Day 1, 12:15 pm
He saw her and he knew that she was someone beautiful. From the preface, he had somehow rated the book.
‘Do you know her?’ asked Kiara while she sipped her drink. Rishaan and Kiara were final year engineering students studying in IIT BHU and they had come to Delhi to attend Rendezvous- culfest of IIT Delhi. Rishaan was a CS student while Kiara was in IT. The proximity and closeness of their branches had acted as a catalyst for their bonding.
‘Ah… yes….. I mean that I think....’
‘Is she Diya?’ she had interrupted Rishaan in the middle. Rishaan was used to that.
He smiled. He had told her about Diya a year ago and Kiara still had that thing in her mind.
Kiara hit him lightly with her elbow. She meant to tease him.
‘Don’t you think that you should talk to her?’ asked Kiara. A girl asking his boyfriend to talk with another girl doesn’t usually happen in India and that’s why Rishaan was still confused.
‘C’mon… I ain’t that typical kind of girl wanting to be over possessive for you. You loved her. Admit it. And you loved her madly.’
Rishaan nodded his head in reflex.
‘She was in your school for 5 years and she was your best friend. And then you had to move out of that place for higher education. You loved her and still you didn’t have the courage to utter anything. You both belong to Bokaro but still you still didn’t have the courage to go to her home and talk to her. And now after 10 years after that incident when she has come in front of you, you are repeating the same mistake. Of course, I don’t mean the ‘love’ thing but you should, at least, talk to her.’
Rishaan absorbed her intention.
Day 2, 3:30 pm
Rishaan couldn’t help himself from staring at Diya and that was making her uncomfortable.
‘Hey ….’ Kiara snapped her fingers in front of Rishaan. Diya smiled and Rishaan felt a little bit embarrassed.
‘I presume that you have to order yourself in this place. Right?’
The ambience of the Karki Hotel was little unique in its own way.
‘Yeah….. ahem…. Ok, tell me what would you want?’ Rishaan asked Kiara as he couldn’t help himself from keeping his head turned towards Diya.
He went for the order.
‘Hey, Diya! Are we boring you? Because the matter is that……’
‘No Kiara …. I am perfectly comfortable.’
Diya had cut Kiara in the middle.
‘I was just …… see I know that we were friends for many years. Yesterday when Rishaan approached me in the canteen, I was in complete shock. I am feeling good from inside but I don’t know how to behave and what to talk with him. I think you would understand that. After all, we are meeting after approx...a decade.’
Kiara laughed and then gave a glance to Rishaan who was at the counter.
‘You didn’t get it Diya.’
Kiara sounded mysterious and Diya looked confused.
‘Rishaan loved you and he loved you like a hell.’
Diya looked shocked but she didn’t seem that surprised.
‘Yeah…. That’s another fact that he couldn’t tell you anything because he is one of the shyest guys in the world. He moved on but couldn’t forget you for the next 6-7 years. And then he met me and somehow he just got over you. But the fact is that he loved you more than anyone could ever love anybody. That sounds little a bit incomprehensible but it’s the truth.’
‘And trust me, you sometimes made me feel jealous.’
Kiara concluded as she laughed. Diya didn’t enact. Her expression had changed. Maybe the latter words had darted her heart more ferociously than the former ones.
‘Here we go... This one is for your honey.’ Rishaan said as he served Kiara.
‘And this burger for you, Diya.’
‘Thanks.’, said Diya with a more politeness. The intonation of Diya’s voice had changed. Rishaan was about to make his big bite but suddenly felt the warmth of pairs of eyes on him. He stopped for a while.
Kiara switched the topic and she was best in that.
Day 3, 4:00 am
‘Hey, baby... I am going to take a quick nap. You guys be alright without me? I can’t make it anymore Diya.’
‘Yeah, its fine. We will wake you up later.’ Diya assured Kiara as Rishaan nodded his head.
They were in a room in Taj Palace. It was Kiara’s father who had made all the accommodation. It was still the third day but now it seemed to be the last one for them. They had enjoyed themselves to the full.
Kiara was sleeping and the rest of the two were in the balcony remembering the good old days.
