“Why the hell are you not picking up my calls?” She shouted at me and barged into my house. Seconds later, I found my bones being crushed by her extra tight hug, sending chills down my spine. I lifted my hands to hug her back, but hesitated.
I had, with great difficulty, managed to avoid Nandini for a whole darn week. Now how am I to control myself when she appears like this in front of me and hugs me this tight? I closed my eyes, trying to remind myself Dhruv and the sad reality that she could never be mine. I opened my eyes back and was about to pull out of the hug when Soha caught my attention, who was frantically gesturing me to hug back. I shot her a ‘never’ look, only to get a death glare in return. I rolled my eyes and wrapped my arms around Nandini, inhaling her much familiar feminine scent. How I missed it! Honestly, I’d trade anything in the world just to hold her in my arms like this. A feeling of satisfaction swept over me when I held her, as if I’d got the whole world in my arms. I felt like I was hugging her after ages. It was a heavenly moment.
But all good moments must come to an end. Soon, Nandini started pulling back from the hug, must against my wishes, but stopped midway.
“Oh shit,” she muttered under her breath.
“What happened?” I asked, letting go of my arms around her. But still, she didn’t remove her hands which were securely wrapped around my neck.
“My bracelet…It got stuck with my sleeve!” She cried out.
“Okay, so…? Use your free hand to untangle your bracelet na!” I said, not getting how that could be an issue.
“You don’t get it, do you? The bracelet in my right hand is stuck with the sleeve of my left hand!” She explained.
“Oh,” I managed to say.
“Now what do I do? I’m unable to get it free!” She moaned, when Soha, who was still standing near the door, said—
“Hey wait, let me help.” With that, she walked up to us and went round my back and engaged herself in freeing me and Nandini. I couldn’t see her of course, she was standing behind me.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pinch on my back and as an automatic reflex; I inched forward, in turn coming closer to Nandini. We were already like a couple of centimetres apart and this action of mine got me a few micrometres away from her face. I looked at her soft, full and naturally pink lips. They were so irresistible…I could kiss them there and then if only I could! However, I resisted the urge to do that and got back to the present situation. I backward-kicked Soha, as I knew she’d pinched me purposefully.
“Hey, stand still, okay!” Soha said out aloud.
“No, I won’t!” I said. I knew Soha was carelessly fiddling with Nandini’s bracelet, not really trying to let it free, for obvious reasons. Knowing that Soha wasn’t going to free me any time soon, I turned round, with Nandini’s arms still wrapped around me. No it wasn’t as difficult as it appears to be. I was now facing Soha, who gave me a mischievous smile on seeing me. She was just playing away with the bracelet without trying to loosen it. Just as I’d thought. Ignoring Soha, I snatched the bracelet from her hands and disentangled the bracelet in one try. Yes, it was that simple.
“Thank you, Monster,” Nandini said, once her hands were free. Monster. How I’d missed her calling me that! I know I hated the name at first… But then later on, I got used to it. It was kind of cute, the way she said it.
“Uh, you guys sit and talk… I’ll go get some coffee for us,” Soha said, breaking the awkward silence prevailing in between us and made off to the kitchen. I knew she was only trying to make me and Nandini come closer and I have to say she was doing it quite tactfully.
Nandini followed me to the sofa, walking through the huge mess of shopping bags created by the great Soha. I sat down on the middle large sofa, and she seated herself on the sofa which was on my side and leaned forward to face me. I knew what was going to ask. Trying to avoid the much anticipated conversation, I started fiddling with my phone. I know, it was quite immature of me but who cares.
“What are you doing?” Nandini asked.
“Just texting…” I said nonchalantly.
“And whom, if I may ask?”
“Soha,” I said without thinking and soon regretted it. But then, on second thoughts, I guess that was actually good as that would force her to believe something was going on between me and Soha and maybe she would herself widen the gulf between the two of us. It would hurt as hell of course, but anything for my best friend’s happiness. I knew she’d be happy with Dhruv, I’d seen the love for her in his eyes, the same which I see in my eyes. I’m sure Dhruv’s the right guy for her.
As soon as I said Soha’s name, I saw her become alert. She was about to say something or rather ask something, but it was almost as if she was fighting it. She didn’t say anything for a while, much to my joy. Good, I thought, as I did not want to answer any of her questions right then.
“So you didn’t answer my question earlier…” Nandini asked after some time, changing the topic. I’d have been glad for the topic change but this was just another one of those topics I wanted to avoid. I had no explanation as to why I had been avoiding her calls.
“Umm…which question?” I asked, trying to play innocent.
“You very well know which question,” she simply stated.
“I don’t, Nandini, please enlighten me.”
“Why were you dodging my calls the whole week?” She asked firmly. I knew I had to give her an answer this time. She didn’t look like she would take ‘I wasn’t’ for an answer.
