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Gaurav’s phone rang. It was his ex. Why was she calling? It had been almost 4 months since they had separated. He picked up the phone.
“Hi… Swati… this side…” A trembling voice from the other side said.
“Ya... I know… the number is still saved…” said Gaurav trying to sound calm.
“I am getting married…” she said
This came as an unexpected bolt from the blue for Gaurav. Not because of the news of marriage, but it seemed to be too early for him. It was only 3 months that they had completed their graduation. While he was still trying to find a job, his ex is getting married.
But, he answered, “Oh… wow… congratulations…”
“You really think I am happy?”
“I don’t know… you should know… and that is what should matter…”
“I want to meet you...” She declared possessively… as if she was still his girlfriend.
“But why? I mean first you call me, tell about your wedding, and then confuse me by saying that you are not happy…. What do you want?”
“You know me so well… you know that I would remember you only when I want something from you…”
“Now… that’s not what I meant to say…and if you want to meet me, I have no problems…”
Okay… I will message you when and where…bye...”
And before Gaurav could reply, she put off the phone. Gaurav, a B.Com. Degree holder from DU, who was studying for his government job exams just a while ago, was in a speechless awe after he attended this call. His mind took a stroll down the memory lane, and he found himself standing in the past.
In the past, when he first saw Swati. He still remembers, it was his first day in the college. Swati was wearing a blue chicken embroidered suit. She was also a fresher. The 3rd year seniors had collared him and he was forced to dance on an item number before his whole class. While all others were laughing, she was the one, who was looking worried for him. He looked into her eyes and he could read, “Don’t worry… It will end. “
And yes, it did. He rushed to the college canteen and bunked one class as he was not sure if he had the courage to face his mates. While he was planning to bunk the next class also, he felt the touch of a palm on his shoulder. He was scared to death, as he apprehended that it was some senior. He slowly turned his face… and was relieved to see that it was his classmate.
She had brought one sandwich for him. He was so nervous that he just didn’t reacted. The girl pulled a chair and sat on it beside him. She courageously tried to be friends with the proven coward of her class.
“Did I scared you?”
“Ki..Kind of…” He answered fussily.
“I am sorry…what’s your name??”
“Ga… gaurav… a… and yo... you….?” He said fumbling..
“I am Swati… can I ask you one thing?”
“Do you always stumble like this or it’s occasional?”
“No…I…what… I am sorry…”
“It’s okay... you shouldn’t be so oversensitive…”
“But what happened in the class… you saw that… right?”
“Ya… I saw that… but is that the only thing you want to remember for the next three years?”
“Then get over it… She said smilingly. She kept the sandwich on the table and went away.
She was Gaurav’s first friend in the college. While Gaurav was sensitive towards things, Swati had a more of a practical and carefree attitude. While Gaurav would fear about the uncertainties of future, Swati would hope that her future is going be better and brighter than her present.
Their friendship was slowly turning into some serious affair, and seeing that Gaurav might never be able to muster up the confidence, Swati proposed him. Gaurav didn’t wanted to promise what he knew he wouldn’t be able to deliver. So, he replied…
“See… we are very good friends… I don’t want to commit things that I can’t keep up . I know we would fall in love and then we would be serious and then you would think of marriage… and that last thing is not gonna happen, because I have some commitments towards my family.”
Swati laughed at this reply and said, “So you think I am gonna marry you… I know that we can’t be together for eternity… but we can be temporarily… what if we commit on the condition of ‘no strings attached’?”
Gauarv didn’t had any problems. The relationship started. When they were friends they had known their differences, now they were getting to know their similarities. They came to know that they are, in fact, not very different. They both liked ice- cream; they both like blue color; and they both have their own set of conservative families.
Gauarav was the only child of his parents. He had been brought up in such over protective environment that he had become introvert while expressing himself and thin skinned while protecting his claims. On the other hand, Swati had a family with narrow minded parents. She had one elder brother who was more of a goon and letting her attend graduation college was one grace her family was showing on her.
Just a month before college was gonna end for this batch, and everybody was quite confident that this pair would be together forever, they broke up. The reason was very trivial. Swati broke up by reasoning out that Gaurav was becoming possessive about her, which she didn’t liked. Just like that, a popular, a motivating couple parted off ways. Gaurav never understood how he was possessive. He asked Swati, who was not ready to open her mouth on this topic. The two stopped talking and even on the last day of their college, they didn’t talk.
And now, after that episode, she wants to meet him. Why?? He was confused… to show him her wedding ring? To make him feel jealous?? He didn’t knew and he couldn’t till he actually meets Swati and hear what she has to tell.
They met at the chosen restaurant. They both reached on time. They took a table, Gaurav had always been shy to start the conversation and Swati knew this… so she said…
“How have you been?”
“Good…” Gaurav tried to sound cool.
“I had asked you to meet me… because I need your help.”
