freshers party as my partner! Would you accompany me? Please don’t say no!!’ Raj said as Shefali stood before him.

‘But what about the other guy who asked me? I’ll have to say no to him.’

‘Yes you will have to. But he’ll find someone else. You haven’t committed to him either so you can always say no.’

She thought for a moment. ‘Alright! I’ll be your partner for the freshers’ party. And I’m sorry again.’ She smiled.

Raj’s heart did a double somersault in ecstasy. ‘It’s okay. No need for any apology. We are friends now right?’

‘Yeah, friends!’ she said.

‘See you at the freshers then.’ Raj said.

She nodded.

 

The couples finally walked hand in hand on the D-day towards the tennis court which had been befittingly transformed into a DJ floor. A green carpet had been laid down on the path which led to the court entrance and all the couples were expected to walk on it as if they were some big Bollywood stars walking on The Red Carpet.

Raj was standing on the road which led to the court waiting for his ‘entry license’ Shefali. She had called him up 15 minutes back to tell him she’d take 2 minutes. 13 minutes had passed since then but those 2 minutes hadn’t ended. These girls live in their own world with their own clocks and each clock shows a different time. Here, 2 minutes could mean anything from 2 hours to 2 days to 2 years to even eternity. Raj thought, smiling to himself.

He finally saw Shefali walking out of the girls’ hostel. ‘The girl in the red top’ today was clad in a glittering black saree which was in stark contrast with her fair complexion. But nevertheless, she looked ravishing. Raj thought of Sunny. How would he feel when he sees Shefali with him? The thought brought a smile on his face. Fuck him! He thought.

‘Hi!’ Shefali said, walking up to him. He heaved a sigh of relief on seeing her. Finally! Queen Elizabeth was ready! He thought.

‘Must say, someone’s looking really beautiful!’ Raj complimented. Haha being a typical boy!! He smiled to himself.

‘Thanks for that!’ She replied.

‘On a count of three then!’ She said smiling as they both stepped on the green carpet making their way to the venue. The music was on in full swing and the mood was pretty relaxed. Most of the freshers had managed a partner and the unlucky few who had failed had either gone out for dinner or were too drunk to remember about any party going on in the campus.

The couples stood in the court trying to strike a conversation with each other, evidently nervous. Then suddenly, the music slowed down and the cultural committee convener, Vikas, took the platform. What else was in store, no one knew!

‘Freshers! Welcome! It’s extremely heartening to see that you all have been successful in your ultimate task in ragging – no sorry – Positive Interaction as we call it.’ He guffawed. The seniors followed suit. It wasn’t funny at all for the freshers. ‘Ultimate, or should I say penultimate?!’ he said with a smirk. ’We have a small ball dance event now where the couples have to showcase their chemistry and compatibility within 20 minutes. The most compatible couple gets a surprise award at the end. So have fun guys! And let the music begin.’ He said, motioning towards the DJ to start.

The music was on before anybody could react or assimilate what had happened. They all took the floor with mixed emotions. Happy, because they had a partner of the opposite sex to dance with, anxious because they had to do it with mere acquaintances and nervous because they never knew this could happen too. Bring it on. After all, all couples in the world were initially acquaintances. They thought.

It only took few minutes for Raj to get into the groove once the music began. The rock and hip hop genre music had changed to soft, slow and romantic, apt for a ball dance scenario.

‘You know what?! I had a question, thought would ask you!’ Raj said, trying to initiate a conversation as they danced.

‘Huh! What kind of a question?’ Shefali asked, feeling slightly awkward.

‘Let’s forget about this party scenario. Had it been a normal situation where I approach you, would you have dated me?’ Raj asked the unexpected question grinning.

‘Are you insane?!! What do you expect me to answer?!’ Shefali said, slightly taken aback.

‘Well that’s not difficult. Like you can say, Date!! Who You??! Or you could say, We are better off as friends or you could rather say, Chill dude do I know you??!!

‘Ha-ha! That’d be a witty reply!!’ She said laughing. There were still a lot of nervous couples around but Raj and Shefali’s apprehensions were withering away as they chatted. They suddenly looked quite comfortable with each other.  ‘Do you even think before speaking?!!’ she asked smiling.

‘Nah! Not always. You won’t have been dancing here with me had I thought so much about asking you. There are certain things in life which should be said or done at the spur of the moment without thinking because the more you think….the more you think….whether to say it or not and then ultimately you end up not saying it.’ Raj replied. ‘And that’s why I asked you that random question.’

‘Hmmm, and what if I replied that I’m already dating someone?! And if I politely said NO!’ She said smirking.

‘Well, in that case I would have tried to make you fall in love with me!’ Raj replied.

‘Huh!! Are you indirectly trying to hit on me?’ she asked.

‘Gosh! You still think it’s indirect!!??!!’ Raj replied with a big grin.

‘Doooood!!! You know no one hits on a girl the way you do.’ She said.

‘Yeah! That’s probably because nobody likes a girl the way I do and I guess I’m gonna start fancying you pretty soon.’ Raj winked.

‘Stop it right there!!! I have a boyfriend and I’m much older than you are!’ She said.

‘Much older??!! I don’t think so, after all you are just a sophomore and I’m a fresher. You know Rousseau had a promiscuous relationship with a lady who initially used to consider him her son.’ He suddenly blurted out.

OMG! He thought. Pol. Science had probably helped him for the first time in his life. He felt like going and hugging his teacher. He found an answer to a very fundamental question he always used to ask himself. Why are we taught Arts subjects with Law or why are we taught subjects at all? Probably for moments like these! No subject is a waste of time; you never know when and where you might have to apply it. The application may not always be academic but it could nevertheless aid you in one of your romantic endeavours. The thought brought a smile to his face.

‘Haha! You’ve studied your Rousseau pretty well but I love my boyfriend. True love, you understand that?! There’s no room at all for anyone else.’

‘True love?!’ Raj exclaimed.

‘Yeah, true one happens just once and only once in life and that’s true.’ Shefali said.

‘And it has happened to you I guess huh? So, I’ve lost my chance of wooing you!!’ Raj grinned.

Shefali raised an eyebrow.

‘No I mean I had a fair idea about your relationship thing but still thought I’d check.’ He said.

‘Check what?’ Shefali asked.

‘Ahhh nothing, just this true love thing you talkin’ about. Coz the fact is that being in a relationship does not necessarily mean you are actually in love and being in love does not always mean you are lucky enough to be in a relationship.’ Raj said solemnly as he turned his gaze away from Shefali to look at the crowd.

‘Woah!!! That was a pretty deep thought dude!’ Shefali remarked evidently impressed.

‘Yeah deep thought but not as deep as the neck of that girl’s top.’ Raj said pointing to a girl in a black top, suddenly the grin back on his face. The girl was wearing a black top with such a deep neck that her partner was looking nowhere else except the visible portion of her assets and the girl had either not noticed that yet or was actually enjoying the undue admiration.

