Just for a heads up, there are going to be alot of side characters in my story, some important and some not so important, i haven’t really thought of any actors for my characters because i wrote it as a story and didn’t keep anyone particular in mind,other than Ragini and Lakshya (obviously :D), but i am open o suggestions for the same.
Also, there might be slang in the future episodes, i hope you wouldn’t mind that. and Finally, thank you for the warm response and i hope i can do justice to this story and stand up to your expectations. Hope you enjoy this update too 🙂
Link to Previous update : Prologue
TWO WEEKS EARLIER
I slide open my balcony door and step outside, thankful that the sun has already dipped behind the building next door, cooling the air to a perfect temperature. Almost on cue, the sound of his guitar floats across the courtyard as I take a seat and lean back into the patio lounger. I tell Kritika I come out here to get assignments done, because I don’t want to admit that the guitar is the only reason I’m outside every night at eight, like clockwork.
For weeks now, the guy in the apartment across the courtyard has sat on his balcony and played for at least an hour. Every night, I sit outside and listen.
I’ve noticed a few other neighbours come out to their balconies when he’s playing, but no one is as loyal as I am. I don’t understand how someone could hear these songs and not crave them day after day. Then again, music has always been a passion of mine, so maybe I’m just a little more infatuated with his sound than other people are. I’ve played the piano for as long as I can remember, and although I’ve never shared it with anyone, I love writing music. I even switched from Law to music education two years ago. My plan is to be a music teacher, although if my father had his way, I’d still be studying law.
“A life of mediocrity is a waste of a life,” he said when I informed him that I was changing my field.
A life of mediocrity. I find that more amusing than insulting, since he seems to be the most dissatisfied person I’ve ever known. And he’s a lawyer. Go figure.
One of the familiar songs ends and the guy with the guitar begins to play something he’s never played before. I’ve grown accustomed to his unofficial playlist since he seems to practice the same songs in the same order night after night. However, I’ve never heard him play this particular song before. The way he’s repeating the same chords makes me think he’s creating the song right here on the spot. I like that I’m witnessing this, especially since after only a few chords, it’s already my new favourite. All his songs sound like originals. I wonder if he performs them locally or if he just writes them for fun.
I lean forward in the chair, rest my arms on the edge of the balcony, and watch him. His balcony is directly across the courtyard, far enough away that I don’t feel weird when I watch him but close enough that I make sure I’m never watching him when Vikrant’s around. I don’t think Vikrant would like the fact that I’ve developed a tiny crush on this guy’s talent.
I can’t deny it, though. Anyone who watches how passionately this guy plays would crush on his talent. The way he keeps his eyes closed the entire time, focusing intently on every stroke against every guitar string. I like it best when he sits cross-legged with the guitar upright between his legs. He pulls it against his chest and plays it like a stand-up bass, keeping his eyes closed the whole time. It’s so mesmerizing to watch him that sometimes I catch myself holding my breath, and I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I’m gasping for air.
It also doesn’t help that he’s cute. At least, he seems cute from here. His light brown hair is unruly and moves with him, falling across his forehead every time he looks down at his guitar. He’s too far away to distinguish eye colour or distinct features, but the details don’t matter when coupled with the passion he has for his music. There’s a confidence to him that I find compelling. I’ve always admired musicians who are able to tune out everyone and everything around them and pour all of their focus into their music. To be able to shut the world off and allow yourself to be completely swept away is something I’ve always wanted the confidence to do, but I just don’t have it.
This guy has it. He’s confident and talented. I’ve always been a sucker for musicians, but more in a fantasy way. They’re a different breed. A breed that rarely makes for good boyfriends.
He glances at me as if he can hear my thoughts, and then a slow grin appears across his face. He never once pauses the song while he continues to watch me. The eye contact makes me blush, so I drop my arms and pull my notebook back onto my lap and look down at it. I hate that he just caught me staring so hard. Not that I was doing anything wrong; it just feels odd for him to know I was watching him. I glance up again, and he’s still watching me, but he’s not smiling anymore. The way he’s staring causes my heart to speed up, so I look away and focus on my notebook.
Way to be a creeper, Ragini.
“There’s my girl,” a comforting voice says from behind me. I lean my head back and tilt my eyes upward to watch Vikrant as he makes his way onto the balcony. I try to hide the fact that I’m shocked to see him, because I’m pretty sure I was supposed to remember he was coming.
On the off chance that Guitar Boy is still watching, I make it a point to seem really into Vikrant’s hello kiss so that maybe I’ll seem less like a creepy stalker and more like someone just casually relaxing on her patio. I run my hand up Vikrant’s neck as he leans over the back of my chair and kisses me upside down.
