Best Friends are the best thing that happens to us.
The sun is out and we’re back on the road. This time, I am driving and it’s a torture to drive that car up the rugged slopes of the hills. The only consolation is the weather, which keeps getting cooler and nicer.
How much one misses the love of his or her life is directly proportional to how good the
weather is !! Obviously I miss Naira a lot right now !!
“So what do we see here ?!!” Naksh asks as we enter Dehradun.
“A few boarding schools.” I say.
He looks at me with terror in his eyes and asks, “Why ?!! Why would we visit schools ?!! We have been there and it wasn’t fun.”
“I have always wondered what boarding schools are like.” I try reasoning with him.
“What do you mean ‘what boarding schools are like’ ?!! They are boarding schools, man. Buildings, dormitories and classrooms. Why do you want to see them ?!!” Naksh asks again.
“Just like that.” I answer avoiding his gaze.
“I am not doing that.” He states.
“I never asked,” I say and negotiate a steep hairpin bend on the rocky road.
Imperial Academy, Dehradun. That’s the reason. I can’t tell him that, though.
A little later, we enter the beautiful city of Dehradun. We check into a small, cheap hotel and Naksh says he needs to rest for a while. But I don’t have a minute to waste. I wash my face, change into fresh clothes and hire a local taxi to take me to Imperial Academy.
I can barely keep my excitement hidden.
The city with its narrow, winding lanes and fantastic views is breathtaking, but I have other things on my mind. For now, I just make a mental note that I have to come to this beautiful place again.
Half an hour later, I reach Imperial Academy, the biggest boarding school in Dehradun. A fake story to the guards and I am allowed to enter. My heart rate kicks up as I move beyond the humungous gates that I had seen previously on the Internet.
I walk around the campus. It is huge. Lush gardens, huge buildings and big classrooms. It is nothing like the school I had gone to.
The winter holidays have started, so the place is nearly deserted. There is no one around to ask where the lists and the felicitation boards are. All the rooms and buildings are locked. I ask the sweeper who is mopping the already clean floor and he tells me that the administration staff will be there in another half an hour.
I pick a spot beneath a huge tree and take out the diary from the bag. I check it again. It clearly says that VK (the dead guy) was proud that Pappu got the best all-rounder award in the year 2012. I just need to find that out and all will be solved.
I flip through the pages and every time I do that, it’s like a whole movie playing before my eyes. I have no idea what the characters look like, but I have given them faces in my head.
A little later, I find a few people loitering around the corridors and opening locks. I close the diary and walk about the school campus, looking for the reception. A few teachers pass by me and I wonder if someone knows this nameless guy from the diary.
I walk around the corridors and enter the great hall where all the student photographs are hung year wise. I look around for felicitation boards that the dead guy wrote about.
There are none. I become restless and look for somebody who can tell me. I leave the room and go into the next one.
Bingo !! In front of me, there are about twenty huge, dark-brown boards with hundreds of names painted in white. I check the years. 2007 … 2008 … 2009 … 2010 … 2011 … 2012.
There are twenty names on each board, honoring the students for different accomplishments— Toppers, Best Dancer, Best Debater, etc. My eyes scan for the All-Rounder of the Batch.
I start reading the names on them and there it is — Pappu, or the All-Rounder of the Batch in 2012 — Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
I look at it for a little while. The guy who will lead me to Anushka and finish the unfinished story of VK.
But I need to know more about Mahendra Singh Dhoni. . I google the name. Nothing conclusive comes out.
I look for the administration room. Luckily, there is a woman sitting at the counter.
“Hi.” I say. “I needed some information on a student.”
“Where are you from ?!!” the woman asks.
“I am from the press,” I say and offer to give her my card. She refuses. This trick always works.
“What information do you need ?!!” She asks.
“Telephone number ?!! Or address of a student ?!!” I say.
“Name ?!!” she says and turns to the computer.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni., 2012 batch,” I say.
She types in the name and something flashes on the screen. She picks up a pad and writes down an address and a phone number. I take that piece of paper, thank the lady at the counter and leave.
As I cross the room with the boards again, I dial the number. It’s a landline number. There is an engaged tone and I’m told the number doesn’t work. I try again. Same result. I look at the address. It’s a Haridwar address.