‘Just look at her cleav…’

‘Gosh! Stop it!! You guys are really shameless.’ Shefali said with a disgusted face.

‘Oh really??!! Tell me something. How do you girls manage to wear that stuff and then expect boys not to goggle and comment? And then you call us shameless. We are also human beings after all. Is it always a boy’s obligation to check his emotions while the girls can keep being explicitly seductive, tempting and inviting?’

‘Chill!! Just because she’s wearing something like that gives you the license to stare at her shamelessly?’ She argued.

‘Well yes!! Because no girl should expect respect from a guy if she actually doesn’t deserve it, and I’m sorry to say in my eyes, that girl is no less than a slu…’

‘There!! There!!’ she cut across. ‘Are you guys any less!! All you’re doing is staring at that girl when you should be looking here and talking to me.’

‘You’re different!! You’re not like her. You are decent and beautiful in your own special way. A guy would want to take you in front of his mother and say Mom! She’s the one!!’ Am I dreaming? Raj thought. Yes he could be random sometimes but this was unexpected even by his own standards.

‘Huh! Another attempt to flirt?!’ Shefali said raising an eyebrow.

‘No truly! I’m not trying to hit on you now. I know you love your guy. True love, as you call it.’

Shefali smiled at him. ‘What about you? Aren’t you dating someone?’ she asked.

Raj momentarily fell silent. ‘Nah! There were around four-five girls who came and went but just passing affairs, nothing serious!’

‘Just five?!! A flirt prodigy like you should have had a dozen I guessed!!’ She grinned.

‘Hmmm! Just plain bad luck I’d say!!’ Raj quipped with a smile.

‘Oh really?!! But wasn’t there a special someone ever? Did you never find a girl you could take to your mom and say Mom! She’s the one! Didn’t you feel a little different with any of the girls you dated? A feeling that everything was just perfect! An instinctive belief that nothing could go wrong now! An inexplicable fear of losing that special someone!! It’s the way I’ve felt for my guy. Have you never….’

Shefali paused as she noticed Raj wasn’t listening to her anymore. He suddenly turned away from her, walking towards the exit. There were still a couple of minutes left before the ball dance was to end but he didn’t care. He was leaving.

‘Hey dude…what happ…’ Shefali called after him but in vain. He was suddenly in some other world, thinking about something else. He just walked out of the tennis court, oblivious of Shefali’s calls.

……………………..

The dance event had ended and the winners were being announced as Raj started to enter his hostel.

Raj had tears in his eyes as he ascended the staircase. Five! There were more than five! There was The One! Yes boys do lie. He reached his room finally when someone shouted,

‘Hey Dude! You’re here? Did you not hear about the award?’

‘Award?! Who got it?’ he exclaimed surprised, quickly wiping his tears as he turned back. He knew Sunny and his partner Maria had been awarded the best couple. He’d heard it.

‘Your chick was really smokin’ hot dude. Did you get a chan…?’

‘No!’ Raj cut across bluntly.

‘Alright Alright! Do you see any future with Shefali?’ the guy asked with a naughty twinkle in his eyes.

‘Can’t say! Maybe. Time will tell.’ He said.

You really are an insecure bastard!!

Just get lost you liar!!

It’s all over. There is no future. There never was.

Mahi’s voice was ringing in his ears. He took out her photograph which had her smiling face from his wallet. Tears rolled down his cheeks and fell on Mahi’s picture, her face beaming. It had been a year since Raj had last seen Mahi. He still remembered the night he had shouted at her and she had left him simply because he didn’t like her being friendly with a particular guy. She thought Raj was a liar and the real reason for his shouting was that he was too possessive and insecure and that their already shaky relationship had no future.

He signed into his Gmail account and clicked on the ‘compose mail’ option. It was the only way, he thought as he typed in the mail Id.

He filled in the ‘Subject’ box, smiling to himself for the first time in a while:

Love hurts, Boys Lie.

21st night, sometime of the year,

by a guy who supposedly lied,

to a girl who was everything to him.

I know not how to convince you to read this after everything that happened, you may not reply or you might’ve probably blocked me vowing never to see my face or to read my name ever again but still I sit here and write to you, as my tears wet the keyboard, for a reason: Hope. They say, in love there is always hope, a hope that everything will fall into place one day, a hope that someday the person you truly love will be yours forever, a childish hope that there will be a happy ending, a hope that ignores all practicality and reality and takes you to an illusionary world. No wonder we say love is blind. Mahi someone today told me true love happens once and only once in life and I realized all we’ve got is one life and very few chances to hold on to. So how could I give up??!! I truly love you.

Yes I was wrong, to have loved you to an extent that it hurts now, to have become protective to an extent that I became possessive but the fact is that I know how boys are: bastards!! There is this guy called Sunny who had his eyes on a girl Shefali. I didn’t like his intentions but then I don’t blame him, after all he’s a guy. I was staring at her in the mess halls the other day. You know she reminds me of you somehow but people think I’m a flirt. Haha they also misunderstand me, just like you did. Wish I could show you how Sunny is!! As long as it happens with other girls, I don’t care but I’ve always wanted to protect you from guys like Sunny. Guess I was wrong!! Guess I was an insecure bastard!! You girls would never understand this!!

As I write, I look at your photograph and smile. I remember we’d promised that if ever we have to stay apart, we wouldn’t be sad. We’d look at each other’s photograph and smile just to remind ourselves that even if we are apart, we’re never really far away. We’d promised to look at it and smile whenever we’d miss each other. I don’t know whether you kept your promise but I keep looking at it all the time these days.

Remember Mahi how I used to curse my phone all the time?! Well, the phone did it again. The files got corrupt and had to delete everything but I still managed to save the last text you ever sent me. It’s still there in my inbox and it says “I hate you asshole! Don’t you dare disturb me ever!” I’ve saved it in a special folder. Sometimes when I miss you, I read your name in my inbox and it brings a smile. At least you must’ve been thinking of me when you’d have typed it. To be really honest Mahi, I always read your name, not the message, it hurts.

Remember my favourite pen, with M written on it, you’d once borrowed?! I haven’t used it since. I’ve kept it for you to come back and use again. Please do come back before the ink dries up!! And I still visit our favourite ice-cream parlour, though it hurts not to have you beside me. And you won’t believe that guy still gives me two cones and I have your share too. You always used to say, ’Zyada mat khana ido! Tera gala kharab ho jaiga!!’ Don’t you know I’ve a sensitive throat and I can’t keep having your share all the time?!! Ab mera gala kharab ho gaya to?! :O

Hope you’re fine where ever you are, everything is perfect here except that sometimes I miss my morning classes. Nobody wakes me up here the way you used to do at school! I’m still so used to your calls waking me up every morning. I still remember the way you used to call up to wake me up even before my mom could do it. Remember you used to compete with her??! J Think I never told you but it always felt fantastic to hear your voice first thing in the morning. It felt as if everything was just perfect!! As if nothing could go wrong!! It felt as if you were my special someone!! Now I miss those mornings, those calls and more than anything else, I miss you.