“Scoot up,” Vikrant says, pushing on my shoulders. I do what he asks and slide forward in the seat as he lifts his leg over the chair and slips in behind me. He pulls my back against his chest and wraps his arms around me.
My eyes betray me when the sound of the guitar stops abruptly, and I glance across the courtyard once more. Guitar Boy is eyeing us hard as he stands, then goes back inside his apartment. His expression is odd. Almost angry.
“How was college?” Vikrant asks.
“Too boring to talk about. What about you? How was work?”
“Interesting,” he says, brushing my hair away from my neck with his hand. He presses his lips to my neck and kisses his way down my collarbone.
“What was so interesting?”
He tightens his hold on me, then rests his chin on my shoulder and pulls me back in the chair with him. “The oddest thing happened at lunch,” he says. “I was with one of the guys at this Italian restaurant. We were eating out on the patio, and I had just asked the waiter what he recommended for dessert, when a police car rounded the corner. They stopped right in front of the restaurant, and two officers jumped out with their guns drawn. They began barking orders toward us when our waiter mumbled, ‘Shit.’ He slowly raised his hands, and the police jumped the barrier to the patio, rushed toward him, threw him to the ground, and cuffed him right at our feet. They pulled him to his feet and escorted him toward the
cop car. The waiter glanced back at me and yelled, ‘The tiramisu is really good!’ Then they put him in the car and drove away.”
I tilt my head back and look up at him. “Seriously? That really happened?”
He nods, laughing. “I swear, Rags. It was crazy.”
“Well? Did you try the tiramisu?”
“Hell, yeah, we did. It was the best tiramisu I’ve ever had.” He kisses me on the cheek and pushes me forward. “Speaking of food, I’m starving.” He stands up and holds out his hand to me. “Did you cook tonight?”
I take his hand and let him pull me up. “We just had salad, but I can make you one.”
Once we’re inside, Vikrant takes a seat on the couch next to Kritika. She’s got a textbook spread open across her lap as she half-heartedly focuses on both assignments and TV at the same time. I take out the containers from the fLakshya and make his salad. I feel a little guilty that I forgot tonight was one of the nights he said he was coming. I usually have something cooked when I know he’ll be here.
We’ve been dating for almost two years now. I met him during my sophomore year in college, when he was a senior. He and Kritika had been friends for years. After she moved into my room and we became friends, she insisted I meet him. She said we’d hit it off, and she was right. We made it official after only two dates, and things have been wonderful since.
Of course, we have our ups and downs, especially since he moved more than an hour away. When he landed the job in the accounting firm last semester, he suggested I move with him. I told him no, that I really wanted to finish my graduation before taking such a huge step. In all honesty, I’m just scared.
The thought of moving in with him seems so final, as if I would be sealing my fate. I know that once we take that step, the next step is marriage, and then I’d be looking at never having the chance to live alone. I’ve always had a roommate, and until I can afford my own place, I’ll be sharing an apartment with Kritika. I haven’t told Vikrant yet, but I really want to live alone for a year. It’s something I promised myself I would do before I got married. I don’t even turn twenty-three for a couple of weeks, so it’s not as if I’m in any hurry.
I take Vikrant’s food to him in the living room.
“Why do you watch this?” he says to Kritika. “All these women do is talk shit about each other and flip tables.”
“That’s exactly why I watch it,” Kritika says, without taking her eyes off the TV.
Vikrant winks at me and takes his food, then props his feet up on the coffee table. “Thanks, baby.” He turns toward the TV and begins eating. “Can you grab me a beer?”
I nod and walk back into the kitchen. I open the refrigerator door and look on the shelf where he always keeps his extra beer. I realize as I’m staring at “his” shelf that this is probably how it begins. First, he has a shelf in the refrigerator. Then he’ll have a toothbrush in the bathroom, a drawer in my dresser, and eventually, his stuff will infiltrate mine in so many ways it’ll be impossible for me ever to be on my own.
I run my hands up my arms, rubbing away the sudden onset of discomfort washing over me. I feel as if I’m watching my future play out in front of me. I’m not so sure I like what I’m imagining.
Am I ready for this?
Am I ready for this guy to be the guy I bring dinner to every night when he gets home from work?
Am I ready to fall into this comfortable life with him? One where I teach all day and he does people’s taxes, and then we come home and I cook dinner and I “grab him beers” while he props his feet up and calls me baby, and then we go to our bed and make love at approximately nine P.M. so we won’t be tired the next day, in order to wake up and get dressed and go to work and do it all over again?
“Earth to Ragini,” Vikrant says. I hear him snap his fingers twice. “Beer? Please, babe?”
