25th December, 2013.
“Why are you sitting here all alone?” Maddy asked as he approached me, shaking me out of my thoughts. He sat down on the empty seat beside me and continued, “This is our success party dude! We won the musicana! And you did exceedingly well as the leader. It’s time to celebrate! What’s wrong with you?”
Everything is wrong with me. My life is totally f**ked up , I thought and kept mum, not knowing what to say. As I did not reply, Maddt said after a brief pause,
“I know it’s about Nandinu. Why don’t you solve it out with her, now that the musicana is over?”
Yeah, you’re right. It’s all about her only. But I can’ solve it with her as I’m the one who screwed it , I thought but didn’t think I could explain it to Maddy. It was a lot more complicated than he thought it was.
“It’s no use saying anything to you. You aren’t gonna reply, are you? Anyways, I was thinking about something and I guess you should know about this. I…” He paused for a moment, hesitating. “I am going to ask Soha out once we’re back in Mumbai. Wish me luck, please! I’m so nervous!”
“That’s great! But why are you nervous? The whole world knows that you both like each other. And I being her best friend, I can assure you that she will readily say a yes. Go for it!” I encouraged Maddy. This news was not completely shocking for me as I had anticipated it beforehand. I wish I also could have been able to express my love like Maddy.
“Seriously? You made me feel a thousand times better now—“Massy had hardly completed his sentence when Abhi called out from the other end of the hall,
“Yeah, coming!” Maddy shouted over his shoulder and stood up. “You also come na Manik,” He offered me to join the lads. I was about to refuse when my cell phone began ringing, giving me an excuse. God bless that person!
“I’ll take this call and join you guys later. You carry on,” I said. Once Maddy walked away, I tool out my phone which displayed,
The name brought back the painful memories of that night, which Maddy’s news had made me forget for a moment. I hesitated for a moment before receiving the call.
“Hello?” I spoke, trying to sound normal.
“Hey, congrats bud! Fab five won!” Dhruv’s fervent voice boomed from the other side.
“Okay, so I have something to tell you!”
“Yeah, say. You sound extremely joyful.”
“Yup. The occasion is only a happy one. Well, you see… After you went away for your musicana series, I and Nandini have been hanging around a lot, and I’m beginning to think she also likes me back. So I guess this is the best time to tell her about my feelings…I’m doing it tonight.” I felt as if a thousand needles were piercing right through my heart at the same time. My head ached as I installed the news in my tiny brain slowly. In the same day, two persons had conveyed the same news to me. And yet, the two of the news were so contradictory. Why is my life playing such games with me?
“No!” I said at once, and instantly regretted it. “I mean, are you sure this is the right time? Don’t you think it’s a bit too early?” I added in a jiffy, to make up for my reaction.
“So you’re saying I shouldn’t do it tonight?” Dhruv asked, sounding low and disappointed. He had called me up for some encouragement, but from his voice I realized I had discouraged him instead. It was so stupid of me to say what I’d said. I was being so selfish. I rectified my earlier lines and said—
“No, no. You should go on.” I halted midway in my speech when a question struck me— Dhruv and Nandini shared a kiss but they are not an item yet? I proceeded to ask Dhruv to clear my confusion.
“I’m surprised you haven’t confessed to her yet…After your birthday I’d thought you two were already a couple!”
“What do you mean? What happened on my birthday which made you think so?” Dhruv asked innocently.
“Umm….You, uh, kissed Nandini?” I managed to say with a lot of difficulty. Only I know how much it hurt me to say those words.
“YOU SAW THAT?” Dhruv asked, actually shouted, surprise evident in his voice. Obviously he was embarrassed on being caught doing the act.
“Uh, yeah,” I confessed reluctantly. Why did I tell him about this in the first place, I have no idea. When I’d finished my sentence, I found my phone vibrating against my ear. I looked at it to find that Nandini was calling me. I was glad, for once, that I was talking on my phone with Dhruv as this meant she would find my phone engaged. I would not have to force myself to reject her call yet again.
“No yaar, it’s nothing like what you’re thinking it is,” Dhruv went on to say the much clichéd line which everyone says when they’re caught doing something. “Nandini was just playing with me,” He proceeded to say. He seriously thought I was going to buy that? Nuh-uh.
Before I could bring myself to say something, he continued,
“Hey, wait. Why did you—“ But he stopped midway in his sentence. After a brief pause, he said—
“Hey listen…I’m getting a call from Nandini. I’ll call you later okay?” Saying that, he abruptly hung up.