This is to tell you Mahi that a guy may flirt around with every other girl but when it comes to that special someone; he remembers every moment spent and every word said. If ever we trip over and fall down, do we cut our own leg for its mistake in judgement? No we don’t! Instead we’re more careful not to repeat the mistake in future. Then how can we completely cut off from someone who resides in our heart? It’s like chopping off a piece of your own flesh and I can’t live like that and I’m sure you can’t either!!  Whatever happened, and whatever happens, I’ll still stick around because when you love someone as much as I love you, letting them go is the last thing you do.

Mahi, I don’t know whether I’d be able to move on if you ignore this mail but I’d never make you feel as if I exist if that’s what makes you happy. After all, the question is of your happiness and not my pain. And I’d never let anyone know that you exist for me too. That is a guy’s promise!! But this won’t be easy for me. I’d have to lie to myself every single moment of the day, a guy’s most blatant lies for the one girl he ever was serious about:

You are no more the reason that I live,

You are no more the person whom I give,

My love;

My life, the reason that I cry,

Is when you say, love hurts, boys lie.

You are no more my first thought in the morning,

You are no more the reason for my yearning.

You are no more in my thoughts every night,

You are no more the reason I feel bright.

You are no more the pain deep within me,

You are no more the part of dreams I see,

You are no more the source of all the joys,

You are no more my inner voice.

You are no more the reason that I smile,

You are no more the number I still dial,

You are no more in the stars that shine,

You are no more, true you were never mine,

You are no more the one I long to see,

You are no more, with whom I want to be.

You are no more the fragrance in my life,

You are no more the girl I dreamt as wife.

Now as the days are passing by,

I realize my sin, I made you cry,

And now I know your word is true,

Love hurts, boys lie.

 

Raj looked up at the screen on completing the mail, hovering his cursor over the send button. Weird thoughts started creeping into his mind as he was about to click. Mahi must’ve forgotten me already. What if she doesn’t read this? What if it annoys her? What if it hurts her? How can I hurt her again? I’d promised never to make her cry. No matter how hard he tried, his fingers just didn’t move and all he could do was stare at his hand on the mouse. He closed his eyes for a few seconds. What if I don’t exist for Mahi? He thought. Click it! Just click it! Hit the button! A voice went inside his head. As he opened his eyes, he drifted the cursor a little towards the right and clicked…

“Save Now”

………………………..

PART III (10 Years later, Present Day)

‘Sometimes even the ostensibly easiest of actions like accepting defeat, apologizing, simply facing someone with a guilty conscience or even clicking a mouse button on the computer become the toughest for an inexplicable reason. Raj wrote his heart out in the mail but still couldn’t hit that all important button. Because he did not hit the Send button, the mail never went and the girl never came to know about his feelings.’ Sunny said, as he stood on the stage facing a huge gathering of press reporters and executive members of Trilegal, one of India’s top law firms.

‘This is the problem with guys. It is high time we start pressing the Send button to let the girls know what guys are all about because as long as such mails keep rotting in the drafts, girls will never come to know the true side of boys.’

He suddenly realized he had been speaking since the last hour and a half. ‘Today, as I stand before you as one of the new members of the executive board of the firm, I thought it was essential to share this incident in my life which has been instrumental in shaping me and making me the man that I am. From a guy who used to flirt with girls, play with their feelings and emotions, I became the guy girls hear of in fairy tales and romantic flicks, the kind of guy very few girls know exists. Even after so many years, this incident is as fresh as the morning dew.’

‘Sir, but there is one big flaw in the story. You did not disclose how Raj convinced Shefali for the party. Why?’ one of the reporters asked.

‘Well I’m really sorry for that but I had promised someone to keep it a secret and I couldn’t have broken it and moreover, why would I want to harp on my failure to ask Shefali out!!’ Sunny laughed.

‘Indeed Sir! What happened to your girl in Bhopal? You haven’t married righ!’ one of the reporters got up and asked, much to the displeasure of the other board members. They wanted it to end quickly, there were others lined up to speak but the media was in no mood to relent.

‘Huh…long story! After all those years at college, I had started feeling for Kanika, my girl in Bhopal, but wasn’t ready to admit it maybe because I was too preoccupied with my romantic escapades at college. I just needed someone to tell me, just a push probably and Raj’s mail, which I accidentally came across on one of our final days at college, gave me the push. I cursed myself for failing to realize my love for Kanika earlier. Raj had saved that mail all those years and must’ve been trying to gather the courage again to send it to Mahi. Though Raj and I never really talked at college but that day on seeing him, I just hugged him and told him what an asshole I’d been all those years. I told him how I felt for Kanika and how much I loved her but he stood motionless all that time. I told him I was going to tell her about my love first thing when I go back. I kept speaking and he just stood still. Finally his one sentence turned my world upside down. Sorry Sunny but I told Kanika everything. Saying this, he went ahead and deleted the very existence of the mail he had saved for so long.’

Sunny looked up at the ceiling smiling to himself probably trying to prevent tears from trickling down his cheeks.

‘I don’t blame Raj.’ He continued, ‘I think I deserved what I got. He had kept quiet all those years after all but he didn’t want to keep someone in the dark especially when he suspected my intentions right from the beginning. Things were never the same between Kanika and me ever since. I always blamed my own self but it was probably Raj’s own guilt of causing a breakup between a couple which disturbed him. He went away somewhere after college never to be seen or heard of again.’

There was silence for a couple of minutes. The reporters and the executive members alike were all listening intently now. He didn’t care as his tears finally fell on the dais.

‘Raj was right,’ he continued, ‘I’d never thought I’ll change but I did. Out of a billion people in the world, Kanika was meant to change me but sometimes it’s too late when we realize. Kanika had given up and moved on but still she taught me a lesson, a lesson I’d remember all my life. She taught me that love is not only about candle light dinners, a movie, walking on beaches holding hands or cards and expensive gifts but something much beyond that. Love is that eternal desire to grow old with that special someone. It’s about sacrifices and compromises, about the tears and the joys, about being there in the good and bad times and about caring and harboring that feeling even if you don’t see each other for ages. But we guys at that age fail to see beyond a lunch or a movie. We measure love not by appreciating our partners’ sacrifices but by the number of gifts we get or the number of dinners we have together and if we find that count unsatisfactory, we break up because there is someone else who can afford more expensive gifts and better restaurants for us. How I wish love could be measured! I would have told Kanika how much I love her exactly!!’ Sunny smiled.