“I knew, you would remember me only when you need me… otherwise I am too possessive for you… but why?? I mean you have a fiancée… shouldn’t he be better able to help you?”
“I didn’t knew that you think so bad about me…”
“Yes… how would you know… you didn’t even gave me a proper reason for the break up… and why are we discussing this?? Tell me about your problem…”
“The few day before I had broken up with you… my brother was searching for some of his papers all around the house and he checked my almirah too. He came across one gift that you had given me… the matter went up to parents, I was interrogated and I told them about our relationship… and maybe you had not noticed but I was beaten up and my lower lip was injured… well I didn’t told that it’s you. My parents had let me continue in the college only on the promise that I would get out of the whole issue.”
Gaurav was totally amazed. The girl on whom he was mad for not being a true girlfriend, fulfilled her duty of a best friend… “why hadn’t you told me all this at that time…??”
“I didn’t wanted to bother you… even by telling you… we would have parted ways… “
“Then… why now??”
“Because I had thought that the topic was closed. But as soon as I graduated my parents fixed my marriage within 15 days… all this time I was somehow hopeful that maybe my parents would drop the idea of marriage… but it’s just 10 days left now…”
“Maybe your parents are not ready to listen to you… talk to your fiancée… tell him that you don’t want to get married…”
“My fiancée?? Haven’t I told about him yet...? He is a forty year old man, this would be his second marriage and he knows as to why I am getting married so early and knowing this... he abuses me on calls...”
“My goodness… all this happened because of me… and you never told me… I know I am not as good friend as you are, but I think you never trusted me…”
“I had always trusted you, more than myself, but I have never trusted my destiny… “
“Why are your parents in such a hurry?”
“They think that I have betrayed them and broken their trust… which to some extent I have… they love their honour more than anything else…
Gaurav was stunned at the one after another revelation done by Swati. How life changes… a girl who was so hopeful about her life… who always encouraged him to think of future in an optimistic way, who would plan and study hard to get those plans into action… has turned into such passive, insensitive, pessimist person.
Gaurav was blaming it all on himself, he asked Swati, “What do you plan to do now….?”
“I want to run away…” She said in a confident tone.
Gaurav, who was by now, thinking that the Swati he knew is no more, was happy to find out that he was wrong.
“Run away?? Where, when, with whom??”
“I don’t have to run away with someone… even my parents don’t want me any more… I shouldn’t expect anyone to be with me… for the other two questions… I need your help.”
“You know any place??” asked Gaurav..
“Yes… I had stealthily used internet on my brother’s phone and researched on internet. I came across one NGO, which works for the welfare of girls and ladies by helping them to get a job according to their qualification and making them self-reliant… but there is just one problem…”
“What is that??”
“It’s in Maharashtra…”
“Maharashtra?? Why do you need to fly so high??”
“So that no one could catch me… I just need your help to get me a cheap phone, tickets, and other arrangements.”
“That’s okay…. But…”
“What are you thinking?? I will pay for all the things…”
“Shut up! I am not gonna take anything from you… I am just worried if it’s safe...”
“I am not safe even in my own house… I don’t think about things over which I have no control…”
“I understand what you are going through… but are you sure you want to do this?”
“You asked this and you proved that you don’t understand me…”
After this meeting… the next two days went very hectic for Gaurav. He had to make all the arrangements without anybody coming to know about it.
The day, when Swati had to leave, she took a small purse containing all her certificates. She told her mom that she wants to visit one friend before she gets married. At this time, her father and brother were not in home and her mother permitted her without asking much questions.
She reached the railway station on time and met Gaurav on the platform where her train was to come. Gaurav handed her the ticket, one phone and some other essentials. There was some time for the train to come. Gaurav, for the first time, started the conversation.
“I hope you do well…”
Swati smiled and said, “I hope that too.”
I wanted to ask one thing… why had you chosen me for this mission… do you love me?”
“I trust you more than I love you… and now when the topic is out… why did you helped me? You could have been caught and there could have been problems for you… ”
“Because having known you… I know that you deserve a better life… definitely not the life your parents were gonna give you…but how were you so confident that I would help you...”
Maybe you don’t know but every time I see in your eyes… I see hope... as if they are saying… it’s okay… it will be all right… the day when I met you in the restaurant… I felt the same spark and I felt your eyes were saying, “you can still trust this man…”
“But… this is exactly what I see in your eyes… I see hope…”
“Hahaha… maybe that’s why we are friends… our eyes are the mirrors of each other’s identity… they tell us what we don’t know…
Gauarv smiled and said, “Hmm… well no matter what happens… always remember that there is a person called Gaurav who would always be with you…”
Before Swati could reply, the train arrived. There was normal hustle on the platform, and as soon as Swati settled in her reserved seat, the train whistled and slowly left the platform.
A story of trust, of friendship and somewhere in between all this, of love, had started to dawn.