I quickly grab his beer, give it to him, then head straight to my bathroom. I turn the water on in the shower, but I don’t get in. Instead, I lock the door and sink to the floor.
We have a good relationship. He’s good to me, and I know he loves me. I just don’t understand why every time I think about a future with him, it’s not an exciting thought.
Ananya leans forward and kisses my forehead. “I need to go.”
I’m on my back with my head and shoulders partially propped against my headboard. She’s straddling my lap and looking down at me regretfully. I hate that we live so far apart now, but it makes the time we do spend together a lot more meaningful. I take her hands so she’ll shut up, and I pull her to me, hoping to persuade her not to leave just yet.
She laughs and shakes her head. She kisses me, but only briefly, and then she pulls away again. She slides off my lap, but I don’t let her make it very far before I lunge forward and pin her to the mattress. I point to her chest.
“You”—I lean in and kiss the tip of her nose—“need to stay one more night.”
“I can’t. I have class.”
I grab her wrists and pin her arms above her head, then press my lips to hers. I know she won’t stay another night. She’s never missed a day of class in her life, unless she was too sick to move. I sort of wish she was feeling a little sick right now, so I could make her stay in bed with me.
I slide my hands from her wrists delicately up her arms until I’m cupping her face. Then I give her one final kiss before I reluctantly pull away from her. “Go. And be careful. Let me know when you make it home.”
She nods and pushes herself off the bed. She reaches across me and grabs her shirt, then pulls it on over her head. I watch her as she walks around the room and gathers the clothes I pulled off her in a hurry.
After five years of dating, most couples would have moved in together by now. However, most peoples’ other halves aren’t Ananya. She’s so fiercely independent it’s almost intimidating. But it’s understandable, considering how her life has gone. She’s been caring for her grandfather since I met her. Before that, she spent the majority of her teenage years helping him care for her grandmother, who died when Ananya was sixteen. Now that her grandfather is in a nursing home, she finally has a chance to live alone while finishing college, and as much as I want her here with me, I also know how important this internship is for her. So for the next year, I’ll suck it up while she’s in Delhi and I’m here in Mumbai. I’ll be damned if I ever move out of Mumbai, especially for Delhi.Unless she asked, of course.
“Tell your brother I said good luck.” She’s standing in my bedroom doorway, poised to leave. “And you need to quit beating yourself up, Lakshya. Musicians have blocks, just like
writers do. You’ll find your muse again. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
She smiles and backs out of my bedroom. I groan, knowing she’s trying to be positive with the whole writer’s block thing, but I can’t stop stressing about it. I don’t know if it’s because Sanskar has so much riding on these songs now or if it’s because I’m completely tapped out, but the words just aren’t coming. Without lyrics I’m confident in, it’s hard to feel good about the actual musical aspect of writing.
My phone vibrates… It’s a text from Sanskar, which only makes me feel worse about the fact that I’m stuck.
Sanskar: It’s been weeks. Please tell me you have something.
Me: Working on it. How’s the tour?
Sanskar: Good, but remind me not to allow Amit to schedule this many gigs on the next leg.
Me: Gigs are what gets your name out there.
Sanskar: OUR name. I’m not telling you again to stop acting like you aren’t half of this.
Me: I won’t be half if I can’t work through this damn block.
Sanskar: Maybe you should get out more. Cause some unnecessary drama in your life. Break up with Ananya for the sake of art. She’ll understand. Heartache helps with lyrical inspiration. Don’t you ever listen to country?
Me: Good idea. I’ll tell Ananya you suggested that.
Sanskar: Nothing I say or do could ever make Ananya hate me. Give her a kiss for me, and get to writing. Our careers are resting squarely on your shoulders.
Sanskar: Ah! Is that anger I detect in your text? Use it. Go write an angry song about how much you hate your little brother, then send it to me. 😉
Me: Yeah. I’ll give it to you after you finally get your shit out of your old bedroom. Radhika’s sister might move in next month.
Sanskar: Have you ever met Ruchita?
Me: No. Do I want to?
Sanskar: Only if you want to live with two Radhikas.
Me: Oh, shit.
Sanskar: Exactly. TTYL.
I close out the text to Sanskar and open up a text to Amit.
Me: We’re good to go on the roommate search. Sanskar says hell no to Ruchita. I’ll let you break the news to Radhika, since you two get along so well.
Amit: Well, motherf**ker.
I laugh and hop off the bed, then head to the patio with my guitar. It’s almost eight, and I know she’ll be on her balcony. I don’t know how weird my actions are about to seem to her, but all I can do is try. I’ve got nothing to lose.