I was about eighteen when I had seen her for the first time. She was simple in her way but there was something special about her. I fell in love with her instantly. She was strict in her appearance but her dimples were too cute to handle! Naina! She became my world! I used to desperately wait for Mondays, just to spend two hours with her in that dreaded coaching class. My best friend Sankalp used to tell me,
“Varun! You are screwed man!”
Indeed I was. I knew how much crazy I was for her. I used look for chances to talk to her. But she was too distant from me and was deeply engrossed in her studies. I had completely transformed into the frenzy, romantic lover ready to surpass every obstacle that would come between us. After all I was in love for the first time! One look at Naina and my heart used to pace up like no other. Days went by and there was no progress in my one sided love story. I was not even on talking terms with Naina. I didn’t even know whether she knew my name or not.
Monsoons arrived. My favourite season seemed more romantic to me. I used to day dream of walking in the rain with her hands in mine. It was on one such evening when I told Naina for the first time that I loved her.
“Oh no! I didn’t get my umbrella today!” Naina stood outside the gate, sulking.
“Oh Hi Varun! Do you have an umbrella? Can you walk with me till the bus stand? Please!”
Wooooww! I was internally rejoicing. But I kept my calm. I had to impress not to embarrass!
“Yeah sure! I can drop you till your house if that isn’t a bother!”
“No! No! I don’t want to trouble you more!”
We began walking with the pouring rain above us. The umbrella was just a formality. We were getting drenched anyway. I was stealing glances at her. She had her hair tied up and her hands clutched on to her bag. The dim light made her look pretty! Gosh! I was madly in love!
“Okay! Thanks a lot for today! You are such a sweetheart!”
“My pleasure Naina!”
She turned around and left. I too began walking towards my house. Suddenly someone patted on my back.
It was Naina. Her eyes were narrowed due to the intensity of the rain drops.
“What happened Naina? Is anything wrong?”
“Yes. Everything is wrong. Nothing is right. I had an umbrella with me today!”
I didn’t know how to react. Why was she saying these things? Or what was she intending to say?
“Listen Varun! I have loads to tell you. Every Monday I decide I will. But I don’t. Something holds me back always! Today I wanted to but I couldn’t. Your perfume has intoxicated me. My friends tell me that I am in love. But I am not sure. Am I really in love with you?”
“NO. We both are in love with each other!”
We did not have the courage to kiss each other in public. All we could do was embrace each other passionately.
“I feel safe here Varun! Your arms are so warm!”
It began this way. Naina and I were officially in a relationship. We were growing up together. We used to fight, we used to cry but the moment I kissed her, everything would get sorted.
“It is getting difficult for us to stay together Varun!”
“Just hold on Nain. After few years you are going to feel glad that we did not let it go!”
We did hold on. Our families eventually got to know about us and they readily agreed. Everything was perfect! We were happy with each other.
“Varun, bro, your transfer letter has come! You are coming to my city”, Sankalp beamed over the phone.
I was excited to begin a life away from home with my best friend Sankalp. New city, new office, dream project! Life could not be better! But Naina?
“I don’t want you to go Varun. How will I stay without you? I can’t live without you”, Naina was weeping like a kid, hugging me.
“I have to go Nain. I can’t leave my job! It is my dream project. It is for our future. Why don’t you understand?”
“No. I don’t want to understand. Moreover you are going to stay with that good for nothing Sankalp. I hate him! Don’t you know how his lifestyle is? Drinking, smoking… need I say more? Are you blind to all these?”
“No. I am not. You are annoying me now. Why can’t you like Sankalp for once? He doesn’t hate you. So why do you have to bear so much bitterness for him?”
“You don’t know anything. You are too innocent for all these things. I am scared Varun! I fear that something bad is going to happen!”
“Nain… you need to trust me… I love you and I am your’s!”
“Morning my sunshine!”
“I have just left. I will call you up after I reach office!”
“Yeah cool! And remember one thing, Nain loves you a lot. I am pretty sure that you will be popular in your new office in no time!”
My life in the new city had finally taken off. The initial days were enjoyable. Sankalp and I used to cook and clean the house together. Weekends meant long rides on his bike and movies. Sankalp was not only my best friend but also my family away from home. He was caring and utterly affectionate towards me. I barely had to worry about anything in the house. Sankalp took care of everything. We were, as if living in!
Naina and I, too, were going strong. We had even decided to tie the knot in about two years. Yet I missed her. I missed her touch and the way she touched my lips! I missed looking straight into her eyes while she was talking! Her dimples deepened with the movement of her lips. I missed these things!
After a long wait of nine months, I was visiting home and most importantly Naina. I did not know why but I felt bad to leave Sankalp behind. I knew that I would be back in less than half a month. Yet I was not completely happy. May be that’s how I am! I easily get attached to people! I was feeling bad to leave my new home and partner!
Naina plunged into my arms as she opened the door.
“I missed you Nain!”
“I missed you too! You know, I have to show you something…”
“Yeah, but let me kiss you first!”
Naina’s skin was as tender as cream. I kissed her deeply and intensely. She coiled into my arms as I held her tight. I did not want to let her go! I kissed her eyes as she was lost in my passion!
“I don’t wanna lose you Varun!”, Naina said softly.
“ Why do you keep saying this? I quite don’t get it man! Why on earth would I leave you!”
“I don’t know Varun! But I feel, I will lose you someday cause of Sankalp!”
“Sankalp? Again you are annoyed with him?”
“Yes. I will be always! He brainwashed you to join this company! Had you not joined here, you would have never left me!”
Naina clinged onto her own logic! But my hands were tied. I loved Sankalp and could not imagine my life without him. Nevertheless, I went back to my new city after a wonderful holiday!
