After being fed with a whole week’s food within two days, we were spared to take our leave from there. I was all excited and relieved. But then again there lingered some uneasy unpredictability that clouded my instincts.
The moment we reached home, we were all tired to our cores but I flung myself out. There was a zest of queasiness that stood me next at Preeti’s door.Her mom opened the door. I greeted her and ran to Preeti’s room.
“Preeti.”I tried to be gentle on my voice.
“Hey Ava.” She took me in and closed the door behind.
Her room wasn’t messy as usual. It was odd for everything to be perfectly in their place. Even the pillows and blanket were neatly folded and crammed to one side of the bed. Preeti never liked her room in order. According to her the messier the room, the cozier it is.
“What’s up. Your room doesn’t look exactly like yours.” I mocked.
“Mom just left cleaning it. Don’t worry; everything will be flown to their different places within an hour. Have a sit.”
I sat on the bed facing her while she sat leaning on the bed. Her laptop was left on next to her.
“So..” I didn’t know where to begin. I had expected that she would tell me everything by herself.
She eyed to me in silence.
“So how are you?” I asked her.
“It was good too.”
“What happened to you then?” I could not keep the curiosity inside anymore.
“Just that..I was feeling alone there.”
“Did anybody say you anything?”
“No.. no.” Her hands fidgeted in circular motion cuddling each other. She looked outward into nothing. Actually there was just a bare wall painted in light yellow; nothing to stare so long. There was clearly something that was constantly disturbing her.
“Then..You are hiding something from me. Tell it, Preeti.”
“I just... I think you should consider about Arnav again.”
“What!” I reacted as if someone said that world is going to perish in next hour- an absurd, meaningless joke.
“I got what you think but why?”
“Arnav is paired up.”
The news was like a ball of fire just crossed my face travelling at an inch distance.
“Paired up? With whom? I mean...what kind of terrible things you are saying. I am sure you need to visit doctor very soon.”
“He is paired up with Manishaa.” She said it gentle.
I stood in repulse off the bed.
It was impossible. He never liked her that much. Even we had once talked about her where he had told me that she was too flashy, disoriented, noisy and shallow for him. They were like two different poles.
“Now I got you. You and Arnav have planned to make fool of me. Right! I knew it. Just because I missed the party you both wanted to play with me. And it must be your plan; not my Arnav’s. You little evil friend!” I pinched Preeti’s nose playfully.
“No. Seriously. How will I make you believe?”
“Oh. You need not to. ‘Cause I know that you are just pulling my leg. Okay! Let me call him. Then only you will stop.”
She sighed frustrated.
Then she instantly moved to her laptop and I could hear two dozens of tick-tock of keys pressed on the keyboard violently. Then she turned the laptop to me.
I bowed down to the laptop’s screen. The Facebook was open there and the account I was looking into was of Manishaa. In the recent updates, there was a notification saying that she had changed her relationship status from single to engaged two days back.
I scrolled down the screen and saw a big photo hovering the whole space. In that picture, Manishaa was wearing a tight black top showing her pumped out cleavage and was sitting next to Arnav holding his hand. Except them there were Kishore and two other guys from college and the fancy-girls gang whose leader was Manishaa. In photo it looked as Manishaa was forcing Arnav’s hand with her too hard.
“Come on, Preeti. It’s just a group photo.” I argued with Preeti.
“Oh God! Please. Help me.” She said looking up, at the ceiling literally. I thought she was saying all this to her dusty ceiling fan.
She faced to me. “Listen. I don’t know what and how it happened but they are paired. That evening I got bit late to party and before I reached there, the announcement was done. Arnav is paired with Manishaa.” She said putting more stress on the last sentence.
The words penetrated me like someone had poked holes through out my whole body and poured concentrated acid into the fleshy holes.
“Enough is enough, Preeti. Stop this silly game. I’m damn serious now.” I flared in anger.
“I’m serious too, Ava. I know it’s difficult. Still try to..”
“What will I try? You think, you will say and I will agree that Arnav loves Manishaa now and all that happened were false. You want me to believe that Arnav doesn’t love me.”
She remained silent. I was acting like some notorious mental patient escaped from asylum in middle of her treatment.
“Preeti. Answer me. What’s the truth?” I looked straight into her eyes.
“Everything I said.”
“NO. NO.” I dropped onto my knees on floor. “No. No. No. No. No. No. No.No.” This time I could whisper only.
Eyes filled up with tear and everything before looked me hazy. Chill ran up through back and busted into flame inside the skull. Every piece of flesh inside my body started to burn like scalding with boiling oil. An insidious pain gripped at chest, pulling me into a tight knot.
I threw my arms across me, my face dug in the gape of my knees and I held myself tight to stop the excruciating stimulus. Still there was something, deep inside excavating at heart. May be it was the memories I had with Arnav, digging up like a ten headed angle-dozer. With a blow, all the love started to sting like snake bite.
Preeti came running to my side and hugged me from above.
“It’s fine. Calm down. Please.” She also had no idea what to say in such a situation.
There were no shrills or shouts, just regretful empty sobbing. After an hour of it my throat went parched and tongue was sticky. Without making noise I had poured out enough to create a sprawled wet patch on my dress. Still I continued it, continued it till my eyes was dry and swollen and stomach retched weakly.
