Abhi excitedly packed his bags as tomorrow he was taking his first step towards his dream. He was so happy; finally his parents also gave in. He had been fighting with them for this for last six months and when he had got the call he was ecstatic and fought harder. His parents, whose argument was that he was their only son and they wanted him to look after the hospital but finally gave in to his adamants and dream. He hears a knock on the door and he stops smiling as he thought dreadfully that maybe one or both of his parents have come again to talk him out of it. He opens his door with apprehension and then seeing the person at the door he gets shocked then he smiles politely. “Pragya! What’s up?” “Mere samne wale kidki mein ek chaand ka tukda rahta hai. And a little birdie told me that he is going to join the army. So I thought I will come and say bye.” Pragya says smiling at him. “Come on in.” Abhi says as he opened the door wide for her, happy at least someone was happy for him. “Packing all done?” Pragya asks as she walks in. “Almost.” Abhi says excitedly as he continued to pack. “You need any help?” Pragya asks. “Just take care of my parents when I am not here.” Abhi tells her. “You don’t have to tell me that. I was asking about your packing.” “I know. Packing almost done. So parents!” “Don’t worry. I will be here for them.” Pragya tells him reassuringly. Abhi smiles, Pragya was his neighbor. The only conversations they had were at social gatherings just casual hi and bye then when Pragya puts her music system loud at night, he would ask her to turn it down from his window; they never talked more than that. His bedroom window faced her bedroom window. Seeing the way she was reassuring him about his parents, he wondered whether he should have been friends with her rather than mere neighbors.
“I love you.” Pragya suddenly says. “WHAT?” Abhi looks at her in shock. “I said I love you. Truly, madly and deeply.” “Pragya…” Abhi says as he looked at her in shock. “I… Pragya… I…” Abhi stammers as he tried to find the right words. Pragya puts up her hand to stop him. “Relax Abhi. You don’t have to say anything. I know you don’t feel the same way about me.” Pragya tells him. Abhi sits down next to her, “Why are you telling me this then?” “I just wanted you to know that there is someone out there who is crazy about you.” Pragya tells him smiling. Abhi nods and remains silent as he wondered what to tell her, “I might never marry. I am going to be in army and there is no guarantee for my life.” Abhi tells her. “I understand that.” Pragya says and then gets up to leave, “I just wanted you to know. So tomorrow there would be no regrets.” Abhi nods. “I am going. Just came to tell you this and…” Pragya stops. “And?” Abhi prompts. “Try not to get killed. I would be really disappointed if you do.” Pragya tells him. Abhi smiles at her, “That I will try.” “That you will try? Does that mean you won’t try to love me?” Pragya asks. Abhi looks at her shocked, “No… I didn’t mean…” “I was just joking.” Pragya says laughing. “I will leave you to your packing.” Pragya tells him then she hesitates for a while then leans towards him and hugs him. He doesn’t hug her back. She gently kisses him on his cheek. “Be safe and be happy.” With that she walks out.
2004Abhi was home for his first holiday after a year. After catching up with his parents about the last one year, he finally goes to his room to rest. He was about to take a nap when he hears a knock on the door. He opens the door expecting his mother and gets shocked seeing Pragya. “Hey Pragya.” “Hello Cadet Leader Abhishek Mehra. Heard you were back, thought I will come and see you.” Pragya says smiling happily at him as she looked at his face lovingly. “Come in.” Pragya walks in and notices Abhi nervously rubbing his hands. “I love your military hair cut!” Pragya tells him smiling, “It’s suits you.” “Thank you.” They remained silent as Pragya happily smiled at him while he awkwardly smiled at her. “So… how are you?” Abhi asks her. “Still in love with you. You? Any change in attitude?” seeing the casual way she had asked him, he also in a casual way shakes his head in no with a small smile. “Hmmm… thought maybe living without seeing me might have caused some divine revelations.” Pragya says chuckling though he could see the disappointment on her face. “I guess I will leave. You take your rest. I’ll irritate you in the evening with my loud music.” Pragya tells him smiling. Then she starts to leave when Abhi stops her, “Pragya…” Pragya turns to him smiling, “Yes?” “I don’t think I’ll ever… don’t wait for me.” Abhi tells her as gently as he could. “The fact that I am waiting for you, is it affecting your life in any way?” Pragya asks him. “No.” Then she starts smiling at him, “Then why do you have to simply give your opinion?” “Why are you doing this?” “Because I love you. Ever since I can remember, I have loved you.” Pragya tells him. “You don’t know anything about me.” Abhi tells her irritated. “Just because you don’t know anything about me that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about you. Maybe I do know you well.” Pragya tells him. When he remains silent she says, “Bye.”