“I was practising for the upcoming concerts.” I managed to say after thinking for a while. It was the half truth. I had been really busy practising for the upcoming converts. But I could have talked to her after practise, which I never did. Almost as if reading my thoughts, Nandini said—
“I know you were practising. I heard your voice mail machine tell that to me like a zillion times. But you could’ve called me back at least once after practise? Or maybe you could’ve texted me, Manik.”
Her voice showed that she was really hurt and broken. And seeing her like this, it hurt me even more. I didn’t want to do this; I didn’t want any of this. I wanted to lead a normal life with Nandini as my best friend with whom I talked to every other day, for hours altogether. I miss the old days. I miss the old me. But I can’t help it. I was totally helpless.
“I’m sorry Nandinu… It’s just that I got so tired after practice—I just came home and crashed. This was my everyday ‘s story. I got your messages, and I was about to call you on the weekend.” I tried to explain.
“Oh, right, the weekend. So you don’t know today is Saturday or you were going to call me today after I went to bed?” She asked, raising her voice a bit, clearly vexed at me.
Oh shit. Today was Saturday. I’d forgotten that while making an excuse. Great! I decided not to reply to her question and simply go with the last option I was left with—apologize. Sincerely and whole-heartedly. I knew Nandini always melted eventually when I say sorry to her.
“Hey I’m really sorry yaar. It’s my fault, I admit it. I’m very sorry Nandini.”
But she wouldn’t look me in the eye. Finally, she broke the silence by saying—
“I miss you Manik. I miss the old times. How we’d talk throughout the night, about the most random and silliest of things. I miss it. Hell, I can’t even imagine my life without you!” Tears had started welling up in her eyes by now. No, don’t cry now, please. The last thing I’d wanted was to see her cry. That too for me. I felt like such a jerk for doing this to her. She was hurting, all because of me.
Soon, she blinked off the tears threatening to pour out, and composed herself. Thank the Lords! I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if she cried.
“Umm so what’s with all this mess?” She asked, gesturing towards the shopping bags scattered all over the floor.
“Oh, it’s Soha’s kartoot (act/deed)…” I said, chuckling a bit.
“Oh,” She said. Her eyes then wandered round the room and finally landed on…me. She stared at me for a split second, before asking—
“What’s with this T shirt?”
I looked down at what I was wearing and soon realized what she was getting at. Soha, you’re dead. Now how was I going to explain that to Nandinj?
“Umm Soha got it for me…” I trailed off. I knew Nandini wouldn’t buy it and would question me further, though I was hoping against it. Much to my surprise, she simply said “Oh” and let it be. Yes, she didn’t ask me any more questions. Strange right? And then it struck me—she probably thinks I love Soha and Soha knows and that’s why got it for me. Maybe she is assuming we are in a relationship—ah, hell.
After that, a silence prevailed. She didn’t ask me anything else and I had nothing to say to her. That’s when Soha finally emerged with the coffee mugs and seated herself beside me on the sofa, placing the tray with the mugs on the centre table.
Soon, we were all sipping our coffee, talking about random things. Okay scratch that. I was sipping my coffee while Nandini and Soha were engaged in some girly conversation of theirs. In other situations, I’d have joined them but right now, I did not want to talk with Nandini. I would rather sit quietly and get bored than join their conversation. However, suddenly, something which Soha said caught my attention—
“So I heard you are going on a movie date with Dhruv tomorrow?”
“Woah, no, it’s not a date. We’re just going for a movie that’s it,” Nandinu explained.
“Oh, really? Dhruv ditched me because he was going for a movie with you, so I assumed it was a date…” Soha said, giving me a quick glance and then looking away at Nandini again.
“Umm, I have no idea why’d he do that…” Nandini said.
“I guess he thought you’d not like it if I come along…” Soha pushed on. What was she getting at? I didn’t quite understand what was she up to.
“I think you’re right… But I won’t mind if you join—you can definitely join us; that would not be a problem!” Nandini said.
“Uh, you sure about it?”
“Of course! C’mon, it’ll be fun…Join us!”
“I think it’s not a bad idea. Why don’t you also come along, Manik? It’s been ages since we went for a movie together—with all our friends,” Soha asked, turning towards me. Oh, that’s what her intention was. Why didn’t I see this coming?
“Uh, no, Soha. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, thinking about what excuse to give.
“But why, Manik? It’ll be fun!” Soha said, pouting.“But you know the media guys, right? They would shoot us down before we’re even halfway through the movie!” I said. Reasonable excuse, right?
“Um I think he’s got a point,” Nandini said. Good job, Manik, I patted myself in my mind, please with myself.
“Yeah… Okay Nandini you guys carry on. I guess I and Manik can’t come,” Soha said.
“Manik can’t come, it’s understandable. But you can surely join us, right?” Nandini pointed out. Why was she hell bent on spoiling Dhruv’s plan of spending time with her alone?
