Hi guys thank u for the comments. Here is the fourth part.
On my 18th birthday, I pretended to be asleep and lay still in my bed, listening to my parents leaving for their walk. The metallic clang of the latch on the gate told me they had left. I tip toed quietly into the living room where the extension of the telephone was and unplugged it. Then I went back into my parents’ room and lifted the phone and listened for a dial tone. It purred contentedly. Satisfied, I placed it back. Then I double checked to see if I had placed it correctly. When you are waiting for a phone call, time seems to really drag. If you have ever waited for a phone call you know exactly what I am talking about. You do not know what to do. You just wish and hope and will the phone to ring. Yo u want time to fly. I sat next to the phone and waited. After a while, I slid down to the floor and continued waiting.
It rang exactly as planned and I grabbed it even before the first ring was completed.
“Hey,” I managed to whisper.
Then I could hear the music starting. For a few seconds I had no idea what was going on. Then the penny dropped.
The music blended perfectly with the voice of the Boys to make magic that day, as I listened hundreds of miles away over a phone line, at 5:45 am in the morning, huddled on the cold floor, the phone glued to my ear, in my parents’ bedroom. It was a love song which had climbed the Billboard hot hundred charts when it had been released. At that time I could not identify the band or the artist, but later I would know that it was a song by the band Backstreet Boys. Later I would also write down the lyrics, memorize them and listen to them a hundred times over.
Baby, I know you’re hurting
Right now you feel like you could never
Now all I ask is for a chance
To prove that I love you
From the first day
That I saw your smiling face
Honey, I knew that we would
Be together forever
Ooh when I asked you out
You said no but I found out
Darling that you’d been hurt
You felt like you’d never love again
I deserve a try honey just once
Give me a chance and I’ll prove this all wrong
You walked in, you were so quick to judge
But honey he’s nothing like me
I’ll never break your heart
I’ll never make you cry
I’d rather die than live without you
I’ll give you all of me
Honey, that’s no lie
The whole song took about four minutes and 48 seconds long. In between, I tried telling him to stop playing the song and that I get the sentiments behind it. But he continued playing it till the very end. Then he came on the line and said
“Happy birthday Ragini and I do mean every word in the lyrics of the song”. I could have died right there and I would have been the happiest person on earth. I did not know what to say.
“Idiot,” I said finally. “Why did you waste time playing the whole song? We could have talked for that much time more.”
“Talk now. ”
“What do I say? I don’t know what to say,” a huge smile stretched across my face.
“You could begin by saying what a great guy I am.”
“Rubbish. You are a dumbo and a fool. How did you manage it?”
“I have my ways.”
Those days there were no mp3 s or CDs or I-pods for music. We listened to music on spools of tape in a cassette which we used in tape recorders. He must have hunted for the tape for this song, rewound the tape to the exact point where it started, got batteries for the tape recorder, and then carried it to the phone booth, early in the morning. It was the month of December and I knew Delhi was freezing at that time. I was amazed and touched by the effort he made. I wanted to talk for some more time to him. I did not want the phone call to end. I was feeling elated and on top of the world. Suddenly all the crazy things that I had read in books about what people in love did were beginning to make sense. So were the countless little things that lovers in movies did.
But somewhere, sense prevailed as I also knew that if my parents came back, it would ruin a perfectly great start to a birthday, that too one which was a milestone.”I love you baby,” he said. The way his voice went all soft and low when he said it gave me goose bumps. He had actually said the words.
“Hang up now,” I said. “And take care. Bye.”
I hung up before he did. I sat on the floor and a huge smile stretched across my face. My heart sang. I felt ecstatic. I was still smiling when I heard the metallic clang of the gate again. I ran into my room, jumped into bed, covered myself with the blanket and kept smiling. Once you know what direction to take, finding the path to it becomes easy. After experiencing the super-high that ‘Operation phone call’ gave both of us, we wanted more of it. Compared to this, waiting for letters seemed tame. Vaibhav said he would call me every Thursday. He chose Thursday as I had been born on a Thursday. I found the gesture charming. But then, I was beginning to find anything he did for me charming. Each Thursday there would be so much to tell him when he called. This was in addition to the letters. I wanted to share so much with him. Every minute detail had to be shared, and he was just as eager to listen. He said he loved the sound of my voice and he could picture me sitting on the floor in my parents’ bedroom and talking to him. He always began with a “Hey” in that low baritone which I had grown to love and ended by saying “Take care, ok? I love you.” His voice always went low and syrupy when he said that. I loved it.
He could have repeated that line a million times and I would have never tired of hearing it. What amazed both of us was that there was always so much to say. We never ran out of things to talk about. Each call must have lasted for about six or seven minutes as that was all he could afford and it somehow was never ever enough. I once mentioned to him that I could send him money for the phone calls as I felt guilty that he was spending so much. He wouldn’t even hear of it and we never discussed it again. On one Thursday, during yet another operation phone-call, my parents came back earlier than expected. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the main entrance door of the house opening. I must have been so engrossed that I hadn’t heard the giveaway metallic clang of the gate. There was no time to dash out. I panicked, hung up, rolled over and hid under the bed.
Seconds later, my dad and mom walked straight into the bedroom. My heart was pounding and I felt like a burglar. I was desperately thinking up excuses to say if they found me there. The phone rang again. Vaibhav must have presumed that the line had got disconnected. My dad answered it and hung up when there was no reply from the other end. I lay under the bed, as still as a rock. And fortunately for me, neither of my parents discovered me. I lay there for at least forty five minutes, till my dad went out of the room. My mother was in the kitchen. I could tell by the sounds. Later I crawled out and bolted to safety, feeling exactly like a commando who moves from one trench to another, during war time. I knew Vaibhav would call the next day. And I was back at the phone, waiting. He did.
“Idiot,” I said “I nearly died. I had to lie under the bed for forty five minutes. You are a fool of the first order. Why the hell did you call back? You should have used your brains!” He laughed and laughed some more. I laughed along with him, delighted to hear the sound of his laughter. “How was I to know?” he said when he finally stopped laughing. “I nearly jumped out of the phone booth myself when your dad answered.” I hung up quickly that day. I did not have the stomach to risk another trench operation.
Ragini Mehra- Tejasswi Prakash
Vaibhav Sharma- Shivin Narang
Avantika Mehra- Manasi Salvi
Abhay Mehra- Ronit Roy
A/N – Guys this song is “I’ll never break your heart “ by Backstreet Boys. It was released in 1998. My sister was listening this song 3 or 4 yrs back and then I heard it for the first time. Do listen to this song.