Abhi walks out of the airport as he looked for his Dad. “ABHI! Over here!” Pragya waves at him excitedly. “Pragya?” Abhi smiles as he walked towards her happily. “Are you here to pick someone?” Abhi asks. “Yes. I am here to pick Lieutenant Abhishek Mehra.” “You are here to pick me?” Abhi asks amazed and impressed that she knew what position he was in the army. “Yes.” Pragya says as she walked with him to her car. She opens the boot for him and he keeps his luggage inside. “I thought Dad was coming to pick me up.” “He was but last night he sprained his ankle. So I came instead.” Pragya explains. “What? How is he now? Why didn’t he tell me?” Abhi asks worried as they got in the car. “He is fine. He just needs to rest for two days. We decided not to tell you because you were travelling and we didn’t want to worry you.” Pragya explains. He noticed how she had said we instead of they, but he didn’t comment on it.” “So what is the big good news?” Pragya asks as she started the engine. “What? How did you know?” Abhi asks shocked, he hadn’t even told his parents about it, then how did she find out? “Look at your face. You are so happy. So what is it?” “Hmmm” “Come on, we are friends. Tell me! I will also be happy for you.” Pragya tells him happily. “I have decided to get married.” Abhi tells her happily. “Really?” Pragya turns to smile at him, her face filled with hope and joy. Seeing her expression his face falls realizing she had misunderstood. Seeing the change in his expression, realization dawns on her. “Oh!” she says sadly and looks away. The rest of the journey they didn’t talk much. The moment they reached his house, she dropped him off and sped away to her house.
Two days later Abhi was sitting in his room when he hears a knock on the door. He opens the door to find Pragya standing there with her usual smile. “Hey.” Abhi says as he opened the door for her to enter. Pragya enters and says a little embarrassed, “I am sorry. I behaved so badly with you the other day. I behaved so rudely.” “No, Pragya. Nothing like that.” “No. You told me such big news and I didn’t even congratulate you. So I came to congratulate you. Congratulations.” “Thank you.” Abhi smiles. “So, what is her name?” “Piyali.” Abhi replies. “Piyali, nice name. I bet she is very beautiful.” “She is.” Abhi smiles happily as he thought about Piyali. “Where is she now?” “Right now she is posted at the border.” “She is also in the army?” “She is an army doctor.” Abhi tells her smiling. “That is nice. She can join your hospital here.” Pragya says smiling. “You won’t leave army, what a waste of a hospital management degree. Now she can take over the hospital. Uncle would be so happy.” “Neither Piyali nor I am going to leave the army, Pragya. We love serving our country.” Abhi tells her frowning. Pragya nods her head. “We would happily die for our country. Being in the army is our dream. What would you know about dream and serving the country?” Abhi asks angrily, as he thought about the fight he had with his parents about Piyali and him leaving the army after marriage. “What would I know about serving the country and dreams? I don’t know, Abhi. But for the last three years, day in and day out I have been seeing two people who worry each day about their son. They won’t say it but I know they are lonely and there is a limit to which I can fill that void.” Pragya tells him. Abhi looks at her in shock realizing that in his absence she had been looking after his parents like she had promised. “I am not saying you are wrong. All I am saying is that, just like you have a duty to our country just like that you have a duty to your parents too. Instead of being stubborn and fighting with them, try to make them understand in a calm way why this is important to you.” Pragya tells him as calmly as ever. “I am sorry if I crossed my limits. That was not my intentions. Bye.” Pragya tells him and walks away.