‘Sir, in your case love did hurt. Didn’t it?’ One reporter questioned.

‘You know why we say love hurts?! It’s because we do not understand love. It’s because we do not value it. We fail to appreciate people who shower us with it. I failed too. It’s because we are always making the wrong choices, running after the wrong people. We are constantly playing and experimenting with it and while we indulge in this game with love, it is the wrong people who hurt us and not love. It’s not that the right person will never ever hurt you, but then, he’ll never let go either. Love in itself is so benign and pure that it can never hurt and this love can be found only in recognizing and valuing the right person. And I bet the day we learn this art, no one will ever falsely accuse love of hurting them. Yes, boys do lie, sometimes for genuine reasons like Raj did but sometimes out of plain naivety, foolishness and extreme callousness with utter disregard to all feelings and emotions, just like I did. But the question we need to ask ourselves is if it’s really always boys only who lie or are they always responsible for the hurt caused and is it never the other way round? Yes, we all sometimes commit mistakes, sometimes blunders but then we get paid back for them right here. Did I not lie? Yes I did. Did I not hurt someone? Yes I did! Then am I not suffering? Yes I am! I stand here in front of you, heartbroken like never before, faking a smile in front of the cameras at my own success, all alone, with no one to share the joy with.’

‘Sir, we checked your college records and none of the names you mentioned actually existed in your batch at law school. Do we take this as a fabricated story then?’ One of the lady reporters put up the question.

Sunny smiled at her. ‘Ma’am, no story is ever entirely fabricated. You always tend to get inspiration from the environment around you, from the things and people that you observe and most importantly from within. As far as this story is concerned, I obviously changed all the names. You think!!’

‘Excuse me sir!’ said a guy from amidst the crowd, as he started walking towards the stage with a smile, ‘in that case would you mind telling us their real names? Who was the girl in the red top Shefali, who was Priya, who is Kanika and who was Raj?’

‘To that question, I will….OMG….Holy Fuck!!’ Sunny exclaimed incredulously. He left the dais and ran towards the guy, disbelief written all over his face. ‘Raj!! You bastard…asshole….you sonovabitch….it’s you!! 5 years!! Out of nowhere!! Where have you been??!!’ Sunny said overwhelmed with emotions and incredulity as he hugged him.

‘Ahh…Now that’s another story! But I’ve brought someone else you’d like to meet, thought she’d be interested to hear you out today.’ He said motioning towards a girl who was walking up to the two of them.

‘Merlin’s beard! Kanika!! How in the wide…’ Kanika didn’t let him complete as she suddenly came forward and kissed him, that gentle lingering touch of her lips made him feel on top of the world once again. ‘You lame ass! Couldn’t you have told me all this before!’ she said frivolously punching him all over his body.

‘Well you never…’

‘Shut up now!!’ She said as she kissed him again.

Sunny then looked at Raj. ‘I’d…I guess….this is….thanks…just can’t…I mean I’d almost given up!!’ he said, too dazed to even articulate his thoughts.

‘You’d given up!?! You had fuckin given up??!! Didn’t you love Kanika!?’ Raj exclaimed.

‘Of course I did. Always have and always will.’ He suddenly remembered something. ‘Hey Raj! What happened with….Mahi? Did you find her? Could you tell her…..I mean…the mail and everything…?’ Sunny paused looking at Raj expectantly.

Raj smiled as he looked at the two of them holding hands.

‘Nah! Not yet. Maybe she’ll realize someday and return to hold my hand too,’ Raj said, ‘but I haven’t given up. I’m still holding on, you know, as they say….that in love, there is always hope.’ He smiled.

……………….……..

 
17 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Fiction, Short stories

 

Blah.


“See, here I go,
afraid to face the world, steady and slow.

I started to know the world,
it started knowing me as well,
with a fear that I might get hurt,
I finally found a place to dwell.

Time passed n I was sure enough,
I know how to live, I know how to survive,
I have these people around, rough n tough,
a reason, more than enough to keep me alive.

They taught me new ways of living,
I was enthusiastic enough to learn these things,
some told me to give, some asked me to forgive,
and just see the results, what all it brings.

I was still struggling with my learnings,
when someone gave a sudden blow,
all my desires kept burning,
but they were least bothered to know.

I fell upon my knees,
shattered enough to accept the reality,
I remember breaking down, screaming please,
literally kneeled down, before their brutality.

But as they say, life goes on,
I stood once again,
made myself strong,
realized that I’ve got my whole life, to ponder upon.

Story continued, I faced many troubles,
but I didn’t gave in, grew stronger n stronger,
didn’t realize when these troubles became bubbles,
In this race for survival, I finally made myself last longer.”

See today, here I go,
tall, proud, with a brilliant glow,
I’m master of my heart, I’m master of my soul,
living a dream, with a story untold.

PS: Dude, I’m stuck.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Fiction, Poetry

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Chocolate Cake


‘No way! Mom!! I’m not going to school today and I’m not going to that school ever again!!’ said the 12 year old Johnny crying.

‘What happened my son?? You always used to love school!’ exclaimed Martha.

‘Nothing! It’s just that I don’t want to go to that school ever again….I hate it big time! I hate everything!’ he said, as he rushed into his room and slammed the door shut.

‘Johnny!!! Johnny!! Open the door!!!’ Martha shouted, getting irritated. She started banging the door hoping her son would open but all in vain.

‘Alright! Do as you please! Keep that damn door shut and stay in your room.’ She shouted losing her cool.

‘Hey what happened dear? Why are you fuming early in the morning? And do you remember seeing my spectacles anywhere?’ asked Ricky coming out of his room after hearing all the commotion outside.

‘Well as usual you had forgotten your specks beside the TV last night and as usual I have kept them on the dining table with your breakfast. And your son won’t listen to me, so I give up. Please deal with him in your own way as you always do.’ She said, her voice rising with each word.

‘Gosh! I forget my specks there every night. I guess I should stop watching the 10 o’clock news from tonight then.’ He laughed.

‘It’s not funny at all!! Your son won’t go to school and he’s locked himself in his room too. He’s turning into a stubborn and incorrigible child all because you keep pampering him all the time and….’ she stopped mid-way as Ricky suddenly held her from her waist.

‘Relax my darling! Don’t lose your cool early in the morning. Don’t worry, he’s just a kid. Something might be bothering him, does happen at this age. I’ll just talk to him and believe me he’ll be fine. What fun would it be if kids start behaving like adults!! You just prepare his breakfast while I have a word with him. Let him not go to school today. I promise, he’ll definitely not want to miss it from tomorrow.’ Kissing his wife, he went to his son’s room.