Wow. I can see Nandini’s priorities have changed. Earlier, whenever my phone was engaged, she’d consistently keep on calling me until I received her call. Now, she called me once and as I didn’t receive her call, she called Dhruv. I can see that she has started liking him. He doesn’t know how lucky he is! But what kind of a friend is he? He can’t even see how much ready I am to even die for Nandini, however cliché it may sound. I love her. Is that so hard for him to decipher? And I! What kind of a person I am who is just letting go of his love. I feel like such a weak man. I should’ve tried harder, I shouldn’t have let her go. But it’s only wishful thinking. I do realize that now that the milk is already spilt, I can do nothing than sulk over for the rest of my life. I can do nothing to rectify the blunder I’d committed…
“Hey,” I spoke into the phone eagerly as Nandini answered from the other side.
“With whom were you talking?” She asked. Okay, so she wanted to know with whom I was talking. Possessive much, huh?
“Oh, that…I was talking with Manik. Anyways, where are you? I can hear some music in the background…”
“Umm…” She hesitated.
“Actually I wanted to tell you something.”
“Yeah so say na…” She said. Her voice sounded a bit different, but I thought it was only my imagination and brushed it off.
“No, I want to tell you in person, not over the phone!”
“Can’t you guess from the music where I am?”
“Don’t tell me you’re in a pub or something!” I said, fearing the worst.
“Yeah…” She said, dragging her voice.
“And you’re alone?” I asked, concern taking over me.
“BIG DEAL!” She said nonchalantly, uttering each word in a weird kind of way.
“Of course it’s a big deal! Wait, I’m coming. Which pub are you in?”
“Dhruvvvv, it’s not necessary. I’m fiiiiiine, chillll!” She said, dragging every other word.
How can I chill? She was in pub, all alone, for God’ sake. There would be so many drunk men there. And Nandini there, alone…It surely made me panic.
“I asked, what is the damn pub’s name?” I demanded, repeating my question. I know I was being rude but I was worried. And besides, it was for her good only. She shouldn’t be in a pub all alone at this late at night. It was around eleven o’clock.
“Tryst.” She finally gave in.
“Fine, I’m coming okay?” I said, more like a statement than a question.
“Ohhkayyyyyyy” She dragged the ‘okay’ a little bit too much, and this was when I really became suspicious. Suddenly, it dawned on me…
“ARE YOU DRUNK?”
“Drunk? I don’t think eleven shots would make me drunk. I still have a longgggg way to go before I get drunk!” She said, chuckling from the other end.
“Are you freaking crazy? Don’t you dare touch the drinks until I get there!” I strictly instructed her and hung up at once.
I grabbed my keys and left for the pub, totally panicked by now. I hadn’t been there before but Google Maps would show me the way.
Nandini had never had a single drink before, I remember her telling me. And today, in her first experience, she is eleven shots down! And she is alone.
I had every reason to freak out.
My eyes scanned my much crowded surroundings as I entered the pub. The loud music beat violently against my eardrum, almost deafening me. The dimly lit room was filled with the smell of all sorts of alcohol and cigarettes. I had never liked the atmosphere of a pub. Some people were dancing like crazy, and the others who were not, occupied the bar. The bar…as my eyes lingered around the bar, I spotted Nandini, who was wearing a body hugging black dress which was way too short. Her eyes were smeared with black, giving her a different look altogether. She looked like a sleep deprived drunkard, so pale. It was hard to believe she was actually Nandini. What had taken over her? I had never witnessed her in such a getup. She was gulping down some sort of a drink, without a care for anything in the world.
I hastily rushed towards her, talking long strides as I pushed through the crowd. I found a number of men looking at Nandini with hungry eyes. This place was really not safe. Even on Christmas say there were so many people here!
“You didn’t listen to me, right? I asked as I took a seat beside her and turned to face her.
“Oh Dhruv! HYEEEEEEE!” She squealed as she threw her hands around my neck to give me a hug. She strongly reeked of alcohol, a smell which had never pleased me much. In the attempt of hugging me, she was about to fall down from her stool and I had to hold her firmly and prevent her from falling.
“Sorry sorryyy!” She said as she sat back. “Youuu,” she pointed towards me, “had to say something important to me, right?”
“Uh…No, it’s nothing.” I lied. Obviously I can’t tell her that I wanted to tell her that I love her. Only a stupid person would tell such a thing to a drunk person. And besides, if I do tell her, she’d definitely forget it till morning.
“You won’t tell me?” She said in a babyish voice, looking at me with puppy eyes, with a pout. She looked so adorable, even in the alien getup of hers. When I was slowly getting lost in those entrancing eyes of hers, my phone started buzzing in my pocket. I took out my phone to look at the caller ID, which displayed—
“Gotta take the call, be right back,” I said and left for a silent corner. I had called her earlier to tell her about my plans of confessing to Nandini, and when she’d not answered her phone, I had texted her informing about it, before I called Manik. I’m sure she is calling for that. I accepted the call and said—
“Hi! I can see you have got my—“ I was cut in the middle by Soha’s panicked voice.