On the day Abhi was to go back, Pragya comes to meet him. “I don’t want you to go away angry with me. So I just came to just…” Pragya shrugs. Abhi watches her amazed, here was the girl whom he had rejected, then for no reason he had took out his frustrations on her and still she was here. “You are a nice girl, Pragya.” “I know.” Pragya replies smiling. “Any guy would be lucky to…” Pragya cuts him off, “Please Abhi… it is sad enough that you don’t want me. Please don’t insult me and my intelligence by saying that any guy would be lucky to have me when you are clearly not interested and don’t want to be lucky.” Pragya tells him a little hurt her voice slightly cracking. “You should move on, Pragya.” “Trust me I have been trying for a long time.” “Don’t wait for me, Pragya. I love Piyali.” “Did I ever beg you to love me or marry me?” Pragya suddenly asks angry. “No.” “Then don’t say all this. You are in love, so you should know that it just takes a moment to fall in love with someone but it takes a life time to forget that love. Give my regards to Piyali. Be safe and happy. Bye.” Saying that she walks away without looking back at him.Same year, 2 months later
Pragya walks into Mehra house. “Aunty, I am here. You wanted me to get your grocery right. Give me the list I am on my way to the supermarket.” Pragya says as she walks towards Radha. She finds Radha crying uncontrollably. “What happened aunty?” Pragya runs to her worried. Radha continues to cry. “Please tell me what happened? Is Abhi fine?” Pragya asks and hearing Abhi she cries even more. “Please tell me he is fine, aunty.” Pragya begs her fearing for Abhi’s safety. “He is here.” Radha says crying. “Abhi?” Pragya asks confused. Radha nods. “You should be happy, why are you sad?” Pragya asks relaxing and then wondering why she was not aware of his visit. “He is… He is not… he is not the same Abhi.” Radha says crying. “What happened aunty? Where is he?” “Room.” Pragya hurries to Abhi’s room fearing what could have happened to him. She knocks on the door. “Who is it?” a slurry voice asks from inside. She opens the door hearing Abhi’s drunk voice and stands in shock taking in the sight before her. Abhi was sitting on his bed as he drank from a bottle of whiskey. He had changed, his hair was slightly grown, not over grown, and he had mustache and beard now. “Piyali?” Abhi looks at her happily gets up and walks to her stumbling all the way to her. “Piyali.” Abhi says smiling at her. “I am Pragya.” Pragya tells him as she looked at him in shock. “Piyali.” He says smiling as he lovingly touches her cheeks. “No Abhi, I am Pragya.” Suddenly coming to his sense he moves back, “Pragya!” then he takes a sip of whiskey walks back to the bed. “What has happened to you?” “Got suspended.” Abhi says as he swaggers and falls on the bed. “Suspended? Why?” Pragya asks shocked. “They are saying I am an alcoholic now!” Abhi says as he continued to drink. “What happened? Why did you become like this?” Pragya asks as tears stung her eyes. “Being in sense hurts! This is better!” Abhi replies as he continued to drink. “Where is Piyali?” Pragya asks knowing it had something to do with Piyali. “Gone! She left me!” Abhi says suddenly crying. Pragya hurries to him and hugs him as he wailed about Piyali, border and bombing. Pragya with a heavy heart realized that Piyali was no more. Pragya hugs him tight and cries with him for Piyali. Abhi cries himself to sleep while Pragya sat with him.
There was no change in Abhi. He spent his waking hours drinking and drowning in his sorrow. Pragya, Mohan and Radha had tried their best to help him but he didn’t want any of their help, all he wanted was alcohol. Pragya’s heart was breaking seeing him in this condition. Every time she would think she would not go to his house anymore unable to see him in this condition but every time she changes her mind as she gets worried about him. Pragya was at home when her cell starts ringing, seeing Radha aunty calling, Pragya quickly picks up the call, “Haan aunty? Is Abhi fine?” Pragya asks worriedly as she hurried to her window to check in on Abhi and relaxes seeing him sitting on the couch drinking. “He is still the same. Pragya I needed a favor.” “Yes aunty, tell me. What is it?” “Mohan and I have to go to Pune, we will be back in the evening. It is very important otherwise I wouldn’t go leaving Abhi like this.” “I will check in on him.” Pragya tells her. “I have cooked everything for him. Can you make him eat, you need to force him else he won’t eat. I’ll be back at night.” “Don’t worry, aunty. I will make him eat.” “He won’t, Pragya. But please try.” Radha says sadly as she hung up the phone.Afternoon, Pragya walks into Abhi’s room to find him drunk yet again. “Come and have your food, Abhi.” Pragya says as she walked to him and snatched his bottle from him. Abhi looks up at her then starts smiling happily. “Piyali!” “Pragya.” Pragya gently corrects him. “Why did you leave me, Piyali? You know I can’t live without you.” Abhi says as he stood up and walked towards her. “I am not Piyali, Abhi. I am Pragya.” Abhi hugs her happily, “I love you, Piyali.” Pragya starts struggling as she tried to break out of the hug. “I miss you, Piyali.” Abhi says as he starts kissing her on her face. “Please don’t do this, Abhi. I am Pragya.” Pragya says as tears started flowing from her eyes. “I feel so lonely without you.” Abhi tells her heartbroken as he kissed her on her lips. “Please leave me, Abhi.” Pragya begs him. “I am dying without you, Piyali. Please don’t leave me. Be with me.” Abhi begs her as he continued to kiss her. Pragya looks at him as she watched the pain on his face, her heart breaks. If she being with him would ease his pain, then she was willing to do. Closing her eyes she leans towards him surrendering to him.