Ricky pampered his son a lot and treated Johnny more like a friend. Johnny thus found it quite easy to confide in his dad. Ricky was a patient listener and gave sound advice. Martha on the other hand used to get vexed too easily with Johnny’s tantrums and that was when her husband helped.

‘Hey John bud! Open the door. Good old Ricky is here. Come on bud!!!’ said Ricky in his usual sing-song voice as he always used to do with Johnny. He waited patiently for a few seconds when finally the door opened. Ricky entered to see his son crying.

‘Hey! What happened to you? What in the world made my brave friend cry like this huh?’

He cried even harder.

‘John! Stop it now. Tell me, did your teacher scold you? A fight with a friend?’

Johnny did not speak.

Ricky sighed, removing his specs. ‘A fight with your special friend?’

Johnny hugged his father with moist eyes. ‘Dad, she insulted me in front of the whole class. I just asked to sit with her and she started making faces and laughing. She called me a geeko in front of everybody and said that she’d prefer sitting with a skunk rather ‘coz my body stinks. Skunk dad! She called me a skunk! Dad, am I smelly?! It’s just that she doesn’t want to sit with me and she tries making all kinds of excuses. You know dad I apply soap twice everyday and I even use a deo but still…still…she…’ he broke off midway and started crying again.

Ricky couldn’t help but smile at his son’s innocence. ‘Hmmm, so this is the problem. I have a solution. You come out with me, I’ll tell u something.’ He held his hand and brought him to the dining table.

Johnny used to tell his dad everything about his school and his friends. He’d told him about a girl he fancied in class. But the girl had a crush on someone else and used to get quite irritated if Johnny interfered too much. Johnny used to help her in every little way possible. He used to give her an extra pen if she ever forgot one. He even shared his lunch with her once when she had forgotten her own and was crying.

‘Sit here and have your breakfast and I’ll tell you a story. Martha what have you prepared for our dear Johnny?’

Martha was relieved to see Johnny on the table thanks to her husband. ‘Well Johnny, I have prepared your favourite porridge for you. Here, have it dear!’

‘Dad, you were telling me a story, right?’

‘Yes son. I want to tell you something about life. I know you are at this tender age when even the slightest of problems can break you. I want to tell you a story about another child like you, a little older than you though. I’ll take you to your friend Ricky’s childhood.’

‘Your childhood dad?’ asked Johnny suddenly intrigued.

‘Yes my friend! I’ll tell you a story of the chocolate cake. I’ll take you twenty two years back.’

Johnny wiped his tears and looked at his dad. ‘I’m all ears, dad!’

Ricky began.

‘You know Johnny you should consider yourself lucky to be leading such a luxurious lifestyle. You sleep in an AC room; you go to an AC school in an AC bus. You have so many toys to play with. You have TV, videogames, a mobile, a laptop and what not. But when I was small I couldn’t enjoy so many privileges. I belonged to a family with modest means. It’s a pity you never met your grandparents because they expired long before you were born…….’

………………………….

My dad was paralytic and was on complete bed rest so we were entirely dependent on our mother’s earnings which were not sufficient and most of it was spent on dad’s medical expenses but my parents did not let this affect my life and education. They sent me to the best school that they could afford. My mom, with the little that she could do, used to give me ten rupees everyday for rickshaw as my school was pretty far off and we couldn’t afford school transport.

‘This is for the rickshaw and other expenses.’ My mom used to tell me every day.

As I grew up, I realised the pains that my parents took to raise me and decided to do my bit to help them. Eventually, I stopped taking the rickshaw to school to save some money for my father. I became serious in life. I realised that my parents were sacrificing so much for me, so it was my duty to study well, become successful in life and make my parents proud.

‘Dad, Just a matter of a few years now. The day I start earning, I’m going to take you to the best available doctors, best hospitals and soon you will start walking again.’ I used to say to my father.

‘Sure my son! I’m waiting for that day to come.’ My dad always used to say.

I’m waiting for that day to come. My dad was waiting. He had hope that his son would do it for him one day and this is what used to drive me to work hard. I had to do it for my dad if nobody else!

‘How come you saved five rupees today huh?’ Mom asked one day, evidently surprised.

‘Mom! I’ve grown older now. Your son is in final year of school. He’s learned the art of negotiation.’ It used to be my excuse. I used to jog to school and back no matter how tired I was. Though she never used to take the money from me but still I used to save some everyday for dad in a small ‘piggy-bank’, just in case….

‘And you are quite late today! May I ask why?’

‘Dunno Mom! Maybe the rickshaw guy was a li’l slow today!’ I said laughing, as I went into my room. She just sighed.

When I woke up the next day, I was very excited. It was Lisa’s birthday. She was in my class and I loved her a lot. I had saved some money to buy her a present and that was the reason why I had come home late the previous day. Since I had never gifted anything to a girl, I didn’t know what exactly to give but I wanted to give something nevertheless. So I finally picked a small white teddy bear with a heart on it which read ‘To my dearest friend…on her birthday.’ Though it was a little expensive than I had anticipated and it cost much more than the amount I had saved for the gift but I bought it anyway taking out some money from my piggy-bank, compromising on the money saved for my dad. Not a problem Ricky! You can always skip a couple of meals at school to make up for the extra amount! I thought.

I got ready fifteen minutes before time.

‘Ricky my son, never seen you so early at the breakfast table. Is everything alright!’ my mom said sarcastically. Her ability to remain cheerful and jovial in spite of all the family pressures was what I admired in her the most.    

‘Yeah mom everything’s fine. I just thought I’ll relieve you of your morning duties a little early today.’ I said as I hurriedly had my toast, not caring to apply even butter.

‘And from tomorrow you’re gonna take an extra two rupees to school! I’ve been given a raise at office.’ My mom said smiling.

‘Congrats Mom! That’s so cool! I always knew you could do it.’ I said as I rushed out with my bag on my shoulders and the teddy hidden safely on one of the sides. Lisa used to come early too and I wanted to give her the gift first thing in the morning. I even took a rickshaw to save time. Another couple of meals to be skipped. I thought, as I paid the rickshaw guy.

On entering the class, my eyes turned to the one and only place where she always used to sit and there she was, chatting with a group of girls. My heart sank because I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk to her in front of so many girls. So I patiently waited for a few minutes hoping that she would finally be alone. I pretended to search my bag for something non-existent simple because I didn’t want to appear like a fool staring at the wall and doing nothing. The girls didn’t leave her instead more students started entering the class then and finally I realised that the whole purpose of coming early to the class had been defeated. I had failed to even wish her leave aside giving her the gift.

‘Hey happy birthday Lisa!’ said Rocky. Rocky was a typical stud who could easily charm any girl. He was smart, he was intelligent and he had an appealing attitude which added to his charismatic personality. My mates used to say Lisa had a crush on him too but I never believed that crap. He gave her a big card as he wished her and she hugged him in return. See it’s so easy to give something to a girl Ricky. I thought.

