Chapter 4 – The Fateful Day
It had been obvious to any observer that Radhika and Kabir were in love and it was an already known fact that Neil and Naina were childhood sweethearts. I had started feeling for Neil, but I never said anything for the fear of losing my friendship. Sometimes, I used to feel that I was interfering in their private moments, especially when the couples would get lost in each other’s eyes. But everything changed on that fateful day.
We had come to my Cafe as usual. My friends had taken their usual seat. My Lake View Cafe closed at 7pm because we never had customers for dinner. People preferred to go to the one of the few main stream restaurants in the heart of the town, instead of coming all the way to the outskirts of Panchipur.
The sky was unusually clear. The night was unusually calm and quite. While I was wondering where the crickets had gone, Naina suggested that we should go to the lakeside for a stroll before proceeding to the Haveli. I knew that once we reached the lake, Kabir would remove his sketch book from his bag and start sketching his lady love, Radhika would start humming which will eventually turn to a wonderful song. The meaningful lyrics of Radhika’s song and her melodious voice would change the atmosphere. Neil and Naina would start dancing and I would get lost in my own thoughts. Yet, I agreed.
Just as we reached the lake, Radhika and I exchanged a glance. Something felt wrong. The lake was unusually quiet, as if hinting the inevitable. The wind blew. Things unfolded just the way I knew they would. Kabir sketched, Radhika sang. Neil walked towards Naina, hand out-stretched, inviting her for a dance. But Naina ran in the opposite direction, away from Neil, away from us, teasing Neil. And then, in that moment, I realised what was about to happen. I was about to shout out to Naina, warn her about the slippery patch, when she slipped and fell into the water. All of us knew that she was the only one in the group who couldn’t swim. Before we knew it, all of us jumped in. But we could only recover a dead body. Our Naina was lost. There was nothing we could do. Yet, we tried. We rushed her to the hospital hoping that our professors’ will find the pulse we had failed to detect. But alas.
Naina was dead. Radhika was crying inconsolably into Kabir’s shoulder. They were drawing support from each other. Neil was surprisingly devoid of tears. His eyes were red, and dry. He held Naina’s hand, tried to coax her to come back. When she didn’t respond, he shook her, called out to her. But it didn’t help. There was a Naina sized hole in his heart. By the next morning, the Desai family, Mantri Family, Neil’s family (the Banerjees) and Naina’s family (the Kulkarnis) all had arrived. My friends had a support, a shoulder to cry into but me? I was alone once again. Mrs. Kulkarni fainted at the site of her dead daughter. She didn’t regain consciousness until the moment; Naina was to be taken to the crematorium. It took another 10 mins for me to coax her to allow the body to be taken away. Everyone was devastated.
Precap – What will happen next? Will Neil get over his loss? Will he accept the narrator? How will this incident affect Radhika and Kabir? What mystery is Radhika hiding? Look out for the next update.