“Hey, Diya…. You remember? You used to be our monitor and the class teacher used to assign you the job to write names of the noise making students on the blackboard. And every time Himanshu used to land himself in an argument with you because each time you used to write his name and used to skip mine.” Rishaan laughed and then continued. ‘Though I used to sit just beside him on the same desk. You remember, huh?’
‘Ofcourse…. Rishaan.’ She had started laughing too. Marilyn Monroe had said that if you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything. Rishaan believed Marilyn.
‘But I didn’t use to skip. I just didn’t wish to write your name. I kinda liked you and...’
Rishaan had stopped laughing and he had a strange seriousness in his eyes.
‘What?’ Diya asked arguing the seriousness.
‘I mean to say that you were the popular guy of our class. None of the girls wanted to see yours name on that board.’ She blushed and tried to contaminate Rishaan with the same.
Rishaan held her hands. It was cold and fair. She didn’t withdrew her hands and finally Rishaan confessed his love.
‘I don’t want to talk Rishaan.’ She said as she withdrew her hands.
‘I thought that you were going to take our friendship in a matured way. I thought you different but you proved me wrong. I don’t want to create a misunderstanding between you and Kiara.’
She moved towards the door.
‘I don’t love you Rishaan. You should know that.’ She made a strange curve on her lips.
‘You can fake your smile Diya, but not your feelings.’
She had already gone. Rishaan opened his Whatsapp and changed his status. There was nothing much he could do.
Day 3, 11: 45 pm
‘Hey baby….. I do have a plan. Why don’t we ask Diya for the Goa trip? I think she will enjoy. And we too have a vacant seat. Thanks to your friend Santosh who will not be able to make it here by tomorrow morning.’ She had sarcasm in her voice.
‘But I don’t think that she will say yes to it. I know her and I don’t think that she will turn up for something like International Film Festival.’
‘You talking serious?’ Kiara raised her eyebrows.
‘She is a conservative girl Kiara. I don’t think IFFI will …..’
“I am going to her room and I need you to be nice to her in the trip.’
She had already gone.
‘You know nothing Kiara. She is never going to agree. I spoiled everything’ He murmured as he recalled his argument with Diya.
Day 4, 4:14 am
The SpiceJet was scheduled at 7:00 am from IGT and Rishaan had no clue of Kiara.
‘I had to do a lot of drama to convince her. She will be reaching there before us. Let’s go.’ She shouted as she entered the room.
‘One minute…’ Rishaan held her hand. ‘Diya said yes for the trip?’
‘Of course baby. Why wouldn’t she?’
‘But …….. What she said…… I mean how……?’
‘Cut the crap. Get me my lip gloss. And please do help me in packing these mess.’
Rishaan was still thinking about Diya. Why she said yes when she knows the fact that her agreement for the trip could complicate the matter. They billed out and headed for IGT. It was just 7 km away from The Taj.
In the middle of the flight, Kiara woke up to go to the washroom. When she returned, she was too lazy to push her way into the middle seat. And with Rishaan readily offering to shift seats, the seating arrangement changed. With 20 minutes still remaining for the flight to land, a sleep-starved Kiara took another power nap, this time holding Rishaan’s right hand more firmly. Rishaan’s other hand, though, nervously moved to touch Diya’s. Her heart skipped a beat. Diya pulled her hand away. But a defiant Rishaan held her wrist again, this time firmly and more reassuringly. The changing behavioural dynamics between the three perhaps gave out a foreboding of what was to come in Goa.
When the flight landed at the Dabolim airport, Rishaan felt uncanny… his excitement seemed replaced by an unknown fear that he found very difficult to decipher.
Day 4, 11:50 am
They had finally reached Casa de Morgado, the hotel where they had booked their rooms. And before Rishaan could plan up anything, Kiara bumped into his room, flipped her iPhone and squatted next to Rishaan.
‘What happened Kiara?’ asked Rishaan, carefully watching his words.
“My father had called me. He has seen someone for my marriage and he wishes me to meet the guy.’
‘What you said?’ Rishaan was disturbed but tried to remain composed. He feared losing Kiara.