As I started gathering the courage to get up, I noticed the class had fallen silent.

‘Good morning students! Please settle yourselves as we start with yet another class of Economics.’ said the teacher, as he entered the class.

I was walking back quite dejected after school. I had prepared for this day since a long time and yet I had failed. I had the teddy in my hand wrapped in golden gift paper. I couldn’t even give this and will have to skip five days of lunch too. You suck Ricky! I thought. I was feeling terribly hungry too. While walking back home, I saw this huge sweet shop I had never been to, on the roadside. Well I can at least go and check it out today. As it is I’m not having lunch for the next five days.

As I entered, the aroma of different delicacies filled my nostrils and famished for food as I was; it was too hard to resist. My eyes scanned the various items available and then I saw a chocolate brownie. Chocolate being my favourite, I settled for it.

‘Sir, how much for that brownie?’ I asked the vendor.

‘Chocolate cake my boy! Chocolate cake is what it’s called. And you should consider yourself lucky to be able to have it. It’s a hot selling item and this is the last piece. Just pay me three rupees and take it!’ he said grinning, surprisingly delighted of the fact that his hot selling item was out of stock now. 

Just as I paid him the money and took the cake, I heard a voice behind me.

‘Mr Jason, your best-selling chocolate cake please.’ Said the voice, extending her hand with three rupees in it.

‘Miss, I’m extremely sorry but you are a little late today. This gentleman over here just bought the last piece.’ He said pointing towards me.

I turned to look at the girl and my heart skipped a beat when I saw that it was Lisa standing inches away from me.

‘Hey Hi! You’re Ricky! Congrats for the last piece! Lucky you are!’ she said smiling.

I couldn’t say a word. I wasn’t expecting to see Lisa there. Two years at school, I had never had a decent chat with her apart from casual greetings. We just existed as batch-mates who never really interacted much. Though I used to keep track of her every move but she hardly knew about me. I couldn’t express how lucky I was feeling right then. 

‘Hi! Well, I don’t have any problem if you take…’

‘No way! Are u kidding? You bought it. It’s yours. It’s just that my friends keep talking about this chocolate cake so I thought I’ll try it since it’s my birthday today.’ She said.

‘Oh really? Is it your birthday? I didn’t know.’ I said. The reply seemed dumb and the surprise in my voice absolutely fake but that was the best I could do. Suddenly I felt like kicking myself. She had told me about her birthday on my face and still I didn’t wish her.

‘How would you know? You hardly ever talk to me in class. At least wish me now!’ She said smiling.

‘Oh yeah! Happy Birthday Lisa! And now that it’s your birthday, I can’t deprive you of the pleasures of this chocolate cake. You need to have it.’ I finally said. Phew. I thought.

‘No it’s okay. You…’

‘Please! Don’t make me feel guilty. I’ll share it with you if you want but you must have it now. Take it as a gift from my side.’ I said, looking at the teddy in my hand and smiling.

‘Well alright! For whom is that gift supposed to be by the way?’ she asked pointing at the one in my hand.

I was taken aback by the question. I had not anticipated it and didn’t know what to say.

‘Oh this!’ I said, as if the gift in my hand was a surprise for me too. ‘Ahhh…actually I….ahhh bought this for my mom. It’s her birthday today!’ I blurted out.

‘Oh really! What a coincidence! Do wish her from my side too!’ she said.

I felt like kicking myself so hard that I literally made a move to do it. I had missed the golden opportunity to gift the teddy and I knew it was gone now. It had become my mom’s birthday gift. I realised that I will have to take it back home. I was still cursing myself as we both sat at one of the tables. It was really hard to convince her to have the full cake. She insisted on cutting it into two halves. Finally, after ten minutes of argument and after inviting the stares of the restaurant staff, she relented.

‘You can at least have a bite!’ she said. I couldn’t afford to be too generous with the fear of making my feelings too obvious. So I settled for a bite.

‘It is actually very good. Now quickly taste it and tell me how it is.’ I said. She cut a piece out of it with her knife and had it.

‘You know what! This cake is awesome and you are a very nice guy.’ She said.

I couldn’t help but smile at the two incongruous statements.

‘Nice!? Why do you say that?’

‘Nice as in… you know….this is the hottest selling item over here and people would kill for it but still you gave me the whole cake just like that. Nobody would do it really. A couple of my friends fought with each other over the last piece of cake the other day and they didn’t talk to each other for a week after that. That’s why I said you are nice.’ She said looking straight into my eyes.

I turned a shade of crimson on hearing this. I started looking at the floor to hide the fact that I was blushing. ‘Thanks for that Lisa.’ I said, still looking down. I could compromise on everything when it came to her and this was just a freaking chocolate cake. I would get lots of opportunities to have chocolate cakes, I thought, but to sit and see Lisa having that piece right then and talking to me was an opportunity of a lifetime and I could have given anything for it. It was surreal.

‘What is so interesting in the floor huh?’ she said, since I had been looking at the floor and smiling, lost in my thoughts.

‘I ahh….nothing….ahh…just like that. I was staring at an ant. Ahh…Strange creatures, you know?’ I stuttered.

‘Ant? Huh!’ she said mockingly. ‘Yeah Strange indeed! And you are weird too!’

Ok, so I was a nice guy and I was weird. I thought.

‘Isn’t it amusing?’ she said, continuing with the cake.

‘What?’ I asked, unsure where the conversation was heading.

‘Well, we never really talked all these years in school and now that we’re about to pass out….’ she stopped as she caught me staring at her.

‘Huh?!’ She said, a curious look on her face.

So I lay my head back down

And I lift my hands and pray…To be only yours,

 I pray to be only yours…

Songs, violins, guitars, drums, all were playing inside my head.

‘Oh! Nothing really. I never knew it would be so easy talking to you.’ I said, looking at the empty plate of cake now. The sad realisation dawned that this meeting would soon be over and in a month we would all pass out from school and go our different ways and probably never meet again. I had to do something.

‘Ha ha! And why in the world would that be so difficult?’ She asked surprised.

‘Ahhh…’ I was blushing again. I just couldn’t explain why. I had met so many girls in my life, talked, flirted and toyed around with so many of them but with Lisa, it was different, it was inexplicable.  ‘Actually, I am a little shy when it comes to talking to girls and you are a very sweet girl so that makes it even more difficult for me.’ I couldn’t believe my ears as I said this. It was me, talking to Lisa in that manner.

‘Awww! That’s so sweet of you to say that. And now that you gave me such an unexpected treat, I would also like to give you something and you can’t refuse to take it.’ She said.

I just looked at her smiling. She started searching for something in her bag and finally came out with two Snickers chocolate bars.