“Have you already told her?”
“Phew! Don’t even try it!”
“No, listen to me first. I might seem selfish or whatever, but I really think you shouldn’t be doing this. You’ll ruin the lives of more than one person at the same time. Can you seriously not see how f**king much Manik and Nandini love each other?”
I was dumbfounded. Even Soha thinks they both love each other. Why does everyone think this even they have clearly stated over and over again that it’s nothing like that? Even my own best friend now is turning against me? Manik knows about my plans. He could’ve prevented me if he had any feelings whatsoever for Nandini.
“Have you told this to Manik?” Soha asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“Yeah I told him. He first said ‘no’ but then he encouraged me a lot! Otherwise, I won’t have tried it.”
“Oh God! Why is he burying his feelings? I have seen people becoming blind in love but this guy is blind in friendship! He is ready to sacrifice everything for your sake. I am not taking anyone’s side here, you two are my best friends. But in your case it’s a one sided thing and in Manik’s case it is double sided. I was talking to Nandini the other day and I am sure she loves Manik. And Manik! Manik had confessed this to me a long time ago. He knew you had feelings for her that’s why he had told me not to tell you. And you are only saying he had first rejected your idea of confessing to her tonight. Can you find any other suitable reason for that? How much more ignorant can you possibly be? You are only seeing the world from your perspective. Try to put yourselves in other’s shoes also. You are just running away from reality, Dhruv. Open your eyes, and you’ll see a whole different world,” Soha finished her long speech.
The seconds ticked away and an empty silence prevailed. Words couldn’t come out my mouth. It felt like I’d become mute for eternity.
“Well…That’s all I had to say. Now it’s your decision. Bye,” Soha hung up soon after.
I pondered over her words for some time when I saw Nandini waving at me frantically. I had to first control her before taking the painful decision if she’s going to be my girlfriend or my bhabhi.
“Kisse baat kar rahe the? (Translation: With whom were you talking?)”
Nandini asked as soon as I took my seat beside her.
“Soha,” I replied dreamily, my mind still revolving around what Soha had said.
“Soha? What is wrong with that girl? When Manik was my best friend, my only friend, she came nd snatched him away from me. And now that I have you, she is interfering now also? And Manik and Soha are not at all a good couple!” Nandini exclaimed, making me turn my attention to her.
Why was she thinking that Manik and Soha are a couple? I thought, confused, when the realization struck me that I was he one who’d told her that Manik loved Soha.
“And Manik… He’s been avoiding me for God knows how long. I mean, what is wrong with him? Did I do something wrong? I don’t even know why he is avoiding me. I miss him so damn much. I feel like I don’t exist for him anymore,” Nandini continued to say. By the middle of her sentence, her voice had started quivering and tears had welled up in her eyes. When she was done speaking, the tears which were threatening to come out rolled down her pale cheeks. She picked up the glass in front of her and gulped down whatever drink it contained in one go, before I could make an attempt to stop her. Was Soha right? Did Nandini really love Manik? Why is she so tensed about him? Is this only friendship, or more than that? I thought it was the best time to get it out of her mouth, so I asked—
“Do you love Manik?”
She looked at me surprised, and blinked. She thought for some time and then said—
“I love Manik? Do I?” It seemed like she was questioning herself about it. Then she looked at me and said—
“I don’t know. I just know that I want him to be there with me always. When he’s not there, I feel sad and lonely and empty. I miss Manik a lot. My Manik. If this is love then I am surely in love. Heck, I love my best friend! How much more pathetic can my life get?” She continued blabbering but I’d stopped listening attentively when the words ‘ I am surely in love’ hit my eardrums. My heart started aching like it had never before.
She loves Manik, not me.
How much blind was I? How could I not judge the feelings of both my best friends? I was about to destroy both of their lives. Soha was right, I was being selfish. I should’ve guessed Manik went away from my house on my birthday because he was hurt seeing Nandini so close to me. I should’ve understood why he was all of a sudden became so detached from Nandini, from the day I’d told him I loved her. I should’ve know how much he was hurting himself when he was trying to hook up me and Nansini. I should’ve understood the reason of his saying ‘NO when I’d told him I was going to confess to Nandini. I should’ve known it was all real, whatever he had written in his journal. So many should have’s. If only I knew! I was so wrong! I heaved a sigh and took a deep breath, trying to calm myself.
I have screwed their lives. It’s now time to do something right. . .
I bet you guys didn’t see that coming! 😀
Comment how was it!! 😉
Credit to: Anu