‘I didn’t say anything but I wanted. I wanted to tell my father about you. I wanted to tell him about us. I wanted to tell him Rishaan but……’
Rishaan stroked his index finger on her lower lips and then hugged her. He convinced her to go to her room and take rest. Rishaan was a confused soul but the disturbing part was that, now he knew that.
Day 4, 12:40 am
‘Hey Rishaan!! What happened?’
Diya had entered Rishaan’s room, and that too without knocking the door.
Rishaan was silent. He was calm. He was wrecked.
‘See Rishaan. I love you and I loved you too. But I always feared a lot. You know my family. My elder sister too went with her similar decision but she is not happy today. And my family fears and dares the same.’
Rishaan was still and Diya sat next to him. He was all her ears.
‘At least speak anything Rishaan. I beg you. Please.’ Diya had started sobbing.
‘It doesn’t mean anything Diya. Kiara would definitely convince her father about me. I wouldn’t be able to confess to her my feelings about you and my dilemma in such awkward situation about.’
Rishaan explained the whole incident to Diya.
‘But what if she agreed to his father?’
‘Kiara’s father has never disagreed with his daughter. He will come to an understanding this time too.’
‘You can go Diya. You should. I don’t want you to hang around me. I don’t want you to jeer my past and my emotions. I……. I am sorry Diya……’ Rishaan had a voice laden with fear of losing his love. He had a voice laden with grief and anguish.
Diya was gone, for the second time and perhaps for the last time.
Day 5, 7:30 am
‘What happened Kiara?’ asked Rishaan.
‘Where were you? I came to your room multiple times and found you nowhere.’ Rishaan said expressing his concern.
She looked into his eyes.
‘Let me get it straight Rishaan. I don’t know how to say this but I said yes to my father…’
‘Please baby. How could I deny him? My father never asked anything from me. He never insisted me for anything in my life. How could I deny him? And so I said yes to him. But I just didn’t know how to tell this all to you.’
‘Please Kiara!! I have loved you. I ask only one thing from you and that’s your happiness. When you are leaving for Raipur?’
‘Tonight itself. I will meet you later, most probably in college.’ Diya raised as she tried moved towards exit.
‘Hey Rishaan… can you do me a favour?’ asked Kiara.
‘Why not you take Diya seriously. I mean that she is good.’
‘C’mon Kiara… what are you saying???’
‘I was awake Rishaan. I heard you.’ Kiara moved closer.
‘I heard you confessing your love to Diya in Delhi. But that didn’t startle me a lot. I know that you like her but I needed you to demarcate the difference between love and mere ‘attraction’. I asked Diya for the trip even after knowing all that stuff. Her ‘yes’ was in fact a ‘yes’ for you Rishaan.’
‘She went to Bokaro Kiara. It’s too late.’
‘I had talked to her yesterday night Rishaan. I convinced her to talk to you. She didn’t go. She is in the lounge.’
Rishaan didn’t know how to react. Perhaps he was too happy.
‘She is a nice girl Rishaan. I wish good for you both.’
‘I wish the same for you too.’
‘I don’t want any wishes baby. Just bill me out!!!!!’ said Kiara as she laughed.
Rishaan too joined her. He smiled and smiled with laughter in his eyes. Kiara was finally gone.
Day 6, 4:35 am
For the last 5 hours Kiara was at Dublim airport. She had missed her flight.
Her phone begin to ring.
‘Hey sis… hows you doing? When is Rishaan coming to Bhopal? I heard the same from mom that Papa had finally gave up….’
“Alia…. He is not coming home.”
Her voice had become heavy and her sister felt and knew that. Alia was the only girl on the whole planet who was Kiara’s best friend and sister, both at the same.
“What happened sis? Please at least speak to me...” her sister insisted.
“I was happy Alia. Initially father was reluctant to meet him but after few arguments he finally gave up and told me to bring him on a weekend. I was so pleased. I rushed immediate to tell Rishaan about the same. But when I went to see him, I found that he was having a conversation with Diya and he was telling her to leave Goa immediately. I finally realised that Rishaan was still in love with Diya and he was trying to be fake with me. He was broken from inside sis. For the first time, I had seen him shattered and I didn’t want him to be feel like a loser because of me. So I decided to tell him the lie.”
Kiara had started crying. She cried not because she was weak but she cried because she had been too strong for long.