‘Well! This is for you from my side. A return gift, though this is nothing in front of the chocolate cake but still.’ She said.

‘Honestly speaking Lisa, the chocolate cake is nothing compared to what you gave me.’ I said.

‘Oh come on! You mean these Snickers? They’re so easily available! You don’t have to be a millionaire to buy them.’ she said, giving that are-you-kidding-me kind of a look.  

‘No. I meant your company,’ I said, ‘and that can’t be bought no matter how rich I become.’

She stared at me silently for a few seconds and then spoke. ‘Well, for me, you were just a batch-mate earlier but now I guess I can call you my friend. Can I?’ she said extending her hand.

I sat motionless.

‘Come on! Not everybody gets to shake my hand!’ She laughed.

Just give me your hand once and I promise I’ll never let go. I thought.

‘Yeah! Friends forever!’ I said as I shook hands with her. One afternoon, one chocolate cake, had brought us closer than ever before. I could have skipped my school meals forever to buy a chocolate cake to have with her every day.

We both got up to leave and as we came out of the shop, she looked at me and said, ‘Ricky! It was a wonderful afternoon and thanks a lot for the cake and before this afternoon turns to evening, I guess I should be back home.’ She laughed, as she turned and went away.

I can never forget that late afternoon,

It lasted forever yet ended so soon;

It was then that I realised,

That forever was in your eyes.

I had been a jerk again. I hadn’t even asked when we could meet next. The last month was busy as expected and not many students came to school but I still kept saving money with the hope of having that cake with her once more. I had completely stopped having lunch at school to save money for that prospective date. The memory of her sitting and having the cake with that cute smile was still fresh in my mind and that drove me to stay hungry at school. Finally, we all had to come on the last day at school and I knew I would get to see her that day probably for the last time if I didn’t do something. A lot of things were going through my mind. Dad’s deteriorating health had further added to my worries.

I finally found her outside the library. She was standing alone with a book in her hand, beautiful as ever. It seemed like a sight out of a dream to see Lisa again. She gave me a big smile as she saw me.

‘Hi!’ she said.

She talked about a lot of things but not once did she mention that afternoon. It somehow disappointed me. Had she forgotten everything in the past month?  I thought. I had planned on asking her something and I went ahead with it.

‘So…this is it then!’ I said.

‘Huh? What do you mean?’ she enquired, surprised.

‘Well! Last day at school and all! Who knows when we’ll meet again?!’ I said.

‘Hey! Why do you say that! We’ll keep meeting and I don’t live…..’

‘What about one more chocolate cake huh?’ I finally blurted out not waiting for her to finish.

‘Hmmm….’ she was pondering over it. ‘I guess yes, it’s been a month since I last had it.’ She smiled.

Job done!  I thought. ‘Awesome! What about tomorrow? Same time, same place? Afternoon, 1:30?’ I asked, expecting an affirmative answer.

‘Hmmm…’ again she gave it a thought. ‘Well! Afternoon it is then!’ she said.

‘Cool! I’ll wait for you then! Our farewell cake it would be!’ I said, jumping with joy from inside.

‘Well yeah I…’

‘Lisa!’ A teacher called her from behind. Lisa turned to leave.

‘Afternoon, then?’ I asked again to confirm.

She nodded as she left hurriedly.

I had been planning for this afternoon since the last one month. I had made up my mind. I had to tell her that she meant the world to me. I had to tell her how much I cared for her. I had to tell her how much I loved her. I had to tell how I felt when I saw her. I had to tell her that Ricky would not fight with her for the last piece of the chocolate cake like her other friends but would sacrifice all the chocolate cakes in the world for her. I had to tell her….I had to tell her everything…and now was the time.

Since it was my first time, and nervous as I was, I couldn’t think of any innovative way of expressing my feelings. Nothing seemed practical and plausible with the funds that I had. Music, flowers, cards, gifts! All this was too much and too mind-boggling for me. So I decided to keep it simple. It’s the feelings that matter, not the way of expression. I thought. I had bought a rose though. I would go down on one knee, look straight into her eyes and tell her everything that I felt. Marry me Lisa! I would then say with the rose in my hand. Having decided everything, I finally sat down to wait for her. It was almost time. What would she say? Yes? No? This was the only question in my mind. How would she respond? What would her answer be? Yes? No?

As I waited for her, these were the only two words ringing in my ears. Yes?  No?

………………………..

 

Ricky suddenly fell silent.

Johnny was waiting. ‘What happened then dad? What did she say? Was it a yes or a no?’ he asked innocently.

Ricky looked at his son and smiled. ‘She never came, my son!’

Johnny was looking at his dad, a solemn expression on his face. Ricky was staring outside the window. Martha was staring at both of them from the sofa where she had been sitting all this time pretending to read a book. Though she knew all this but still the story intrigued her every time she heard it. There was an awkward silence. Then finally Ricky spoke.

‘It was a very abrupt end to a very brief friendship.’ Ricky said.

Johnny was listening intently.        

‘I could never have that chocolate cake with her again but I still like them today and they are my favourite. Even in our lives we do not always get to have the chocolate cake with the person we want to but eventually we do find the perfect one to share it with and it is then that we realise why we were never meant to have it with someone else. See, even I found your mom.’ Ricky looked at Martha and smiled.

‘But dad, didn’t you get a chance to ask her later why she didn’t come?’ Johnny asked the obvious question.

‘I never got to see Lisa again son. I waited for her till evening that day. She didn’t come and I never got to know why. When I went back home that evening I came to know about my dad’s critical condition. He had to be admitted to the hospital the very next day. Doctors diagnosed bacterial meningitis and it proved fatal for him.’

I went hysterical seeing my dad on the hospital bed with all the life saving equipment. ‘Doctor! Please save him somehow. Please! You’ll try your best right? Don’t worry about money. I’ll arrange for it. Here’s some for now.’ I said keeping everything I had been saving all these months in front of the doctor.

‘They tried their best but couldn’t save him.’ Ricky’s eyes were wet now.

‘Dad I’ll take you to the best of hospitals, best of doctors.’

‘Dad just a matter of a few more years.’

Dad you’ll start walking again.

‘Sure my son, I’m waiting for that day to come.’

Ricky was saying all this to himself.

‘He died waiting for that day to come. That day actually never came. Today I have all the resources yet I can’t bring him back. How I wish I could just…If I could just…’ he paused, unable to complete. ‘Johnny, sometimes we do wish if we could go back and change a little something here and there. We wish if we could just go back and do a little something differently. If we could just go back and say something we ought to have said or do something we ought to have done at that time. But it just doesn’t happen. Life goes on and we have to move on with life. It doesn’t allow us to stop and ponder over anything even for a second. Yes, life is cruel sometimes but then it is the only thing that we have which completely belongs to us and that is why we call it our life.

Ricky continued.