Pragya wipes her silent tears as she looked at Abhi sleeping next to her. He seemed at peace at last. What if she lost everything? He looked peaceful, that tormented haunted look having left him. She wondered whether he would remember that they made love, she hoped he didn’t. He was filled with hurt now she didn’t want guilt to be added to that. She slowly starts to get up to leave when he holds her hand in his sleep. Maybe she will stay with him for a minute Pragya thought as she gently lay on his chest hugging him listening to his heart beats, they were steady. Listening to his heart beats she sleeps off.
Pragya was rudely woken up from her sleep when she felt someone shove her away. She opens her eyes to find Abhi furiously looking at her. “Abhi…” Pragya says his name in panic as she pulled the blanket over her covering herself. “You are so disgusting!” Abhi says furiously as he got up from the bed and started wearing his clothes. After a long time she was seeing him in his senses. “Abhi… I… you were… I couldn’t… please…I love… please don’t…” Pragya blabbers as she tried to tell him why she did what she did. “What did I think of you and what did you turn out to be… you blo*dy wh**e!” Pragya looks at him in shock as her ears rang in his insult. Tears started flowing from her eyes as she silently looked at him. “You know I love Piyali… and how could you? I was not in my senses but you were!” Abhi screams at her hurt and furious. “Were you so desperate to marry me that you fell this low?” Pragya continued to stares at him as tears flow down her face. “Get out!” Abhi angrily tells her. When Pragya just continued to look at him, Abhi angrily screams “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! And never ever come in front of me!” Holding the blanket securely around her, Pragya takes her clothes and leaves his room. She numbly walks to the next bedroom and starts wearing her clothes. Then she quietly leaves his house. The moment she reached her room in her house, she gave in to her anguish and screamed out in agony.Next day, Pragya was lying on her bed as she thought of what had happened the previous day, she no longer cried, she felt dead inside. She hears her mobile ringing seeing Abhi’s mother calling she picks up the phone. “Pragya, did you talk to Abhi yesterday?” Radha asks excited. “No.” Pragya replies honestly, she didn’t talk, he did all the talking. “I don’t know what happened, but today he didn’t drink. And now he has gone to a de-addiction center.” “That is good news, aunty.” Pragya says try as she may, she couldn’t fake her joy. He had gone to the de-addiction center so that she couldn’t take advantage of him again. “Yes. I hope I get my Abhi back. I’ve been praying for him.” Radha tells her excitedly. “You will, aunty.” Pragya tells her before she hangs up.
Few days later, Pragya was sitting in her room as she replayed what had happened in her mind for the millionth time. She feels a gentle hand on her hair and turns to look at her mother, “What happened Pragya?” Sarala asks as she caressed her daughter lovingly. “Nothing, Mama.” Pragya says sitting up as she held the pillow to her chest. “I have been noticing that you are sitting in your room all the time, lost in thoughts. You don’t even go to the Mehra’s now. Tell me Pragya, what is troubling you?” “Nothing, Mama. I am fine.” Pragya tells her as she looks away. “Whatever it is you can tell me, Pragya.” “I know, Mama.” Pragya replies smiling at her. “You wanted something, Mama?” “No. Abhi has come to see you. He is waiting downstairs.” Sarala tells her. “Abhi?” Pragya asks shocked. Sarala nods and leaves. Pragya’s heart started beating faster as she hurried downstairs wondering why he was here. Maybe he was here to apologize. He was waiting for her outside the front door. One look at him and she knew he was not here to apologize. Maybe he was here to accuse her more. She steps out of the front door and closes the door so her mother won’t hear him screaming at her again. “Please don’t scream. My parents are there inside.” Pragya tells him when she sees him open his mouth. “I am going back today.” Abhi informs her. “What about your suspension?” Pragya asks confused. Ignoring her question he continues, “If anything unwanted happens, you know how to contact me?” He stared at her till she nodded her head. Once she nodded her head, he turns and walks away. As she stood there watching him leave, she realized that if anything unwanted do happen, she was never going to contact him.