“I missed you bro!”, saying this, I gave Sankalp a tight hug.
“I felt incomplete without you bro!”
We spent the night smoking up and drinking. Naina knew that I was fast asleep. After many years, I had lied to Naina! But somehow I did not feel guilty about it. The night was young and we were high. Sankalp was laughing out loud. I somehow liked the sound of his laughter. It soothed my ears always!
I was suddenly startled by the doorbell. Who would come at midnight? Sankalp had completely passed out by that time.
I went towards the door and peeped through the eyehole. Nothing could be seen. Hesitantly, I opened the door. Someone pushed me aside and barged in.
” Hi Varun!”
” Nirita? What are you doing here? And what sort of a gesture is this?”
Our conversation made Sankalp gain his senses. He was visibly dissatisfied. Nirita was Sankalp’s cousin. She was pursuing her graduation from a college in the city. Sankalp and Nirita never got along together. They genuinely bore hatred towards each other. Yet they could not deny their existence!
“What the hell are you doing here?”
” Bhai please! Don’t freak out! Lemme stay here for a few days. Then I will leave. Or else my ex will abduct me!”
“WHAT!!! You again broke up with your boyfriend?”
“I can’t believe this! I don’t care! Let him abduct you! You will leave right now! Or else I will call up that matron of your PG!”
“Bhai please, I promise I won’t disturb you two! Just let me stay here!”
I was too tired after my flight and wanted this ruckus to end. I decided to let Nirita stay with us for some days against Sankalp’s will.
“You have no idea Varun, what trouble you have called to yourself!”
While I tried sleeping that night, I was worried about Naina. What on earth would I tell her?
” Varun? Nirita? A girl is staying with you two?”
“Nain, please listen to me once!”
“There is nothing for me to listen to Varun! Bye.”
Naina had blocked me from everywhere. I knew she would be normal within a few days. Still I didn’t feel like calling her up and insisting. I had thought that she was matured enough to understand my plight!
I was more engaged in managing Sankalp and Nirita. They didn’t talk to each other. But Nirita was always a darling to me. I had known her since my school days. She had not changed a bit. She was like a baby girl caged in a body of twenty. She ate seamlessly, cooked food and even did the utensils. But how long would she stay?
“Bro I will be late tonight! Don’t wait at the dinner table for me!”, read Sankalp’s text message.
I decided to sleep off early. As I was plating the dinner, I decided to call Nirita to join me. I went towards her room. She was weeping profusely.
“What’s wrong Nirita?”
“Get the hell out of here!”, she turned around and pushed me.
“Nirita!! Behave yourself!”
“Why? Why do I need to behave myself huh? Why can’t I be myself?”
“Calm down!”, as I was about to leave, she held my hand.
“Please stay Varun!”
Her tiny eyes were filled tears. Her nose had become red. No one had looked into my eyes like this ever! I felt different. As I turned around, she hugged me.
“Why can’t men be like you Varun? Caring and respectful? Boys have only cheated me. No one has ever loved me.”
I couldn’t take away myself and I eventually kissed her. She reciprocated…
“Varun, it is over between us!”
“Nain, please it was just in the heat of the moment. Trust me!”
“After all this, I can never trust you again Varun! Never!”
“Why are you explaining things to her? Is she your mother?”
“Just stay out of this!”
“No I won’t. Look Varun, yesterday whatever happened between us was not a mere coincidence. It was all
planned by the universe. I like you!”
“Just shut up!”
I moved out of the house. I tried calling Naina numerous times but in vain. She would not revert…
One year went by. Naina was out of my life. I had turned myself into an alcoholic. Sankalp had stopped talking to me.
I had to fill up the gaps in my life. I had no one beside me except Nirita. She was understanding and caring! She didn’t demand anything from me! She was way matured than I had ever imagined her to be. I would not say that I loved her. But yes, I was dependent on her by then. Her presence made my life better and beautiful!
It was Sankalp’s birthday and I had called him up.
“Happy birthday bro!”
“Thank you Varun!”
“Are you still upset with me?”
“Varun. You are a charming person. In no time people fall in love with you. You always had numerous friends but I didn’t. You were everything I had. Nirita is not trustworthy Varun. You are too naïve to understand it. She never gets attached to anyone. You never wonder why do her ex boyfriends frantically look for her? For her, it is always about having fun! She doesn’t love you! But I do! Take care!”
I was speechless. Sankalp’s absence in my life suddenly seemed huge. I had mixed feelings. I had lost Naina and Sankalp, only because of Nirita. Why did I do this? Something felt weird. Something was not right. I went to Nirita’s room but she was not there. Suddenly my eyes fell on a white envelope.
“For you Varun”. I opened it,
“I am sorry Varun for having lied to you over these months. I am eloping with my ex bf. We are going to get married. I was planning it since long but did not have the courage to let anyone know. I needed a safe shelter till then and hence you were the best option available to me. You are a great guy! Get a girl like Naina and get married! She is of your type!”
I sat on the bed blank. I was as if standing on an empty highway. I had taken a mirage for reality! I was a fool! A big fool!
Seven years flew by…
“Varun, just let go your past and follies! Just look ahead!”
“Varun… I love you. What else do you need to worry about? If you are sure about this! Then just make it happen!”
There she is. Nain, my Nain. I love her to the moon and back! So here now, I am kneeling down with Nain by my side,
“I have been a fool not to realise what I truly felt for you! I am still a fool! But this fool is yours and is incomplete without you in his life. I love you and I want to be with you till time immortal. Will you be mine forever?”
“I love you too my dumbo!” Sankalp finally pulled me into his arms!