It was nonsensical to defy the reluctant truth but also unendurable to accept it. I lost Arnav forever. The truth slapped at my face each time I thought of him.
Preeti got me some water to drink. I took a gulp and it formed a scratchy lump at throat making me almost vomit on her carpet.
Shit! Crap! Holy shit! I purged out everything. Thankfully I made it to her washroom.
Preeti came behind me and tapped my back. “It’s ok. Let it go.”
I wiped my mouth and returned to her room. “Sorry.” I said to Preeti.
“No. I’m sorry.” She cupped my face. Tears came up in her eyes too. “I’m sorry as I couldn’t do anything. I’m sorry ‘coz I didn’t punch that bloody face the moment I got to know it. Bloody asshole! ”
“It’s my fault. I should have known that it was just a game which is not going to last whole lifetime. I should have known.” I said and stormed out of her house.
My senses were blocked at ends. What I heard, what I saw and what I realized- those three were totally divergent to each other. My limbs felt wane. It was difficult to even walk in a line on the road. I could hardly see anything coming before me. After toppling over road-humps and bumping with some vehicles, with an untamed and intractable brain on top I somehow managed to reach home.
I knew at home Mom would be waiting for me and she was. They were waiting for me to have dinner.
I silently slid through the entrance and escaped to my room. I threw myself on the bed, buried face into a pillow and pouched another one over my head and stayed there in dark. Five minutes later I heard Mom next to my room.
“Are you fine, Ava?” She asked standing outside.
“What happened then dear? You are not coming for dinner?” She plodded in identifying silhouette over walls, tables and finally bed.
“Don’t have appetite for anything?”
“Are you having stomach-ache?”
“No.” I shrugged.
“Head ache? Let me give you a massage.”
“No. No ache.” How to tell her it was my heart who was aching and bleeding.
“Then period cramps?”
“No Mom? Please stop interrogating with different names of sufferings. You are not a doctor. Got that.”
“But I’m your mother.” She came and sat next to me, stroking my hair.
A silent tear dropped from eye tumbling down at arm to pillow. I clamped the gasp in the throat. A painful ripple traveled down the body contracting every muscle into spasm. I ignored the agony.
“Just bit tired Mom. Can I rest in your lap a bit?” Mom instantly took my head into her and started patting it. It was done so deliberately and involuntarily that it boogied my memory back to childhood days when I used to sleep with my mom. The magic of Mom’s lap still worked and I gradually drifted to sleep too.
One wise anonymous had told once chapped knees and broken toys are better than chapped feelings and broken heart. At that time I could understand the depth of those lines. In fact I wanted to list in undone homework, severe punishments with them as they were also nothing before this betrayal. It was more frustrating and harassing.
One day passed inside room but after that Mom prodded me out. I had to face others in family, though I stopped going out. I had no idea which occasion, function, celebration passed by. I didn’t know which reality show topped in charts or which movie bashed in box-office. I forgot which day or date it was. Even the acknowledgement of day and night was from whether lunch was served or dinner.
Preeti continuously kept calling me. She tirelessly sent me worried caring messages. And when I didn’t answer to any of them, she called home. But I ignored them too with miscellaneous excuses every time. I gave no attention to anything. I cut off every interaction from outer world. I was filled with hatred for all, even for myself. I hated myself then.
The only things that gave any solace were sad music and lots of crying. Whole day my room would float in darkness except the dull luminance invading through the ventilators and with some gloomy, ditching, slow broken-heart songs played on low volume. I’d be lying or curled around a pillow on bed for endless hours thinking of all those happy moments where Arnav was there and then again crying over it. Sometimes in the middle of night, I’d get up from sleeping, cry till eyes are tired and then would sleep again. Crying had become one inevitable chore in my daily routine.
Why! How! what! There were many provocative questions gnarled in my mind though heart was still unconvinced that Arnav betrayed me. Mind and heart leapt out into battle in defending themselves and I was stuck in them. Every time mind won the conflict, it got a gash on heart and with the victory of heart, mind would get slapped. There was an constant intrinsic war going on inside me and I started to get tired of it and one day they became unbearable. I decided to finish them.
Till that moment I only knew that I loved him a lot but after it, I acknowledged how much I loved him. I never knew living would be so hard that I would beg for its end.
I fished out the pencil knife from bag and swiped it open. The curved sharp edge was gleaming in dark like a smirk of ghost. My heart pounded heavily in rib. The face of Mom flashed before me at first. Her smiling face brought tears to my eyes. It was then followed by my Papa’s memory. Although I was not very close to Papa still I was his darling daughter and I knew it. And at last Preeti came to mind. The friendship, hug, sharing, laughing, crying, care, love, promises we shared - I was going to miss them a lot. The three closest people of my life; how would they feel if I do it?
But I wanted this excruciating farce to be over. Any how. I brought the knife close to my wrist. I closed my eyes, took a heavy breath, and swiftly crossed it over the skin. A sharp twitch sensation prowled out on the inch of skin on which the blade was swiped. I watched it. Tiny drops of blood oozed out from it. It was not too deep to cut through all the layers of skin. I decided to try harder next time.
Again I repeated myself through the same steps. Closed my eyes, took a heavy breathe and steeled myself for a harder stroke this time and held it next to the previous cut. Knock! Knock!