‘After dad passed away, we had nothing left in the city so mom decided to sell off the house and move to a different city. We moved away that very month and I could not contact Lisa before leaving. A few years later I came to know through a common friend that she married a guy from our school she had a crush on and was settled in the US, a place where I couldn’t even dream of going back then. That was the last that I heard of her. I was really happy for her ‘coz she finally got to share her chocolate cake with the person who, for her, mattered the most in the world. To me, it didn’t matter even if I had no one to share my cake with.’ Ricky was staring at the floor and smiling as he said this.

‘And this is precisely what I want you to understand. You are young my child and you have your whole life ahead of you. Who knows what tomorrow holds and what you are crying for today might seem trivial to you a few years later. You’ll meet so many people in life, some good, some bad and some very bad and we won’t always be there to support you. So, you need to be strong.’ Johnny was looking at his dad with a blank expression on his face.

‘I agree there are times when we feel that all is lost and when we look ahead we just see hopelessness and despair but that’s because we all have myopic eyes. We all suffer from short-sightedness and no spectacles in the world can correct it.’ He said this removing his own.

‘But there is someone sitting right up there…’ he said pointing at the sky, ‘ who is more far-sighted than anyone on Earth is and can ever be and he doesn’t even need specks for that.’ Ricky said ruffling Johnny’s hair. For the first time in a while, Johnny was smiling. ‘He is someone who takes decisions for us that are not backed by sentiments and emotions but by wisdom and practicality. So Johnny! You are just twelve right now. You need not worry about these things got it? You just study hard and become an intelligent man. All good girls like intelligent boys I’m telling you! And now gimme a high five bud!’

Johnny stood to his feet as he gave his dad a big fist pound. ‘I’m sorry dad! I’ve been such a jerk but I guess what all you said is actually true. I’m not missing a day of school from tomorrow I promise.’

‘Yup that’s like my boy! And today I’ll buy you a very nice deo so that tomorrow you can go to her and say that listen girl, I am one of the best smelling skunk friend you’ll ever find!!’

Johnny was grinning now. He even went and hugged his mom. ‘I’m sorry for all the fuss I created early in the morning mom. Spoiling your mood was not my intention!’

‘It’s okay John as long as you realise.’ Martha said hugging him back. She left her book and joined the two of them at the dining table.

Johnny now turned his attention towards the porridge in front of him and realised that he had to finish it as well. He was preoccupied with some thoughts as he had his porridge.

‘Dad, tell me something. You really loved that girl didn’t you?’

Ricky smiled. ‘No son, I guess I didn’t love her enough. There was someone else who probably loved her more than me and that’s why he deserved her more than I did. I love you and your mom more than anything else now. You are my world and this is all that matters now.’

‘But dad, if God was really as far-sighted as you say, didn’t he realise then, that you two could have been perfect together?’

Ricky could not help but smile at his son.

‘Son, maybe God realised that she didn’t like chocolate cakes as much as I did and he wanted me to find someone who loved them even more than me. And when I found out about your mom’s affinity towards chocolate cakes, I made up my mind that this is the girl.’ Ricky said grinning.

‘Dad, it might sound funny but still I thought I’d ask. What did you do with the teddy?’ He asked with a straight face and seeing this Ricky burst out laughing.

‘Ha ha ha! My son, I actually gave it to your grandma on her birthday. To my dearest friend…on her birthday. You are my best friend mom. I had said hugging her tightly as I gave it. And you know even she was surprised. You’ve finally learnt the art of gifting the right things to ladies my son. She had said.’ Ricky was smiling to himself as he recollected it all.

Even Martha was smiling on this one. She didn’t know about this part of the story.

‘Dad I know I’ve acted stupid but then I’m sure even you would have done the same had you been my age. Did you actually follow the principles you told me about when you were young?’

‘You ask too many questions Johnny!’ Martha said though she knew the questions were quite intelligent and she herself wanted to hear Ricky’s answers.

‘No Martha, let him ask. There should be no uncertainty in his mind regarding this. Yes! You are right son, even I did not follow all the principles, but then, I thought if I tell you about them now, maybe you’ll adhere to a few and keep the rest in mind and one day with time, age and experience you’ll realise that there is some substance in what I told you and it is for that day that I told you all this today.’

‘Dad, what if you come across Lisa someday in future? Would you ask her why she didn’t come to have the chocolate cake that day?’ Johnny asked with as much innocence as a twelve year old could.

Ricky looked at Martha with a grin on his face. ‘Your son is really inquisitive.’

‘Well Johnny my son, of course I won’t ask her! It’s a thing of the past and even if I come across Lisa, I’ll meet her like any other long lost old friend of mine.’

Saying this Ricky picked up his coat and his spectacles. It was time for his office. Johnny was silently staring at his porridge and was thinking about something. Ricky kissed Martha goodbye and smiled at Johnny before walking towards the door.

‘Dad…’ said Johnny rather hesitantly. It seemed as if what he was about to say was going on in his mind since some time now.

‘Yes son….’ said Ricky as he checked around in his briefcase to ensure whether all the important documents for the day were there.

‘Dad, I just had one last question in mind.’ Johnny was treading very carefully.

‘Ask away then buddy!’ Said Ricky as he picked up his briefcase finally, wore his specks and walked towards the door.

‘This girl Lisa….do you….Don’t you still sometimes miss her?’ he asked finally.

Ricky stopped just at the door and turned to look at Johnny. He turned his gaze at Martha and then back at Johnny, finally deciding to answer his last question.

‘Have your porridge child….it’s getting cold!’ he said smiling, as he turned and walked out of the door.

………………………………….

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2010 in Fiction, Short stories

 

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What’s happening?


Problem: BP low since yesterday (70/60)

Reasons: Unknown :-O

May be its because:

I’m not using my niece’s Johnson’s baby soap secretly since last two days :-O

I’m worried that my toothpaste does not come with any namak in it :-O

Its just a fear of burning up the whole goddam thing while cooking :-O

Its because I’ve started taking all the santa banta jokes a bit too seriously :-O

I’m not able to find my playlist on my PC :-O

I’m too busy doing nothing :-O

I cut my pyjamas into shorts day before yesterday :-O

I’ve gone insane :-O

I just had a banana which, according to India TV is having some poison in it :-O

I’m feeling too low n too high at the same time :-O

or may be, its just because of the ever increasing amount of spice in my life..!

yeah.. that’s the reason.. kabi namak zyada to kabi mirchi .. uff :-O

Spice se yaad aaya.. Spice girls? Ever heard them?

Spice girls used to be my favorite band, years back.

But today dunno why I’m listening to them since this morning :-O

See for yourself:

Spice up your life 😉 But don’t let your BP go low like me !! :-O

Tada’zz for now, I’m about to puke.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 1, 2010 in Non-fiction.

 

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