“Umm yeah but I think I’d rather leave you guys alone. Have fun!” Soha said. Finally!
“Hey, what if we see the movie in someone’s house? In that case, Manik and you, both can join us!” Nandini exclaimed all of a sudden.
Soha’s eyes instantly lit up, and she said,
“That’s a good idea, Nandinu! What say, Manik?”
I shot Soha a death glare and as a reply to which she simply shrugged.
“No Soha. I think Dhruv wouldn’t like it. He didn’t invite us after all…” I said.
“Of course Dheuv won’t mind, Manik! You all are childhood buddies—Come on. Unless, you want to spend your Sunday alone, and don’t want our company,” Nandini said. That’s what I hated the most—Emotional Blackmail. Ugh.
“Come on, Manik. It’ll be fun. Waise bhi I don’t think you had any special Sunday plans… So what’s there in seeing a movie together?” Soha said. After much persuasion, I finally gave in, much against my wishes. Soha very well knew how to convince me for sure. I wonder how Dhruv’s going to react to this sudden change of plans.
Once back home, I dialled Dhruv’s number to let him know about the change in plans. I didn’t think he’d mind it—Manik and Soha were his childhood friends after all.
“Hey, I was thinking to call you now,” Dhruv said, answering the call.
“Yeah—I was bored, you see?”
“Acha… Umm Dhruv I gotta tell you something!”
“Umm… You remember our movie plan tomorrow?”
“Of course I do! Don’t tell me you’re calling it off!”
“No no… Why’d I do that? I, well, I went to Manik’s house today.”
“Finally! So you asked him why he wasn’t answering your calls?” Yeah, Dhruv knew about it. When Manik didn’t pick up my call the first day, I don’t know why but I ended up calling up Dhruv. And it eventually became a daily practice—calling Dhruv, I mean.
“Yeah. He told me he was busy with practice. Nothing new. Anyways, chuck that. I called you to tell something else.”
“Well… Today when I went there, Soha was also there. And we were just randomly chatting when Soha asked me about our movie plan tomorrow. And I, uh, well, I invited her to join us. And she asked Manik to join us too. But you know na Manik can’t go to a movie hall without attracting the paparazzi and media, so we ended up deciding to see the movie at my house instead,” I finished it one go and stopped, gasping for breath. Dhruv didn’t reply me for some time, so I asked, “Are you mad at me?”
“No, I, uh, it’s fine Nandini…” Dhruv said. He sounded somewhat unhappy with the plan, but I didn’t push it any further. He’d tell me himself if he had any problem, wouldn’t he?
“So which movie are we seeing?” He asked.
“Oops! We didn’t think about it!” I said, now realizing we hadn’t even decided which movie to see.
“No worries, I’ll get the DVD.”
“Okay, thank you!” I said. Dhruv was always the one who saved the day. After that, I talked with about this and that for some time and then hung up saying I was feeling sleepy.
But I was not even near about sleepy. I lay on my bed, staring at the bare ceiling, my mind flooding with thoughts about Manik. Today when I’d gone to meet him, I had expected to spend some time with him, alone. Seeing Soha there had sure disappointed me, but when I saw Manik, it felt like I was seeing him after a million years. The way I hugged him—Now that I think about it, I wonder what I was doing, hugging him for so long. I really got carried away with the moment, I suppose. But it was a great feeling, hugging my best friend after so long.
But some things have left me puzzled. Manik said he was texting Soha, who was just in the other room. And then, his tee said “I am in LOVE”, which was given to him by Soha. Then again, Soha was unwilling to go see the movie without Manik. Are they in a relationship now? I think they are. And the very thought of it shatters my heart to pieces. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel right.
I think it was because of her that he was avoiding me the whole week. He must have wanted time to spend with her and to let her know about his feelings. And he just forgot me in the process. Soha. Her very name made annoyed me. I don’t know why, but I guess I’m just…maybe jealous of her? Don’t know why, though. No I don’t hate her. But I hate her presence near Manik. Now again, I don’t know why.
Why is life so unfair to me? The only person with whom I could talk to whenever I want, the only person who knew me from head to toe, the only person who was my…everything. Why did he have to leave me? Why did everyone leave me, one by one?
First, my mom and dad when I was only fourteen. My first love Aryaman, whom I loved more than anyone else in the planet, he also cheated on me. And with whom? None other than my best friend, Sammy. Throughout my life, people have always cheated me, betrayed me, used me, and left me, broken to pieces. I feel like…like I’m not destined to be happy. Whenever God sees me happy, he snatches away that little happiness from me, only showing me that happiness is not meant for me. When the break-up with Aryaman had left me completely shattered, Manik came along in my life, and made it worth living. And now, he was also gone…leaving me all alone. . .
So finally we updated. It’s a fairly long chapter.. Comment how you found it? 🙂
Credit to: Naisha