You and I and…

This is a story I had written for the Write India Contest. Since it’s not selected, here it is. 😛 Do leave your comments. 🙂

“You never loved her,” Diya said between her tears. “Don’t.” She glared at Rishaan as he tried to hold her wrist.
“Diya, just listen to me, please?” He pleaded.
“Why should I listen to you? Everything is crystal clear before me. And thanks to you, I don’t know what I should cry for. Please, just leave me alone.” She gently pushed him out. He walked away. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Well, it wasn’t easy for Rishaan either.

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He climbed up to the terrace and sat on the chair. He looked up at the sky. It was as clear as unclear his mind was. He tried hard not to but eventually cried. “I wish you were here,” he sobbed looking at the sky. “I wish you were here.” He sat there, looking at the sky, and trying to decipher what the clouds said to him. And when the twilight had set in, he got up. Strange, how he would run up the terrace at this time of the day, just to witness the beauty of the artist who painted the sky. Or maybe it was all because of Mishty.

He slipped in a letter in Diya’s room. He just asked for one last chance to prove his point. In assurance, she only had to come with him.
She did. Early next morning, she was ready downstairs with her bags packed.

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 behavioral 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 difficult to decipher.

He looked at Diya and then at Kiara, a very old friend of his. Diya, at the back of her mind, was definitely planning to kill her, he thought. Later in the evening, when both the girls were retiring in their rooms, Rishaan walked on the empty lawn. He was drowned in his thoughts.
When he would look back and wonder what he lost, ‘everything,’ would be his answer and he would cease to whine about it.

The first time he met Mishty, he knew she was the girl he always wrote about. He came to Dehradun for the first time. His dreams pulled him here. His dreams were simple; to write and to travel. More importantly, travel alone. Both his dreams suited him well. His working parents never questioned him of anything. All he was deprived of, in his childhood, was love. He promised to himself that history wouldn’t repeat. But promises don’t work, do they?

Mishty was a beautiful girl. Obviously, she’s the lead character, has to be. But her beauty was truly beyond words. Her charismatic persona would compel you to simply adore her. The first time she saw Rishaan was when he was buying a drink and reading a book alongside. She smiled.

The next day she saw him again at the coffee shop when she was with her friends. And Rishaan’s heart sank. He gave a brief smile. Little did he know that her girl gang was talking about him, and they laughed. He cursed himself for giving a smile to her. He glued his eyes into his book and his ears to what they said; if only he could understand a word. Within minutes, she stood beside him. “I’m sorry for the embarrassment my friends and I caused to you.” He was too startled to respond.
“It’s o. okay.” He fumbled and smiled.
“I’m Mishty. You don’t seem to be from here, right?”
“I’m Rishaan. Would you like to sit and talk?” ‘Shut up Rishaan. Bad move. She’s never going to talk to you,’ the demon inside him said.
“Sure.” ‘You should shut up.’ He said to the demon. “Umm, you don’t seem to be from somewhere around?”
“Oh, ya. No. I’m from Mumbai. You belong to, here?”
“Yes. Well, I have been studying here since a kid. For vacations, I go to my parents’ place in Delhi.”
“Oh.”
“I saw you yesterday.”
He was startled. “Doing something nice, right?” He asked, narrowing his eyes with a hope.
“Ha ha. Maybe.” She bit her lower lip.
They began to meet. They discussed plots for his stories, talked about dreams, about abandoned parents’ love, about lilies, about stars, about happiness, about medals, about failures, about everything and about nothing. They fell in love. The next summer, they were gleefully gotten married. Two years and one successful book later, they had a daughter, Diya. A complete family with more happiness.

“I love you, more than that woman in the kitchen.” Diya would tease.
“I know.” Rishaan would say. When Mishty would join, Diya would tease her mother saying that her father doesn’t love his wife and they would laugh.

Diya was seven when Mishty met with an accident. Diya was a grown-up; well, that is what she would say. She didn’t complain when she got burnt lunch. Her father had things to do. Some days, she would wake up too early and make breakfast for everyone. That would make all the three proud. Bedridden Mishty knew things were getting worse. She began to teach a nine-year-old, things that a mother would teach her daughter when she’s 17 or 18. She told Diya to be a strong girl. On the other hand, Rishaan began to withdraw. Diya would shout at him like a mother for dropping the socks on the floor or coming late from the office. Rishaan was getting weaker and weaker and Mishty’s words did no good. She hoped that the misery ended soon. And it did, for her. A month after Diya’s 10th birthday, she died.

A year later, all the words came from all the people who least cared all this while. “Diya needs a mother. You need a wife.” His father counseled. Rishaan actually saw this coming. But he wasn’t ready for this. He agreed to meet the girl who his father suggested only for the sake of Diya. He knew he did need someone and that was Mishty.

Kiara, who was a divorcee, happened to be an old friend to Rishaan, readily agreed to marry him. Diya snapped at her when she saw her for the first time in her house. Before Rishaan could announce their trip to Goa for all the three to get to know each other better, one-sided catfight had already begun.

“How could you even think of marrying someone else?” She said before shutting the door behind him.

He felt the door shut on an empty lawn. When he pulled his phone out,  there were 12 missed calls, both from Diya and Kiara. ‘Shit.’
He ran towards the room only to see both of them sitting together. “See, I told you,” Diya told Kiara as soon as Rishaan entered huffing to the room.
“What?” Rishaan asked and both the girls laughed.
“Nothing. Kiara was asking what would be your reaction on seeing missed calls.”

Things were seemingly getting better. When they were at the beach on the evening after two days, Diya announced that she wanted to say something. “Dad, I know I have been hard on you. It’s difficult for you as well. Kiara, I am sorry for being hard on you too. Umm, is it okay if I don’t call you Mum?”
Rishaan and Kiara shared glances, smilingly.
“Yes. That is okay.”

Kiara left the father and daughter by themselves whilst they walked through the silver lines of the beach.
“Dad, I am sorry.”
“Hey, look at me. I am not angry. It’s okay.” He sat down on one knee.
“But you aren’t okay.”
“Your mother was right. You are a grown up.” He got up and began to walk.
“Tell me about Mum.”
“You already know about her.”
“Okay, tell me what I do not know.” She bit her lower lip. It reminded him of her mother.
“She was beautiful. To her, beauty was looking at people reading books. To her happiness was listening to stories from unknown people. Bliss was sitting on the rooftop holding beer cans with me and acting crazy. She found joy in small things. She would hold you and talk to you for hours, even whilst you were asleep. It didn’t matter to her the fact that you couldn’t understand a word. She was an angel.”
“Bad things happen to angels?” She asked. He looked into her eyes. Innocence was all he could see.

 

(Picture by Arjun Chhabra.)

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