I’ve never been to that city. And I’m sure Naksh hasn’t either. He is quite an atheist, so his going to a religious town is out of the question. I smile to myself. It seems like we just got the next destination for our road trip.
As I move out of the school with an air of victory and fulfillment, I realize that I have quite a few missed calls from Naksh. I get into a taxi and get back to the hotel as fast as I can. I try my key on the lock, but the door doesn’t budge. I try it again and it doesn’t work.
I wonder if Naksh is inside. I knock. No answer. I knock again. There is no answer again. I shout out, “Naksh !!”
Yet again, there is no answer. I look into the keyhole. It’s blocked and I can’t see anything.
I hear footsteps inside. First a few, then many. They are hurried and none of them seem to be coming towards the door. I hear some more. There is someone with him.
Finally, I hear footsteps approach the door.
“What the heck were you doing ?!!” I ask as he opens the door and I barge in. He is in his Superman printed satin boxers.
I look around for a girl. The bed is all ruffled and there are lipstick stains all over the bed sheet. I can’t see the girl. There are clothes strewn all across the room. The door to the
bathroom is closed.
Soon, my questions are answered as the bathroom door opens and I see the girl to whom the clothes belong. She is the girl from that night !!
Keerti — the seventeen-year-old. Damn.
“What are you doing here ?!!” I exclaim as I see her. She is wrapped in a white bed sheet.
“It’s my birthday,” she says dispassionately.
“Let her at least get dressed.” Naksh says.
Keerti gathers her clothes from around the room and disappears behind the washroom door. I look at Naksh and I just don’t know what to say. He looks at me like a pet that has pooped in the living room. He’s guilty, but his face says he couldn’t help it.
“What the hell, Naksh ?!!” I shout.
“In my defence — she turned eighteen last night !!” he says.
“But what is she doing here ?!!” I ask.
“She missed me. I told her I was going to Dehradun and she landed here !! I didn’t know she’d come.” he defends himself.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I say.
“Well, I just told her that I wished she were with me on her birthday. I didn’t know she would actually come. I said it without any intention of calling her here. You know how I wanted this trip to be just you and me.” he says faking innocence.
“Screw you, man.” I say.
I sense that there is no point in having that conversation. I sit on the bed and wait for Keerti to come out. I am not angry at them any more.
Finally Keerti comes out. I have to admit that in my head I forgive Naksh. Keerti is too young to be this hot. She is in an off-shoulder top and a pair of stockings and she looks stunning.
She goes and sits where Naksh is.
“I’m eighteen.” she clarifies before I can say anything.
“And your parents know where you are ?!!” I ask.
“Stop being such a grandfather, Karthik.” Naksh interrupts.
“Did your parents know everything about Naira from the start ?!! Your night outs ?!! Your escapades ?!!” she asks me with an evil grin on her face.
I look at Naksh and he says, “I told her everything.”
“Whatever.” I shrug my shoulders. I have nothing to say. I see the two of them kiss and I miss Naira.
“By the way, Happy Birthday Keerti.” I wish her.
“Birthday ?!! Whose birthday ?!! Ohh !! That was just a way to make Naksh miss me.” Keerti says.
“What ?!!” Both of us cry out, shocked.
“Nah, just kidding. It is my birthday. So, thank you.” She smiles at me.
Naksh and Keerti kiss again and I begin to feel a little uncomfortable.
There is no space for a girl on our road trip. This is just wrong. I tell them that I have a long phone call to make and I leave the room. I see the door close behind me.
Naksh is going to make out and that makes me jealous, lonely and frustrated.
Precap: When Naira comes to know about Keerti being with Naksh. Some more of the dairy !!
Cant believe its 11 chapters already. Feels like yesterday when I had posted the first chapter. Thanks again to all you guys for supporting another one of my works. So glad to have you all in my life.
I am again sorry for the late update. But I am down with fever and cold as I got drenched in rain quite a few times. It been raining continuously in my city from the last couple of days. I am in my bed since morning and will be till evening so would be posting another chapter probably by midnight.
Do comment. Keep smiling. Keep watching Yrkkh !!